Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Real Power: "You Are Not Allowed to Say That"

Down the centuries, we have tended  to think of power as the clunking fist of political and military power: Roman legions, the Royal Navy, US Carrier groups.

But is not the real power just simply to power to say: "you are not allowed to say that" and make it stick with the punishment of defenestration, either through a real window or the the metaphorical window of being defenestrated from your job?

I suppose it is obvious from my maxim, that politics is downstream from culture is downstream from religion.

The notion that to utter a "racist" remark is evil obviously suggests a religion, from the left's religion of anti-racism. So nobody even thinks of uttering the "N-word" except for African Americans, who use the word just because they can. But woe-betide Megyn Kelly for suggesting that going black-face for Hallowe'en is harmless. Oh no it isn't, say the Social Media Commies, and they have the power to make it stick and get Kelly fired.

That, I suppose, is real power. Jolly good fun, and very intoxicating to boot. Unless you are Megyn Kelly.

Of course, this is nothing new. There was never a time when blasphemy, "the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable," didn't get you in trouble.

Only difference is that today you can swear up and down about God and nobody will bother you. Back in the day, W.C. Fields used to say "Godfrey Daniels, Mother of Pearl." I can translate most of that, except for "pearl." What is that standing in for? That is the job of a comic, to almost say what the ruling class and "the priests" say you are not allowed to say.

So the fact that comics like Seinfeld say that they could never take their acts to college campi these days is telling us a lot about who is defining what you are not allowed to say.

So today the worst thing in the world is to say something "racist." Whatabout the idea of "the race" according to La Wik?
A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. First used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations, by the 17th century the term race began to refer to physical (phenotypical) traits. Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, that is, a symbolic identity created to establish some cultural meaning. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race is not an inherent physical or biological quality.
So if "race" is a "social construct," according to "modern scholarship," who cares? Well, everyone, at least for now. But why? Because of slavery? Because of western colonialism?

Because, sports fans, the only power in the world that really matters to people in love with power is the power to make people grovel at your feet for saying the wrong thing.

You can see that this power, of punishing "thought-crime," is much more convenient than, for instance, the power of punishing for the crime of a deed. You can see that in the Kavanaugh episode. There, at least, there was in the background the question of "did he do it?" But punishing people for saying something like:
But what is racist? You truly do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as like a character.
Hey, that is real, delicious power. And cheap too! All you need is lefty social media that permits your noble left-wing hate speech and that censors eevil far-right hate speech. No need to maintain a police force and its expensive pensions, or a military and its expensive gadgets. Just lubricate social media with a teensy bit of Soros money and you are ready to go!

The thing is that "racism" is clearly a movable feast. And, according to my doctrine of "fake tribalism" developed here and here, all concepts of political groupings, of clan, tribe, nation, religion, race, gender, etc. are purely made-up out of whole cloth by religious, cultural and political leaders in order to separate people into separate groups for the purpose of religious, cultural, and political warfare.

Never mind. Say the wrong thing on race, Megyn Kelly, and you get fired. Say the wrong thing on "women," Tim Hunt, and you get fired. Say the wrong thing on gays, Brendan Eich, and you get fired. As in racist, sexist, homophobe.

The joke is that, 50 years ago, all we heard from liberals was what a dreadful thing the Salem Witch Trials were. And lefty playwright Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible to prove it. And the worst thing in the world was the witch hunts to winkle out Commie schoolteachers wherever they might be found and fire them! Yeah! That'll teach 'em.

But that was before liberals acquired the religious and cultural and political power to fire people that they disapproved of. So that is different.

So how do we get out of this trap? I am hoping for the moral and cultural equivalent of organized sports. Today we channel a lot of the male appetite for violence and military glory into organized sports where we can cheer on the home team in sports stadiums instead of raping and plundering folks on the battlefield. Surely there is a genius out there who can invent something to divert the social media mobs into safe channels where they can demolish people for liking the wrong dog or the wrong Christmas decoration.

Because in my view the benefit of rousing everyone into a howling mob to defend the tribe is probably past its sell-by date.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Social Media: Let's Call 'Em All Commies and Nazis

As I go about my life as a Grumpy Old Man, I like to grumble about Trash Nazis when I dither over which bin to use when throwing away trash at the coffee place.

