Friday, December 30, 2016

Mideast: Replay of Europe 1600

The Middle East is the despair of well-born western elitists everywhere. Educated to a fare-thee-well in their Ivy League secular seminaries and finishing schools, so that they know the currently approved orthodoxy and know to avoid heresy and also have learned the "social graces and upper class cultural rites as a preparation for entry into society," these tender souls cannot understand why the folks in the Middle East have not embraced Peace and Justice.

Well, there are those nasty Israelis, of course. But for them the arc of history would be bending towards...

But what do you expect after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire? And after European dead white males, educated in all the usual state seminaries and finishing schools, had mucked around in the Middle East for a century with their foolish attempts to create a European style region. As Alan Massie writes,
None of these creations was a nation-state. There was the idea of the Arab nation, and it’s an idea that has never found practical expression. In most of the new states people felt loyalty to their tribe and their religion, not to the state.
Let's take a look at the Middle East. It has numerous tribes and enclaves, and mostly people identify themselves by blood and kindred. It has two competing versions of Islam. It has a holy site, in Mecca. And it has great powers interfering all the time, just because they could.

Gee, that sounds familiar. How about the German lands in 1600, or so. You had the dozens of principalities and even bishoprics. You had the memory of a lost empire in the Holy Roman Empire that was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire. You were the front line between Protestantism and Catholicism. You had the holy center of Christendom down the street at the Vatican. And you had great powers, like France and Sweden, meddling in German affairs, because they could.

Let's say that the German problem started with Martin Luther and his 95 Theses in 1517, kicking off the schism in Christianity. About a century later you had the Thirty Years War from 1618 to 1648. The end of the war saw the Treaty of Westphalia and the advancement of the idea of the Nation State.

That was cool for the non-German powers, because they were already nation states. But what about Germany. Too bad. It took another 200 years of war and revolution before the Germans got themselves a nation state, courtesy of the genius of Otto von Bismarck. Then, of course, the heirs of Bismarck mucked things up and got Germany into two world wars of Germany-vs.-the-rest.

So the result of all that religion and war and revolution is that the Germans are checking out of the world, with their women refusing to have babies and their German lands being overrun with migrants from the Middle East.

Here we have 500 years or so of complete elite cock-up in Europe, and you chaps are all wigged out about the fact that the Middle East hasn't yet settled down in a mere 100 years after the end of the Ottoman Empire?

What planet are you living on? Or more to the point, which secular seminary did you get your orthodox faith from? And which finishing school gave you your social graces?

I say let's give the Middle East another couple hundred years of war and mayhem before we decide to send in Graham Chapman and "The Colonel" to stop the silliness.

On the other hand, perhaps we should encourage Arab on Arab mayhem. Imagine if the Arab Middle East ever unified into a single entity, bursting with energy, whether religious or linguistic or national.

I don't think that would be much fun for the rest of us.

So maybe the result of Barack Obama's foolishness in the Middle East is the best possible outcome. He has managed to dissolve the whole place into wars and revolutions and terror and massacre. No chance for a unified Arab world on his watch. Yay Barack!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Geroge Soros Doesn't Get It

George Soros is a remarkable man, a Hungarian Jew that escaped the gas chambers of Hitler's Germany and then lived to become a wealthy speculator and a follower of Karl Popper and his idea of an Open Society.

And so he has spent tons of money over the years promoting what he believes to be the idea of the Open Society.

Now he has written a kind of manifesto, telling us what he thinks, and why, and what has gone wrong and what needs to be done. Here is the center of his political system.
I distinguished between two kinds of political regimes: those in which people elected their leaders, who were then supposed to look after the interests of the electorate, and others where the rulers sought to manipulate their subjects to serve the rulers’ interests. Under Popper’s influence, I called the first kind of society open, the second, closed.
OK, he writes, that is too simplistic. But when the EU was founded he supported it.

Which means that George Soros supports the idea of an unaccountable elite whose rulers could seek "to manipulate their subject to serve the rulers' interests." Which is what the EU elite has done.

Just a thought, George. I would say that an open society is one in which -- never mind how it is elected -- the government is limited and the intellectual elite labors night and day to create a national culture that marginalizes the eternal yearning in everyone to live at the expense of others, through government free stuff.

And now Germany has become the hegemon of Europe, and is doing a bad job at it, according to Soros. Meanwhile the whole of Europe is coming under the influence of Vladimir Putin, "whose concept of government is irreconcilable with that of open society." Writes Soros:
I hope that Europe’s leaders and citizens alike will realize that this endangers their way of life and the values on which the EU was founded.
And of course, Donald Trump is a real problem. Under him, "the US will be preoccupied with internal struggles in the near future, and targeted minorities will suffer."

So now we know why Soros is anti-nationalist and pro Black Lives Matter, as I wrote in the American Thinker. He's all worrited about "targeted minorities." You mean like the white working class, George, marginalized since the 1970s by liberals like Norman Lear in his All in the Family?

The fact is that George Soros is a man of his time and class, and bows to the false gods of the global elite, just like an Obama or a Kerry. His idea, like the rest of his buddies, is that a wise, evolved elite will rule the world as a kind of transnational cabal.

But the truth is that government, all government, is a shambles. Above all, politics and government are a problem because they attract people that are interested in power and the use of force.

But the notion of social animals, and humans as social animals, is how to limit force and its destruction. How do you slow down the chaps and the chapettes that are interested in power? How do you arrange institutions so that people are encouraged to serve their fellows with products and services rather than guns and bullets?

The overarching fact of the last century or so is that rich kids all over have fallen for the notion that the peace of the world depends on people like them getting political power to fight against the bourgeoisie and lead the marginalized into safe channels by bending the arc of history towards justice. And they have made the biggest mess of things ever every time they have been given that power.

George Soros is, no doubt, a clever man, and a successful speculator. But when it comes to government and politics he is a fool, blinded by the ruling-class shibboleths of the age.

He just doesn't get it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Thomas Sowell is a Great Phrasemaker

If we look back at the conservative movement of the turn of the 21st century, two of the most worthy names must be Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams. They are, of course, black, and have paid the price for not getting with the program and bending the knee to the liberal orthodoxy.

Sowell and Williams are also men that made their bones before the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s and before African Americans became the little darlings of the ruling class. So they have the toughness and pride of the self-made man, and I like that.

This week Thomas Sowell, at 86, has announced that he will stop writing his weekly syndicated op-ed column. In response many in the conservative firmament, and some of us occupying a sub-lunar position, have written about what Thomas Sowell has meant to us.

I myself have ten of his books on my bookshelf, out of the 30-odd that he has published over a hard-working lifetimes. So that ain't bad.

But I think that the great contribution of Dr. Thomas Sowell has been his talent for the catchphrase, or apothegm.

Here is the Dark Lord Vox Day and his list of Sowellisms.

Here is Michell Malkin and her list; she started reading Sowell in college, "no thanks to my college."

Here is Steven Hayward, biographer of Reagan and Powerline guy with his list of Sowell aphorisms.

Here is Christine Rousselle, at Townhall.com.

Here is WikiQuote's list of Sowell quotes.

And here is Thomas Sowell himself, with his favorite quotations from others.

I don't think that Thomas Sowell broke any new ground in economics or history, although he did yeoman work in diversity, showing that there is no such thing as the right proportion of workers in any field, and he showed that affirmation action and quotas are poison, whenever and wherever they are tried across the world.

My appreciation of Thomas Sowell is that his talent for the catchphrase is no small thing. For instance, I have tried to find pithy quotes in the work of Friedrich Hayek without much success. Hayek was a German writer, and wrote in paragraphs; it is very hard to find a catchphrase in his work. But the first thing that people think of in regard to Thomas Sowell is his talent for the pithy quote.

And for that we shall be eternally grateful to the mind and the pen of Thomas Sowell.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lost in a Legacy Media Wonderland

It's lovely to read the chaps at the Carlos Slim blog as they try to figure out what hit them. So here is Jim Rutenberg doing an end-of-year piece on the media landscape.
This much is obvious, but it bears repeating before the year turns: If the news media is going to do its part in maintaining a fact-based national debate, it’s going to have to learn important lessons from 2016. 
Oh dear, Jim. Ain't you ever read nothing? For instance, how about reading Benjamin Disraeli's political novels like Sybil and Coningsby? There are three characters that define already in the mid 19th century what the modern media is all about. There is Rigby, who writes "slashing articles." And then there are Taper and Tadpole, the political operatives, always asking "What is our cry?"

So nothing has changed, Jim. Already in the dark ages of the 19th century the media was right in the middle of the political game, putting its weight on one side or the other. In Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, we have three, count 'em, three ink-stained wretches writing, er, fake news to catch the eyeballs of the reading public. There is Mr. Broune of the Morning Breakfast Table. Broune is middle-of-the-road. Then there is Mr. Alf, of The Evening Pulpit, a title with an air of "wonderful omniscience." Finally there is Mr. Booker, of the Literary Chronicle.

