Friday, August 30, 2019

Dems That Believe the Talking Points

How should we understand the current Democratic presidential campaign? The crazy promises ranging from Medicare For All to student debt forgiveness to slave reparations to the Green New Deal? At the current stage it does not seem to be offering strategically pitched items of loot, but something more existential.

I think that the way to understand the Democratic campaign is as a religious festival. As sacrifices to the gods. And as the promise of Paradise. Take the climate change issue. Tucker Carlson:
Do you really think Nancy Pelosi believes climate change is an existential crisis? Of course, she doesn't think that. Plus, she flies private. Obama can say whatever he wants about carbon emissions. He can shake his chin and be concerned, but when you're spending 15 million of your own dollars on a beachfront estate on Martha's Vineyard, you're not too worried about the oceans rising. But the Democratic base doesn't get the joke. Democratic primary voters believe the talking points.
That's the point. Belief. "Democratic primary voters believe the talking points." Yes, actually believe the blandishments of politicians and the passionate declarations of activists. But why?

It comes down to the basic truth, that everyone has a religion, a way of coming to grips with "the meaning of life, the universe, and everything." And everyone has that basic fear, that is so cunningly expressed in the notion of Original Sin, that we humans are basically flawed, that the world as we know it is coming to an end, and that something must be done, something dramatic, to prevent the End of the World.

But most people do not -- why, they cannot -- individually conduct a spiritual quest to determine, for themselves, what life means for themselves. To do that, they would have to read a book. Instead they rely on religious experts -- priests, evangelists, inspirational teachers -- to do the heavy lifting, and plump for one of the prefabricated religious doctrines on offer. I was just reading a Zman take on that; he writes about ageing baby-boom women and their "various self-actualizing fads." Religious cults, by any other name.

I think that we experience this feeling in different ways at the different stages of life. Take the eternal problem of the End of the World. As young'uns we fear that the older generation will wreck the world before we get our chance. Getting older as parents we worry that the world will come to an end before our children establish their place in the world. As we get older still we worry that the world as we have known it will come to an end before our death. Or, as John Derbyshire reports of his working-class mother's thought on her deathbed: "At least I knew England when it was England." At that point, you know your world has ended, but at least you had experienced it in its glory.

Now, our Founding Fathers, like many wise heads of their era, understood that this religious experience of the End of the World exists uneasily with government and politics. That's because their generation experienced as disastrous all the religious wars in Europe of the previous century. They wondered how to relieve the tension between existential religious fears and hopes and the mundane question of who has political power to knock people over the head for breaking the peace.

So they came up with the notion of the Separation of Powers and the Separation of Church and State. To express it in terms that our liberal friends used to to be able to understand, the Founders wanted to make it difficult to "legislate morality."

Of course, in the event, it is impossible to separate law and morality, because morality is implied in every law passed by a legislature or legal decision promulgated by a court of law. But at least the notion of the separation of church and state recognizes that there is a problem, that there are other people out there with a different view of the meaning of life. It expresses the notion that, while the view held by many other people is obviously wrong, still, there is a need for people of different views to get along, if they can.

The trouble is, of course, that there is always a new enthusiastic religious cult coming on the scene with an apocalyptic view of life that knows that, unless we act now, we are all doomed. We know these religious cults by the identities of their enthusiasts: Jacobins, Bolsheviks, Fascists, Nazis, Maoists, Environmentalists, Climate Activists. We wise ones aggregate them under the heading "totalitarian," meaning the recombination of politics and religion into a single millennarian movement.

It's understandable. In my view the notion that the world is not coming to an end, that we should not all act now to prevent the Second Fall, that there are not Evil Forces that need to be smashed is a world view of almost unimaginable nobility and sophistication, completely inaccessible to the average member of the Democratic base that never read a book.

In other words, the idea that life is always in existential tension, that the meaning of life is always going to be uncertain and unresolved, that there is both good and evil in every human heart, that in the end we must just keep on keeping on: this is a world view that few can hope to attain.

And meanwhile there is always another generation grasping impatiently on a new religious cult that promises redemption from the intolerable burden of a Fallen World.

I suspect that the cult of redemption tends usually to be an upper-class thing, a conceit of people that have it made, or almost made.

In the terms of my Three Peoples theory, I would say that the People of the Subordinate Self only get restless when reacting to immediate problems like the loss of a job, or a collapse of the economy. In that situation they strike out like cornered rats. They are not looking for redemption, just the chance to live another day.

The People of the Responsible Self tend to think of setbacks and perils through the lens of personal responsibility and their existing religious beliefs that prompt them to work out what a responsible person should do in the present emergency. Come what may, they are already "saved" or redeemed by their Redeemer. So their response to existential peril is likely to be measured and rational.

It is the People of the Creative Self that are likely to respond to existential crisis with a new religious cult. For them the temptation is always there to use their creative talent to make the world anew. They do this because they are people that imagine they have the power to "make a difference" in the world. You would too if you thought that you had the brains and the truth to set the world to rights.

Obviously, politicians are no fools. Their métier is to know how to push peoples' buttons and turn them into supporters, even true believers. What every Democrat running for president knows is that their base is panting for a leader to lead them out of the Land of Trump, where every firstborn is in danger of -- well, something or other -- into the Promised Land of peace and justice, and on the way to vanquish the monsters of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia.

See? Nothing has changed. We humans are eternally slaves of the Pharaohs, eternally hoping for the Messiah to save us from the hell of the present. And eternally threatened by evil monsters.

Especially educated members of the Democratic base.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Shakespeare and Austen: Things They Never Told Me

I am swinging through Britland with my daughter, with stops in Stratford and Bath. And I am learning things I never knew.

For instance, I now understand why the ordinary Brit Bill of Stratford could write about Julius Caesar and Troilus and Cressida. It's because of the school he attended at the Guildhall in Stratford.

See, back in the 1570s, a kid like Bill, son of the local glover, could go to work, at age 8, or he could go to the free school at the Guildhall.

Here's how the school worked. There was a master, paid 20 pounds a year, and about 40 to 60 students. These students sat on forms -- that is boxes that contained the beer they would drink during the day -- by age. The youngest boys sat on the First Form, the next youngest on the Second Form, all the way up to the Sixth Form. British schools are still organized on this model.

Back in those days the instruction was entirely verbal, because paper was so expensive. So students learned their Latin and arithmetic and multiplication tables verbally. Also, the master did not teach them all the time. How could he when there were 60 kids from 8 to 16? So most of the instruction was from the older boys to the younger boys. And if a younger boy didn't know something, he would apply to an older kid for help. Studies show that people remember 90 percent of what they teach.

Since the kids were learning Latin they were also learning Classical history.

So now I know how it was that Shakespeare, a nobody from Stratford-on-Avon, could write plays about Roman history. He had a remarkable education from the local guildhall school, and thus knew about all that stuff.

I asked the chap telling us about all this where he got his information. He said it came from a book, The Scholemaster by Roger Ascham. It is available on Google Books and elsewhere. I will be checking it out.

But I want to know: how come I didn't know this? And how come such a system worked, at such a low expense? And how the students learned all this stuff, even though there was no paper and no textbooks?

And how come our present system is a total failure even though it is drenched in money and teachers? How come a schoolmaster paid £20 per year could educate 60 boys without a scrap of paper? And how come the kids could come out with a serious knowledge of the classics? Seriously, how come?

Now, my theory of education is that kids should be chucked out of school at about 11 or 12 and told to get a job, or an apprenticeship. The ones that wanted to continue in school would have to crawl on their knees over broken glass begging to be allowed to stay in school. You can see that the system in Shakespeare's time was not all that different. Only in those days you started work at 8 unless you could get yourself enrolled in school.

The guild school had a punishment day, Friday, on which all defaulters would be "birched" or beaten with a bundle of birch twigs. But here's the thing. You could redeem yourself by good behavior in the interval between your infraction and the Friday birching ceremony. What a concept!

It's interesting that our entire knowledge about early education comes from Dickens and Dotheboys Hall and Mr. Creakle and Dr. Wackford Squeers. What if education in former times was nothing like Dickens' notions? What indeed.

Then we went on to Bath, location of Jane Austen novels like Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Jane spent several years in Bath, four years in the house of her father who had moved there after retiring as a parish priest, several more years in reducted circumstances after his death in 1805.

Here is what shocked me. The Pump Room is right next to Bath Abbey, quite an imposing church. But I never recall reading about the Abbey. Just a hundred yards away from the Pump Room and the Abbey is the river Avon. How come Jane Austen never mentioned the river? She lived in Sydney Place, just across the river from the Abbey and the Pump Room, so would have frequently crossed the bridge across the river Avon.

