If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in our society who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. We live in a world of iconodules posing as iconoclasts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Open Secret

Following on yesterday's post on the subject and via the usual suspect we have this:

The Telegraph reported that “Labour threw open Britain’s borders to mass immigration to help socially engineer a ‘truly multicultural’ country, a former Government adviser has revealed.” But it was manner in which the plan was sugar-coated which rankled the most. It was, if the leaks are to be believed, an ideological conspiracy sold as a plan to bolster the economy. It’s almost as if the Left set out to paint itself in the very same colors the BNP wanted it to don. . . . What the Left and Fascism share is a belief in the transformative power of the state. Both regard government as the “high ground” of society and not, as some Americans still believe, simply a necessary evil.
If this was a secret, it was an open one, the same way the similar demographic transformation and Multicultism in America is: In public, Progressives deny what everyone knows is true, and what they openly say among themselves in their own publications, conferences, academic settings, and the like.

The problem is that many "mainstream" people are willing not to believe the denial of this transformamtive effort, but to pretend to believe the denial. Again, that just leaves the issue to the fringes. This sort of thing should be automatically discrediting, prima facie evidence that our governing elites are unworthy to rule or indeed of any respect whatsoever and that they should be Lustrated immediately.

There is no other cure for this disease. A fitting epitaph:
Thus ended the last attempt by a mainstream British political party to raise the subject

But it won't happen. Therefore, fringe politics grows in response to what should be a fringe movement (Progressivism) but is the governing ideology of our time.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Not Can't. Won't

A decent post here, but I must quibble with some things.

First, if you're British, I can't give you better advice than what Peter Hitchens regularly gives: Don't vote BNP. Ever.

If you're looking for a solution to these problems, look elsewhere. If none exists, create one. Anyhow UKIP is much preferred over anything akin to the BNP. (I'm sure Shannon Love feels the same way about the BNP).

Via Instapundit comes a disturbing report that one-fifth of the British electorate would consider voting for the British Nationalist Party (BNP), which is considered by almost everyone left or right to be a genuine fascist party.

How did Britain come to this state?

Simple, the current liberal order has proven itself ineffective in addressing many of the major problems that Britain faces, in a narrative both historical and current that all the "stupid" people know is rubbish, but which the educated, intelligent people either believe or people pretend to believe and insist we all must as well.
That is because discussion of many of these problems are ruled out of bounds of civil discussion, except in the most anodyne and Progressive ways. But, more importantly, a response to a section later in the post is required:
If the mainstream parties cannot address the real concerns of many Britons, and if they cannot at least pretend to respect and value lower-income white Britons, then Britain may be only one ugly incident away from a political seismic shift.
Not "cannot" but will not. They could address these things, but they have become so wedded to certain ideas, they do not want to. For the Progressive Left, these are not "problems", except to the extent that people resist their effects, and the mainstream conservatives have largely been coopted for their own reasons, suffering from, at best, learned helplessness in the face of them, because seriously working to fix these problems and undo their effects gets you castigated as a fascist hatemonger.

So then it should not be surprising to anyone that real problems that the political mainstream will not address are left to the real fascist racist hatemongers. They remain real issues, and people who want them fixed are left with no real recourse.

Let us not kid ourselves that this is a meta-Political Problem that only Britain or Europe faces. In America as well, matters which receive upwards of 70% of public support when polled are routinely declared "outside of the political mainstream", off the table of civic debate. The problems are real and remain, however. Eventually some person or party will come around vowing to address them, as things worsten.

A mainstream political party could. It is not a matter of they can't. They simply will not, for reasons of their own. This then makes it inevitable that solutions will be extremist ones. No one should want that, but they are making it increasingly likely.

This then is the real corruption of our political class, our elites, what Glenn Reynolds has called "the worst political class in [American] history". Petty graft in the form of earmarks pale by comparison.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Enforced Belief II: Blasphemy Laws

It shouldn't really be surprising that our Progressives have endorsed international blasphemy laws. After all, what are "Speech Codes" if not the Progressive version of such laws?

Which makes this as good a time as any to post Part II of "Enforced Belief".

