Thursday, May 31, 2018

Now Holman Jenkins Says They Are Idiots

Over the last year or so I have been developing the idea that the people that govern us are idiots. I mean by that merely that, after the establishment of a dynasty -- which requires at the very least ruthlessness, and probably genius combined with that gift of the gods, luck -- the sons and adepts of the founders are not so bright. Hey, they don't have to be.

This is not that hard. It stands to reason, for instance, that the American Founders had to be extraordinary men. Start with Washington, the military leader that kept the Revolutionary army in the field for six long years in strategic retreat until the opportunity came to defeat the fever-ridden Brits and their allies at the Battle of Yorktown. Then Madison, the man that wrote most of the Constitution. Hamilton, the guy that helped persuade New York to vote for the Constitution and then founded the US National Debt.

The point is that if these men were not extraordinary then we wouldn't be here today as the last best hope of man on Earth.

But after the founding generation, the need for genius and perseverance eases off. And the great offices of state get to be occupied by men of lesser quality. There is nothing wrong with that, it is just the way the world works. But when the need for great men appears again, then "cometh the hour, cometh the man." We hope.

Only, of course, the men that can't rise to the occasion must first be flushed away, as McClellan was flushed away in favor of Grant.

Now at last I am reading Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. say in the Wall Street Journal that all these deep state actors are idiots. In "Clapper Disinformation Campaign" Jenkins proposes that the Deep State actors we have grown to know and love in their ongoing series "Trump Collusion" -- now in Season 2 on Netflix, or is it Amazon Prime? -- are really not that bright.

Jenkins looks back at the Intelligence Community's actions in 2016: Comey's intervention in the Hillary emails, surveilling low-level Trump nobodies, the reopening of the Clinton email business in the last week of the campaign.
There is a term for how this all looks in retrospect: colossally stupid.
Yeah, really. What in the world did the FBI think it was doing? And the Brennans and the Clappers too? Getting into the middle of an election? Trying to compromise low-level campaign hangers-on? Faking up applications to the FISA Court? What man of weight would get into that kind of shenanigans? Your really big men would regard it as below their dignity to play penny-ante political poker.

What is clear is that the Brennans and the Clappers and the Comeys and the rest of them are pretty good at playing bureaucratic pinochle with leaks and smears and tame journalists. Only that sort of thing is, or should be, beneath the dignity of major bureaucratic nabobs.

It is a conceit of mine that I can tell the good men from the fakes. Bill Clinton: a truly brilliant politician. Hillary Clinton: a prisoner of conventional wisdom and her female rage. Barack Obama: a weak man that compensated by cutting corners. Trump: a man who plays an idiot on TV.

Likewise, I have really tried in conversation to tune my antennas to determine whether my opposite is just reciting conventional wisdom that anyone would possess from a college education and exposure to mainstream media, or whether he has actually formulated an original idea.

To me, everything we know about Trump Russia and the counter-intelligence spying on the Trump campaign reeks of mediocrity: dull mediocre place-servers allowing themselves to be sucked into folly and political malpractice, mostly because they were too weak to tell their superiors to go take a hike. Everything about the Deep Staters reeked of weakness: getting old war-horse Stefan Halper to try and compromise low-level Trump hangers-on; queering the pitch of the Hillary private server investigation.

Back in the day Archibald Cox refused to compromise the Department of Justice to please the Nixon people. Not any more, not in today's Department of Justice and today's Federal Bureau  of Investigation.

The only thing to hope for is the God still looks after drunks, children and the good old US of A, and will help us replace the current weak and feeble Deep Staters with men of firmer mettle.

On the other hand, it is really fortunate that the Obama crowd were such weak and feeble yes-men, and didn't really abuse their powers too much. Otherwise they could have really done some damage to the nation.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Of Course President Trump Lies

One of the excuses our beloved mainstream media offers for their 24-7 negative coverage of President Trump is that they are bound by their oath of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

Yes. And the most comfortable people in America? Those would be urban liberals with nice sinecures in government and education and it would be the politicians that represent them.

So why were President Obama's lies nothing to our liberal friends? The wafted-aloft First Black President is probably the most comfortable man in America. Whatever he says or does is accepted without demur by the entire mainstream media and all the faithful readers of The New York Times and faithful listeners of NPR. If there could be one man in America that a media truly devoted to afflicting the comfortable would afflict, then that man would be President Obama.

The truth is, of course, that nobody observes that old chestnut about comfort and affliction, not in families, not in politics, not in culture, and certainly not in war. We comfort our side and we afflict the other side, and that is all about it.

So if President Obama told a fib or two about Obamacare it was all in a good cause to bring affordable healthcare to every American -- and non American -- in the USA. After all, to hold the president to the truth might have imperiled the passage of his landmark health legislation, and that would never do.

As Winston Churchill said: "In war-time, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."

Since politics is civil war by other means, it makes complete sense that politicians lie all the time to protect the truth, or more exactly, The Narrative. That is why there is also the tag: "you can tell a politician is lying because his lips are moving."

What people hate is not the bodyguard of lies protecting their own truth, but the bodyguard of lies protecting the truth, the Narrative, of the Other Party.

Thus liberal mainstream media figures -- all the way down to the humble makeup-artist on an interview show -- are outraged when a President Trump tells his deplorables what they want to hear at one of his notorious rallies. Of course they are. President Trump is telling his deplorables what they want to hear, and what deplorables want to hear from their president is not what liberal mainstream media figures want to hear. When people hear stuff from a politician that they do not want to hear they usually call it "lies."

The problem of "lies" is particularly acute for liberals right now because for decades they have successfully bullied into silence any politician or cultural figure that dared to dissent from their version of "truth." You know the form: disagree with a liberal and you are a racist, sexist, homophobe.

Until President Trump. The whole point about Donald Trump's campaign and his presidency thus far is that Trump dares to say things that you are not allowed to say. For instance, only yesterday the actress Roseanne Barr was kicked off ABC for making a racist taunt against a public figure, Valerie Jarrett, who was President Obama's consigliere in the White House. And the Disney CEO, Bob Iger, personally phoned Valerie Jarrett to apologize. Hey, tweeted Donald Trump:  When am I getting my phone call from Bob Iger when people on ABC insult me?

No kidding. Right now The Rules say that it is intolerable for a white person to make a racist comment about a black person, because slavery, but it is not intolerable for a black person to make a racist comment about whites. And President Trump just violated The Rules.

Now for me, there is no question that President Trump lies. I would say that one of the biggest of his lies is that he has declared an end to Free Trade in favor of Fair Trade. Yet, if you look at his actions, he has seemed to be raising tariffs on China to bring it to the bargaining table to force China to lower its trade barriers against the US. He talked about building a wall, but has not exactly made wall-building the centerpiece of his administration.

If you are a conservative like me you feel yourself belabored by liberal lies all the time: about racism, about the homeless, about climate change, about gays, about education, about entitlements. To me, liberals are always lying about the facts, and also lying about their political goals. Now, for the first time in decades, liberals are getting to experience what it feels like to hear the opposing party tell its truth to its supporters without worrying too much about offending liberals.

So, for me, it is a glorious thing for President Trump to have the cojones to go up against the liberal narrative and live to tell the tale. And I dare say that I am merely one among the millions that feel that way.

This  is absolutely basic. If you are a political leader you must be able to speak The Narrative to your supporters, to tell them what they want to hear. To the extent that the opposition party intimidates you into silence, so far are they preventing you from committing politics, and so far are they forcing you to retreat in the Battle of Ideas and enforce their Narrative on your supporters.

The reason that Donald Trump won the nomination of the Republican Party is that he seemed to be a candidate that would not cringe before the liberal verbal-assassination squad. That has been the complaint of the conservative and Republican faithful for decades. Our leaders are always trying to make nice with the liberals when the liberals never hesitate to call us racists and sexists.

Until Trump.

And of course liberals are beside themselves that President Trump would counter Bob Iger's apology to Valerie Jarrett with a wise-guy retort: hey, when am I getting my call! Liberals have never experienced this sort of a challenge to their world view in their lifetimes. It is just not part of the way things are supposed to be, if you are a liberal.

No wonder liberals are in a complete conniption fit over President Trump. He is daring to speak truth to liberal power.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Why Aren't Conservatives Any Good at Beautiful Phrases?

How come liberals get all the good lines? "Net Neutrality," which means that Google and Netflix get to ride free on the wires of the internet bandwidth providers? Or "Affordable Care" which means that health care is force fed and rationed through an administrative-state regulatory apparatus? Or "common-sense gun laws" which means that liberals get to make guns illegal?

A friend complained about that to me, and I answered my standard line:  conservatives are not that interested in power. That means, of course that conservatives are not that invested in coming up with catchy slogans to persuade people to vote for us so we can give them more government. We reckon that, by and large, the market economy should be left to itself and that if there is anything wrong it will get worked out in the law courts with judges figuring out how to deal with accidental injustices that emerge from the ceaseless innovation of the market system. It is, you might say, a reactive approach.

