Thursday, March 31, 2016

Is There a Politics of Less?

I have a question. Is it possible to run for President of the United States offering less government? Or, to put the question more forcefully, can any politics succeed if it is proposing to reduce the amount of government?

Because if you look at politicians and governments, they are always in the business of doing more, or at least doing something.

And that is why, I think, the conservative agenda of less government never goes anywhere. Because really, where is the punch in a policy of, well, chaps, we really ought to wind Social Security down over the years and replace it with a genuine individual savings program. Here’s a better idea. Today’s Social Security is fundamentally unjust to gays and transgenders! We must reform Social Security to bring justice to gays and their partners!

You can see why I am thinking this. It’s all about Trump.

When I read the anti-Trump stuff, like today’s piece from the Knight of the NeverTrump Table, Kevin D. Williamson, he is perfectly right. Trump is clueless about “policy.” He reduces everything to vague calls to action. But, the conservative policy analyst inquires, what is Trump actually going to do about big, bloated government?

The point is, conservatives aren’t going to win the presidency with a carefully nuanced analysis of the issues. You win elections with promises of Change. Affordable Health Care! Make American Great Again! Justice for Seniors!

After the election is over, of course, it is back to the slow grind of policy, of this or that policy change forced through against some sort of opposition, won with the help of a few power players whose support is shamelessly bought with other peoples’ money.

If you reduce government you will kick over a hornet’s nest. That’s what I wrote about yesterday, retailing to you the story of the British Chartists in the 1840s. After the passage of the Great Reform bill in 1832 -- which you can read about in George Eliot’s Middlemarch -- Parliament passed an agenda that suited the newly franchised middle-class electorate. Free trade and Poor Law reform. But that infuriated the Poor Law recipients and the artisans that were making a decent living out of the old guild-privilege economy. And they took to the streets.

That is the problem that conservatives face. We want to do entitlement reform. But don’t tell seniors. We want education reform. But don’t tell teachers and parents. We want welfare reform. But don’t tell the tens of millions of EBT recipients. We want to repeal Obamacare. But don’t tell the 10 million or so that are presently enjoying the subsidies.

When you get into the weeds, like on the National Labor Relations Board or climate change, a conservative government can probably make changes. No doubt Big Labor and the greenies would get The New York Times and NPR in a fine froth about that. They will scream that it is the end of workers and the end of the climate as we know it. But the average American won't really care.

The dirty truth about government is that the only thing it can do is some shameful and crude thing to get out of the jam its previous policies has caused. So government totally screws mom-and-pop savers with its zero interest rate policy because it keeps the deficit down. Government passes Obamacare to paper over the royal mess caused by half a century of government meddling with health care.

And so it goes. Until the government runs out of other peoples’ money.

And then what will it do? It will take the easy way out, the one that puts the costs onto some group that isn’t well organized, or can’t really grasp what is being done to it.

That’s how I make sense of the Trump effect. None of the conservative candidates had a clear and persuasive message to go up against Trump’s promise to shake things up and make America great again. Why is that? It’s because nothing that conservatives propose has the gut-level appeal of Trump.

Or, for that matter against the Democrats’ appeal to Fight for Us and make the one percent pay for free college for everyone.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How to Make America Great Again

In the current presidential election year Donald Trump is busily promising to Make America Great Again with an end immigration and bringig jobs home to the United States while Democrats are promising to jack up the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Michael Tanner reminds us that none of that is going to help. Good old 1950s manufacturing jobs are going away not just because of China but because of automation. And also because American companies want to manufacture products closer to their foreign markets.

Tanner has another idea. We can’t reset the economy to the 1950s, but
What we can to is prepare for a vibrant new economic future. That means cutting taxes and regulations to boost entrepreneurship. It means breaking the stranglehold that the teachers’ unions have over our schools so that we can educate future workers for future jobs. It means embracing economic growth as a goal. And it means understanding that free trade contributes to that growth and ultimiately produces more winners than losers.
But, of course, when people feel they are losing, their first resort is government. And to the only thing that government knows, and that is force.

I am reading about an interlude of force in my ongoing tramp through Michael Mann and The Sources of Social Power. Right now we are in the middle of the rise of the British working class between 1815 and 1880, and specifically the Chartist movement.

I had always thought of the Chartist movement as purely a movement for political rights. But now I stand corrected. Instead, after Mann, I understand it as a response to a Perfect economic and political Storm.

This perfect storm included, first, the deflation after the Napoleonic Wars, as Britain paid off its war debt and returned the value of the inflated pound sterling back to its pre-war parity. Deflation always enrages wage workers and debtors, because the one thing that people hate is having their nominal wages reduced.

Second, Parliament repealed the old Poor Law that went back to the late 1500s, and made welfare much tougher and more shameful.

Third, the government moved against the traditional non-market privileges of artisans and city guilds so that these artisans were forced to compete with the market prices offered by a new generation of entrepreneurs.

Fourth, the textile industrial revolution was changing the terms of trade with economic and technical innovation, so any number of workers’ trades were getting severely affected.

Fifth, the 1832 Reform Bill extended the vote to the bourgeoisie but not the workers. Sixth, the government declared war on unions with laws against combinations in restraint of trade.

All in all, you can see why the artisans of Britain got a bit riled up back in the 1840s.

In the 1840s the government responded to Chartist agitation by using the army to break up demonstrations and insurrections, and since the newly franchised bourgeoisie sided with the old regime in defence of their property, the Chartist movement failed.

But the economic agenda of the Chartists got enacted in the end. Parliament enacted wage and hour laws, which restricted female and child labor and made the workplace much more male. It enacted safety and health legislation. It enacted government education. And eventually enacted privileges that allowed labor unions to represent workers and bargain with employers.

You can see that a wise and all-seeing government would have moderated with six-part storm. But that is easy to say after the fact. Nowadays we don’t believe in running surpluses to pay off the debt; we don’t believe in resumption at the old parity. No, instead we screw the creditors and the holders of inflated currency. So we have replaced one evil with another. We have restored the Poor Law, on steroids. We have regulated and twisted the labor market into pretzels. And we are now proposing to extend the vote to illegal immigrants.

And then we wonder why the economy is in the pits.

In The Sources of Social Power we are subjected to a panorama of power actors down the ages, manipulating and outflanking and blind-siding each other in the endless war of power. Of course Michael Mann is a right-on lefty. Not quite a Marxist, he can view the power politics of kings and barons with detachment. But he is definitely on the side of the workers when the Chartists are in the streets. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that maybe the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything is a little moderation in the deployment of social power, including his favorite little darlings du jour.

For Mann, the ideology and the deployment of the free market notions that have erupted in recent centuries are no different than the divide and conquer manipulations of the absolute monarchs. But it’s OK that the workers fill the streets and excite the social consciences of government university professors.

Back to the quote from Michael Tanner at the top. Notice what he is saying. Hey kids! Maybe the answer to our economic problems isn’t more regulation, higher minimum wages, and more government power but making it easier for entrepreneurs to start new companies and reducing the costly regulatory burdens on business. Maybe our education system should be prised out of the cold dead hands of the teachers’ unions. Maybe education shouldn’t be a mechanical government system at all.

In other words, maybe there in a place in this world for methods other than the sweet use of government force. Maybe there’s a way to help the low-paid other than telling their employers how much to pay them. Maybe there’s a better way to educate our children than send them to government child-custodial facilities staffed by lifer trusties.

There is nothing remarkable here. It is just considering the curious notion that the answer to many problems might not the clunking fist of more government power.

In my view the great event of the last 500 years is that we humans have discovered the wealth creating and directing concept we call the price system. But actually, it isn’t a system. It is what we have learned to call, from the relatively new chaos theory, an emergent phenomenon. It is like a biological organism like the human body. There is no boss in the human body, issuing orders throughout the body telling each cell what to do. The body is an emergent phenomenon communicating with itself in ways we barely understand, and the result is that it works. It enables humans to cooperate with each other peacefully, right across the wide world. But it starts with the same principle as the human body. Mostly, you just let the market, like the human body, just get on with it.

Is it possible that we could learn to understand our human society in the same way, or are we condemned forever to think of it as a system, ruled by the four IEMP social powers -- I should say social forces -- identified by Michael Mann: ideological, economic, military, and political?

I do hope not, because, as I like to say, System is Domination.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Maybe the Real Job of Religion is Making Babies

Here's a look at Singapore, stunningly successful city state, except for one thing. Young Singaporeans aren't having babies. The fertility rate for Singaporean women is 1.3, meaning that the average woman has 1.3 children in her lifetime.
The low-birth pattern is also evident in Singapore’s competitors, notably Hong Kong, where nearly half of young couples believe that they can’t afford to have children. Shanghai, notes Jones, now has one of the lowest peacetime fertility rates ever recorded.

