Monday, April 30, 2018

On the Receiving End of the Ruling-Class's Cultural Narrative

The Big Problem for conservatives is that we are nowhere to be seen when it comes to establishing the cultural narrative. It is liberals and lefties that decide what story to tell about who we are and how we got there.

And anyone that has a clue about religion and history and myth knows that the chap that gets to tell the story gets to rule the nation.

So I've been watching a series of P.D. James's Adam Dalgliesh mysteries from a DVD set that I picked up on 50% off day at HalfPrice Books.

My takeaway is that James fillets 1980s Britain with almost savage determination. It's a wonder to me that she ever got the accolades and the handle she did. Many of her mysteries are set in government or quasi-government offices. And most of the offices are not exactly run with professional skill and devotion to the mission. Almost all the police officers in the series, apart from the incandescent poet Dalgliesh, are at best lazy time-servers and at worst evil and corrupt.

Put it this way. If you've run through the Dalgliesh mysteries you wouldn't be shocked to read the latest on the late Alfie Evans, that the NHS children's hospital in which Alfie died was noted for its mistakes and incompetance and that it seems likely that mistakes and incompetence played their part in the death of Alfie.

But then over the weekend I got to watch the start of Unforgotten Season 2, an ITV mystery series created by Chris Lang about cold murder cases. Here we have a crack London police investigative team led by a woman and seconded by DI Sunny Kahn. We have an earnest Muslim woman teacher of Shakespeare trying to get a school principal's job. And we have a gay couple with their darling little daughter.

In other words, the TV series is all about the ruling-class's cultural narrative, normalizing the cultural agenda of the ruling class and boosting their "little darlings."

Hey, that's the whole point of a ruling class; you get to set the stage with your favorite cardboard heroes and your chosen cartoon villains. And there ain't nothin' we deplorables can do about it.

There happens to be an actual cultural history of Britain out there. It is the Up Series, an ITV documentary series about a cohort of Brits that were seven-year-olds in 1964 when the first episode  was broadcast.

The idea of the Up Series was clearly to show the triumphant success of the post-WWII welfare state and spotlight the rising working class and show them to advantage against the over-privileged toffs. So the first episode shows three delightful working-class girls in the bright-and-cheery living-room of their "council house" (public housing), while three rich boys are shown in all their insufferable snobbishness. In the middle are a bunch of middle-class kids and one boy-of-color.

Only the whole thing went wrong. The upper-class twits all hit the marks set by their helicopter moms and went on to successful lives and careers. The upper-class daughter of divorce got her act together after an angry teenage period and married a good man. But the sparkling working-class girls all ended up as single-parents living in a shabby squalor. The ordinary middle-class kids kinda faded away; the earnest boy who wanted to help the world gave up teaching South Asians at government schools in the East End of London and switched to teaching in a private school. But Tony, a fists-first working-class kid from the East End of London grows up to become a London taxi-driver and an Essex Man -- i.e. working-class that has moved out to the suburbs. The key thing about Tony was that he belonged to the good old British criminal class, and his dad was in jail when he was seven. I wonder if his dad's underworld connections gave Tony the inside track to get his foot into the London taxi cartel.

Do you see what I am getting at? Having buried the old white working class, and bollixed up the dutiful middle class, the ruling class imports a whole new population from the Caribbean and South Asia and drive their former "little darlings" to despair.

So in the BBC TV series Last Tango in Halifax, the white working class woman played by Nicola Walker (the heroine police inspector in Unforgotten), is clearly in a mess because of her own character deficiencies. Indeed the only Good Person in the Halifax series is the POC lesbian girl-friend of the white school principal.

Now, I don't really blame the TV series creators for telling the ruling-class's narrative. Apart from the fact that it would be career suicide to tell the true story, I doubt if any of the folks with the connections and the track record to put together mass-media vehicles can ever be anything other than Good Soldier Schweiks going along with the ruling-class narrative.

For an alternative to the ruling-class narrative you need a writer like P.D. James, who worked full-time through the Fifties and Sixties in the government bureaucracy, first in the NHS and then in the Home Office, supporting her disabled husband. An unknown author can create a new narrative, and if it takes off and she becomes a best-seller, then she has achieved a cultural fait-accompli.

Or you need an unfortunate accident like the Up Series, that shows up the abject failures of the ruling-class idiots, but only if you have eyes to see.

We conservatives dream of a possible world where our narrative would get the respect it deserves. But really we are whistling past the graveyard. What happens in real life is that the ruling-class goes on pushing its narrative and favoring its latest "little darlings" until one day it runs out of other peoples' money, an accident reveals its incompetence and folly and the whole project lands on the dust-heap of history.

And the one thing for certain is that the "little darlings," past, present, and future, will be hardest hit.

Friday, April 27, 2018

"Studies:" The Munitions of the Activists

The thing about the market economy is that it doesn't need "studies." Everything bows to the reality of the market and its prices.

Of course the market is not perfect; it has what we call "externalities," meaning that some market participants can unjustly allocate costs from themselves onto others. As in pollution, or when the neighbor erects a horse-barn that inflicts horse flies and the smell of horse manure on the neighbors.

Strictly speaking, of course, the common law system can take care of externalities, because a neighbor damaged by externalities from next door can sue for relief, and an accumulation of cases can build into a series of legal precedents that can routinely provide relief for people on the receiving end of externalities.

But this incremental approach to life is not much fun for people that want to cut a dash in the world. Thus "studies" have become the favorite way for people with a political agenda to illuminate some kind of crisis that needs heroic intervention by government. The "study" is the stock-in-trade of the activist of whom we have heard tell.

Troublemaker Steve Sailer has a number of posts today illustrating this problem. First there is the "redlining" issue, in which lenders, starting the 1930s, would outline urban areas not suitable for home mortgages. These areas were often black residential areas. Activist have made a big deal out of redlining, and the whole 2008 mortgage meltdown was an "unanticipated consequence," an externality of the war on redlining, because it became federal policy to lend to sub-prime borrowers with low down-payment loans in order to fight against redlining.

Only it wasn't the greedy bankers. The redlining started with a study by the feds, for
More than 80 years ago, the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation released its “Residential Security” maps, guides of American cities for lenders and brokers infamous for the color they used to condemn black neighborhoods to decades of disinvestment: red.
 You can see the point of the original study. If the feds are going to be spreading free money around to stimulate home-ownership in the aftermath of the Great Depression then they have to regulate the brokers and lenders with administrative guidelines to prevent them from doing what the feds mandated that the brokers and bankers should do in the 2000s. Your faithful regulators want to limit the damage that unsound lending practices by shysters could do to the credit system.

Sailer notes a study that says that redlining probably didn't amount to more than 15 percent of the difference in home prices between neighborhoods. So the whole flap about redlining may have been a storm in a teacup.

But redlining then and now has been a huge deal, because racism, and the eternal need for any up-and-coming activist to find an issue on which to found his political career. And the political response to redlining ended up with the federal mortgage giants doing the opposite of what the Federal Home Owners' Loan Corporation did in the 1930s, which was to curb the enthusiasm of fly-by-night lenders and brokers to make unsound loans which might lead to a credit meltdown.

I remember my own experience: listening to radio ads in the early 2000s where the voiceover had the style and accent of your stereotypical used-car salesman, and thinking: Hmm.

The thing is, of course, that racial discrimination by market participants creates a market opportunity. If your average corporate employer discriminates against a certain class of employee then there is an opportunity for a rascally entrepreneur to hire those people at under-market rates and make a killing. Same with the wage gap of which we've heard tell. If women are really making less than men, then there is a market opportunity out there.

Or, if the market discriminates against Italian home borrowers in, say, early 20th century San Francisco, that creates an opportunity for a self-styled Bank of Italy to specialize in lending to Italian immigrants and knowing the lay of the land and dividing the good borrowers from the bad ones. Eventually your Bank of Italy restyles itself as Bank of America. "The Bank of Italy was founded in San Francisco, California, United States, on October 17, 1904 by Amadeo P. Giannini", says La Wik.

But obviously, the doings of a Bank of Italy, or today a Bank of Mexico or a Bank of Wakanda, does not provide an opportunity for political activism, for outrage, for peaceful protests, and beneficial legislation and reams of regulations, and incandescent political careers.

Sailer is not finished yet. What with a ton of South Asians piling into the US, what about caste and  untouchables? There's a new survey out, "Caste in the United States" that is very worried about South Asians bringing their caste culture to the United States and discriminating against Dalits. Well, it could happen, but my feeling is that most of the South Asian immigration is Brahmins getting away from India so they can Brahminize in the US without all the politics that in India is starting to make life a bit difficult for the higher castes.

