Thursday, June 12, 2008 80 Comments

OL9: how to uninstall a cathedral

I'm afraid, dear open-minded progressive, that we have wandered into deep and murky waters. You thought you were merely in for a bit of philosophical wrangling. Instead here we are, openly conspiring to restore the Stuarts.

The other day in an old book I found a cute little summary of the problem. The book is Carlton Hayes' History of Modern Europe, first published in 1916 and updated in 1924. Writing about modern Europe without mentioning America is a little like writing about the Lakers without mentioning Kobe Bryant, and in the 1924 addendum Professor Hayes simply gives up the ghost and tells us what's happened lately in the Western world. Of course I simply adore these kinds of contemporary digests. Here is the state of Protestant Christianity, circa 1924:
Among Protestant Christian sects there were several significant movements toward cooperation and even toward formal union. Many barriers between them were broken down, at least in part, by the Young Men's Christian Association, which had been founded in the nineteenth century but which expanded very rapidly during and after the Great War. The Salvation Army, dating from about the year 1880, was another factor in the same process: it placed emphasis on spiritual earnestness, on evangelical work among the poor, and on charitable endeavors, rather than on sectarian controversies. There were also various "federations of churches," and in Canada, after the Great War, several Protestant denominations were actually united. Such interdenominational and unifying movements were made easier by the fact that the original theological differences between the various sects were no longer regarded as very important by a large number of church members.

Some Protestants, reacting against the decline of dogma and the doubting of the miraculous and the supernatural, turned increasingly toward Christian Science or towards spiritualism or theosophy. In some countries, and especially in the United States, the current vogue of Darwinism and other theories of evolution caused a new outburst of opposition from stalwart groups of Protestants to the claims of "science," and a stubborn reaffirmation of their fundamental faith in the literal inspiration of the Bible. These "Fundamentalists," as they were called, were fairly numerous in several Protestant denominations, and they contested with their "Progressive" or "Modernist" brethren the control of Protestant churches, particularly the Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, and Methodist.
Now I ask you, dear open-minded progressive: is there anything familiar about this picture?

The YMCA and the Salvation Army are (sadly) no longer major players. But it seems obvious that Professor Hayes is describing our present "red-state" versus "blue-state" conflict. What's weird, however, is that he seems to be describing it as a theological dispute. Not exactly the present perception.

Your present-day "Progressive" or "Modernist" may retain some vestigial belief in God. Or not. But she certainly does not think of her faction as a Christian supersect. Meanwhile, her "Fundamentalist" adversaries have largely appropriated the label Christian. Neither side sees the red-blue conflict as that old staple of European history, the Christian sectarian war.

There are a couple of other interesting details in Professor Hayes' little narrative. One, he finds it noteworthy that the mainstream Protestant sects are for some odd reason converging. And indeed in 1924 it was a historical novelty to see Episcopalians and Presbyterians cooperating amicably on "charitable endeavors," forgetting all those nasty old "theological differences." Dogs and cats, living together!

Two, it is clear at least from Professor Hayes' perspective that the "Progressive" or "Modernist" side of this conflict is the main stream of American Protestantism, and the "Fundamentalist" side is a weird, "stubborn" mutation.

To our modern "Fundamentalists" (the term has become so opprobrious that they will respond better, dear open-minded progressive, if you use the word "traditionalist"), the idea that "liberalism" is actually mainstream Protestant Christianity is about as off-the-wall as it gets. And it must strike most "Progressives" as equally weird. But here it is in black and white, from a legendary Columbia historian. Obviously, someone is off the wall. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's you. Are you feeling paranoid yet, dear reader?

When dealing with historical movements it's often useful to ask: is this dead, or alive? If the former, what killed it, when, and how? If you cannot find any answers to these questions, it is a pretty good clue that you're looking at something which isn't dead.

And if it's not dead, it must be alive. And if it's alive, but you no longer identify it as a distinct movement, the only possible answer is that it has become so pervasive that you do not distinguish between it and reality itself. In other words, you do not feel you have any serious alternative to supporting the movement. And you are probably right.

Note that this is exactly how you, dear open-minded progressive, see the modern children of those stubborn "Fundamentalists." You read the conflict asymmetrically. You don't think of yourself as someone who believes in "Progressivism." You don't believe in anything. You are not a follower at all. You are a critical and independent thinker. Rather, it is your fundamentalist enemies, the tribe across the river, who are Jesus-besotted zombie bots.

The first step toward a historical perspective on the conflict is to acknowledge that both of these traditions are exactly that: traditions. You did not invent progressivism any more than Billy Joe invented fundamentalism. Thanks to Professor Hayes, we know this absolutely, because we know that both of these things existed 84 years ago, and you are not 84.

And what is the difference between a mere tradition and an honest-to-god religion? Theology. A many-god or a three-god or a one-god tradition is a religion. A no-god tradition is... well, there isn't really a word for it, is there? This is a good clue that someone has been tampering with the tools you use to think.

Because there must be as many ways to not believe in a god or gods as to believe in them. I am an atheist. You are an atheist. But you are a progressive, and I am not a progressive. If we can have multiple sects of Christianity, why can't we have multiple sects of atheism?

Let's rectify this linguistic sabotage by calling a no-god tradition an areligion. A one-god tradition is a unireligion. A two-god one is a direligion. A three-god one is a trireligion. One with more gods than you can shake a stick at is a polyreligion. And so on. We see instantly that while progressivism (2008 style) is an areligion, it does not at all follow that it is the one true areligion. Oops.

Question: in a political conflict between a direligion and a polyreligion, which side should you support? What about an areligion versus a trireligion? Let's assume that, like me, you believe in no gods at all.

One easy answer is to say the fewer gods, the better. So we would automatically support the direligion over the polyreligion, etc. I think the stupidity of this is obvious.

We could also say that all traditions which promote gods are false, and therefore we should favor the areligion over the trireligion. Unfortunately, even if we assume that the areligion is right on the deity question and not even one of the three gods exists, the two could not engage in a political conflict if they did not disagree on many subjects in the temporal plane. Who is more likely to be right on these mundane matters, which actually do matter? We have no reason at all to think that just because the areligion is right about gods, it is right about anything else. And we have no reason at all to think that just because the trireligion is wrong about gods, it is wrong about anything else. So this is really just as stupid, and I do hope you haven't been taken in by it. (Lots of smart people believe stupid things.)

The second step is to acknowledge the possibility that, on any issue, both competing traditions could be peddling misperceptions. In fact, we've just seen it. Neither side wants you to know that progressivism is the historical mainstream of Protestant Christianity. Only in the pages of smelly old books, and of course here at UR, will you find this little tidbit of history. This is pretty standard for religions, which always have a habit of obscuring their own pasts.

Why do both sides agree on this misperception? The fundamentalist motivation is obvious. As a traditionalist Christian, you believe in God. It is obvious that anyone who doesn't believe in God cannot possibly be a Christian. The idea that there could be any kind of historical continuity between people believe in God, and people who don't believe in God, is absurd. It's like saying that Jesus was "just some dude."

But as someone who doesn't believe in God, you have absolutely no reason to accept this argument. Do you care, dear open-minded progressive, what wacky stuff those wacky fundies believe in? Do you care whether they worship God in one person, God in three persons, God in forty-seven persons, or God in the person of a turtle? Um, no.

No: from the progressive side, there is a very different problem. The problem is that if Progressivism is indeed a Christian supersect, it is also a criminal conspiracy.

Assuming you're an American, dear open-minded progressive, you might have forgotten that it's quite literally illegal for the Federal Government to "make an establishment of religion." While its authors and ratifiers never meant the clause to mean what it means today, we do have a living Constitution, the law is what it is now, and over the last half-century our friends in high places have been quite enthusiastic about deploying it against their Fundamentalist foes.

Perhaps some perspective can be obtained by replacing the words "Modernist" and "Fundamentalist" in Professor Hayes' narrative with "Sunni" and "Shia." The First Amendment does not say "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Shiism." More to the point, it does not say "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, until that religion manages to sneak God under the carpet, at which point go ahead, dudes." Rather, the obvious spirit of the law is that Congress shall be neutral with respect to the theological disputes of its citizens, such as that described by Professor Hayes. Um, has it been?

If you doubt this, maybe it's time to put on the Fundamentalens. This is a cute optical accessory that transforms all things Sunni into things Shia, and vice versa. When you're wearing the Fundamentalens, progressive institutions look fundamentalist and fundamentalist institutions look progressive.

In the Fundamentalens, Harvard and Stanford and Yale are fundamentalist seminaries. It may not be official, but there is no doubt about it at all. They emit Jesus-freak codewords, secret Mormon handshakes, and miscellaneous Bible baloney the way a baby emits fermented milk. Meanwhile, Bob Jones and Oral Roberts and Patrick Henry are diverse, progressive, socially and environmentally conscious centers of learning - their entire freshman class lines up to sing "Imagine" every morning.

Would it creep you out, dear open-minded progressive, to live in this country? It would certainly creep me out, and I'm not even a progressive - though I was raised as one.

An America where every progressive in any position of influence or authority was replaced by an equal and opposite fundamentalist, and vice versa, is one you would have no hesitation in describing as a fundamentalist theocracy. Which implies quite inexorably that the America we do live in, the real one, can be fairly described as a progressive atheocracy - that is, a system of government based on an official areligion, progressivism.

This areligion is maintained and propagated by the decentralized system of quasiofficial "educational" institutions which we, here at UR, have learned to call the Cathedral. Today, we'll look, purely in a theoretical manner of course, at what might take to get rid of this thing. If you find the exercise unpalatable, dear open-minded progressive, just snap the Fundamentalens back on and imagine you're trying to free your government from the icy, inexorable grip of Jesus. (Or the Pope. The resemblance between anti-fundamentalism and its older brother, anti-Catholicism, may be too obvious to mention - but I should mention it anyway.)

Obviously I don't object to the Cathedral on account of its atheism. If a theist can object to theocracy, an atheist can object to atheocracy. I object to the concept of official thought in general, to the details of progressivism in specific, but most of all to the insidious way in which the Cathedral has managed to mutate its way around the "separation of church and state" in which it so hypocritically indoctrinates its acolytes. The Cathedral is the apotheosis of chutzpah. It is always poisoning its parents, then pleading for clemency as an orphan.

I know, I know. We have been through all this stuff before. On the Internet it never hurts to repeat, however, and let's take a brief look at the Cathedral's operations in the case of one James Watson.

Here is the transcript of an interview between Dr. Watson and Henry Louis Gates. (If you care to go here you can read Professor Gates' meandering, incoherent summary, and even watch some video.)

Bear in mind that this material, though only recently released, was produced shortly after the struggle session to which Dr. Watson was subjected early this year. The young firebrands over at Gene Expression (many of whom themselves work inside the Cathedral, as of course all serious scientists must) had predictable responses:
Painful to read.

Is Watson one of these people who has balls only when he's dealing with people lower down the ladder, and none when he is dealing with people who can do him harm?

Had to stop reading almost immediately. Presumably, his confession ended with his execution by a pack of trained dogs.