And when some cyclist in invisible artistical black swishes by in the bike lane as I am trying to cross the street, I grumble about Bike Nazis.

Because of course the reason we have insanely complicated trash laws is the Nazi-style environmental groups that want to Save the World from plastic straws.

And the reason we have insane traffic congestion in downtown Seattle is that Nazi-style "urbanists" want to make the cities of the world safe for single progressive twentysomething cyclists dressed in non-reflective artistical black.

Of course these nasty power-mad progressives are not really Nazis. They are really Commies. But ever since Seinfeld invented "The Soup Nazi:"-- Well, whaddya gonna do but subscript all officious people with the all-purpose label -Nazi.

Course, the Seinfeld kids didn't invent the -Nazi modifier. That was Rush Limbaugh, who popularized the word "Feminazi" to describe people that I believe are now called "Basic White Bitch." Not that this is anything new. I was re-reading the good bits of Pride and Prejudice last night and I would say that Jane Austen invented the Basic White Bitch 200 years ago. Hello Miss Bingley! But of course, the correct term has to be "basic white RICH bitch." You can't be a real bitch unless you are rich.

I think it is a pity that we have to use -Nazi as a modifier. As in #MeToo Nazis and #BelieveAllWomen Nazis, and #AntiFa Nazis. Because they aren't really Nazis. They are lefties, and that makes them worse than Nazis. So I think we should append the word Commies as a pejorative modifier, any time we want to make the merely descriptive into a pejorative.

Thus Bike Commies, Trash Commies, Soup Commies, #MeToo Commies. Because just about any group that wants to use government power to impose their agenda to bend the arc of history towards a just world is on the left.

Notice the big difference between Nazis and Commies? The Nazi movement was birthed by a half-educated son of a customs official. The Communist movement was birthed and renewed by rich kids, and imposed from above right down to the present day.

So I think that the discerning pejorator should understand what he is dealing with when he wants to sneer at a political group. Is it made up of deplorables or rich kids? Tea Party? Nazis. AntiFa? Commies. #MeToo? Commies.

But I think that, to be on the safe side, we should pejoratize these Social Media mobs as both Nazis and Commies, keeping a careful watch to make sure that we are perfectly balanced in our use of pejoratives.

Thus we should be balanced about referring to Trash Nazis and Trash Commies. Or Bike Nazis and Bike Commies. Or #MeToo Nazis and #MeToo Commies.

Because, after all, the word "Nazi" will trigger one kind of person to frothing rage, the chap with straggly facial hair that is still a couple of years short of a beard, and that is fine for us shadowy string-pullers. But to cover the ground we should not hesitate to use the word "Commie" to take care of the Gen. Jack D. Rippers of the world, They need to be provoked into frothing hatred as well by us conspiracy mongers.

I just think that if the left is going to get its kicks by running around calling everyone racists, sexists, and homophobes, then the non-left needs to chime in with the name-calling.

Until the left cries Uncle.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Chantrill's Law of Incoming Rounds

Meet "Chantrill's Law of Incoming Rounds." The idea is simple. We humans are really sensitive when someone is attacking us. But when we are attacking someone else, hey, what's the fuss!

The way to understand this is by way of a military metaphor. Imagine you and your buddies are defending a fire-base on a hill-top in Vietnam. Nearby there's an enemy fire-base. You can imagine that when your mortar detachment fires off a mortar round at the other fire-base it is interesting to see where the round lands: the puff of smoke, the crump. Did it hit the target or not?

But things are very different when incoming rounds are hitting your own fire-base. Why, it's a matter of life and death! Incoming! Hit the deck! Then it's all about counterattack, killing every last one of them.

The same is true in politics. Political activists are warriors in the political wars; their job is to fire off squibs to hit the opposing campaign right in the solar-plexus, whether it is a negative ad or an October Surprise that digs up some embarrassing scandal from the past. Hey, they had it coming! But when the opposition starts firing on your side, why, that's an outrage! How dare they traffic in rumors and innuendo! Let's stick to the issues!

