Thursday, October 25, 2007 65 Comments

How Dawkins got pwned (part 5)

So, in the course of parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, we've established that Professor Dawkins is pwned.

He is pwned because he is serving the interests of a tradition called Universalism, a nontheistic sect of Christianity which is currently the planet's dominant religion. And Professor Dawkins has not done his homework on Universalism. As we've seen, he's accepted orthodox Universalist interpretations of major aspects of reality - if anthropology and history count as "major" - in exactly the same way that his favorite strawmen accept theistic metaphysics: by declaring it true until proven false. He appears to be quite unaware of how creepy this is.

Or at least he was unaware. If he is reading these messages, Professor Dawkins is now sunk, I'm sure, in misery and despair. He is questioning his own sanity. Is there any path back to reality? Is anything left but sickness, confusion, lies? Can anything now be real and good and true? Or has the worm but lunched too long?

The answer, actually, is yes. The worm has lunched too long. There is no escape. Not for Professor Dawkins, not for me, not for you, not for anyone. We'll simply have to deal.

If the infection was fresh, we could escape just by asking and answering two simple questions. One: is Universalism good, or evil? Two: if the latter, what should I, personally, do about it?

If Universalism was Scientology - or the cult of Kim Jong Il - or even Communism - this might be an effective initial state from which to consider its merits or demerits. But Universalism is to these pissant little knockoffs as the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church is to Robert Schuller's Hour of Power. As Rutger Hauer put it in Split Second, "Bigger guns! We've got to have bigger guns!"

In fact, if you just translate the word "Catholicism" into 21st-century English, it comes out... you guessed it. I was recently disappointed to learn that, contrary to the assertion of my 10th-grade English teacher, "Darth Vader" does not actually mean "Dark Father" in Dutch. That would be Donker Vader, which somehow doesn't have the same je ne sais quoi. But you get the idea. The point is that this thing, whatever you care to call it, is at least two hundred years old and probably more like five. It's basically the Reformation itself. It's certainly the most up-to-date revision of Jouvenel's Minotaur. And just walking up to it and denouncing it as evil is about as likely to work as suing Shub-Niggurath in small-claims court.

So, if there's any way to even contemplate this history-devouring horror, it can only be by thinking around Universalism. We cannot hope to assault the Elder Ones. We cannot even offend them. Our only hope is to amuse them for a little while.

In other words: it may be a fun parlor game to answer every political question by asking how the Duke of Wellington would handle it. But we lack anything like the shared cultural capital we'd need to simply evaluate the proposition that Universalism is just evil, and needs to be terminated with extreme prejudice. We can't even imagine how to think these thoughts. And Universalism at every turn would be telling us we were evil for even starting to think them.

On the bright side, however, by accepting the possibility that Universalism exists, that it is not simply "ethics" or "justice" or "science" or "history," you have already taken the first step toward thinking around it. Let's take a few more steps and see where we end up.

First, remember that Universalism is a mystery cult of political power. As John Gray puts it, "Modern politics is a chapter in the history of religion." This is not to excuse Professor Gray, whose incredible legerdemain in skipping directly from the French Revolution to George W. Bush does much more to conceal than to explain. But, as Hunter S. Thompson used to put it, even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in a while.

To engage the neohominid instinct for worship, you need a grand mystery: some question of transcendental importance to which no meaningful answer can be constructed. It is even better if inside the mystery is some high agency, some power which works in mysterious ways. Christopher Moltisanti decided that the higher power for his 12-step program was his Mafia oath. Sometimes I suspect that if you go to an AA meeting in Berkeley, their higher power is the United Nations, or maybe the State Department, or even just NPR.

Anyway. In this post, we're going to try to raise the tone, and avoid taking these cheap little digs at Universalism or Universalists. The point is: the spiritual antennae of the Universalist are aimed almost exclusively in the direction of the State. When a Universalist thinks about good or evil, she thinks about the good State and the evil State.

Our goal, in learning to think around Universalism, is to construct a way to think about the State that is morally neutral, and that does not depend at all on Universalist concepts. The end product should be a complete, drop-in replacement for Universalism which does not challenge or threaten it in any way.

Our first step is a full linguistic reconstruction of politics and history. I'll outline this reconstruction for the State I live in, which I think is reasonable, because this particular polity happens to more or less dominate the world. (As Thom Yorke put it, "Radiohead works like the United Nations. I'm the US.") If you live in Greenland or Poland or Uzbekistan or wherever, the transformation should not be too difficult.

Just as we saw in the Universalist concept of humanity, there is an enormous inherent confusion in Universalist political linguistics. When I talk about America or the US, I may mean one of the following concepts: a political organization, a geographical region, or a population of neohominids. For the first or the third, I may mean this concept solely in the present, or I may be referring to some period of historical continuity. A more preposterous hodgepodge could scarcely be contemplated.

Frankly, this is ridiculous. It has to go. The Empsonian ambiguity - a programmer might call it overloading - may be poetically touching, that is, if you're a political shill-poet like Lowell, Whitman, MacLeish or Dove. Finish your ode to Stalin and get outta here. The rest of us would like a way to clearly refer to clear, specific concepts.

One way to do this is to imagine we're thinking about an alternate reality. In Reality #2, there is a clone of Planet 3, Planet 3.01, which is exactly identical and follows the same orbit around the Sun, 180 degrees out of phase so that neither can see the other.

On Planet 3.01, the temperate and subtropical latitudes of the northern continent in the western hemisphere are a region called Plainland. (An English translation of Vinland.) The inhabitants of Plainland are the Plainlanders.

Culturally, our Plainlanders fall into five major castes: the Brahmins, Dalits, Helots, Optimates and Vaisyas. They can also be divided by descent: European, African, Asian or Beringian. And their political conflicts identify them as either Coaster (blue) or Middler (red). Of course, none of these categories is precise or complete. All sorts of overlaps and subcategories exist. Nonetheless, these very rough high-level abstractions are quite useful.

Plainland is owned by a sovereign corporation, or sovcorp. Its name is Washcorp: the Washington Corporation. (I like this slightly better than one I tried earlier, Fedco. It sounds even more neutral and enormous. Of course, Planet 3.0 has plenty of actual companies named both Washcorp and Fedco, but none is particularly significant.)

A corporation is just a set of people working together with a common purpose - basically, any organization. I should probably replace this word as well, but it is such an effective offensive weapon that it would be a pity to just throw it out, and the English meaning is extremely clear.

A corporation is sovereign - and thus a sovcorp - if there is no controlling legal authority to which it can appeal, and it is responsible for enforcing and defending its own law. Again, the English meaning of this word is extremely clear and historically accurate.

Aside from the fact that it is sovereign, Washcorp owns Plainland in the same sense that any person or organization owns any piece of property. It exercises absolute and total domination and control. Plainlanders exist at Washcorp's sufferance. It can expel them, kill them, or order them to obey arbitrary commands. There is no other power to which they can appeal, and no Plainlander or combination of Plainlanders has, or could conceivably have, even a thousandth of the military force needed to defeat Washcorp. Nor does any such force exist anywhere else on the planet.

Note that Planet 3.01 remains identical to Planet 3.0 in all substantive details. Let me add, however, the stipulation that on Planet 3.01, and within the boundaries of Plainland, Washcorp is absolutely invincible. It is not even worth thinking about thinking about a military strategy which could wrest Plainland from the eternal iron grip of Washcorp. Also, the flag of Washcorp is a red W inscribed in a white circle on a black field, and this sigil is honored with the Roman salute. Everything else is the same, though.

I should also describe the history of Washcorp. It was founded by an aristocrat and military leader, General Washington (hence the name), a prominent sympathizer of a paramilitary gang called the Sons of Liberty. The Sons evolved into the first identifiable ancestor of Washcorp as we know it today, the Continental Congress, with its Continental Army under Washington, who swiftly established himself as princeps.

This version of Washcorp is the First Corporation or the Continental Corporation. The period of its formal existence, 1776 to 1789, is the Continental Period. The First Corporation's goal was to use violent force to seize Plainland from its original European owner, the sovcorp British Crown. Assisted by political divisions within British Crown, it succeeded in this task and assumed ownership of Plainland through adverse possession, winning the War of Atlantic Separation.

The original First Corporation was very weak and had limited power over its subsidiaries, the provinces of Plainland, which retained much of their original sovereignty as recognized in both its primary contract, the Articles of Confederation, and its deed of cession as conceded by British Crown, the Treaty of Paris. In 1789, a group of prominent managers wrested power from the First Corporation and replaced it with the Second or Constitutional Corporation (1789-1861), which left the relationship between Washcorp and its provinces informal.

The primary contract of the Second Corporation, the Constitution, was designed by its primary architect Alexander Hamilton, one of Washington's cronies, to shift sovereign power gradually, subtly and irreversibly away from the provinces and toward Washcorp itself. (Compare to the similar approach of present-day Eurocorp.) Interprovincial tensions always undermined this strategy, and in 1861 a group of provinces joined forces and attempted to seize the southern half of Plainland in the War of Southern Separation.

Under the messianic dictator Abraham Lincoln, Washcorp won this war and subjugated the rebellious provinces. No more was heard about provincial sovereignty. The War of Southern Separation effectively revoked the Constitution, and converted Washcorp's management process to an informal system with no strict textual basis, opening the Third or Nationalist Period (1861-1933). It is also notable for its introduction of military slavery - ie, the draft - to Washcorp's playbook. All major Washcorp wars through the 1970s were fought with Plainlander slave soldiers.

The Third Corporation retained many elements of the old Constitutional system, notably the theory that Washcorp's sovereign discretion was constrained by a list of enumerated powers. However, it also developed a state religion of transcendental power worship, or Nationalism. The quintessential Nationalist tract was the science-fiction novel Looking Backward by the Social Gospel fanatic Edward Bellamy, which predicted with remarkable prescience that by the year 2000, Washcorp would exercise complete and detailed control over the lives and occupations of all Plainlanders.

The essential idea of Nationalism was that Washcorp was deeply and fundamentally good, and could bring this spirit of righteousness to everything it touched or did. If this seems hard to understand, it is best explained as a continuation of the Protestant postmillennial tradition, with its emphasis on achieving the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of Christ on earth.

Nationalism can only be understood with respect to the system known as democracy, in which Plainlanders reconsecrate their obeisance to Washcorp regularly and indirectly, pledging their submission to one of several (typically two, but rarely one or three) political gangs, or parties. The parties alternate in power according to headcount of registered supporters. In the late Constitutional and early Nationalist periods, Washcorp operated under the spoils system, in which the parties distributed Washcorp's revenue to their supporters by disguising these dividends as the salaries for so-called jobs.

Democracy, which had deep roots in the English Dissenter sects to which early Euro-Plainlanders subscribed, is best seen in terms of the system of ritual legitimacy it replaced, divine-right monarchy. The older divine-right sovcorps legitimized their ownership - that is, persuaded their subjects not to rebel - by attributing it to divine intervention. Democracy arrived with the advent of new religious systems which stressed the divine nature of humanity. This inner light, of which all adult males (and later females) had exactly one, could be counted and summed. If Washcorp was directed by this arithmetic, its actions could not fail to be righteous.

As the 20th century opened, Nationalism evolved into its more sophisticated successor Progressivism, a label still used today. Progressivism, which is essentially the political projection of Universalism, was a check to the abuses of democracy, reducing the power of corrupt elected officials in favor of permanent Washcorp employees, or civil servants. (Perhaps the word "master" would be more apropos.) Progressives consider these employees "professional," "nonpartisan," "objective," etc, but they still operate under the moral umbrella of democracy, whose righteousness is undiminished however symbolic or passive its elected officials may become. Note that this is not unlike the modern fate of constitutional monarchy.

In extreme progressivism, as practiced today by Eurocorp, meaningful politics can be eliminated entirely, but the sovcorp still considers itself perfectly democratic. Needless to say, so do its subjects. The defunct "people's democracies" of Russia and Central Europe, though dominated by security forces rather than educational organs, followed a similar pattern.

