Friday, August 18, 2017

Trump is Doing What He Was Elected To Do

In all the left-generated outrage about Charlottesville, let us not take our eyes off the ball.

Donald Trump was nominated to be the presidential candidate of the Republican Party because he did what national Republicans had been afraid to do. He took out after the politically correct, and said things you are not allowed to say on race and sex. For that even Ted Cruz, who was running as the bad boy of the Republican Party, attacked him.

Then Nominee Trump ran against the Hillary Clinton, who represents everything about the corrupt status-quo, and beat her by running up majorities in states that the Democrats assumed were safe for them, attracting votes from the nominally Democrat white working class and other deplorables.

Given how he ran for president, his response to Charlottesville was right down the middle, blaming both sides and saying that there are good people on both sides.

One thing he did not say: even Trump dared not say it. White nationalist and neo-Nazi and KKK groups are a minor problem, because they have no support from the intellectual elite. But a racist group like Black Lives Matter is a problem, because it gets fawning coverage from the mainstream media and the intellectual elite, not to mention funding from the like of George Soros's foundations. But you will notice that the president did not call out Black Lives Matter by name.

And then there is Antifa. You will note that our liberal friends used to write about "peaceful protesters." Then when activists started attacking Trump supporters they began to write about "mostly peaceful protesters." Now they write about violence on both sides. However, do not doubt that white supremacists and KKK and neo-Nazis are the worst things in the world.

It would be funny, if it weren't so sad. Liberals condemn loser white racism yet actually encourage black racism led by rich-kid blacks. And the rank-and-file liberals go along and nod their heads to the utter incoherence of the political catch-phrases that are ladled out by their leaders and thinkers.

Look, I get it. Politics is Division. The stock-in-trade of political activists is to find issues with which to divide people, because that is how you get votes and get elected. Wealth is a hardy perennial. Class had its day for about a century. Race is as good as anything. Hey, you can even exploit the eternal battle of the sexes. Nobody ever went wrong by attacking greedy bankers and oily moneylenders. And you can get a lot of mileage out of the charge of treason and collusion with the Russians.

The whole idea of social animals is that we do not use force against the people in our community. Thus politics is always a threat against the peace within the community as we enact threats and accusations against the Other in our community during the sham fight of an election or a "peaceful protest."

The big problem in our age is not the resentful remains of the Confederate South, or the yahoos that have learned that the way to get attention is to wave swastikas around. The big problem is the reactionary movement of the left that believes race and gender politics, dividing the races and sexes, is the way to bring on a paradise on earth. Hey, I thought that the whole idea of the nation was to get beyond tribalism.

And this after 200 years of the Great Enrichment, in which the culture of surrender to the will of the market and its upstart innovators rather than to feudal barons and ideological buccaneers has increased per-capita income by 3,000 percent for everyone.

Like I say. The great achievement of civilization is to wean young men away from their instinctive love  of threat displays and border warfare and channel their energy into plowing, and latterly into work for wages and the titanic battle for market share.

But when young thugs are battling in the streets for bragging rights about Confederate monuments then something is going wrong.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Yes, So Who Will Win in the Battle of Identity vs. Nation

So this week I read that Fox couldn't get Republicans to come on TV and support President Trump on Charlottesville. But I also read that Steve Bannon told a lefty journalist:
The Democrats … the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.
Meanwhile the Z-Man analyzes the globalists and their notion that when the migrants have migrated all over the world (i.e., into the West) that a global government would be staffed by the same folks that staff the UN: the "rich brats of the world’s political elite."

There also seems to be a suggestion out there that the left's attack on Confederate, and now Founders monuments, is part of some cunning plan from deep down in the liberal-Democratic nexus. The idea is that blacks believed that the Obama presidency would unload tons of loot on them, and it didn't happen. So now they are hopping mad and the Dems need to channel their rage into something.

Or it might lead blacks to give up on politics and start dying of despair, like the last lot that were betrayed by the progressive elite: the white working class.

But it does raise the question of which is better at winning the hearts and minds of the people: identity politics or nationalism?

Let the world note that the three great evil geniuses of the 20th century, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, all found the need to combine their millennial socialism with nationalism. For Hitler, it was National Socialism; for Stalin it was Socialism in one Country. And Mao stood at the Gate of the Forbidden City and apparently did not tell the Han people that "the Chinese People have stood up."

But these were practical men, who would do anything to seize power and then keep it. The theoreticians of the left have always been opposed to the nation state, believing in a single paradise on Earth without boundaries and nations. And so they have always been working on undermining the notion and the fact of the nation by organizing people into sub-national groups: class, race, gender; or supranational groups like the UN and the EU.

On both cases, note that the same people will get to be the rulers.

My idea is that this war on the nation is the most foolish thing in the world, and I like to say that the world-be global ruling class took exactly the wrong lesson from all the nationalism and the fascism of the 1920s and 1930s.

My point is that, despite the stupid World War I, the inflations of the 1920s, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the suffering peoples of the west were successfully rallied to support and fight for their nations. The German workers, perhaps the most radicalized of any by the socialist wave, all rallied to Germany and fought for the Fatherland, twice. The British working class that had gone on a General Strike in the 1920s nevertheless rallied to Britain in World War II. In the US all  the divisions of the 1930s were healed and everyone rallied to fight for victory over the Nazis and the Japs. I have a 12-CD set of World War II songs put out by Tin Pan Alley, all singing the praises of the war.

Yet after World War II the global elite decided "never again." The people cannot be trusted not to be fascists, they decided, so we must step in and neutralize the fascist bug.

Actually, what the first half of the century proved was that, no matter how badly they were governed, and how badly the ruling class screwed up, the people could still be rallied and unified to support and fight for their nations.

It is clear from President Trump's actions, and from the words of Steve Bannon, that the president is trying to rally the people once again to the notion of nation. And that the rest of the ruling class is opposed to the idea.