But our liberal friends are different. Their very meaning of life, the universe, and everything is bound up in their political faith. And you will notice that religion, down the ages, has been pretty good at the compelling phrase. In fact, given that religion is about finding meaning where meaning may not exist, it stands to reason that good phrase-making, conjuring up an answer to the age-old question of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, is central to its purpose. Let us state this again. It may be true -- hey, it probably is -- that the universe is a meaningless void with the odd particle or two coalescing into something more. But we humans insist on living as though our lives do have meaning. I reckon this is because the definition of a living entity is something that acts as if it has meaning and purpose. And that goes for your average worm and even your average virus as well. Otherwise what's the point?

You can see here the genius of the notion of the separation of church and state. It may be that the latest evolution of religion is the final truth about Meaning. But maybe not. If the former is true, then let the priests should set forth the final glorious phrases about the glorious and heavenly world promised to us. If the latter is true then it is probably a good idea not to link religion, the map of meaning, to the state, which is the apparatus of force.

It may be, again, that the current manifestation of government is the highest and best that can ever be imagined. But maybe not. If the former is true then let the governors and the judges and the bureaucrats have all the scope for the application of government power that they have in mind. If the latter is true then the power of government leaders and functionaries should be strictly limited so that they do not do too much damage before the world is liberated from their imperfect rule by new improved notions of government.

The same thing applies to the economy.

It may be that the present ideas about the market economy and the framework of commercial law is the highest and best that can ever be imagined. But maybe not. If the former is true then we must hold it solid, and not change it, or suffer it to be changed. If the latter is true then we must adapt our thoughts and actions to the truth that the market economy and its institutions are bound to evolve and change, and the arrangements of the market economy should be allowed to develop as new technologies, new innovations, and new forms of corporate organization appear.

I have, of course, just outlined the justification for the Greater Separation of Powers that I have obtained from Michael Novak's The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. He argues that the three forms of social power, the political, the economic, the moral/cultural, should not be combined into a totalitarian single entity, but should be kept separate from one another, and any two of them should be prevented from ganging up on the other one.

You may notice that the whole point of most religion down the ages, and most politics, is that extraordinary power is needed, either military or priestly, in order to prevent the world from descending into Chaos and Disorder or Sin and Death. And certainly the modern political/religious movement we call the left believes that it has found the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything and that this meaning -- that mainly involves liberation and emancipation of traditionally marginalized peoples by political activists acting in accordance with Lefty Writ -- can be instantiated through the agency of political power and political movements.

It is the faith of people like me that the lefty faith has been shown by clear and convincing events -- from the fact of the Soviet Union to the fact of Venezuela -- to be one of the most appalling disasters of human social cooperation. Take China. Back in 1800 the per-capita income in China was about $3 per day in today's dollars. In 1960 it was about $0.50 per person per day when in the US it was north of $50.00 per day. It wasn't until China adopted capitalism in 1978 that its income started heading North from the human disaster of $0.50 per day. And this is why we insist that political and moral/cultural power should be limited and should be separated from each other.

More, we free spirits insist that the lesson of the last two hundred years, called by some the Miracle and by others the Great Enrichment, demonstrates that we cannot set up a rigid framework for anything political, economic, and moral/cultural, because the world is changing all the time, and we humans respond to the world's changes by changing ourselves.

But we humans still come up with beautiful words to symbolize our deepest hopes and yearnings, and would be political and moral/cultural leaders indefatigably coin new phrases to capture a vision of what might be.

If only most of these phrase-makers were not liberals and lefties in thrall to vile superstitions that has visited the most foul injustices and disasters upon the human race.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Newt's Five Scandal Theory of Spygate

Perhaps the biggest need surrounding the Gathering Storm of Obama era scandals, the ones that have coalesced into the Russia Collusion scandal, is to craft them into an overarching narrative.

Why? Because as long as they stay fragmented the guilty will get away free and we will not be able to refer back to something like "SpyGate" and know that every living American will know what we mean.

Dear old Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, has come up with a 5-part explanation for the SpyGate scandals, and that effort is a start. Newt says that there are five reasons for the scandals, as follows:

  1. 40 years of Clinton Corruption, starting with the fabled cattle futures.
  2. The deep state defense of Clinton, instead of dealing with her manifold crimes and misdemeanors.
  3. The campaign to undermine and discredit Donald Trump, particularly in the anti-Republican Department of Justice.
  4. Deep state resistance to accountability and transparency.
  5. Panic breaking out among people that might "find themselves in danger of criminal charges."
You can see how all these explanations are cascading. Without the Clinton corruption, the deep state would not have been forced to defend the Clintons; and the deep-state defense wouldn't have been possible without the DOJ's anti-Republican bias,  and without anti-Republican bias the folly of DOJ Clinton defense would not have led to hiding the ball, and without Clinton defense the deep state operatives would not be panicking about exposure.

But really, it all issues from the Clinton private e-mail system. Without the Clinton e-mail system the DOJ would not have been put in the position of pressuring the FBI to go easy on Clinton, and I suspect that would have reduced the need to know what the Trump campaign knew about them.

In fact I would go so far  as to propose that illegal use of government surveillance and police powers tends always to issue from some petty illegal government action precipitated by a rules-don't-apply-to-me corrupt leader. Once a government cabal starts down this road it tends to get ensnared in its own illegality, as in the Shakepearean tag "oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

Or, as they said in the Watergate era, "it's not the crime, it's the cover-up."

May I make a small request of our noble political elite? Would you please stop your corrupt and vile behavior? Because, as in real war, it is the buck privates, the low-level political operatives that get chewed up in the meat-grinder. So if you are in politics to represent the little people -- and what politician isn't -- then the first thing you should be thinking about is the little guy in your campaign  or your administration that is going to be taking the enemy fire rather than you, the political general well behind the front lines.

But still, while Newt's five-scandal theory is a good idea, I am still drawn to Verdi's demand of his librettist, Piave, in the TV series The Life of Verdi. Verdi demanded that Piave stop pouring out so many useless words. He wanted them all to be boiled down into just a few, or even the One Word that he would set to music.

That is the challenge of the Obama-Clinton-Deep-State scandals. They need to be reduced to "one word," the one word that every American will henceforth know and associate with something foul, something unclean, "something rotten in the State of Denmark."

I'd say that the One Word should help symbolize what every ordinary American knows. If he or she had been caught mishandling classified government information, they would now be in jail.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Peterson and Jung and Nietzsche, Oh My!

If you've dabbled in cultural sensation Jordan B. Peterson as I have, and got through his Maps of Meaning, and if you are not mad at him, like the New York Times set and alt-right Vox Day, you want to check the backup. Because Peterson owes a lot to Nietzsche and Jung.

Nietzsche is a problem, because Nazism and Nationalism and Anti-Semitism. And Jung--

Also, Jordan Peterson is proposing the primacy of instinct and affect, rather than reason. And that is a problem for most of us moderns, because whether you are on the left or the right, you believe that your side is based on reason and the other side is based on emotion, or worse. Because science.

But Peterson is saying that humans are basically instinctive creatures, and that the great issues of life are not reducible to reason. Moreover in his system, if it is a system, the highest and best is the sacrificial hero, the one that dares to live on the border between the known and the unknown, between order and chaos, the man that surrenders his life to the exploration of this dangerous territory, and bringing it into our understanding and consciousness, and sharing that understanding with the rest of humanity.

From Jung Peterson brings the notion that the unconscious mind is primary, both in its manifestation of the personal unconscious, our personal instinctive response to day-to-day life, and also in the manifestation of the collective unconscious, the ways in which humans as a whole symbolize and experience the larger meaning of life in spirits and gods and the like.

You can see how foreign this is to the official narrative, which is that we are rational creatures. In the right-wing version we are rationally seeking a way from serfdom and subordination to freedom and liberty. In the left-wing version we are rationally seeking a way from slavery and oppression to liberation along the arc of history bending towards justice.

And yet I propose that the right-wing version of reason has brought us to the neo-serfdom of the welfare state, and the left-wing version of reason has brought us to the über-slavery of the communist state. So maybe there is a problem.

What if this is all wrong, and reason is not the means to anything in particular? What if, as settled science is starting to discover, reason evolved out of humans rationalizing their social behavior, and just accidentally happened to be a good basis for math and physics?

In many ways, the whole story of the last 200 years of western culture is the realization, beginning with Romanticism at the turn of the 19th century, that reason cannot be the whole story. How can it be when humans are overwhelmingly consumed by "affect" or passion?

It really changes things when you decide that the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is not the construction of the best rational system but something else.

Then comes Nietzsche with the scandalous notion that the Christian framework of the last 2000 years is outta here, and the only reality is the will to power, and that morality is a cheap trick.

Now I have been slowly trudging through the Germans in the last few years, from Kant to Hegel to Schopenhauer and now Nietzsche.

