Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Let's Place Our Hope in the Midterms

Today Victor Davis Hanson makes the obvious point that the left's cherished principles lie abused and discarded all about them in the dust. They used to be ready to sink their teeth into police and defense official abuse.  Now they are OK with Obama  using surveillance on the opposition. They used to be absolute in their support the First Amendment and of "dissent" against the official line. Now the left stigmatizes all speech it doesn't like as "hate" speech.

Hanson wonders how they will be able to assert their principles once they regain power again. But I think he is asking the wrong question. The left has always believed that dissent and revolution are only OK for them. Everything  else is reaction or fascism. This has never changed, not from the French Revolution down to the present witch hunts conducted by female diversity administrators on campus.

The point is that ideologues have always believed that all  measures are appropriate to cast out the evil ones.

No, I think the only solution to the currrent left and its eliminationist tactics against anyone to the right of Alexandra Ocasio Cortez is to beat the Democrats soundly in the next five elections.

See, right now the left thinks it is going to win the midterms in November 2018, because #Resistance. The lefties are thinking to themselves: wait until we win the House back. Then we will teach Trump a lesson he will never forget.

The only way to shut them up is to beat them in the elections like a drum. And then do it again. That is what taught the left a lesson in the aftermath of the Sixties, and it took a while.

By the way, looking back we can see that the left tried the deep-state method against a duly elected Republican president back then too. Richard Nixon was hounded from office for minor peccadilloes that would never have seen the light of day if he had been a Democrat, and because every Democrat knew that Nixon was evil. Well he must have been because he called Helen Gahagan  Douglas a pinko in the 1948 California Senate election. But the prime time defenestration of Richard Nixon did not teach the Silent Majority a lesson in the 1970s. After a pause  the pushback against the Sixties Kids and their leftist follies resumed with Ronald Reagan and a Republican Senate. It was only when the Democrats cried Uncle and said we are all moderates now in 1992 that Bill Clinton could get elected President.  Oh, and by the way, just how much "collusion" was there between Clinton and Ross Perot? I guess we shall never know.

Don't forget that when the Democrats won Congress back in 2006 it was with a pack of moderate congressional candidates that found hard times once they voted for Obamacare in 2010. And Barack Obama ran as a moderate and only turned left after he was elected.

The fact that Obama turned left has to account for a lot of the staggering losses that Democrats have suffered in the election years since 2008.

Really, the  political situation is just the same as in the Sixties. If you are a left-wing kid you get to protest and riot and take down ordinary Americans with a wink and a nod from the lefty academy and media. But if you are a normal or a deplorable you know that anything you say or do against the lefty establishment could lose you your job or your reputation.  Anything.

If you are anyone to the right of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez you know you better keep your mouth shut, or there could be trouble. So what do you do? You keep your head down and then you vote early and often in November 2018.

So here is my prediction for November. If the Democrats underperform their current 5ish point lead in the "generic ballot" then we can assume that the normals and deplorables are angry about the injustice of being oppressed and marginalized by the lefty ruling class. If the Democrats win in November, more or less hitting their marks in the "generic ballot," then we know that the future is Democratic.

My hope is that the Democrats get a bloody nose in November.

See, if they don't then their liberal lefty base is going  to get the message that their lefty #Resistance is working and that they can run over the deplorable opposition without penalty.

That would be a pity, because that gets us a step closer to civil war. You get civil war when the opposition feels that the system is all sewn up, and there is no way for their people to petition the government to get redress of their grievances.

Monday, July 30, 2018

What Comes After Conservatism?

I just whipped through Roger Scruton's latest, Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition and I am here to tell you that conservatism is dead.

Scruton's short book leads us through the pre-history of conservatism, to the glory days of Adam Smith and Burke, that reflected and enhanced itself against the liberals like the American founders. Then he talks about the French and German contribution, from Hegel, Chateaubriand and de Maistre; the Hegel bit surprised me. Then we have the cultural conservatives like Arnold, Ruskin, T.S. Eliot and F.R. Leavis. Then we have the reaction to socialism, in Hayek, Oakeshott, and Burnham.

But what about "Conservatism Now" the final chapter? This is what leads me to say that it is all over with conservatism. Today's (actually yesterday's conservatives) are involved in a fight against political correctness and religious extremism, i.e., Islam. So we are talking about Orwell, Bauer, Buckley, Rand, Kirk, Huntington, and of course Scruton himself.

Yeah. What about it? What has conservatism done for you lately? The truth is that conservatism has become an Outer Party to the left's and the deep state's Inner Party. It is a decorative flourish to the power project of the evolved, educated class.

And so, chaps like you and I have to think about what comes next. And here is what I think. I need we need to mount an ideological movement that can achieve strategic concentration on the religious and cultural and political battlefront with simple pejoratives similar to those the left uses, as in racism! to attack people that don't like racial quotas, sexism! to attack people that don't believe that women should be specially privileged and/or driven out  into careers in their peak child-bearing years, homophobia!  to  attack people who want to privilege the marriage-and-children family, and xenophobia! to attack people that want to maintain and deepen the unique American culture and homeland.

And so, I think, we must start by concentrating our minds on the big questions that human society is designed to engage with, meaning the big questions that our current ruling class has utterly failed to address. The problem with the conservatives over the centuries, as revealed by Roger Scruton, is that the conservative line has always been a half-hearted critique, as in, oh well, we really don't think that the full-on worship of reason is so great. Or, we don't think the full-on bureaucratic-administrative state is the best of all possible worlds.

Meanwhile our liberal friends have been ruthlessly marginalizing us as people that don't care about the workers, that don't care about the blacks, that don't care about women, that don't care about gays. Thus the vile pejoratives  of racist, sexist, homophobes. Oh and don't forget about "hate" and xenophobia. Thus, anyone that disagrees with the Inner Party of the ruling class is cast out into Outer Slobbovia as worse than Hitler.

I say: Enough! So what next?

Obviously, "the best defense is a good offense." That means that it is time to stop whining and apologizing and start attacking.

OK. Great. But what are we attacking for?

Let's go back to first principles. The whole point of human society is to wive, thrive, and survive. There is nothing esoteric about this; we are talking about family and children, jobs and opportunity, and protection from existential peril. But people are not the all the same: that is what my reductive Three Peoples theory is supposed to illuminate.

What do the People of the Subordinate Self need? They need a religion and culture that steers them towards making it in the city. That means growing away from the subordinate feudal and slave culture of the agricultural world to the responsibility culture of the city. In other words the whole bourgeois ethos of Axial Age Religion, the bourgeois family, and the responsibility to develop and maintain marketable skills. You want to wive and thrive and survive in the city? Then get with the bourgeois responsibility ethos. You will notice that our present ruling class does not do that good a job at providing a society that leads the immigrants to the city towards these goals, and that must change. All we need is a pejorative to name and shame them for their cruel and unjust treatment of the People of the Subordinate Self.

What do the People of the Responsible Self need? They need to understand that just following the rules, going to work, and obeying the law is not the whole of life; it is necessary, but it is not sufficient. What if the world changes? And it will. People need to get a little creative;  otherwise when the world changes you are going to be out of luck. One of the great themes of the left is that when the feudal lords no longer needed soldiers, they just "hurled" the peasants off their estates; when the farmers started using threshing machines they no longer hired agricultural laborers that used to do the threshing by hand: too bad for them; and when the market changed the capitalists just laid off the workers that had built their corporations into world beaters. I argue that a responsible person does not rely on the boss to take care of him. He knows that it is up to him to change with the market.  You will notice that the current ruling class does not do too much to teach the average deplorable to renew their skills and change with the market, and that must change. All we need is a pejorative to name and shame them for their cruel and thoughtless treatment of the People of the Responsible Self.

What do the People of the Creative Self need? They need to understand that there are other people in the world besides themselves and their need to amaze us all. Their current war on Axial Age religion, on the bourgeois family, and their monstrous taxation and regulation of ordinary work is the crime of the century, and the ruling class deserves to be thrown out for its monstrous crimes and injustices. And their current culture of "activism" that they are called to be the Saviors of the marginalized and the oppressed is a pompous self-congratulatory conceit that is all about the need of creative people for meaning and validation and has little to do with the needs of the marginalized and the oppressive. It is fine for creative people to experiment at the margin, but they should be experimenting on themselves and not on the People of the Subordinate and Responsible Self. In particular they should not be trying to mainstream their culture of sexual experimentation. The words of the actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell still apply.
Her best-known remark, uttered upon hearing about a male homosexual relationship, was "My dear, I don't care what they do, so long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses,"
But of course, today the whole point is not just to frighten, but to stampede the horses. You will notice that the current ruling class recklessly advances the class interest of the People of the Creative Self with no regard at all for the needs and inclinations of other people, and this must change. All we need is a pejorative to name and shame them for their unjust promotion of their own class needs and their open war upon the needs of everyone else.

