Thursday, February 14, 2008 161 Comments

A theory of the ruling underclass

UR readers may appreciate a little tussle that TGGP and I got into over at Will Wilkinson's. I sort of felt that after this old exchange, some deep masochistic impulse of Will's was itching for another taste of the cane. We lay into him here, the R-word is trotted out here, and some parting japes are delivered here.

I suspect that if he cares to try us again, Mr. Wilkinson will definitely bring reinforcements. He has the whole Cato Institute, after all. Not to alarm you or anything. We are prepared.

Should the Black Gates of Koch open and pour forth orc armies sworn to vengeance, I feel the Beltway Uruk-hai would do well to concentrate their intellectual firepower on the loose end that Wilkinson and Ghertner left dangling in that first thread. Which is the incontrovertible fact that the vast majority of chauvinist ethnocentrism in America today is not of the vanilla flavor that disturbs them so. If they can explain this, they can explain anything, and we should probably just surrender - if they'll let us.

For example: one of the most popular radio stations in San Francisco, at least to judge by the billboards I see, is called The Race. I am especially fond of the URL. "I am race!" Yes, this means exactly what you think it means.

Ethnic pride is one thing. Hostility is another. But - as progressives often observe - they tend to travel together. It strikes me as quite incontrovertible that if an alien anthropologist were to visit Earth and collate expressions of hostility toward human subpopulations in Western culture today, the overwhelming majority would be anti-European. Anti-Europeanism is widely taught in schools and universities today. Its converse most certainly is not.

So here is my challenge for progressives, multiculturalists, "dynamists," and the like: if your antiracism is what it claims to be, if it is no more than Voltaire 3.0, why do non-European ethnocentrism and anti-European hostility not seem to bother you in the slightest? Do they maybe even strike you as, um, slightly cool? How do you feel when you watch this video?

Please try to express your answer in plain English, not Stalinist boilerplate. Trust us - we know the boilerplate answer.

What's interesting, at least to this antisocial reactionary (if you're looking for another R-word, I also answer to "realist"), is that anti-Europeanism is almost as hard to explain from the other side of the table. I am reasonably, if not comprehensively, familiar with modern racist and white nationalist thought. I must say that it tends to leave me quite unsatisfied - especially as regards the real psychological motivations of Messrs. Wilkinson, Ghertner, et al.

Are they, for instance, in the pay of the Jews? While I certainly cannot disprove this or a variety of similar conjectures, I tend to doubt them. Occam's razor suggests that even if some multiculturalists are tools of the Mossad, surely the vast majority are perfectly sincere in their beliefs. The Rothschilds just don't have that much cash. If we work under the assumption that our opponents believe exactly what they say, we should account for at least most of them. Then we can watch Stormfront go head to head with the Elders of Zion, which should be entertaining if nothing else.

I have an explanation. You may not like it. Feel free to offer your own.

Let's step back a few light-years and imagine we are that alien anthropologist. Our special interest is in multi-tribal societies. We are interested in human cultures in which multiple groups coexist more or less peacefully, while retaining their identity as group members.

As in all human societies, tribal identity is inherited by default. However, many cultures exhibit tribal mobility, so it is not as simple as that. Your tribe is just the set of people who see the world the same way you do, whom you are comfortable socializing with, and with whom you instinctively side in any conflict.

What we're interested in today is the interaction between identity and power in multitribal societies. Perhaps in some such societies, tribes confront each other on the basis of perfect harmony and equality. In others, however, one tribe is dominant and another subordinate.

For example, when we look at medieval Europe, it should be very easy to see that nobles are dominant, and villeins, burghers, and suchlike trash are subordinate. When we look at the American South in 1840 or 1890 or 1930, it should be very easy to see that white people are dominant, and black people are subordinate. We are not attempting to determine the correct relationship between tribes, just their actual present relationship.

Our goal is a test that works for any multitribal society, anywhere and anywhen. Let's call our tribes A and B. Which is the dominant tribe? A or B?

Perhaps we could ask the following five questions:
  1. Who is likely to be wealthier, a random A or a random B?
  2. In physical conflicts between As and Bs, who is more likely to be the aggressor, the A or the B?
  3. Given equivalent circumstances, is the judicial system more aggressive in punishing offences of As against Bs, or vice versa?
  4. Given equivalent circumstances, in economic competition between an A and a B, which is more likely to win? If you are looking for a government contract or position, an official distinction, an educational opportunity, etc, etc, is it better to be an A or a B?
  5. Is it more socially marginal for a B to be rude to an A, or an A to be rude to a B? Is it more likely that As will insult all Bs, or vice versa?
Note that in my obvious examples - medieval Europe and the old South - the results of all five questions are the same. Nobles and whites, respectively, are clearly dominant.

But American society today produces a weird result. If we define "whites" and "blacks" as our tribes, "whites" win overwhelmingly on question 1 - and "blacks" win overwhelmingly on questions 2-5. Perhaps these tribal definitions are too broad. But isn't this an odd outcome?

Not really. What it tells us is that inasmuch as conflicts between "whites" and "blacks" can be influenced by the State, the State's fist tends to fall on the "black" side of the scale. Whereas the exceptional condition, in question 1, is the result of those areas of social cooperation which are not yet controlled by the State.

Why do "white" people tend to be wealthier than "black" people? This could be the result of (a) a preexisting distribution of property inherited from the era when the State sided with "white" people, (b) a secret conspiracy of "white" people to team up against their swarthy foes, or (c) independent variables, such as genetics or culture, which tend to make "whites" producers of higher-cost labor than "blacks." Or, of course, all three.

Whatever your answer to this question, I doubt anything I could say would change it. But I think a more interesting, and less explored, question is: why does the State side with the side it sides with? What possible motivation could it have for favoring "blacks" over "whites"? How could this strange phenomenon of the ruling underclass develop?

Of course, we know the official answer. The official answer is that Washington is good and sweet and true, and while it loves all its children it loves the poorest most of all. In other words, modulo a few foibles and imperfections which can no doubt be corrected, or "changed," by electing Sen. Obama, what we are looking at here is the kingdom of Christ on earth - Blake's New Jerusalem, in DC's green and swampy land. Mr. Wilkinson and his ilk certainly do not cease from mental fight. Though I have to say their swords could be a little less sleepy in their hands. I'm sure after a quick breather they will be right back at us.

We can't discount this answer too far. Because we are assuming that our opponents are sincere, we must assume that this story is what they actually believe. Our goal is not to uncover their subconscious, twisted desires or their evil secret plots. We can accept that a large number of people, many quite intelligent and thoughtful, do believe the official explanation of why Washington acts as it does. Similarly, since the beast is after all a democracy, the existence of this support base goes a long way toward explaining Washington's actions.

But where did this whole crazed feedback loop come from? The idea that it's just peachy for the State to systematically favor some of its citizens over others, simply on account of their skin color, is both (a) ludicrous in my own humble opinion, and (b) wildly inconsistent with many other beliefs which happen to be held by the exact same people.

Granted, history holds many examples of ludicrous beliefs held by large populations for long periods of time. But nonsense tends to decay. As I hope the linked discussions show, it does not do well on a level playing field with sanity.

Yet if anything, the diversity movement is only tightening its grip. This story, though quite euphemistic, may provide some flavor. Maoist-style struggle sessions, albeit without the "airplane position" or forced agricultural labor, are becoming a routine part of young Americans' coming-of-age experience. Indoctrinating students to resist European chauvinism was one thing, perhaps even defensible in a Platonist sense. But that day is past. Routine inculcation in 80-proof anti-Europeanism is the new thing, and I for one find it quite unusual. It may not be the worst thing in the world. But it surely calls for explanation.

Our first step is to agree that "whites" and "blacks" are lousy tribal categories. That they happen to be the categories that Washington uses, when applying its suspiciously fistlike thumb to the scale, means very little. "White" and "black" are not tribal identities by the standard I defined above.

For example, a new survey of black Americans reveals that almost half are willing to agree with the suggestion that "blacks" are becoming two separate races. This is certainly absurd in terms of actual human biology. But given the quantity of black chauvinism in the marketplace of ideas at present, it's quite remarkable. It can be interpreted only in tribal terms.

Early in UR I suggested a five-caste taxonomy of American society, and described the conflict of American politics as a struggle of three of these castes (Brahmins, Dalits, Helots) against the other two (Optimates, Vaisyas). For those whose time is short, Brahmins are intellectuals, Dalits are what Marx called the lumpenproletariat, and Helots are unskilled laborers. Optimates are the old "upper-crust" aristocracy, and Vaisyas are the petty bourgeoisie.

These castes correspond to social status, not tribe. However, each of the top three castes is more or less tribeless - classic ethnic tribalism is a sure mark of Dalit or Helot status. As far as I can tell, in 2008 there is very little chauvinism even among Vaisyas. Among Dalits and Helots, race matters again. Obviously, despite certain Jackie Chan movies, there is no such thing as an interracial gang.

There are nontrivial numbers of "blacks" in each caste (yes, there are black Optimates). However, an obvious interpretation of the "two races" seen by the Pew survey is that black Optimates and Vaisyas see themselves and black Brahmins as one "race," and black Dalits and (in dwindling numbers) Helots as another. Black Brahmins believe, like all Brahmins, that everyone should be like them and eventually will be. I have no idea what Dalits and Helots (there are still a few black agricultural laborers left) think, but I suspect they have a fairly low survey participation rate.

Actually, some light has just been shed on this issue, by one Sudhir Venkatesh. Cowen's review is the best I could find, but it really does not do justice to this appalling book. I'd recommend that you buy it, but unfortunately this rewards the author, who deserves no such thing. Maybe the library is your best bet.

Rather cleverly, the Times picked for its excerpt a rather inoffensive bit from chapter 4. I suspect that this is because their style manual is rather strict about the N-word. UR's style manual is rather strict about the N-word as well (this means you too, commenters), so I will transcribe it as "ninja" - plural, "ninjaz."

Our hero, a first-year grad student in sociology at Chicago whose advisor is William Julius Wilson, has chosen (presumably banking on his rather dark epidermis) to visit the infamous Robert Taylor Homes and perform a social survey. His question - I swear I am not making this up, though he might be - is "how does it feel to be black and poor?" (I still suspect he was the victim of some awful grad-student joke.)
By now I was used to being observed carefully when I walked around a black neighborhood. Today was no different. As I approached one of the Lake Park projects, five or six young men stared me down. It should be said here that I probably deserved to be stared at. I was just a few months removed from a long stretch of time I'd spent following the Grateful Dead, and I was still under the spell of Jerry Garcia and his band of merrymakers. With my ponytail and tie-dyed shirt, I must have looked pretty out of place. I tended to speak in spiritually laden language, mostly about the power of road trips; the other grad students in my department saw me as a bit naive and more than a little loopy. Looking back, I can't say they were wrong.

But I wasn't so naive that I couldn't recognize what was going on in the lobby of the building that I now approached. Customers were arriving, black and white, by car and on foot, hurrying inside to buy their drugs and then hurrying back out. I wasn't sure if this building was Number 4040, and I couldn't find the number anywhere, so I just walked inside. The entryway smelled of alcohol, soot, and urine. Young men stood and crouched on plastic milk crates, a couple of them stomping their feet against the cold. I put my head down, took a breath, and walked past them quickly.

Their eyes felt heavy on me as I passed by. One huge young man, six foot six at least, chose not to move an inch as I passed. I brushed up against him and nearly lost my balance.

There was a long row of beaten-up metal mailboxes, many of them missing their doors. Water was dripping everywhere, puddling on the ground. Shouts and shrieks cascaded down from the higher floors, making the whole building feel like some kind of vibrating catacomb.

Once I got past the entryway, it was darker. I could make out the elevator, but I seemed to be losing any peripheral vision, and I couldn't find the button. I sensed that I was still being watched and that I ought to press the button fast, but I groped around in vain. Then I started looking for the stairwell, but I couldn't find that either. To my left was a large barrier of some kind, but I was too nervous to go around it. To my right was a corridor. I decided to go that way, figuring I'd come across a stairwell or at least a door to knock on. As I turned, a hand grabbed my shoulder.

"What's up, my man, you got some business in here?" He was in his twenties, about as tall and dark as I was. His voice was deep and forceful but matter-of-fact, as if he asked the same question regularly. He wore baggy jeans, a loose-fitting jacket, and a baseball cap. His earrings sparkled, as did the gold on his front teeth. A few other young men, dressed the same, stood behind him.

I told them that I was there to interview families.

"No one lives here," he said.

"I'm doing a study for the university," I said, "and I have to go to Apartments 610 and 703."

"Ain't nobody lived in those apartments for the longest," he said.

"Well, do you mind if I just run up there and knock on the door?"

"Yeah, we do mind," he said.

I tried again. "Maybe I'm in the wrong building. Is this 4040?"

He shook his head. "No one lives here. So you won't be talking to anybody."

I decided I'd better leave. I walked back through the lobby, bag and clipboard in hand. I crossed in front of the building, over an expansive patch of dead grass littered with soda cans and broken glass. I turned around and looked at the building. A great many of the windows were lit. I wondered why my new friend had insisted that the building was uninhabited. Only later did I learn that gang members routinely rebuffed all sorts of visitors with this line: "No one by that name lives here." They would try to prevent social workers from coming inside and interrupting their drug trade.

The young men from the building were still watching me, but they didn't follow. As I came upon the next high-rise, I saw the faint markings on the pale yellow brick: Number 4040. At least now I was in the right place. The lobby here was empty, so I quickly skirted past another set of distressed mailboxes and passed through another dank lobby. The elevator was missing entirely - there was a big cavity where the door should have been - and the walls were thick with graffiti.

As I started to climb the stairs, the smell of urine was overpowering. On some floors the stairwells were dark; on others there was a muted glow. I walked up four flights, maybe five, trying to keep count, and then I came upon a landing where a group of young men, high-school age, were shooting dice for money.

"Ninja, what the fsck are you doing here?" one of them shouted. I tried to make out their faces, but in the fading light I could barely see a thing.

I tried to explain, again. "I'm a student at the university, doing a survey, and I'm looking for some families."

The young men, rushed up to me, within inches of my face. Again someone asked what I was doing there. I told them the number of the apartments I was looking for. They told me that no one lived in the building.

Suddenly some more people showed up, a few of them older than the teenagers. One of them, a man about my age with an oversize baseball cap, grabbed my clipboard and asked what I was doing. I tried to explain, but he didn't seem interested. He kept adjusting his too-big hat as it fell over his face.

"Julio over here says he's a student," he told everyone. His tone indicated he didn't believe me. Then he turned back to me. "Who do you represent?"

"Represent?" I asked.

"C'mon, ninja!" one of the younger men shouted. "We know you're with somebody, just tell us who."

Another one, laughing, pulled something out of his waistband. At first I couldn't tell what it was, but then it caught a glint of light and I could see that it was a gun. He moved it around, pointing it at my head once in a while, and muttered something over and over - "I'll take him," he seemed to be saying.

Then he smiled. "You do not want to be fscking with the Kings," he said. "I'd just tell us what you know."

"Hold on, ninja," another one said. He was holding a knife with a six-inch blade. He began twirling it around in his fingers, the handle spinning in his palm, and the strangest thought came over me: That's the exact same knife my friend Brian used to dig a hole for our tent in the Sierra Nevadas. "Let's have some fun with this boy," he said. "C'mon, Julio, where you live? On the East Side, right? You don't look like the West Side Mexicans. You flip right or left? Five or six? You run with the Kings, right? You know we're going to find out, so you might as well tell us."

Kings or Sharks, flip right or left, five or six. It appeared that I was Julio, the Mexican gang member from the East Side. It wasn't clear yet if this was a good or a bad thing.

Two of the other young men started to search my bag. They pulled out the questionnaire sheets, pen and paper, a few sociology books, my keys. Someone else patted me down. The guy with the too-big hat who had taken my clipboard looked over the papers and then handed everything back to me. He told me to go ahead and ask a question.

By now I was sweating despite the cold. I leaned backward to try to get some light to fall on the questionnaire. The first question was one I had adapted from several other similar surveys; it was one of a set of questions that targeted young people's self-perceptions.

"How does it feel to be black and poor?" I read. Then I gave the multiple-choice answers: "Very bad, somewhat bad, neither bad nor good, somewhat good, very good."

The guy with the too-big hat began to laugh, which prompted the others to start giggling.

"Fsck you!" he told me. "You got to be fscking kidding me."

He turned away and muttered something that made everyone laugh uncontrollably. They went back to quarreling about who I was. They talked so fast that I couldn't easily follow. It seemed they were as confused as I was. I wasn't armed, I didn't have tattoos, I wasn't wearing anything that showed allegiance to another gang - I didn't wear a hat turned toward the left or right, for instance, I wasn't wearing blue or red, I didn't have a star insignia anywhere, either the five- or six-point variety.

Two of them started to debate my fate. "If he's here and he don't get back," said one, "you know they're going to come looking for him."

"Yeah, and I'm getting the first shot," said the other. "Last time I had to watch the crib. Fsck that. This time I'm getting in the car. I'm shooting some ninjaz."

"These Mexicans ain't afraid of shit. They kill each other in prison, over nothing. You better let me handle it, boy. You don't even speak Mexican."

"Man, I met a whole bunch of them in jail. I killed three just the other day."

As their claims escalated, so did their insults.

"Yeah, but your mama spoke Mexican when I was with her."

"Ninja, your daddy was a Mexican."

I sat down on a cold concrete step. I struggled to follow what they were talking about. A few of them seemed to think that I was an advance scout from a Mexican gang, conducting reconnaissance for a drive-by attack. From what I could glean, it seemed as if some black gangs were aligned with certain Mexican gangs but in other cases the black gangs and Mexican gangs were rivals.

They stopped talking when a small entourage entered the stairwell. At the front was a large man, powerfully built but with a boyish face. He also looked to be about my age, maybe a few years older, and he radiated calm. He had a toothpick or maybe a lollipop in his mouth, and it was obvious from his carriage that he was the boss. He checked out everyone who was on the scene, as if making a mental list of what each person was doing. His name was J.T., and while I couldn't have known it at the this moment, he was about to become the most formidable person in my life, for a long time to come.

J.T. asked the crowd what was happening, but no one could give him a straight answer. Then he turned to me. "What are you doing here?"

He had a few glittery gold teeth, a sizable diamond earring, and deep, hollow eyes that fixed on mine without giving away anything. Once again, I started to go through my spiel: I was a student at the university, et cetera, et cetera.

"You speak Spanish?" he asked.

"No!" someone shouted out. "But he probably speaks Mexican!"

"Ninja, just shut the fsck up," J.T. said. Then someone mentioned my questionnaire, which seemed to catch his interest. He asked me to tell him about it.

I explained the project as best as I could. It was being overseen by a national poverty expert, I said, with the goal of understanding the lives of young black men in order to design better public policy. My role, I said, was very basic: conducting surveys to generate data for the study. There was an eerie silence when I finished. Everyone stood waiting, watching J.T.

He took the questionnaire from my hand, barely glanced at it, then handed it back. Everything he did, every move he made, was deliberate and forceful.

I read him the same question that I had read the others. He didn't laugh, but he smiled. How does it feel to be black and poor?

"I'm not black," he answered, looking around at the others knowingly.

"Well, then, how does it feel to be African American and poor?" I tried to sound apologetic, worried that I had offended him.

"I'm not African American either. I'm a ninja."

Now I didn't know what to say. I certainly didn't feel comfortable asking him how it felt to be a ninja.
Anyway. You get the drift. I must say that I find Venkatesh's presentation a little novelistic for me to trust that the above actually happened exactly as he writes it. But I'm sure the general concept is about right.

As the book goes on, and our hero spends more time with his new-met idol, we learn that J.T.'s crack gang - a chapter of the "Black Kings" - exercises all the traditional attributes of sovereignty over his turf in the Homes. He collects taxes, defines laws, dispenses savage punishment, etc. He has a fairly good working relationship with the Chicago police, and with the matriarchal figures who interface with the housing authority.

Perhaps most interestingly, he also has connections, through "ex-gangsters" who run "youth programs," with the Chicago Democratic machine - ie, the same basic operation that gave us Barack Obama. Yes, we can! I'm not sure how many degrees of separation there are between Sen. Obama and the nearest J.T., but I'd sure be surprised if it was more than two.

We are now in a better position to appreciate the weird alliance of Brahmin and Dalit.

First, this is clearly a more accurate description of the power dynamic than simply saying that all of Washington, or even just the whole Democratic Party, is allied with "blacks." David Petraeus surely cares nothing for this sordid spectacle. Nor are the fast-disappearing blue-collar union voters, I'm sure, enthralled with the vision of J.T.

And it's also very clear that the kinds of policies by which Washington favors "blacks," such as preferential admissions and employment, are not designed to reward the likes of John McWhorter, Richard Parsons, Colin Powell, or in fact anyone with a name like "John" or "Richard" or "Colin." Progressives are not animated by some weird fetish for dark skin. The fact that they cannot pay off Dalits without paying off all African-Americans, Vaisya or Brahmin or even Optimate, clearly troubles them.

Yes, I said "pay off." What do you think we're talking about here, lawn tennis? Occam's razor, kids. "Diversity" is a mechanism by which a political party compensates its supporters, with the oldest rewards in the book: jobs and perks and rank. It's called patronage. It is evil, criminal, and corrupt. Everyone involved in this racial spoils system, black or white or blue or polka-dotted, should go directly to jail. And the intellectuals should, as Victor Klemperer put it... but why spoil the suspense? "A nation mad over race," indeed.

In fact, "gang" is not really the right word for the Black Kings and their like. It softpedals the problem. What we're looking at here is perhaps better defined as a militia. What's the difference between J.T. and Moqtada al-Sadr? Um, one of them lives in Iraq?

It's actually even worse than that. Besides the fact that they are both tribal chauvinist criminal militias, and they both discharge their weapons in the urban sidearm position, the BKs and the Jaysh al-Mahdi have something else in common: while they have plenty of guns and plenty of people willing to use them, neither is militarily capable of resisting an actual modern army. They are not true sovereigns. They are dependents - puppet states, in an sense.

Since the entire planet is at least nominally controlled by actual modern armies, no such militia can exist without a political protector. And in fact, there is exactly one political organization which prevents the military destruction of both the BKs and the JAM.

I don't think we need two guesses as to what organization that might be. But in case there's any doubt, here's the reliably egregious Barbara Ehrenreich, on our back cover:
"Gang Leader for a Day is not another voyeuristic look into the supposedly tawdry, disorganized life of the black poor. Venkatesh entered the Chicago gang world at the height of the crack epidemic, and what he found was a tightly organized community, held together by friendship and compassion as well as force. I couldn't stop reading and ended up loving this brave, reckless young scholar, as well as the gang leader J.T., who has to be one of the greatest characters ever to emerge from something that could be called sociological research."
Gentlemen, I rest my fscking case.

So this is the Brahmin-Dalit alliance. Perhaps the most sordid and cynical partnership since Molotov and Ribbentrop clinked over Stoli and Mumm's, all dressed up in robes of love, screamed into the heads of Yale freshmen, and caroled on YouTube by the composer who brought us "My Humps." Yes, we can! Bring it on, bitches.