The thing about Nietzsche is that you are never sure when he is being serious and when he is just trying to nudge you off dead center and make you think. For instance, in Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche praises the Jews for their amazing survival down the ages through all travails and hardships -- "the strongest, toughest, and purest race now living in Europe"-- and sneers at German anti-Semitism. Later on he develops his notorious "master morality and slave morality." But by The Genealogy of Morals he divides the noble masters into the "warrior caste" and the "priestly caste," and while the warriors are simple and forthright, the priests are the most appalling haters. And guess what: the most obvious instantiation of a priestly people is the Jews, and Christianity is a 2000 year cunning plot to dethrone the warrior caste. And the Jews are therefore the world-historic leaders of a slave revolt that has demolished the old aristocratic masters.

Hey Fritz! Doesn't your division of the masters into warriors and priests rather chip away at your initial notion of the masters as true unselfconscious aristocrats?

I know! Why not divide the human race in three, according to my reductive Three Peoples theory. Then we still have the slaves, the People of the Subordinate Self, we still have the masters, divided into the natural aristocracy of the business world and the priestly haters of the politically correct. In between are the People of the Responsible Self that are neither leaders nor followers, but partaking of something in-between: neither groveling slaves sucking up to their liege lord in return for handouts, nor ego-maniac masters, either business masters-of-the-universe or priestly left-wing haters. What's not to like?

Notice that your business masters-of-the-universe can be the sacrificial heroes of Jordan Peterson's narrative, for in business many are called but few are chosen. Here is how the natural aristocrat lives, from Nietzsche:
To be incapable of taking one's enemies, one's accidents, even one's misdeeds seriously for very long -- that is the sign of strong full natures is whom there is a excess of the power to form, to mold, to recuperate, and to forget{.]
He has a point. If you are a man of action you really don't have time for worrying about enemies, mistakes, because it is always time to get on with the next thing.

But as for the lefty priestly haters.-- Yeah. Hating, remembering accidents and misdeeds, forgetting nothing. And doing nothing. That is where they live and breathe. For the whole point of a lefty activist is to live in the festering wound of a grievance, and make it bigger.

The thing about reason is its one-dimensionality, its uni-directionality. But life, the universe, and everything is contingent, uncertain. Oh, and hidden. Could it be that the means that living things have appropriated for life in this world, instinct, passion, archetypes, "affect," are necessary and flexible ways of getting on the world whereas reason, with its path to freedom and its arc bending towards justice, is not?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Problem with Politics

Here's a poll result to tell you something about America. About 54 percent of White Democrats now think that racial inequality is caused by discrimination, up from about 42 percent in 2006.

So. After half a century of race politics, repeatedly "doing something" about civil rights and racial discrimination, White Democrats think that nothing has changed. Even that things are getting worse. So we need legislation to bend the arc of history towards justice.

What planet do these people live on?

Well, we know. They live on a planet where the stories are written and told by lefty adepts of the Frankfurt School and Herbert "intolerant tolerance" Marcuse. They live in a left-wing culture that believes that the way to get to justice is with political power. They relentlessly blame and divide, because that is how you motivate people to get out and vote.

But I think that this just shows the utter folly of ideological politics. Because it never knows when to stop.

The point about racial discrimination is that it is only a problem when government actively enforces discrimination, as in the Jim Crow South. The Southern Democrats wrote Jim Crow laws because the railroads really didn't want to have segregated railroad cars. Bus companies didn't want to divide up the bus and put their black passengers at the back. So the segregationists had to write a law.

OK. So you write a Civil Rights Law to sweep away all those Jim Crow laws. Then what?

What happens is that the activists that built the political movement that passed the Civil Rights laws aren't satisfied. You can see why. As with any army after you storm the citadel of your enemy, the question is what to do next? Unfortunately, the usual response to victory is to double down and build an empire. It is not enough to defeat the racists: they must be hunted down and the last vestige of their evil spawn eliminated from the world.

And so, in the wake of the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s the victorious liberals could not just declare victory and go home. They had to enact Affirmative Action -- a  program of flat-out racism -- through their power in the administrative state. The feminists could not rest with equal pay laws; they had to amp up the pressure with the notion of comparable worth. And then they noted all the areas in which women were "underrepresented" as in the executive suite and STEM and demand inclusion and diversity.

Now we have gays that cannot be satisfied with gay marriage. They have to go after bakers that don't want to bake cakes for gay weddings.

Meanwhile, what are the evil corporations and entrepreneurs doing now? They are trying to defeat the new segregation. You see, all nation states have laws against foreigners migrating to and working in the homeland. So the big corporations are busy figuring out how to get around laws limiting the employment of foreigners. The corporate suits get people here to the United States on various visa programs, people that cost them less than Americans born in the USA. And the  cool thing is that employees on temporary visas that do not have green cards are in a position similar to the indentured servants of old. They cannot leave their employment without risking their visa, and so are tied to their employers and the lower wages.

It's interesting. What is the difference between the Jim Crow laws of the South and the normal laws of any nation state that limit immigration? They both discriminate against people that have not yet enjoyed the bounty of the Great Enrichment.

Actually, our liberal friends are not shy about criticizing people that want to limit the access of foreigners to the US labor market. Those evil Southerners were racists. The immigration restrictionists are xenophobes. No skin off the liberal noses, of course. They figure that what with their education and their Deep State connections they are in with the in-crowd. Conservatives and deplorables need not apply.

So maybe the next glorious movement is to lower all national barriers and make the workplace open to all. Or maybe, on the notion that immigration is invasion -- ask the Native Americans -- we should keep the nation state and its borders until something better comes up.

The point remains. Once you have struck down the legal discriminatory barriers, then if there exists residual discrimination there exists a market opportunity for any canny entrepreneur. Hey, if minority  and female and transgender workers are not getting their fair whack, then an entrepreneur can hire them and make money. Until the day comes when the previously discriminated against are no longer underpaid, and there is not longer an opportunity to make money.

That is the whole point of the market economy. In fact that is what the left complains about. The market doesn't think of people as people. The only thing the market understands is  produces and prices and service. And this is supposed to be soulless. Well, so it is. It means that the market doesn't select people because of their gender or their race or their national origin. It only asks: can they get the job done, or, if they can't, can I train them up to get the job done.

Of course, the market does appreciate that beauty in newsreaders on TV is a plus. And in actresses in movies. And this is wrong. Maybe it is time for a a political movement to promote ugly people to the  screen.

And what about nerds? How come nerds don't get their fair share of jobs in the executive suite and all the plum jobs go to alpha males and sweet talkers?

Mind you, there is another way to look at this. Nietzsche does it with its analysis of Master and Slave morality. There is, he suggests, a need for hardness.

What if we resolve all our inequalities with a complete and total administrative program that litigates every possible inequality so that everything is fair and just? Nietzsche's argument is that this will lead to a flabby, weakened society that will topple over the day that the next Attila or Genghis Khan appears on the scene.

And maybe this is a flaw in capitalism. Maybe we are all getting too soft in the online smartphone world where everything is at our beck and call and we never have to sweat. Maybe we will all be swept away, to be replaced by --.

Maybe we need the storm and stress of politics and people forever fighting over the political spoils, and arguing about whether discrimination is getting worse. Otherwise we might all go to sleep watching youTube videos, and wake up one morning finding that humans are finished, over, departed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

On Political Insults and Worse

In the last week the MSM cabal has been chiding President Trump for calling immigrants "animals." Actually, as far as I can  see, the president was  referring to members of MS-13 the Salvadorean criminal gang.

Hey Donny, what's the big deal? The US has had criminal immigrant gangs since whenever.

But really, lefties. Have you looked in a mirror lately? Your whole cultural and political operation right now is about insulting people that don't agree with you as "racists, sexists, homophobes." Not to mention liberal use of "alt-right hate groups" and the very worst thing in the world, apart from Nazis, "hate speech."

Now I would say that, compared with the lefty insults, President Trump's use of "animal" is mild and humane. After all, he is merely demoting the human crooks at MS-13 to the status of the non-self-conscious denizens of the animals kingdom: beasts and monsters. But our Democratic friends are declaring their opponents to be evil, not merely bestial. Of course, I realize that our lefty friends are generally not believers in God, so they cannot believe in the Devil. Or can they?

Of course they can. According to settled science, like the psychological school that descends from Carl Jung, all our religious and cultural memes are manifestations of our unconscious minds. On this view, it doesn't matter whether you call it Satan or monster, everyone still has a hatred and a fear of the threatening Unknown and Chaos. And they are not shy about pointing it out.

So liberals are frightened to death of President Trump. Of course they are. President Trump is threatening to upset their nice comfortable world of nice comfortable sinecures for liberals and activists as far as the eye can see. I mean! It is possible that the great research universities of North America might have to retrench just a teeny bit! Oh no! What will the tenure-track associate professors do then poor things?

Why, President Trump is even hacking away at the administrative state, the notion that all liberals should have a job telling middle-class deplorables to get lost and damn well bake that cake for a gay wedding or else.

And it doesn't hurt to call all these people haters and deplorables. Not if it saves just one liberal administrative state job.

What our liberal friends do not understand is that, according to German philosophy, for every thesis there is an antithesis, for every magnetic north pole there is a magnetic south pole. If liberals are moving the arc of history towards their notion of justice, sure as heck there will be people out there that experience the arc of history bending towards injustice. If the government and the culture are making life more comfortable for liberals then chances are they are making life less comfortable and more frightening for deplorables.