Young Singaporeans say that the decision not to have children is pragmatic. “Having kids was important to our parents,” noted one thirtyish civil servant, “but now we tend to have a cost and benefit analysis about family. The cost is tangible, but the benefits are not knowable or tangible.”
Well, of course. Pragmatically, having kids is crazy, because instead of living a two-income lifestyle in a yeasty urban environment, you have to more to the suburbs and fight with dirty diapers and the impossibility of a work/life balance.

Maybe that explains why religions all tend to be vigorously pro-natal, and create a social culture in which child-bearing and child-raising is highly valued and is part of the religious conditioning shared among the members of the church or sect or cult.

And maybe that's why great empires like the Roman Empire decline and fall. Because if people don't have children then there is nobody to do the heavy lifting when the going gets tough.

Maybe that's why the left's secular religions are doomed to failure, just like the Shakers in the 19th century. The left, going back to Mary Wollstonecraft, has always argued that women have better things to do than waste their lives on domesticity. Because patriarchy. Of course, well-born women have always considered themselves above the drudgery of child-minding, and hired it out whenever possible. Our modern feminism is nothing new; it is just another upper-class movement advocating a cleaner, more creative life for women than merely getting babies on the ground and got out of the nest.

That's one thing you can say for the Islamists. If you sequester the women and cover them in niqabs or whatever, then the only thing women can do is bear children. Lots more fodder for the suicide belts. And guess who wins the future. In Europe, unless they get a clue pretty quickly, the future will belong to the Muslims, because your average Euro, like your average Singaporean, isn't really into children.

In the US, of course, it is a commonplace that conservatives and religious people get married and have families, while liberals hanker after a creative life, maybe as a videographer or something in global health. Or, of course, they go gay or lesbian or trans. Either way, the idea is to spend your twenties in some urban environment, wearing artistical black, and forget about children.

No really. In Japan, the young people are reported to be uninterested in the other sex. In Germany, about 30 percent of adult women are childless. Italy has an abysmal birth rate. What is wrong with these people?

Now, I'm not really religious, but I have a couple of kids. My children aren't really religious, but they have presented me with six grandchildren. How come? It is hard to say. They are, of course, not liberals.

One of the things that I look out for is a religious revival. Yes, I know that God is Dead and all that, and God has been replaced with Gaia and the ethic of earth guardianship. Not to mention Peace and Justice. But I keep thinking about Charles Murray and his Coming Apart. Top 25 percent of Americans doing fine, he says. Middle 40 percent not so good. Bottom 35 percent, the women don't marry much and the men don't work much. Something there has got to give.

In America the top 25 percent get a kind of religion from their education, which inducts them into the culture of creativity so that they take their place as People of the Creative Self. But for people below the creative elite, things are pretty shaky, and the creative elite do all they can to keep religion and the lower orders apart.

Here's my take. If you aren't born with a creative spoon in your mouth, and maybe not even then, you are heading for oblivion unless you get religion. And time is running out.

Because, despite what you have been taught, the only thing that matters is children.

Monday, March 28, 2016

My Bill of Realities

Governments are instituted among men to protect us against enemies, foreign and domestic. But all good things tend to succumb to mission creep, and so it is that governments are now also expected to protect us against the enemies of free trade and immigration.

Here's a piece at Bloomberg about a couple devastated by NAFTA. Randall and Brenda Williams of Scottsdale, Kentucky worked at a plant making electric motors at A.O. Smith, each earning over $16 per hour until the factory closed and Smith started buying motors from Mexico. Today Randall works at a farm supply store and Brenda works at the high school cafeteria.

What do we do about folks like that? Well, we could help them. But how?

Let's be clear about one thing. You could repeal NAFTA and halt immigration but you still would not end the migration of manufacturing from the US to the low-wage areas of the world. We could slow it down. So we are still going to have Randall and Brenda Williamses. Because the folks working in those Third-World plants are right off the farm, and they think that the coolest thing in the world is getting to work indoors.

What could we do? We could reduce immigration; we could raise tariffs a bit. We could help workers laid off; we could help with relocation expenses.

But of course, as Barack Obama told a meeting of donors in 2008, most of the people laid off from some electric motor factory in the boondocks will try to hang on, bitter clingers, using welfare and disability, because they really can't imagine a life away from their old home town. By the way, there is no mention of the Williams' children in the article. I wonder what happened to them.

The best solution for the Williams couple would have been for A.O. Smith to cut their wages to the point where it wouldn't quite make economic sense for them to close the plant. But that is one thing that you cannot do in this world. Ever since the industrial revolution, workers have reacted to "cuts" with rage. So instead, employers just close uneconomic factories. Workers demand and get their "good jobs at good wages" and the union and the benefits until the day that the plant closes and the jobs are gone.

You can rail about NAFTA, about immigration, about greedy bankers, about uncaring CEOs outsourcing American jobs all you like. You can fiddle about at the margins with political promises and handouts to favored constituencies.  But in the end you have to deal with reality.

Reality #1. In the end, you have to mark your wage or your price to market.

Marxists like to talk a good line about "commodification," the idea that we now treat wages and prices as if they were real commodities, available for sale on the market. But, to coin a phrase, most of Marxism is "mystification" and their talk about commodification and reification is just that. Wages and prices are just another thing that we have abstracted out of the real world and understood with resort to theory. Just like gravity and quantum mechanics. Today we survive and thrive by constant adaption to the dictates of the market. Any politician or activist that pretends otherwise is lying.

Reality #2. Capitalism is the permanent revolution of "creative destruction."

In the Garden of Eden of the Marxists, people worked "for use" and were not subject to the vagaries of the exchange market. But that meant, of course, that a bad harvest meant that they starved. There was no "creative destruction" in the good old days. There was simply disease and starvation. The implacable conservatism of the peasant was witness to this. You kept doing things the same old way because otherwise you starved. But today we survive by constant adaption to the dictates of the market. Any politician or activist that pretends otherwise is lying.

Reality #3. You may not like capitalism but capitalism likes you.

In the Great Enrichment of the last 200 years under capitalism, per-capita income after inflation has risen from $1-3 per day to over $100 per day in the capitalist countries. There has been nothing like this before in history. Ever. And when a country adopts capitalism, like China in 1978 and India in the 1990s, per capita income immediately starts to rise. Fast. Any politician or activist that pretends otherwise is lying.

Reality #4. There is no free lunch.

If you are riding high, with a "good job at good wages" it does not mean that you are set for life. The whole point of capitalism, the way we got from $1-3 per day to $100 per day, is from constant economic revolution. In fact, if you are enjoying high wages you should think that you are vulnerable, because your high wages mean that people are thinking and working right now on some brilliant idea to economize on people like you. Any politician or activist that pretends otherwise is lying.

Reality #5. There is no such thing as "we are owed."

Don't think about what the world owes you. Think about what you can give to the world. That is the basic principle of economic life that goes back to Adam Smith and the invisible hand. Think about what you could do to serve the world, with a new service or a new product, or just your labor. Then you will find out if you have a good idea or not. If it turns out that your idea is not good enough, then the world is telling you that you should come up with a better idea. Any politician or activist that pretends otherwise is lying.

Capitalism is a funny thing. It has buried humans in a cornucopia of wealth and health. But everyone hates it. I understand why. Capitalism and its price system amount to a constant cold shower of reality, and cold showers are good for other people, but a bit too bracing for ourselves.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Brussels is the End of the Line for Identity Politics

I've already written that the West has the means and the power to deal with the Muslim threat. But, I wrote, the big problem is the cultural and political problem, to wage cultural and political war on the radical Islamists and make all the world know that their holy war is a dead end.

But now let us back up and ask another question. How come "we" allowed Muslims to come into our world and build an oppositional subculture and live in no-go areas where western law and culture doesn't obtain?

The answer, of course, is our foolish and conceited ruling class and its culture of identity politics. All politics is a game of divide and conquer, that we know. Thus a wise ruling class knows that faction and division is dangerous, and must be handled carefully. You never know where it will end up.

In the old days, politics was "segmental." People belonged to tribes, regions, guilds, and left the leaders of the segment to negotiate with other power actors. Nobody tried to mobilize the individual members of society for political conflict. Not until the modern era.

The modern era, according to Michael Mann in The Sources of Social Power, is organized by nation state and classes. He means here classes in the sense defined by Marx, that is, according to La Wik,
a class is those who share common economic interests, are conscious of those interests, and engage in collective action which advances those interests.
In other words, most of the time most people go about their lives not thinking of themselves as "the proletariat" until some would-be dictator of the proletariat teaches them that they are workers and they should combine in labor unions and Labour Parties and fight for workers' rights against the capitalist exploiters. Only when you organize and mobilize people in this way can you use them as a formation in the army of war-by-other-means of politics.

