Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pick Your Tribalism: Nationalism vs. What?

Here's a naughty piece from the American Spectator. It's the observance of the 25th anniversary of the divorce between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Remember? Czechoslovakia was one of the brilliant ideas of the WWI peacemakers, and the Slovaks hated it. Turns out that the Czechs and the Slovaks are as happy as clams with each other, now that the Czechs (64% of Czechia) run the Czech Republic and the Slovaks (80% of Slovakia) run Slovakia.
Throughout 2018, diplomats from both countries have come together at countless ceremonies to celebrate the 100thanniversary of the founding of Czecho-Slovakia — and the 25thanniversary of the “divorce.” One would be hard-pressed to find such harmony and good will between any other two peoples. “Today,” says Radio Prague, “they say they have no closer partner in Europe, or beyond.”
So that's all right.

The point about politics and power is: choose your poison. There are really three poison options on offer these days. There is nationalism, which is the fake tribalism of the nation: homeland, language, culture and history. There is globalism, which is the fake tribalism of the educated class: the educated get to run around the world going to meetings and regulating and ruling the plebs from places like Brussels. Then there is identity politics, which is the fake tribalism of the victims. But really identity politics is an invention of the educated class so that they can use the victims as a cats-paw against the nation.

Yes, but Hitler! How can anyone support nationalism if it produces a Trump or a Hitler? To which my answer is that Hitler (or Trump) is the idiot you get when the usual idiots have screwed up.

Yes. Go back and read that again. Hitler is the idiot you get when the usual idiots have screwed up. Remember? The usual idiots did screw up in the post-WWI era. They gave us the Great Depression. What kind of idiot would do that?

Notice that my notion is opposite to the view of the global educated class. The globalists say: Never Again. We must never allow the nationalist beast out of its lair again. Because Hitler. That has been the whole point of the European Union: to keep the German Nation (and other nationalisms) from dominating and destroying Europe.

But actually, right now, the German Nation is in a bit of turmoil because its leaders haven't really been doing their job for the German people, and the German people know it. So, is the German educated class going to get its act together or is it going to be driven out by the "far-right" Alternativ für Deutschland? Or is the German educated class just a bunch of idiots like the chaps that ran the Weimar Republic?

See, I think that the tribalism of the globalists is a vile and divisive one. Its strategy, that attempts to normalize supra-national institutions like the EU and the UN, has to focus on delegitimize the nation state, because that is the alternative on offer. And how do they do that? Perfectly simple: with a politics that divides the nation, using the identity politics of race, gender, and secular-religious bigotry.

Anyway, the result of the globalists is to reconstitute our old friends, the supra-national empires. Remember how the last lot of supra-national empires ended up? The British sensibly dissolved their supra-national empire after World War II. The Soviet Union broke up into its constituent national republics after 1990.

And then there was the Austro-Hungarian Empire which broke up into its constituent nations after World War I. Only not completely, as the Czech-Slovak divorce and the Yugoslavia wars remind us.

Did you know that Hitler's nationalism grew out of the problem of ethnic Germans being a minority in the Austro-Hungarian Empire? See, young Adolf in pre-WWI Vienna was all bent out of shape because the Hapsburg monarchs were so busy playing identity politics and trying to placate the non-German-speaking peoples of their empire, while the ethnic Germans, on his view, got the shaft. So Adolf reckoned that the solution was to join all Germans into a German-speaking nation, where German speakers wouldn't be outnumbered by non-Germans.

It's a universal aspiration. Like wants to live with like, and be ruled by like. That's why when immigrants come to America they immediately settle in urban ethnic enclaves, like with like.

And of course, the globalists do this too. They all like to settle, like with like, in yeasty gentrifying neighborhoods where everyone is a Progressive Activist wearing artistical black and drinking artisanal coffee and buying groceries at organic food cooperatives and driving Priuses and Subaru Outbacks. And one thing all Progressive Activists agree: the worst thing is the world is to be ruled by non-progressive Trump. See, our liberal friends are just like everyone else. They think they are special.

But I think that the best thing, as of now, is to develop and deepen the nation-state idea. If I were king I would invite all Americans to cherish and honor America. I would invite all Americans to enthusiastically appropriate all the constituent cultures of Americans and merge them into the American culture.

Of course, I would know that the only way to unite humans is by uniting them against a common enemy. That's why Progressive Activist globalists have to do their identity politics and unite their victims against white national patriarchal supremacy. Otherwise their voters would default to ordinary nation-state Americanism.

So I think that the best way to unite Americans is to make the globalists the enemy. Why not? The alternative would be to make Muslims, or Putin, or Xi the enemy, and we don't want that.

Yep. My tribalism would be anti-global elitist tribalism. And I think that, all things considered, they had it coming.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tribalism: The Empty Middle

So, yesterday I proposed a new tribalism based upon the idea that the ideological age was reaching its sell-by date. And I thought that maybe Trump is telling us something with his appeal to the non-ideological middle.

Now comes David Brooks in The New York Times reporting on a new study of ruling-class ideologies, "The Rich White Civil War."
The report, “Hidden Tribes,” breaks Americans into seven groups, from left to right, with names like Traditional Liberals, Moderates, Politically Disengaged and so on. It won’t surprise you to learn that the most active groups are on the extremes — Progressive Activists on the left (8 percent of Americans) and Devoted Conservatives on the right (6 percent).
The two extreme tribes, Progressive Activists and Devoted Conservatives, are the richest kind. And they really disagree:
Ninety percent of Devoted Conservatives think immigration is bad, while 99 percent of Progressive Activists think it is good. Seventy-six percent of Devoted Conservatives think Islam is more violent than other religions; only 3 percent of Progressive Activists agree. Eighty-six percent of Devoted Conservatives think it’s more important for children to be well behaved than creative. Only 13 percent of Progressive Activists agree.
 Do you see how these two groups fit into my reductive Three Peoples theory? Devoted Conservatives think that kids should be well-behaved, conforming to traditional ideas of Good and Evil. Progressive Activists think that children should be creative. I disagree.

I say that first you need to learn to be well-behaved and responsible, as in People of the Responsible Self, and then, building on top of your culture of responsibility, you learn to become creative.

So why, you ask, do our liberal friends want to burn down the bourgeois culture of responsibility? Perfectly simple. They do this because we humans tend to take for granted whatever it is we know, and it is a real eye-opener when, from time to time, we encounter someone struggling with something that we have mastered.

I experience this with respect to computer skills. I find it easy to navigate unfamiliar websites, but I find that other people struggle. There is even a real skill in choosing the keywords for a Google search. Hmm, I think, maybe I know a thing or two that other people do not know.

So it is easy for Progressive Activists to down-rank the importance of the bourgeois menu of good behavior and responsibility. If you are an educated American you pick that stuff up with your mother's milk: no big deal. But if you are a recent immigrant to the city, you have to learn all that stuff, and it is hard.

Sorry, liberals. Responsibility is a Very Big Deal. In fact, I argue that the whole set of religions that begin with the Axial Age of the millennium before Christ are all about learning how to make it in the city as a responsible individual, learning precisely how to live in a world where "the priests" actually specify Good and Evil for us (pace Nietzsche).

The whole point about Nietzsche, in my view, is to explore the world that opens up Beyond Good and Evil, in other words, the world of the Creative Self. After you have mastered the bourgeois culture of responsibility and trust.

Nietzsche calls the person living beyond good and evil as the Übermensch, variously described as the Superman, Overman, etc. I interpret the Úbermensch as the creative person, trying to get beyond the familiar world of good behavior and responsibility. Nietzsche says that this person has to be hard. I assume he means that the creative life is hard, and you better not think that any Special Snowflake in need of Safe Spaces is ready for the creative life. Anyone that needs a safe space is not ready to be creative. Not yet, and maybe not ever.

See, I think that Progressive Activists are missing the point when they divide the world into Creative Activists and Helpless Victims on the one hand, and evil Racist Sexist Homophobes on the other. The thing to do is to teach the Helpless Victims how to wive and thrive in the city, and that means mastering the bourgeois menu of responsibility and trust.

But I also think that Devoted Conservatives miss the point. There is life Beyond Good and Evil and that life is the creative life, trying new stuff and learning from your mistakes. Devoted Conservatives ought to know this since the story of the last 200 years and the Great Enrichment is the astonishing successive creative revolutions in the market economy.

But I take the point of David Brooks' piece to be that there are a whole lotta people in the middle to whom the current Cold Civil War does not speak. And I think that the guy that has figured this out is none other than the much-maligned Donald Trump.

You will notice that Trump's appeal to the non-ideological middle is very non-ideological. And that drives the lefty Progressive Activists crazy. And also the #NeverTrump Devoted Conservative right-wingers.

