Thursday, November 27, 2008 108 Comments

Patchwork 3: what we have and what's so bad about it

I started this series with the assumption that everyone reading it would already be a hardened veteran of UR's brutal, disorienting assaults on everything that is good and decent and true. This is obviously a counterfactual. And even for many hardened veterans, I fear, the Patchwork series has proved a rough ride.

Here at UR we have a very different approach from most who would like to "change the world." Rather than actually trying to market our designs, presumably by making them sound familiar, appealing and benevolent, we apply anti-spin. We strip off the fairing and present the cold, gritty gears of the naked machine. Our tone is at best neutral, at worst acid and nihilistic.

Why? Well, for one, it's just more fun. Let's be clear about this: UR is a blog. UR is not a cult, it is not a subversive underground organization, it is certainly not a political party. It is something I write for fun, and you read for fun. UR is part of the entertainment industry. If you find it offensive, Lord only knows what you'll make of Nigga Know. (I don't even know what to make of Nigga Know. I may just be too old for it.)

But if there is a strategy behind the anti-spin, it is to maximize the quality of UR's audience, by minimizing the quantity. (Long posts help with this, too.) UR will not appeal to your heart. It will only appeal to your head. Which must then often overcome the stomach. To put it simply: if you don't understand UR, you are very unlikely to believe it. And this is better for both of us.

On the other hand, there is no need to be mysterious. So, now that I've started to introduce this terrifying alternative, let me go back and explain why it's needed. Call it a prequel.

Let's start with a point of agreement: our goal, as people who live in a civilized modern society, is a system of government which is responsible. Good government is responsible government. The equivalence is a tautology. The question is: how shall we secure for ourselves the blessings of responsible government? Or as Pope put it:
For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate'er is best administer'd is best:
Unless you had quite an unusual education, you grew up believing that the problem is solved: constitutional democracy is the best mechanism for producing responsible government. It certainly produces something. Let's call this something, whatever it is, moral responsibility.

Here at UR, we see constitutional democracy as a sort of large hydatid cyst, cuddled gently in the skull alongside one's actual neural tissue. The intrepid reader, with the instruments this blog provides, can extract the creature in the comfort and privacy of her own shower stall. As the neurosurgeon, Dr. Ahmad, notes: "The space was filled with saline at the end of operation."

Which is certainly one option. But it leaves the patient a bit of a nihilist. The obvious drop-in replacement is royalism, of course - royalism is really just reverting the changes, as we say in my line of work. So here at UR we give it up for all royalists. (Fill the cavity with gold. This will be young Jasmeen's college fund, as well as her skull ballast.)

For example, I have no hesitation in calling for the King of Thailand to throw off the reins of the transnationalists, obey the wishes of the people, and return the country to full independence and royal government. I have also previously noted that any corporate descendant of the old Union of England, Scotland and Ireland, including but not limited to West Virginia, is entitled to restore the Stuarts through the Princes of Liechtenstein. If you wonder what this would mean for you, personally, try the simple exercise of reading your quality local fishrag for a month, noting the top headline, and asking: "How would Hereditary Prince Alois handle this?"

But royalism, even if you stick a "neo-" on the front, is just too old-fashioned to appeal to some. So we also offer an extra decorative touch, available for a mere $19.95, in which the customer can fill her cyst's void with our own synthetic organ of government. We call it neocameralism, and it is very fresh.

Neocameralism informs the surrounding neural tissue that the best mechanism for producing responsibility in government is for governments to be administered as sovereign joint-stock corporations, controlled absolutely by their shareholders, who hold the master encryption keys for the government's invincible robot armies. At some risk of oxymoronism, this could be even be described as private government. It creates quite a different form of responsibility - financial responsibility.

Of course, it's entirely possible that our so-called "cyst" could be a healthy, normal lobe of your brain. That our sinister, unapproved product could in fact insert a strange translucent, globelike parasite, which will control your destiny and lead you to an awful end. Ha ha! Yes, young Jedi, we are asking you to choose. Wield the red saber for the first time! Then visit our Sith Library, and learn the truth about this so-called "Council." You already know what they say about us.

In other words, the financial responsibility created by joint-stock sovereignty would be much more desirable, in terms of quality of life for most residents, than the moral responsibility which we presently enjoy thanks to constitutional democracy. Or so I assert.

But this is a dangerous assertion, because history teaches us very quickly that there are many worse things than constitutional democracy. I claim to be encouraging you to exchange the path of evil for the road of enlightenment, but I could be doing just the opposite. And even if I'm not, the surgery I recommend is traumatic by definition. The procedure has never been attempted, let alone tested, and the implant is something I whipped up in my garage out of spare helicopter parts. On the other hand, do you really want to go through life with a worm in your head?

So let's get down to details, and compare the moral responsibility of constitutional democracy with the financial responsibility of the sovereign joint-stock company. I think we can all agree that these are both legitimate forms of responsibility, and that they are very different. After 2008, no one can possibly accuse constitutional democracy of being a financially responsible form of government. Likewise, the neocameralist state is amoral by definition.

I don't think there is much contest on the financial side of the ledger. Let's consider morality.

The constitutional democratic state is an apparently immortal, monotonically expanding, and nontrivially morbid mass of personnel which proclaims itself the instrument of a single purpose: to inflict good upon the world. For traditional countries this affliction was at least limited to specified borders, but in the case of USG since 1945 it knows no bound. Washington operates on the principle of universal benevolence. Its ultimate aim is to benefit all people, anywhere and for all time. Doubtless if aliens were found on Jupiter, concern for their welfare would soon be felt on the Potomac.

A joint-stock sovereign is a clean, lean and mean revenue-extracting machine. Its goal: loot. Any well-run Patchwork realm is congenitally dedicated to the good old Marxist ideal of exploitation. It has no intrinsic sympathy for the aged, the crippled, the deformed, the useless. Into the biodiesel vats with them! Gold coins literally wrung from the hides of the unfortunate will cascade into the piggybanks of our obese, cigar-chomping shareholders.

Obviously, whatever you think of democracy, this is unacceptable. To mollify the conscience of the increasingly appalled reader, let me explain the logic of philanthropy in the financially responsible city-state. We will return to the broader contest of morals in a moment.

Government is like a nuclear reactor or a stem cell: perfect when it works properly, and lethal when it doesn't. Like both, any design for a sovereign institution must depend on multiple independent safety mechanisms. If all safeguards fail, something unacceptable will happen - by definition. If all but one fail, the result may not be desirable, but it will not be unacceptable.

So let's look at the safety mechanisms that prevent the healthy Patchwork city-state from turning into its evil twin, with the biodiesel vats. By my count, there are three.

The outermost mechanism is mere PR. "Do no evil" is the automatic slogan of every private government. At the sovereign level, Google's motto would not even be a winner, because to even mention evil is suspicious - like a sign outside a restaurant, promising an absence of rats.

At least in normal conditions of inter-patch peace and harmony, every Patchwork realm should positively exude rectitude and benevolence. This will of course infect its corporate culture. Perhaps it is possible to imagine Disneyland committing genocide. But it would have to be a very different Disneyland than the one we have right now. They would certainly have to replace at least half the employees.

At the financial level the realm must remember, however, that its concern is not with actual benevolence, but simply with the appearance of benevolence. Fortunately, image is cheap. Not screwing up image is cheaper - it costs you nothing, as long you don't screw up. And, best of all, evil, while it really screws up image, just isn't that profitable.

Once you factor in even a tiny image effect, it is surprisingly difficult to devise any scenario that generates ROI out of pure, balls-to-the-wall, straight-out evil. For example, we'll be lucky if we can squeeze $25 worth of industrial fats out of Granny's cadaver. They say no publicity is bad publicity - but they lie. So why not just run our buses on dinosaurs, the old-fashioned way, and keep Granny in her pen with the automatic monkey-chow dispenser?

Perhaps you see mere PR as a weak line of defense, and it would be hard to disagree. Fortunately, it is only one of three. But the factor is real: a sovereign is a sovereign, and no government can be entirely without paternal graces. No one in a sane society will be rendered into diesel, or even be allowed to starve to death for lack of productive earning power. Perhaps there are enough Randians on the planet for one city-state, but probably not two. Otherwise, it just won't happen, and keeping it from happening is just one of the realm's many business expenses. Granny's monkey-chow skims off the merest tablespoon of the rich butter which the realm churns metaphorically, rather than literally, from its residents' hard-working flesh.

We arrive at the next safety barrier: mere private philanthropy.

It is interesting to note the way in which one sniffs at mere private philanthropy. This is the thinking of the twentieth century, the century of welfare. This was a word with only positive connotations - until the twentieth century got its hands on it.

Another word for private philanthropy, with different negative connotations, is charity. Charity was of course one of the principal obligations of the medieval ecclesiastical establishment, the other two being education and adult instruction. In consonance with the general 20th-century pattern in which State has captured the role of Church, thus effecting the merger of the two by different means, most of us today perceive charity as a sovereign function.

And thus we trivialize any charitable establishment which is fully outside the State, as only the most hard-line of unreconstructed ecclesiasts are today. (Nonprofits in the US today tend to fund themselves via a mix of donations with government grants, contracts, etc.)

However, we can measure the demand for charity (meaning, of course, the demand for the production of philanthropy, not for its services) by the benchmark of government itself. Americans today by and large consider their taxes neither too high nor too low, and certainly the left half of the electorate is inclined to feel that Washington should raise even more revenue to do even more. Since Americans also see their government as a general-purpose agency for the doing of good - a sovereign charity - we can measure their demand for philanthropy by noting the absence of significant political resistance to their present tax rate. (Moreover, if you are critical of this methodology, note than any assertion that present tax rates are obtained by chicanery, rather than genuine consent, hardly constitutes a defense of modern democracy.)

The traditional contribution for charity was of course the tithe, or ten percent of income. It was over a century into Washington's existence before it figured out how to exact anything like a tithe, but eventually as it morphed into the Church of Everything it mitigated this deficiency. Unfortunately, there is no word which is as cool as "tithe," but means "40%." In any case, even in the brutal, inefficient, and decidedly untechnological Middle Ages, 10% has been considered an ample level of productivity for a civilized society to donate to the needs of the unfortunate.

Furthermore, private charity has enormous advantages over welfare. The voluntary nature of the contact between provider and recipient frees the former to assume authority, informal or formal, over the latter. If you don't want to be ordered around, you are free to starve, or at least go to prison. In prison you will certainly be ordered around. If you are not competent to provide for your own existence, you become by definition a dependent of whomever is willing to provide for you.

And with dependency comes authority, the patria potestas. Since you are not responsible for yourself, whatever charitable agency or other party has taken charge of you is now your legal guardian, putting you essentially in the position of a child. Moreover, your guardian is also responsible for any offenses you may commit. There are no irresponsible or feral humans in a Patchwork realm, unless this is some perverse lifestyle feature it sees fit to provide.

As we can see, the second safety barrier is considerably stronger than the third. Moreover, we are about to arrive at the first safety barrier, which cements the second and can be regarded as a complete refutation of social democracy.

Consider the thinking of the social democrat. To him, as previously mentioned, government is a sovereign and universal charity. Its purpose is to use its resources to do good works. These resources are derived, obviously, from the same source as with all governments - taxation. The wisdom of the people, through the magic of democracy, guides said sovereign and universal charity to use its resources efficiently for good works, not inefficiently for evil works. (Or, worst, efficiently for evil works.) This is our vaunted moral responsibility.

Any neocameralist who wanders by can observe that this system is easy to improve, in two ways.

One, the people are not wise and the magic of democracy does not exist. Therefore, we should not rely on the wisdom of the people for anything, and we should eliminate the superfluous electoral component of the design.

Specifically, we should definitely not rely on the wisdom of the people to either (a) formulate public policy, or (b) allocate budgets. Fortunately, this point is hardly debatable. If you listen to NPR you already believe that that budget and policy should be held virginal from the awful contamination of politics, and if you don't listen to NPR your opinion is of negligible importance in the budget and policy process.

Once this change is applied, allocations for good works as a percentage of disposable spending are constant. So, for example, the environment gets 10% of USG's disposable spending (ie, spending which is not essential to the production of future revenue), AIDS gets 5%, education of children with Down's syndrome gets 3%, the spiny echidna gets 1%, or whatever.

Note that (a) these figures are relatively constant anyway, due to the natural push and pull of the budgeting process (my mother did budget and policy at DoE, so I do know a thing or two about "zero-based budgeting," that unicorn of the Potomac); and (b) keeping them actually constant eliminates a very, very large number of meetings. If "change" must be provided for, a leftover slice of the budget can be allocated to a miscellaneous fund.