At no point do Disraeli or Trollope give us any impression that this wonderful cast of characters is the least bit interested in "a fact-based national debate." Not a whisper. They are all in the business of catching eyeballs.

And that is the business that Carlos Slim's blog is in. Only Carlos Slim is what you might call the original robber baron. He made his bones as the guy with a monopoly on cell-phone service in Mexico. Golly; I wonder how Slim got and kept the cell-phone monopoly in Mexico.

How much fact-based national debate can you expect from a newspaper owned by a crony capitalist?

So it is utterly ridiculous to whine about "fake news." All news is fake news; it all has an angle.

For instance, here is Joel Kotkin talking about the blue cities, supposedly the thriving heart of the new urbanist movement that is revitalizing America's cities.
In reality, if we go beyond the big-city boosterism that dominates media coverage, poverty, crime, and economic stagnation still characterize many urban core neighborhoods even as many downtown districts have recovered. For all the talk about gentrification, concentrated urban poverty has been a persistent and growing problem, with 75 percent of high-poverty neighborhoods in 1970 still classified that way four decades later.
What in the world could he mean with his "big-city boosterism?"

The urbanists are all about "light rail and trolley projects designed to appeal to upscale riders and developers," according to Kotkin. Yeah, and here in Seattle we have just voted for $50 billion in light rail and trolleys.

So where does the boosting of metro-city urbanism come in the arc of justice between "fake news" and "fact-based national debate?" Ain't you heard, Jim? The Germans decided 200 years ago that there was no such thing as "facts." As Kant said, we cannot know things-in-themselves, we can only know appearances, and those appearances go through our minds before we construct the picture of them that we call reality.

I have found that over the years liberals have sneered at the FoxNews catchphrase "fair and balanced." Don't you guys get it? Fair and balanced is a joke, son. It is an ironical comment on the conceit of the liberal media that they deal in facts and genuine reportage.

And that was before WikiLeaks and the emails that showed your average liberal reporter groveling before the big beasts of the Democratic Party.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Left's Trifecta of Delusion, Incompetence, and Spite

Last weekend the boys at Instapundit rang down the verdict on the Obama administration. My version is this:
The Obama era was conceived in delusion, executed in incompetence and delivered with spite.
But why limit this notion to the Obama administration? Any fool can see that this trifecta of delusion, incompetence, and spite applies to the whole Leftist project.

First, there is the lefty delusion about the economy. Its ground of faith is that economic power must be subordinate to political power; otherwise people will be oppressed and exploited by the capitalists. But this is a delusion. The fact is that people subjected to the full force of capitalist economic power have experienced the Great Enrichment of the last 200 years from per-capita income of $1-3 per day to over $100 per day. But people imprisoned in lands where the political sector dominated the economic sector have starved and died. See Venezuela, land of the Bolivarian Revolution.

But it gets worse, because those lands ruled by the deluded left have suffered under the incompetence of their rulers. Science tells us that such rule is bound to be incompetent, because administrative systems cannot compute market prices. But lefties are too incompetent to listen.

But it gets worse, because the rulers of the deluded, incompetent left have oppressed their peoples with spite. It is not enough for them to rule over the economic sector. The natural leaders of the economic sector, that conjure up prosperity with innovation and pluck, must be named and shamed as "robber barons" and "malefactors of great wealth."

Anyway, as my sister reminded me, we have a name for the nation in which the political sector dominates the economic sector: we call it fascist.

Second, there is the lefty delusion about politics. Its ground of faith is that political power, in the hands of the right people, can be salvific; political power can bend the arc of history towards justice. But this is a delusion. Political power is a necessary evil. It is beneficial only because it is civil war by other means, with the sham fights of elections instead of the real thing of teenage boys and twenty-something men with guns running in the streets. The trick with politics is how to limit its power without leaving the people defenseless against robbers and invaders.

But it gets worse, because those lands ruled by the deluded left have suffered under the incompetence of their rulers. The whole point of social animals like humans is to replace the war of all against all with a zone of peace where people agree not to resort to force and resolve their conflicts peacefully. And the rulers of the land where politics is king incompetently mobilize the whole nation as if for war, little caring that war is about destruction, not construction.

But it gets worse, because the rulers of the deluded, incompetent left have oppressed their peoples with spite. It is not enough for them to mobilize the whole people into a political army. There must also be enemies of the people, reactionaries and their bribed apologists, and these must be sought out and hunted down, and shoveled into mass graves as monsters and scum.

Third, there is the lefty delusion about religion and culture. Its ground of faith is that church and state must be combined into a single totalitarian power structure. The left demands not just to dominate your work and your political community. It is determined to use political power to enforce its secular religious beliefs and dominate your mind. But this is a delusion. Indeed it is a contradiction. The left believes in a vanguard of the evolved and the enlightened, the people of the creative self, empowered to spread their expressive individualism throughout the land. But what of the creative expression of the next generation of expressive creativity? How will they persuade the previous generation of creative rulers to accept their new creations?

But it gets worse, because those lands ruled by the deluded left have suffered under the incompetence of their rulers. The whole point of humans as in this mortal coil is that the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is a profound mystery. And the lesson of the last two hundred years and its scientific and cultural revolutions is that the meaning of it all has become curiouser and curiouser. It is profoundly incompetent to imagine that the true meaning of life, the universe and everything can be intuited by any political elite, and carefully taught to a subservient multitude.

But it gets worse, because the rulers of the deluded, incompetent left have oppressed their peoples with spite. It is not enough for them to imagine that politicians and their bribed apologists can dictate the meaning of life, the universe, and everything to their subjects. The subjects must also be made to care. There can be no backtalk, no dissent from the papal bulls of the political elite, and anyone that dissents from the political line must be anathematized as racists, sexists, and homophobes, and cast into outer darkness.

Charles Taylor, the Canadian liberal Catholic philosopher, argued that the modern era and its "immanent frame" requires a two-fold culture to resolve the cross pressures that each of us feel, from materialists that respond to the aesthetic in poetry to religious believers and Romantics that still want the rational structure of human rights. Taylor proposed a two-dimensional solution. First, we must honor ordinary human flourishing: forming families, owning property, doing it for the children. Second, we recognize that we all search for something higher and fuller. The problem then is how to live ordinary life while still embracing the transcendent, and how to reach for the stars in terms that do not “crush, mutilate or deny what is essential to our humanity[?]"

It has been the central conceit of the left that it had solved the problem of human flourishing by making it into something higher and fuller.

But now we know that its entire project was built on a delusion, implemented with blind incompetence, and enforced with spite, and that everywhere the left has ruled it has crushed, spindled and mutilated human flourishing, human community, and human spirit.

All that is wanting is a little boy to observe that the emperor has no clothes.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Democrats Blundering in Denial

Get a load of this, from Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and his daughter Anna in The New York Times.
President Obama will be remembered as a thoughtful and dignified president who led a scrupulously honest administration that achieved major changes.
I guess the advantage of that statement is that is reveals the liberal agenda for Barack Obama's "legacy." You will agree that President Obama was "thoughtful and dignified," etc., or we will know the reason why.

Yep, people will disagree about Obama's "impatience with politicians and Republican intransigence denied him bigger accomplishments" but he saved the economy, passed Obamacare, and committed the nation to climate change. Yay!

But then Greenberg has to deal with the fact that Democrats have experienced astonishing losses during his administration. So what went wrong? Here is Greenberg's list:
  • The president declined to explain his initiatives effectively.
  • He focused on helping the "ascendant... multicultural America... rather than the continuing economic struggle experienced by a majority of Americans."
  • He offered "tepid support" for the labor movement.
  • His presidential campaign technology did not help in mid-terms and 2016.
  • His campaign messages were all about "progress and growth."
I think the way to get past the partisan bubble-thinking is to start with the first paragraph reproduced above.
  • "Thoughtful and dignified?" The guy that told his supporters to bring a gun to a knife fight?
  • "Scrupulously honest administration?" The one that sicced the IRS on its political opponents and whose Attorney General met Bill Clinton, husband of a woman of interest to the FBI, for a little chat on the tarmac?
  • "Achieved major changes?" As in rolling over the opposition without bothering to achieve consensus?
Do liberals really believe this, or does Stan Greenberg believe that the liberal base isn't ready for the truth yet?

Because I live in another universe.