You can see this playing out in the current war between the Trumpists and the Resistance. For instance, whaddya think of this list of mortar rounds from the left, compiled at American Greatness?
  • Public performances of plays that depict the execution of Trump-like figures.
  • Publishing a Trump assassination fantasy in the New York Times.
  • The constant, deliberate misrepresentation and denigration of mainstream conservative policy positions {by the MSM e.g., immigration].
  • Barack Obama advises supporters to oppose opponents by saying if “they bring a knife, we bring a gun.”
  • [V]irtue-signaling celebrities who make threats against the president’s family...
  • Antifa’s (and associated groups’) violent responses to peaceful exercises of conservative speech in public spaces.
  • Leftists running high-profile conservatives out of restaurants.
  • Maxine Waters’ encouragements of those who would use violent methods to signify their opposition to the Trump Administration.
  • Hillary Clinton’s call for a hiatus on civility until Democrats regain control of the government.
  • The widespread, false, and cynical equivocation between conservative speech and hate speech.
  • The would-be assassin who almost killed Rep. Scalise.
  • Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder saying, “when [conservatives] go low, we kick them.”
If you are a conservative like me, this sort of thing makes you furious. You say to youself: yeah, imagine if some conservatives ran Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) out of a restaurant. Imagine the media outrage!

Against this, American Greatness's list of conservative originated outrages.
  • The use of disparaging metaphors in reference to the media or political opponents on the Left—because the words the Right uses really do matter.
  • The Deplorables—especially the ones who vote.
  • The (comparatively small number of) conservative media outlets.
  • The purportedly inherent association between right-wing politics and domestic terrorism.
  • President Trump.
And, of course, whenever there is an act of violence, by anyone right or left, liberals blame it on eliminationist rhetoric, white-supremacists, far-right conspiracy theories, and Trump's rhetoric.

But of course. If you are a conservative, you are sick to death of liberals accusing you of being racists sexists, homophobes, and sick to death of the hypocrisy of calling riotous behavior "peaceful protest." Because it hits you where you live and you know that it is meant to hit you where you live and cow you into submission.

But, with the Trump era, suddenly our liberal friends are experiencing incoming rounds, and, in the words of Corporal Jones of the British sit-com Dad's Army, they "don't like it up 'em."

The fact is that people don't care about other people. We only care about ourselves and our kind, and we really care when someone is attacking us, rhetorically on social media, or with fake bombs, or real bullets. Of course we do. We are humans.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Free Trade vs. America First

What should we do about free trade vs. America First? The logic of free trade comes from the law of comparative advantage,  that everyone should concentrate on what they do best. The medical doctor may be best at every job in his medical office, but there are only 8 hours in the day. So it pays for him to hire less-able assistants who can do the grunt work for him at lower wages.

So we offshore all the low-skills jobs to East Asia and concentrate on the high-skills jobs like designing Apple computers.

But what about the low-skill people in the US? Do they just go to the wall? Or live a living hell on welfare? That's the question raised by Spencer Morrison at American Greatness. He chides Andy Kessler at The Wall Street Journal for a simplistic approach to economics: that we move up the value chain, concentrating on high margin activities while outsourcing the low margin work to Asia:
We’ll design (high margin), and they’ll manufacture (low margin). We think, they sweat. It’s the “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China” label.
Problem is: not everyone has the smarts and the skills to do high margin, thinking, creative work. So what happens to them? Do we "let them eat cake?"
Or, do we protect our industries from foreign competition, and guarantee that America remains the land of opportunity for all Americans? 
The truth is, in my view, that this isn't an either/or question. Sure, we don't want to abandon the low skill folks to unemployment, opioids, and existential despair. On the other hand, propping up industries and protecting them from foreign competition is not necessarily going to maintain America as the land of opportunity.

In reality, it's a messy business. In the United States, for about a century, we put the thumb on the scales to help the workers, by privileging labor unions. This was nice for workers in the unionized steel and auto industries, except that the above-market wages and salaries and general bloat made these industries vulnerable to foreign competition, and slow to update and improve their act. So what should the politicians do? Give industries an eternal subsidy? Give them a brief assistance so they can get more competitive?

This is not a new situation. The whole economic history of the last 200 hundred years has been about the decline, one after another, of one proud industries, beginning with farming. Well over half the population used to live on the land, farming. Today, in the United States, less than 3 percent of the work force works on farms. What happened? All sorts of things. Mostly, the children of farmers went to school and left the farm for the city.

