Friday, February 23, 2018

Protection in an Age of "Feminine Sensibility"

In the aftermath of the Parkland school massacre we are experiencing what, for conservatives, is a curious disconnect. On the one hand we have the usual liberal suspects clamoring for gun control. On the other hand we have the evidence of major governmental failure: failure to follow up on multiple opportunities to deal with the accused mass murderer before he struck; failure of the armed police guard at the school to intervene, and general government incompetence up and down the line.

What is going on here?

I return once again to my Georg Simmel line, that in the modern era with the emergence of women into the public square we are going to see women move the public square into a direction that conforms with a "more feminine sensibility."

One of the forms of feminine sensibility is that every woman expects, as of ancient and immemorial instinct, that she should be protected.

In the bad old days of the patriarchy every woman was protected by living in a household that was headed by a man. That man was responsible for the woman's protection. Today we find many women -- independent women, in the words of Simone de Beauvoir -- that do not live in a household headed by a man. But all women still expect to be protected.

You can see how this plays into the whole gun-control issue.

Obviously, if the proverbial patriarchal male no longer provides protection to our independent woman; someone else must step in to provide protection. Obviously there is only one agent that can do that: the government's police force.

And just as obviously, it makes sense to disarm all men so that our independent woman would be free from attack by a deadly weapon, and thus protected. Thus, the feminine sensibility would affirm, with the disarmament of men and the enabling of the police, women are once more safe.

I believe this is what is called magical thinking.

In the first place, the banning of deadly weapons is not going to protect women. There are ways of violating women other than with guns: there are knives; there are blunt objects; there are fists; there are threats.

In the second place, government is not going to protect women. This is obvious from the actual record of government failure in the Parkland school massacres. It is obvious from the science of bureaucracy, that predicts, after a brave beginning, that every bureaucracy will devolve into utter immobility. This is because the logic of bureaucracy is that is almost always more sensible to do nothing than to do something. No doubt this is why Dickens calls his stereotypical bureaucrats at the Circumlocution Office: Barnacles and Stiltstockings. He does not call them Braveheart or Producer.

In reality governments across the world and down the ages have promised protection but delivered oppression. The cost of protection is usually servitude.

Our age is notable, for its Great Enrichment has freed both men and women from the necessities of immediate survival. In the old days you either got with the program or you died. And often you died anyway. But in our age we can experiment and not immediately experience the penalty of failure. This has its good side and its bad side. The ability to experiment has produced both the Great Enrichment of global capitalism and also the Great Massacres of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and Maoist China.

I suspect that in the great and glorious future, as all the bright ideas and the silly failures shake themselves out, we will find that women still expect to be protected, and that the most efficacious way for a woman to be protected is through the agency of some man.

There is no mystery about this. Men are fighters and women are lovers. For men the complications of caring and relationships cut into the simple life of fighting, whether against the next-door tribe or the next-door market competitor.  For women the existential perils of the fight cut into the necessary complications of loving and caring.

And so, I predict, at the end of the Age of Feminine Sensibility we will find that women will want to be feminine and leave the masculine stuff for the men. Because Darwin, or evolution, or something.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What is this "Our," Kemosabe?

Do you ever notice the way our liberal friends talk about "our communities" or "our democracy?" This week, in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, they are talking about "our children."

What is going on here?

I've been wondering about this because I have just had this feeling that our liberal friends are putting something over on us with this "our" stuff. After all, how come they don't talk about "our gunowners?"

I've decided that the "our" shtick has to do with the necessities of liberal politics. In the first place, liberals have a problem with the nation state. So liberals cannot really talk about "US democracy" because that builds up the nation state of the United States of America. Liberal politics is built up around the principle of anything-but the nation state. So using the catchphrase "our democracy" conveniently elides the 800-pound gorilla, that the US is a nation state and it is built upon a cult of the nation and its Anglo-American roots, its revolutionary war and its Constitution.

Similarly, when liberals talk about "our communities" they are eliding the uncomfortable fact of their identity politics, that liberals encourage their supporters to think of themselves as other than Americans, and instead to think of themselves primarily as blacks, Latinos, women, LGBT, etc. -- indeed as any group brought together by activist politics. Thus "our communities" conveniently assembles together all the incompatible identities flying the flag of convenience of identity-group liberalism. Strictly speaking, blacks, Latinos, feminist women and gays have nothing in common. Indeed, given that they all want something out of the administrative state, they are all existentially in competition for the state's resources. But they are held together because of the power of the educated-class liberals that lead them and discipline them.