But wait. We've seen what J.T. gets out of the deal: money and security. (A lot of government checks end up in his pocket.) But what do the progressives get out of their Machiavellian pact with barbarism, murder and urine-soaked hallways? What could be worth this opprobrium?

Well, first, we have to ask: what opprobrium? I actually had an interesting experience with my attempts to review Gang Leader for a Day. My goal was to answer the following question: did Venkatesh change the name of his gang? Or is there actually an actual organization in Chicago called the Black Kings?

I think there is, but I am not quite sure. If you try to Google, you'll see that almost every searchable reference to the "Black Kings" gives us... Venkatesh's book. Eventually I found this link. "Who run Chicago?" Indeed. Note that the "five point star" also makes its appearance. Reproducible results, boys and girls! Social "science" at its finest.

But clearly, our beloved official press, the people we call responsible journalists, have much more interesting things to write about than the racist militias which have conquered and devastated much of Chicago. (Not to mention pretty much all of Detroit.)

Fsckers. I know I am starting to sound like the Devil, but really. All these people need to be in jail. Every last one of them. Can you say épuration légale, boys and girls? I knew you could.

But I haven't answered the question. Why this affection? Why are progressives so deeply fond of their friends, the Dalits?

Venkatesh is a little more circumspect than Ehrenreich. But still, when he describes his meeting with J.T., you sense a kind of... vibe. It's not sexual. But it almost is. J.T. exudes a wave of power, of leadership and stability and pure masculine strength, and Venkatesh is definitely feeling it. It's actually quite reminiscent of the way Albert Speer, in his memoir, talks about his patron.

As Speer put it: "One seldom recognizes the devil when he has his hand on your shoulder." In the Brahmin-Dalit alliance, it's not quite clear whose hand is on whose shoulder. But the Adversary is definitely in the building. If the Robert Taylor Homes aren't hell, what is?

Imagine if, say, Jonah Goldberg, had this kind of relationship with the Aryan Brotherhood. The great lie of the American political system today is that it's symmetrical. There is no symmetry between progressives and conservatives. They have roughly the same relationship that Koko the gorilla had with her pet cats.

What the Dalit alliance gives progressives is more than just a vote bank. (This term is one of the few good products of Indian politics since the Raj. It should be much more widely known.) What the Dalits are is muscle, a militia, a mob. And if you don't think that a paramilitary gang is an asset for a political party, your friends in the universities have not educated you well. Historically, democracies in which parties have no muscle at all are very much the exception. I'm sure J.T. and his muscleboys would get along perfectly with Milo and Clodius, for example.

Did I mention the universities? Oh, no. We aren't done here. If you can stand to read blue text on black, take a look at this letter. If you can't bear it, at least scroll to the end. "Up against the wall, motherfscker. This is a stickup."

Why do you think the universities are full of progressives? If you are a progressive, it is because universities are truth machines and progressives speak the truth. Indeed, they "speak truth to power." Or is it the other way around? Sometimes I wonder.

Mark Rudd stayed expelled, and perhaps to his credit he put his Semtex where his mouth was and became a terrorist. He did no time for any of his crimes. Like so many of his Cultural Revolution co-conspirators, he is now an elder statesman of the progressive movement, much sought after for interviews. Grayson Kirk managed to last another six months at Columbia before he was forced out, which may be the longest that any university held out against the revolution. The old-line Establishment was doomed everywhere. What was it going to do, call up Bull Connor and ask to borrow some of his police dogs? These days LeRoi Jones goes, of course, by Amiri Baraka, and as for Columbia it now plays home to Venkatesh himself.

We are talking about real power here. In a democracy, the state is guided by public opinion. Who guides public opinion guides the state. Who guides public opinion? Journalists and teachers. And who guides them? Well, Columbia for one. Rocket science it ain't.

As Tom Hayden put it in the Port Huron Statement:
From where else can power and vision be summoned? We believe that the universities are an overlooked seat of influence.

First, the university is located in a permanent position of social influence. Its educational function makes it indispensable and automatically makes it a crucial institution in the formation of social attitudes. Second, in an unbelievably complicated world, it is the central institution for organizing, evaluating, and transmitting knowledge. Third, the extent to which academic resources presently is used to buttress immoral social practice is revealed first, by the extent to which defense contracts make the universities engineers of the arms race. Too, the use of modern social science as a manipulative tool reveals itself in the "human relations" consultants to the modern corporation, who introduce trivial sops to give laborers feelings of "participation" or "belonging", while actually deluding them in order to further exploit their labor. And, of course, the use of motivational research is already infamous as a manipulative aspect of American politics. But these social uses of the universities' resources also demonstrate the unchangeable reliance by men of power on the men and storehouses of knowledge: this makes the university functionally tied to society in new ways, revealing new potentialities, new levers for change. Fourth, the university is the only mainstream institution that is open to participation by individuals of nearly any viewpoint.

These, at least, are facts, no matter how dull the teaching, how paternalistic the rules, how irrelevant the research that goes on. Social relevance, the accessibility to knowledge, and internal openness: these together make the university a potential base and agency in a movement of social change.
If history has any lessons, it's that when your enemy announces precisely how he is going to fsck you, you should probably listen.

So muscle matters. Or at least it mattered in '68. The irony, of course, is that the progressives and the gangs never really managed to cooperate effectively. Threatening Grayson Kirk with an all-out race war in Upper Manhattan must have been quite exciting, but coming from the likes of Mark Rudd, it rather reminds one of Owen Glendower. "I can call spirits from the vasty deep." They were called often indeed, and sometimes they even came. But not reliably, and in the end the sorcerers and their spirits lost interest and drifted apart. As lovers often do. The glory days of Lenny and the Panthers are long gone.

Which is, in a way, one of the funniest things about Venkatesh's book. The racist militias are still there - they are doing better than ever, perhaps. (In the end the Robert Taylor Homes did get demolished, but there are plenty more like them. And the buildings are not the problem.)

But no one is talking to them! The command circuit is cut. Professor Wilson, Venkatesh's advisor, is supposed to be an expert on black Dalits. In fact he is terrified that his student is actually going down to the Homes and hanging out with them. He is afraid of the liability. And he probably should be. In fact it's pretty clear that none of the author's peers in "sociology" today, who are all I'm sure immensely jealous, could in any way repeat the experiment.

This is why the wonderful world of 2008, with its iPhones and everything, still contains "Black Kings." It is nothing more than nostalgia. If racist Republican pig cops tried to roll up the Democrats' underprivileged community organizations, I'm sure they would get nowhere - which may be why they don't even try. But, in 2008, would it do any serious damage to the progressive movement? I am confident that it wouldn't. Defending criminals is just a reflex for today's progressives.

The progressives no longer need muscle. They are in the saddle. There are no more Grayson Kirks, let alone Bull Connors. What they need now is votes, and the biggest vote bank of all is just south of the border. Immigration will keep the progressives in power for the next century. They always have been the American PRI, and they always will be.

And I haven't even stated my theory yet.

Fortunately, it's not my theory. It is a very old theory. Perhaps it even predates Mencius himself. It comes from China, so he would recognize it, and it has a catchy name: yi yi zhi yi.

This roughly translates as "using the barbarians to control the barbarians." Typically the implication is that when you have a problem with some tribe of barbarians, what you need to do is look for a bunch of even nastier barbarians, and sic them on the original barbarians. Ideally, the nastier barbarians are so barbaric that they are not conceivably a threat to you, the sophisticated mandarins of the Middle Kingdom, but still nasty enough to distract your real enemies on the frontiers, who may have learned to read and write or something. When the Romans unleashed the Huns against the Germans, it was a classic case of yi yi zhi yi.

Does this remind anyone of the real meaning of diversity? I'd like to think it's obvious. But perhaps I should just spell it out.

Basically, the Brahmins have every possible Machiavellian interest in encouraging an invasion of Third World barbarians. The more, the nastier, the better. Their real hereditary enemy is the native barbarian - the half-civilized Vaisya, the ignorant megachurched Okie redneck, the Huckabee voter, the Bircher and McCarthyite, America Firster and Coolidge voter. In the dim, distant past, the spectre of Davis and Lee and Ben Hill looms grimly up.

They will take all the Huns they can get against this breed of barbarian. They are quite aware that if their real enemies ever seize real power, it's lamppost time. Huns are not available these days, but J.T. is. And if the nationalist, nativist American right ever regrows some little pocket of testicular tissue, he is one more speed bump they'll have to go through on their way to DC. It never hurts to have a few more well-armed thugs on your team. At least not if you're a progressive, and you believe in peace and love and hugs and puppies. Yes, we can!

Of course, I'm not saying that the people who believe in peace and love, etc, actually thought up this strategy and have secret meetings where they gloat about how well it's all working. They don't need to. However they explain it to themselves, yi yi zhi yi is what they're doing. And you can't exactly call it a failure.

Did you watch that Mandela video? The man next to Mandela is Joe Slovo. One of South Africa's leading progressives active in the liberation struggle. Or, as some might say, Communist terrorists. Do you wonder why this pasty-faced fellow is comfortable in a crowd full of people chanting "kill the whites?"

Actually, the captions on the video are mistranslated. The word in the song is amaBhulu, a Xhosa racial slur which refers not to all whites, but specifically to Afrikaners. Which Slovo (being a cosmopolitan Anglophone) is most definitely not. So the crowd is essentially chanting "kill the rednecks," ie, Slovo's hereditary tribal enemies. No wonder he has a smile on his face. Yi yi zhi yi.

161 Comments:

Anonymous jewish mind control said...

MM, fascinating essay, but there's even more going on. For instance, why would Bush and other establishment types support a progressive agenda? (I think it has more to do with business than votes, since the folks in your essay aren't voting Republican, but it's related, and I hope you go into that more.) Also, according to one of my favorite blogs, South Africa S****, Joe Slovo is Jewish, not just a cosmopolitan Anglophone, and some of the commenters there make a big deal about this. I'm Jewish myself, and I cringe every time I see yet more evidence that so many of my homies are enabling the situation you've described here. The 14/88 crowd make too much of this, I think, but this issue concerns me a great deal, as it's hugely destructive of white folks' ability to defend their interests. Look at the mess Little Green Footballs made over the European nationalist parties. Everyone is so paranoid about the Jew Thing, it's impossible to organise. Can you analyse this related issue? I myself am just watching in horror.

February 14, 2008 at 5:26 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

"In fact, "gang" is not really the right word for the Black Kings and their like. It softpedals the problem. What we're looking at here is perhaps better defined as a militia. What's the difference between J.T. and Moqtada al-Sadr? Um, one of them lives in Iraq?"

Pretty valid point. So the question becomes what happens when/if a power vacuum is created -- say from BushCo doing the impossible and suspending elections? or the much more likely event of Obama's election/inauguration/assassination?

February 14, 2008 at 6:27 AM  
Anonymous Randy said...

The progressives will deserve their fate.

February 14, 2008 at 7:20 AM  
Anonymous quercus said...

Given equivalent circumstances, is the judicial system more aggressive in punishing offences of As against Bs, or vice versa?

I have to disagree that blacks are favored over whites on this point. For criminal offenses, e.g., drug possession, rape, murder, etc., AFAIK, blacks are more likely to be convicted and receive longer sentences or the death penalty.

The police and the district attorneys seem very much to belong to the red government. Or perhaps whites are more likely to be wealthy enough to afford better attorneys.

(I do live in Texas, so cum grano salis).

Now if you're talking about nonsovereign judiciaries, like the "court of public opinion," then I would agree with you, as the purge of James Watson indicates. And I also agree with you on points 1 and 3-5 and the state's thumb on the scale for 2-5.

February 14, 2008 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger gregory said...

jeez, it has been a long time since i read anything that i didn't understand a word of. i had to hold so many assumptions as if they were true in order to add the next thought which, if squinted at in a particular way, combined to further the "menaing", but the whole thing tumbled not more than a quarter of the way in to it. nice tone though.

was it about race? and the destructiveness of-nature based cultures by groups of outsiders coming in on sailing ships or chartered jets?

brown people around the world have known for several hundreds of years that white people fuck up everything they touch. still goes on.

February 14, 2008 at 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Wilkinson does have some doubts about the party line. If you're going to argue that the opposition is just too vile to merit a response, then don't respond. You must either ignore them entirely, or sack up and delete their comments.

February 14, 2008 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

You're all over the place here. You seem to make an argument, and then pull it back, and then go with another one, and pull that back. You seem like a paranoid conspiracy theorist with enough intelligence to retreat when you see how ridiculous your claims are when put to paper (screen?)

How does your claim that the progressives are (unintentionally) opening the borders to the southern "barbarians" in order to fight the "rednecks" go with the reality that the "barbarians" are actually fighting what you call progressive allies like J.T.'s gang. I mean it's right there in your quote -- they're at war with the Mexican gangs!

If progressives were really allied with black gangs then they would be lined up on the border with the Minutemen, no?

Your post is just slander by insinuation and guilt by association. We're told that J.T. had connections to the Chicago machine, and Obama is a politician from Chicago, ergo Obama is connected to J.T.! Progressives support government's thumb on the scale because they believe that society's thumb is on the other side of the scale, so they are actually for gang rule! Progressives want a sane and practical solution to immigration instead of nativist wish-fulfillment, so clearly they are fighting (yet another) proxy war against... Huckabee supporters?!

One of your weakest efforts yet, I'm afraid.

February 14, 2008 at 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If progressives were really allied with black gangs then they would be lined up on the border with the Minutemen, no?

JA, I disagree that this is one of MM's weaker efforts. I think it's one of his better ones. Nevertheless, your critique has validity.

Here are a few plausible replies to your question:

- Brahmins are still operating in their "rainbow" paradigm and aren't registering the Bl.-Hisp. rivalry.

- Brahmins are, at some level, anticipating that the J.T. well will eventually run dry and are reaching for a whole new source of socialist voters / "paramilitaries."

--- PA

February 14, 2008 at 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does your claim that the progressives are (unintentionally) opening the borders to the southern "barbarians" in order to fight the "rednecks" go with the reality that the "barbarians" are actually fighting what you call progressive allies like J.T.'s gang. I mean it's right there in your quote -- they're at war with the Mexican gangs!

Oh for God's sake, in order to divide and conquer and use barbarian to fight barbarian, you need more than one group of barbarians. If you rely on just one, they end up owning you, or they might decide to defect from your alliance. Brahmins can play off the rednecks against the blacks against the hispanics forever.

MM, I hope you saved your comments on Wilkinson's site. They were devastating. Indeed, so devastating that he was unable to frame a cogent response. He was so clearly outmatched, it was like watching Mike Tyson fight a toddler. Since they make him look pathetic, it wouldn't surprise me if he deleted them, and I hope they are preserved for posterity.

February 14, 2008 at 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

It seems to me that while definite political advantage accrues to the Brahmins as a consequence of their alliance with the Dalits, there is something more to it.

The residue of Calvinism in the universalist thinking of our Brahmins includes the assumption that they are the elect. The doctrine of election easily leads to antinomianism, as we see in Hogg's "Confessions of a Justified Sinner." The elect are above such petty things as conventional moral judgment. Why should they not do what they want?

For most of the intelligentsia this antinomianism is never translated from thought to action. They are too timid. Instead they vicariously indulg it in a fascination with criminals (see Norman Mailer).

The Brahmin sees the Dalit as an antinomian avant la lettre - a kindred soul. He is portrayed not as a wretch deserving of our hatred and contempt, but as an idealistic rebel against the oppressive conventions of a callous and corrupt society. Murder is a revolutionary act, stealing justified by the inequitable distribution of wealth under capitalism, etc. Punishment for such acts is depicted as a martyrdom compared to which the antecedent crimes are but trifling bagatelles.

I am not sure whether such thinking precedes or follows upon the practical political aspects of the Brahmin/Dalit alliance, but it certainly must be considered as part of the phenomenon.

February 14, 2008 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Byrne said...

I'm also curious about the black/Hispanic issue. There seems to be some bad blood there.

On the other hand, the elites are probably looking at this from a redneck point of view: more members of the underclass will be more of a threat, regardless of how those underclasses feel about one another. Remember, this isn't a theory about Brahmin treatment of Dalits -- it's about Brahmins using Dalits to keep the Vaisyas in line. The fact that this makes the ostensibly sensitive Brahmins treat two ethnic groups that despise one another as a homogeneous entity is ironic and notable, but it doesn't destroy the argument.

February 14, 2008 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Byrne said...

By the way, Mencius, I'm a little surprised at your attitude towards prediction markets. I hope you'll expand on it in a later post -- I think you're conflating different, useful functions (as in your earthquake example: PMs may not predict specific earthquakes, but in the long run they should be good general predictions and a great way to buy cheap insurance).

February 14, 2008 at 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

After my last post it occurred to me that it could be summarized by the following formula:

"The antinomian (Brahmin) thinks without doing what the sociopath (Dalit) does without thinking."

This is what makes them perfect symbiotes.

February 14, 2008 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Michael S --

And terrifying.

It's also what makes Civil Wars so horribly bloody. Because then the OV pairing is finally tipped to the point of action (a very far tipping, as they are conservitive i.e. hard to move) the retribution is swift and terrible.

The problem is, however, that things are often so swift and terrible that they do not stand and one gets even more bloodshed.

Ach.

GMP

February 14, 2008 at 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JA said,
"Progressives want a sane and practical solution to immigration".

Since JA's definition of "sane and practical" seems to be " A solution that will benefit progressives" I believe that we can take Mencius' point as read...

February 14, 2008 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Evan said...

quercus: Spend some time on http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/ and you'll change your mind. Specifically the essays you should read are Aggressiveness, Criminality and Sex Drive by Race, Gender and Ethnicity, Politics, Imprisonment, and Race, and The Color of Death Row

MM: I actually had a run-in with Amiri Baraka once at a well-regarded Ivy League institution. I was walking home from class with a friend, who was dressed in his ROTC uniform. We were walking through the student center, past the cafe area where a group of students was listening to someone speak. Here's a summary of the 'converation' (This is late 2003):

Speaker: "like that white cracker over there", pointing at my friend.
Friend: "Excuse me?"
Speaker: "You heard me white cracker, I ought to come over there and kick your ass for wearing that uniform"
Friend: "Try it old man"

Followed by an extended shouting match that I don't recall the full details of. There was no fight thankfully (we probably would have been convicted of a hate crime), but the students who were there listening just nodded their heads in earnest approval of whatever their speaker said. We later found out the speaker was Amiri Baraka, poet laureate of New Jersey.

February 14, 2008 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I notice that most of the commenters are responding as if MM had said that the progressives are deliberately importing "barbarians" to fight the "rednecks." In fact that was one of the overreaching claims I alluded to which he quickly retreated from:

Of course, I'm not saying that the people who believe in peace and love, etc, actually thought up this strategy and have secret meetings where they gloat about how well it's all working. They don't need to. However they explain it to themselves, yi yi zhi yi is what they're doing. And you can't exactly call it a failure.

MM's readers, unfortunately, tend to see everything as some kind of conspiracy. Jews are for immigration because we're trying to destroy the WASPs' hold on our country -- not because we were immigrants ourselves within the last two generations, not because we know what it's like to flee a country for a better life -- no it must be some conspiracy. So also progressives support immigration because... they want to fight the rednecks?!

Poppycock.

February 14, 2008 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Byrne said...

Jewish Atheist

I'm sorry if the way we write about this confuses you, but it's the same linguistic issue as when Dawkins talks about 'selfish genes'. He doesn't mean that, for the past few billion years, individual strings of proteins have had selfish thoughts, and have planned ways to propagate themselves. Just that, if they had, we'd end up in roughly the same world we have now.

Similarly, you don't have to know why liberals behave the way they do to know that they are destroying cultural institutions, indoctrinating children, and importing a third-world labor force and third-world electorate to this country. Maybe they mean well, but even if they don't it's a strategy that benefits those who pursue it, so the powerful liberal elites will by definition be the ones who behave as if they're engaged in a culture-crippling conspiracy.

February 14, 2008 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

JA: There is a big difference between importing:
A few million educated, intelligent Jews from Europe, and 40 million largely illiterate, unskilled, and uneducated third-worlders.

As for conspiracy theories, what do you think of ESR's prospiracies?

February 14, 2008 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just curious as to how many progressives actually partake of this disaster they've created, besides eating at certain restaurants. What is the racial make-up of neighborhoods that progressives live in? If this diversity, this vibrant multiculturalism is so vital and greatwhy isn't Detroit filled with progressives? Jewish Atheist, let me know when you move!

February 14, 2008 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Byrne said...

Anonymous

Apropos of that: I have an extremely well-educated Hispanic friend who is wildly in favor of open borders, affirmative action (for Hispanics, not blacks or Asians or Jews), and all the rest. Predictably, he lives in a walled-off community where a uniformed gringo stares down potential guests.

Which is too bad. There's a nice barrio not fifteen minutes away, and the property taxes there are surely cheaper.

February 14, 2008 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I don't have a problem with people criticizing the results of progressive policies -- although I don't necessarily agree -- I was just taking issue with the characterization of those results as intentional.

Regarding "prospiracies," I think the concept makes sense but is just a new label for an old phenomenon.

February 14, 2008 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

Moldbug, I'm sure I'll have more to say later, but let's start with this. Your test for determining who is dominant in a multiracial society is no good. You say it yourself: blacks come out on top in 4 of 5 of your questions. But we all know that in this society, blacks are not dominant. This should make you question your questions, not whether or not blacks in some esoteric way dominant.

Let me suggest the following questions in liu of yours:
1. Who is likely to be wealthier, a random A or a random B?
2. Who is likely to be powerful, a random A or a random B?
3. Who is likely to generate new wealth, a random A or a random B?
4. Who is likely to be a "criminal" as defined by the society, a random A or a random B?

Now, I don't disagree with you that the state does favor blacks. Of course. But the interpretation of that is very different when you understand that blacks are subordinate. It is what it appears to be: an attempt to uplift. Charity thrown to some of the poor by some of the rich.

February 14, 2008 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger New Sisyphus said...

MM –

Fantastically brilliant essay, required reading in my view. The key is the existence of armed gangs exercising sovereign control over certain parts of the United States. One cannot grow up in Los Angeles, as I did, and remain unconscious of this fact.

As you note, these groups exist solely at the state’s suffrage. The LA Riots are proof enough of that. In case you didn’t live through the day-by-day on that, the situation was “out-of-control” with the city “in flames” with “rioting mobs that the police cannot hope to control” right up until the state had decided it had had quite enough. Then, magically, the state wiggled its left-hand pinky finger just a bit and—guess what!—turns out the situation was eminently controllable and, yes, the state did have the power to exercise control over the entire city.

This fantastic display of will and power has almost completely been forgotten now, but one small episode I remember illustrates the change I’m speaking about.

At one intersection near my then-home, a large crowd of Latino gang members and all their family in the neighborhood was out fucking with the cops. The neighborhood opened onto a main drag, Imperial Hwy. The cops would be out in the middle of Imperial and these gang guys would hop into their cars and drive around like they were going to charge the cops. The cops would cringe and fall back and the drunk Mexicans would spill out of their cars, laughing and mocking the cops.