So maybe Donald Trump is the wave of the future and will transcend the Cold Civil War between Progressive Activists and Devoted Conservatives. Or maybe not.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Let's Invent a New Tribalism

As I see it, the argument in conservative nation is between "civic nationalism" and some sort of "ethno-nationalism," a white- or euro-nationalism. Here is the ZMan masticating over the problem.

As I understand the argument, civic nationalism defines a nation by its principles, derived from the European political philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries. Ethno-nationalism defines the nation "by a shared heritage, which usually includes a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry."

But it seems to me that both these notions of the nation are too cramped, too defensive. What we need is a nationalism that transcends the purely ideological basis of civic nationalism, which only a few people that have studied their political philosophy will ever understand, and also the ethnic basis of ethno-nationalism which assumes that everyone is a creature of their ethnic origin.

In other words, we need to create a new idea of the nation, manufacture a culture, fake up some traditions, and invite everyone in.

Just like President Trump.

Here is how I get here.

First of all, the last time we had real tribalism was in the stateless agricultural villages that started to get eliminated by big-state agriculture about 3,000 years ago. Your average village was truly a tribe of the kindred, people closely related to each other.

But with the birth of the state, notably in the great agricultural empires of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China, the rulers obviously could not continue the old tribalism of the kindred, because the new state transcended the old kind of belonging.

So they made it up in order to bolster their right to rule. All tribalism since then has been what I call "fake tribalism," where a ruling class gets "the priests" or other cunning regime intellectuals to make up some fake tribe to which "we" all belong.

Since then there has been a continual problem around the practical size of the fake tribe. Take the UK. In our memory it has consisted of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. So-called "Great Britain" is the notion that all these sub-nations are really the one nation of the Brits. But the Irish didn't like that, mainly because they were mostly Catholics. And now the Scots are dithering about whether they want to be a separate nation. The concept of "nation" is clearly a movable feast.

Germany was for a millennium famously divided up into a patchwork of feudal states nominally joined together into the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, but not really. It was the genius of Bismarck to figure out how to trick the Germans into giving up their local fake tribes, based partly on religion and partly on feudal loyalty, and join a new fake tribe, the German Reich. The way he did it was by uniting all Germans to fight a war against France. After that all Germans were "blood brothers" in the sense that they had all been blooded together in the war against France.

As political units became bigger, and transportation improvements allowed people to realize that there was a whole world out there beyond their own personal horizon, enterprising thinkers came up with new identities. You could be a loyal retainer to your feudal lord. Or you could identify with all the folks adhering to the same religion. Then some bright guy came up with the notion of "race."

You can see that race is a problematic concept, even if you are Elizabeth Warren trying to use race to get into Harvard Law School as a female person of color because your law degree was from second or third tier Rutgers. If we use the modern concept of categorization from lefty George Lakoff, "race" is several steps removed from the basic-level categorization that we humans use to understand our everyday world. (Basic level categories are things like dog, cat, house, family, chair.)

Put it this way. It is pretty obvious that our immediate family is definitely "people like us;" we can mostly trust them. People in our neighborhood are also familiar and safe. But as we start venturing further out into the world, the question of trust becomes more questionable. But if people belong to our nation, or our "race," then we can often be persuaded to trust them and stand by them when danger strikes. But what about "them," the people not of our nation or our race or our religion, or our culture?

It is inevitable that humans will divide the world into "us" and "them." The only question is: How? What kind of fake tribalism do we want to invent so that we can persuade people to imagine themselves in a nice safe community of people like them that can be trusted?

By 1800 everyone agreed that the "nation" was a good kind of tribe. It was able to unite people around a shared homeland, a shared language, a shared religion and a perception of shared heritage. But starting in 1850 the left has advanced a competing notion of tribe, initially with class. The idea was that the new industrial workers should develop an identity separate from their national homelands: "workers of the world, unite." So the workers would not just be another group within the nation that was bidding for a place at the table. Their loyalty would transcend national boundaries.

The point is that the left believes in a new kind of tribalism, one that does not center on homeland, language, religion, and heritage. So the left always finds itself in opposition to the identity of homeland, language, religion and heritage. Because Nazism.

After World War I the left invented, thanks to the Frankfurt School, new kinds of identity and tribe in addition to the classism of the workers. They decided to group people by race, by gender, and finally by sexual orientation. In other words, they decided to challenge the fake tribe of the nation with fake tribes of class, race, and sex. If you believe in a world that transcends nation, you are bound to do something like that.

But I think that the left's attempt to kill the nation state ain't gonna work. People are just not going to go for a supra-national identity, not unless they are upper-class professionals that imagine living and working anywhere in the world. If we do not have nations, then people that don't believe in supra-national identity will break up the nations into sub-national tribal entities based on other kinds of identity. I don't think that the globalist plan of a two-tier politics, with the elite as trans-national globalists and the rest as quarreling identity groups, is gonna fly. I think that once you have broken up the people in a nation state by race identity, typically with non-white races united against the white race, then you are going to end up with a civil war between the races.

And I think that the notion of civic nationalism and white nationalism are too weak and feeble to attract support from most average people.

No, the answer to our problem is to unite people by national enthusiasm, as belonging to the greatest nation ever, and to inspire them to make it greater. Let's cobble together a mess of everything -- economic, language, religion, and heritage -- and create a new American identity to which everyone can happily belong.

Even liberals can apply.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Fourth Turn in Political Leadership

It's all very well to rail against the liberals and their unjust rule over culture, politics, education, entertainment and I know not what in the present age. But what can replace it as a ruling class? That's what I woke up with this morning.

The answer, of course, is obvious. But let us first examine the nature of the ruling classes thus far.

Reading How We Got Here by C.R. Hallpike, I get the impression that the hunter-gatherers really didn't have a ruling class. The hunter-gatherer bands were too spread out and unconnected with each other. And most significant, if people got into a tussle with the other folks in their band they just upped and left and joined another one. To use a military metaphor, desertion was normal and routine. Obviously it is very difficult to rule a power outfit where people can just up and quit. No ruling class to speak of.

The pre-state agricultural village was headed by a Big Man. But typically he was elected because of his leadership and military and speechifying and feasting skills. And his sons didn't get to inherit the title. Let's give the rulers the benefit of the doubt and say that the pre-state agriculturalists had a proto-ruling class and it was based on ability not class membership and inheritance.

But then comes the agricultural era that we know, with kings and warrior lords and temple priests. Here, I think, we can see the corruption of the village Big Man concept into a more ideological era, where there is a conscious cult of the Pharaoh or Son of Heaven that is consciously massaged by the ruler operatives with bylines in the temples.

In our era, I think it is fair to say, a new ruling class has replaced the old kings and lords. Really the new ruling class is the priests, but secularized into philosophers and intellectuals. What I am saying is that the heavy lifting to produce the modern age was done by thinkers that proposed limits on the political power of the old monarchs and aristocrats. When you think about it, there is no difference between the early thinkers, the Lockes and Humes and Voltaires and Kants, and the 19th century lefties like Marx and the Fabians. They were all proposing an era where military charisma would be replaced by ideological charisma.

And like the ruling class of military charisma, the kings and warrior lords, the new ruling class of ideological thinkers and revolutionaries saw that the ruling class should be composed of people like them. What a surprise!

So here we are, 200-odd years later, with a corrupt and failing ruling class. Its ideological concepts have all been bent and warped out of all recognition as it changed the rules to keep itself in power through various crises.

So what comes next?

It's obvious, innit. What comes next are successful businessmen like Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and Donald Trump in the US. And the reasons are many:

  • Successful businessmen are men that have learned to survive in the topsy-turvy world of international business. They are battle-tested. Unlike most graduates of elite schools that have never really had to live and work in a high-stakes world like today's business world.
  • Successful businessmen know how to navigate the world of politics. They have to deal with politicians, regulators, activists as part of their business. And most of them have to deal with foreign governments too.
  • Successful businessmen already made a name for themselves. So the ego trip of high politics is not quite the aphrodisiac that it is for graduates of elite colleges for whom politics is the only way to get their name up in lights.
  • Successful businessmen, like the bourgeoisie in general, are not that interested in power. Oh sure, they are quite happy to corrupt politicians and regulators and live a quiet life untroubled by new competitors. But power is not the be-all and end-all of their life. I think that this is not because they are better people than your average elite-college community organizer, but because the nature of business is that you don't make your bones as a power fanatic. You have to figure out how to serve the consumer.
  • Etcetera.
Used to be that everyone agreed that businessmen just didn't have the right skills for politics. And I agree. But growing a big corporation requires a lot in the way of political skills, as the performance of Berlusconi and Trump prove. I am not talking about CEOs that inherit an existing big corporation and just keep it going. I am talking about guys that have built up a corporation and survived near death experiences on the way.

But here is another thing. Who are the guys that create jobs for the workers? Politicians? Ideologues? Activists? Yeah, right.