It could be a problem, but not a very big problem so long as government does not mandate discrimination the way it does by mandating diversity. For one thing, if you are a Dalit in the US and you keep away from other South Asians my guess is that the average employer would not be able to detect the caste markers that as well-tuned South Asian could. And here is something to think about. I once worked for a tech firm owned by a mid-caste South Asian. But his company was overflowing with gorgeous highly-cultured Brahmin girls. I wonder why.

Or this. Sailer IDs an NPR piece on a study about "test-optional" universities that might help increase diversity. Their poster boy is a student from Nicaragua at the most expensive university in America, George Washington University. Ian Haimowitz:
“I know for a fact I’m the first Nicaraguan-American, the first Latino, the first Jewish Latino that a lot of kids meet,” he says.
Somehow, looking at his photo, I don't think the kid grew up in a Nicaraguan barrio.

Anyway, as a classic racist sexist homophobe, I just don't believe any of this "studies" stuff, especially now that there have been studies showing that 50 percent of studies can't be replicated.

Back in the day politics was all about the valiant ruling class fighting back the Huns and the Mongols, and also nobly exercising its heaven-granted droit de seigneur as a rich reward for their courage. Today it seems we have the educated class valiantly fighting against the racists and the sexists, and nobly exercising its studies-granted droit-de-seigneur to order around the peasants and the deplorables.

So nothing has changed.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Sexist Folly of First Woman President

Well, well well. So now it can be told, way after the news had any salience. Hillary Clinton is not, and never was, a people person. That's the takeaway for me on reading about Amy Chozick's Chasing Hillary through two presidential campaigns.

Yeah, all the rubbish about Hillary Clinton being a great person in private seems to be rubbish. Hillary Clinton simply is not a people person, and she really does not like interacting with people. And "everybody" always knew it. Only they never told us.

Really Hillary Clinton. If you are not a people person, the sort that cannot exist for a moment without pressing the flesh and meeting people, then for God's sake don't run for political office.

I once asked a Seattle city bureaucrat about this, about how politicians can keep it up, day after day. He replied that in his experience, unlike ordinary people that find public events very draining, the real politician gets energy from being out in public and interacting with people.

And so now we finally get the unvarnished truth about Hillary Clinton. She absolutely hates being out in public. She even thought that the admiring fan club of female journalists would be hard on her. Really.
Chozick and the other reporters covering Clinton in 2015–16 were pulling for her. You could hear it in the questions they asked. Chozick makes it obvious in her new book. Yet Clinton was convinced this gaggle of liberal women was somehow out to take her down, and she barricaded herself off from them. 
“She told aides she knew women reporters would be harder on her. We’d be jealous and catty and more spiteful than men. We’d be impervious to her flirting.”
Oh please. In fact writes Amy,
“I still felt some kind of feminine bond with Hillary then,” she writes of her early months on the beat, and later describes her coverage as “neutral to positive, with plenty of wet kisses thrown in.” 
I think that Rule One of life is that you really do not want to go into a field for which you are signally unsuited. It will make you compensate with excessive amounts of Chardonnay.

So is it sexism that Hillary Clinton did not get elected president? Who knows? But all the girls on the bus were all invested in America's First Woman President. I imagine because that is what they were taught in school and in college. And women  tend to believe what they are taught, much more than men who, like me, tend to think that teachers are full of it.

Is that sexism, or one of the Universal Truths of Life? You decide.

The funny thing is that all this fainting and hugging and "you go girl" and "breaking glass ceilings" stuff is silly mean-girl high-school stuff. And it is sexist to assume that any proportion of any particular profession of executive suite should be female. Or black, or Asian, or anything else.

And it is stupid. For instance, the political leader of a country preeminently needs to be a person that will protect the people from existential perils. Sexism or no  sexism, women have a steeper hill to climb on this than men. In fact, women aspiring to executive political office practically have to re-invent themselves as men: see Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir. Yeah, it didn't hurt Margaret Thatcher that she led the UK into the Falklands War.

But nobody ever suggested that politics and feminism and intersectionalism and the whole culture of the left is anything other than really dumb and stupid. Really dumb and stupid because it has spent the best part of 150 years railing against the very thing that has brought the majority of humans out of the indigent poverty and utter subjection of the ages. How dumb do you have to be not to see what is right in front of your eyes?

OK, I know. Really, nearly all of us all of the time and all of us nearly all of the time are still pre-modern tribesmen and women. So we, like all humans, don't even notice what is right in front of our eyes.

This present era is a remarkable one for women: the energy revolution and the health revolution have liberated women from lives shortened by death from childbirth, and their children saved by the radical improvement in life expectancy. It means that women can do things other than get pregnant and struggle mightily to have one or two children survive into adulthood.

But this freedom means that women now have the opportunity to make complete fools of themselves. This is the meaning of freedom: the freedom to make mistakes, and beyond that, courtesy of the left, forcing the rest of us into saying nothing while they insist on making complete fools of themselves.

I was talking to a lefty friend about lesbianism, and said that he and I were both People of the Creative Self. We believe in being creative. Lesbianism, I said, amounts to women getting creative with sex.

But, I said, what we forget to remember is that the creative life is incredibly hard. Chances are that if you try to live a creative life you will fail miserably, because you don't have the talent or your don't have the luck, or you don't have the grit, or something. Most of us are better advised just to go with the flow and be good sensible People of the Responsible Self.

So, girls. Don't forget that your "you go girl" culture is bound to be a total failure for most of the women that try it. And the reason for the failure is the fact that going against nature, going against instinct, going against your strongest abilities, and just trying something new is almost sure to be a disappointment.

Now I think that in a hundred years women will have discovered new and better ways of living in the era of abundance, when women don't die in childbirth, when women can control their fertility, when women can be whatever they want to be. But first women -- and the rest of us -- are going to have to go through what a sci-fi author a called the Great Ravine.

And one of the bodies in the Great Ravine is Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

But First, Humans are Tribal

Jonah Goldberg's new book, The Suicide of the West, is out this week, and I haven't ordered my copy. I'm not exactly sure of his argument, but it  seems to include at least Deirdre McCloskey's Great Enrichment, because I hear him talking about  $3 per day, which is the daily income of Brits, Indians, Chinese, USians in 1800. Jonah calls it the "Miracle" of getting from $3 per day to  $100 per day.

From the blurb on Amazon:
As Americans we are doubly blessed that those radical ideas were written into the Constitution, laying the groundwork for our uniquely prosperous society:
  • Our rights come from God not from the government.
  • The government belongs to us; we do not belong to the government.
  • The individual is sovereign. We are all captains of our own souls.
  • The fruits of our labors belong to us.
In the last few decades, these political virtues have been turned into vices. As we are increasingly taught to view our traditions as a system of oppression, exploitation and “white privilege,” the principles of liberty and the rule of law are under attack from left and right.
Time was, I would have agreed completely with Jonah. But now I don't. That's because, since July 2016 with the accession of Trump to head the Republican Party, I have had to face the fact that the capitalist/libertarian world view that I held is not good enough.

The reason, I have come to believe, is that the notion of the material world understood by science and the notion of the rational actor that is understood by post Enlightenment theory misunderstands the nature of man the animal.

Yes, reason and science are the amazing developments that have enabled the "Miracle" but we are still 90 percent the social animals that survive because we live in groups and we conform to the world-view of the group. And we act not on a rational analysis of the situation but from emotion, or "affect."

I have been able to come to a reasonable understanding of all this by reading Jordan B. Peterson's Maps of Meaning. In that book Peterson runs us through myth, religion, alchemy, Jung and Nietzsche to try and make sense of it all.

And the most important thing he says is that we do not go through life as rational actors, deciding every moment what to do based on a scientific analysis of alternatives. Not at all.

What we do is go unthinkingly, unconsciously, from moment to moment in our "known world," which is known to us partly from our own experience and mostly from the socialization we get from the group, through its myths, religion, and its menu of "things we believe." Anyone that disagrees with the norm is typically labeled as a madman, if relatively harmless, or a dangerous heretic, if not relatively harmless. Thus our life in the "known world" is partly just unconscious life on auto, and partly an  unconscious subordination to the culture of the group we belong to.

Thus it makes complete sense that lefty mobs combine to anathematize anyone that dares to diverge from the liberal line. That is what humans do. It is the way we preserve our human groups and keep everyone safely in the "known world" and its best practices, and keep klueless klots from bashing into the guardrails and killing themselves. The punishment of dissenters and heretics is how we preserve our group way of life, the way of life that has brought us successfully to the present moment.

But what happens if suddenly our unconscious life lived moment to moment in the "known world" bumps into something unexpected? What happens right away is Fear. Here is what rats do when they encounter something unexpected. They stop, freeze in Fear for a while, and then tentatively start exploring around them, in an attempt to understand what has happened, and how they should adapt to the unexpected, whether it is dangerous or useful or what.