As you can see, I have thought out the whole campaign, its justification and its goals. All I need are the pejoratives. But I'm thinking about that; I'm thinking!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Yes, But What is Pinker's "Reason" for Being?

With the election of Donald Trump, Canadian born Steven Pinker just couldn't take it any more, and so the thrice-married Pinker has written a book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, to he could show us all what a retrograde oaf the thrice-married Trump was.

Basically, the book argues that everyone is an idiot except educated evolved Harvard professors with gray curly hair (at age 63?) that believe in Reason, Science, and Humanism.

You can tell that people like Pinker are enlightened because they believe in Reason, Science, and Humanism, and fight against racism, sexism, and homophobia. Oh and fascism.

It is only when we get to Chapter 21 that we learn that everyone manipulates Reason to equate with what their tribe believes. So while the real world confounds any "simple narrative" such as ideological conservatives, the left, and the ideological libertarians. However:
I've been arguing that the main drivers [of human progress] were the non-political ideals of reason, science, and humanism which led people to seek and apply knowledge that enhanced human flourishing.
No "simple narratives" here!

When we finally get to the last Chapter 23: Humanism, we learn that humanism means:

  • Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis.
  • Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change...
  • Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.
  • Life's fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of human ideals.
  • Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.
  • Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness.
But this is so anodyne to be almost meaningless.

So what you are saying, says my inner Cathy Newman, is that Reason, Science, and Humanism equal the way that we Harvard professors think about the world. Theists can go pound sand because nobody can now seriously believe in God. And the romantic heroes of Nietzsche are a direct road to "authoritarian populism, neo-fascism, neo-reaction, and the alt-right." (Yeah! Nobody here but us rationalists and scientists!)

Well, Steven Pinker, I have a kindly and compassionate world view that does not need to condemn everyone that disagrees with me to "bottomless perdition, there to dwell. / In adamantine chains and penal fire, / Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms." I call it my reductive Three Peoples theory.

The idea is that it is perfectly natural and physical for many people to believe in God. In my Road to the Middle Class and elsewhere I argue that the Christian God of divine law and eternal love is just the thing for people making the transition from the country to the city, from agriculture to commerce.

But it is also true that anyone that has plunged into modern science will have a problem with the God of the Bible. That is what Nietzsche was wrestling with. Basically, I understand him saying that, if God is Dead then we will have to invent him, in the Übermensch, whatever that means. Generally, I interpret Nietzsche's notion as the Call of Creativity. If God did not create the world, then we must do so. And creativity is hard, so the creative person -- the "free spirit" or "sacrificial victim" or whoever -- needs to toughen up, because life for the creative person is a Hero's Journey, an exploration of meaning, that is not going to be conducted within the guardrails of society.

One thing that Steven Pinker should ask himself is, if Enlightenment is such a beacon of Reason, Science, Progress, and truth, why was Romanticism the first thing out of the box right after the Age of Reason? Pinker sneers at Romanticism with a jibe against Herder and "feelings." And why are so many people captivated by Marxism, old and new? And why is theism still as strong as it is? Why are people attracted to the neo-tribalism of labor unions? And why do people that have rejected God flock to "spirituality" cults?

I will tell you, Steven Pinker. The fact is that the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is still, 200 years after the Enlightenment, a mystery. I like to say that it is more of a mystery than it used to be, because every advance in knowledge just raises new questions.

But each of us must live in the here and now, eons before we finally (if ever) find out the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. That means that we must make a decision about the meaning of life, right now. Hence God. Hence religion. Hence Marxism. Hence the alt-right.

Or, if you are a romantic hero, you can make your whole life about the search for meaning.

It is understandable that a chap like Steven Pinker wouldn't get this. Life is pretty good for a Harvard professor with a solid record of research and a string of popular bestsellers. And three wives, just like Donald Trump. What is best in life for Steven Pinker is a world where smart Jewish kids get to be professors and do research and write popular bestsellers extolling Reason, Science, and Progress.

Any change is likely to end up making life worse for a chap like Steven Pinker.

By the way, Pinker mischaracterizes Edmund Burke, writing that Burke "suggested that humans were too flawed to think up schemes for improving their condition and were better off sticking with traditions and institutions that kept them from the abyss." That's not quite what Burke said, old chum. Let's just say that Burke thought we humans were too flawed to think up schemes for improving other peoples' condition, that such schemes tended to lead straight to "the gallows," as indeed they did not, because by then the French had replaced the hangman's gallows with Madame la Guillotine. Know what I mean?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

President Trump: Bumbler or Genius?

Yesterday President Trump had a negotiating session with EU bigwig Jean-Claude Juncker, and at the end of it the twain announced that they were stepping back from the brink of trade war. Looks pretty good, eh? Not to the The New York Times:
It was hard to say, given Mr. Trump’s bluster and unpredictable negotiating style, if the agreement was a genuine truce or merely a lull in a conflict that could flare up again. Twice, Mr. Trump’s aides have negotiated potential deals with China, only to have him reject them and impose further tariffs. Cutting these trade barriers to zero would be an extraordinarily complex political challenge on both sides of the Atlantic.
Oh dear oh dear. That Trump! No chance for a quick one before lunch at the bar of the Conventional Wisdom Club when he is around!

And just in case you didn't get the message here's another piece from the Times: "Europe Avoids a Trade War with Trump, But Can It Trust Him?" I can imagine how the Times feels. I feel the same way about liberals. We've avoided a civil war with liberals so far, but can we trust them? Certainly not if it comes to the instinctive resort to pejoratives like racist, sexist, homophobe by our liberal friends. And today the Times reports that the Mueller investigation is probing Trump's tweets. Boy! No there's a problem!

Never mind about the lads in the bar at the Conventional Wisdom Club. What about the Chinese?

What do the Chinese think about Trump? They have been talking to the Financial Times, and this is what they say they think, according to Marginal Revolution. First off, they "are awed by his skill as a strategist and tactician[.}" No kidding! I thought he was a blowhard reality show star!

Want some more?
In Chinese eyes, Mr Trump’s response is a form of “creative destruction”. He is systematically destroying the existing institutions — from the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement to Nato and the Iran nuclear deal — as a first step towards renegotiating the world order on terms more favourable to Washington.
No kidding! I mean, why would any rational and educated and humanist Enlightenment Now person want to renegotiate the world order? Hey, if it was good enough for FDR and Alger Hiss at Yalta, and Harry Truman and George "Containment" Kennan in the Cold War, what's not to like!

Only, of course, things were different in the Cold War. The idea, if you recall, was to "contain" the Stalinist Soviet Union, a country, for you AOC fans, that killed at least 10 million in the Ukraine famine, and millions more in the Gulag, etc. So our military and economic policy was founded on the idea of embracing Europe with our military strength and building it back up after the devastation of war. Because it benefited us.

But because the ruling class is usually composed of idiots and time servers, there was no sensible redefinition of our global strategy after the Cold War was well and truly won in 1989 and the Soviet Union cried Uncle, and last week what looks like millions of Russians observed the centenary of the assassination of the Czar.

So what sort of military alliances should we have? Yes, you got me. I really don't have a clue.

So what sort of economic trade deals should we have? Hey, you got me. I really don't have a clue.

But here we have the Chinese that say that they think that President Trump is in the middle of an episode of "creative destruction" to renegotiate the terms of trade in our favor.

Of course, they may not really think that. They may, inscrutable Orientals that they are, be playing a much deeper game than that. They may think that Trump is going to crash and burn on his present course, and so they want to encourage him to drive off the cliff. Who knows?

But my guess is that the Chinese ruling class are idiots, just like our ruling class are idiots. Their ruling class seems to be reverting to pre-20th century strategy with their Belt and Road initiative, which is already running into problems with its client countries failing to make payments. Is that a good idea? Well, my guess is probably not. Most all government programs are a mess, and just waste resources for little gain. And I expect that the Belt and Road initiative, which is a return to the ancient imperial Chinese policy of client states, is no different.

And our ruling class is just as clueless. Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now is really just an apology for today's liberal ruling class. Yeah, everything is great and a tribute to reason and science and humanism. Except that, when we finally get to Chapter 21: Reason, we learn that people are totally tribal and rationalize anything if their tribe believes in it. So Pinker waves a hand over the welfare state and declares it to be good. Like 25 percent of government spending on the poor. Well, he would, because his tribe is all in favor of the welfare state.

OK. But in Captain Swing, our worthy lefties Hobsbawm and Rudé (rhymes with Egbert Sousé, know what I mean?) excoriate the Brits of 1830 for humiliating and abandoning the agricultural laborers to the Poor Law and the Speenhamland plan. So what does it mean to abandon the white working class to the tender mercies of the global economy, Stevie? So what does it mean to have millions on millions of poor people out of the labor market and not contributing to the national economy? I'd call that a bloody failure. But Pinker just regards it as proof of our compassion, or rationality,  or something.