At the time when the state took an interest, the cops were replaced by Marines. (Did you know the US Marines patrolled the streets of Los Angeles in 1992? Precious few do.) They had a nice little vehicle with a light machine gun on it. The neighborhood was told Imperial was off limits. All day the Mexicans would approach the line of Imperial then back off. Finally, at night, one of them got drunk enough to get in his Impala and try his luck.

Brat-a-tat-tat! A few machine gun bursts made Swiss cheese of the Impala’s hood, Mr. Drunk Mexican threw it into reverse in record time and the standard-issue stupid grin fell from the faces of the usual throng. The “oh....you’re serious...now I get it” look was soon to follow. It was clear that the younger guys had never in their life faced actual resoluteness on the part of The Man. They were shocked.

Which raised the question to me then that you raise here: why does the state allow such armed forces to exist in the first place when it can so easily dispatch of them?

Your ability to connect that to the answer to “why is the left so in love with criminals, the more vicious the better?” hits the proverbial nail on the ever-present nail. Until one has seen the progressive quasi-sexual thrill from being in proximity to minority brutality one has a hard time believing it. As a former resident of Berkeley, I suffer no such disability.

Unfortunately for these plans, I think the Right is just about to find those balls you were looking for. As you say, there are plenty of lamp-posts waiting.

NS

ps: It is uproariously hilarious that some commentators here have taken issue with you being UNFAIR to blacks in this essay while completely missing the point. Seriously funny stuff.

February 14, 2008 at 3:12 PM  
Anonymous wilberforce said...

if your theory is correct, that plainlanders want to admit hordes of barbarians to form a voting block to out-vote the hated plainlander, why are they trying to let in mexicans, who are probably not going to vote for them anyway? they should be starting airlifts to miami from port au prince.

February 14, 2008 at 4:17 PM  
Anonymous wilberforce said...

sorry - for the first 'plainlander', read 'progressive.'

February 14, 2008 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger Independent Accountant said...

Moldbug:
There is an article by Spengler at www.atimes.com about Islam you should read. A website that might interest you is American Renaissance.

February 14, 2008 at 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

JA, do you seriously believe that the Brahmin political elite - most of whom are educated at Ivy League madrassas or their equivalent - are not even aware that mass immigration is the most effective way to destroy their political enemies and ensure that the Brahmins permanently hold power? That immigration policy is only driven by high-minded idealism?

Oh sure, many Brahmins probably even believe the progressive propaganda on immigration at some level or another, since after all they went to the same madrassas and internalized the same dogma. But isn't it funny how ideals and political interests align perfectly? Purely by accident, of course, not on purpose (by "conspiracy")?

I would commend to your attention chapter 5 of Michael Lind's "The Next American Nation". He describes Brahmin goals and tactics (though he calls them "the white overclass") for "a generation-long class war against wage-earning Americans of all races" quite well. Apropos here:

In any other democracy, the majority would have coalesced by now in a populist rebellion. In multicultural America, however, the majority is fragmented while the elite is unified. The bipartisan white overclass can pursue its goals with little opposition, as long as racial preference policies, the ideology of diversity, and culture-war politics encourage potential opponents to do battle among themselves.

(snip snip)

In a society where a small homogenous oligarchy confronts a diverse population that shares a common national culture but remains divided along racial lines, the position of the outnumbered elite can be very secure. This is because the resentments caused by economic decline are likely to be expressed as hostility between the groups at the bottom, rather than as a rebellion against the top.


But none of this is the product of an deliberate forethought ("a conspiracy"), of course. That would be poppycock.

Incidentally, the overlap between the underworld and political machines is not new. The immigrant underworld in NY, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, etc., in the late 1800s provided votes to the local Democratic machines in exchange for patronage and favors. More than a third of the delegates at the 1896 Chicago Democratic convention ran saloons, casinos, or bordellos. But you never hear about that, only about that sanctimonious prig William Jennings Bryan attacking the Eastern Monied Interests on behalf of the noble, long-suffering People.

February 14, 2008 at 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more jewish aetheist (ninja) plz :P

What's the difference between J.T. and Moqtada al-Sadr?

LOL, it's like you're completely unaware of the wire/HBO or maybe (better yet for your 'generation') the godfather/goodfellas; oh right, i forgot, hollywood is _in on it_ too!

btw, here's another theory for all you rationalists, _rationalising_ away :P

"There's a theory of Freud's — I know he's out of fashion, but the guy was really good at pointing out hidden motives, it's quite amazing — called 'The Narcissism of Minor Difference'. Basically saying that the parts of ourselves we love most and protect most ardently are those bits which distinguish us from others who are otherwise almost exactly like us. A useful analogy is nationalism — Canadians are obsessed with the twelve things that make them different from United States citizens, because identification is so threateningly close. Serbs and Bosnians — they hate one another for their similarity, whereas neither can be bothered to hate the Chinese — a lack of proximity and similarity make that hatred irrelevant. I read a neat book of psychobiographical criticism that ventured that Narcissism of Minor Difference explained why, for example, Nabokov professed to hate Freud. Because their views of human behavior were actually threateningly similar."

from that bastion^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hmadrassa of progressive/liberal/universalist NE elitism, which explains so much!

February 14, 2008 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

If you think blacks get preferential treatment in the judicial system, you are smoking crack (rimshot).

Yesterday you are telling me that we are all guilty and need to evaluate people in their own historical context, people like Lindbergh and Goebbels...today you are all huffed up because somebody is applying that standard to drug dealers. Haven't read the book and probaby won't, but that's what sociologists do, enter into some foreign world and report back. Moralizing is not particularly useful to a sociologist, or to a political theorist. Why are some violent gangs labeled "sociopaths" while others get the reverntial treatment? Why shouldn't blacks form criminal gangs that evolve over time into political organizations? It's what every other ethnic group in America did. Inner city blacks pursue criminal careers because it's in their interest, the apparent best option available. Why do they have less right to maximize their utility than Warren Buffett?

For a look into the world of black drug criminals, I recommend The Wire, universally praised by the cognoscenti as the best television series ever made. It has a somewhat sympathetic view of the inner workings of drug organizations, along with the police who are after them, white helots, and others. Everyone is just doing their job, usually poorly. The series creator, like your sociologist, did do some time hanging out with actual drug dealers. The stance of the show is basically that everyone in Baltimore is trapped in dysfunctional institutions which resist change. Not terribly proggy; it lacks the necessary uplift. I'd be curious to see your reaction after spending the 13 hours it takes to view a season. I imagine you'd hate it, but maybe not.

February 14, 2008 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

The Wire is a fascinating show. But does it support or refute Mencius's general case?

Why is the city government so corrupt and ineffective? According to Mencius, the ideal rule is by city-states. City governments have huge incentive for good governance, because people actually have the option of leaving. Yet in practice, cities have much worse government's than state and federal government.

One possibility is the federal government caused the problem. Housing projects locked the poor into locations where there were no jobs. Federal grants allow the city government to function without needing to increase the tax base. Drug laws creates a black market that leads to crime that drives out everyone but the poor. Government funded education means people need to move to the suburbs to find decent schools. Miranda rights and more legal protections for the accused made law enforcement much more difficult. Also, city's are not for profit enterprises - they are run for the benefit of their employees - which create perverse incentives.


The opposing view is that Baltimore is the result of capitalism and Vaisya indifference towards the poor. Capitalism is not successful because every company is well run. It's successful because only the well run companies receive more resources to reinvest. The bad companies die. The reason that a political system based on 10,000 city states of primary sovereign corporations won't work, is that primary sovereigns can't die. The land is still there, and the people are still there. So what you will end up with is a bunch on San Franciscos and a bunch of Baltimores. The upper class in badly run cities will flock to well run states, and then lock out the lower class. This is what happens in Baltimore in its suburbs.

So why did this happen in 1970 and not 1910? Because of the technology of 1910, the upper class couldn't flee the city. All commerce and jobs concentrated around the rails and seaports. There were no power lines and highways to allow suburban industrial parks. Nor could you work in the city and commute home, because there were no cars. Thus the rich lived within blocks of the lower classes. This meant the rich had incentives to invest in the public safety measures to keep the city functioning.

The Brahmins have been trying to do something to fix this market failure, but so far have failed, often disastrously so ( such as by creating public housing). Their failure is due to the fact that no one has really tried social engineering before. But they are getting better at it, as shown by community policing initiatives in New York, or the replacement of housing projects with section 8 vouchers.

February 14, 2008 at 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JA disputes that "Jews are for immigration because we're trying to destroy the WASPs' hold on our country -- not because we were immigrants ourselves within the last two generations...."

The problem, JA, is that your preferred explanation fails to rehabilitate the Jews morally. As immigrants, Jews' moral obligations were to their new hosts, not to other potential immigrants.

February 14, 2008 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 14, 2008 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

I reject the notion that those who immigrate are identical to those who do not. 4/10 mexicans want to live in the US you say, but only a tiny fraction of them actually get up and move to the United States. It takes a special sort of person to risk their life to go somewhere where they don't even speak the language in search for a better life. This applies at least double for any immigrant who has to cross an ocean to get here. Genetic differences between groups matter, but the immigrant is, by definition, not an average member of his society.

I would also point out that the boomers who we so enthusiastically denounce are the generation of Americans least exposed to immigration, and that their homogeneity is at least partly responsible for the amount of damage they've managed to do.

February 14, 2008 at 9:53 PM  
Anonymous cranky matron said...

Goodness gracious, Mr. Moldbug, did y'all really have to eat this poor Will Wilkerson person alive?? I feel like I ought to send the man a condolence card or something...

February 15, 2008 at 1:26 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Remember when I was incredulous that you put Bill Whittle on par with Steve Sailer? Via Billy Beck, I just saw him enter Huckabee-level stupid territory. Perhaps he should learn some sanity and rationality from Mike Gravel. So somebody let me know what nuggets of gold this guy shits out that make up for it.

He has the whole Cato Institute, after all
Brink Lindsay didn't have the whole institute behind him when he endorsed the invasion of Iraq, Roger Pilon didn't have it when he supported wiretapping and Clint Bolick doesn't have it on federalism. Will's background is in philosophy and art, so he seems rather insignificant, or at least he would to me if I ran the place.

why do non-European ethnocentrism and anti-European hostility not seem to bother you in the slightest?
Though I absolutely disagree with the thesis of this, they're right that the people (those in power and the voters that put them there) causing most of the problems libertarians are concerned with are white.

Do they maybe even strike you as, um, slightly cool?
Highly doubtful, especially that lame video.

The Rothschilds just don't have that much cash.
Before when I was arguing with tanstaafl he said it was all hidden cash nobody knows exists. Like pretty much everything he said, it struck me as stupid.

Given equivalent circumstances, is the judicial system more aggressive in punishing offences of As against Bs, or vice versa?
It's actually tricky. White people are overrepresented on death-row because harsher verdicts are returned when the victim is white compared to black. The vast majority of crimes are intra-racial, with inter-racial crime being something of a red-herring. See Mangan, contra much of your theorizing. The Great Sixties Freakout is over and crime isn't the problem it once was.

Given equivalent circumstances, in economic competition between an A and a B, which is more likely to win?
Whites are a market-dominant majority, so I think they'd win. Government is a different story.

Why do "white" people tend to be wealthier than "black" people? This could be the result of (a) a preexisting distribution of property inherited from the era when the State sided with "white" people, (b) a secret conspiracy of "white" people to team up against their swarthy foes, or (c) independent variables, such as genetics or culture, which tend to make "whites" producers of higher-cost labor than "blacks." Or, of course, all three.
I'll have to give you kudos for holding out all three as options. Who doesn't like a robust theory?

Mr. Wilkinson and his ilk certainly do not cease from mental fight.
I don't think he's an Obama supporter.

We can accept that a large number of people, many quite intelligent and thoughtful, do believe the official explanation of why Washington acts as it does. Similarly, since the beast is after all a democracy, the existence of this support base goes a long way toward explaining Washington's actions.
You credit them with too much. According to Converse, they don't actually believe in anything or know what are the ideologies they are supposed to believe in. Read Chris Hayes: they don't even know what an issue is.

But where did this whole crazed feedback loop come from? The idea that it's just peachy for the State to systematically favor some of its citizens over others, simply on account of their skin color, is both (a) ludicrous in my own humble opinion, and (b) wildly inconsistent with many other beliefs which happen to be held by the exact same people.
Affirmative action is actually greatly unpopular and referendums against it tend to be succesful, though elites on both the left and right (corporations rather than elected officials worried about their popularity) tend to be more favorable toward it. Read Samuel Huntington's "Who Are We?".

Maoist-style struggle sessions, albeit without the "airplane position" or forced agricultural labor, are becoming a routine part of young Americans' coming-of-age experience.
I never encountered it at University. I know such people existed, but if you don't seek them out (as I did Tim Wise, just to see for myself after reading this) for all practical purposes they don't exist.

This is certainly absurd in terms of actual human biology.
There's a significant African diaspora which could conceivably diverge from those still in Africa, but you're basically right and that's probably not what they're thinking of.

there are still a few black agricultural laborers left
There is indeed still the ocassional country blues album.

the matriarchal figures who interface with the housing authority.
I've been wondering when you'd get into issues of patriarchy, matriarchy and feminism. Perhaps I've been hanging out too much at the Hoover Hog but I'd also like to know what you think of the rather extreme measures taken against Holocaust Deniers.

The fact that they cannot pay off Dalits without paying off all African-Americans, Vaisya or Brahmin or even Optimate, clearly troubles them.
It shouldn't be surprising that Brahmin, Optimate and Vaisya blacks are much better able to take advantage of affirmative action. Do the gangsters even care about that stuff? Also, blacks have a fairly low voting rate, one of the ways in which they're more sensible than whites.

It's called patronage. It is evil, criminal, and corrupt. Everyone involved in this racial spoils system, black or white or blue or polka-dotted, should go directly to jail.
Oh, come on. I thought you were nostalgic to the pre-Guiteau era of honest graft that was replaced by permanent professionalized bureaucracy!

They are dependents - puppet states, in an sense.
That's actually ironic. al Sadr's Mahdi Army is the main rival to the Badr brigades, the paramilitary wing of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, who are very much a tool of Iran (and tight with the Iran-friendly Shi'ite dominated government of Iraq). al Sadr is an anti-Iranian nationalist who can go from sending death-squads after Sunnis to urging his Arab brethren of different sects to unite against the nefarious Persian meddlers. He's among the most independent actors in Iraq, having pissed off pretty much any outside allies.

Since the entire planet is at least nominally controlled by actual modern armies, no such militia can exist without a political protector.
Not in the third world. The Hutus of Rwanda or Luos of Kenya don't need political protectors. That's just the why those places are in their "natural state", which would require a lot of effort to change without any real payoff.

Barbara Ehrenreich
I don't think Ehrenreich actually matters or can stand in for anyone who does. Just as the neocons will always outwite the Huckabee voters and determine policies, the Jason Furmans will run intellectual circles around the Barbara Ehrenreichs.

racist militias which have conquered and devastated much of Chicago.
Chicago seems to be alright nowadays. I remember trying to complain about Daley at Steve's blog and the others there wouldn't have any of it.

All these people need to be in jail.
Because they don't write about stories you think they should? Should the folks at Fox be jailed for cancelling Arrested Development?

The irony, of course, is that the progressives and the gangs never really managed to cooperate effectively.
Perhaps negligibly. If the gangs worked for a purpose, they'd be organized crime. But they're not.

In fact it's pretty clear that none of the author's peers in "sociology" today, who are all I'm sure immensely jealous, could in any way repeat the experiment.
When I first heard of scatterplot I thought it would be an interesting blog, and then when I visited none of the posts were actually about social science and I went back to orgtheory. That post was great though. I just now noticed that orgtheory has post on its frontpage about the politics of universities and the 60s uprisings.

If racist Republican pig cops
This is Chicago. It's racist Daley Democrat pig cops!

Typically the implication is that when you have a problem with some tribe of barbarians, what you need to do is look for a bunch of even nastier barbarians, and sic them on the original barbarians.
Except that, as I mentioned before, the gangs mostly go after each other rather than "citizens" or "taxpayers" in police terms, and even then it's usually just members of the black & hispanic working class that have to live in those neighborhoods.

When the Romans unleashed the Huns against the Germans
I thought it was the other way around.

cosmopolitan Anglophone
Interestingly enough, the English had long supported the main opposition party to the Afrikaner-dominated Nationalists. Then after apartheid ended the English emmigrated the most rapidly while the stubborn Afrikaners stayed on their land.

So the crowd is essentially chanting "kill the rednecks," ie, Slovo's hereditary tribal enemies.
They don't make distinctions during home-invasions, it's all white to them. I e-mailed you an article before on how the end of affirmative action would primarily benefit asians. Who else has test scores on the level of asians? Jews, though they're not distinguished from other whites when discussing that topic. Jews tend to be Brahmins. How would they benefit from affirmative action?

Me and jewish mind control discussed "the Jewish Question" here. Prozium seems more sensible than the average anti-semite.

G. M. Palmer:
likely event of Obama's election/inauguration/assassination?
The people that expect that are usually the same fools who think the JFK wasn't killed by a communist and RFK wasn't killed by a Palestinian.

Jewish Atheist:
I mean it's right there in your quote -- they're at war with the Mexican gangs!
Exactly. Rednecks have little to fear.

Fuckwad that won't choose a handle:
Brahmins can play off the rednecks against the blacks
How does that actually work? The blacks mostly go after each other, but it riles the rednecks up enough to vote Republican. At least Mexicans have impressive growth rates.

Michael S.:
The doctrine of election easily leads to antinomianism, as we see in Hogg's "Confessions of a Justified Sinner."
Not only anecdotal but generalization from fictional evidence.

For most of the intelligentsia this antinomianism is never translated from thought to action. They are too timid. Instead they vicariously indulg it in a fascination with criminals (see Norman Mailer).
Norman Mailer was not timid.

New Sisyphus:
Syria was able to easily crush the Muslim Brotherhood at Hama. A good dose of brutality kept the secular left military dictatorship in Algeria above the more popular islamists. Similarly, the U.S can control Los Angeles because it gives a damn about it. The British in America, Russians in Afghanistan and Chinese in Vietnam all had the option of leaving without really being much worse off. To me that explains far more than Mencius' theories of "civil war by proxy" where the State department defeats Defense by the Geneva Conventions having been signed decades before the latest war was launched.

wilberforce:
Hispanics vote Dem. They're leaning for Hillary rather than Obama now, and as the hubbub over superdelegates shows, Hillary has the power among the leadership of the Democratic party.

Independent Accountant:
Not only is Spengler a fool who believes himself a genius, he is straight up full of shit and damn well knows it.

mtraven:
The Wire is indeed a good show. Mencius seemed to give some support to legalizing drugs earlier. I wish he'd focus more on their prohibition as a cause of crime.

Patrick:
Let cities die. When it comes to corporations, poorly run companies get bought out by those who think they can better use their resources. Idi Amin basically got bought out, as did Pinochet. Saddam didn't because Bush is not a shrewd profit maximizer but a dolt.

Speaking of "white flight", how did the Universalist/Brahmin conspiracy let the suburbs, subsidized transportation and mass auto ownership pass by them? Shouldn't they have stacked the deck in favor of Jane Jacobs against Robert Moses?

Studd Beefpile:
Genetic differences between groups matter, but the immigrant is, by definition, not an average member of his society.
What we've got is worse. Illegitimacy isn't as bad in Mexico as it is among Mexican-Americans.

cranky matron:
Will Wilkinson does his best to be insufferable. If you felt sorry for him, he would probably be angry his plan failed.

February 15, 2008 at 2:29 AM  
Anonymous Ian said...

Here is a comment I left on "View From The Right" a few months ago (http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/008925.html)

The topic was, "don't liberals think that they will be affected by underclass criminality and violence":

From my socializing within alternative circles in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have met a number of Chomsky-reading, androgynous-acting, degree-in-the-humanities-having uber-left-wingers who do indeed live among violent minorities, for example in artists' warehouses in the black parts of Oakland. And many of these folks indeed have been mugged, otherwise violently attacked, or at least verbally harassed for being white.

A few seem to have a level of self-respect where such incidents bring anger to them. These folks will resist their attackers, and speak ill of them later. Most victims, however, seem to empathize with their attackers. These crime victims view the wallet they gave over as a sort of privilege tax (while wishing, of course, that a more wealthy white, one more "deserving" of a mugging, would have been the one attacked). I've heard such people say concerning their mugging and beating, "I'd feel that way, and do the same thing, if I was black."

It's like the wounds of their childhood, such as stern admonishments from a Republican father, or getting beat up in junior high school by the football player who later went on to run the local Hummer dealership, or simply being unpopular or different in school, still live on as a seething anger towards mainstream society. Their childhood created an emotionally-fueled world-view of right and wrong (and white, male, capitalist, Christian, heterosexual society is always wrong) that no adult experience can overturn.

This of course leads to bizarre twists of logic, as Lawrence has pointed out for years, where minority attacks on whites are evidence not of the moral wrongness of minorities' actions, but somehow for the moral wrongness of whites, for of course having done "something" to deserve these attacks. The 9/11 attacks, Robert Fisk getting beaten along the road in Pakistan, black gangsters firing at rescue helicopters post-Katrina, the Jenna Six beatings--one would think that these ugly acts of violence would wake folks up, and be a challenge to the simple narrative of minority victims and white villains. But, no, even those event get bizarrely twisted by lefties to torturously fit the simple narrative of the race-Marxism catechism.

I also think that plenty of white people benefit from, and perhaps enjoy, the practice of minority physical violence on other whites. It is my impression for example that the elite Government/corporate/media power structure uses minority violence to keep mainstream whites in line. The unspoken warning is, don't commit a felony, or you'll end up in jail, and don't skip out on your office job, or you'll end up living near the projects. Keep in line and do what we tell you, or you're gonna get it.

Similarly, the culture-hating left has plenty of their own uses for minority violence. Many angry, revolutionary types enjoy black and brown thugs as bringing the muscle against police, businessmen, etc, which is muscle that spectacle-wearing, book-reading white radicals lack. The thinking seems to be: if a few Marxists get mugged in the process, it can't be helped, but at least those thug-muggers are "on the same side" in a bifurcated, polarized society.

February 15, 2008 at 3:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moldy darling,

To say the least, given your generally acceptable track record, I'm a little disappointed in this unabashed, and quite conscious, exercise in demagoguery. You should keep in mind that among the undesired side effects of preaching only to the converted are: the evolution of a pronounced brow ridge (making future hat selection difficult) and extra digits, shoes appropriate for this condition rarely being in stock at Wal-Mart.

Is this really where you want to tread with your shiny new triple-E's?

Your friend,

Evoo

February 15, 2008 at 3:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This applies at least double for any immigrant who has to cross an ocean to get here. Genetic differences between groups matter, but the immigrant is, by definition, not an average member of his society.

