Monday, December 31, 2018

To See the Himalayas

Today we drove out from Shimla -- you remember Shimla, the Brit hiill station that served for over a century as the summer capital of British India -- to an overlook where we could see the snowcapped mountains of the Greater Himalayas. So I got to see the Himalayas before I died.

You should too.

Of course we did not see any of the name mountains, your Everests, your Kanchenjungas, and all that rubbish. Just your ordinary working-stiff mountains in the 20,000 ft range. But they were magnificent.

I was also delighted to visit Shimla, with all its British Empire history, and the notorious shenanigans that were alleged to go on there behind the Brit stiff upper lip. But there is not much left of all that.

In fact, it is Shimla all the way from Kalka, last stop on the plains before entering the Himalayan foothills: mountainsides full of houses and condos and hotels, until you finally arrive in Shimla and inch along the crowded streets with the south-facing slopes cram-jammed with houses and condos and hotels.

Yes, India is rich enough now that middle-class Indians want to spend a bit of the summer at their own hill station. You gotta problem with that? Goodness knows what the road to Shimla will be like when India gets from its current $2,200 GDP per capita to China's current $9,900 GDP per capita.

(I know. By that time India will have a ferocious environmental movement and you won't be able to build anything anywhere. And as for the chaps lighting open fires in the street, well, Captain Hastings' comment that hanging is too good for some people will probably apply.)

After viewing the Greater Himalayas we went for a short hike and then went to the highest point in Shimla at 8,000 ft, a Hanuman temple featuring a giant 108 ft statue of the monkey god himself. I experience Hanuman as part warrior and part trickster, but I really need to do more research.

One of the things about Shimla on this New Year's Eve is that the crowds I see on the main shopping street, the Mall, are overwhelmingly Indian and not tourist. Goodness only knows what will happen as we get towards midnight and everyone starts partying.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Unlike Z-man I Don't Think We Are Doomed

The Z-man has an interesting piece comparing the empires of old with today's American empire. He says, rightly, that the old empires collapsed when the cost of maintaining the empire exceeded the loot and tribute. But at least the rulers had the long term interests of the empire at heart. The empire might start out with armed loot and plunder, but it would soften into a more civilized centre surrounded by tributary and vassal states. And the emperor was the "owner;" he had an equity interest in the long-term success of the empire.

Today's ruling class has more of a short-term view. Its members have to pile up the loot while they are in office, and can't take the long view.

"The next election could find them back in the dreaded private sector. In order to hedge against that eventuality, they must convert as much private property into public property, in order to distribute it to friends of government."

That is Z-man's line.

But I am not sure that I see the difference. Rulers of the old empires were as short-sighted as any damn modern politician. For instance the Mughal emperor that built the Taj Mahal here in Agra spent about $2 billion in today's money on a personal his personal grief at the death of his favorites wife. Not good for the long-term health of the Mughal Empire that represented about a quarter of global GDP at the time. His sons thought it was such a dumb idea that they confined him to barracks in a corner of his palace.

Then there was the Roman Empire. In my view, the Roman Empire ran on the loot and plunder from the conquests of the Roman army. But there came a time when the empire stopped expanding, probably because the emperors were too busy playing short-term politics in Rome, or because it was just to hard to direct military operations on the far-away border. That's when the financial problems started. And the Roman emperors were made and unmade by the Praetorian guard: no longue durée for them.

Now I think that the basic difference between yesterday and today is that loot and plunder no longer works. Hello Soviet Union and Venezuela. Take Venezuela. Chávez treated the state oil company as a piggy bank, replacing its managers with his political cronies and using its revenues to buy the support of the poor. Ok, so his daughter is worth billions, but Venezuela is toast because the national oil company does not deliver the goods anymore. The cronies are incompetent, and the petroleum engineers have all moved to Columbia.

The way to be a powerful ruler that struts upon the world stage is to have a strong economy. That is what the Reagan years and supply-side economics taught us. But to make that work you have to lay off the plundering enough to let the private sector flourish: hello the mess of Obamacare. It's a delicate balance and I dare say that many politicians and activists aren't up to the job. (The activists are definitely not up to the job.) In fact if you go read La Wik, they are determined not to learn the lesson of the 1980s.

Now, I am not saying that politicians have given up on loot and plunder; I am just saying that they just have to be more discrete about it. And they have to flat out lie about things, like President Obama lied about Obamacare. Anyway, if you look at total US government spending as a percent of GDP, it has basically been constant at about 35 percent of GDP since 1980.

Then there is President Trump. His schtick is to tell ordinary Americans that he cares about people like them, and will Make America Great Again. Then he cutd taxes, cuts regulations, appoints conservative judges, and brings the troops home. It looks like, for now, he can do this because his supporters trust him.

Another thing. Our politicians don't face ruin if they lose their seats. They just get reborn as lobbyists, and make more money than they did as politicians. And really there is not much power for anyone in our system, except maybe for the president. Our politicians have to be very circumspect about their power projects. So many special interests have to be squared away that glorious new spending give-aways are hardly worth it. Obamacare was supposed to help folks that couldn't afford full health insurance. But by the time the Obama administration had bought off the insurance companies and the healthcare providers and the activist community there was no money left for the uninsured.

So I am not as pessimistic as the Z-man. I think that the modern economy that has grown 3,000 percent per capita in the last two centuries makes up for a lot of political stupidity. In the old days of loot and plunder the plundered starved and died, or were sold into slavery if they were lucky. Today we seem to get a new technological revolution about once per generation that redeems the follies of the ruling class.

Still I grant that there is no accounting for the depth of human folly.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Smoke? What Smoke?

The basic fact about India is the smoke, wood-smoke from people burning wood fires anywhere the mood takes them, such as right on the street. But after three weeks I have been surprised that in the small heritage hotels you don't get to notice the smoke inside the hotel room.

But then we checked into the ITC Mughal, a five-star hotel in Agra, just down the street from the Taj Mahal. The corridor outside our room was noticeably smoky, and the room was detectably smoky.

I was outraged, as you might imagine. Here I was, staying in a fancy-pants five-star hotel and the pollution level in the room was worse than in hotels costing much less. The ITC Mughal is built to western standards with standard room A/C. So how could the hotel design and implement an air-conditioning system without the filtering capacity to filter out the wood-smoke from the outside? This is not rocket science, sports fans. It's an outrage and an insult!

So we complained to the manager on duty in the lobby and guess what? He said he didn't detect any smoke.

Well of course he didn't. He probably lived his entire life in Indian cities, and smoke is a way of life in Indian cities.

I have some Brahmin friends in the US to whom the air quality in the US is a revelation; they feel much healthier in the US.

But have no fear. The hotel was down with the environmental movement. There was a CO2 impact calculator in the room so you could, I suppose, calculate the environmental impact of flying to Agra in your private jet, darling. Because really, First Class these days...

Right now, after a morning tour of the Taj Mahal along with the rest of the world (yes it really is the most beautiful building in the world), I am sitting in a fancy-pants marble inlay store selling marble inlay tschotsckes after the manner of the inlaid marble at the Taj. The store is selling stuff made by the supposed descendants of the craftsmen that made the inlaid marble at the Taj in the 17th century. In here, no problem from the smoke.

How come Mr. ITC Mughal manager? What's yer problem, pal? Where are your engineers, your technicians, your environmental impact teams?👍 Are they all just churning out mindless conventional-wisdom propaganda instead of solving real problems to improve the experience and the quality of your hotel? The world wonders.

My feeling is that when corporate management starts worrying about fashionable ruling-class conceits, then it is no longer seriously in business, but just going through the motions. Sell, sell, sell.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Day in India

While our lefty friends are busy doing the immensely satisfying activism of deplatorming Christmas, we are here in India, on the way by a circuitous route to the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Well, actually today we are driving from Gwalior to Agra, and the Taj is scheduled for dawn tomorrow. Did you know, by the way, that the fort in Gwalior features the fine Man Mandir Palace built by the Raj in which to enjoy his eight wives, and on the wall is a row of yellow rubber duckies. Why ducks? Well, the peacock, or swan, or goose is the vehicle of Brahma, the creator god. I guess that the swan is a high-rent duck, or something.

But back to Christmas.

On arrival at our hotel, the Deo Bagh in Gwalior, on Christmas Eve, we were greeted by a Santa with a cotton wool scotch-taped beard, who gave us each a piece of candy. Then we had dinner outside in the Bagh (garden) near a plastic fake Christmas tree that culminated in Santa cutting a Christmas cake. Of course it was cold outside, so the hotel arranged a blazing fire in the middle of the dining area.

(This is India's Big Problem right now, if you ask me. When anyone feels baby it's cold outside they immediately light a wood fire, right there in the street. That is why Google rates nearly all Indian city air quality as "hazardous" every day.)