But another mystery was solved. Sir Walter Elliott, father of Anne Elliott the heroine of Persuasion, lived in Camden Place. There is no Camden Place in Bath, according to Google Maps. But, on a map of Bath in 1800 there is a Camden Place. It is close to what is now Camden Crescent. So we are to assume that there has been a lot of demolition and building in Bath. Which is odd, because you would think that Bath emerged complete and entire like Minerva from the forehead of Zeus and has remained pure and entire ever since. Apparently not, although the terraced houses of the Circus and the Royal Crescent are still as magnificent and entire as they ever were. Only today they are mostly broken up into flats.

I'd talk about our visit to Stonehenge, only we bailed out after we found that the entrance fee was £34. So we took off for London and took a photo from the road. Back in my day little kids could run in and out of the stones; my dad took movies of me to prove it. But now visitors are kept at a distance. Because preservation.

What a world!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Understanding the Left

The Zman is trying on ideas to understand the left. Is it just a bunch of cat ladies? Is it a plot to undermine white-created society?

Or is it an assault on "rationality and order," using the idea that the world is a "narrative of opinion?"

But if that is the case then
If race is a social construct, then diversity must also be a social construct. In fact, it is irrational, as what would be the point of decorating an organization with things that do not exist? That also means so-called hate speech is a social construct, as it is rooted in the belief in racial and ethnic differences. If those differences are imaginary, then hate speech is imaginary as well.
Of course it doesn't matter because whatever social construct the left comes up with is treated by them as the truth, whereas other peoples' constructs are treated as racist sexist homophobic lies.

So the whole thing depends on the ability of the left to control the conversation.

Now I think that it is a mistake to imagine that anyone's world view is based on "rationality and order." It is all based on some narrative opinion, some notion, upfront, of "the meaning of life, the universe, and everything."

Every world view is based on the situation of humans that, as self-conscious beings, we are able to construct a view of the world, and then marshal knowledge and "rationaliity and order" that seem to us to explain the world and what comes next.

We conservatives have a world view that is based on the notion that we do not know what heaven on earth would look like. Because we believe this we believe that religion and government should be separated, that religious world views should not have the power to use government to enforce their world views.

Indeed we believe that there is only a limited amount that government can do to make a better world.

But our lefty friends believe that with political power they can make the "arc of history bend towards justice." So every lefty action is devoted to the notion of using political power as an agent of justice. Part of that strategy involved delegitimizing other world views in any way possible. So it doesn't matter what they say about other people, how many people they deplatform, if it brings us a step closer to justice and equality.

If you believe that your political beliefs represent The Way to truth and justice then it makes complete sense to push aside people that disagree with you, to accuse them of being worse than Hitler. For they are roadblocks on the road to justice.

Now my belief is that the lefty idea that political power is the royal road to justice is the problem. Political power is only useful for defending us against enemies, people that wish to use force on us.

But once that is achieved, we believe, there is not a lot that government can do to make the world a better place. And the point of the Founders and the thinkers that inspired them is that the thing to do is to create limitations on the use of government power, to make it difficult for anyone to use government power to alter the arc of history. Because the idea that the arc of history is moving towards justice if it agrees with your ideas is baloney.

Anyone can come up with a vision of a better world, and anyone can imagine that, with him in charge and the naysayers out of the way, that we could abolish poverty and injustice in short order.

And that is the problem with the left. Lefties have the naive idea that they are the good guys, period. And so we ought to do what they want. But let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that in one aspect, they have got it wrong. How would we know? What would we do about it? What mechanism would there be for rolling back a program that, despite good intentions, does not achieve what it promised?

Supposing some Koch Brother came up with a critique of a lefty program. How would he get the lefty government to give it some consideration? Then how would the lefty government deal with the fact that it considers all Koch Brothers and their ilk as unredeemable.

The fact is that humans are not good a taking correction from people they believe are evil, as lefties believe the Koch Brothers are evil.

Reduced to its essential, the best way to understand the left is as a religious group, a cult, with a vision of paradise on Earth. It wants government power to legislate its moral vision and enforce it on the rest of humanity.

Well, the left has been pretty good at realizing that if some Christian group tried that it would be disastrous. That is why lefties are very strong on opposing any attempt to "legislate morality."

But the beginning of wisdom is to understand that it is wrong for anyone to "legislate morality." Anyone can see that when the other guy legislates morality is is a Bad Thing. But only a wise fool can see that when I legislate morality I am just as bad.

That is why the government governs best that governs least. Because it will mean that the government is doing very little in the line of legislating morality, and imposing its moral view on other people.

Try convincing a lefty friend of that. You can't, because he believes that his belief is a saving truth and only racist sexist homophobes could nor would disagree. And since anyone that disagrees with him is evil à la lanterne with them!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Trying to Put Multiculturalism on the Stage

Last night I saw As You Like It at Stratford-upon-Avon from the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was as multicultural as you like, with a black Orlando, a vaguely non-white Celia, a woman Jaques, a black female Silvius, and thus a lesbian thing with Phoebe. and deaf or dumb Audrey who needed another character to interpret her sign language.

Oh and there were minor parts for a South Asian and and East Asian.

Really, considering the effort that went into providing satisfaction for the progressive political community it is amazing that the production team had any creative energy left for the play itself.

But it was great fun and My Girl Rosalind was delightful.

I get the problem. As You Like It is about the travails of a bunch of rich kids involved in family power and inheritance problems. The only character in the least bit modern, and the least bit non-patriarchal-white-supremacist is Jaques, the professional pessimist reciting his Seven Ages of Man.

Do you see the problem faced by our lords and masters in the educated ruling class? The great cultural monuments that the 50-ish white woman wants to go see are all about white culture, and often pre-industrial revolution white culture at that. The issues and concerns of the left have no place, were not even thought of back in those days. What's a woke theatre creative to do?

Well, they do what they did with As You Like It here in Stratford in 2019. And I got to see an As You Like It by the semi-pro Seattle Shakespeare Company earlier in the year. They too had a couple of reversed genders. Just to maintain their street cred in the theater community.

What these chaps really want to do is the musical version of The Boy in the Dress, "the story of a twelve-year-old boy who enjoys cross-dressing, and the reactions of his family and friends." Hey, whaddya know, RSC is doing just that this summer.

Actually, I get it. My reductive Three Peoples theory gets it. What our educated class wants these days is to be "creative." And the easiest thing to be creative about is sex. Let's ring all the changes, and the more it épates the bourgeoisie the better.

But here is my thing. What we need today is not navel-gazing by the educated class and their bribed apologists in the theater community. What we need is cultural product that explores much more the situation of the ordinary middle class in the 21st century. Not to mention the immigrant community.

What does it mean, today, living in the world of the flyover middle class, scorned and abandoned by today's educated class? What does it mean to be an immigrant to the developed west, torn between your ancestral culture, the business workaday culture and the political culture? Your ancestral culture still tugs at you and seems to be a safe place but it isn't; the workaday trust and customer-oriented culture of work and business is something that you need to master in order to make it in the city but it is frightening; and the political culture offers all kinds of temptations and short cuts, which all come with a hidden cost, that you are cannon fodder for the various political power factions in the society.

And where are the satires of modern life, satirizing all the sacred cows of the educated ruling class? Why aren't we assailed from morning to night with penetrating satires of abortion activists, LGBT organizations, journalists, NGO activists, AntiFa, woke Google employees, idiotic tweeting celebrities, and so on? How about a satire on the modern university and its feminized bureaucracy? How about a searing look at K-12 education, that looks at the insanities of failing to educate inner-city black children? Why is it that movie villains can only be white military officers and white businessmen?

Look, I get it. The reason we have the currrent "divided country" and that everyone on the left is spitting cotton is that the left's Great Reaction is failing everywhere. But, as is the way with all cultures, the first and second encounter with failure only prompt the culture leaders to call for a bigger effort, a Big Push, in the language of World War I, an extra effort to get the team over the goal line.

It cannot be true that the whole endeavor is heading for disaster, that its glorious vision metastasizes into misery wherever it is tried. That realization doesn't come till later, till the gutters are running with blood, till the day before Thermidor.

Now, as you know, my Three Peoples theory has an exact prescription for all our ailments, and it should be taken daily.

For the People of the Subordinate Self, the prescription is to learn the trust and service culture of the city and of Axial Age religion, to graduate from the tribal and hierarchical culture of the agricultural age to the trust and responsibility culture of the city.

For the People of the Responsible Self, the prescription is to step out a little beyond the comfort of merely obeying the law, going to work, and following the rules, and dare to do something a bit dangerous.

For the People of the Creatie Self, the prescription is to understand fully the Hero's Journey, that it starts with the terror of the descent into the underworld of the unconscious, and it ends not with glorious success and the adulation of the multitude, but with a Sacrificial Death, pointing out the Way along the borderlands between Order and Chaos: dying that others may live.