Here's my report card on the Obama administration.
  • Obama was foolish to push a Democrat-only stimulus. I'd say that the science tells us that big-government stimulus doesn't work.
  • Obama was foolish to push Obamacare before getting the economy back on track. Big government programs are a weight on the economy, something we didn't need after the worst financial crash since 1929.
  • Obama was foolish to push Dodd-Frank financial regulation on a weak economy.
  • Obama was foolish to push climate-change subsidies and regulation before getting the economy on track. Subsidies and energy regulation are a weight on the economy. See above.
  • Obama was foolish to abandon the Moynihan Rule, that you need a 70-30 vote in the Senate to pass big policy changes. Instead he passed Obamacare with a partisan majority and hid his radical changes in a torrent of executive actions and regulations, most of which can be rolled back.
But those are the tactical issues. The official Christopher Chantrill Strategic Appreciation is more important, and more compelling:
  • Liberal faith in political power is the folly of the age. Humans need protection from enemies foreign and domestic. But the age-old problem is who will protect us from the protectors: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? from Jouvenal's Satires. Sorry liberals; you are not going to make the world a better place with political power.
  • Liberals still believe in big government administration and regulation. That's a century after Mises statement that socialism couldn't work because it couldn't compute prices, 60 years after Hayek said that a bureaucrat couldn't outperform the market, and 45 years since Stigler's article on regulatory capture. It's the Science, liberals.
  • Liberals are using government power to push their secular religion. Sexual liberation, divorce, abortion and LGBT may be the wave of the future, but this secular religion should not be a government-established church, and its precepts should not be imposed by government fiat or by elite Supreme Court ukase. This cannot end well.
But don't think that I don't appreciate President Obama. I do, I really do, and here is why.

In my view, the recovery from the 2008 financial crash would have been slow, whichever president and party was in power. See the Crash of 1873 and its great depression, and the Crash of 1929. And the president and party in power would have suffered just because it all happened on their watch.

So I thank God we had a Democratic president during the disappointing and slow recovery from the crash. And nobody dared criticize the president, because racism. Imagine if Republicans had been in power! Why, in was in 2003, a mere two years after the Tech Crash of 2000 that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) started complaining about a "jobless recovery." Imagine what Nance would have said during a Republican presidency after 2008!

I reckon that if it weren't for President Obama we wouldn't be seeing the Republican Party in its best political position since 1928. Instead we would be seeing the Democrats in their best position since 1937.

And best of all, it looks like Democrats still don't get what hit them.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

One Problem for the New York Times is

Here's a crazy mirror story from the New York Times. According to Carlos Slim's blog the Democrats represent all the economically successful regions of America, for a
huge portion of the nation’s globally competitive economic activity occurs in those blue places. Dominated by highly productive, export-oriented advanced industries, high-tech enterprises, and professional services including the management of companies[.]
And so naturally the voters of those regions are all in favor of free trade. Republican regions do not add much value, because of their old tired industries, and the voters of those regions are in favor of Donald Trump's protectionism.

This is curious, because it inverts the narrative of the last century or so. Used to be that progressives said that the whole point of a compassionate and just politics was to think about the folks left behind and try to help them. And Republicans and free market enthusiasts were excoriated for being deaf to the cries of the unprotected, believing that the market should be left to itself.

Now, the NYT guys seem to be saying to hell with the deplorables; we are the winners.

Allow me to introduce a different explanation of all this.

First of all, Progressives live in an over-under culture, as reflected in the priorities of the Democratic Party. On the one hand they are the educated ruling class and their educated supporters; they are globalists. The folks that manage and work for the high-tech economy are natural globalists, and that's fine. But then there are the Unders in the over-under culture, and they are tribalists. They belong to the single-women tribe married to the state, the racial minorities married to the racial spoils system, and the government employees married to the government pension system. None of these people give a damn about the economy or trade; they just want their checks.

You can see that the policies of the Democratic Party neatly reflect these realities. They are all for the globalist corporations and the government handouts, but they don't give a damn about the folks in between. In fact, as Hillary Clinton so obligingly said, the folks in between are the racists, sexists, homophobes, the deplorables of whom you've heard tell.

Now the Republican Party represents the broad middle of America, people that aren't cut out to be tech wizards, and who follow the rules, get a job, and obey the law. So they are people that don't rely on government handouts much beyond the mandatory Social Security and Medicare. On these people falls most heavily the weight of big government taxes and regulation. See, it's one thing to get into tech, which is not heavily regulated, and make a ton of money on some brilliant exploitation of the information revolution. It's another thing to try to get ahead in the ordinary economy where the taxes and the regulations represent a real headwind.

If you are a tech-head, the complexities of high marginal taxes on income, and high taxes on labor, and impenetrable regulations and complexities of employee fringe benefits, and interferences in the labor market like minimum wage laws and labor unions, all these things are not that important, not if you are shooting for billions with your high-stakes tech startup. So you don't worry about them. You can afford to locate in high-tax high-regulation California or New York City.

But if you are an ordinary mortal, the high taxes and regulations and labor laws are like a punch in the solar plexus. It is very hard to start and run an ordinary-mortal business if you have to lift the heavy weight of government as well as learn how to thrive in the market.

The New York Times writes that, despite the attempts of politicians like Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison to gin up a populist surge in the Democratic Party, "the Democratic electorate has actually become less receptive to populism over the past two decades."

Well, yes. The upper side of the over-under coalition has become less economically populist. Although they don't seem to have any problem with raising the minimum wage. The point is that the under side of the Democratic coalition doesn't have a voice. Their "voice" is the voice of the ruling class that affects to represent them. And as far as we can see the under side of the Democratic coalition is quite happy being kept on the liberal plantation as long as the checks keep coming. But then nobody asked them.

The way that politics works in the United States is that, from time to time, a group that used to be the little darlings of the Democratic ruling class gets expelled from the party and finds itself in the political wilderness. After 40 years in the wilderness this group eventually finds itself a home in the Republican Party and the Republicans, being kind souls, adapt their party platform to accommodate the newcomers. That's how Southern whites became Republican; that's how the religious right became Republican. And that's how the white working class became Republican.

What I want to know is who will be next to be cast into the wilderness. Will it be East-Asian Americans? Will it be Hispanics? Is it possible that African Americans will at some point decide that they can't take it any more?

I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Left's Murderous Cult of Power

One of the great facts of the living world is the fact of social animals. Although life, the universe and everything is a frantic lifelong effort to kill or be killed, yet success in staying alive depends on groups of animals declaring a zone of peace where violence is banished and cooperation reigns and trust is king.

But the left is a murderous cult that denies the facts of humans as social animals and the reign of trust, and it has declared war on the three ramparts of modern society: its peaceful economic cooperation that has extended economic prosperity to all that labor, its peaceful political process that adjudicates political differences without the resort to civil war, and its freedom of religion that allows people to practice their moral and cultural faiths without the resort to religious war.

The left is opposed to peaceful economic cooperation. Right through the astonishing history of the Great Enrichment in the last 200 years the left has insisted that it is all a mirage, and that only revolution and rapine can prevent the cruel hegemony of the capitalists. In fact, the Great Enrichment, which has seen per-capita income rise from $1-3 per day to $100 per day and more, is the fullest expression of the notion of social animals. The rule is that you seek out some work or make some product that other people are willing to pay for. And then you accept the verdict of the market. The left insists that this cannot work, because alienation, exploitation, oppression, and immiseration, and therefore activists should be empowered to regulate and dominate the commanding heights of the economy. And therefore it has waged war against peaceful economic cooperation between consenting adults for nearly two hundred years.

The left is opposed to peaceful political cooperation. It licenses itself to practice political "activism," to oppose anything using the threat of force and demand that society capitulate to its demands. This revolutionary doctrine had merit when workers first came to the city in the industrial revolution and lacked the vote and any political power. And so the mid 19th century in Europe featured street action by the working class that had newly migrated to the city. But the expansion of the franchise to the workers ended the occasion for street violence, and the workers happily stopped political violence once they were given a seat at the table of political power. The whole point of universal suffrage is that people give up, in exchange for the vote, the right to resort to civil war in the pursuit of their just demands and agree to abide by the verdict of the sham fight of elections in which the various political factions compete for the votes of the electorate, which now includes the entire adult population.

The left is opposed to peaceful moral-religious competition. That is the logic of Marx and his notion of religion as the "opiate of the masses" to be demolished by his ideological cult of socialism. It is also the logic of 20th century fascism, featuring Mussolini's Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato, or "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State." It is also the logic of so-called cultural Marxism, that seeks a cultural hegemony over society with all cultural forms subordinated to the cultural ruling class's secular religion. But this means that anyone opposing the ruling class's cultural hegemony is forced to raise a head of cultural rebellion, which quickly becomes a political head of rebellion when the cultural ruling class uses its political power to enforce its cultural will. But the whole point of freedom of religion, of the separation of church and state, is that the political power keeps out of religion and permits all those that practice religion in peace to compete for adherents and to influence the culture by their example rather than by their ability to compel general obedience to their beliefs.