Same thing on foreign policy. What about NATO? What is its purpose now that Russia is no longer a world-conquering behemoth? And now that Germany is back as No.1 in Europe by a country mile and a bratwurst? And why are we obsessing on Russia, Russia, Russia, when if anyone is pushing for World Domination it is China? Hey, I'd say it is time for a president that hasn't been marinating in the bar at the ruling class Conventional Wisdom Club for most of his adult life.

Here's my take. Most of the time, in my view, politicians, bureaucrats, academicians, and activists are idiots. That means that they tend to bumble into foolish mistakes that we the people have to pay for.

But occasionally you get a guy that really stands out from the crowd. You can tell he is exceptional because the usual suspects think he is not quite out of the top drawer. Bismarck. Lord Salisbury.  OK, so those guys were out of the top drawer. But then Calvin Coolidge, "weaned on a pickle," Margaret Thatcher, the grocer's daughter, Ronald Reagan, an "amiable dunce."

Is Donald Trump out of the Coolidge, Thatcher, Reagan drawer?  We don't know. Call back in about ten years and we'll know.

Of course, by then I might be dead.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Meaning and the Three Peoples

I am reading Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now, loaded for bear because, like so many people, Pinker does not understand about values and meaning. When you say, as almost everyone does, that you believe in facts and reason and the other guys believe in feelings and emotion, you don't understand.

People bring to the table not fact and reason but their "religion," their world view about what the world is and what it means and what "my life" means in consequence. Steven Pinker believes instinctively in what he takes to be the value system of the Enlightenment, which is that prosperity, freedom, rights, knowledge, safety, are Good Things, whereas religion, conformity, priestly authority, and the marginalization of black people, women, and gays are Bad Things.

Now I have written previously about "What Gods do the 'Three Peoples' Believe In?'," but I haven't really written about Meaning and the Three Peoples, or how each of the Three Peoples finds meaning in life.

But yesterday an email acquaintance explained the whole procedure to me.
[I]f you identify as, say, a BDSM Submissive, but you don’t have a concrete cosmic philosophy about the outside world, then who you are is literally the center of your conceptualized universe. The endangerment of whatever aspect of yourself you most strongly identify AS, is a threat to your whole existence. 
Or, to rephrase in my Three Peoples talk, if you are a subordinate worker or peasant, your whole life falls apart when the lord or the boss says: Sorry, I don't need you to work my fields, or bend tin in my factory anymore; good luck, pal. The meaning of life for a People of the Subordinate Self is all bound up in your physical usefulness to your lord or patron.

Then my correspondent talks about herself:
Contrast that with how I understand MYself as a being entity that exists in a universe to be explored in order to discover its meaning, and in doing so, MY meaning as a member of it that exists within its rules. 
Wow. Do you see what she is saying? She is saying that she discovers meaning by living her life as an exploration of the world. This means that meaning is not already discovered on the tablets, immutable for all time, as religions and ideologies insist, but a mystery to be examined and perhaps understood. This is what meaning means for the People of the Creative Self: meaning is something you explore and discover for yourself, as is proposed in the myth of the Hero's Journey.

And that, I now realize, is what Nietzsche is saying in Also Spake Zarathustra. You must go out into the world and explore it, and get beyond the comfortable certainties of Good and Evil.

But also she is telling us the point of traditional religion and culture; they provide a handhold for the day when your physical world falls apart. She is saying is that the SJWs and identity activists with their victim culture are like BDSM submissives. They have no anchor in a saving religion and its culture apart from their direct instinctive experience.
And this is in my opinion, a key to the difference between conservative students and identity activists on campus. The former is oriented and anchored. Due to a variety of reasons. I suspect, the influences of religion, internalized cultural heritage linked to geography and nation, intact procreating families that cement the child’s early idea of identity around intangible, eternal, enduring love and its effect. The latter on the other hand, is precariously tethered. For the first time, SJWs have my real sympathy. 
 I interpret this to mean that, if you are a People of the Responsible Self, with an Axial Age religion to stiffen your spine, your identity does not collapse when your current status as a peasant or a worker collapses or when someone microaggresses you. You just pick yourself up and say, well, I've gotta suck it in and find another way to earn my living. The meaning of your life is already secured in your religious and cultural faith, and so life goes on.

Right now I am reading a lefty tome by Eric Hobsbawm and George Rudé about the miseries of English agricultural laborers that culminated in the Captain Swing riots of 1830. The landless laborers had been kept on because they could be employed in manual threshing of harvest during the winter, but their wages had to be supplemented by welfare. Once mechanical threshing machines were invented, the farmers dumped the laborers and that was that. The only thing the laborers could think of doing was rioting and smashing up the threshing machines. And Hobsbawm and Rudé are right there with them. How could the farmers pay them such low wages? How could they humiliate them with the Speenhamland System of outdoor relief? Activism! Protest! That's the answer!

The answer of history, of course, was Shakespearean: get thee to a factory, where, starting in about 1850 workers started experiencing the growth in real wages that, a few economic revolutions later, has brought us to where we are today.

I should explain that my correspondent is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, and has directly experienced that "who I am, my personality and soul, can be shut 'down.'" Now she is experiencing the world anew as "my ability of processing the outside world has come back in increments," an exploration of meaning.

So here is what I have learned from my correspondent. The meaning of life for the People of the Subordinate Self, workers and peasants, is bound up in the physical day-to-day life of subordinate work, and collapses if the work is taken away. The meaning of life for the People of the Responsible Self is encoded in religion and culture and is taken to be immutable reason and logic. The meaning of life for the People of the Creative Self is a journey of discovery, usually involving a descent into the underworld (of the unconscious), and meaning is something discovered in the journey.

Makes sense to me. Steven Pinker, not so much.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Yes. Why Don't Minorities, Women and Gays Praise the Lord Every Day?

I am currently reading Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now. I admit I am looking for trouble because I believe the Enlightenment conceit, that we are all rationalists now, is sick and wrong. No we aren't, and we never will be. Rationalists.

But the basic message of Enlightenment Now is that we should stop complaining (except about Trump) and learn to love the prosperity, the health, the freedom, the peace, the safety, the knowledge, the cultural enrichment (except Trump).

For instance, p.214,
Humans are liable to treat entire categories of other humans as means to an end or as nuisances to be cast aside. Coalitions bound by race and creed seek to dominate rival coalitions. Men try to control the labor, freedom, and sexuality of women. People translate their discomfort with sexual nonconformity into moralistic condemnation. We call these phenomena racism, sexism, and homophobia[.]
Earth to Pinker. The "we" you are talking about are left-wing activists. Those words "racism," "sexism," and "homophobia" are left-wing pejoratives and have no place in polite conversation, because their purpose is to stop conversation. But I guess, Steve, that you have been in the university culture too long to get that.

But, wonder of wonders, we have broken down these cultural horrors, according to Pinker, and racist, sexist, and homophobic opinions are on the decline. Also racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes. Imagine.

What Pinker does not show us is the frequency of left-wing political action against the terrors of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Is it going down in response to improving conditions? Or it is going up, in defiance of reason and rationality? It makes sense that we would be moving on from accusing every second person of racism, sexism, or homophobia. Let's take a look with Google Ngram.
Oh no! It turns out that the concern about racism, etc. has been going up, up, up. Until President Obama was inaugurated as First Black President.

But  Google Ngram only goes up to 2006. Here is my nickel to say that concern about all these issues has skyrocketed since the racist, sexist, homophobic Donald Trump was elected First Deplorable President.

But, I thought to myself. Why?

I mean, according to the left-wing "rights" narrative we have abolished slavery, and given blacks civil rights. So why aren't blacks praising God every day for the blessings of the United States and the Republicans that fought a civil war to break the chains of slavery and then provided the most votes in the 1960s to pass the Civil Rights Acts?

Why aren't women out in the streets every day praising God for their emancipation and liberation from the hearth into the wonderful world of cubicles?

And why aren't gays praising Gaia every day for the end of gay criminalization and the glorious dawn of gay marriage?

Yes, why not?

Well, we know the answer. It is that the whole rights revolution, for its proponents, is not really about the rights but about the struggle. In the "activism culture" it is the activism that matters, and the big problem for every graduate of Activism 101 in college is to find a cause on which to advocate and peacefully protest.

In any movement, from religious to cultural to political, the movement is the thing. Or to put it in proper terms, for humans meaning comes first, and meaning is about doing something, such as advocating for equal rights.

But if your movement actually succeeds, then what? Because the danger is that your meaning in life, e.g., to advocate for equal rights, goes away.

No problem. You keep going as though nothing had changed; you realize that, unless you advocate and peacefully protest as devotedly as ever, those racist, sexist homophobes will take it all away. Give-backs is what they call it in the labor movement.

In fact, in any religious or cultural or political movement, you always maintain your observances to remind the faithful about the Glorious Struggle of the Heroes of the Movement.