I think that the "our" designation is also a manifestation of Georg Simmel's "more feminine sensibility" that has changed the western public square in the last century. I think that women like to think in these more inclusive terms, as thinking of all acquaintance as part of "our family" and any disagreement as a scandal, whereas men are more apt to be comfortable with divisions and ongoing disagreements as part of the nature of things.

I think that conservatives and alt-righters should be forthright about celebrating America the nation, and work to de-legitimize the cunning evasions of the "our" concept. We should talk about the US, about American democracy, American law, US patriots, the common heritage of responsibility and contribution to the national idea, and so on. And we should talk about race and gender as all very well in their way, but as dangers that divide us and potentially blind us to our common humanity and our participation in the service culture of the market economy and the great family of the nation state.

See, I think that the war on the nation practiced by our educated class and the global elite generally is utter folly. The nation state is the last best hope of humans, thus far. It has provided a means of identity that is larger and more inclusive that the old identity of tribe and clan. Right now there is no prospect of a larger identity, such as pan-Europeanism or globalism, quite simply because we humans do not all speak the same language. Meanwhile the educated-class support of identity politics threatens to break up the hard-won unity of the nation state, with unimaginable consequences.

Despite the constant war on the nation state you can see that it has a lot of power to inspire and to bring people together. That, after all, is what Make America Great Again is all about.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rummaging Around at Powells Bookstore

We are down in Portland, Oregon, for a couple of days, and naturally the first order of business is a visit to Powell's City of Books on Burnside Street. It's right down the street from Whole Foods.

It is, of course, a great bookstore, although it didn't have a couple of items on my Amazon Wish List: Simon Leys' Chinese Shadows  and Peter L. Berger's Social Construction of Reality. Well, I can understand Powell's not having the Berger book, since maybe Berger is a bit too right wing for lefty Portland. But the Leys book? Hard to figure.

Here's a couple good things about Powell's. In the Philosophy section they have big dividers announcing, say, books "By Plato" followed by books "On Plato." And that goes for all the prominent philosophers, past, present and future.

Now, in the Psychology section, Jung and Freud are abstracted from the general run of psychology and occupy a special section all on their own, facing an information desk. Jung is on the left and Freud is on the right. Hmm. So what is that all about, given that Jung is probably right of center and Freud left of center. Does that mean that Jung is considered the first among equals in the Powell's universe and Freud second? Or what?

I tell you what I worry about. How long can Powell's survive downtown in Portland? Let's face it; books are not the kind of business that can justify occupying prime downtown real-estate. Let's leave the decline of Borders and Barnes and Noble; those guys have their own problems. A more vital concern is my own favorite HalfPrice Books.  In Seattle HalfPrice is retreating from downtown to the suburban strip mall. It used to have a store right close to downtown Seattle on Capitol Hill. That store closed years ago. HalfPrice used to have a store in the University District. That store closed a year ago. Now I have to drive 20 minutes to get to a HalfPrice book store. It's an outrage!

Still, the internet has been good for the book business. Used to be that a used bookstore was a musty mess of the old and the irrelevant. But now, with an active pricing system for used books from Amazon to Abebooks, every used bookstore knows the price on just about every book imaginable and knows exactly what to feature on its shelves. And it shows.

Well, I got a book by Thomas Kuhn, the "paradigm shift" guy, on his further reflections on his Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Remember that his main line was that science was a social endeavor, and that scientists are social beings. Thus science advances as the old generation dies off and can no longer enforce its orthodoxy. The application to climate science is obvious. We have seen, in the Climategate emails, how climate scientists enforce orthodoxy. And we see how funding drives the scientific community, for modern science lives by funding from government, and government funds the agenda that enhances its power.

Today, I think, I am going to go to Powell's and look at its "Activism" section. Yes, in lefty Portland, the culture of activism is alive and well and it has a whole section on How to Do It. I suppose that my interest in Activism is not really the how-to, but the why. What is it that motivates people to launch themselves into the practice of politics as a saving faith?

You know my take on Activism. I think that the rise of the market economy has radically altered the nature of politics, and the warrant for government force. I think that the modern era is founded upon the new and radical reality that the basis of human cooperation must be the surrender to the market and its prices, rather than surrender to the local lord and his power. The Soviet Union and Maoist China did a controlled experiment on this, and proved that political power is a dead hand. And yet we have this great movement, what I call the Great Reaction, with what amounts to a religious faith in the use of political power.