At the Gwalior Fort on Christmas Day we were greeted at one point by a group of giggling school-aged girls who wished us "Merry Christmas." Later, at the Jai Vilas Palace of the Scindes designed and built and furnished in European style with delicious Indian touches, we took selfies at an installation that included an impossibly thin Santa, a fake Christmas tree, a sleigh, and two cotton-wool reindeer. And a bowl of candy for the kids. They were playing "Jingle Bells" non-stop. We had to explain to our guide the cultural significance of the sleigh and the reindeer.

The Jai Vilas Palace featured two banqueting halls, one for dining sitting on the floor, Indian style, and one for dining at a long table, European style. Actually, in the European section there were three tables, one for veg., one non-veg., and one for drinking. The drinky table featured a model railway with a train carrying the decanters. To stop the train you grabbed a decanter and lifted it off the train. I am not kidding.

And while in the bus we saw some Santa hats for sale at a street-side store. I realized that I had forgotten to pack my Santa hat.

In the afternoon, back at the hotel, we watched an Indian father play cricket with his sons in the Bagh.

Well, now it's Boxing Day, and I don't think the Indians observe, or even notice it. It's a British holiday, and the Indians are in two minds about the Brits.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Democrats Think They Can Break the Rules

Democrats didn't start cheating with the post 2016 effort to remove President Trump.

Oh no; they started long before that. Let us count the ways. Let us start in 1960.

Democrats stole the close presidential election of 1960. Mayor Daley of Chicago delayed reporting the vote totals of his city until downstate Illinois had reported so he knew how many votes to manufacture. Then there was Lyndon Johnson in Texas. He made sure that the Democrats won there. The losing presidential candidate Richard Nixon gracefully conceded.

Democrats ran President Nixon out of office in 1974 on trumped up charges of campaign spying. As if nobody else does it. Republicans were shamed into abandoning the president after he was impeached in the House and a delegation of Republican senators went down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House and told him he had to go.

In the second term of President Reagan, after the Republicans lost the Senate, Democrats began investigating the Iran-Contra affair in which White House staffers had diverted monies from Iran to fund Nicaraguan rebels against the lefty Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega. It went nowhere because President Reagan -- who we were taught to believe was an amiable since -- played the amiable dunce and didn't give the Democrats a smoking gun with which they could impeach him. Also, the Democrats inadvertently made a national hero out of Col. Oliver North.

In 2000 George W. Bush narrowly won the presidential election in spite of a Democratic October Surprise featuring Bush's days as a drunk. After two terms of Clinton, it was time, you might think, for a change. But Democrats tried to steal the election with a recount in Florida featuring the now-famous hanging chads. After the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of Bush the left-wing activist community covered liberal cars with "Selected not Elected" bumper stickers. Not good.

Late in the Bush administration Democrats made a federal case out of Vice-President Cheney's aide Scooter Libby outing an intelligence agent and ruined him and sent him to jail. Only he didn't.

Finally we get to the 2016 election that Donald Trump won fair and square despite the October Surprise Access Hollywood tape that Democrats had procured to gross out nice suburban women.

We all know what transpired. Hillary Clinton decided not no concede on election night: I presume she was drunk. Then we got the Russians Are Coming narrative. Remember when Democrats used to accuse Republicans of looking for Russians under the bed? Now Democrats have turned their frustration at losing the election into a campaign to kick a duly-elected president out of office.

Now I think that Rule One of elective politics is alternation in office, and allowing the other side to take office.

Rule Two is not to use the power of government to harass the opposition party.

Democrats have been routinely violating these rules at least since 1960, and if they don't stop it is going to lead to blood.

I honestly think that most Democrats really have no clue how dangerous their abuse of power is becoming. They just believe in ruling-class conventional wisdom and what they read in ruling-class media and what they are hearing from their educated-class friends. They do not understand that the two rules are the way in which a wise ruling class avoids rebellion.

Because the point of my two rules is simple. Anyone on the receiving end of a ruling class that does not concede elections and uses police powers to harass the opposition will start to experience its rulers as cruel and unjust and pretty soon the ruling class will find itself facing a head of rebellion.

That is why it is in the interest of Democrats to follow the rules: Rule One to let the other guys alternate in office; Rule Two to refrain from abusing police power.

But I don't think that late-dynasty Democrats understand that. They are too full of their identity politics conventional wisdom to understand how they are playing with fire.

So it is up to us to teach them not to cheat.

What the Fed?

In the week ending December 21 the stock market fell out of bed, losing some 10 percent of value. But Chairman Powell of the Federal Reserve is still talking about higher interest rates.

Is he crazy? We have already seen a months long decline in housing prices, showing that at least where mortgages are concerned, the credit markets are showing a balance of buyers and sellers. And some investment banks are forecasting a slowdown in growth by the middle of next year.

Inflation in consumer prices is pretty moderate.

Yet the Fed still seems determined to fight inflation.

They say that the Federal Reserve operates only in one of two modes. It is either trying to fight inflation or fight recession. There is a third mode where it is acting as lender of last resort in a panic.

Usually, of course, the Fed is behind the curve. It keeps interest rates too low for too long after a recession, and then, playing catch-up, raises them too high and pitches the economy into a recession.

And then every generation or so in a credit crisis the Fed fails to act properly as lender of last resort and we get a 1929 Great Depression or a 2008 Great Recession where the credit system nearly collapses.

Now I suppose that right now the Swamp would like to kill Donald Trump's presidency and teach us deplorables to bend the knee to our overlords. After all, the president is in the middle of a fight with China on trade, is "shutting down the government" over "The Wall," is facing a Democratic House, the fury of Special Prosecutor Mueller, and I know not what.

So maybe the Fed is trying to teach President Trump a lesson, although I don't think you will find that power in the Constitution or in statute law.

Maybe there is something else that the stock market is telling us.

But come on Fed. When the market tanks by 10 percent in a week it is a sign that maybe, just maybe, you should switch from fighting inflation to fighting recession, if only for a month or two.

Or are you guys as dumb as a post?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

So Trump is Rude

As we all know President Trump is notorious for his insults. And this is a very bad thing, as every liberal woman can tell you.

Really, I can't believe that America should stoop so low to elect a president like that!

Hey liberal girls! I can't believe that the Democratic Party would nominate a woman who would tell a gay group that half the country was racist, sexist, homophobes. In a word, deplorables! Really, what kind of a vile bigot would even think of half the country as beyond the pale of polite society?

And that is just the beginning. There are liberal politicians and activists thick on the ground that think nothing of ganging up on some conservative broadcaster to frighten off his advertisers. There are liberal activists all over that peacefully protest to prevent ordinary bland conservatives from addressing student groups at the university. And a nobody called Willis Eschenbach just got suspended from Twitter for uttering a few facts about Islam.

And you can forget about combining "conservative" and "professor" at the university.

And you girls think that Trump is the problem?

The point that needs making is that nobody is losing their job over Trump's insults. But they are when they utter a heretical comment against liberal orthodoxy. Nobody is being shunned and shamed by Trump's insults. But they are when some liberal activist decides to launch an accusation of racism or sexism. And so on.

Again. The reason that Donald Trump was nominated and elected President of the United States has a lot to do with his willingness to insult the powerful that claim the right to insult and name and shame and financially ruin anyone on the right. People like me, a proud racist sexist homophobe, and any other -phobe pejorative you have in mind, are nursing a deep sense of injustice about the power of liberal activists to exclude and marginalize people that don't repeat unthinkingly the latest liberal talking point.

Especially since we think that every word from the left is a lie, including "and" and "the," and has been ever since Marx's prophecy about the immiseration of the working class turned out to be false -- at least until the left turned against the working class about 1970.

And we are going to keep electing people to throw the liberal Billingsgate right back in their smug educated faces until someone cries Uncle.

Just saying.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tech in Bed with Left in Bed with Media

What do we do about Big Tech? Just today there are three stories, one about The New York Times getting Facebook data, and another about Amazon getting Facebook data and another about "Google knows where you sleep."

And who can forget Google helping the Obama and Clinton campaigns with big data?

You can see why Big Tech is in bed with the left. Nobody in government is bothering them about monopoly and trust-busting; the system is working. Imagine if the Big Tech titans were being vilified like the Robber Barons of the late 19th century!

Yes, why aren't the Big Tech titans in anti-trust trouble? In a way, their monopoly power is more problematic, because of "first mover advantage," where the first entrant in an industry gets the whole market to themselves.

Well, the reason is that, ever since the Microsoft anti-trust case, Big Tech has advanced a safely "woke" political profile. I don't think it necessarily reflects the genius of the tech titans. I think it is partly that most people in tech are reliably conventional in their politics, meaning that they never made waves in their youth and sensibly subordinated  themselves  to the left-liberal education establishment. Why change now? And there is the fact that challenging the liberal hegemony gets you into big trouble with the lefty activists.

But what do we do about it? Truth is: not a lot, not in the short term.

But in the long term, I believe, we will see a great secular and cultural movement against the left and its various Toadies. Because injustice.

That's the point of my maxim: there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. People with political power abuse it, and the victims of their abuse get angry. Then they turn on their abusers.