It's all too easy to cross an ocean these days. In any case, most of our immigrants are the result of Latin American governments exporting their underclass here, thus exporting their social problems, and these are exactly the people we don't want. Indeed, not average, but from the wrong end of the bell curve...

Fuckwad that won't choose a handle:

Having a handle clearly doesn't make one not a fuckwad.

Brahmins can play off the rednecks against the blacks
How does that actually work? The blacks mostly go after each other, but it riles the rednecks up enough to vote Republican.


Oooooh, the rednecks are going to vote for the Washington Generals? That'll really scare the Globetrotters. They'll lose seats in the Volkskammer, and their whole program will be hopelessly derailed.

Stop thinking of the Brahmins as a party. They are a caste (or if you prefer, a class), and they are both Republicans and Democrats. MM already explained this well enough.

It should be obvious enough that the Brahmins have every interest in getting the rednecks to think that their chief enemy is not the Brahmins but blacks and hispanics, who are getting "unfair" preferences and government largesse. At the same time, the Brahmins have made any concrete expression of that resentment socially unacceptable. "Here, these folks are causing all your problems, and hate them all you want, but you're only allowed to grumble quietly about it, not actually DO anything about it." Not a bad mechanism for social control!

February 15, 2008 at 4:54 AM  
Anonymous M said...

I agree that this post wasn't one of your best - it's sloppier than normal and preaching to the crowd. Still, your thoughts and insights into the problems of our times are the best out there.

February 15, 2008 at 5:15 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

teegee --

I understand that a commie and a crazyman shot JFK and RFK, respectively. Conspiracy theories are fun, not necessarily true.
About Obama, though -- I have lived in the deep south too long to think that some braindead redneck (sorry for the ethnic epithet) won't try to cap him a ninja.

I don't think it's likely that BHO will be shot. I just think of the two rapidly approaching, non-economic destabilization possibilities (suspended elections or an assassination) it's more likely (though I wouldn't put good money on it).

GMP

February 15, 2008 at 5:54 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

The problem with MM's argument in this piece is that he contends:
1) The Brahmans use the Dalits against the Vaisyas in a policy of "yi yi zhi yi."
1a) This requires no conspiracy, because it works, therefore it is successful, it reproduces itself, etc.
2) Actually, it never really worked all that well, the spirits came out of the vasty deep when they damn well pleased, and now there's no real control at all and the whole mess runs on nostalgia.

So how can 2 and 1a both be true? I suppose Universalism could have evolved a fondness for the underclass in the past, and now it's like the appendix, or my love of fatty, sugary treats, but if so, when?

February 15, 2008 at 6:33 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

and also--

That blog you linked to is crazy talk, Marge. We should give those people California and be done with it.

February 15, 2008 at 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if only steve jobs ruled the world... oh wait!

lulz :P

February 15, 2008 at 8:24 AM  
Anonymous wilberforce said...

tggp:

" The Great Sixties Freakout is over and crime isn't the problem it once was."

this is over-stating the case. in nyc, where i live, there are accusations from emergency room doctors that the police routinely fail to report assaults. and if you believe VDARE (caveat lector),overall crime is widely underreported: http://www.vdare.com/stix/040526_crime.htm


"Hispanics vote Dem. They're leaning for Hillary rather than Obama now, and as the hubbub over superdelegates shows, Hillary has the power among the leadership of the Democratic party."

not as dem as blacks or jews: http://pewhispanic.org/newsroom/releases/release.php?ReleaseID=2. when it comes to dropping the ballot in the box, rather than talking to a pollster on the phone, they're not that reliable. i'm telling ya', if the dems wanted real tartars they'd bring in haitians -- or better yet, the falash mura. african and crypto-jewish -- it's a twofer! feel free to forward these suggestions to rahm emanuel.

February 15, 2008 at 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's what every other ethnic group in America did. Inner city blacks pursue criminal careers because it's in their interest, the apparent best option available. Why do they have less right to maximize their utility than Warren Buffett?"

-mtraven

So since every other ethnic/rcaial group was involved in crime it makes it OK for blacks to do so? An interesting theory.
In any event, black crime in the last 40 or so years is so unbelievably pervasive, violent and brutal that it puts the Mob, Murder Inc., the Russian mafia, the Westies, etc.. to shame. You are confusing organized crime with the plain old everyday brutal black rape, murder, theft, carjackings, assault and other depredations that are undertaken for $5 or for often no reason at all. Does anyone here worry about a bunch of Italian mafiosi raping their wife, GF or mom? How about the Russian Mafia carkjacking/burglarizing you? Anyone else here not living in an area that is Jewish or Korean because of crime concerns? Organized crime was/is not a threat to average people as long as you don't fuck with them. On the other hand black crime seeks you out.
As for blacks having the "right" to maximize their utility by raping, murdering, robbing or assaulting people, I can only hope that you are being sarcastic. If you can't see the difference between an investor and a stone-cold rapist, then you are truly lost. But then again, all these black criminals provide jobs for the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys emergency rooms, morgues, grave diggers, physical/mental rehab, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and so on. If/when you get a knife suck in your ribs or your car stolen, just remember that hey, some Brother is just maximizing his utility!

February 15, 2008 at 9:14 AM  
Anonymous m said...

Anonymous: I agree with you. Mtravern is a hopeless windbag crypto-calvinist. He should try living in one of those minority areas that he puts on a pedestal for awhile.

February 15, 2008 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

tggp: The Wire is indeed a good show. Mencius seemed to give some support to legalizing drugs earlier. I wish he'd focus more on their prohibition as a cause of crime.
Yes -- since the black gangs rely on drug prohibition for their main income source, you'd think that the progs would be strongly for criminalizing it while the republicons would favor legalization, given MM's theories. Doesn't seem to work that way.

Patrick: The Wire is a fascinating show. But does it support or refute Mencius's general case?
The Wire is a dense and novelistic portrayal of social dysfunction, "Dickensian" if you will. While I don't think it refutes or suppports MM, it differs in two important aspects: one, it eschews single-cause, conspiracy-flavored explanations -- there's not going to be some big reveal that all the problems were caused by a cabal of capitalists, or whatever. This is the thing I find silliest about MM's writings, the idea that everything that happens can be traced back to some 500 year old factional war. The other aspect in which it differs is that it is not interested in dismissing whole classes of people as criminals and sociopaths that ought to be locked up or violently put down. The value of the show is that it gets us inside the heads of even reprehensible characters.

I liked your technological theory of the root cause of urban decay, btw. When you consider the massive technology changes of the past 100 years you have to say that cities have evolved remarkably well, considering. If oil prices rise steeply enough we can expect cities to do better.

Anonymous: So since every other ethnic/rcaial group was involved in crime it makes it OK for blacks to do so? An interesting theory.

Who said it's "OK", whatever that means? I thought one of the advantages of this blog was that it was above easy moralizing. Nobody seems to be able to do that very consistently, me included. I was merely pointing out that criminal ethnic gangs that mutate into political organizations are a longstanding tradition, so it's wrong to single out black gangs as somehow uniquely evil or a product of some vast conspiracy.

February 15, 2008 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

patrick:

The reason that a political system based on 10,000 city states of primary sovereign corporations won't work, is that primary sovereigns can't die...

So why did this happen in 1970 and not 1910? Because of the technology of 1910, the upper class couldn't flee the city...

The Brahmins have been trying to do something to fix this market failure, but so far have failed, often disastrously so ( such as by creating public housing). Their failure is due to the fact that no one has really tried social engineering before. But they are getting better at it, as shown by community policing initiatives in New York, or the replacement of housing projects with section 8 vouchers.


Very insightful, I think.

February 15, 2008 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Byrne said...

mtraven

I was merely pointing out that criminal ethnic gangs that mutate into political organizations are a longstanding tradition, so it's wrong to single out black gangs as somehow uniquely evil or a product of some vast conspiracy.

They've been on this continent for how many centuries, now? Ethnic gangs seem to be one part of integrating with a new culture (you could almost see them as similar to aid societies -- and thus just as obsolete). I think that when Jewish immigrants joined Murder, Inc., they didn't do so expecting that their kids (had by three different women, each of whom was raising other men's children, too) would suffer the same fate: it was social mobility, not stagnation.

So the difference is that in all the other cases, immigrants join gangs when they're progressing towards integration -- in this case, black and Mexican street gangs appear to be a symptom of decline and isolation. Does JT want his teenage proteges to own a house in the suburbs, or does he want them slinging crack rock and taking potshots until they're dead, jailed, or otherwise no longer his problem? Did Bugsy Siegel feel the same way? And when you're comparing people who immigrated within a generation to people who have lived here for centuries, you have to ask: who is more likely to blame other ethnic groups for their troubles, versus accepting their station as a temporary, expected, fixable one?

February 15, 2008 at 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP - if using Hogg as an illustration of how the doctrine of election leads into antinomianism is "generalizing from fictional evidence," would you say that using the satires of Juvenal to make a point about life in ancient Rome was? Art reflects life, none more so than carefully crafted satire, which is intended to accentuate and thus more effectively to reprove the vices it ridicules. If the moral failings depicted by Hogg or Juvenal had not existed in their respective milieux, there would have been no reason to lampoon them.

There is a long list of historical examples of antinomianism in reformed Christianity, from Jan van Leyden in the 16th-c. to the "Secret Six," that band of high-minded New England Congregationalists that financed John Brown's bloody raid at Harper's Ferry. Islam, another predestinarian religion, is even more replete with instances of antinomianism, from the time of Hassan-i-Sabah to that of Osama bin Laden.

Juvenal wrote "difficile est saturam non scribere," but I am more inclined these days to sympathize with the complaint S.J. Perelman made shortly before his death, that no matter how bizarre a scenario he tried to envision, one needed only to look at the day's newspaper to find one yet more outrageous.

As for Mailer, indeed he took his fascination with antisocial behavior to the point of personal action from time to time, but those instances pale by comparison with those depicted in his fiction (see "An American Dream") or with the actions of the sociopaths with whom he was obsessed (e.g., Jack Abbott, Gary Gilmore). His essay "The White Negro" idealizing the behavior of the black lumpenproletariat ranks among the founding documents of Brahmin antinomianism.

Mtraven writes, "Why are some violent gangs labeled 'sociopaths' while others get reverential treatment? ... Inner city blacks pursue criminal careers because it's in their interest ... Why do they have less right to maximize their utility than Warren Buffett?"

Oh, please. Comparison of capitalists to gangsters is a cliché of the Claud Cockburn - Bertolt Brecht school of communist apologetics, all the more reprehensible in that Cockburn and Brecht had seen Stalinism at first hand and ought to have known what real thuggery was.

I am not a particular admirer of Warren Buffett, but to the best of my knowledge he has never murdered, beaten, robbed, or raped anyone in the course of "maximizing his utility." The same cannot be said of inner city gangsters. To acknowledge this difference is hardly to give Mr. Buffett, or any other person who has made a fortune by shrewd investment or speculation "reverential treatment."

To deny that murder, felonious assault, armed robbery, rape, extortion, and other techniques of criminal gangs differ in any legal or moral fashion from the everyday actions of a lawful entrepreneur is, I suppose, the point of 'critical legal studies.' I wonder if you ever have been, or if you ever have known a person who was, a victim of violent crime. It feels quite different to have your house or business robbed than it does to have lost money in one's investment portfolio because one is not as astute as Warren Buffett is at reading the market.

February 15, 2008 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, let me quote from Ender's Shadow:

"Then she realized what nonsense she had been thinking. It wasn't the desperation of the street that drove Achilles to murder Poke. It was pride. It was Cain, who thought that being ashamed was reason enough to take his brother's life. It was Judas, who did not shrink to kiss before killing. What was she thinking, to treat evil as if it were a mere mechanical product of deprivation? All the children of the street suffered fear and hunger, helplessness and desperation. But they didn't all become cold-blooded, calculating murderers."

You use your fiction (The Wire) and I'll use mine. But what we have to ask ourselves is this:

Unless we are complete children of privilege and felicity, we have all been at some point in our lives abused, insulted, passed-over, or otherwise marginalized.

Have we done violence as a result of this? Should we? Would it be a good excuse in a court of law, the court of public opinion, or the court of history?

February 15, 2008 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Byrne said...

G. M. Palmer

I'd go one step further: if childhood trauma and oppression can really cause such problems, shouldn't our law enforcement agencies take this into account? Maybe in addition to a sex-offender registry, we can have an oppressed-or-abused-person registry, and force anyone who is discriminated against to inform their neighbors, employer, local law enforcement, etc., that they are a ticking time bomb that will, at any point, explode and kill whitey.

February 15, 2008 at 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

I am grateful to "anomymous" for bringing up the Jewish gang Murder, Inc..

Here's a question for Mtraven:

Why was it that when the leader of the Murder, Inc. gang, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, was electrocuted at Sing Sing, no one called this an act of anti-Semitism?

Why is it that when the leader of the Crips gang, Stanly "Tookie" Williams, was put to death by lethal injection at San Quentin, it was widely denounced as an act of racism?

Autres temps, autres mœurs? Or is it not really the case that the chattering class regards black criminals as somehow different from, and less reprehensible than, other sorts of criminals?

February 15, 2008 at 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Randy said...

Byrne,

I'd say that many of us already do take that step. That's why we go to great lengths to live far from those neighborhoods. White flight? Sure. But its just a piece of dirt without the creativity that makes it thrive - and I take that with me.

February 15, 2008 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger mnuez said...

Before even reading further I'd like to ask you to reconsider your self-censorship (and implied potential censorship of others) with regards to particular words. Disallowing the usage of certain words - ANY words - is something that I'm not terribly comfortable with and that I'm pretty damn (darn?) sure lots of others are uncomfortable with as well. I understand that you feel that charges of racism will be harder to levy if you express your repugnance with the word "nigger", but in truth, it only makes you look silly and it pisses your audience off. On a blog dedicated to experiments in free thought, having all "fuck"s read as "fsuk" and "nigger" read as "ninja", strikes me, the reader, as a particular uncomfortable speedbump. I'm here to appreciate unedited thoughts, not to be repeatedly lectured regarding your (bullshit) sensitivities. Honestly, you're better than this and I'd like as you to please cut this nonsense. Yes, we can!

mnuez

February 15, 2008 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger mnuez said...

Mencius, I'm working with a broken keyboard here so I'm forced into inexcusable brevity in dealing with the living-roomed elephant that I'd like to point to, but how can it be that in all you write, you're willing to attribute incalculable power and conspiratorial designs to all but the most obvious group to whom these attributes most truly apply? THE RICH.

You write of Socialism as of some great and obvious evil, as a cuss-word whose very syllables are obviously and for good reason abhorrent and horrid in the ears of all. You write of it as an epithet, as a blotch of contagion that can destroy a man to the third generation... yet the evils that Socialism (or semi-socialistic policies such as universal healthcare, minimum wage, child-labor laws, etc.) seek to remedy would require no remedy at all were it not for the apathetic greed of the wealthy and powerful.

Again, I realize that this brief broadside into a room full of anarcho-capitalists hardly suffices as...well, anything, but I am working with a diseased computer whose every third key sticks and speedily reproduces itself for a line or two before running out of fuel, so I fear this will have to do for now, even if my brief plea for open-eyed realism serves as nothing but a wan lil strawman for the comfortable Darwinists to make hay of.

Cheers ~

mnuez
www.mnuez.blogspot.com

February 15, 2008 at 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mnuez: Honestly, you're better than this and I'd like as you to please cut this nonsense.

like using 'she' as a general pronoun; sheesh! this is what we're up against :P

February 15, 2008 at 1:34 PM  
Anonymous m said...

Mnuez, , what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

February 15, 2008 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger J. said...

All political parties find useful to have criminal connections to do their dirty work, to enforce voting and to intimidate enemies, and of course they reward them. It always worked like that since Julius Ceasar. It does not mean that the parties or their leaders are criminals themselves. And race is irrelevant.

February 15, 2008 at 1:45 PM  
Anonymous m said...

j: I'd like to repeat the comment that I made before to Mtravern. If race is irrelevant, please go live among a typical community of African Americans or Hispanics for a couple of years and see if you notice a difference. Or, better yet, move to Mexico or any non-white, non-Asian country in the world and check it out. Thanks.

February 15, 2008 at 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Stirner said...

Mnuez,

I'm afraid most of the readers are here in order to be repeatedly lectured about our bullshit sensitivities. So let Mencius be Mencius, m'kay?

February 15, 2008 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger mnuez said...

Sweet Jesus Shtirnee, I'm here to help Mencius be Mencius by reminding him that it's okay to use the word Nigger (and "Fuck", a word he claims to take issue with as well but that eh likely chose to self-edit simply so that "Nigger" won't stand alone is his solitary taboo word). That's what makes his supposed "sensitivities" on the subject bullshit sensitivities - he doesn't have them, he just pretends to for political reasons.

m - Having read your vast misunderstandings of Mtray's comment, I can only fall upon my knees and thank Lord Vishnu that you've misunderstood mine as well. Had you have understood my comment and responded to it logically I'd have summoned the physician.

February 15, 2008 at 2:09 PM  
Anonymous m said...

Mtravern wrote: "Why shouldn't blacks form criminal gangs that evolve over time into political organizations? It's what every other ethnic group in America did. Inner city blacks pursue criminal careers because it's in their interest, the apparent best option available. Why do they have less right to maximize their utility than Warren Buffett?"

Is this the statement you think I'm misunderstanding, Mnuez? If so, please enlighten me with your crypto-Calvinist wisdom. Because as far as I can see, this is a recipe for endless friction, societal subsidization and racial violence. Unlike, say, the Italians, the Jews or the Irish at the start of the century, who have all integrated despite discrimination in a relatively short period of time, black violence and crime has skyrocketed over the past 50 years. Take a look at some statistics Steve Sailer provides: http://www.vdare.com/sailer/050213_mapping.htm (hope you can stomach VDare, I can find many, many other sites saying the same thing if you like). You would think with both economic and social subsidization (AA, for one) their anger and crime rate would decrease, no? That's the standard cryto-Calvinist viewpoint, anyway. Which is why I suggested that Mtravern go live in an African American community and see what it's like, or travel to any non-white, non-Asian country in the world. Most Universalists, despite their romantic view of blacks, have never lived among them, and it could very well be an enlightening experience.

As far as your Marxist drivel goes about the rich not voluntarily giving their money to the poor (as well as your laughable comment about universal health care being semi-socialist), I would ask why it's the rich's responsibility to give up their hard earned wealth, or who are you are to take it away from them, on any basis other than at the point of a gun. Where does your legitimacy to do this come from?

February 15, 2008 at 2:42 PM  
Anonymous m said...

Ah, I'd also like to quote anonymous eviscerating Mtravern's comment as well:

"As for blacks having the "right" to maximize their utility by raping, murdering, robbing or assaulting people, I can only hope that you are being sarcastic. If you can't see the difference between an investor and a stone-cold rapist, then you are truly lost. But then again, all these black criminals provide jobs for the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys emergency rooms, morgues, grave diggers, physical/mental rehab, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and so on. If/when you get a knife suck in your ribs or your car stolen, just remember that hey, some Brother is just maximizing his utility!"

February 15, 2008 at 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

since the black gangs rely on drug prohibition for their main income source, you'd think that the progs would be strongly for criminalizing it while the republicons would favor legalization, given MM's theories. Doesn't seem to work that way.

At the same time, the WOD puts a large "progressive" vote bank behind bars, unable to vote, which is where the Republicans want them.

Since legalization would undoubtedly not legalize every single drug, all it would do is force the black gangs to shift to something else, while their income remained the same.

February 15, 2008 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

Race Realism Meets Tribal Denial

Thanks for playing Explain the Invasion.

Sorry. You are not a winner.

Try again?

February 16, 2008 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger Neutrino said...

The other side of the coin has contradictions of a similar degree, but utterly dissimilar shape.

Suppose you were to graph the American castes as volumes in an n-dimensional space, where the dimensions are various relevant sociopolitical indicators (prestige, wealth, pull, muscle, etc), and the volume at any particular intersection is the number of people that meet the degrees of all the indicators at those coordinates.

Some would put the date of the Great Conservative Retreat at 1933, and perhaps that's when the seeds were first sewn, but it was under Eisenhower, who conspicuously didn't do a thing to weaken the New Deal, that the writing was on the wall for the OV alliance. Ever since then, the OVs have been under a hell of a lot of pressure from the Bs, and that's led to some curious contortions.

Consider the argument from disgruntled, perpetually not-elected third parties that there isn't any real difference between Republicans and Democrats. Certainly, they operate in the same shamelessly political manner, as have all successful political movements. Certainly their policies aren't very different. And certainly, if we dial in the N-coordinates of all people labeled "Republican Politician" and "Democratic Politician", there will be a large swell in the volume of common factors like education, leisure activities, and which lobbyists' numbers they have on speed dial.

And yet, they are clearly, undeniably warring castes.

And yet, they nearly touch (or, if you look at whom the governor of California married, they do touch) in political N-space, and this fact doesn't exactly go unnoticed.

Consider the following ephemera from the American Revolution:
http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2005/07/americas-founding-terrier.html

The world during the American Revolution was small and compressed. Dealing with other castes, one couldn't always find as many degrees of separation as one might wish, because the population simply wasn't there. The visualization of political N-space did not resolve into smooth curves; you could (and modern historians do) conceive of it in terms of a large, but still manageable collection of individuals.

Likewise has Political N-space for the OVs become compressed by the Bs. They're under so much pressure that they've started flowing into one another and even into the Bs.

Could any Republican, for example, get elected without pandering to at least some B applause lights, like "equality" and "democracy"? Compare Neocon rhetoric to B softer, public B rhetoric of decades ago, and I think the infection is clear.

A Republican must also pander to the Vs, and this is why, I think, American Conservatism has become so shrill and vulgar. The Os and Vs are being swaged down into a continuum, where once were two discrete castes. It grates on our ears to hear Os pander to Vs, because, let's face it, Vs aren't the subtlest people in the world. The Os don't have a hell of a lot of choice in the matter, however; imminent extinction will make you willing to try almost anything, even if that means welding yourself to the Vs on one end and the Bs on the other, even if it means losing everything in the ensuing cognitive dissonance and being reviled throughout all history.

February 16, 2008 at 2:38 AM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

MM, I am in the process of reading, but the meaning of "La Raza" is not what you say. The term as it is used today has been coined by the Mexican philosopher, José Vasconcelos, with an explicit anti-racist agenda. The full term is actually "La Raza Cózmica" (the cosmic race) and it refers to all humanity.

February 16, 2008 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

"La Raza" expresses a Universalist sentiment, not an anti-white racist one.

February 16, 2008 at 5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooooo, I feel like I've wandered into a fusty old academic debate among people who have never watched ESPN before... can we start throwing out "moral equivalence" now?

February 16, 2008 at 7:16 AM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 16, 2008 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

The guy in the video is NOT Joe Slovo.
It's Ronnie Kasrils.

February 16, 2008 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger New Sisyphus said...

"La Raza" expresses a Universalist sentiment, not an anti-white racist one.

Yeah, just one that requires in order for the ideal expressed to be realized the disappearance of Whites.