Now, imagine if our theater and arts community was writing plays and movies about the meaning of life, the universe and everything informed by the wisdom of the Three Peoples theory.

That would a a world of wonders.

Monday, August 26, 2019

David Koch was a Good Guy

At some point in the last 20 years, someone on the left decided that "The Koch Brothers" were evil. And ever since, lefty boilerplate has routinely identified "the Koch Brothers" as the very fount of evil and oppressive capitalism.

So when David Koch died, aged 79, after a long battle with prostate cancer, all kinds of lefties expressed their delight.

I'm not really inclined to attack them for that. Most lefties are fools, that have never read a book, and merely spout the hate that they have been carefully taught, from year to year, and their little ears.

The Koch Brothers were exemplary businessmen that inherited a family business from their father and turned a business worth tens of millions into a business empire worth tens of billions.

That means, lefty friends, that they created jobs, jobs, jobs.

But to the New York Times he and his brother Charles were right-wingers.
David H. Koch, an industrialist who amassed a multibillion-dollar fortune with his brother Charles and then joined him in pouring their riches into a powerful right-wing libertarian movement that helped reshape American politics, died on Friday at his home in Southampton, N.Y.
It's weird isn't it. The right-wingers that I read are mostly annoyed with the Kochs because they are pro-gay, pro-abortion, and pro-immigration. And they funded libertarian enterprises like Reason magazine. But to the New York Times obituary writers, Koch was "right-wing."

Which meant, of course, that when David Koch stumped up $100 million to help refurbish the New York City Ballet, all the fashionables with the right opinions -- as in correct rather than right-wing -- expressed their horror at allowing this monster a shield of respectability.

Give me a break.

I honor the Kochs for putting so much money into libertarian ideas, although I stop short of true libertarianism. That is because my reductive Three Peoples theory recognizes that the People of the Subordinate Self want protection, not just political protection from pirates and plunderers, but economic protection from the tides of the market. My politics tries to give them that -- or at least an illusion of economic security -- rather than declare that government has no business in the economic safety net business.

But what I honor the Kochs for is their work with dad's business. You don't get much information from the NYT obit, which is heavy in politics and family lawsuits, but I understand that when the Koch brothers inherited the business it was in trouble, partly because of a lawsuit relating to technology that Koch père had developed. But the Koch brothers persevered and made Koch Industries into a thoroughly modern corporation that encouraged its employees to take responsibility -- and even dare to make mistakes.

That is a big deal for me, because I think that the secret of life is to develop the courage -- or what my daughter calls resilience -- to try out ideas, knowing full well that most new ideas end up in failure.

But for our liberal friends the Kochs were all about "dark money" and funding "the right" and being a secretive private corporation. I get it. Private corporations don't have to tell the world very much about their affairs, and lefties hate that. And they also hate people that they can't effectively bully into conformity. It really is offensive to them that the Kochs could live and work and fund their ideas and charities when the Kochs were opposed to everything good and woke.

It's a strange world, isn't it. You take your dad's company, and instead of clipping coupons you expand and deepen it and provide jobs for tens of thousands. But that makes you into cartoon villains for our lefty friends. What is wrong with you guys?

Never mind. David Koch, of The Koch Brothers, was a good guy. Rest in peace.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Innocence and the Three Peoples

Earlier this week I discussed the Culture of Innocence that is defining for the Left. The clients of the Left are always helpless innocent victims being unjustly oppressed by the capitalists, or the patriarchy, or the white supremacists, or the fascists.

Mark Bauerlein in "Deliver Us from Innocence" observes that the nation state partakes of this culture.
Niebuhr saw it at work in foreign policy: “Nations, as individuals, who are completely innocent in their own esteem, are insufferable in their ­human contacts.”
But Bauerlein goes on, real innocence only applies prior to The Fall.
Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were sinless, ­cognitively ­innocent and morally innocent. But after the Fall, with moral innocence shattered, this other innocence turns into a mode of obtuseness. It is ­sin-blind and self-unaware. It will not and cannot see itself addressed when Jesus looks upon sinners and says with authority, “go and sin no more.”
Or, to put it bluntly, once you have acquired self-consciousness which includes, I think, the ability to sort-of see yourself as others see you, the continued protestation of innocence is an exercise in bad faith. Innocence went out the window once Eve bit into the apple from the Tree of Knowledge.

But. Whatabout the innocence of nations? Whatabout the innocence of the Jews? I think the answer is simple. When you are fearful, when you are living in a dangerous place, then you must regress to a previous place. Because when you are fighting for your life you do not have the luxury or the leisure to start thinking "on the one hand this, on the other hand that." So you regress to a place of fake innocence to help you face the dangers of the times.

Now we apply this to my reductive Three Peoples theory.

It seems to me that, to a considerable extent, the People of the Subordinate Self are not yet self-conscious; they are, in fact, innocents. They experience themselves as helpless victims of the gods, of their lord. They are fatalistic, and do not imagine that they have the agency to do anything about their situation. The left has played on this in a masterful way by offering to take the place of the gods or the lord and lead the subordinates to safety.

The Jews were the guys that put all this together, and why not. They just extended their own situation as an endangered minority and applied it to any non-majority group. Because, I think, the same rules apply. If you are Strangers in a Strange Land then you must stick together, for safety.

The People of the Responsible Self are not helpless innocent victims. We believe in personal responsibility. In a way, of course, this is a mirage, because the truth is that individuals are, to a great extent, the helpless victims of circumstance. You could be caught in a storm at sea; you could be caught in the middle of a bloody revolution or a Great Depression or a war through no fault of your own. But you are still thinking: how do I get out of this situation? You do not lie back and think of England. And even if the worst comes to the worst, you think to yourself, well, I fought the good fight. You do not think how come the government didn't protect me.

The People of the Creative Self, of course, cannot be helpless victims, nor even responsibles. Because the whole point of human creativity is that now, we humans are creating the world, not just living as the subordinates of the gods, or as responsibles living in the world that God created and according to the Law that God set forth. But things are not so simple, as Ariel Levy relates in "The Rules Do Not Apply."
[38-year-old] Levy was married to a woman and five months pregnant, having been impregnated with a friend's sperm, when she lost her baby, delivering it alone in a hotel room in Mongolia, where she was on a reporting trip.
Yes. You can kick over all your middle-class morality and its suffocating rules. You can marry a woman; you can decide to have a baby in your late 30s. You can go on your reporting trip anyway.

But evidently someone forgot to tell you that the creative life is hard, and will likely end in failure. You might have learned that by reading Nietzsche, but of course you have been carefully taught that Nietzsche was a Nazi. Or maybe you would have got a clue from Joseph Schumpeter that wrote about "creative destruction." Or you might have learned that 9 out of 10 business startups end in failure.

Our great global problem is that, like Toad of Toad Hall, the globalist educated ruling class wants to play all the roles from helpless victim to rulemaker for the deplorables, to courageous creative artist and activist. And if things go wrong, it's the patriarchy's fault.

But creativity is hard. That is what all the myths about going into the underworld (of the unconscious) and finding out if you are really up to the mark are all about. And that is why, if you survive your Hero's Journey, it will probably end in a sacrificial death on the border between Order and Chaos.

Our glorious creative class is, right now, on its own collective journey into the underworld of the unconscious. It is a journey of frightful peril and most will not return to the light of day with all their marbles.

If you discover that you are not up to the journey, that you don't have the necessary hardness for the creative life, well then better slide back to a life of Responsibility where The Rules Do Apply and protect you from doing stupid stuff. Or you can become a helpless innocent victim and wait for someone else to tell you what to do to solve your problems.

But don't complain about the patriarchy or white supremacy or America being a racist slaveholding country since 1619. Either suck it in, follow the rules, or fall in line.

What I am saying is that you can't pick and choose. You wanna be a fancy-schmancy creative? Then no fair acting like a victim. No fair saying "but they didn't tell me."

And no fair playing the activist game, pretending to be taking it to the Man when really you are just a regime thug doing the dirty work for the rulers.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bronze Age Mindset Gets the Michael Anton Treatment

I had no idea that Bronze Age Mindset by Bronze Age Pervert (BAP) had cracked the top 150 on Amazon. No idea! Right now it is #3,872.

But that is what Michael Anton, of "The Flight 93 Election" tells us in a Claremont Review of Bronze Age Mindset. Anton got his copy from Curtis Yarvin, the software geek that wrote "Unqualified Reservations" as Mencius Moldbug. Of course, Anton has a bit of a struggle with BAPs Nietzschean view of the world. Whatabout a "stable, just, and lasting regime?"