They do not understand that if liberals politicize everything with their noble and righteous political activism to promote justice and equality, which seeks to make political issues of anything and everything, and then use insults and pejoratives to demean and marginalize the opposition, then there is likely to arise a counter-political movement composed of people that experience the political activism of liberals as a direct attack on them and everything they hold dear. These people will find themselves a political champion to say and do the things that they are afraid to do on their own.

Really, this isn't that hard.

Really, the only thing we don't know is whether SpyGate, the incompetent deep state effort to trip up the Trump campaign in 2016 and cover up its illegal activities in 2017, will be the biggest political scandal in US history or whether it will all get covered up and smothered in a blanket.

Oh, silly me. Of course it will all get covered up and smothered in a blanket. If you want the biggest scandal in US history then you need MSM news-anchors day after day with eyebrows descending like thunder on the evil miscreants. And that ain't gonna happen.

And anyway, any criticism of the Obama administration and its minions is racism, straight up.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Oppressions of Liberal Cultural/Political Hegemony, Pt. 4

I've set forth some of the oppressions that the liberal ruling class has committed, herehere and here.

We all know that any ruling class is bound to commit injustice, because as a well-known philosopher said: there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. And who are the people  empowered to commit injustice? You got it.

So it stands to reason that the ruling class in the West of the last 100 years and more, the educated class, will have committed injustice, most likely in the implementation of its own vision of justice with the help of government fore. 'Twas ever thus.

Previously I have discussed, starting here, its injustice committed with respect to socialism, big government, the war on the middle class, the war on religion, education, welfare, government pensions, and housing. Now let's look at:

The Homeless. The homeless began as an issue during the Reagan administration, no doubt as a way for liberals to do Activism. It was only to be expected that, in the aftermath of the cruel Reagan budget cuts -- courtesy of Budget Director David Stockman -- that there should be a tragic consequence. That consequence was "the homeless."

To put this in perspective, I suspect that after every major economic downturn there is a swelling in the ranks of people that got spat out of jobs and that never get their stuff back together again. The iconic example is the Skid Row bum that was the consequence of the Great Depression. The Reagan 1980s took place after the serious recession of 1980-81 when the Fed started wringing out the 1970s inflation. So you would expect a flux of men unmoored by the recession and cast upon the homeless shore. Now we have the aftermath of the Great Recession that started with the Crash of 2008. Obviously we should  have expected another wave of castaways landing on the beach.

The question is what to do about it. Should we have government programs to provide food and  shelter to the homeless, or should we leave it to the charities and the charitable?

In this sense, we should remember the 19th century approach to poverty. The ABCDEFG system was advocated by outfits like the New York Charity Organization Society, and advertised by Marvin Olasky in The Tragedy of American Compassion in Chapter 6: The Seven Marks of Compassion thus:

  1. Affliation: getting the poor back in touch with their families, i.e., people that can be persuaded they have an obligation to help a particular individual.
  2. Bonding: charity volunteers were instructed to bond with their charity cases, and "maintain 'the greatest patience, the most decided firmness, and an inexhaustible kindness'" towards the people they helped.
  3. Categorization: are applicants truly helpless?  Or are they "Needing Work Rather Than Relief," or "Unworthy, Not Entitled to Relief." Inquiring minds want to know.
  4. Discernment: this is about smoking out the frauds and cheats.
  5. Employment: as in "Labor is the life of society, and the beggar who will not work is a social cannibal feeding on that life."
  6. Freedom: "the opportunity to work and worship without governmental restriction." Hello credentialism.
  7. God: as in "True philanthropy must take into account spiritual as well as physical needs."
It is fairly obvious that the current bureaucratic response to homelessness does not use this wisdom of the ages. Today, we allow the homeless to violate laws against using public spaces as encampments, public intoxication, public begging, etc. And this is unjust.

This is just part of a larger problem that liberals and their clients are exempt from many laws, and this is unjust.

 Of course, no problem handed to a government bureaucracy is ever solved, for it goes against the basic rule of bureaucracy, that it progressively does less and less, and eventually does nothing while collecting salaries and pensions. Indeed, to solve the problem would to be put the bureaucracy out of business, a prospect not to be endured. And this is unjust.

Here in Seattle we have had homeless programs for over a decade, and the problem has only gotten worse. In a way, you can't blame the politicians, who are merely responding to political activists whose meaning of life is bound up with finding oppressions and exploitations to protest against. Thus, opposition to homeless programs has only now emerged in response to the Seattle City Council enacting a "head tax" on medium to large businesses in Seattle in order to expand funding homeless programs that, in accordance with a law of bureaucratic nature, keep expanding.

Notice how my definition of government applies.
Government is an armed minority occupying territory and taxing the inhabitants thereof to reward its supporters.
It really doesn't matter who those supporters are: activists, bureaucrats, welfare clients, entitlements recipients, contractors, investment  firms. Everyone wants free money from the government. The only question is how to frame your wants into non-negotiable demands. Politicians are not fools; they can see that today's activists are tomorrow's supporters, and so every new entitlement and program creates a new activist group that will provide funds for reelection and fight like cats to keep its loot.

And this is unjust.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Oppressions of Liberal Cultural/Political Hegemony, Pt. 3

I've set forth some of the oppressions that the liberal ruling class has committed, here and here. As I wrote,
To paraphrase Marx, it is high time that the ordinary middle class sets forth an indictment of the current ruling class, and enumerate the vile oppressions and dominations and injustices it has created during its rule of about 100 years.
So I have discussed its injustice committed with respect to socialism, big government, the war on the middle class, the war on religion, education, welfare, and government pensions. Now let's look at:

Housing. All humans need shelter, but shelter is expensive, and so humans have expended extraordinary effort to obtain shelter. They have developed many ways in which to obtain shelter from the elements. One way is to live in the house of your liege lord. Another is to board in the house of a widow. Another is to rent a dwelling or a part of a dwelling from its owner, popularly called a "landlord." Finally, due to the modern western idea of private property in land, people can own a parcel of land and the dwelling that stands upon it.

It seems to be the ambition of very many people to "own" their own home. Even the socialists appreciate this, as George Bernard Shaw writes of the first Adam seizing the most fertile and favorable patch of land he can find. But there is a problem. The time of life at which humans need to obtain shelter, in young adulthood, is also a time when they are ill-equipped with the financial means to do so. Thus, in the Middle Ages in Britain, young people could not get married unless they could obtain resources from both families, either by right of inheritance or by dowry or both.

In our time, young people can live in the house of their liege lord, as in public housing. They can rent space from a landlord. They can buy a house by borrowing a down payment from their parents and by pledging the house as collateral for a loan, a home mortgage. The culture of widows operating boarding houses seems to have gone out of fashion.

Now, we know from the rather young social science called economics that there are two ways to distribute things of value. You can do it with the price system, which basically balances the prices, purchase-wise or rent-wise, of houses against the amount of money that buyers and renters are willing to bid. Or you can resolve the matter by force, with government or liege lords establishing prices and rents by force. Government also has the option of meddling with the price system with subsidies and interventions in the credit system: semi-force.

The ruling class of the last 100 years has made many interventions in the housing market. It has devalued the currency; it has instituted rent control; it has subsidized mortgage credit with government-subsidized loans; it has instituted building codes to prevent the construction of "jerry-built" houses and latterly to require expensive "environmentally friendly" features; it has limited housing construction in environmentally sensitive areas. All these government actions are actually or potentially unjust, and simply enact the agenda of the ruling class without regard to the welfare of the nation.

But let us unpack the subsidization of home mortgages. As usual, a program advertised as creating "affordable housing" has achieved the opposite.

Let us start before the Great Depression. In the United States, you could borrow money to buy a house. Typically you had to put down about 50 percent of the purchase price and get a 10 year mortgage.

Do you see what this means? It means that the price of houses had to balance with the fact of buyers that could only borrow 50 percent of the purchase price and put down 50 percent of the purchase price as a down payment. It means that prices would tend to be low, low, low. It would, of course, privilege young people who could borrow down payments from their parents.

But after the Great Depression the FDR administration created the Federal National Mortgage Association to provide a secondary market in mortgages. Perfectly harmless, except that, with the government's backing, FNMA could buy 30-year mortgages and sell them bundled to widows and orphans and pension funds.

Do you see what this means? It means that people are now able to bid more for houses, because 30-year mortgages mean lower monthly payments. This means that house prices will go up.

Is this a good thing? I don't think so.

After World War II the federal government enacted other housing programs, mortgage loans from the Federal Housing Administration with lower down-payments. And of course, the Veterans Administration created the zero-down VA loan for veterans. The result, you can see, is to raise housing prices because the government low-down-payment policies allow buyers to bid up prices for housing.

Is this a good idea?I don't think so.

In the 1970s the feminists discovered that the practice of banks to count only the income of the husband in qualifying home buyers for a loan was male chauvinism. And so lenders were now required to count the income of both partners to a housing loan. The result, you can see, was to raise housing prices because the non-chauvinist rule allowed buyers to bid up the price of houses by qualifying them for bigger loans.