Nice try, asshole.

Don't worry, we have plenty of lampposts.

February 16, 2008 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Mtravern is a hopeless windbag crypto-calvinist.
I'm a windbag? Compared to our host I'm a model of brevity. And if you can define what you mean by crypto-calvinist I'll be happy to tell you if I am one or not, and you can remove the "crypto". Am I supposed to believe in predestination? That there's an elect and I'm a member of it? That anabaptists should be burnt? What?

I certainly meant to cast no aspersions on Warren Buffett, who from all reports is a respectible person. He's doing what he can within his framework to maximize his utility, and so is JT, as is everybody else. Ah, you say, but Buffett is obeyng the law while JR is not. True enough. But so what? Is obeying the law identical to virtue? What if the law is unjust? The Endangered Species Act and the Civil Rights Acts are law -- do you believe that respect for them is identical to virtue? What if the law requires you to make obesience to Comrade Stalin three times a day? Perhaps you haven't thought this through. For some reason, JT finds that obeying the law is not in his interest.

Let's take another point of comparision, General Petraeus, recently lauded in these pages. Let's put him up against JT. Both are charismatic figures who head organizations who specialize in the application of violence to achieve certain ends. Now, the General certainly has crisper uniforms, and more importantly has a much better structure of legitimation behind his actions. However creaky and strained our poor Constitution may be, it still serves to put a different color on the violence of Petraeus vs. the violence of independent entrepeneurs such as JT. However, the people on the recieving end probably don't care a whole lot about that. The targets of Petraues's gang are not parties to our Constitution and never sat through a US civic lesson. Maybe General Petraeus has much better intentions, and is much more selfless, than a drug gangster. Again, that doesn't much matter to those who are at the end of the gun with the hole. Perhaps Petraues is to be preferred because he's our sonofabitch rather than somebody else's? Well, OK, but then let's not pretend he's on some sort of elevated moral plane.

I am still trying to figure out MM's standards. The Tienanmen Square massacre was just dandy, but Stalin's murders of dissidents are awful. White colonial massacres are just dandy, but black Africans massacaring whites is just awful. US imperial atrocities in the Philipines or Vietname or Iraq are all super-cool, but black gang murders are just awful. As near as I can figure, the rule is something like: Violence is just awful, unless it's committed by a state in which it's dandy, unless that state is somehow on the shit list (like the USSR under Stalin), in which case it's awful again.

February 16, 2008 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger shakha said...

I find it really strange that you would suggest that sociologist wouldn't or couldn't repeat Venkatesh's work. In fact, this kind of work is incredibly common in the discipline. It is some of the highest status work one can do (in part because of its popular appeal). Venkatesh's work is an example of urban ethnography which has been done out of the University of Chicago for generations now. But it has roots elsewhere as well. Whyte wrote "The Street Corner Society" in 1943 (based on work done in the 1930s). Sociologists have been hanging around poor neighborhoods and people for generations. The tradition is called "Urban Ethnography". And it has been, and still continues to be incredibly widely done.

February 16, 2008 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

The invaders shouting "this is stolen land" and "go back to Europe, Pilgrim" don't think "La Raza" means "all humanity". Here's what it means:

mestizo nation
bronze continent
Chicanos (La Raza de Bronze)

For La Raza to do. Fuera de La Raza nada.

That last sentiment is: "Everything for the race. Outside the race, nothing." Hard to see how that's universal. I suppose everyone could crossbreed and become mestizo. I don't think that's what they mean, and at any rate I'll pass.

As a race-conscious White it's clear to me that anyone identifying with "La Raza" is a race-conscious brown. It's also clear anyone claiming "La Raza" means "all humanity" is either an ignoramus or a liar.

February 16, 2008 at 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it really strange that you would suggest that sociologist wouldn't or couldn't repeat Venkatesh's work.

It can't be repeated because most likely neither the Black Knights nor J.T. ever existed. What's the difference between J.T. and Moqtada al-Sadr? Moqtada al-Sadr is not imaginary.

Mtraven, your entire post at 3:11 was absurd and pathetic.

February 16, 2008 at 5:37 PM  
Anonymous cranky matron said...

I do kind of wonder how the Brahmins let suburban white flight happen so passively, if they are as powerful as we sort of are assuming they are here.

Could it have been a giant pressure-release valve? Could the blessings-of-diversity be so easily and mindlessly extolled in an authentic urban environment?
Did they have money in real-estate development?

Every generation of white metro people seems to move further and futher away from the core city, at least the ones with children. You know someone's banking on that kind of insane construction.

February 16, 2008 at 5:46 PM  
Anonymous m said...

I will quote anonymous once again, Mtravern:

"If you can't see the difference between an investor and a stone-cold rapist, then you are truly lost."

And, despite your protestations to the contrary, you very much are.

February 16, 2008 at 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Jewish Mind Control

LGF is partly right on the Nationalist European parties. Some do lean fascist, escpecially the BNP & Front National. Most of their voters don't vote for them, because of the fascist part, but as a protest against Islamization.

Vlaams Blok used to be fascist in the past, but I know a couple of them and they strike me more as secessionist conservative nationalists -- certainly not fascists. Nationalism ain't my thing either, but I don't think it's Hitlerian.

As a European, I also don't get the Judeophobia which seems very common among Rightist US bloggers nowadays -- probably some neocon-blowback after Iraq I guess.

What I also truly don't get about the anti-immigration Right is their claim that they can't organise because of all these Leftist smear clubs.

Who cares that they smear! Ending immigration is a sane thing to do. There's a Mexico and a US. End of discussion. If you like Mexicans, wll go there. The restrictionists should be calling the shots, not the Open Border loonies. They should be laughed at for their transnational Utopianism.

If you're concerned about the survival of your people and civilization why are you scared of a few antiracist bureaucrats? Shrug off that scare, be a man -- or a woman.

So, stop watching in horror. Make your claim: you want the US to remain a Western dominated country. There's nothing wrong with that. LGF's readers are probably some PC correct teen keyboard warriors. Who's afraid of that? And the site.. It's monomanical, it's laughable!

(Oh and all these pathetic anti-Semites should grow up too. You're sounding just like Al Sharpton -- you know, the black guy, who blames whitey for all problems blacks create themselves.)

February 17, 2008 at 2:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Anonymus at 02:38, 17 Feb 2008:

“As a European, I also don't get the Judeophobia which seems very common among Rightist US bloggers nowadays -- probably some neocon-blowback after Iraq I guess”

Well, there’s that – in general, Jews in America had a very different history than the one they had in post WWII Europe, and there is genuine anger (some of it justified) towards the ungratefulness of (many, but hardly all) Jews, having been integrated into main society and used their acceptance to promote Leftist agendas.

However, my impression is that whereas many WN Americans write from a very insulated, introvert point of view and thus seem to see everything and everywhere as a microcosm of the US. Hence, the exaggeration of the role Jews played in general (just follow the exchange I had with Tansstaafl from the Age of Treason here: http://age-of-treason.blogspot.com/2008/01/something-unspeakable-this-way-comes.html , at the end of which I got banned from posting, I believe).

I am also mystified as to why there is less discussion of the problems of unrestricted immigration in the US in comparison with, believe it or not, the EU. As someone who has been (legally) living and working in the EU, I have a strong suspicion the US is far mor PC than Europe….

Some Israeli

February 17, 2008 at 8:16 AM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

"Nice try, asshole.

Don't worry, we have plenty of lampposts."

Wonderful! It is very much in line with my family tradition, to be threatened with lampposts. :-)

February 17, 2008 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger mnuez said...

Mtray - obeisance to thee... obeisance to thee... I understood you the first time around of course but I'm still glad that you chose to offer a second, slower and more drawn-out explanation, for the slower among us. Alas, however, it appears that "Anonymous" still stands in the dark, or, as he so eloquently displayed his cranial capacity, " your entire post at 3:11 was absurd and pathetic". Woe! If Anonymous remains unconvinced, we may have some serious soul searching to schedule.

mnuez
www.mnuez.blogspot.com

P.S. Mtray - I kinna feel like you're my only buddy here. At the same time, I would guess that you (like me) claim no great comfort with leftist practices or principles but believe that they, nonetheless, deserve at least as much considerati9on as the anarcho-capitalist principles that stand largely unchallenged in the intellosphere.

P. P.S. I'm as drunk as a fuckin' skunk right now. (which I mention solely as apologetics for failing to do better battle with the forces of blind-eyed anarcho-capitalism, rather than as apologetics for doing battle with them at all)

February 17, 2008 at 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Mnuez, would you be kind enough to define "intellosphere" for me? People keep using like I should know what it means.

Also, guys, stop knocking Anonymous - I have it on good authority that his power level is over 9000.

February 18, 2008 at 12:05 AM  
Blogger Miss Welby said...

are you for Clinton or Obama or...? I'm running a poll of American liberal bloggers on my European blog. thank you in advance for visiting and voting. ciao! :)

February 18, 2008 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

I have a question about "blasted Detroit" et al --

there seems to be an idea that gangs have "taken over" parts of LA, Chicago, all of Detroit, etc.

Is it not more that these parts of the cities have been abandoned to them?

i.e. anyone who can leave already has. Only those who can't leave or benefit from a power vacuum (that is, the very unmotivated and the criminal) are the ones who stay.

Now, I live in a very mixed neighborhood (so much so that most of my family refers to it as the ghetto, even though the distribution is closer to the city's average -- 60/40 w/b) and don't see much of any crime that is specifically race related.

Sure, if I lived in College Hill in Tampa, I would expect to see most of the crime being black-tinged -- and if I lived in Auburndale, Florida, I would expect most of the crime to be white-flavored.

But in a mixed neighborhood the only crime comes from trash. Trash is colorless, though it all smells the same. From the next-door neighbor's nephew who stole my lawnmower to the other neighbors who became a (non-violent, mind you) crack house*, the crime hasn't been perpetuated by a color but by an attitude.

Now, I'm not some bleeding heart moron who thinks that if we give these people everything that they will somehow "become good." That bullshit is so blind as to be useless if not detrimental.

But for crime, at least, the problem is not an excess of melanin so much at it is a deficit of brain cells.

*the crack-house is now gone. It was there less than 7 months. We got the DEA to raid the bastards. Also, these two snatches of crime are the only problems we have had after seven years of living in the "ghetto" as my sister says.

February 18, 2008 at 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Apropos of Mtraven's question in his last post, viz., "is obeying the law identical to virtue?" I suspect he knows well enough that the purpose of law is not to make men virtuous but to restrain them from vice. Avoidance of vice is not virtue, but it is still a good thing.

Moreover, there are acts that are "malum in se" - wrong in themselves - and those that are "malum prohibitum" - wrong because they are forbidden. Murder is an example of an act malum in se; exceeding the speed limit is an example of one that is malum prohibitum.

I suspect that JT and the Black Kings may be anthropological fictions, like those of the late Margaret Mead. But assuming they aren't, and JT is a real drug dealer, he is committing both malum in se (murder, theft, assault and battery, etc.) and malum prohibitum (dealing in narcotics). I suspect Mtraven has in mind only the latter when he speaks about JT "maximizing his utility."

So, let us put licitness of their respective spheres of business activity aside and ask whether the purported moral equivalence between Warren Buffett and JT holds any water. It does not, because Mr. Buffett does not employ methods that are malum in se in the pursuit of his business, whereas JT does. What makes JT worthy of condemnation is that he is murderous and thieving, not that he is a dope peddler.

Whether recreational drug use and the traffic in it should be legal or illegal is a curious question. When I was a child, casino gambling, betting on horse races and sporting events, slot machines, the 'numbers racket,' etc., were all illegal in my state. The business of the chief gangster in the biggest nearby city was largely concentrated in meeting the demand for such entertainments, which were considereed vices, and he was considered a very bad man. Many years later, my state's government (or Indian tribes enjoying its blessing) now engage in nearly all the same lines of business. Voilà! They have been washed as if in the blood of the lamb, free from moral taint. Such is the power of socialism. Of course, the old statutes preventing private enterprise in the field have been retained, no longer to protect the public from the vice of gambling, but to protect the revenues of the state and its minions from the effects of competition. The entire picture seems to demonstrate Albert Jay Nock's point that what the state wants is not to stop crime, but to preserve a state monopoly in it.

Why, then, does the state not deal in recreational drugs that are now illegal, or tax them as it does legal tobacco and alcohol? I believe the answer must be sought in the history of anti-drug legislation as it relates to the development of the welfare state.

In the insurance industry there is a concept called "moral hazard." This has nothing much to do with morality in the commonly understood sense. Rather it has to do with the effect an insurance contract may have in producing behavior that would tend to result in a claim. The moral hazard of a fire insurance policy, for example, is that the owner might commit arson. Since it is the intent of the insurer to protect a building's owner against accidental fires, the insurer naturally seeks to exclude from coverage any damage caused by a fire deliberately set by the insured.

The welfare system is one of social insurance. People are assured there will be a 'safety net' for them if they lose their jobs, can't afford food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc. Recreational drug use is an activity that has strong potential to lead to becoming a public charge. Unlike a private insurer, which would simply exclude the insured's deliberate causation of his own loss from being covered, the state, as administrator of social insurance, brings its full power to bear to prohibit and punish such activities.

The many problems such an approach causes have been many times pointed out. The actions associated with drug trafficking that are malum in se (murder, thieving, bodily violence) are mostly committed in consequence of its being a criminal activity. When selling liquor was illegal it was the occasion of much criminal violence; now that it is legal it is a peaceful business like selling groceries or hardware.

It is certainly cheaper to provide welfare services for an addict than it is to lock him in prison. Why, therefore, does government not simply legalize recreational drugs and take this approach to the self-ruination that recreational drug use often causes? One can envision the honest, sober, Vaisya response: why should I work my butt off to support myself and family, and pay taxes so that dope addicts can live in idleness and indulge their vices at my expense?

I do not think too much respect is paid by our ruling class to such views, but they are widely enough held and there is some political advantage in taking cognizance of them. Further, the present arrangements suit just enough people well enough that there is not meaningful demand to change it. It was said that dry counties persisted (and some may still do) in the American South because the status quo enjoyed the support both of the preachers and of the bootleggers, each for their own particular reasons. The same may be said, on a larger scale, for the drug traffic and 'war on drugs.'

February 18, 2008 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Thanks for the kind words mnuez, even if it's just the liquor talking.

Re gm palmer's post -- as it happens, I live in a suburb of San Francisco that has a large downscale white demographic (construction workers, bikers, and surf bums, among many other interesting subpopulations). We bought a house here some years ago, and unfortunately when our next door neighbor died her son inherited the place and is apparently running a meth lab or something there. And recently there was a bust of a Filipino prostitution ring. All of which to say is, the racial profile of my particular criminal element doesn't have much black or latino in it. That hasn't always been the case; I grew up near Chicago and had plenty of black thugs in my environment, along with plenty of black non-thugs who had to deal with them.

February 18, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The entire picture seems to demonstrate Albert Jay Nock's point that what the state wants is not to stop crime, but to preserve a state monopoly in it.

Reminds me of the bumper sticker you see every now and then:

'Don't Steal, The Government Hates Competition!"

February 18, 2008 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Murder is an example of an act malum in se;
Yet it is apparently OK when General Petraeus does it.

I suspect Mtraven has in mind only the latter when he speaks about JT "maximizing his utility."
Um, no. In the context in which I said that, I was not making any particular moral distinctions at all. I believe I asked a question, and to quote myself "Moralizing is not particularly useful to a sociologist, or to a political theorist." I was not trying to assert that Warren Buffet and JT are morally equivalent, but rather to suggest that moralizing was not a particularly useful guide to understanding human actions. Utility maximization is not the be all and end all of explanation either, but it is several notches above dividing the world up into good people and bad people.

Many years later, my state's government (or Indian tribes enjoying its blessing) now engage in nearly all the same lines of business. Voilà! They have been washed as if in the blood of the lamb, free from moral taint. Such is the power of socialism.
What in the world does legalized gambling have to do with socialism? Or are you one of those people who calls any act of government socialism? I thought you were somewhat smarter than that.

BTW, I have to link to this Lew Rockwell posting suggesting that libertarians should support Obama, since whatever socialism he will be offering (in healthcare, or whatever), adds far, far less to the coercive power of the state than does support for a huge military empire. And while Obama is not Ron Paul, he's the least militaristic of the viable presidential candidates. Yes we can!

February 18, 2008 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger George Weinberg said...

There are lots of dry counties. Amusingly, Jack Daniel's distillery is in a dry county. You can make whiskey there, you can drink it there, you just can't buy it (retail).

February 18, 2008 at 1:21 PM  
Anonymous m said...

Michael S.: I enjoyed your points and your writing style. However, I think you're ignoring one of the most important aspects: disadvantaged groups historically have used crime as a means to better themselves for future generations; the Irish, Jews and Italians all had significant criminal elements for a couple of generations which decreased over time e.g. Irish, Jews, and Italians, and have all become productive groups within society. With blacks, crime and violence has increased with each generation, as has their sense of victimization, despite the vastly increased social benefits they are receiving.

You can blame this on any number of possible reasons:
- Blacks have much lower average IQs and are unable to function in a successful society (look at South Africa and Zimbabwe now, for example)
- Welfare recipients, a modern invention, feel a sense of entitlement which only increases with time, and when the benefits continue to increase it creates a feedback loop
- Minorities are no longer being forced to assimilate: Crypto-calvinism favors minority resentment against the majority in order to employ them against their OV enemies

Thus, the problem with black's committing malum in se is that (a) unlike other minorities in the past, it's often for it's own sake instead of in pursuit of malum prohibitum and (b) "maximizing their utility" (raping, murder, theft, etc), as Mtravern so disgustingly put it, only increases with time despite the white majority's social policies in regards to handouts, AA, etc increasing as well.

February 18, 2008 at 1:37 PM  
Anonymous m said...

Whoops, I posted the Irish, Jews, and Italians point twice. My bad.

February 18, 2008 at 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Dear Mtraven, state-operated gambling is the purest illustration of socialism - it is a nationalized industry, the revenues of which flow into the public treasury. It is state ownership (socialism) that has (as I point out) washed gambling of the moral stain with which it was, when part of the private sector, generally believed to be deeply dyed. And now that socialized gambling is widely established, the only purpose served by the old anti-gambling laws prohibiting (for example) the operation of a private lottery (e.g., the 'numbers game' or 'policy racket') is protection of state revenues.

I have not, to my knowledge, held forth on this forum or elsewhere any opinion favorable or otherwise towards the activities of General Petræus. My take on the war in Iraq is best summarized by Talleyrand's famous aphorism, viz., it was worse than a crime, it was a blunder. However it should be obvious to you as well as to any person of discernment that there is a widely acknowledged distinction between killing on the field of battle in accordance with the jus gentium, and the crime of murder with malice aforethought. If nothing else this reflects the state's claim (whether as the result of some Hobbesian social contract or purely by arrogation) to a monopoly on violence. You might as well ask why policemen can go 90 mph down city streets in their patrol cars and shoot up the neighborhood with their pistols, while you cannot do these things. Nock's observation again applies.

As for moralizing not being useful in political theory, well, what it political theory about? It is among other things about the laws by which states are governed. And what is the purpose of law, but to suppress behavior that its framers regard as bad (undesirable) or to require behavior that they regard as good (desirable)? Obviously notions of what it good or bad vary widely, but it cannot be denied that some moral judgment or judgments lie at the center of every variety of political theory. Far from being useless, understanding how and why people moralize is essential to any discussion of political theory.

February 18, 2008 at 8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are falling into the dreaded Multicultural Universalist Trap of mixing two unlike cultures to form a theory about a single culture! The United States was started from English Colonies with small subgroups of OTHER EUROPEANS! The Caste System is from India and was started by the Aryans now misnamed Indo-Europeans along STRICTLY RACIAL LINES!
There was ONLY ONE RACE (Whites) in the Early Days of New England and although there were different nationalities and ethnicities the possibility of any similar Caste system forming during the Early Days of the United States is patently ABSURD! The concept behind Caste is STRICTLY RACIAL and although the many races in the USA today are pitted against each other - there has NEVER BEEN a formalized system of racial categories in law as the Favoritism of "Affirmative Action" is actually a violation of the written language of the Civil Rights Act!
This is due to the Law's implicit wording of Equal Opportunity which CLEARLY EXCLUDES QUOTAS and Strict Constitutionalists have rightly concluded that Affirmative Action is a thinly veiled QUOTA SYSTEM based on spurious arguments of OUTCOMES bean-counting.
In order for your argument to be germaine to America, the Law must implicitly outline racial rewards and barriers without misleading double-talk or red-herrings - which would CLEARLY VIOLATE the Civil Rights Act and Invite Legal Punitive Action or RISK OUTRIGHT CONSTITUTIONAL FRAUD which would VIOLATE the Social Contract that the US Government uses as a Legal Basis for its' Authority!
The Constitution is THE LAW of the LAND and the US Government gets ALL ITS' LEGAL POWERS through it! The result of Denying the Constitution would NEGATE the Powers of Government and leave NO RECOURSE for CITIZENS but to consider themselves under their own recognizance...
The argument you make about the Government using mass unchecked migrations of Central American Barbarians to try to unbalance either other hostile minorities or check the influence of a hostile majority seems to imply a plan by a ruling class to cement power for itself, but these Brahmins you use as an example do not fit well with the STUPID WORTHLESS POLITICIANS that run the US Government!
Further, the idea that the corrupt and weak Roman Imperial remnants that existed at the time had ANY CONTROL over ATTILA or his HUNS is completely laughable to me as a student of history! In fact, the Romans of that late date were little more than the patrons or vassals of the Goths and Visigoths who made up nearly all of the legions! ATTILA merely demanded TRIBUTE from Rome, and the weak, diseased polyglot remnants were more than willing to PAY rather than FIGHT!
There is no stability in the State of California because of hispanization and certainly the Tax Base is leveling towards Mexico instead of US Standards. The once great engine of Westward Migration has sputtered out and may have just had it's last gasp in the veto by the Legislature once known as the most Liberal in the USA of the Republican Governator's Universal Health Care Plan!
The idea that Brahmins (who I thought were SUPPOSED TO BE SMART) would bring ruin to the Economy in order to prevent rebellion seems RATHER LUDICROUS to me! How does a spiraling economy PREVENT REVOLT? If anything, these INSANE POLICIES make CIVIL WAR or OUTRIGHT VIOLENT REVOLUTION much more likely don't you think?
Plus, the Racial Animosity that already existed between Black and White citizens is not getting better by ALLOWING Hispanics to rise in power and influence! How is having three armies fighting any better than two in a Racial Meltdown?
The fact that Hispanics destroy the Tax Base by depressing wages and not paying taxes but use up tax monies will be quickly UNSUSTAINABLE everywhere that they congregate in the USA! This merely GUARANTEES ECONOMIC DISASTER and CIVIL DISORDER which hardly seems reasonable or desirable to anyone like a Brahmin!?
Only an ARROGANT BUFFOON with the character of a PARASITE and the foresight of a COMPULSIVE ADDICT with the MORALS of a person who would PIMP THEIR MOTHER OR SISTER could even CONTEMPLATE such a STUPID PLAN LIKE THIS !!!