The chaps that create jobs are businessmen and entrepreneurs. The biggest lie in history was the left telling the workers "don't trust the boss." Well, sure, if the business tanks then the workers lose their jobs and the businessman and the bankers are all to blame. But the fact is that a modern economy without businessmen is an economy that doesn't do too well, as in Soviet Union, Maoist China, Venezuela. And if the politicians merely lift their dead hand for a moment you never know what kind of nobodies will come out of the woodwork and create an economic revolution that will spawn jobs all over.

So, given that the Big Thing in modern politics is how to keep the economic engine roaring, rather than how to keep the pirates and plunderers out of our grain stores or how to keep the kings and lords on a leash, you would think that we need chaps around that are good at sparking business growth.

So I say let's have more Trumps and Berlusconis and Jacob Rees-Moggs (Mogg used to run an investment bank).

Hey! We did all the ideological spadework for modern governance a couple centuries ago. Those guys told us how to do it. And then we had the Marxian turn that did the ideological work to show how not to do it. Today we don't need no stinkin' thinkers telling us how to do it and how not to do it. Their time has come and gone.

We just need guys that know how to get things done. Oh, and let the more nerdly billionaires figure out how to get to Mars.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Of Course the Left is a Mob

Apparently the Democratic operatives with bylines on CNN are a little miffed that evil right-wingers are calling their "peaceful protesters" a "mob."

Well, I would too if someone had the nerve to call people like me a "mob." How dare they! Because as everyone knows all progressive "peaceful protesters" are on the side of the angels. Er, make that the right side of history. So they can't be a mob. Because a mob is not "who we are." We are peaceful protesters, advocates and activists against historical injustice. So there, bigot!

But the truth is that every political gathering is a potential mob. That is to say that, according to settled science, when several people are gathered together they stop thinking and acting like individual humans and start picking up the vibe of the group. If sufficiently aroused by a speaker or by a a welling-up of emotion in the crowd, any group may turn into a street mob. That's the science, pal.

And of course the whole point of political meetings -- I am thinking of President Trump's very successful political rallies -- is to ignite a collective feeling, a feeling of belonging to something bigger than themselves, among the attendees.

So come on you CNN lefty operatives with bylines. Tell truth and shame the devil. Any political group is a potential "mob" and I'd say that real and actual groups like AntiFa that practice street violence are indeed actual "mobs."

Only, in my view, the word "mob" doesn't really describe what is going on. In my reading, I understand a "mob" to be an unfocused group made up of people from the lower orders who, prodded by real suffering such as a famine, strike out in the streets, rather as the proverbial cornered rat. That is why people used to talk about "bread riots."

But the "peaceful protesters" of today are not the desperate and the hungry. They are usually educated rich kids enacting street theater, and they are endorsed by their elders in the Democratic Party and the progressive movement, and funded by liberal billionaires like George Soros, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg. If you look at video or photos of the folks enacting the Kavanaugh protests, you can tell immediately that they are educated, fashionable scions of the ruling class.

Nothing wrong with that. The ruling class can send their stooges out into the streets must like anyone else. Indeed, down the ages, the rulers have not hesitated to send their retainers and supporters out into the streets to show the plebs a bit of ruling-class muscle. In the good old days every ruling-class grandee had his own army of peasants.

But I think that we need a better name for lefty street action than "mobs." We should certainly not use their language of "peaceful protesters." Remember that in the good old days lefties spoke in more military terms about "marches" and "demonstrations." Where "demonstration"  means show of force.

Back in the day the left used to talk about the street enforcers of Latin-American right-wing dictators as "death squads." We need something just as evocative for the lefty "peaceful protesters" that aren't peaceful and aren't so much protesting as demanding.

The basic problem is, of course, that lefties believe in politics as a saving faith, that politics is the way to bend the arc of history towards justice. Conservatives believe that government and politics are necessary evils that wise men and women will keep limited by constitutions and Bills of Rights.

Thus, you may say, lefty politics is always tending towards mobocracy, because any political movement is already a potential "mob," and only needs a little encouragement to become a real mob.

But I still think we need a better word for "mob" than "mob."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

If You Believe in Politics You Believe in Tribalism

If the late great Kavanaugh nomination hasn't persuaded you, I am here to say that politics is all about tribalism. My tribe against your tribe. My good guys against your bad guys. My good citizens against your crazed rapists and drunkards.

Obviously the tribal impulse to rally together to face an existential peril is a basic human instinct. We see it in its less military aspect in the way that humans all band together and help each other in the aftermath of a natural disaster, like a hurricane. Think Cajun Navy: there are a bunch of guys out there that are longing for a chance to use their waterborne power equipment to help rescue their fellow man from watery disaster. And God Bless Them.

The problem is normal times. When there is no existential peril that requires All Good Men to join together to fight the foe. What are the great heroes going to do then?

The answer is obvious. They make it up.

Well, not the Cajun Navy. In between hurricanes hey just go about their regular business searching out the wily bass hiding out in the bayous.

Back to the "heroes." Remember back in the early 2000s after 9/11? I remember a thoughtful Bill Clinton regretting that there had been no war, no emergency, on his watch. He realized that without such an emergency there was no chance for him to be rated among the bestest of presidents. Great presidents are all associated with wars.

So, you can see that for the average politician or political activist there is a problem. Imagine the world chuntering away in peace, with 3 percent growth and no wars and no hurricanes and nothing threatening except the odd meteorite flashing across the Siberian sky.

Do you see the problem? In such a world there is no need for government. No need for armies. No need for activists. No need for "peaceful protests." No need for heroic figures rallying their people to face the existential peril.

Oh no!

But there must be existential peril! Otherwise ambitious young men and women that imagine themselves in an heroic pose are going to have to get a job.

And, let me tell you, that is much more difficult and challenging than getting money from billionaires like George Soros and Tom Steyer so you can do activism.

Hey, I know. How about we gussy up the existential peril of climate change. Let's fight climate change and let's send all the skeptics and deniers opposed to spending trillions of dollars on renewable energy to Coventry.

How about we all rally against toxic masculinity? There's a problem that has been festering throughout history and nobody has done anything about it.

Look, I don't doubt that there are real problems out there that cannot be solved but by politics and government.

But remember this. When you decide to solve a problem with politics and government you are going to get tribal. You are choosing a mode of action that requires you to divide people into Us and Them. You are going to call the people opposed to your initiative as wrong, and maybe as evil. Your supporters are likely to get a bit overexcited and characterize the people opposing you with vile pejoratives.

The question: Is the problem really that serious and that certain that only the moral equivalent of war can solve it? Is the social division that results from any political campaign really worth it? Is the additional taxation and regulation and law enforcement really worth it?

And suppose that your grand plan doesn't work? See the thing about the private sector is that, if you propose something that doesn't work then your project disappears beneath the waves into bankruptcy or liquidation. Or you get taken over by some other corporation for nickels and dimes. But what about your political project? Would you ever admit that you were wrong? Could you ever admit you were wrong? Would you ever consent to repealing your beneficial legislation? Or reversing the Supreme Court precedent? Or abolishing the government department you set up to fight the existential foe?

It all comes down to this. When you believe in the need for political action, you are calling for tribalism. You are forming a tribe of people calling for "action." That is what the supporters of Christine Blasey Ford did. They formed a tribe of people that demanded everyone believe her story. And, lo  and behold, the supporters of Brett Kavanaugh mustered up into an opposing tribe, full of all kinds of reasons why Ford was not to be believed. And a jolly good time was had by all damning the other side to eternal perdition.

Is that the best we can be?

Now it is my belief that the last two centuries constitute an astonishing social experiment. In  this experiment the usual supremacy of the ruling class was diminished, more by accident than design, and all kinds of nobodies designed and marketed products and services that they offered up on the market for other people to buy. No, no, said young rich kids like Marx and Engels, it will all end in "immiseration." We must reassert the supremacy of political power -- with the right kind of people in charge, of course -- and beat back the social and economic disaster that is coming.

Only the disaster didn't come. Instead, wherever the price system obtained, and wherever a socialist ruling class did not obtain, real per capita income has increased by 30 times over the last 200 years.

You would think with such an unexpected and unsought result that people would be hesitant about proposing political and government solutions to social problems. In fact the opposite is true. Every young rich kid seems to have some sort of a social initiative that he or she is anxious to impress upon us.

The fact that people, especially ruling-class people, have not reduced their demands for government power is telling.

Could it be that anyone interested in politics is necessarily anti-market? And necessarily against letting people get on with their lives without intense ruling-class supervision? Could it be that anyone with political ambition necessarily is looking for some existential peril requiring government action, and that if they can't come up with an existential peril they will inevitably invent one?

You may well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Where Does Tribalism Come From?

OK. I was wrong.