Are Trump and Bannon right? Or is the rest of the ruling class? I don't know. All I know is that "nation" is a very powerful idea.

Maybe it is too powerful for some people, and that is why they want to knock it down.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trump Puts a Stake in the Ground on Race

Whoever said that the mainstream media were good for nothing? Their lefty frenzy over the Saturday Charlottesville riot has forced President Trump to clarify his position on the race question.

On Saturday, President Trump issued a statement that blamed "many sides" for the riot. He then proceeded to stake out a position that we are all Americans etc.

But the liberals in the media didn't like that, and neither did the old GOP establishment, like Attorney General Sessions and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). What all  these people demanded was a condemnation of white racism. OK, so on Monday Trump gave it to them, and they didn't like it.

But then, on Tuesday, at a press conference in Trump Tower about his infrastructure initiatives, Trump made it clear that he blames both sides for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Meanwhile Mitt Romney tweeted a condemnation of the white nationalists.

OK. So Trump didn't call out Black Lives Matter as black racists, and he didn't call out the Antifa as fascists by any other name. But he has made it perfectly clear where he stands. He stands in the middle and condemns racists and rioters of both the left and the right.

So let me return to Trump's remarks that I posted on Monday.
Above all else we must remember this truth: no matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we're proud of our country, we're proud of who we are. So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we are doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen. 
My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other, ideally we have to love each other.
Do you see what the president (or Stephen Miller or Steve Bannon or whoever) is doing? He is doing the only thing that can stave off a ruinous white identity politics. He is saying: enough off all this division and hate; we are Americans; we are a nation. We must restore the bonds of trust and loyalty. We must cherish our history and our future together.

We must come back together as a nation.

And the extremists of both sides are to blame.

Frankly, if you are a racist, sexist homophobe like me you have been waiting 40 years for a Republican to have the guts to say this. But for 40 years Republicans and conservatives have been afraid, afraid of the accusation of racism and automatic conviction from which there is no appeal.

Now comes Trump, and he has made his position clear. He stands right in the middle, an American president for Americans. Can he succeed? Can he tempt the victims out of their identity ghettos, and get all of us to stand together on the glorious fruited plain of America and Americanism?

Nobody knows. But here are a couple of points.

First, Trump may be doing himself a favor by getting into a pissing match with the CEOs that have been resigning from his manufacturing council over the Charlottesville flap. If Trump has a weak spot, it is the suspicion that Trump, the billionaire, is probably in bed with the CEOs and the rest of the billionaires.

Second, Trump may be doing himself a favor with women. Women do not like street riots, any more than they understand hunting and the crunch of beef in football. Women do not settle their arguments with fists, their dirty work by naming and shaming. And women understand that when rioters are in the streets women are particularly vulnerable.

But the basic point is that Trump has done what no other Republican has dared to do. He has plunged his hand into the radioactive bath of race. Time will tell whether he will live to tell the tale.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Left's Syllabus of Errors: Postmodernism

A typical critique of postmodernism from the right is that it flies in the face of "logic, reason, and objective truth." The idea that everything is relative, a "narrative," is offensive to those of us that adhere to traditional ideas of politics and culture.

On the contrary, the postmodernists are exactly right that there is no objective truth, and that everything is a narrative, and usually a narrative for power.

Presumably ever since mankind began to be self-conscious we have searched for the truth and the meaning of life, the universe and everything. And in every religion, every culture, every philosophy, every political program, we think we have found it.

But our present astonishing civilization is built on the realization, that began, let us say, with Descartes, that "we don't know." Descartes thought he had solved the problem with "I think, therefore I am." But he didn't.

To me, the central insight is that of Kant, who argued -- using reason and logic -- that we cannot know "things-in-themselves" but only sense impressions. When you "see" an object out there, according to post-Kantian theory, you are interpreting in your brain the response of the rods and cones in your eyes that were irritated by lots of quanta of electromagnetic radiation, photons that were transmitted from the surface of the object and then processed and concentrated by the lens in your eye. So what is really real in all that?

Probably there is something really real out there, but my interpretation of Kant is that we should be really careful before we announce that, here, finally, is the final word on that object out there. In my view the whole success of modern science from relativity -- hey, space and time are relative -- to quantum mechanics -- hey, the basic unit of the universe is a probability -- is based on the narrative that we are not observing things-in-themselves but only sense impressions processed by our brains.

On this view, relativity is a "narrative," but it is a really good narrative, and if you believe it is true you can launch GPS satellites into orbit that let you use a map app on your smartphone and get where you want to go.

On this view, capitalism is also a "narrative," and a really good narrative. Following the narrative we humans have increased per-capita income by 30 times, 3,000 percent, in the 200 years of the Great Enrichment. There has been nothing like it, ever.

On this view, socialism is a "narrative," and a really bad one. Following its narrative socialist leaders have plunged their peoples again and again into poverty, famine, and death. See the Soviet Union, Maoist China, and now Venezuela.

In other words, everyone has a narrative. The question is, does it work? Here's Shakespeare's Harry
Hotspur.
GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?
Now, the narrative of the postmodernists is that under the rule of the patriarchy white males have accumulated "white privilege" that has harmed and marginalized everyone else, from white women to "people of color" to LGBT sexual minorities. The postmodernists offer a range of government policies that they argue will rectify the marginalization and injustice suffered by these victims of the patriarchy. One of their central policies is to us government power to rectify "under-representation." It is argued, for instance, that white and Asian men are over-represented in Silicon Valley tech companies, and that the tech companies should make a special effort to hire women and non-Asian minorities to redress the balance.

The narrative of the postmodernists is that the fact that some 80 percent of tech company employees are white or Asian men is an injustice, and that government force should be used to redress it. But what about a counter-narrative? There are, you might argue, a lot of innocent reasons why white and Asian men might dominate tech employment, but you are not allowed to raise those questions, as the defenestration of Google employee James Damore demonstrated.