That is what Donald Trump is all about, and Brexit and les gilets jaunes and all the rising populist movements. The leftist and globalist ruling class is committing injustice against ordinary people every day, but the rulers have no clue. Why would they? They have forbidden anyone from uttering a discouraging word, on pain of social media ban and deplatorming.

If I were Big Tech I would already be trimming my sails. But I suspect that our tech titans will need a bit of encouragement before they see the light. They are human all too human, after all.

Let's Imagine a New Culture

Writing in National Review, Victor Davis Hanson takes on the demolition of the liberal arts in the university after the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point announced it was shuttering various majors in history and modern languages and art. Not really a demolition, more a suicide, he writes.

I think that I would rather think of the leftification of the university as an opportunity. After all, the lefties have demolished the majestic western canon, for sure, but nobody wants to study the vile totalitarian cult that they have erected on its ruins, where everything is reduced to a binary narrative of victims and oppressors. And so they have flubbed their opportunity to create a real flourishing culture to replace what they have demolished.

Now I think that the western canon has been in trouble for a while anyway, because it has failed to produce a saving religion for creative people. I think we need new religion, culture, philosophy here in the west, and I think that this refounding should be based on my reductive notion of the Three Peoples. The totalitarian culture of the left has foolishly and cruelly politicised and dogmatized politics into victims and oppressors, religion into ideological activism, and culture into a cramped space that makes the culture wars of the Puritans look like a walk in the park.

So, as marine General Chesty Puller said when surrounded, we got the lefties just where we want them.

If young people are abandoning liberal arts majors, so much the better.

But what will replace the liberal University? Well I think the answer is cults. I was reading alt-right Vox Day getting outraged about the cultish nature of the Jordan Peterson phenomenon. He is missing the point. Anything outside the ruling class and its seminaries can't really partake of the teacher/student binary. So the way that culture and religion work is by enthusiasm: prophets and their disciples.

Now I would say that enthusiastic Christianity is the right and proper enthusiasm for People of the Subordinate Self. I think that something like Jordan Peterson's enthusiastic responsibility is the right enthusiasm for People of the Responsible Self.

That leaves the People of the Creative Self. What should their enthusiasm be? Well, I think that Jung and Peterson have a lot to say there too. They argue that there is such a person as the sacrificial hero that acts on the border between Order and Chaos, bringing a boon to society. The key thing, I think, is the absence of power. Whatever the creative person does, it should be beyond power.

Today, our educated creative ruling class thinks that power, political power selflessly wielded by educated activists, is the answer. They are wrong, and until they learn to lose their faith in political power they will spread nothing but misery.

But we are creative too, and it up to us to teach the lefty creatives how to do it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Truth Table on Discrimination

A few days ago I read someone that illuminated the current situation on discrimination in the United States. Here, the government discriminates on the basis of race, sex, and sexual preference, but the people are forbidden to do so.

Now, obviously there are four possibilities here, between the government discriminating or not discriminating, and the people being allowed to discriminate or not discriminate.

There is the Jim Crow position, where the government discriminates on the basis of race, and the people are required  to discriminate on the basis of race or the KKK would want to know the reason why. (Yes,  that was the primary role of the KKK: not so much to lynch blacks but to intimidate whites into observing  the letter and the spirit of Jim Crow).

Then there is the Freedom position, where the government is forbidden to discriminate on the basis of race and sex, but the people are allowed to discriminate. Imagine living in a world like that!

Then there is the Original Civil Rights position, where government is forbidden to discriminate and individuals are also forbidden to discriminate. This is what got Barry Goldwater into hot water. He voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because he objected to the requirement that private parties were forbidden to discriminate. After all, the whole point of being a free person is having the freedom to use your own judgment where other people are concerned. The Civil Rights Act lasted for about a couple of years until the beginning of Affirmative Action, under which government  was required to discriminate and businesses were encouraged to discriminate if they knew what was good for them -- or forget about government contracts and grants.

Then there is the official Current Position, in which government blatantly discriminates and encourages corporations to discriminate, but individuals may not discriminate. Of course the whole thing is covered with 1984-style lies, where discriminating in favor of liberal "little darlings" is called non-discrimination, and private individuals exercising their God-given rights of freedom are called racist, sexist bigots.

Finally, there is the Real Position, in which the government blatantly discriminates on the basis of whatever is the racist, sexist, -phobic issue du jour, and calls it bending the arc of history towards justice, and demands that all individuals discriminate on the basis of the current issue du jour or face deplatforming and social media banning. Really, this is the same at the Jim Crow Position, only then the mandatory discrimination was by whites against blacks, and now the mandatory discrimination is against white normals by everyone else, led by educated ruling class white liberals.

Do you know what I think? I think that there is a splendid opportunity out there for people to poke the ruling class and their bribed apologists, and tell them, again and again. that they are unjust bullies and bigots that are no better than the Jim Crow segregationists of happy memory. Maybe worse, because back in the day, George Orwell had not yet written 1984.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Poverty of Power

I was talking to a woman about #MeToo and stuff a day or so ago, and it made me think.

What leads a chap like Harvey Weinstein to reduce sex with actresses to a quick dinner of champagne and caviar followed by a visit to his office and a quick jerk-off? In my sexual fantasies, sex with actresses would amount to a lot more than that.

The answer, I suppose is that Harvey's modus operandi reveals sex as a power obsession reduced to its essentials, when the beauty, the mystery of sex loses all her loveliness. In real life, sex is dressed up with love, and commitment, and a relationship, and children, God, and the whole cycle of life. But if you just want to get it on with the latest applicant for stardom, how much trouble is it worth? Do you do the dance of seduction? Do you wine and dine, and send gifts, and even write a poem or two? Do you visit the jeweler? Do you set your sex object up as your mistress? Do you abandon your wife? Your children? Well, Harvey baby has told us. It is worth champagne and caviar. It is worth an hour up in the office. But it is not worth taking the time for a seduction. So you get it off as though you were watching on-line porn.

Really, for a Harvey, all the extra stuff is not worth it; it has to be slam-bam, thank you ma'am. But you can't expect a nice middle-class girl to come up to the office and get it on in 30 minutes flat. Pretty middle-class girls just aren't trained up like that. They expect to be courted: that is why the hook-up culture requires its practitioners to load up on vodka before heading out for the evening. Middle-class girls need to blank out before hooking up.

Of course, next morning, or next month, they get angry. But that is another story.

So if Harvey is dealing with a nice middle-class girl that wants to be a star, then at least he gets to demonstrate his power by jerking off in front of her. And she probably has the sense to keep quiet. Until the day that #MeToo goes nuclear.

If power can ruin sex, what about the rest of the human experience? This is my point. If it is a bad thing for a Harvey Weinstein to wield sexual power over actresses, and everyone agrees that it is a shocking thing for employers to wield power over workers, then what about political power of politicians and activists over Americans?

The point about power and sex is that we can agree that the injection of power into sexual relationships is a bad thing that diminishes sex and diminishes people -- including both the powerful man like Harvey Weinstein and his various victims. And the point of power and employment is that it is not good for the employer to have all the power and his employee little or no power. Indeed, one of the developments of employment in the 20th century is that it is beneficial to the employer and to the bottom line not to bully his employees but to give them as much responsibility as possible.

So what about politics? Aye, there's the rub, for the woods are full of people convinced that the world waits upon the genius of their political power. But the truth is that political power, like any power, diminishes and dominates. It diminishes the potential of human cooperation; it makes people -- both the powerful and the powerless -- less than they could be, than they ought to be.

Look, this should be a slam dunk. The political regimes of the 20th century that most believed in the saving grace of political power were those of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. So, can we agree that extreme political power, that reduces the people to the status of slaves, is a bad thing?

What about the power of the administrative state and its entitlement programs? Can we not say that there must be a better way than comprehensive and mandatory programs of pensions, health care, and education, programs that dictate how people should save for retirement, how they should educate their children, must be less than optimal? And then there is the power to "deplatform" and prevent ideas from being discussed in the public square. There is the power to name and shame on social media. There is the power to brand people as racist, sexist homophobes.

Is it not true that the use of political power diminishes both the powerful that have the means to swing political power and the people without political power that are subordinated to the power of the powerful? Yet it seems that people are only opposed to political power when someone else is doing it to them.

I think that the next great step in human evolution is to reduce the power of politics and amp up the volume on cooperative relations between humans based on interpersonal trust and faith.

It may be, of course, that the development of blockchain may permit people that trust each other to interact by bypassing untrustworthy and unfaithful people. And especially the untrustworthy and unfaithful people that attempt to get their way with power. I wonder how that would turn out, for it would put additional power into the hands of the trustworthy and the faithful.

Or as Jordan B. Peterson says, the way to get on in the world is making yourself competent. Competent people are useful and beneficial, and people want to interact with them. It is a form of power, but a power that can be used  to help people.

Competence, trust, faith. Surely these can overcome the poverty of power.