In the late 19th century it because a conceit of educated youth that they could lead the working class and transform society using the mobilized working class as their army of the streets, maybe even as an international movement that would transform the world.

World War I taught educated youth that they were wrong. The workers identified with their territorial kings and prime ministers more than their worker identity, and fought for their countries in the trenches. So the post-war educated youth came up with a new idea, what we now call identity politics. Would be dictators of the proletariat would now appeal not to the workers, who were anyway starting to move up into the middle class. Instead they would appeal to people on the basis of race and sex, and make them self-conscious of their race or sex, and mobilize them on the basis of their race and sex. In other words, the political activists would organize and mobilize people and deploy them in the political wars not on the basis of class so much as on the basis of race, and gender, and sexual orientation.

Of course, the educated youth and the activists, being evolved and wise, would always keep this identity politics under control, using the power and wisdom of their education and their compassion and their judgement, so that was all right.

And really, it has worked pretty well, up to now. Our Democratic Party with its race politics has corralled over 90 percent of the black vote, and kept African Americans in terror of Republicans bringing back Jim Crow. Gays have been a remarkably effective weapon for Democrats, and feminists have helped keep women single and dependent on big government and voting for big government. What's not to like?

Well, the next step in the identity politics game was Muslims. Muslims were the new marginalized group and, just as to utter a discouraging word against liberal race politics meant you were a disgusting racist, so any worry about Muslims meant you were a disgusting Islamophobe.

What could go wrong?

The problem is that our ruling class and its educated youth are really not as evolved and educated as they think, and certainly not wise enough to keep their poisonous identity politics bottled up and under control. They are like the managers of a laboratory that uses radioactive nucleotides but really don't understand enough about nuclear science to develop protocols to keep the lab safe. So the whole thing is coming unraveled and the ruling class really hasn't a clue about what to do. The Muslims are playing them like a fiddle but they don't know any other tune.

The good thing is that the peoples of the West are coming to realize that their leaders are clueless and they are getting ready to elect new ones.

And I personally believe that the jihadi cult is self liquidating. That's because I believe that the secret to success in the modern post-industrial world is to get on with everyone rather than build a jihadi army to conquer the world and force every human under the knout of a world-wide Caliphate. Socialism was the previous plan for world-wide conquest and a world-wide Caliphate and it failed in the economic dysfunction of the Soviet Union and the famines and terrors of Maoist China, not to mention the pathetic poverty of the Castro Brothers' Cuba.

My view is that the modern global capitalist era is a fundamental transformation of human social cooperation and that the various rebellions against it, from socialism to jihadism, are reactionary belches that are doomed to failure. Unfortunately, as we saw with socialism, it takes a while for a death cult to collapse from its internal contradictions. We don't want our children and grandchildren to have to suffer while the jihadis are learning the bankruptcy of their ideology the hard way.

Here's my little idea. We are learning that the recently arrested mastermind of the 2015 Paris bombings lived on welfare in Belgium.

Why not make welfare self-limiting, so that chaps like terrorist masterminds have to go out and get a job. It's not that I want the jihadis to stop living off other peoples money. My point is that I want the jihadis forced into the capitalist culture where you have to work with other people and learn to trust people who are trustworthy and learn to serve the consumer and get indoctrinated in some corporation's corporate culture.

Back in the days of the slave plantations the slave owners eventually got to realize that the more they treated their slaves like humans, the better they worked. Back in the days of the factories the bosses learned eventually that the one thing you wanted to avoid was pissing off the workers enough so that they formed a labor union, for a labor union amounted to a parasite that ended up killing the host. After World War I the German army decided that it didn't want soldiers as disciplined automatons; it needed soldiers that were resourceful and responsible. See what I'm getting at? In today's world we need people that are open and friendly and resourceful and responsible. Others need not apply.

It is the height of cruelty and injustice to warehouse people in no-go areas where they moulder away without jobs and without the skills to work and thrive in the modern global capitalist economy. We need a new ruling class that thinks beyond the old paradigm of identity politics. Let's call the new order "work-and-thrive politics."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Death of God and the Meaning of Life

While grubbing around HalfPriceBooks looking for a suitable book to buy in their March coupon sale, I came across The Death of God and the Meaning of Life, by Julian Young. Since HalfPriceBooks had priced it at $19.99 and it was selling at #1,485,784 at Amazon, I figured it must be good. So I bought it last Sunday with the 50% off coupon.

Seriously, what attracted me was that the book promised to be a quick round-up of Plato, Kant, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Freud, Nietzsche, Hegel, Marx, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Foucault, Derrida. It's a bit like the renowned Edward Casaubon and his "Key to All Mythologies." A book like that might be the key to all philosophers.

No, it's not at all like that because Young, like Mary Ann Evans, has read his Germans. So he tells a very good story about how Kant thru Marx were all trying to revive the "true-world" faiths, the world as a vale of tears, that Newtonian science had demolished. Marx, on Young's telling, was simply continuing Christian eschatology with a heaven in the future in this world rather than in another world. Starting with the later Nietzsche we are trying to make meaning out of life without some sort of heaven where everything comes right in the end. Mostly, these radical continental philosophers offer the idea of living life as an artist, or as if life were a work of art.

(This is why my Three Peoples theory includes the People of the Creative Self).

With Sartre and Camus we come close to a nihilist idea of life as absurdity. But in later Heidegger, Julian Young finds a meaning he can live with. It is the notion of living life as a guardian of the world, rather than an exploiter, bringing forth rather than doing violence, that Heidegger develops in his "Question Concerning Technology."

Of course, I have a bit of a problem with that, because it makes it sound as though environmentalists are the best people in the world, and I'm not at all sure that environmentalists are as good as they advertise themselves to be.

But here is my big problem. The telling thing is how many of the names up above were never married and/or never had children. And I don't recall children as getting a mention in the book. It's easy to say, like Sartre and Camus, who never married and never had children, that life is absurd. I can understand it would look that way if the world began and ended with you and your sexual affairs. But, to quote Edmund Burke, "society is a contract between the past, the present, and those yet unborn." And it is telling that Sartre and his "partner" Simone de Beauvoir each individually semi-adopted younger people as they aged and willed their property to these intellectual executors in place of children.

Another problem is the idea of Christianity as a world-denying religion. Certainly, Christianity has succumbed for centuries to what Rodney Stark calls "upper-class asceticism," but I'd say that following the Great Awakening in the 18th century mainstream Christianity has been world-affirming. It does not say that life is a bed of roses, but it does say that God sacrificed his Son for our sins, so we don't have to sacrifice, and that if you accept Jesus in your life you are saved and go to Heaven. And Christianity is catnip for women, because it says that you can have the best love of your life with God: you love God and God loves you, in the relationship from Heaven.

I'll have to go into the details of later Heidegger in the future, but I'd say that the guardianship notion is defective. It suggests a world past its prime, with a guardian there to keep things going in its inevitable decline. But, following Burke, I'd say that the guardianship applies to the contract with the past and the future. But the contract with the present implies clearing a place in the world to create life and help it thrive, and then leaving a world in which those yet unborn can thrive.

And I don't believe that God is Dead. Perhaps the Homeric gods playing politics on Mt. Olympus with the lives of humans are dead. Perhaps the anthropomorphic God is dead to the intellectuals. But in the light of modern physics and the knowledge about the genome I experience life, the universe and everything as a profound and ever-deepening mystery. Call that mystery whatever you like, but the most obvious word is God.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Brussels: Look on the Bright Side

When the liberals at Vox respond to the Brussels "attentat" by writing that stopping immigration won't solve anything (H/T Steve Sailer), we should applaud.

Because it means that our liberal friends are forgetting nothing and learning nothing.

And the only way we get to solve the Islamist problem is when the liberals get discredited enough to be pushed off the stage.

The basic thing we need to do about Islamist terror is better policing. Call it "broken windows" policing that worked so well to civilize New York City and other US crime meccas. The point is that the police use data-driven methodologies like CompStat and police where the crime is. No more no-go areas surrendered to local militias. This should be easy to do, were it not for liberals that oppose it on the grounds of Islamophobia. So it cannot be implemented until liberals are marginalized and pushed off the political stage.

The next thing we need to do is to militarily defeat militarized Islam. According to German military theory there are three levels of military action: tactical, operational, and strategic. Obviously the US and its allies have the power and the means and the technique to defeat radical Islam at all these levels. It could be messy, but it is doable, were it not for liberals that oppose it on the grounds of colonialism. So it cannot be implemented until liberals are marginalized and pushed off the stage.