And what exactly does BAP mean by "pirate?" Not, I assume, what they mean in The Pirates of Penzance when the hero got accidentally apprenticed to a pirate instead of a pilot. Hey, accidents happen. But still, this young man discovered, "it is a glorious thing to be a pirate king."

Anyway, I thought a bit about the "pirate" thing, because it really was shocking to read about in Bronze Age Mindset. And then I thought: Elon Musk. There's your modern pirate for you.

Elon Musk is a modern rascal, who is ruthlessly taking advantage of all the government money and investor money going, for solar cells, for electric cars, and even space rockets. But why? I think it is pretty obvious. Musk is from South Africa. If I were a native South African white like Musk I suspect I would say to myself and the world: screw you. Screw you vile hypocritical lefties that pitched me out of my homeland with all your sanctimony about apartheid. Hey, how did that turn out, down the road, with a murder rate at 36 per 100,000, which is positively medieval? So now I owe nothing to nobody. Scew you.

Ditto for any young man in the west today living under the sanctimonious racist twaddle of our globalist educated ruling class.

I was reading a biography of Nietzsche, written in 1940 by a man I respect, Crane Brinton, and it joins the chorus blaming Nietzsche for the Nazis.

And certainly there is plenty in Nietzsche that would suggest things to a Nazi-to-be. So, shall we bury Nietzche because he helped bad people have bad thoughts and so became "the Nazis' favorite intellectual?" Sure, if that's what floats your boat.

But I think that what Nietzsche is saying is that, if you think you can rationally philosophize your way to a stable, just, and lasting political regime you are smoking something. The truth is that the world is a shitshow. There is nothing stable and lasting, and probably if you try to make things stable and lasting you will cause instability. There is no such thing as justice, only injustice.

So, the truth about life, the universe, and everything is that we are winging it, always have and always will.

So, will the pirates of BAP enslave us all and bring on a new Dark Age? Maybe, but I doń't think so, and not because I believe that BAP's pirates are any nicer that the pirates of old. It is because the modern era does not lend itself to ruthless political power.

Surely, the lesson of the Soviet Union and Maoist China mean that if they mean anything. The point of Marx was to prophesy that a ruthless movement of political action led by Educated Youth was the one thing needful to smash the bourgeoisie and prevent the "immiseration" of the working class in a new feudalism. How did that work out, Chuck? It was an absolute, pedal-to-the-metal, bloody disaster. Unequaled in history, I dare say.

So what do we learn from the disaster?

I think the lesson is that the modern movement of human rights, of ending slavery, of limiting the power of government and politics says nothing about us moderns being better and moral. It is because all these things assist in human flourishing.

Or, if you want me to get crude, the clunking fist of political power does not pay.

Not only that, but slavery does not pay. It is too hard to supervise, and the slaves don't work very hard, compared to wage labor.

And so, over the last half millennium, in fits and starts, we have entered a new era, where the old rules of power have been replaced with new rules.

Back in the 19th century the Fabians sneered at the capitalists forever asking: does it pay? But, of course they are fools for saying that. All "does it pay" asks is, are you throwing money down a rat hole by doing that? Because if you are, it could be that you are dumb or something.

But that is what the market economy is asking every moment. What is this product, this service worth to you? A lot? A little? More than yesterday? Less than yesterday? And what it means is that most everything can be worked out by the decisions of people to buy or not to buy interacting with other people. No clunking fist needed, but it really helps if you are trustworthy and the people you deal with are trustworthy too.

But that still leaves the question of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

As men, we can think of it this way. After we have provisioned and protected the women so they can put the next generation on the ground and get it off the nest, what then?

The fact is that men are programmed for adventure. Used to be the adventure of hunting megafauna until we killed them all. Then it was the adventure of protecting our food-growing land from the chaps next door.

So now what do we do? What is there in the world of risk, and adventure, and developing courage, and making a name for yourself?

I don't know and neither, I think, do you. But that is what the young'uns are trying to figure out. When they get it all figured out, I hope that they will go gently with racist sexist homophobes like me. But you never know.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Scott Adams: Four New Types of News

I just took the trouble to transcribe a piece of Scott Adams' daily podcast, where he develops the idea of four new types of news in "The Golden Age of No Real News." Says he:
There used to be a time what news was something like: Hey, some events happened; let us tell you about the events. Then we called that news.
But now things have changed. So Scott Adams comes up with four new types of news.

Fake News. "Something that didn't happen; something taken out of context... In this case The New York Times simply denying that an event happened." Adams is talking about John Harwood and Maggie Haberman denying the plain text of the leaked NYT editorial meeting where they said they were going to go after Trump because of his racism.

Hypothetical News. This probably always existed, but now it is more prominent.Hypothetical news is like this:
If there is a recession, Trump might not get reelected. If the meteor hits the Earth, we're not prepared.
It's like they ran out of real news!

Mindreading the News. It is "based on what we imagine... other people are thinking. Now, that goes well with taking Trump out of context" and substituting your assumption of what people are thinking.

Reframing History News. This, of course refers to the New York Times "1619 Project" keying on the first year that slaves from Africa arrived in North America. Hey, it's great to get beyond the textbooks and look at history again. But this is not an innocent exploration of the past. The purpose of it is to think differently about the present, i.e., Trump Racist.

It is really not hard to understand what is going on here. It is the liberal educated ruling class thrashing around trying to figure out what to do now that the good old narrative that they inherited from their good old liberal parents is not keeping the rubes quiet and respectful.

And of course the big thing is race. For half a century our liberal friends have ruled us and kept us down on the farm with the accusation of racism. But now, the race card is not working very well any more.

Think about it this way. What would you do if the method you used for keeping the peasants quiet no longer seemed to work, and you started getting reports that the natives were restless? Well, the simple answer is that you wouldn't know what to do because nothing in your life had prepared you for this day.

When you are a ruling class the point is to rule. You think up ideas that you decide are good for people and you enact legislation and write regulations and hand down legal decisions about what people may do and not do, about which group is to be privileged and which group is to be marginalized. I've been reading the history of the Brits in India in The British Conquest and Domination of India, and it all comes down to the ruling Brits at the time deciding, well, we are going to issue this proclamation; we are going to formulate that regulation; we are going to cut the salt tax in half; we are going to split Bengal into two halves because right now it is too large for one regional government to handle.

That is what our liberal friends have been doing for the last 50 years. Oh, there aren't enough African American firefighters, so we need Affirmative Action. Whatabout women fighter pilots? We should change the rules to increase the number of female pilots in the Navy. There aren't enough women in STEM, so let's change the rules to increase the number of women in tech. All the money in college sports is going to men's sports and that is wrong, so let's force equality in colllege sports.

But, of course, our lords and masters are not thinking about the lives they are wrecking, the injustice they are creating. They merely think, well, here's a racism, here's an oppression, here's an injustice, so how do we fix it?

And then when the peasants rebel they are genuinely shocked. Hey, all they were trying to do was to creat a more just and equal society! How can anyone be against that? Unless they were racists inspired by Trump's dogwhistles!

Well, I don't suppose any liberal is going to listen to me, but here goes.

The reason our Founding Fathers wrote down in the First Amendment that there should be no "establishment of religion" is because people disagree about things, especially morality. So the idea of limited government is to restrict the agenda of government to those things that nearly everybody can agree upon.

Nearly everyone agrees that murder is bad, theft is bad, rape is bad, and that the perps should be locked up.

But what about education? Education of children, nearly everyone agrees, is a good thing. But what should we teach the kids? That's where people start to disagree. Problem with a government education system is that the government tends to limit the range of educations available to children. And there are activist groups with agendas that want to force all children to be educated in accordance with their agenda.

Of course, when you are the ruling class and, say, the natives get restless about Drag Queen Story Hour at the local elementary school, you are outraged! Who do these homophobes think they are!

Hey Fredo! That's what I think about wind and solar power. Who do these watermelons, red on the inside, green on the outside, think they are! But we have to save the planet! Sez who? The scientists getting government grants? The corporate shills getting green energy subsidies? The little rich kid with a family foundation that wants to "make a difference" with activism? You gonna force me to ride a bike to work?

So my judgement about the four new tpes of news, as described by Scott Adams, is that they represent a flapping around in the liberal bubble. They tell us that our liberal lords and masters don't have a clue.

And the big thing they do not get is that there is really very little the government can do outside of keeping us safe that really benefits us.

And the big question is this. After you have created all your wonderful programs, what happens when the world changes and all the conventional wisdom assumptions you made back in the day no longer apply? Are you chaps going to revise and reform all your programs? Or are you just going to tell the rubes to shut up and take their medicine?