What a simpering, mewling weakling he is in this interview. Terrified and cowed.
Okay. Obviously, as a bitter and negative person myself, I sympathize with these reactions. But, I mean, if we compare Dr. Watson to Andrei Sakharov - surely a fair comparison - did Dr. Sakharov go around shouting "Communism is a LIE! BETTER DEAD THAN RED!"? Somehow I doubt it. In fact, neither Watson nor Sakharov were executed by a pack of trained dogs. These guys aren't completely stupid. They know how far to push it.

And Dr. Watson even manages to get Professor Gates, whose career cannot be understood without reference to the color of his skin, to swallow the following harmless-looking red pill:
JW: It was, we shouldn't expect that people in different parts of the world have equal intelligence, because we all know that. And people say that these should be the same. I think the answer is, we don't know.

Q: We don't know. Not that they are.

JW: No, no. I'm always trying to say is that some people ... of left wing persuasion have said that there wasn't enough time for differences... we don't know. That's all.

Q: We don't know.
"We don't know." And we can tell that the pill has gotten deep down inside Professor Gates, it has been swallowed and digested and worked its way through the bloodstream and is starting to produce that awful wiry feeling in the glial cells, by a question he asks earlier:
Q: But imagine if you were an African or an African American intellectual. And it's ten years from now. And you pick up the New York Times ... (Hits Table) and some geneticist says, A, that intelligence is genetic, and B, the difference is measured on standardized tests. Between black people and white people, is traceable to a genetic basis. What would you, as a black intellectual, do, do you think?
Here is the problem: the message our beloved Cathedral has been implanting in all the young smart kids at Harvard and Yale and Stanford, the cream of the crop, the top 1%, not to mention the readers of the New York Times who are the top 10%, is not "we don't know."

Oh, no. The message is "we do know. And they are equal. In fact, we are so sure they're equal that if you even start to hint that you might disagree, we will do everything we can to destroy your life, and we will feel good about it. Because your opinions are evil and you are, too."

So it's not even a question of ten years from now. White-coated scientists, exercising their papal infallibility through the ordinary magisterium of Times Square, do not need to declare their final and inexorable proof of A and B, thus proving that the Cathedral has been broadcasting mendacity since 1924 - and enforcing it since 1984. We need await nothing. Any intelligent person can already read the contradiction. Professor Gates has said it out loud.

If you accept Dr. Watson's fallback position, his intellectual Torres Vedras - as Professor Gates does - the Cathedral is already a goner. Its defeat is not a matter for further research. It is a matter of freshman philosophy. The Cathedral has chosen to fortify, not as a minor outpost but as its central keep, the position of not-A and not-B (actually, since not-A or not-B would suffice, the typical insistence on both is a classic sign of a weak position). Its belief in the statistical uniformity of the human brain across all subpopulations presently living is absolute. It has put all its chips on this one.

And the evidence for its position is really not much stronger than the evidence for the Holy Trinity. In fact, the Holy Trinity has a big advantage: there may be no evidence for it, but at least there is none against it. There is plenty of evidence against human neurological uniformity. The question is simply what standard of proof you apply. By the standards that most of apply to most questions of fact, the answer is already obvious - and has been for at least thirty years. If not a hundred.

Moreover, there is a simple explanation for the reason that so many people believe in HNU. It is a core doctrine of Christianity. Even more precisely, it is a core doctrine of the neo-primitive Christianity that we call Protestantism. And specifically, I believe it to be a mutated and metastasized version of the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light. Basically, all humans must be neurologically uniform because we all have the same little piece of God inside us. (All the American Protestant sects, or at least all the Northern ones, became heavily Quakerized during the 19th century. But that's a different discussion.)

Thus what we call hate speech is merely a 20th-century name for the age-old crime of blasphemy. You might have noticed that it is not, and has never been, illegal to be an asshole. No government in history has ever come close to criminalizing rudeness, nastiness, meanness, or even harassment in general - not even in the workplace.

Denying the Inner Light, however, is another matter entirely. It's all too easy to put in the Fundamentalens, transport ourselves to Margaret Atwood world, and imagine the Commander processing an assembly-line of blasphemers with this handy neo-Quaker catchphrase. "Scorned the Testimony of Equality, violated right ordering, denied the Inner Light. Defendant, I think the case is clear. Five years of orientation."

So it is almost impossible for me to answer Professor Gates's question. Asking what a "black intellectual" should do after A and B are demonstrated is like asking what a professor of Marxist-Leninist studies should do after the fall of the Soviet Union. I don't know, dude. What else are you good at?

Professor Gates' entire department consists of the construction of increasingly elaborate persecution theories to explain facts which follow trivially from A and B. Agree on A and B, and the world has no need at all for Professor Gates, nor for any of his colleagues. He seems like a pretty sharp guy. Surely he can find something. If not, there's always pizza delivery.

The trouble is that - as we've just seen - A and B need not be shown to demonstrate the presence of official mendacity. It is sufficient to demonstrate that A and B are plausible. More strongly, it is sufficient to demonstrate that they are not implausible. Because we are constantly being "educated" to believe that they are implausible. The proposition is implied a thousand times for every time it is stated, but progressivism without HNU makes about as much sense as Islam without Allah.

So if refuting a proposition on which the Cathedral has staked its credibility is sufficient to defeat it, and that refutation is agreed on by all serious thinkers - why the heck is it still here?

Duh. If institutional mendacity is its stock in trade, why on earth should refutation bother it? You don't have to look far for other cases in which entire departments of the Cathedral have been devoted to the propagation of nonsense. What do you expect them to do, say "we're sorry, it's true, we are all a bunch of shills, we'll go work as taxi drivers now?"

If the Cathedral can lie now, it can lie then. It doesn't matter what Dr. Watson and his students produce, now or ten years from now. If it is impossible for the New York Times to produce a story saying that A and B are proven, no such story will appear. Rather, the standard of proof will simply be raised and raised again, as of course it has been already.

In other words: if the Cathedral was a trustworthy mechanism for producing and distributing information, we would expect it to correct any newly discovered error, and propagate the correction. But if it was a trustworthy mechanism, it would not already be in an obvious error state, have maintained that error state for decades, and show no signs at all of nudging Professor Gates out of the building and into his new career as a marketing executive. Therefore, to expect it to correct its own errors is naive - at best.

And therefore, you and I have two choices. We can accept that we live in a state of systematic mendacity, as people always have, note that it may well be getting worse rather than better, and figure out how to live with it. This would be the prudent choice. It demonstrates genuine wisdom, the wisdom of resignation and healthy personal motivation.

On the other hand, if you have enough time to read these essays, you have enough time to think about solutions. After all, you already live under a government which demands that you invest a substantial percentage of your neural tissue in the meaningless gabble of politics. This lobe should probably be devoted to dance, literature, or shopping. But we are, after all, human. In addition to our healthier and more positive cogitations, we sometimes express resentment. And what more pleasant riposte than to reprogram one's political control module, and turn it against its former botmasters?

So we can separate the problem into two categories. One is a policy question: how can the American political system be modified to free itself from the Cathedral? Two is a military question (considering war and politics as a continuum): since the Cathedral does not wish to relinquish power, how can it best be induced to do so? The two are inseparable, of course, but it is convenient to consider them separately. Today we'll look at the first.

There are two basic ways of executing this divorce. We'll call one a soft reset and the other a hard reset. Basically, a hard reset works and a soft reset doesn't. However, a soft reset is more attractive in many ways, and we need to work through it just to see why it can't work.

In a soft reset, we leave the current structure of government the same, except that we apply the 20th-century First Amendment to all forms of instruction, theistic or "secular." In other words, our policy is separation of education and state. In a free country, the government should not be programming its citizens. It should not care at all what people think. It only needs to care what they do. The issue has nothing to do with theism. It is a basic matter of personal freedom.

You cannot have official education without official truth, ie, pravda. Most - in fact, I'd say almost all - of our pravda is indeed true. Call it 99.9%. The remaining 0.1% is creepy enough. The Third Reich used the wonderful word Aufklärung, meaning enlightenment or literally "clearing-up." Every time I see a piece of public education designed to improve the world by improving my character, I think of Aufklärung. But of course, a good Nazi education imparted many true truths as well.

There are four major forms of education in a modern Western society: churches, schools, universities, and the press. Our open-minded progressives have done a fantastic job of separating church and state. I really don't think their work can be improved on. A soft reset is simply a matter of applying the precedent to the other three.

First, let's deal with (primary) schools. This is easy, because they are actually formal arms of the government. To separate school and state, liquidate the public school system, selling all its assets to the highest bidder. For every student in or eligible for public school, for every year of eligibility, compute what the school system was getting and send the check to the parents.

This is budget-neutral for state and family alike, and unlike "vouchers" it does not require Uncle Sam or any of his little brothers to decide what "education" is. If the worst parents in the world spend the money on XBoxes and PCP, it would still be a vast improvement on inner-city schools. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

This leaves us with the Cathedral proper: the press and the universities.

The great thing about our understanding of the "wall of separation" is that it works both ways. The distinction between a state-controlled church and a church-controlled state is nil. In the modern interpretation of the First Amendment, both are equally obnoxious. (Although I suspect most progressives would find the latter especially repugnant.)

The same Amendment prescribes the freedom of the press. But the freedom of the press and the separation of church and state are applied in very different ways. The suggestion of a state-controlled press evokes terrible fear and anger in the progressive mind. The suggestion of a press-controlled state evokes... nothing. Even the concept is unfamiliar. Unless they happen to be Tony Blair, I don't think most progressives have even considered the idea that the press could control the state. No points for guessing why this might be.

And the same principle applies to our "independent" universities. Except briefly during the McCarthy period (about which more in a moment), no one in government has ever considered trying to tell the professors what to think, just as no one in government has ever considered telling the preachers what to preach. But while professors and preachers are both free to offer policy suggestions, it would be a scandal if the latter's advice was regularly accepted.

Let's take a hat tip from the blogosphere's invaluable inside source in the Cathedral, Dr. "Evil" Timothy Burke, who links with applause to how this works:
In the early 21st century, there is no limit or constraint on the desire of public constituencies to profit from the perspective of a university-based historian.

Even better, the usual lament of the humanities -- "There is plenty of money to support work in science and engineering, but very little to support work in the humanities" -- proves to be accurate only if you define "work in the humanities" in the narrowest and most conventional way. If, by that phrase, you mean only individualistic research, directed at arcane topics detached from real-world needs and written in inaccessible and insular jargon, there is indeed very limited money.

But for a humanities professor willing to take up applied work, sources of money are unexpectedly abundant.
"Applied work." I love the phrase. It belongs right up there with "manipulating procedural outcomes." And what does Professor Limerick mean by "applied work?"
Another nearly completed project, The Nature of Justice: Racial Equity and Environmental Well-Being, spotlights the involvement of ethnic minorities with environmental issues. The center works regularly with federal agencies ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency to the National Park Service.
"The involvement of ethnic minorities with environmental issues!" You can't make this stuff up. I suppose she doesn't mean that they leave used diapers on the beach, or engage in the ethnic cleansing of pelicans. (I don't think I've linked to Ms. Latte before. She appears to be a racist Jewish woman in her fifties. Her signature post is definitely this one.)