But it wasn't always as easy as that. Sometimes the suffering farm workers rioted, as in 1830 and the Captain Swing riots in Britain in 1830. Or the populist revolt in the Great Plains states in the late 19th century. Or the Dust Bowl in the US in the 1930s.

Or railways. According to RailServe.com, railroad employment in the US was 1,500,000 in 1947. Today in the 2010s it is 235,000 employees. So was it just gradual attrition, or what?

In other words, on a decadal time-frame you will see huge changes in the employment of American workers. The question is not saving jobs or moving up the value chain. The question is how to get there, wherever "there" is, without major crisis and hardship. We cannot preserve the past and the incomes of the past. But we can certainly help people to transition from a declining industry to a growing industry.

Problem is that once people get to be established, they don't want to change. They hate the idea of losing wages and status, and usually look to government to help them when they get in a jam. And indeed, it is the job of government to protect people from existential peril. But obviously we cannot maintain everyone in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

On the other hand, every soldier needs to keep his powder dry; every bourgeois needs to to save against a rainy day, every family should prepare against disaster.

So you tell me what government should do to keep America healthy, wealthy, and wise in the coming years.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Two Economies: Remember Charles Murray

Joel Kotkin has a good piece today about "One Nation, Two Economies" right here in the good old USA. About how the Obama era benefited the post-industrial economy in the Blue States and how the Trump era is benefiting the industrial economy of manufacturing and energy in the Red States.

A point that he makes is that the new post-industrial economy is very hard for the lesser-educated to navigate. But I had already been thinking, in my early hours brain-dump, that I need to rehearse the work of Charles Murray, he who is too much of a hater for the tender Special Snowflakes at privileged Middlebury College to tolerate.

Because, taken as a whole, Charles Murray's big books are a devastating takedown of today's liberals and everything they stand for.

First, Murray wrote Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950 - 1980. It was first published in 1984. The argument is that Great Society liberals fully instrumented the Great Society social programs of the Sixties, fully expecting to report on their triumphant success and make the triumphant liberal social scientist researchers and reporters into household names. Only the research showed that the social programs weren't working. They were making things worse. So what did liberals do? They said nothing and did nothing and let the disastrous programs continue to this day.

Then Murray wrote, with Richard Herrnstein, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. It was first published in 1994. The argument is that the importance of IQ, or intelligence, in the economy of the future means that there is a real danger of America becoming a two class society, with the intelligent ones on top and the less intelligent ones on bottom. But Wait! said liberals. This is flat out Racism. Go and stand in the corner, Charles Murray, you eevil racist. (See the problem is that black people right now have lower IQs than whites).

OK. So Murray came back with Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. It was first published in 2012. The argument is that white America was sorting into three classes. The top 25 percent -- the sort of people that live in Belmont, Mass. where Mitt Romney lived -- were doing fine with education, great careers and merger marriages. The middle 45 percent were doing so-so, with rather too much divorce and employment problems. The bottom 35 percent -- the sort of lower-class whites that live in Philadelphia's Fishtown -- were not doing well at all. Basically the men didn't work much and the women didn't marry much.

Now, if you are a right-wing nutcase like me you say that, while it is probable that the folks that will wive and thrive in the new world order will be the people with good cognitive skills, the kind of people that do well in school and in tech bureaucracies, there are other people in this world, and we are social animals. So what should we lordly cognitives do to help the cognitively challenged?

Never mind that. What should we definitely NOT do? Well that is easy. I'd say that we want to throw out the entire welfare state from free education to welfare-on-demand.

What we SHOULD do is encourage the SJW chaps to bully billionaires and centi-millionaires with social media to sponsor bourgeois-boot-camp schools and get-back-into-the-game job-retraining camps.

What we should NOT do is encourage the artistical-black twentysomething culture and the gang-celebrating hip-hop culture.

What we SHOULD do is change the culture from top to bottom -- from TV to music videos -- to encourage marriage and children and stigmatize easy sex and divorce and abortion.

As they say: if you finish high school, get married before you have children, and don't have children until you are in your twenties, you will almost certainly live a useful life.

In my view, there is no hope of implementing this program without absolutely delegitimizing liberals and lefties and the whole ruling-class culture that supports the welfare state and identity politics. I've been reading a book on "revolution" lately and found it unsatisfactory. What is revolution? Well, if you ask me, it is a big social turning, when by means hardly understood a society changes direction, probably including the ejection of the Old Regime.

