Sunday, April 18, 2010 56 Comments

Professors young and old: an involuntary debate

The young professor:
When I visited Jamaica in the Fall of 2009, here is how a knowledgeable observer described the political reality facing the government: Desperately needed policy steps—steps that any objective observer would recognize as being good for the country—would cost the government many votes in the next election.

Jamaica is located on important sea lanes. It is close to major markets. Its cultural, climatic, and natural amenities rival those of any other place on earth. It is ten times larger than Singapore. Though its potential for prosperity is tremendous, its history of bad policy has undermined its appeal as a place to live and work. One clear indication is its high levels of crime and violence, including one of the highest murder rates in the world. Given the level of violence, it is not surprising that many Jamaicans, particularly the ones with the most education, move away.

The Jamaican diaspora is now estimated to be well over 2 million, compared to a population still on the island of about 2.8 million. In each cohort of young Jamaicans, a majority of those who receive any education beyond secondary school leave to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Some estimates put the figure as high as 80 percent.

Competition for local votes now perpetuates criminal activity in what are known as Jamaica’s “garrison” communities. A garrison is an area in which criminal and political activity are tightly controlled by politically affiliated gang leaders. Historically, the political party that happened to be in power would use large-scale public housing projects to reward and geographically concentrate their supporters in garrison communities. Violent, politically affiliated criminal gangs would then enforce the political homogeneity of the garrison in exchange for a measure of exemption from law and order. At various points in Jamaica’s history both of the major political parties, the Jamaican Labor Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) have created new housing projects that have turned into garrisons. Several seats in Parliament are now virtually guaranteed for each party by the garrisons they control.

According to a report commissioned by the Jamaican government (Kerr Report), the politically aligned gang leaders serve as unofficial brokers between the political leadership in parliament and the local communities. Residents who openly oppose the garrison’s dominant political party face violent retaliation from the gun-toting gangs. The gang leaders give their members of parliament an element of electoral certainty. The politicians who benefit return the favor by diverting government benefits to the garrisons in their constituency and turning a blind-eye to the criminal activities of the gangs.

The political arrangement allows many of the gangs to operate unchecked, with disastrous consequences for Jamaica’s poorest communities. Armed border disputes between garrisons make it difficult to maintain public infrastructure, exacerbating the slum-like conditions of the communities. Because gangs restrict movement between communities, they hamper labor mobility, transport, and the entry of new firms—entrenching an already deep level of poverty.
-- Paul Romer, Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 2010.

The old professor:
The commonplace intrudes upon the imaginative. At moments one can fancy that the world is an enchanted place after all, but then comes generally an absurd awakening. On the first night of my arrival, before we went to bed, there came an invitation to me to attend a political meeting which was to be held in a few days on the savannah.

Trinidad is a purely Crown colony and has escaped hitherto the introduction of the election virus. The newspapers and certain busy gentlemen in 'Port of Spain' had discovered that they were living under a 'degrading tyranny,' and they demanded a constitution. They did not complain that their affairs had been ill-managed. On the contrary, they insisted that they were the most prosperous of the West Indian colonies, and alone had a surplus in their treasury. If this was so it seemed to me that they had better let well alone.

The population all told was but 170,000 less by thirty thousand than that of Barbadoes. They were a mixed and motley assemblage of all races and colours, busy each with their own affairs, and never hitherto troubling themselves about politics. But it had pleased the Home Government to set up the beginning of a constitution again in Jamaica, no one knew why, but so it was, and Trinidad did not choose to be behindhand. The official appointments were valuable, and had been hitherto given away by the Crown. The local popularities very naturally wished to have them for themselves.

This was the reality in the thing so far as there was a reality. It was dressed up in the phrases borrowed from the great English masters of the art, about privileges of manhood, moral dignity, the elevating influence of the suffrage, &c, intended for home consumption among the believers in the orthodox Radical faith.
-- J A. Froude, Regius Professor, Oxford Faculty of History, 1888. (Join the Froude Society.)

56 Comments:

Blogger TGGP said...

And I thought he was going to be more interested in this post.

April 18, 2010 at 1:53 PM  
Anonymous geek1 said...

As an aside note Bruce G Charleton mentions Moldbug as an inspiration for his The Cancer of Bureaucracy

April 18, 2010 at 2:08 PM  
Anonymous totalesturns said...

For nascent reactionaries who don't want to subject their retinas to a volume's worth of imperfectly scanned Victorian typography on an LCD monitor: the Kindle's PDF reader is crude but adequate. Combined with Google Books it's invaluable. I just stocked mine up with a bunch of Irving Babbitt and will add the Official Froude Society Reading List to my growing queue...