Why is it that Professor Limerick is not just regularly called upon to share her Aufklärung with the EPA (don't miss the picture), but apparently quite well compensated for it, whereas Ms. Latte has no such opportunity to contribute her insights on the Mexican-pelican interaction?

Well, a lot of reasons, really. But the main one is that EPA (to sound like an insider, drop the article) recognizes Professor Limerick as an official authority. Uncle Sam may not tell the University of Colorado what to do, but the converse is not the case. And if you are a bureaucrat fighting for some outcome or other, and you can bring Professor Limerick in on your side, you are more likely to win. Apparently she is compensated for the service. This is not surprising.

If we lived in a theocracy as opposed to an atheocracy, she might be Bishop Limerick, and her thoughts would carry just the same weight. They might be different thoughts, of course. They probably would be. (Frankly, I would much rather be governed by the Pope than by these people. At least it would be a change. And I do believe in "change.")

To separate university and state the way church and state are separated, we'd need to make some fairly drastic changes. Of course, all the rivers of state cash that flow to the universities need to be plugged. No grants to professors, no subsidies for students, no nothing. But this is the easy part.

The hard part is that to divorce itself completely, the state needs to stop recognizing the authority of the universities. For example, it is staffed largely with university graduates - many of whom are students of Professor Burke, Professor Limerick, and the like. Perhaps there is no way to avoid this, but there is a way to make it not matter: add university credentials to the list of official no-nos in HR decisions. Treat it like race, age, and marital status. Don't even let applicants put it on their resumes. Instead, use the good old system: competitive examination.

Professor Limerick's little pep-talks aside, in some rare cases a government does need to conduct actual research. In that case, it needs to hire actual researchers. Want to hire a chemist? Give her a chemistry test. Nor need this be limited to new employees. Why not reexamine the present ones, to see if they know anything and have any brains?

Okay, that takes care of the universities. Moving on to the press.

There is a simple way for the state to separate itself from the press: adopt the same public communication policies used in private companies. Perhaps the leader in this area is that progressive favorite, Apple. This Google search tells the story. Apple is unusual in that it actually has many deranged fans who want to extract nonpublic information, but of course the same can be said of governments.

All private companies in the known universe, however, have the same policy: any unauthorized communication with anyone outside the company, "journalist" or otherwise, is a firing offense. Often it will also expose you to litigation. Somehow, even Apple manages to be quite successful in enforcing this policy. In general, it simply doesn't happen. If you are familiar with the area of technology journalism, you know that far from making for dull news, the rarity of leaks makes for extremely spicy and scurrilous trade rags - such as this one. The day US foreign policy is reported a la Register is the day the Cathedral is no more.

When it comes to significant operational details that might affect a company's stock price, leaking information - whether authorized or not - is actually a crime. As well it should be. Managements used to be free to leak to the investment community, but this loophole was closed in one of the few positive changes in corporate law in recent years, Reg FD.

The reasoning behind Reg FD is excellent. The problem with selective disclosure of financial information is that it creates a power loop between management and selected investors, allowing big fish to benefit from inside information that is more or less a payoff. It still happens, I'm sure - the edges of "material information" are fuzzy - but much less. Ideally, Reg FD would be extended to prohibit any informal communication with Wall Street. If a company has something to say, its Web site is the place to do it.

In government, selective disclosure creates a power network between the press and its sources. This network does not produce money, but just power. The power is shared between the sources and the journalists. The whole system is about as transparent as mud.

The case that created the modern American system of government by leak was the Pentagon Papers case, in which McNamara's policy shop at DoD (ironically, the ancestor of Douglas Feith's much-maligned operation) wrote a study of Vietnam which revealed that the Viet Cong was not a North Vietnamese puppet, had the support of the Vietnamese people, and could never be defeated militarily, especially not by the corrupt and incompetent ARVN. The Joint Chiefs yawned. Daniel Ellsberg quite illegally leaked his own department's work to the Times, which used it quite effectively to amaze the public - which had no idea that Washington was a place in which the Defense Department might well employ whole nests of pro-VC intellectuals, and regarded the study as a declaration against interest. In the public's mind, the Pentagon was one thing. The fact that it was pursuing a war that its own experts had decided was unwinnable was permanently fatal to its credibility.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Pentagon could not restrain publication of the study. They did not rule that the Times could not be prosecuted after the fact. But of course it never was. The coup had been accomplished. A new phase of the Fourth Republic was born. Later, the ARVN defeated the Viet Cong, whose "support" was based on brutal terror, and which was indeed no more than an arm of the NVA. No one cared. Doubtless Ellsberg's conscience was quite genuine, but facts matter. There's a fine line between speaking truth to power and speaking power to truth.

These hidden power networks (I am particularly enchanted by the word "whistleblower," which often simply means "informer") are one of the main tools that civil servants use to govern Washington from below. As a journalist, you maintain a complicated and delicate relationship with your sources, who are your bread and butter. Most of the power is probably on the side of the sources, but it goes in the other direction as well. In any case, no "investigative" journalist has to "investigate" anything - anyone in the government is perfectly happy to feed him not just information, but often what are essentially prewritten stories, under the table.

Eliminating selective disclosure terminates this whole nefarious network. When the US Government has something to say, it says it. And it says it to all Americans at the same time. There is no privileged network of court historians (a journalist is a historian of now) who get secret, special access. This is not a complicated proposition. (The system of officially favored journalists, like so many corruptions of American government, dates largely to FDR. Frankly, these swine have afflicted us too long.)

So that is the soft reset: the separation of education and state. It doesn't sound too hard, does it? Actually, I think it's impossible. Now that we've explained it, we can look at what's wrong with it.

Consider another attempt to deal with the Cathedral - McCarthyism. One could call it a crude reset. The idea was that, while all of these institutions were good and healthy and true, they had been infiltrated by Communists and their dupes. Purging these individuals and organizations - listed in publications such as Red Channels - would renew America's precious bodily fluids.

Can purging work? One answer is provided by La Wik's page on McCarthyism, which could be rewritten as follows:
During this time many thousands of Americans were accused of being racists or racist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person's real or supposed racist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment, destruction of their careers, and even imprisonment.
So, in place of Red Channels, we have the SPLC, and so on. The "Racist Scare" cannot be called a failure. It is socially unacceptable to express racist ideas in any context I can think of. There are certainly no racist movies, TV shows, etc. The McCarthyists no doubt would have been quite pleased if they could have made socialism as politically incorrect as racism is today. They never had a millionth of the power they would have needed to do so.

The obvious inspiration for McCarthyism was the way in which the New Deal had succeeded in marginalizing and destroying its critics. If you're the Cathedral, this works. If you're an alcoholic senator scripted by a gay child prodigy, it doesn't.

McCarthyism failed for many reasons, but the most succinct is what Machiavelli said: if you strike at a king, you need to kill him. The Cathedral is an institution rather than a person, and certainly no one needs killing. But if you just scratch it, you're just pissing it off. If McCarthy had said: look, we fought the war in the Pacific to save China from the Japanese, and then the State Department handed it to the Russians, this is a failed organization, let's just dissolve it and build a new foreign-policy bureaucracy - he might have succeeded. He was a very popular man for a while. He might well have been able to build enough public support to liquidate State. Or not. But if he'd succeeded, he would at least have one accomplishment to his name.

The soft reset I've described is, with all due respect to Roy Cohn, a much more sophisticated and comprehensive way to attack the Cathedral. It might work. But it probably won't.

First, the power structures that bind the Cathedral to the rest of the Apparat are not formal. They are mere social networks. If Professor Burke is right that he has real influence in the region he and his colleagues have devastated - southern Africa - it is probably because he has trained quite a few students who work at State or in NGOs in the area. (If he is wrong, all it means is that it's someone else who has the influence.) Short of firing all these people, there is nothing you can do about this structure. You can't prevent people from emailing each other.

Second, even if we could break down these social networks, we haven't touched the real problem. The real problem is that, as a political form, democracy is more or less a synonym for theocracy. (Or, in this case, atheocracy.) Under the theory of popular sovereignty, those who control public opinion control the government.

There is no nation of autodidact philosophers. Call them priests, preachers, professors, bishops, teachers, commissars or journalists - the botmasters will rule. The only way to escape the domination of canting, moralizing apparatchiks is to abandon the principle of vox populi, vox dei, and return to a system in which government is immune to the mental fluctuations of the masses. A secure, responsible and effective government may listen to its residents, but it has no reason to either obey or indoctrinate them. In turn, their minds are not jammed by the gaseous emanations of those who would seize power by mastering the mob.

So if you manage the Herculean task of separating Cathedral and state, but leave both intact, you have no reason to think that the same networks will not just form over again. In fact, you have every reason to believe that they will.

Third, and worst, the level of political power you would need to execute a soft reset is precisely the same level of power you would need to execute a hard reset. That is: full power, absolute sovereignty, total dictatorship, whatever you want to call it. Except inasmuch as it might be easier to construct a coalition to mandate a soft reset, softness has no advantage. The people who presently enjoy power will resist both with the same energy - all the energy they have. If you have the power to overcome them, why settle for half measures?

In a hard reset, we converge legality and reality not by adjusting reality to conform to the First Amendment, but by adjusting the law to recognize the reality of government power.

First, a hard reset only makes sense with the definition we gave last week: unconditional replacement of all government employees. This will break up your social networks. A hard reset should also be part of a transition to some post-democratic form of government, or the same problems will reoccur. But this is a long-term issue.

Most important, however, in a hard reset we actually expand the definition of government. As we've seen, the nominally-independent educational organs, the press and the universities, are the heart of power in America today. They make decisions and manufacture the consent to ratify them. Fine. They want to be part of the government? Make them part of the government.

In a hard reset, all organizations dedicated to forming public opinion, making or implementing public policy, or working in the public interest, are nationalized. This includes not only the press and the universities, but also the foundations, NGOs, and other nonprofits. It is a bit rich, after all, for any of these outfits to appeal to the sanctity of property rights. They believe in the sanctity of property rights about as much as they believe in the goddess Kali.

Once they are nationalized, treat them as the public schools were treated in the soft reset. Retire their employees and liquidate their assets. Universities in particular have lovely campuses, many of which are centrally located and should be quite attractive to developers.

The trademarks, however, should be retained and sunk. The former employees of the New York Times can organize and start a newspaper. The former employees of Harvard can organize and start a college. But the former can't call it the New York Times nor the latter Harvard, any more than you or I could create a publication or a college with those names.

The goal of nationalization in a hard reset is not to create official information organs under central control. It is not even to prevent political opponents of a new regime from networking. It is simply to destroy the existing power structure, and in particular to liquidate the reputation capital that these institutions hold at present.

Harvard and the Times are authorities. Silly as it sounds, their prestige is simply associated with their names. If some former employees of the Times put up a website and call it, say, the New York Journal, no one knows anything about this Journal. Is it telling the truth? Or is it a fountain of lies? It has to be evaluated on its actual track record.

If the old regime still exists, it could be restored at any moment. However you manage to construct the level of power you would need in order to reset Washington, or any other modern government, broad public opinion will be a significant component of your power base. In a reset, you want to construct this coalition once. You don't want to have to maintain it. Wresting public opinion away from the Cathedral is hard enough. It should not be an ongoing process, especially since the whole point is to ditch this black art of managing the mass mind.