Washcorp was also a leader in developing a comprehensive official education system. Like many techniques of 20th-century sovcorps, official education - which includes official primary, secondary and tertiary instruction, official scientific research, official journalism and broadcasting, etc - is essential to prevent democracy from degenerating into civil war or rebellion. Otherwise, political conflicts are simply too real, and parties become attracted by the creative opportunities of escalating violence. Either the sovcorp's security organs become its first line of defense, or it succumbs to the mayhem. There are no modern examples of a stable democratic sovcorp without an effective system of official education.

Needless to say, coordinating the opinions of the population is one way to make them loyal workers and soldiers in wartime, and reliable taxpayers in peacetime. 20th-century sovcorps can be classed broadly by their choice between two models of domestic security: educracy, in which the sovcorp manages the opinions of its subjects with an official education system and confirms that this system is working by subjecting itself to democratic elections, and securocracy, in which the sovcorp forgets democracy and simply trusts its security forces as the ultimate guardians of order.

This is a continuous spectrum: all securocratic sovcorps also maintain official education systems, and all educratic sovcorps have effective, trustworthy security forces. But there is generally a consistent pattern of dominance in conflicts between educational and security agencies - for example, between journalists and policemen - which favors one or the other.

Official education was an essential step in Washcorp's new goal for the 20th century, the conquest of Europe. By intervening in the First Great War, Europe's first total civil war since 1815, at a point when the Central and Entente Powers had nearly defeated each other, Washcorp smashed the remnants of the Concert of Europe, destroyed the House of Romanov and conveyed its possessions to the new, ultraprogressive and ultraviolent sovcorp Sovetskiy Soyuz, and began the process of remodeling Europe as a cluster of Washcorp client states. By forming an alliance with Sovetskiy Soyuz, the notorious Popular Front, and by using diplomatic ultimatums to intimidate the Japanese sovcorp Dai Nippon into a hopeless preemptive attack, Washcorp inserted itself into the Second Great War, completed the destruction of Europe and Japan with merciless, indiscriminate bombing campaigns that killed more than a million civilians, and graduated to the task of dividing global power between itself and Sovetskiy Soyuz. When you're feelin' it, as they say, you're feelin' it.

Meanwhile, the Nationalist Period ended in 1933 with the rise of the Voldemort system, or New Deal. Washcorp had destroyed its financial system by adopting the British model of central banking, in which Washcorp itself guaranteed the value of private loans. During the 1920s this created a pyramid of debt substantially exceeding the quantity of gold available to pay it, and when the pyramid collapsed Plainland - along with most other countries - was devastated. This set the stage for the rise of an unscrupulous aristocrat, Lord Franklin Voldemort, often known simply as That Man, whose rule inaugurated the current Fourth or Universalist Corporation.

Lord Voldemort, elected on a platform of scaling back Washcorp, instead seized absolute power, eliminating the last formal limits to Washcorp's domestic power. His staff of extreme Progressives dedicated themselves to implementing Bellamy's vision of an Industrial Army, an ideal planned society in which Washcorp employees coordinated all productive activity in Plainland. (Voldemort even put his name on a book called Looking Forward.) Nationalist holdouts prevented this vision from being realized before Washcorp's intervention in the Second Great War, but after 1941 the last anti-Voldemort forces were politically isolated and destroyed. The postwar period saw an enormous expansion of official education in the Progressive tradition, completing and cementing the Fourth Corporation, which rules Plainland to this day.

All official education in Plainland today instructs Plainlanders to revere Lord Voldemort and his movement. All orthodox political factions claim pure Voldemortian descent. And all private businesses operate as quasiautonomous subsidiaries of Washcorp, which has settled on the elegant design of allowing their managers full entrepreneurial freedom, while maintaining total regulatory control over their operational policies and procedures.

However, all is not utterly copacetic in Plainland. The 1920s saw the first outbreaks of genuine anti-Washcorp murmuring since the War of Southern Separation, as some Plainlanders started to realize that their interests and Washcorp's were not always identical. After the proto-Voldemortian era of Progressive fanatic Woodrow Wilson, the Return to Normalcy - ie, sanity - of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge actually reduced the size and importance of Washcorp. The same feat was achieved by Ronald Reagan, and attempted unsuccessfully by a variety of failed political rebellions, such as those of Strom Thurmond, Joseph McCarthy, Barry Goldwater, and George Wallace. While none of these movements actually aimed at the destruction of Washcorp, and none had any chance of permanently checking its expansion, they can only be described as worrisome.

One fascinating response to the development of discontent is the rise of pro-Washcorp ultraloyal pseudo-opposition movements, comparable to Catholic ultramontanism. After the Second Great War, the size, efficiency and ideological consistency of Washcorp's system of official education considerably increased. The 1960s saw the harvest of this program, with the rise of extremist ultra movements such as the SDS. The SDS's manifesto, the Port Huron Statement, is worth reading in full - as a Universalist confession, as an expression of faith in the absolute righteousness of Washcorp (if led, of course, by the enlightened), and an action plan for seizing the universities and redoubling the ideological intensity of official education. Needless to say, the plan succeeded, and the ideas of the SDS are now mainstream.

With Washcorp becoming the default employer and financial guardian of all Plainlanders, political conflict in Plainland increasingly transitioned to a highly stable phase in which all significant conflict was not between pro-Washcorp and anti-Washcorp Plainlanders, but between different factions within Washcorp itself.

These battles tended to play out in Washcorp's so-called "foreign policy." In the 1940s, the high Voldemortian plan of creating a single global sovcorp, by converting the victorious alliance of the Second Great War, the United Nations, into a permanent sovcorp cartel which could cohere gradually in the usual manner, suffered a major setback when a schism appeared between Washcorp and its primary progressive client, Sovetskiy Soyuz. This Anglo-Soviet split was due to the paranoid, militaristic management style of the securocratic progressive "people's democracies," as was demonstrated by further mafia-style catfights, such as the Titoist and Maoist splits with Moscow.

However, the Anglo-Soviet split also divided Washcorpers into one faction whose primary goal was opposing Soviet power, and another faction whose primary goal was healing the split and restoring unity in the global progressive movement. These factions faced off in three Asian proxy wars, two of which actually involved Plainlander slave soldiers: the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese civil wars.

In the Chinese civil war, different departments of Washcorp backed opposing armies, with the State Department supporting Mao and the Pentagon Chiang. State succeeded with the aid of the New Deal political general George Marshall, imposing an arms embargo on Chiang, who was reactionary and corrupt, and ensuring his defeat at the hands of Mao, who was a murderous megalomaniac. Not only did Mao murder 30 million Chinese, but only three years later his slave armies were fighting directly against the Pentagon's own.

It was slightly difficult to explain to Plainlanders that, while Hitler's Nazi myrmidons were so evil that it was necessary to level Germany and accept no terms but unconditional surrender, Mao's progressive volunteers could not even be frowned at until they had actually crossed the Korean border - and preferably not even the 38th parallel. Progress, however, can explain anything, and by the 1950s Washcorp had had a lot of practice.

The even more bizarre gladiatorial bloodbath of Vietnam, in which it was almost impossible to recognize anything resembling a military strategy or objective, was so hard for Plainlanders to understand that it actually wound up as a political victory for the ultra-loyalist radicals, now recognizable as our modern-day "blue-state" Coasters. Vietnam was so confusing that after the Pentagon had won a complete military victory over the South Vietnamese insurgents, State prevailed by simply capturing Congress and imposing a surprise arms embargo on the corrupt, reactionary leaders of South Vietnam, treating them much as it had treated Chiang. The resulting North Vietnamese invasion surely reminded a few diplomatic silverbacks of the good old Popular Front days, when the Red Army rode into Poland on Plainland-made Jeeps.

The pattern repeated itself across most of the planet. Any ally was a good ally for State, so long as it was not reactionary and corrupt, ie, an ally of the Pentagon. The more nationalist, socialist, and violent, however, the better. For some reason it was important for Washcorp to have more allies in more places than Sovetskiy Soyuz, and these three factions - Pentagon, State, and Soviet - competed for the privilege of funneling money and weapons to the murderous and criminally mismanaged Third World sovcorps that emerged from the postwar destruction of European law and order in most of Africa and Asia. Tens of millions of people were killed and billions left destitute in this new imperial scramble, which is still described today as the "liberation" and "independence" of the Third World. Apparently "liberation" requires the rule of sovcorps whose managers have the right skin color, and "independence" involves receiving billions of dollars a year in "aid."

The so-called "conservative" strategy, in which confused, half-brainwashed Middlers attempted to revolt against the Coaster departments of Washcorp through aggressive military provocations overseas, which if victorious would strengthen Middler politicians and the Middler-dominated armed forces (now mercifully relieved of slave troops), after a few minor successes in the 1980s and 1990s found its tragic, yet blackly comical, Waterloo in Iraq.

After a spectacular attack by neo-Islamic progressive terrorists on New York, Plainlanders became vehemently, if temporarily, done with the systematic adoration of any Third World thug whose only saving grace was to be an enemy of the Pentagon. Coasters found it impossible to prevent the Pentagon's invasion of Iraq, whose ruling sovcorp, Baathco, had done an exceptionally poor job of maintaining its membership as a State Department client. Instead Baathco had cultivated the Europeans, leaving two degrees of separation between itself and State. Two turned out to be one too many.

The invasion of Iraq was a smashing military success. But it was a tactical success and a strategic defeat, because the tremendous political power of 21st-century progressivism left the Pentagon with no viable options. It could not rule Iraq as a possession, as Arthur MacArthur had in the Philippines. It could not govern Iraq as a subjugated enemy, like his son in Japan. It could not restore a monarchy, as Kermit Roosevelt had in Iran. It could not even install one of its patented reactionary, corrupt dictators, like Chiang or Diem or Syngman Rhee.

No, the same military force that subjugated the South of Plainland itself and ruled it under the Lieber Code, which let it shoot any uniformless combatant, without a trial - that, under the same code, invaded the Philippines and turned it into one of the most famously pro-Washcorp regions outside Plainland itself - that obliterated Germany and Japan from the air, killing a million civilians, and reconstructed them as pacifist communes under the notorious JCS 1067 - could only execute a politically and militarily absurd plan which installed a democratic sovcorp, using proportional representation of all systems, promised to leave as soon as the ballots were dry, and bound itself to obey rules of engagement probably insufficient to impose order in Newark, New Jersey.

It might as well have issued every Iraqi with an AK-47, an RPG and three IEDs, and ordered everyone to join a paramilitary gang as soon as possible, winners to be selected by whatever prowess they could demonstrate in killing Plainlanders.

While this strategy was certainly well-designed for Coaster factions to prevent a military and hence Middler victory, it was not exactly designed to make Washcorp popular among Middlers. As if it they didn't love it already! And with its security forces essentially in the hands of its enemies, Washcorp faces a difficult political struggle. As its educational system becomes increasingly stagnant and moribund, inculcating at least as much apathy as loyalty, its natural evolution would be to transition from educracy to securocracy. But its own military caste despises it profoundly.

The only way to keep them in check is more democracy. Which means extending the franchise. Which, since the entire framework of nationalism depends on the identity between geography, sovcorp and population, and the ideal solution of letting actual Europeans vote in Washcorp elections is simply beyond reach, means importing more and more Beringian voters from Mexico, while reducing the power of the White House (no Democrat has won the Euro-Plainlander presidential vote since Lyndon Johnson), in favor of that of Congress, which through seniority and gerrymandering has achieved the ideal Universalist combination of democratic legitimacy and civil-service stability. As demonstrated by its approval ratings, which seem to hover barely in the double digits without any degradation of power. Whereas if a President has an 11% rating, not even his hairdresser will do his combover the way he asks.