But wait! There is another name for "disposable spending." The name is profit. And these "shares" of the budget also seem... familiar.

In fact, we have improved our constitutional democracy so completely that we have turned it into a neocameralist joint-stock company. And we have not harmed the funding or organization of charity even slightly. To the contrary - we have freed it from bushels of red tape.

The trick is that we've converted an argument about what the government should do, into an argument about who should hold the government's shares. But this decision is way outside my pay grade, because the initial share allocation must be performed by whoever actually creates the government. While this is completely independent of the design, I'm pretty confident that any conversion of a constitutional democracy into a joint-stock corporation will include a high level of continuity from charitable budget allocations in the democracy, to share allocations in the corporation.

Consider an indubitably worthy recipient of philanthropic funding, NIH. NIH's budget is $30 billion or so. If we separate NIH completely from the State and convert its budget, for which it must fight every year, into State shares producing dividends or other payments of $30 billion every year, what has changed?

NIH is happier, because it now has $30 billion with no strings attached. Certainly the guidance of Congress, or whatever, does not assist NIH in doing its job. Quite the contrary! The less political and bureaucratic interference it receives, the better. We have just reduced this to zero, so NIH is happy. Moreover, it is even happier because this payment stream is presumably produced by shares, bonds, or other negotiable instruments, which NIH can sell and diversify. Thus creating a well-structured endowment for the long-term funding of biomedical research.

As for the payers of the $30 billion, they pay whatever they pay. So this transformation - which can be applied to any charity or entitlement, at least any which does not depend on the sovereign authority of the state in order to do its good works - is a Pareto optimization. And it eliminates the phenomenon of official charity, the hallmark of social democracy. QED.

Again, it is easy to apply this fix to entitlements, such as Social Security or Medicare. For Social Security, it is Granny rather than NIH which is owed a payment stream. For Medicare, the State can go from providing medical care to purchasing an insurance policy, and from purchasing an insurance policy to providing the payment stream needed to purchase a policy. Both these changes are Pareto optimizations, and they end up back at financial responsibility.

Therefore: if you are setting up something like a Patchwork realm, and you are worried that its residents will not donate sufficient alms to fund good works, assign some percentage of the realm's shares (or bonds, or other securities) to those same good works. Problem solved. So why do we have social democracy? Ah. If only it would tell us.

So. Having refuted the hypothesis that democracy is what it says it is, let's have a look at what it actually is.

Being a completely uneducated person, I do not know Latin or Greek. But I do have a favorite Latin word: imperium. As in "imperialist," of course, and other such Maoist terms of abuse. As I am already on record as a reactionary, I will cheerfully confess to being an imperialist as well.

Imperium is a cognate of the English word empire. But the two are not synonyms: empire in English has shifted to imply the international relationship also known as suzerainty, ie, the relationship between Washington and its puppet states. Which is pretty cool, but which is at best a special case of imperium, which is better translated as command or authority. Similarly, the Roman title of Imperator, which became our Emperor, is best translated as Commander, and originally just meant "general."

To hold imperium is to command, to hold sovereignty. Sovereignty, as we saw last week, is not sovereignty unless it is above the law. In any organization we can identify the summum imperium, or power of final decision. At least at a civilian level, this is generally held by either an individual or a small committee. For example, in the United States, this committee is called the "Supreme Court." In the Soviet Union it was called the "Politburo." Of course these two institutions had very little else in common, but they both held the summum imperium.

If you doubt this analysis, note that only the justices' own consciences, which have oft proved fickle, force them to obey any code of conduct whatsoever. They could order Barack Obama to stand on his head and snap a Polaroid of his own rectum in order to be inaugurated. He would have to comply, and I am quite confident that he is capable of doing so.

(I hate to mention politics, but I hope all readers with any interest in finance are familiar with Dealbreaker, whose hostess EP even before the Obama administration begins has discovered the exact level of dissident bitchery it deserves. "Who could rival the innate obscenity of U.S. star fucking, so ritualized from repetition at this point as to roll off us like mercury off a greased duck's back?" We'll see more of this tone, I'm confident.)

Despite all protests to the contrary, constitutional democracy has neither squared the circle nor solved the old Roman problem of ipsos custodes. Whatever the names and rituals, real power in the state can always be tracked. Let's look in more detail at the power structure of constitutional democracy, using our old friend USG as the example. (Its clones around the world differ little.)

Imperium always comes in layers of delegation, in which one power relinquishes decisions to another. At the top level - level zero, as it were - is always the military. The US military is of course a large and diverse entity, but imagine it could find some way to agree unanimously that sovereignty, the summum imperium, would revert to some some specific office in the Pentagon. SOCOM is a good candidate.

What would people do? What could they do? They would say: "duh, okay. We welcome our new green-beret overlords. Sure. Frankly, we were a little electioned-out, anyway. And Professor Bernanke no longer enjoys our complete confidence. So, yeah, whatever. Could we resume normal programming now? I was watching VH-1, here."

Ergo, the military in all countries and at all all times enjoys the summum imperium. In a state in which normal civil-military relations pertain, the military is completely passive, and delegates its authority completely. In a few less-devolved states such as modern Turkey, it still exercises genuine reserve power and may have some influence on civil decisions. (Sadly, the fabled deep state may be on the decline since the Ergenekon purge.)

I am sorry to report to critics of the American right, such as Naomi Wolf, that the United States does not in fact have a "deep state." However, if the American right wanted to actually get off its butt and do something, it could find many worse manuals than her latest. Of course it will execute no such coup, at least no time soon. Ever since Defoe wrote the Shortest Way, the conspiracy theories of leftists have been the best guide to what the right should do, but won't.

The next layer of imperium in a democratic state - layer one - is, of course, the electorate. Ie, the people who vote. My belief that the electorate holds a high degree of imperium is not at all inconsistent with my belief that the influence of elections on public policy is generally small. The same after all can be said of the military, whose vote is final but at present unexercised.

The electorate and the military are layers one and zero, because the military can resist anyone in the contest for sovereignty, and the electorate can resist everyone but the military. For example, control of 51 senators and the Presidency is sufficient to defeat all other institutions in USG, because it is sufficient to pack the Supreme Court. Obviously, the electorate can achieve this.

It may not even need the senators. Consider the case of a Presidential candidate whose platform is plain about her plans: if elected, she will suspend all other institutions and rule as a dictator. Suppose Sarah Palin, for example, ran on this platform in 2012. Suppose she won. Does anyone doubt that Washington would obey her every personal whim - exactly as it obeyed, say, FDR's? I suppose it would depend on whether Governor Palin has the natural knack of imperium, and we can't know this unless we actually see her in action. But I actually suspect she might.

We move to the next stage: level two, ultimate civil authority. The summum imperium here rests, as mentioned, in the Supreme Court, and more generally the judicial system. Judges try to avoid actually formulating public policy, however, typically delegating this task to executive agencies. Domestic and (rarely) foreign policy is sometimes altered, in broad strokes, by Congress. There are also various differences depending on whether the President is a Democrat or a Republican, but we are down to minutiae at this point.

When we look at the remarkable stability of Washington, even in pursuing paths which to the outside eye are plainly, even comically, counterproductive, we have to focus our attention first on level one: the electorate. The opinion of the electorate is exactly what it is supposed to be: the hinge of power in the United States today. Level zero is passive. Level two cannot resist level one.

Therefore, to understand the forces directing the actions of Washington today, we have to understand one thing: the relationship between levels one and two, the electorate and the (mostly) permanent government.

Who are these voters, anyway? There are innumerable ways to classify the American voter, at least half of which UR has already indulged in. But I hate to repeat myself, so let's try to come up with something new.

One way to ask how American voters will vote is to consider what they are trying to accomplish when they go to the ballot box. Obviously, they are making an altruistic attempt to affect the direction of government policy. (The attempt is altruistic because no voter seriously expects his or her vote to affect his or her life.) Obviously, few of them has anything near an understanding of what Washington actually is - most have only a dim grasp of even the official story. But still, they are thinking something when they fill in the box for the R or the D. What is it?

There are basically three ways in which American voters - or voters anywhere in the world, for that matter - conceptualize their participation in democracy. From the bottom up, we can label these modes tribal, populist, and institutionalist.

Tribal voters vote on the basis of ethnic and familial identity. In one very legitimate sense, they are the most rational voters around. A tribal voter is acting collectively to benefit his or her tribe. This group can be hereditary, adoptive, occupational, etc, as long as it feels some sort of collective cohesion or asabiya.

In a civilized, stable democracy, only a minority of voters can be tribal. If you want to see a democracy with a tribal majority, I give you South Africa. As a minority, tribal voting blocs generally serve as vote banks for more dominant players. The tribal bloc or blocs become clients of whichever party is strong enough to buy their votes. This can be done as straight-out, lawless graft, or by steering various benefits - payments, loans, jobs, etc - to members and/or leaders of the tribe.

Our second group of voters is the populist group. When populists vote, they are trying to compel the government to act in accordance with their own beliefs, generally derived from a mixture of common sense, tradition and personal experience, of what is right for a government to do.

Populists voters are people who genuinely believe in democracy. They believe that the way Washington works is that the people elect a President, who "runs the country." I once had an email exchange with a very successful, and quite erudite, populist political blogger who did not understand that President Bush cannot fire a State Department employee, just because that employee is openly trying to sabotage White House initiatives.

This is an excellent example of the level of complete structural misconception that a populist voter can entertain when attempting to vote. If populists had any idea at all of how Washington actually works, they would not continue to participate in the increasingly farcical elections by which they repeatedly endorse it.

The fact of the matter is that Washington as it exists today, 21st-century Washington, is designed to resist populist politics in roughly the same way that a lighthouse is designed to resist waves. The entire thrust of 20th-century American government has been to separate public policy from politics, ie, to eliminate the menace of democracy. If you read about what American politics was a century ago, this program - originally the program of the Mugwumps, and then of various flavors of liberal and progressive, including of course the New Deal - is perfectly understandable.

The problem is basically solved. Populist resistance, a la Poujadisme, no longer exists in Washington's test facilities in Western Europe, now governed largely by a central administration which has no discernible ties to any democratic election. At present, the primary distinction between the EU and the late Soviet Union is that the latter was much more Russian, thus exhibiting a mixture of incompetence and brutality that is hard to duplicate west of the Elbe. But give it a few years.

Populism still has a solid position in the American political system, but it is fading rapidly, as is the importance of politics. The Obama administration seems set to be an almost entirely ceremonial one - at least, the President-elect has displayed no strong evidence of any fixed opinions on any subject. Even the populism of the Bush administration is greatly overstated; a significant minority of the American foreign-policy establishment supported the invasion of Iraq, which was neither an explosion of jingoist fervor, nor the President's personal whim, nor the conspiracy of some Texan "deep state."

The basic advantage of populism is that, if the claimed virtues of democracy are anywhere, they are here. Common sense and plain thinking, in a reasonably intelligent brain, are remarkably immune to the ethereal delusions that so easily infect the brilliant and educated. However, common sense cannot exist without tradition. The best traditions of the American populist voter are steadily being eroded by an educational system that populists do not control, and his worst traditions are steadily being exacerbated by churches and talk-radio networks that populists do control.

The entire political structure of the American populist tradition is set up to select for ignorance and stupidity, and select against organization and cohesion. Thus it is simultaneously undesirable and ineffective, and even those of us who like myself sympathize with it to a considerable degree are often slightly relieved to see it lose, as it always does.

Even when populists win Presidential elections, they simply have no way to control Washington. Even with Congress and the Presidency, the White House has no real authority over the civil service, who outside the military are institutionalist by definition. The "Reagan Revolution" started out as a populist tsunami designed to smash the New Deal, and turned into nothing at all. Nixon's "silent majority" met an even more inglorious fate. At most a few token populist policies can be advanced. Populists can of course disrupt the institutional bowels of the state, leading to a sort of policy constipation, but like the old House of Lords, their only real power is to delay.

Since populists have no idea of any of this, they participate enthusiastically in the sham. Sometimes they win a little, but in the end they always lose. And they are such gentlemen about it, too. Somehow no one has ever explained to Middle America that if you don't know who the sucker at the table is, the sucker is you.

And finally we come to our ruling class, the institutionalists. Institutionalism, as previously mentioned, is an essentially aristocratic belief system. The institutionalist voter votes not because she believes government policies should be decided at the ballot box, but because she believes they shouldn't.

Rather, she believes that government policies should be determined by a set of official and quasiofficial agencies which have earned her trust permanently and completely, the way a good Catholic trusts the Vatican. Following the analogy, here at UR we refer to this meta-institution as the Cathedral. The Cathedral consists of the universities and the press. Its spire is the Ivy League and the New York Times, whose faculty and news desk respectively are endowed with an almost pure connection to the inner light - lesser institutions, of course, following their lead.