In the Cathedral system, real power is held by the educational organs, the press and the universities, which are nominally outside the government proper. The minimum intervention required to disrupt this system is to withdraw official recognition from the press and the universities. However, any regime that has the power to do this also has the power to liquidate them, along with all other extra-governmental institutions. It is much safer to go this extra mile, rather than leaving the former Cathedral and its various satellites intact and angry.

Most of the historical precedents for this type of operation are pre-20th century. However, before the 20th century, systematic liquidation of information organs was quite common. Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries is an excellent example. Slightly farther afield, we have the suppression of the Jesuits. And in the 20th century, though less comparable, we have denazification.

Of course, these steps are all unbelievably extreme by modern American standards. All this means is that they will not happen unless those standards change. And this will not happen until Americans, "Progressive" and "Fundamentalist" alike, are convinced that their government is indisputably malignant and incapable of self-correction, and the only way to improve it is to replace it completely.

And how could this be accomplished? Obviously, it can't be. Continue to part X.

80 Comments:

Blogger Votes or Semen said...

Sadly I must agree with you. It would never work. Present humanity with a fully functional society in the vein you've laid out and most will refuse. People don't want to be free.

Humanity faced much the same thing with labor reform. All of a sudden people went from working 80 hours a week to working 40 hours a week and literally had no idea what to do with their leisure time. Fortunately radio and then TV came to the rescue. Why do you think celebrities are so unhappy? They have enough money to be truly free and they HATE it.

June 12, 2008 at 1:29 AM  
Blogger John S. Bolton said...

The soft reset option is very close to what's needed. How do you know that the convincing threat to liquidate the government schools and uni's, cashiering all their employees, would not be sufficient? These people know that they are hated. They might just give up like the USSR. The axiomatic equality of all population-genetic groups, regarding conceptual ability, might be sincere for some few who should have known that it's questionable. The insincere ones though, may have had all along, intended merely to smear all opposition to their power-greed as racial or other such hatred, against the unequal. Before there was 'racism' there was prejudice, and the older rhetoric is still incongruously used about 'judging' strangers, but don't be judgemental. The state religion of anti-caucasianism, the shysterocracy, these are criminal conspiracies for sure.

June 12, 2008 at 1:52 AM  
Blogger John S. Bolton said...

Another possibility short of joining the Revolt of the Pretender: couldn't the SCOTUS decide that government schools violate establishment of religion, equal protection, titles of nobility and other constitutinal absolutes? Even having such a case come up, and get three votes, would rattle the materialist cathedral more than 100 9-11's. The left making common cause with Islam suggests an extreme demoralization; perhaps a hereditarian glasnost is soon to appear.

June 12, 2008 at 2:47 AM  
Blogger latté island said...

What a nice surprise. Thank you.

June 12, 2008 at 4:16 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Instead, use the good old system: competitive examination.

Hear, hear! That would also solve the conflict interest faced by teachers and institutions who certify that their own students understand the material. Nothing could be better for education.

June 12, 2008 at 4:35 AM  
Blogger BGC said...

The Cathedral's personnel are committing demographic suicide by reproducing at way-below replacement levels.

Since IQ and personality-type are both substantially inherited, this will surely begin to have a big effect on things (as will the ageing population structure) - within a decade or two?

June 12, 2008 at 5:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But while professors and preachers are both free to offer policy suggestions, it would be a scandal if the latter's advice was regularly accepted.

Scandalous, indeed. The policy outcome was a disaster.

All private companies in the known universe, however, have the same policy: any unauthorized communication with anyone outside the company, "journalist" or otherwise, is a firing offense. Often it will also expose you to litigation.

When it comes to significant operational details that might affect a company's stock price, leaking information - whether authorized or not - is actually a crime.


In principle it is a criminal offense for a government employee to leak official information.

June 12, 2008 at 6:19 AM  
Anonymous m said...

Mencius: I have to disagree with you regarding your education proposition. In fact, I think your ultimate goal - a safe, stable formalist government - is antithetical to private education. Why?

Because in a formalist system based on maximization of revenue, the easiest and safest way to maintain support and stability is by indoctrination of the masses into believing in formalism. It's as simple as that. None of this B.S. about locking down guns, which is really just plain stupid.

Private education for all, while nice in theory, would lead to stratification, instability and possibly civil war.

June 12, 2008 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

So much hand-waving! Political correctness exists, ergo the universities and media are religious institutions. We must destroy the whole system because this fiction that all men are created equal is clearly the worst possible thing that could happen to a country, and only a reboot which would leave many uneducated and the fundamentalists ascendant can save us.

June 12, 2008 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Thursday said...

It is obvious that anyone who doesn't believe in God cannot possibly be a Christian.

I'd agree with that. However, just because I believe the first statement, that doesn't mean I would agree with this:

The idea that there could be any kind of historical continuity between people believe in God, and people who don't believe in God, is absurd.

There are obviously massive continuities between Christianity and liberalism.

BTW Half Sigma has some good thoughts here:
http://www.halfsigma.com/2008/06/the-danger-of-post-christian-mother-nature-worship.html

Some of my own thoughts are here:
http://manwhoisthursday.blogspot.com/2008/05/supernaturalism-tradition-and-law.html

June 12, 2008 at 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

A hard reset should also be part of a transition to some post-democratic form of government, or the same problems will reoccur. But this is a long-term issue.

No, it is short term. The Cathedral would reconstitute itself practically immediately, regardless of whether you let it use the labels "New York Times(tm)" or "Harvard(tm)". Consider the relationship of professional wrestlers to the label "WWF(tm)".

Lacking "New York Times(tm)", all that would happen is the core set of people involved would start up the "New York New Times", or the "New York Schtimes", or maybe just the "New York Democrat-Republican Picayune". All goodthinking whiterpeople would quickly figure out where the Times went, and proceed to get their opinions there accordingly.

Of course, such a reformation would at least have the potential to let the Times cut loose some deadwood. Perhaps Maureen Dowd would not be invited to the new paper.

As for the university side of the Cathedral, there's a perfectly good reason for it. A modern society does require expertise. Examinations are perfectly sufficient for determining entry into a profession, or even advancement up to a certain level. But they cannot determine who the experts are, much less the most distinguished experts. Perhaps we can find chemists or typists that way, in addition to entry-level civil servants. But what about finding the most preeminent vulcanologist in the world? Can you write a test for that? The wisest diplomat? Can you write a test that will find the experts most suited to advise the government on how to deal with "climate change"?

June 12, 2008 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

A secure, responsible and effective government may listen to its residents, but it has no reason to ... indoctrinate them.

Of course it does. It, like any and all other power structures, has every incentive to want its subjects to think that it is secure, responsible, and effective. Why should it rely on them to figure that out by themselves? And what if they came to the wrong conclusion? It can just tell them.

June 12, 2008 at 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

As for the university side of the Cathedral, there's a perfectly good reason for it. A modern society does require expertise. Examinations are perfectly sufficient for determining entry into a profession, or even advancement up to a certain level. But they cannot determine who the experts are, much less the most distinguished experts.

Sure they can. Why not? The experts will write the examination that determines who the experts are! And how many government policy problems require the "most distinguished" expert, anyway? The vast majority of problems require "good enough" experts.

Perhaps we can find chemists or typists that way, in addition to entry-level civil servants. But what about finding the most preeminent vulcanologist in the world?

Why would you ever require #1 and only #1? Why not anyone out of the top 20 or top 50? A test can certainly narrow things down to a manageable number, especially if "preeminence" means knowledge of the subject and not something subjective like prestige.

Anyway, how are you going to find the "most preeminent" vulcanologist without a test? It's going to be a matter of opinion, or you will choose based on prestige (a Harvard vulcanologist must be the most preeminent!). Hard to see how this is a better method than devising a test.

Can you write a test for that?

Yes! You can create a test for anything!

The wisest diplomat?

They already test them just to get into the Foreign Service, why shouldn't there also be tests for advancement afterwards?

Can you write a test that will find the experts most suited to advise the government on how to deal with "climate change"?

Certainly! Why not?

June 12, 2008 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

if refuting a proposition on which the Cathedral has staked its credibility is sufficient to defeat it, and that refutation is agreed on by all serious thinkers - why the heck is it still here?

For one, that refutation is not agreed on; it's not even a majority belief, I don't think. Certainly not amongst educated people (and who else do you think matters?) The Cathedral makes sure of that.

But I reject your whole premise here, that the Cathedral has staked its credibility on the DZGD. (I prefer this term to your "HNU", but they are the same.) No, a thousand times. Certainly we could agree that the Cathedral really, really likes the DZGD -- that is plain. But it can be compelled to give it up, and it will be.

I may be getting ultra-MM on you here, but the thing about the Cathedral is its position in the power structure. It's true that it can bend the truth quite a bit, but not arbitrarily far. Kinda like an Agent in the Matrix. Dodges bullets real good, but evidently cannot dodge the wall of lead a gatling gun can put out. If that happens, well, the Agent "dies". But that's OK -- there's plenty of bodies.

Similarly, just because we might possible end up discrediting a few of the most egregious and commited race deniers, doesn't mean shit. Progressivism insists absolutely only on the moral equality of all people, and that is not falsifiable. That there may be intellectual differences is an unpleasant reality, but one they can accommodate to. Indeed, right now you can get one to admit that, for example, some people are smarter than others. Yes really! It's just hard to do that without also getting a lecture how smarter is not morally better (except when it is).

We all like predictions. So, here's how it will go down. The stonewalling and obfuscation will continue, for perhaps another 10-15 years. But finally the gene variations and their phenotypes responsible for mental variation in humans will be pinned down. And then the Cathedral will one day just flip a bit: human genetic mental variantion will become true, and it will have always been true. The DZGD will at the same time become, in a limited, technical sense, true. If you ask a future proggie intellectual in detailed and coded enough language, they will admit it. But they will immediately, and always, point out that in fact differences are not group-based, but individual! And we always knew that! In fact they will be unable to say the former without first insisting on the latter.
Thus, the DZGD will still be always wrong to have held: up until race-bit-flip-day, it is wrong to hold because it is blasphemous. Afterwords, it will be wrong to hold because it is a drastic, uninformative, and unnecessary simplification that is hurtful to mention. Do you go around telling ugly people that they are ugly? Of course not -- that's just mean. Same for the DZGD after the the flip.

What will this flip mean for policy? Very little. There's always more than one way to justify anything, and it is the purpose of the Cathedral to create such justifications.

For example, we can already see progressives recasting the justification for racial preferences, originally based on historical injustice and statistical anti-racism, to "diversity". Refuting the DZGD will, in principle, remove the "racism" justification for preferences, but it will not affect "diversity". Similar substitutions can be made anywhere where statistically-"proven" racism based on DZGD currently justifies policy.

June 12, 2008 at 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Can you write a test for that?

Yes! You can create a test for anything!"

Lugo has a point: I have sat on many search committees and I think a test could have done a better job.

Brad

June 12, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Ian said...

To think of Political Correctness/"progressivism"/The Cathedral as a Quaker/Protestant/Whig phenomenon misses a major piece. I reallllllly wish it weren't so ("some of my best friends are ..."), but what do all of the folks listed below have in common?