Now that the last strategy which seemed to offer some hope to Middlers, invading the world and restoring Western civilization to places from which it has spent the last hundred years evaporating, is off the table, the evolutionary path of Washcorp seems obvious. Until such time as its creditors tire of loaning it another trillion dollars every year, it will join Eurocorp in its gradual progress toward becoming a bureaucratic, Brezhnevian Beamtenstaat. As in Europe, the distinction between working as a direct employee of Washcorp and working for a "private" company will become increasingly irrelevant, as companies become branded, financially independent arms of the State in which the entire process of production is dictated by regulation, a la ISO 9000 or Sarbox.

So: this is Washcorp. I hope I have covered the major points. Hopefully for any missing details, it should be reasonably easy to translate the official story to fit with the above. The official story is almost never wrong as a matter of fact. It is usually just interpretation.

Of course, even if this jaundiced and decidedly unofficial biography of Washcorp is an accurate perspective, Hume's ought does not entitle us to claim that Washcorp is evil. Still less are we left with any idea of what to do about it, if it is.

However, there are still some interesting observations we can make.

The first observation is that the employees of Washcorp are overwhelmingly Universalist - except for the disgruntled military.

The second is that Washcorpers think of their employer as a fundamentally charitable - ie, eleemosynary - institution. It's not just that Washcorp has Google's motto, "do no evil." The point is so obvious that to state it is to sully it. The meaning of Washcorp is that Washcorp does good.

Not just for Plainland, of course, but for the whole world. Because Universalists do not, of course, value Plainlanders over any other neohominids. And Washcorpers are Universalists, so good to Washcorp is Universalist good. The archaic legacy policies and procedures that force Washcorp to discriminate in favor of Plainlanders are distasteful and detestable, and should be discarded as fast as possible. Ideally, Washcorp itself would become only an unimportant unit of a single global sovcorp.

The third is that, even though the source of Washcorp's fundamental goodness is its connection to public opinion, which can never be misguided or evil, there is still a way to evaluate Washcorp without reference to the cult of democracy. Democracy, like the principle of divine right, legitimizes Washcorp's ownership of Plainland. To a good Universalist, the only way in which Washcorp can become evil is if it abandons democracy, in which case it is no longer legitimate and should be treated as a tyrannical dictatorship. Until then, it is good. Etc.

A formalist, however, can duck this entire trap. A formalist has no interest at all in Washcorp's political formula. She does not care whether Washcorp's democracy is good democracy, bad democracy, or no democracy at all. To her, Washcorp simply owns Plainland. There is no why. Ownership is demonstrated by unchallenged control. Washcorp has it. Perhaps some debate is possible over what other parts of the world Washcorp owns. As far as Plainland goes, it's a no-brainer.

The formalist, therefore, judges Washcorp only by its actions. She can say: why does Washcorp do X or Y? Why do the people involved with Washcorp act in ways that lead it to do X or Y? Would it be better, in her opinion, if it did Z instead? And - granted that Washcorp is invincible and cannot be destroyed - how, if at all, can she act to help change it into something whose actions are more desirable?

We'll cover this next week. But essentially, my view is that people who oppose Washcorp are simply barking up the wrong tree. It's not just that Washcorp can't be defeated. It's that even trying to weaken it is a mistake. Weaken a sovcorp, make it less efficient, and it compensates by getting larger and more complex.

Rather, I think only the way to fix Washcorp is to improve it out of existence. It needs to become so much more powerful and so much more efficient that it no longer exists as such. And this effort must not contradict Universalism in any way, shape or form. If this doesn't make any sense or strike you as possible, please be patient and stay tuned.

65 Comments:

Anonymous randy said...

Awesome! Personally, I prefer "Progressives R US", but "Washcorp" works, and its easier to type.

Just guessing, but I'm thinking that the way to improve washcorp is the same way that one improves any corporation - by having a clear and well understood mission that is in alignment with what the customers want.

October 25, 2007 at 8:20 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

A good and very enjoyable reiteration of Dawkins 4 but not a lot of new material otherwise. I think what you were intending to get to is showing how Universalism is associated with significant morbidity.

The feminine pronoun used to describe a generic Formalist was quaintly feminist and jarring.

October 25, 2007 at 8:58 AM  
Anonymous tggp said...

This post was poorly titled. It has little to do with Dawkins.

Mexicans should not be referred to as "Beringians". Actual native americans are among the most anti-immigrant (they remember how poorly immigration worked out for them centuries ago).

I actually think secessionism has a chance. If Vermont leaves, I don't think we'll invade. Modern liberalism is a poor substitute for nationalism when it comes to that kind of thing.

Osama is not in any sense a progressive. He may use progressive rhetoric in messages intended for Westerners, but he doesn't believe any of that shit. He's an extreme regressive. While most lefties despise Saudi Arabia for being Wahabbist and oppressive towards women, he thinks it ain't islamic ENOUGH and is too decadent. He also regularly attacks the Saudi regime for supporting communists in Yemen. Islamists are more on the alert against communism than John Birchers. Even in situations like the Hugo Chavez/Ahmadenijad alliance, it all dissolves amidst islamist anti-communism.

Ronald Reagan did not succeed in reducing the size of the government. It just grew at a slower rate. McCarthy wasn't even trying to shrink the government. He was a moderate Republican who just wanted foreign agents out of his government. I don't know much about Wallace or Thurmond's platform, but I believe they found the New Deal just dandy.

So is the State department a rival of the Soviets or an ally? You seem to push both views.

We did not destroy the Romanovs, we even sent troops to fight against the Bolsheviks. The Romanov and Kerensky government both continued to fight alongside the Allied Powers, the Bolsheviks gained peace in exchange for land. It would also be inaccurate to state that the U.S government was allied with the Soviets in the interwar period. We were really allied with England, as we had been in the First World War. When the Soviets were in a pact with Hitler and invading Poland & Finland, we were against them and loyal Stalinists were playing the brave pacifist dissident against the warmongering Roosevelt regime (as soon as Russia was invaded they turned around and stabbed their Trotskyist brethren in the back while loudly proclaiming their loyalty to FDR).

You say that the State department gave victories to communists by cutting off aid to reactionary dictators, but unless we were giving aid to the communists wouldn't that just be neutrality?

I wouldn't commend the Pentagon on their military victory over the South Vietnamese insurgents. They defeated themselves in the extremely idiotic Tet Offensive. The insurgents didn't matter that much anyway, so it's not much to be congratulated about. It might be analogized to a Polish army sending its troops onto the Autobahn to fight a War Against Speeders (getting a number of Polacks run over in the process) only to find that the Wehrmacht has marched in backward so it looked like they were leaving. The major problem with that scenario is that Germany was of great interest to Poland, while the U.S is not really worse off with Vietnam in commie hands (they've even got McDonald's now).

Bush is not part of the conservative "revolt". That happened under Gingrich and they were less enthusiastic for military action than President Clinton. We aren't invading other countries as part of a struggle against the other political faction, but because 9/11 smacked everyone with a stupid stick. Hillary Clinton, Kerry and Edwards all voted for the war and have only come out against it (though Hillary won't apologize for her vote) when the polls shifted.

I don't see how you can consider Iraq to have been a client state when we were enforcing sanctions and a No-Fly-Zone on it.

America is not faring poorly in Iraq because it is following the rules of engagement (we still kill a shitload of Iraq civilians). We have no real aim in there and are essentially wandering around with targets on our chest while hoping what passes for the Iraqi government gets its shit together. If you want accomplish something, the presence of a bunch of Americans in uniform isn't going to magically get it done. We have not promised to leave once the ballots are dry either. There have already several elections with no end in sight. We have no mission to accomplish after "Mission Accomplished" and are now simply there.

You've got to be out of your fucking mind if you like power is being transferred from the Executive to the Congress. All of history starting from Lincoln or Teddy has been that of the concentration of power in the President, with ever expanding cabinets, powers, executive orders, signing statements, "stroke of the pen, law of the land, kind of cool". It is only fitting for our ideal of democracy. The Congress represents the competing interests of states, the Executive is where power is concentrated in one man who is to represent all Americans, our Fuhrer so to say. This is such a glaring error I'm going to find it hard to take what else you say seriously.

October 25, 2007 at 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TGGP: is there a purpose behind your gratuitous and moronic pejorative "Polacks"?

October 25, 2007 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I don't know, here's what I see.

Some history... handwaving... quaintly idiosyncratic version of history... more handwaving... handwaving... empty claims... absurd and unsupported assertions... bizarre interpretations of historical events... etc.

Just a few of the wild claims:

* "Universalism" is a religion which cannot be precisely defined but is held by approximately everybody in the world... except when it isn't. It's essential teaching was not believed by any of its members for decades. It generally involves antiracism, even though its first adherents were racists slaveowners.

* Democracy is evil because it's not the government of homo economus, which exists only in the form of internet libertarians, but of homo sapiens, who tend to be mis- and underinformed but have definite ideas about what they want.

* Providing public education is for all intents and purposes identical to ruling with an iron, bloody fist.

* All "orthodox political factions" -- or should we say both of them -- argue that they are in the tradition of FDR. You know, except for one of them.

* Al-Qaida are... Progressives?? That must be why they're all about women's rights and gay rights and the freedom of religion. And if they could be said to stand for a single cause, it would definitely be affirmative action.

October 25, 2007 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

In response to TGGP and JA's raised eyebrows, I would suggest to MM that it makes a LOT more sense to look at Universalism, Islamofacism, National Socialism, and Communism as responses to globalization[1] first and foremost. For the last 200 years, basically all[2]political conflict has been a reaction to the spread of global capitalism. Globalization is an extremely uncomfortable process that results in radical changing society during one person's lifetime, something we are not evolved to deal with. Global Capitalism is undeniably a good thing, but people are naturally risk averse creatures and so much change makes us queasy. You'll never be able to tag al'queda as progressive, but you can identify both the progressives and al'queda as anti-globalization

MM, you must also distinguish between American and European political tradition which are very different. In America, the concern (and the anglo-sphere to a lesser degree) it has always much more popular to talk about managing Global Capitalism than opposing it. The opposite was true in Europe, at least until it was conquered. I would argue the 60's schism was mostly about the transformationalists trying to take over the Democratic party, (and largely succeeding, the '68 convention being the old guard's last stand). Reagan's primary achievement was shifting much (mostly the economics) of the momentum of the debate back towards the terms of the Old Left.

MM you also seem to be claiming that there is actually someone in charge of Fedco, but there is a difference between training the people who will work for fedco and actually being able to run it. I would submit that no one is in charge of fedco, and that it mostly runs on autopilot. This suits the polygon most of the time, and limits the ability of anti-polygon forces to achieve anything during the rare periods they manage to sieze power (See: Revolution, Gingrich) so the polygon tends to perpetuate the auto-pilot nature of the state unless they see an opportunity to expand it, at which point they declare a crisis and demand that something be done.

Lastly, I realize I have made some rather broad claims. I have omitted specific references for the sake of brevity but will happily provide a fuller explanation if anyone wants one.

[1] I define globalization as the spread of free capitalism over protectionism, written law over custom, and contracts over honor. It is very much tied up with industrialization and you could probably argue that the 2 are indistinguishable.
[2] In America at least. Europe continues to have a bunch of political holdover from their extant aristocracies until 1914. Certainly almost any liberal or leftist politics is about globalization after 1815, and much conservative as well.

October 25, 2007 at 12:29 PM  
Anonymous tggp said...

Anonymous, get some thicker skin. You can hang out on far-right websites where you'll hear that blacks/mexicans have lower IQs and higher crime-rates and a whole bunch of jews endorsed crazy anti-american ideas like communism/multiculturalism while claiming that you're just a hard-nosed man of facts that doesn't truck with bullshit or care if some expression of political incorrectness offends people, but then to be consistent you can't get worked up about someone dishonoring your own tribe by using a word you don't particularly like (though in my experiences Poles use it more non-chalantly than negroes say nigger). This involves some big assumptions on my part since I don't actually know if you are Polish (though this would be a first for someone else to be offended) or if you've just sat by as various other offensive things have been said here or at the sites Mencius link to. If I'm wrong about all that, then let this be a warning that you probably won't like it much here.