Which brings us to the real problem, the political and cultural problem. We are not going to deal properly with the Islamic problem until the west (or perhaps the Rest of the World) gets out of its present funk and faces Islam confidently and openly as capitalist, free, and not afraid to say so. This is a challenge, because the West is stuck in an internal culture war between a not very effective conservative movement that is not very good at standing for freedom and justice and the rule of law and a post-Marxist rump that is determined to ram every foolish idea of the last 200 years down our throats.

But this is why the Islamic crisis is such a good thing. Without it, our lefty ruling class and its poisonous race, gender, and gay/trans politics would be sailing ahead, dividing us by race, sex, religion, whatever, without a cloud in the sky. Instead the Islamic moment has revealed that the liberal emperor has no clothes.

The cultural Marxist movement was bad enough when it was just keeping blacks in a racial ghetto, separated from the rest of America by liberal race politics. It was bad enough when it taught women to hate marriage and children and desire to be eternal victims of the patriarchy. It was bad enough when it taught young Americans that the best thing in the world was to create a thing called gay marriage. But when Muslim extremists are represented as yet another marginalized and oppressed group and Americans warned against Islamophobia, then the liberal ruling class really has advanced a bridge too far. Not only that, but ordinary people in Europe and America can see it and that is why they are abandoning establishment politics and moving towards candidates and parties that insist that the government not just occupy territory, tax the inhabitants thereof and reward its supporters, but actually defend the inhabitants from harm.

Yes, I know. The humanity! The idea that governments should go beyond their petty power games of subduing the population and rewarding their supporters and actually do what they advertise and protect the people they oppress with their guns and their regime thugs!

What we need is a Great Awakening that creates a spiritual rebirth in the West. That is hard, and it can't be called to order.

The other great need is to shame the ruling class out of its poisonous secular religions and divisive politics that has done so much harm to poor and unskilled people in the West over the past 50 years, and demoralized the rest of us. This is what conservatism was called to do and has failed to do, as witness the Year of Trump.

My point is that we should not be horrified and disheartened by the rising Islamic terror. It will force us in the West to confront ourselves and clean the Augean stables. If we are up to the challenge we will create a new birth of freedom and prosperity. If not, well, if not, what's the point?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Government is Always Clueless

What with the coordinated attacks in Brussels today, March 22, 2016, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility, western governments are looking unusually clueless. As usual.

And we also have President Obama giving a speech in front of a building in Havana emblazoned with a mural of Che Guevara. Apparently the building is the headquarters of the Cuban secret police. But what would I know? Never mind that. How clueless can the president's advance team be to get snookered into a deal like that? I thought that optics was their strong suit.

But this is nothing new. I am reading The Sugar Barons, by Matthew Parker, and it tells a glorious tale of British government stupidity and corruption. But let's just stick to stupidity.

In 1654, after teaching the Scots and the Irish a lesson Oliver Cromwell sent a naval fleet to Barbados to conquer the Spanish and lead the world-wide opposition to the Church of Rome in his "Western Design." The only problem was that the expedition was "sent out without arms and provisions," and withered away in hunger and disease after foolish attacks on the island of Hispaniola. Then Charles II sent out a fleet in 1666 to the West Indies to deal with the French. Five years of war ended in nothing. Time after time, the Brits sent out a fleet from Britain with regiments of soldiers that promptly died of malnutrition and disease once they got to the West Indies. You think they would have learned. But government never learns.

And so here we are in 2016 with our western governments stumble-bumming around wondering what to do about the Islamic threat that directly challenges their policy of unlimited immigration, their plan for dealing with unaffordable entitlements.

Mr. President! What shall we do? Everyone is now deciding that free trade and immigration are terrible ideas that hurt the American middle class. The only thing is: compared to what?

I grant that free trade doesn't solve anything. But what is the alternative? Once you start down the road of protection then every special interest in the country lines up for goodies. You end up with the Florida sugar industry that's protected from foreign competition. You allow mature industries to keep on keeping on without modernizing and competing full on with the rest of the world. Then you are shocked when they collapse like the auto industry in 2008.

Immigration? You certainly don't want the current mess of illegal immigration, in which illegal immigrants are not subject to the law of the land, and compete low-skill Americans out of a job. But it certainly doesn't hurt to bring the best and the brightest here, in moderate numbers, to keep the rest of us Americans up to the mark.

My point is that most economic interventions hurt the economy, because government is stupid and is basically interested in power and revenue and buying up support from the right people. If you put government to work on education, it will wreck education. If you put government to work on health care, it will make it unaffordable. If you put government to work on pensions it will stop people from saving for retirement. If you put government to work on welfare it will fail to relieve the poor.

This spring, in 2016, the best and the brightest are all in a dither about Donald Trump, who doesn't know what he is doing and has no experience of running a government.

But the truth is that the great figures of history tend to be men without experience of government. Instead they seem to possess a sixth sense of how to acquire political and military power and then use it. The ruling classes that they topple are full of seasoned professionals and insiders. But somehow, when it comes to the crunch, the insiders are clueless.

So all the clucking and establishment frou-frou over immigration and ISIS and trade and Trump is just noise. The ruling class doesn't have a clue and never did.

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Theory of Slavery and Other Oppressions

While I was recently visiting the Happiest Dogs in the World in Colorado my sister thoughtfully placed in my hand an excellent history of the West Indies sugar plantations, The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire and War in the West Indies by Matthew Parker. It tells the story of the Brits in the sugar plantation game and the staggering fortunes that were made on this addictive drug, and also the staggering brutality of the slave plantation system.

One big takeaway from the book for me was that the early visitors to the sugar islands like Barbados did not so much rail against slavery as a system as comment on the cruelty and the brutality of the sugar masters towards their slaves.

The point is that cane sugar production was a highly organized and capitalized system. You needed to grow each batch of cane and harvest it at exactly the right moment so that it could be fed into the processing plant, including the "boiling" or reduction of the cane plant juice into sugar. Only the big boys could compete. Sounds just like the factory system that arose about a century after Brit adventurers transferred the Dutch sugar system from northern South America to the Caribbean island of Barbados in 1640.

Here's my take from The Sugar Barons. Slavery was just a part of the way things were up until it got scaled up into a capitalist endeavor on the sugar islands. Then, and only then, did people start to look at slavery with new eyes, and think back from the individual acts of cruelty and brutality to the idea that the domination and oppression of one human by another was an unjust and evil thing.

Same thing with the workers. I am sure that workers in every walk of life have been cruelly treated and exploited by their masters since the dawn of time. But when the industrial revolution brought hundreds and thousands of workers into a single manufactory and subjected them to industrial discipline, then and only then did people start to discover a moral problem with the exploitation of man by man.

Likewise the end of feudalism. I am sure that serfs and peasants were buffed about by their lords since time immemorial, not to mention droit du seigneur and all that. But when the Tudors disarmed the nobles and nationalized the armed forces and the nobles chucked their now useless peasants off the land so they could make money from agricultural improvements, then we had a scandal of landless peasants and predatory vagabonds that prompted the Tudors to enact a Poor Law to "do something" about the problem.

So my theory is that capitalism, with its concentration of resources and its scaling-up of economic activity, creates a scandal out of injustices that were just accepted as the "way thing are" in olden times.

It's one thing to oppress and starve peasants out on the feudal manor, but another thing when the landless are nationalized by the end of feudalism.

It's one thing to have house slaves and harems and beat them and exploit them and rape them, but another thing when you scale slavery up to a sugar plantation and the white overseers are casually raping and beating everything that moves.

It's one thing to starve and exploit your 'prentices in your family shop or business. It's another thing to exploit hundreds or thousands of workers in a big industrial plant.

Notice that I am not saying that we are morally superior to our ancestors. I am just saying that the modern era has shone a light into dark corners and that we have not liked what we saw. So we made the depopulation of the countryside into a scandal; we made plantation slavery into a problem; we made factory labor into a scandal.

One other thing that has been scaled up in the modern era is government. You could say that in the old days the petty oppressions of small governments were just part of the way things are. But now, with big government maybe it is time to shine a light into the oppressions that big government presses onto the brow of modern people. Like the sugar barons, our modern ruling class focuses on its power project; the people it crushes under its heel are just collateral damage.

But if my theory is correct our ruling class has a rendezvous with history. The huge scaled-up operations of modern government are going to bring its casual oppressions into sharp relief. Maybe that's what the Trump phenomenon is all about.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Nobody Likes the Other Guys' Strongman

Everybody hates strongmen and men on a white horse. Why? Because it represents a breakdown of democracy, of the peaceable back-and-forth of civilized politics.

Wait. What they are really saying is this.