The whole point of the modern human experiment is to test the possibilities of more cooperation and less force; it is, if you like the, radical human extension of Nature's idea of social animals. How much force is really needed to police the realm of economic cooperation? How much force needs to be deputized to government to enforce society's will against bad actors? How much force is ever justified in enforcing cultural and religious norms? The left's answer to these questions is: a lot, and we are willing to apply whatever force is needed to enforce our will.

In viewing the left's rebellion against the astonishing ideas of the modern era, we can at least understand the ground of their revolt. What do you mean, that the way to prosper in this world is to submit your economic life utterly to the market and its prices, to trust that there will always be a place and a life for a man or a woman who merely proceeds on the faith that the market will reward those that seek to serve it? What do you mean, that people should submit their political yearnings to the verdict of their fellow voters, and accept defeat with the mild challenge of "wait until next time!" and the resolve to fight the next election with improved arts of persuasion? What do you mean that ignorant and superstitious cults stuck in the past should be allowed to practice and proselytize on equal terms with my scientific and rational knowledge?

But the fact is that the left's fears have proved to be groundless. The Moloch of capitalism and the robber barons? They have transformed the economy, again and again, but it seems they are not that interested in power. Political power? It has come a cropper again and again in the modern era, and instead of being a force to protect the unprotected has more often protected the powerful. Religious power? The separation of church and state was working pretty well until the left came along with its march through the institutions that deliberately tries to intellectually terrorize those that disagree with it.

So why does the left hang on its gospel of power, after its prophesies have failed again and again, ruining millions and lives and its followers have killed in the hundreds of millions?

That is the great question that cries out from the mass graves of the left's millions of victims. What, on the grave of Marx, is the point of this murderous cult of power?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How Do You Know When the World Has Changed?

I noticed a piece on the Berlin Christmas bombing in the Brit Independent by a leftie writer. He said the bombing had ended "his leftie fantasy about Germany," but if you read the article you can see that nothing has changed for him. Berlin is still the bohemian enclave of Weimar Germany, "a sanctuary for gays, liberals, artists and weirdos of all stripes," but now
The coming days will be a test of openness, understanding and love, and I hope Germany will remain strong. 
Yup. He has learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

The point is, when the world changes, and it is time to go, how do you know? Here is a leftie, experiencing the end of his hopes for a multicultural society starring gays, liberals, artists, and weirdos, and in the bloody mess of terrorist acts he talks of love and openness.

As if the left has ever been in favor of love and openness, except in its conceits. In fact what is needed is a few strategic deportations, just like back in the 1920s: a little Murdstonian "firmness."

Here is Zombie, looking at the political events of the last year and the election of Donald Trump and suggesting that it is a hinge point of history. The whole point of the left's cultural hegemony and its march through the institutions and its complete domination of education and the culture and the bureaucracy was that the electorate would be carefully taught to hate and to fear Trumpism,
And then November 8, 2016 happened, and BOOM: It was all revealed to be a lie. Not only did the indoctrination fail, but the general impression that the relentless indoctrination had always been successful was itself a gigantic meta-deception.
So the questions is -- after the Muslim terror in Europe, after Brexit, after Trump -- have we reached Peak Leftism? Or is this just a correction, as they say of the stock market, with the leftist bull market to resume after a season?

I'm sorry to be pessimistic, but I don't think you can tell. Not now, not yet, and I think this applies also to life, the universe, and everything, in general.

You can see this reflected in every business venture, and every war. How do you know if your business venture is going to succeed or fail? When do you pull the plug on failure, and avoid sending good money after bad?

You really don't, because often persistence pays off, and one more Big Push turns the corner. Or it doesn't and you descend into bankruptcy and ruin.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is writing a book, "Skin in the Game," in which he attempts to apply the lessons of his Black Swan and Antifragile to the notion of avoiding "ruin," so that your mistakes don't wipe you out.

I am not sure that this is possible. I think you can certainly do things to minimize ruin if things go wrong, but I don't think you can guarantee it. Taleb apparently thinks that genetically modified organisms (GMO) are a recipe for disaster and ruin. But are they? He seems to support the Precautionary Principle. But is the Precautionary Principle possible? We can never look around the corner when we start a project, because of the famous unknown unknowns. We can avoid potential ruin by making ourselves "anti-fragile" but we cannot completely avoid the consequences of failure.

Yesterday Donald Trump truly became President-elect when the Electoral College met in the several state capitols and elected him president by a vote of 304-227. Is this a sea-change in US politics, after a business tycoon upended the Republican Party to win its nomination and upended the Democratic Party by appealing to its neglected white working class voters in the Rust Best states? Or is it a mere correction, with politics as usual to resume after an interregnum?

The truth is that We Don't Know. And people will be contesting what happened and the meaning of it for the rest of my lifetime.

Meanwhile, life goes on, and the croupier cries faites vos jeux, place your bets, on the next turn of the wheel.

Monday, December 19, 2016

They are Coming for the Electoral College

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, when the system worked exactly as it should, liberals are calling the Electoral College into question. And who better to front the campaign than outgoing President Obama:
The Electoral College is a vestige, it’s a carryover from an earlier vision of how our federal government was going to work that put a lot of premium on states[.]
Oh really, Mr. President. You mean that the Electoral College is a vestigial organ, like the appendix?

You can see what comes next. A liberal 5-4 Supreme Court majority declares the Electoral College unconstitutional and orders some liberal-friendly remedy in the name of democracy or social justice.

Although I prophesy that whatever that remedy is, it will turn around and bite liberals in the butt.

Right now there is a liberal proposal in which states promise that their Electoral College electors will vote for the popular vote winner: National Popular Vote.  The idea is that when a certain number of states, with a majority of the Electoral College, have enacted laws to pledge their Electors to the popular vote winner then those states will activate their popular vote mandates and vote for the national popular vote winner rather than their own state's popular winner.

Right now the following states have enacted laws to implement the national popular vote; they are : CA, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA. You can see that they are all liberal states, and some of them are also big liberal states. So that makes sense. And hey, according to National Popular Vote, even President-elect Trump thinks it is a good idea.

I'd say that this idea is in your dreams because of the original point of the Electoral College, which still holds. The Electoral College was put into the constitution to get the small states to sign on and vote to adopt the constitution. And the whole point of the Electoral College is to prevent a couple of big states from dominating the election. Back in 1787 the biggest state was Virginia with 10 members in the House of Representatives followed by Pennsylvania and Massachusetts with 8 each. The four small states were Delaware and Rhode Island with one member each, and New Hampshire and Georgia with three members each. So even then the small states wanted special protection. Today we have a lot more small states, and they are not going to let their Electoral College power get drowned in the tsunami of popular votes available in California and New York.

The fact that liberals are coming up with a creaky idea like National Popular Vote indicates to me that they probably don't have the will to just overturn the Electoral College in the Supreme Court. Not yet. And that, to me, is a relief.

But still, here we have President Obama calling the Electoral College a "vestige." Another 20 years of that sort of talk from the great and the good, amplified by the Democratic operatives with bylines in the media, and a future liberal Supreme Court will reckon it has the authority to excise the vestige from the Constitution, which is, after all, supposed to be a living thing.

The other thing is this. If it weren't for the Electoral College we wouldn't have heard the cry of the white working class, dying of despair out in the Rust Belt.

Tell you what, liberals. Think of the Electoral College as a form of "peaceful protest." That should make you feel better.

Hey, how about the idea of voting as peaceful protest? What a concept!

Because, improbable as it may seem, there are people out there suffering from oppression and exploitation that liberals have never heard of, and don't want to hear from.

And it is a good idea for the electoral system to make their voices heard, even if the ruling class doesn't want to listen.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Left's Catalog of Errors

Let us set forth, as a public service, the catalog of errors that our lefty friends have compiled over the years. But let us not just dismiss with a snarl but understand the ground of their errors and give their follies the benefit of the doubt.

Wage Labor is Alienation. No it isn't. Wage labor is a boon to the worker because he assigns a lot of the risk of producing and selling away to his employer. Source of error: Marx believed in the classical economists theory of value, with competing "use value" and "exchange value." He proposed that the natural task of labor was producing for "use" rather than producing for sale. But the marginal revolution of 1870 solved the value problem by realizing that all prices are determined "at the margin." Benefit of the doubt: Wage labor was dehumanizing, especially at the start of the industrial revolution before inventors had figured out how to automate all dehumanizing work.

Capitalism will "Immiserate" the Workers. No it won't. The capitalism of the last two hundred years has been a Great Enrichment with successive innovations building prosperity from $1-3 per capita per day to $100 per capita per day in real dollars. There has been nothing like it, ever. Source of error: Marx understood that market competition tends to squeeze profit out of any undertaking as new market entrants compete for the consumer's business. So, if nothing changes, competition is likely to squeeze all costs, human and material, to the bone. But Marx forgot one thing. It is true that in each individual industry increasing competition squeezes profit away from the producers and "immiserates" them. But actual history is that every decade or so, a new revolution of innovation produces new opportunities for profit, and most of the immiserated workers get jobs in the new industry. Benefit of the doubt: At the time that Marx was writing nobody could have foreseen the oil revolution, the internal combustion engine, the electrical revolution, the physics revolution, the electronics revolution, the computer revolution, the internet revolution.