The non-Theistic State Religion claims to be based on reason and rationality, but when you examine its precepts together (rather than separately), and in depth, the seams start to show and how irrational and arbitrary it is appears along with how its premises are invoked not only irrationally, but selectively to gain ideological advantage and discredit opposition become apparent. See also the concept of "Liberating Tolerance"/"Liberating Toleration"

Note first I am not saying that the precepts of the Enforced Belief are all bad, just as the State Religions of European nations, being Christian, were not all bad. What is bad is the enforcement of any belief, and the manipulation of the precepts - be they good or bad - in order to gain and keep power and to compel others to submit.

Lets (briefly, I hope) examine two of the fundamental precepts of today's Enforced Belief: Tolerance on the one hand, and not giving offense on the other. Note that both of these are good qualities, when used with sound judgment. Note also that they are contradictory, and these contradictions can be manipulated when someone is empowered to enforce them. Note also that another of this Faith's teachings is Non-Judgmentalism: Don't be judgmental. This is taught, to negate sound judgment in the individual conscience. But this does not eliminate judgment, it simply displaces it to the scions of this faith (who replace our individual judgment with their own, and thus are able to enforce it). Etiquette of decency is dissolved (as a byproduct you get the coarsening of the culture, a rise in vulgarity and other things people formerly simply wouldn't say or do in polite company, out of understood courtesy).

Surely you've heard of hate crimes legislation, hate speech codes on campuses, and the like. I am not for hateful speech, but one must also examine the enforcement and effects of these, and how they are employed with respect to the twin precepts we are examining, toleration/offensive: What we are asked to be tolerant of, and what people are encouraged to take offense to. A lot of what traditional people would find offensive, we are expected to tolerate, and a lot of what was normal and expected in our civilization, people are encouraged to take offense to, and thus drive from the public square: Take your common-sense example from the other mail, and your question regarding if we should tolerate X, Y, and Z, why can't people tolerate God? This is your answer: Selective enforcement, rooted in what is in reality a religious war (being waged not by traditional Americans/Westerners, but against them, by their domestic ideological opponents).

Lets examine a neighboring country that is slightly ahead of us (though we are aspiring to catch up under the current Administration) in the enforcement mechanism regarding "hate speech" and the like, Canada, quoting from here:

Anyway, my New York Times bestseller (and Canadian hate crime) America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It is released in paperback across the Dominion’s bookstores this week, and, if a mere excerpt in Maclean’s was enough to generate two “human rights” prosecutions, the softcover edition should be good for a full-blown show trial followed by a last cigarette and firing squad – although, this being Canada, there’ll be no last cigarette. . .

I’m using “up to your neck” metaphorically, but a lot of chaps are more literal. Naeem Muhammad Khan, the unemployed Torontonian whose website urges that the “apostasy” of Maclean’s contributor Tarek Fatah and other Muslim moderates be punished by death, says of one of his targets: “Behead her!!! And make a nice video and post it on YouTube.” There is no point wishing Mr Khan would fly away and not sing by our house all day. He’s here to stay, and anyone who advocated, say, his deportation would find himself assailed by moderate reasonable Canadians horrified at such a betrayal of our multicultural values.

Now the author of that was brought before a "Human Rights Tribunal" for hate speech, incitement to hate, and the like, because he *quoted* *accurately* people such as Naeem Muhammed Khan. The reason being that it created a hostile environment for Muslims in Canada, might incite hatred and violence, and the like. But was or will Naeem Muhammed Khan be charged for his? No, that we are expected to extend tolerance and understanding to, and indeed ask ourselves why he hates, with the implication that something within us is the cause, and we must change/adapt in order to sooth the feelings and make them feel welcomed. This is a sort of double-think.

It is also on display here:
Miss Mogahed, appointed to the [US] President's Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships, said the Western view of Sharia was "oversimplified" and the majority of women around the world associate it with "gender justice".

The White House adviser made the remarks on a London-based TV discussion programme hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party.

The group believes in the non-violent destruction of Western democracy and the creation of an Islamic state under Sharia Law across the world.

Miss Mogahed appeared alongside Hizb ut Tahrir's national women's officer, Nazreen Nawaz.

During the 45-minute discussion, on the Islam Channel programme Muslimah Dilemma earlier this week, the two members of the group made repeated attacks on secular "man-made law" and the West's "lethal cocktail of liberty and capitalism".