October 25, 2007 at 1:19 PM  
Anonymous George Weinberg said...

There are a couple major gaps I see in your narrative:
1) When an organization exists for many generations, not only will its later membership have nothing in common with the earlier, but its methods and goals may also. I think it's safe to say that by the time of Prohibition, political Protestantism had already abandoned the Bible as its source of moral ideas. After all, Jesus's first and best miracle was turning water into wine! I can see how, looking at individuals and institutions, there's an unbroken thread connecting modern "Universalism" all the way back to early Calvanism, but given how little the former resembles the latter, I don't see why it matters much.
2) The connection between "WashCo" and "Universalism" still isn't clear to me. I get the impression that the mechanics of modern states owes more to France and Prussia/Germany than to the USA. For example, I generally hear Bismark "credited" for nationally supported education and old age pensions. I don't think this had anything to do with "religion", Universalist or otherwise, I think he just (rightly or wrongly) thought it made for a more efficient state. Also, when looking at "third world" "leaders", it's remarkble how many "communists" were formerly "anticommunists" or vice versa. What these guys call themselves has less to do with ideology or policy than by which way the wind is perceived to be blowing. Calling yourself "anticommunist" will get you Pentagon support, calling yourself "communist" formerly got you Soviet support, I guess if you want state department support you have to not be calling yourself communist yet but be planning on doing it in the future. But assuming State knows how empty the labels are (and they should know if anyone does), what's the connection between State Department actions and Universalist doctrines?

I think it's a good idea to distinguish between the political entity WashCo and the region Plainland, and groupings by ancestry is yet a third thing, but I think language is the most important thing for group identity.

October 25, 2007 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

Mencius, your mental models seem to hinge on the underlying assumption that those who write the laws control the politics and money, whereas I think (though I only recently realized it) a more coherent understanding of history and current events comes from assuming that those who control the money dictate the laws and politics.

To whom, for instance, does Washcorp pay their mortgage? And don't you think who they are and what they want is at least as important as who the Washcorp princeps is or what he wants?

I can accept that globalism proceeds at a brisk pace in spite of the widespread and perfectly natural human objections to it mainly because it is propelled/lubricated by the Universalist/Progressive ideology. But what propels that? I believe such a deeply destructive and contradictory ideology is more likely the conscious product of very devious, very powerful, and completely unscrupulous supranational elites than it is the accidental product of misguided Christians. And those elites of course see U/P as a means, not an end.

October 25, 2007 at 4:08 PM  
Anonymous winter said...

I think many of the comments here are not taking this post in context. MM spent many many pages setting this up -- and if you view this post in isolation you will miss the point.

First, it's important to see that the US government consists of two factions, who fight each other. One faction is "blue america" (Democratic party, state department, civil service, K-12 education, universities, NYTimes); the other is "red america" (Republican party, Defense, oil companies). Overall, blue america has been ascendent, while red america has been on the decline. 100 years ago West Point was a serious alternative to Harvard. This is no longer the case.

Second, blue america can trace it's ideological heritage back to calvinism. Has it changed on the way? yes. is it important that it's ancestrally calvinistic? also yes -- to the degree that this helps you see this ideology as a religion, albeit a nontheistic one. Then you realize how useful the first ammendment is, and the fact that, for all practical purposes, it no longer exists.

Three, it's pretty obvious to see blue and red america trying to sabotage each other overseas. State continually acts against Defense in Iraq. If the Iraq war and occupation had been a huge success, the democrats would be in a weakened position today. Certainly no one can argue that the problems in iraq have *helped* bush and the republicans. You can see this red v blue division play out in all american wars over the past ~150 years.

Four, you need to realize that most government action takes place in the civil service, not in any elected body. The Dept of Agriculture, Education, Energy, etc. etc. etc. is where the nitty gritty of policy gets made. The Presidency attracts more and more of the political attention, but its hands are increasingly tied by the real complexity of the huge internal state run by an impenetrable bureaucracy.

October 25, 2007 at 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, it's important to see that the US government consists of two factions, who fight each other. One faction is "blue america" (Democratic party, state department, civil service, K-12 education, universities, NYTimes); the other is "red america" (Republican party, Defense, oil companies). Overall, blue america has been ascendent, while red america has been on the decline.

I'm sure this has been mentioned before-but isn't GWB(like his faher) a blue wolf in the clothing of a red sheep? His quasi-religious support for the Mexicanization of the US alone proves this. Isn't open borders best explained as demographic warfare against the Reds by the Blues?

Fredo Arias-King

October 25, 2007 at 5:03 PM  
Anonymous tggp said...

Tanstaafl, are you suggesting freemasons or jewish bankers are really in charge? If money dictated policy, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet would be in charge. As things are, Bill Gates found his company charged under anti-trust and Warren Buffet has been lobbying for higher taxes on himself. I believe that you, like most human beings due to the situation in which our ancestors evolved, have biased agency detection (in favor of false positives rather than negatives). Most outcomes we see at a macro-level aren't really planned by anybody because nobody is capable of doing that kind of planning. Also, Mencius doesn't think the legislature, who write laws, really matter. He thinks the Iron Polygon, insulated from democracy, is in charge.

WashCorp doesn't pay a mortgage. The only time it wasn't in debt was when President Jefferson sold his own possessions to clear the red-ink. Can you imagine any private entity maintaining that kind of debt for years on end? Only a state can get away with that. Notice how people are crusading for debt forgiveness for third-world countries? There's no equivalent for non-countries because creditors know how to get repaid in short order.

I think once you buy into the idea that government is a struggle between two sides, you've already bought into their shit. I prefer the Higgs' Leviathan interpretation. They are plenty willing to engage in bipartisanship or "doing something truly stupid and evil".

Can anyone point out to me some specific actions taken by the State department that hamstrung the Iraq attaq? Quit passing the buck, this is a clear-cut case of a self-inflicted wound on the part of Bush and those who followed him. If the Democrats were as competent as some of you try to make them out to be they would have won in 2004. The only reason there's even a question of what might happen next year is that they're such a bunch of putzes who can't do anything better than they can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

How has Bush been hemmed in by the departments of agriculture or energy? Last I heard Bush had no problem with massive farm bills and he's ready to jump on any hare-brained energy scheme, especially if it involves forking over money to the coal industry. Social Security and immigration are areas where he tried his damndest and failed to get something passed, and probably for the best.

October 25, 2007 at 5:06 PM  
Anonymous George Weinberg said...

is it important that it's ancestrally calvinistic? also yes -- to the degree that this helps you see this ideology as a religion, albeit a nontheistic one.

I'm not sure exactly what religion means to you, but I suspect to someone like Dawkins the key elements include things like dedication to the worship of a supernatural being or beings, a body of doctrine which is considered perfect and unchallengeable forever, and the idea that faith (belief in the absence of evidence, or even despite evidence to the contrary) is a virtue in and of itself. By those criteria, I think Dawkins could fairly deny being religious.

I get the impression that to Mencius a group is a religion if it has distinctive beliefs (positive and normative) which come about not as a result of objective evidence, but because that's what everyone else in the group thinks, and to dispute these beliefs will get one labeled as wicked or ostracized. Even in the absence of formal group membership or doctrine. Or something like that, he never precisely spells it out.

I'm being more speculative than I'd like to be, because Dawkins isn't here, but I suspect Dawkins would argue 1) that that's not what religion means and 2) that's not what's happening anyway. That is, Menucius would probably argue that the fact that Universalists' ideas have evolved together indicates that it's acting functionally like a religion, but Dawkins would argue that that their beliefs evolve at all indicates that they are based on experience rather than dogma, and that they evolve together just means that news gets around, so effectively people have lots of shared experience. Again, or something like that.

The point is that it's one thing to convince me that Universalism is functionally a religion, and something very different to convince a Universalist of that.

October 25, 2007 at 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Cranky Matron said...

Holy hell. I don't even know what to say. Maybe all these well-educated gents are right and you're way off the mark into cookoo land, but this red-state military-connected Vaisya considers this probably the most accurate and poignant history of the US she's ever read. But then, I'm a strange one.

Sniff.

I suspect it's much easier to recognize Universalism from the outside than the inside. You certainly know when you're not one, anyway. No hard feelings, of course, but I wouldn't let my kids set foot in a Universalist education system even if they forced me to foot the tuition. :p

Anyway, do you really think the federal government would let Vermont secede? I don't. I think Vermont secessionists would be cut down before they could even think of getting off the ground. Domestic terrorism, doncha know.

And I think it's pretty reasonable to characterize Mexican peasants as "Berengian" even if some internal political dispute exists between the Northern and Southern sides of that ancestral group. JMO, of course.

Thanks for the fascinating read, MM! I always feel a little like I've fallen down a well when I visit.

October 25, 2007 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don't touch the level of wealth I'm talking about. Like the DoD's black projects there are people whose names, wealth, and power we don't even know.

If I suffer agency detection bias for some reason it did not kick in until I had seen many moons and pieced together many separately acquired bits of information. At any rate the PC dogma which rules our world strongly and explicitly discourages such bias. Consider the payload of your reference to "jewish bankers". I disagree completely that nobody can control events at the macro level. That is the only level that can be reliably controlled. Think Hari Seldon's psychohistory, though active controlling macro events rather than passively predicting them.

No, I'm not an anti-semite or conspiracy theorist. I'm a sober, rational, and educated person who knows that some things are more complicated than any conspiracy could orchestrate, and other things are too improbable to have happened by chance.

I suggest a simple proposition really. Does law drive wealth, or does wealth drive law? I'm not saying I know everything. It just seems to me the latter goes farther toward explaining events and motives than the former.

WashCorp may or may not need a mortgage, but they do have a HELOC. We know that control over their money is in the hands of a private corporation that has never been audited. You may not allow that they drive all of history, but your worldview should at least explain their role.

The Iron Polygon seems to me like another good example of what I'm talking about. The view of the MSM as a "major vertex" is I think true, but superficial. Certainly they are as powerful and unreachable as Mencius describes. But in whose interest do they wield that power? Who feeds them their marching orders? Who drives their agenda? Are we to believe editors and journalists spontaneously clamor for open borders because they want to transform their countries into balkanized Turd World banana republic cesspools populated by surly mobs and wracked with gang violence? Or are we supposed to believe they are ignorant of that eventuality?

I think it's far more reasonable to assume that they do it because they are taught and told and paid handsomely to do so. Just like our politicians. They are all employees, even the supposedly "powerful" people like Bush, Kennedy, and McCain. They don't answer to We the People because they know we aren't writing their paychecks, or at least the bigger paycheck they really care about. For many I'm sure the "paycheck" is simply the mental reward of "doing the right thing", ie. doing what their peers and mentors tell them is politically correct. I was like this, until the discrepancy between the happy talk and what I could see with my own eyes became unignorable. Unlike Neo I was not presented with any blue pills that would send me back to the Matrix fantasyland.

Our public political parties present a false dichotomy. Both parties are run by globalists, for the benefit of globalism. Why would we send Americans to die in Iraq, enrich Islamists with oil money, do business with China, and let poor uneducated Turd Worlders flood our White populations into extinction? Universalism may be OK with all this, but globalism is the ideology that actually demands it.

The Fredo Arias-King paper linked above is a window into the mentality of our political employee class. But it doesn't touch the employers. I can't either. I don't know exactly who they are. But like a black hole or dark matter I think it's possible to detect them by their influence. It's possible to infer their goals by noting general long-term, large-scale trends. Like globalism. Events, whole nations, sometimes defy the globalists' will. But not for long.

October 25, 2007 at 8:48 PM  
Anonymous tggp said...