I don't get it. But I certainly do get the importance of Powell's Books, even if it can't forever survive in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Federal Budget: Best of Times or Worst of Times

Today there are a couple of commentaries on the federal budget. One is from Goldman Sachs, worrying that interest cost will eat the budget, and one from Stephen Moore, with the idea that "Obama cut the deficit in half" is crazy.

What's a mother to think?

The simple answer is: Yes.

Yes, the federal budget will dissolve in huge interest costs if nothing is done, and in the worst case if nothing is done we will end in hyperinflation, à la Venezuela.

Yes, it misses the point to say that Obama cut the deficit in half on his watch. Because the federal debt doubled on his watch.

OK. As President Eisenhower said, if you can't solve a problem then make it bigger.

Our big problem is that we spend a trillion dollars a year and more on government pensions. And we spend nearly a trillion and a half dollars a year on health care for old people and the poor.

The first problem is a monstrous injustice. We are saying that the needs of older, retired Americans come first, rather than the needs of young families that are getting the next generation off the ground. On my idea of justice, individual people are responsible for their own retirement savings and they retire when they can afford it. Of course there are going to be people who run out of money through no fault of their own. We, whether we the government or we the charitable or we the children, can take care of that without breaking the national bank. There is an additional benefit to this plan, apart from its justice. And that is that the economy would be borne aloft on a huge flood of savings.

The second problem is also a monstrous injustice. It is nice to provide health care for older people, and it is nice to provide health care for the poor. The trouble is that when you decide to do it with government it means that you do it with administrative bureaucracy. And that means, according to the theory of regulatory capture, that the health system gets run in the interest of the health care providers rather than the interest of health care consumers. It means that the health care system gets mewed up in thickets of government protocols and mandates and credentialization. So the health care system becomes incredibly expensive and learns how to respond to government mandates rather than consumer preferences. I don't know what health care would look like if it was basically driven by consumer demand, i.e. what individual consumers, backed up by catastrophic health insurance, wanted with their individual spending on health care. Maybe someone should write a book or make a movie. But we the government and we the charitable and we the children could still take care of people that couldn't afford health care through no fault of their own.

So my view is that the government should not occupy the commanding heights of pensions and health care. Pensions and health care are important social functions that should be the responsibility of individual people, who would be much the better for taking care of their own instead of having it taken care of, rather badly, by the ruling class. Put it this way: saving for your own retirement builds character.

Regarding the deficit and the debt, the basic facts are that in 2008 the US went through a once-in-a-generation financial crash, where the credit system almost seized up. In such a situation, according to Reinhart and Rogoff in This Time is Different, the national debt usually doubles. That's because the way to get out of a financial crash in which the whole credit system seizes up is for the government, through the central bank, to act as lender of last resort and basically nationalize the credit system for a while. And that is what happened: with TARP (at $700 billion in lending) and with various credit guarantees totaling $20 trillion, the government stabilized the financial system. And it was all in place before Obama was inaugurated in January 2009. I would say that Obama enacted the wrong policies in  2009, with a Keynesian stimulus and then the dead hand of Obamacare. But at least we enjoyed a modest recovery from the Crash. It could have been worse.

Yes, but how do we prevent this sort of thing in the future?

The proximate cause of the Crash of 2008 is that the financial system discovered, rather too late, that the derivatives based upon the mortgage bonds of government housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not sound because the mortgage bonds of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not sound. In the 1990s and 2000s the government mandated that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lend, more and more, to sub-prime borrowers. By the time of the crash, over 50 percent  of mortgages financed by Fannie and Freddie were to sub-prime borrowers. This is a problem, according to Walter Bagehot in Lombard Street, published in 1873. The credit system is founded upon two notions. The first notion is that borrowers are able to service their loans. Obviously, sub-prime borrowers are not really able to service their loans if interest rates rise or if they lose their jobs. The second notion is that loans should be properly collateralized so that if the borrower fails to service the loan then the lender can sell the collateral to recover his principal. If people in the market start to question the ability of borrowers to pay their loans and/or question whether loans are properly collateralized then you get a crisis of confidence and the credit system seizes up. So, in 2008 we had borrowers that could not service their loans and we had low-down-payment loans that could not be properly liquidated. Really, we are lucky that the Crash of 2008 was not much worse than it was.