And flap around inventing new types of news to muddy the waters and confuse everyone?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

More Tlaib: How To Tell a Genuine Movement for Justice

It really is something. We have four Women of Color congresswomen, the Squad, running around the world making like they are helpless victims "fighting racism, oppression [and] injustice" as tweeted by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

How do we know they are lying? I will tell you. You know they are lying when there is almost no possibility of them losing their jobs, of getting arrested and interrogated, or sent to a concentration camp as a result of their "activism."

Because real activists, real political opponents of a regime are, in the time-honored phrase, risking their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for the cause.

Like the protesters in Hong Kong right now, protesting against the Communist Party of the Peoples Republic of China. I would say, speaking personally, that they are risking everything.  I'd call that "fighting" of a very different order from the four Squaddies, who are the Little Darlings of the US ruling class, on account of their race, their gender and their lefty political agenda.

The activism of the Squaddies is fake activism. It is political activity endorsed and applauded by everyone from The New York Times to the "studies" professor at your local state university. The Squaddies are in fact the bribed apologists of the ruling class, enacting fake activism just as they have been carefully taught by their Rules for Radicals instructors.

Here's a look into what real activism means. It's a piece from Quillette about the tactics used by the Hong Kong demonstrators.
One of the reasons for the effectiveness of the protest movement is the decision to remain leaderless. 
Standard doctrine is that every political movement needs "strong and charismatic leaders to succeed."
Many resistance movements such as the Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King Jr., the resistance to apartheid with Nelson Mandela, and the India Independence Movement with Gandhi benefited greatly from such leadership. 
Yeah. That works well when you are dealing with western democracies, like the US and the UK. Yes, and even the eevil raciss apartheid regime in South Africa. But the Commie bastards in China?
Joshua Wong, the strong and charismatic leader of the Umbrella movement in 2014, was jailed in 2017 for unlawful assembly. With strong leaders present, the authorities can arrest them, fatally weakening a movement.
So today's movement in Hong Kong is "leaderless."
Just as they are doing with seemingly every obstacle in their way, Hong Kong protesters innovated around the need for a strong leader. They are using communications technology to be both highly organized and leaderless, leaving the authorities unable to take out any key elements that would cause the effort to collapse. 
Remember? The whole idea of the internet, when invented by DARPA, was that it was decentralized and could survive having links chopped off.

Now, it is perfectly obvious that the four Squaddies don't have to worry about stuff like that. They are celebrated by our ruling-class media and would never get taken out by the authorities. Because the whole liberal-left universe would rise up with one voice to damn to bottomless perdition anyone that tried.

So you can see that the folks at Google, guys like James Damore and Zachary Vorhies, are the real thing. They got fired from Google for their insolence, their acts of lèse majesté. Not to mention their acts of sacrilege against the sacred objects of the regime religion.

Yes. The whole game of liberal activism is fake. Because it is all conducted with the concurrence of the regime. The purpose of the liberal activist is to gin up an apparent groundswell of support for some lefty agenda item: See! The People are rising up in rebellion. We must Act Now!

Notice that if unapproved groups try a bit of activism and peaceful protest they are roundly condemned by all the right people as racists and terrorists.

But real "activism" is a political movement that sets itself up in opposition to the ruling class, where its activists run the risk of losing their jobs and having their lives ruined.

It has been many a long day since that was true about any lefty activist in the US and Europe.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Understanding Tlaib: The Culture of Innocence

There's an ad that runs constantly at my gym LA Fitness. It has the girl gym employees protesting against stinky gym bags, complete with protest signs and rhyming couplets.

There is something about women picking up on a political meme. It shows that the political issue in question has passed from the phase of a genuine movement against injustice to a fashion statement.

Want to see confirmation of this? Try this piece on "luxury beliefs," where the upper class has moved on from defining itself in terms of luxury goods -- that you can't afford -- to luxury beliefs that you can't afford. Example: "monogamy is kind of outdated," according to a young woman Yale graduate who is from "an affluent family and works at a well-known technology company."
Yes, she personally intends to have a monogamous marriage — but quickly added that marriage shouldn’t have to be for everyone.
So, the rich and famous can talk about letting it all hang out. But the only thing is that, according to science in Coming Apart by Charles Murray, the rich don't actually do that. Instead they have fabulous careers and merger marriages while the bottom 35 percent don't work much and don't marry much.

Here's another example. Squad member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) declining to go to Israel to see her grandmother if she couldn't do "activism."
I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in--fighting against racism, oppression [and] injustice.
Now, Rep. Tlaib, as I understand, represents a district that includes the Muslim part of Detroit, Michigan. Are the Muslims fighting there against racism and oppression and injustice? I doubt it. I've been to the Muslim area of Detroit, and eaten in a Middle Eastern restaurant there. It looked to me as though the Muslim "community" in Detroit was doin' fine. The black community, not so much.

Are the Muslims in Detroit being denied the vote? No, I don't think so; certainly not if a Muslim woman from Palestine gets to be their representative. Are the Muslims in Detroit unable to get jobs? I doubt it, considering the apparent prosperity of the Muslim quarter around Hamtramck. Injustice? Hardly, considering how much horsepower our ruling class puts into fighting Islamophobia.

I mean. When the ruling class is putting a thumb on the scales of justice in your favor, I don't believe you can cry "injustice" with any credibility.

I am trying to follow the demand that the opera composer Verdi places on his librettist, Piave, in the TV series The Life of Verdi to avoid extra, useless words. In fact, how about distilling the whole thing down to "one word!" says Verdi. "Oh yeah," says Piave, rolling his eyes.

So what I am trying to do is distill the whole fake "culture of activism" down to one word, or at least a Nietzschean aphorism. "Luxury Beliefs" is certainly a starter. Then there is the notion of "The Conceit of Innocence."

Here's what I mean by the Conceit of Innocence.

Marx proposes that the workers were helpless innocents. Very good. The workers certainly had it tough in the 1830s, although perhaps not as tough as their ancestors struggling in the breakup of the feudal system. But the activists leading them were usually not workers. They were, like Marx, scions of the middle class, that were doin' fine. So they chose to lead the workers to paradise; it gave their lives meaning.

You can certainly say that Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington were the real deal, former slaves. Of course, they were guys that wanted to be not-slaves, to be independent, responsible free men working for a living. Then there was W.E.B. Du Bois. He was a middle-class black from way back. La Wik:
[His mother] Mary Silvina Burghardt's family was part of the very small free black population of Great Barrington and had long owned land in the state.
Du Bois was a lefty academic. He believed that the black population should be led by its "talented tenth."

The feminist movement has always been a movement of the well-to-do, and it remains so today.

Let's return to the "luxury beliefs" above. Marx, Du Bois, and feminists like Simone de Beauvoir were all upper-middle-class intellectuals. They made their bones spinning likely stories about racism, oppression and injustice. Their writing gave their lives meaning.

Now let's talk about a real movement for justice: the Indian National Movement. The story of the Brits in India and the movement for an Indian Nation is almost a stage play about the modern era.

The Brits in India starts with the Brits establishing trading ports at Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. They wanted to trade in Indian textiles and spices, but they had a problem: the Indian feudal lord next door. The Brits wanted a nice stable law-governed place where they could do business. But, from the Muslim Mughals to the local Hindu prince, the status quo was a feudal lord and his court. And below that were lesser landowners and the peasantry. For the Brits this was inconvenient and also dangerous, because the feudal lords operated on a loot and plunder system which might extend, with the Marathis, to actual raids into neighboring feudatories. Bad for bidness.

As the Brits extended the sway of their European nation-state market-economy law-governed society it more-or-less forced the princes and a slowly emerging middle class to adapt to it. By the middle of the 19th century you could say that an actual "Indian public opinion" had begun to operate, because of communications, newspapers, and the India-wide regime of peace enforced by the British Raj.

Here's an example of what I mean. Starting in 1770, any time there was a failure of the monsoon resulting in a famine, the disaster became a political scandal for the Brits. The Brits responded by creating government programs of relief and of moving grain to the famine areas which got easier once the railway age got established. Here's my take. Before the Brits came India would have been so fragmented and communications would be so poor that nobody would know about a famine outside the affected area. Anyway, absent modern transportation there was nothing a ruler could do about it anyway. So no news. No scandal. Just an act of God.

The more the 19th century advanced the more that the notion of Britain being a foreign Paramount Power exercising hegemony over South Asia became a scandal: not just to the rising class of educated Indians, but to the Brits themselves. We moderns just experience foreign rule over a subject population as sick and wrong: racist, oppressive, and unjust, in the words of Rep. Tlaib. We cringe at the very thought of it.

So you can see that in India the notion of an Indian National Movement to create an India for the Indians is really an artefact of western European moral and political culture. Before the Brits got there it was unthinkable in the strict sense: nobody would have thought it. And when the Indians did in fact create an Indian national state, they created two of them: one Hindu and one Muslim. That, I propose is according to the logic of human life, that politics is downstream from culture is downstream from religion.