Thus Christians celebrate the Eucharist, Christ's Last Supper, as though it was yesterday. We Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, when we declared Independence from those dreadful Limeys. The French celebrate the Storming of the Bastille as if it was 1789. The Bolsheviks celebrated their October Revolution of 1917. The Irish to this day in the US have their St. Patrick's Day parades. And gays have their Gay Pride marches.

The lesson is unmistakable. So long as a posterity lives to remember its past glories, so long will it celebrate the memory of the past. And so long will it insist that evil forces are poised to make a come-back.

As Nietzsche says: Human, All Too Human.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Will the Collusion Cock-up Help Delegitimize the Administrative State?

Yay! The deeply redacted Carter Page FISA court surveillance application shows what we all hoped. The FBI just threw a bunch of mish-mash together from press reports and the Steele Dossier and dumped it on the FISA court.

Of Course, the liberals and the MSM and the deep state are going to be telling us that there is nothing to see here.

When it is all as plain as day. The Obama Justice Department used partisan opposition research -- obtained from a non US citizen in collaboration with, wait for it, RUSSIANS! -- as a justification for doing government surveillance on the opposition party.

It doesn't get more banana republic than that. But wait! "Banana republic" would be racist, because of the race of the last US president. But you get the point. Using the government police power to spy on the opposition party campaign is a real no-no. Unless Democracy! is at stake.

Well, I'd say that surveillance of the opposition party is a no-no unless it was emulating the revolutionary parties of yesteryear, Bolsheviks or Nazis, and was using street violence to advance its  interests.

Oh wait. The Democrats have AntiFa, a masked street gang, to provide a bit of muscle on the political stage.

But here is my take. Maybe this is a chance for us racist sexist homophobes to talk to the American people about the "administrative state." Conservatives have had a beef with the administrative state for a while, because we see it as a way that liberals and the left enact their agenda without getting the consent of the governed.

Also, of course, the administrative state is inevitable when you have big government, because the legislatures just don't have the bandwidth to legislate away all the cock-ups and injustices that crop up in the wake of big government. So the legislature has to farm out the details of legislation to unelected administrative courts and tribunals within the bureaucracy to prevent the whole creaking government establishment from grinding to a halt.

Enter Ludwig von Mises: "socialism cannot work because it cannot compute prices." And that goes for the administrative state too, snowflake.

Apart from the bandwidth problem, there is the corruption problem. A big bureaucracy naturally tends to gravitate towards taking care of itself rather than doing its job. And, being lazy and idle, it tends towards identifying with the people it is designed to regulate. There is settled science about this: it is called "regulatory capture."

You can see the problem with respect to the DOJ, the FBI and the Intelligence Community. These chaps have identified, over the years, with the bipartisan ruling class. It is perfectly natural that these folks should regard the growing populist movement from the "right" as a threat to their power. And the natural, instinctive thing for them to do is surveillance on the growing populist movement, which is, after all, a genuine threat to the power of today's bipartisan globalist ruling class.

Only, of course, the administrative state is not supposed to take sides. It is supposed to be a non-partisan elite of experts and thinkers that advise and "nudge" the politicians to do the right thing. The lie about this was exposed back in the Eighties with the British TV show Yes, Minister. It showed the bumbling politician, the Minister Jim Hacker, totally dominated and manipulated by his civil service Permanent Secretary from the deep state, Sir Humphrey Appleby.

The problem with Donald Trump, from the point of view of the Sir Humphreys of our deep state, is that he does not seem to be house-trained, that he is not a dumb cluck like Jim Hacker, but a fearless warrior that might have the courage and the smarts to destroy their deep state. Imagine the rage and the terror that that his election must send through the corridors of power. Why, imagine! There might come a day when all the deep staters are banished from their lifetime sinecures, pensioned off before their time, and not given the honor and respect that is their due. Only today, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is suggesting that maybe President Trump should revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. What could be worse than that? I'd say that a deep-stater's security clearance is the modern equivalent of the "stars" of the various orders of knighthood that monarchs and the like used to display on their army uniforms back in the day.

Another thing I am thinking. Do you think that, maybe, the release of the heavily redacted FISA application on Carter Page is part of the President Trump's midterm election strategy? After all, if I were Trump and I knew that the whole Russia Collusion business was deep-state skullduggery, what would be best for me? It would be to expose all the deep-state skullduggery in the runup to the midterms, to demoralize the deep state and the #Resistance and add members in both the House and the Senate. You don't want to drop that bombs too early, because the voters might forget about it by election day. And you don't want to do it too late, after the election: that would never do.

So here we are, at the end of July, and the Carter Page FISA application has dropped. What is going to drop in mid-August? And what in mid-September, right after Labor Day? And what October Surprise do the Trumpers have in mind?

You might think that the Trumpers have it all set up ready to roll. I couldn't possibly comment.

And then, with bigger majorities in Congress, and Steve Scalise, shot by a Bernie Bro, as Speaker of the House? Well, maybe we could do a number on the administrative state and reduce its powers.

Maybe.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Why I Could Never Be an Appeals Court Judge

Two Republican United States Senators have just torpedoed the nomination of Ryan Bounds to the US Court of Appeals. They don't like something Bounds wrote 25 years ago as a student at Stanford University:
“During my years in our Multicultural Garden of Eden,” he wrote, “I have often marveled at the odd strategies that some of the more strident racial factions of the student body employ in their attempts to ‘heighten consciousness,’ ‘build tolerance,’ ‘promote diversity’ and otherwise convince us to partake of that fruit which promises to open our eyes to a PC version of the knowledge of good and evil. I am mystified because these tactics seem always to contribute more to restricting consciousness, aggravating intolerance and pigeonholing cultural identities than many a Nazi bookburning.”
Oh no! Bounds accused lefties of being Nazis! As a kid! Twenty-five years ago! Whoever heard of such a thing! I can't believe he wrote that! Why everybody knows that it is a crime against humanity to write such a thing. But it is OK to accuse anyone to the right of lovely Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of being a Nazi.

But really, we all know that there is one crime that cannot be forgiven, and that is the crime of telling the truth to the ruling class.

I mean: I write things like that every day! But then I can afford to, because I am not running for anything, and I am not hoping to get preferment to some black robed sinecure. So I can afford to tell the truth as I see it.

But to get back to Ryan Bounds. This guy wrote this truthful analysis of the utter folly of left-wing politics -- not to mention its vile reign of terror -- twenty-five years ago when he was a student at university. For this he is to be denied entrance to the Holy of Holies, a seat on the United States Court of Appeals? Come on Tim Scott and Marco Rubio! Surely you have more serious things to do than punish a guy for telling the truth 25 years ago! How about punishing someone for something true that he wrote last year!

Or maybe Scott and Rubio are playing Senate politics and paying back some other senator for meddling with some pet project of theirs. I hope there is some such good political payback reason for this.

If there is one thing this nation needs to do it is to banish the vile racism and divisions of identity politics, and to utterly demoralize and demonize the vile culture of "activism" that now reigns supreme in our universities. The frightening thing is that it is clear that the kids are doing this because they are being carefully taught to do so.

Indeed, given the apparent utter ignorance of the lovely Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about basic economics -- this from a Boston University BA graduate in Economics and International Relations -- it is clear what is going on in the university. Nothing. Except activism studies. Yes, apparently Ocasio-Cortez was active in student politics while at BU. And I imagine didn't have much time for economics, supply-and-demand, market prices and all that stuff.

This is surprising to me, because I once knew a Good Little Girl that went back to school to get an MBA and was flabbergasted by her economics courses. She had no idea! But apparently economics courses left absolutely no trace on Ocasio-Cortez. Does that mean that BU students can avoid capitalist economics and merely take courses in Marxist or Democratic-Socialist economics? Or does it mean that Ocasio-Cortez was a minority student active in activism on campus and that any grade lower than B+ was evidence of instructor racism? Or does it mean that Ocasio-Cortez is as dumb as a post and forgot  everything she learned the second after the final exam?

Yeah, what is going on at the university? If Ryan Bounds was writing about "strident racial factions of the student body" 25 years ago, what, do you suppose, is  going on today?

Well, we know.  The attitude of university administration to left-wing student activism clearly demonstrates that the university is right there with the activist  students and their non-negotiable demands and their mostly peaceful protests.

And there is only one way to stop it. To take away their money. That is what bureaucrats and time-servers understand.

Because here is the bigger problem, as told by Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore, also known as Harry Lee (his first language was English).
In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.
Or, to put it in a different way, on my maxim that politics is division, in a single-race society politicians divide people by class or religion or ethnic origin as used to be the case in the United States. In a multi-racial society politicians divide people by race and religion. QED.

The thing is, in the United States for the last century, the politicians were clearly dividing people by ethnicity and religion. Thus, if you read the history of presidential elections you find authors talking about the Irish vote, the Catholic vote. Or in Miami the Cuban vote. Now we talk about the black vote, the Latino vote, and the white working-class vote. Nothing has changed.