So what, you might ask, should government look like in the best of all possible worlds?

It is simple. The national government should only spend money on defense. In the case of war it should raise taxes and borrow money. After the war it should cut defense spending and reduce the debt. That is all. And its central bank should help finance the war and act as lender of last resort in the case of the once-in-a-generation financial panic. That is all. The government should not use its power to game the credit system with loans to its supporters.

Of course, this is all fantasy. The reality of life on this planet is that we the people are always petitioning the government to pull our chestnuts out of the fire when we get into a little trouble. But that is mere bagatelle compared to the sins of the ruling class. The ruling class is always using the government to fight the war to end all wars, whether fighting the Kaiser, fighting the Nazis, or fighting racism, or fighting global warming.

And it will be ever thus.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Real Trump Budget

It took me a week, but I finally took a look at the Trump budget on my special federal budget feature on usgovernmentspending.com.

The table below shows budgeted outlays for federal spending for the next six years, starting with the current fiscal year, FY 2018.

Year
$ billions
FY 2018
Outlays
FY 2019
Outlays
FY 2020
Outlays
FY 2021
Outlays
FY 2022
Outlays
FY 2023
Outlays
Pensions1,044.51,107.51,181.71,251.41,331.51,404.4
Health Care1,182.41,225.31,291.61,316.41,423.81,467.8
Education111.6112.5104.596.898.295.9
Defense867.8949.9987.1995.51,022.31,030.3
Welfare354.0347.9345.7351.1363.0366.6
Protection42.342.344.245.346.247.6
Transportation94.494.093.392.469.466.8
General Government55.253.853.050.951.850.8
Other Spending110.6110.148.043.922.615.7
Interest310.3363.4446.6510.4567.7618.5
Total Spending4,173.04,406.74,595.94,754.14,996.55,164.6

Do you see what is going on? Pensions, health care are steady as she goes. Yay seniors! Defense shows a minor increase. Education and Welfare show minor decreases. Transportation is going to take a hit. Yay bullet trains to nowhere!

But look at Other Spending. It's going to be reduced by 90 percent! But what is it? Well the big numbers are Mortgage Credit at -$35 billlionish, which I assume is income from Fannie and Freddie the mortgage giants, and an innocuous item called "Adjustment for Budget Control Act Caps (Non-Security)" that goes from zero in FY18 to -$60 billion by FY23. Yeah. I don't have a clue what that is, but I am sure it is some kind of shenanigans.

Hey, but look at Interest. It is going to double from $310 billion in FY18 to $618 in FY23.

But the bottom line is this. Pensions, i.e., Social Security, and Health Care, i.e., Medicare/Medicaid, are the only things that matter, because they amount to over $1 trillion a year and they are going to continue going up.

Everything else, the stuff that people scream about from year to year, is peanuts.

But nobody is proposing to do anything about Social Security and Medicare. Because we baby boomers insist. Grandpa says that he already paid in to Social Security; grandma says they'd better not touch "my" Medicare.

But here is my lament. With the $10 trillion we added to the national debt after the generational financial crash in 2008 we coulda privatized Social Security. Just saying. And you know what that would have done? It would have created trillions in private wealth for ordinary people. Instead of just getting a check from the government they would have their own accounts at Vanguard and Fidelity, and would be passing a lot of that money on to their children.

As the song says: "Ain't it all a blooming shame."

Friday, February 16, 2018

Federal Budget: Well, What Do You Expect?

After updating my usgovernmentspending.com with the new Trump budget, I am looking around me to see what other people think.

Here, for instance, is Donald Lambro complaining about "wasteful spending," such as Scott Pruitt flying first class, and the stupidity of $13 billion to fight opioid addiction and $18 billion for the wall, and the fantasy of imagining that we can cut $250 billion from Medicaid and $200 billion from Medicare.

Then there is Angelo Codevilla complaining that the extra $81 billion for defense isn't going to fix anything, not the waste in Afghanistan or the waste on the F-35 fighter. And we still don't have a decent anti-missile defense.

I'm sure that our Democratic friends are squawking like stuck pigs about little children going hungry in "our communities" and how this means the end of "our democracy."