Mexico has its own Beringians. They're treated like shit. The majority of Mexicans are Mestizo, but the country is run by whites of wholly (or nearly so) European descent. Vincente Fox is Scottish and Carlos Slim is Christian Lebanese/Syrian (not Europe, but still Caucasian rather than Amerindian).

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have more wealth than a number of countries. They are RIDICULOUSLY rich. Rich like nobody has ever been before. You can't hide that kind of rich. You can launder money, but that only obscures the source of the money to justify its vast size and possession by a certain person.

I wouldn't say PC dogma works against agency detection. Much of PC is ferreting out those remaining reactionaries who are holding back Utopia. Because of the assumptions they make they can't explain how a relatively fair process can have such unfair results, so they have to postulate that The Man/Patriarchy/whatever hates the disadvantaged and keeps oppressing them to hold them back. For goodness sake, Noam Chomsky wrote "Manufacturing Consent" to say that the people don't make certain decisions naturally, but shadowy influences pulled the wool over their eyes and subverted them.

Think Hari Seldon's psychohistory
BLATANT FALLACY ALERT

other things are too improbable to have happened by chance
Sounds like the kind of thing creationists say.

I suggest a simple proposition really. Does law drive wealth, or does wealth drive law?
Bill Gates and Rockefeller strongly suggest against the latter. That's evidence that you argued against by postulating the existence of some unknown figures even wealthier without any evidence for their existence.

I dislike the Federal Reserve as much as the next guy, but you and Aaron Russo are confused. The Federal Reserve is the creation of government and it answers to it, independence from politics be damned. The rest of Congress doesn't follow Ron Paul in attacking it for the same reasons they don't follow him in much anything else: his positions are not popular.

Are we to believe editors and journalists spontaneously clamor for open borders because they want to transform their countries into balkanized Turd World banana republic cesspools populated by surly mobs and wracked with gang violence? Or are we supposed to believe they are ignorant of that eventuality?
Did we invade Iraq or Vietnam because it was part of some plan to make asses of ourselves? You are far too willing to overlook the obvious fact that people do and believe idiotic things all the time, especially when it comes to politics. If you didn't know that there are tons of lefties with no connection to the Polygon that earnestly believe all the Universalist nonsense, you haven't spent enough time. Of course, they all think that we invaded Iraq because a shadowy cabal of Israelis (nevermind that they were actually concerned with Iraq's chief rival and benefactor of the invasion, Iran) or oilmen (nevermind the fact that we've been getting less oil out since the invasion and when Dick Cheney worked for Halliburton he urged the government to back off Iraq, though of course he was sane enough to realize the invasion would be a disaster years ago) hoodwinked the American people. The possibility that the majority really is rather hawkish and belligerent, especially after an attack like 9/11, would cast doubt on the merits of democracy so of course they have to hypothesize "special interests" that prevent us from having that perfect system.

Bryan Caplan once challenged his readers to name an unpopular policy. It was pretty much immigration and that's it, though I believe the 1965 Act that caused it all was popular enough when it passed. Even there Caplan saw it as a compromise since there are a lot of people who seriously want Open Borders which I am glad to say we most certainly do not have (they're just a lot more open or unselective than I'd like).

We are sending Americans to die in Iraq because nations have always sent their young men to die in other countries for no good reason. It's actually a popular policy. When Ron Paul suggests otherwise the ignorant masses loudly boo him. We are buying oil from Muslims because they have it and we want it. Pretty simple. There is no reason why we shouldn't be trading with China and Nixon patching up things with them was the greatest foreign policy move in the history of the United States and possibly the english speaking world. I'm hoping someone can do the same thing with Iran, which is a hell of a lot more ripe for it than China was under the insanity of Mao's Cultural Revolution.

But it doesn't touch the employers. I can't either. I don't know exactly who they are.
It's the Invisible Pink Unicorn and Flying Spaghetti Monster. And Bigfoot.

But like a black hole or dark matter I think it's possible to detect them by their influence.
Do you realize how far the fuck apart physics and political science are? You can't detect any hidden shit at the level you're talking about. Wobbles in astronomy can tell us that our model of mechanics is wrong (as Newtonian mechanics actually was) or we've failed to plug something in our equations. We don't have any Newtonian mechanics or equations for poli-sci, unless you believe Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's model is as accurate as is claimed.

But not for long.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! People have been saying that forever. The revolution won't be televised because it ain't gonna happen.

October 25, 2007 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

tggp, for someone so sensitive to logical fallacies you use them quite liberally. It would seem to me, for example, that religion and politics are as far apart as physics and politics are.

Citing Bryan Caplan tells me more than enough where your head is at. And your last paragraph demonstrates that you don't even get the gist of what I said.

October 25, 2007 at 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some people don't know enough to be offensive.

"though in my experiences Poles use it more non-chalantly than negroes say nigger"

You can see that "Polack" is meant to be a pejorative, but unfortunately, it fails to do that. It is bad English and nothing more.

"Polack" is simply a Polish word for "Polishman", badly transliterated into English, so it is not very strange that Poles use it.

Baduin

October 26, 2007 at 3:00 AM  
Anonymous randy said...

Cranky Matron,

Re; "...it's much easier to recognize Universalism from the outside than the inside."

Agreed. And for folks like me who have debated both religious and progressives, it is quite obviously the same debate.

As to whether the states of Vermont or Tennessee could secede, almost certainly not. But the people, as individuals, certainly could. Gods die. Beliefs fail.

October 26, 2007 at 3:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Polack" is simply a Polish word for "Polishman",

Correct, except in Polish it's spelled without the "c".

TGGP's bizarre use of that word was compounded by the incoherence of his whole Poland-Germany passage.

And tt's one thing to calmly discuss group IQs or whatever in an appropriate context. It's quite another to randomly and boorishly throw out a non-sequitur pejorative.

October 26, 2007 at 4:37 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

Was invading Iraq truly such a blunder? An alternate interpretation: one effect of this short-term disaster is the creation of an entire generation of young American officers and NCOs with combat experience; future challengers of the Polygon?

(note the sudden hysteria about Blackwater)

October 26, 2007 at 5:22 AM  
Anonymous randy said...

Pa,

I doubt they'll be challenging the polygon. I see them as pretty much a part of it. Class A and B shareholders in Washcorp, if you will.

As for the value of fighting wars from time to time, maintaining the edge, few outside the military would accept the premise, but it is absolutely correct.

October 26, 2007 at 6:20 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

Part of Universalism's adaptive success has been the impression that it delivers. Peace and prosperity across the globe. What could be better?

But are there crack-ups? based on what I read about the UK, there is a growing sense tha the ultra-Universalists running the place are providing neither security, nor freedom, two goods that are typically seen as occupying opposite ends of a zero-sum continuum. A Dalrympian hell is what's happening there instead.

To make things worse, this non-delivery is served with a dollop of humiliation, as noted in comments to MM's recent "Some quick meta-comments" entry.

So what will happen in the Londonistan laboratory? will it burn out like a cinder, a-la South Africa and Universalism will move on like locust? or will the fed-up Englishmen produce a (hopefully) relatively benign authority figure like a Franco? or is this a significant crack in Univesalism itself?

I list these stark scenarios rather than suggesting that the UK situation may evolve into something decent because I consider the present conditions created by fiat, completely unnecessary, and contrary to Universalism's stated ideals.

PS: Randy - you see Iraq vets as part of the Polygon?

October 26, 2007 at 7:42 AM  
Anonymous randy said...

Pa,

Yes, though my idea of the Polygon is somewhat different than MM's, as the Polygon could not exist without the support of the Pentagon. I see them all as part of the same structure. To follow the topic at hand, I see the top ranks of the military as class A shareholders and the lower ranks as class B shareholders in Washcorp. With class A shares going to those who profit from ownership, class B shares going to those whose livlihood is directly dependant on the owners, and class C shares going to those who are simply led to believe that their shares have great value, when the truth is that they are pretty much employees, renters, etc., at best.

October 26, 2007 at 8:04 AM  
Anonymous tggp said...

tanstaafl, quote me where I use a logical fallacy. I don't even see where I discussed religion, unless you count the IPC or FSM, which I just used as examples of non-existent entities like Bigfoot. I mentioned Bryan Caplan because he's someone who has studies Public Choice theory and attempted to explain why government fouls up so often, and like Mencius is quite critical of democracy. If you've got a problem with Caplan, state it.

pa, you're right that fighting makes your forces more experienced, but not all fighting is created equal. Now our troops are nation-building, which they don't know how and aren't fit to do and I don't even want them to ever be doing. Our forces are actually degrading. The strong that fight the weak become weak.

There's hysteria about Blackwater because it's a contractor, and liberals like People's Armies (that's why they're talking about bringing back the draft/national service). Nevermind that praetorianism has always come from state armies rather than mercenaries or that our regular troops are just as prone to committing atrocities (the Blackwater folks even read Radley Balko and provide more safety training than SWAT teams do). Kerry, Wesley Clark, McCain and Dole's military records couldn't get them in the White House because that sort of thing just doesn't mean as much anymore. Military service does not make you a threat to the Polygon.

For those worried about the Islamization of Europe, you should probably read this.

October 26, 2007 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

tggp, you rely heavily on smear and ridicule. You even seem aware of it at some level. I'm not going to waste time picking through it.

I understand that you reject my proposition that we may better understand what is happening in the world if we assume that money drives law, rather than the common presumption that law drives money. But it seems to me you do so out of hand.

You note Gates and Buffett, whose wealth was created within the law and I acknowledge is driven by it, but you do not acknowledge that their are people and organizations whose wealth does not make the Forbes list. Or do you believe that Forbes accurately accounts for all the wealth and influence in the world?

Caplan is at best a globalist employee. He spins stories that fit the globalist agenda, and doing so makes him famous and wealthy. But his stories make no sense. Nations and their borders do not just create inefficiencies and needlessly complicate anarcho-capitalist economists' equations. Life is more than jobs and wages, and people are not goods to be transported around the world like so many bananas. Even shipping bananas around the world has toxic side effects economists don't consider. More to the point, Amerindians are not indistinguishable from Pollacks. Toothpaste and pet food made in the US is not indistinguishable with similar goods made in China.

That's my problem not only with Caplan, but with all worshipers of the Holy Global Economy. Their faith is based on wishful thinking at best, and outright lies if I'm correct and Flying Spaghetti Globalist Employers actually exist.

Many individuals obviously do not just bumble through life so I don't know why you believe their deliberately organized collective efforts would. And the belief that organizations you cannot see must not exist is solipsistic.

Your assertion that "nations have always sent their young men to die in other countries for no good reason" is indicative of that solipsism. Wars can be profitable for those who fund or supply the combatants, in spite of the vast destructiveness and apparent senselessness to many people. The idea that supranational non-Forbes organizations may through deliberate effort be able to influence the starting and stopping of wars does not require any leap of faith. Likewise the seemingly senseless destruction of financial bubbles and mass migration.

If you assume law drives money then war, bubbles, and migration make little sense . If instead you accept that money drives law all these senseless phenomena make much more sense. If it doesn't seem that way to you that's OK, I think in my own solipsistic way I even understand that.

October 26, 2007 at 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Randy said...

It seems obvious to me that the profit motive is the primary driver of governments as well as corporations. So to think of government as a corporation is accurate, as well as myth shattering and paradigm shifting. Well done, Mencius.

October 26, 2007 at 2:53 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

Many individuals obviously do not just bumble through life so I don't know why you believe their deliberately organized collective efforts would. And the belief that organizations you cannot see must not exist is solipsistic.

Most individuals I know, including myself, are just sort of bumbling through life. We have plans or goals, but generally world messes with them a lot more than we mess with the world.