Friday, December 14, 2018

It's the Power: Why Ruling Class Liberals Won't Let Us Alone

There used to be a joke about the British middle class requesting "no sex please, we're British."  I suppose the joke was that the married-with-children middle class that we associate with "the Fifties" was not looking to be titillated with sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. It  has other things on its mind.

You can see the wisdom of that attitude, 50 years after "the Sixties." What was the point of the sexual revolution, now that women are demanding safe spaces from any man and his patriarchal sexual harassment, now that drugs are now coming to mean the white working class dying of despair in the opioid crisis, and peculiarly sexless girl singers bump and grind their wailing songs in an advertisement of availability that is absolutely forbidden by #MeToo.

What the average middle-class American would like today would be "no politics please, we're normals." The promise of middle-class life, after all, is to live free of subordination to some scion of a ruling-class landowner, to be responsible and independent of his power, making your own way  in the city.

But the last two centuries has seen the rise of a new ruling class and a new politics, and a new subordination. Whereas the old ruling class just ruled over a subordinate peasantry that it both protected and exploited, the new ruling class reinvented politics by separating the protection and the exploitation. It would protect its selected classes of victims, "little darlings" that it determined to champion. It would exploit the middle-class bourgeoisie and use revenues from middle-class enterprise to buy the votes of its protected "little darlings."

Thus the middle class is subordinated to the new educated ruling class by constant ideological warfare that makes the middle class into, first, exploiters of workers, and now racist sexist homophobes whose bigotry must be named and shamed into oblivion.

The "little darlings," first the workers, and now women, minorities and the sexual experimenters of the  ruling class, are subordinated as the protected class championed and patronized by the educated ruling class.

If you are a middle-class normal you just want to live your life with a minimum of politics. You feel mildly prejudiced against racial minorities and aggressive feminists and sexual experimenters from a natural and healthy desire to trust only those likely to be trustworthy. 

On this strategy minorities and women would be co-opted bit by bit into the middle class and everyone would live happily ever after. But his obviously runs counter to the political agenda of the educated ruling class for whom living happily ever after is nothing to do with the case, because for the new ruling class the meaning of life, the universe, and everything depends on using ruling class political power to dominate society as every ruling class aims to do.

If you are in politics you need  to "raise awareness;" you need to mobilize your supporters. And you need to cast your political opponents as monsters and bigots. You cannot allow things to settle down and for everyone to just get along.

That is why, 50 years after the Civil Rights Acts, we are obsessed with racism. That is why, with women earning just about the same as men, we are obsessed with sexual harassment in the workplace. That is why, with gay marriage a fact, we must hunt down people that don't bang their heads on the ground in celebration of LGBT. Thus the Trump election "should be analyzed less in terms of what he offered as a candidate and more as a reflection of the public's surly mutinous mood."

Well, yes, per Suzanne Fields. The public would be "surly and mutinous" when the educated ruling class insists on poking and tormenting it with its "monomaniacal intensity of causes" that are all about  the political power of  the ruling class and nothing about the needs of the average middle-class normal.

So that's the state of play today. The  ruling class is obsessed with its political causes, and the middle class is surly and mutinous.

But only because the ruling class wants it that way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Things May Not Work Out for the Dem Extremists

I know that we are all supposed to be terrified of the totalitarian left, in which nobody in America can say or do a thing out of line, or the liberal enforcers will getcha.

And I know we are supposed to be terrified of the liberal cunning plan to replace the current white majority with an immigrant horde that will vote Democrats into power forever.

I know that it’s all dreadful and terrifying, but I just think that the Democrats will find that their cunning plan will end up just like one of Baldrick’s cunning plans: too clever by half.

I suspect that the first problem with the liberals’ cunning plan is that it assumes that liberals are the ringmasters and all the American people are just trained circus animals completely under the ringmaster’s control. I doubt that the trained circus animals are quite as tame and conformable as the liberals think.

The second  problem I see with the liberals’ cunning plan is that I suspect that there isn’t enough money to keep their clients satisfied. The trouble with their politics-with-everything philosophy is that a  hierarchical patronage system needs a constantly increasing flow of money to reward the supporters. Last year’s handout is just taken for granted: what have you done for me lately? That is why liberals are now reduced to promising Medicare-For-All and free college tuition. These are staggeringly expensive programs and there is no money to pay for that kind of thing without incredibly increased taxes, and if liberals attempt to implement them they will probably experience the wave election of 2010 all over again.

Then there is the problem with the liberal pet projects like climate change and diversity and inclusion and deplatforming anyone that steps outside today’s liberal party line. Climate change is a program by the elite, of the elite, and for the elite, and if you are an ordinary person you just can’t see the point. But if you are an ordinary person you can see that your gas prices are up, you electricity prices are up, and jobs are hard to come by. Because you are an ordinary person you don’t really have a voice in the public square, not until the the whole thing reaches a tipping point and the yellow vests hit the street because they just can’t take it any more. Diversity and inclusion really only benefit liberals and the liberals’ latest little darlings. And anyone that is not terrified by the reign of terror and virtue of today's liberal Jacobins is probably bidding for a place on the liberal Committee of Public Safety.

In his Anatomy of Revolution Crane Brinton proposes that the Reign of Terror period in a revolutionary cycle is necessarily short and sharp. That’s because people cannot be wound up to an ideological ferment for too long. Ideological mobilization can only be temporary; at some point people just become exhausted and want to return to normal. On his view, a revolution begins with moderates, but is then taken over by the crazies when the moderates fail to change the world as promised in the revolutionary prospectus. But the crazies’ Reign of Terror eventually runs out of gas and the Thermidor period returns to a kind of normalcy, although not of course to the status quo ante.

The reason we are in this semi reign of terror is that moderate liberalism has not delivered the promised world of peace and justice. The moderates are forced to up their ante to keep the crazies from taking over the liberal project completely. And, of course, it only makes sense to purge all conservatives out of the academy and social media. That is how a reign of terror works.

The problem of a reign of terror is that in its rage for justice it commits the most appalling and monstrous injustices on an innocent population. That is what my maxim that “there is no such thing as justice, only injustice” is all about. Look at how this works in the so-called  “justice system.” The law courts only respond after a damage has been done, after a person has been victimized by a criminal, after a person has been damaged by a tort. But the legal system can never really deliver justice. It can only try to compensate the victim after the damage has been done. It can never return the victim to the moment before the damage was done.

And that is why I think that things will not turn out the way the liberals think, or that we normals fear. Our liberal friends are playing with fire, and that fire will end up consuming them. Of course, the fire may consume us normals first, before it turns on the liberals and consumes them. Fires are like that.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going

Salena Zito defines the great divide in America as between the "placed" and the "placeless." By "placed" she means people that want to live and work and stay in their native city. By "placeless" she means the gifted and credentialed that can live and work and move to anywhere, and do.

Actually, I'd say that the great divide in America today is between the "favored" and the "unfavored." The "favored" are the educated elite and their "little darling" victims; the "unfavored" amounts to everyone else, the racist, sexist, homophobic normals.

This is not surprising. The whole point of politics is to reward your supporters with government revenue and favors, and screw everybody else. So the bigger government gets, and the more that outcomes are directed by government, the more you are going to get a "favored/unfavored" division in society.

But I want to challenge the idea of "place" as a good thing. The basic nature of humans is that we are nomads, happy to sojourn in a favored land for a while, but whose survival always depends on knowing when it is time to move on before it is too late.

This is personal for me because my father's family was caught in Russia in 1918 and got out alive, and my mother's family was stuck in Japan in 1940 and got out alive. Then my two parents were stuck in India at independence and got out to England in 1948. Now I live in Seattle; one daughter lives in Connecticut, and the other daughter in Britain.

So, on Zito's definition we are "placeless." Very well. But the point is that we got out in time. And so we continued to wive and thrive.

It is natural for ruling classes to sell the idea that the thing to do is to stay in one place and pay taxes. you see that attitude in Marx: "Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels." Yeah, Chuckie, baby!

In our time the left has encouraged the working class to believe that they could settle down in a place and get good jobs at good wages forever. So they did. And then the world moved on; the good jobs at good wages went away, and the "places" turned into ghost towns.

Was the white working class betrayed? Of course, but not by the corporations that hired and fired them, but by the lefties that sold the working class on the lie that they could work and prosper in one place forever.

The truth is that there is a name for people stuck in one place:  Slaves -- and their kissing cousins, the serfs -- are people that cannot leave their place, whether that place is a slave plantation or a communist utopia. Free men and women are free to get up and go, and they do, before it is too late.

It is nice to think that you can live in one place for generations in one place, but it is not really the way of the world. Something always changes, whether it is the weather, the king, the Mongols, the Nazis, ISIS, or the Communists. And you better be ready to get up and get out before it is too late.

That, after all, is the reality we are experiencing today. All over the world people in the less-favored locations are getting up and getting out of the "shithole countries" that they are living in. They want to get to non-shithole countries so they can wive and thrive. And because air transportation is so cheap, they actually can get up and leave.

Hey, maybe some lefties will even help them move if they agree to become poster children on the TV news for some lefty activist NGO. And that is the trouble with migrants; they seem to be easy marks for the left.