We humans do the same thing. When we come upon something unexpected, we freeze in Fear. Then, after a while, we start to figure out what went wrong, and what to do about it. But this sort of thing happens not just to individuals but to groups as well. The bulk of Peterson's book is about the social process of adapting to the new and unexpected at the group level, the irruption of the "unknown world" into the known world of the group and the way in which the group responds to the chaotic challenge of the unknown.

In Peterson's view, the agent of adaption is the creative, sacrificial, revolutionary hero, the Christ figure, that explores the frightening unknown and proposes, and suffers, for his solution to society's problem. He suffers, of course, because society never wants to change. Even as the world is collapsing in ruins, people still want to go on in the old way, and they still want  to punish heretics that propose a new world view.

Now in my view the Axial Age religions -- Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam -- are astonishing ways of adapting the received "way of life" from a small tribal group to a larger agricultural-plus-city group. It proposes the brilliant notion of divine justice to deal with the problem that, in a society larger than the village, we do not know what everyone is doing, and who has done what to whom, and therefore cannot mete out justice to all the malefactors.

In my view the nation state is an astonishing way of replacing the actual tribe of the kindred, people actually related to me by blood, with the totally fake and artificial and much larger tribe of the nation, united by a centrally imposed language and a totally fake and artificial glorious history.

But we are now in a place where the old Axial Age religions are no longer meaningful to educated people in the West. And we are now in a place where the nation state is no longer meaningful to educated people in the West.

In my view the Axial Age religions were responsibility religions, with a God that spelled out a vision of divine justice that people were expected to follow on  their own -- with a bit of help from priests and churches and Inquisitions. But our new educated class is in the process of replacing the old responsibility religion with a religion of creativity. In their view what is best in life is to be creative; everything else is deplorable. Nietzsche is the guy that is really starting to face up to this, with his "Beyond Good and Evil" and his "we free spirits." What does a culture of creativity look like? That is what Nietzsche is trying to do.

Very nice: I am all in favor of the culture of creativity. But I doubt if the overwhelming majority of humans are ready for this. So a culture of creativity has to account for the fact that most people are not ready for it.

In my view the nation state is an astonishing human and cultural and political achievement, even though its birth has everywhere been the work of some dominatory and conquering elite. But our educated elite has determined that the nation state is the cause of all wars, and that the nation state must be replaced by supra-national institutions like the EU and the UN. Ordinary people cannot be trusted because they are all proto-fascists, so educated experts must rule. However, the educated elite still needs to use politics in order to gain the support of ordinary people for their elite agenda. In the nation state era they would appeal to the national idea, through notions like "British is best," the "American way of life." The Germans, of course, developed the idea of the national "Volk." But what were the elite to to do if nationalism was a bad word and Volk is nothing more than genocide? Well, what the educated class has done is revive the tribalisms of old. Instead of the nation they are using what we now call "identity politics" to rally people. First it was the identity of class, in the Communist Manifesto. The workers belonged to no nation, but would join in a Communist International across national borders. Then the educated class started to appeal to people on the basis of gender and race within nation states -- all this to achieve equality of gender and race.

This is all very well, but I doubt if turning the clock back to the smaller identities of class and race and gender is really a better fake tribalism than the fake tribe of the nation.

So here we are in a chaos of warring cultures and tribalisms. What is the solution?

The solution is marked out in Jordan B. Peterson's Maps of Meaning. We need a new sacrifical creative hero to lead us to a Promised Land with a new understanding of the confusing world situation that will, in time, harden into a new religious and group orthodoxy. And this new orthodoxy will convert the rational ideas of modern science and the economic "Miracle" into a new system of religious and cultural "affect" that ordinary people will pick up with the air they breathe.

In my view the new religion must combine several features that serve the "Miracle" and are notably absent from the thinking of the global educated elite.

  • First, we must all serve the market as we once served out feudal lords. This is a very difficult concept for most people to accept, and a lot needs to be done to assist people when the market leaves them by the side of the road. We need to make a cult out of serving the market, and make it ordinary and natural for people to pick themselves up and find a new way to serve when their old job no longer serves. Right now we have a chaos between "free trade" and "jobs for life" and everyone feels betrayed.
  • Second, we must revive the nation state or some other artificial tribal notion which almost all people can support. Now the point of a tribe is protection from the neighboring tribe, because the land the tribe occupies is its source of food, and must be defended if the tribe is to continue. This old point has lost its salience because food can be bought and transported from anywhere in the world to anywhere. So the nation state is no longer in the business of protecting the food supply. And yet humans still need protection and the group is what provides protection. So the nation state must provide protection. But from what? Obviously, the terrors of the market, not to mention robbers and mass murderers, and natural disasters. But here is the thing. We should not protect people from the market with gigantic entitlement programs that completely insulate them from the world. Government is here to protect us from existential perils, not to hide us away from day-to-day annoyances.
But the key is that these two things must be done not as rational, sensible programs, but as religion, as the dividing line between good and bad. They must partake of the fundamental nature of human life, which is not reason but emotion.

Our problem, the problem of the non-left, is that we profess the futile notion that we are rational whereas the left is all about feelings. Sorry chum, but the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is all about feelings. The trick is to use feelings in the service of rationally acquired knowledge, to realize that religion is upstream of culture is upstream from politics, but that behind the scenes is knowledge and reason.

It is my belief that the whole arc of the left, from Marx to Marcuse to McKinnon, is a religion upstream from culture upstream from politics that is a Great Reaction against the findings of modern knowledge and reason. I mean, what idiots would set themselves against the ideas that have released billions of humans from hunger and bondage?

Really, this is not that hard!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Which is Best: Excellence or Average?

Today my fellow ex-Brit John Derbyshire is complaining about James Comey. What a dreadful thing it is, he writes, for a dullard like Comey to become Director of the FBI. Chaps like him are "Outer Party" types:
They are the obedient, unquestioning enforcers of ideological orthodoxy: schoolteachers, college lecturers, local TV newsreaders, the Human Resources staff at big corporations, and so on.
What we need, says Derb, is not a George Orwell 1984 banal Outer Party type, but a smart Inner Party type. Head of the FBI is an Inner Party job.
For Inner Party I want people super-smart and canny—clued in and up-to-date with social and cultural issues.
No you don't Derb. You want dumb-as-a-post. If Comey had been smarter maybe he and he minions would have succeeded in entangling Trump in their attempt, first, to neuter him with Russia-salted oppo. research and, second, by trapping him in the coils of their Russia Collusion narrative.

But fortunately, they are all idiots at the Deep State. They can play at leaking state secrets to the media, but really can't get the job done. Any Deep State worth its salt would have dispatched Trump. Instead all their dirty laundry is showing up in the wash, and some of them may go to jail.

Here is the Z-man complaining about the tendency of democracies to have the worst rise to the top.
The main issue in our politics is that our system attracts the worst people. It is nearly impossible to find an elected official who has ever done honest work. Most are phenomenally stupid, outside their reptilian ability to fool voters and cozy up to the billionaires that bankroll them.
And this is a problem? If they were really smart they would probably lead us into the most appalling messes. Think of really smart political leaders: Lenin, Mao, Castro, Chávez. They were so smart that they managed to lead their countries into poverty and still keep their jobs!

No, I think that we need brilliance in the individual entrepreneur, and stupidity in the politician. My kind of guy is Freeman Dyson, reviewing a book, Scale by Geoffrey West, that praises the big urban city and its cross-connections. Because Grand Unified Theory and Sustainability. Writes Dyson:
The last time humans invented a grand unified theory to make our existence sustainable was when Karl Marx came up with dialectical materialism. The theory had great success in changing human behavior over large areas of our planet. But the changes did not prove to be sustainable, and the theory did not remain unified.
I suspect that Grand Unified Theories always tend toward sameness and enforced conformity, a resistance to organic change and adaptation. Says Dyson:
The choice of an imagined future is always a matter of taste. West chooses sustainability as the goal and the Grand Unified Theory as the means to achieve it. My taste is the opposite. I see human freedom as the goal and the creativity of small human societies as the means to achieve it. Freedom is the divine spark that causes human children to rebel against grand unified theories imposed by their parents. 
My kinda guy. But Dyson presents another idea, which I hadn't thought about. It concerns the notion of "genetic drift." See there are two things driving evolution: natural selection and genetic drift.
Genetic drift is the change in the average composition of a population due to random mutations of individual genes. Genetic drift causes species to evolve even in the absence of selection. Genetic drift and natural selection work together to drive evolution, selection being dominant when populations are large, genetic drift being dominant when populations are small.
On this theory you get occasional outbursts of genius in small, isolated, populations. Which is the handmaid of the kind of imagined future that I like: isolated geniuses inventing crazy things that turn out to transform the world. Think Ashkenazi Jews, isolated in small communities for centuries, who combine genius with troubling genetic anomalies like Tay-Sachs disease.