Btw, remember that phrase next time you hear someone claim "they don't hate us for our freedom, that's absurd, they hate us for our policies". They hate us for free speech, the freedom to be athiestic or Wiccan or whatever, the freedom of homosexuals and women, &tc &tc. Anyone who says "they don't hate us for our freedom" is a Multiculturalist, which means not knowing anything about other cultures, simply projecting their own ideology upon them. Such people need to read their Qtub. But they won't: Progressive Multiculturalism is ignorance masquerading as understanding and knowledge.

They called for Sharia Law to be "the source of legislation" and said that women should not be "permitted to hold a position of leadership in government".
Now, Sharia is what women in Afghanistan lived under during the rule of the Taliban. Sharia is what women in Saudi Arabia live under. Sharia is what gives Saudi husbands of American women the right (according to Sharia) to kidnap children and bring them back to be raised in Arabia. Sharia is what leads to enforced marriages, where women get no choice of spouse. Sharia is the foundation of the law in Iran that leads to the stoning of homosexuals.

This is another way in which our State-Enforced Religion is irrational. Because, in the course of pursuing their age-old fanatical religious war against their historical hatreds (traditional West, and Christian expression that is not in accordance with theirs), they are in effect making common cause with forces that are destructive of the very beliefs they claim to hold most dear. Gay Dutch filmmakers are thus murdered by fanatics without even a mention at the Oscars (when they give their tribute to fallen film-industry personalities, and to free expression) while the likes of George Clooney hold forth on how bravely people like him are speaking truth to power, to the celebration of all in the room, when really they are just beating tropes that were tired 30 years ago, and haven't had an original transgressive idea in at least that long. They betray their own supposed ideals - ideals I actually joined the Army for, and went to Iraq (and would have gone to Afghanistan) to help extend to women and the oppressed, not just our own people: I took up arms on behalf of and alongside moderate Muslims, while they end up making common cause with the fanatics (but, then, the kind of people for whom Rev. Jerimiah Wright is a non-controversial figure, well...). THIS is why I despise them. THIS is why I hold them in utter contempt. They are a shameful disgrace. Please do look deeply into their own beliefs, and how in their philosophy it all boils down to "power dynamics".

They do not speak truth to power: They speak power to truth. And that is why they are simultaneously able to pretend to be an oppressed resistance, and be in control of how the rules are written and, more importantly, enforced. For if they were truly the underdog they honestly believe themselves to be, the boot would be on the other neck, instead of them enforcing their beliefs upon others and deciding what to protect as tolerable, and what to declare a shunnablly offensive offense.

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Enema of the State: The Galbraith Plan to Destroy Opposition in Action

We've seen, recently, attacks on Limbaugh by the Left, which is par for the course. But also a war on news entities that are not sufficiently servile, coupled with warning to the others. We've seen a war on the Chamber of Commerce which consists in part of an effort to dismantle it, because they oppose the Administration on some issues (I.E. Cap and Trade) after supporting it on other measures (I.E. the "Stimulus"), and an attempt by the government to gag a private entity, intimidating it and others from using their free speech.

When insurance companies came out against Congressional Health Care proposals, Congress initiated a fishing expedition against them. Meanwhile, entities like ACORN are not investigated.

What is going on here was revealed in Steven M. Teles' review of "The Predator State" by James Galbraith in the March/April 2009 issue of "The American Interest". You may or may not decide to read the book itself, but even the sympathetic review is illustrative. I wasn't blogging in the Spring when this was published, so the below is adapted from an e-mail I wrote on it. I think it's even more self-evident now that the tactics recommended by Galbraith and endorsed by Teles are the ones being employed by the government now.

Before proceeding, I must note the method of Progressives on display here: Projection. It consists of three main steps. First, describe a tactic and declare its use completely outrageous and despicable. Second, claim that the opponents of Progressivism have been engaging in that tactic. Thirdly, use that claim to rationalize their own use of said tactic on a massive scale.

One of the premises of Galbraith's is that conservatives attempted to demolish Progressive opposition. The accuracy of this assertion can be seen in the fact that entities like ACORN were hounded out of existence by the Bush Administration's Justice Department, and how the Republican Congress was completely successful in pursuing a "de-fund the Left" agenda. Right.