Second, even if the world was entirely composed of rational ubermenschen cutting their way through life, it does not mean that our collective actions will be the same. Any collective action suffers from MASSIVE information sharing issues. All but the the smallest and most cohesive groups quickly devolve to factionalism, infighting, and politicing at the expense of the whole. See: Pornelle's Law


Your assertion that "nations have always sent their young men to die in other countries for no good reason" is indicative of that solipsism. Wars can be profitable for those who fund or supply the combatants, in spite of the vast destructiveness and apparent senselessness to many people. The idea that supranational non-Forbes organizations may through deliberate effort be able to influence the starting and stopping of wars does not require any leap of faith. Likewise the seemingly senseless destruction of financial bubbles and mass migration.


Every war that this country has launched has been broadly popular when it started. Given the choice between assuming that there is a dark cabal that controls everything or that beating up foreigners is generally a popular political platform, I know which one Occom recomends.


Caplan is at best a globalist employee. He spins stories that fit the globalist agenda, and doing so makes him famous and wealthy. But his stories make no sense. Nations and their borders do not just create inefficiencies and needlessly complicate anarcho-capitalist economists' equations. Life is more than jobs and wages, and people are not goods to be transported around the world like so many bananas. Even shipping bananas around the world has toxic side effects economists don't consider. More to the point, Amerindians are not indistinguishable from Pollacks. Toothpaste and pet food made in the US is not indistinguishable with similar goods made in China.


The computer I'm typing this on was probably made in malaysia, the bike I ride was probably made in Taiwan, and the car I drive was made in Germany. The only difference between them and domestically produced goods is that they were either cheaper or better. Since the world is perfectly happy to take the services we provide in exchange for these goods, how exactly are we losing out?

October 26, 2007 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

MM,
I find your faith disturbing. As far as I can tell, Washcorp is in a financial tailspin way beyond the point of no return (as evidenced by the rapidly declining purchasing power of its corporate scrip), its military might is slowly but surely becoming a big heap of expensive junk controlled by increasingly disloyal individuals, and its property is increasingly looked at as being soon-up-for-grabs. Its end may be ugly, but it does not make it impossible. My money is on Washcorp liquidation within 10 years. And I would like to make the most out of it.

JA,
You must have swallowed an unhealthy dose of propaganda (or, conversely, you suffer from a severe case of malinformation). Without rebuffing all your arguments (I'm sure that others at UR can do a better job), let me just show you the absurdity of the last one:

Could you please demonstrate that Al-Qaida even exists beyond the realm of Washcorp infotainment? If I wanted to believe in conspiracy theories, I would probably buy into the story that it was the name of a CIA file on useful Arabs for fighting Soviets in Afghanistan (so named by an Arabic-speaking Asimov fan). But from a purely formalist PoV, Al-Qaida simply doesn't exist IRL.

October 26, 2007 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

studd beefpile, don't you wonder who drives what is "popular", or do you think mass sentiment cannot be influenced? You don't see through at least some of the MSM's propaganda, or wonder why it so consistently favors immigration, diversity, multiculturalism?

Is it a good thing that we can get cheap goods from all over the globe? If the cost of those goods to you is all you consider, sure. But cheap foreign goods, like cheap foreign labor, aren't so cheap when their externalities are taken into account. And in many cases those externalities are difficult to assess. What do flawed motherboard capacitors cost? What does melamine in our pet food cost? What does MS-13 cost?

Does free trade require mass migration? Does it make sense that the cost of getting a computer, bike, and car from overseas means that we all (including those of us who don't buy those things) must welcome as many of the most alien people and their alien cultures that feel they might profit by migrating here?

October 26, 2007 at 5:17 PM  
Anonymous cranky matron said...

TGGP noted: Mexico has its own Beringians. They're treated like shit. The majority of Mexicans are Mestizo, but the country is run by whites of wholly (or nearly so) European descent. Vincente Fox is Scottish and Carlos Slim is Christian Lebanese/Syrian (not Europe, but still Caucasian rather than Amerindian).

Yeah, but we're not getting Fox's relatives and inner circle; we're being sent his peasant underclass, which AFAIK does have a lot of Native blood. That they're also partially European seems sort of irrelevant to me; don't most "Plainland" Berengians also have varying amounts of European ancestry? Enough to where I've seen BIA cardholders who could pass as Irish, anyway. ;)

Tiny point, of course. And I could be way, way off the mark. :) Mexican racial politics are just a little opaque to me.

October 26, 2007 at 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE that GNXP commentary on the myth of the Islamicization of Europe that tggp linked to:
Many European Muslims may be effectively secular but retain an ethnic muslim ID as a manifestation of their disdain/hatred/envy of the host population. Theodore Dalrymple wrote an essay about this sort of muslim.

October 26, 2007 at 6:37 PM  
Anonymous cranky matron said...

Oh, and I am completely on tenterhooks to see how MM imagines Universalism's State functions can be improved out of existence.

My little personal strategy for dealing with it is to avoid its pernicious influence where possible/desirable (government education, the official press) and mooch mercilessly off it when not (government-subsidized healthcare, free cheese for the children.)

:p

October 26, 2007 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The computer I'm typing this on was probably made in malaysia, the bike I ride was probably made in Taiwan, and the car I drive was made in Germany. The only difference between them and domestically produced goods is that they were either cheaper or better. Since the world is perfectly happy to take the services we provide in exchange for these goods, how exactly are we losing out?

http://www.thestar.com/article/232904
Tainted Chinese medicine kills 83 in Panama
Real death toll may be over 400, prosecutor warns

PANAMA CITY – Eighty-three people have died in Panama after taking medicines contaminated with a Chinese-made toxin last year and the death toll is expected to rise, a senior prosecutor said Thursday.

Panama is investigating the illness of 540 people suspected of falling sick after using cough syrup or one of three other medicines found last year to be contaminated with diethylene glycol, a substance normally used in anti-freeze.

"As of today we have 112 cases that have tested positive. There are 83 dead and 29 still alive," said Dimas Guevara, the special prosecutor leading the investigation into how the medicines became adulterated.

There are growing concerns in the United States and Latin America over the safety of Chinese products after a series of recalls and bans on items ranging from children's toys to toothpaste
(...)

October 26, 2007 at 6:55 PM  
Anonymous tggp said...

tggp, you rely heavily on smear and ridicule. You even seem aware of it at some level.
I enjoy it too. I may not be a latter-day Mencken, but I'm satisfied.

But it seems to me you do so out of hand.
I do not observe it occurring, and I would expect it to be observable if it did occur, so I infer it does not.

you do not acknowledge that their are people and organizations whose wealth does not make the Forbes list. Or do you believe that Forbes accurately accounts for all the wealth and influence in the world?
I believe the farther down you go the less accurate Forbes will be. Forbes does not list everyone on earth, so of course it does not account for all wealth and I don't believe it attempts to measure influence. I believe a secret isn't a secret if more than one person knows, and part of having influence today means knowing a lot of people.

Caplan is at best a globalist employee.
What is he at worst?

He spins stories that fit the globalist agenda, and doing so makes him famous and wealthy.
He's not all that famous or wealthy. His negative appraisal of democracy makes him disliked, but if he cared that much about what others thought of him he wouldn't play tabletop role-playing-games, create "graphic novels" and wear shorts in the winter.

But his stories make no sense.
They do to me. Do have any contrary data you'd like to point me to.

Nations and their borders do not just create inefficiencies and needlessly complicate anarcho-capitalist economists' equations.
Sure they do. Ethanol, for example, has got to be one of the silliest boondoggles I've ever heard of, though it's more serious than mohair subsidies. I would quote Caplan in saying "I beseech you, in the bowels of Bastiat, think it possible that voters may be mistaken."

Life is more than jobs and wages
I don't know of any economist who would disagree.

people are not goods to be transported around the world like so many bananas.
I'm with you there. Caplan nudged toward acknowledging the problem here and here, but didn't go all the way.

Even shipping bananas around the world has toxic side effects economists don't consider.
Do you mean carbon emissions from transportation or something? I think some economists have already evaluated that claim and found it lacking.

More to the point, Amerindians are not indistinguishable from Pollacks.
Caplan acknowledges that, and so do I.

Toothpaste and pet food made in the US is not indistinguishable with similar goods made in China.
I don't believe there is any essence of Chineseness that will latch onto those products, but I do expect quality to be non-uniform and for this fact to be reflected in price differences (John Nye explains how terrible Portugese wine that the British government tried to foist on their subjects was here).

Many individuals obviously do not just bumble through life
Many do.

I don't know why you believe their deliberately organized collective efforts would.
Have you ever heard of game-theory? Tragedy of the commons? Collective action problems?

And the belief that organizations you cannot see must not exist is solipsistic.
Occam's razor. I have no reason to presume their existence and good reason to doubt (like I said, I would expect for them to be extra-noticeable). Conspiracy theories are generally unfalsifiable, which is good reason to dismiss them.

Your assertion that "nations have always sent their young men to die in other countries for no good reason" is indicative of that solipsism.
It gels with behavioral studies.

Wars can be profitable for those who fund or supply the combatants, in spite of the vast destructiveness and apparent senselessness to many people.
I side with Michael Neumann. What is most profitable to the military industrial complex is a huge, high-tech standoff that never actually gets fought (which would reveal the defects in technology and the necessity of boots-on-the-ground). What would be good for the defense industry is tension between China and Taiwan, which was what the neocons were hyping before 9/11.

The idea that supranational non-Forbes organizations may through deliberate effort be able to influence the starting and stopping of wars does not require any leap of faith.
That voters stupidly endorse such wars requires even fewer assumptions.

If you assume law drives money then war, bubbles, and migration make little sense
Your belief that such patterns must "make sense" (as in appear sensible rather than their occurrence being inexplicable) is unwarranted. It didn't make any sense for the Aztecs to dangle trinkets in front of their children in order to make them cross-eyed, but they did it anyway. I predict that large systems will not exhibit the behavior of rational individuals because they are large systems and not rational individuals.

If instead you accept that money drives law all these senseless phenomena make much more sense.
No it doesn't, that's why you have to hypothesize these shadowy richer-than-anyone conspirators. If your theory was right, we could look at the money and infer what the law is. However, you look at the law and infer what the money must be, which is ass-backward. You have to assume your theory to make that step. I could just as easily claim that there are psychic aliens manipulating us and there would be just as much evidence for my theory as yours.

It seems obvious to me that the profit motive is the primary driver of governments as well as corporations.
Governments do not behave like corporations. Do any corporations use the rotary system? Do see corporations spend much time deciding whether to condemn the Armenian genocide or name February the Month of Swing Music? Taxation sure as hell isn't near the peak of the Laffer curve, whatever the crazier supply-siders try to tell you.

October 26, 2007 at 7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

* All "orthodox political factions" -- or should we say both of them -- argue that they are in the tradition of FDR. You know, except for one of them.

If you recall, both Reagan and Gingrich were known for their effusive praise for FDR. Hard to find any living contrary examples.

* Al-Qaida are... Progressives?? That must be why they're all about women's rights and gay rights and the freedom of religion. And if they could be said to stand for a single cause, it would definitely be affirmative action.

They are "progressive" simply by reason of their opposition to the evil white west. None of the other Third World liberators are/were known as exemplars of tolerance-with the exception of Gandhi. Most of the progressives I know are still more angry at Timothy McVeigh (and even concocted a phony history of white racism for him)than they are at Al-Qaeda. Many, of course, subscribe to the beliefs of the "9/11 Truth Movement".

October 26, 2007 at 7:32 PM  
Anonymous tggp said...

As far as I can tell, Washcorp is in a financial tailspin way beyond the point of no return (as evidenced by the rapidly declining purchasing power of its corporate scrip)
Nothing new for the US. People keep investing in and moving to this country because they rightly predict that will be profitable for them. The football players keep moving faster than the elephant can match.

its military might is slowly but surely becoming a big heap of expensive junk controlled by increasingly disloyal individuals
We're so far ahead of our nearest rival we can afford to shoot several of our feet off. We did fine after Vietnam, and Iraq is no Vietnam.

and its property is increasingly looked at as being soon-up-for-grabs
Elaborate.