* The Russian Revolution - Leon Trotsky, Yakov Yurovsky (lead team that executed the Romanovs), Ilya Ehrenburg, Lev Kopelev, Lev Kopelev (Soviet writer who urged lack of pity on starving "counter-revolutionary" Ukranians), a notably disproportionate number of the Bolshevik revolutionaries and early NKVD leaders

* Other European Communists and Socialists - Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Claude Levi-Strauss, Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider (East German, fought with Che Gevara), Markus Wolf (head of East German intelligence)

* Pre-Sixties American Radicalism - I. F. Stone, Emma Goldman, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, George Koval (Manhattan Project Soviet spy), four-fifths of all those caught and convicted of Communist espionage and treason in the United States/Canada

* Sixties American radical politics - Daniel Ellsberg, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, William Kunstler, Bob Dylan, Country Joe ("... and the Fish"), five of the “Chicago Seven”, many of the leaders of the SDS Weathermen etc, even Salvador Allende down in Chile

* Post-Sixties radical/lefty American Politics - Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Stanley Fish, Medea Benjamin, Rachel Corrie, Judi Bari, Barbara Striesand, Barbara Boxer, Michael Lerner, Ani DiFranco, Winona LaDuke, Nadine Strossen, Edward Koch, Ben Cohen (founder of TrueMajority), Jeff Cohen (founder of FAIR)

* Lefty Media - the Sulzbergers, A. M. Rosenthal, Barbara Ehrenreich, Al Franken, Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor part-owner and publisher of The Nation), Michael Albert (co-founder of Z Magazine), Tamar Jacoby (open borders advocate), Dana Goldstein (American Prospect Writer), Naomi Klein (The Nation anti-globalization writer)

* Feminism - Betty Friedan, Susan Sontag, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf, Eve Ensler, Andrea Dworkin, Susan Faludi, Susan Brownmiller, Adrianne Rich, Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein, Carol Gilligan, Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Bella Abzug, Alice B. Toklas, Robin Morgan, Bettina Aptheker, Blu Greenberg, Heather Booth, Phyllis Chesler, Judy Chicago, Sonia Pressman Fuentes, Nancy Miriam Hawley, Alix Kates Shulman

* American “Anti-Racism” - all the original board of directors of the NAACP except one, Tim Wise, Noel Ignatiev, Stanley Levison, Felix Frankfurter (played key role in Brown v. Board of Education), Stanley Levinson (Communist MLK speech writer), Joel & Arthur Spingarn (early NAACP leaders), Kivie Kaplan (head of the NAACP), many Hollywood executives who for example greenlight movies like "Amistad" and "Glory Road" and make sure criminals in movies are always white

* South African “Anti-Racism” - Ronnie Kasrils, Denis Goldberg, Helen Suzman, Nadine Gordimer, many other communist “white allies” of the ANC during and after apartheid

* "Anti-Racist" Egalitarian (Psuedo-)Scientists - Ashley Montagu, Franz Boas, Steven Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, Leon Kamin, Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, Jared Diamond

* Gay Rights - Barney Frank, Tony Kushner, Harvey Fierstein, Larry Kramer, Harvey Milk, Arnie Kantrowitz, Alan Klein (co-founder of ACT UP Queer Nation GLAAD and stopdrlaura.com), Arnie Kantrowitz (co-founder GLAAD), Jonathan D. Katz (founded and chairs Harvey Milk Institute, co-founder of Queer Nation), Moisés Kaufman (wrote "The Laramie Project"), Israel Fishman (founder of the Gay Liberation Caucus)

Other folks played a role modern Western PC-ness : Lenin and Khrushchev, Foucault and Derrida, Mao and Fidel, Malcomb X and Angela Davis, and sure yes a long protestant/Whig/Quaker tradition in the Anglo-Saxon world. But the group of folks listed above seem to be at the heart of this modern movement, and seem to have more or less single-handedly created feminism and queer rights aspects of it. What is it that ties all those folks all together?

June 12, 2008 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Thursday said...

Yes, yes, the Jews have on average put their considerable intellect and energy into promoting a series of spectacularly stupid and harmful political and social ideas, for which they must no doubt answer to God.

And yet the Jews can't be blamed for the French Revolution or the fanaticism of the abolitionists or Swedish social democracy. They can't be blamed for Jean Jacques Rousseau or William Godwin or Mary Wolestonecraft or Robert Owen or J.S. Mill. Yes, having a small, alienated, yet very intelligent and energetic minority to push these stupid ideas along has not helped things, but we would still have come to this pass even without the Jews. And Mencius is right, the ideas themselves owe much more to Puritan Christianity than to Judaism.

June 12, 2008 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

What Leonard said, mostly. The HNU doctrine is not nearly as essential to Universalism as you seem to believe. If it's truly a branch of Protestantism, then that merely says that everybody has a soul of equal moral value. Equality of capability is not required.

June 12, 2008 at 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So much hand-waving! Political correctness exists, ergo the universities and media are religious institutions. We must destroy the whole system because this fiction that all men are created equal is clearly the worst possible thing that could happen to a country, and only a reboot which would leave many uneducated and the fundamentalists ascendant can save us."

Settle down, Jewish Atheist. All this Mencius Moldbug guy wants to do is, you know, "deconstruct" the prevailing institutions, make some changes and create something anew. Now what good liberal like yourself could have against deconstucting, changing and building anew? The current regime sounds like a religion to me, like some kind of twisted Protestantism. We all know how messed up just normal Christianity is with crazy stuff like afterlives, doctrines, rules, sin, morality and other stuff that is a real drag. Religion of any kind cannot be part of the government.
I know liberals like to pick and choose when it comes to things like the Constitution, Bill of rights, etc...but remember the Seperation of Church and State from Civics class in our public schools? You went to public schools, right?
If your not part of the solution, then you are only part of the problem. You must have the audacity to hope!

June 12, 2008 at 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Ian said...

> the ideas themselves owe much more to
> Puritan Christianity than to Judaism.

I dunno man. Many of those folks on my list are pretty heavy hitters in "progressive" history, original thinkers and movement creators. It's difficult to see them as mere foot soldiers in some one else's crusade.

Also, here is something I have been thinking about : in the modern progressive movement, how has "evil" been defined? Well, obviously, Hitler, Hitler, Göring, Goebbels, Himmler, and the boys take first prize in the Beelzebub competition. There's pretty much nothing more evil than Hitler and the Nazis. As has been pointed out many times, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and other comparables seem to get a relatively free pass in the Church of Progressivism ("bad", yes, "the kind of behavior to be engineered out in socialist utopia", yes, but not "evil").

Who else is evil? Well, McCarthyism was definitely evil, the KKK was evil, as were the inquisitions. Christian fundamentalism is pretty evil, as was Nixon. And the only post-colonial third-world ethnocentric "resistant fighters" that seem to get defined as actually "evil" in the modern mainstream are Islamic terrorists (quick, who is more "evil", Osama bin Ladin or Subcomante Marcos?).

In other words, in the progressive theology, "bad for jews" = "evil". The bad guys is many movies from the past twenty years turn out to be a gang of Slavic low-lifes, or snobby upper-crust classical-music-listening German/Brits, or WASPy American politician/businessmen - in other words, the Ashkanazi's age-old hosts, economic competitors, and sometimes persecutors...

Does modern progressivism hurt Northern European Protestant ethnic self-interests? Well, in what way does modern progressivism *not* hurt Northern European Protestant ethnic self-interests? And does modern progressivism hurt Jewish ethnic self-interests? Extreme anti-zionism/anti-Israelism seems to me to be the only way it really does, although I suppose you could also add a certain anti-elitism/anti-intellectualism.

Look, I *hate* seeing the world through Kevin McDonald or David Duke's eyes. It really does seem, well, "hateful". I grew up in a mostly Jewish municipality, many of my best friends (then and now) are Jewish, and I endless enjoy and admire Jewish creativity, free-thinking, intelligence, competence, and human-heartedness ("mench"-ness). I wish that examining these things would have me come to a different conclusion. I would love it if someone could present a different explanation of these things to me that made as much sense.

But, even more than that, I wish that Jews, in America and elsewhere, saw themselves in full alliance with my bloodline (the progeny of Northern European Protestants) and its cultural traditions, rather than what sometimes seems an implicit adversarial relationship.

June 12, 2008 at 5:21 PM  
Anonymous statsquatch said...

I am sicking of whining about "those people." At least they gave us the atom bomb, the H-Bomb and "Girls Gone Wild" videos.

The Quakers gave us Richard Nixon (AffAction and Vietnam Defeat) and Herbert Hoover (prohibition and FDR) and probably a lot of other terrible stuff.

Lets put an end to "The Friends." Even their name sounds sinister.

June 12, 2008 at 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Ian said...

> I would love it if
> someone could present
> a different explanation
> of these things to me
> that made as much sense.

Which is one reason why I love UR so much.

> But, even more than that,
> I wish that Jews, in
> America and elsewhere, saw
> themselves in full alliance
> with my bloodline (the progeny
> of Northern European
> Protestants) and its cultural
> traditions, rather than what
> sometimes seems an implicit
> adversarial relationship.

Another reason why I love UR ...

June 12, 2008 at 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets put an end to "The Friends." Even their name sounds sinister.

Amen. Their TV show was shit too.

June 12, 2008 at 5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ian, look at FDR's Brain Trust which is as good as sample as any. It appears to only be 1/3 Jewish. Jews make up a disproportional number of public intellectuals, writers, nobel prizes, Hollywood directors, etc. Jews are also overwhelmingly Liberal. This makes sense - if one political party is Universalist and the other actively panders to the Christian right, then it makes sense that 80% of Jews will side the Universalist party. The fact that Jews are really smart and are overwhelmingly progressive is sufficient to explain why they make up 30-40% of the leadership of the progressive movement.

June 12, 2008 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

(First, let me link to our illustrious host's views on the subject.)

I believe I understand your point, Ian, and I don't think you're trying to be unfair. I think you're being unfair nonetheless. Imagine replacing "Jewish" with "white" in your analysis.

I suppose I agree with the last anonymous regarding Ian's point. Under the Doctrine of Some Group Differences, it's not hard to see why a group could be disproportionately represented in a pursuit that requires brainpower, if that group has extra brainpower. Has anyone ever measured what percentage of obstetricians are Jews? I bet it's more than 3%. So shouldn't McDonald and Duke show up and say, "I hate to admit it, but tons of babies are healthy today because of Jews". Or what percentage of alleyway muggers are Jews? Way less than 3%. Etc.

Naw, doesn't seem to work that way.

I look at it this way. Progressive politics tend to be dominated by intellectuals (Moldbug says "progressivism is the doctrine that we should all be ruled by scholars", I think); I prefer the term "mandarins". But they tend to be Word and People Intellectuals ... masters of logic and rhetoric and intepretation and persuasion. Users of language. Similar to the Medieval concept of the liberal arts, actually.

Libertarians seem more commonly to be Number and Machine Intellectuals ... masters of logic and schemes and diagrams and organization. Creators of languages. Engineers, broadly conceived.

So ... Jews are good at the second skillset and excellent at the first. This is all EXTREMELY impressionistic so it may well be hogwash. The point is that big old Jewish brains may well be somewhat better attuned to the problems of progressivism than the garden-variety big brain.