So, on the one hand we have a narrative that says, in effect, that we should let the white and Asian male nerds do their thing in Tech-land and not get too exercised about the gender and race statistics, although certainly it would be nice for all walks of life to participate in the tech experience, and there is plenty of room to disagree.

On the other hand we have a narrative that says that any gender or racial imbalance in the workplace is an injustice that must be rectified by government power and you are not allowed to disagree.

Since all narratives are relative and a narrative for power, you figure out which narrative you would like to live under.

So what does this all mean?

In my view, it all makes sense if you regard the left as a reactionary movement that believes that political power and government force are the means to create a just and peaceful world. This used to be true before the industrial revolution when food was life and the only way to survive in the world was to find land on which you could grow food and defend your land against all comers.

Today, all that has changed. Today it doesn't matter who owns the food-growing land. All that matters is that food is available to buy and sell on the market. All that matters is that everything is available to buy and sell on the market, because then there is no need to use force.

But if the world doesn't need so much political power and force, what happens to people that are interested in power? Perfectly simple. They start looking in dark corners for occasions where force is the only answer. Back in the 19th century Marx decided that force was the only answer to the inevitable immiseration of the workers under capitalism. But in fact the workers thrived under capitalism. Then came the Frankfurt School and postmodernism and decided that women and blacks and colonized peoples were horribly exploited and marginalized. So the white patriarchs gave women the vote and got out of imperialism, and gave civil rights to blacks and other racial and sexual minorities. So what's the problem?

The problem is that some people still believe, after all the evidence of the last 200 years, that force is the answer. On my narrative, they are dead wrong.

My narrative is that, while government force and political power are still needed, because there are still people that worship power and want to dominate other men, there is only a very narrow area where political power and government force are beneficial. That's because in the market system, anyone suffering under exploitation and marginalization can quit and go down the street and get a job somewhere else.

And Marx's basic prophecy turned out to be wrong. He thought that the new industrial era would replace the lord's domination of the peasantry with the bourgeoisie's domination of the workers. But he was wrong, and for a curious reason. It turned out that the bourgeoisie was not that interested in power. It was more interested in building businesses in transportation, energy, electricity, manufacturing, computers, and the internet. Hey, let's go to Mars, say the billionaires.

But some people are still interested in power, and they worship it. Instead of the bourgeoisie bidding for political power we got a New Class of educated youth that wanted power and that developed a narrative to justify it.

I would say that wherever this New Class has obtained power it has rained misery and division upon ordinary people, because of one simple fact. We humans are social animals, and we thrive by minimizing the need for force. The whole point of social animals is reducing the need for force. Any narrative that wants to increase the use of force is going against the fundamental proposition of social animals, to reduce the use of force among "us."

Let us tell a story.

In the story of humanity, initially hunter-gatherers, the range of social cooperation was small, just an extended family. Every male was involved in defending the territory by force and the result was that 500 people per 100,000 died a violent death each year. But then humans invented agriculture. Now the size of the territory was much bigger and only marcher lords and their retainers were needed to defend the territory. A lot more people could engage in the social cooperation of growing food and building temples and pyramids and cathedrals. The annual violent death rate dropped to 50 people per 100,000 population. But then humans invented manufacturing and global trade and steam transportation and on and on. Now only a small professional army was needed to defend the borders, and a navy to patrol the sea lanes, and nearly everyone could work in the market system in peace. The annual violent death rate dropped to 5 people per 100,000 population. Oh, and the per capita income grew by 30 times in 200 years.

On this narrative the progressive left is a vile and evil band of troublemakers, picking at the few remaining scabs of injustice in a society that is otherwise astonishingly just and peaceful.

It is up to us to rise up and send them packing.

Monday, August 14, 2017

With White Identity Politics, What Becomes of White Liberals?

A basic prediction of the alt-right is that, at some point, despite all the naming and shaming, whites in America will have to organize politically according to the rules of identity politics.

From the point of view of American whites, and especially white males, the identity politics of blacks, Hispanics, women and LGBT is reaching the point where, unless we organize politically as white males, we will be thrown under the bus.

In that process, people like me, that really don't like to identify by race, will be forced to join the white party, or perish in the wilderness.

But what about white liberals?

Up to now, white liberals have presented themselves as Homeric gods -- way above the earthly realms of humans -- dispensing divine justice, according to their whims or their deeply felt sense of justice.

But liberals have been teaching the world for 50 years about white privilege and the male gaze. Where does that leave male white liberals when whites are forced into white identity politics.

There have been some murmurings that the minorities in the Democrat Party are getting restive under the tutelage of white leaders. What is it that makes Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer so special? What makes them think they can represent the traditionally marginalized victims of white privilege in the future? According to current liberal doctrine it is monstrous for men to write about women and whites to write about blacks. How can any man presume to know about the female experience, or a white presume to understand the black experience?

Well, if that applies to writers of fiction then it has to apply to politicians. So how can Chuck Schumer, a white straight man, presume to speak for the voters in his Democratic Party that are overwhelmingly female, non-white, and LGBT.

At the moment, as indicated by Rebels of Google dumping to Breitbart, elite white males do pretty well at Google, because Google recruits from top Ivy League universities and finds a lot of elite white males. Then it recruits at lesser institutions to fill up the quotas with females and minorities. On this view elite white liberals are doing pretty well. And the Rebels say that to succeed as an ordinary middle-class white male you have to be really good.

Yeah and what about the unbearable whiteness of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google? Shouldn't they give way to real and genuine underrepresentated minorities. And I do not mean Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who according to reports is a Brahmin, the top caste in India that has been top caste for thousands of years. How about an untouchable next time, Larry and Sergey?

What happens to elite white males when identity politics takes over everything and elite white males are the only white males left un-conquered?