The other approach to politics, that Donald Trump has used, is to divide the electorate by loyalty to America, as in Make America Great Again. This is a transparent tactic to appeal to ordinary people that don't have any fancy ideas about activism and driving Priuses and saving the planet, and utterly to be deplored and banished from polite society.

And I would say that anyone with the least bit of education and evolvement should utterly condemn Trumpian divisive politics and completely eliminate from judicial preferment anyone that so much as whispers support for such racist sexist homophobia. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Of Course Trump Has "a Distorted Vision"

Yesterday I dispatched Steven Pinker and his Enlightenment Now for not realizing that his "reason" is a religion, or more exactly that science and wealth and long life are just artifacts and ways of looking at and understanding the world; they are not the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

Today I am taking on conservative icon Roger Scruton, who takes to The New York Times to disparage Donald Trump. Let us let him have his say.
Conservative thinkers have on the whole praised the free market, but they do not think that market values are the only values there are. Their primary concern is with the aspects of society in which markets have little or no part to play: education, culture, religion, marriage and the family... [things that] cannot be bought and sold: things like love, loyalty, art and knowledge, which are not means to an end but ends in themselves.
Well, yes. Which is another way of saying with John C. Wright that politics [and the market economy] is downstream from culture is downstream from religion. But Trump is not a true vessel of conservatism, writes Scruton.
About such things it is fair to say that Mr. Trump has at best only a distorted vision. He is a product of the cultural decline that is rapidly consigning our artistic and philosophical inheritance to oblivion. And perhaps the principal reason for doubting Mr. Trump’s conservative credentials is that being a creation of social media, he has lost the sense that there is a civilization out there that stands above his deals and his tweets in a posture of disinterested judgment.
Well, bless my soul. Imagine! Trump is but a ordinary mortal, and does not have the magic answer that will bring "education, culture, religion, marriage and the family" into perfect harmony with our "artistic and philosophical" traditions.

But, in fact, on the testimony of Steve Bannon, Trump is consciously trying to move away from the technocratic market-only globalist vision towards some kind of populist nationalism that thinks about the actual cultural context of the people rather than the intellectual conceits of the ruling class. Here is Bannon (he really spanks the interviewer: gotta love it):



But here is my beef with Scruton, that Trump "is a product of the cultural decline that is rapidly consigning our artistic and philosophical inheritance to oblivion."

No doubt, Rog. But the fact is that the conservative heirs of Edmund Burke have singularly failed to provide the Trumps of the world with a bullet list on which to raise our "artistic and philosophical inheritance" back up to the level of a Goethe and a Beethoven, and then to raise it to greater heights still. We got Obama and his "fundamental transformation" because conservatives don't have a better idea that inspires  the best and brightest to leave progressivism and its echoing graveyards in droves and aspire to something higher and better.

The worst we can say about Trump is that he is a little Dutch boy with a finger in the dyke, trying to hold back the progressive flood. But he is just a politician, albeit a politician that "[keeps] your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you." Which means he is downstream from culture, which is already there and over which he has no control and which right now is in the hands of his political enemies. And that is to say nothing about religion.

See, the fundamental thing about our age is that it is an Axial Age in which new religions are aborning, just like the Axial Age of three thousand years ago. What do you think the SJWs are doing? What do you think the left has been all about? These are the rude and crude attempts to find a new religion, a meaning of life, the universe, and everything, or in Scruton's argot, rebuilding an "artistic and philosophical" tradition on the ashes of the old good-and-evil one that Nietzsche declared was dead over a century ago. And naturally, there is quite a lot of witch-hunting and naming and shaming as people get a little too enthusiastic for the New Truth.

As you know my view, on my Three Peoples theory, is that the religions of the People of the Subordinate Self and the People of the Responsible Self are fine. The problem is the religion of the People of the Creative Self, the people who are in Nietzsche's phrase trying to figure out what religion looks like "Beyond Good and Evil." Not surprisingly 97.2% of their efforts have been bloody failures, consigning hundreds of millions to death and devastation as is normal when people are trying to develop something new.

So what Trump is saying is that you globalists and progressives can get on with your glorious plans for a new religion, but not on our dime. We want to live in our nation states with our welfare states, and our families and jobs and children. Come back when you have something real. And it better be better than your Communism, your Socialism, your Nazism, your Stalinism, your Maoism, your Castroism, your Bolivarism, your globalism, oh, and your Obamism.

Just saying.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

People Don't Want to be Enlightened, They Just Want to Believe

I read a review of Steven Pinker's latest, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress on NRO, and realized that I ought to read the book. The reason? That Pinker went out after religion.

OK, I said to myself: so what is Pinker's religion? Fortunately, he answers the question on the first page of the book, by answering a question put to him by a young woman: "Why should I live?" Says he:
In the very act of asking that question, you are seeking reasons for your convictions, and so you are committed to reason as the means to discover and justify what is important to you. And there are so many reasons to live!
And the reasons? The "potential to flourish" and the "sense of sympathy." So,
[Y]ou have the responsibility to provide for others what you expect for yourself... life, health, knowledge, freedom, abundance, safety, beauty, and peace. History shows that when we sympathize with others and apply our ingenuity to improving the human condition, we can make progress in doing so, and you can help to continue that progress.
So, using Cathy Newman dialectics, what he is saying that if you have convictions around notions like flourishing and sympathy, then the reasons for your convictions are that they make a better world for you and everyone else.

This uses the word "reason" in its original pre-Greek sense, as a rationalization of your convictions. Yeah, Stevie, reason wasn't invented back in the Enlightenment with dear old Kant and his "Perpetual Peace: a Philosophical Sketch." Reason is an integral part of all religion, pal. That's why we sneer today at Catholic theologians back in the day arguing about how many angels you can fit on the head of a pin. Or why the Jewish Torah typically features on each page a few verses in large type surrounded by tons of rabbinical argumentative commentary in small type.

So, I get it. Steven Pinker believes in basic human flourishing. So do I. He believes in "sympathy," or what we might call social animals. So do I.

So the difference between him and me is that I believe that my convictions, my sense of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, is my religion. And he does not. Because, I suppose, he imagines himself above all that.

He is wrong, of course. He is wrong because nobody knows the meaning of life, the universe, and everything -- if it has a meaning. But we humans cannot live without an answer to the question: "why should I live," and that answer, always and everywhere, is provided by religion.

To answer the religious question, some people immerse themselves in books, or go off into a wilderness to meditate, or "go into isolation" with Nietzsche's Zarathustra. But most people get their religion prepackaged from a church or a sect; they prefer it that way. Steven Pinker seems to want the prepackaged religion of the Kants and similar folk who wrote in the mid-to-late 18th century. And for him that has nothing to do with "the 19th-century Romantic belief in mystical forces, laws, dialectics, struggles, unfoldings, destinies, ages of man, and evolutionary forces that propel mankind ever upwards towards utopia."

OK. So the Romantics were half-crazed. But their basic religion was that Reason and Enlightenment could not be the whole story: it did not exhaust the possibilities of the meaning of life, the universe and everything. There had to be something else. But what is that "something else?" That's a good question, Senator.

The point is that nothing is carved in stone -- except what Jung carved in stone at his lakeside retreat at Bollingen -- and all our convictions that we protect with a bodyguard of reason are probably wrong, at least in part.

For instance, Pinker clearly thinks that material progress is a good thing, provided we protect against environmental damage, blah, blah, blah, because it promotes "life, health, knowledge, freedom, abundance, safety, beauty, and peace." And little children get to live, and people are not enslaved and women are not patriarched etc.

But the environmentalists correctly point out that this cannot go on forever. They tell us that we will run out of fossil fuels. And they are right, except it won't be next week. Or that we will "climate change" the Earth and destroy the planet. And they may be right. But it won't happen for a century or so, whatever the fake models tell us. Meanwhile, let us wive and thrive and survive, for tomorrow we die.

Here is something even more dreadful. I read years ago someone who said that the human use of energy, increasing at about 3 percent per year, will eventually exhaust all the energy in the universe --  in a few thousand years. Why, because 1.03**3000 equals 3 times 10**38, or 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Which is quite a lot. See, on the notion of entropy, we are stealing energy from other folk -- the animals we eat, the crops we grow, the fossil fuels we mine, the nuclear energy we generate. And it will all come to an end some day. If our notion of entropy is correct.

You can see that the scientists' notion of entropy has a lot in common with religious notions of the End of the World, Armageddon, and the Millennium.

Steven Pinker's answer to that good little girl is correct, as far as it goes. Wiving, thriving, surviving. Good idea. Social cooperation with other humans. Good idea. But, it might all turn out to be a dreadful mistake some time in the future. What he proposes, in my view, is a pretty decent religious testament, based on what we know today about life, the universe, and everything, only he lacks the intelligence and wisdom to realize that his "reason" is really religion. The missing link in his religious testament is that we do not know what we will know in the future. What we learn in the future may make us completely change our minds about what constitutes the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. And that may be too late for some people. Or all people. Or everything on the planet.