Socialism will end the exploitation of man by man. No, it didn't. Socialism has been a disaster wherever it has been tried, whether as a simple rural commune or as an administrative socialist state. Source of the error: In its rural commune version socialism fails because "to each according to his needs" discourages people from working. That is why all rural communes like New Harmony, Indiana, fail. In socialism's administrative version the political bosses decide what work is to be done. But political bosses don't know what work needs to be done. In fact, we now know, socialism can't work because it cannot compute prices, and administrative bureaucrats cannot outperform the price signalling of the market, and regulation cannot work because it ends up captured by the regulated. In reality, of course, capitalism is the closest we are ever going to get to socialism, because capitalism, through the price system, encourages everyone to altruistically find work that is useful to other people; it demands that they do socially useful things with their lives. Benefit of the doubt: The world is a cruel place, and mankind has ever dreamed of a perfect land of peace and justice.

Government can Deliver Social Services. No it can't. OK, it can for a while. But over time government fails to adjust its service delivery program to new conditions and needs. Source of the error: Government is an armed minority that occupies territory and taxes the inhabitants so it can reward its supporters. Thus all new government programs and "reforms" end up merely rewarding the government supporters and only incidentally providing social services. It becomes almost impossible to reform an existing government program because the clients of the program object vociferously if anyone proposes to reduce their benefits. This is why education is failing to teach, Social Security will go broke, Health care is brutally expensive, government welfare doesn't raise the poor out of poverty. All this reduces to the truism that it is almost impossible for a government to reduce spending. Instead, government resorts to subterfuges, including hyperinflation, as in Germany and Austria after World War I, Zimbabwe in the 2000s, Venezuela in the 2010s. The root of all these disasters is a government that dared not reduce its spending to balance against its reduced revenue. Benefit of the doubt: Humans ask for things from their leaders that they shouldn't ask for, and politicians try to deliver. Until they can't.

It's all the Fault of Racists, Sexist, Homophobes. Yeah. The problem with all oppression theories under capitalism is the question: why don't the evil capitalists hire the oppressed and marginalized and underpaid and exploit the hell out of their marginalized status? Why don't businesses flood into the inner city and hire blacks? Why don't they prefer the underpaid women that apparently work for 80 cents on the dollar? Or, under the current diversity regime where the capitalist all advertise their eagerness to diversity their workforces, why aren't the traditionally marginalized zooming up to the top of the charts? In fact, as the Jim Crow era in the South showed, you need to pass and enforce racist laws in order to force business to hew the racist line. Source of the error: People don't appreciate the depth of the social revolution we call the industrial revolution. It requires people to abandon their pre-industrial culture of the kindred, the tribe, and the village, where you only trust your kin, your race, or your fellow villagers. The modern world demands that everyone enter into the trust culture of capitalism where you trust and work with anyone that can be trusted, and submit yourself to the judgement of the market rather than the judgement of your in-group. This is hard, very hard, and it creates a demand for political activists that conjure up scapegoats. See René Girard. In modern democracy we scapegoat the "in" party and hope to end our troubles by throwing the rascals out and voting for "change." Benefit of the doubt: It is very easy to see the mote in another's eye, but very hard to see the beam in one's own eye.

To be continued.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

How to Help an In-denial Liberal

I had dinner last night with a retired Pentagon colonel, and we had a delicious tour d'horizon. But then the colonel went on to tell the liberal woman next to me exactly what we had discussed for the previous hour. And, you can imagine, she didn't like it.

I was impressed that he was willing to spend his time watering such a water-resistant plant. Basically, I don't try to persuade liberals; I always assume that they are beyond an intersubjective discussion of the issues. Rather like the woman whose husband had voted for Trump. She still insisted that "Democrats want to help people." Yes, but what if the "help" doesn't help? "I don't want to talk about that."

So that's why I don't tend to talk politics to people that I profile as liberals. What's the point?

Anyway, everything I write and think is calculated to cause a little tremor to a liberal's NPR/NYT bubble. My reductive Three Peoples theory is intended to show liberals that they need to think about people who are not cut out to be world-historical creative people. My little darlings concept is designed to show liberals that their Patron/Client politics damages the people they pretend to help, and then devastates the little darlings when liberals dump the old little darlings for fresh new faces.

But I think I need a new concept to round out my world view. How about Five Lefty Fallacies?
  1. The Marxian fallacy: capitalism will immiserate the workers.
  2. The socialist fallacy: socialism can't work because it can't compute prices.
  3. The administrative fallacy: big government can't work because bureaucrats can't outthink millions of consumers.
  4. The regulatory fallacy: regulation can't work because the regulated always "capture" the regulators.
  5. The reform fallacy: government can't reform its programs because it cannot cut spending.
I think this needs a little expansion; I've been writing about it for a while and now I need to formalize it and add in the arguments.

But the Big Idea of the modern era, I think, is to "hurl" the proletariat off the plantation, and its feudal relations, and teach ordinary people how to live as responsible persons rather than subordinates. The whole narrative of the left has been to keep the people in their subordinate peasanthood and workerdom, rather than encourage them to enter the world of responsibility and self-ownership.

In my discussions with the Pentagon colonel he stated that the failure of the ruling class was that it had failed to protect great groups of people, who now felt "unprotected."

It is, of course, the one-and-only job of government to provide a regime of peace and protect its people from enemies foreign and domestic. But because every government is an armed minority that occupies territory and taxes the inhabitants thereof to be able to reward its supporters, every ruling class tends to forget what it is really there for. It thinks about nothing but rewarding its supporters and so licenses its supporters to prey on the other inhabitants, because one of the rewards of supporting a ruling class is to be able to wield power in your own little world. Then the ruling class is shocked that the other inhabitants start to think that the government does nothing for them except prey upon them.

But I don't think that the average liberal is within a country mile of understanding this. Anyway, our liberal friends are not really out of the first and second stages of grief after the Trump election. Not yet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Liberal Post-election Meltdown

Back when Al Gore lost the 2000 election, liberals couldn't let go. So we had the Florida recount (which was only necessary because the media called the state before the polls in the Florida panhandle had closed). And Democrats chased the result all the way through the Supreme Court.

So Democrats decided that George W. Bush was "selected, not elected." And they never really conceded defeat. All the Priuses and Subaru Outbacks in rich-bitch north Seattle had anti-Bush bumper stickers for four years.

After the 2004 election, which was another surprise for the polls had Kerry winning, Democrats were so traumatized that their obliging therapists invented a new mental health category for them: PEST, or post-election selection trauma.

Now, after the 2016 election we have Democrats crying all over the place. We had a CNN personality talking about popping Xanax; we had college girls crying together; we had college presidents sending out sympathetic letters. Not to mention the usual stuff about racism, sexism, -phobias, and digging up conspiracy theories like "fake news" and Reds under the bed.

Somehow, when Republicans lose there is no need to invent new mental health categories. Why is that?

Of course we know what this is all about. It is not quite what Rush Limbaugh would call the "chickification" of America. It is certainly the mainstreaming of the left's victim culture.

It goes without saying that a victim is incapable of action. A victim needs a wise and powerful patron to do all the thinking and acting for her. And it is a profound act of betrayal if the victim ever feels unsafe or afraid.

And the classic behavior of the victims is this delicious story about a college instructor ranting in class about the Trump win being an "act of terrorism," and then heading for the hills when one of her students videoed her rant and put it up on social media. Because she got death threats.

Our liberal friends are always quick to publicize death threats to liberals. But not so much when conservative women are threatened.

Look, I get it. Good little liberal girls go to college and get taught that politics means a protest march to City Hall.

What they are not taught is that politics is civil war by other means. They do not get taught that "peaceful protest" is nothing of the kind, but a deliberate attempt at intimidation, the first escalation from a genuine discussion of the issues to outright street violence. So these good little girls get the shock of their sheltered lives when their liberal virtue-signalling runs into opposition. Nobody ever told them about that! No fair!

I think there is a big issue here, arising out of the entry of women into the public square in the last century. And my go-to guy on that is German sociologist Georg Simmel. He wrote that in time women would transform the public sphere to suit "a more feminine sensibility."

Yes, but. It stands to reason that some aspects of the public square do not lend themselves very well to a more feminine sensibility. For instance, in high-stakes politics and business. If you ask me, the number one requirement for a successful politician or business leader is to have a warrior personality. He must be a courageous person ready, willing and able to boldly outdare the dangers of the time. And that includes physical danger.

I well remember my days as a glider pilot. One of the things we learned is that when women pilots experienced a dangerous situation, they would almost always quit flying. When you think of it, it makes sense. Who would continue to do something that is dangerous? But that is exactly what men do, they instinctively know they must outdare the dangers of the moment, and then come back and do it again tomorrow.