It is not that the institutionalist voter does not believe in democracy. She does believe in democracy. She believes passionately in democracy. But her democracy is very different from the democracy of her mortal enemy, the populist.

To the institutionalist, the way democracy works is that democracy depends on the educated voter. The voter is to be educated by institutionalists, of course, because institutionalists are right. Some level of ignorance and recalcitrance can be expected, and there will always be dissent, but through this cycle of education and election we are always advancing into the future. The reason we have elected officials is not so that they can manage the government, a task which must of course be left to the experts (who are institutionalists, of course). Rather, officials such as the President are essentially educational figures, participating in a public discourse in which the "bully pulpit" - an oddly revealing term - delivers further education. In turn, by electing a good President, the voters demonstrate the depth of their educated wisdom. Und so weiter.

Note the function of populist and tribal voters in the institutionalist's mind. The populist electorate supplies the bogeyman. The fear of a populist takeover, which is theoretically always a possibility and has even happened once or twice in history (eg, Nazi Germany), can keep even the most jaded of institutionalist voters coming back to the polls. Even though it never seems to actually happen. Moreover, the populists are barraged by a flood of institutionalist messages more or less from birth to death. They are naturally resistant, but the programming wears them down over time.

Meanwhile, the tribals, who are votes for rent, will always support the institutionalist bloc (and may even make up a majority of their support, though at a certain level this becomes dangerous.) Their votes are guaranteed in exchange for permanent government programs, administered by institutionalists, that render them dependent on the Cathedral's rule for their lives and livelihoods.

As for the institution itself - the Cathedral - it is, except in its majestic extent and intricacy, not unusual by any historical standard. The Cathedral is a selective aristocracy, which is more or less the way China was run for about 2500 years. It is also the way the Soviet Union was run, the way the Catholic Church was run, the way China today is run, and the way Nazi Germany probably would have been run if we still had a Nazi Germany to kick around. As in all these institutions, rank and place in it is in high demand, and those who rise to the top are men and women of no mean capacity.

However, there is just one little problem: the Cathedral is not responsible. At least, if it is responsible, we cannot detect any mechanism by which it is responsible.

What compels the Cathedral to devise and promulgate good and effective policies, rather than evil or counterproductive ones? If there is an an answer to this question, I cannot discern it. If there is an external or internal mechanism which can correct any errors which may occur in the Cathedral - for example, a completely corrupt and meretricious field of learning, a discipline of institutionalized crackpottery, as Lysenko created in Russia - I cannot find it.

I cannot even identify some reserved power which can remove the Cathedral if it goes completely off the rails. Certainly nothing short of a titanic populist explosion or a military coup can dislodge institutionalism for good. The first cure may be worse than the disease, and the second is a complete unknown and shows no signs of being a real possibility. And while the Cathedral's energumens, levels one and two in concert, hold their lock on power, it is free to go as far off the rails as it wants.

There is no responsibility. The chain of guardians stretches up to Harvard, where it is tied to nothing and guarded by itself. Consider the possibility, for example, that the people we call "economists" in fact know nothing at all about economics. Is this farfetched? After October 2008, can we call this farfetched? And if it isn't, what other worms are in your brain?

108 Comments:

Anonymous Randy said...

"...our goal... is a system of government which is responsible."

Actually, no. My goal is just to listen in on some inspired and evolutionary thinking. To borrow a concept I picked up from you, I am Vaisya - a member of the productive class. As such, I will never have anything to do with systems of government. My purpose is to produce, pay rent, and care for my own. It is an inherently moral position that I am perfectly comfortable with. The only thing I want from the Brahmin, the political class, is a level of rent that is as low as possible. I have no interest whatsoever in their so-called services - or in their dreams and schemes.

Gotta stop now and go help out with the Thanksgiving preparations. I'll read the rest this afternoon with the aid of a few shots of brandy. And by the way, happy Thanksgiving to you and yours - and to all the commentors here at UR.

November 27, 2008 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 27, 2008 at 8:12 AM  
Anonymous The Monster from Polaris said...

I'll just take the saline, if you please.

November 27, 2008 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 27, 2008 at 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Randy said...

"The entire political structure of the American populist tradition is..."

I don't think you understand populism as well as you think you do. The core of American populism is family and work - not politics. Thus, when you initiate your idea with "...the entire political structure of the American populist tradition...", you are already way off base. The Populists are winning - more precisely, winners. The system works for them. That's why they don't care about politics. The system is not the ideas that the political class tries to shove down their throats, but the pragmatic principles which they actually apply to their lives. And if they ever do start losing, if the system ever stops working for them, then their first action will be a virtual strike. The productive class doesn't have to organize or vote to bring the political class to its knees - they just have to relax their work ethic. You were on the right track earlier when you were talking about the power of the populace. Suggest you backtrack to that point. You missed a turn.

November 27, 2008 at 7:36 PM  
Anonymous the ashen man said...

Imperium? Finally read some Evola then?

November 27, 2008 at 8:07 PM  
Anonymous m said...

Mencius is such a smart guy; he's really evolved my political philosophy and how I view the world. At this point, though, I just don't care. I think we're heading toward global nuclear war, I think neocameralism is unworkable because human nature is to conquer and expand and take by force what's not yours to take (and that's why all of Mencius' workarounds seem incredibly geeky, lame, and naive), and, essentially, I've come to believe that the only alternative to Progressivism is Islam, which is an issue Mencius has studiously avoided like the plague. It just seems so silly to me that, as we approach global nuclear war, Mencius sits in San Francisco, sips his caffe latte, and types up fantasies about "patchwork" government. I know he has the ability to write about issues that are so much more relevant and pressing than this BS.

November 27, 2008 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Blah blah blah. I have an alternate theory for why your posts are so long. If they were shorter, there'd be no way to hide the hand-waving.

Let's go through your complaints about the current government that are found in this post, since I STILL do not really understand.

1) It allowed the financial crisis of 2008 to happen, therefore it is financially irresponsible.

2) Private charity has some benefits over public charity.

3) Taxes are too high.

Did I miss any? Can you say anything concisely and precisely so that it can be rebutted?

As for #1, although the government could in theory have prevented the crisis of 2008, a sovcorp might have failed just as spectacularly or perhaps more so. It's not like corporations like Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs managed to act in their own self-interest. If you want to blame it on fiat currency, we could have democracy without that and a sovcorp with it, so that seems like a separate issue.

As for #2, yeah, sure private charity is better, if people give it. The problem is people don't give enough. Tithing went to the church, who maybe throws a few pennies Mother Theresa's way, where she can house people while they die and try to convert them. The fact is, if private charity worked, there'd be no need for government charity, but private charity does not work. If the right wants to get rid of public charity so badly, they should step up and make sure everybody's taken care of by the private sector. Then nobody will complain when they cut welfare and the department of education.

As for #3, that's really a matter of opinion. The fact is, few of those taxpayers in the highest brackets could have secured such incomes outside of our country, so why should they reap the benefits without paying their share? If it really bothers you that billionaires have to pay more than 10% of their incomes in taxes, I'd suggest that your sympathy-meter is in desperate need of calibration. Awww, Paris Hilton has to surrender half her inheritance to the big bad evil government so they can build roads and schools and hospitals?? Waaaaah. Poor baby Hilton.

November 27, 2008 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Wait, have I been over-thinking this? Tell me if the following is a fair summary of your argument:

1) Income redistribution is bad.
2) Democracy inexorably leads to income redistribution.
3) Monarchy didn't.
4) Maybe we can come up with a new system that doesn't, based on cryptographic weapons and a metaphor from corporations.

If that's the case, I'm just wasting my time here, since I don't agree with #1.

Of course if this is the case, you're also wasting YOUR time here, since technology has advanced to the point where the masses will always be able to make nuisances enough so that income redistribution from the elites is required anyway. But hey, you're entitled to tilt at windmills. Just try not to destroy the country I love because you oppose welfare and progressive taxation. Thanks.

November 27, 2008 at 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

JA, sometimes I wonder why you even hang here. Certainly you don't seem to be trying very hard. MM did make criticisms of democracy other than your three points.

For example, he says "the people are not wise and the magic of democracy does not exist. Therefore, we should not rely on the wisdom of the people for anything." Did you fail to notice that? The fact that democracy allows voting is a problem according to MM.

Following that, MM argues that by restructuring modern sclerotic constitutional democracy along formalist lines, one could get a superior government that is neocameralist, and yet does all the same things, just more efficiently. MM considers this a "complete refutation of social democracy".

Your point #3 is completely made up, I am guessing coming out of your prejudices against libertarians. MM nowhere asserted that taxes are too high or anything likeit. He does say that modern democratic taxes are higher than 10%, which is true; that is all. In fact MM has said in the past (in posts you have read, or at least commented in), that he thinks that modern democratic states tax at more or less the Laffer maximum, and that so would any neocameralist state. That is, MM does not expect any significant difference in taxation between what we pay now, and neocameralism.

The final portion of the essay is an analysis of how democracy works. As such, some space is required. And it does end in a criticism of democracy that you can certainly attack: that the Cathedral runs it, and there is just one little problem: the Cathedral is not responsible. At least, if it is responsible, we cannot detect any mechanism by which it is responsible.

Personally, I can think of a mechanism or two. But my point here is not to criticize MM, but you. I just don't see why you bother to attend here. The lecture is not required. You can skip class and still get an A.

Or to put it another way: UR is a blog. UR is not a cult, it is not a subversive underground organization, it is certainly not a political party. It is something I write for fun, and you read for fun. UR is part of the entertainment industry. If you're not entertained, turn off the friggin' innertube.

November 27, 2008 at 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

If you want to blame it on fiat currency, we could have democracy without that and a sovcorp with it, so that seems like a separate issue.

The cause of the financial crisis is not fiat currency. A perfectly sound fiat could be run; indeed, better than gold (as MM has said almost every time he mentions the topic of money). The cause is fractional reserve banking, which is a species of maturity transformation.

It would be possible to have a monopoly sovcorp running any number of bad financial schemes. However, in a patchwork, it would be unlikely verging on impossible that all of them would, and it only takes one truly sound currency (with nuclear protection) to put an end to fiat everywhere else. (This is essentially the role of the dollar today, and the pound before it: although the dollar is nowhere near as good as gold, it has been as soundly run as any other currency you can get.)

Additionally, there are several reasons that even a monopoly sovcorp would not run a scheme like ours. Our scheme is essentially one of corporate privilege, in which the banking sector gets a special privilege (to create money via lending), and thus special profits allocated to it on the lowdown. This is financially deranged -- a sovcorp would want that profit for itself, not any secondary corp. But a sovcorp does not need to run a fancy scheme to extract resources; it can just tax unapologetically. The hidden tax of inflation is not needed.

In addition, part of our problem is ideological. The state and the bank corps have a huge financial interest in the system. And they have called forth a wholesale evolution in economics (what MM would call econometics), to justify our modern banking system. This is one aspect of what MM calls lysenkoism -- Cathedral-sponsored untruth, in this case completely unrelated to progressivism. Because sovcorps are secure, they would not need economists (of any stripe) to justify their actions. Thus, they'd have access to Austrian critics like MM who would tell them that running any maturity transformation scheme is risky.

As for your assertion that is possible to have democracy without the Bagehotian system of finance -- well, I can certainly imagine it. But it has not happened, historically. All democracies have evolved the same banking system more or less, and it has evolved in tandem with democracy. Fiat currency in fractional reserve banks, and the state as the lender of last resort. I don't think that is a coincidence.

In any case, even putting the Great Crash of 2008 aside -- IMO democracy is still quite clearly financially irresponsible. Do you believe that democracy is financially responsible?

November 27, 2008 at 10:10 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

Mencius tried a little harder to address the fate of the losers this time. At least he acknowledged useless old granny this time instead of just the thug at the street corner who has the sympathy of few people (but he did not mention granny's long-term care facility bill or her thousands of dollars of prescription drugs, her oxygen therapy that she needs because she smoked for 50 years - not that patent systems that keep the prices up would work in a patchwork, but I digress).

The motivations to be nice to granny:

1) Don't be evil. No doubt some patches would do so. Others wouldn't. Some companies - usually boutique businesses with fat margins - go for "don't be evil" image, while others, like Walmart, go for "be evil" low operating costs. Likewise, some cities or states, generally the rich ones that can afford it, give generous benefits now (think Cali + SF, with its stipend for the homeless), while others, generally red states where they are rumored to fuck their cousins, don't. I would expect this situation to continue in a patchwork, which would give us, if anything, more choices.