On to the review, which I believe illuminates the overarching vision of the current Administration:

"The shift of power to allocate capital from the financial industry to government is, for Galbraith, far from unfortunate. Galbraith sees higher taxes and more debt as serving political objectives as well as economic ones. He wants to dry up the political power of the financial industry that courses through both parties because he is intensely skeptical of the capacity of financial markets to allocate capital in a way that meets the long-term needs of society. The real economic issue, Galbraith argues, is where the 'true seat of economic power' lies. The new liberal regime will be one that empowers 'scientists, engineers, some economists and public intellectuals -- who attempt to represent the common and future interest', and deposes 'banks, companies, lobbyists, and the economists they employ -- that represent only the tribal and current interest.'"
By empowering "some economists", I think we can take it as a given Galbraith does not mean members of the Mises Institute or Cato. He doesn't mean we will turn to Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams for sage advice. He means empowering members of his father's school of thought.
"...The planner rather trhan the entrepreneur will hold the position of honor in the new liberal American regime of political economy. Our system of education will be called upon to disseminate the findings of the professions, and, one suspects, to enshrine the new hierarchy of honor."
One where those who depend upon tax revenues for their existence (NGOs that receive grants from government, and the like) will be elevated, while those who pay taxes or engage in commerce will be looked down upon by the honored the way any entrenched Mandarinate or Feudal Nobility does in Ancien Regime states.

Opposition from these lessers is not tolerable in the fa>ce of their honored betters:
"...As Galbraith states bluntly, a key objective of the new liberal regime will be to use political means to produce market outcomes that strengthen its allies and weaken its enemies."
I'm not sure that "political means" so employed produce "market outcomes", but such a phrasing is simply evidence of the Orwellian manipulation of language we are being subjected to. See also "choice and competition" used as a mantra by those who want a government operated health care system.
"This may seem a breathtaking admission, but only to those who haven't been paying much attention to American politics for, say, the past two centuries."
Progressives can only speak for themselves and their own methods, but it is nice to see someone being candid about how they see government power: As a tool with which to destroy their domestic political opponents. Even more candidly:
"...The new regime [Obama's] may adopt many of the measures Galbraith recommends not because it shares his vision, but because crisis [don't want to let one go to waste] will force it to do so. Faced with a full-bore attempt by the deposed regime to reassert itself by obstructing the Administration's agenda, the new regime may find that it has no choice but to use the economic tools at its disposal to destroy its opponents root and branch."
"Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l'attaque, il se defend"

The use of the phrase "no choice" of course is a deceit meant to keep people from thinking too much about just what is being argued for here: In effect, a one-party state, where nothing like a "loyal opposition" is tolerated. Instead, anything that dissents from the Progressive line and seeks to use the options available to it in a liberal democratic structure is to be crushed. By any means necessary.

Conservative resistance is an attack on Universalism, and must be destroyed root and branch - dissent is no longer patriotic, disagreement and efforts to resist policies one disagrees with is the project of wreckers, horders, and Kulaks, who must be ground to dust.

"[W]hen they had the Power in their hands, those Graces were strangers in their gates!" indeed...

Update: See here for a mild noting of this effort.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Social Future

Susan's Husband had a fair comment to the High Society post.

What about reproduction? Clearly it is not the duty of every member of society to reproduce, but if no one does, the society collapses, well before everyone dies (who takes care of a population where everyone is over age X for X > 50 or so)?

Do individuals have any obligation to act in a way that supports the continued existence of their society past their own death?

I agree that ultimately, the powers of a society (or the State that governs it) must be judged by how this supports the individuals it comprises (i.e., the "good" of a society is a sum over the "good" of the members) but -- how does one count future members? Are we obligated to them in anyway? Is there a future discount?
That's the Steynian argument and I'm very sympathetic to it. The flip side of course is the Progressive argument against "overpopulation", especially having children in the "resource-depleting, polluting West".

So in a sense ESR is still right, people use "society" as a means to project their own preferences.

I think our civilization is worth upholding, it's valuable to me and IMO a bunch of other people in it, precisely to the degree that it values the individual, by comparison to alternative cultures.

But the argument can be made on such grounds.