April 18, 2010 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 18, 2010 at 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

I'll second totalesturns' recommendation of Kindle as the unofficial device of the Froude Society.

For $1 per, you can download pdfs from google books and email them to your kindle. Been enjoying the Bow of Ulysses on the kindle. Josiah Tucker's Treatise Concerning Civil Government is next in the queue.

April 18, 2010 at 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Vladimir M. said...

I just read that Bruce Charleton article, and I must say it belongs to the most frustrating sort of writing imaginable: it points at exactly the right direction, with occasional remarks right at the target, but overall it's written and argued so poorly that it's ultimately a disservice to the cause it wishes to promote.

What I find most puzzling is Charleton's insistence that bureaucratic committees are fundamentally random, unpredictable, and irrational, especially when he discusses the modern institutions of peer review and scientific publishing. In reality, the greatest problem with these institutions is that the peer review/editorial committee system that directs the prestigious journals and conferences gets hijacked too easily by cliques of insiders, who end up transforming it into a scheme for patronage and mutual reinforcement, while the actual quality of work is given only secondary consideration (or worse). I would certainly expect Charleton, of all people, to be aware of this. Yet according to what he claims, the outcome of the system is supposed to be random chaos, not the well-structured schemes of personal power and patronage that actually exist in reality.

April 18, 2010 at 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Vladimir M. said...

Regarding the digital book readers, I opted for Sony PRS-300, a small 5" screen reader that fits into a jacket pocket. It's extremely convenient for carrying around and reading while sitting, standing, or even walking during everyday commuting and chores. The e-ink screen is a magnificent improvement over LCD, as long as you don't require constant switching between two places in the text (the refresh rate is glacially slow, which is still a limitation of the technology). The software leaves something to be desired, though -- I especially dislike its coarse granularity of zoom, the inability to zoom equations and graphics, and its lack of a directory system. Still, I would recommend it if your wish is to delve into the old reactionary literature, since it's mostly no-frills text anyway.

Also, it should be noted that many Google Books that get taken down by Google or are unavailable for those with non-U.S. IP addresses can still be found at www.archive.org. For some books, archive.org also provides a superior interface for online reading, with more pleasant colors and much better scans.

April 18, 2010 at 10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mencius, you should have included the next paragraph in your excerpt from Froude, especially the prophetic ending:

"Any constitution which was granted them would be on the widest basis. The blacks and coolies outnumbered the Europeans by four to one, and perhaps when they had what they asked for they might be less pleased than they expected."

April 19, 2010 at 3:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For $1 per, you can download pdfs from google books and email them to your kindle.

That's interesting! I hate reading books on a computer screen. Not sure if I would like reading them on a kindle screen, though. Also, I like owning physical books, and owning a kindle would create tension (do I buy both kindle and dead tree editions?).

April 19, 2010 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

Me I'm surprised he didn't name it "The Carlyle Group" instead of "Froude Society", but I guess we're supposed to be above lame humor.

Not me: Lame humor is eye-level for me, so I might be blackballed.

Will the Society have a Gentleman's Club? I don't mean one of those places with women in various states of undress, but the old English sort with smoking jackets and plush chairs where you get served cognac while muttering about how things are going to the devil. We might need sinecures to be able to do that, though. So I guess the low-rent degenerate interweb variant of grousing in blog comments is all we'll have.

More's the pity because any Froude Society aimed at restoring civilization should strive to embody that effort.

April 19, 2010 at 7:58 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

Another endorsement. I get headaches from reading on the computer, but not from Kindle. Also, I found Latter Day Pamphlets for free.

April 19, 2010 at 8:32 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

Should we create a facebook page, or is that beneath us?

April 19, 2010 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

The Charlton piece primarily annoyed me due to an ingrained Szaszian hostility to medical metaphors. I was surprised he didn't cite de Tocqueville on bureaucracy. I wasn't surprised he didn't cite James Q. Wilson on the subject.


From the purple room:
He has actually mentioned the unfortunate circumstance of the Carlyle name being squatted on by some Saudi/ex-president rabble. And how about combining both sense of gentleman's club? How more clearly would our point about depravity be made if the evidence were shaking its hindparts right in our faces? After all, we live in a democratic era, and where democracy shines is hypocrisy.

April 19, 2010 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger chairmanK said...

The essay by Romer if fascinating. I wonder whether he is

(1) aware and
(2) willing to state publicly

that the same system of political violence operates in cities in the United States.