One thing I can say for sure is that if a pack of disposable pens cost $.99 from goodcorp and $.98 from evilcorp, many if not most people will buy from evilcorp, all else being equal.

Note that you don't have to be a Randian to not pay for grandma. You just have to want low taxes, and turn a blind eye to some of the results. If I were selecting a patch to live in, I would look at the job market, the cost of living, demographics, taxes, schools and climate, but I just wouldn't think to look at welfare programs or social security benefits, except as a replacement for the insurance I would buy. Grandmas without means of support were generally fucked for most of history before Randians existed.

2) Charity as a last resort.

I would like to note that tithing was not necessarily optional, at least not any more optional than paying income taxes is today, and that it was not charity in the sense of taking care of the least of our brethren - it was going to a big, rich church, probably with more going to the bishop's whores than to the poor.

The idea of giving charities stock instead of grants is fine, but it still doesn't square the circle of why a profit-oriented business would give in the first place.

All the financial incentives would be against greater charitable donations to the poor. We would no longer be forced by the government to "donate," and there would no longer be tax deductions for real donations. It's true that people might be more inclined to open their wallets anyway when they see grannies being evicted, but it's a stretch to confidently conclude that this would make up for the huge budgets of Medicaid, parts of Medicare, ERs, etc.

If you want to be really acid and nihilistic, just accept that the fate of the useless would be about the same as it was back in the good ol' days of the Stuarts. Not necessarily biodiesel vats, but perhaps fatal neglect. Not nice, but not necessarily worse than where the current system seems to be headed.

Or alternatively, you can auction the right to torture them to death before throwing them in the vats. Sadists would pay good money for that. Be sure to get a few points on the video royalties.

November 27, 2008 at 11:09 PM  
Anonymous yezidi panentheist said...

Jewish Atheist:

You say income redistribution isn't bad. I don't necessarily disagree on principle, but the question is, redistribution from who to whom? And how much?

Under democracy, there seems to be no limit to the potential for redistribution. The current rate of redistribution is tolerable, but the anti-redistributionist side of American politics is in serious decline and will be for the foreseeable future for demographic reasons that are essentially irreversible (yes, I mean at least in part that the NAMs are taking over around 2042). What then?

Taxes and spending have been going up for a long time, and socialism has been creeping along for nearly 80 years. Extrapolate that out several more decades and you are bound to reach one of those black swan events that makes further extrapolation useless.

November 27, 2008 at 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say income redistribution isn't bad. I don't necessarily disagree on principle,

I do. Income redistribution is both evil and counterproductive.

November 28, 2008 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Leonard:

I was trying to get at the results that MM doesn't like, not the causes. If voting is a problem, it can't be just because he doesn't like voting, but because he doesn't like the results of that voting. So what results are so bad that it's worth throwing out the whole American experiment and starting over?

November 28, 2008 at 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

JewishAtheist:

"So what results are so bad that it's worth throwing out the whole American experiment and starting over?"

Going outside of this essay and into some of MM's past writings, how about this as something that's pretty horrifying: over 100 people were murdered in terrorist attacks in India today because there is a proxy war between the State Department and the Pentagon and as a result there are incentives to cause violence like this rather than prevent things like this from happening. Can't have a peace process that gives the Cathedral plenty of good to inflict on the world unless you occasionally have disruptions. People might forget that you need a peace process then.

-Steve Johnson

November 28, 2008 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Steve Johnson:

Are you off your rocker? Are the terrorist state department proxies and the hotel guests from the Pentagon or vice-versa? If you think there would be less violence in India if America were remade in MM's patchwork image, you're just nuts.

November 28, 2008 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we're heading toward global nuclear war,

What is the reason to think this?

over 100 people were murdered in terrorist attacks in India today because there is a proxy war between the State Department and the Pentagon

State and Defense partitioned India?

November 28, 2008 at 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

"If you think there would be less violence in India if America were remade in MM's patchwork image, you're just nuts."

"State and Defense partitioned India?"

To be a bit more clear. I'm assuming that the attackers were militant Islamists. If they are some other faction, then ignore this (I doubt that this will be the case, but I'll caveat anyway).

Pakistan has three main factions: the military which is allied with the Pentagon, the NGO / lawyer / journalist class (Bhutto was the former figure-head for this faction), which is allied with the State Department and the Islamists who are directly allied with no one (but we'll get to this later).

The military cannot be beaten by the NGO / lawyer / journalist faction, they've got no military might to speak of; the military can beat the Islamists anytime they desire.

The NGO / lawyer / journalist faction can apply pressure to make western support for the military go away (see South Africa for example). If that were to happen, the military would be weakened and might lose in a fight with the Islamists (see Iran for example).

So how does this lead to things like slaughter in hotels? Well, the military won't rout the Islamists because if they did the State Department would dial up the pressure so they could be replaced with the Pakistani branch of the Cathedral. The State Department doesn't want the Islamists wiped out either because they're effectively allied with their ally.

From there you've got a volatile situation that can explode in uncivilized violence at any time because preventing violence is not in the best interest of any of the parties.

This goes back to Mencius's core lesson, uncertainty around government is bad. If it's an open question who will win in an insurrection, humans being what we are, an insurrection will happen (along with the requisite atrocities). If it's an open question about whether or not contracts will be enforced, commerce will no longer be done with contracts, people will only deal with family. If it's unknown whether or not government money is backing a certain bank-like institution, there will be a run on it with very little prompting. If law enforcement against beozians is hamstrung, people will abandon cities. If the only thing stopping the State Department from bringing down the government that you run is that it would look bad when a bunch of violent Islamic thugs take over, you will ensure that those Islamic thugs stay strong enough that that is the inevitable result of your government failing.

-Steve Johnson

November 28, 2008 at 3:53 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

"State and Defense partitioned India?"

Actually, the timing and manner of the end of the British Raj is pretty much down to US pressure, applied at a vulnerable time to a receptive ruling political party in Britain. The process that had been underway before the war was aimed more or less at separate Dominion status in the 1960s.

November 28, 2008 at 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

So what results are so bad [to MM] that it's worth throwing out the whole American experiment and starting over?

I'll second Steve Johnson on MM on terrorism. I don't really agree with MM in his views on foreign policy. But then I don't care about it that much except as an airless progressive intellectual matter (killing wrong!), and I don't think that MM really cares that much either. I mean, who does? Have you ever been to Iraq, been friends with any Iraqi, done any business there? If you could push a button that would kill 1000 chinamen but preserve your little pinkie, would you?

I've read every MM post on this site. My take on MM is that he cares most about three negative aspects of modern progressive democracy:
* lysenkoism in the Cathedral
* disorder and violence in the streets, particularly black violence, typified by "corner man", "donuts on the 409", etc.
* financial irresponsibility in government
As for why he cares about these things when modern society has made all this swag available to us, IMO it's because MM believes that progressive democracy in this country is going to go the way of South Africa. That is, full tribal rule, and consequently:
* the destruction of the economy
* the end of the rule of law
* the removal of most legal protection from MM and his own, if they are stupid enough not to flee.

As I said: IMO. It's a damn shame that MM does not read his comments, or even his email (apparently -- I have asked him in email whether he reads comments, to no reply.)

November 28, 2008 at 5:00 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

Leonard: I think MM is secretly reading his comments. His posts seem to answer objections in the comments on previous posts too much for me to believe his thing about not reading comments.

November 28, 2008 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Votes or Semen said...

redistribution of wealth is impossible. you can give money away but you can not give value away. perhaps in small amounts, but not on the scale that is demanded by socialist pyramid schemes. the money that corporations and the wealthy have is just a token of the value that they represent to others in providing goods and services. If you take that money and give it to the poor all that happens is that prices rise because now consumers have more money to spend. the mistake is to believe that price has something to do with the cost of production, and that giving everyone money will simply improve standard of living for all. Price is always set by supply and demand.

November 28, 2008 at 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

c23: He did answer one question about neocameralism, namely, that in MM's opinion his perfectly amoral sovcorps, with their abundant grapeshot for the rabble, are suddenly not quite so perfectly above human sentiment and human opinion. This is, IMO, a welcome admission. Of course any admission that the sovcorp is anything other than a perfect profit maximizing machine opens up a very large set of questions about in which ways it might act according to motives other than profit, and in what ways it might care about the opinions of its subjects and other people.

But I think the question about rendering down grandma for biodiesel is a pretty obvious one. It is exactly the sort of thing a progressive would think of immediately when reading about neocameralism. "Profit? Are you insane? But what about the poor, the sick, orphans, and the aged?" After all, a key apologia for the welfare state is that it takes care of people who would otherwise die, be killed, exploited ruthlessly, or treated like dirt. Anyone raised progressive, as MM was, cannot help but "think of the children".

Also, there have been many profound criticisms made of MM's ideas that he has not answered, or even indicated any awareness of. So, no, I don't think he is reading us. I do post here in part because I hope in due time he will go back and read his comments.

November 28, 2008 at 5:54 PM  
Anonymous PA said...

Jewish Atheist,

Leonard encapsulated the reason I am not a leftist:

MM believes that progressive democracy in this country is going to go the way of South Africa. That is, full tribal rule, and consequently:
* the destruction of the economy
* the end of the rule of law
* the removal of most legal protection from MM and his own, if they are stupid enough not to flee.


Do you not see Leftism taking us there?

November 28, 2008 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger The Ashen Man said...

Randy: the Brahmin, the political class,

This is precisely what is wrong. Every society needs a priestly caste, but their function is to legitimate the rulers with some metaphysical hoo-ha, not to agitate against them with some metaphysical hoo-ha and take the reins themselves. Whatever brahmins are supposed to do, they are definitely not supposed to be a 'political class.' This is the original separation of powers, of church and state: the separate functions of the religious and the political castes.

m: human nature is to conquer and expand and take by force what's not yours to take (and that's why all of Mencius' workarounds seem incredibly geeky, lame, and naive)

This is one of the problems of libertarianism, though I see it much less in Mencius, who does, after all, call himself an imperialist. But libertarianism often reduces everything to the realm of the economic, ignoring that we are political animals as well as rational traders. Again this suggests an ignorance of caste-functions.

This highlights a contradiction between Mencius' patchwork idea and his imperialism. The patchwork seems to reflect a leftist/libertarian/paleocon view of the world: lots of separate cultures more or less minding their own business. These worldviews rest on a false notion of stability. In a world of flux, any society that is not expanding is busy contracting. See, for example, what has happened to Great Britain since it ceased its imperial adventure; it could not even sustain Little England. Let this be a lesson to America-Firsters.

Imperialists know this and believe in spreading their civilization by force, or to put it another way, that those who can rule, because they are more advanced, should, and as far and wide as possible. So which is it to be?

the only alternative to Progressivism is Islam
I think you've got that quite wrong. Progressivism is not an alternative to Islam, but its harbinger. Postmodern relativism makes room for the worst kind of absolutism.

What might be true is "the only alternative to Christianity is Islam" - religion abhors a vacuum, so to speak, which is all that progressive secular humanism is (the negation of certain aspects of Christianity). Frithjof Schuon spoke of Islam and Protestant Christianity as the two mobile, universalist religions which move to fill in gaps where traditional religions have disintegrated. To which would modern Europe be more amenable? Not being particularly Christian myself, I hope there is some other ground for a revival of Western self-confidence, upon which all hope for true progress in the world depends.

sits in San Francisco, sips his caffe latte

Couldn't you think of some less cliched cliches?

I know he has the ability to write about issues that are so much more relevant and pressing than this BS

Indeed. I wish he'd develop his neo-imperialist ideology instead. It's an underserved market.

Jewish Atheist: Private charity has some benefits over public charity.

You miss the point. Private charity is morally commendable; theft is morally impermissible.

your sympathy-meter is in desperate need of calibration

Of course. For progressives, it's all about feelings. It's not about feelings! It's not about making decisions based on your bloody 'sympathy'! You want to take from the rich and give to the poor because it 'feels' fair to you - even if it depresses the economy and involves the immorality of stealing from the productive their rightful gains.

Nobody wants to be stepping over bums every morning, but we will better solve our problems using reason guided by morality, not your precious feelings.

Just try not to destroy the country I love because you oppose welfare and progressive taxation.

This New Patriotism is getting hilarious. Does anyone remember JA saying anything like this before Nov. 4?

Just try not to destroy the country I love because you love welfare and progressive taxation. Please.

Leonard:

You're on fire.

November 28, 2008 at 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a damn shame that MM does not read his comments, or even his email

I've sent him a couple of emails, and each time he responded promptly.