Notice that the Palestinian Question, beloved by Rep. Tlaib, is not quite as simple as the Indian Question. In the good old days of the Ottoman Empire, nominally Muslim, all kinds of different religious communities existed side-by-side. As soon as the Ottoman Empire collapsed these religious differences took on a new salience, in which, obviously, the Jewish desire for their own nation state was a big factor. The Jews, being highly intellectual and westernized, were already prepared, without instruction from the Brits, to form their own nation state. The rest of the Middle East, not so much.

In fact, I would suggest that in the Middle East the national idea has not yet really triumphed over the previous culture of religion-and-tribe.

I guess here's my point about Rep. Tlaib and "racism, oppression and injustice." Such notions are western notions that only apply when the idea of nation of laws and the idea that there should be no discrimination by race have captured the culture.

And, I would argue, these notions are, to a great extent, not salient in a fully-developed western nation, where such questions have already been resolved. They are an obsession of upper-class scions looking for "luxury beliefs" to give their lives meaning and enable them to lord it over the lesser breeds without the law such as deplorables.

When you are an upper-class scion wanting to give meaning to your life through activism and fighting "racism, oppression, and injustice" you start, I think, with a Presumption of Helpless Victimized Innocence for your chosen victims. And you go from there.

Actually, I suspect that the Culture of Innocence is a necessary part of the culture of a minority community in a larger society. You have to have sharp elbows to survive, and you have to justify the sharp actions that it takes to survive in a cruel, heartless world. You can't allow yourselves to think about all the deals and compromises and betrayals that it took to survive. That's because you must be mobilized and prepared, at any moment, to fight for your life. So you develop a Culture of Innocence.

Obviously, this situation is the situation of Jews down the ages. The question is: can the Jews in, say, the US relax, and just take their place in our modern multicultural post-industrial society? Or should Jews remain mobilized, because at any moment, the left -- that was invented by Jews -- could turn on Jews in the service of black racists and resentful Muslims? Or maybe, pace New York Times, the threat could come from the right and its resentful deplorables?

You tell me.

UPDATE: See also "Deliver Us from Innocence" by Mark Bauerlein. From a reader.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The New York Times' Problem

Whaddya going to do, if you are the executive editor of the New York Times? I mean, how do you report the news and also cater to the world view of your employees and readers?

I gotta say, reading the inside story of Dean Baquet talking to the folks in his newsroom, that it ain't easy. For instance,
Staffer: Could you explain your decision not to more regularly use the word racist in reference to the president’s actions?
Baquet's answer is waffle-waffle-waffle.
I’m not saying we would never use the word racist. I’m talking about that weekend. You quote the remarks. The most powerful journalism I have ever read, and that I’ve ever witnessed, was when writers actually just described what they heard and put them in some perspective.  
Translation: we are using "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" instead of "racist" these days.

Earth to New York Times bubble. The Civil Right Act was passed half a centuy ago. That was final. So now you chaps are reduced to accusing people of saying racist things. But what matters is racist acts, like, oh, I don't know, the government having racial quotas. The universities having diversity goals. And that includes diverstiy hires at the New York Times.

Rule One. The guy that brings up race is the real racist.

Why do I say that? Science, that's why.

See, science says that the interesting thing about, say, vision, is that the whole point is to decide what to notice. There is a riverful of information coming in through the eyes. But none of us has the time and the processing power to evaluate everything. We need to determine: what is the important information?

For instance that stripey-looking pattern over on the middle-right: how should I interpret it? As a pattern of sunshine through a patch of bamboo? As a rugby player? As a beautful young woman in a fashionable dress? As a zebra? As a man-eating tiger?

You can see that the name of the game is interpretation. It depends what you want to see. Are you a young man full of hormones? Are you a big-game hunter? Are you a tourist in a tiger reserve?

Are you a political lefty obsessed with race fifty years after the Civil Rights Act?

Psychologist Jordan B. Peterson of 10 Rules says that we look at the world through the lens of our values. Which is to say that we are programmed to notice the things that are important to us.

This is why conservatives are wrong to say that "we" use logic and reason while liberals and the left are directed by their feelings. Not at all. We conservatives believe that government should not be in the business of bringing all human life under the supervision of government. We tend to think that, after protecting us from enemies foreign and domestic, the government does not have much left to do. Of course we rely on science -- political philosophy and economics -- for this. But we don't know that our ideas are true. We merely have faith in them. Just as liberals have faith that racism is running rampant throughout our society, and cite events that prove, to them, that racism is still a scourge.

If you are a person that believes, according to the best science known to you and your pals in the liberal bubble, that racism is getting worse, because Trump is dog-whistling racism to his base, then of course you think that the New York Times should be shining the light of truth on Trump's racism each and every day.

If you believe, like me, that government basically did its job on race half a century ago in passing the Civil Rights Act, and that there is not much more that is possible for government to do without messing things up, then you look on liberal interest in racism as ignorance at best, foolishness at least, utter blindness to reality without doubt, and bad faith at worst.

And there is no doubt that if you are a racism-believer then Donald Trump rallying the white working class is a frightening, terrifying event. Why look at the "murder" of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri! Why hasn't the whole police department in Ferguson been sent to jail for racism?  Whataboyt Trump and Cummings. How dare, How Dare the president criticize Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for the mess in Baltimore, Maryland.

Hey, it all depends on how you interpret events. Do you think that Michael Brown was a drugged-out thief that was threatening a policeman? Or do you think he was a helpless victim gunned down by a racist white policeman? It all depends on the values filter with which you interpret events.

Do you think that Rep. Elijah Cummings is a corrupt politician or a heroic leader of his people? It all depends how you view the world, and whether you have a Black Lives Matter yardsign in your front yard.

Of course, in my view the problem is that the more people look at the world exclusively through the lens of their values the more, in effect, they are bringing their religion into the public square. There is nothing particularly scandalous about this; everybody does it.

But our Founders, back in the day, thought that religion and the state should be at arms length from each other. Because the larger a society the more likely that it will include people that disagree about the proper value-lens with which people should interpret the world. They thought, a century after the Thirty Years War and Salem witches, that when religious people get to dominate the public square with their values and name and shame people that disagree with them, then they are setting society up for a religious war.

And of course, the bigger the government the more it is using taxpayers money and the votes of the majority to impose one world view upon another.

But if you are a person that cannot see anything except "my values good" and "your values bad" then youn will not have a clue about this.

Rather like the chaps that read and write the New York Times.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hey Fed! How About Doing Something About the Inverted Yield Curve, Geniuses!

Yesterday, August 14, 2019, the stock market fell out of bed with the Dow losing about 3 percent.

What is going on?

Could it be that the Treasury Yield Curve -- see here -- is inverted, and an inverted yield curve is a pretty good sign that monetary policy is too tight and is forcing a recession?

Now, in the past the Fed has forcd a recession in order to squeeze inflation out of the economy. Are we fighting inflation right now, Fed? I hope not. I've heard from real-estate people that the real estate market has been flat for the last year.

Yesterday, according to the US Treasury, 1-month Treasury Bills closed at 1.96%; 5-year Treasury Notes closed at 1.51%; 30-year Treasury Bonds closed at 2.03%.

So we are at an ace of a true inverted yield curve when shortest term rates are higher than long-term rates.

Hey Fed? You guys colorblind? Don't you see the flashing red light? Inverted yield curve! That means recession warning.

President Trump has been calling for lower interest rates for several months. But hey, he's just a yahoo.

And only last week the Fed finally lowered its key rate by 0.25%.

Hey Fed. Why not get your rate down to 1.5% right now, and worry about whether you acted too precipately in 6 months?

The truth is that the Federal Reserve Board, brought into being after the 1907 Crash, has been an amateur disaster ever since. The idea was that it was sick and wrong to leave the financial system in the hands of robber baron J.P. Morgan.

Yeah, well. How did that turn out?

The Fed screwed up the 1929 stock market crash, letting banks fail for 4 years. When the whole point of a central bank is to be the lender of last resort. Lender of last resort, to keep the financial system from cracking up, chaps!

The Fed screwed up in 2008, with Little Ben Bernanke advertising that he didn't have the legal authority to rescue the financial system, specifically Lehman Brothers, without legislation.

Good grief, Ben. Don't you understand the meaning of "lender of last resort?" Ain't you read Walter Bagehot's Lombard Street? And anyway, who cares about legal authority! If you are Chairman of the Federal Reserve you do what it takes to stop a financial panic. Period. And if the second-guessers come after you and blame you for this or that undotted "i" or uncrossed "t", well, you fall on your sword, or go to your execution, knowing that you did the right thing. That is what Sacrificial Heroes do, chum. As opposed to deep-state swampies.