April 19, 2010 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I don't think that system exists in the U.S (there was some hubbub about the "New Black Panthers", but they seem to be more of a joke than a serious force). Interestingly, Jamaica seems to have higher turnout among its voting-age population. Here, the poor, uneducated, urban/car-less and black are among the least likely to vote. Criminals are often prevented from voting, which makes perfect sense to me but really offends some liberals.

April 19, 2010 at 11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't think that system exists in the U.S ..."

TGGP, I think you are conflating that oft-quoted Pinker graph on violence with actual gang growth and influence on politics. Ronfeldt and Arquilla have been writing about gang influence on American politics since the 90s. And yes, violent gangs that have political power do exist.

Gus Russo has also written about it in a more older form.

Not that any of this data or historical analysis will matter, as you've clearly made up your mind.

April 20, 2010 at 2:55 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

It seems like gangs had more overt political power in the Gilded Age, not surprising as this was more democratic than our New Deal era in the sense of elected officials having real political power.

There isn't necessarily an analogous relationship between MS-13 and political power in the US. On the other hand its hard to deny that there are powerful people that indirectly or directly make it much, much easier for MS-13 to operate. We could probably make up a just-so story to explain this (I believe MM has, actually).

April 20, 2010 at 4:56 AM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

Note that some google books (at least Bow of Ulysses, at any rate) seem to be downloadable as .epub's, a format for which many readers and converters (for iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc.) exist. This is particularly handy for people who like to read on the subway and thus need offline copies…

April 20, 2010 at 5:06 AM  
Blogger bruno benedini said...

I managed to download The Bow of Ulysses in EPUB format.

It was the only way, really - with a non-US IP address, I had to access the book through a proxy (thanks, Vladimir M.) and couldn't really see it in the browser or download the PDF.

April 20, 2010 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

I think MM would make the same argument he did with respect to the Nashi in Russia: That there is an analogy, but it's more subtle and less overtly brutal. That in most precincts you no longer have to station paramilitary gangs with nightsticks and berets outside of polling places (though that has its uses), because everyone knows how you're supposed to vote.

Apparently also while the turnout rate overall is low, there are some precincts in big cities with...anamolously high "turnout" and 98% voting for one party. Not just since Obama, either, but stretching back a ways.

Of course one starts arguing along these lines and making a chain-link-analogy it's all to easy to carry an argument wherever you want it to go: Which we certainly see a lot of these days (Chris Matthews, that Hero of Truth, constructed one this weekend), and MM's critics would say he engages in.

In any case I don't think MM has to say America has that, or even that we will (though he might argue we could) in order to make his argument. For him it's just another example of "Democracy = Fail" and he's said it makes places with lower immunity worse than it makes places that are more robust, but that it's bad for both: A healthy man getting a terrible flu is affected differently than one who is frail to begin with, but the flu isn't good for either of them. One person gets smallpox and is weakened, another gets it and is crippled for life, a third gets it and dies.

As for my part I still hope to salvage consent-of-the-governed and liberty as best as possible, but I'm less sure of myself. Anyhow it means I'm hardly a good spokesman for his arguments, though I understand them and find myself seeing value in many of them, and am more and more doubtful that democratic accountability works, at least in mass democracy unteathered from other virtues (this is where people like James Kalb have some merit).

April 20, 2010 at 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Marcus said...

I've been using an iPhone with GoodReader ($.99) and more recently an iPad with iAnnotate ($6.99) for reading PDFs from Google Books. It's not the same screen as the Kindle, but I've it's much easier on the eyes and more comfortable than reading on a laptop. They're both a lot faster than the Kindle and you can read them in the dark (as well as in the sun). There is, of course, no transfer fee per-pdf with either the iPad or iPhone.

GoodReader is nice because you can browse Google Books within the app and download the PDF's directly. iAnnotate, as the name implies, lets you annotate PDF's and gives a pretty smooth reading experience.

April 20, 2010 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Anonymous April 20, 2010 2:55 AM:
Google books said I had reached the limit for the first link without my having read any of it. The second seemed interesting, but only had tiny snippets. The third is a more readable summary, but claims that the decline occurred in the 70s (I think that's also the point of decline suggested in "Accardo: The Genuine Godfather", which is the one mob book I've read).


josh:
Funny, since Mencius has claimed gangs (or "organized crime" generally) weren't permitted to exist back then. Do you have a preferred source on that period?

I thought MS-13 was primarily composed of Salvadorans. I wouldn't expect such a small group to have much impact, unless they were unusually competent.


Porphyrogenitus:
We could make such stretches, but we'd be edging toward Barack Obama's "quiet riot" or "subtle violence of outsourcing".

April 20, 2010 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Off-topic, but here's a great interview with the mayor of Johannesburg.