This is no theory...

The Eye of Horus sees All.

February 19, 2008 at 12:44 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Whoa, ease up on the EMPHASIS CAPS there, buddy. A little goes a long way.

February 19, 2008 at 1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It should not surprise us that a man who is unable to differentiate between an investor and a crack dealer is also unable to differentiate between a soldier and a murderous street thug.

Disgusting.

February 19, 2008 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

The differences are in motivation only.

And from a formalist perspective, one is less concerned with motivation than with action -- so in the framework of UR's political theory, erasing that distinction is necessary.

GMP

February 19, 2008 at 8:48 AM  
Anonymous m said...

The intellectual level of your commentators has really fallen off lately, Mencius. Apparently, the only difference between a crack addict and Warren Buffett is motivation. Thanks, G.M. Palmer.

The total dismissal of motivation in formalist thought continues to baffle me...

February 19, 2008 at 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is yet more proof that the modern university is an engine for the creation of intellectual charlatans and moral imbeciles.

In any event the actions of Warren Buffett and Petraeus fundamentally differ from those of J.T. just as their motivations do.

February 19, 2008 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

WHOA NELLIE!

I was responding to this:

"is also unable to differentiate between a soldier and a murderous street thug."

There is no difference between their actions. The residents of the area the people with guns operate in are likely to feel scared, apprehensive, and terrorized if they, the residents, are not on the side of the fellows with the guns.

p.s. to needsaname -- did you go to a university? Care to identify it? I went to the University of Florida and the University of New Orleans -- neither a hotbed of American Intellectualism -- just places to get degreed.

February 19, 2008 at 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

I too do not see how one can divorce motivation from action. One may concern oneself more with ends than with motivations, or vice-versa, but is impossible to live in the real world and to consider only one without the other. This is true irrespective of whatever form of economic, social, or political organization may be contemplated.

If I understand neocameralism correctly, it hopes to eliminate politics or at least to minimalize its significance, but to do so does not in any event eliminate the applicability of ethics. It is hard to envision any functioning society that does not at some level operate on the presumption of honesty, that is, on trust. Once we admit this, the camel of morality has got his nose under the hem of the tent, and soon the rest of him must follow.

February 19, 2008 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Byrne said...

G. M. Palmer

The residents of the area the people with guns operate in are likely to feel scared, apprehensive, and terrorized if they, the residents, are not on the side of the fellows with the guns.

Yes, the immediate effect (take cover until the shooting stops) and the medium-term effect (make friends with whoever is the best shot) will be the same. But in the long run, folks in the projects know that J. T. is just going to keep slinging crack until he's shot up an up-and-comer of the same nature. Iraqis know that Petraeus is there to preserve order -- and that when the shooting (and bombing, and looting, and stabbing) stops, he and his guys-with-guns are gone.

In this case, we're not judging actions based on motivations so much as we're using motivations to predict future actions. Which seems pragmatic to me. If Petraeus and his troops were deployed to the Projects, the amount of shooting would go up -- but people would probably feel safer, or more optimistic, knowing the goals and results of the shooting (especially if P-daddy had already established his reputation in Iraq).

February 19, 2008 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

We would only believe that if we had reason to believe that the US Gubmint is actually going to pack up.

I don't give two shits about debating that point -- but the idea of morality in action is an important one.

Pol Pot said until he died that his motivations were pure -- that he had no regrets. The problem with justifying action through motivation is that the end result is still the same. Whether you kill me because you are crazy or you kill me because you believe I will shoot you, because you're worried I will start a rebellion doesn't matter a damn to me -- I'm still dead.

The biggest problem with the whole justifying actions through motivations isn't that though -- it's that it almost never takes into account the motivations of the other side. -- That is, it's a double standard. We can shoot Iraqis because they might shoot us -- and that's okay because we're soldiers. But if they shoot us because we may shoot them they aren't soldiers -- they're just thugs.

It's that line of thinking that adds to perpetual war, especially the kind that "doesn't negotiate with terror" or whatever Bush says.

If you stop defining people with guns in theoretical terms and call them what they are:

--people with guns--

You might actually be able to deal with them.

February 19, 2008 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Byrne said...

G. M. Palmer

If you stop defining people with guns in theoretical terms and call them what they are:

--people with guns--

You might actually be able to deal with them.


But the right way to deal with them is mostly based on the theoretical concerns you are so eager to laugh off. Obviously, you are just as dead whether you're shot by an American soldier or an Iraqi insurgent -- but your odds of dying, and your ability to affect those odds, are different for each group. You can negotiate with the Americans; you can expect that if you stay neutral, they won't kidnap your kids or blow up your house. You know that stopping the Americans means grinding away in a war of attrition that takes ten of them for every one of you; winning against the insurgents is a matter of dealing with religious fanaticism (and possibly crippling whatever informal networks they use to transmit information, ideology, bomb-making materials, etc.).

It's possible to extend your analogy: you're just as dead whether you die of a gunshot wound or lung cancer, thus a tobacco executive is as much an enemy as a terrorist. But I'm sure you'd agree that dead-is-dead doesn't imply a moral equivalence between you buying three packs a day for twenty years and someone else driving a pickup full of explosives into your office.

February 19, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

See, here's where Calvinism raises its ugly head.

Motivations are intrinsic to a "salvation based on faith" sort of worldview -- you can do what you want as long as you love Jeebus.

There's no way to know motivation. Ever.
Actions are the only observable quantity.

Once we adopt this worldview, we can try to understand the actions of others. I remember many of my "we will be greeted with flowers and parades" friends being absolutely shocked, Shocked! that the people of Iraq didn't welcome them. These are the same people that are amazed that "good black folk" don't come to the Police when the ninjas come and shoot em up. What they don't understand is that the average Iraqi and the average black person don't view Soldiers and Policemen in the same way that the average white guy does. They only see actions not motivations. It doesn't matter to them that the Soldier wants to make their nation democratic and free them from oppression. They see some furriner shooting a gun. It doesn't matter that the policeman really wants the neighborhood free of gangs, crack, and hookers. They just see a white guy with a gun.

You know why they see these things?

Because they, nor any one else, can see motivation. It may as well not exist.

February 19, 2008 at 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was responding to this:

"is also unable to differentiate between a soldier and a murderous street thug."

There is no difference between their actions.


Yes, I know. And if "formalism" teaches this, then it is indeed the product of intellectual charlatans and moral imbeciles.

Neither the motivations nor the actions of a gangbanger are the identical to those of an American soldier. People who have faced both know this.

The problem with justifying action through motivation is that the end result is still the same.

Even leaving aside the issue of motivation, the end result is not the same. All men with guns are not the same, and they do not do the same things or achieve the same effects. Equating all men with guns because "they all make people dead" is a childish oversimplification.

We can shoot Iraqis because they might shoot us -- and that's okay because we're soldiers. But if they shoot us because we may shoot them they aren't soldiers -- they're just thugs.

Yes, and soldiers and thugs behave differently unless one believes the absurdity that all men with guns are the same.

Do you honestly believe there is no difference between J.T. and a cop? And therefore you would respond in precisely the same way if J.T. or a cop encountered you in the street, knocked on your front door, or pulled you over? If you would react differently to a cop than to J.T., why the double standard? They're both men with guns, right? And their motivations are irrelevant?

Ghetto blacks may react to cops differently from whites, but that does not mean that ghetto blacks consider the actions and motivations of J.T. and a cop to be identical.

Because they, nor any one else, can see motivation. It may as well not exist.

Oh, both the blacks in the ghetto and the Iraqis can gauge motivation well enough. They know that "motivation" exists, and they understand the motives of cops and soldiers perfectly. But their assessment of the motivation of cops and soldiers is only one factor in their calculations, since cops and soldiers are not the only actors on the local stage. The "good black folk" know that the cops do not have the same motivations as the bad ninjas, but when the ninjas are next door and the cops are far away, one must be careful in cooperating with the cops against the ninjas.

February 19, 2008 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Michael S: State lotteries may be socialist in some narrow technical sense, but in practice they are about as socialist as National Socialism was. That is, none of the people commonly regarded as socialists or progressives are in favor of them, since they function as a highly regressive tax. State lotteries exist because governments are too weak to raise revenue in other ways. Socialists want to raise revenue by taxing the rich, not the poor.

However it should be obvious to you as well as to any person of discernment that there is a widely acknowledged distinction between killing on the field of battle in accordance with the jus gentium, and the crime of murder with malice aforethought.

The Iraq war is widely held to be in violation of international law, even by its supporters, which I assume is what you mean underneath the layer of latinate pretension. But that's neither here nor there. The point is that not everyone is a "person of discernment". For instance, JT is going to man his little militia and exercise his effective monopoly of violence on a few street corners, whether or not he is recognized by the UN. And the Sadr Army is going to do the same in their territory. They don't seem to feel that it's in their interest to play by the rules of the "people of discernment". I wonder why that is.

Nock's observation again applies.
I wonder what point you think you are making by citing Nock. If you, like he, believes the state to be an essentially criminal enterprise then I can't see how you can object to competition.


understanding how and why people moralize is essential to any discussion of political theory.
I wouldn't disagree, but the original context of this conversation was a dismissal of a work of sociology because it dared to enter into the social and mental world of a gang leader. This was seen as somehow disreputable. But it's exactly the people who are at the margins of society whose needs and thoughts need to be taken into account in political theory, because they are the ones who have the choice of opting in or out of the social consensus. Bourgeois nerds like you and me (pardon my assumption and correct me if I'm wrong) are not really going to be a poltical problem for society. We know what side of the bread is buttered, and while we may mutter darkly about the government it is extremely unlikely that we'd actually do much about it. Black ghetto dwellers, on the other hand, seem to often feel that criminality is a better choice than playing by the rules. I do not mean to defend this choice (or attack it), just to note that it happens. A political theory that notes this and proposes doing something about it interests me; a political theory that primly declares some things immoral just isn't very interesting. They may very well may be immoral, but politics has to deal with the fact that immorality, by whatever definition, is quite a common feature of reality.

February 19, 2008 at 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Everyone in this conversation is missing the point of Formalism. There is a huge difference between J.T. and Warren Buffet from a formalist point of view, and it sure isn't that one does right and the other does wrong. Nope. Rather, one makes money for the shareholders, one costs them money; as an Equity Lord of the City-State of Omaha, I sure am glad Buffet lives here, because he pays a lot in taxes and employs a lot of other taxpayers. The whole point is that you don't worry about right and wrong, you just worry about profit and right will follow. Remember Fnargl?

February 19, 2008 at 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really Amazes me that Universalist or Socialist people believe themselves to be More Ethical but calmly deride Morality as old-fashioned or based on racist assumptions! Also, WHAT THE HELL is this International Law everyone always talks about?
The United Nations is NOT or has it EVER BEEN a government capable of making Laws! Plus, the idea that Nations cannot go to war to protect their interests unless a consensus of the UN is reached is Patently Absurd and violates the Sovereignty of All Nations and their ability to have self-government according to the peoples' wishes in those Nations.
The very idea that the USA cannot declare War against a perceived threat without asking other Nations for permission is TOTALLY RIDICULOUS!
For instance, if China were to invade Taiwan - this reasoning or lack of it would imply that Taiwan would have some recourse to petition the UN to insist that China withdraw and prevent any allies from providing assistance to the Taiwanese people unless the Security Council agrees to it - which is UNLIKELY as China is a Permanent Security Council member!
Also, as a student of Sociology I find the preference for International Law instead of American Law by those calling themselves Sociologists to be rather disingenuous in the fact that whereas American Laws are Enforceable through courts and police - International Laws are merely a convenient fiction in that NO ONE actually enforces them and most of the World considers the World Court in the Hague to lack any real authority in their countries.
Much like the concept of Human Rights which quite frankly I don't ever remember being consulted on or that any Real Debate ever took place on this issue nor vote for that matter, the implication seems to be that there are in fact accepted Supra-National Government Agencies which NO ONE from the citizenry of the USA or other Nations seem to have any say in the rules or laws thereof!? What exactly is freeing or empowering about fictitious governments that do not have any support or input by the citizenry, and seem to make rules and regulations without the need for elections or referendums by the people?
Further, as a student of Psychology I have always doubted the legitimacy of the Sociologist Theory that Criminal Behavior is an attempt at economic or social benefit by the perpetrators. The maladaptive nature of utilizing Violence or the threat of Violence to gain economic benefit in the short term is evidenced in the Long-Term ill effects of retribution by Victims and Societies in the form of Execution and Imprisonment.
Whereas the use of Violence is an accepted fact amongst groups of Savages who have no means of trade and gain their needs through attacks and raids, the spectacle of constant meaningless Warfare amongst Tribal Groups that WILL NEVER END unless they are conquered by outside forces or EXTERMINATE each other seems to CONFLICT WILDLY with the supposedly Pacifist Tendencies professed by Sociologists in General.
Why supposed Pacifists would not see Crime as an aberration when it by definition implies Violence has always made me suspect that some serious Mental Flaw must exist in their Psyche! In any case, Theft is not merely immoral but Clearly Unethical in a society like the United States where VAST SUMS of Monies are spent to aid the poor and assist the indigent!?
These programs might not be effective, but this is mostly due to the Complete Incompetence of the Government - who cannot see the STUPIDITY behind giving Money to Addicts and insufficiently preventing or punishing Criminals to stop Crime from being profitable...
That obvious Maladaptive Elements from other parts of the World are ALLOWED or EVEN ENCOURAGED to degrade the standards and morals that made the United States the envy of the World is all the proof one needs to see that these Governing Bodies are led by FOOLS, PARASITES and yes CRIMINALS!
Why is not the most important question, but How to prevent this from TOTALLY DESTROYING the Law-Abiding Productive Citizens should be the focus for discussion. Obviously the Status Quo will lead to RUIN for All involved, and ONLY A FOOL WOULD FIGHT IN A BURNING HOUSE !!!

The Eye of Horus sees All.

February 20, 2008 at 12:18 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, your claim that state lotteries are not socialism because some people who call themselves socialists disapprove of them is sophistry. I recall in another thread on this forum your dismissing the claim that certain collectivist tendencies on the part of government were socialistic because they did not involve state ownership of the means of production.

"Legalized gambling" IS an example of state ownership of the means of production. Outside of a few very limited venues, legal gambling in the United States is all operated by government. Even the Indian tribes that operate casinos do so under the pretext that they are 'sovereign nations.' You are not permitted to set up a casino, operate a lottery, or do business as a bookmaker in competition to these governmental entities. If you do so, you will be prosecuted for what in the old Soviet Union used to be called 'economic crimes.' How can these enterprises not, therefore, be socialist? Do you pick and choose which definition of socialism you wish to apply, based on what is convenient at the moment?

The phenomenon of socialism cleansing an activity of imputed vice is hardly new. When liquor prohibition was repealed, the repeal was conditioned upon the granting of special authority to state and local governments to prohibit or retrain the trade in alcoholic liquors. Some chose to permit their sale only through state or local monopolies. Consuming liquor is considered a moral failing in these places, unless it is bought from the government, in which case it is not only OK but probably a patriotic service.

The structure of settlements in the tobacco lawsuits that have taken place in just about every U.S. state also partake of this character, though not to quite the same degree. The production and distribution of tobacco products are left nominally in private hands, but essentially an additional tax has been imposed on them by the courts, outside the usual legislative channels. The amount of money raised by these settlements for the several states is so considerable that it is has become major element in their budgeting processes. Accordingly, while lip-service is paid to the nominal objective of extirpating tobacco use, in practice the states want the public not to stop too soon. I find it fascinating. If they could figure out some way to engineer a state monopoly on the sale of tobacco, such as France maintained (and perhaps still does), there would be none of this hypocrisy. The states would be peddling 'coffin nails' to schoolboys.

I hardly think I am 'primly declaring' one or another sort of behavior immoral as you claim. Indeed, I'm noting that whether some activities are considered right or wrong appears to depend on who is doing them. You compare Warren Buffett, General Petræus, and "J.T.", whose activities are widely understood to be quite different. I am comparing activities which are the same, such as operating lotteries or dealing in liquor - and asking, why are they considered blameless when done by government, and blameworthy when carried out by private enterprise? What is the mystical power of state ownership (= socialism) to wash away their evil? Would it work in the same way to absolve the traffic in recreational drugs of the reprehension it now attracts?

February 20, 2008 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

ONLY A FOOL WOULD FIGHT IN A BURNING HOUSE

That's right. But the one-world open borders brainiacs who say importing impoverished uneducated savages is a brilliant way to help (by which they mean "burn down") civilized nations have an answer for that.

The brainiacs will maximize their utility and learn Chinese. After the resounding success (by which they really do mean success) of the African and Latino migrations, what else can we do but migrate millions of Chinese workers to build the homes we'll need for the millions of Chinese workers.

For the good of the Holy Economy of course.

February 20, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Rikki said...

Mencius has a great propensity to write at length without saying much. Long winded posts invite an overwhelming amount of comments, few of them substantive.

To wit, I find the connection between the Bloods and say, Bill Clinton, to be tenuous. However, that hasn't stopped you from writing a long-ass post that fails to convincingly make that point.

Although I find your ideas stimulating (and somewhat misguided), you're argument suffers when you spend more time bloviating than substantiating some of your more "heterodox" claims and ideas (which is the whole point of this blog, right?)

February 20, 2008 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Michael S -- you are the one who brought up lotteries. I actually have no idea what point you are trying to make with them, since nobody here is in favor of state-run gambling. Whether you call them a form of socialism or not is really not a very interesting question, is it? If you define socialism broadly enough, which people like you tend to do, then any government activity is socialist and the term becomes more or less useless. Definitions are tools, so what are you trying to accompish by labeling something as socialist when it is not supported by socialists?

We actually seem to be in violent agreement on the broader issue at stake. You are complaining that the state has the power to take over some otherwise immoral activity (gambling) and make it appear moral. I'm making the exact same complaint about violence, which is blessed when states do it but not when pursued by private entrepeneurs like JT. So, can we agree to agree? Or do you disagree?

February 20, 2008 at 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

The point of bringing up state-operated lotteries is simply that nationalizing, or socializing, a previously illegal vice is one way of dealing with the perceived problem - or so many politicians seem to think.

The recent legal treatment of gambling and whether it has really remedied the alleged vice involved needs to be borne in mind when considering the drug laws and the social and economic phenomena associated with them. Recreational use of opiates, stimulants, etc., has existed from time immemorial, but did not become the subject of prohibitive legislation until the early twentieth century. This was about the same time as other vices such as drunkenness, gambling, and prostitution also were targeted by legislation. Why?

Does it not seem peculiar that inebriation, drug-taking, whoring, and gambling should have been universally condemned by clergymen, schoolmasters, and newspaper editorialists during the Victorian era, yet despite all this moralistic censure, there was no effort to make them illegal?
The reason of course is that they were then understood to be private vices, not rising to the level of crimes. If a person ruined himself by vicious habits, he did not become a burden on his neighbors. The wastrel, the drunk, the dope fiend, the poxed lecher, and the impoverished gambler, died in the gutter or in debtors' prison, and their fates were viewed as a practical demonstration of the reasons for avoiding such behaviors.

Legislation against these vices came hand-in-hand with the 'reform' era of politics, when the governing elite began to be entranced with the conceit that state coercion could reform human nature. It gained further impetus with the recognition that vices were not just traditional moral failings, but 'moral hazards' in the actuarial sense of the term, connected with the newly-introduced institutions of social insurance.

The burgeoning of vice is a predictable product, and an ongoing dilemma, of the welfare state. Acknowledging this is the first step towards wisdom about the subject. We must next ask, is it an unintended consequence, or a deliberate result?

February 20, 2008 at 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long winded posts invite an overwhelming amount of comments, few of them substantive.

One of the most notably non-substantive comments is yours, Rikki. But thanks for sharing!

February 20, 2008 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

The point of bringing up state-operated lotteries is simply that nationalizing, or socializing, a previously illegal vice is one way of dealing with the perceived problem - or so many politicians seem to think.
OK. Just for the record, this is not an issue I care about very much, so I'm bowing out of this non-argument until you feel like addressing some of my points. (although it does make me think of a vaguely related question for MM: if the battle of the sixties was supposedly "won" by the hippies and SDSers, why is pot still illegal? It ought to be mandatory in the schools by now).

February 20, 2008 at 8:38 PM  
Blogger Byrne said...

mtraven

if the battle of the sixties was supposedly "won" by the hippies and SDSers, why is pot still illegal?

Have you ever had any trouble getting some? It costs less than the amount of alcohol to get you similarly altered, the market in paraphernalia flourishes quite legally, and the only people who get busted seem to be outside the usual SDS demographic. I mean, I'm sure it happens, and I'm sure it happens a lot, but I can't think of any white person in prison on pot-related drug charges who wasn't involved in other drugs, involved in other crimes, or deeply irresponsible even disregarding the drug use.

For the children of those SDSers, pot is as legal as Pepsi.

February 20, 2008 at 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, why don't you address some of my points, particularly about how drug legislation is a product of the welfare state? You have evaded the issue of the moral hazard of social insurance, which I have been developing over several posts in this thread.

I'll note that not all examples of laws arising from this moral hazard have to do with behavior traditionally identified as vicious. The concern has a far broader scope. Immigration, for example, was unrestricted previous to the welfare state. Since its establishment, one of the arguments for restricting it has been that immigrants might become public charges. Similarly, acts of mere carelessness or folly, not rising to the level of vice, which might lead to self-injury or loss, have become the objects of legal sanction. Examples are laws requiring automobile passengers to wear seat belts and motorcyclists to wear helmets, laws banning the sale of firecrackers, etc. When one looks at the legislative history of such enactments, the argument inevitably made in their favor is not only that persons might injure themselves, but that they might therefore become dependent on the public treasury.

Laws of this kind are widely disregarded, as any perceptive person can see. They are ineffective because the welfare state has mitigated if not eliminated entirely the natural consequences of vice, folly, carelessness, and indolence, and no punishment imposed by law can possibly have the deterrent effect of those natural consequences.

Daniel Bell entitled one of his books 'The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.' What I am pointing out are the economic (and ultimately cultural) contradictions of socialism or welfarism. These are what make the existence of someone like "J.T." feasible.

February 21, 2008 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Sorry I've been absent from the conversation for so long, but Michael S, you've fallen for universalist bull. Immigration was restricted before the welfare state, even back in the colonial era. We famously restricted immigration from Japan when it was poor in a "gentleman's agreement", and Samuel Gompers (who was focused on good wages for union members rather than a welfare state) helped to pass the 1921 and 1924 immigration restriction acts.

February 21, 2008 at 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP, pre-1924 immigration may have been restricted to some slight extent - but not nearly to that it was afterward. 1924 was before the New Deal but not before the beginning of the Reform era or the incipient welfare state. The raison-d'etre of twentieth century immigration restrictions was, first, that there was no longer an open frontier (it was pronounced dead in 1890) and that immigrants could no longer so easily be absorbed; second, that some immigrants would be unassimilable and/or become public charges. Certainly since then discussion of the desirability of immigration has increasingly centered on whether its costs to the taxpayer do or do not outweigh whatever economic benefit it brings.