Anyway, the biggest item in the financial bailout of 2009 was the $3.3 trillion "guarantee" for money market mutual funds, and the bailout of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac at $5.3 trillion. Total amout was almost $17 trillion. Was all that authorized by legislation? The TARP bank bailout at $0.7 trillion was penny-ante compared to that.

So here we have the Fed stumbling and bumbling about what to do about interest rates. With recession warnings sounding in our ears all over. What else is new?

Look. There's no surprise about this. The Federal Reserve System is an administrative state thing, staffed with bureaucrats. What would they know about the credit system? The Federal Reserve Board is full of political hacks. What would they know about central banking and "lender of last resort?"

The story of the Federal Reserve is that it is always a day late and a dollar short. As you would expect from deep-state swampies.

What I say is that it is time to reform the Federal Reserve System, and set it up so that it is run by people that know what they are doing.

But the problem is Chantrill's Law. That it is impossible to reform any government program. Because beneficiaries. Nobody will permit their loot and plunder to be diminished in their lifetime. Even if the world is crashing in ruin about their ears.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

China's Big Problem

Just yesterday, President Trump announced delays in the imposition of tariffs on the Peoples Republic of China. Which encouraged the stock market, getting increasingly spooked by the inverted Treasury yield curve.

Inverted yield curve means that short term Treasury interest rates are higher than long-term rates. Normally, every longer term Treasury security has a higher rate than the next shorter term. Right now, 1-month bills are 2.09 percent, 5-year notes are 1.57 percent, and 30-year bonds are 2.15 percent. Not good, because the whole credit system works on the basis of longer term securities having a higher rate than shorter term.

An inverted yield curve is a recession warning. I'd say that the Fed should lower short term rates to 1.5 percent right now. But bureaucrats are slow and sluggish.

But never mind about us. Whatabout China?

China has a big problem. Its leaders are under the misapprehension that the name of the game is political power, political power for them and theirs. We, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, must have the power to Make China Great Again.

This, of course, is the reactionary doctrine running through all Communist, Socialist, Nationalist, and Fascist politics. That the key question is who holds political power, and what power plays are necessary to make the political entity powerful in the world and bring on a secular paradiase.

Whereas the lesson of the last 300 years is that the secret to success is to reduce political power to a bare minimum.

Put it this way. The peoples of the world who have become the most prosperous in the age of the Great Enrichment are the ones that embraced capitalism and free markets. The ones that crashed and burned are the ones that adopted some form of socialism or Communism, such as Leninist Russia, Maoist China, Hitlerite Germany, and Nehru's India. And of course there were lots of tin-horn dictators hither and yon.

The political movements that enacted the horrors of Communism etc., basically all made the error of assuming that the rising power of capital would replay the political story of the agricultural age, with a landed warrior class oppressing and impoverishing a landless peasant class. Only now it would be a capitalist class oppressing a proletarian worker class.

Only it didn't work out that way. You can see that in my chart of the Global Great Enrichment.


Do you see what is going on? India and China were stumbling along at agricultural-level income until they abandoned socialist economics and switched to capitalism about 1980. Soviet Russia was stumbling along half way between industry and agriculture. Bit of a sticky wicket after the end of communism. Etc. Notice WWII starting 1940: just about everyone took a dive except the good old US and A.

The Chinese government, inspired by President Xi, seems to think that they are going to rule the world by being rough and tough. Control their own people. Control all their tributary states with the Belt and Road Initiative. Steal everyone's technology.

Except that they are scaring the pants off all their neighbors. And the capitalists are starting to move their supply chains out of China because, well, just to be safe. And wealthy Chinese are panicked to get their wealth out of China, because, well, just to be safe.

My point is that if you want to be global hegemon then you ought to copy the British and the US model and at least try to be avuncular, rather than the roughest, toughest guy on the block.

Trouble is that everyone in politics has basically signed onto the roughest toughest hombre west of the Pecos model, from the Commies to the SJWs to AntiFa. Whereas the model that really works is to be the place where everyone wants to keep their money, from equities to real estate to government bonds. That means that you have to have limited government that lacks the power to stick people in jail when the mood takes it, and seize peoples' assets when the mood takes it, and name and shame individuals when the mood takes it.

Come on China! You chaps ae probably the smartest people in the world, after the Jews. Get with the program! Become the place where all the smart people want to live, where all the smart people want to invest, where all the smart people want to keep their money!

You'll be amazed at the results! So will we.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Four Laws: Regulatory Capture

There are, I think, Four Laws, scientific principles, if you like, that need to be understood in relation to all proposals for More Government.

And nobody wants to be against settled science. Oh no. That's superstition and bigotry!

The First Law is that socialism cannot work because it cannot compute prices.

The Second Law is that the economy cannot be directed by the Man in Washington.

The Third Law is the law of regulatory capture. What on earth is that?

The idea of economic regulation is that the chaotic capitalist economy needs rules and regulations to keep it from ripping off consumers and polluting the land. So let's make a law, and set up a regulatory agency and staff it with experts. And make the capitalists conform to sensible rules, especially related to prices, to keep them from looting and plundering.

But there's a problem, and it is associated with economist George Stigler. The problem is even mentioned in the authoritative La Wik. It is called "regulatory capture."
Regulatory capture is a form of government failure which occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.
In other words, the corporations getting regulated learn how to game the system. They learn how to make friends with the regulators, how to get them to understand their world view, to sympathize with their problems, and even come to live in the same world as the regulated industry. Let's go back to La Wik for a more expansive description of the situation.
For public choice theorists, regulatory capture occurs because groups or individuals with a high-stakes interest in the outcome of policy or regulatory decisions can be expected to focus their resources and energies in attempting to gain the policy outcomes they prefer, while members of the public, each with only a tiny individual stake in the outcome, will ignore it altogether. Regulatory capture refers to the actions by interest groups when this imbalance of focused resources devoted to a particular policy outcome is successful at "capturing" influence with the staff or commission members of the regulatory agency, so that the preferred policy outcomes of the special interest groups are implemented.
Look, let's ease off from the conspiratorial view of the big bad capitalist or the evil and corrupted deep-state administrative swampie. But people instinctively act in what they think is their self-interest. It's just natural that the folks getting regulated are going to have a life-and-death interest in the regulatory rules, and they are going to want those rules to be forgiving. And the regulators are mostly just administrative place-men -- of the kind that we have recently come to know in the Trump Russia Collusion game -- and their natural instinct is to play it safe, opt for a quiet life, and make sure that they don't risk their pensions.

We see the phenomenon of "regulatory capture" all around us. The green energy industry is perhaps the most egregious, because its interests align with our globalist elite. Everyone, from climate scientists to wind-farm manufacturers and owners, to electric car manufacturers, is in on the game, with subsidies and grants for all. But we've already had a couple of mega-failures with renewable energy, including a mega-blackout in South Australia where the swampies are now suing the renewable energy producers for the blackout. Imagine! The greenies force a crazy technology on the electric industry and then are shocked, shocked when it turns out that the subsidy bottom-feeders aren't quite up to snuff. And now there has been a major blackout in Britland involving renewable resources.

Then there is the health-care industry that is regulated up the ying-yang, but whose pricing is almost impenetrable. Why be surprised? The health-care industry must try to stay in business while being regulated by the government, forced to provide low prices to Medicare and Medicaid, having to deal with insurance companies, and last but not least, having credentialism and licensing up the yahoo for all its physicians and nurses. You don't think that the health-care industry is right in the middle of all political initiatives related to health care? Imagine if the health-care industry were not organized like an electric utility but instead like WalMart, with weekly specials and bargains and loss leaders and I know not what. How about this special: Free laser surgery with your colon surgery! Well why not? While you are recovering from cancer surgery why not get your eyes done?

Actually, what you have probably noticed is that the regulatory capture problem is not just a matter of a regulated industry corrupting its regulators. That, you might say, is the case of "pure" regulatory capture.

In many cases the regulated industry is part of a political movement. The politicians and the activists determine on some vital project that is going to cure cancer or save the planet. But what do they know? They must find the chaps with the business chops and the technical know-how, and co-opt them into the movement. So the idea that the industry is being rigorously regulated and kept honest is a lie from the get-go. The industry instead is a bunch of grifters and subsidy hounds that are twice as smart as the activists and politicians, and know how to milk a cow. Think of chaps like Elon Musk, who seems to have the rare talent of showing up wherever there are big fat subsidies to be lapped up. And know that for every public figure like Musk there are a hundred mini-Musks below the radar.

I worked for many years at a consulting engineering company that specialized in serving public (i.e. municipally-owned) electric utilities. Its first Managing Partner was a guy that was an activist in the public power movement in its hey-day in the 1930s.