April 20, 2010 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...

Anon @2:55:

I couldn't get any of your links to work... maybe it's just me, I dunno.

Josh & TGGP:

MS 13 derives most of its power from south of the border. It controls large swaths of the drug trade and thus has set up subsidiaries throughout North America, but the door isn't exactly open for them to influence American politics. After all most of the people that would be under their control are illegals that can't vote.

April 21, 2010 at 3:20 AM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...

TGGP:

That interview is absolutely hysterical. Glad I'm not going to the world cup!

April 21, 2010 at 3:24 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

TGGP: I know, that's why I criticized such reasoning and said it could take you wherever you want to take it, as those who engage in it do.

There's a certain kind of guilty pleasure doing it to the masters of it, but it's not a trail to truth.

April 21, 2010 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 21, 2010 at 6:37 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

"After all most of the people that would be under their control are illegals that can't vote."

The first part of this sentance is true. The second part is legally true, but as a matter of fact it's absurdly easy to vote anyhow.

Which is not to say most people who can vote illegally do vote illegally, or even a large percentage. But in some elections it might be the margin of difference.

MS-13 doesn't bother with registering illegals and bussing them to the voting booths, though: That's what groups like ACORN and La Raza are for.

Note it's not illegal aliens who are the only ones to play this game: There are Americans who vote in both New York and Florida, and my mother has known people who proudly voted in multiple precincts (they had moved). In the anecdotal examples I know of, they all voted for the same party and justified it on the same grounds Alinskists do: Their enemies were so evil, anything they did to keep them from office was justified.

It's among the many reasons my own views changed.

April 21, 2010 at 6:53 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

I chose MS, because they murdered one of my students three weeks ago. The area has many Salvadorans, but I believe they are now allowing other Latinos to join.

I didn't really have a source in mind about 19th century gangs beyond the Scorsese movie. This was just my general impression of political machines. Wikipedia can tell you about the Bowery Boys, Theodore Allen, and the 40 thieves. The overall impression I get is that they were politically connected as the latter is described as having "established relations with Tammany Hall, while Allen is described as both an underworld leader and political organizer. Of course, that's just wikipedia and the statements are unsourced. I certainly don't have any statistics to back up anything.

Sailer recently mentioned that the census, which determines representation and is used to calculate government spending, doesn't treat illegals different from citizens. So this basically means, illegals don't necessarily need to vote so long as somebody is voting on their behalf. There are no shortage of ways this relationship could affect politics.

April 21, 2010 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...

Porphy & Josh:

Right. I wasn't trying to intimate that gangs of illegals didn't have an impact on American politics. They have a huge impact on politics and life in America just not in the same way as the criminals in the Jamaican garrisons. However, that is where we are headed. Right now it is sclerotic democratic bureaucracy splitting power (as Mr Moldbug usually describes it), but it is only a matter of time before garrisons run by criminals are the norm.

April 21, 2010 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...

In fact, to most liberals garrisons already seem normal. To them they are grand multi-culural hotbeds where so much can be learned.

April 21, 2010 at 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Vladimir M. said...

TGGP:
Off-topic, but here's a great interview with the mayor of Johannesburg.

That's the most grimly hilarious thing I've read in a while. I especially like his effort to use proper Cathedral-speak when he mentions the "program that seeks to mobilize communities" as the presumable panacea for the issues he's getting grilled about.

April 21, 2010 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

"To them they are grand multi-culural hotbeds where so much can be learned."

Truesay; MM's blogged about that, too. I'm short on time so can't look it up, but he had pointed remarks to say about "Gang Leader for a Day" in one post.

April 21, 2010 at 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

Re gangs in the United States in the 19th century, here's some content from the Sith library (Masks in a Pageant, William Allan White):

The destiny that shapes our ends probably did her most effective day's work in Croker's life the day he joined Tammany Hall. Soon thereafter he became captain of his election precinct. The election precinct is the base or unit of the Tammany system. The average citizen of the Republic may fancy that the duties of a Tammany captain of an election precinct, in the days of rough-and-tumble politics - the days of riot and murder at the polls, in which Croker took a violent hand - were solely those of a plug-ugly. Before the days of the Australian ballot the precinct captain had to sit in the saloon and give out the ballots. Occasionally he had to call upon the coroner to help the "freeman execute his will." To encourage misdemeanor and to foster felony were only incidents of a captain's annual routine. They were means to an end, and for nearly a century the end and most of the other means have remained the same. Indeed, the office is to-day what it was in spirit before the Civil War, and what in spirit it must be in New York or any larger American city a generation hence. For the success of Tammany depends, and always must depend, upon paternalism strongly fraternal. The Tammany which trained young Croker, which trained Charles Murphy, Croker's successor, and which trained Al Smith, Murphy's successor, is a human institution. There it rules, not by its vices but by its virtues, and in spite of its vices. Here is what Tammany taught Croker: To be kind to those in trouble, to look after the sick in the tenements in his precinct, to see that the widows had food and fuel, that the men had jobs and the orphan children clothes, to mourn with those that mourn and to rejoice with them that rejoice.