I thought that tribalism was a hunter-gatherer thing. I thought that hunter-gatherers were tribal for millions of years. And I thought that tribalism, ever since the dawn of agriculture, was "fake" tribalism, with agricultural humans repurposing the tribalism-from-time-immemorial of the hunter-gatherers for the new world of agriculture.

But, in reading How We Got Here from C.R. Hallpike he tells me that hunter-gatherers were not that tribal. In fact they were pretty individualistic, except when it came to sharing food. When people had a row with the other folks in their hunter-gatherer "band" they just upped and joined another band.

Oh dear! Oh no! That really mucks up my idea that hunter-gatherers practiced the tribe of the kindred and only beginning in the agricultural age did people start to practice "fake" tribalism.

Reading Hallpike it seems to be necessary to understand that the agricultural era should be divided into two. First came the pre-state agricultural age when people lived in fairly independent villages, and then came the state-dominated agricultural age when people were ruled by kings and priests and armies. It would seem that tribalism, as we understand it, flourished in the early pre-state agricultural era. In other words, in the era where people lived in more-or-less-fixed villages headed by a village Big Man but where there was no political organization subordinating the villages to an overall political overlordship. In other words, no state with its king, its army, its priests, and its taxes.

Oh dear. Bit of a sticky wicket, what? How do I bat out of this situation?

I think that the answer lies in the notion that humans will band together into a tribe over anything. We saw that in the recent Kavanaugh nomination process. Everyone lined up either into the pro-Kavanaugh tribe or the pro-Ford tribe. The pro-Kavanaugh tribe gave Kavanaugh the benefit of the doubt and believed his story; the pro-Ford tribe gave Ford the benefit of the doubt and believed her story. Most people stayed with their previous right-wing or left-wing tribe, but a few people switched, primarily NeverTrump people that were forced to choose between giving up their NeverTrumpness or switching permanently to the progressives.

In other words, all the tribalisms we know about and experience are perfectly true and valid. We can have a loose hunter-gatherer tribalism, a agricultural village tribalism, an agricultural empire tribalism, a nation state tribalism, an ethnic tribalism, a race tribalism, an identity politics tribalism. You can have Star Wars fans tribalism. You can have urban gang tribalism between the Sharks and the Jets. Humans will rally to anything, as long as it is a tribe.

So this means, I would say, that it doesn't matter how you do it; the skilled political leader will rally people into his fake tribe.

So that means that the arguments on the right about the different kinds of nationalism, from white nationalism to cultural nationalism to Trump's Make-America-Great nationalism, or the different gradations of the left's identity politics tribalism, miss the point.

You can rally humans into any sort of tribe. Just gussy up some sacred narrative and put it out there and make like you are brimming with confidence that you have the way of the future -- or the arc of history -- and get out and sell, sell, sell. Don't complain about the other guy's tribalism; get out there and get the people to believe in your tribalism.

Everything is as fake as everything else: the tribe of the kindred, the tribe of the race, the tribe of the Aryans, the tribe of the gender, the tribe of the nation. Doesn't matter. It is all about the game. What you can put over on other people.

And that is all.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Kavanaugh: There's Nothing Like a War to Unite People

A while back I was thinking about our current divided nation, what with warring identity groups, wars on deplorables and Christians and men and whatnot. But then I thought that there is nothing new here. Today's America is just like the America of the first half of the 20th century, a seething brew of ethnicities. Only back then the seething brew was mostly from Europe.

So I asked myself: how come all the warring factions of yesteryear are not warring any more? And the answer was obvious: World War II.

In World War II the factions of the ruling class all came together and created a myth of united America. And it drafted all the kikes, the eyeties, the polaks, the hunks, the spics, and whatever other nasty words you can think of, and sent them all off to war and put them all in foxholes together (OK, except for African Americans: they had separate but equal foxholes).

What do you think happened? Why, all those fractious young men became brothers in arms, and came back from the war as 100-percent-Americans. It took until the Sixties for the ruling class to divide us all again.

So here is another of my brilliant aphorisms. "If you want to unite the country, start a war." Oh, it's not quite that simple, I grant. You have to get the whole ruling class on board, and that has been a problem since the end of World War II. Liberals weren't really down for the Cold War, and now, well, they are pretty well 100 percent Against America, because racism, sexist, xenophobia.

So we aren't going to get a United States again until we get into a war where liberals figure they better get aboard or suffer the consequences. Remember? They did get aboard for about six months after 9-11.

Now let us extend this notion to the fight over the Kavanaugh nomination.

The fact is that Donald Trump divided the Republican Party. The officer corps thought he was not officer material, but the rank and file loved him. And over the same issue. The GOP officers' mess thought that Trump was too vulgar to be accepted into the bar of the officers' mess (and anyway, he didn't drink). But the rank and file loved that, in the words of President Lincoln about Gen. Grant: "I can't spare this man: he fights." We rank-and-file were sick to death of Republicans caving to Democratic attacks; we wanted a fighter.

So we have had about three years of NeverTrumpers, and a Congress that wasn't at all sure about a President Trump,  probably because they feared that he would make them vulnerable to Democratic challengers. A party divided against itself cannot stand. Or something.

But the Kavanaugh nomination has changed all that. Because now the president and the Senate leadership and the GOP senators have all been blooded in the epic battle to approve the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and fight against the monstrous neo-McCarthy tactics of the Democratic leaders.

You could see the result at the formal swearing-in of Justice Kavanaugh yesterday. Everyone was there, and Sens. McConnell and Grassley each got their standing ovation. The whole Supreme Court was there, from Chief Justice Roberts down to junior Justice Gorsuch. (Did you know that Justice Clarence Thomas is now the senior associate justice? Has is been that long?) President Trump gave a great speech; Justice Kavanaugh gave a great speech. And the Kavanaugh daughters were as cute as buttons.

So now the Republican Party is united. Its officers are now perfectly happy to have Trump in the mess. Its rank and file are all riled up for the midterms, and independents don't like what they saw of the character assassination of Brett Kavanaugh.

Thank you, Justice Kavanaugh for your courage. Thank you President Trump, for hanging in there. Thank you GOP senators for the win. And thank you ruling class progressives for uniting the Republican Party.

Here's what I wonder. How does the #MeToo movement help Democrats with lower-class blacks and Hispanics, the core of their vote? #MeToo is a liberal elite thing. Ditto LGBTQWTF. Ditto illegal aliens. Ditto Muslims. What has the Democratic Party done for its lower-class rank and file lately? And why should that lower-class rank and file come out to vote in November?

And by the way, why would any man -- white, black, or crazy rich Asian -- vote for the Democrats when any accusation by any woman has to be believed and could make him unemployed and unemployable by this very afternoon?

Honestly, I don't know. But maybe the cunning leaders of the Democratic Party know something that I don't know.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Rich Kid Protesters are Not the Cry of the Oppressed

One of the hoariest memes of left-wing politics is the notion of the "protest," the excluded and the oppressed taking to the streets to express their plight and the injustice of their suffering at the hands of the ruling class.

I had an epiphany on this a year or two ago when reading semi-lefty Karl Polanyi's Great Transformation about the 19th century. Once the workers got the vote, he explained, and found that the political system was responding to their needs, they stopped the marching and rioting. People only take to the streets as a last resort, and usually in a hopeless reaction to wage cuts, unemployment and famine.

Oh really, I thought. Who knew?

Because of course in our age we have all been carefully taught that the woods are full of helpless victims, excluded from representation, for whom "protest" is the only way to advertise their wretchedness.

But when you hear of women activists wailing in the Senate gallery, and women activists dressing up as a wall, and so forth, you are not hearing the cry of the oppressed. You are hearing the supporters of the ruling class. This fact is obvious when you look at photos of the protesters. I'm sorry, but I know the difference between lower-class single women working marginal jobs and educated women doing a bit of "creative protest."

In fact, the very creativity of much of modern protest, with people dressed up as polar bears to protest climate change, tells the story. People of the Creative Self are the kind of people that feel that one must do something to make a protest original and creative rather than just march.

It is a fact that 97.2 percent of the "protests" you see on TV or read about on social media are merely the political stage-shows of the educated ruling class.

Put it this way. How would a bunch of the genuinely oppressed get into the Senate gallery? Access to the gallery is through the senators. So any activist group wanting to "protest" the Kavanaugh vote in the Senate gallery would have to go through a friendly Democratic Senator; it would have to have "connections." Get it?

So I believe that the fundamental thing to understand about "activism" and "protest" in these latter days is that the chances are 97.2 percent that you are looking at people supported by powerful interests closely allied to the ruling class.

And of course, these days Good Little Girls, well-born damsels, go to college to learn the theory and practice of "activism" and "protest." So when you see twentysomething girls with their cute protest signs and their cute dress-ups, you are looking at the naive stooges of the ruling class. You might say they are nostalgic reenactors, reenacting the glorious marches and protests of the workers back in the 19th century.