In other words, regulatory capture is often not just the innocent corruption of a regulatory agency and its bureaucrats, but a deliberate act of loot and plunder by our modern equivalents of Vikings and Mongols, the politicians and the activists.

Nobody is saying that there shouldn't be laws regulating business and transactions between people. That we should just shrug our shoulders at "externalities" like air and water pollution. But the point is to try and diminish negative externalities by use of the price system -- such as by taxing pollution -- and the ordinary legal system -- by suing people that have harmed you -- rather than hand it off to a regulatory agency and its bureaucrats and their pals in the industry they are regulating.

Monday, August 12, 2019

White Supremacy, White Nationalism, Toxic Masculinity: What's Not to Like?

For nigh on 50 years, the worst thing in the world was to be called a racist. It was shameful thus to be called, and liberals used the epithet ruthlessly.

Now, apparently, the cry of "racism" does not pack the punch it once had. So now we are supposed to cringe at the cry of "white nationalist," or "white supremacy." And don't forget "toxic masculinity."

Now is our chance, to take the new vile accusations of the left, and put 'em where the sun don't shine.

I don't know exactly what is meant by "white nationalism," but I'd say that any ideology for any nation state in the world is bound to be based on the ideas of some white man that lived in the last half millennium. Even the idea of a nation state is a white idea.

And what was the whole idea of a nation state? It was to replace the constant war-of-the-nobles of the feudal era. Good or bad, kids? Check out Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses plays if you are not sure.

White nationalism? Hey, if you are a non-white whaddya think is best for you? To side with the guys whose religion and culture birthed the amazing Great Enrichment that has brought the whole world out of one-failed-harvest-away-from-starvation. Or Back to the Future with the neo-feudalism of the Islamo-terrorists? I can't see into peoples' minds, but if I were an East-Asian American or a Hispanic American I would want to get on with establishing my family in the prosperous US economy, and making sure my kids get serious and get themselves a good education -- despite the government's best efforts -- and get a decent career going. The heck with protesting and identity politics.

Oh yeah. And what is identity politics but racism, straight up.

When we talk about "white supremacy" what do we mean? Government under law? The separation of powers? Human rights? The right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances? The understanding of prices and markets with economics? The Industrial Revolution? The automobobble? Ocean transportation? The aluminum sky of jet planes?

Whatabout slavery? It was universal until, for some reason in the late 1700s a bunch of white people started to organize against it politically. But there is still quite a lot of slavery going on in the world today. In non-white lands.

Whatabout colonialism? Well, in India, the British colonialists reckoned by about 1850 that they ought to hand over India to the Indians -- at some point. But by just being there in India they taught the educated Indians about the nation state and its financing; they more or less encouraged the Indians to develop an Indian National Movement. Yep. That's your white supremacy: teaching the "natives" how to do it. How patronizing can you get?

The point about colonialism is that, some time in the 19th century, and gathering strength thereafter, the notion arose in white countries that colonialism was not the thing, old chap. And I think that is because, in the industrial era, westerners -- white people -- discovered that the old agenda of conquest and loot and plunder, that had obtained from the dawn of agriculture and before, did not pay any more.

In China, a Chinese Christian wrote about the Chinese experience of the collision with white supremacy. From Jesus in Beijing by David Aikman, about the "success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world."
At first we thought it was because you had more powerful guns that we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and the successful transition to democratic politics.
Can you spell "politics is downstream from culture is downstream from religion?"

Yeah. So let's look at the two biggest countries in the world, the great agricultural cultures of India and China. Both of these countries have adopted white-developed political systems. In India we have the nation of federated states, with democracy and, after a pause of 40 years, capitalism. In China we have the Marxian Community Party running the place as what amounts to a national socialist state, because in 1979 the Communist Party leader switched from on white supremacy idea, socialism, to another white supremacy idea, capitalism. Whaddya know?

So. When the two most ancient cultures of the world adopt western -- or white -- ideas, what exactly are you trying to say with your pejorative of "white supremacy?" Enquiring minds would like to know.

And as for "toxic masculinity," you girls just have no clue what you are talking about. Yes, I know that the girls have all got together since time immemorial to complain about men. There is no question, we are insensitive beasts that only have one thing on our mind.

But the fact is that it is men that invented the modern world, in which women could now come out into the public square. It was men that discovered the Germ Theory and that made childbirth much safer for women and for the first time in the history of the world made female life expectancy longer than male life expectancy. OK. It was a girl, Florence Nightingale, that invented modern nursing. Yet it is also true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

I say that the emergence of pseudo-intellectual pejoratives like "white supremacy" and "toxic masculinity" are signs that the old pejoratives are losing their sting. And it couldn't happen fast enough.

But the thing to do with the new pejoratives is to rush to own them. Yeah I'm a white nationalist! You gotta better idea? Full speed ahead on white supremacy! With a bit more capitalism we could finally eradicate the last vestiges of hunger! Toxic masculinity! How about doubling the number of tech startups!

And here's a final thought. In the second half of the 19th century in the British Raj the question of "famine" became a thing. What? You think that India wasn't having famines all along, since well before the British East India Company showed up in Madras and Calcutta?

The point is that, by 1850 there was public communications that could broadcast the fact of famine far and wide. So people beyond the stricken area actually knew about it. And there was a technology, railways and steamships, that could in double-quick time get food to the stricken areas. And there was money, wealth, for handouts to the stricken areas to give people food and jobs while the famine lasted. And there was the idea that the government should "do something" when the monsoon failed.

All that is part and parcel, as the Brits say, of white nationalism and white supremacy and the toxic masculinity that invented steam transportation on land and sea.

Long may they reign!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Suppose We are Not Heading for Civil War?

Lots of experts are predicting civil war -- the next step from our current "cold civil war." I also have a military acquaintance that is worried about that.

Heck, I'm worried about that.

And I am worried that, in the aftermath of two-a-day mass killings, one by a lefty Warren supporter and one by the son of a licensed psychotherapist, President Trump caved on the "white nationalist" canard.

Hey, if Trump the brawler doesn't have a Twitter come-back for the usual accusers of racism, then ain't nobody ready to confront the race-card issue.

I mean, it means that President Trump doesn't feel it is safe to say, for instance.
What planet are these Democrats and "fake news" journalists on? I just don't care about race; I only care about Americans. And if you ask me, when it comes to race and racists, it takes one to know one.
But the time is not yet ripe.

Still, I can't help feeling that, rather than get to a race war, we are actually getting to the moment of Thermidorean Reaction. That's the moment in the French Revolution and its aftermath when Robespierre fell, the Reign of Terror ending, and pretty soon the French had Napoleon to rule them.

The notion is that the religious fervor of a Reign of Terror cannot last forever, because ordinary people just want to get on with wiving and thriving. Example du jour is Ferguson, Missouri, where the white Mayor James Knowles -- a known Republican in a 67% black city -- got reelected in 2017 with 57% of the vote. Joseph Duggan:
Blacks, whites, and, increasingly, Latinos, live side by side today in the community. Those who are staying in Ferguson or who will move there tend to be motivated by solidarity—on being together as neighbors first and foremost without undue impulses of activism or ideology.
The point is that humans are progammed to come together at a moment of crisis to defend the homeland or the race, or recover from a natural disaster, or combine to kill some scapegoat, or whatever. But we are also programmed to wive and thrive and tend our families and communities. And that most of the time.

The game of a ruling class is to rile up the natives when it needs them for some ruling-class power project. And that project must be represented as a response to an existential peril, according to my maxim that
The only warrant for government action is existential peril.
In other words, if you are a ruling class and you want to flex your ruling-class muscles, as ruling classes often do, then you must sell the people on an existential peril. It could be the Nazis, the Commies. It could be "white nationalists;" it could be climate change.

It could be a true peril. It could be a brazen lie. From the ruling-class perspective, it doesn't matter.

My feeling is that the way that the ruling class has elevated the race issue over the last half century is sending a message. Our ruling class is running out of existential perils with which to frighten us.

Meanwhile, its failures have been piling up: big government in all its aspects from unaffordable entitlements to failing schools. Cultural deserts, from the white working class dying of despair to the women traumatized by the sexual revolution to blacks producing 75% of children outside marriage, to the radicalization of the universities, to the LGBT folly, to the recent classification of illegal immigrants as the archetype of helpless victims.

If I were the secret Mr. Big of the present ruling class I would be afraid, afraid that the whole thing could come tumbling down. And I would know that the only thing to do would be to rile up the natives in one more big college try. In other words, a Reign of Terror and Virtue.

But the point is that a ruling class that opts for a Reign of Terror is a ruling class that is looking right into the face of failure. Because when things are going good you don't need a Reign of Terror, you just go on your next Royal Progress and greet your happy peasants with the usual Royal Wave.