But the lesson of history is: don't be a mark. It doesn't matter what the priests tell you, or the politicians, or the real-estate salesmen. If things don't look good in the months and years ahead you'd better do something about it. If you want your genes to survive.

It's really cool that Donald Trump has arisen to Make America Great Again and give the white working class a chance to get out of the rut they were in. But nobody should think that Trump is going to save their bacon forever. The world moves on; it always has and it always will.

And you better be on board when the last train leaves the station.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Why I Think Jordan Peterson is Important

In response to my review of Vox Day's Jordanetics, Vox Day kindly averred as how Immanuel Kant was "wrong, completely wrong, and utterly wrong... And the Jungians are not merely wrong, they are mad."

But here is a Rex Murphy piece in the Canadian National Post on Jordan B. Peterson, about how the left too has a problem with Jordanetics, about how the whole Peterson phenomenon started with a bunch of U of Toronto students that tried to get the prof fired for crimes against leftism.
[They were outraged by] Peterson’s “gross misconduct,” his “efforts at agitation … inflammatory denunciations … evident connections to white supremacists … disruptive behaviour.”
In response, Peterson
more or less told the pack of puerile leftlings chasing him with pitchforks and torches that their grandmothers wore severely unstylish army boots.
OK, so why do both left and right disapprove of Jordan B. Peterson?

The answer, as you would expect, is completely comprehended by my reductive Three Peoples theory. That's the one with the People of the Subordinate Self, workers and peasants, the People of the Responsible Self, the ordinary middle class, and the People of the Creative Self, everyone from artists and writers to start-up businessmen and political activists and revolutionaries.

See, the point is that lefties see the world as creative revolutionary activists like them making the world safe for their "little darlings," the People of the Subordinate Self -- the workers, peasants, and historically marginalized people like blacks, women, gays -- from the depredations of the evil bourgeois middle class and the worst thing in the world, Christianity. But Peterson defends the right of the ordinary middle class to pursue its destiny of responsibility and even regards religion as a Good Thing.

Now, chaps like Vox Day believe that the middle class of the nation state, the People of the Responsible Self, and reason and logic are the good guys. The lefties of the People of the Creative Self are the bad guys, and the workers and peasants of the People of the Subordinate Self, are the foolish dupes of the lefties.

My Three Peoples theory takes the reductive position that all three of the Three Peoples are perfectly natural and physical. There are tons of people in the world that just want to be safe and leave all the heavy lifting to their lord or their political patron. So be it. There are lots of people that want to get a job, get married, have children, and retire in good time with a nice little nest egg. More power to them. Then there are creative geniuses on the border between the known and the unknown that bring new inventions and economic revolutions. They are amazing.

So you can see that my theory of the world is a sophisticated and balanced view of the world that understands that there are all kinds of people in the world and they have a perfect right to be who they are. In any case, we can't be sure about who has the inside track on Truth, Justice, and the American Way. That really is the point that Kant is making with his notion that we can't know things in themselves, but only start guessing from what we pick up with our senses. My Three Peoples theory also tracks with Jung, because Jung proposes that all religions are attempts by historical peoples to make sense of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, and that the same themes keep coming up in every religion. With the left, we are saying that all religions are superstition and bigotry. But with Jung we are saying that all religions are an honest attempt to get to the heart of things.

So of course Vox Day would be anti-Kant and anti-Jung.

Now, I'm not sure what Jordan Peterson has to say about the People of the Subordinate Self, but he clearly in his 12 Rules says that the first thing to do is get out of the basement, stand up straight with shoulders back and discipline yourself to become a responsible person. In Maps of Meaning, his first book, he proposes that the highest and best thing is to be a sacrificial hero trying to make sense of the border between order and chaos. That is a celebration of the creative self.

So of course I think that Jordan Peterson is a good guy. He is saying what I am saying, only better.

See, my world view is that for most of history, and certainly since the dawn of the state-based agricultural age nearly everyone was a subordinate peasant or a slave. It was the genius of Christianity and the other Axial Age religions to develop the idea that humans were responsible to God for their lives, not subordinate to their lords, and ought to do something about it. But now, in my view, we have entered into a creative age, where people think that the highest and best thing is to be creative. The last 200 years of the capitalist explosion is nothing if it is not a creative explosion.

This means that the old religion of responsibility, Christianity, no longer can win the hearts and minds of people that yearn to be creative. They all want to be artists and writers, and activists and start-up entrepreneurs, not mere deplorable responsibles. Now modern leftism, in my view, is the idea that only political creativity is meaningful, and that responsibility is for the birds. So their religion excludes responsibility as a good.

But I think that the religion of the future must combine a faith in responsibility with a faith in creativity, rather than choose one or the other, and I think that Jordan Peterson's ideas are a sensible step in that direction.

 On my view you can easily see that it makes perfect sense that Vox Day, with his faith in responsibility, and lefties, with their faith in political creativity, would think that Peterson is a dangerous crank that ought to be vilified and suppressed.

My only complaint is that the woods are not full of Jordan Petersons celebrating a combination of responsibility and creativity.

But we can't have everything. Not right away.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Yes, There is Objective Truth, But We Don't Know It

Vox Day has a thoughtful riposte to my review of his Jordanetics. He says that Kant was wrong:
And the only thing you need to know about Kant is that he was wrong, completely and utterly wrong. His entire life's work was an unnecessary attempt to square a philosophical circle. The objective truth exists regardless of our ability to correctly perceive it at any given point in time.
Well, yes. The objective truth, or Kant's ẗhing-in-itself, presumably does exist independently of our ability to perceive it. But Kant's point is that, whatever really exists, we don't know what it is, and cannot directly know it, the things-in-themselves, because we only experience appearances. The immense cunning of Kant's idea (whether it is right or wrong) is that we should never assume that we have arrived at a complete understanding of anything. All we ever know is that we have a pretty good grasp of things, thus far. Hence Thomas Kuhn and The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

And the fundamental fact of our time is the notion from Werner Heisenberg that the 20th century physics revolution means that the really real, deep down at the micro level, cannot be described by every-day notions by which we talk about the every day world as we experience it moment to moment. So we have to fake it with the likely stories of atoms and quarks and stuff by which we try to understand the math through metaphor.

Nor does Vox Day put any faith in Jung:
And the Jungians are not merely wrong, they are mad. That's not you make sense of the world. That's not how you make sense of anything.
In my view, all Jung is doing is starting with the notion that all religions and all accounts of the really real are the accounts of blind men encountering an elephant. It's a trunk. It's a big flappy ear, etc. But what is it, really? Well Jung -- and Peterson -- say that all religions are attempts to understand the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, given the state of human knowledge at the time. Therefore they are reprising the same old themes, but shining a new light as human knowledge and expertise expands.

I was talking to a math-whiz acquaintance a few months ago, and opined that in due course the physicists would come up with a theory of reality that goes deeper than quantum mechanics and its present account of energy and mass. He agreed. So what is objectively real? What we know today, or what we will know tomorrow?

And that is, for me, the meaning of Kant. He is just saying: don't think that you've got the final word on the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Just remember that all we know are sense impressions and the story we have made up to make sense of them. Assume that the thing-in-itself is still a mystery.

Whether the real is real, or just an phantasm, no human can go far wrong by accepting that he still has a lot to learn.

For me there's a bigger thing going in with Kant and Jung and Peterson. And it is this. "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers," through thinkers like Kant and Jung, and even Peterson, are starting to develop a theory of the meaning of life, the universe and everything that can show up the left as the shallow, reactionary, and cramped movement it is, that makes a god out of politics and power, instead of going beyond politics and the lust for power, given that the market economy has provided a means where humans can negotiate practically everything through trust and exchange rather than battle to the death over the exclusive right to a food-growing patch of land, which has been the fate of mankind since the dawn.

I think that ideas like my reductive Three Peoples theory and the notion of the sacrificial hero in Jung provide a means of developing a higher and better concept of human meaning than the cruel leftist faith in politics and force, and a better way of showing up its barren world view as an utterly futile and foolish fantasy.

And I think that Jordan B. Peterson's revival of meaning for the life of the responsible person in 12 Rules is a first step.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Trouble is that the Yellow Vests are Already Toast

So now all the experts are predicting that the current regime in France is toast, because the French regime, like the France of 1789, is running out of money.

Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't. The whole point of government, as I keep saying, is to occupy territory, tax the inhabitants, and reward its supporters. The problem is that you have to keep upping the ante, because your supporters Want More Money, and eventually you run out of other peoples' money to keep rewarding your supporters.

But that is not the point. The point is whether we, the people, are going to play the government's game.

The reason that the yellow vests, the gilets jaunes, are angry is because they bought into the regime's promises, long ago: vote for them and get benefits. That's great, except that when you do that you turn yourself into a peasant, dependent on your master's favor. You sit there, on your peasant allotment, or in your union job, getting your handout, until the day that the handouts stop. Then what?