That would make sense, given my notion of the left as a Great Reaction.

But really, these folks are the cadet battalions of the ruling class, doing a spell in the activist trenches before taking their inherited places in the corridors of power. They are like midshipmen in a Napoleonic War novel. Yes, they rough it a bit, and get knocked about a bit by the bullies in the midshipmen's mess and by the officers if they don't learn their navigation, but in due course they will get their commissions and take their wine in the wardroom. While the ordinary seamen still suffer under ruthless naval discipline and once against it is all hands to witness punishment.

As you know, I explain this ruling-class "fake protest" politics with my "little darlings" theory. The left, starting with rich-kids Marx and Engels, has created a politics out of advocating for the oppressed and the exploited. But every group they discover eventually gets enrolled in the "system" and ceases to be useful and political rank-and-file for marchin' and protestin'. Because the warrant for "activism" is always a marginalized group outside the system for whom street protest is the only way to get the attention of the rulers.

Thus, at present, our fake protesters are advocating for illegal aliens and Muslims, because right now they are outside the gates, and not represented within the political system.

Oh and women, because upscale and educated women are the most appallingly exploited and oppressed victims in human history.

But the interesting thing is that once a group gets inside the system, the cadet battalion commanders lose interest in them. Thus, in the United States, the liberal activists lost interest in the working class in the Sixties, and for 50 years the white working class wandered in the political wilderness without someone to advocate for them in the councils of power.

Until Donald Trump.

Note to ambitious youngsters: I dare say that in the coming decades the sweet spot for political careerists will be identifying and then leading former "little darlings" of the left, groups that the left used to lead when they were not franchised and not of interest to elected politicians but are now abandoned because they are no longer outside the system but merely neglected.

Put it this way. Activists represent people "outside the system," because only outsider status warrants street "protest" and marching. Politicians represent people "inside the system" who may be courted and bribed for their votes in the ordinary process of elective politics. But there is always a political middle ground of voters that are nominally within the system but that the elected politicians have tended to neglect over the years.

Meanwhile the one thing to understand is that 97.2 of the protesters you see on TV are fake. They are well-born scions of the ruling class and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Of Course the Left is All About Hate

Shelby Steele wonders about the left and hate in the Wall Street Journal. What's it all about, Alfie?
How did the American left--conceived to bring more compassion and justice to the world--become so given to hate?
"It began in the 1960s," according to Steele, "when America finally decided that slavery and segregation were profound moral failings."

Allow me to differ.

You are going to find hate wherever you find politics. The whole point of politics is to rally your people and mobilize them against some existential threat. This is the basic situation of every hunter-gatherer band. It must mobilize its people, particularly its men, to fight against the neighboring tribe whenever necessary. The way this mobilization is achieved is through the hate of the "other."

The existential threat may be human or animal of vegetable or mineral. The same principle applies.

Now, it is my belief that the need for politics in our modern age is much diminished, due to the remarkable characteristics of what we call the price system, a notion of social cooperation that peacefully adjudicates the vast majority of differences between people.

(Of course, the "price system" is not in fact a system, which implies Newtonian mechanism, but an emerging phenomenon by which people adjust their expectations about products and services offered by humans to other humans.)

But our lefty friends believe that peace and justice can only be achieved through politics; it requires lefties to organize and mobilize the wretched of the earth, seize the levers of political power, and impose a system of justice, wresting power away from the ruling class, and bestowing it upon the said wretched of the earth, and bending the arc of history towards justice.

In order to organize and mobilize the wretched of the earth it is necessary to teach them to hate the perpetrators of injustice, exploitation, and oppression. Because that is how you organize and mobilize humans to struggle against an existential peril. People do not have to be "carefully taught / To hate and to fear." They don't really need to be taught at all. Hate and hear come naturally to humans once they have been introduced to an existential peril.

So of course the left is always ginning up hate.

The left believes that whatever injustice or whatever problem there might be in the world at this instant, the solution is organizing or activism or political action to force a change through a government program.

But that means teaching people to hate, because otherwise you won't get them riled up enough to vote for you, protest for you, and get in the face of the hated people that are standing in the way of peace and justice and emancipation and liberation.

Do you see the problem here? We are seeing it right now with the Kavanaugh nomination.

And this is something that I don't think the left thinks about too much. They get themselves all hated up and mobilized and the activists get out in the street and protest and get in the faces of GOP politicians and maybe shoot up the odd congressional baseball game.

But what if the rest of the community feels threatened by all the protest and the activism? What if they return the hate and the fear of the noble activists and protesters? What if they rally and organize politically against the lefty activists and community organizers?

This is something that I think our lefty friends don't think about. Probably because their activism and their protest is really a religion. And in a religion you don't think that, gee, maybe we should take it easy and not frighten the horses. Your faith is your truth, and the only way to save the world is to propagate the faith and bring everyone into the faith.

Well. I've been wondering for a while whether this latest evolution of the left is going to follow the arc of The Sixties. The Kidz and the activists and the media all thought they were going to change the world, but first thing that happened, the American people elected Richard Nixon to be president with a vice-president that purported to represent the Silent Majority and had speechwriters that composed speeches about "nattering nabobs of negativity."

Is that happening right now, with the Cold Anger being felt by chaps like Conservative Treehouse? Who knows? That's why we have elections.

But the bigger issue is my notion that -- with the advance of the price system and market relationships to negotiate differences and disagreements and lubricate human social cooperation -- we moderns need a lot less politics and a lot less force.

Maybe I'm an idiot. Maybe politics and government and force and activism and protest really are the way to make the world work.

But I have a dream. That humans can and will submit their pride and conceit and rage to the market and its prices. And we will all live happily ever after.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Education: Burn It Down

A friend sent me the link to the liberal academic chaps describing how they scammed the "grievance studies" journals by getting a bunch of fake grievance studies research published in the grievance studies academic journals.

There is, I admit, an element of Animal House in this effort: rowdy guys getting a little too rowdy for the Miss Prisms of the world.

But it inspires me to say that the time has come to burn down our entire government education system from stem to stern and start over.

First, the Bill of Indictment.
  1. Government schools tend to be tools of the ruling class. In Germany, the government school system was created during the Wars of German Liberation from Napoleonic France. The idea was to build a Germany that was powerful enough and united enough to keep the French on their side of the Rhine. That's where the German Realschule and Gymnasium came from. The Germans invented the research university, again, as a way to make Germany strong enough to beat the French. In the US the "common school" system was developed by chaps like Horace Mann. For chaps like Mann the idea was to defeat the Puritans; for Protestants the idea was to cure the Irish of their Catholicism.

    Obviously, this is worked only too well in the US where universities are now secular seminaries that churn out good little boys and good little girls that have been educated to a fare-thee-well to spout the ruling class Narrative and to sneer at deplorables as subhumans.
  2. Government schools are almost impossible to reform. The K-12 system was set up a century ago, the university system has operated almost unchanged since the building boom of the 1960s. But what should education be like in the 21st century? What should university education be like? Should we all go to university? Or some of us? Or almost none of us? None of these questions are likely to get a good answer because the government education system is a $1.1 trillion a year monster. You try reforming or updating or improving it. It is impossible to reform because 1) parents of school children are getting it for "free" and nobody ever gives up on free stuff, and 2) the current incumbents, teachers, administrators, unions, and suppliers, are damned if their are going to give up a dime in their benefits.
  3. Government-sponsored "research" is welfare for the educated class, and just like welfare for the poor, welfare for the educated is morally and ethically demoralizing. People should have to beg borrow and steal to get a chance to do original research. They shouldn't be on a gray train. Here is my argument, stemming from my reductive Three Peoples theory. The top dogs in my Three Peoples are the People of the Creative Self, people for whom just being responsible citizens is not enough. They long to create, to imagine and construct something original and pathbreaking. Very well. But the would-be creative folks should not be coddled and primped with government dollars and given life-time sinecures. Many all called to a creative life, but few are chosen; for most of us our creative dreams end in failure, or an acceptance of our ordinariness. Thus real creative people will be living on the border between order and chaos: the sacrificial hero. Such a person cannot be an employee of a government university.
My point is that the government education system is incapable of reform.  Indeed, the whole point of a government program is to set up something for the ages.

The only solutions is burn it down. But what will replace it?