Is this a good idea? I don't think so.

In the 1930s, after the creation of FNMA, the bureaucratic mindset invaded the home loan market and the regulators started grading neighborhoods for creditworthiness. You can see that this is an inevitable result of government intervention, because once you have government subsidies then you have an opportunity to scam the system and therefore you have to have regulations to stop the scam artists. Certain neighborhoods were "red-lined" and often enough these were black neighborhoods. So activism organizations like ACORN pushed to pass the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 to stop redlining and increase the availability of mortgages to minority borrowers. Good idea, you may say. And I'll agree, up to a point.

But activism never stops with its victory. And so the war against redlining kept escalating, through the 1990s and into the 2000s. The federal government kept lowering the down-payment on mortgage loans and started requiring lenders and FNMA to increase the proportion of loans to people with lower credit scores. You can see that this kind of policy increases the number of people who can bid for houses and increases the amount they can bid with. So it tends to increase housing prices.

Is this a good idea? I don't think so.

You know what is coming next. By the 2000s the federal government was pressuring FNMA and Government National Mortgage Association to increase mortgages to "sub-prime" borrowers. And they were pushing 100 percent loans. What could go wrong? A couple of things. First of all, "liar loans." I can't imagine what that means. Also, because pension funds are often required to buy only the highest rated bonds, financial speculators figured out how to buy bundles of mortgages with high-risk loans and convert the high-risk bonds into lower-risk bonds with financial instruments called "derivatives."

Now for a quick lesson in finance, from Walter Bagehot in Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market published in 1872 after a major financial panic. Bagehot argued that to avoid panics the credit system needed to things to work. First of all, loans must be properly collateralized, so that if the loan is liquidated the lender will recover his investment by acquiring the collateral for the loan. Secondly, the borrower must have the means to service the loan. If either of these notions are ignored then, in a financial downturn, people in the money market will be afraid to buy loans, because they will worry about the quality of the loans out there and the ability of borrowers to service their loans. This worry is called a "loss of confidence" and you will hear a lot about it during any bear market.

So in the glorious 2000s both of Bagehot's principles for a solid credit market were being grievously violated by the government's subsidizing and support of low down payment loans and sub-prime borrowers. Thus, in the 2006-08 bear market people in the credit market started to stay away from outfits like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers that had invested heavily in housing-related derivatives. Both financial houses failed.

Is this a good idea? I don't think so.

Now back in 1913 the US passed the Federal Reserve Act to provide the United States with a central bank so that the panic of 1907 could never happen again. It was unconscionable that the United States should have to rely on a "money trust" headed by private banker J.P. Morgan when threatened by a financial panic. It needed a "lender of last resort."

Only in the next two financial crashes the bureaucrat in charge of the Federal Reserve Board did not act as lender of last resort. In September 2008, when Lehman Brothers failed, little Ben Bernanke said that he didn't have the legal power to act as lender of last resort and bail out Lehman Brothers. The Dow Industrials started losing 500 points a day, every day. Can you spell "loss of confidence?"

Is Ben Bernanke a coward and a poltroon? I think so.

You can see what this is all about. In its efforts to help would-be homeowners the government has raised housing prices, engineered at least one bone-shattering financial crash, and almost certainly made things worse.

There is a word for this sort of thing. Injustice.

More to come.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Oppressions of Liberal Cultural/Political Hegemony, Pt.2

Yesterday we listed four instances of the cruel domination of leftist hegemony in Socialism, in Big Government, the War on Middle-Class Culture, and the War on Religion. But how much can you get through in a single blog post? So let us continue with:

Education. The notion of child education -- extending now into young adulthood -- is so universally accepted and celebrated that you wonder what humans did before universal childhood education paid for by taxes. Clearly, the whole point of education is for adults to get a hold of children's minds. That is what is behind the alleged Jesuit claim: "Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man."

Charles Dickens famously represented the schools of his age as vile prisons of mental torture and physical abuse, for which the solution was... what, exactly?

The father of the "common school" in the United States, Horace Mann, predicted in the 1830s that the government school would reduce crime by 90 percent.

Well, we know how that worked out. In the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting in Florida we discovered that, in order to reduce crime statistics, police and education bureaucrats determined, as recommended by the Obama administration, not to put criminal-suspect children into the criminal justice system. And then one day a kid shot up the school. Way to go, bureaucrats!

What we have, in modern government education, is the elite running a system to educate children according to their model of how children should be educated. But there is not the least effort to discover how the parents of the children want their children educated, least of all poor parents.

Or even a double-blind study to compare different models of education with outcomes by race, class, and gender.

So let me ask you: what do poor and minority parents want for their children? Frankly, I haven't a clue, except that I've heard tell that many charter schools are oversubscribed, and that many minority parents like the high-discipline KIPP academies.

Look, this is not surprising. The ruling class thinks of education from inside its liberal bubble as a preparation for a creative and well-connected life, culminating in college and a master's degree and entry into government-financed education and activism. Anything else is not that interesting to the rulers.

Plus, of course, since education is a government monopoly, it is almost impossible to change it. To implement an education system that would respond to changing times and to parents you would need a fee-paying market-based education system. But any idea like that terrifies people.

My model for education would be mothers in the neighborhood getting together to teach their kids the basics and an end to child labor laws. Yep, why not get Junior running  spreadsheets at age 7? However, I would draw the line at allowing children to operate power equipment. Some fun things must be reserved for adults. For the poor? Billionaire-financed KIPP academies. Most kids would quit school at 12 or 13 and become interns and apprentices. Anyone wanting to go to college would have to crawl over broken glass to get there. And no student debt, because that just encourages colleges to jack up fees and hire administrators.

That is the only way to end the injustice of liberal-dominated education.

Welfare. The current welfare system is a pension scheme to reward supporters of the government; both the actual welfare clients and the bureaucrats and vendors that benefit from the system. That is all.

Otherwise we would have to come to the uncomfortable notion that the whole idea of government welfare is to break up the families of the poor, make sure that the poor never rise up into the working class and get a job. And certainly never rise to compete with the middle class for jobs, housing, and good schools in the tonier suburbs.

In the good old days, welfare was run by charities and by mutual-aid associations. There was a strong notion that you only helped people that helped themselves. The charities had a ABCDEFG system. A is for Affliation: who is responsible for this person? EFG is Employment, Freedom, God.

Really, what else would you expect? Government is an armed minority, using taxes to reward its supporters. What does government care of decency, responsibility, self-respect? As long as the punters are voting for our guy the system is working. That's how a politician thinks.

But here is the real injustice. Imagine what happens to the welfare recipient in a place like Venezuela, presently going down the tubes. What is life like for the welfare classes in Venezuela right now? For some reason I read nothing in the media about that. The fact is that if you repose upon your government benefices you are remarkably ill-prepared for life when the government runs out of money. And it is when the government runs out of money, dear lefties, that people turn to the Man on the White Horse, the evil fascist.

Government pensions. Half a century ago, Peter Drucker (I think) observed that defined benefit pensions (that define the income from a pension) could not work because it is impossible to predict 30 years in advance how much an employee should pay in order to enjoy a defined pension at age 65. Anyone that organizes a defined-benefit pension is allocating the risk of providing the future pension to somebody in the future. For instance just this week it was announced that in Seattle, the city employee pension funds made a series of mistakes in investing their funds. So who takes the loss? The city employees? The managers of the pension funds? The insurance companies providing liability insurance to the pension fund managers? The taxpayers?

In fact, while corporations have abandoned the defined-benefit pension plan for "defined-contribution" plans in which the employer just puts funds into an employee pension account the government is still going strong with the defined-benefit plan, all the way from Social Security to the notorious California government employee pension fund, CalPERS, that is likely to cause the State of California to go bankrupt. Actually the defined-benefit pension plan is the perfect fit for politics because it offers glorious vistas of wealth -- way off in the future when other people will have to deal with the fallout.

Obviously defined-benefit pension plans are a monstrous injustice, what I call "generational injustice." They promise a wonderful cornucopia for people now, but require somebody in the future to cough up real cash in order to make good on the promises.

OK, that's enough for now. More in the future.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Many Oppressions of Liberal Cultural/Political Hegemony

To paraphrase Marx, it is high time that the ordinary middle class sets forth an indictment of the current ruling class, and enumerate the vile oppressions and dominations and injustices it has created during its rule of about 100 years.

This is all in accordance with my doctrine that there is no such thing as justice, only injustice.

I mean merely this. If you are railing about justice, you are really complaining about the real or perceived injustice that you experience at the hands of the ruling class. But suppose that, as a result of your activism and peaceful protests that you actually acquire political power. I guarantee you that many people will experience your beneficial legislation to bend the arc of history towards justice as the very opposite, as injustice, straight up.

Now our liberal friends have been telling themselves for over a century that they are an insurgent movement from below that is nobly and sacrificially bending the arc of history towards justice by the use of political power, reversing the injustices of the ages.