As I write in my latest American Thinker piece, there is only one workable alternative on offer to the war of all against all implied in the racist and tribal practice of identity politics. And that is nationalism.

In this, as in many things, our liberal friends have got the wrong end of the stick.

The correct judgment for the elite to make at the end of World War II was not to decide "never again" will we allow the ghost of nationalism to rise from Hitler's grave. It should have been to realize how remarkable it was, after the mess of World War I and the elite failures of the 1920s in Germany and in the US in the wake of the 1929 Crash, that ordinary people still stayed loyal to the completely artificial and cooked-up idea of nation, and did not revert to their more natural tribal and kindred instincts.

And yet the bottom line of elite politics for the last 50 or so years is to encourage tribalism and racism in their little darlings, the women, the blacks, the Hispanics, and more. It worked so long as they could name and shame middle-class whites into silence.

But of course, this elite politics was and is profoundly unjust. Nothing remarkable about this: that's what always happens when a ruling class rules and the inheritors of their dynasty exhibit a certain conceit for being, as they say, born on third base and thinking they hit a triple.

So last Saturday, after the Charlottesville riot, President Trump invoked our common identity as Americans.
Above all else we must remember this truth: no matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we're proud of our country, we're proud of who we are. So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we are doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.

My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history an our future together. So important. We have to respect each other, ideally we have to love each other.
In liberal-land this is called a weak stance against racism.

I'd call it a strong statement in favor of the only idea that is going to stop the United States crumbling into dust.

And it is the last best hope of elite white male liberals. Only nationalism can save them from the humiliation of have to join the white party in the identity politics of all against all.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Damore Case: What Do Liberals Want

The Damore case, of the 28-year-old nerd-head that got mad after a diversity training session at Google, has entered a new phase.

Yes, the new critics say, Damore had a point, but he is naive. He really doesn't get the bigger picture.

One of them, Nicole Gelinas, from the Manhattan Institute says that "the contents of his memo are nothing to celebrate; He said nothing that hasn’t already been said, in tiresome fashion, for decades." And his memo has made Google's job, to "manage the people who make up its business... harder."

Then there is Megan McArdle, who writes that, after working in IT for years with the guys she decided one day at a Monday morning meeting that "fundamentally, these are not my people." It was after her account of a doomed romance and a Saturday concert had been met with dead silence and a guy's account of spending the weekend building a fiber network in his basement. So then she segues into "Sexism is a process" and working in tech is going to be pretty rough for women unless "some pretty heroic efforts are made to counteract all that free-floating testosterone.¨

All of which is fine. But the point is whether the government should be in there with its mailed fist nailing down the details of managing people in every workplace. It is one thing to fine and imprison people for not hiring and promoting women and minorities. It is another thing to bully them into making life comfortable for the pets of liberal activists.

Government is force. Is government force the right tool to manage and regulate corporate cultures? Must the tech industry be made to be comfortable for well-born women, or else? Or does that amount to treating well-born women like children?

Now, I do not doubt that one of the most important things in the world right now is that well-born and well-educated women should all get to feel comfortable in the workplace and able to discuss their relationships in Monday morning meetings, and that the Goolag should be able to force its corporate culture on its employees to protect its $90 billion in the bank.

But let us get down to the nitty gritty. And that means Charles Murray and his Coming Apart. Right now, things are pretty copacetic for the top 25 percent of whites in America, of which well-born women at Google are probably in the One Percent. They have great careers and merger marriages, and the divorce rate is down. But things are not so great for the 40 percent in the middle, where the jobs are not so great and the marriages don't always last. And things are really grim for the bottom 30 percent where the men don't work much and the women don't marry much.

Now, I declare before all the world that I don't think that any of the well-born women and diversity hires at Google have a leg to stand on when we are doing nothing, absolutely nothing, to help the bottom 75 percent find a more secure life.

And no. Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and doing single-payer health care and saving the planet from climate change and moving to gender-neutral bathrooms, and all the rest of the progressive liberal rubbish, ain't gonna do it.

The fact is that liberals are totally obsessed with fluffing the pillows in their own liberal Bubble World where things are already pretty comfy. And if you look at the things that liberals say they want, the one thing that comes through is that liberals do not have a clue about what other people want, nor do they care, unless you are a liberal pet and sit up and beg for a doggy treat on command.

The whole Google flap shows that liberals are just like every late-stage ruling class. They are totally obsessed with their tiny aristocratic world and its competitive social events, its liberal equivalents of Royal Ascot, and the one thing they are sure about is that they are better than other people are, publicans and sinners.

Friday, August 11, 2017

I Do Remember the Curve of Hotspur's Butt

Hey kids! Yesterday I went to a performance of Henry IV Part One at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, in which the notorious marcher lord Harry Percy was played by a woman. As was his/her relative the poisonous Earl of Worcester, and Sir Richard Vernon.

In other words, the rebel alliance were all played by women! Hello liberal woman director Lileana Blain-Cruz. You really don't get women as marcher lords raging about everything and damning everyone to hell and back again while they work up a head of rebellion. Not in the real world. Women don't operate that way, which anyone would know unless their education had been confined to sex-denialism at an Ivy League university.

Women get their way in the world by manipulating the current system, as in manipulating tech companies like Google into hiring more women software engineers. They rarely get their way in the world by overturning the system or working at a tech startup. It's the science, baby.

But the bigger problem is that it really doesn't make sense to cast a woman into a role where she is having a knife fight with a man. And it really doesn't make sense to cast a woman into a role where the most notable thing about her is the snug fit of her camo pants. And it really doesn't make the point when the said woman, cast in a role as a quarrelsome troublemaking marcher lord, gets killed and dragged off stage by the coward Falstaff. You see, m'lady, men are expendable, so it doesn't matter if the Percys lose a son or two. But the death of every woman is a debit against posterity. Because the most notable thing about women is that they bear children, and men do not.