The woman college teacher that got caught in her rant fled to another state. OK. That's what liberal SJWs do. But a real man would have stayed his ground and confronted the student that recorded an undercover video. Maybe he would have staged a teach-in so that all sides in this contentious post-election season would get their chance to be heard. Yeah, maybe, if he were a conservative.

It is nice that women are out in the public square. It is nice that they have altered it to suit a more feminine sensibility.

But not everything in the world can be altered to suit a more feminine sensibility. There will still be a big area in the public square suitable only for people willing to boldly outdare the dangers of the time. Truth is, there aren't many men capable of that: certainly I am not that kind of man. There are fewer women: Margaret Thatcher, for example.

But one thing about Trump. He doesn't give a damn about caterwauling liberal women.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

There is a Word for "Address Class and Race:" Racism

Here are a couple of lefties analyzing the 2016 election at The Nation.
How can the Democratic Party best respond to Donald Trump’s election? The current debate rages around whether to unify around class or instead to build a coalition of identity groups, key among them racial minorities. We reject as fundamentally flawed the implicit assumption that class and race are incompatible bases for moving forward. Race is not a distraction from but a key driver of widening inequality and stagnant or declining wages for the majority. To meaningfully help working people, the Democratic Party must simultaneously engage class and race.
So let us get this straight. Lefties are divided about whether to build a race-based political coalition or a class-based coalition. There is a word for a race-based politics. The word is "racism." There is a word for a class-based politics. The word is "classism." Hey, I didn't invent the words; you lefties did that.

And by the way, would not a class-based appeal to working-class whites be a policy of "white supremacy?"

Only, of course, as George Orwell so brilliantly demonstrated, words used in political combat have a way of becoming their opposites. Nothing to see here, of course. It was Hegel that pointed out that thesis and antithesis were very often the same thing. It makes complete sense that the people that think they are fighting racism are actually the worst racists.

Then you have the racist reverie of Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic, "My President was Black." You wonder about chaps like that. Do they really not understand how they present themselves, as out-and-out racists?

Then there is President Obama. His latest line is blathering on Comedy Central that
we have, by no means overcome the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow and colonialism and racism, but that the progress we’ve made has been real and extraordinary — if I’m communicating my genuine belief that those who are not subject to racism can sometimes have blind spots or lack of appreciation of what it feels to be on the receiving end of that...
And on and on.

As President Eisenhower said, if you have a problem you can't solve the answer is to make it bigger.

Yes, it is humiliating to be on the receiving end of racism, being marginalized as unintelligent or second class. Just like it must be to be a conservative student on today's liberal university or converged corporation where you better mind your manners or the overseer with the moral equivalent of the cowskin whip will tell you the reason why.

Slavery, racism, fear of the foreigner, are universals. In the old world, you enslaved the conquered as a matter of course. You hated the different-looking people as a matter of course. You feared foreigners as a matter of course. Just like liberals want to enslave conservatives into their hegemonic structures, cannot help hating on Christians and fossil-fuel executives, and cannot imagine a political policy that does not discriminate by race.

It is only in the city of the industrial revolution that people need to learn to get on with, and treat as equals people that are different than themselves, and very often not as far up the capitalist learning curve.

And it is only in capitalism that slavery and racism and xenophobia don't make any sense. Slaves are a nuisance because you want other people to be independent and responsible, not dependent and sitting around waiting for orders. Racism is a problem because you want everyone to be your customer and you want the best talent working for you, regardless of skin color.

It is people like the lefties at The Nation, and professional racists like Ta-Nehisi Coates, and conventional-wisdom liberals like President Obama that are the problem. They have hived off the people lower down the capitalist learning curve into silos and poisoned their minds with resentment and dependency.

They say: Oh, you poor victims. Here, vote for us and we will give you handouts as the rank-and-file in our political army. They do not say: We understand how hard it can be knocking at the door of capitalist competence and prosperity, but we are here to help you learn the entry code. We will show you what to learn, how to present yourself to the labor market, how to navigate the complexities of the capitalist life so that you can take your deserved place in the great American middle class.

And they are still peddling patent nostrums that have been shown to be nonsense. By science.

There is no conflict between use value and exchange value; there is only marginal value. There is no way for a government-run economy to work, because it cannot compute prices, and prices are needed as a signal to people to tell them what to do. There is no way for an administrative state to work because the bureaucrats just don't have enough bandwidth to tell them what to do. There is no way for a regulatory state to work because the regulated corporations always "capture" the regulators.

If this goes on much longer, it will become not just the crime of the century, but the crime of the millennium. Liberals, the left, the racists, the genderists, the intersectionalists, the climate cronies. These are people not just drunk with the empty promises of political power, but they are people that don't want to know about well-established science about people and markets and government.

And as long as it continues -- this racism, this sexism, this religion of politics -- people will continue to suffer.

Monday, December 12, 2016

What if Trump Knows What He is Doing?

Donald Trump has started out his presidency with a bit of crony capitalism, saving jobs at United Technologies Carrier division before he is even inaugurated. Oh no, cry conservatives.

Donald Trump has proposed to nominate three generals to the cabinet. Oh no, cry peacenik liberals.

Donald Trump has nominated a fast-food executive to be Secretary of Labor. Oh no, cry the unions.

Donald Trump has nominated an oil-state attorney general to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Oh no, cry environmentalists.

Donald Trump is said to be nominating the CEO of Exxon-Mobil as Secretary of State. Oh no, say the striped-pants set.

Is Donald Trump crazy, or crazy like a fox? Let's take a look.

First of all Carrier. The question is, which is the real Trump? Is he the Trump that is proposing to lower corporate income tax rates and encourage corporations to repatriate their profits to the US? Or is he the candidate throwing protectionist red meat to the white working class? I'd say that the Carrier stuff is there to encourage his new supporters, whereas the tax and regulation cuts are the real red meat that will put muscle on the bones of the US economy.

Then the generals. The problem here is that liberals have, as with many things, a cartoon view of military brass. They have in mind the flat-faced, ribbon-bedecked thugs of the political cartoon. In fact, of course, generals are highly educated, not just in the arts of war but the whole question of politics, strategy, the use of force. As with many things, this all started with the Germans and their General Staff. To me, the money quote from a general is the dictum of Gen. Hans von Seeckt. His idea, after World War I, was
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier.
Why was this? Because in the lethal battlefield where soldiers are hiding in holes, armies needed to push responsibility down as far as possible. Armies needed People of the Responsible Self just like nation states needed responsible workers.

Then the fast-food executive. Really, what better choice could Trump make? Fast-food restaurants are the front and center of the labor market, and I am sure that their managers and executives know workers far better than the foolish activists that think the way to solve stagnant wages is with increases in the minimum wage.

How about an oil-state attorney to the EPA! The EPA is really the center of the foolish liberal effort to turn the economy upside down in their cruel effort to stop economic growth and fossil fuel use and save the planet -- for people like them. It is high time that the regulatory administrative state get a blow to the solar plexus, and that environmental policy become subordinate to the will of the people, not the religious dogma of the bishops of climate.

How about the CEO of Exxon-Mobil as Secretary of State? It is, of course, a shocking idea. That's because of decades of demonization by liberals of executives and of oil companies. And, it turns out, that Rex Tillerson is a pal of Vladimir Putin. Oh no! But of course! The oil biz is everywhere, and everywhere has to get cozy with government. So Tillerson doubtless knows everybody that is anybody, all over the world. And, whatever liberals may think, I'm sure that non-US politicians have a lot of respect for the big marquee US energy corporations.

It looks like Donald Trump represents a new departure for a Republican president. In my lifetime Republicans have always felt they needed to accommodate liberal views when setting up an administration and devising policy. But you can argue that this strategy tends to backfire, because liberals take what Republicans give and then demand more. Trump of The Art of the Deal believes that you start with an offer that knocks the other guys off their feet, and only later compromise to close the deal. It is pretty clear that the Trump administration is starting with a pedal-to-the-metal attitude that is going to send liberals round the bend. Until they decide that compromise is the better part of valor.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lunch with a Liberal

I am going to be seeing liberal friends over the next few days, and my mind is thrilling with ways to DESTROY them, as they say on the Comedy Central fake news shows.

But really, I shall be very gentle. I think I shall approach the whole question by unpacking the latest liberal groupthink that Trump won because of "fake news" and an appeal to white supremacists.

Well, of course "fake news" is a problem. The whole point of any campaign is to launch memes and catchphrases into the public mind that have very little to do with the truth. No doubt there are tons of right-wing websites deliberately launching false narratives. But what about David Brock's Media Matters? What about Dan Rather's fake but accurate memo about George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard? What about Brian Williams fabulism? What about Rolling Stone's fake story about campus rape?