I believe the opposite is true. I believe that the progressive movement, the left, has been a top-down tyranny, using the excuse of injustice to impose an unjust order upon the people of the western world, to replace the partial tyranny of feudalism and the apparent tyranny of industrialism with a quasi-military mobilization of society into an administrative hierarchy that is tyrannous, totalitarian, oppressive, exploitative, and ultimately ruinous.

The idea has been that the industrial era has introduced new and frightening monstrosities upon a hapless people, that the left are the chosen ones to fight these monsters and protect us all from their evil spawn. And the means appropriate is politics and government and administrative system.

Unfortunately, as I insist, government is force; politics is the art of unifying "Us" to fight against the dangerous "Them"; and system, administrative system, is domination. So you would expect that no good would come of the left's efforts.

Socialism, the ownership of the means of production and distribution in common. This notion is a nostalgic dream to return humans to the alleged community of the tribe, where nothing is owned and everything is shared. And indeed you can see the survival advantage of sharing food in the hunter-gatherer band. But in today's world of cities far from the production of food, socialism does not work because there is no survival advantage in sharing food with the neighbors. And there is the little problem that socialism cannot work because it cannot compute prices. So what? Well, the purpose of prices is to tell people what to do next, in other words, change their behavior in accordance with the scarcity of goods and services. That is the point of the market economy: every moment people are adapting their contributions to the economy based upon their experience of prices. And the point of government is to prevent change, particularly the kind of change introduced at the point of a spear by rapers and pillagers. The problem with socialism is that when prices and individual ownership are forbidden then there is no way to adjust production in response to developing problems; the socialist managers at the top of the administrative hierarchy are not going to see developing problems until they have become disasters. So socialism at the scale of the nation state is not a survival advantage but a road to ruin. Hello Venezuela. But the big problem with socialism is that it can only operate by force. The natural thing for humans to do is to barter and trade, and then produce a little on the side, and then improve the product and then borrow from a neighbor and then expand production and then start selling to folks in the next village. All this is forbidden because it trespasses on the power of the government's socialist managers. And that is unjust.

The Neo-Slavery of Big Government. All across the west, governments spend about 30 to 50 percent of GDP. This means that about half of the economy is directed not by market forces but by government force. This is unjust, for it forces every individual to fund his master's political project, which is to tax the people to reward his supporters. In effect, people are forced to support a vast political project as the price of earning a living. But it gets worse. It is clear that every government is eager to invent new spending to reward new supporters, but every government quails before the prospect of ever reducing spending. Indeed the only way that government tend to reduce spending is through the trickery of inflation and devaluation of the currency. If slavery is unjust, then Big Government is unjust.

The War on Middle-Class Culture. It seems likely that the bourgeois culture, of companionate marriage, of the nuclear family with married parents living with their children, of distance from the extended family, is a recent phenomenon. It is founded on the notion of individual responsibility and it is hard, because young men move out from under their father's domination (and experience), and young women are free of the influence of their mother-in-law. It means, to a great extent, that young people starting out a family are on their own. It is obviously harder to make a success of this when government is getting you into debt for college and sequestering up to 50 percent of your income. More than that it is clear that the sexual revolution, that stigmatizes female modesty, and abortion, that empowers male sexual appetite, and non-binary genders, that makes a zoo out of sexuality, all combine to confuse and demoralize ordinary middle-class people. That is the whole idea of war, to confuse and disorient the adversary.

You can read that this war on the middle class is a Jewish conspiracy, or the natural program of the ruling class to make the people dependent. But I rather prefer the verdict of my Three Peoples theory. Our ruling class, the People of the Creative Self, believe in creativity à outrance. That's French for creativity to the max. So you get existentialists like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir advertising a life of creativity in everything, including sexuality. They seem to believe in complete personal reinvention without any credit for tradition or the way it used to be. The only problem is that if you try that you will probably ruin your life as, arguably, Sartre and Beauvoir ruined theirs. Indeed, the whole story of the universe is that it does not wipe the slate clean with every generation, but it builds upon itself. It may break out in a new direction, but almost always it will build on previous knowledge (encoded in DNA) and practice (encoded in culture). Anyway, it is cruel and unjust to make war upon a people's culture, whether the culture is hunter-gatherer or 20th century bourgeois.

The War on Religion. The reason that "God is Dead" is that the People of the Creative Self do not believe in the God of the People of the Responsible Self. They believe instead in... well I would say that the People of the Creative Self have not yet really found a new God, beyond the faith in their own creativity. But they know that the God of Christianity is sick and wrong. And bigoted, and superstitious, and racist and sexist and homophobic. So it must be driven out of the public square. And that is unjust. As I develop in my book The Road to the Middle Class, the Axial Age religions are an irreducible part of the journey from rural idiocy to urban competence. The point is made clearly by a minister from back in the days of the Great Awakening in the 1700s:
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
See what I mean? When people make the journey from countryside to cityscape they discover that they need a new religion.  And the religion they seem to choose is the local derivative of the Axial Age religions, with creator Gods that set  up an understandable world book-ended by divine law.

So when liberals make war on Christianity they are building roadblocks and barricades on the Road to the Middle Class. And that is unjust. But that is the way of the world. We humans are pretty good at figuring out what we want and need. But we are a lot less competent at figuring out what other people want and need. And that is the beginning of injustice.

OK. This is End of Part One. More to come.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

So-called "Protest" Is Really War

You gotta hand it to our lefty friends: they are really good at the meme war. What used to be called a rioting mob is now called a "peaceful protest" by "activists."

It all sounds so harmless, so innocent, so earnest. Only it isn't. It is vile.

It is telling a lie, that the left is a coalition of earnest activists doing activism to fight injustice and oppression. No it isn't. Instead it is an army of rich kids posturing against the benign modern bourgeois culture. It is a culture of conceit that is working to replace the benign and peaceable bourgeois culture -- a culture founded on the notion that the way to get on in the world is by offering services to the world, and then waiting for the world to put a price on it -- with a culture of force and domination and hegemony.

The story of of the unparalleled economic and political freedom and prosperity of the last 200 years is not good enough for the lefty protesters. No, the benign and kindly world of service and remuneration is not for them. For them the only answer is Justice Now! Or we will tear the place down.

Hey, I get it. Turbulent youth, especially turbulent rich youth, has always wanted to start a rumble. It's in the genes.

Now I like to say that, back in 1848 when young rich-kids Marx and Engels could see Germans dying from the potato famine -- oh yes, it wasn't just an Irish potato famine, it was Europe-wide -- they wanted to do something about it.

Yeah! Hey kids! We gotta chuck those oppressive regimes outta here. And by the way, according to the classical economists, it could have been that the blossoms of the textile and steam revolutions could soon wither. So the Marxist moment was not completely crazy as it now seems with the verdict of history.

Only the blossoms didn't wither. They ripened into the richest fruit in the whole of human history. The economic revolutions continued, and the starving potato-eaters got jobs. And economic growth continued. And the workers got the vote. And more. By the middle of the 20th century an average worker could buy a motor car -- something utterly unavailable to the most powerful emperors in history -- for about five to seven months wages. And what is more, he could pile the whole family into the Chevrolet and take the family on vacation from Chicago to Los Angeles on good old Route 66. You try that, Hammurabi! Yeah. King Tut had five chariots with him in his tomb. So what, pal. Could you drive from the Valley of the Kings to Lake Victoria for a two-week vacation? I thought not.

But all the time, for the last 200 years, the lefty protesters were insisting that this wasn't the best of times, but the worst of times.

Here is the basic fact of our times. For lefties it is all about power: political power, activist power, protest power, community organizer power, administrative power. Power, power, power.

But the bourgeoisie, the commercial middle class, is not that interested in power. And this has been pretty obvious to anyone with an open mind since the middle class gave the working class the vote. And women. And minorities. And let government wreck the good old Gold Standard so politicians could give goodies to the working class. And destroy the old bourgeois sexual rules so that rich kids could kick back a little.

Really, what was the middle class thinking? Why give an inch to the lefty rich kids?

Why? Because in the culture of the middle class, with its experience of the market economy, power is not that important. The important thing is to track the market, to do things that other people want to pay money for. Oh, and you can never go to sleep on the job, pal. No true bourgeois believes that he or she has a right to a living from the rest of society. The idea is that you work and save, following the hints and the nudges of the price system. And if you do that for a lifetime, then you get to retire in modest independence. To make this work you do not need political power. You just need to be trustworthy and to interact with other trustworthy people. That is because interactions based on trust are way cheaper than transactions based on mistrust. They are, in other words, immensely profitable.

What I am saying is that the whole left-wing activist culture is a lie. If there is anything that has been established over the last century or so it is that if you have a problem, and you talk to the middle class nicely, they will try to help you.

So you do not need protests, peaceful or mostly peaceful. You just need to get into the middle-class's trust network and act trustworthy. That is all.

Of course, if you are an immigrant from a non-trust culture then you have to start at the bottom and change your non-trust culture and learn the new trust culture, and that is very hard. But people from all over the world have succeeded at this in America: Puritans from eastern England, Germans, Irish, Italians, Poles, Jews, and now east and south Asians. African Americans, not so much.