Tammany in the 19th century was an explicitly political gang that was more than anything else feudal. Today the feudal structure still exists but is run in a much less competent fashion. Child protective services take care of children (badly), men get jobs mau mauing flack catchers, widows and assorted single mothers get checks from the bureaucracy, etc. Running things in Tammany fashion has an appeal versus the modern state where all these functions take place without a Croker to administer them.

What's the disadvantage to a man liker Croker?

(same source)

For no other man in all Tammany who might succeed him was, just at that time, as honest as Croker. Negatively his influence, as a sovereign, was for good, in that the influence of other Tammany leaders without Croker would have been unspeakably bad. The ninety thousand Tammany voters who surrendered their citizenship to Croker might easily have done far worse with it. They might have used it on their own intelligence - for instance! This they have never done. If the time ever comes when they do use their citizenship, unrestrained by the intervening agency of faith in Croker's heirs or assigns, heaven protect wealth and social order in New York City! Take away the steel hoops of Tammany from the social dynamite, and let it go kicking around under the feet of any cheap agitator who may come by with his head in the clouds, and then look out for fireworks. A cautionus rascal is safer than a vain demagogue. A corrupt king is rather to be chosen than the anarchy of a million hungry, shifty despots. Croker and his kind have their place in the scheme of things.

A million hungry, shifty despots: socialism.

A single despot elected by the middle class to stomp the politics of the mob: nazism.

No wonder elected officials and voters have almost no power today compared to 100 years ago.

April 21, 2010 at 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

Re gangs in the United States in the 19th century, here's some content from the Sith library (Masks in a Pageant, William Allan White):

The destiny that shapes our ends probably did her most effective day's work in Croker's life the day he joined Tammany Hall. Soon thereafter he became captain of his election precinct. The election precinct is the base or unit of the Tammany system. The average citizen of the Republic may fancy that the duties of a Tammany captain of an election precinct, in the days of rough-and-tumble politics - the days of riot and murder at the polls, in which Croker took a violent hand - were solely those of a plug-ugly. Before the days of the Australian ballot the precinct captain had to sit in the saloon and give out the ballots. Occasionally he had to call upon the coroner to help the "freeman execute his will." To encourage misdemeanor and to foster felony were only incidents of a captain's annual routine. They were means to an end, and for nearly a century the end and most of the other means have remained the same. Indeed, the office is to-day what it was in spirit before the Civil War, and what in spirit it must be in New York or any larger American city a generation hence. For the success of Tammany depends, and always must depend, upon paternalism strongly fraternal. The Tammany which trained young Croker, which trained Charles Murphy, Croker's successor, and which trained Al Smith, Murphy's successor, is a human institution. There it rules, not by its vices but by its virtues, and in spite of its vices. Here is what Tammany taught Croker: To be kind to those in trouble, to look after the sick in the tenements in his precinct, to see that the widows had food and fuel, that the men had jobs and the orphan children clothes, to mourn with those that mourn and to rejoice with them that rejoice.

Tammany in the 19th century was an explicitly political gang that was more than anything else feudal. Today the feudal structure still exists but is run in a much less competent fashion. Child protective services take care of children (badly), men get jobs mau mauing flack catchers, widows and assorted single mothers get checks from the bureaucracy, etc. Running things in Tammany fashion has an appeal versus the modern state where all these functions take place without a Croker to administer them.

What's the disadvantage to a man liker Croker?

(same source)

For no other man in all Tammany who might succeed him was, just at that time, as honest as Croker. Negatively his influence, as a sovereign, was for good, in that the influence of other Tammany leaders without Croker would have been unspeakably bad. The ninety thousand Tammany voters who surrendered their citizenship to Croker might easily have done far worse with it. They might have used it on their own intelligence - for instance! This they have never done. If the time ever comes when they do use their citizenship, unrestrained by the intervening agency of faith in Croker's heirs or assigns, heaven protect wealth and social order in New York City! Take away the steel hoops of Tammany from the social dynamite, and let it go kicking around under the feet of any cheap agitator who may come by with his head in the clouds, and then look out for fireworks. A cautionus rascal is safer than a vain demagogue. A corrupt king is rather to be chosen than the anarchy of a million hungry, shifty despots. Croker and his kind have their place in the scheme of things.