It makes complete sense that today's religion for educated people like Steven Pinker is different from the religion of chaps like Martin Luther half a millennium ago, and Luther's religion is different from the religions put together in the Axial Age three thousand years ago, and the Axial Age religions are different from the religion of the Greeks of the Iliad camping on the shore before the city of Troy. When we develop new knowledge then we change our religion.

I believe that Steven Pinker is a man stuck in the past, still infatuated with the religion of the Enlightenment and its superstitions while I have grown out of that benighted age, having read as much as I could of people that have lived since the Enlightenment and have produced credible critiques of the religion of the Enlightenment.

And what I have concluded with my infallible reason and intellect is that we need a religion for chaps like Steven Pinker that includes as a central doctrine a sense of compassion and understanding for all the folk that aren't quite as intelligent and creative as Steven Pinker.

Because, of course, I am right and he is wrong. And these are my reasons...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Left's Errors: The Programs

Do you know that today, July 17, 2018, is the centennial of the killing of the Russian Czar and his family? Marking the occasion , Seth Barron writes,
Studying the years that led to that savage night, it’s hard not to want to shout across time at the last Romanov, to wake him from his walking stupor. His feckless rule was marked by indecision and half-steps at political reform, the necessity of which was obvious to everyone. Sergei Witte, the brilliant diplomat and reformer who engineered Russia’s first constitution, warned Nicholas in 1905 that “Russia has outgrown its existing governmental forms. . . . You must give the people their constitution; otherwise, they will wrest one away.”
Well, yes. Of Course the Czar should have known. But it is in the nature of late-stage dynasties that they don't have a clue. Come to think of it, it is characteristic of mature capitalistic corporations that they never quite get around and Do Something to avoid decline and bankruptcy. This week, Hello Sears. My whole series on the Left's Errors is really about this, about the late-stage welfare state cluelessly going on its way even though "everyone knows" that things just can't go on like this.

Starting over a century ago, the left has been engaged on a project to fundamentally transform western society, from responsibility and liberty to equality, justice, emancipation and liberation. But the means to do that is always politics and government despite the abysmal record of politics and government down the ages in securing anything except death and domination.

Now the meaning of life, the universe and everything, for me, is to illuminate the errors of the left with every breath of my body, on the principle that everything about the left is a lie, including "and" and "the."

Above all, for me, is the truth that the left's agenda always creates roadblocks on the road to the middle class. I believe that the #1 agenda item for the modern world is to help people leaving the farm to learn the culture of the city, and this is profoundly difficult. The city requires us to cast off our culture that trusts only the kindred and learn to trust anyone that is trustworthy. It teaches us to cast off old feudal subordination and subordinate ourselves to the market economy and its prices. It teaches us stop trusting feudal lords to keep us safe and be individually responsible for our safety and welfare.

Yet everything our government does teaches people the opposite.

Social Security is a program that takes money from workers to give a retirement income to seniors. Instead we want to teach workers to save for their own retirement, and retire when they can afford it. But what about people that can't support themselves through no fault of their own? Well, for them there is family, then the charitable beneficence of billionaires, and then, perhaps, the enforced contribution of taxpayers as a last resort. But remember, everything that taxpayers contribute basically lets family off the hook.

Medicare is a program that takes money mostly from high income earners to give to seniors for lifetime health care. Is that a good idea, or would it be better to let the high-income earners keep more of their own money to create new jobs for working Americans? Speaking as a senior, it is nice to have the taxpayers pick up the tab for me. But should they? I mean, anyone that has raised their children to adulthood is not exactly a crucial part of the economy that must be kept healthy, wealthy and wise. Seniors like me are going to end up dying of something, whether a heart attack in our sixties or a combination of physical and mental disorders twenty years later. The point is: how much are the kids prepared to put up? Or billionaires? And what level of care is just? Heroic care? Or palliative care? Or the level of care for which the senior is willing to pay for out of his own savings? If I had my druthers there would be a range of options available to seniors that would allow them to determine just how much health care is enough -- for them.

Medicaid is a health care program for the poor. Yet we find, from the Oregon experiment, that Medicaid does not provide better outcomes than no provision. I'm all in favor of health care for the poor, but I'd would rather contribute to it voluntarily than through the political process.

Public Schools is the program that lets government educate our children in government child-custodial facilities. Do you think it is a good thing for government functionaries to do this job? Or do you think that it provides a way for the government to indoctrinate our children against us? And what about the moral welfare of mothers who would be much better employed educating each others' children than letting government lifers -- "our teachers" -- do the job.

Welfare is the notion that government rather than family, church, and charities should provide relief for the poor. After five centuries of government relief for the poor (starting, for Anglo Saxons, with the Elizabethan Poor Law) I think that the results are in. It is a terrible idea that demoralizes the poor, distorts the labor market, and enrages the taxpayers.

Economic Regulation is the idea that credentialed experts are better at filing down the rough corners of the market economy than prices, the need for corporations to maintain the goodwill of their customers, and the operation of the legal system. The science on this was settled with the theory of "regulatory capture" advanced by economist George Stigler. But for some reason the usual suspects have not yet lost their love for power and privilege.

Racial Preferences arises out of the natural tendency of all ruling classes to reward their supporters. In its cruder applications, government favors its supposedly helpless "little darlings" over the unlabeled Other. But of course, in any governmental enterprise it is natural to hire and reward your supporters rather than the best people for the job. This is because government is not in the business of satisfying the consumers and staying in business but winning elections, rewarding its supporters and keeping congressional appropriators on-side.

My point is that almost everything government does makes things worse. And yet nothing changes.

This is very dangerous because we are in late-stage dynasty where the rulers know that something must be done, but, like the Czar of All the Russias, just can't buckle down and figure what to do. What they do know is that Trump is the wrong man for the job.

The least we can do is talk down government programs every chance we get. Because you never know when a renegade will be elected president and proceed to cut the grass in the meadow.

Monday, July 16, 2018

One of These Victim Groups is Not Like the Others

The whole program of the Left focuses on the notion of victims. Looky here! Here are victims being marginalized and victimized by an unjust system! Everyone to the barricades!

I bring you four classes of victims. But one class is not like the other. Can you tell, before the end of the article?

Back at the end of the feudal era and the beginning of the 16th century, according to Karl Marx,
A mass of free proletarians was hurled on the labour market by the breaking-up of the bands of feudal retainers, who, as Sir James Steuart well says, “everywhere uselessly filled house and castle.” Although the royal power, itself a product of bourgeois development, in its strife after absolute sovereignty forcibly hastened on the dissolution of these bands of retainers, it was by no means the sole cause of it. In insolent conflict with king and parliament, the great feudal lords created an incomparably larger proletariat by the forcible driving of the peasantry from the land, to which the latter had the same feudal right as the lord himself, and by the usurpation of the common lands.
Whaddya mean: "same feudal right," Chuck?

See, what happened is that the Tudor kings in Britain disarmed the private armies of the nobles. And so the nobles decided they didn't need no stinkin' peasants hanging around on the off-chance they might be needed as soldiers in a private war.

Poor helpless victims. And permanent outrage from the Left.

Then in the early 19th century, according to Marxist Eric Hobsbawn and George Rudé in Captain Swing -- when there were three classes in agricultural England, the nobles, the independent farmers, and the wage-earning agricultural laborers -- the farmers stopped hiring laborers. The new threshing machines meant that the farmers didn't need laborers trimming hedges for most of the year so that there would be enough labor at harvest time. So they dumped their laborers. You can get a modern view of things down on the farm at the time from the recent movie of Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd. The farm laborers rioted and destroyed threshing machines in the Captain Swing riots of 1830. Yay!

More helpless victims. And permanent outrage from the Left.

Then, of course, we have the famous prophecy from Marx about how the capitalists and the bourgeoisie would "immiserate" the workers in the same way as the feudal lords exploited the peasants in the feudal era.

More helpless victims. And permanent outrage from the Left

Then, starting in the 1960s, the capitalists in America started to move industrial production from the United States to other parts of the world. This meant that the great white working class that had won decent wages and benefits with the help of the left found that the good old days were over. By 2016, The Washington Post reported, the white working class in the United States was "dying of despair."

More helpless victims. And raspberries from the Left.

Because, in 1971, Archie Bunker, white working class personified, was a racist sexist bigot. Yeah! Serves him right!

But why? Why did the Left abandon the white working class, sons and daughters of the "free proletarians," the "agricultural laborers," and the working stiffs of the 1930s?

Well, the simple answer is that the Left had moved on. It would now advocate and peacefully protest for women and minorities and gays and transgenders and illegal immigrants and the homeless and Muslims.