Let us review a few news items to make the left's culture of lies and conceit clear.

First, the Gaza "protests." Sorry chum. Your "Great Return March" is not a peaceful protest, it is an act of war. And I get it. You Palestinians, time after time, have made really bad choices. You coulda been part of Israel, but you followed leaders that wanted war against Israel. Hey, no problem. But war is war, not peaceful protest. If you go to war then you are pledging your whole population in the war against the enemy. You could have been honest about that. But you weren't. So now you are playing lefty activism protest theater and pretending that the children you put in harm's way as a deliberate tactic are helpless victims of eevil Israeli hegemony.

Second, the sweetie-pie special snowflake Letitia Chai that got her feelings hurt at Cornell when she showed up to prep her senior thesis wearing cutoffs. Hey, I get it. When you show up to prep your senior thesis and the professor reminds you not to show up in cutoffs for the real thing and you have passed a couple Critical Theory classes you convert your embarrassment at making a social faux-pas into political rage! Hey why not, snowflake! Why not turn your embarrassment into a peaceful protest? Why not strip off your cutoffs and blouse and return wearing your underwear. Boy oh boy! What a way to show that nobody ain't gonna white privilege you, no ma'am!

By the way, Miss Chai, I can't believe that you culturally appropriate Levis, the authentic clothes of American 19th century workers in a your silly superficial "cutoffs," you nasty superficial rich kid you. How dare you, you willing tool of the leftist cabal.

To coin a phrase,
It is high time that the middle class should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of "oppression," of "exploitation," of "privilege," and of "peaceful protest" with the utter scorn and rejection it deserves.
Whaddya think, sports fans?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tom Wolfe: Pricker of Liberal Balloons

I don't know if you have noticed, but our liberal friends have a rather high opinion of themselves, their ideas, and the ideopolises where they live in segregated conceit.

But they met their match in Tom Wolfe, writer and journalist, that died May 14, 2018 at 88. Here are the obits, and a telling 1988 Wolfe piece about how Trump Reagan connected with the white working class.

In another proof of God's existence, it was Tom Wolfe that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the liberal self-image was all lies and conceit.

Naturally, he did it with humor. I was watching a Scott Adams instructional video on humor, and he advertises the 2 of 6 rule: any joke must have two out of the six in: mean, clever, cute, bizarre, recognizable, naughty.

My takeaway from Adams' notion is to simplify even more. Humor is a way for humans to say nasty things without starting a riot. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

And a lot of what Tom Wolfe wrote was mean. It was mean of him to make fun of Ken Kesey and the 60s hippies. It was mean of him to make fun of Leonard Bernstein doing a Black Panthers fundraiser in his Manhattan apartment. It was mean to make fun of modern art and modern architecture. And the usual suspects didn't appreciate it.

But that's the point. When you decide to show up the fools and the knaves, the best way, the human way, is to combine the meanness with clever, cute, bizarre, recognizable, or naughty.

OK, I loved The Right Stuff about the astronauts, and The Bonfire of the Vanities about Wall Street bond boys.

But I am Charlotte Simmons really hit me between the eyes, as it evokes of the vileness of the post-sexual revolution college "hookup" culture. The New York Times obituary damns Charlotte Simmons with faint praise.
“I Am Charlotte Simmons” (2004), is about a naïve freshman’s disillusioning experiences at a liberal arts college fueled by sex and alcohol. Many critics found the picture unconvincing and out of touch.
Yeah, I'll bet. Because Wolfe exactly and harrowingly wrote how the hookup culture devastates young women that can't help but be sucked into its maelstrom. Liberals would rather not talk about that, and instead waffle on about "campus rape culture" and #MeToo while failing to confront the basic fact that the sexual revolution has hit, and continues to hit, women between the eyes.

Years ago I remember Dennis Prager having a bunch of college girls on his show and talking about life, the universe and everything. What did they want? They wanted to be romanced.

Gosh. Who knew? Obviously not the critics that found Charlotte Simmons unconvincing and out of touch.

In fact, Charlotte Simmons rather put me off Tom Wolfe; the medicine was too strong. So I have not read A Man in Full although it is sitting on the shelf. Nor have I read Back to Blood.

But Tom Wolfe's passing at the good old age of 88 reminds me to get with the program. HalfPrice Books, here I come.

Monday, May 14, 2018

On the Ground in Detroit

We all know that Detroit, Michigan, is a basket case. But it always helps to see things for yourself, as I did last week when attending the graduation of a son of a friend.

The bottom line news right now is that basket-case Detroit is starting back up, because a bunch of millennials are moving in and taking advantage of rock-bottom prices for everything from the storied 30-storey Fisher Building to bombed-out apartment buildings. The fabulous art-deco Fisher Building, in Midtown on Grand Avenue opposite the old General Motors HQ, sold for $12 million in 2015. It was built for $9 million in 1928.

The rule-of-thumb on apartment buildings is that the rehab costs about 3 times the purchase price. That's because every abandoned building has been stripped of all its wiring and plumbing by looters.

Back in 1928 Detroit was the hottest thing in the world, and when the Fisher brothers -- of Fisher Body fame -- sold their remaining 40 percent of Fisher Body to General Motors for $200+ million, they gave Albert Kahn a check for $30 million to build them a building that couldn't be beat. In the event they only needed $9 million because they scaled back the building from three towers to one. So they go a refund.

But then came the Great Depression, and Detroit plunged off a cliff. Pretty soon we got the Battle of the Overpass in 1937 with the workers battling for their labor union.

Funny how that works. You'd think the workers would be battling the government that screwed up the response to the crash of 1929, but no. They loved the FDR that kept the economy down and dirty for his first term and then gave them a recession in 1937-38. But they hated the corporations that paid their wages. How does that work anyway.

Of course it wasn't the union that got Detroit back on top again. It was World War II and the arsenal of democracy. They tell us that Detroit build 153 cars during World War II, but 44 percent of the munitions, the planes, Jeeps, and tanks.

Still, the post-war period was another glorious era for Detroit, what with the UAW inventing the weekend and pushing wages, benefits, and pensions way beyond what the market would bear.

So when blacks rioted in the Sixties and the Japanese brought in the Toyota Corona, and the union said No Givebacks, the stars all lined up to flush Detroit into the toilet.

The result is everywhere to see, withvacant lots everywhere growing grass, and houses with half-collapsed front porches, dilapidated houses, burned bouses, and vacant apartment buildings everywhere.

It's a pity that the whole city didn't work take Motown Records as a model. That family firm started with an $800 family loan to Berry Gordy Jr, with a studio in the basement of the family home on West Grand Blvd. But in 1972 Motown bailed out of the Motor City and headed for LA.

I guess it is lucky that Detroit is run by a black Democratic city government. Otherwise the whole disaster of the last 50 years would be the fault of Republicans and white racist patriarchs.

But I'd say that Detroit ought to be made into a National Park of Stupid Politics. Because for me the travails of Detroit are as obvious as can be. Political power stinks if you are serious about wiving and thriving is a growing economy.

No, it is not a good idea to mew up corporations with labor unions, because it milks the corporation of flexibility and capital, both of which will likely be needed when the market turns, as it always does.

No it is not a good idea to burn your city down. Capitalists are funny that way. They really shy away from cities that have lots of angry young men with a taste for burn, baby, burn.

And it is not a good idea to turn your city into a loot and plunder operation. Back in the day loot and plunder was cool: you attack your neighboring tribe, kill the men, rape the women, and take all the food. But not any more. Now you need to tend your city like a garden, and make it into a place where corporations want to go and investors want to invest.

But there is good news about Detroit. It is simply this: the bargain hunters and bottom feeders are moving in. Partly these are folks willing to make a bet, figuring that they are buying low, getting the marquee Fisher Building for cents on the dollar, and might well get to sell high. Partly these are young people that can't afford to move to rich-bitch places like Silicon Valley. So they move to Detroit and hope that their sweat equity will convert into a chance to wive and thrive. See, if you can buy a bombed-out apartment building cheap, stripped of everything salable, maybe you can camp out in it while you rehab it, putting in new plumbing and wiring, apartment by apartment, and renting out each apartment to students as soon as you make it habitable.

Here's another interesting factoid. If you visit The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn you will get to see all the marquee cars of the last century. Each car has its price and also the number of months that the average worker would have to work to pay that price at that time. Back when the Model T came out it was over a year for the average worker to afford one. But by the 1950s the price of the average car was priced down to 5-7 months of the average worker's wage, and that is still true today. I guess those automakers know where to find the sweet spot is in the auto market. Who knew?

Well, we are flying back to Seattle today, and I doubt if I will ever be back to Detroit. But I wish the young folk and the bottom feeders well. They are the true patriots that make the world work. Because they don't just sit there; they do something.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Big Issue: Reason vs. Emotion

If you read the comments of most conservative on-line sites you will pretty soon encounter someone talking about conservative reason vs. liberal emotion. The idea is, of course, that the commenter sees  the world through the cold light of day, but liberals see it through the fuzz of their passions, silly things.