Let us begin with education for children. In my imagination it will consist of:
  1. Tony private schools for the professional classes. We have this already, only attenuated because many professional people can bend the public school system to provide them with what they want for their children at government expense, e.g., the selective high schools in New York City that are presently under attack from the left.
  2. Home-schooling for the middle class. The original idea for government schools was to make the poor literate and numerate. But most moms are already literate and numerate so their children will naturally become literate and numerate because that is what kids are programmed to do: grow up to become their parents. And there is a whole universe of materials and support out there to back up the home-schooling mom, not to mention the Internet. But I do not see home-schooling as being a private thing but a neighborhood thing, with all the neighborhood moms getting together to home-school each other's children and band together for specialty items and field trips.
  3. KIPP academies for the poor. What the poor need above all is to learn the cadences of middle-class life, to be responsible cooperative city people, and to "get with the program, Jenkins." That is what highly structured program like KIPP academy do. So who will pay for this? Billionaires, that's who. And I demand that they get medals and awards for their public service.
  4. A whole new world of apprenticeships and internships, starting in the early teens. Yes, I believe it is time to kill the evil child-labor laws. After all, right now children are forced to attend government schools and work all day and then go home and do homework, and for this they are paid:__ Nothing! Can you spell INJUSTICE? Look, most people should not go to university. Tertiary education is the biggest scam in world history. Good little girls go to college and major in sociology and English. And then go work for Starbucks as a barista. For that they need to get $50,000 and more in debt? No. I say get kids into the workforce early and let employers pay for specialized and technical education, especially for youngsters with promise. Let there be a ton of easily obtained credentials, like the current certifications and competencies available in the tech world.
Really, how hard can this be? Burn the whole education system down and let a hundred flowers bloom.

And everybody will live happily ever after.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Great Reaction: Slavery and Scapegoating

I argue that our lefty friends are reactionaries; faced with the shocking changes of the industrial revolution, they want to return to the good old days. So we have the neo-feudalism of the welfare state, the neo-tribalism of identity politics, the neo-piracy of high taxation. And so on.

But let us simplify things. What the left is doing is returning us to the slavery of the agricultural age, and the mob justice of the tribal village.

Let us look at the fact of the great socialist governments, the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Castro's Cuba. We are talking about slavery. And this is reactionary, because the great characteristic of the agricultural age is its slavery. Oh yeah. Sometimes it was merely feudalism. But the basic fact of the agricultural age was that the farmers needed the protection of their warrior aristocracies to keep pirates and Vikings out of town. And the warrior aristocrats took advantage of them. Big time. Right through the agricultural age the farmers were actual or nominal slaves.

In a way, I think the end of the agricultural age coincided with a kind of apotheosis of slavery in the sugar plantation. Slaves cultivated sugar cane, a fast-growing plant that uses C4 photosynthesis, and the masters fed them maize, also a fast-growing C4 plant. Very efficient!

But the market economy doesn't work with slavery. Not because we are highly advanced and ethical and moral. But because slaves just aren't as profitable as free labor, because you can make more money with workers that use their noggins, rather than just follow the orders of the slave-driver. In the same way, after World War I, the German General Staff decided that soldiers as cannon fodder didn't work; they needed resourceful, responsible soldiers that would know to do the right thing when isolated on the modern lethal battlefield.

But isn't it amazing that our lefty reactionary friends want to return to the top-down, orders-from-the-top culture of the agricultural age! In a word, slavery.

The good thing is that the slavery experiments in the Soviet Union and Maoist China turned out to be staggering failures: not just a failure to match the economic growth of the capitalist countries, but veritable death cultures that starved and enslaved tens of millions of people, and not the peoples of conquered countries, looted and put to the sword by neo-Conans, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!" No, the people that suffered under Communism were the people that Communism was supposed to help, the workers! Imagine!

In my view, the resort to slavery is programmed into the left, because politics is war by other means, government is force, and therefore the combination leads to slavery, because the whole point of politics and government is to draft everyone into the political army of the ruling class and forced to live their lives in service to the power agenda of the ruling class. So the politics of the left inevitably drafts the whole nation into the political army of the rulers. And what are draftees but slaves by any other name?

The other thing that goes with the left like ham and eggs is the moral panic. Call it the witch hunt, the reign of terror, the purge, the scapegoat mechanism of René Girard, or whatever you like. We are seeing a classic instance of this all-to-human characteristic in the campaign of vicious slander against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

What has emerged in the moral panic over the nomination of Kavanaush is the purpose of all our legal traditions. The whole point of the law is to provide a replacement for the age-old method of dealing with intra-community conflict. The old way was for the community to gang up on a scapegoat and to invest that scapegoat with all its worries and hatreds and accusations and then kill to purge the conflict and the hatred. Maybe that worked in a small face-to-face community. But the whole point of law has been to provide a more peaceable alternative to the scapegoat culture.

Isn't it interesting that our liberal friends have completely demolished the cultural process of legal procedure in their conviction of Brett Kavanaugh by mass denunciation! And boy, do we now find ourselves reminded of what an amazing cultural miracle is our inherited culture of legal process.

I mean, what a concept! Instead of just fingering a suspect and slitting his throat, actually or metaphorically, we force the accusers to get their story straight, to submit to rules of evidence, to cross-examination of witnesses, to "beyond reasonable doubt" verdicts in the criminal law, and "preponderance of the evidence" verdicts in civil law. How blessed we are to live in this age where we benefit from these immensely civilized notions! We get to appreciate them all the more when our lefty friends gin up a periodic moral panic and demand to dispense with the law's delay.

My point is that when you decide that the price discovery system is not good enough for you, look out, because the next stop is slavery.

And when you decide that "due process" is not good enough for you, look out, because the next stop is a baying mob demanding the blood of a scapegoat, the gallows of the French Revolution and the Communist governments of the 20th century.

And that is why I call all lefties reactionaries, and their movement the Great Reaction. They want to return us to the slavery of the agricultural age and the scapegoating of the tribal village.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

In Sports: How About Those NAFTAs!

I watched the video of the President's post USMCA agreement press conference, where President Trump presented his version of the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

It really is interesting to watch the president switch between reading his official speech text and ad-lib asides, between the "facts" and the "values." Is it a mistake or is it genius? Who knows?

All along, I have wondered if this new NAFTA was real substantive policy change or just atmospherics, good old bubba bait. So I went to the USTR handout.

Of course it is a long bureaucratic doodad, under the following major headings:

  • Intellectual property, including drugs and copyright.
  • Digital Trade, prohibiting customs duties on digital products distributed electronically (e-books, videos, music, software, games, etc.
  • De Minimis, which means waiving bureaucratic flim-flam on small-value shipments.
  • Financial Services, making sure that US financial services guys get the same treatment as the locals.
  • Currency, discouraging exchange-rate shenanigans.
  • Labor, including "rules of origin to drive higher wages by requiring that 40-45 percent of auto content be made by workers earning at least USD $16 per hour."
  • Environment, "to combat [naughty] trafficking in wildlife, timber, and fish; ... and to address pressing environmental issues such as air quality and marine litter."
So that's all right.

There is also a provision to allow the US to intervene in trade agreements between Canada/Mexico and third-party countries. That is to stop the current scam where China gets to export products to Canada, do minimum value-adding, and then re-export to the US. That, I had understood, was the big issue with NAFTA, that it allowed, say, China, to have big tariffs on US exports to China, while getting China exports into the US with little of no tariffs because, hey, what could the US say about trade between, e.g., China and Canada?

It was interesting to watch President Trump, and the overall impression he gives of his trade strategy. Basically, it seems to be to raise tariffs to get peoples' attention. Then we negotiate. Another interesting meme: Trump said that his guys would go to, e.g., India, where they charge 100% tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and the Indian officials would be amazed. Nobody ever came and talked to us before, they said.

I suppose that the way to explain this is that the previous ruling-class policy was to avoid bilateral agreements and instead use multilateral agreements through the WTO and the TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership. So you pass the agreement and leave it to the bureaucrats. Obviously, Trump prefers his one-on-one Art of the Deal approach, and it probably works well for him.

But will the new USMCA make a real difference? We shall see. Obviously the optics are that Trump cares for American workers, and judging by the turnout at Trump's rallies, the optics are working.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Probably Not a Dark Age, But Still...

Over at American Greatness Victor Davis Hanson prophesies a looming Dark Age. That's if, as he writes, we throw out our hard-won culture that diverts accusations of wrongdoing into a rule-driven process. For what the Kavanaugh process is signaling is that

  • The veracity of accusations will hinge on the particular identity, emotions, and ideology of the accuser...
  • The burden of proof and evidence will rest with the accused...
  • Hearsay will be a valuable narrative...
  • Ford’s “truth” is as valid as the “Truth,” given that competing narratives are adjudicated only by access to power...
  • Individual accusations will always be subservient to cosmic causes...
  • Etc.
This, of course, is the culture of the village, where everybody knows everything, and the women control the narrative. It is only when you get a city-based culture and city anonymity that you need laws and rules of procedure and all the rest of "due process."

By the way, my study of "witch hunts" is that they tend to occur on the borderlands where central political authority barely extends. (E.g., Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692). They tend to be about women ganging up on some low-status woman. Then the thing gets out of hand as the girls start accusing everyone of witchery. The process only stops when the accusations start to name high-status women. Then the high-status men step in and put a stop to it.