A million hungry, shifty despots: socialism.

A single despot elected by the middle class to stomp the politics of the mob: nazism.

No wonder elected officials and voters have almost no power today compared to 100 years ago.

April 21, 2010 at 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

Sorry about the double.

April 21, 2010 at 12:30 PM  
OpenID enamdar said...

Well assuming no cataclysms, the world’s prosperity and science and tech level will continue to grow. And yet life seems to remain the same. Our technology is out of science fiction, and yet humanity remains humanity. Well, then what do you care as an unskilled employee if the boss lives well? You could not design this technotopia. Yes maybe it is the scientists and engineers who ought to reap all the benefits instead of the bankers. But what do you care? That is Dilbert’s loss, not yours. Whether deserved or undeserved it still wouldn’t be going to you. If Dilbert got to enjoy the fruits of life, instead of Tucker Max, and it affected you personally in no way whatsoever, would this make this world so much more wonderful and livable? OR what if all the bosses were female, would you then be content with their godlike power over your life? What if Sarah Palin becomes your and everyone’s boss? Will that mark the decisive defeat of Roissyism?

April 22, 2010 at 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Goel Hadam said...

Mencius, I am working my way through your archives, and since you're without an email address apparently, I'm contacting you here.

I love your analysis of idea vectors and your fresh take on sovereignty and security.

On to my question, parallel statement, or whatever:
Iprefer the picture of society I see in the Viking Story of Burnt Njal, or old American Westerns, to the Brezhnevized sclerotic institutional society of contemporary America.

In other words, I prefer a society in which each man is responsible for his security, takes his revenge and makes his own peace.

The proper response to such wishful thinking is to point out that military realities have changed. It's quixotic to expect men to suddenly become suicidally courageous or deviously adept in defense of their personal liberty.

Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that there will always be a small number of bad men, and a larger number of mediocre men who will drift along with them if the bad men are tolerated. And I'm also of the opinion that it's the duty of good men to eliminate the bad when injured.

This isn't a scalable solution, just a code I find personally satisfying.

April 23, 2010 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

He's haphazard at best at reading his own comments section but has posted his e-mail.

It's mencius at gmail dot com if you haven't found it.

If you want to work through the archives, best source is moldbuggery.blogspot.com

April 23, 2010 at 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Auster vs. MacDonald smackdown:

http://theoccidentalobserver.net/tooblog/?p=1614

April 23, 2010 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

I would love to see Auster or Moldbug debate MacDonald. They would get raked over the coals.

April 23, 2010 at 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Ron Potato said...

MacDonald's quality of writing in the link above, and a mediocre disjointed quote from Pat Buchanan, imply that MacDonald may be dumb.

April 24, 2010 at 4:11 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

enamdar: The past is another country, and humans from earlier times were quite different from now. Greg Cochran has explained this much better than I can, so read "The 10,000 Year Explosion" for the full argument. Supplement it with Greg Clark's "A Farewell to Alms".


It's been a while since Moldbuggery was updated. Maybe it should be in wiki form.


I haven't read any of MacDonald's actual books, but n/a strikes me as the smarter anti-semite. n/a has repeatedly pointed out nonsense from Mencius, including a couple times in the comments section of UR.

April 24, 2010 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

yea, n/a does a good job. i would advise against the use of the word anisemite. no one calls the jews anti-western or anti-christian reflexively, or anti-russian and anti-european. let's be realistic. if the same standard were applied to evaluate the sentiments and activities of jews vs. gentiles, in their private lives, religious texts, political activity, etc., the vast majority of jews would have to be considered deeply anti-western, anti-american, anti-christian, anti-russian, anti-european, anti-islam, etc.

moreover, if the same social ostracism and political penalties were applied to the jews throughout the 20th century, that the jews today use against their percieved enemies, jews would be a powerless and marginalized group.

especially egregious is how they turned on and spit in the face of those who treated them so generously and fairly, i.e., americans. how shameless the post-ww2 counterculture seems in retrospect. no wonder they fear the potential anger and backlash if ever they lose their grip on the american psyche.

now that they have 'the tiger by the tail' so to speak, they can't hit the brakes and reverse course even though it is arguably in their interests to do so. they're not a monolithic group. e.g., for decades after stalin's purges, jews in the US by and large were still pro-soviet. it took decades for the jewish body-politic to re-orient itself to the new reality.