But when President Obama talks about the need to "curate" news on the Internet, what planet are you on? Curation means nothing other than the ruling class molding the news to fit its agenda.

And as for "white supremacists," just what exactly are you talking about? That Trump appealed to the white working class that, according to the Washington Post is dying of despair? Actually, I'd say, people with a need to feel supreme are people that are existentially afraid of going down for the count.

Are we not allowed to advocate for the white working class? Are their concerns not to be counted in the national dialog?

And then there is the bigger question, behind the usual liberal pejorative of "raaacisss." Liberal politics for the last 50 years has been identity politics. Anyone who is not a cisgendered white male is encouraged to identify by race or gender and demand to be privileged by the government on account of previous discrimination and marginalization. Do liberals not understand that, at some point, cisgendered white males would want to get in on this racket?

What would it take for liberals to see that?

Liberals like to think of themselves as open-minded, evolved, and educated. Maybe they are. But I wonder.

  • Is it really a good idea to respond to an election loss by contesting its legitimacy, as liberals did in 2000 and now 2016? Do you liberals not understand where that leads?
  • Was it really a good idea to cram a root-and-branch reform of the health care system with a partisan cram-down, when Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that you should never pass a big program like Medicare with less than a bipartisan 70-30 vote in the US Senate?
  • Was it really a good idea to dump the filibuster in the Senate when it benefited Democrats? Did nobody think what would happen when the Republicans regained the majority?
  • Was it really a good idea to do the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement without taking them to the US Senate as treaties?
  • Was it really a good idea to put the pedal to the metal on climate policy using executive action rather than legislation? 
All this stuff makes me wonder: have liberals never studied politics and history? Do they know anything beyond today's catchphrases?

And is it really good politics to say that anyone that disagrees with liberals on race is a racist, anyone that disagrees with liberals on women's issues is a sexist, anyone that disagrees with liberals on LGBT is a hater, anyone that disagrees with liberals on immigration is a xenophobe, anyone that disagrees with liberals on Muslims is an Islamophobe, anyone that disagrees with liberals on climate is a denier?

The problem with that kind of politics is that the only response to it is either submission or that of Casca: "Speak, hands for me," as he was the first conspirator to plunge a dagger into Julius Caesar.

Have you not thought of that, dear liberal friends?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Codevilla Revisits Ruling Class vs. Country Class

Back in the day in 2010 Angelo Codevilla electrified Rush Limbaugh and others in an article titled "America's Ruling Class -- and the Perils of Revolution." He developed the idea of Ruling Class -- liberals, media, Hollywood, education, Democrats -- and Country Class -- that's you and me.

Obviously the idea appealed to folks like you and me because we humans are both social and combative. So we often see the world in terms of Us and Them, especially when we are being ruled by the Worst President Ever, whose method of government seems to be to let all the lefty crazies get whatever they want.
Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints.
This situation works well for the Ruling Class and most Democratic voters. As Codevilla wrote:
Our ruling class’s agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. Like left-wing parties always and everywhere, it is a “machine,” that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members.
But is doesn't work for the majority: not for a few Democrats, nor for independents and Republicans, who do not feel they are well represented. Ominously, writes Codevilla:
Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled... The clash is as sure and momentous as its outcome is unpredictable.
Well, that was then, just before the big 2010 election that flushed the Democrats out of the House of Representatives in a huge wave election. Now Codevilla has sharpened his analysis with a critique of leftist politics, "The Rise of Political Correctness," published just before the 2016 election. Now he is arguing that progressives in the ruling class do not just want power; they want to crush and humiliate everyone else. Instead of taking us through a general history of our present ruling class he writes about the specific plans of total domination, from Marx's program of economic hegemony to Gramsci's program of cultural hegemony.

There are two strategies for achieving hegemony. There is the Leninist way, to crush and extinguish all competing power centers; and there is the Mussolini strategy, exemplified in his 1929 Concordat with the Vatican, what Codevilla calls "forceful seduction, not rape."

Codevilla argues that the the program of cultural hegemony is just as bankrupt as the old program of worker hegemony. In the end it is just a cult thing, of enthusiasts congratulating each other while the broad majority is unimpressed. The original Marxian program collapsed because the workers were national patriots first and workers second. The same applies to all the group identities of cultural Marxism.

Then we come to today's PC elite. For Codevilla, our PC masters have decided on the Leninist strategy. They could have enlisted the leaders of various cultural sectors and seduced them into supporting the progressive agenda. But no. They want to crush and humiliate the country class.
America’s progressives add insult to injury by imposing same-sex marriage, homosexuality, “global warming,” and other fashions because they really have no priorities beyond themselves. America’s progressive rulers, like France’s, act less as politicians gathering support than as conquerors who enjoy punishing captives without worry that the tables may turn. 
Look at the latest outrage,
our ruling class’s very latest demand: Americans must agree that someone with a penis can be a woman, while someone else with a vagina can be a man. Complying with such arbitrariness is beyond human capacity.  
But why can't the ruling class just declare victory on all their cultural offensives and go home? Why are they determined to humiliate pizza parlors and wedding cake bakers? It is because
the point of P.C. is not and has never been merely about any of the items that it imposes, but about the imposition itself. 
The more you get into torture, the more you need to think up new humiliations on your victims.

I am reading The Carolingians by Pierre Richéa history of the Franks, featuring Charlemagne, that made Europe into a thing between 700 and 900. The history is a vast confusion of wars and political family intrigue, of attempts by the politicians to control the Church and attempts by the Church to control the politicians. The relation between the great nobles and the Church was complex, because the nobles needed the wealth of numerous monasteries and abbeys, and would appoint their family members to be abbots and bishops. Meanwhile the Church was always trying to curb the nobles and keep the wealth of abbeys and monasteries from leaking out from control of the Church. But at the beginning of each reign the new monarch would always seem to promise reform of corrupt practices and adherence to the rule of law.

There is a lesson in there. Whatever the politicians and the culture warriors are doing with their grand plans and glorious wars, the people want government to deliver peace and security: a government that serves them and a rule of law that justly adjudicates their conflicts.

And so Donald Trump is to become president, promising to Make America Great Again and curb a globalist elite and its poisonous enthusiasms. He may not make much of a difference, but he has certainly delivered the ruling class a blow to the solar plexus.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"Skeptical Neutrality" and "Courageous Trust"

I picked up this piece on Dr. Jordan Peterson, psychology professor at the University of Toronto. He is deliberately challenging the PC guys on "compelled speech," on forcing people to use transgender pronouns. Or else you lose your psych. prof. gig.

Go and read it, and also my blog post.

But now I want to go into details on his principled objection to compelled speech. He introduces two notions: "skeptical neutrality" and "courageous trust." Here is how he introduces the terms when he says that you have no right to insist on what I call you, that you have no right to action against me if I call you "he" and you want to be called "xe."
First of all, “he” and “she” are not marks of respect. They’re the most casual terms possible. If I refer to someone as “he” or I refer to someone as “she,” it’s not a mark of respect, its just categorization of the most simple and obvious kind. There’s not anything about it that’s individual, or characteristic of respect. Second, you have no right to demand from me that I do anything with regards to you that’s respectful. The best you can hope for from me is sceptical neutrality and courageous trust. That’s it. That’s what you get from me.
There is an interesting point here. If I am talking to you, then we use "you" and "me." It is only in the third person that "he" and "she" occur, when I am talking to a third person about you. So the gender thugs want to control speech between other persons. Also, of course, there is the culture of honor that says that if you question my honor -- usually expressed as courage in battle -- then I have a right to challenge you to mortal combat.

But let us get back to "skeptical neutrality and courageous trust." I immediately pricked up my ears because of the relevance to capitalism, to action in the market, and also to the Prisoner's Dilemma, which ends up in the TIT-FOR-TAT protocol that I offer trust on the first transaction with someone, and then mirror their behavior thereafter. So let's unpack the two terms.
Skeptical neutrality is ‘you’re a bucket of snakes, just like me. However, if you’re willing to abide by your word, and I’m willing to abide by my word, then we’re able to engage in mutually beneficial interactions, so that’s what we’re going to do’.
This is so clear as to be obvious. Any sensible person treats other people with skeptical neutrality unless they have shown themselves to be untrustworthy. You know, like a lefty activist, operating on Alinsky's rules, who really is a snake, because he takes advantage of other peoples' trust to humiliate and marginalize them.
The reason I said courageous trust is to distinguish it from naiveté. Naive people think that everybody’s good. That’s false, everybody’s not good. But acting in a manner that’s hostile and sceptical and anti-social is completely counter-productive.
Gosh. "Hostile and skeptical" would mean that acting like a lefty and using Alinsky's Rules for Radicals would demonstrate to the world that you are hostile and anti-social and any interaction with you would be counter-productive.
So what you do if you’re a mature person is you say ‘well, yeah, you’ve got a dark side, so do I. That doesn’t mean we can’t engage in productive interactions’. We do that by sticking to our damned word. Honesty simplifies us to the point where we can engage in mutually beneficial interactions. But you certainly don’t get my respect by demanding it. You have no right whatsoever to ask me to mark you out as special in any way whatsoever.
In other words, the TIT-FOR-TAT rules apply. The point is that skeptical neutrality and courageous trust apply to all human interactions between consenting individuals. Every act that I initiate is based on a judgement that I can probably trust you, and so I will, this time, always assuming that you are honest and stick "to you damned word." Because if you don't there will be no next time.