But let us look on the bright side. This whole witch hunt with its echoes of the village community of women is an eddication for all of us.

Golly, fellahs, now I see why due process is such a good idea. Now I see why the statute of limitations is such a good idea. Now I see why corroboration and cross-examination of witnesses is such a good idea.

Because if we didn't have that boring male lawyerly stuff then any crazed totalitarian political/cultural movement could launch a Reign of Terror and ruin anyone that didn't mouth the correct pieties. Imagine that!

Up till now I just believed that the Common Law was a Good Thing, and that due process was a Good Thing. But now that I see what can happen in a naked political brawl with all the rules suspended, wow, those Dead White Males of olden times really knew a thing or two! And I thought that they were all nothing but patriarchal rapist oppressors.

So could it be that everything our lefty activists say is a lie, including "and" and "the?"

Like I say. the way to understand the left is as a Great Reaction, a cultural movement whose response to the industrial revolution and the citification of everything is to return to the Garden of Eden, when people lived in perfect community. Before Eve had eaten of the Tree of Knowledge.

Hmm. Reading Genesis 3 about the Fall, it seems to be describing the dawn of agriculture, for God is telling Adam that now he is thrown out of the Garden of Eden "thou shall eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread."

It is the most natural thing in the world to want to return to the womb, to imagine golden mists in olden times, to long for a simpler, less stressful age.

And it is most natural that women, thrown into the public square in the last century, are finding that its dangers and humiliations are often unendurable, and that the old community of women and its reality-defining gossip network, and its complete separation between the world of women and the world of men, had its comforts.

But, ladies. There is no going back to the Garden of Eden, even if it was a vile patriarchal oppressive garden. You are in the public square now, and you need to figure out how to make it work for you.

That means, among other things, that you need to learn why and how the men of the patriarchy set up the rules for the public square centuries ago. You need to understand the problems they were trying to solve. No doubt those rules are human and fallible. But you have the responsibility, if you want to change those rules to suit a more feminine sensibility, to make sure that you are not sending us back to a Dark Age.

Because I tell you, the last Dark Age had lovely stuff like Vikings sailing up the rivers of England every fall to kill the men, take the food, and sell the women and children into slavery over in Dublin, Ireland.

Or we could go back to Homer, with Agamemnon and Achilles arguing over which of them gets to bonk the captured princess Briseis.

You girls wouldn't like that.

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Test of My Culture of Complaint Theory

It is my belief that men have a Culture of Insult, that derives from the sense that honor in men is about the reputation for courage under fire. So a male insult is asking another man whether he really has the courage to stand and fight.

But women have a Culture of Complaint, that derives from the sense that honor in women is the reputation for chastity. (Chastity goes beyond mere sex to the general reputation for never having put a foot wrong.) So a female complaint is about another woman whose chastity is in question or about a man that threatened her chastity.

The central pillar of the Culture of Complaint is "sharing," where a woman shares her experience of some violation of her chastity. That is what all the talk about #BelieveAllWomen is about. A woman, any woman, must be allowed to "tell her story." And told she is a good little girl. And given a knowing and understanding look. And cheered up by an occasional "I can't believe he/she said/did that."

It is frequently said that men need to understand that when a woman "tells her story" she does not necessarily want anything done about it. She just wants to share, to reestablish, I suppose, her innocence and her chastity.

Is this the case with the liberal activist Christine Blasey Ford? Is all she wanted just the chance to "tell her story?" Who knows?

But also, what about all the enraged feminists? Are they satisfied and fulfilled now that the rape victim has had a chance to "tell her story?" Will their righteous rage now dissipate in the next few weeks now that Ford has "told her story" and the Republicans let a female rape prosecutor gently interrogate her instead of a bunch of judgmental white males?

According to my theory the fact that Ford was allowed to tell her story and was treated non-judgmentally by the Senate committee should in fact give the feminists what they wanted, and it should in fact result in reduced turnout for Democrats in November.

We shall see.

But think of the bigger picture. Is it not completely obvious now that the Victorians were right and that women want and expect a big strong patriarch to protect them and care for them and send unsuitable suitors away and listen indulgently when they "share" some outrageous indignity and attack on their innocence and purity.

So away with the sexual revolution, away with co-ed dorms, away with hook-up culture, away with abortion on demand, away with the horrid danger of the corporate workplace, away with unchaperoned teenagers, away with sexting. And hey, how about away with leggings that encourage foolish young women to shake their booties at undeserving men.

Right girls?

But I still maintain that the bigger question is: what about lower-class women. Everything about the current controversy and everything about the feminist agenda is really all about well-born women and the height of their pedestals. Earth to feminists: well-born women have always been treated with care and respect. Obviously, because they are protected by powerful men.

What about the checker at the supermarket? What about lower-class women tangled in the welfare culture? What about working-class mothers? What about married Christian women with children?

What Republicans and conservatives should understand is that there is nothing in all the current blatheroo that speaks to anyone except well-born women that went to exclusive private schools and went on to get sociology and psychology degrees and ended up as therapists.

What about real women in the real world? There's a huge opportunity out there for some Trump-type character.

Because lower-class women are just as neglected by the ruling class as the famous white working class of which we've heard tell.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Spineless Cowards and Performing Seals

If the GOP in Congress are a bunch of "spineless cowards," as proposed by Eric Lendrum, for cringing before the lefty feminist activists, what does that make the Democratic senators?

See, I think that the Democratic Party has been just as badly deformed by the current Feminist Awakening as the Republican Party. No, the Dems have been hardest hit.

See, whereas the GOP RINOs have merely failed to defend the ordinary deplorables of America from the well-born left-wing activists of the activism culture, the Democrats have to make like the activists playing dress-up in polar bear suits and Handmaid costumes.

Let us not forget that all these folks are elected politicians. Getting elected is what they do, and what they know best.

Evidently, for a GOPer, the best way to get reelected is not to rock too many boats, and especially to avoid a media feeding frenzy over some protected class of helpless victims. That is why the Dems keep returning to the tactic of stirring up feminist abortion activists when a GOP president sends a Supreme Court nominee up to the Hill. It's pretty easy to rile up those well-born women into a witch-hunt frenzy over abortion. They have been carefully taught to believe that without abortion the world as we know it will end. And most women believe what they have been carefully taught: I think it is in the genes.

For a Democrat the rules are different. Unless they completely support the activists and recite their #BelieveAllWomen lines, they are dead meat at the next election, or might be. It is said that 85-year-old Diane Feinstein needs to up her activist game to win against lefty Kevin de León in her Senate reelection in November.

Never mind the question of what an 85-year-old that has been in the Senate since 1993 is doing running for reelection, given that she will be over 90 when her term is over. I mean, come on!

So I'd say that both GOP and Dem elected politicians are chained to the mast. GOPers must play moderate or lose mushy moderate voters in their reelection fights. Dems must seem to be brave souls telling truth to power like the true activists they are, some activistier politician will beat them in a primary. And this must go on until the current left-wing wave crashes on the beach and dissipates.

Remember this: The left has got pretty well everything it every wanted. Workers have their benefits; women have their abortion; blacks have their government jobs; gays have their marriage. The only chaps that don't yet have what they want are Muslims and illegal aliens.

So really, all the Dem activist groups could close up shop and go home. But political groups never do that. So what are they to do? The answer is obvious: what they have always done, which is to whip up rage and hysteria and insist that the world is ending, unless!

When does an activist group fold up and go home?

I suppose that the answer in our time is when the group becomes an embarrassment to the ruling class and helps elect the opposition. Again and again. That's how the Democrats purged themselves of the Sixties activists, when Republican had won 5 presidential elections out of 6 in a row. Then it was the world-historical role of Barack Obama to restart the whole process with his encouragement of 21st century progressives.

Hmm. That leads right into my "little darlings" theory. That eventually all the identity groups that the ruling class has loved and cherished end up cast away like any ageing mistress. The score so far: the workers cast aside in 1971 when All in the Family made Archie Bunker into a racist sexist bigot; blacks cast aside by Barack Obama who did nothing for blacks but everything for well-born lefty activists like him.

I'd say that women are next. Maybe ordinary middle-class women will find that the feminism of well-born women does nothing for them. Seriously. Suppose you are a woman deep in the bowels of the health-care world with hard-earned qualifications allowing you a fairly secure job as a nurse's aide. What do you think about the tender sensibilities of prep-school women recovering memories after 30 years?

And on to the bigger question? What does politics -- and secular religion -- become when all the current crop of victims have passed their sell-by dates?

I have to admit that I have no idea.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Leftism is a Religion

I was talking with a friend that remarked about a guy that got to be all religious in middle age. Yes, I said, but what about his sister, who is a solid lefty? Leftism is a religion, too.