By now the track record of him not participating in the comment section is so lengthy that one really shouldn't expect him to. And, quite frankly, I don't want him to. If he intervened in the comment section that would eat up all his time and energy. I'd rather see a good, long, fresh post every week than have him interact with commenters (many of whom should be converted into biofuel anyway).

November 28, 2008 at 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Ashen Man is right - Leonard is hitting the main points.

"I've read every MM post on this site. My take on MM is that he cares most about three negative aspects of modern progressive democracy:
1. lysenkoism in the Cathedral
2. disorder and violence in the streets, particularly black violence, typified by "corner man", "donuts on the 409", etc.
3. financial irresponsibility in government"

(The numbering is mine.) Let me submit that the Cathedral does part of its damage through the interaction of these. (1) masks (2) quite effectively. Lysenkoism is a sort of malaprop here; the problem is not really the "heritability of acquired characteristics"; it has more to do with a false dichotomy between "bad genes" and "bad external environment" which routes around stodgy boring conservative explanations for bad behavior (i.e. permissiveness).

In Cathedral schools, you learn that populists (usually white and historically not Anglo-Saxon) have a huge disagreement with institutionalists (usually white and historically Anglo-Saxon) about the perpetrators and victims of crime. Basically, the latter say most crime is intraracial, and most interracial hate crime is white on black and takes the form of cross-burnings, harsh language, etc. The former say it's the effects of crime that matter, not its emotional content, and claim to have good reasons for fearing black on white crime.

The institutionalists say the populists are racist. Pre-WWW, this was the official and the only explanation for populistic attitudes. Then the righty bean-counters came along and suggested that populist attitudes may be based on fact! My suspicion is that it's MM's recognition of this that induced him to write his essay on white nationalism.

To me this amounts to a much bigger indictment of the Cathedral than anything remotely charity/ tax/ financially related.

November 28, 2008 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

@curve: lysenkoism isn't meant to refer to lysenko's actual ideas, but to the general practice of state support of bad science/scholarship for ideological reasons.

November 28, 2008 at 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

@Aaron D.

Okay, I thought that may be the case. I know MM uses terms a little outside their dictionary definitions so it is good to clear that up.

November 28, 2008 at 11:41 PM  
Anonymous cranky matron said...

Grandma will be fine. The institution known as the extended family hasn't died out entirely yet-- if we still take care of our mentally retarded children, we can certainly find a reason-- either practical or sentimental-- to keep feeding the family matriarch.

And yes, South Africa, Detroit, Brazil... there are lots of good reasons to fear and loathe progressivism.

It almost never turns out well for the members of my own tribe.

November 29, 2008 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Progressivism (especially the American flavor) has such a strong hold because Americans wish not to be responsible.

Progressivism requires the government to be responsible for Gramma and the 'tard cousin, thereby relieving the progressive believer from all responsibility. Progressivism is abortion writ large (howdy, Eugenics!).

What progressives don't see, however, is that the government can't ever be responsible (certainly not morally -- especially for the reasons MM lays out) except through control.

They don't understand this because they don't understand that responsibility is control.

Of course, all you nomians out there know what I mean and JA just thinks I'm arrogant/crazy for saying the above.

Oh well.

Happy Advent, everyone.

November 30, 2008 at 7:14 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

In Cathedral schools, you learn that populists (usually white and historically not Anglo-Saxon) have a huge disagreement with institutionalists (usually white and historically Anglo-Saxon) about the perpetrators and victims of crime. Basically, the latter say most crime is intraracial, and most interracial hate crime is white on black and takes the form of cross-burnings, harsh language, etc. The former say it's the effects of crime that matter, not its emotional content, and claim to have good reasons for fearing black on white crime.

What. The. Fuck.

Name us a representative sample of "Anglo-Saxon" "institutionalists" and "non-Anglo-Saxon" "populists" that you learned about in "Cathedral schools".

And why not reveal your own ethnic affiliation while you're at it.

November 30, 2008 at 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

I don't feel like revealing my ethnicity, and there's no point in naming names because these are people you haven't heard of, just people I know in real life. You can give counter-examples from your own life if want.

And stop feigning anger. You sound a leftist.

November 30, 2008 at 11:48 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

I don't feel like revealing my ethnicity

How surprising.

and there's no point in naming names because these are people you haven't heard of, just people I know in real life.

People you know in real life are "historically Anglo-Saxon" or non-Anglo-Saxon? I think you mean you were talking out your ass and you can't possibly name names because your comment was based on nothing beyond MM's speculative fiction and your own animus against Anglo-Saxons.

I don't need to provide "counter-examples". Anyone with more than a fleeting connection to reality already knows that the world in which despised non-Anglo-Saxons are put upon by the pro-Anglo-Saxon state is not the world we are living in.

December 1, 2008 at 6:06 AM  
Anonymous cranky matron said...

Well, I do think there are longstanding hostilities between WASPs and say, the Scots-Irish and Norwegians and Germans who settled what we affectionately know today as Middle America.

Lumping them all in together gives progs a delectable opportunity to snub the Wrong Kind of White People as a form of "self-examination," thereby scoring themselves status points with other progressives.

It's pure profit if you can get away with it.

Ethnically, someone could probably make a case for the Brahmins as largely a WASP-Jewish coalition with some non-Europeans mixed in for extra sparkle and "inclusiveness."

When's the last time you heard of a banker or media mogul named "Clevenger?"

December 1, 2008 at 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

@n/a

I'm not even getting the insinuations about my ethnicity. Is it "obvious" that I am a non-Anglo-Saxon or that I am a self-loathing Anglo-Saxon? I ask because most of the leftist teachers I have had are solidly in the latter category - people who hiss the word "WASP" every now and then and follow it up with an admission - laced with faux guilt - that they were one. They bore no ill will to non-Anglo-Saxon per se (Poles, Irish, Italians, etc. got some valuable "oppression points" during America's anti-Catholic phase). My teachers just hated white people.

I went to a couple of fairly small Cathedral schools. I remember a few teachers' names and if I were to reveal them, that would come pretty close to revealing who I am. (Graduating class of 34, most of who had no interest in politics but knew that I did, etc.) The names would also be utterly meaningless to you; it's not like I ever studied under somebody famous.

I never said NAS were put upon by AS. I said populists (often white ethnics who cared about crime rates in their neighborhoods) were derided by the Cathedral as "racist". Someone with a Slavic or Hungarian or French last name would be wholeheartedly embraced by the Cathedral if they would only toe the ideological line (i.e. "Blacks have no greater criminality than whites").

When I unhitched my wagon from leftism I made a pledge to stop apologizing for other people's accusations of racism, ethnic bigotry, and the like. I see no reason to break that pledge now.

December 1, 2008 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

MM believes that progressive democracy in this country is going to go the way of South Africa. That is, full tribal rule, and consequently:
* the destruction of the economy
* the end of the rule of law
* the removal of most legal protection from MM and his own, if they are stupid enough not to flee.


I see no evidence that MM's model would lead to a better economy.

I see no evidence that the rule of law is coming to an end.

I see no evidence of a removal of "most legal protection" from MM or "his own."

It's easy to predict the end of the world if we don't do it MY WAY RIGHT NOW. That's why you global warming deniers accuse the left of, right? So why are you doing the same thing with WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY less evidence than climatologists are using?

December 1, 2008 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY less evidence than climatologists are using?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

oh wait.

That's not substantive.

Because Detroit is actually burning, you pinhead, unlike the atmosphere.

December 1, 2008 at 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see no evidence that MM's model would lead to a better economy.

Seems manifestly obvious to me that a society run "for profit" would result in a better economy than the current one, which is not run for profit to say the least.

I see no evidence that the rule of law is coming to an end.

If "rule of law" = "arbitrary rule by unelected brahmins who flagrantly disregard the Constitution and make things up that aren't in the Constitution" then yes, there is no reason to think the rule of law is coming to an end.

December 1, 2008 at 10:47 AM  
Anonymous cranky matron said...

Couldn't we just have a full-court press to make the Obamas the ruling family of Washcorp?

I would imagine our priestly caste would scramble to legitimize them to their social inferiors, which seems likely to produce the social and familial stability that we sorely lack now.

Basically, I think all the Brahmins really want is to be acknowleged as rulers, and they run roughshod over the rest of the population only because they imagine some kind of actual competition still exists.

But do it now, before Obama can disappoint them too much more! lol

December 1, 2008 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Seems manifestly obvious to me that a society run "for profit" would result in a better economy than the current one, which is not run for profit to say the least.

It seems manifestly obvious that a society run "for profit" would be a nightmare wrapped in a disaster. Yes, what we want to do is model the federal government on the stunning success of Enron and Goldman Sachs. *eyeroll*

If "rule of law" = "arbitrary rule by unelected brahmins who flagrantly disregard the Constitution and make things up that aren't in the Constitution" then yes, there is no reason to think the rule of law is coming to an end.

The Constitution allows for the Supreme Court. The Court interprets the Constitution. You think that their interpretation is horrible. Maybe you're right. But it's all within the law.

December 1, 2008 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Because Detroit is actually burning, you pinhead, unlike the atmosphere.

Define "burning." Are you talking about the crime rate? A for-profit state would no doubt have executed more people than the gangs of Detroit have this year. Or are you just going to trust that the dictator... I mean the CEO would stay on "your side?"

Based on the audience here, I really am starting to think this whole exercise is about finding a way to install a government that would let you murder or deport (or enslave?) all the non-whites.

December 1, 2008 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

No,

It's about engineering a replacement government (for the one that is inevitably going to fail) that will reduce and promote personal freedom as much as possible, especially since the current government seems to promote crime and curtail personal freedom.

December 1, 2008 at 11:15 AM  
Anonymous n/a said...

@matron:

You are confusing class, region, and national background.

"WASP" connotes membership in or descent from the late-19th-to-mid-20th-century American establishment, which was never purely English-derived. German, Dutch, Welsh, and Scottish/Scotch-Irish strains were well-represented in this class and non-English northwestern European ancestry presented no impediment to elite status. "WASP" is not a synonym for "English". The German-surnamed popularizer of "WASP" counted himself one, while a fresh-off-the-boat cockney would never be considered "WASP" in the original sense.

North-South, coastal-inland, rural-urban, and elite-non-elite conflict in America never had a predominantly ethnic character (at least prior to the ascendancy of Jews). Germans and Scandinavians were accepted by Americans and assimilated fairly readily. English vs. Scotch-Irish ethnic conflict in America has been constrained almost entirely to the imaginations of misguided Southrons and aggrieved Irish Catholics (mostly writing within the last 30 years). The South was always predominantly English, as were the original American settlers of the Midwest and West.

The idea of "WASPs" as the font of radicalism in America is bizarre. Go read up on the 1848 German immigrants; then read The Culture of Critique.

Nor has there ever been a "WASP"-Jewish coalition against "ethnic" whites. The idea is sheer EMJ-esque fantasy. Jews are allied with Jews to advance Jewish interests. Self-conscious WASPs were the primary obstacle standing in the way of Jewish power and hence Jewish enemy #1. White "ethnics" wanted the same power and harbored similar (slightly attenuated) hostility toward the native American ruling class.

As individuals, some "WASPs" got on board Jewish causes. As a self-conscious group, "WASPs" were the strongest brake on the Jewish agenda. Ethnic Catholics, on the other hand, could and did both hop aboard as individuals and latch their group interests to the Jewish cause.

When's the last time you heard of a banker or media mogul named "Clevenger?"

Clevenger is an English name.

I have heard of a media mogul name "Murdoch", as well as a Southron former media mogul. No New England Puritan media moguls spring to mind, however.

Wall Street is full of ethnic Catholics these days (never mind poltical commentating).


@curve:

I didn't ask for your biography. As long as you acknowledge your sweeping "historical" generalizations were based on mere personal anecdote, I have nothing more to discuss with you.

December 1, 2008 at 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jewish Atheist said...

"I see no evidence that the rule of law is coming to an end."

Come to Michigan, to the Detroit suburbs. Start at the intersection of Six Mile Road and Telegraph, and start walking due east on Six Mile. In the event that you reach Livernois Avenue without falling prey to MS13, the Vice Lords, or other "diverse urban yoots," take a long, long look around you and report back to us on the state of law and order in American cities.

You won't do this, of course, because you know the truth, but you're in denial. But that's okay. You're free not to, and we're free to call you on it.

December 1, 2008 at 11:24 AM  
Anonymous cranky matron said...

n/a, I am sure you're right. I was just discussing ethnic groups in America with a Jew who claims WASP status and uses her supposed WASP status to bludgeon pretty much every white ethnic group that opposes the progressive agenda in any fashion whatsoever.