But here is the big picture on the federal budget spending, with pensions (i.e., Social Security) in red, health care in green, defense in gray, and welfare in yellow. All other spending is at the bottom in blue:



Here's the link to usgovernmentspending.com if you would like to muck around with this chart.

What you see in the chart is that basically nothing has changed, overall, in the last 25 years. Nor is it likely to change. Oh sure, there is a significant cut in defense spending in the 1990s. You see a steady increase in health care, starting in 2000. But the size of federal government spending started at 20 percent of GDP, swelled up to nearly 25 percent of GDP in the Great Recession, and has now declined down to about 20 percent of GDP again. So nothing has changed over the last 25 years.

We are going to continue with Social Security instead of letting Americans plan and save for their own retirement. We are going to continue with Medicare instead of letting Americans decide for themselves how much of a drug cocktail they want to spend their life savings on at the end of life. And we are going to continue the great and glorious Pentagon establishment and its flashy procurements despite the nagging suspicion that it is all going to flush down the toilet if we ever get into a real shooting war.

And everything else in the federal budget is chump change, even the dreaded yellow line of welfare (exclusive of Medicaid, CHIP etc.) at the top of my chart.

Here's what I think about all this. First of all, one fine day the whole federal budget will go south. Maybe it won't happen on our watch, maybe it will. But one thing is certain. If you or I have been relying on that government free stuff to keep coming, we are going to be in a world of hurt when the balloon goes up. For senior citizens like me it means "eating the paint off the walls" as they said after the end of the Soviet Union. And notice how they aren't saying anything about how senior Venezuelans are doing in the current meltdown. I wonder how the old folks are doing there, what with food scarce and health care non-existent?

Then there is the other problem. All these government programs are incredibly rigid and non-responsive. They go on forever without changing, without adapting to changing conditions. Until it's too late. The market system adapts every day to changing conditions, and we each have to adapt too, in our jobs, in our homes, in our families. Yet we have mewed up some of the most important social functions in government programs that cannot be changed.

How should we prepare for the financial challenges of life, from losing a job to educating the kids to saving for retirement? Who knows, because today we pay for most of it through inflexible government programs. And yet it is through meeting the challenges of life that we develop our humanity.

Yes, but what about the people that can't take care of themselves through no fault of their own? Surely we need government programs to take care of them.

But does government really take care of people unable to take care of themselves? Does it really help people to allow them to live for years without work? What about the crazy mass-shooters? What about the white working class dying of despair and opioid addiction? What about the miseries of people that lost their homes in the real-estate crash? What about the teenagers that can't get jobs because of the minimum wage? What about the huge cost of health care, courtesy of government regulation and credentialism? What about the abysmal educational achievements of African American kids after half a century of affirmative action and diversity programs?

See, I think that the point of humans as social animals is that social cooperation is about reducing the incidence of force. It is about people coming together and helping each other without someone saying: do this or else. Right now we have a federal government spending about 20 percent of GDP on the principle of force, because government is force, and state and local spending another 15 percent of GDP. Then we have the regulatory state that regulates everything that moves.

In my view, if you want to understand our problems then you have to start by thinking through what happens to a society when 35 percent of its interaction is under the knout of force, when little children are forced to go to government schools, when workers are forced to send 20 percent of their wages to government, when the relationship between worker and employer is fouled by an incomprehensible tangle of regulation.

Our lefty friends make a big deal about "militarism" and wasteful military spending. They are completely blind to the militarizing of everything else in this so-called "welfare" state.

People look at the federal budget and complain that nothing has changed. Then they look at school shootings and demand that the government "do something." Right now the US Senate is busy voting down all the possible immigration reform bills, so it looks like nothing will happen on that front.

People talk a lot about problems: sexual harassment in the workplace, marginalization of minorities, you name it. And each item on the agenda requires an increment of force.

I think that the problem is the opposite of what the activists say. I think the challenge is to find ways of dismantling the vast edifice of force that we have constructed over the last century, of which the federal budget is Exhibit A. I think the challenge is to implement new paths of social cooperation -- without resorting to the hammer of force.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Can Men and Women Recover Their Lives from Leftism?

The last few months have seen the remarkable emergence of psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, whose bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos has found a particular audience in young men. Peterson is, of course, recalling young pajama boys to responsibility from their parents' basements.