That is what happened to the peasants. They were useful to their lords until the day came that the lords didn't need them for their personal armies. Or until the lords got into agricultural "improvement" and didn't need so many agricultural laborers as in olden times.

That is what happened to the white working class. Vote for us, said the socialists, and we will protect you from the bosses.  We will provide you with pensions, health care, good jobs at good wages. Until "we" didn't. Because? Well because the unionized corporations started having to compete with up-and-coming countries like China using workers that were just off the farm and would work for a fraction of the wage of good all-American union workers. And the progressive politicians lost interest in the white working class and started bidding for the votes of women and minorities, and then legal and illegal immigrants.

That is what is happening to the gilets jaunes. France has all kinds of regulatory wonders, from the 35-hour week to mandatory benefits to near lifetime employment guarantees. But now the political class with their haute école degrees believe in helping helpless migrants, and saving the planet from Maurice Strong's notion of climate change.

So here is my analysis from my reductive, but brilliant, Three Peoples theory. Choose your poison: choose what you want to submit to. There are three options, one for each of the Three Peoples.

You can submit to your loving lord, if you are from the People of the Subordinate Self. That means you are fine until the day that your loving lord -- or your loving politician -- no longer needs your support. Then you are toast.

You can submit to the market, if you are from the People of the Responsible Self. That means you will always have a job, because if your current gig ends when the market has moved on and your skills aren't in demand any more you just shrug your shoulders and get trained for something else, or convert your skills into something else. Because you just accept that the market's verdict is final. If you don't accept the market's verdict you are nothing but an underling.

You can submit to the gods of creation, if you are from the People of the Creative Self. That means you need to accept that, most likely, you won't make it, because in the world of creativity many are called but few are chosen. If you accept this truth you are a mensch, and accept that if you can't make it as a creative then you just have to suck it in and submit to the market. If you don't you are a menace, because you will probably try to get into politics or activism, trying to be creative in politics, where the name of the game is to get people to vote for you in return for benefits.

So if the yellow vests think they can solve their problems by defacing a few glorious French monuments, or electing a populist leader, like the US, Hungary, Italy, and now Brazil, they are wrong.

Trump ain't gonna solve the problems of the white working class in the US. Only the individual folks in the white working class can do that by training for and searching for and finding good jobs at good wages. Right now that would be the fracking industry, but that means heading off to North Dakota or Texas. Otherwise they are toast.

Victor Orbán ain't gonna save the native Hungarians from the Muslim migrants. Only they can do that by adapting their skills to the market, and heading off to Germany or Britain if that is what it takes. Otherwise they are toast.

Salvini ain't gonna save the Italians from ruin. Only they can do that. Otherwise the Italians are toast.

Bolsonaro ain't gonna save the Brazilians. Only they can do that. Otherwise the Brazilians are toast.

And what doesn't work is voting for entitlement programs. Because entitlement programs are programs that take money away from some people and give money to other people. By force. And sooner or later your employer or the government runs out of other peoples' money to pay your benefits.

This is not rocket science, folks. You submit to the verdict of the market or you or your children end up as toast. No matter what some damn politician has to say.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Amazing Ajanta Caves Near Aurangabad

Today we took a road trip from the city of Aurangabad -- beer, pharmaceuticals, and cars -- to the Buddhist caves near Ajanta. These caves were "discovered" by a British cavalry officer in 1819; of course the local people already knew about them. Maybe they didn't think the Brits ought to know about such things.

It took a couple of hours and more to get from Aurangabad to Ajanta because the road was under construction for the entire 100 km distance, apparently getting expanded from 2 to 4 lanes. You can imagine the traffic chaos of buses, trucks, cars, and motorcycles all dodging and weaving around the construction

About 30 caves were hewn out of a basalt cliff over the centuries, starting in the 2nd century BC. Typically, as you enter the cave you are confronted by a Buddha facing  the entrance across a square hall with columns around the walls to reduce the stress on the ceiling. Many of the caves feature rock-cut sculptures and decorations. But everything is chiseled out of the original basalt. Many of the caves have dry fresco paintings rehearsing the life of the Buddha.
It's all pretty impressive, especially as you go from cave to cave and see yet another Buddha -- or perhaps a stupa -- hacked perhaps 50 feet into the cliff, with columns and small meditation cells around the perimeter of the cave.

There were lots of people there, including a troop of noisy teenage school kids that wanted to do selfies with the exotic foreigners, which we were delighted to do. In fact, it was delightful to share the experience with people from all over the world, including China and the very Buddhist country of Thailand. We did selfies with some charming Thai girls on the bus that gets you from the parking lot to the caves and back.

Yes. It's travel in the modern age: nothing but selfies, selfies, selfies, with all and sundry from all over the world. Whatever will be next?

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Couple of Days in Mumbai

It's a long grind from the west coast to India, whichever way you go, and when you get there the time is twelve-and-a-half hours out of sync. with Pacific Time. We went through Frankfurt, Germany, flying Frankfurt to Mumbai in a big Lufthansa 747-8 with 80 percent Indians on board.

The most startling difference between the US and India is the street scene. Every street in Mumbai seems to be teeming with life: pedestrians, of course, and tuk-tuk cabs and motorcycles and endless traffic. And also a huge cavalcade of tiny stores stuck in front of larger buildings and street vendors everywhere selling from open-air stalls or simply occupying sidewalk space.

What is going on? What is the property situation with all the sidewalk hawkers of endless cellphone protectors and food and juice vendors that seem to just occupy space on the sidewalk?

And it seems like everyone is hard at work on some micro-business. Are these people migrants from the countryside, or smaller towns, or what? There seems to be no equivalent of this seemingly low-value-added business environment in the US. And every real store has a security guy at the door. Is that to police criminals or just keep loiterers away from the customers?

The answer is, of course, that most of the lower-end workers are migrants from the countryside. Kid comes to the city, starts sending money home to the village, and comes home for a rest after he's saved some money. Next time, another couple kids from the village go to the city with him.

And the traffic! It teems, whether in the city or the suburbs, an endless flow of motorcycles, tuk-tuks, cars of every description, and buses, trucks large and small, all jostling and tooting their horns and darting in front of the oncoming traffic and either starting a new lane between two lines of traffic or cutting off some guy that seems to be getting too aggressive.

The kind of Indians we meet, from the hotel breakfast room to the tour guide, all seem to have children who are either in the US working, or in the US going to college, or going to university majoring in IT of some kind. These must be the crème de la crème because the street world teems with people doing all kinds of other things.

When you see a political sign it is always in the local language. But high-end billboards for dream  apartments in new or projected high-rises are always in English. Signs for government and military installations are in both local and English language and all the government sign writers seem to have gone to British bureaucracy school.

Everyone mixes freely in the street, but the bearded Muslim men with white skull-caps and their black-clad wives are a distinctive contrast from the Hindu men that all have mustaches and wear western shirts or t-shirts and western pants or jeans. The Hindu women wear everything from saris to western pants -- but no bare-ass leggings yet, and clearly, the more young and educated the more western the dress.

Off to Bollywood, east of Goregaon in the outer northern suburbs. It's in a wooded hilly area, and the sets and studios are curiously weathered and run-down looking, with the usual dust and confusion and piles of debris that are ubiquitousin India. There's a film-city temple at the end of a road which can be painted and dressed up for any sort of religious song-and-dance ceremony. All curiously ordinary and day-to-day, considering the glamorous frenzy that Bollywood presents to the movie-goer. But ain't that the truth: Glamor is all make-believe, pal.

We took an early morning tour in downtown Mumbai, starting with the Sassoon Dock fish market run by the Koli fisherfolk that have been fishing off Mumbai for over 500 years. It's a view back to the past and an efficient distribution system that auctions fish right off the boat to women who then distribute the fish to their clients throughout the city. Then on to the newspaper distribution game just yards from the main railroad terminus, where guys sort newspapers for home delivery. Then the fruit-and-veg market, the chicken market, and the flower market.

A morning visiting the markets provides a view into a world that has been wholly swallowed by the supermarket system in the US, and reminds us that the "local" movement and its weekly farmers markets in the US are yet another liberal conceit, imagining that the low-wage jobs of the old system are viable in today's Amazon-impacted distribution system. Of course, the main reason why such a system has disappeared in the US is that people won't and don't work for the kind of wages you can get from this system of micro-distribution, and the welfare system means that people won't work until it becomes worth their while vis-a-vis what they can  get for free.

But you'd have to say that learning how to hustle in the street distribution systems of a place like  Mumbai provides a very solid education in How To Make It in the City.

All the time, as we drove around Mumbai and its suburbs, I was wondering who lived where. The guide this morning provided an answer. Anyone living in a building is middle class. The poor all live in shanty towns or the equivalent. So there is that.

Today we fly north to cave temples near Aurangabad.

Friday, November 30, 2018

All Politics is Identity Politics, Jonah

The subtitle of Jonah Goldberg's latest book, Suicide of the West, is "How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy."