Your link on colonial immigration restrictions in New England was interesting to read, because the restrictions in question were completely economic in motivation and intended to exclude persons who might become public charges under the poor laws. Far from disproving my point, it demonstrates that even the colonial government of Massachusetts was concerned about the moral hazard of such poor relief as its laws provided. The history of social welfare legislation from the reign of Elizabeth I forward shows that there has never been a time when its moral hazard has not been evident. It is just more obvious now that social welfare provisions are more extravagant.

February 21, 2008 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Michael S said Mtraven, why don't you address some of my points, particularly about how drug legislation is a product of the welfare state?
Because, as I already said, this is a side issue which I don't have any very strong opinions about. The only reason I'm in this thread is to pursue this interesting feature in the thought of MM, you, and others, where violence is just dandy if committed by a state and just awful if committed by a private party. I don't necessarily disagree, but what I don't understand is how you can hold such a view and simulatneously consider yourself an anti-statist. That is baffling to me.

If you insist on pursuing the drug law issue, I would be interested in seeing some actual data on how the level of social welfare correlates witih drug laws. My guess is that they are not very correlated, and in particular the US will turn out to have much lower levels of social welfare and much more stringent drug laws than other developed countries.

What I am pointing out are the economic (and ultimately cultural) contradictions of socialism or welfarism. These are what make the existence of someone like "J.T." feasible.
Criminal gangs existed long before the welfare state and drug legislation. Ever read Oliver Twist?

February 21, 2008 at 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, I should be obliged if you could point out where I have said that violence is just dandy if committed by a state and awful if committed by a private party. All I have observed is that there is a difference between the kind of killing done by a soldier and the kind done by a murderer. This is not a thought original to me nor am I moralizing. I am describing a popular belief widely acknowledged at many different times and places. Is that not a valid thing to do in sociological discussion? The ancient Greek, for example, has a different word for murder than it does for killing in battle. In the Decalogue as given in the Septuagint (the oldest text we have of the Bible, not excepting the Masoretic Hebrew) the commandment we customarily render as "Thou shalt not kill" is "ou phoneúseis," correctly translated "you shall not murder."

As for the war in Iraq, I have said elsewhere that I regard it in the light of Talleyrand's aphorism - worse than a crime, it was a blunder. Nonetheless the invasion of Iraq by the United States appears to me to be at least as justified as, for example, the intervention of Gustavus Adolphus in the Thirty Years' War. To object to it as a violation of 'international law' is absurd. To say so is a reflection of how meaningless that concept has become in this day of charades like the United Nations. Classical authorities on the jus gentium such as Grotius or Pufendorf would not share that opinion. My objection to the war is more practical.

As for crime, we have useful data on it from before the welfare era. Rather than citing "Oliver Twist" we might well look at it. Of course there were criminal gangs before the advent of the welfare state. Dealing in recreational drugs was not among their activities, because this was not then a crime, nor was there any particular reward in it. However we do know that there was much less crime in the recent past. Murder is and always has been the best-reported of crimes. Depending upon which jurisdiction we examine in the United States, the per-capita murder rate at the beginning of the twentieth century was somewhere between one-eighth to one-twentieth what it was at its peak in the late twentieth century. A similar phenomenon is observable in British data. Crime was much rarer in the last years of Victoria's reign than it is in today's Cool Britannia.

I recall when several jurisdictions instituted 'shall issue' procedures for licensing the concealed carry of firearms - basically taking away the discretion of the police bureaucracy in the issuance of licenses, and setting objective standards therefor - the urban newspaper editorialists' favorite fear was that their fair cities would come to resemble the 'Wild West.' Dodge City and Tombstone were often held up as horrific examples. This, like your citation of "Oliver Twist", confuses popular fiction with historic fact. With or without concealed carry, a modern American city would be fortunate to achieve crime rates as low as those that prevailed on the Western frontier in the late 19th century.

February 22, 2008 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Mtraven, I should be obliged if you could point out where I have said that violence is just dandy if committed by a state and awful if committed by a private party.
Perhaps you haven't explictly, so I will retract that assertion and apologize. I was probably conflating your postings with those of MM, and factoring in the point that nobody seems to be able to explain to me why our military in Iraq is thought to be operating on a more elevated plane than JT and his gangbangers. Perhaps you don't feel that state violence is dandy, but you certainly seem ready to apply different standards to state actors than you do to others. You think the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, not a crime, but presumably if I were to bring a bunch of armed men to your neighborhood and start killing people you'd disapprove, even if I claimed to be acting for the greater good. So I repeat my challenge -- other than being committed under the color of a state, and of course the immense difference in scale, what distinguishes our actions in Iraq from JT lighting up some rival gang members?

To object to it as a violation of 'international law' is absurd.
You were the one who introduced the notion of international law, not me. At least, that's what I interpret jus gentium to mean. International law is an inherently problematic concept since there is no controlling authority and not much of an enforcement mechanism. I have never heard of the obscure sources you cite and couldn't really care less what they think -- if you're going to make arguments from authority, you need to pick better authorities than that.

February 22, 2008 at 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, I'm not the one that makes the distinction between killing on the battlefield and murder. I merely follow customary usage, which makes and always has made this distinction, here and everywhere. You are supposedly the advocate of democracy here. How do you explain your departure from the will of the people as expressed in the different language they use, and have always used, to describe these two different kinds of killing?

As for the jus gentium, I meant and mean by the term the customary law of nations that has obtained under western civilization since at least the middle ages. The legitimate conduct of soldiers on the battlefield has pretty uniformly been distinguished under it from illegitimate killing.The U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice makes such a distinction, and U.S. soldiers and marines have quite recently been put on trial for illgeitimate killing under that Code. You were, I believe, the one who claimed that the invasion of Iraq was against international law. If so the international law in question is a farce, the product of an era that admits to the United Nations 'countries' amongst whose populations the taste of human flesh is still familiar. As I have noted, whatever the wisdom or lack of it in the American invasion of Iraq may have been, there is nothing in it that would have been considered contrary to the classical jus gentium that obtained in Europe from the middle ages through the end of World War I. That is not my opinion, it is a statement of fact.

February 23, 2008 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Michael S: I merely follow customary usage

Well, there's your problem in a nutshell.

You are supposedly the advocate of democracy here. How do you explain your departure from the will of the people as expressed in the different language they use, and have always used, to describe these two different kinds of killing?

I am? I suppose I have defended democracy against some of the more nonsensical attacks made against it, but that doesn't mean I believe that everything democracies do is wonderful or the will of the people is god's own truth.

the product of an era that admits to the United Nations 'countries' amongst whose populations the taste of human flesh is still familiar.

The West lost its claim on moral superiority a long time ago, haven't you heard?

whatever the wisdom or lack of it in the American invasion of Iraq may have been, there is nothing in it that would have been considered contrary to the classical jus gentium that obtained in Europe from the middle ages through the end of World War I.

So what? It didn't take place during that era but in our own.

February 23, 2008 at 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mtraven, you are either the Devil or his Advocate!

"The West lost its claim on moral superiority a long time ago, haven't you heard?"

Oh, we've All Heard, but I doubt anyone Could Ever Claim that the anarchy and genocide so constant as to be commonplace amongst Savages EVER being the same as the Western Nations concept of Law and Order! The idea that a fair trial is EVEN POSSIBLE in the third world or amongst primitive Savages requires at least a good amount of clinical insanity!

The Egalitarian argument is based on False Assumptions such as the ability of the Stupid to obey the Law or the even more preposterous Outright Lie that given freedom All People will be at Peace! And let's not forget the Blame the White Game - eh? Hah! All you have to do is Look at Zimbabwe or most of Black Africa to conclude that Whites were NEVER the root cause of Black violence!

The Anti-White Blame Game is a TOTAL SCAM, and the "Brahmin" mk II or "Stupid Brahmin" has reaped what he has sown in the Rising Hatred for all his ilk amongst Wise Peoples! Blaming Whites has become a spectator sport at colleges and universalies (no typo) that No Longer Focus on Learning but are merely brainwashing re-education camps for Marxists who can't get a Real Job!

Also, I find it hard to believe that there are or ever were Blak Militias - especially since most would argue the Psychology of Militias requires shared goals and the ability to organize!? Remember that most "Blak" Organizations were not ACTUALLY FORMED or ORGANIZED by Blaks!

As for the Liberal Tirades of "Bushie Broke Da Law", what Law is That? If not International Law of which there are NONE, then WHAT American Law? If memory serves, then Resident Bush II went to Congress and THEY declared War. Why doesn't anyone say Congress Broke the Law? Maybe because the Constitution gives them the Power to Declare War?

And finally, PLEASE STOP blaming Guns for violence!!! Have you Ever Even Seen a Real Gun? Guns are Totally Inanimate Objects without Free Will and No Supernatural Powers to turn Law-Abiding Citizens into Killers! Guns cannot Kill unless they are used to Kill, and don't bring up the tired canard of accidents either - people are Killed slipping in the shower and I don't want Those Banned either!

Everyone should be aware that those that Support Gun Control are mostly from the Legal Profession - and NO ONE can Honestly Claim that Lawyers support Safety or Freedom!

The Eye of Horus sees All.

PS: No I am not a Republican or a Democrat - I JUST DON'T LIKE LIES!

February 24, 2008 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

mtraven, you are either the Devil or his Advocate!

Cool. Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven, and all that jazz.

Your Capitalization Style indicates that you are in SERIOUS NEED of Medication. Or not -- if left untreated, you might become an internet celebrity like this guy.

February 24, 2008 at 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

I'm curious, Mtraven, given your views on state violence, when your house is broken into by a burglar who threatens your property and possibly your life, whom will you call? The police, or your neigborhood gangster? You set them equal in theory, but what will your practice be?

The ordinary assumption about state violence is that it is undertaken to preserve rather than disrupt order. While this is unfortunately not true in some cases, it is at least what is expected.

Order has a definite, albeit variable, positive economic value. This may be seen in considering the poverty of places that have no order, or where the order is at the level of "...the ancient plan/that he may take who has the power/and he may keep that can." There are many points differentiating, say, the economy of Somalia from that of Switzerland, but a pretty fundamental one is the lack of order in the former, and the presence of order in the latter. Order and wealth are most often found together.

Orders that place a high emphasis on the protection of private property are economically of greater value than those that do not: contrast, say, the economies of South Korea or Singapore with those of North Korea or Burma.

On the other handl, you don't differentiate between the profits of JT and those of Warren Buffett, so you must believe there is no difference between private property lawfully and peacefully acquired and private property that has been expropriated by violence. So, perhaps you don't see the economic value of order, particularly when it concerns the protection of private property.

February 24, 2008 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Bobcat said...

It seemed to me that Wilkinson simply didn't respond to Mencius's comments over on his blog. This could be because he simply didn't have a response to Mencius, or because he simply thought Mencius beneath contempt. I couldn't tell which one motivated him, but I take it that it was the latter. If so, it's not clear that Mencius devastated Wilkinson unless Wilkinson decides to respond.

And for those who take it that clearly Wilkinson had no responses, only the epithet "racist", it could be that very few of us would be able to argue very well with someone who thought, say, that we were morally obligated to torture babies and had thought a long time about why this was the case. If someone really had justifications, or at least putative justifications for this position, many of us would feel at a loss while still feeling that our interlocutor was wrong.

February 24, 2008 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

I'm curious, Mtraven, given your views on state violence, when your house is broken into by a burglar who threatens your property and possibly your life, whom will you call? The police, or your neigborhood gangster?

Well, the issue isn't really who I call. At this stage of my life, I'm a boring upright citizen, willing to let the state have its monopoloy of violence as the least bad choice. But ghetto dwellers generally don't see things that way; they don't see the police as their friends and/or as capable of protecting them from violence. So they will call nobody, or possibly their neighborhood gangster. There's an active campaign on to try and drive a further wedge between the police and the populace.

Please note that I am observing this phenomenon, not approving of it. But neither do I take the position that people who are outside of the law are evil. They may well be, but a better theory is that they are responding to different incentives than I am.

The ordinary assumption about state violence is that it is undertaken to preserve rather than disrupt order.

I always like what Richard Daley had to say about that: "The policeman isn't there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder."

Like any entropy-reducing system, states create local order by creating even greater disorder outside their sphere of control. That's why the border areas of the state are inherently interesting. Iraq and the ghetto are examples of places where the state's disorder accumulates.

On the other handl, you don't differentiate between the profits of JT and those of Warren Buffett, so you must believe there is no difference between private property lawfully and peacefully acquired and private property that has been expropriated by violence.

Violence underlies all claims to property (something Mencius, at least, acknowledges). All of it has been expropriated at some point, all of it is held by an implict threat of violence. Your comfortable law abiding life is propped by historical and ongoing violence, so the fact that you have some sort of legal claim to some piece of property in no way constitutes a moral claim.

Now, that's not to say that implicit, potential, or symbolic violence (found in 'ordered' polities) is not vastly preferable to actual violence. We'd rather have Buffett pulling a coup at a board of directors meeting than having him shoot it out in the street. So property rights can be useful, and respect for them can be useful, but let's not pretend there is some sort of god-given morality that determines who owns what.

And in fact I never said I didn't differentiate between the profits of JT and Warren Buffett -- I challenged others to do so, and to justify it in a way that would be acceptable to JT. That's the interesting question.

February 24, 2008 at 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

I fear that Mtraven and I shall never agree, because he does not admit the authority of any usage, however ancient, continuous, or broadly observed it may be. This forces us to reduce every question about social organization to abstract principles, and - unless one admits the truth of religious revelation - one set of abstract principles is no better than another.

This does not seem to me to be the right approach to these issues. Societies existed and developed order long before political ideologies did. Entropy may be inevitable in thermodynamics but it is a false analogy to apply it to societies, which seem spontaneously to develop some sort of order. Out of the many vastly differing sorts of social orders that have developed throughout history, we can find a few points in common on which almost every one provides an illustration. Such are the prohibitions of murder (and its distinction from killing under other circumstances) and of theft, which implicitly defines private property legitimately held.

Customary usage over time congeals into law by the tacit acceptance of generations, whether rulers or the ruled, and from common usages throughout time and over georgraphic distance, what emerges is natural law, without the need of reference to original prescription or putative deity. It is much the same as the way in which the work of grammarians and lexicographers, which was originally descriptive of common usage, acquires prescriptive authority. Usage may change, and authority changes with it - some of the old falls into desuetude, some that is new finds acceptance. In an organically or spontaneously evolved order. these changes are typically quite gradual. As Eric Voegelin has observed, the order of history emerges upon examination of the history of order.

We are handicapped in understanding this because we are products of the twentieth century, which was characterized by the emergence of the ideological state. Viewed from the longer perspective of history, this triumph of ideology is an aberration, one which it is devoutly to be hoped will be short-lived.

As for distinguishing the profits of JT and Warren Buffett in a way that would be acceptable to JT: assuming JT is not a sociological fiction, I expect he understands the difference quite well. There is an old saying than no one so complains of being robbed as a thief. How do you suppose JT would regard someone who stole from him? He would feel wronged. Even sociopaths know the difference between right and wrong. It's why they take steps to conceal their own wrongs, a classic proof of mens rea. JT may rationalize his own wrongdoing but I doubt he is foolish enough to believe that the society in which he lives will agree. He takes steps to avoid the consequences. If he ever contemplates the activities of legitimate businessmen in comparison with his own - which is unlikely - the first thing that would probably occur to him is that they don't have to cover their tracks, and he does. Primitive though it may be, that's still a moral distinction - maybe more than could be expected of an early twenty-first century academic.

February 27, 2008 at 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mtraven remains determined to be the very archetype of what I said on February 19, 2008 at 10:26 AM...

February 27, 2008 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

I fear that Mtraven and I shall never agree, because he does not admit the authority of any usage, however ancient, continuous, or broadly observed it may be.
Depends on what "admit the authority of a usage" means. I am not very respectful of authority in general, but I put in a slightly positive word on Burkean conservartism here. But doing things in some way because we've always done it that way strikes me as a singularly uninspiring idea, especially given that the world is nothing like it was 1000 or even 100 years ago.

This forces us to reduce every question about social organization to abstract principles, and - unless one admits the truth of religious revelation - one set of abstract principles is no better than another.
Hm, not really. Not all abstact principles are arbitrary. Utilitarianism, for instance, is plenty abstract but also not arbitrary (not that I am a utilitarian).

Out of the many vastly differing sorts of social orders that have developed throughout history, we can find a few points in common on which almost every one provides an illustration. Such are the prohibitions of murder (and its distinction from killing under other circumstances) and of theft, which implicitly defines private property legitimately held.

Most human societies were tribal and if they prohibited murder it was only within their own tribe, people were more than eager to kill outsiders. This distinction has been brought forward today into our allegedly more developed cultures and into your own morality, since you seem to think that killing your neighbor is evil but killing strangers in war is somehow OK.

And in fact this is the morality practiced by gangs, which are essentially tribal subcultures. So, they would seem to be the real traditionalists here.

JT may rationalize his own wrongdoing but I doubt he is foolish enough to believe that the society in which he lives will agree.
Well, duh, if you mean the larger society. Within his own subculture he I'm sure he views himself, rightly, as playing the game by the rules.

You don't seem to actually know anything about criminal gangs. Maybe you should read some sociology. Or at least watch The Wire.

February 28, 2008 at 9:05 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, your supposition that I don't know anything about criminals or criminal gangs is based on - what?

I think I have a pretty good understanding of criminal psychology for a person who is not professionally involved with it. My maternal grandfather was commissioner of corrections in a large western state and I grew up hearing stories about the people in his charge. He lived until I was 30 and I thus had a good chance to know and appreciate him and his work. I'd submit this was as good an instruction in criminology as one could get from reading a few books by academic sociologists, much less watching the meretricious trash that is on television.

Most criminals are sociopathic. Some are violent, and some are not, but all are proficient liars. The lies of the sociopath are not delusional - they are self-serving and designed to conceal those deeds that they know others regard as wrong - which, as I've mentioned, is a classic proof of mens rea. Sociopaths believe the rules that govern the rest of society are not for such as them - they are, in other words, antinomians in practice even if they have never heard the word. Granddad went from an idealistic belief in rehabilitation at the start of his career in the fulness of time to conclude that all that could be done with sociopaths was containment until they reached such an advanced age that they were too feeble to harm anyone.

When you say that "within his own subculture I'm sure (the criminal) views himself, rightly, as playing by the rules," all you are doing is paraphrasing the old saw that there is honor among thieves. That there is not is easily demonstrated by reading the news accounts of criminal trials of gangsters. They are complete opportunists and turn on each other when it is convenient. Their only rule, at bottom, is that life is the war of all against all. Life for such people would indeed be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short, but for the tolerance and indulgence of the larger society within which they live and which they victimize.

You have misstated and distorted my position when you say that "(I) seem to believe that killing (my) neighbor is evil, but killing strangers in war is somehow OK." All I have said is that there is a difference between the two acts, one widely acknowledged throughout history and amply documented in precedent. Killing my neighbor may not be evil, if he is immediately threatening my life or limb. Killing strangers in war my not be OK if they have not wronged me, my family, or country. It all depends upon the circumstances.

You seem to have your moral beliefs. I recall in another thread your going on with some indignation about how the Bush administration had traduced the right of habeas corpus and engaged in torture, etc. Whence came your high dudgeon over these things?

Whatever one may think of the Bush administration, it has done nothing as extensive as the Lincoln administration did in suspending the right of habeas corpus, and nothing nearly so drastic as the Roosevelt administration did in rounding up Japanese resident aliens and their families (some of whom were American citizens) and interning them in concentration camps. The military commissions set up under Lincoln and Roosevelt actually condemned people to death, and they were executed without further ado - actions that the much-criticised military commissions erected by the Bush administration haven't got around to yet. So, rather than get your dander up, wouldn't it be the proper pose of the moral detachment you seem to like to take, simply to have observed that the Bush administration is no worse than those of Lincoln and FDR? That, I think, would be sufficient condemnation.

February 29, 2008 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Most criminals are sociopathic.

And you know this because your grandfather was a turnkey. OK.

Fun fact: the US imprisons 1% of its adult population, more than any other country in the world in both absolute and per-capita measures. That's an awful lot of sociopathy, and one might wonder why we seem to have so much more of it than other countries. (I know what you're thinking, it's the fault of all those dusky-hued races. Unfortunately the incarceration rate for white male adults is an astonishingly high 1 in 106).

And I can't help but note that such pathologies are not limited to the criminal classes.

...the meretricious trash that is on television.

I couldn't care less what you think about my politics, but don't insult my favorite show! The creator of The Wire, David Simon, started off as a reporter and has several well-regarded nonfiction books about the police and the drug dealers of Baltimore under his belt. Seriously, the show is fantastic. Heh, and I just ran into this relevant quote:

Simon draws a sharp line between his program and its influential, but thematically very different, forebears, such as Dragnet, Hill Street Blues, and his own Homicide: Life on the Street: "The best crime shows…were essentially about good and evil. Justice, revenge, betrayal, redemption. The Wire, by contrast, has ambitions elsewhere.…Specifically: We are bored with good and evil. We renounce the theme."

My feelings exactly.

Whatever one may think of the Bush administration, it has done nothing as extensive as the Lincoln administration ...

Um, what does that have to do with anything we were talking about? If you want to start a debate about whether Bush is the worst president ever or merely terrible, well, maybe we should find another thread, this one is already too long.

February 29, 2008 at 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, my maternal grandfather was something more than a 'turnkey.' He ran the whole correctional system of his state, was at one time president of the American Correctional Association, and wrote several books on crime and criminals. These I have read, and would put them up against the work of any academic sociologist.

Do you seriously deny that sociopathy, or moral idiocy (as it used to be called), are real phenomena and characterize most habitual criminals? Of course there are people not commonly characterized as criminals who exhibit these traits. Many professional politicians are simply more polished and adroit in their sociopathy than the typical sort that gets in trouble with the police. One distinction is that the latter class usually know better than to employ direct physical violence. Bill Clinton is as proficient a liar as Caryl Chessman was. Yet one went to the White House and the other to the gas chamber.

You have not addressed at all my point about the basic lack of honor among thieves, contrary to your reference to a televised entertainment as evidence. One of the great changes in the nature of organized crime, which may be documented by factual reference, is the collapse of the Italian/Sicilian gangs. This has been going on for some time. Omertà, which might have been confused with honor among thieves, was in fact enforced by fear, and that fear is no longer what it was. Mafia figures are now singing like canaries to betray each other in return for favorable treatment. So much for "within his own subculture... the criminal views himself as playing by the rules."

If we incarcerate more people in this country than in other countries, perhaps it is because we are either more squeamish about executing criminals than are some of those countries (e.g. China or Saudi Arabia) or else because we have a more ethnically diverse population than others of them (e.g., Japan or Iceland). Ethnic diversity leads to all sorts of criminal behavior that is not seen in ethnically homogeneous societies. Many formerly ethnically homogeneous European countries are now experiencing increased ethnic diversity, and it is no surprise that crime is rising in those countries (e.g. England, France, the Netherlands, etc.) In the due course of time their incarceration rates will rise to reflect this.