The whole point of the lefty world view is that it demands that the rest of the world act in a trusting and honest manner, but that lefties are exempt, per Alinsky, because social justice.

But the whole point of humans as social animals is that, as far as possible, we remove force and subjection, and substitute skeptical neutrality and courageous trust.

All this completely fits into my Three Peoples theory, because the People of the Subordinate Self are people that only understand force and subjection, and People of the Responsible Self act in the world on the basis of skeptical neutrality and courageous trust. As any responsible person must.

Thank you, Dr. Jordan Peterson, for making this so crystal clear. The good doctor has a youTube channel.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Liberal Memes in the Era of Trump

It is no secret that liberals have taken the election of Donald Trump very badly, and none worse that the Special Snowflakes at the nation's liberal secular seminaries that we humorously call universities.

In response they have come up with a raft of conspiracy theories and rationalizations to prove that "they was robbed."

The question is: what do we normal Americans do about it? What do we say to our liberal friends when they make some remark fueled by government-subsidized NPR or Carlos Slim's blog (that's a joke, son).

I think we should have a few catch phrases handy, just to remind our liberal friends that there is reality outside the liberal bubble.

Let's talk about Fake News. This refers to the cunning of various internet entrepreneurs to gussy up utterly fantastical news items and then launch them on social media. Yes. It's terrible, and the other day a guy actually shot a bullet into the floor of a pizza joint. But then there is all the liberal fake news, courtesy of Kevin Williamson:
Ever heard of Dan Rather's fake but accurate item on George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard, pal? A memo supposedly written in the 1960s was prepared on Microsoft Word.

Remember the The Little Rascals day-care case, pal, in which fantastical tales of abuse at a day-care sent several people to jail. Liberal psychiatrists coached the kids in their fantastical stories.

How about Jon Stewart's Daily Show. 'Nuff said.

How about all those nice educated middle-class moms that think vaccines cause autism? Where did that idea come from?

What about the liberal-fueled case that Chevron poisoned indigenous peoples in Ecuador? Driven by lefty activists.

Oh, and Michael Brown was shot in the back, or with his hands up. Er, no. That was liberal fake news echoing the line from lefty racist rich-kid activists.

We all know that banksters caused the Great Recession. Er, no. That's a meme put out by the Democrats to hide their responsibility. The problem was government policy -- initiated by Democratic activists -- to force banks to lend mortgages to sub-prime borrowers. You could read Lombard Street by Walter Bagehot if you are interested in getting educated about the credit system.
Enough about that. The bit I like is the the flap about the alt-right and the notion being put about that Donald Trump appealed to "white supremacists." It is a naked attempt to tie Trump supporters to the white political elite of the Jim Crow South. That is odd, because Trump supporters seem to be middle-middle-class, not elitists. No doubt every liberal in the land is already convinced of this beyond redemption, but let's take a look anyway.

  1. The original white supremacists were the defeated Southern whites after the Civil War, particularly the plantation and merchant elite. These elite white Democrats defeated Reconstruction and built a white supremacist state by using government to write race-conscious laws, and they had "activist" groups like the KKK to provide a bit of street muscle. How is that different from today's elite liberal Democrats founding their political power on race-conscious politics and supporting activist groups like Black Lives Matter?
  2. How much longer, liberals, do you think that your frank racist appeal to blacks, to Hispanics, and your frank sexist appeals to women, and your frank heterophobic appeals to LGBTs are going to be a net plus electorally? How long before straight whites discover a white identity politics? Right now, you can usually shame whites into a cringe with an accusation of racism. But for how much longer?
  3. How much longer do you think that your "hate speech" intellectual terrorism is going to work? How long do you think before people just shrug and sneer at you: "We Don't Care."
  4. How much longer do you think that people will believe in "white privilege" that you ram down our throats rather than the real problem in America: "liberal privilege."
Liberals have had a pretty good run with their intellectual terrorism. First it was class identity politics, the idea that the working class were helpless victims of the bourgeoisie. Which was a lie because it was the bourgeois capitalists that were rescuing the workers from starvation, and not rich kids like Marx and Engels and Castro and Guevara. For the last 50 years it has been race and gender identity politics, the idea that non-whites and women and sexual minorities were helpless victims of colonialism and the patriarchy and religious bigots. Which was a lie because straight white middle-class people were open to being persuaded to open up society to groups that had been marginalized in the past.

In the Age of Trump it may be the the Era of the Cringe is coming to an end. For two hundred years, decent middle-class people have not fought back against the lie of class identity politics, and for 50 years decent middle-class people have not fought back against the lie of race and gender identity politics.

But that may be coming to an end. And, if you ask me, it can't come a moment too soon.

Of course, the new post-cringe era is not going to be much fun for liberals. Because liberals tend to think of "liberal privilege" the way that royalty used to think about the Divine Right of Kings.

Dr. Jordan Peterson is ready to go to jail for free speech

Who will bell the cat? That is the eternal question raised by the mice in Beatrix Potter's Tailor of Gloucester.

That is also the question in our age, with respect to the identity politics totalitarians, the gentle folks that I have called ideological terrorists.

Now comes Dr. Jordan B Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, to do battle on the question of enforcing lefty norms on gender pronouns. This is the notion, pushed by the left, that people have a right to demand how you address them and refer to them. We are talking about the famous xe/xhe pronouns.

Dr. Peterson has announced that he will not abide by this convention, that is enforced in Ontario by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He has been warned by his university, but instead has written op-eds and published youTube videos and submitted to interviews.

Peterson says that neither you or I should have the power to demand how other people address us. The reason is "compelled speech," and the US Supreme Court has ruled that compelled speech is unacceptable, and this is to protect not just the rights of the speaker but of the listener. Says Peterson:
The listener has the right to be informed and instructed without being unduly influenced by hidden sources. If your speech is compelled, it isn’t YOU who is talking, it’s some other entity that’s compelling your speech. 
Yes, but don't people have a right to be treated with respect? No, they don't, says Peterson.
[Y]ou have no right to demand from me that I do anything with regards to you that’s respectful. The best you can hope for from me is sceptical neutrality and courageous trust. That’s it. That’s what you get from me. 
 But why not be nice? No reason in the world, providing the niceness is not compelled. But what do "skeptical neutrality" and "courageous trust" mean?
Skeptical neutrality is ‘you’re a bucket of snakes, just like me. However, if you’re willing to abide by your word, and I’m willing to abide by my word, then we’re able to engage in mutually beneficial interactions, so that’s what we’re going to do’. The reason I said courageous trust is to distinguish it from naiveté. Naive people think that everybody’s good. That’s false, everybody’s not good. But acting in a manner that’s hostile and sceptical and anti-social is completely counter-productive. So what you do if you’re a mature person is you say ‘well, yeah, you’ve got a dark side, so do I.
In fact, of course, skeptical neutrality and courageous trust are exactly what capitalism and the free enterprise system demand of us.

Then we get to hate speech laws. If you make hate speech illegal then you drive the speakers of hate underground; you repress them in the strict "psycho-analytical sense." And that's bad.
If you drive them underground, it’s not like they stop talking to each other, they just don’t talk to anyone who disagrees with them. That’s a really bad idea and that’s what’s happening in the United States right now. Half of the country doesn’t talk to the other half. Do you know what you call people you don’t talk to? Enemies. 
And do you know what happens with enemies that don't talk to each other? War.
If you stop talking to people, you either submit to them, or you go to war with them
 So that is the point of requiring people to call kings "your majesty." It demonstrates submission. The person that doesn't call the king "your majesty" is a rebel. Ditto transgender pronouns.

Yes, but what about violent rhetoric that actually leads to violence? The question for Peterson is which makes it worse. He argues that repressing hate speech makes things worse. By pushing people underground you make them paranoid; you put them into a ghetto where the only people they talk to are people that agree with them; you "make them into heroes in their own eyes."

I think that for me the money quote is the idea that compelled speech presents us with an option: to submit or go to war. That is the whole truth about the left, from the French Revolution to the present day. It is all about cultural and political and economic submission. It is Lenin's famous "who whom," his reduction of human society to the bare question of force: who has the power to force others to submit to his power.

And the truth is that most of us, most of the time, would rather submit than fight.