(The competing thesis that Jews have historically been sort of turned off by the Christian influence on the Republican party and conservative movements is probably more parsimonious, I admit.)

I can't add this up to animosity against the Jews, and not just because I've had lots of Jewish friends and had huge crushes on a couple of Jewish women. Jews live in the same echo chamber we all live in - a bunch of PC bromides that are nagging turn-off for the bottom 80% of the cognitive heap. If you're in the top 20% of the cognitive heap, you actually find weird abstract ideas like "social justice" and "dialectical materialism" fascinating. You spar with the ideas - you fight to understand the strange language the hymnals are written in. And you succeed. The rest of the public just hear noise - hardly something to be proud of.

Jews are fallible just like everyone else, and they're capable, like everyone else, of seeing the misconceptions of progressivism. If new conserative / libertarian / royalist thought does take hold and challenges the prog echo chamber, I predict that Jews will shed silly prog misconceptions at least as fast as gentiles.

June 12, 2008 at 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're in the top 20% of the cognitive heap, you actually find weird abstract ideas like "social justice" and "dialectical materialism" fascinating.

I'm in the top 20% and I find them repellent.

June 12, 2008 at 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

Dear Moldbug:

I find the ideas from the soft reboot more interesting than those from the hard.

I like the idea of zapping degree titles and college names off resumes, and going to competitive examination. Unlike ancient China, though, we should allow our government officials to have children. (Or maybe it was a rumor about mandarins being celibate?) I like the idea of enforcing laws against offical leaks. I like the idea of privatizing education (though I'm torn between agreeing with your plan and agreeing with Ilana Mercer's* rock-ribbed opposition to vouchers or Moldbug-style cash transfers).

I really don't think you're going to get conservative / libertarian support for even temporary nationalizations. (And if you get the support of all the royalists, that's not a really big group) Then again, you're seriously avant-garde on taxes, if you really don't mind the idea of the state charging up to the Laffer maximum in taxes. I think I speak for my stodgy libertarian brethren in saying we don't see eye-to-eye with you there.

My sense is that if Western Civilization is to survive (believe it or not, this is a serious sentence), it will take a massive increase in skepticism of intellectuals among intelligent people. I think the web may accomplish the skepticism-building task as a natural consequence. It may also promote bad brain diseases, like apathy and nihilism, but I'm sort of counting on young smart people being pretty much maxed out on apathy and nihilism.

Anyway, thanks for clarifying a couple of things. You've made it clear that you're not in favor of banning universities per se, just hosing them off a little. Ditto for newspapers. I was wondering about that. Excellent post!

* Yes, I do have a crush on Ilana Mercer. Why does nobody look surprised?

June 12, 2008 at 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

"I'm in the top 20% and I find them repellent."

Fascinating and repellent, like certain skin diseases? Maybe you're a dermatologist of social philosophy! I hope you weren't so turned off by these notions that you haven't given them a fair hearing - you really can't know your enemy unless you understand what he's thinking, especially if he's an ideological enemy. (Abbreviated reply: I was trying use "fascinating" in a neutral way.)

June 12, 2008 at 9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intellectually repellent, fraudulent, mendacious, and used by villains to camouflage their ignoble intentions.

Also, the latter term, far from being fascinating (in the neutral sense) simply bores the living daylights out of me, which I hope is the reaction of any sensible person to Marxist jargon.

June 12, 2008 at 9:46 PM  
Anonymous m said...

Ian: how do you account for the fact that the vast majority of the Muslim world wants to see Israel destroyed, and yet they're fawned over and their enemies railroaded in the Western world? According to your theory, wouldn't they be evil and terrible, etc?

June 13, 2008 at 5:45 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Ian, to blame the subversive activity of the Jewish persons you listed on their Jewishness probably links the effect with the wrong cause. What seems significant to me about your list is that just about all of the people on it are Russian or Polish Jews.

I posted a comment to MM's article "Why I am not an anti-Semite" pointing out that the historical association of British Jewry was Tory and Jacobite. Crowmell had toyed with the idea of rescinding the expulsion of Jews from England that had taken place in 1290 under Edward I. He thought that they might the more easily be converted to a Christianity purged by his Roundheads of the "popish" elements in Laudian Anglicanism. However, Charles II, a crypto-Catholic, was the one who actually rescinded the expulsion, and he attached no conditions. James II renewed Charles's endenization of the Jews, and his daughter, the princess (later queen) Anne was the first British royal to visit a synagogue - after which she was fêted at "the Jewes house." British Jewry retained its affection for the house of Stuart well into the eigheenth century - it was remarked upon by contemporary pamphleteers. It is not surprising that the first British prime minister of Jewish extraction, Benjamin Disraeli, was a Tory. Even more recently, the Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth, Lord Jakobovits, was a Tory peer. Margaret Thatcher was supposed to have said it was a pity she could not make him Archbishop of Canterbury.

If there were a peculiarly Jewish political ideology one would expect it to be reflected in the political affiliations of Jews everywhere. This is not the case, as the divergence between Jewish politics in the U.S. and in Britain shows. I suggest that the eagerness of Eastern European Jews to subvert the predominantly Christian culture surrounding them has much more to do with their ancestral experience under tsarist Russian rule than with anything inherently Jewish. In like fashion, the conservatism of British Jews reflects the respectable middle-class origins of the first Sephardic Jewish settlers in Britain in the time of Charles II, which were shared by later Jewish immigrants to Britain, who were predominantly German.

The origins of modern progressivism, secular puritanism, "the Cathedral," the "Brahminate,": whatever we care to call it, do lie with the Calvinist settlers of New England. As Peter Heylyn - who was to Archbishop Laud approximately what François Leclerc du Tremblay was to Cardinal Richelieu, an 'éminence grise' - wrote:

"New England, like the spleen in the natural body, by drawing to it so many sullen, sad, and offensive humours, was not unuseful and unserviceable to the general health. But when the spleen is grown once too full, and emptieth itself into the stomach, it both corrupts the blood and disturbs the head, and leaves the whole man wearisome to himself and others."

True then, and still true.

June 13, 2008 at 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ian just wants a simple answer to this question!

June 13, 2008 at 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't think of a single lefty Jew as insufferable as Garrison Keillor.
Given a choice between a bullet in the head from a Yagoda or endless sermons from Keillor I'd choose the former.

June 13, 2008 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

"But what about finding the most preeminent vulcanologist in the world? Can you write a test for that? The wisest diplomat? Can you write a test that will find the experts most suited to advise the government on how to deal with "climate change"?"

You can write a test that will work a hell of a lot better than the current circle jerk system.

June 13, 2008 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Leonard:

re: indoctrination

No, it doesn't. Indoctrination is expensive. If they want to maximize their profits -- which involves controlling and renting land to the highest bidders, they will want a productive and vibrant society that educates itself without government expense, not a welfare state.

June 13, 2008 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Thanks to many for the Ian hosing off -- why do anti-Semites seem drawn to anything that is anti-Cathedral? Seriously, guys, intellectual anti-Semetic rhetoric died in '46 with the imprisonment of Pound. You ain't adding nothin so just hush up now.

Satsquach -- Hoover did not give us Prohibition. Wilson's congress gave us Prohibition. Please do not besmirch the Hoov. As referenced in "Those Were the Days" he was a sight better than The Devil.

I, too, am intrigued with the soft-reset idea. It certainly seems easier -- but I'm sure the 'bug will have some good stuff re soft v hard reset to chew on come next Thursday.

It remains to be seen (perhaps week next? in two?) how to create the public support for the reset. Thoughts here?

June 13, 2008 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

GMP -- people can be quite productive even when stuffed to the gills with crazy-think. (Look at us.) But the benefits are obvious (of filling your subjects heads with notions of how wonderful the state is). You don't have to spend nearly as much on internal security.

It need not be expensive to indoctrinate the people; just require a civics course or two. It's an unfunded mandate -- cost passed on the customer. The downside is minor, just the opportunity cost of educating subjects a little better.

The upside is quite large: how much do you expect it costs to gun down an occasional mob of your subjects? How much does it cost to maintain the level of internal security forces necessary to gun down a mob, year after year?

June 13, 2008 at 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

Leonard - "How much does it cost to maintain the level of internal security forces necessary to gun down a mob, year after year?"

Actually, it's really really cheap. He's got that quote he loves from Lord Somebody-or-Other that goes "for the masses, grapeshot" (but in French, which makes it sound all classy and history-y).

MM's point about formalism is that you don't actually have to gun down the mob once the mob knows that you will gun them down. They'll never form a mob to get gunned down.

People only rebel when they think they can win To be more precise, people only organize others into a rebellion when the organizers think that they can win. The foot soldiers are expendable and are quite often expended (this is the answer to the "what about suicide bombers?" question; the bombers themselves are not lone nuts, they're supported by an organization, the organization continues to exist, ergo the leaders don't commit suicide).

June 14, 2008 at 1:05 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

As for testing, I'm surprised so many are so flip about this.

I am aware that "you can write a test for anything", where "you" means "someone who is omniscient". We don't have any of those kind of yous.

The kind of people we have are politicians. That is, people whose expertise is primarily in suckup and deception. Although they do tend to have a legal education layered over a liberal arts education. These people cannot write or judge a test for much of anything other than maybe a legal exam. Even in a wonderful Moldbuggian corporate dictatorship, managers might perhaps have a good technical education, but they are by no means expert in all subjects. Nonetheless, they still must make decisions with vast financial implications. Consider building codes. Or, if you imagine a sovcorp clever enough to keep its hands off the codes directly, consider the enforcement of the law surrounding privately-created building codes.

You cannot avoid needing experts in a modern economy. And you want the best, for the same reason you want them at all -- because a poor decision costs money, and the shareholders want maximum return. Making a decision even 1% better in terms of financial outcomes could be worth millions or billions of dollars. Remember that we are talking about corporations who own, or at least exercise primary property rights over, trillions or even quadrillions of dollars worth of capital.

June 14, 2008 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

MM's point about formalism is that you don't actually have to gun down the mob once the mob knows that you will gun them down. They'll never form a mob to get gunned down.

And I agree with him insofar as humans are homo economicus, pure calculating machines that never miss a digit and are never swayed by emotion. Perhaps the sovcorps ruling Finland and Japan will be able to dispense with indoctrination. But I doubt it even for them. Even Finns are human beings.

In any case, even for economicuses, the point here is force levels. Let's say you need one soldier with a machinegun for every 1000 totally unindoctrinated Finns. Well, indoctrinate them correctly and perhaps that drops to one soldier per every 1500 Finns. OK, you've just cut the size of your mob-massacre expenses by 1/3. Considering that the army will probably be a substantial fraction of the total expenses of the sovcorp, this may be a substantial boost to the bottom line.

June 14, 2008 at 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

You raise good points, leonard, and I'm afraid you may be more correct than your opponents regarding some specific fields. My opinion is, instead of abandoning testing for university credentials, in those cases it may be better to accept some combination of a mediocre vulcanology test and a typical (excellent) IQ test. A super-smart person who knows at least a little about vulcanology, and wants to work in that field, would probably be "close enough for government work" to the ideal candidate. (By a "mediocre test" I suppose I just mean one where too many candidates receive perfect scores, but it could also mean one that misranked candidates closely-matched in ability.)