As in, "If even I, a WASP, can see that denying gay marriage is immoral, then why can't these ignorant hayseed christofascist morons?"

It is hard for me not to read this as ethnic conflict. She has nothing to gain from gay marriage except inflicting collateral damage on her oppenents and improving her own moral posture.

Now, that being said, I do see a lot of progs who are anxious to claim descent from uptight WASP families, which helps them score rhetorical points with their social inferiors and each other. I've seen this a million times if I've seen it once at Unitarian churches.

Do you think they are pulling "family history" out of thin air? I tend to believe them, but maybe this is guillibility on my part.

December 1, 2008 at 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems manifestly obvious that a society run "for profit" would be a nightmare wrapped in a disaster.

Um, why?

Frankly, that's what our current government strikes me as - a nightmare wrapped in a disaster?

Yes, what we want to do is model the federal government on the stunning success of Enron and Goldman Sachs. *eyeroll*

Two stunning failures that were direct results of our current government's botchery! Enron and Goldman Sachs are certainly not examples of businesses that were allowed to seek profit above all. They, like every other business, had to swim in the toxic stagnant sea of taxes, laws, and regulations that the Cathedral has created. The wonder is not that there have been so many collapses of this sort, but so few (yet).

The Constitution allows for the Supreme Court. The Court interprets the Constitution. You think that their interpretation is horrible. Maybe you're right. But it's all within the law.

So the "rule of law" is whatever a group of unelected pontiffs say it is? Yaaay, the rule of law! I guess by that definition the USSR had the rule of law, too.

I really am starting to think this whole exercise is about finding a way to install a government that would let you murder or deport (or enslave?) all the non-whites.

All violent and non-productive citizens, irrespective of race, should most certainly be executed, deported, or imprisoned.

December 1, 2008 at 12:37 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

@matron:

The Jewess calling herself a "WASP" is certainly confused. As for the rest, it would hardly be surprising to find some leftist "WASPs" in a Unitarian church. But keep in mind:

-Most Puritan descendants aren't Unitarians.
-Most Unitarians today aren't Puritan descendants, by a long shot.

Trotting out their family histories in that context sounds very gauche and not at all like something you'd expect from real "WASPs". I might expect it from someone with one "WASP" or quasi-"WASP" grandparent and the remainder Jewish/Irish/Italian/etc.

And if some relatively powerless "WASPs" try to gain status points at the Unitarian church they attend by talking (shit) about their ancestors, so what? None of this trivia really matters.

Zoom out.

A century ago "WASPs" ran the country -- the country their ancestors founded. Today they don't. There is no way to spin this turn of events as a "WASP" power grab.

December 1, 2008 at 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

On redistribution of wealth, we can do no better than William Graham Sumner:

"The yearning after equality is the offspring of envy and covetousness, and there is no possible plan for satisfying that yearning which can do aught else than rob A to give to B; consequently all such plans nourish some of the meanest vices of human nature, waste capital, and overthrow civilization." ["What Social Classes Owe to Each Other," 1883].

A great problem with universal-franchise democracy and the welfare state is that in good part, they are frauds. The bleatings of their advocates for the poor and downtrodden invariably serve as camouflage for the distribution of rent-seeking opportunities to generous constituencies that are neither poor nor downtrodden.

Consider the whole disastrous business of the indirect subsidy of housing through Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's market dominance in residential mortgages. Do you genuinely suppose their boodling was motivated by a selfless concern for low-income home buyers? Was that why Chris Dodd was the greatest single recipient of campaign contributions from them? Plenty of people did well for themselves looking after the interests of the less fortunate in this field, including real-estate speculators, housing developers, mortgage brokers, etc.

I cannot fathom, for similar reasons, why people who have nothing good to say in any other context about the business conduct of Bill Gates, nod approvingly when he speaks in favor of retaining the estate tax. Do they really suppose there is nothing in it for him? Why do they not question his motivations in this, as they do in every other action he takes?

December 1, 2008 at 3:26 PM  
Anonymous the ashen man said...

n/a: I welcome your bringing another perspective here. It certainly seems an omission to discuss the spread of leftism, especially in terms of ethnic groups, without mentioning the heavy historical involvement of Jews.

However, we should not mistake Mencius' genealogy of progressivism for an ethnic one, when he is really talking about the Calvinist roots of the ideology. The line of descent is one of ideas, not genes. Ethnic Catholics are indeed well-represented in the Brahminate, but they are not traditional Catholics, but rather protestantized, 'enlightened' or progressivized ones.

December 1, 2008 at 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

@jewish atheist
Based on the audience here, I really am starting to think this whole exercise is about finding a way to install a government that would let you murder or deport (or enslave?) all the non-whites.

Just because we've noted certain minorities (not all of them, as you may not have noticed?) have high crime rates? Or because we've noted that the Cathedral suppresses this information? When whites (not always Anglo-Saxons, annoying though that may be) feel crime forces them to leave an (urban) area (say, Detroit), do you feel that is "racist", or "sensible, prudent, and intelligent"?

Increasing numbers of people say it is all of the above. That worries me. Reading what you write here, week to week, I have started wondering: In your opinion, is black-on-white crime caused by different things than white-on-black crime? Or the same things?

December 1, 2008 at 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

It certainly seems an omission to discuss the spread of leftism, especially in terms of ethnic groups, without mentioning the heavy historical involvement of Jews. - ashen man

If anyone is curious, I grew up in areas with almost no Jews, and my schools thus had few Jews in them. My experience discussing politics with Jews is limited to a few discussions in college (which were too typical of college to be worth remembering), and online, where I'm aware of plenty of sensible nonleftist Jews (e.g. Ilana Mercer) and some fairly eccentric (trying to use employ that term as neutrally as possible) nonleftist Jews (e.g. Moldbug, and I believe Auster fits a broader definition of Jewish but I'm not sure).

December 1, 2008 at 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Curve of Freedom said...

Incidentally, I was quite wrong about the person who had infamously ordered Boston's schools desegregated in the 1970s. He was, like I had remembered, a resident of a suburb (Wellesley) and thus his own children were not affected by the same plan, but he wasn't A-S. He was W. Arthur Garrity, Catholic, with an Irish surname. I guess I was bending memory to fit a type; mea culpa.

December 1, 2008 at 8:07 PM  
Anonymous the ashen man said...

e.g. Moldbug, and I believe Auster

Both of whom have a particular blind spot in their narratives of decline.

December 1, 2008 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

doesn't anyone read the archives? jews have been discussed lots of times here. the consensus of the sane people seems to be that jews show up in progressive circles due to a combination of two factors:

first, our (i may as well be upfront about this and note my own half-jewish (ashkenazi) heritage) one standard deviation IQ advantage orients us disproportionately towards intellectual pursuits, which have been dominated by progressives for approximately as long as ashkenazim have been selecting for brains (i.e. since the renaissance).

second, the eastern european jews of the nineteenth century who formed the root stock of american jewish culture tended towards leftism for what were, at the time, very good reasons (can you blame a russian jew of the time for not being a czarist?); inertia has steered jews left ever since.

for the consensus of the insane, feel free to try this search (which will also inform you newbs why i invoke tanstaafl from time to time in order to abuse mtraven)

December 2, 2008 at 6:04 AM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

@anonymous of 1124: ah, the mile roads--mr. marshall mathers iii’s old ’hood. fun neighborhood, judging by his songs. (michael s and g m palmer will doubtless be horrified to hear that i have a soft spot for old-school and old-school-style rap, the sort with clever wordplay and an actual beat.) check out “one shot 2 shot” for a charming narrative of a typical evening’s entertainment in the area.

December 2, 2008 at 6:13 AM  
Blogger Victor said...

Aaron,

As a half-ashkenazi myself, i think I see a glaring omission in your lift of jewish lefty factors. In addition to intellectualism and historic progressivism, therte is tikkun olam -- 'repairing the world'.

It is a core jewish ideology which frames and defines jewish culture; and it's not only liberal in substance, but also ratioanlist in methodology, as the very idea of engineering a better world is fundamentaly rationalist -- and thus anti-(Burkean)-conservative.

I think the old russian roots aren't much of an influence, to be honest; but tikkun olam, IMO, is the major factor.

December 2, 2008 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

yeah, the whole repairing the world thing is very Judeo-Christian heaven-on-earth stuff.

The problem being that we're supposed to fix ourselves, not others. . .

Dude, Aaron -- why you hatin? I remember listening to Old Skool on the playground in 5th grade. The rap I hate is the crapped out chronic junk that comes out of the left coast. The only good thing in California is Moldbug.

December 2, 2008 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I think the old russian roots aren't much of an influence, to be honest; but tikkun olam, IMO, is the major factor.

I think it's more like we've been where those groups progressive policies are meant to help are now. Hell, basically NO minority groups vote Republican. There's a reason for that, and it ain't because we're all stupid. It's because we can imagine ourselves in the shoes of the poor and the immigrants and the disenfranchised.

Lots of WASPs get it too. It's not like Republicans even get all of them. It's mostly a single demographic that they dominate -- that of the Christian white guy who's dumb enough to buy into the propaganda that he's the oppressed one.

I mean take Joe the Plumber. That idiot was convinced that McCain would have been better for him economically because he thought he was going to be owning a business clearing more than $250,000. Yeah right, like that was going to happen. The guy's clearly a moron. The new prototypical Republican voter. (well, one of two types -- the other being Sarah Palin.)

December 2, 2008 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Actually,

about half of Asians and half of Hispanics vote Republican. You know, just like the rest of the country. They're also (for those who are in the voting population) the most assimilated of the ethnic groups.

December 2, 2008 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

about half of Asians and half of Hispanics vote Republican.

67% of Hispanic voters and 62% of Asian voters voted for Obama. McCain got 31% and 35% respectively.

December 2, 2008 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Hell, basically NO minority groups vote Republican

Gosh, I thought you might mean voted as a trend. . .

Since most of the country voted for Obama (including many Republicans), I wouldn't be surprised that larger numbers voted for Obama than voted for McCain.

I mean Jesus.

But who cares, really? You're just some oxymoronic trolling dipshit who flounces around while we waste our time trying to point out obvious information to you.

December 2, 2008 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Gosh, I thought you might mean voted as a trend. . .

I think Bush was an anomaly. He sold people on "compassionate conservatism" and I think he might have been legitimately the least personally racist president ever. But minorities have wised up. They hear the tone of you guys on illegal immigration and realize you don't think they're "real" Americans.

December 2, 2008 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

I dunno -- I would imagine numbers were pretty big on Reagan & Bush 1, but I'm too sick and cranky to look them up.

I agree that BushII was unprejudiced. His presidency mostly just makes me sad.

December 2, 2008 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I'm pretty sure Reagan did (relatively) well with Hispanics, but you guys have lost them for at least a generation now with the tone of the immigration debate. They get that it's not just about enforcing the law or ensuring national security -- it's about keeping Hispanics out. And that doesn't make them like you.

December 2, 2008 at 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey JA, why aren't you answering questions put specifically to you?

We've had suggestions for you to put your multiply repeated assertion that law and order are not on the decline in the US to empirical test. Why aren't you taking us up on these helpful suggestions?

December 2, 2008 at 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Victor, whatever the influence of 'tikkun olam,' it did not prevent the Sephardic Jewish community in Britain from being strongly Tory and Jacobite for most of the eighteenth century. From it sprung the first British prime minister of Jewish descent, Benjamin Disraeli - a Tory.

Similarly, American Jews of German descent who settled in this country during the nineteenth century and prospered here were, like others of the entrepreneurial class at that time, generally of a conservative disposition, and (in the north) tended to vote Republican, e.g., the Warburgs, Loebs, and Schiffs.

I remember teasing a friend of German Jewish ancestry, who was observant of his religion, by asking what he thought of the concept of the "ethnically Jewish." I remarked that if Judaism were just a religion, the locution would make about as much sense as descrbing a person as "ethnically Episcopalian."

His response was not quite what I expected. He replied, "It is all these Russians! They do not even know how to be proper Jews." I did not press him to elaborate, but I believe what he meant was that eastern European Jews have tended to substitute either Zionism or Communism for their ancestral religious observance. The peculiar circumstances under which Jews lived under Russian rule encouraged these utopian political allegiances, which were not shared to the same extent by Jews elsewhere. Most American Jews are of east European descent. Their predominant leftism reflects this particular ancestry rather than anything generally characteristic of Judaism.

On the subject of WASPs, much ventilated by several posters here - it is, first of all, a redundant, and then an inaccurate, description of the social type it is intented to signify. I suppose that Digby Baltzell, who coined the acronym, liked the way it sounded. But there are no black or yellow Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The "white" is obviously redundant.