This is what I call the "little darlings" problem.

Mothers! Don't let your daughters grow up to become the "little darlings" of the ruling class!

That's because, as I have written in the past, the fate of little darling taken up by the ruling class and groomed as their supporters is that supporters of the ruling class end up like soldiers in Napoleon's army on the retreat from Moscow in 1812.

Same as the fate of the mistress of a wealthy scion. Or the working class girl in Rotherham, England.

The ruling class, any ruling class, needs bodies to fill the rank and file of its armies -- or its voting rolls. But the exigencies of power politics are not cast in stone for all time. Sometimes the path to power involves bread and circuses for the Roman mob. Sometimes it involves throwing good wages and benefits at newly enfranchised industrial workers. Sometimes it involves hyping up racial feelings and animosities between whites and blacks in the United States. Plus ça change.

And when the music changes, the former little darlings of the ruling class are thrown out in the garbage. As the song says:
She was poor, but she was honest
Though she came from 'umble stock
And an honest heart was beating
Underneath her tattered frock
The chorus goes like this:
It's the same the whole world over
It's the poor what gets the blame
It's the Left what gets the pleasure
Ain't it all a bloomin' shame?
Oh dear, I couldn't help myself.

OK. So now President Trump has taken up the cause of the white working class, left by the side of the road like Napoleon's soldiers in 1812 or Hitler's soldiers in 1945.

But, you mothers, Nothing Has Changed! Donald Trump has cunningly understood that there was a whole class of voters out there that neither party was mobilizing. And fortunately his Democratic opponent in 2016 Ivre de Chardonnay and her crack campaign staff didn't see what was happening. But Nothing Has Changed! The day will come when your daughters get sacrificed to political expediency just like the peasants, the laborers, the white working class and whoever is next for the chopping block. There is only one way to go. Keep your eye on the donut, and not upon the hole. Always be watching the winds of change and make sure that you and your family never get caught upon a lee shore.

E.g. my family's history. Father born in Russia. Got out in 1918 just in time. My mother, born in Japan. Got out in 1940, just in time. Me, born in India. Got out in 1948 right after independence.

Today, I and my descendants are right here in the good old US and A. But I don't believe nothing that  no politician says. There may come a time -- there will come a time -- when a chap like me and my descendants need to move on. Again.

For the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is really very simple. 
Wive and thrive and survive.
That is all.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Ruling Class and Art

I am in Philadelphia over the weekend and I am doing the culture thing, including the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, which has been a cultural presence in downtown Philly since 1805.

Naturally the Academy has exhibition space, that nods to all the current cultural trends in the Arts. But there is also a corner of the exhibition space with portraits of the Founders. There are a couple of portraits of George Washington, and a huge painting of William Penn and his treaty with the Indians.

And over in a corner is this little gem, "Colonialism and its Legacies."



Ah yes,  the "Colonial Gallery" with "portraits that celebrated wealthy white colonial elites" and "highlighting their class status." Then we get down to business. The narrative thread of "global trade" and the "traumas" it inflicted.
That thread also connects these images to the long history of traumas wrought by colonizers on the communities they controlled, though those darker histories often lie hidden behind myths and mahogany furniture.
Yes, and one of the portraits in the Colonial Gallery is of the richest slave trader in America. But you will be glad to know this.
Contemporary artists, on view in conversation with these works from from hundreds of years ago, challenge us to unravel these threads, to consider the legacy of empire, slavery, and colonialism in the 21st century.
Not quite, kiddo. The right narrative would be that "We have selected contemporary artists that we believe best challenge the white patriarchal narrative of the colonial era and throw a proper light on the crimes of the fathers."

There is a delicious, mindless conceit in the art world, indeed in liberal world in general, that "we" have attained to a higher, nobler truth that the money-grubbing, slave-holding, racist, sexist elite of olden times.

In fact, then and now, the art world is the mouthpiece of the ruling class. If yesterday artists painted portraits of plump, benevolent slave traders today they paint patronizing pictures of a diverse America or worse, patronizingly patronize artists from diverse communities, pick them out of the crowd and make their name for them.

If yesterday the ruling class built marble monuments to the Founding Fathers, today it builds Holocaust and African American Museums. Because that is the story it wants to tell us, and we'd all better know what is good for us.

But it is all, then and now, mere ruling class propaganda, representing the ruling class, then and now, as benevolent and wise rulers always concerned with bending the arc of history towards justice.

Here is what I think.

I think that ruling classes, then and now, are mostly idiots. Obviously, because they are rulers, they believe in the beneficence of political power. But political power to do what? Tame the frontier? Enable, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Right the wrongs of the workers? Celebrate the diversity of our communities while being careful to avoid cultural appropriation? Teach us about the sins of slavery? Make American Great Again?

I  think that the important thing to know is that nobody knows what they are doing. Five hundred years ago Europeans began sailing and trading and dominating all over the world. As a Chinese Christian put it, if you were on the receiving end of this, you kept wondering: is it the guns? The  science? The political ideas?  Christianity? Who knew?

But was there any white European grand plan to conquer the world?  Not at all, or at least, not much.

Then, a century ago and more, some people got the idea of transforming the world  to a new vision of  brotherhood, socialism, guided by an avant-garde elite.  More recently our  political and business  elites have coalesced around a vision of globalism --  under their continuing benevolent hegemony.

But the truth is that any regime, political or economic, picks winners and losers, and the losers don't like it. I mean really don't like it. And really, in advance, nobody knows what will happen, what the result of any political or economic regime will be, just as nobody knows, in advance, which businesses will succeed and which will fail.

For instance, the socialist experiment of the last century, the product of the best minds and the best and the brightest, has been a monstrous and tragic failure. Yet the fumbling and bumbling of business innovators, from slave traders to tech start-up wizards, has produced the most astonishing increase in human welfare ever. Is there really any notion of what went right, and what went wrong, and why? Are there majestic narratives in all the world's art galleries examining what happened and why? Not really.

What we have, and what we have always had, are ruling class apologists spinning facile narratives. At one time we celebrated mahogany furniture. Now we celebrate bike lanes.

The only thing we know for sure is that it is all rubbish.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Women and Agency

Back in the bad old days of the patriarchy, you may remember, women were notoriously lacking in agency. In the Victorian Era (which seems to have extended mysteriously beyond the boundaries of realm of the Queen and Empress of that name) women were put on pedestals and were worshiped as goddesses. But not allowed to have a bank account. Or something.

Now, of course, with women fully liberated, they are insisting on protection from microaggression and demanding safe spaces from "hate."

The consequence is that little Bari Weiss of Squirrel Hill and The New York Times can tell media sensation Jordan B. Peterson that she just doesn't go along with his Jungian association of women with Chaos. Well, I suppose that if you have been protected in safe spaces all your life, it would be easy to think that.

But Bari Weiss should read The Summer Wives, the latest by my daughter Beatriz Williams. There she will find plenty of female agency and also plenty of women and Chaos. Where you been all this time, Bari? And don't worry. In this tale of sex and class and murder, you get high-class women and Chaos and low-class women and Chaos. And cross-class women and Chaos too, I dare say.

Now, just in case you haven't quite got with the program, the main character in Summer Wives complains at one point about the problem of men writing most of the movie scripts: their women are unconvincing because men just don't get women. That is supposed to be a clue, Bari, that in this book, we are going to run the gamut of womanly behavior from the sweet innocence of virginal youth, to the ruthless use of sex by a woman to take a man away from a step-sister, to the usual thing of women not talking to each other for years at a time.

Did you see that that US Navy destroyer that collided with a container ship featured two women officers on duty that night that were not talking to each other?

I think the point here is that women are different than men. Their agency is a different kind of agency than the typical warrior agency of men, and it is not as visible. And, of course, women's agency is inextricable from that curious aspect of women's lives: the children that they bear and birth and raise.

In our age activist women and their supporters reduce the agency of women down to women and careers. Are enough women represented in certain professions, in corporate hierarchies, and in politics? And are women heroes in movies kicking ass like men heroes?

But this is to miss the point entirely.

The whole  point of  life, the universe, and everything is not who gets to be CEO or President. The whole point is who gets to create posterity. Babies, and stuff.

And that is why it is a monstrous perversion that the be all and end all of educated and evolved womanly politics appears to be abortion, as we see in the current mob politics around the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Put it this way. In the author not on the back flap of The Summer Wives Beatriz Williams notes that
She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Ah yes. Laundry. A lot of energy, down the ages, has been devoted to off-loading the hum-drum chores of life onto servants, or, in our own time, onto baby sitters and government child-custodial facilities.

But that is odd, for what is more important in life than making the dinner, washing the clothes, and raising the children?

Why do we spend so much of our lives and agency figuring out ways not to do the basics?

And why is it that the philosophers have devoted so little of their incandescent wisdom to this important topic?