We are the ruling class and we like being the rulers and we really like our role as the middlemen between the contending factions of people that want something from government. Naturally, we don't like the idea that some yahoo might come along and bewitch the people with his honeyed -- or angry -- rhetoric and push us to the side. In fact we think that such a thing would be totally sick and wrong, and a violation of the Constitution and all accepted values. In fact it would be the end of civilization as we know it.

In other words, the ruling class -- any ruling class -- believes in one thing. They believe in themselves as the ruling class. Anything else is oblivion.

Of course, any ruling class operates according to my catchphrase about the nature of government.
A government is an armed minority occupying some territory and taxing the inhabitants thereof to reward its supporters.
In our world, the "supporters" include almost everyone. We all get something from the government. The overwhelming majority of Americans get to partake of a smorgasbord of goodies, from Social Security to Medicare to free education to student loans. The one thing we cannot endure is that our favorite smorgasbord goodie should run out.

Our ruling class therefore has a little problem. Everyone is demanding more and better dishes on the smorgasbord and complaining about the quality of the dishes as they get a little stale; a good smorgasbord should always be fresh. But one thing really sets us off: if someone should remove our favorite dish. Ever.

So, as Mona Charen writes today, politicians run around lying, and we demand that they lie. They cater to the outrage that everyone feels about "Them". For Democratic voters "Them" is the 1% and the insurance company lobby and the banksters and the racist, sexist bigots. For Republican voters "Them" is the Establishment or Ted Cruz's Washington cabal.

Of course, when politicians run around lying about all the wonderful things they will do for us with the sweet use of force, they are going to promise more than we are willing to pay for. So eventually the government runs out of other peoples' money.

When that happens, it is time for a strongman to appear and command the squabbling factions to silence.

And really, it is only the strongmen that ever get anything done. George Washington, the rebel general during the Revolutionary War. He got to be the first president of the new nation. Abraham Lincoln, the president that wasted the South. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president that pushed through the transition to a welfare state. Ronald Reagan, the man that stopped the follies of the 1970s and engineered a 20-year boom.

The hit on Barack Obama is that he has been a strongman that failed. He pushed a stupid "stimulus;" he pushed a stupid Obamacare; he pushed a stupid green crony capitalism; he meddled weakly in the Middle East. There is nothing worse than a failed strongman.

When people talk about a strongman or a demagogue we immediately think of Adolf Hitler. We do that because Hitler is the bad dream of our liberal ruling class. He came to power because the previous ruling class had failed. The problem is that Hitler was a failure worse than the ruling class he replaced. He ruined Germany in twelve short years.

But the truth is that we all like strongmen: we are humans, after all. It's just that we only like our kind of strongman, the guy that will come in and put things right our way. Liberals loved Barack Obama; they swooned over him as a Lightworker. They thought that he would preside over a liberal golden age. Conservatives loved Ronald Reagan (although not at the time, because we were primed by the MSM to think Reagan was a lightweight). Reagan got things done; he fixed the economy and won the cold war.

Since Republicans and the white working class are totally pissed off because the political system hasn't been catering to our whims in the Obama era, we are ready for a strongman. There is nothing remarkable or scandalous in this. It is the natural human instinct for getting out of a jam.

Donald Trump bids fair to become the next all-American strongman. This is neither good or bad. It is just an indication that a lot of Americans think things are in a bit of a pickle in the good old US and A.

If Donald Trump gets elected three things could happen. Things could get better, things could get worse, or things could stay the same. If things get better, conservative Americans will nominate Trump for the pantheon of good conservative strongmen, er, heroes. If they don't then conservatives will push Trump down the memory hole.

Liberals, of course, will ever after consider Trump a disaster. If he fixes things, they will hate him for showing up the Lightworker. If he fails they will say I told you so. And how.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Trump: The Monday Morning Quarterbacks

Now that Donald Trump has pretty well clinched the GOP presidential nomination, the recriminations are are in full cry. At least by Thanksgiving, the GOP hopefuls should have seen what was coming and taken Donald Trump out, writes David French at NRO.

But really, what is so special and so wrong about Trump's supposed populist agenda on immigration and trade? If everyone else already has the government putting a finger on the scales for them, from blacks to women to gays to greens, why not the white working class? Why not shut down the border? Why not bring those jobs home? Why not use the clunking fist of government to make things right? Everybody else does.

You can, of course, explain the whole thing with the benefit of Hegel's master/slave concept, according to Ralph Peters.
We, the fortunate, created Trump when we failed to shake the hand of the repairman.
It's important, you see to treat everyone as if they matter. Or, if you prefer, there is Sartre and Camus. Good faith, to the Existentialists, is the imperative to consciously choose. But if the political system radically restricts and constrains the choices, what is a poor schmuck to do?
But when the constraints become intolerable — when the walls close in — the individual of character rebels, despite the consequences. 
 Of course, that's what Black Lives Matter is saying. And the Bernie guys. And every "peaceful protester." They are all saying: "I'm getting screwed, and I'm not going to take it any more." Therefore force. So why not the Donald leading the white working class to the Promised Land on a hope and a prayer?

Call it the Gospel of Force, the good news that you can solve your life problem with a nice little application of muscle, à la Melissa Click.

As I keep saying, the sorrow of the white working class is nothing new. The economic history of the last 500 years has been one economic revolution after another. And though humans as a whole benefited enormously from each revolution, there were always those that got hammered. The agricultural revolution "hurled" the rural proletariat on the labor market. The textile revolution hammered the putting-out hand textile industry. The railroads hammered the coaching industry. The illuminating oil industry hammered the whalers.

The problem is that each industry in its heyday starts to think that the sun rises and sets on it. The classic line is from David Copperfield's boss Mr. Spenlow, member of the monopolistic Doctors Commons that had the inside track on wills and divorces in early 19th century England. Touch Doctors Commons, said Spenlow, and you bring down the country.

That's what they are saying about "manufacturing" in the US these days. And it's true. Manufacturing jobs, and many others are fleeing the United States for the factories of China and office jobs are fleeing for the call centers of India. The sugar jobs in Marco Rubio's Florida would be fleeing to subsidy-crazed Brazil and Thailand if it weren't for tariffs and quotas keeping the Everglades sugared.

Yes, but. John Hinderaker at Powerline reminds us of the real choices.
Which is a better job, designing the new sensors that will keep cars from crashing into each other, or snapping the same two pieces together on an assembly line two hundred times a day every day of the year? Creating a new computer chip to maximize gas mileage, or screwing on door handles all day long? I say, good luck to the Mexicans and Chinese with those rote assembly jobs. Within our lifetimes, they will mostly be done by robots.
For a while after World War II, with the help of big labor unions and big government and big business in collusion, the US was able to pay big bucks to unskilled workers snapping two pieces together on the assembly line. But then the dam broke, especially when China gave up Marxist economics and went full Adam Smith. The unionized, cartelized big auto and big steel corporations were dead meat. Their rigid work rules and hidebound management could not respond to the challenge of Japan and China. So they cratered.

Because the auto and steel companies were unionized and cartelized and favorite sons of the government they got to tell their story to a sympathetic audience. Right now, of course, coal miners are losing their jobs as a direct consequence of Obama administration policy and nobody cares. We do not hear their wailing like we heard about manufacturing jobs. And I well remember in the aftermath of the energy crisis of the 1970s how the gas stations on every corner started going out of business, replaced by self-service company-owned high-volume stations. Nobody cared.

Capitalism is creative destruction, a constant turmoil of business creation and business destruction. There's a lot government can do to help business creation and to assist the victims of business destruction. But probably the worst thing government can do is shower any business sector with subsidies and privileges. Because that only gives the incumbents a sense of privilege and makes the eventual decline the harder to bear.

And then, when the former "little darlings" face their inevitable decline, they look for a Bernie Sanders or a Donald Trump to lash out at the system on their behalf.

And the rest of us stand around in judgment, asking how the government, or the GOP was stupid enough to let it all happen. After all, they shoulda known.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Can Trump Win? We Don't Know

After pretty well clearing the board on Super Tuesday, Donald Trump will have to be the nominee of the Republican Party. Or else mayhem.

It does no good for Jim Geraghty to assert, in his daily email, that the GOP cannot be unified under Trump. That is what people always say at this stage of the game.

But that is why we have elections and conventions and speeches and all the froo-fra of politics. At the end of the process you have a winner, validated by the process.

It is time to stop worrying about who wins the nomination. It is time to start thinking about who wins the election.