All this folds back on the issue of creative and sacrificial heroes, the chaps that redeem a sick society that finds itself in a box canyon with no apparent way out. Society does not advance in a straight evolutionary, sustainable line. It goes on doing the same thing, kept on the straight line by religion and convention, until the brain-dead culture reaches a crisis where the good old ways cannot continue.

Call it creativity if you like. But here is the problem, upon which I and a lefty acquaintance recently agreed. We People of the Creative Self tend to think of creativity as the natural and sensible way to live. But we are wrong. Creativity is hard, and  nearly everyone that tries it fails miserably, partly due to a lack of genius and partly due to a lack of courage.

The fact is that change is fraught with peril. And so is keeping on keeping on in the same old way. As Freeman Dyson relates, the last time someone came up with a Grand Unified Theory of change it was Marx, and his idea was a bloody failure.

On the other hand we have the 200 years of the Great Enrichment, through individual mad geniuses bringing us one technological revolution after another that the Powers That Be failed to stop before each revolution took over the world. Lefty Greens say that this Great Enrichment is going to kill the planet, and they may be right.

So what happens next? Well, the truth is that we don't know. We will blunder into the future, following various geniuses and plenty of idiots, and whatever happens, a ton of people will pay the price. Here is Dyson again.
[T]he life expectancy of a company at any age is about ten years. The short lifetime of companies is an essential feature of capitalist economics, with good and bad consequences. The good effect is to get rid of failed enterprises, which in socialist economies are difficult to kill and continue to eat up resources. The bad effect is to remove incentives for foresight and long-range planning.
Now, the question is: should the "foresight and long-range planning" be conducted by geniuses or by dull banalities like James Comey? It's a good question. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Collusion? Schlemusion, says the Deep State

Rush Limbaugh was more than usually upbeat this morning as he spake through my car radio. Because it looks like the Deep State has got to the point where it is abandoning its Russia Collusion attack on President Trump. He quoted Mara Liasson from one of the weekend shows saying that she didn't think "Russia is a voting issue." And another Deep State creature Josh Dawsey, said it was all too hard for the voters to understand: "it’s a complicated storyline."

In other words, the Deep Staters realize that the Russia Collusion game ain't gonna fly. Apparently they thought that their full court press would demoralize President Trump and cause him to resign.

Really? Like I said a white back: Donald Trump has been in a room with 40-odd bankers that had the power to shut his Trump Organization down and send him back to Queens unless he persuaded them otherwise. Compared to the holy terror of that experience what are a few Deep State bureaucrats and campaign operatives?

But here is the utter stupidity of the Deep Staters. They started this. If they hadn't gone after Trump then we wouldn't be in the position that now we are going to be investigating all the top DOJ and FBI officials of the late Obama administration, and going back to the Clinton emails, and the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One.

Because otherwise, in a spirit of gentlemanly honor, the Trump administration would never have reopened the Clinton email case or even taken any interest in the pay-for-play operations of the Clinton Foundation. OK, scratch that. In a spirit of honor among thieves, the Trump people would have let sleeping dogs lie, and if they didn't the Deep Staters would have kicked up a huge fuss about using government to persecute their opponents. McCarthyism! Dissent is the highest form of patriotism!

And, what makes it worse for the Democrats, this whole DOJ-FBI suborning issue is going to play out for years, as we go through the grinding of the legal gears on the whole thing.

And all along the way, President Trump is going to be tweeting about it. Hey, I wouldn't be surprised if, by October 15, he is the only person to the right of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) whose Twitter account isn't suspended.

I mean. Think about it. President Trump will have the right and the bounden duty to say at every turn: "They weaponized the government against me and my campaign. This is the worst political scandal in American history, and we have to do something about it to save America." And who could disagree?

I put the whole thing down to the notion of revolutionary activism that has moved the left ever since The Communist Manifesto. Things are so bad that only revolutionary violence can cure it. So the rule of law means nothing; so peaceable change of power means nothing. The only thing that matter is Justice! Even if we have to burn the place down to get there.

And this in an era when capitalism has increased the per-capita income of everyone in the West by 30 times.

No, lefties, you are clueless. What matters is to avoid civil war. And the way you do that, as Greek American philosopher George Maroutsos explained to me 40 years ago, is that the only thing that matters in a democracy is that the right-wing governing party allows the left-wing opposition to beat it in the next election and peaceably surrender power to its lefty opponents. And then, eight years later, the lefty party allows the right-wing opposition to win the election and peaceably surrender power to its right-wing opponents.

That is the way you avoid Venezuela. It could be a good idea. Maybe they should try it in Cuba.

That is what really matters, and the big problem right now in America is that at the last two change elections in the US, in 2000 and 2016, where  the left lost to the right, the left has not conceded the election.

This is not just playing with fire, it is playing with nukes.

And the left doesn't have a clue about this, because arc of history.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Powell 50 Years Later: Migration and Invasion

The standard liberal line about racism in housing is that, as soon as a black family shows up on the street, the white people start to head for the exits. Raacism!

But Enoch Powell's infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech now enjoying its 50th anniversary, shows how the game really works. He tells the story of a WWII war widow that turned her house into a boarding house as widows have done since time immemorial.
She lost her husband and both her sons in the war. So she turned her seven-roomed house, her only asset, into a boarding house. She worked hard and did well, paid off her mortgage and began to put something by for her old age. Then the immigrants moved in. With growing fear, she saw one house after another taken over. The quiet street became a place of noise and confusion. Regretfully, her white tenants moved out.
But the widow was not willing to rent rooms out to black immigrants. So her house stayed empty, and she started to experience aggression and hostility from her new neighbors. We do not know her eventual fate. We do know there are now rape gangs in Rotherham and Telford in England, and the authorities are hesitant to act, because racism.

Let us convert this into the US experience. Every wave of immigrants establishes itself in an urban neighborhood that has seen its best days, and is starting to decline. Or maybe the neighborhood is ageing, and all the ambitious young people have already moved out to fancier neighborhoods leaving their ageing parents in the old family home. The immigrant new wave, being as yet unadapted to city life and city skills, uses physical aggression to establish itself, and of course usually has a gang component, as in Irish, Jewish, Italian, black, Mexican, and now Salvadorean gangs. So anyone with half a clue gets the hell out while they still have equity in their homes. The last to leave are widows, because.

Of course, this is the way that wars and migration have always operated, since the dawn of time. I am reading today about the expansion of the Bantu tribes out of West Africa.
When the Bantu first expanded out of west-central Africa several thousand years ago, they had a profound influence on the indigenous rainforest hunter-gatherer populations they encountered … Even today, the overwhelming pattern is that Bantu men mix with pygmy women …
This aligns with my own reading, about hunter-gatherer tribes, in War Before Cilivization. A tribe existed as long as it had men to defend the border; after that the women got distributed into neighboring tribes. Then there were the Vikings sailing up the rivers of Britain 1,000 years ago. They took the food, killed the men, and sold the women and children into slavery in the regional slave market  in Dublin, Ireland. Until 1066 and all that. But the Normans were Vikings!

Today, the black LA suburb of Compton is fast transforming into a Latino community, and the Latino gangs are helping to intimidate the black women householders into getting out of town.

Of course, it's easy for a rich bitch like me to take a lordly view of all this. I left Britland fifty years ago for the greener pastures of the US and Seattle. And what with one thing and another, Seattle has transformed itself from a Boeing and Weyerhauser town to booming Amazon City, via Microsoft. So, if you are already a resident, your boat gets lifted by the rising tide. That makes life easy.

But what about the folks on the wrong side of the curve? Hey, maybe for a season the ruling class makes a fuss about them. Like it did for the working class. Like it did for blacks. For women.

But politics is a moveable feast. Yesterday the working class was worthy and deserving; today it is racist and bigoted and deserves to die. For a hundred years Democrats held the line for the white racist South. Now it agitates for the northern black racists. Tomorrow?

Rule One about life, the universe, race, class, gender, and everything is that the politicians and the culture warriors don't care about you. They only care about your vote. And they only care about your vote if it will help them to win this November.

I like to say that all stories are survivor stories. That's because the stories of the dead die with them. I realize that the story of my own family is also a survivor story. My father's family got out of Russia in 1918. So what would have happened if they had stayed? My mother's family was in Japan up until 1940 and got out to Australia. My own parents married and had their children in India, and then migrated to Britain in 1948 after Indian independence. All this seems unexceptional and anodyne, but only because my family always had the sense, or received sensible advice, or the pure luck to get out while the going was good.