The other puzzling phenomenon is the rise of special snowflake girls at our nation's universities during the Obama years. They seem to be insisting on safety: from sexual harassment and from unwelcome ideas. This is not surprising to me. What Women Want is protection. All the rubbish about women being superheroes and rough tough corporate execs is just that: left-wing rubbish. The point is, I think, that a woman cannot go about being a woman unless her safety is provided for.

There is no mystery about this. The central activity of women in the world is the birthing and the raising of children. To do this, a woman needs a quiet, safe place to care for her little ones. That is why, for instance, recent opinion polls report that a clear majority of mothers want to stay home with their kids. No kidding! The fact is that women don't like the free-for-all of the sexual revolution; they don't like ultra competition; they don't like business startups; they don't like the open outcry of the battle of ideas; they don't like being separated from their young children.

This is not to say that women should be forced to stay home, forced to stay out of trouble, forced to live modest lives. Not at all: the essence of freedom is the right to make a complete mess of your life and go against all sensible cultural memes without being put in the stocks. But I think that it is a cruel injustice to teach girls that they ought to be adventurous and career oriented and live life just like a man.

Of course, the cultural force that teaches women to be "independent women" and to live against the wisdom of the ages is the modern phenomenon of the left. I do not know exactly why it is that the left teaches, nay, bullies women to be unwomanly, and men to be unmanly. I suspect it has something to do with the blind leftist hatred of everything bourgeois and middle class.

I suspect that we are approaching a crisis in the cultural authority of the left. This was highlighted for me in a piece on the cultural divide between left and right. It shows that since 1994 the right has moved a little to the right, but the left has moved a lot towards the left.

In my view the movement to the left is getting beyond folly to real social damage, and is creating such emotional stress for individual leftists that it will soon reach a breaking point.

The point of the left has always been the idea of liberation from the iron cage of existence. Why should people have to suffer when the means of their liberation is available? In the Marxist utopia we should be able "to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner." In the early 21st century, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi exults over the wonders of Obamacare:
"As you hear from these stories, this is a liberation...  This is what our founders had in mind--ever expanding opportunity for people.

"You want to be a photographer or a writer or a musician, whatever --  an artist, you want to be self-employed, if you want to start a business, you want to change jobs, you no longer are prohibited from doing that because you can’t have access to health care..."
See, I think this has things exactly backward. I think it is a wonderful thing for people to take risks and attempt to live the creative life. But I strongly believe that such risk-takers should do it on their own dime, and not force ordinary people to subsidize or pay for their risk-taking. The fact is that universal healthcare enslaves everyone in a mandatory government program so that some people can be liberated from the responsibility of managing their own risks.

Let us analyze this with my reductive Three Peoples theory. In my theory the People of the Subordinate Self are liberated from exploitation and oppression when they come to learn and practice the virtues of individual responsibility. It is a hard thing to do, and many people prefer to live as virtual serfs, as government program beneficiaries or as government bureaucrats with lifetime tenure, rather than accept the burdens of responsibility. Likewise, in my theory the People of the Responsible Self rise up into a life of creativity from a base of a responsibility. They do not imagine themselves being liberated from responsibility if they decide to become "a photographer or a writer or a musician."

But in the crazy-cakes world of the left the artist or the feminist or the gay is endeavoring to liberate herself from the shackles of responsibility; indeed she is really a victim for being forced by society to observe its bourgeois norms. This kind of thinking is an almost irresistible temptation for someone on the left because the default program of the left is the liberation of helpless victims from exploitation and oppression. It is only a small step from advocating for ex-slaves or victims of the patriarchy to imagining oneself, who so longs to escape the coils of responsibility into the ethereal heights of creative art, to be just as much a victim as the real victims of society.

I think it is best to regard all liberation, except in the strict sense of liberation from actual slavery or serfdom, as a fantasy. We are humans, social animals, members of society, and that means that we should endeavor first of all to contribute to society and build up a credit balance in the bank of cooperation before we draw it down in a risky creative venture. For any well-born would-be creative to regard themselves as a victim, because the government has cut grants to the arts, or because they can't afford health insurance, is laughable.

Indeed, if there is real privilege is these times it is the privilege we create that allows people to do experimental things, in art or in business, at all. In most societies down the ages experimentation was regarded as a very present danger and was stopped in its tracks. Because when an experiment goes wrong it often causes real hardship to others in society.

In my view both the alt-right and the safe-spaces left are experiencing the same thing. Something is wrong, so we must return to the old ways to find safety and reconnect with responsibility.