This tendency is also evident in Jonah Goldberg's Suicide of the West, where he compares his Lockean individualism against Rousseau's collectivist and romantic General Will, not to mention President Trump's populist nationalism. I have reviewed Jonah's book here and here. The idea is that reason and rational thought are real-world, while post 1800 Romanticism is fantasy.

Of course our liberal friends think that their "our democracy" culture is nobly and truthfully going along with bending the arc of history towards justice in accordance with "science" whereas the racist sexist homophobic white supremacists like you and me are all trapped in the superstitions and oppressions of the past.

But I am here to tell you that they are all wrong, and I am right.

Here is what I believe. We humans, along with all other living things, got where we are today mostly on the strength of our instincts, our emotions, our "affect." On top of this pile of instinct is our particular human quality of conscious thought and reason, which is, of course, very powerful. But here is the thing. We humans developed reason, scientists say, in order to manage our relationships. We tell stories to define ourselves and we use reason to put those stories together. So reason is a human artefact, not the key to the universe. The remarkable fact about this is that reason, that we developed to assist our lives as social animals,  can also be used in our modern science to build a theory of how you can make so-called "electrons" release so-called "energy" in the form of so-called "photons" in a device we call an "LED lamp" and let there be light.

But here is the thing. All this science and theory that, e.g., tells us how to build an LED lamp that uses our knowledge about the universe to create light, does not tell us what the universe IS. Or what it MEANS, if anything. The whole question of the meaning of life, the universe and everything is just as much a mystery as it always has been. In fact, my little joke is to say that our modern knowledge, which enables us to create energy from nuclear fission -- i.e., from our current theories about the nature and the physics of so-called "sub-atomic particles" -- has deepened the whole mystery about the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

I mean, if the universe is really as big as we think it is, what on earth is going on out there? The questions multiply without limit.

In the old days humans solved the mystery of how the world works through the notion of spirits. There were spirits in every tree and animals, and they were the hidden something that ran the world. Then we decided that a God created the world, set the rules, wound the whole thing up like a clock, and set everything in motion. Now we believe in a Big Bang in a blinding flash of light followed by "inflation" followed by expansion and condensation of stars and formation of galaxies, etc. Jolly good story, I'd say. Did you know that our Milky Way galaxy has completed about 13 revolutions since the Big Bang?

I believe in the central dogma of Immanuel Kant, who said that we cannot know "things-in-themselves," but only appearances. In other words, we humans receive sense impressions and them process them in our minds to make sense of the sense impressions. We create a theory of the world. It may be a theory of spirits, of a theory of a creator God, or a divine mechanical watchmaker, or a Big Bang. The nature of the theory depends on our accumulation of knowledge so far, and each of the theories works pretty well for its time. But that is all.

Now you may have noticed that people with sophisticated minds -- such as Jonah Goldberg -- tend to put a lot of faith in their minds and the knowledge they have accumulated in those minds, and tend to view with alarm the primitive nature of the ordinary deplorable in the street. Reality is reason and knowledge, according to these folks, but humans are tribal. What's a sophisticate to do?

I'll tell you: Be very careful. That is my advice to the sophisticated. Because the truth is that we none of us have much of a clue what we are doing.

Right now, for instance, a lot of people are thinking that we can extend human life significantly, and live for a couple hundred years, avoiding the disease of ageing. These are the same sort of people that are deeply worried about increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 3.5 to 4.0 percent of the whole.

But on my view, ageing is not a disease, it is part of the program, to kill off the old 'uns and make way for the young 'uns, and thus the whirligig of genes brings in his mutations, which I understand that scientists believe to be a vital part of our survival.

And here's another thing. I was at the Detroit Institute of Arts today looking at all the pictures. The thing about art is that it is all about the response to the art. And if you ask me, in the centuries since the birth of modern science, art has become rather frenzied about what it all means. Used to be that artists created fairly calm and ordered art about spirits, gods, magnificent aristocrats, or even good Dutch bourgeois housewives. Not any more. Artists seem to be in a frenzy about what it all means and trying to figure out if the world is upside-down or right-side-up.

It is as if the artists of the world are running around trying to rebuild a Map of Meaning from the shards and crystals they find all around them.

But what they all seem to agree upon is that it is feelings, emotion, "affect," the response to the world that really matters. Not reason.

And that is something to think about. Or better yet, feel.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jonah's "Suicide:" The Bigger Problem

In his new Suicide of the West Jonah Goldberg reminds us of the Miracle of the last 300 years, and the fact that we are still the tribal animals we have been for the last 250,000 years at least. Our modern era is a battle between the Lockean idea of individualism and the reactionary Rousseauean idea of the General Will and the romantic rebellion against Reason. See my piece here.

And Trump, on his telling, is a return to tribalism, the celebration of a tribalism of nation against the left's tribalism of identity. Thus the subtitle of Suicide, "How the rebirth of tribalism, populism, nationalism, and identity politics is destroying American democracy."

Maybe Jonah is right. The only thing is that the failure of Conservatism Inc. to push back the left in recent years means that Lockean individualism and Reason are too weak a reed with which to beat the identity tribalism of the left.

This was made clear to me when I read F.S.C. Northrop's The Meeting of East and West back in the 1980s. Here is the money quote:
The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate.
That was the basis of the very German Romantic rebellion. It said that we can't just be rational Lockean individuals; we are driven by our emotions, as symbolized in paintings long ago of thoughtful Germans standing on top of mountains looking out over Nature's Creation. So ever since I have been looking for a counter-culture to the official counterculture, one would take into account the German critique of rational individualism and start from there.

Or, to put in in Jonah Goldberg's terms, the critique would have to recognize that we humans are still tribal.

And here we are 200 years after the Romantic rebellion, 100 years after the Bolshevik revolution, and we still haven't solved the problem. In fact things are getting worse, with Democrat-identifying Americans exhibiting majority support for socialism, and lefty social media well on the way to declaring that all non-lefty speech is hate speech and therefore criminal.

My point is this. Trump or no Trump, if we non-lefties can't roll over the left in a counter-revolution of ideas and throw their ideas on the dust heap of history then what's the point?

So Jonah gets to the end of his book, and complains about the shrinking role of God in our world, that people can't name the three branches of government, that kids in elite colleges are nice, pleasant know-nothings, that "feeling... has become the live idea about how we should organize our lives" and that life is becoming entertainment.

But modern American conservatism, for Jonah, is supposed to be about "the beliefs that ideas matter and that character matters" and he wails that Donald Trump stands athwart both these notions, and his supporters don't care. So we must rededicate ourselves to turning our barbarian children into citizens, and show out gratitude for our civilization.
We cannot get rid of human nature and humanity's natural tribal tendencies. But we know that, under the right circumstances, our tribal nature can be grafted to a commitment to liberal, property rights, innovation, etc.
Yes. But how? The collapse of Conservatism Inc. in 2016 is surely proof that something is wrong with the conservative movement and its culture. And the fact that a political neophyte could come in and blow up a cadre of 14  professional would-be presidential nominees underlines the proof.

So where do we go, what do we do?

Thanks, Jonah, I'm glad you asked.

As I noted above, F.S.C. Northop pointed to the problem that for a lot of people, Germans and such, Locke and Hume don't do the job. For me that starts with the guy that Hume woke out of a dogmatic slumber: Kant. Kant's big thing was that we cannot know things in themselves, but only appearances. This seemed to suggest that nothing is possible, except that in the hands of Hegel it seemed that anything was possible.

Then Schopenhauer reduced things-in-themselves to one thing, the Will, and Nietzsche declared God dead and looked to a world Beyond Good and Evil. Then we had a complete revolution in physics, mostly led by Germans. Then we had the revolution in psychology with Freud as inspiration for the left and Jung's rather different effort to re-understand the universal meaning underlying myth and religion.

Does all this German thinking mean the end of the world, a demolition of Locke and the dream of an individualism beyond tribalism, or a rebirth into something else?

I don't know, but I'd say it is curious that just this year we see a psychologist like Jordan Peterson, who seems to be connecting to the lost boys of the millennium in his call to responsibility, and whose Maps of Meaning is an attempt to integrate Jung, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky and more into a revaluation of the creative, sacrificial Hero's quest.

Oh, and by the way, Peterson argues that we have to stop imagining that we humans are rational creatures, reasoning our way through life. In fact we are driven by "affect," which is a fancy-pants word psychologists use instead of the word "emotion."

And then there is Trump. He may have rallied the right with appeals to the tribalism of nation and America for Americans, but he has governed as a tax cutter, a deregulator, and seems to be heading towards some resolution of the 65-year stand-off in Korea.

Suppose President Trump is a man that understands that humans can only be led by an appeal to tribe, the neo-tribalism of patriotism and the nation state, but also knows that the way the world works comes from the insights of the Lockean revolution.

And if that were true, then Trump is doing what just Jonah wants, recognizing that Americans are still tribal, but using his appeal to tribe to get our permission to lead us into a better place. Only Jonah can't see it. And perhaps more important, neither can the left.