In other words, we should understand that the French Revolution could not have happened without the discrediting of the Old Regime of monarchical absolutism by a rising middle class that wasn't getting no respect.

We should understand that the New Deal could not have happened without the various lefties succeeding in discrediting the Coolidge-Hoover era as hopelessly out-of-date and uncaring.

We should expect that, if we are to change America from its globalist/identity-politics present course we have to discredit the current crop of lefties and everything they stand for. We have to persuade ordinary middle Americans that the left does not care about people like them. It shouldn't be that hard, because it's true, you deplorables and bitter clingers.

This isn't hard. But it will be difficult.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

How Do Democrats Return to the Middle?

Over at Steve Sailer, there's a chart showing that Democrat belief that "racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can't get ahead these days" has gone from 28% in 2010 to 64% in 2017. Really, what planet are these people on? So racial injustice has gone up in the Obama era?

Or what about the Kavanaugh nomination, where crowds of educated white women were ululating in misery when nominee Kavanaugh was approved by the United States Senate? Really, what planet do these women live on? Are packs of men really preying on innocent helpless women?

I mean, has there ever been a society in history that has shown more concern for a minority population than the United States has shown for black people? Or more concern for women than the United States has shown for educated white women?

So why are Democrats all wigged out about racism? And why do well-born educated white women think that it is the end of the world if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade?

The answer, of course, is religion. It is an error to think of Democrats, especially educated Democrats, as merely supporters of a political party. Anti-racism is their religion. Anti-sexism is their religion. And the point of post-Axial Age religion is to keep the Good vs. Evil opposition at white heat.

No matter that civil-rights laws were passed 50 years ago. Racist Satan is still a threat! No matter that well-born women have been educated to a fare-thee-well for the last generation and now represent up to two-thirds of youngsters in higher education. The forces of evil are still there. Sexual harassers are out there in the bushes; glass ceilings are stopping women from succeeding in their careers; a world without abortion on demand is unthinkable.

My point is that what we see about us today tells us more about the religious needs of well-born educated Americans than the real facts on the ground.

You see the problem at its clearest in millennarian cults that are predicting the end of the world. End-of-the-world is what you need to keep your members energized and committed. It is a question of morale. You keep morale up, in an army or a religious cult, by reminding your members that they are special, members of an exclusive elite, people with a special insight on "the meaning of life, the universe, and everything," and that they must stay mobilized and alert, anxious to stay the course and win their way to Heaven and/or the perfect society. And when the predicted millennium fails to appear? Well, there is only one thing for the leaders to do, and that is to double down.

This fits into the Reign of Terror notion in the analysis of political revolution. Political revolutions are messy and ultimately failed endeavors. Because, after all the speechifying and organizing and revolutionizing and promising and all, we all still have to get up in the morning and go to work. And so, as a revolution proceeds, and the promised heaven on earth fails to appear, the revolutionary leaders have to amp up their rhetoric to keep their supporters mobilized. Until the day of Thermidor and inevitable reaction.

So is that where we are today? With the promise of the civil-rights revolution and its heavenly justice receding inevitably into a messy everyday existence? With the promise of heaven on earth for educated women -- where wages would be equal, where women would move comfortably up the corporate ladder, where sexuality would be safe and predictable -- all dissolving into the truth of life as uncertain and imperfect and contingent?

Don't worry. If today's millennarian hopes collapse, there will come a new religious awakening and the whole process will start all over again. Maybe they will be on the right this time.

Meanwhile Democratic pollster Doug Schoen is warning Democrats that they have gone too far leftr. But will anyone listen to him?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Oh No! Trump Uses "N" Word

OK. Now President Trump has gone and done it. He's uttered the N-Word. You know what I am talking about. It was at the notorious Houston rally on October 22, where the president called Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) "Texas Ted." (The noive!)
“You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK,” he said to “USA!” chants. “I’m a nationalist. Use that word.”
Yes. I can't believe he said that. The President of the United States said he was a "nationalist." Oh no! The Huff Post reacted with proper alarm:
To many, the comments were a dog whistle evoking both racism and anti-Semitism[.]
Oh I get it. If Trump says he's a nationalist it must mean he's a Nazi. Cut to tweets:
Robert Reich: "The stakes of this elections couldn't be higher for democracy."
Amy Siskind: "This is a big admission which should terrify us all."
Justin Gibson: "This was said seconds after he used the anti-Semitic dogwhistle term 'globalist' to denigrate Democrats."
Imran Siddiqi: "*white nationalist."
As they say down South: "Bless Their Hearts."