So here am I, in Seattle in 2018, as the murder rate in London, England starts to surge about the murder rate in New York City.

All in all, I think I am the luckiest guy in the world. But other people are not so lucky. And the truth is that the unlucky people just slide below the waves and are never heard from again.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Problem is not just the Tyranny of Experts

I think all of us except Bill Gates and the World Bank can agree that the post WWII global development shtick has been a mixed blessing. At the very least it has signally failed to raise its beloved beneficiaries out of poverty.

So William Easterly's The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor is a good way to stroll through the efforts throughout the last century to bring less-developed countries into the modern era with the help of experts and development banks and government programs.

Today, anyone can tell that the combination of liberal experts, charitable foundations, international organizations, free money, and local dictators is bound to end it tears every time it is tried.

But Easterly introduces us to a few wrinkles in the story that I did now know. For instance, back in the 1920s a group of Yalies, YMCAers, and the Rockefeller Foundation got together to have a conference about race relations between the US and the Orient in the wake of the US Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924. But the US government didn't want a lot of negative publicity about race so when the Institute for Pacific Relations opened its first conference in Honolulu on June 30, 1925, the US side was committed to lowering the rhetoric on race, not to mention the extraterritorial rights of the white man in Hong Kong, Shanghai, etc. that the Chinese wanted to talk about.

So in the end they settled on development. Rather than talk about racism the western elitists would form a condominium with the local power structure and plan technological improvements directed from above and, after World War II, financed by international organizations like the World Bank.

After World War II there was a new reason not to talk about race. The US agreed not to talk about colonialism if the Europeans agreed not to talk about segregation. Everyone could agree on more jobs for experts and more development loans for the Third World. Very civilized.

But since the development plans were executed through the local post-colonial power structure they got hopelessly tangled up in the tribal politics of the former colonies. For instance in Ghana the cocoa planters were mostly from the inland Ashanti tribe while President Nkrumah was from the coastal Akan tribe. Hey kids! How about we fund the development plan with a tax on cocoa growers! Oh by the way, back in the old days:
The Ashanti were among the African kingdoms that sold slaves to the Europeans; the coastal Akan people were among their victims.
So the Ashanti deserved to be taxed into oblivion.

But what about the people? Easterly returns again and again to the "rights of the poor" that the experts and the local dictators blithely ignored as they divvied up the world between them.

Sorry chum. The rights of the poor have nothing to do with the case. That's because in tribal and/or agricultural societies there is no such thing as "the rights of the poor." In a tribe you sit somewhere in the local tribal hierarchy and you are completely defined by that and by traditional ideas of what anyone is owed by the tribe. In agriculture you are the creature of your feudal lord, and enjoy "rights" only in an informal way: you accept the suzerainty of your feudal lord, and he observes when convenient the customary rights such as grazing rights on the so-called "commons" that you have gradually obtained through his inattention.

The problem of "development," of helping the folks that have not yet made the transition from an income of $3 per day to the present US $140 per day, all in today's dollars, it not a problem of expert technique or of rights. It is a question of culture.

Simply put, if you want to wive and thrive in the modern economy you must transform your culture utterly from the normal subordinate culture of the agricultural age and the simple hierarchy of the tribal culture into the responsibility culture of the city. Instead of working to grow food on a patch of land you will work for wages in the market economy. Instead of marrying if you get to inherit someone's land or get some land from the feudal lord, you will need to establish yourself in some job in order to attract the babes. Instead of just following traditional folkways you will need to be able to buy and sell, rent and borrow in the market economy of the city. And you will have to transition from the old rights of membership to the new rights under law.

This is a huge transition, the biggest transition that humans have ever encountered. The marvel is not that billions are still living at $3 per day. The miracle is that, in 200 years, the people of Europe managed to go from $3 to $140 without blowing up and failing utterly. Really, a couple of world wars was a small price to pay.

Now, I have some interest in this. I wrote a book The Road to the Middle Class which argues that if you want to make the transition from country to city in double-quick-time you need to acquire the culture of modern religion, education, mutual aid, and law. If you get propped up by the neo-feudal welfare state you get stuck in limbo and don't really become a "citizen," one who has acquired the culture of the city. Hello African Americans.

My book is brilliant, of course, and you should read it. But the truth is that what most people do when they migrate to the city is to congregate in ethnic ghettos in the city where they can live in the comfort of their own while they learn how to make it in the city. And they gravitate to the neo-tribal politics of the big city political machine with its tasty garnish of criminal gang. Only after a generation or two in the tribal ghetto do people emerge into the great global upper-middle class of the university degree and the life-long career. At which point they are now ready to become tyrannical experts and tell the newbies how to do it.

The welfare state is a prettied-up version of the big-city machine. You may think of it as a friendly takeover of the machine by administrative experts with elite educations and credentials.

Notice that the welfare state is really the global development expert model executed in one country.

But the welfare state is hopeless, because government cannot reform. Government is an armed minority, occupying territory and taxing the inhabitants to reward its supporters. And the funny thing about supporters is that the one thing not to be endured is any reduction in their rewards. I have written a book, An American Manifesto, that proposes a political arrangement to replace the welfare state, based on the notion of Michael Novak, proposed in The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, of what I call the Greater Separation of Powers between the political sector, the economic sector, and the moral/cultural sector. But is doesn't have a hope until we the people are lying dazed and helpless on the ground, finally willing to give up our sacred right to Social Security, Medicare, and free education.

Yep. There is no doubt that experts are easily persuaded into tyranny. But that is only half the problem. The other half of the problem is that we humans, all of us, want free stuff rather than do the hard work of adapting to the new facts on the ground. And we are perfectly happy to elect politicians who will empower the IRS to take the money for the free stuff out of the other guy's pocket so we don't have to change. We call it bending the arc of history towards justice.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Is This Peak Activism?

A couple black guys get all riled up because the Starbucks manager called the cops on them: for using the rest room and sitting around without buying anything.

And then, of course, the black guys called BLM on Starbucks.

As conservatives, we think this is all pretty funny, because Starbucks is a lefty place that usually likes to lecture the rest of us on race and gender. Now they are hoist with their own petard. (Hmm. Who knew that was a Hamlet quote?)

Anyway, our fury over St. David's Media-Matters-directed war on conservative media figures is moderated now that Laura Ingraham is getting a bigger audience after the Hogg boycott. And Ace Hardware is going to advertise on Laura's show after all.

(Good show, Ace Hardware. Because home improvement is such a white guy thing. You really don't want to rile up the white guys that are the core of your business.)

And what about the utter confusion of the "activists" at Duke shocked, shocked that the alumni booed them when they peacefully protested the Duke University president's speech.

Do you not realize, Duke University peaceful protesters, that there are millions of deplorables out there absolutely slobbering for the chance to stick it to you insufferable lefty protesters, but because they have jobs and children and all, know that they need the comfortable anonymity of a big gathering in order to safely vent their "hate speech" on you?

I got an email from a reader today, responding to my AT piece asking "Why Don't WE Turn Populist" and start throwing our weight around at peaceful protests? He agreed, and fantasized about 50 million of  us "emailing protests" making life difficult for the ruling class at "county seats, city halls, congressional and senatorial district offices."

The problem is, of course, that we deplorables don't really believe in politics. We are not like the "mob" that knows nothing but to follow some leader into the streets. And we are not like the college-trained "activists" learning activism at their college seminaries the way that an earlier generation learned how to become Christian ministers.

That is understood in my reductive Three Peoples theory. Sure, the People of the Subordinate Self are going to follow some leader, some powerful patron, that promises them a mess of pottage. Sure the People of the Creative Self see the percentage in getting into the leadership side of politics and leading workers and peasants along a glorious arc of history towards justice. But if you are a Person of the Responsible Self then your whole world view is centered around your individual responsibility to attend to the challenges of your own life, to live, as Jordan B. Peterson writes, at the borderland between the comforting known and the terrifying unknown, and bravely explore the unknown and bring it into the known world.

For the People of the Responsible Self it makes no sense to sit there railing against the bosses and corporate greed. Because there is work to do at the office and a family to attend to at home.

For the People of the Responsible Self it makes no sense to organize the people in "peaceful protests" to fight for justice. Long term, it doesn't help subordinate people to herd them into a neo-feudal estate as "little darlings" of the ruling class. They are no more than soldiers in a political army that will be eventually abandoned, sick and wounded, by the side of the route of march.

But I gotta say that the current febrile moment, where the Good Little Girls and Boys from the activism seminaries are protesting anything and everything, has the feeling of Peak Activism. Their problem is that politics has a very narrow bandwidth. As I like to say, there is only enough bandwidth in a political season for about one and a half issues before you overwhelm the public airwaves and confuse the punters. This is a problem for the activists, because the whole point of activism is to transfix the nation, to stop the clocks for a moment as everyone is overwhelmed for a transformative epiphany of political drama. So, how long can you keep it up at Peak Activism before everyone gets jaded and moves on to the next political attraction?