On the one hand the polls tell us that Trump has big negatives. On the other hand we have people like the American Spectator's George Neumayr walking around New York City and finding that a lot of people you would think of as Democrats find him interesting.
A black man walking his daughter to school came over to me one morning and asked, “Where can I get that hat?” He was eager to pick one up and vote for Trump. He explained that he doesn’t typically vote Republican but liked Trump for his crafty business sense.
Trump's signature issues are immigration and trade. The Democrats like to frame immigration as a race issue: you are a racist if you oppose immigration. But any fool can see that immigration is an issue that divides voters mainly down the line of whether you have family that wants to immigrate. If your family has all immigrated then you probably think that immigrants compete for your job. If you still have family waiting for green cards then you want more immigration.

Up to now Democrats have framed immigration as a race issue. No doubt Trump will try to frame it as a jobs issue. He might also successfully frame illegal immigration as a rule of law issue.

Trade is probably a wash. Both Trump and the Democratic nominee will be against free trade, because as everyone knows, free trade outsources jobs to China.

The thing is that Donald Trump, because he is a celebrity, has a better chance to define himself for the election than any recent GOP presidential nominee. And he is pretty aggressive about defining himself. I suspect that Hillary Clinton will find it difficult to deal with him.

For instance, if I were Donald Trump I would say, every day from now to the election, that I couldn't understand any president doing a dumb thing like setting up my own email server. Anyone that knows anything about computers knows that a private email server is an open invitation to hackers. And I'd say that I couldn't understand anyone that would come up with such a tawdry lie over Benghazi. In other words I would be raising the issue that Hillary Clinton just doesn't love America.

But one thing is clear. Win or lose, Donald Trump has changed the Republican Party forever. That is the real beef of the #NeverTrump folks at National Review and the business and political elite at Sea Island. If Trump is nominated, and especially if he wins in November, the parties will have been shuffled from the 50-50 red-state blue-state standoff of the last two decades.

The point is that every ruling class like stability. They like to be able to control events and deal with the same people and manipulate the same political dials and levers. But every few years the old order gets shuffled. And obviously any shuffle means that the current ruling class is going to take a hit.

That's where we are in 2016 and nobody knows what will wash out in November.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Kevin Williamson is Wrong About the White Working Class

The chaps at National Review have gone pedal-to-the-metal against Trump. A recent example is my man Kevin D. Williamson's Father-Führer piece in the magazine. You can see the gist of the article here.

Kevin's idea is that it's the white working class's own bloody fault that, as Michael A. Cooper Jr. writes, and I agree, they are "dying of despair." Even the white working class has "moral responsibilities," according to Kevin.

Aha! There's that word: "responsibilities."

You see, according to my reductive Three Peoples theory, the white working class are People of the Subordinate Self, like serfs and slaves down the ages. This means that individual working class people do not experience themselves as responsible to themselves or to God for their lives.

On the contrary, they believe in sheltering under the protection of a powerful lord, or politician, or union boss. For them, that is the way to survive in this world. And most humans down the ages have believed the same.

Here is what the goddess Fricka thinks about serfs and peasants in Die Wälkure. The word is "Knecht" in German.

But I bring you a miracle. About 3,000 years ago humans started to believe the remarkable notion that they were not merely "die Knechte Gottes" the slaves of the gods and the Big Man of the village but individuals that could understand the world and do something about it. In that case they were responsible for doing something about it. That's what all the Axial Age religions are all about according to Robert Bellah in "Religious Evolution."

Now, in my view, the transition from subordination to responsibility is necessarily intermediated by religion. You cannot advance from membership of the People of the Subordinate Self and graduate to the exalted realm of the People of the Responsible Self without becoming Judaized or Hinduized or Christianized. The point about the white working class is that they have not made the transition. They minds were never melted in the crucible of Christianity.

In my view the way to experience this truth for yourself is to read George Eliot's Adam Bede set in 1800. The hero Adam Bede is a carpenter (!) and a Methodist and the heroine is the transcendent Methodist lay preacher Dinah Morris. So you can see that they come after the Great Awakening that stirred the masses in England and in colonial North America. My favorite quote about this is from Finke and Stark's The Churching of America. They quote a preacher active in the Great Awakening.
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
See what I mean? Just in case you don't get the point I have bolded the important words.

Now, what Kevin D. Williamson is saying that the behavior of the white working class is a "damning sin." But the problem is that the white workers are still dead to the world in the "sleep of ages." They have not yet woken up to see that they are "responsible beings." And until you have woken up and become a responsible being you have no clue that you are refusing "to use the means appointed." So Kevin is missing the point.

But that is not the end of the story. On my reading of society, every group that entered into the city used the means appointed to deal with the fact that the city demands that you act responsibly. It demands that you figure out how to contribute to the city economy rather than idle around on some great lord's estate until the steward comes around and tells you what to do. Yet somehow the white working class came to the city and didn't learn this lesson.

How come? The answer is obvious. Liberals. Well, not just liberals but the whole leftist movement from communists to socialists to progressives.

The left movement told the working class that it did not need to learn the culture of responsibility. It could continue to slumber in the sleep of ages as subordinate peasants, as the subordinate servants of the leftist avant garde. The promotion of labor unions meant that workers did not need to go forth themselves to negotiate with the world and keep updating their skills and work to excel. No, the union would take care of them. The enacting of social insurance legislation meant that the working class did not need to learn about savings and looking out for the future. No, a wise and evolved elite would do that for them, and all they needed to do was to vote for progressive politicians.

Only, of course, the day came when the progressive elite tired of the white working class and decided that the grievances of African Americans and women and gays and Hispanics were much more important. So they tossed the white working class to the side of the road and marched onward to bend the arc of history to racial and sexual equality.

This is the one little problem about selling your birthright for a mess of pottage. Eventually you lose both your birthright and your mess of pottage. The truth is that if you are one of the People of the Subordinate Self you will find, one fine day, that you have been abandoned by your lord, when you are no longer useful to him.

That, in my view, is the story of the English peasant. As late as the Wars of the Roses the peasants were useful to their lords because they could be used in their baronial armies. You can see, in Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses plays, that each baron had "our powers" that he could bring to the battlefield. But then the Tudors disarmed the nobles and destroyed their castles. Instead they created a nation state and a national army. Correlation is not causation, but at the same time their armies were being disbanded the nobles got into the idea of "improvement," of improving their estates by drainage and enclosure. And they kicked the surplus labor force off the land. By the end of the 16th century the surplus population was enough of a problem that the political system decided to "do something" about it. The result was the Elizabethan Poor Law. For 200 years the poor slowly starved on this welfare program until the industrial revolution suddenly put them all to work.

Now we have the white working class in exactly the same position. Nobody needs their labor; nobody needs their votes. Sayonara, pal.

I am not a chap to be shy about reductive theories. Attached to my reductive Three Peoples theory, with its People of the Suborinate Self, its People of the Responsible Self, and its People of the Creative Self, is what I call the "little darlings" problem, here and here.

The idea is that once you become the little darling of the ruling class then you are toast. You lose the ability to live life without the fatherly assistance of the great lord. The English peasant was once the little darling of the warrior nobles, until the nobles didn't need him any more. The worker was the little darling of the educated ruling class until the educated ruling class decided that blacks and women were much funner.

So the white working class is toast, unless it gets religion and wakes up from the sleep of ages and realizes that each and every one is a responsible being. But that is not the end of the story.

What about African Americans? What happens to these current little darlings of the liberals when the liberals tire of them?

What about women? What happens to the special snowflakes in their safe spaces when the ruling class tires of them?

You can see the point. Whatever the rulers say, the rulers really do not care about people like you. They only care about your vote, or using you as a pawn in their games of power. Right now, people all over the place are shocked, shocked, at the way that Donald Trump is bewitching the white working class into believing that Trump cares about people like them.

So what's the difference between Trump and Obama?  Obama, who bewitched a generation with Hope and Change. Or Bill Clinton who promised, as the economy came out of a mild recession, to fix "the worst economy in the last 50 years."

The fact is that if you become the little darling of the ruling class you are setting yourself up for misery, like any hot young woman that sells her pneumatic youth to some sugar daddy.

To avoid the fate of little darlings down the ages, of People of the Subordinate Self that got left by the roadside, you have first to become like Adam Bede or Dinah Morris and join the People of the Responsible Self.

There is no shame, Kevin D. Williamson, in being a member of the OxyContin white working class. But there is no future in it, either.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Derb's Four Party System is Missing a Party

Brit immigrant John Derbyshire is a Brit immigrant just like me, and far from being horrified at the Demolition Derby of the 2016 election thus far, he writes that it is "fun." He is right. But then he steps out, and proposes that the current election season has exposed four political parties in America.
It looks to me as though the two-party system has been an illusion. We actually have four parties:
  • The White Gentry Liberal Party, as represented by Bernie Sanders.
  • The party of labor unions and NAMs—that’s Non-Asian Minorities— led by Mrs. Clinton.
  • The Donorist-Capitalist-Neocon party, which rallied behind Jeb Bush and is now staging a desperate, and surely doomed, rearguard action under Marco Rubio.
  • The White Prole Party, under the leadership of Donald Trump.
The first two parties are obvious, because they show the over-under coalition that surely is the Democratic Party. It would be cool if that would break up, but I doubt it. The point is that the government labor unions and the non-Asian minorities need gentry liberal leadership, because they are People of the Subordinate Self.