today, only a few jews realize their interests viz. the displacement of europeans in america and the growing islamic population here and in europe. they fear if they let go of the tail they lose the tiger and its off to the concentration camps. jewish psychology is formed by the persecution myth, promulgated anew every generation. it's what fuels their truly herculean exertion across the social and political landscape, media, activism, etc.

the value of macdonald is that he approached his work as an objective scholar. he's not selling an ideology in his works. he just presents his data in a theoretical framework based on his background in evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology. his political views and activities grew out of his experience in developing his work. serious scholars admit the validity of his data and the plausibility of his theoretical structure. it's consistent with evolutionary psychology that's standard practice in application to other religious and cultural groups. people just don't like the results. that's why they don't read his work, like auster and moldbug.

i don't think moldbug is dishonest in a deliberate way. i think he simply avoids knowing the facts so he doesn't have to deal with them and rework his worldview accordingly. if i were part jewish i might have the same impulse. emotion is deeper and more powerful than some imagined, pure rationality. what's the point of 'truth' if it doesn't serve one's own interests, self-esteem, and reinforce one's self-conception.

show me a person who's 'truth' makes them deeply unnerved and unhappy, and i'll show you an evolutionary defective.

April 24, 2010 at 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Vladimir M. said...

Porphyrogenitus, TGGP:

There is another topic-indexed list of UR posts here, which seems to be up to date:
http://mencius.xmas.ratry.ru/

April 24, 2010 at 2:26 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

one more thing.

i'm not an anisemite, and i certainly don't hate the jews. its impossible to hate such an extraordinary people or wish to do them violence. it's a lie when people claim macdonald and others want to hurt this people. nietzsche understood the jews well, and he felt deeply for them. they're a deeply fateful people. he defended them despite his forceful criticisms. the west owes a lot to the jews. without the old testament, the west may have developed in a completely different way. who knows.

in any case, the best thing for the jews in the long run is to settle down and make amends with the west. they have enough power that they don't need to worry about being persecuted. they're a nuclear power. but if they destroy they west, they're on their own vs. a hostile and unwelcoming world. how would they fare in asia, in islam, in africa, in latin america...? well if they don't about-face and use their immense influence to close the human floodgates, that's the future of america and europe. either that, or a violent (i.e., forceful, political) backlash against them and their surrogates.

if mencius ever wants to get his ideas off the ground and do more than mere literature, he has to deal with this subject honestly. hell, who better to do so than someone who's part jewish and part western. if he can reconcile this 2000 year old opposition in himself, maybe the jews and the west can reconcile the differences between them. wishful thinking?

April 24, 2010 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

Since Nietzche was mentioned, I recall reading in his work he said that rather than deport the Jews, Germany should deport all of its anti-Semites.

That would have saved the world a great deal of trouble.

Ah, what might have been. And what might be, if we would take such sage advice.

Perhaps a bi-partisan compromise: We can surely work out an agreement to deport our illegal aliens, and our anti-semites both.

Common ground!

April 24, 2010 at 11:31 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Porphy... you have to know nietzsche to understand the context of those statements. By any modern standard nietzsche was a "dangerous antisemite."

of course that's why its a dumb word, it doesn't recognize any nuance or distinction between nietzsche and st. augustine, charles lindberg or osama bin laden, mencken or solzhenitsyn.

to wit,

"That one had better put on gloves before reading the New Testament. The presence of so much filth makes it very advisable. One would as little choose “early Christians” for companions as Polish Jews: not that one need seek out an objection to them.... Neither has a pleasant smell."

"Paul, the Chandala hatred of Rome, of “the world,” in the flesh and inspired by genius—the Jew, the eternal Jew par excellence.... What he saw was how, with the aid of the small sectarian Christian movement that stood apart from Judaism, a “world conflagration” might be kindled; how, with the symbol of “God on the cross,” all secret seditions, all the fruits of anarchistic intrigues in the empire, might be amalgamated into one immense power. “Salvation is of the Jews.”

"—Must I add that, in the whole New Testament, there appears but a solitary figure worthy of honour? Pilate, the Roman viceroy. To regard a Jewish imbroglio seriously—that was quite beyond him. One Jew more or less—what did it matter?... The noble scorn of a Roman, before whom the word “truth” was shamelessly mishandled, enriched the New Testament with the only saying that has any value—and that is at once its criticism and its destruction: “What is truth?...”

"...with a degree of skill approaching the non plus ultra of histrionic genius they have managed to put themselves at the head of all décadent movements...and so make of them something stronger than any party frankly saying Yes to life."

"...here we are among Jews: this is the first thing to be borne in mind if we are not to lose the thread of the matter...this elevation of fraud in word and attitude to the level of an art... The Christian, that ultima ratio of lying, is the Jew all over again—he is threefold the Jew..."