So Jonah waffles into a column about people who have interviewed him on his book. Everyone is opposed to "tribalism" but "each side thinks only their opponents are guilty of it."
On nationalism, I get the most pushback from the right and the least from the left.
But what does he mean?

However on identity politics,
It's hard for many liberals to understand (or at least admit) that there might be something pernicious about dividing everybody up into categories of race, sex, ethnicity, etc. Meanwhile, many on the right struggle to see how their side might be guilty of doing the same thing.
 Of course the answer to this conundrum is that all politics is identity politics. All politics is division, dividing people up into our tribe and their tribe. Only, of course, our tribe/identity and its memes are good, while the other side's tribe/identity and its memes are bad and threaten the body politic.

All politics divides people into our tribe and their tribe, and all religion, including modern secular religion divides people up into the Chosen and the Rest.

Conservatives in general want to keep domestic politics down to a low roar, in accordance with their idea that government should be limited and politics just a disagreement among friends. But as for those Commies and those Islamofascists...

The left is the same only different.  For the left the question of justice is the only thing, and political power is the one best way to bend the arc of history. But as for the inordinate fear of communism and Islam, well, only racists, sexists, and bigots have a problem with that.

It all makes sense. On matters of life and death, or what we take to be matters of life and death, humans  are intensely tribal and deploy identity politics to rally supporters to their banner. On  other matters, we humans ask "what's your problem?"

It was the Founders and the writers that inspired them that proposed to build governmental institutions that would put roadblocks in the way of political and religious enthusiasts. Limited government and three co-equal branches of government were designed to keep the partisans busy reducing the other guy's idiotic plans to dust. And the separation of church and state were designed to prevent religious enthusiasts from invoking the power of the state in their establishment of a heaven on earth.

And, of course, there is the market, that puts its thumb very firmly on the scales of getting along and trusting the stranger.

I'd say that it's a shame that so many people cannot grasp the wisdom of the Founders and the market and instead live for the revolution and the triumph of the Chosen.

But nobody said that life was easy. And nobody is going to stop the other guys and their evil tribalism with the weapon of our sacred identity and vision of the truth.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Of Course Lefty UW Students Hate Conservatives

Imagine this: At the University of Washington in Seattle:
Many left-leaning students at the University of Washington-Seattle harbor feelings that Republicans and conservatives are "evil," "inhuman," or "not even a person," according to a new study led by a team of UW psychology professors.
Well, bust my buttons, who'd a-thunk it?

Well we know why. It's because the young heads full of mush were carefully taught exactly that! By their lefty professors. For college credit.

And by the way, let us not forget that forming a mob to take out some jerk you dislike is the most delicious thing in the world. And by the way, per Alexander Solzhenitsyn, one of the key tactics of the Bolsheviks was to portray their enemies as animals: insects, vermin.

Remember back in the day?

Back in the day, liberals were all wigged out about innocent Hollywood scriptwriters and directors being blacklisted -- blacklisted! -- because of their Communists sympathies. Back in the day liberal playgoers thrilled to lefty playwright Arthur Miller descanting on the horrors of witch-hunting in 17th century Salem with The Crucible -- not to mention the dead-end life of the salesman. Back in the day liberal musical-goers were nodding wisely at songs in South Pacifice about race and hate:
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
Get it? Nudge, nudge? Back to the Future? Witch-hunting of noble progressives, or Communists or socialists, horrible racism, or whatever the nom-de-jour for fashionable lefties was back then?

Actually, that "carefully taught" thing is more liberal baloney. According to the "minimal group paradigm" getting people to hate and to fear the people in the out-group is the easiest thing in the world. Humans are pre-programmed to hate and to fear! Any fool lefty teacher can make it happen!

And notice how the report on left-wing student bigotry mentions that, while all students became more tolerant during the study as they were mixed together with out-group students:
But when re-surveyed a month later, the students, especially liberals — who reported stronger feelings of manichaeism in the first place — basically went back to hating their political opponents.
Today liberals are engaged in ideological warfare on anyone that steps out of the progressive line. On anything. And you may not express your hate speech on social media. Because hate. And it is perfectly obvious that our liberal friends are absolutely clueless about what they are doing.

But I think that liberals are going to be surprised at what happens down the road.

See, I think that the reason that folks back in the day developed the idea of innocent until proven guilty, and rules of evidence, and limited government and freedom of speech is not because they were good guys but because life in any settlement bigger than a face-to-face village requires it. If you don't have those rules then you can't have a successful, prosperous society.

It's fine to have your vicious little lefty cult at the university but when you get out into the real world of capitalism you have to face the fact that you will deal every day with people who are not in your in-group. Then what? Are you going to put on your AntiFa artistical black gear and spit in their face? The overwhelming fact of capitalism is the idea of amicable transactions with strangers, people who most likely are not like you and do not like people like you. And that goes double with foreign trade. If you do not deal pleasantly and amiably with everyone then you ain't gonna rake in the bucks, and your employer is going to say Sayonara, pal, I can't use you. In capitalism, the pressure is on, every day, to get on with people, all people.

So I think that, despite the predictions of gloom and doom and predictions of secession and the splitting up of the US, pretty soon our lefty friends will find that their ideological reign of terror is going to be costing them big time.

Look at it from the perspective of the ruling class. For the ruling class, law and rules of evidence are really good for keeping the plebs down on the farm feeling that they can get justice at your ruling-class courts of law, and thus not starting to chafe under the injustice of a regime that does not care about people like them.

For the ruling class free speech means that you get to know about the dumb hotheads and potential troublemakers out there without having to spend a lot of money on FBIs and infiltrators.

For the ruling class, it is not such a good idea to have raving witch-hunters running around looking for racists, sexists and homophobes behind every Twitter user. People feel really resentful when their in-group members are being targeted by the well-born thugs of the regime. They might even start to grumble about injustice. Most people want to put the high-school mean girls and jocks behind them once they get out of high school. (Actually, mean girls and jocks are a good reason to abolish high school).

Again, the fact is that liberal in-group members have no clue, no clue, how their shenanigans play to the normals and deplorables. Only one thing will convince them: that their totalitarian tactics -- totalitarian? who me? -- turn off American voters and prevent good progressive folks from getting their hands on the all-important levers of power.

I reckon that the lefty Kavanaugh shenanigans probably cost the Dems a couple of Senate seats, and maybe the chance of retaking the Senate. Was that really worth it?

And, of course, even when they do get their hands on the levers of power it all turns to dust, because in the market age we don't need so much stinkin' political power. You'd think they'd get the point: Bolshevism: disaster and famine and massacre. Maoism: famine and terror and poverty. Fidelism: endless poverty and enslavement. Chávism: 20 percent economic contraction last year and the same this year. Are lefties really that dumb that they don't no nothing about historee?

But the truth is that religious cults are the most amazing high. The leaders and their henchmen and their inquisitors just love it. How do you penetrate their tiny minds and teach them to be sadder and wiser engines?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Question is: What Us and Them Works for Us?

I've been writing recently about tribalism, and what I call "fake tribalism." I started out with the conventional notion that, in the old days, people were organized in tribes of the kindred, people related to each other by blood. I proposed that everything since then -- empires, nations, class politics, modern identity politics -- is fake tribalism, the transfer of the old idea of belonging from the tribe of the kindred to artificial tribes based on completely new ideas of belonging on a larger scale.

But then, reading C.R. Hallpike's How We Got Here, I realized that tribalism has always been a movable feast. Yes, the hunter-gatherer bands were defined by bands of the kindred, but if you got in a row with your band you could take off and join another one. Ditto with pre-state agricultural villages. Tribes were not cast in concrete, but merely sticky like porridge.

On Hallpike's narrative it was only with the invention of state-based agricultural empires that we get a rigidification of identity, and the mobilization of the various inhabitants of a region into a self-conscious people around whom arbitrary boundaries are set and from whom there is no exit. The boundaries were important, I suspect, because because most of the people in the agricultural era were serfs or slaves, a pretty universal characteristic of agricultural age culture.

Oh dear. That means that full-on tribalism only developed when it had already become fake, the various artificial creations of kings and Nietzsche's pals "the priests" of the great agricultural empires that were inventing fake tribes to match their glorious empires. Back to the drawing board. Now what?

Now what is the "minimal group paradigm" developed by Henri Tajfel. Tajfel discovered that you can set up any kind of artificial group -- say in a research project -- and the people in each group will immediately identify with and favor their in-group. That explains why, e.g., liberals all believe everything they read in the New York Times and NPR and know that everything in conservative land is racist sexist homophobic "hate" and conservative believe what they read on right-wing websites and know that all mainstream media news  is "fake news." Liberals know that people like them are outraged by Trump tear-gassing migrants at the border, and conservatives know that without a defended border you don't have a nation. Both groups define themselves in terms of the unconsciously agreed agenda among people like them.