But when I look at the other two parties, I have to ask: where do I fit in, Derb? Where does a small-government libertarian conservative fit into this matrix?

Let's say that, in the Nineties and the Oughts I followed the neo-con line and accepted the idea of intervening in the Middle East. I'm certainly capitalist, though definitely not crony-capitalist donorist. I'm sympathetic to the sufferings of the white proles, but in my heart I'd like to eviscerate the social insurance programs they support.

Surely there is room for a party in America that stands for people that think of themselves as typical Americans. Yes, of course there must be, and what is more typical than an American-loving, rock-ribbed immigrant like me?

And it's obvious what that party should be called. It should be called the Typical American Party, led by Ted Cruz.

But if, in fact, there are five political parties, then you can see why the Democrats keep coming out on top. They just have to stitch together two factions, and how hard can that be when one faction is the leadership faction and the other is the subordinate faction?

But things are much trickier in the GOP. How do you stitch together the Sea Island folks with the Proles and the typical Americans? It sounds like a challenge to me, because there are two leadership cadres and one subordinate faction.

And, the biggest question of all, can the Sea Islanders and the typicalers bear the humiliation of the Trumped-up schlock  of the Prole faction?

Friday, March 11, 2016

It Ends Not with a Bang, but a Whimper

Here's a moving piece from a small-town lawyer who's waking up to the misery of "Trump's America, where working-class whites are dying from despair." He's Michael A. Cooper, Jr., from North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, where the manufacturing and the furniture factories got up and left.

He sounds like a Democrat trying to be fair. Here's what went wrong, according to Cooper.
As productivity climbed, working-class Americans wanted their wages to rise also. Instead, Republicans gave them tax cuts for the rich while liberal Democrats called them racists and bigots.
Actually, the Reagan and Bush tax-rate cuts lowered tax rates on everyone and removed a ton of middle-income taxpayers from the rolls.

But I get what Cooper is saying. Neither Republicans nor Democrats did anything to help the good-jobs-at-good-wages workers of the 1950s adjust to the new world of rising East Asia.

No doubt the white working class has suffered from the move of manufacturing to East Asia. But the political class could not have provided absolute protection from this economic tidal wave. You can do a bit of tariff protection; you can limit immigration. But workers in the First World have to learn First World skills if they want to earn First World wages.

The tragedy of the white working class is not that the Republicans and the Democrats betrayed them in the years since 1973, either by immigration to lower their wages or by globalization to outsource their jobs. The tragedy is that the 20th century ruling class offered the white working class a lie, that they could graduate from high school into lifetime jobs at unionized corporations at good wages. The lie was that their social insurance programs actually delivered social insurance.

The truth about our modern economy is the truth of Schumpeter's "creative destruction." The Great Enrichment of the last two centuries is built on creative surprises in a succession of economic revolutions. The good news is that the revolutions lifted all boats. The bad news is that there were victims all along the way. First there were the peasants thrown off the land by the enclosures. Agricultural prices came down, but the peasants lost everything. Then there was the textile revolution that in stages destroyed the cottage textile industry: first hand-spinning, then hand-weaving. Then there were the railways that demolished the coaching industry and the horse-and-cartage industry. Now we have smart manufacturing that has taken the jobs of the rust-belt manufacturing workers.

In each revolution the political system had nothing to offer the revolution's victims except welfare. The Elizabethan Poor Law was a pathetic effort to respond to the agricultural revolution. When the machine weaving came along, its victims like Andrew Carnegie emigrated to America. But we don't really know what happened to the carters, like Barkis in David Copperfield.

The awful truth is that politics is clueless. It knows nothing except rallying people with words, and anesthetizing them with money. President Obama didn't have a clue when he uttered his famous "bitter clingers" riff in 2008. Let's reprise his fundraiser speech.
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them... And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Obama understood the problem. But he had nothing to offer. Conservatives have sneered at his detached attitude, but the truth is that neither party had anything to offer.

Nor can they now. The truth is that when people get into their 40s they lose their get-up-and-go and when things go wrong they try to live by gaming the system. They live off their families, or off welfare, or off disability, and they slowly spiral down into oblivion.

If there is a villain here it is the conceit of the educated ruling class that they could manage economic change with politics: with education, with training, with economic manipulation. But tax cuts don't solve it, naming and shaming of bigots doesn't do it; education doesn't do it; minimum wage doesn't do it.

Just look at the ruling class misjudgments of the last ten years. They said that the earth was burning up; instead we have had a "pause" in global warming. They said we could give mortgage loans to people with low credit scores; instead we got a financial meltdown. They said that we were running out of fossil energy. Instead the fracking revolution has mad energy cheap again. They said they could reform health care to give affordable care to the marginal people between Medicaid and employer health insurance. Instead costs have gone up for everyone.

This is not the incompetence and the corruption of the ruling class.  This is the ruling class doing things using political and administrative power that cannot be done with political power.

There are things we can do to help the white working class. We can enforce the laws on illegal immigrants. We can limit legal immigration. We can reduce regulations on corporations so that it makes sense for them to locate in the United States. We can probably stiffen up welfare and disability so that more people choose work over idleness.

But we cannot save the white working class from its despair. Only the white working class can do that. Maybe Trump can raise its morale. But how much did Obama's Hope and Change help the Democratic faithful? We can only do what government has always done, and put the victims on the dole.

But for you and I, the misery of the white working class is a warning, for there but for luck and pluck goes each one of us. Lee Iacocca's dictum still applies. You can lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Above all, everyone of us must surrender to the market. All the market asks of us is to offer a product or a service that other people want to buy, and if at first you don't succeed, then try, try again.

All it asks of us!

But the alternative is despair and oblivion.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Why Do Liberals Always Need a Therapist?

Back in the ancient world of World War I they called it shell shock. Then in World War II they called it combat stress reaction. Now we call it post-traumatic stress disorder.

Not to be outdone, the liberals of 2000 went to their therapists and were diagnosed with stress disorder because of the trauma of the Republicans winning an election. Therapists mobilized all across Florida to minister to the combat fatigue of distraught liberals.

And that is to say nothing of the notion of "stress" that women all over the Anglosphere talk about with their friends.

Of course, when Barack Obama was elected president there was no need for a therapist mobilization. Because Hope and Change.

But now that the era of Obama is coming to a close we have "Trump anxiety" rearing its head among the faint-hearted.

Now, I fully endorse the notion of post-traumatic stress disorder in the case of combat soldiers. It is said that the human male can only stand about 100 days of combat stress. After that he goes mad.

Think about what that means. After 100 days of constant exposure to death and terror, the average male consciousness closes down into madness. It is the only sensible thing to do.

At the other end of this, of course, is the notion, now regnant on college campi, that white professional-class female students should not be subject to any disturbing event, and that safe spaces should be provided for those traumatized by exposure to ideas that challenge the normal 95 percent liberal-feminist-secular-activist monoculture on campus.

(Notice that there is no attempt to provide stress therapy for, e.g., enthusiastic white male Christians, when they arrive at an elite university. In fact the opposite occurs, as students are subjected ruthlessly to reeducation camps on "white privilege." In these cases, the application of stress is considered a positive virtue.)

Since we have established that liberals consider stress a positive good, at least for the character building of conservatives, let us consider the words of would-be typical American Sarah Hoyt. She notes the remarkable absence of stress in our modern lives. But, she writes, we shouldn't expect things to continue like this.
ALL of us, even the most protected of the special snowflakes, are descended from war and disease, famine and strife, and an insane amount of work.  Because those were the conditions that led to survival in most of history, and we’re descended from the ones who survived, or at least from the ones who survived long enough to have children.
We seem to think that we should be able to live free from stress.
The question is: are humans supposed to go through life untraumatized? Is there some ideal state of humanity where we never encounter anything unpleasant, are never frustrated, never hurt?
Answer: NO!
And I wonder. I wonder if this radical experiment of raising kids without any traumas, any hardship is not the worst thing you could do to kids.

It used to be believed — and it was a popular theory in the sixties and seventies — that if you raised kids with absolutely no hardship they would be perfect; that if you raised kids with no violence they would be peaceful; that if you raised kids with self-esteem and praise, they would be confident and productive.
Hoyt's point is that things are going to get worse, at some point. And when they get worse, only the strong will survive, only the people that went against the conventional wisdom of a living a stress-free life, and raising your kids to be free from stress.