And again, why do we have two or three babes in skimpy white-trash low-cut bar-girl getups with a Dolly Parton lookalike Mistress Quickly? Isn't that, like, sexist? Isn't it, like, propagating vile liberal race and gender stereotypes? Shouldn't there, like, be a black rent-boy at the Boar's Head Tavern, just to make it diverse and inclusive? Whatever.

Of course, why would we expect a liberal woman with a double-barrel surname and an Ivy League MFA degree to have the least clue about high politics and aristocratic warfare in the late Middle Ages? Where would she learn such stuff? What masters degrees would be out there? What intern opportunities? What grant prospects? Imagine the microaggressions and unsafe spaces she would encounter in the process!

Never mind. Because after two clueless productions from two clueless directors with Ivy League MFA degrees that mangled two great cultural monuments of western culture into silly putty we got to see, here at Ashland, a numinous performance of The Odyssey, adapted and produced by Mary Zimmerman.

It may truly be said that Zimmerman lived up to the OSF's Mission Statement to produce "illuminating interpretations" on its stages.

Really, it wasn't more than ten minutes into The Odyssey that I turned and said "now we're talking."

Of course, The Odyssey is a corker of a story, with the universal themes of loss and the heartbreak of separation and the emotion supercharge of reunion. But then The Merry Wives of Windsor is a magnificent romp, and Henry IV Part One is a magnificent disquisition on ambition and betrayal and coming-of-age and I know not what.

The point is that the usual idiots can wreck a cultural icon as well as any man in Illyria.  To make the cultural icon come alive and move and illuminate the hearts and minds of the audience takes something more.

And my feeling is that the liberal rage for diversity and inclusion is not just going to vandalize the great monuments of western culture. It is going to end up by ruining liberalism itself. Let us take our text from Eric Hoffer:
Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.
I think that our liberal friends have got right through the movement stage, have burned through most of the business stage, and are deep in the racket stage. And really, when you are in the racket stage you are  just a bunch of gang-bangers with more testosterone than sense.

As in: three of the plays I have watched here at Ashland over the past three days have been directed by women and minorities with Ivy League MFA degrees.

Does not that smell like a bit of a racket? As in the interview policy of Google with softball interviews for Ivy Leaguers and diversity hires. Only the three directors here at Ashland are minority/women and Ivy Leaguers.

Mary Zimmerman is the daughter of a physics professor and a comparative literature professor. And she went to Northwestern. So strictly speaking, she is not an Ivy Leaguer, although with two professor parents it does count as two strikes against her.

But maybe that Northwestern bit makes a difference. Or maybe it is that Mary Zimmerman has found a way to break out of the liberal bubble and speak to us all.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Cultural Problem at the Heart of Ashland

Here at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, the festival program declares that
We include a diversity of people, ideas and cultures in our work, enriching our art, our relationships with each other, our audiences and our community.
That means that OSF is always careful to include black actors and a black play every year -- August Wilson seems to be a go-to playwright, as elsewhere in the liberal drama world. And last night, at a performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor played with a female Sir John Falstaff,  there were blacks, Hispanics, and East Asians playing minor parts and an occasional Spanish phrase to demonstrate diversity and inclusion.

But really, should a Shakespeare festival give a damn about "other cultures?" Shouldn't its Mission Statement say that "we celebrate Shakespeare" rather than
Inspired by Shakespeare's work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays [etc].
Which is to say that "we are liberals" and our job as white educated liberals is to treat everyone else on the planet as our beloved pets, except for nasty cis-hetero-white deplorables who violate our Code of Conduct. They will be named and shamed and fired like Google's James Damore. Probably, that would never happen at a place like OSF because Deplorables don't have a chance in racist sexist homophobic hell of being hired in the first place.

I know. It really isn't as simple as that. OSF's audience is politically liberal and it expects the proper genuflection to liberal gods, and the artistic and administrative corps of the festival are also liberals that naturally enact and celebrate the canons of the liberal faith. So stop complaining, you whiner.

And the reality is that OSF doesn't do illuminating adaptions of anything. What it does, especially in these latter days, is dumb the plays down, and indicate, by a wafting a hand past the backside, when a fart joke has been made in Elizabethan English.

And because all its practitioners live and worship in the liberal bubble, OSF puts up stone-blind productions like a recent Julius Caesar as a woman CEO surrounded by Roman senators dressed as actors attending rehearsal in artistical black. Yeah. That's real illuminating. For rather more illumination try HBO's Rome on Netflix, which somehow, even though designed for a TV audience, manages to get the power politics of the patricians of Rome. No women CEOs, just aristocratic rich bitches manipulating things from behind the scene, as the aristocratic rich bitches have attempted to do from time immemorial.

Oh well. Today in Henry IV Part One, the Falstaff will be a man. But the Hotspur will be a woman.

Yeah. The most testosterone-fueled character in all of Shakespeare, including a duel to the death with who's-a-naughty-boy-then Prince Hal, will be a girl. Hey, why not? Wonder Woman can outfight any man in Illyria. So why not a woman as the Great Northern Hope of the Percy's, the Earls of Northumberland, marcher lords since whenever whose job was to keep out the Scots.

Well, you really can't expect these liberals to know anything. They are idiots and they are faithful communicants at the Church of Diversity and Inclusion, or you lose your job.

Meanwhile, I was reading that the later Dukes of Northumberland, no relations, assumed the surname Percy. Gee, I wonder why.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Why Is Our Ruling Class Denying Reality?

Why did Google fire that guy that dared to question corporate orthodoxy on diversity? Why did the Google diversity heretic's HR abbess insist that he was wrong on diversity and inclusion?

In fact, why do our rulers insist that we are all equal, or they will make us so, per equality politics? And why is it heating up?