That feels like the topic for a novel.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Does #WalkAway Mean Anything?

We righties are getting a little excited about the #WalkAway thing, of supposed Democrats walking away from the ideological plantation. Is it just hype, or is it Something?

The answer is: wait until November, and then wait until President Trump wins reelection with 55-45 in the popular vote. Otherwise it ain't nothing.

Of course, I get what is  going on. Despite the ideological frenzy of Democrats and the usual abortion and gay suspects, most Americans are really not ideologically motivated. They just want to get on and wive and thrive.

And, most important of all, there is the market economy.

I think that we all profoundly underestimate what the market economy teaches people. In a way it is the polar opposite of the political culture. Politics is all about division, of heightening differences, of finding a way to damning the Other to a well-deserved hell. But the market economy teaches you to work with people and to trust them. Other people are not the Other, but potential customers, suppliers, and business partners.

Now the simple fact is that success in politics comes to those that are expert in the art of division, of motivating your side to turn out on election day and  demoralizing the Other so that they barely dare to show their heads above the parapet.

But success in business is different. To succeed in business you want the whole world to come to your door, and you want to expand your world so that everyone likes you and trusts you.

So if you are an ordinary person that is not ideologically motivated you are being tugged in two different directions. The question is: which of the two cultures tugging at you is going to win out? Are you going to be most influenced by the Us-vs-Them culture of politics that wants to divide and conquer? Or are you most influenced by the team culture of business and the market economy, where cooperation and working with everyone is most important?

My feeling is that for most people they are most influenced by the workplace culture where the primary focus is getting along and cooperating with other people.

And, of course, there is the settled science. Put Americans in a room to solve a problem and they will  do it, trying to accommodate everyone. But put Americans into silos supervised by politicians, and they will dutifully carry their protest signs and learn to hate and to fear.

Now, notice what President Trump is doing. His Make America Great Again is not a foolish and embarrassing ploy but a cunning political strategy that proposes to unify all Americans into celebrating and working for America. Of course it is cunning also in a conventional political way by identifying as Other anyone that thinks that "America was never great."

Hey, kid! What side are you on?  Are you for America or against it?

And really,  if you are an ordinary American which door do you choose? Pitch in and Make America Great Again or whine and complain and carry protest signs? If the market economy moves the needle for you then you choose the door that celebrates working with people and trusting them and helping Make America Great.

So, if the folks that were carefully taught to hate and to fear the Other start to feel that maybe they can't get quite as excited as their teachers and their diversity administrators want them to be because, well, outside of politics the culture is that you get on with people and stuff -- if they do -- then they will be experiencing something like that the #WalkAway folks are feeling.

But the thing about life is that you only know the answer after it's all over, and it is perfectly obvious that, e.g., #WalkAway, is the biggest thing since whenever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Live by the Supreme Court, Die by the Court

President Trump had barely announced his pick for the United States Supreme Court last night before lefty peaceful protesters were protesting at the Supreme Court. They had "STOP XXX" protest signs already printed up for any of the four leading contenders for the nomination.

So. Whichever of the candidates it is, the lefties are going to be out in the streets, protesting.

Do you see the insanity in this? The idea of street protest, as I understand it, is for the unrepresented, the un-listened-to to get the attention of the ruling class. But the people demonstrating in front of the Supreme Court are not those kind of people at all. Indeed, their agenda: abortion, civil rights, gay marriage, are all supported by the ruling class. No need to protest, kids. It is the little people that have a problem with abortion, because of their adherence to traditional Christian teaching. It is the white working class that has a problem with the "civil rights" of affirmative action, diversity and inclusion, because they are its victims. It is the ordinary middle class that wonders what on earth all the fuss is about, pretending that gays and trans are helpless victims rather than scions of the educated class out for a bit of sexual creativity.

The problem is this: if you use the Supreme Court to implement your agenda because you do not want to take the trouble of persuading other Americans to support your agenda, then your opponents can use the Supreme Court to undo your agenda.

See Barack Obama and his "phone and pen" strategy after Democrats lost their majorities in Congress. If you use the administrative state to implement your agenda by executive orders, then your opponents can undo your executive orders as soon as their side wins the presidency, as President Trump's nominees have done. Hey, not such a good tactic!

The wisdom of the Founders was to erect a political system where it was difficult to pass any measure, because you needed to get both Houses of Congress and the President to approve it. But, on the other hand once you had passed a measure it became hard to repeal it, because repeal takes the vote of two Houses of Congress and the President.

So, in the system of the Founders, it is very difficult, say, to pass an abortion law. Maybe thirty years of advocacy and working to form coalitions with other interests. But if you submit to that kind of discipline the end result is worth it. You have a law passed by a majority of the representatives, and you spent all those years working with people to form a broad coalition. And once the law is passed the issue goes to sleep and disappears.

But look what happens when you use elite opinion to fight an ideological battle, and you eventually win your case in the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision with all the liberal justices in lock-step and a wavering conservative added in to make the majority. Why, then you have to stay ideologically mobilized forever, because you never know when a President TrumpHitler will nominate a justice to sweep away your pet issue with the stroke of a pen. And notice this: in the Supreme Court strategy you create enemies rather than friends.

So is it really such a great idea to implement your agenda through the Supreme Court?

So why do liberals do it?

Well, let us start with philosopher William James's "Moral Equivalent of War" article back in 1910. The idea was that since we weren't going to have any wars anymore(!) we needed to elevate the minds and lives of our young people with campaigns to raise their consciousness from the humdrum to the elevated. You can see where this leads: from military campaigns to political campaigns, yea, even to moral campaigns. Thus the scions of the ruling class would not grow up to be great military leaders, but great political leaders, or as we now say: "activists."

Hey, but James had a point. First of all, humans crave meaning in their lives.

The problem with this plan is that it naturally merges the state, which is charged with our physical security, with the church, which is charged with our moral welfare. But, as the Founders determined, a state church was not such a good idea, because it would tend to create a moral monopoly backed by the armed might of the state's monopoly of force.

My feeling is that lefties do not see this, not at all. What matters is the moral imperative of building a truly just society. That is all.

This was brought home to me recently from reading Leon Trotsky by Irving Howe. It is 1917 and all the various political factions are holding tumultuous meetings at the All-Russian Congress of Soviets in Petrograd. Then one day Trotsky gets up and announces that the Bolsheviks have seized power. Discussion over. Well, of course. How else would we Bolsheviks build the perfect society to create justice for the workers and peasants?

In other words, most people were trying to work out their differences in the Soviet. But then the Bolsheviks just upped and seized some government offices and said: discussion over. That meant, we now understand, that discussion was over forever, because any return to discussion would surely have meant that the Lenin or the Trotsky or Stalin in power would have had to surrender power to another politician.

By the way, Soviet, or Совет, is a perfectly anodyne Russian word, meaning, as a noun, "council" and, as a verb, to "counsel." But the Bolsheviks turned it into something completely different. That's because, right at the start, they smothered the democratic baby in its cradle, and the normal consultations in meetings of representatives of various interests became rubber stamps that knew to bow the knee to Bolshevik power, or else.

Do you see the problem with the liberal "discussion over" strategy with their rule by Supreme Court? It puts them in the same position as the Russian Bolsheviks. Once you have seized power you have started on the path of no return. You are permanently at ideological war, because you have opted for a policy of force: it is our way, and anyone that opposes us is Hitler. No issue is ever laid to rest, because every issue has been decided by force of ideology.

This, to me, is the explanation of the Democratic effort to derail the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987. Robert Bork was a known "originalist" who did not believe in deciding cases by discovering a right to privacy in "penumbras" and "emanations" in the Bill of Rights. In plain terms, he did not agree with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. Liberals decided they had to demolish Bork as a candidate; otherwise all their pet Supreme Court decisions would be struck down by a return to the "original" meaning  of the Constitution. But conservatives have responded by teaching all conservative judges never to admit their political and moral opinions against the day that they will be up for confirmation in the US Senate and liable to a Borking.

Again, do you see the problem? Once you have started rule by Supreme Court and force marched your agenda through the court every Supreme Court nomination is a life-and-death matter. That is not the way that politics and representation and constitutions are meant to work.  The idea is to resolve differences and put them to bed so that they cease to become  a source of conflict.

Unless, of course, you believe in keeping moral issues alive forever. Because you like the smell of political gunpowder.

I come back to the science. Someone did a study and found that if you took a bunch of Americans and put them in a room to solve a problem they would do it, and they would do it by giving each person a piece of the solution. In other words, they threw a crumb out to the losers, so they would get something out of the meeting and own a part of the decision.

The whole point of liberal "activism" is that the losers are moral defectives: racists, sexists, homophobes, and they don't even deserve to eat in restaurants in peace.

The problem with that kind of politics is that it gives the moral defectives no alternative but to push back. And that, I think, is the way to understand the Trump phenomenon.

But liberals just don't get it.