Hey liberals! Don't forget that the issue of the century is supposed to be the once-in-a-thousand-years tragedy of Hillary Clinton's loss in 2016. And the horror of Trump-Russia collusion.

I am afraid for our liberal friends. What happens over the next few months when the DOJ IG reports dribble out and show that the problem was not Trump-Russia collusion but Obama-Clinton conspiracy to spy on the Trump campaign and gussie up a Steele Dossier on Trump dirt with help from the Russians? I am afraid that the IG reports will demolish the liberal determination to #Resist the Trump administration and throw the rascals out at the midterms.

And what will the Activists do then, poor things?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I Bring You the Coolidge-Mellon Show

Back in the day, after President Harding died in office on August 2, 1923, we Yanks got a couple of chaps in government that you don't see nowadays.

There was President Coolidge, weaned on a pickle according to Alice Longworth Roosevelt. What with the new budget law and all, Coolidge set to work with his budget director, Gen. Lord, to cut the federal budget. His notion was to get it down to $3 billion a year, but as you can see, he never got there.

The reason is that as soon as President Coolidge announced, in the summer of 1927, that he was not going to run again, it was Katy bar the door as congress-critters all converged to Spend More Money, particularly on dams and flood relief.

The other chappie in charge of the nation's finances in those days was Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, and he believed in "scientific taxation." From our point of view, this might be considered to be nothing more than cutting tax rates, particularly high surtax rates on high incomes. So, with President Coolidge helping, particularly on the spending front, cut is what Mellon did. Here is what happened.

You can see what happened. Despite the swingeing tax rate cuts, tax revenue actually went up by FY 1927. Imagine that. So what happened to the Deficit? Here is what happened.

Golly. Imagine. Surpluses of up to a billion dollars in an age when federal spending was in the $3 billion to $4 billion range.

Well, it was all over pretty soon. Because all those surpluses infected everyone with itchy palms. For you don't get elected to watch the national debt shrink. You get elected to make the good times roll, baby.

And so the feds got into flood control -- after monstrous floods on the Mississippi -- and good old dam building. Hence the Hoover Dam on the Colorado.

The point is, it doesn't matter what the money is spent on. In our era the mania is to spend money on bullet trains and light rail. Oh, and wonderful wind farms. But spend we must.

I guess the point is that Pharaohs, ever since the days of the pyramids, have just loved spending money on gigantic monuments.

But I rather like the government style of the Mellons and the Coolidges. To just sit there and cut spending and taxes. Whatever the beautiful people say.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Fish Rots from the Head Down

So now, with the first installment of the DOJ inspector general report, the one on former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, we are reminded that the problem all along was the Hillary Clinton private email problem. Presumably, the word from the top was that the FBI was not to treat her like an ordinary violator of classified information rules. And so the top echelons of the DOJ got twisted up like pretzels in order to avoid doing their jobs and prosecuting her violation of the law. There are all kinds of tags about this: Oh what a tangled web we weave... A fish rots from the head. Honesty is the best policy. They all tell us about the difficulty that humans get into once they start to depart from the straight and narrow.

You can see what is going on here. Chicago Rules.

Government, as St. Augustine understood, is the same as a criminal gang, only with the "addition of impunity," for government is, as we say, "sovereign:" nobody gets to boss it around. So the question for any government is how much it approximates to a real criminal gang, and how much it tries to run itself according to the fantasy we all have of a government of laws, not of men. Chicago, the city that wafted Barack Obama aloft, is about as close as you get to government by criminal gang.

It was obvious, from an early time, that government under President Obama was not going to make much effort to be a government of laws. And why should it? The mainstream media would give it the benefit of the doubt, and everybody knew that the opposition was just a bunch of racist, sexist homophobes.

So whenever there was a scandal, of incompetence or of venality, the Obama guys got a pass. You would have to be a saint not to take advantage of that situation and the truth is that President Obama was not a saint. Sorry about that. Anyway, he knows that he and his are on the right side of history, bending the arc towards justice, so the rules are for other people.

Of course the essence of politics is that, as with armies, it is the rank-and-file that take the bullets, not the generals. And so when the word comes down that Hillary Clinton is not to be prosecuted for gross violations of the laws and regulations on classified information, it is the poor saps like Andrew McCabe that get left with the actual dirty work for which people may go to jail. So we have meetings between the Attorney General Loretta Lynch, McCabe, and others trying to figure out what to do about, e.g., the emails on the Huma Abedin/Anthony Weiner laptop.

By the way, there seems to me to be a common trait among the Comeys, the McCabes, the Lynches, the Abedins, the Weiners: weaklings. You don't get the feeling they are cut out for noble deeds. Fixers, maybe, and not very good ones.

See, if the Obama guys down the line knew that, as far as the boss was concerned, the law was the law, and they had to go where the evidence led, then we would never have had Hillary Clinton get away with her private email system, the email scandal, the attempt to spy on the Trump campaign, and the need for a whole tissue of lies to make it look like there really was a Trump Russia connection. Because the word would have gone out from the Oval Office: no private emails: here we follow the law.

Oh well. It's obvious now what Obama should have done, but then, Obama is a weakling too.

But the fact of the IG investigation and the rollouts of its reports seems to suggest that there are folk in the Deep State that think the Obama guys crossed a line. Maybe they have some sort of institutional pride; or maybe they have a kind of elite snobbery, that regards the Obama people as not quite out of the top drawer, old chap. Otherwise everyone would just clam up and let the crooks do their thing and avert their eyes.

The larger truth is that the Liberal Hour is reaching its conclusion, the Emperor has lost the Mandate of Heaven, and we are heading into a Time of Troubles. And so the rats are scrambling around biting off each others' tails. Whether or not the Trump Russia thing dissolves into chaos and whether the IG report gets better than Page A21 in The New York Times you can see fin de siècle written all over our liberal friends.

But they will be the last to know. Because a fish rots from the head down, and the rot hasn't reached them yet.

Hey, most of my liberal friends are good people. But they would rather stay plugged into NPR and MSNBC and not know the nasty details. People are like that.

Friday, April 13, 2018

When a Lefty Comes to Visit

We have a friend of Lady Marjorie visiting next week: a really nice guy, but a lefty from way back.

The question is: what is the one thing I should communicate to this guy?

I think that the one thing would be my brilliant notion that the whole of left's world view is found in the justification of the left's revolutionary praxis.

My idea is that every new generation of well-born lefties, starting not later than son-of-a-lawyer Marx and son-of-a-businessman Engels, is looking for a reason, a justification, for revolution.

But how? What can justify bloody revolution, or at least "peaceful protest," accusing visiting conservatives of "hate speech" and condemning them to the seventh hell of racism, sexism, and homophobia?

The answer came to me while reading a center-left history of the 19th century, The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi. Polanyi wrote that, once the working class in England had got the vote in the latter decades of the 19th century, they stopped rioting and demonstrating. Now, they understood, with the vote, they were inside the system, and the political system was paying attention to their political agenda. No need to take to the streets.

Do you see the point here? If you are a traditionally marginalized group, but you have the vote, then you don't need to riot in the streets, because politicians are interested in serving your interests to get your vote. In that case, there is no need  for "activism" and "peaceful protest," enacting a proposed revolution. The politicians will take care of everything.

Oh no! What will the activists do then, poor things? The answer is simple. They will find a group that is still outside the system, and do activism and peaceful protest on its behalf. That is what the Frankfurt School realized back in the 1920s, when they recast Marxism as a movement not just to bring about a perfect world for workers, but for women and minorities. Thank goodness! The millennarian movement of the left could continue!

And so it goes. After blacks and women, Latinos. And gays, and transgender, and any gender non-binary. But the problem is that, even with transgenders, the left is getting its agenda through; that's because the average western citizen  is really not  that interested in politics. If someone feels aggrieved, maybe they have a point.

So who  is left, outside the system? The answer is right before our eyes. Illegal immigrants and Muslims! Brilliant!

So that is what all the peaceful protesting and activism is about today.

But you can see that there is a bit of a problem where illegal immigrants are concerned. They take jobs away from the white working class, and lower the wages of everyone. Oh yeah! The working class! Whatever happened to those guys?

Well we know. Liberals did a number on the white working class back in the 1970s by showing, in Archie Bunker, that they were all racist, sexist bigots. Thanks Norman Lear!

The question for us normals and deplorables is: do we just fold like we did for workers, for women, for minorities, for gays, for transgenders. Or do we cry Enough?

That is the great question of our time, and that is what I will try to explore with my lefty visitor.