Because the ruling-class denial of racial differences is going right into the toilet because of gene science. ZMan:
As people come to accept the reality of gene editing, even if it is just to make better dog breeds, it is much more difficult to maintain the mythologies of the blank slate.
The point is that gene editing is coming. That means that we will be able to make babies with a genetic makeup that differs from the possibilities they could have inherited from their parents. That means that the insistence on equality of results by government force will be ridiculous when you can adjust genetic inheritances with just a little tweaking.

And yet right now our ruling class is going crazy forbidding anyone from mentioning sex and race differences.
As science makes clear the realities of human biology, our rulers scream ever louder to the contrary. Instead of simply ignoring the new information, they are waging pogroms too root out anyone not fully committed to their biological denialism. Every week were treated to some new scandal where a heretic is brought forth and punished for acknowledging reality.
What is going on here? ZMan reminds us of the growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire.
As the people began to embrace the new religion, the rulers tried to crack down on it. This only made the new religion more popular. 
It was the genius of Constantine to reverse course and put the ruling class on the side of the new religion. And so some politician is going to do the same with regard to biological denialism, the blank slate, diversity politics etc. Because why get all worked up about inequality when a little DNA editing can solve the problem with a nip and a tuck?

OK, but why is our ruling class so committed to diversity politics and why are they bullying the Googles of the world and the wedding cake bakers and Uncle Tom Cobbley and forcing everyone to bow the head to their ideology? What's the point?

I guess there isn't a point really. It's just that the rulers, by instinct, always want us to bow the knee  to them, as a ceremony of their power. They are the rulers; we are the subjects. Rulers rule, and subjects bend the knee. There has to be some issue around which this ceremony of domination is solemnized.

Right now it is diversity, and I wish it wasn't.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Convergence of Tech

I suppose it is inevitable that the left would want to conquer and subdue the tech industry. After all, that's where the power is.

And the central fact about business and politics since the industrial revolution is that business is a sitting duck for politics. Or rather the goose that laid the golden egg.

And if you are in the political power game, conquering and subduing is what you do.

Used to be that kings and emperors went a-conquering of land. But now the new political power, the educated ruling class, wants to conquer business. Because that's where the money is.

So of course Google would knuckle under to the SJW warriors and make itself into a "converged" company where speech is free as long as you don't speak a word against the secular religious orthodoxy of "diversity and inclusion."

And so it is inevitable and appropriate that Google's VP of diversity and inclusion would email a screed saying that Google is all in favor of free speech, but not speech that is wrong with respect to diversity and inclusion. Of course she did. And of course Google CEO Sundar Pichai fired James Damore for his rather tame piece on diversity.

Hey, apart from the fact that the Obama administration paid Google's loyalty and assistance over the last eight years by a Department of Labor diversity suit in January 2017, these tech  guys are tame followers of the conventional wisdom.

Of course they are. They have put their life energy into tech, not into politics and philosophy. So they just pick up the conventional wisdom and the orthodoxy of the ruling class with their breakfast latte.

And when they hit the big time, they learn pretty quick that they have to play ball  with the politicians and activists, or suffer the fate of the Koch Brothers, and become the whipping boys of the left.

Poor naive Bill Gates thought he was going  to keep Microsoft out of politics. But then the politicians came calling, and the Justice Department sicced an antitrust suit on Microsoft, and Bill Gates immediately understood who was boss.

I think it is a shame, a monstrous shame, that we are being named and shamed for politically incorrect speech. Oh, and fired from our jobs.

Remember when? Remember when the left was outraged about the Hollywood Ten, blacklisted (sorta) back in the early days of the Cold War for being a little too close to the Communist Party. Hey who cares about Brendan Eich or James Damore or Tim Hunt? They had it coming, good and hard.

Well, we know where we stand. It is up to us to change the culture and re-create an America where a guy is free to publish a screed about science and not get fired from his job.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Google Diversity: The Rage for Meaning

We humans insist that life has a meaning. We are not satisfied to be born and to die, to be a link in the Great Chain of Being. We want to be the link in the Great Chain of Being.

Thus is it not enough for Google to be a hugely successful tech company that provides knowledge to the world through its search technology.

No, Google longs for something fuller, higher than that. Indeed Google follows the instruction  of liberal Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. We humans, he argues must follow a dual track, as I retail in An American Manifesto.
 First, we recognize the importance of ordinary human flourishing: forming families, owning property, doing it for the children. Second, we recognize that we all search for something higher and fuller.
So it is not enough for Google to assist in ordinary human flourishing with cool technology and Google Photos and Google Drive and Android and Uncle Tom Cobbley. Google searches for something higher and fuller.

And if you are an ordinary successful tech billionaire in tune with the Zeitgeist, that means diversity. But, argues Taylor
To balance these goals, we must define our moral aspirations in terms that do not “crush, mutilate or deny what is essential to our humanity... [and] fully respect ordinary human flourishing.” He proposes to balance the ideal with the practical, to recognize that secular utopianism belongs in the same bin as religious millennarianism: Plato’s Republic, medieval monasticism and the Bolshevik “new Soviet man;” all of them crush and mutilate ordinary human flourishing. 
Hello SJWs!

Back in the old days, liberals used to fulminate about conservatives "legislating morality." Today, we read of people anxious that the Google guy that issued a ten-page manifesto that was equivocal about diversity should be named and shamed and fired for his apostasy.

The French have a  word for this: Plus ├ža change. The more it changes, the more it stays the same.

What I say is that diversity is a grand and noble idea. Except when it is accompanied by force. So, I don't like the idea of government universities playing race and gender politics, because  that means enforcing someone's idea of diversity with force.

And it is the most pathetic conceit for a big corporation like Google to imagine that it is in the business  of anything other than ordinary human flourishing.

It is very hard to balance ordinary human flourishing with something higher and fuller. Time and time again in human history, the folks longing for something higher have spindled and mutilated the folks that disagree with them.