Moreover, by the time English settlers came to North America there was probably no such thing as a pure-blooded Anglo-Saxon in England. The Angles and the Saxons were themselves immigrants, who muscled in on the existing population of Celts. That population had itself interbred with Roman occupiers centuries earlier, and did so as well with the Anglo-Saxons. To this mix, by the eleventh century, were added Danes, and most importantly, the Norman French. There is hardly an Englishman today who could not trace some line of his ancestry to one of the retinue of William the Conqueror. This English population had, by the seventeenth century, mingled with the Celtic remnants in Cornwall and Wales. Scots, particularly in the north of England, had a long history of cross-border marriages, and the accession of the Stuarts brought many more of them south of the Tweed. Such was the founding stock of Jamestown and Plymouth.

What Baltzell meant by WASP was what we might more accurately call "old American stock" or "original settlers." Scots Covenanters settled in New Jersey in the late seventeenth century, Netherlanders in New York, with little pockets of Huguenots, Swedes, and Palatine Germans up and down the eastern seaboard. The so-called "Scotch-Irish" maintained some distinctness as a population in parts of the upland South, but all of the other ethnicities became thoroughly mixed by the time of the American Revolution. Thus it would not be wrong to describe a Rittenhouse from Pennsylvania, a de Peyster from New York, a Revere from Massachusetts, or a Witherspoon from New Jersey as "WASPs" in Baltzell's sense, even though they are respectively of German, Dutch, French, or Scots ancestry. And, given that these ethnicities were already well mingled by 1776, it seems not a very productive exercise to assign particular political loyalties to any one of them.

The descent that MM has proposed of progressive universalism, or whatever we want to call it, is in any event an intellectual one rather than a genealogical or genetic one. It is identified by its common ideas, rather than by its common blood. WASPs may have had some role in formulating the common ideas but by now are far from the predominant voices in their expression or propagation.

December 2, 2008 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

Hey Anonymous,

We've had suggestions for you to put your multiply repeated assertion that law and order are not on the decline in the US to empirical test. Why aren't you taking us up on these helpful suggestions?

Isn't it wonderful when you don't have to deal with reality? Put up personal anecdotes (Detroit!) and ignore facts?

Crime is way down in USA. For that matter, crime is way down all over the world in comparison with the feudal times Moldbug is so fond of.

Life is easy in the ideological bubble.

December 2, 2008 at 1:01 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

@ashen man:

I guess the wise, foresighted suppression of Calvinism in France explains why that country has always been so much more conservative than America and why the French revolution was so much less radical than the American revolution. Wait, that's not what happened.

Calvinism as proto-leftism has zero explanatory power. Models that take into account ethnic conflict have great explanatory power. A century ago Progressives (standard definition, not UR-jargon definition) didn't want to replace Americans with third-worlders. Progressive leaders were members of the American majority and wanted to preserve that majority. Members of a particular minority had different objectives.

This is not to say no toxic strains of American thought sprang from non-Jewish sources. But Calvinism as "the" source is just a dumb idea, and I don't get the fascination it holds for some. It appears to be some combination of intellectual masturbation by people who like abstraction for its own sake and poorly-veiled ethnically-/religiously-motivated sniping by Jews and Catholics.

Catholic France and Catholic/Lutheran Germany are probably the leaders in Europe in generating leftist bad ideas. Americans weren't insulated from these ideas.

One striking aspect of Gura’s treatment is his description of earnest proto-Transcendentalists trekking over to Germany to imbibe the wisdom of German philosophy and producing translations and lengthy commentaries on this body of work for an American audience.
[Kevin MacDonald review American Transcendentalism]

Nor are divine-right kingship and Roman Catholicism the base state of European man. These were radical impositions at the time, and it's goofy to pretend, like Moldbug, that history starts after they were already in place.


@curve:

Read this. It shouldn't take much longer than a typical Moldbug post and is much more englightening.

85% of American Jews voted Obama.

65% of white protestant Americans voted McCain (vs. 51% of white Catholics).

You need more facts and less abstraction.

December 2, 2008 at 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Victor, that question was not directed specifically to you.

But isn't it odd how the very first words of that Wikipedia article to which you linked, which from your wording seems to be in support of JA's rather bizarre claims:

"Crime in the United States is characterized by relatively high levels of gun violence and homicide, compared to other developed countries..."

So, seriously. Visit Da Hood and put your claims to empirical test, or admit that you are bloviating about things of which you know less than nothing.

Like the man says, if objective reality and empirical testing say you are wrong, you are wrong. There is no appellate court.

So, JA, you've visited the Vice Lords and you can report on what you saw, right? Since you're making claims here that are at odds with reality as the rest of us know it to be, you've carried out a scientific experiment to prove your assertions, right?

December 2, 2008 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

Anonymous,

But isn't it odd how the very first words of that Wikipedia article to which you linked, which from your wording seems to be in support of JA's rather bizarre claims:

"Crime in the United States is characterized by relatively high levels of gun violence and homicide, compared to other developed countries..."


Isn't it odd how data taken out of context can be used to 'show' anything you want shown?

The 'leftism is destruction' thinking suggests that as leftism grows (as it steadily does, according to Moldbug), crime should grow as well. Instead, we see a fairly steady and quite impressive decrease in crime in USA over the last couple of decades.

That crime is lower in Europe (that's what the word 'relatively' means in your quote, you know) doesn't say anything about the relationship over time between the advancement of leftism and the growth in crime. In fact, the very fact that Europe (a much more leftist region than USA) has lower crime than USA, should itself give you people pause; but it never does, does it?

Hypothesizing in the complete absence of facts is something inveterate rationalists like Moldbug, and you presumably, have turned into an art form.

With about the same aplomb you bloviate about Detroit, i could suggest that you drop by my town (a small uber-liberal college town in western Massachusetts) and see for yourself how far-leftism leads to peace, prosperity, and general comity. of course making such a suggestion would be dumb, because smart people know that anecdotes are not data.

As to data... well, I linked it for you, only to have you reject it outright, as befits a good little rationalist.

December 2, 2008 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger togo said...

Leaving to the side the problems created by violent and/or low-IQ NAM's, the system JA loves appears doomed anyway.

December 2, 2008 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Aaron Davies: feel free to try this search (which will also inform you newbs why i invoke tanstaafl from time to time in order to abuse mtraven)

I'm not sure why mentioning the name of that tedious antisemitic ranter should constitute abuse of me. But if it gives you a thrill, knock yourself out.

Michael S: His response was not quite what I expected. He replied, "It is all these Russians! They do not even know how to be proper Jews."

This is pretty much exactly backwards, since East European Jews were much more likely to be traditionally observant that Jews from Western Europe, who were more assimilated into the surrounding culture. The Reform branch of Judaism is from Germany, as is my mother's family, who were upper-middle class doctors and so Reform they had Christmas trees. My mother continued this custom in Chicago, which used to scandalize my friends from more Ostjüde backgrounds.

And for what it's worth, the only McCain supporters I know in San Francisco are Russian Jews. Of course, lots of history has happened between now and October 1917.

December 2, 2008 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger James F. Elliott said...

I'm fairly certain that Mr. Moldbug stands for everything I disapprove of -- with the possible exception of molesting children and farm animals -- but I am quite in awe of his ability to say it so well.

December 2, 2008 at 11:31 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Benjamin Disraeli is not a representative example of Sephardic immigrants to the UK. His father had quarrelled with and then rejected his community - the particular lot of Jews he found himself among, that is. Benjamin Disraeli can best be thought of as something else again, with new connections as well as old.

December 3, 2008 at 4:28 AM  
Anonymous c23 said...

n/a, explanations for progressivism which blame the Jews have two things to explain which I don't think they can:

1) Why are European countries that killed all their Jews at least as bad off as the US?

2) Why did the WASP majority allow themselves to be steamrollered so easily?

The Jews have generally taken the side of the Left, but I don't think it's a Jewish phenomenon.

December 3, 2008 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

We've had suggestions for you to put your multiply repeated assertion that law and order are not on the decline in the US to empirical test. Why aren't you taking us up on these helpful suggestions?

You've had two answers from other people. 1) Crime is -- empirically -- on the decline in the U.S. and has been for a couple decades. 2) Europe doesn't have a big crime problem.

December 3, 2008 at 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

JA:
1) Crime is -- empirically -- on the decline in the U.S. and has been for a couple decades.

Sure, if your baseline is 1991, things look pretty darn good today. The situation's pretty sad compared to 1960, though, at least according to the wikipedia article Victor linked above.

December 3, 2008 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

And with the current recession, crime will only go up.

Woo.

December 3, 2008 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

The point isn't that crime is at its lowest point ever, but that it's not currently increasing.

December 3, 2008 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

denesMtraven, my friend's response to my question was, as I said, not what I expected. It is what it is, backward or not, and you may make of it what you will. Many more Russian Jews may have been ritually observant than Germans, but I suspect many more of them may have been communists or Zionists too.

German Jews were largely happy with the Second Reich (Wilhelmine Germany) because it had emancipated them from the restrictions to which they had been subject under the old principalities. Many of them served loyally in the kaiser's army. Ron Chernow in his book on the Warburgs has an illustration of Aby Warburg as a mounted cavalryman, complete with picklhaube.

Russian Jews had no similar affection for Mother Russia. They suffered civil disabilities under the czars, and this drove many of them into revolutionary or utopian political activity. Russian Jews were disproportionately represented amongst the early Bolsheviks.

P.M. Lawrence, Disraeli was in several ways not typical of the Sephardic Jewish community in Britain. But his Toryism was not one of them. In that, he was quite loyal to ancestral custom. The connections between Jacobitism/Toryism and the Jewish community in Britain were remarked upon by a number of eighteenth-century commentators, among them Henry Fielding.

December 3, 2008 at 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Molyuk said...

Watching Victor castigate others for "taking data out of context" is delicious irony. Apparently Victor believes Progressivism began only a few decades ago. More likely, he chose to ignore older data because it utterly destroys his argument.

You need to read your own links more carefully, Victor. I quote: "Overall the total crime rate of the United States is similar to that of other highly developed countries". It is only the homicide rate which is substantially higher here. Now look carefully at the chart labelled "Homicide offending by race, 1976-2004". Notice anything unusual?

The same applies to you, Jewish Atheist. Check out the USDOJ's data on homicide rates. Note that the lowest rate for black victims is 3 times higher than the highest rate for non-blacks. The raw totals given at the bottom indicate that half the murder victims in the US are black. The same page states that from 1976 to 2005, 94% of black victims were killed by blacks.

Who are the real racists: the blacks who slaughter each other, or the politically incorrect whites like me who point it out? If you really gave a rat's ass about black people, you'd spend less time implying that people like me are Klansmen & more time trying to do something about these appalling murder rates. I'm not holding my breath. Your feigned moral superiority is too politically useful to you.

December 3, 2008 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Molyuk:

What the hell does the black homicide rate have to do with anything? We were discussing whether progressive policies lead to a decrease in law and order. The only way your point that homicide rates are higher among blacks is relevant to this discussion is if your solution is to get rid of the blacks. Which is pretty much what I said. So what are you mad about?

December 3, 2008 at 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JA said, in response to suggestions that he could test his rather strange claims empirically by visiting Da Hood and seeing for himself:

"You've had two answers from other people. 1) Crime is -- empirically -- on the decline in the U.S. and has been for a couple decades. 2) Europe doesn't have a big crime problem."

In other words, "la la la I can't hear you la la la la," does that about sum it up?

December 3, 2008 at 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Molyuk said...

JA,

You can't be serious. You honestly see no connection between homicide rates and the decline of law & order? Pffft. You're being deliberately obtuse.

I thank you for proving my point about feigned moral superiority. I find it fascinating that the only "solution" you can conceive is to get rid of the blacks - a solution you immediately imply I support. Your lack of imagination is not evidence that I'm a racist. It is pretty good evidence that you are, though. Why else would you support a political system that results in self-inflicted genocide among black Americans, while insisting that the only conceivable alternatives are deportation or slavery?

You don't seem to grasp the difference between anger and contempt.

On the off chance that you're not being deliberately trollish, I'll spell it out for you...

1. Your claim that crime rates are significantly higher in the US than in Europe is true only for homicide rates. Other forms of crime show no great disparities.

2. The homicide rate in the US is hugely inflated by black-on-black murders. Finding a way to bring their homicide rate down to non-black levels would drastically reduce the overall murder rate and save between 6000 & 7000 lives per year. That's based on 2005 homicide rates, the lowest in decades; historically higher rates resulted in even more pointless deaths.