Of course, in fact this is a stroke of genius, because Trump takes the word "nationalist" out of the basement where it has been languishing in quarantine, say, ever since World War II because of the "H" word.

Yes, you see, because of Hitler and the Nazi horror we must never ever allow the banner of "nationalism" to rise again. We must keep the people quiet and subordinate and we globalists must rule wisely and well over them. Because the people can't be trusted. They might create another Hitler.

To which I say, again, that Trump is the idiot you get when the usual idiots have failed. I am looking at you, globalists.

Never mind that your Communism, your Socialism, your identity politics is designed to rile up the natives and get them to hate on the "other." Never mind all that vile stuff for which at least 100 million humans have died. Never mind that. Just stop Nationalism before it, it... Well Nationalism is bad. And racist. And sexist. And anti-semitic. Oh, and xenophobic.

Wait. Trumpian nationalism is anti-semitic? You mean the chap that moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem? That chap?

And our lefty friends get all worked up that we call them NPCs. Because you don't think, lefties, do you. You just mouth the peaceful-protest slogans you learned at your teacher's knee.

See here is what I want. I don't want civic-nationalism, or white-nationalism, or posterity-nationalism, or anything like that.

I want just straight-up all-American nationalism, for which anyone and everyone can apply. I want everyone in the United States to glory in the wonder of America: its founding, its Constitution, its economy open to talents. Its ability to turn its immigrants into rock-ribbed Americans.

See, I want African-Americans to stop their defensive crouch in their ethnic enclave, obsessing about their injuries and their sufferings. I want them to come out into the public square and put their shoulders to the wheel and Make America Great Again.

I want Latinos and Hispanics to come right out and enjoy the prosperity they are earning every day in these United States and turn themselves into good red-blooded Americans, albeit that bring mariachi music right into the mainstream.

I want East Asians to knock down the vile Asian quota at our favorite colleges, and I want them to bring the particular talents of 4,000 years of Chinese civilization to bear on the fruited plain and I want them to Make America Great Again.

I want South Asians to stop their current plan of sucking up to the liberal agenda, like Cong. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Seattle's irrepressible Kshama Sawant, and flat out bring the wonders of 3,000 years of Indian civilization to Make America Great Again.

And so on.

Now, I'm a little worried about the East Asians. I'm worried that the basic culture of East Asians is the Mandarin culture of getting good marks in your national examinations so you can be a Mandarin bureaucrat and take your place in the ruling-class's administrative state. I hope that our East Asian friends see their way to something higher and better than the dead end of bureaucracy.

I'm a little worried about South Asians. I'm worried by the class division of the caste system, with the Brahmins cunningly staying on top for 3,000 years by whispering into the ears of the powerful and cunningly setting up a culture that puts them on top forever. I'd like my Brahmin friends to mix it up a bit with that notorious "bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar," my guy Alexander Hamilton.

But hey. After a possible 8 years of Trumpian nationalism, who knows where America will be. Hopefully we will all be rambunctious All Americans and the rest of the world will be sick to death of that horror of the ages, the loud American tourist in his dreadful MAGA hat.

And yeah. I'd like someone to gin up a Cinderella movie called Crazy Rich Americans that makes delicious fun of all the ethnic groups in America mixing it up and making fun of liberal conceits and making HuffPo readers and writers apoplectic.

Wouldn't that be fun!

Monday, October 22, 2018

How Do You Measure Hope?

Like everybody else I want to know what is going to happen in the mid-terms. Hey, I even have a website, usmidtermelections.com, to prove it.

A year ago the Democrats and their Democratic operatives in the media were telling us about a blue wave this November, where Democrats would take back everything they lost in 8 years of Obama. But then, as the Brits say, they would say that, wouldn't they?