I do have to say I disagree with ESR with respect to the particular instance in which he made his point: IMO people should pay for the crimes they commit, even if the victim says that they would prefer it just be dropped. Because other identifiable individuals may then also be victimized, if the perpetrator is not sanctioned, and because there are a variety of examples of where a victim can be coerced/pressured into saying that (the beaten spouse being the most obvious example).

I do think we owe something to the future - and to the past - and one of the things we're not doing well is safeguarding that. Ironically one of the consequences of "social democracy" thinking, that is assertions based in "shouldn't society do X" is that it produces this effect. It's one of the perverse aspects of such thinking.

Steyn pointed it out when he said (and I forget the exact quote, so I'm paraphrasing) that there is nothing that makes people more selfish than egalitarian social democracy - which is the system that those who talk about "society this" and "don't you want a society where that" obviously aim for and prefer.

Note also that the "carrot-and-stick" approach to reproduction, favored by those who think in terms of "society", tends to produce perverse results: At best one gets the mostly failed "pronatalist" policies of European countries, producing or at any rate not reversing, declining birth rates, and at worst China, where sex-selection abortion and even infanticide becomes widespread.

There are good arguments and bad arguments for things; In my opinion, arguments based in "shouldn't society do X" are generally bad ones. This does not mean that every argument & policy that would have a wide or social impact is a bad one. ESR, for example, is not unconcerned with the survival of the civilization he lives in and its improvement. It's just that arguments that tend to be rooted in treating the abstraction of "Society" as a concrete individual entity/actor tend to be bad ones. In part because of the effects ESR identifies, and in part because it is a way of disguising the real actor, and the real acted-upon. Again, quite often those who invoke society really mean government, and are advocating state power. They don't mean the little platoons of social intermediary institutions operating in non-coercive ways, though my opinion is that these are generally the best way to address any problems that such people identify, when they are talking about real problems to begin with (which is not always the case).

P.S. here's the Styen quote I was thinking of:
It’s better to pay more in taxes and to share the burdens as a community. It’s kinder, gentler, more compassionate, more equitable. Unfortunately, as recent European election results demonstrate, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow’s enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn’t give a hoot about the broader societal interest; he’s got his, and if it’s going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he’s dead, it’s fine by him. “Social democracy” is, in that sense, explicitly anti-social.

Somewhere along the way these countries redefined the relationship between government and citizen into something closer to pusher and junkie. And once you’ve done that, it’s very hard to persuade the junkie to cut back his habit.
"Societal" thinking tends to lead to Statist thinking and indeed rather inhuman thinking, as people become treated as cogs within the entity of "society" - as means, not ends in themselves. Several entire lengthy blog posts can and probably will be written around that theme, when I stop being lazy.


He Said It

Related to this, former Senator Bob Kerry (D), writes:

No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.
They seem to want that fairly often, no? Which raises the obvious question of whether there is substance behind the semblance. In my opinion, the answer to that is equally obvious, though it is not always conscious.


Monday, October 19, 2009

High Society

ESR has some good thoughts on the subject of "Society":

no matter how hard you hunt for “society”, all you’ll ever find is individuals practicing ventriloquism – invoking the spook to justify what they want to do or think they have to do.

This is why there are no ethical claims in which the term “society” appears as a meaningful referent. You’ll find, if you try inventing some, that they fall into two categories: (a) disguised claims about the rights and duties of each and every individual in the society, or (b) vague and ominous nonsense.

This notion, that “society” actually exists as a sort of huge fictive person with rights, needs, and wants that are separate from and supersede those of individuals, is — and I’m choosing my words carefully here — evil and dangerous. It’s a way for power-seekers and parasites to cow others into submission, arrogating for themselves privileges nobody would grant them if they admitted wanting to meddle in order to gratify merely their own desires.

We’ve learned, painfully, over the last 400 years, that raisons d’etat is too dangerous and sweeping a pretext to let stand — that whenever you treat the authority of “government” as a solvent that trumps individual rights and claims, you are no more than a breath away from odious and grinding tyranny. The fictive personhood of “society” needs to be shot through the head for precisely the same reason.
Whenever a Progressive talks about "society" as in "shouldn't our society do X" or "don't you want to live in a society where Y is done?" it is always clarifying to replace "Society" with "State" or "the State".