I've also thought about the same kind of things for judges. There has to be a better way than letting nice conservative Presidents search for the person most likely to practice judicial restraint and refrain from legislating from the bench, and then end up with Earl Warren and William Brennan.

Of course, I don't know anything about Moldbug feels about, you know ... judicial independence. I suspect he's against. But even non-independent judges need to be chosen well. I'm thinking, allow (or require - like a jury system) all people who pass their state bars to take a national exam along similar lines. From the top x%, pick y% at random (Venice-style, a la that other UR thread), and let them elect each new Justice. You could fill lower court vacancies with people from the same college.

June 14, 2008 at 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

As to how to build support for these ideas ... my feeling is that a small nugget of people should get together and see what it is they agree on, and whether or not what they don't agree on is fatal to cooperation. Regular posters to this blog, even excluding the lefty critics, may well not make a group ideologically cohesive enough to cooperate. I suspect the rift between color- and gender-blind reactionaries and ... don't know quite how to describe them without being PC ... the rest, will never be bridged.

So I guess building support for this stuff just means a whole lot of blogging. It really doesn't take any cooperation. Draw the most elite people to this sort of blogging and you'll start altering cocktail party-type conversations.

I think the message needs to be refined a lot before it'll make sense at the cocktail party. Moldbug slams the EU a lot, and calls it terribly anti-democratic, but it's a subtle point that he's not slamming it because it's anti-democratic, but in spite of that. He just dislikes it because multinational, progressive, atheocratic, etc. His critiques of the USA and the EU, I think, boil down to the same thing: nothing they do is really necessary to what a good reactionary feels makes up The Good Life: domestic tranquility, reliable contracts, not being invaded by foreigners, etc.

Haven't heard much detail (may have missed something) on what functions these delightfully-qualified neocameralist civil servants are going to do. He's pensioning off all non-security, non-technical Federal employees, right? Which still leaves civil servants to paint "LEFT TURN ONLY" on the roads, collect breach-of-contract settlements, keep the proverbial blogs of mercury out of the milk, etc. Maybe?

Moldbug is so focussed on American, Federal issues I'm a little hazy on this stuff. I want to see a post on Civic Life in the Impeccably Vaisya Town and Country after the Neocameralist Reboot. (Because I've heard anarchist views of How Things Should Work and again, I think the rift may be unbridgeable.)

June 14, 2008 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Insofar as humans aren't homo economicus they also aren't affected by social structures.

Another aphorism Mencius is fond of:

"If we catch the 28 days later virus, no social system will suffice to quench our all-devouring wrath."

The people who are going to mob up only to get shot down will, in general, mob up regardless.

June 14, 2008 at 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

I am aware that "you can write a test for anything", where "you" means "someone who is omniscient". We don't have any of those kind of yous.

"You" means "an expert in the subject being tested on", not "an expert in everything". You can certainly find experts to write a test on any subject that you want to test. If they can't write a test that can determine the level of expertise in their subject, then they're not experts in that subject!

managers might perhaps have a good technical education, but they are by no means expert in all subjects.

They don't have to be! Why should they have to be? Good managers can manage teams of experts in subjects in which they have little experise themselves. This happens all the time!

Perhaps the sovcorps ruling Finland and Japan will be able to dispense with indoctrination.

I dunno much about Finland, but Japan is (and has always been) one of the most heavily indoctrinated populations on the planet.

Moldbug slams the EU a lot, and calls it terribly anti-democratic, but it's a subtle point that he's not slamming it because it's anti-democratic, but in spite of that. He just dislikes it because multinational, progressive, atheocratic, etc.

He dislikes it because it has the trappings of democracy without actual democracy. It is "democracy" without "partisanship" and "politics" (both of which are essential for actual democracy).

June 14, 2008 at 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

"He dislikes it because it has the trappings of democracy without actual democracy. It is "democracy" without "partisanship" and "politics" (both of which are essential for actual democracy)." - lugo

Well, that implies that he either likes democracy, or seriously hates the trappings of democracy.... I wouldn't think he'd care all that much about trappings, and I'm pretty sure he hates democracy, so color me confused.

June 14, 2008 at 6:18 PM  
Anonymous ben tillman said...

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Say what? Prof. Marc in Am Civ 161c never said anything about "kosofsky".

June 14, 2008 at 11:46 PM  
Anonymous ben tillman said...

Thanks to many for the Ian hosing off -- why do anti-Semites seem drawn to anything that is anti-Cathedral?

Surely it is because the Cathedral is a Jewish construct. At least that's what I learned at Brown.

June 14, 2008 at 11:56 PM  
Anonymous ben tillman said...

"Jews are fallible just like everyone else, and they're capable, like everyone else, of seeing the misconceptions of progressivism."

No, Jews are alive, just like everyone else, and they're capable of determining whether 'progressivism' is good for their people. The notion that 'progressivism' can have 'misconceptions' is an objective evaluation that has no relevance to the particularistic and highly subjective perspective of Jewish 'progressives'.

June 15, 2008 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Happy Father's Day, MM

June 15, 2008 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

"If we catch the 28 days later virus, no social system will suffice to quench our all-devouring wrath."

The people who are going to mob up only to get shot down will, in general, mob up regardless.


The difference is in the sort of people who are involved in whatever tragedy occurs, and that is not a race matter but a class matter.

Compare responses to flooding in New Orleans to Iowa. A certain [read: a great deal] of the problems that ensued in New Orleans were due to severe incompetence at the Mayoral and Gubernatorial levels, but the alarmingly LA-riot like responses of some miscreants [inflated and thus abetted by a sensationalist media] are entirely absent in Iowa despite a 500-year flood with tornadoes.

New Orleans residents were taught to be helpless. Practically farmed that way.

So while I recognise that "social systems" will break down in the face of mega-disasters, the responses of the people may mitigate that break down.

I don't know if government is entirely at fault for the character of the people, though. Its like the old real estate saw: You can improve a house, never a neighborhood.

June 15, 2008 at 7:34 AM  
Anonymous m said...

"The difference is in the sort of people who are involved in whatever tragedy occurs, and that is not a race matter but a class matter."

Are you fucking kidding me Mark? According to government statistics which understate the problem, blacks are 8 times more likely to commit violent crimes than whites. Studies have proven them to have lower IQs; to be short-term thinkers; to have much, much higher latent aggression. Read some Sailer, isteve.blogspot.com.

Look to anywhere in Africa to what happens when you put blacks in control (read: Zimbabwe, South Africa). Look to what happens when majorital society stops putting restraints on blacks (Britain, U.S.). One of my predictions is a noticeable rate in black crime rate as a result of Obama becoming president; they're going to read this as a blank check to go wild.

Of course, nurture plays a part in this. You're right that they're taught a culture of victimization and this exacerbates the problem. But that's not the fundamental root of it.

Someone above wrote that the gulf between race-blind formalists and race-conscious formalists is a wide one. I agree, and I'm not sure if it can be bridged.

June 15, 2008 at 8:51 AM  
Anonymous statsquatch said...

g.m.palmer- Pardon my hyperbole about Hoover. He certainly was not responsible for prohibition although he was (unlike wilson) a supporter. He was certainly preferable to the (Dutch calvinist?) man who replaced him. How about this...

Quakers have given us Philadelphia and Nixon.

June 15, 2008 at 1:44 PM  
Anonymous statsquatch said...

I do not think MM overestimates the importance of HNU to universalism. HNU is the fact that gives moral uniformity any political relevance. One can consider the psychotic or retarded to morally equivalent yet it is legal to treat them differently in some circumstances (e.g., a criminal trial, military draft, gun ownership in some states) because “they think differently.”

Besides, a normal protestant sect can stop at people being morally equal because they normally believe in lots of unfalsifiable concepts: god, trinity, etc. Universalism should be “modern” and “scientific”. I think the mainline churches have been abandoned because the Brahmins are embarrassed.

June 15, 2008 at 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

"Someone above wrote that the gulf between race-blind formalists and race-conscious formalists is a wide one. I agree, and I'm not sure if it can be bridged." - m

It was I, and I should clarify that I see a third, intermediate course which may be difficult to bridge to either shore. ... Shore of the gulf, with a little island in the middle. "Islanders" do not deny race themselves, but believe government should always act in a perfectly race-blind fashion. I think Steve Sailer holds this position, as do I. On gender issues, I believe the position of the screenwriter for G.I. Jane was about the same - it runs through the script constantly that the main character is a good commando not because she's the best of the women, but because the tests she passes are identical to those of the men.

This is what Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray were getting at with an extended, ignored passage of The Bell Curve - so what if race A is off the mean IQ by x standard deviations, would it mean we need to stop treating people as individuals?

Under the Ancient Chinese civil service, someone of any class could take the exam. In the United States between Truman and Nixon, anyone could take the exam for any civil service position, but if Assyrians and Swazis ended up underrepresented, no one had any standing to complain.

How would a hard-nosed race-blind (HNRB) government have treated New Orleans and LA differently? Well, it would be locking up criminals regardless of race, and refusing to shed a tear if Hittites had a higher conviction rate on some category of crime. (Not that proggies are really race-blind; if they were, they'd be angry at the "bias" that causes the "racist" court system to "accuse" more white men of price-fixing crimes.)

HNRB voters would have killed AFDC dead instead of trying to slice the baloney thinner.

HNRB parents would take their kids out of public schools where they got beaten up by underclass minorities, and HNRB voters would have created tuition tax credits to make that painful to the school board. (Remember what N. Podhoretz proposed, recalling being hit in the head with a a bat as a kid by black kids far larger than him - the dissolution of the Jewish people through interbreeding.)

I could go on and on but you get the picture. This is essentially why I am not a white nationalist. It's also why I wouldn't prohibit an underweight, nearsighted accountant with flat feet from going down to the recruiter station and trying to fulfill his dream of become a Marine scout-sniper. No reason to ban it - let him succeed or fail on his own. I keep using military examples because the US military has largely got this correct, and it's why race relations are so good there. If you honestly believed every black serviceman in your little world (for your unit is surely you world, right?) was about as good as every white serviceman, what objections could you have?

I feel like the race-conscious types are the type that would laugh the accountant out of the office and, more importantly, that wouldn't read Thomas Sowell.

June 15, 2008 at 3:09 PM  
Anonymous m said...

not moldbug, how would you classify me then? I am (a) against non-European immigration in wide numbers into the U.S.; admission should be based on one's allegiance to Western civilization, their individual skills and their ability to contribute immediately to society; (b) I am pro-racial blindness in general within a relatively homogenized society based on A.

June 15, 2008 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger racketmensch said...

I think you should find this kid and train him in the ways of the Force. Kid gets kicked out of the Cub Scouts for refusing to support the Queen.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=12943

If there are no Stuart heirs, maybe this kid was "selected" like the Dalai Lama. McVeigh sounds like a noble enough name. Long Live the True King, whoever he may be.