My point in bringing up your strictures against the Bush administration was not to defend the Bush administration but to point out that you evidently adhere to some moral system that motivates your high indignation about it. How does this square with your statement "my feelings exactly" in response to the penultimate sentence of your quotation ("We are bored with good and evil")?

There is cognitive dissonance between your criticism of the moral distinctions I have made, and the obvious (but rather opaque) moral beliefs that lead you to condemn Bush for doing (though with rather less vigor) the same things as president that Lincoln and FDR did.

March 1, 2008 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Do you seriously deny that sociopathy, or moral idiocy (as it used to be called), are real phenomena and characterize most habitual criminals?
It may be a real phenomena, although like any mental disorder without clear physical correllates there is some doubt as to what is really going on, how much the diagnosed differ from those in the normal population, and how much is pure pseudoscience. There is some proof by definition going on, since one of the defining characterisics of sociopathy is a tendency towards criminal behavior. That an actual medical syndrome "characterizes most career criminals" I doubt, but don't really have evidence one way or the other.

I'm not sure what your position is. Awhile back you were arguing that gangsters like JT are aware that their actions are immoral. If they are "moral idiots" then they don't really know that what they are doing is wrong. I suggest that none of these categories is especially illuminating.

You have not addressed at all my point about the basic lack of honor among thieves, contrary to your reference to a televised entertainment as evidence.

You are confused. I didn't cite The Wire as "evidence" of anything, just as a fairly realistic portrayal of a criminal subculture. Like any subculture, it has rules by which it operates. These rules, just like the rules of mainstream society, are often broken. "Honor among thieves" is a cliche, and I'm not sure what you expect me to say about it. I never claimed thieves were honorable.

My point in bringing up your strictures against the Bush administration was not to defend the Bush administration but to point out that you evidently adhere to some moral system that motivates your high indignation about it.

Well, duh.

How does this square with your statement "my feelings exactly" in response to the penultimate sentence of your quotation ("We are bored with good and evil")?

Simon's point was that the battle between good and evil, heroes and villains, are mined-out themes, and he is aiming for something different. In his case artistic intent is to tell the stories of how various institutions in a decaying city are failing their members and vice-versa. Doing this requires being able to portray a variety of characters and their motivations, which requires taking their points of view. That's what makes it something considerably more than just another cop show. But it doesn't mean that morality doesn't exist, or that various actions and outcomes are not seen as preferable or otherwise.

My own view on the politics of gangs that started this conversation is roughly similar. While gang members commit more than their share of evil acts, that is not a particularly illuminating way of looking at them. What Venkatesh has done, and The Wire does, is enter into the worlds of these people and report back. This involves being able to sympathize and empathize with their circumstances and motivations, and requires some ability to suspend moral judgement, at least temporarily. You and MM seem to think that this is just inherently an awful thing to even try to attempt.

March 2, 2008 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

I'm not sure that sociopathy is a 'medical conditon.' It is, however, a real phenomenon. As I have noted before, it is the translation into deeds of the philosophical position of antinomianism.

I'm not sure why the term 'moral idiocy' was abandoned, but it did not and does not imply that the sociopath does not know what he is doing is wrong. He typically exhibits, as I have repeatedly said, the classic characteristic of mens rea, in that he attempts to conceal his criminal acts, thus showing awareness that they are wrong. Under the typical legal standard of insanity (the M'Naghten rule) one who does not know the difference between right and wrong is insane. A man who carves up his wife thinking she is the Christmas goose would meet this standard. The sociopath does not. He simply believes he transcends the rules; persons like him don't need to be bound by the petty conventions of society.

As a corrective to Venkatash, may I recommend a book? It is called "Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass," by Theodore Dalrymple. Dalrymple is a British physician who spent some years as a prison doctor. His account of the thinking and behavior of the criminal underclass rang immediately true to me based on what I had heard from my grandfather.

And, you still haven't explained your moral beliefs. You evidently have them, despite your conflation of the actions of Gen. Petræus or Warren Buffett with JT. So, I have a little problem of moral distinction for you:

Let us suppose that Tom is a shopkeeper. Dick enters his store and pilfers an article of merchandise. iTom catches him, turns him over to the police, Dick is prosecuted as a thief, and sent to prison. Harry, on the other hand, enters the store and buys an article of merchandise, promising to pay for it on receipt of a bill. He never pays. Tom is stiffed, and can get no help from the cops; his only hope is to go to small claims court and get a judgment which is probably unenforceable.

Now, just as a person is has been equally deprived of life, whether shot by a soldier in combat or shot by a gangster in the course of a crime, our hypothetical shopkeeper Tom is equally deprived of his property, whether by a thief or by a deadbeat. Yet the two are treated differently. To borrow your phraseology - and without reference to customary usages or motivations, which you have dismissed in our previous colloquy relative to soldiers and gangsters - justify the differing treatment of thieves and deadbeats in a way that would be acceptable to Tom.

March 2, 2008 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

I'm not sure that sociopathy is a 'medical conditon.' It is, however, a real phenomenon. As I have noted before, it is the translation into deeds of the philosophical position of antinomianism.

It's a medical term, so don't throw it around if you mean something else. "Antinomianism" seems like an even worse explanation -- are you claiming that gangbangers result from mistaken theology? My original point was that people who enter the drug business are doing so not because they are evil, sociopathic, or antinomian -- they do so because it is in their own perceived interest to do so.

Now, the conditions of the drug trade are such that violent and sociopathic individuals will advance. So it's a culture that breeds and encourages these undesirable traits. But apparently so is the mainstream culture, since we've got a highly antinomian president who has unleashed horrific levels of violence. His activities pose a greater danger to me in physical, financial, and moral measures than any number of JTs.

As a corrective to Venkatash, may I recommend a book? It is called "Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass," by Theodore Dalrymple.

I've read some of Dalrymple's essays online and have been unimpressed. While he's at least familar with his subjects, he seems to have no empathy with them. Why does Venkatash needs a "corrective"? What exactly does he get wrong? I guess I will have to actually read his book after devoting so much time to discussing it.

And, you still haven't explained your moral beliefs.

I'm not really clear on why I'm obliged to. Your little moral puzzle seems both irrelevant and uninteresting.

March 3, 2008 at 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, you moralize here all the time, yet you take a posture of moral neutralism with regard to thieves and murderers, comparing the former to honest businessmen and the latter to honorable soldiers. So, I'm interested in just how you formulate your moral views and what they are. If you posit that a soldier and a gangster are indistinguishable, I'm curious how you would distinguish - or if you would distinguish - a thief from a deadbeat. Just as the soldier and the gangster both deprive people of life, so the thief and the deadbeat both deprive people of property. Why should one go to prison, and the other not?

The term "sociopath" medicalizes a moral condition. It is nonetheless a real condition. What we call it is purely arbitrary. Antinomianism is a philosophical (not necessarily a theological) concept. Sociopathic criminals act in an antinomian way even though they may not have engaged in conscious antinomian thought. Others do that for them, erecting the philosophical superstructure that enables their transgression. As an individual example, consider the relationship between Norman Mailer and Jack Abbott. Many years ago I recall reading, of all things, a Playboy interview of Alan Watts, in which he predicted that the coming era would be the age of the psychopath. Somehow, in his odd way, he stumbled onto a valid aperçu.

I suppose that Mailer exemplifies the 'empathy' that you wish people to have with low-lives and criminals, which you find in Venkatash and do not find in Theodore Dalrymple. Why in the world is such 'empathy' necessary to a discussion of such people?

One of the great errors in addressing this topic is the assumption that people are ignorant, vicious, and criminal because they are poor, and that the answer to the problems they cause is to re-distribute wealth. Let us consider the possibility that people are poor because they are ignorant, vicious, and criminal. This may not be as 'empathetic' but what if it is true? Among other things, it suggests why the approach taken by the welfare state has failed.

Bush may be a bumbler, but he is not an antinomian. How horrific the level of violence he has 'unleashed' is, I don't know - things are pretty placid around here. In any event I doubt that Gen. Petræus has unleashed on the Iraqis anything more horrific than Gens. Sheridan and Sherman did under the command of the saintly Father Abraham. My paternal ancestors lived in the valley of Virginia, where Sheridan vowed he would leave such devastation that even the crows would starve. No wonder that American leftists joining the Communist side of the Spanish civil war called themselves the Abraham Lincoln Brigade! As for financial danger. Bush is a piker compared to Franklin Roosevelt, whose economic measures - contrary to Democratic myth - prolonged rather than remedied the Great Depression (on this point see Amity Shlaes excellent book "The Forgotten Man")..

So, if you wish to condemn Bush, fine. But do note at the same time that he has done no worse than did those figures of left-wing hagiography, Lincoln and FDR.

March 3, 2008 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Mtraven, you moralize here all the time, yet you take a posture of moral neutralism

That's a good term. When I take a posture of "moral neutralism", it's for the purpose of analysis. Understanding how people or cultures work requires a temporary suspension of moral judgement. I think I already explained this in my last comment, and I'm getting bored with repeating myself.

Why in the world is such 'empathy' necessary to a discussion of such people?

Um, because they are people? Even if you don't feel any moral obligation based on their humanity, there is a cognitive obligation, because you can't understand people adequately without being able to take their point of view. Note that empathy does not require approval of people's choices or excusing their actions. Empathizing with your enemies is a useful capability.

Bush may be a bumbler, but he is not an antinomian.

Really? He seems to fit the definition of an antinomian better than your typical gangbanger. The latter may not respect the law but does not believe himself to be above or beyond it. Bush (and Cheney even more so) explictly reject the idea that they are bound by the law, just as their predecessor Nixon did ("if the president does it, that means it is not illegal").

How horrific the level of violence he has 'unleashed' is, I don't know - things are pretty placid around here.

I'm hoping that was a feeble attempt at humor and not a symptom of an alarming form of moral autism.

In any event I doubt that Gen. Petræus has unleashed on the Iraqis anything more horrific than Gens. Sheridan and Sherman did under the command of the saintly Father Abraham.

Um, so what? You keep harping on Lincoln and Roosevelt. I fail to see the relevance. Let's say they were both vicious monsters who raped their own grandmothers and would have killed as many people as Stalin if they had the right opportunities. How would that have any impact on what we are actually talking about?

March 3, 2008 at 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, can you cite a single thing that Bush has done in pursuit of the Iraq war for which there is not a precedent under some previous administration? Suspension of habeas corpus was done under Lincoln. Military commissions with the power to order capital punishment were done under Lincoln. Water torture (the real kind, in which the patient is forced to swallow gallons, not 'waterboarding,' which is a pale shadow of it) was done under the Theodore Roosevelt administration during the Moro rebellion. Franklin Roosevelt spied on his political enemies, engaged in prior restraint of the press, caused prisoners of war to be executed, and caused American citizens to be tried for sedition.

If Bush has held himself above the law in any way that these illustrious predecessors did not, I am unaware of it. So why is he especially reprehensible? You appear to apply your moral standards, whatever they be, quite inconsistently.

I think it is quite unnecessary to be able to take the point of view of a thief or a murderer in order to understand the nature of theft or murder, and why they are wrong.

The events going on halfway around the world may seem more menacing to you, but I am more inclined to think of what goes on closer to me. In the nearby big city, to which I sometimes travel on business, innocent bystanders are occasionally shot by members of criminal gangs. I recall one instance in which a stockbroker taking his lady friend to dinner was killed outside a fashionable restaurant. He was in the way of a bullet intended for someone else. In another instance a young man who had returned on holiday from his university on the east coast to visit his family was shot while accompanying his mother to a movie. I'm personally acquainted with a woman whose first husband was killed by black gangsters in a drive-by shooting. He was a random victim, apparently of an initiation ritual that required a new gang member to kill a white man.

I feel sorry for the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq. Bismarck once said that some or another territory was not worth the healthy bones of a single Pomeranian musketeer. In like fashion, Mesopotamia is not worth the healthy bones of a single American soldier or marine.

Nonetheless, the people serving in Iraq are members of an all-volunteer force, who knew they were going into harm's way. The innocent victims of gang crime - whether going to a restaurant, or to a movie, or just strolling on the sidewalk, as my friend's first husband was - did not, and had no reason to expect they were. This makes their deaths harder to bear. I can also imagine myself going to a restaurant or a movie, or taking a walk, whereas it is highly unlikely that a middle-aged civilian like me will find himself in Baghdad.

It is not necessary for me to feel empathy for the perpetrators of gang violence, any more than I feel empathy for nematodes or rodents. I simply want them to be contained or extirpated. Successful techniques for doing so are known; the only question is, why are they no longer practised? The larger society is too busy feeling 'empathy' for them and making excuses for their behavior. The intellectual antinomianism of the élite serves to enable the criminal transgressions of the lumpenproletariat.

Either this is a common moral sickness that manifests itself differently in different subjects (Dalrymple's thesis) or it is a deliberate political use of the lumpenproletariat to advance the interest of a particular élite faction (MM's thesis). One thesis does not rule out the other. Both could be, and probably are, true.

March 4, 2008 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Mtraven, can you cite a single thing that Bush has done in pursuit of the Iraq war for which there is not a precedent under some previous administration?
100% irrelevant, as I've said abut five or six times already. I'm well aware that the US has a history of imperial intervention that predates Bush.

I feel sorry for the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq.
How about the Iraqis killed in Iraq?

I can also imagine myself going to a restaurant or a movie, or taking a walk, whereas it is highly unlikely that a middle-aged civilian like me will find himself in Baghdad.

So if it doesn't happen to you (or people like you), it doesn't happen? Moral autism.

Now, I suppose it's only natural to care more about people of your own background then some faceless foreigners. But turn that logic around and think about the gangbanger's point of view. Why should he care about some straight white dude who happens to stray into the line of fire?

Since this whole lengthy discussion has hinged on your inability to read rhetorical questions, let me be explicit -- he should care, and you should care about those faceless foreigners being slaughtered due to the actions of your government, for much the same reasons.

It is not necessary for me to feel empathy for the perpetrators of gang violence, any more than I feel empathy for nematodes or rodents. I simply want them to be contained or extirpated.

Such rhetoric is redolent of Nazism. Yes, I know you are labelling people as vermin based on their actions, not their ethnicity. Still.

March 4, 2008 at 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, the precedent set by Bush's predecessors is quite relevant. Law is made by precedent. If Bush is following precedent, how is he acting above the law in any way that his predecessors did not? Why do you object more to him than to Lincoln or FDR? If you refuse to answer it is not because the question is irrelevant, but because you can't think of a convincing argument. Your moral calculus is quite opaque to me.

The people of Iraq were tyrannized, oppressed, and killed by their own government long before that of the United States arrived there. They may not be better off for U.S. intervention but they do not seem to be any the worse for it - just different. My view, like that of Pat Buchanan, is that the U.S. ought to be a republic, not an empire. It ought not to go abroad in search of monsters to slay. Had Iraq been let alone its people would be suffering under their own bloody despot, not the United States, and that bloody despot would still have to sell his oil, because that was all he had to offer. What more do you expect me to do or say about it?

It is just like you to conflate under the heading of Nazism the condemnation of people for their conduct (something for which they can and should take responsibility) with condemnation of them for their ethnicity (something about which they cannot and should not have to do anything). One must be wilfilly blind not to see the distinction. When all else fails the leftist falls back on the argumentum ad Hitleram.

"Empathy' with these criminals is simply an attempt to excuse their behavior and spare them the punishment that is their due. This is 'enabling' activity, differing in no meaningful way from deliberately giving booze to a drunk. Cui bono?

March 5, 2008 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

OK, this has really gone on for too long, so this will probably be my last comment in this thread unless some stunning insight occurs.

Why do you object more to him [Bush] than to Lincoln or FDR?
The only reason Bush is in this conversation is as an example of state violence. The fact that other presidents have also committed acts of state violence is NOT RELEVANT.

The people of Iraq were tyrannized, oppressed, and killed by their own government long before that of the United States arrived there. They may not be better off for U.S. intervention but they do not seem to be any the worse for it - just different.

Manifestly and obviously untrue.

Iraq makes a good example for Mencius's theories actually. We replaced a brutal but relatively stable regime with an unstable mix of competing violent interests, causing unimaginable harm. This was done in the most ignorant and incompetent manner imaginable.

My view, like that of Pat Buchanan, is that the U.S. ought to be a republic, not an empire.
Well, that's something we can more or less agree upon, at least.

What more do you expect me to do or say about it?

The reason Iraq and Bush are in this discussion is to illustrate that violence is not limited to gangbangers but is committed on a far larger scale, in your name, with your tax dollars, by your government. Yet you don't spend much energy objecting to it.

It is just like you to conflate under the heading of Nazism the condemnation of people for their conduct (something for which they can and should take responsibility) with condemnation of them for their ethnicity (something about which they cannot and should not have to do anything). One must be wilfilly blind not to see the distinction.

I quite explictly said that was NOT what I was doing.

When all else fails the leftist falls back on the argumentum ad Hitleram.

It wasn't an argument, it was an observation.

March 5, 2008 at 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven - It would appear, then, that you concede that Bush has done no worse than any number of his predecessors, and has committed no innovation in the settled conduct of affairs of the United States.

Is it 'manifestly untrue' that Saddam Hussein made devastating war against his own subjects? What about what he did to the Kurds? What about the marsh Arabs, or the Shiites? Have the armed forces of the United States employed gas warfare, as did Saddam and his henchman "Chemical Ali"? You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.

Observation or argument, all it what you like. You leftists bitch like hell about 'guilt by association' when it was connected with Joe McCarthy, but don't scruple to practise it yourselves when it suits your purpose. Bringing up Nazis or Hitler in connection with a discussion of crime and criminals is simply a cheap rhetorical trick, and signals the end of any reasonable discussion.

March 5, 2008 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

It would appear, then, that you concede that Bush has done no worse than any number of his predecessors, and has committed no innovation in the settled conduct of affairs of the United States.
No, I am refusing to discuss the issue as irrelevant.

Is it 'manifestly untrue' that Saddam Hussein made devastating war against his own subjects?...
No, the part of your earlier statement that I was calling 'manifestly untrue' was the assertion that we haven't made matters worse.

Bringing up Nazis or Hitler in connection with a discussion of crime and criminals is simply a cheap rhetorical trick, and signals the end of any reasonable discussion.
Nonsense. Referring to classes of people as "vermin" or "rodents" or "parasites" is classic Nazi rhetoric (also employed by Communist regimes, fwtw), and I'm simply noting the fact, which is not the same thing at all as calling you a Nazi. Our host doesn't qualm to compare Obama videos to Nuremberg rallies, so I feel like I'm well within the standards of discourse prevalent in the neighborhood.

March 5, 2008 at 6:23 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

cqfgbMtraven, I still find curious your anger at the Bush administration, wihch demonstrates your willingness to moralize, as contrasted with your moral indifference towards the behavior of lower-class criminals, for whom you appear to wish to make excuses under the cover of 'empathy.' This is a peculiar inconsistency.

You are guilty of paralepsis as well as a crude attempt at guilt by association in bringing up Nazism in connection with my comments. You "know" that I was characterizing people based on their actions, rather than on their ethnicity, "but still" you used the argumentum ad Hitleram. Two cheap rhetorical tricks for the price of one!

Moreover, I did not say that perpetrators of gang violence were vermin; I said I had no more empathy for them than I did for vermin. One can study and understand vermin without needing to have empathy for them. In like manner, one should be able to study and understand criminals.

In other news, in the big city nearest me, there have been in the past week two more gang-related killings. One was of a 14-year-old boy, not apparently a member of a gang. He happened by accident to be wearing a shirt of the wrong color, leading his killers to mistake him for a rival gang member.

You may keep your empathy for these murderers. I shall reserve mine for their victims.

March 6, 2008 at 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Tripp said...

Oh, jeez, it breaks my heart to see you people hurting your heads by banging them on the brick wall of mtraven's self-satisfied ideology of guilt.

This is a man whose defense of the New Deal amounts to a single photograph (Won't someone pleeeez think of the children?) This is a man who shows up at a thread of Ron Paul supporters angered by the way an aide's comments were taken out of context, and pretends to forget that context is even a part of the point. He knows he can rattle nonleftists by pretending to misunderstand them, because nonleftists operate on a level of understanding he can't even begin to relate to.

What are the odds that he could make it the whole way through a single article at http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/ ? Come on, evidence that blacks aren't kicked around by the redneck justice system? He wouldn't be the slightest bit interested.

Just because he has a blog doesn't mean he's not a troll. I'm not saying you shouldn't treat him as a person - moldbug says that's the way to get trolls to go away - just don't think he is the slightest bit sincere (as a nonleftist would understand the term). The intellectual results of these discussions simply hold no interest for him - it is all about making himself look tolerant by positioning himself as far as possible from Hitler. Which, of course, means parroting anti-intellectual socialist ochlocrats, who are of course nothing like Hitler.

Unless you've done the reading.

March 7, 2008 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger mnuez said...

Tripp, you're a low-IQ idiot. Your lack of understanding of Mtraven's comments do not make him the intellectual moron.

March 8, 2008 at 2:05 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Oh dear, Mencius takes a break and immediately his fans start into nasty squabbling with each other. He'll be very disappointed in us.

He knows he can rattle nonleftists by pretending to misunderstand them, because nonleftists operate on a level of understanding he can't even begin to relate to.
I'm confused. Am I pretending to misunderstand, or am I actually misunderstanding because nonleftists, with their ginormous brains, are operating on some elevated level of cognition beyond my comprehension? And if its the latter, it seems that the nonleftists shouldn't be so easily rattled.

Seriously, I come here because I like to argue. Call it trolling if you like. It seems to me there are two ways to apporach a forum like this. You can come here to find people who agree with you and reinforce your belief system, or you can try to defend your beliefs in debate. Given that you folks have a relatively unpopular set of beliefs, it seems like getting some practice defending them wuld be good for you, and I'm doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to train. But if you'd rather only talk to people who already agree with you, feel free, I can probably find better things to do with my time.

March 8, 2008 at 11:25 AM  
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November 6, 2008 at 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Tripp said...

And you're a piece of shit, mnuez. Whine some more about "the life that was denied you". We LOVE to hear it.

November 19, 2008 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger 信次 said...

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January 31, 2009 at 10:14 PM  
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February 12, 2009 at 2:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 2, 2009 at 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 6, 2009 at 6:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the Facebook page for a black serial rapist from Portland, Oregon.

June 3, 2010 at 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> Since the entire planet is at least nominally controlled by actual modern armies, no such militia can exist without a political protector.

>Not in the third world. The Hutus of Rwanda or Luos of Kenya don't need political protectors. That's just the why those places are in their "natural state", which would require a lot of effort to change without any real payoff.

Oh? And who protects their tribal lands?

Who just kicked the Tuaregs back to northern Mali? Who recently prevented the Islamic Courts Union from establishing stability in Somalia?

The International Community, of course.

March 4, 2013 at 5:39 PM  

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