This is not done because then Progressives end up sounding like what they are, something out of the 1930s. But they invariably mean "the State should do X" when they speak of Society in such a way.


Decline and Hypertrophy

Mark Steyn said recently

"Why squander your presidency on trying to turn an economically moribund feudal backwater into a functioning nation state when you can turn a functioning nation state into an economically moribund feudal backwater?"
Then there's this article by Charles Krauthammer (yes, I'm way behind the "current" normally expected of blogs, but who cares?)
"Facing the choice of whether to maintain our dominance or to gradually, deliberately, willingly, and indeed relievedly give it up, we are currently on a course towards the latter. The current liberal ascendancy in the United States--controlling the executive and both houses of Congress, dominating the media and elite culture--has set us on a course for decline. And this is true for both foreign and domestic policies. Indeed, they work synergistically to ensure that outcome. . .

..."Domestic policy, of course, is not designed to curb our power abroad. But what it lacks in intent, it makes up in effect. Decline will be an unintended, but powerful, side effect of the New Liberalism's ambition of moving America from its traditional dynamic individualism to the more equitable but static model of European social democracy."
I quibble with the first sentence of that 2nd paragraph: It is designed consciously to shift resources from the legitimate functions of government to the illegitimate ones. It's no accident that in an era of runaway, unaccountable spending, the only department that was told to look for every possible "savings" (cut) was defense, and that the only area of spending deliberately excluded from any "stimulus" money was defense, and that after years of saying our soldiers weren't being given the equipment they needed, when money could have been spent to "help" GM and Chrysler buy buying more vehicles for them, that did not happen.

A dream of the Left has been to ratchet up social spending to the point where spending on the legitimate functions of government would necessarily be starved for funds and decline.
This affects the ability to project power. Growth provides the sinews of dominance--the ability to maintain a large military establishment capable of projecting power to all corners of the earth. The Europeans, rich and developed, have almost no such capacity. They made the choice long ago to devote their resources to a vast welfare state. Their expenditures on defense are minimal, as are their consequent military capacities. They rely on the U.S. Navy for open seas and on the U.S. Air Force for airlift. It's the U.S. Marines who go ashore, not just in battle, but for such global social services as tsunami relief. The United States can do all of this because we spend infinitely more on defense--more than the next nine countries combined.
Formerly it was just the Continental Europeans that relied upon the kindness of strangers for their protection. A calculus that might be adaptive if your protectors is the rather generous and benign Anglosphere. Now it will be the entirety of Western Civilization that relies upon the kindness of strangers. Even if these strangers were to have our best interests at heart, a true (as opposed to faux/superficial) multiculturalist would know that their priorities are different from ones we might assert ourselves; liberty is not high on the list of any of them with the possible exception of Anglosphere-influenced India.

I note here that the Obama Administration, for all the plaudits they get for "diplomatic outreach", is engaging in malign neglect of the close relationship the "unilateralist, cowboy" Bush Administration built up with India.
Those are the conditions today. But they are not static or permanent. They require constant renewal. The express agenda of the New Liberalism is a vast expansion of social services--massive intervention and expenditures in energy, health care, and education--that will necessarily, as in Europe, take away from defense spending.

This shift in resources is not hypothetical. It has already begun. At a time when hundreds of billions of dollars are being lavished on stimulus and other appropriations in an endless array of domestic programs, the defense budget is practically frozen. Almost every other department is expanding, and the Defense Department is singled out for making "hard choices"--forced to look everywhere for cuts, to abandon highly advanced weapons systems, to choose between readiness and research, between today's urgencies and tomorrow's looming threats.
See above.

The effect on the dollar is already being felt and could ultimately lead to a catastrophic collapse and/or hyperinflation. Having control of the world's reserve currency is an irreplaceable national asset. Yet with every new and growing estimate of the explosion of the national debt, there are more voices calling for replacement of the dollar as the world currency--not just adversaries like Russia and China, Iran and Venezuela, which one would expect, but just last month the head of the World Bank.
Again, to to the extent to which these cretins are even aware of the value of having one's own currency serve as the international reserve currency, I don't think they mind the U.S. losing it. It doesn't fit with their transnationalist vision.
But, of course, if one's foreign policy is to reject the very notion of international primacy in the first place, a domestic agenda that takes away the resources to maintain such primacy is perfectly complementary. Indeed, the two are synergistic. Renunciation of primacy abroad provides the added resources for more social goods at home. To put it in the language of the 1990s, the expanded domestic agenda is fed by a peace dividend--except that in the absence of peace, it is a retreat dividend.