June 15, 2008 at 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

m, you sound like you're about where I am, and probably citizenists like Steve Sailer. I'm different from you, in that I wouldn't say I'm against large numbers of non-European immigrants per se; I think the effects of East Asian immigrants, for example, have been mostly positive. Then again, the policies I'd put in place for immigration restriction (literacy tests, loyalty to American civilzation, so much as that is testable, etc.) would almost certainly reduce the numbers of non-European immigrants drastically.

I'd much rather cook up a big non-racialist, high-standard immigration policy, and let the left misconstrue it (let's be fair - let the left lie about it) as horrible racist whatever, than to give them more ammunition by allowing them a grain of truth. Each time the left calls meritocracy racist, just ask them what they feel is inherently unmeritworthy about non-whites. Be consistent! Let them trip over their words and splutter and apologize - once they've apologized they will start attracting the contempt of other leftists.

June 15, 2008 at 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

Well, that implies that he either likes democracy, or seriously hates the trappings of democracy.... I wouldn't think he'd care all that much about trappings, and I'm pretty sure he hates democracy, so color me confused.

There is no inconsistency at all in hating democracy while also hating sham democracy even more! After all, like a good progressive atheist, he probably thinks the only truly meaningful sin is hypocrisy, and it is clear that the actual practice of democracy in Europe is seriously out of alignment with its professed democratic values.

I believe the position of the screenwriter for G.I. Jane was about the same - it runs through the script constantly that the main character is a good commando not because she's the best of the women, but because the tests she passes are identical to those of the men.

Too bad in real life women can't pass all the same physical tests as men unless someone puts their thumb on the scale. Hardly any women at all would pass the basic training that they used to give men before they dumbed it down so that women could pass.

I keep using military examples because the US military has largely got this correct, and it's why race relations are so good there.

Yeah, too bad they got the whole "women in combat" thing very, very wrong.

If the progressives wanted to make sure the US never won any wars, they'd make sure there were plenty of women in jobs for which they are manifestly physically unqualified. Hmmmm...

June 15, 2008 at 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

lugo, I don't know the specifics of the tests the military uses for qualifying soldiers. I guess there is a big IF in all my demography-blindness, and that is "IF there are no thumbs on scales." So ... maybe I was snowed by the women in combat thing. I don't know. I'm guessing IDF women best most of the male units they're up against, but that is strictly apples-and-oranges.

June 16, 2008 at 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not just throw out your TV, refuse to read another newspaper, burn your degrees and vote for someone who doesn't stand a chance?

Any more than this and you're doing the power/persuasion thing that leads to this 'evil' that we have. Ooops - I just did that too.

June 16, 2008 at 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

I'm right with you there about throwing out your TV and voting for minor parties. If I could find my degrees, I wouldn't burn them, since they're pretty good evidence of my (extremely common) valour in hostile conditions.

In other news, I have it on good authority that M. Moldbug does intend to answer comments eventually, but his house is chock full of new baby and chores what need doin'. I'm totally imagining him skewer the Universalist mega-state, running over to a crib, grabbing a dusty tome off his shelf, warming up a bottle, AND visiting Brussels Journal all at the same time. Bliss indeed!

Also he told me I could keep borrowing his latter pseudonym, so long as I kept "Not" as my first.

June 16, 2008 at 6:12 PM  
Anonymous m said...

I'd like to see (a) Mencius's site condensed into a formalist manifesto free of meandering and verbosity and (b) Revipedia get off the ground...A before B, preferably.

June 16, 2008 at 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Leonard Moldbug said...

"Moldbug" is the new "X".

June 16, 2008 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

As for a formalist manifesto, I can give it to you pretty short and sharp:

A formalist is a person who believes that violence is the most pressing problem of human affairs. Violence is defined as a condition arising from uncertainty over scarce things. Since there's nothing we can do about scarcity (matter being finite), the formalist desires to eliminate all uncertainty about ownership of things.

Violence may arise from uncertain control over any physical thing. Therefore, formalists advocate the formal "propertification" of everything in existence, be it people, places, or things. And they want all ownership and control (power) to be one and the same. If the current ownership (be it formal, or not) of anything is different from those who actually currently control it, formalists advocate the reformalization of that thing's ownership. This should be done by voiding any preexisting titular ownership, creating a new corporation and assigning its shares to those with control. Thus, those who actually do control it are vested with ownership.

That's formalism. Moldbug then goes on to advocate a particular political system which he thinks will implement it best: his "neocameralism". The idea here is just that current states are wildly informal, and should be formalized. The result is a corporation that owns substantial shares of the production of all of its so-called citizens, who are, more formally, serfs.

June 16, 2008 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

I don't know. I'm guessing IDF women best most of the male units they're up against, but that is strictly apples-and-oranges.

IDF women do not, and pretty much have never, served in the front lines. They perform rear-echelon administrative type tasks. So they have not had the chance to "best" any male units.

June 17, 2008 at 3:33 AM  
Anonymous m said...


IDF women do not, and pretty much have never, served in the front lines. They perform rear-echelon administrative type tasks. So they have not had the chance to "best" any male units.


Actually, the IDF is the only army in the world to have female combat soldiers. They serve in a unit called Caracal, which means "hemafroditic cat" in Hebrew - fitting, because it's a mix of men and women who are Efes hamesh (level 5 training; normal combat soldiers are level 7). Their job is to guard the peacetime borders, Egypt and Jordan, and if there's a war they will fight within Israel's borders...but Caracal isn't allowed to fight outside of them. Hope that helps.

June 17, 2008 at 5:37 AM  
Anonymous m said...

Leonard: no, no, I mean something along the lines of:

(1) here's the current system in all its ugly glory (this is the best part of Mencius's site imo);
(2) here are the mainstream alternative options and why they don't work;
(3) here is formalism and why it does, and how to implement it

To do it right would be quite a task...

June 17, 2008 at 5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They serve in a unit called Caracal, which means "hemafroditic cat" in Hebrew"

I think the name just refers to this species of wild cat.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Caracal001.jpg

Maybe the whole hermaphrodite thing is a slang term within the Israeli army?

June 17, 2008 at 5:58 AM  
Anonymous m said...

Anonymous: could be, my Hebrew wasn't very good when it was explained to me.

June 17, 2008 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Are you fucking kidding me Mark? According to government statistics which understate the problem, blacks are 8 times more likely to commit violent crimes than whites.
No argument there, the stats speak for themselves.

Studies have proven them to have lower IQs; to be short-term thinkers; to have much, much higher latent aggression. Read some Sailer, isteve.blogspot.com.
I have read "some" Sailer. Not really a fan.
But, to your point: I tend to separate behaviors from intelligence, thus the latent aggression is of more importance to me than measures of intelligence.

Look to anywhere in Africa to what happens when you put blacks in control (read: Zimbabwe, South Africa).
Horrible places, it is true. Has it always been so? I can't say. One of the constant motifs within UR is that modern democracies have produced a poisonous result, and that if one examines the world's most horrid places in the historical record one is immediately struck that it wasn't always so.
You conclude race plays the deciding role. I'm not convinced.

Look to what happens when majorital society stops putting restraints on blacks (Britain, U.S.). One of my predictions is a noticeable rate in black crime rate as a result of Obama becoming president; they're going to read this as a blank check to go wild.
Possibly. But it appears to be going that way anyway. I think you'd have to show an increase significantly above and beyond what could already be projected.

June 17, 2008 at 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

Actually, the IDF is the only army in the world to have female combat soldiers.

The expansion of the "combat" role of women in the IDF exactly tracks with the decline of the probability that the IDF will engage in actual serious combat - and also with the decline in the IDF's combat effectiveness. When the IDF faced the prospect of actual combat against serious, heavily armed enemies (1948-73), women had essentially no combat role. Although subject to conscription, they did not receive the same training or duties as men, and basically were kept out of harm's way.

When Israel no longer faced an existential threat of foreign conquest (1974 to now), they increasingly allowed women into "combat" roles - though the reality is there is little or no prospect that they will engage in heavy ground combat. They are, in effect, police units - they guard the borders, as M said. They're not going to go head-on against a male combat unit.

June 17, 2008 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

I think nuclear power is a better place to challenge Cathedral orthodoxy than race realism. The Cathedral orthodoxy is demonstrably nonsensical instead of dubious, there's enough dissent inside the Cathedral so that the dissenters don't have to worry about being sent to re-education camps, and the ill effects of non-nukes policies are starting to bite.

June 17, 2008 at 9:50 PM  
Anonymous mandy said...

UR

Have you ever read that the civil war was a carry over of the age old struggle between the Anglo Saxon upper class and the Celts and lower Anglo Saxons?

ian

I'm with you that many Jews get themselves into positions of power then pit rival groups (invented or existing) against one another for political gain. But they didn't start this. This is part of the European-American paradigm. They didn't arrive in large numbers until after the civil war. Then they glommed on to the elite liberal class of 'yankees.'

http://www.whitenationalism.com/wn/wn-10.htm
I didn't want to believe in this position either. I fought against the logical conclusion for years.

On the other hand Milton Freidman is libertarian.

June 19, 2008 at 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Blode said...

Mandy, the whitenationalism.com article was interesting, but I'm skeptical. He keeps using phrases like "Puritans and Celts" that I don't really get, sort of mixed in with "Scots and Irish", and asserting that their from the 8th Century migrations to North England.... I'd need some citations before I were to believe those kind of generalizations. Also, he seems to believe that Puritanism played (much) less of a role in the creation of modern American leftism than High Church Anglicanism did; I'm inclined to believe the opposite.

The larger point, that you can't blame Jews for mainline Protestant touchy-feely leftism, seems very valid. Mencius made the same point on UR last year, I think.

June 20, 2008 at 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am no one of importance, of course, just a reader of the blog.

But I think I have an insight into the constant, continuous propaganda drumbeat of Israel-bashing that we hear from the Jew-heavy Western media.

In my admittedly limited observation, your typical American trust-fund-Trotskyite Jew does not view the sabras as being truly Jewish. Zionism is, to that mindset, a horrible idea. Jews are supposed to live in Western cities and insinuate themselves quietly into the interstices of power--the banks, the newspapers, the movie studios, the television networks, the big stock brokerage houses. Jews aren't supposed to work with their hands, not supposed to build their own houses, grow their own food, CERTAINLY not supposed to join the Army or even think about touching a gun. That's what the stupid goyim are for, who are no better than cattle.

So, in my opinion Israel is continuously bashed because, 1, Western Jews view Israelis as abominable subhuman hicks for daring to have their own country and fight their own wars against X when it's so much more elegant to, you know, make war movies and do coke with hot shiksa actresses, then call up your cousin Sol who owns half a dozen big national newspapers and tell him you think he should print editorials saying this country should declare war on X.

And this dovetails neatly with the common geopolitical ideas among the trust-fund-Trotskyite class: Western Civilization is evil and hateful, America is particularly evil and hateful, the Soviet Empire was bringing about the Millenium when that evil subhuman bastard Reagan brought it all crumbling down, so therefore, 2, the state of Israel is an abomination for successfully defeating Soviet proxy armies in five wars and successfully defending itself against the just and righteous wrath of the poor, oppressed, misunderstood Palestinians, who really just need a hug and a pat on the head, just like Stalin and Pol Pot did.

There may be some holes in it but I believe it is self-consistent. What do you think?

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March 6, 2009 at 6:39 AM  

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