But you knew that.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Positive and Negative Identity Politics

We live in an age of identity politics, but I had never thought that identity politics comes in two flavors. There is positive identity politics and there is negative identity politics. That is the argument of ZMan in "Positive and Negative." Here is how he presents the principle:
Identity movements, as cultural or even political phenomenon, come in two flavors. One is positive and the other is negative. A positive identity is one that exists independently and in isolation. It is true in all times and all places. Its logic is entirely internal and only modifiable by those within it.  A negative identity, in contrast, exists only in context, usually in relation to or in opposition to something else. It is dependent on some outside thing. Its logic is external and modifiable by whatever exogenous thing upon which it depends.
OK. What the heck does that mean? The easiest way is by defining the negative identity politics of blacks in the United States.
[S]ub-Saharan Africans come to America and refuse to call themselves black or even African-American. They have a different identity, their own identity. Black Americans are defined by the fact that whites needed farm equipment and brought blacks over to the colonies to work the fields. Everything about the black experience is in relation to this history and its alleged effects on the present. To be black in America is to be defined entirely by your relationship to white America. 
Icelanders, according to ZMan, define themselves as Icelanders.
Blacks, in contrast, do nothing but complain about whites. They define themselves in relation to whites, mostly in how they are treated by whites. 
This, in the opinion of ZMan, is not a good idea, because if you are a black you need whites around so you can complain about them. What if whites went away? What would the blacks do then, poor things?

Now, in the opinion of ZMan and others, what is coming is some kind of white identity politics, whether we whites like it or not. The thing to avoid is negative identity politics, defining white identity by "complaining about blacks and Jews."

Or complaining about liberals.

The way to avoid the negative road,  defining yourself against somebody else, is to form a "cultural movement," writes ZMan. Like the Progressives.

But actually, Progressives, and the left generally, define themselves against the bourgeoisie, against the middle class, conformism, God, and the patriarchy, and now cis-het-normativity. The purpose of liberals driving Priuses and shopping at organic grocery stores is to differentiate themselves from the mainstream, because liberals are Pharisees and not like other men are, publicans and sinners.

In many ways, therefore, the conservative movement of the post-WWII era was a negative movement against the liberals, or progressives, or whatever the left was calling itself at the moment. And the reason we have Trump is that this movement did not define itself in positive terms to be anything other than a reaction against liberalism. Without liberalism, conservatism would be nothing.

So what do we do?

The answer is obvious. The new cultural movement must identify itself as "American," like the black Americans that showed up at the great Tea Party rally in Washington DC in 2009. Don't call be a black American, they said. Call me an American that happens to be black.

So maybe the strategy for the alt-right and anyone else planning a new cultural movement is to create an American Identity politics, not  a white identity politics. This politics would celebrate America, from the Puritans to the Revolutionaries to the Founders to the separation of powers to the undergrowth of voluntary social organizations to the spirit of Having a Go, to the toleration of all races and creeds.

This movement would believe in one simple thing: America is the best there is, and we will make it better.

Anyone can join, provided that they the only thing they want is to Make America Great Again.

Hmm. The whole point of my American Manifesto, which starts here, is to re-establish the idea of America as the best there is, and to imagine how to make it better, in the life after Liberalism.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Another Thing That Marx Got Wrong

I attended a neighborhood Block Watch party the other night and got to talk with the lefty girl across the street. She was worried that the tech kids working at Amazon were not interested in social justice and politics. Imagine!

That got me to descanting to the neighborhood folks that people in business have never been that interested in politics: John D. Rockefeller retired from Standard Oil at age 50 and invented modern philanthropy. Today's billionaires want to go to Mars. Etc.

But somehow that led me to an epiphany. It is this.

Marx in his Communist Manifesto imagined that the rising bourgeoisie and the capitalists were in the process of replacing the Old Feudalism of lords and peasants with a new feudalism of capitalists and workers.

The new lords of commerce, Marx prophesied, would rule over business and politics the way that the great barons of the land ruled over the world in their day. Of course they would, liquidating the incredible wealth of their capitalist enterprises into the ready coin of political power.

But Marx was wrong, because the new lords of commerce were not that interested in power. Instead of building themselves into a new ruling class they retired from business and invented modern philanthropy.

Here is where my epiphany comes in. Marx was not completely wrong about the rise of a new feudalism. He wasn't wrong about predicting that the workers would become the new serfs and peasants.

What Marx got completely wrong was that he imagined that it would be the bourgeoisie, the aristocracy of the market, that would step into the space vacated by the aristocracy of the land. In fact, it was the aristocracy of the word, the new educated sons -- and eventually daughters -- of the bourgeoisie that would eventually lord it over the industrial serfs.

Why would what be? Because unlike the capitalists, who were not that interested in power, the educated sons of the bourgeoisie were very interested in power, and they wanted it for themselves so that they could fundamentally transform the world -- or failing that be the chaps issuing the orders.

When you think about it, it made a lot of sense. The brutal fact about being the son or the daughter of a successful capitalist is that you are probably not going to repeat the combination of cunning, hard work, and luck that your father had. So what do you do to make your life meaningful? Hey, you mount up on a white horse and promise to save the world with the most basic and instinctive means, a political army to smash the evils and injustices of the world.

The awful truth is that this New Feudalism is a stunning success. Nearly everyone is perfectly happy being a subordinate peasant in the new estates of the new political magnates of ideology. Oh, people complain about "them," how "they" haven't built a pedestrian crossing here, or a bike path there, or a gender-neutral bathroom at the Opera House. But they do not imagine anything; they just accept an eternal subordination to the aristocracy of the word, the cultural elite that rules our minds as though it were the most natural thing in the world, because after all, it was ever thus.

Well, I for one believe that the age of industrial subordination is coming to an end. That is how I interpret the prophecy that AI will take over the world. You won't be able to sit like an automaton doing a repetitive job all your life, because all such jobs will go the way of the farm laborer.