And there's the rub. For the Europeans there really is a peace dividend, because we provide the peace. They can afford social democracy without the capacity to defend themselves because they can always depend on the United States.

So why not us as well? Because what for Europe is decadence--decline, in both comfort and relative safety--is for us mere denial. Europe can eat, drink, and be merry for America protects her. But for America it's different. If we choose the life of ease, who stands guard for us?
Canada, I guess: Their National Anthem says so, after all. Oh, wait...no, it says "We stand on guard for thee" - meaning people should stand on guard for their nation. Again, inverted under Tranzi progressivism.
Because, while globalization has produced in some the illusion that human nature has changed, it has not. The international arena remains a Hobbesian state of nature in which countries naturally strive for power. If we voluntarily renounce much of ours, others will not follow suit. They will fill the vacuum. Inevitably, an inversion of power relations will occur.
Note how at odds this view is from the alternative view. The alternative view asserts, in effect, that we are the only protagonist, the only "Player Character" in the world: That others are simply NPCs who respond to our stimuli. That any bad acts on their part are in effect caused by our actions, and if we change our policies, they will change theirs and become benign. This is clearly the vision of the current Administration, and of those who awarded it the Nobel Prize. They clearly believe that if we voluntarily transform, others *will* follow suit, because we generate all the antagonism, which otherwise would simply fade away if only we give out the right cookies.
"We've got to think about giving out cookies," said Gration, who was appointed in March. "Kids, countries -- they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement."
Other countries are basically small children aping the "adult", the Actor. They are simply re-actors, without minds and policies of their own. In this way, those who claim to be most respectful of other peoples are actually giving them the least credit as independent actors with wills, desires, and goals of their own, and the vision to pursue them the way we can.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No Peace Without Peacekeepers

Once or twice a year Thomas Friedman writes something worthy of the reputation he has. Let us celebrate this rare event by quoting extensively from the piece in question:

“Let me begin by thanking the Nobel committee for awarding me this prize, the highest award to which any statesman can aspire. As I said on the day it was announced, ‘I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.’ Therefore, upon reflection, I cannot accept this award on my behalf at all.

“But I will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century — the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, to liberate Europe from the grip of Nazi fascism. I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers and sailors who fought on the high seas and forlorn islands in the Pacific to free East Asia from Japanese tyranny in the Second World War.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American airmen who in June 1948 broke the Soviet blockade of Berlin with an airlift of food and fuel so that West Berliners could continue to live free. I will accept this award on behalf of the tens of thousands of American soldiers who protected Europe from Communist dictatorship throughout the 50 years of the cold war.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American soldiers who stand guard today at outposts in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan to give that country, and particularly its women and girls, a chance to live a decent life free from the Taliban’s religious totalitarianism.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the American men and women who are still on patrol today in Iraq, helping to protect Baghdad’s fledgling government as it tries to organize the rarest of things in that country and that region — another free and fair election.

“I will accept this award on behalf of the thousands of American soldiers who today help protect a free and Democratic South Korea from an unfree and Communist North Korea.

“I will accept this award on behalf of all the American men and women soldiers who have gone on repeated humanitarian rescue missions after earthquakes and floods from the mountains of Pakistan to the coasts of Indonesia. I will accept this award on behalf of American soldiers who serve in the peacekeeping force in the Sinai desert that has kept relations between Egypt and Israel stable ever since the Camp David treaty was signed.

“I will accept this award on behalf of all the American airmen and sailors today who keep the sea lanes open and free in the Pacific and Atlantic so world trade can flow unhindered between nations.

“Finally, I will accept this award on behalf of my grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who arrived at Normandy six weeks after D-Day, and on behalf of my great-uncle, Charlie Payne, who was among those soldiers who liberated part of the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald.

“Members of the Nobel committee, I accept this award on behalf of all these American men and women soldiers, past and present, because I know — and I want you to know — that there is no peace without peacekeepers...