And how, Brett Kavanaugh.

If you understand that leftism is a religion, just like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, the Roman gods, the Greek gods, and the gods and spirits of the hunter-gatherers, then everything over the past couple of months makes sense.

It helps if you understand that politics and religion have a natural tendency to dance with each other. Put it this way: if religion is about the question of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, then it is natural for religion to enlist the help of politics -- the protection of the community from existential perils -- in the fight against evil that threatens the life of the community.

Except that the fight against evil can sometimes get a bit out of hand. Our Founders were among those that felt so, and the reason was that in the Reformation, which extended, let us say, from Luther's 95 Theses in 1517 to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the argument over good and evil resulted in a war in Germany that occasioned the death of about one-third of the population. Oh and don't forget the English Civil War from 1642-1651. Not Good.

As the dust settled, a bunch of smart folks set to work to make sure that, as we would say, "this never happens again." There was Thomas Hobbes that argued for a strong central authority to stop people squabbling. But then there was John Locke that argued for a separation between Church and State to stop religion from using state power to enforce its truth and politicians from using religious truth to stop the mouths of the opposition. And Montesquieu that developed the idea of separating the power of government into three branches each with equal but different powers.

These were the notions swirling in the minds of our Founders. They wanted a government powerful enough to protect people from other governments, but not so powerful that it would harness religion into a religious war like the wars of the previous century. If you read the Federalist Papers you will read men who had studied all the "issues" of the time and who were arguing that the proposed US Constitution was justified in that it created a federal government powerful enough to stand against the Powers of Europe but not so powerful that it would repeat the terrors of the religious wars of the Reformation.

The US Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1789. But guess what. The French Revolution commenced just a few weeks later, on July 14, 1789, climaxing in the Reign of Terror and Virtue from September 1793 to July 1794.

The French Revolution inaugurated the great counterargument against the notion of limited government, separation of powers and of church and state. It proposed a new (or rather old) doctrine that the only way to effect justice in this world is through the power of politics and government.

That is why I call the Leftist movement the Great Reaction that wants to roll back the Lessons Learned from the Reformation and unite once more the power of government and religion, to unite force and truth. Only this time the religion would be the secular religion of leftism consequent upon the Death of God.

The main Lesson Learned from the Reformation, as I understand it, is that the admixture of government and church is a poisonous brew that leads to death and disaster every time it is tried. And I think it is fair to note that the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Maoist Revolution, etc., were notable for death and misery and starvation, because they combined government and the new secular religion of leftism.

Back in the day our liberal friends were gloriously confident of their wisdom and evolution. They celebrated plays like The Crucible about the Salem Witch Trials from which we were to understand the danger of Puritanism run amok. And then they taught us to understand the evil of the McCarthy witch hunts from which we were to understand that the wild accusations of Communists in the State Department were not to be countenanced in an enlightened country. And of course Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale published in 1985 at the height of the Religious Right in the US is supposed to remind us what happens when the religious nutcases get into power.

Yet today we have our liberal friends hip-deep in a conspiracy theory of Russian Collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Putin government in Russia. We have our liberal friends perfectly content to anathematize a nominee to the US Supreme Court based on questionable accusations about an event alleged to have occurred 35 years ago. We have our liberal friends insisting we #BelieveAllWomen. We have a woman US Senator telling men to shut up. We have our Silicon Valley friends routinely de-platforming all manner of people for committing what the left considers Hate Speech.

All without the slightest trace of irony.

But of course. Because our liberal friends are idiots. They know nothing, have read nothing, have thought about nothing except what they have been carefully taught in schools, universities, and the mainstream media.

So here we drag in the usual squibs, that "those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And "that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce."

So let me just say this to my liberal friends.

You may think that you are the helpless victims of the world and that well-born women that went to college are most grievously sinned against. But I would say that you need to analyze power this way. If a liberal says the wrong thing, do they get humiliated and fired? If a black person insults a white person at work, do they get fired? If a gay fires a straight at work for "bigotry" does it become a national scandal?

You see, the purpose of electoral politics is not to help the powerful pursue their dreams of justice, liberals. Instead it is to provide the opposition with a way to organize against perceived injustice by means short of civil war. For it is a rule of life that the ruling class usually has no clue and little interest in how its rule is experienced by people on the receiving end of its religious truths and its government force.

What do men think right now about well-born liberal women and their accusations? Has any liberal asked them? What do ordinary mothers think about what might happen to their husband or son if some well-born liberal woman decides to launch an accusation against them? Has a liberal ever asked them?

Maybe the men of America don't have a problem with the current feminist #MeToo movement. Maybe mothers are first of all concerned about women's rights rather than the rights of their husbands and sons.

All I know is that 50 years ago liberals had the bit in their teeth in The Sixties, and were then staggered to find that the Silent Majority didn't like the New Politics one bit.

In due course we will find out what the Americans of today think about all this. And I have to say that right now I don't have a clue what they think and how they will vote about it.

However, I would advise my liberal friends to think very carefully about what is coming down. And the beginning of wisdom is to understand that progressive political beliefs are a secular religion.

For, after Roy Rappaport: “No society known to anthropology or history is devoid of what reasonable observers would agree is religion[.]”

And that means you, liberals. You are just as religious as any religious nutcase on the Sawdust Trail. Only you chaps don't call your beliefs and your "values" religion. You think you are above all that.

Let me just say this. When you run down the catchphrases on the #WeBelieve yardsigns,
what you are reading is a set of Theses of Belief: religious beliefs.
SignsOfJustice We Believe Yard Sign
#WeBelieve is what liberal women believe. It is their religious faith. Until you understand that you do not understand what is going on here in these United States in these last days of September 2018.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How Do You Get Voters to End the Habits of a Lifetime?

The point about politics, I think, is that the meaning of "revolution" is not what the left thinks, the brave activists getting in the face of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at a Washington DC restaurant. It has more to do with this:
I grew up in a small town in rural New England, which has long been a stronghold for Democrats. My grandfather was a carpenter, and for many years as a boy, my father was, too. Several of my family members are or used to be members of labor unions, and many of them have for years consistently and exclusively voted for Democratic candidates.
Democrats showed that they were not longer the party of the working man in 1971 when Archie Bunker debuted on TV. Archie was no longer the salt of the earth, as we had been taught, but a racist, sexist bigot.
For much of my young life, their commitment to the Democratic Party had puzzled me... And the older I get, the greater the divide grows between what Democratic voters in small towns and cities across the country think they’re getting from the politicians they vote for and the actual policies being proposed and implemented by Democrats.
Yes, why do people keep voting for people that have stopped representing their values?

The answer is pretty simple. Most people don't pay much attention to politics. They acquire a party loyalty at some point in their life because of a major event -- such as the Great Depression, or The Sixties -- and they don't really change unless confronted by catastrophe.

Thus, in the small New England towns, people kept voting Democrat because that is what people like them did. After all, the Democrats were the party of the working man, right?

In fact, of course, people are tribal, and their loyalty is to their tribe. In the old days, tribes were tribes of the kindred, people related by blood, but ever since the dawn of agriculture, and more so since the industrial revolutions, people have been joined together by "fake" tribalism, an imaginary tribe unified by some notion other than close blood relationship.

In our day there are many fake tribalisms on offer, from the tribe of nation to the tribe of language to the left's preferred cocktail of race, gender, and class tribalism.

The reason that Donald Trump got to be president is that he broke through the stasis in the Rust Belt in which people voted their class status as members of the worker tribe, and called people over to a national US tribe, as in Make America Great Again.

Now I see a lot of people on the Right proposing a "white" nationalism, or a cultural nationalism, or some other way of creating a new fake tribe. But I don't see any notion better than Trump's American nationalism, which is nothing more than appealing to the great ordinary middle class that really doesn't identify with anything other than America.

The power of the Trump idea is that it fits today's political alignment. The Democrats represent the educated class that believes itself way above the tawdry idea of "nation." And it represents the newcomers to the city that identify with their ethnic or racial group rather than with the nation itself.

But obviously there is a borderland between the educated globalist elite and the ordinary middle class on the one hand, and the ordinary middle class and the ethnic enclaves on the other hand. The job of a politician like Trump is to advance the border between the educated and the ordinary on the one hand, and the ordinary and the ethnic on the other.

Now, I would say -- OK, I hope -- that the antics of the feminist #MeToos and the folks that ambushed Sen. Cruz would be expanding the border of the ordinary into the educated class. I would say that the ordinary middle class person, even including folks in the professions, really does not cotton to the activist culture of the left.

And I would say that you can expand the border of the ordinary into the ethnic enclaves by expanding economic opportunity and getting them solidly into the middle-class economy.

So I argue that people will vote for the same party forever, unless something comes along and jolts them.

Has anyone got a better idea?