Still, it's hard relying on opinion polls to clear the fog. Dov Fischer at The American Spectator goes through all the Senate polls in 2016, and how they consistently underestimated the GOP vote. In the Senate races with GOP Toomey (R-PA), Young (R-IN), Johnson (R-WI) and so on, the polls either had the Dem winning or the Rep by a whisker. But the GOPers outperformed the polls by about 4 percent.

Which is a lot. Or maybe not. Because, presumably it is hard to measure enthusiasm and anger and all the passion and emotion that enter into politics. But how do you measure these non-rational factors? Today there's piece on Breitbart about people camping out 24 hours in advance of President Trump's rally tonight, October 22, in Houston, Texas. These people are really enthused about Trump. How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand, as the song goes.

Before the days of opinion polls we had veteran politicians who talked to people who talked to people and they used to come up with their gut feeling about how the nation, or the state, or the district was going to go. I wonder how they would stack up against today's pollsters?

The point is, of course, that politics is not a rational thing, or a scientific process. It is tribal. It is pre-rational; it is humans clinging to each other for mutual protection. And the purpose of elections, in my mind, is to allow that ancient tribal mind to be measured and accommodated to our modern world.

Salena Zito, a hard-working journalist, that seems to have found a good way to talk to the heartland folks that nobody cares about on the Coasts, got to interview President Trump before one of his rallies. Said he, in almost a throwaway line:
"It really is all about hope," he says as his aides take him toward [the] stage. Seconds later, the arena shudders as the crowd welcomes the president of the United States.
Of course that is what Barack Obama said: "Hope and Change." The question is whether politics is always a betrayal of hope. Every politician is in the business of raising hope, of getting voters to identify him with their hope for the future and invest that hope in him with their votes.

The question is whether any politician ever really delivers on that hope. President Trump, for instance, has sown a lot of hope by his promise to renegotiate trade treaties and bring jobs back. What he is really doing, I reckon, is sparking the economy with tax cuts and regulatory roll-backs. So  you can see that he is really playing Three Card Monte with the voters: promising one thing and delivering another which is close to what he is promising, but no cigar. And yet. Republicans have been trying and failing for years to sell voters on "orthodox" economics. What voters understand is "bring our jobs back." So you could say that Trump is not really hoodwinking the voters but practicing the art of the possible.

Will Trump disappoint the voters and eventually slink off the stage after the next recession? The simple answer is, of course, yes, because every eight years we almost always get a "change" election where the voters express their disgust with the past and their desire for a fresh start.

But here is another interpretation of history. In the Kennedy tax cut, the Reagan tax cut, and now the Trump tax cut, a leader proposed a reckless idea that all the safe people said would never work. And after a few years politics resumed its normal zero-sum assumptions, and it seemed that nothing had changed.

But the fact is that the Kennedy-Reagan-Trump tax cuts have all stirred the US economy out of the doldrums for a season. And that is a cause for hope.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Values not Facts Make the World Go Round

The great notion of the Enlightenment is the idea of Facts, Facts, Facts, and reason over emotion. But the thrust of the psychological revolution that starts, let us say, with the Romantic rebellion and takes over the world in the work of Freud and Jung, is that the unconscious rules over all.

This is very hard for conservatives and libertarians to deal with, because our world view is that it is reason and science that rules overall. Ignore reason and science and you descend into the depths, we insist. Chaps like alt-rightist Vox Day are deeply into the reason and science thing.

But the truth is that we humans view the world through the lens of our values. YouTube sensation Jordan B. Peterson insists on that -- and he gets it from Nietzsche, Jung and Co.

Here are a couple of conservative types suggesting the same. Christopher DeGroot, who says, apropos AntiFa and Black Lives Matter:
[Men and women] have certain internal moral values and, though they don’t realize it, constantly read them into external phenomena. This is not a rational but an affective affair, so though we may wish to correct people’s mistaken beliefs, and though we should try to do so, just as we should try to avoid violent conflict, it must often happen that reason is ineffective at this endeavor, and violence the only recourse.
I think it is fair to say that AntiFa and Black Lives have values, an "affective" view of the world rather different from Trump-supporting "deplorables,"Right, the #Resistance chaps on the left seem to think that violence is the only recourse.