And the bigger question, after 200 years of attending to the grievances of just about everyone -- except fundamentalist Christians -- is it not time to say that the western world has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it listens, through normal political channels, to the grievances of the people. And the problem is really the activists that think that anything in this world can by solved by political power.

Is it not time to admit that the whole question of "activism" is more about the need for well-born lefties to explore the meaning of life, the universe, and everything -- for themselves -- and that the "little darlings" they constantly throw in our faces are doing just fine.

Except that the "little darlings" are not in such great shape these days: white working class dying of despair, women reporting less happiness than back in the 1950s.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Why I am a US Nationalist

Probably the No.1 reason I am not a liberal globalist is that I never went to a selective US college, so I never got the indoctrination and the initiation into the educated globalist elite secret society. Instead I got a Civil Engineering degree at what was then called a "red-brick" university in England. There was no liberal arts curriculum at Brit universities back then to produce well-rounded, i.e., liberalized, STEM graduates as there would be in the United States.

This means that I am an autodidact, one who has educated himself. Indeed, the only time I have taken a course at a university since I graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1968 was a few years ago  when I audited four philosophy courses at the University of Washington: one each in Aristotle, Plato, Kant, and Hume. I took them so I could know the official received version on these greats.

Even without an official government-sponsored minor in ruling-class apologetics I still had conventional liberal ideas when I arrived in the United States. I remember going to a Democratic presidential rally at the Seattle Arena in 1968. And in 1972 I remember watching PBS as they lovingly visited George McGovern at the family ranch in July.

I suppose that my wake-up call was the 60-40 Nixon win in 1972. What was going on when all the right people were for McGovern and the negative income tax?

Eight years later I went to a presidential caucus in Kent, Washington and discovered the folks we would now call the "deplorables," ordinary middle-class Americans, technicians and whatnot, who were alive to Ronald Reagan.

But meanwhile, through reading the Wall Street Journal that was available at the office and its Bob Bartley editorial page, I had learned about Austrian economics and Mises and Hayek.

Did you know that Ronald Reagan, the amiable dunce, left behind him well-annotated editions of Mises and Hayek? Imagine that!

So, ever since, I have been most of the way to being libertarian. But over the years I have slowly grown to appreciate that the thing about the price system and the free market is that there are no safe spaces. Capitalism makes clear, what religion and politics do not, is that we get to thrive in the free market economy only so long as we offer a service that other people want. There is no way that most people are going to be able to graduate from high school, get a job at the plant down the road, and work there for the rest of their lives.

But government is in the protection business, mainly to protect from pirates and plunderers. It doesn't take too much imagination to extend this idea to economic protection, to protect me -- and maybe you -- from the economic hurricane that might appear one day out of a clear blue sky. And people want safe spaces.

The very idea that government could protect from economic vicissitude is new. In the old days, when nature delivered a drought or a flood there was nothing to be done: people starved. It wasn't until the 19th century that it became possible, with steamships and railroads, to move grain in quantity from the abundant to the starving areas of the world.

But there is another reason for government to provide economic protection. It is that most financial crises and panics are a precipitate of government economic policy. Crash of 1873: result of deflation after the civil war. Panic of 1907: result of Alaska gold rush supplying gold (and thus credit) during the time of the Gold Standard. Deflation of 1920s and 1929 Crash: result of governments deflating after World War I and clumsily trying to fix the problem. Crash of 2008: result of government forcing mortgage issuers to lend to bad credit risks. So yeah. Given how government economic policy can ruin peoples' lives, there oughta be a safe space.

In general, governments don't have a clue what they are doing. They are, indeed, armed minorities occupying territory, taxing the people to reward their supporters and borrowing to fund their wars. So when they make a mistake, as they usually do, they have a duty of care, to look after the people whose lives they ruined.

At least, in say the United States, when the people get pissed off with the follies of the current lot they can throw the rascals out and let the other guys have a go.

But with supra-national organizations that option is not available. This has two bad effects. The first problem is that the bureaucrats and failed politicians that run them are not looking over their shoulders to wonder what the political backlash is likely to be. The second problem is that, when things go wrong, the bureaucrats and time servers do not really represent anyone but themselves. This last fact was illuminated by the classical scholar and politician Enoch Powell when he said that the European Union could not work because there was no European demos, no European people.

Powell was saying, in other words, that  a government must be associated with a people, and feel itself responsible to that people, and look to that people for its support, and its cannon fodder in time of war. Now, if you are part of the global elite you do in fact experience the EU bureaucrats as representing you. I  remember attending an engineering conference in Davos, Switzerland, in 1990. It was telling that all the European scientists there seemed to have grants from the EU: their kind of people.

Now, in the good old days of tribalism, and even of feudalism,  the Big Man of the tribe and the feudal lord indeed did lead a people. But feudalism fell to the absolute monarchs, who learned how to disarm their nobles, make them into courtiers, and fund their states not on the revenue from the royal estates but by taxing commerce. They learned to fund their wars by borrowing from a commercial sector anchored by a central bank.

In nationalizing their nobles, the absolute monarchs also nationalized their peoples. It was, of course, a cultural aggression. England colonized and nationalized Wales and Scotland, but failed to nationalize Ireland. The Île de France around Paris colonized and nationalized the rest of France. The Prussians manipulated the rest of the German princes into wars against Denmark, Austria, and France, and unified the German Nation as a result. With Italy, the folks around Tuscany colonized the rest of Italy and Sicily, and the southerners are still not too happy about that.

What with a war or two, here and there, most people in Europe came to identify with their nations more than their old region. Look at Germany the other way up. It is astonishing that Hitler was able to lead the Germans, unified into a single nation for only 65 years, into a war to end all wars in 1939. How did he do it? He persuaded the German people that they were a German people rather than Prussians and Bavarians and Rhine-Palatinatians.

Now in my view the globalist agenda to denormalize the nation state and replace it with global governance and identity politics is a bad idea. First of all, the only globalist demos is the upper class that swims across the world between corporate and academic NGO gigs. Everyone else is a deplorable, and need not apply for full citizenship.

Secondly, I think that the identity politics of class and race and gender and large-scale immigration promoted by the global elite is a deadly virus that is killing the nation state. Well, you may say, and a good thing too, given the record of aggressive nationalism, fascism, and wars between nation states.

And what is your cunning plan to replace the nation state, Baldrick? Global governance? Gender politics? Safe spaces? A global ban on cultural appropriation?

Let us merely remember Winston Churchill's dictum:
Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Let us merely adapt this dictum. The nation state is the worst form of state organization, except for all the others.

The astonishing success of the nation state consists in this: it has successfully engaged peoples' loyalty away from their family, race or tribe, which is the natural way in which humans identify themselves, and directed it towards a totally artificial and fake abstract concept: the nation, which is unified by its language.

Of course, the nation state is a shameful thing, born in aggressive conquest of neighboring principalities, completed in cultural linguistic domination over regional dialects and cultures. And its economic hegemony over its people, by commandeering up to 50 percent of their income for use in buying the loyalty of its supporters, is monstrous.

But the alternatives! Our big problem these days is that, in its campaign to weaken the idea of the nation state the educated ruling class has strengthened the idea of race and region, encouraging people to identify with smaller cultural units than the nation state.

In my view, all the proposed alternatives to the nation state are roads to ruin. And that is why I am a US Nationalist.

And that is not to say anything about our national heroes: Washington, the man on the white horse that went home rather that appointing himself president-for-life; Hamilton, the man that founded the US economy and inspired a musical; Lincoln, the reluctant warrior; Coolidge, the mild man from hard-scrabble Vermont; Reagan, the amiable dunce that won the Cold War without firing a shot.

Sorry if your hero didn't get a mention.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Three Forms of Social Control

The biggest takeaway in Jordan B. Peterson's 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is the lobster story. Even the lefty Cathy Newman had to take a rest from her "so what you are saying..." shtick and its mis-characterization of Peterson's ideas to ask about that. It is an argument against the fantasy of equality. Lobsters, he relates, have a hierarchy. It is built into their DNA (or their brain stem or something) and it works with the chemical serotonin.

And what is the purpose of this hierarchy in lobsters? It is to prevent violence among the lobsters.

The point that Peterson wants to make is that inequality, hierarchy, pecking order, are not just oppressive, exploitative, and evil. They really have a purpose, even way down the animal kingdom with primitive animals like lobsters.

The point, I suppose, is that if you are going to impose equality it is going to take force. So, Kemosabe, your equality program is going to replace a concept that is universal in the animal kingdom, because it reduces the resort to force, with a forcible imposition of equality from the top? How does that compute? And how, anyway, do you get equality when some monarch at the top, with his pure and devoted henchmen, is going to have the power to impose equality on everyone except himself and the henchmen? Sounds like good old lobsterian hierarchy to me.