So how tough should we be on ourselves? How tough should we be on our kids? Should we advocate "firmness" as the Murdstones advocates for little boys like David Copperfield.

The answer is, of course, that nobody knows, because nobody knows what is coming in the future. It's like buying a stock. It's easy to say: buy low, sell high, but nobody knows the future.

Right now I am reading a Trollope novel, Doctor Thorne. And Trollope raises the question of toughness. Should you be as tough as Roger Scatcherd, the stone mason that rose to be a railway contractor and a rich man, that killed himself with drink? Should you be tough like Lady Arabella, the mother that wants the money-less Mary Thorne out of the way of her son, Frank, who must marry money to clear his father's financial embarrassments? Should you be tough like Frank, that horsewhipped the man that jilted his sister?

Trollope's answer is obvious. You should be as tough as Mary Thorne, principled and honorable, but kind and generous. Yeah, Tony. Easy for you to say.

All I can say is that liberals are heading for a fall. They are very solicitous of their kind, providing them with therapists, safe spaces and all. But they are utterly cruel to people outside the magic circle of liberalism. They pamper themselves and practice Murdstonian firmness on people suspected of white privilege.

I think that the way to live is to be tough on yourself, and kind to others. If only I could practice what I preach. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Shoulda Woulda Coulda Avoided Trump

Now that Donald Trump, with a 3 out 4 win on Tuesday March 8 primaries, is looking like the Republican presidential nominee it is easy to start the Monday morning quarterbacking.

The Republican Party shoulda woulda coulda focused on the injustices suffered by the white working class instead of ruining the political career of Marco Rubio by pushing the rookie senator into a nasty Gang of Eight to push through immigration reform.

The whole notion of the GOP establishment's minority outreach was folly, because appealing to minorities as minorities is the Democrats' game, and they are way better at it than Republicans will ever be.

We can now see what the Republican establishment should have done. It should have started outreach to the America-wide working class, white, black, and brown, appealing to them as typical Americans getting a raw deal from the top-down globalist world view of the global ruling class.

But they didn't, and now we have Trump.

Reading Jim Geraghty this morning got me to thinking that the problem is GOPers and conservatives that approach politics as policy. We conservatives all approach politics as ideology, as putting together a set of ideas to improve the nation.

But politics isn't policy. Politics is violence; it is angry people shouting that they have been screwed by the unjust ruling class and they are not going to take it any more. Democrats and liberals understand this; that's what their activism culture is all about, with its marches and its slogans and its demands and its protest signs. It is political violence by other means.

Now Donald Trump has tapped into the injustice roiling middle America. We should have known it was there, because Charles Murray showed it to us in Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. Remember, he wrote the book exclusively about white America in part because of the trouble he got into with The Bell Curve and in part because he wanted his message to be free of racial cant. It's not just minorities and women that are hardest hit, it's ordinary white Americans below the magic 25 percent of the educated elite.

I'm as rigid and severe a libertarian conservative as any in Illyria. I want to dismantle the welfare state and give the money back to the workers and the middle class from whence it came. Not because I want to beggar the workers but because I believe that social insurance programs sequester the savings of the workers and give them to activists and bureaucrats to play with and to waste. And that is unjust. I want an untrammeled creative destruction economy not because I have it in for workers but because I believe that when you start handing out economic privileges like tariffs and pro-union legislation you are setting yourself up for Detroit. Protectionism lets companies coast instead of compete, and union legislation lets workers price themselves out of the market. And when the crash comes it is not just a correction but a Detroit-type meltdown that ends with grass growing in the streets.

But I recognize that not one person in a hundred really gets this. So I understand the point of a non-ideological Trump candidacy that just rubs the magic lamp with incantations about making America great again. Instead of listing out a terrifying agenda of reform and retrenchment we need a center-right presidency that sugar-coats the medicine and doesn't scare people.

The liberals and the New York Times  are breathlessly arguing that Trump appeals to the darkest forces in the GOP. They mean white racists and white militias. You can't really blame them; the liberal race shaming game has allowed liberals to dominate the culture for 50 years. But that doesn't mean that white working class males don't have genuine grievances that a just ruling class should, would, and could try to ameliorate.

And the big upside potential for Republicans is that the sorrows of the white working class apply also to minority working class folks. Blacks and Hispanics got hammered by the Great Recession because they were the "fortunate" recipients of the liar loans that got them into houses they couldn't afford. And the Crash wiped them out. I'd say that there are millions of blacks and Hispanics ready for the Trump message and anxious to make America great again so that they can prosper.

Can Trump do it? Can the Republican Party do it? Can anyone blunt the race and gender politics of the Democrats and get Americans to vote as Americans and not as a tribe?

Stay tuned. because things are just getting interesting.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A View of Trump from the Left

I've been writing for a while that if you want to understand the Trump phenomenon you need to grasp that, since the 1960s, the left has abandoned the class politics of the New Deal and replaced it with race and gender politics. No longer would the left blame America for the plight of the suffering working class, therefore more government, but instead it would blame America for the plight of minorities and women, therefore more government.

Moreover, I have suggested, it is a little rich to make the white working class pay for the sins of the slavers and the planters, when most of them were suffering as workers and peasants in Europe at the time of high plantation slavery.

But if you are a liberal, like Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo (H/T Paul Mirengoff), things look a bit different. The passive voice is needed.
TPM Readers are entirely familiar with that the fact that a large segment of the American right is animated by a belief that 'their' world, their America is being taken away from them - this includes everything from declining white racial dominance, having to choose whether you want to hear the phone tree message in English or Spanish, changing cultural mores.
But Eeyore didn't just fall into the water; he was pushed. Starting in the 1960s, liberals decided to stop pushing government policies that benefited the white working class, but instead started developing policies that benefited minorities and women. It wasn't "changing cultural mores" that did it; it was deliberate use of government power by the liberal educated ruling class, on the theory, explicit or implicit, that the white working class weren't going to be reliable Democratic votes in the future.
[Then there] is the appeal to power and force. Trump is the master of GOP 'dominance politics', the inherent appeal of power and the ability to dominate others.
One is tempted to ask: what in the world is Josh talking about? Is he talking about the cunning GOP plan to dominate the universities? The cunning plan to take over the public schools? The cunning plan to dominate the media and Hollywood? The cunning plan to privatize Social Security and thus free Americans from being forced to pay FICA tax and then suck on the government teat in their retirement?

Whatever may be the evils of the GOP it does at least begin with the idea of limited government, the crazy idea that a little less "power and force" from the government would be a good thing. Like I say, the central conceit of liberals is that they are just kindly librarians helping people out with their problems, rather than ruthless authoritarians seizing 30-40 percent of GDP to reward their supporters.
On the radicalized, revanchist right, provocation and transgression of norms isn't simply indulged. It functions as a positive good. It is a feature, not a bug, to use the tech phrase.
No kidding, Josh. I thought that the hit on the right was its slavish attachment to tradition. I thought it was the left that celebrated the smashing of cultural icons, the rolling back of the patriarchy, the dethroning of heterosexual hegemony. And what is the whole culture of left-wing "activism" if not the celebration of provocation and transgression in the service of revolution and fundamental transformation?

All of this goes to show the value of my notion that everyone is sensitive to "incoming mortar rounds" crashing around their firebase. But when "our" troops fire off rounds towards the enemy the result is merely experienced as interesting puffs of smoke a mile or two away.

To a liberal like Josh Marshall the whole left cultural program to devalue the bourgeois family and the free market and limited government, the whole "long march through the institutions," the relentless naming and shaming of "racist!" and "sexist!" at anyone that disagrees with the liberal agenda, the massive resort to regulation and administrative government power, all these are nothing. The real threat is the right's lust for power and force, provocation and transgression, its feeling of declining white dominance.

I will tell you what is wrong here. Josh Marshall cannot think out of the box of his liberal world view. Like hegemons everywhere he assumes that the people are grateful peasants that tug their forelocks when their betters drive by.

He cannot grasp the simple truth that all government is injustice, and all ruling classes eventually provoke a head of rebellion in the people over which they rule. He cannot perform the hardest thing in the world, to put himself in the place of the "other" and imagine how it feels to be on the receiving end of liberal cultural and political power.

But then, what ruling class ever did, until the tumbrils started to roll?

Oh, and by the way, Josh, if the American right is upset right now that "their" world is being taken away, remember how you chaps felt in the high Bush years of the 2000s? If I remember right, you chaps were beside yourself with rage that Bush was stealing the country away from you, starting with the notion that Bush "stole" the election of 2000.

What is it that they say about turnabout is fair play?