April 25, 2010 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

and,

Everything on earth which has been done against “the nobility,” “the powerful,” “the masters,” “the possessors of power” is not worth mentioning in comparison with what the Jews have done against them: the Jews...who knew how to get final satisfaction from their enemies and conquerors through a radical transformation of their values, that is, through an act of the most spiritual revenge. This was appropriate only to a priestly people with the most deeply repressed priestly desire for revenge. In opposition to the aristocratic value equations (good = noble = powerful = beautiful = fortunate = loved by god), the Jews, with a consistency inspiring fear, dared to reverse things and to hang on to that with the teeth of the most profound hatred (the hatred of the powerless), that is, to “only those who suffer are good; the poor, the powerless, the low are the only good people; the suffering, those in need, the sick, the ugly are also the only pious people; only they are blessed by God; for them alone there is salvation.—By contrast, you privileged and powerful people, you are for all eternity the evil, the cruel, the lecherous, the insatiable, the godless; you will also be the unblessed, the cursed, and the damned for all eternity!” . . . We know who inherited this Judaic transformation of values . . . In connection with that huge and immeasurably disastrous initiative which the Jews launched with this most fundamental of all declarations of war, I recall the sentence I wrote at another time (in Beyond Good and Evil, section 195)—namely, that with the Jews the slave rebellion in morality begins: that rebellion which has a two-thousand-year-old history behind it and which we nowadays no longer notice because it—has triumphed. . . .

From Mencken's intro,

"On the Continent, the day is saved by the fact that the plutocracy tends to become more and more Jewish. Here the intellectual cynicism of the Jew almost counterbalances his social unpleasantness. If he is destined to lead the plutocracy of the world out of Little Bethel he will fail, of course, to turn it into an aristocracy—i. e., a caste of gentlemen—, but he will at least make it clever, and hence worthy of consideration.

The case against the Jews is long and damning; it would justify ten thousand times as many pogroms as now go on in the world. But whenever you find a Davidsbündlerschaft making practise against the Philistines, there you will find a Jew laying on. Maybe it was this fact that caused Nietzsche to speak up for the children of Israel quite as often as he spoke against them. He was not blind to their faults, but when he set them beside Christians he could not deny their general superiority. Perhaps in America and England, as on the Continent, the increasing Jewishness of the plutocracy, while cutting it off from all chance of ever developing into an aristocracy, will yet lift it to such a dignity that it will at least deserve a certain grudging respect."

April 25, 2010 at 9:35 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

in other words polyph, you shouldn't repeat disjointed quotes from writers you don't know or understand, as if that was all they were good for...

April 25, 2010 at 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Jack Burton said...

jkr,

"show me a person who's 'truth' makes them deeply unnerved and unhappy, and i'll show you an evolutionary defective."

Are you kidding? in moldbug's comments?

How anyone who accepts moldbug's description of the state of the world (at least, as approximately true) could fail to be unnerved and unhappy about it escapes me.

PS What's "an evolutionary defective"?

April 25, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 25, 2010 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

"in other words polyph, you shouldn't repeat disjointed quotes from writers you don't know or understand, as if that was all they were good for."

jkr, you're right in identifying your problem, and we all regret that you're not able to do that.

No doubt you're working on it to the best of your poor abilities. I extend to you as much sympathy and emotional support as I can. Hopefully you'll be able to overcome this personal problem.

April 25, 2010 at 5:11 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

jack burton, it's called context.

"what's the point of 'truth' if it doesn't serve one's own interests, self-esteem, and reinforce one's self-conception."

obviously i'm referring to one's self-image, one's comfort with one's self, one's identity. that doesn't preclude having politically unpopular views. it just means you're rarely going to find a black person who accepts and avows racial inequality, regardless of its obvious truth. it should be quite clear to the african american community that human inequality exists, but the need for self-validation and positive self-image is of greater power than facts and painful realities.

mencius should know better than anyone the role of the jewish establishment in overturning the old order and institutions and creating the politically correct order. but he underplays and denies that role.

evolution certainly hasn't selected for a truth-seeking species, at the expense of everything else. self-deception is the rule rather than the expection. if a fact or a truth is at odds with one's fundamental identity and position in society, it will be discarded and evaded.

this is clearly the case with mencius and the jews.

April 26, 2010 at 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was really hoping to see some discussion of Froude, Maine, and Carlyle in these comments.

- Dirtyrottenvarmint

May 2, 2010 at 9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

varmint,

head over to the next thread, the one set aside for that purpose. jump right in.

May 3, 2010 at 3:20 PM  

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