So I take away from this the notion that all politics and culture and social cooperation is a means of reducing force, starting with the most  primitive of all culture, the pecking order.

Obviously, the simple pecking order is not the answer to all our social cooperation problems. In his Why God? Rodney Stark provides two improvements on the simple hierarchy. One is "informal social control;" the other is "formal social control." His line is that informal social control is appropriate for the small face-to-face community, but that when humans started assembling in larger communities we needed something else. Enter the monotheistic religions with their doctrines of good and evil, gods with their divine law, and rulers and priests that dispense formal justice.

But also, I realize, informal social control continues in a condominium with formal social control. I realize this from James M. Ault's Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church. Ault reports that in the fundamentalist church he researched all the offices were held by men but the whole religious community was run by the wives of said men, because of their influence in the women's gossip network that gets to define  "a common grid of 'what everybody sees' and 'what everybody knows.'" This, in my opinion, is the good old informal social control now integrated with the formal social control institutionalized in the fundamentalist church and its rigid rules and roles.

My point here is to realize to myself that informal social control and formal social control are not separate; it is not the case that formal social control, required because of the growth in size of human communities, has replaced informal social control. Instead the patriarchal formal social control sits on top of the older informal social control and augments it. In fact, I would guess, under normal circumstances the informal social control network pretty well runs things. Only when some big issue arises, or some rupture of the normal women's common grid occurs, does the formal social control network swing into action. One of the ways in which this occurs is when there is a critical mass of young men in a city not yet assimilated to the city culture that forms criminal gangs and requires a countervailing force of city policemen.

Note that our liberal friends are also invested in the formal social control concept. Their model seems to be for the formal social control structure to completely take over society, replacing family, church, and also the market with a single total political and administrative structure. Run by them.

But what do we call the market relationship? I propose that we call this "indirect social control." Let us suppose that informal social control is the women's gossip network that regulates ordinary face-to-face social relations. Let us say that formal social control is a patriarchal hierarchy that defines good and bad and takes care of egregious bad actors that are not amenable to the influence of the women's network. But the operation of the market system is obviously something else again. And yet it involves both face-to-face relationships of the informal social control culture and also the rules and regulations of the patriarchal formal social control culture.

And something more. This something more is the influence of the price system which is an independent influence in addition to the relationships of face-to-face and the rules of commercial law. I would say that it is a third level that sits on top of the rules of formal social control that sits on top of the relationships of informal social control. The influence of the price system is indirect. It is a moment to moment commentary on transactions; it is constantly nudging everyone to serve each other; and it is constantly issuing balance sheets that tell us what is working and what is not working in the moment to moment pecuniary transactions of life.

Let us now take a further step and say that we humans have a tendency to plump for one or other of these cultures of social control and "privilege" it over the others.

Right now we have the educated women of the world that are intent on privileging the informal social control culture of women: they want to anathematize "microaggressions" and provide "safe spaces." This is such a girl thing! Then we have the lefties of the world that want to privilege the formal social control of the educated expert in top down government and administrative bureaucracy then reorders the world in accordance with the lefty vision of equality, liberation, and emancipation. Such a boy thing! Finally we have the libertarians that want a market-only regulation of society with the price system determining everything.

But I am better, higher than all this flat-earth fol-der-ol. Well, of course.

I see above the dusty plain to the mountains and above them to ridges higher still! What is needed is all three of these methods of social control, with the patriarchal formal control incorporating and extending the matriarchal relational social control, and the market's indirect social control incorporating and extending the patriarchal formal social control system. And beyond that, who knows what some genius is presently cooking up to amaze us all with a fourth system, higher and better than anything we can presently understand.

Now, in my view this Three Cultures notion dovetails brilliantly into my reductive Three Peoples concept. Of course it does. But that is a question for another post.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Who Will Be the Angriest of All?

I get that the whole point of politics is to get your side angried up so that they will all go out to the polls and vote.

That, I presume, was the whole point of Al Gore not conceding the 2000 election and the subsequent Redefeat Bush bumper stickers on the backs of Subarus everywhere for the next few years.

And that, obviously, is the plan with Hillary Clinton's Russia Collusion excuse for losing the 2016 election.

But I thought that the candidate's lawyers were off-limits. That's so that all shady deals can be run through the candidate's lawyer's office. See the Steele Dossier, for which the financing was run through Hillary Clinton's lawyer.

But with the raid on Donald Trump's lawyer I'd say that the good old rules are finished. Apparently, a special team will go through all the documents to determine which are covered by attorney-client privilege. Perfectly fair and just. But I doubt if Hillary Clinton would like any government  team rummaging through her attorney's files on such a mission. After all, it's nothing to exempt evidence because of attorney-client privilege if your gum-shoes have already been through it all and understand what has been going on and where the bodies are buried.

But the question that I have about all of this is: who will get the angriest? Will it be Trump supporters enraged that, yet again, the Deep State gets to do what it wants when it wants and how it wants? Or will it be educated women confirmed once again in their outrage that Trump has been #MeToo-ing around when everybody knows that the Harvey Weinstein era is over?

Or do the Trump supporters, content with the good-jobs regime of the Trump economy stay home while the woke SJWs all flock to the polls?

The simple answer is: we don't know. All I know is that I put out a substantial contribution to Dino Rossi, who's running for the open Republican toss-up WA-08 district. The last time I got that engaged, and put up real money, was in 1994 in the great mid-term that elected the first Republican Congress in 40 years. And what got me all riled up was the hypocrisy of the 1992 Year of the Woman.

So the question in 2018 is: who is angriest? Is it the lefty liberals, outraged at the inexplicable election of Trump when everyone agreed it was time for the First Woman President? Or is it the deplorables, enraged at the manifold injustices and indignities that they receive every day at the hand of the their local liberal?

You call it.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sure We Fight, But Then What?

Right now the mad-caps on the conservative right are all singing the same tune. First the liberals want to take our guns and then they want to take our free-speech rights. #1A and #2A.

OK, so we fight. We fight for our gun rights, and the right of self-defense. And we fight for free speech rights; the right to publish our ideas, right and wrong, and petition the government for a redress of grievances, right or wrong.

But then what?

See, my Big Thing is that we conservatives really don't have an answer to the left's program.

The left, as I see it, is filling the hole left by the death of God in the 19th century. But its program is totalitarian: we will bend the arc of history towards justice with a condominium of secular religion and government power and economic power.

The verdict on that is the mass graves of the 20th century. When ideology, government, and economic power are condensed into one entity the result is disaster.

But people still want the consolation of religious hope; they still want government to protect them from pirates and predators, and they still want economic security. And that is the package deal that the left keeps offering. And that is the attraction of "activism" for the well-born crusader. He can be the agent to bring hope and safety and security to the eternally marginalized.

In his Maps of Meaning Jordan B. Peterson tells us exactly what this is about. We live in the Unbearable Present; our constant need is to formulate a solution to this misery, to heal the gaping wound in our society and advance to an Ideal Future.

You will notice that the left has exactly formulated its program on this axis whether with the unbearable exploitation of labor or minorities or women. And they formulate a vision of an ideal future, liberated and emancipated from oppression and exploitation.

Only the left always leads to the silence of the mass grave. So something is wrong.

Peterson symbolizes the problem of redemption from the unbearable present to an ideal future as the opposition between two Hostile Brothers: the Hero and the Adversary.
[The hero] stands on the border between order and chaos, and serves the group as creator and agent of renewal... The hero rejects identification with the group as the ideal of life, preferring to follow the dictates of his conscience and his heart. His identification with meaning--and his refusal to sacrifice meaning for security--renders existence acceptable, despite its tragedy.
But then there is the Adversary. He comes in two forms, the fascist and the decadent.
The fascist wants to crush everything different, and then everything. The decadent immolates himself, and then builds the fascist from his ashes. The bloody excesses of the twentieth century, manifest most evidently in the concentration camp, stand as testimony to the desires of the adversary and as monument to his power.
The problem is, of course, that every self-styled savior represents himself as the true hero, and the other guy as the fascist, decadent adversary. So how is a mother to tell the difference? How do we identify the false hero, who is really a fascist in disguise? How do we see the heroism in the man that "everyone" calls a fascist?

In our current world we have the globalists, who see themselves as arching above the fascist tendencies of the nation state. Then we have the nationalists that see themselves as representing the only practical form of large-scale human representation, because, to paraphrase Enoch Powell, globalism cannot work because there is no global demos, no global people: thus all current attempts at supra-nationalism must fail. Then we have the left that experiences itself as the voice from below, giving voice to the silenced, the oppressed and the exploited.

Which of these is the hero, and which the adversary?

That is the great question of our time.