My money is on Washcorp liquidation within 10 years.
Longbets.org maybe?

Could you please demonstrate that Al-Qaida even exists beyond the realm of Washcorp infotainment?
bin Laden had a significant following in the Arab world when Washington hadn't even heard of him. There were ongoing disputes in that time over direction both within the organization and between them and other muslim dissidents.

If I wanted to believe in conspiracy theories, I would probably buy into the story that it was the name of a CIA file on useful Arabs for fighting Soviets in Afghanistan (so named by an Arabic-speaking Asimov fan).
The CIA did its work in Afghanistan through the ISI, so they didn't have that kind of information. ISI didn't have anything to do with MAK (which later turned into al Qaeda) either.

But from a purely formalist PoV, Al-Qaida simply doesn't exist IRL.
al Qaeda proper no longer really exists in a functional enough form to carry anything out and now has a bunch of franchises, but there was a real organization carrying out the U.S.S Cole and african embassy attacks.

studd beefpile, don't you wonder who drives what is "popular"
I wish I did so I could make a bunch of money like the guy that started the pet rocks fad.

do you think mass sentiment cannot be influenced?
Mass sentiment often wants to be influenced, but if you try to push it in a way it doesn't want to go it shuts you out.

You don't see through at least some of the MSM's propaganda, or wonder why it so consistently favors immigration, diversity, multiculturalism?
The MSM is full of journalists, journalists tend to be liberal and public opinion still isn't in favor of immigration. They'll say racism is bad (in part Hitler's revenge, but the cult of Lincoln is big too), but they don't go in for diversity or multiculturalism.

Is it a good thing that we can get cheap goods from all over the globe?
Sure, it's like free money.

But cheap foreign goods, like cheap foreign labor, aren't so cheap when their externalities are taken into account. And in many cases those externalities are difficult to assess. What do flawed motherboard capacitors cost? What does melamine in our pet food cost? What does MS-13 cost?
One of these things is not like the others. Poor products do not have externalities, the buyers internalize their downsides. I didn't purchase MS-13, but I'll have to live with it, it's an externality. Perhaps you need to study a bit more on externalities so you understand what they are.

Does free trade require mass migration?Does it make sense that the cost of getting a computer, bike, and car from overseas means that we all (including those of us who don't buy those things) must welcome as many of the most alien people and their alien cultures that feel they might profit by migrating here?
I say no. If we just wanted labor we could do like the Gulf States, where the guest-workers are unseen, don't form families, never gain citizenship, send their money home to their families and ultimately return rather than staying.

cranky matron, the mestizos and natives of Mexico form distinct groups. Gene Expression shows the ancestry of Mexican-Americans here.

Many European Muslims may be effectively secular but retain an ethnic muslim ID as a manifestation of their disdain/hatred/envy of the host population. Theodore Dalrymple wrote an essay about this sort of muslim.
I agree. The riots in France are like those of Watts or Detroit. England has more problems with people with education and good jobs who nevertheless buy into islamist craziness (see the Doctor's Plot, laughable though it was). I don't think it's on the level of importance as the Irish Question was though.

October 26, 2007 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

When one of those the Holy Economy's externalities kills someone you love go right ahead and take comfort by telling yourself it's not really an externality.

October 26, 2007 at 9:07 PM  
Anonymous tggp said...

tanstaafl, if I buy a poorly designed car that bursts into flames when it gets rear-ended, that isn't an externality, it's just a poorly designed car. All the sob-stories in the world don't change that. Why it's relevant is that if you've got a problem with Chinese products JUST DON'T BUY THEM! Immigration is a problem because we have farmer A hiring laborer B, who has child C that mugs D and both B (after amnesty) & C vote for politician E who fucks over F-Z. A and E don't internalize the consequences, so they'll keep doing it. With crappy products you've got A trying to rip off B, but can't get away with it unless B lets them. That's a whole 'nother ballgame. Verstehen Sie?

October 26, 2007 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

They [al Qaeda] are "progressive" simply by reason of their opposition to the evil white west.

For one thing, most progressives do not oppose the "evil white west". For another, it is possible for two different factions to be opposed to the same thing without being identical.

I really find it difficult to believe that anyone can be advancing this particular proposition with a straight face.

Most of the progressives I know are still more angry at Timothy McVeigh than they are at Al-Qaeda.

Why shouldn't they be? McVeigh made war on his own country, al Qaeda attacked what they perceived as a foreign enemy and occupying power. That doesn't make al Qaeda into nice guys, but traitors are generally held in lower esteem than foreign enemies. Any American should feel the same, I don't see how progressive or otherwise enters into it.

October 26, 2007 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

Nothing new for the US. People keep investing in and moving to this country because they rightly predict that will be profitable for them. The football players keep moving faster than the elephant can match.

Wrong. Investment in the US has horrible yields (often negative) and most of it is done not by "people" but by governments. Why? Because most (or, according to Brzezinski, all) of them are Washcorp [-client states-] [-tributaries-] subsidaries. Those that don't [-pay their tribute-] buy US T-bills and don't conduct their foreign trade and keep their liquid assets in US dollars risk some serious bombing.

As for immigration, sure, it happens, because the US is still a good place to live compared to many others (actually, Plainland will remain a relatively good place to live even after Washcorp's liquidation), but there are plenty of more attractive places to move. Per-capita immigration is an order of magnitude higher in many other places.

We're so far ahead of our nearest rival we can afford to shoot several of our feet off. We did fine after Vietnam, and Iraq is no Vietnam.

Indeed, Iraq is no Vietnam. After the defeat in Iraq, US troops will be [-kicked out of-] politely asked to leave first the Middle East then Euroasia. Wanna bet?

Also, it is not "your" nearest rival (MM has probably some irony spared for you for referring to Washcorp as "we" -- that's one of the thinking patterns of which you should strive to rid your mind), that the US military should fear. It is perfectly capable of defeating itself, with very little outside help. It takes surprisingly little to turn a world-class military into many small criminal gangs. Actually, it takes a lot to prevent it from happening.

and its property is increasingly looked at as being soon-up-for-grabs
Elaborate.


If you don't already know what I am talking about, it is not in my interest to tell you.

My money is on Washcorp liquidation within 10 years.
Longbets.org maybe?


No, I am shorting the dollar against a portfolio of other currencies, and investing some of the gains into the infrastructure that will be used to [-loot-] redistribute what is currently held to be American property.

bin Laden had a significant following in the Arab world when Washington hadn't even heard of him. There were ongoing disputes in that time over direction both within the organization and between them and other muslim dissidents.

How do you know all this? Any documentary evidence originating outside of Washcorp?

The CIA did its work in Afghanistan through the ISI, so they didn't have that kind of information. ISI didn't have anything to do with MAK (which later turned into al Qaeda) either.

Again, how do you know?

al Qaeda proper no longer really exists in a functional enough form to carry anything out and now has a bunch of franchises, but there was a real organization carrying out the U.S.S Cole and african embassy attacks.

As evidenced by what?

October 26, 2007 at 11:25 PM  
Anonymous randy said...

tggp,

"Governments do not behave like corporations."

Not an efficient corporation, certainly, but the similarity is greater than the difference. A government is a group of people working together to further their own interest - that is, to profit. Honestly, doesn't the theory that government is a corporation with different shareholder classes explain the observed world far better than the theory of "we the people"?

tanstaafl,

Don't forget positive externalities - welfare, for example. Hunter gatherers have no time for charitable sentiment. Also, inequality is not an externality. The poor are poor not because of free markets, but because they don't participate.

October 27, 2007 at 1:34 AM  
Anonymous invisible lizard said...

For one thing, most progressives do not oppose the "evil white west". For another, it is possible for two different factions to be opposed to the same thing without being identical.

I really find it difficult to believe that anyone can be advancing this particular proposition with a straight face.

Apparently you have heard nothing of the long love love affair of promiment "progressives" for the dictator/butcher Castro and the open celebration in "progressive " circles of the NVA victory in May 1975.

I don't know what being "identical" has to do with anything. it is hard to find any two things in the universe that are identical.


Why shouldn't they be? McVeigh made war on his own country, al Qaeda attacked what they perceived as a foreign enemy and occupying power. That doesn't make al Qaeda into nice guys, but traitors are generally held in lower esteem than foreign enemies. Any American should feel the same, I don't see how progressive or otherwise enters into it.

McVeigh was making war on the US govt in retaliation for the govt's actions at Waco. That didn't make him a traitor-just badly misguided and a criminal . He did not act in the service of, or in concert with, any foreign power. He was only a traitor if you subscribe to the "my government right or wrong" doctrine. Oh, and I've never heard any similar "progressive" outrage directed against the FALN. The major difference between McVeigh and the FALN is that McVeigh produced a higher body count.

October 27, 2007 at 5:13 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

the long love love affair of promiment "progressives" for the dictator/butcher Castro
Castro is white and Western. He's a Marxist, Marx too was white and Western. You exaggerate the "love affair", love of Castro is a very small minority position, whereas "progressive" covers a wide swath. Are all conservatives neo-Nazis because some fo them are? And whatever anybody feels about Castro, how does that figure in equating al Qaeda and progressives? You are very confused.

the open celebration in "progressive " circles of the NVA victory in May 1975.

He [McVeigh] was only a traitor if you subscribe to the "my government right or wrong" doctrine.

Let's see...you are criticizing progressives because they opposed the US government in Viet Nam, but it is apparently OK for McVeigh to oppose the government by blowing up a building full of civilians. Progressives opposed US policy and fought it politically like citizens should (with a small minority like the Weathermen taking up terrorist tactics). McVeigh was part of a large subversive movemeent of right-wing militia types who mostly fantasized about violent overthrow of the government.

Forget the loaded words traitor, and look at the groups and actions. Both McVeigh and the 9/11 terrorists belonged to groups that for different reasons hated the US and its government and were willing to resort to mass murder in pursuit of their politics. Al Qaeda attacked a perceived foreigh enemy while McVeigh attacked his own country. I don't know of a single progressive who approves of either of them.

October 27, 2007 at 9:46 AM  
Anonymous invisible lizard said...

Castro is white and Western. He's a Marxist, Marx too was white and Western. You exaggerate the "love affair", love of Castro is a very small minority position, whereas "progressive" covers a wide swath. Are all conservatives neo-Nazis because some fo them are? And whatever anybody feels about Castro, how does that figure in equating al Qaeda and progressives? You are very confused.

Castro being white is irrelevant and Marxism in practice has morphed into a form of racialism a la Franz Fanon.
Throughout his career Castro posed as the champion of the oppressed of the Third World against the West. His troops fought in the Congo, Angola and Ethiopia. IN Angola he fought the South Africans. If ordinary Africans benefited from any of this I'm not aware of it. They probably did benefit, however, from the many medical workers he sent to countries even poorer than Cuba. Re Al-Qaeda: hardly anyone would be foolish enough to openly support them(exception:Ward Churchill who did seem to garner a lot of progressive support), but accomodation to radical (ie. serious) Islam is widespread in the progressive community and this-to me -amounts to the same thing. If you don't believe me google "fjordman" and see what he has documented on this.

Let's see...you are criticizing progressives because they opposed the US government in Viet Nam, but it is apparently OK for McVeigh to oppose the government by blowing up a building full of civilians. Progressives opposed US policy and fought it politically like citizens should (with a small minority like the Weathermen taking up terrorist tactics). McVeigh was part of a large subversive movemeent of right-wing militia types who mostly fantasized about violent overthrow of the government.

The Vietnam War was a mistake, what I was criticizing was open support for the NVA. The NVA victory was celebrated from the podium at the 1975 Oscars. They may be clowns, but remember that these are some of the main funders of all progressive causes and the Democratic Party.