And then there is Scott Adams, whose present line is "persuasion." And he's thinking that the mid-term election in November will see the biggest turnout by Republicans, ever. Because:
My hypothesis is that humans are primed by whatever they’ve already seen. So if they’ve seen a pattern, they’ve already fallen into it. And one of the patterns Republicans enjoyed in 2016 was having the other side be surprised. And they really enjoyed it — I’m talking about the kind of joy you can talk about over the course of your lifetime. And the Republican personality — I realize this is a gross generalization — is that it’s not always about the talk, it’s about the showing up.
Gosh, and I thought it was liberal Woody Allen who said that 90 percent of life is just showing up.

See what Adams is saying? You see a pattern because you are already looking for it. That is what Peterson says. Now all this is pure emotion: no reason in sight. And like the old commercial says, when Scott Adams talks, people listen. A week or so ago Adams suggested that a good persuader for Republicans would be "jobs not mobs." Well, whaddya know, pretty soon President Trump was tweeting #JobsNotMobs.

Yes, the whole point of Twitter is not facts but values, memes, and to spread your meme and get Twitter to ban the other guy's memes.

Yes, how is that working out when the Kavanaugh affair seems to have woken up the GOP faithful from the sleep of the ages?

One thing about our present moment is that our lefty friends seem to be doing a full-court press to drive right-wing memes out of the public square as "hate speech." And it is very angrifying, if you are a conservative, to read every day about another mild-mannered conservative getting  de-platformed by the SJWs working at Social Media Central.

Something to think about, SJWs: Some people say that the point of the First Amendment is to make sure that the subhuman haters, that all good people know deserve to be driven into Hell, actually get to say their stuff. Because, after all, we rulers want to keep an eye on them, and that gets really hard if we drive them underground. Right SJWs?

Now, I think that our lefty friends are knaves and fools, engaged in a Great Reaction to take the world back to the Stone Age or at least, in its socialist state version, back to neo-slavery, and in its milder welfare state version, to neo-feudalism. In any case, they are trying to force to world into a cramped and narrow template which is notable for its faith in political power and government. That's what I think.

I think that the fundamental lesson of our modern age is that the way we get the world to work for us is to submit ourselves to the will of the market rather than the will of the lord as in the agricultural age and its slavery and serfdom. Of course, our lefty friends think that submission to the market is the worst slavery ever.

And that really demonstrates the two values lenses through which today's contending parties view the world. Some of us think that subordination to political lords is the worst thing in the world, and some of us think that subordination to the invisible lords of the market is the worst thing in the world.

It all depends which of my reductive Three Peoples you belong to. Do you belong to the People of the Subordinate Self? Then you believe that the best thing to do is to subordinate yourself to your loving lord that cares about people like you. The last thing you want is to be subordinated to the wild and crazy market system.

But if you are a People of the Responsible Self you think it is perfect freedom to subordinate yourself to the market and responsibly navigate its storm-tossed seas. The worst thing in the world is to tie yourself to some pompous political chieftain that doesn't care about you, but only about your vote.

Now what about the People of the Creative Self? See, I think there are two kinds of creative people. There are the Progressive Activists that believe in new creative political memes and government programs. And there are the people like Peter Thiel that believe in Zero to One, the creation of something new in the market economy. One these two is not like the other. For me, the first kind is really dumb and stupid; the second has really got the world by the tail. But your mileage may vary.

Of course, although we all start with values, there are still the facts hiding behind the values, and the theories of the world that people deploy in the service of their values and which they use to make sense of the facts. Some theories work and some theories do not.

It's always a good idea to try and make sure that your values align with the facts and that your facts align with good settled science about how the world works.

Of course, all settled science works. Until it doesn't.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pick Your Tribalism: Nationalism vs. What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tribalism: The Empty Middle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Let's Invent a New Tribalism

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

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

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

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

Just like President Trump.

Here is how I get here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even liberals can apply.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Fourth Turn in Political Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what comes next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

Of Course the Left is a Mob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

If You Believe in Politics You Believe in Tribalism

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

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

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

The answer is obvious. They make it up.

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

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

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

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

Oh no!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that the best we can be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Where Does Tribalism Come From?

OK. I was wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is all.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 8, 2018

Rich Kid Protesters are Not the Cry of the Oppressed

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

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

Oh really, I thought. Who knew?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until Donald Trump.

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

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

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

Friday, October 5, 2018

Of Course the Left is All About Hate

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

Allow me to differ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So of course the left is always ginning up hate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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