I found this immensely liberating. For it means that you can create identity with anything. Identity doesn't have to be race or gender or class as we have been carefully taught. Identity can be anything. It is up to the founder of the identity to find people willing to identify with the new identity that he just created out of whole cloth. This happens most obviously with the founders of religious cults, a St. Paul or a Luther or a Calvin or a Joseph Smith. It also happens in politics with Marx inventing the new idea of "the workers."

It also happens with  the idea of "nation." Liah Greenfield proposes that the idea of the English nation began after Henry VII won the battle of Bosworth Field and created a bunch of nobles from the common folk. Used to be, in the "society of orders," that there were the higher orders like kings and nobles who defined the nation, and then there were the "people" in the lower orders. With Henry VII "people" and "nation" were merged. To put in in terms of my "fake tribalism" notion, Henry VII needed a new kind of fake tribalism to symbolize his new regime, and to define the boundaries of the in-group. He defined his fake tribe as the nation of England. Shortly thereafter Henry VIII completed the job of nation-building by disarming the nobles and creating a national army. Ever since, the national army in a nation has symbolized the nation.

In our time the global educated class wants to define identity as anything-but-nation. So they have invented a new "society of orders" with the educated ruling class as the savior activists, the middle class as the deplorable bigots, and the lower orders as helpless victims who the savior activists are called to save from racism, sexism, and homophobia.

If you want to dish the global educated ruling class you have to come up with something better, a political movement to which you can rally enough people to overpower the global educated ruling class. It is pretty obvious that this is going to be "nation." The only question is whether some damn politician can rally the middle-class deplorables beyond its base of the white male deplorables known for their racism, sexism, and homophobia by hiving off enough women and minorities into a larger identity of nation.

You can see that Donald Trump is trying to appeal to voters on  the basis of an identity politics of American nationalism while his opponents want to claim that his American identity politics is really the evil and divisive racist sexist bigotry of which you've heard tell.

The point that I get from the nationalism analysis of Liah Greenfield and the minimal group paradigm of Henri Tajfel is that you can create identity out of anything. Just get a bunch of people together and bind them together with a set of group identifiers. There is nothing that establishes for all time that kindred, or race, or sex, or nation is the natural form of identity. Humans are groupish and it is up to would-be group leaders to define the parameters of the group and create and grow that group.

Simply stated, all politics is tribal, and all politics is about "us" and "them." Humans are designed so that a leader can organize any group of them into a group of "us" and lead  them to war against the evil  "them." The only question is what works.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

There are Two Kinds of Liberal Programs

Way back in the dim and distant past Irving Kristol, the father of the one we know, wrote that if you want to help the poor with government programs, you have to deal in the middle class. Unfortunately, that piece of wisdom doesn't appear on Google Search, so everyone has forgotten about it. Except me.

The idea is that if you want to help the poor in old age with a pension program then you'd better make the pension program include the middle class, as Social Security did. Otherwise no-go.

The corollary of this theorem is that it is impossible to reform entitlement programs because doing so will negatively impact the middle class.

Armed with this vital knowledge I remember in 1993-94 thinking that HillaryCare would never fly because the middle class already had health insurance. In other words, there was no way that the Dems could deal in the middle class with their program to beef up health care delivery to the poor, because the middle class had already got what they wanted. I remember the day I heard on NPR the liberal women reporters marveling that ordinary Americans didn't like HillaryCare, because they didn't see how it would benefit them. In fact I remember exactly where my car was at that moment: it was on the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge in North Seattle.

Thus, in 2009-10, President Obama had to lie his head off about Obamacare promising that the average person would benefit and that they could keep their doctor. And Nancy Pelosi had to frog-march the moderate Dems through the lobbies to get them to vote for it. And the Dems had to do some shenanigans in the Senate to get it through. And then the Republicans won back the House  in  2010 with the biggest "wave" in decades and nearly all those moderate Dems lost their seats.

Now to the present time. Do you notice that almost all the stuff liberals are pushing is stuff that benefits some liberal identity group but that does not deal in the middle class?

There is illegal immigration and open borders. Almost no average American citizen, white, black, or Hispanic supports this. Really, only lefty activists and their billionaire supporters favor Open Borders.

There is Muslims. Ask any non-Muslim in America, and I bet they'd tell you that Muslims should get with the program. But all the liberals are running around expostulating about Islamophobia.

There is LGBTQ. Really, nobody outside the educated class has a clue what all the fuss is about. As I say, LGBTQ is about getting creative about sex (because we are all creative, right?) and the only people into that are the People of the Creative Self of my reductive Three Peoples theory. And now, according to Ben Shapiro, a transgender has insisting on joining a gym -- would that be Curves? -- that caters for women that prefer not to have men floating around. Of course the trans man-to-woman wants to change in the women's changing room. Of course. Ask any woman in America what she thinks of that!

There is climate change. This is yet another elite plan to kick the middle class out of their cars and force them into buses and trains. Who benefits?  All the scientists and regulators in the educated class that get grants and lifetime employment out of the scam, and also crony capitalists that know how to play the subsidy game for electric cars, wind and solar. But ordinary Americans get screwed.

See, I think that our liberal friends think that they got their pensions and health care and education programs enacted because of their glorious virtue, because justice and the arc of history. But really their programs were just bribes paid to the middle class. So our liberal friends don't really get that today's lefty agenda has a fatal flaw: it doesn't benefit the middle class.

Notice the left's response to their quandary: to deplatform anyone that disagrees with them and banish them from the public square as a racist, sexist homophobe. This strategy shows that instinctively, liberals understand that their agenda is unpopular and that the only way to advance it is by totalitarian oppression of the opposition. It may work for a while, but I predict that in the end it will create a huge movement of rejection, boiling with a sense of injustice, that overwhelms the left in a vast realignment of politics.

Yeah. There are two kinds of liberal programs: the ones that deal in the middle class and the ones that don't. And I think that a clever politician ought to be able to figure out how to take that all the way to the White House and a fundamental realignment of the electorate.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Understanding World History Through the Lens of Nationalism

Just as the foolish and superficial Emmanuel Macron of France declares nationalism good, patriotism bad, Liah Greenfield writes "The World That Nationalism Made" in American Affairs. "Nationalism is the cultural framework of modernity," she writes.

She also wrote a book about it: Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Harvard University Press, 1992) and The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth (Harvard University Press, 2001). Maybe I should take a look.

How did nationalism start, Greenfield asks? With Henry VII in England after the Wars of the Roses.
The [Wars of the Roses] was protracted, but it is enough to mention that, by the time it ended in 1485, both branches lost all their males, and the English feudal aristocracy was physically destroyed. A very distant relation of the Lancaster branch took the throne as the Tudor king Henry VII. In need of an upper class, he soon recruited a new aristocracy from the common people.
So, the old ideology of the "society of orders," of blue-blooded aristocrats versus the "lower orders," got ditched. Here were all those newly minted aristocrats, who just yesterday were just commoners. What did it all mean? The world demanded an answer.
Nationalism was the answer to this demand. It resulted from a linguistic-semantic innovation: the equation of two terms that had previously belonged to two unconnected semantic fields: people and nation. The specific meaning of the word “people,” as discussed above, was “commoners,” the lower classes. The word “nation,” meanwhile, meant an elite, representatives of cultural and political authority.
So in Britland "people" and "nation" became the same thing, because the people, the commoners, had become part of the elite, "representatives of cultural and political authority."

Jolly good fun for the Brits, but in due course other peoples got to feel resentful, because they were not organized as nations and they felt depraved on account of they were deprived: French, Germans, Russians, and now, of course, Arabs.

Want to understand the problems of the world for the last 200 years? It is about folks wanting to be nations and hating the world that don't give them no respect.

But what about China? China, writes Greenfield, is finally defining itself as a nation.
In the last three decades, nationalism has finally taken root within China’s giant population, animating this previously inert, enormous mass of humanity with competitive, nationalist motivation. For the first time in its long history, China demands from the world the dignity due to it, and insists on being recognized by all as the Middle Kingdom.
But China is not filled with Nietzschean ressentiment.
China, however, is different from most other participants in this competition: it belongs to another civilization. Unlike Russia, unlike Arab countries, it has never seen the West as a model. It does not envy the West, and so, ultimately, could never consider itself inferior to it. Its identity is self-sufficient, and its internal dignity does not depend on the respect accorded by the West. For this reason, it can borrow from the West piecemeal, customizing its imports in the process.
Well. That's encouraging. And what about India? My experience of Indians is that they are untroubled by comparison with the West. They seemed to shuck off British rule with remarkable sang-froid, inventing their own Indian National Movement that successfully threw off the British Raj with astonishingly little violence.

The problem is the western elite, which does not understand the national idea -- and the resentments felt by those playing catch-up -- and imagines itself high above such mean and pitiful things.
The spark that ignites the mixture of inferiority, envy, and desire for recognition, which feeds ethnic nationalism, is being lit by the delusional thinking of Western elites. These elites, ignorant of and unwilling to learn from history, refuse to understand nationalism, disregard the psychological dynamics behind it, and continue to rationalize their existence via a belief in a History with a grand purpose. 
So our western elite doesn't have a clue. But we knew that.