In the future people will have to imagine how to serve their fellow humans and then do something about it. But here is the dirty little secret about this. Almost all humans are skilled communicators and cooperators, because those are the basic skills of social animals, that we learn as children just by being children and learning to talk and learning to play with other children. People are thinking that only geniuses will have jobs in the new world that is to come, but I suspect that they are wrong. Yes, we will still put geniuses to work solving impossible scientific and logical problems; but the rest of us will be as busy as bees doing regular human stuff: interacting, talking, exchanging, cooperating.

And maybe, maybe, we will prove Marx completely wrong and build a society without the eternal yoke of feudal subordination.

I am not talking about a perfect society where people paint in the morning, and politic in the afternoon and then talk philosophy in the evening. I am just talking about a society where the center of gravity occurs around a culture of cooperation and personal responsibility.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Why is Average Household Income About Same as Per Capita Income?

A reader of my AT piece on foreign policy in the light of GDP asks the following question:

If per capita GDP in the US is about $53,000, then why is "household income... about the same, if a typical household is 4 people?"

Well, according to Google, average household income in the US in 2014 was $73,300. And the average household size is 2.54.

Let's try the simple math, and see how it comes out. There were 147 million employed persons (from USBLS Household Survey), and 2.54 in the average household in 2014. That seems about right, because 2014 population is 319 million. So that makes 319 million / 2.54 =  125 million households.

Per worker GDI is $17.5 trillion / 147 million = $119,000.

Per household GDI is $17.5 trillion / 125 million =  $140,000.

So what's the difference? Why are these back-of-the-envelope estimates about twice the official number?

Maybe it's because total personal income is about twice raw salaries and wages, as from the BEA, where 2015 US "Personal Income" is $15.3 trillion and "Wages and Salaries" are $7.7 trillion. The difference is things like employment benefits, capital and interest income, and government transfers.

Or maybe the bean counters are looking at an entirely different way of figuring household income, and I don't have a clue what is going on.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Suppose Your Were a Kid in 1930s Germany...

One of the conceits of our time is that the baby-boomers were rebels, taking on the tired establishment of the time with their questioning and their critique of establishment hypocrisy.

Of course, this is rubbish. Young people are not brave warriors against the status quo but blind dupes of a cunning ruling class. That is the whole purpose of government schools and government universities, to make sure that young people learn the approved opinions and develop the approved enthusiasms. Baby-boomers went along with peace, love and all the rest because everyone else was doing it.

We may say, perhaps, that the baby-boomers were the dupes of a rising liberal ruling class -- but then the liberals had been in the ideological ascendant since the early 20th century: the federal income tax and the direct election of senators, passed as constitutional amendments, were at the center of the Progressive Era agenda.

And given the purging of conservatives and Christians all over the education system and culture industry, it is less likely today that any kid would dare to profess unsound opinions, or even know about them.

So it is salutary for me to be reading A Child of Hitler: Germany in the Days When God Wore a Swastika by Alfons Heck. Heck was a kid in the Rhineland during the Hitler years, aged 10 in 1933, and of course he was an enthusiastic Nazi. That is what kids do; they inhale the sweet aroma of the new thing, and enthusiastically exhale it, joining the Hitler Youth and believing everything handed down from on high. Just like our modern social justice warriors know nothing beyond what they learn from their lefty "studies" teachers.

We conceited, enlightened folk like to lecture the Germans about their guilt, and we have been so successful that German women have mostly stopped having children. But really, what is an individual supposed to do? A ten-year-old is supposed to avoid joining the Jungvolk like everyone else? And then get into a sophisticated analysis of the Versailles treaty?

So, should a kid in our US government schools get into an argument with his unionized teacher about diversity and/or transgender rights? Or, for the really courageous, about climate change?

Nobody, but nobody is really in a position to challenge the ideological status quo at age 10, or 16, or 26 or indeed any age. Nobody challenges the status quo except foolish cranks, that have veered off the road by reading other cranks, who have gussied up critical political and cultural ideas not because they are geniuses, but because they are cussed.

If the crank turns out to be right, 20, or 30 or a hundred years in the future, it merely blind luck. The rest of us must keep our powder dry and make our peace with the current ruling class.

The best any secret rebel can do is keep a weather eye out for storms.

But then, how can you know the political weather when the ruling class is faking the weather reports? Put it this way. Right now, any ordinary American had better make pretty sure that nobody denounces them as a racist, or sexist or homophobe. Or they could lose their job. Suppose you think that the current policy of the United States government is in fact profoundly racist, in that it categorizes people by race and judges events not by how they benefit designated race categories? What do you do?

In other words, how do you fight government racism when to do so would subject you to denunciation as a racist?

First of all, you would have to be a ideological genius to see through the lies and propaganda of the ruling class, and how many of us are equal to that? Then you would have to be the kind of person that didn't give a damn about  people calling  you nasty names, and how many of us have the thick skin for that? You would be the kind of person that didn't care if they went to your boss and had you fired, and how many of us are willing to be that much trouble to our bosses?

How many people are like that? 0.02 percent? Or 0.01 percent? We humans are social animals, and that means that we go along to get along, because that is how social cooperation works.

I'd say that true genius is the ability to keep your powder dry and emerge at just the right moment, when the ruling class and its ideology are in trouble, and knock over its equestrian statue at just the right moment when it looks like you are incredible brave, but in fact the ruling class leaders just left town in the middle of the previous night. Emile Zola evokes that rather nicely with his Fortune of the Rougons, about how the successful coup of Louis Napoleon in 1851 played down in the provinces. The way it works is that you have to have back channels so that you know what is going down before the other folks in town.

For most of us, Candide's famous phrase applies: il faut cultiver notre jardin. We need to go work in the garden. Anything else will get us ground to dust under the wheels of history.