I don't endorse McVeigh's action (that was clear from what I wrote), I was simply explaining his motives. And McVeigh was never shown to be a member of any militia organization, let alone a "large subversive movemeent of right-wing militia types who mostly fantasized about violent overthrow of the government." He had one(or at most two) co-conspirators. There was a federal mass sedition trial of 13 militia-types after the OKC bombing and everyone was acquitted.

October 27, 2007 at 11:26 AM  
Anonymous invisible lizard said...

Correction: The FT Smith sedtion trial was in 1988-before the OKC bombing. I had thought the bombing had prompted the sedition charges, but it is not clear what the govt's rationale was from what little i found on the net. Whatever it was, it must have pretty flimsy since all were acquitted.

October 27, 2007 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

I use externality in this sense:

In economics, an externality is an impact (positive or negative) on any party not involved in a given economic transaction.

I stand by this use of the word in the points I made above. The hidden and transferred costs (ie. externalities) of "cheap" foreign trade and "cheap" foreign labor include capacitor recalls, pet food and toothpaste poisoning, MS-13 et al, e coli in the food supply, water/energy/health/prison/education infrastructure overload. There are of course many other costs.

Our politicians, economists, and media do a very good job not accounting for these costs when they claim that a borderless future will enrich us and is essential for the Holy Economy. You are free to believe that you profit, maybe you even do, but don't try and tell me that I do, that's for me to judge.

tggp: if you've got a problem with Chinese products JUST DON'T BUY THEM!

Under the current regime Americans cannot avoid Chinese goods any more than they can avoid Chinese people.

October 27, 2007 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

studd beefpile, don't you wonder who drives what is "popular", or do you think mass sentiment cannot be influenced? You don't see through at least some of the MSM's propaganda, or wonder why it so consistently favors immigration, diversity, multiculturalism?

The MSM is a bunch of nonsense, but I tend to agree with MM as to why it does what it does. The people who run it are either genuine universalists who have been told the same things for so long that they don't seek to question them, or have realized that their careers will be harmed if they do. No one call's Dan Rather in the middle of the night to tell him what to report on, he drank the Kool-aid all on his own.

As to who decides what is popular, certainly fads are engineered by some dark cabal with an even darker sense of humor (Pet Rocks and Leisure Suits speak for themselves) but fads are different from basic human desires. Unless you want to tell me that Alcibiades was secretly working for the Trilateral Commision, I'm going to have to assume that beating up people in far away places appeals to some deaper facet of the human condition.


Is it a good thing that we can get cheap goods from all over the globe? If the cost of those goods to you is all you consider, sure. But cheap foreign goods, like cheap foreign labor, aren't so cheap when their externalities are taken into account. And in many cases those externalities are difficult to assess. What do flawed motherboard capacitors cost? What does melamine in our pet food cost? What does MS-13 cost?


There is no difference between importing goods from New Jersey or Malaysia. Both are shitty places that I wouldn't want to live in, but if they can sell me stuff I want for cheap, I have a right to buy them, and they have a right to sell them.

As for immigration, I do share some of your concerns, but I would point out that the foreign born % of population is significantly lower than pre-Depression levels. While our current system of immigration is completely FUBARed and we need to do a better job of assimilation, I do not think the future is as grim as you see it.

To the Mtraven tggp back and forth, I must reiterate that MM's Universalism makes more sense when you catagorize progressivism as a form of state worship designed to appeal to people's queasyness with globalization that has since taken on a life of its own. In such a light, it begins to look much more like Islamism, Communism, or Facism. Succinctly, Islam isn't progressive, but the Progressives weren't progressive either.

October 27, 2007 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

The original assertion was that al Qaeda was progressive, despite the fact that the values and goals of progressives and al Qaeda are diametrically opposed. The evidence introduced to support this manifestly absurd proposition was that both al Qaeda and progressives opposed the "evil white west". Evidence for that -- some progressives supported the white, Western Castro; some also supported the NVA in 1975; and some Islamophobe bedwetter somewhere said something unspecified, and then there's Ward Churchill, an extremely marginal figure who has been thoroughly discredited. I'm not impressed. So unless anyone provides some actual evidence or argument that "progressive" and "al Qaeda" have any connection at all, I'm done with this particular issue.

Hm, I just went and skimmed Churchill's essay that got him in trouble. It seems to me that he and the Islamophobes, as well as most people here, have basically the same worldview -- that is, they see, and encourage others to see, a brewing apocalyptic war of civilizations, although they differ on their sympathies. Whereas actual universalists would like to believe that everybody can be taught to live in multicultural harmony.

October 27, 2007 at 8:32 PM  
Anonymous randy said...

tanstaafl,

Re; "You are free to believe that you profit, maybe you even do, but don't try and tell me that I do, that's for me to judge."

Fair enough. It is very clear to me that I profit from my participation in the free markets or I wouldn't do it. I actually spent some time in my younger days trying to avoid it . It didn't take me long to realize that poverty sucks. But I have no interest in imposing my lifestyle on anyone.

As for my lifestyle imposing harm on you, sorry, but the burden of proof is on you. That is, its not up to me to respond to sweeping generalizations, its up to you to prove specific allegations. Which is not to say that the class A and B shareholders of Washcorp won't choose to take from me in order to further their own interests - they do that all the time. Its just to say that they don't really have a right to do so without proving an allegation.

October 27, 2007 at 11:26 PM  
Anonymous PA said...

As for immigration, ... foreign born % of population is significantly lower than pre-Depression levels.

Pre-deprtession-era immigration was almost entirely European. Current immigration is mostly non-European. Population supplement vs. population replacement.

October 28, 2007 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

In the original post Mencius said: A corporation is sovereign - and thus a sovcorp - if there is no controlling legal authority to which it can appeal, and it is responsible for enforcing and defending its own law.

Washcorp is clearly not enforcing or defending its immigration laws. It is in fact not adhering in a variety of ways to its most basic laws about the working of the government and how its laws are changed. Examples: undeclared wars, SPP/TTC (NAU), the nullification of explicitly stated constitutional rights and creation of new ones via judicial activism.

In other words, Washcorp is not sovereign. It may have been at one time, but it isn't any longer.

The extralegal activities are too consistently pursued, too focused in tactics, and too destructive to too many people for me to believe that the cause is entropy. I also find it difficult to believe that the soft-headed Universalist/Progressivist philosophy, so at odds with reality and human nature, arose or perpetuates for so long by accident or indifference.

October 28, 2007 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Taanstaafl, sovereign does not mean "following your own rules". Rather the opposite actually -- a sovereign entity is bound by no rules. It enforces the laws it wishes to, but is not itself constrained.

But your point raises the interesting question of how a corporate entity (including government) can be sovereign at all. After all, such entities are only somewhat real, they are in actuality collections of individuals within a certain social structure. The fact that Washcorp, or IBM, can be said to exercise sovereignity, take actions, own stuff, and make decisions, is quite interesting. It's not obvious how that works. Some organizations have an essentially tyrannical CEO who can embody the organizations sovereignity in their person, and some states work that way too, but Washcorp does not, despite the best efforts of the current administration. Washcorp was founded specifically to get away from that model, in fact. Authority within Washcorp is fragmented, distributed, and subject to a variety of competing forces.

Is "judicial activism", to take your example, an undermining of Washcorp's sovereignity, or an extension of it?

October 28, 2007 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

Mtavern,

The original assertion was that al Qaeda was progressive, despite the fact that the values and goals of progressives and al Qaeda are diametrically opposed. The evidence introduced to support this manifestly absurd proposition was that both al Qaeda and progressives opposed the "evil white west".

Any statement is true about the elements of an empty set. Al Qaeda may very well not even exist, for all I know.

October 28, 2007 at 2:08 PM  
Anonymous invisible lizard said...

Any statement is true about the elements of an empty set. Al Qaeda may very well not even exist, for all I know.

Whether or not AQ exists militant muslims of some kind attacked on 9/11. Only the loons of the "9/11 Truth Movement" seem to contest that. That western leftists have formed alliances with militant muslims is also beyond dispute. The most blatantly obvious example is SWP/Respect in the UK.

October 28, 2007 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

invisible lizard,

That western leftists have formed alliances with militant muslims is also beyond dispute.

Sure. The same is true about any other faction vying for power.

October 28, 2007 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Black Sea said...

I very much enjoyed the post, and several of the comments, though I agree that we've ventured so far from Dawkins that it's probably best to now retire the title.

I would like to say one or two things in response to some comments.

The fact that invading Iraq has turned out to be a very poor decison doesn't mean that it origins lay in a sort of anti-Islamic mob passion. After 9/11, it's true, lots of people wanted revenge. However, there was no popular, groundswell call for an invasion of Iraq, and in fact the only people who implicated Iraq in 9-11 were those who had been arguing for its invasion since at least the late 1990s.

Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz were instrumental in the founding of the "Project for a New American Century," which openly laid out the case for an invasion of Iraq in early 1998. Undoubtedly, several factors led to the decision to invade, but to suggest that the impulse and the planning were absent prior to 9-11 simply isn't credible. Top administration officials had been openly advocating such an invasion. Though they may have been stupid, they were not so stupid as to neglect the wonderful opportunity which 9-11 presented to advance their cause.

So far as oil not being a factor in the invasion of Iraq, again, a (possibly) unsatisfactory outcome doesn't eliminate oil as a powerful motivating factor. After Saudi, our putative ally (well, they have helped stabilize the price for us), Iraq has the second largest pool of untapped reserves, in the world, and some geologists believe Iraq's reserves may exceed those of Saudi.

So, we're looking for a pesky Middle Eastern nation against which to vent our lust for anti-terror revenge, or, if you prefer, we're magnanimously looking for a troubled Muslim nation with the makings of a Middle Eastern Switzerland, and we just happen to pick the one sitting on top of perhaps the biggest oilfield in the world.

Hmm, I guess it could just be a coincidence.

I think there's a certain amount of confusion here revolving around the idea of conspiracy, because it calls to mind a small circle of plutocrats rubbing their hands and grinning at the thought of all the loot coming their way. I'm not sure it exactly works like that.

If you asked most of the people involved in planning for the Iraq invasion why they were doing so, they'd tell you that it really had nothing to do with oil, it was about eliminating a threat to regional stability, or establishing a democractic model for the Middle East, or some such nonsense, but most of these people would actually believe this. They do so because they don't bother to wonder why stability in the Middle East is so important to us, nor do they examine the various other forms that "stability" in the Middle East might take. In other words, our idea of stability is, well, OUR idea of stability.

Oh, and as for the oil companies suffering as a result of the war in Iraq, Exxon Mobil set a record profit of $36.1 billion dollars in 2005. Unfortunately, the record didn't last long, becuase in 2006 Exxon Mobil recorded a profit of $39 billion, the largest yearly corporate profit in history. So I think, for now, they're doing OK:

http://imatt.us/2007/02/exxon_profits_2006_1.html

If the idea of a calculated conspiracy seems too paranoid, how about "institutional oversoul."

October 28, 2007 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous invisible lizard said...

Sure. The same is true about any other faction vying for power.

I think that's in an old rock and roll song: the money and the power, the power and the money...

Re the Iraq War: is it stil considered anti-semitic to see it as the product of a hubristic pro-Likud faction in the US government composed of both Jews and gentiles? I've no way of knowing the ages of the people commenting here, but does anyone recall Patrick Buchanan's Whose War?



And now I swear to all that is- or might be-holy to make no further comments on this thread. I'm as sick of y'all as y'all may be of me.

October 28, 2007 at 9:35 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

mtraven: Is "judicial activism", to take your example, an undermining of Washcorp's sovereignity, or an extension of it?

If sovereign means "bound by the publicly announced rules" then it is an undermining. If sovereign means "bound by no rules" then judicial activism is as an extension.

In the latter case there is also no "Rule of Law", which would seem detrimental to the Holy Economy.

October 28, 2007 at 9:54 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 2, 2009 at 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! thanks a lot! ^^

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March 2, 2009 at 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 6, 2009 at 4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 6, 2009 at 8:55 PM  

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