3. Prog theories about white institutional racism, prog accusations of White Nationalism toward anyone who analyzes crime rates by race, prog apologetics for thug-life aspects of American black culture, prog-inspired destruction of the black nuclear family through the Welfare State - these are all politically useful to the Brahminate. None of you care about black people. You use them as a club with which to beat your real enemy, the (overwhelmingly white) Vaisyas.

December 3, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. I see no one has mentioned yet that violent crime rates in the US went up sixfold between 1900 and 2000.

Nothing to see here, Amerikaner taxpayers. Your submission to the self-hating Eloi and their enthusiasm for welfare programs by which you subsidize the riotous reproduction of the Morlocks have nothing to do with it. Move along. Ignore that elephant in the middle of the room, please.

December 3, 2008 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

No one mentioned it because it's pretty obvious to everyone but our dear Ajewish Theist

December 3, 2008 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I can't even see where you guys are disagreeing with me. You're just bashing a straw-man version of progressivism. If you want to show that the current system will inexorably lead to more and more lawlessness, I'd argue that the burden of proof is on you.

I never said that crime didn't go up in the 1900s or that blacks don't commit more (and aren't victim to more) murders. I never said Detroit was crime-free. All I'm saying is I don't see how things are so bad that we need to overthrow the frickin' government and institute a patchwork of monarchies or sovcorps.

None of you have stated how sovcorps could solve the crime problem in a way that the current government cannot. I hypothesized that many of you would like the ability to just deport or otherwise get rid of non-whites and that's the real reason for your desire to change the government. I apologize if my hypothesis was incorrect, but I don't understand why you go on and on about blacks and hispanics and immigrants etc. if that's not your motivation.

So instead of my guessing and you telling me I'm wrong, why don't you just tell me? What is it specifically you'd like government to be able to do or not do that justifies throwing out the most government of one of the most successful nations to have ever existed to experiment with MM's pet theory?

December 3, 2008 at 2:47 PM  
Anonymous sj071 said...

To JA,

Sir, all we need to know about the state of the friction between different races, cultures, and ethnic 'groups' has been already reported, recorded, and is freely available chez various Gubmint
websites.

"f you want to show that the current system will inexorably lead to more and more lawlessness, I'd argue that the burden of proof is on you."

A) I guess current state of the USA economy is not really your first priority....

b) You might want to revisit 'that' Katrina footage again...

Q1: What's with our Prez these days...?

Q2: What's Cheney up to?

Thanks.

December 3, 2008 at 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

I'm still curious if you've got any explanation that makes more sense than the Mencian one that I posed for the terrorism in Mumbai (or even any cogent criticism of it).

As far as the decrease in crime since the 1990s this is what has caused it by and large:

1) Huge increases in prison populations. Something that progressives are always against.
2) People have moved out of jurisdictions that have significant NAM populations; i.e., a return to segregation. Also opposed by progressives. Opposed to such a degree that they've invented a mechanism for reversing this process: Section 8 housing.

Ultimately this shows that progressives don't always win so this undermines the argument of our host. On the other hand, it's not like we've gone back to the anti-crime policies of 1900. People have routed around progressive damage. Progressives will adapt (see above about section 8) and push back against the counter-revolutionaries. Each step forward is more progressive than the ones in the past and each step back takes us to a state that is more progressive than before the last set of progressive changes. I guess you disagree with this part.

-Steve Johnson

December 3, 2008 at 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

My above post was directed at JA.

JA:

"What is it specifically you'd like government to be able to do or not do that justifies throwing out the most government of one of the most successful nations to have ever existed to experiment with MM's pet theory?"

Again, right back at you. Every step of the way we've thrown out traditions for pet theories of progressives that don't actually match up with reality (dogma of zero group differences, the "never fire on a mob" theory of foreign rule, the Keynsian General Theory of economics (for government finance), etc.). Why were these moves such great ideas if, as you agree, things have actually gotten worse over the 20th century? Why not try to restore a better quality of government?

December 3, 2008 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

sj071,

I honestly can't figure out what you're trying to say.


Steve Johnson,

I'm still curious if you've got any explanation that makes more sense than the Mencian one that I posed for the terrorism in Mumbai (or even any cogent criticism of it).

What's so complicated? They're from an Islamic terrorist organization bent on destroying India and spreading Islam throughout South Asia. There was also an anti-semitic/anti-Israel motive with their targeting of the chabad house.

Regarding your points about progressives, I agree with you that some of their tactics have been unproductive or even counterproductive. That doesn't invalidate their motives any more than the failure of Phen-Fen means that scientists are wrong to try to fight obesity.

Why were these moves such great ideas if, as you agree, things have actually gotten worse over the 20th century? Why not try to restore a better quality of government?

You can't just point out everything negative and leave out everything positive and pretend that proves your point. It doesn't. Income growth was huge (on average, Carter being the outlier) under Democratic presidents throughout the 20th century. Standards of living went way, way up. Women got the right to vote, segregation went away, racism largely went away. Intolerance of and discrimination against all white ethnics (Catholics, Jews, etc.) by WASPs pretty much disappeared.

We developed the best scientists and other researchers in the world. We have the best universities. We invented the internet and both Apple and Microsoft (and IBM and Sun) are headquartered in the U.S. We have the best pharmaceutical companies. None of this is luck -- it all happened because of progressive values, in the form of government-funded and subsidized research.

The idea that there are literally zero differences between racial groups was an overreaction against the far worse prejudices that preceded them. Maybe the pendulum had to swing too far in that direction to correct the racism of the past. But that era is ending. For all the blather by the "race realists" online, the scientific community has largely accepted that racial differences exist and are intractable at least in the short term. See the APA's reaction to The Bell Curve. The APA is by any reasonable assessment a progressive institution and yet they took a look at the evidence and came away with the truth.

December 3, 2008 at 5:40 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Michael S wrote "Disraeli was in several ways not typical of the Sephardic Jewish community in Britain. But his Toryism was not one of them. In that, he was quite loyal to ancestral custom."

The point I was trying to bring out was that Disraeli had yet other lines of cultural transmission to draw on that pointed the same way, e.g. Anglicanism, and so you cannot use his example to comment on the role of Sephardism (is that a word?); you have to look to the other evidence for that. He isn't a good test case for this question.

December 3, 2008 at 6:16 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

@c23:

Even if you could name major European countries free of Jews and worse off than the U.S. in relevant metrics (demographically Europe is not as far gone as the U.S.), Jewish influence pervaded 20th century Europe. The same can hardly be said of Calvinism.

2) Why did the WASP majority allow themselves to be steamrollered so easily?

A worthwhile question, but not one which UR sheds much light on or which Moldbug has any real interest in answering.

@Molyuk:

You seem to have internalized more than a few "prog" ideas yourself. Are whites also responsible for black criminality and poverty in Haiti and Africa?

December 3, 2008 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

n/a, the only reason Europe is not as bad off as we are demographically is that they had different starting conditions. Europe was nearly 100% white in the 1950s when America was already 10% or so black and the farm industry in the border states was already addicted to Mexican labor. They are on the same path that we are and, barring a radical change in direction, the white majorities of most Western European countries will be displaced a few decades after ours is.

Your link has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. It's about Jewish Communists in the USSR. They hurt individual gentiles, but they never tried to displace whites as a race. In fact, the demographics of areas they influenced are much better than those of the liberal West. The only truly white countries left are former Communist ones (except Iceland and maybe Finland). A white nationalist type like yourself should probably prefer all things Soviet to, say, Winston Churchill or Ronald Reagan, who both allowed non-white immigration into their countries when they were in power.

Sweden is a good example of what I'm talking about. They were never controlled by Communists, and their Jewish population is insignificant - yet they have imported so many non-whites in the past 40 years that they are now 7% non-white, and 15% of children born there are now non-white. They are displacing themselves almost as fast as we are. How do you blame that on the Jews?

A worthwhile question, but not one which UR sheds much light on or which Moldbug has any real interest in answering.

UR says progressivism is a mutated form of Calvinism that took over the US and from there took over Europe. I don't know if MM is right about that, but it's not as obviously wrong as blaming everything on the Jews.

December 3, 2008 at 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Molyuk said...

n/a,

I don't deny it. We are all marinated in progressivism from the time we enter school - or in my case, raised as I was by state-employee parents, since birth.

What makes you think I blame whites for Haiti or Africa? I'm with our host: the dismantling of colonialism was disastrous for Africa. The GDP & murder rates speak for themselves.

I will say this: progressivism is not 100% pernicious. We could have done worse. We could have been the Soviet Union.

December 3, 2008 at 8:12 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

@c23:

The link was mostly for the title of Slezkine's book, which doesn't only deal with Eastern Europe. No one could call the 20th century "The Calvinist Century" with a straight face.

Jewish participation in the slaughter of millions of Eastern Europeans illustrates what some might take as a slight divergence of interests. A similar divergence of interests plays out in the West through Jewish agitation for non-traditional immigration, among other expressions.

Sweden's "insignificant" Jewish population happens to enjoy outsized media influence -- whereas, last I checked, Sweden is not a Calvinist country.

Nowhere have I blamed "everything" on Jews. Why construct a straw man?

MM rather literally blames everything on Calvinism. How anyone (who doesn't happen to be Jewish) could find Moldbug more compelling than MacDonald is beyond me.


@Molyuk:

You seemed to attribute black criminality and illegitimacy to "culture" and bad policy. The use of "genocide" also popped out at me. Maybe I was being too hard on you. I'm sure government policy can affect social problems to a degree, but I don't think it's our responsibility to try to turn blacks into whites.

December 3, 2008 at 10:16 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

C23 wrote "Europe was nearly 100% white in the 1950s".

That happens not to be the case. By then the backwash of empire had left significant minorities from former or fading colonies in each of Britain, France and Holland.

December 4, 2008 at 1:12 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

None of this is luck -- it all happened because of progressive values, in the form of government-funded and subsidized research.

How are these progressive values? Did not the kings of old pay folks to find out shit for them?

You know.

n/a,

I don't think you're quite getting it. MM says that Calvinist Christianity (which grew from and shares a lot with Lutheranism -- Sweden) morphed into Progressivism -- and as Progressivism has taken over the West.

It was able to infest nominally Catholic and Lutheran (and Athiest) countries specifically because it became an areligion (wasn't that MM's old term?) -- that is, a belief system sans deity.

So you can have a non-Calvinist country that is still infested with Progressivism.

December 4, 2008 at 5:09 AM  
Anonymous n/a said...

@Palmer:

Again, "mutated Calvinism" has no explanatory power. The Culture of Critique has great explanatory power.

December 4, 2008 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Victor said...

Molyuk,

Are you a ukie?

Watching Victor castigate others for "taking data out of context" is delicious irony. Apparently Victor believes Progressivism began only a few decades ago.

Funny. I cited data all the way back to 13th century -- you know, the era of idyllic feudal monarchy Moldbug is so fond of. Our homicide rates are much, much lower; the point being that there is no discernible link between criminality and advancement of leftism.

Sorry, you will have to do better.

December 4, 2008 at 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Molyuk said...

Victor,

"Ukie" meaning Ukrainian? If you're referring to my screen name, no. I'm not Andrew Molyuk, nor in any way affiliated with him.

I read your other links. They don't prove your point either. Here's the money quote from the first, on murder rates in Germany: "Obviously, the graph shows only ordinary civilian murder rates. Wars and mass extermination programs are excluded". Ach, nein, we certainly wouldn't want to pollute the data with any such trifles.

As to the second link, "Since criminal justice agencies did not issue regular reports before the modern era, knowledge of premodern criminality is limited". Or perhaps you prefer "But medieval definitions of homicide embraced a much broader range of violent deaths than is the case today. They included, for example, many forms of accidental death that would not have found their way into a modern criminal court". Finally, I note that the given modern rate of .4 homicides per 100,000 Londoners is lower than any other source I can find. Frankly, I don't trust this figure. Why should I then trust the older data? I don't even see an author listed for this paper.

I'll concede arguendo that homicide rates were higher in the 13th century than in the 20th if we exclude war deaths, though frankly I don't see why we should. So what? I'm neither a monarchist nor a Mencius sockpuppet. My position (and our host's, as I recall from his earliest posts) is that the rule of law is far more crucial to an orderly society than any particular mode of government. I'd bet the classical Athenian democracy had horrific rates of violent crime; but I don't know how I could possibly prove that, nor what difference it would make if I did. Not even Mencius blames the death of Socrates on the Calvinists.

December 4, 2008 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger 信次 said...

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January 31, 2009 at 9:33 PM  
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February 12, 2009 at 1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 2, 2009 at 10:32 PM  
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March 18, 2009 at 4:08 AM  

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