“So for all these reasons — and so you understand that I will never hesitate to call on American soldiers where necessary to take the field against the enemies of peace, tolerance and liberty — I accept this peace prize on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. military: the world’s most important peacekeepers.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Legislative Decline Reaches Hypertrophy

Not only do they no longer read the Bills they pass, but they have gone so far now as to vote a bill out of committee that hasn't even been written yet:

The bill offers a basic framework for eventual legislation, the closest glimpse yet into what reform might look like.
The fact is, the legislative language, that is the actual Bill, was unavailable at the time of passage, because it hadn't been written:
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who is considered a pivotal figure in efforts to win Senate approval of health-care legislation, cited the importance of keeping the price tag stable, even though final legislative language on the bill is not yet written.


They'd be Insane Not To

There's sound and fury about a move away from the dollar as the international reserve currency and unit of exchange for pricing commodities.

Here in America, note of this is often accompanied with an undertone of shock, appalled at the idea that other countries are scheming against the dollar and plotting to replace it. Even those Americans who recognize that our current policies are devaluing the dollar and run a nontrivial risk of leading to hyperinflation seem to have this attitude.

But really, can one blame anyone in the world for seeking a refuge in the face of this building storm?

No. Instead, one should be advising Americans to get out of dollar-denominated assets as much as they can, and invest in things that will retain their value in the face of a devalued dollar.

This is unfortunate, and sad, and the U.S. Government is insane to risk losing one of America's most important assets, an asset they clearly under-appreciate and take for granted, the status of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. But if we cannot convince them to change their policies, which are self-destructive, we cannot blame others for seeking to shield themselves from the consequences of these deranged policies, and indeed would be wise to do so ourselves.

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Monday, October 12, 2009


CNN has time to Fact-Check a SNL skit on Obama, but not enough time or interest to fact-check Obama himself:

Even in his painstakingly prepared speech to Congress, Obama got some material facts wrong.

He said an Illinois man died because his insurance company found an undisclosed case of gallstones in his past, canceled his insurance and delayed a stem-cell transplant for his cancer. The man did lose his insurance, but got it back retroactively and had treatment that his family says extended his life for nearly four years.
Obama had claimed he died as a result of losing his insurance.

Columbus Day

Glenn Reynolds quotes something approvingly of Columbus: That his expedition was part of a revitalization of Western civilization.

This is supposed to be a retort to the Anti-Columbards. But of course this is the real reason why they hate Columbus. They aren't really opposed to genocidal conquest, which they claim Columbus initiated. One look at some of their historic heroes and those whose ideas they sympathize with demonstrates that.

One look at the blind eye they will turn to such things outside of the West also illustrates that.


Enforced Belief Part I

A friend sent the following in reply to something I sent her, via e-mail:

Well that was sobering... Thoughtful in a sarcastic "life is so unfair" sort of way, but I have questioned often the defeatist attitude people have towards seperation of church and state. Honestly, the issue with that was based on Monarchy, not religion, and today there just isn't a strong national religion thing going on in the USA, so I don't get why we can't let students be christian, muslim, etc. and be ok with it? If they can be gay or pregnant and we are supportive (financially even) then how is saying "god" going to undermine our national foundations? I don't get it.
Defeatist attitude: As far as the country goes, things are going to get a worse before people will do anything to make it better again. A lot worse. I hope to help, well be by your side through it; prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We need to think about the future in that sense, create as much stability and security as we can. One thread: The country's already bankrupt, and they are spending more, and lost in a fantasy-land. Another thread has to do with the meat of your paragraph: Enforced belief.

The problem with replying is that if I'm brief, it will sound nutty, but going in depth will make it long, and you might not have time to read long things.

For 150 years, what you said had been accepted as common sense, and had been the practice. Why did things change, so that such expressions in the public square became increasingly restricted?

A lot of the original colonists came to America because there was a State Religion in England and they felt they could not practice their own faith freely. The Puritans that came here had their own issues along those lines once they arrived, but in any case it was recognized by those who drafted the 1st Amendment that people had a fundamental liberty of thought, and so beliefs should not be enforced by the Federal Government (later extended, via the 14th Amendment, to government at all levels).

In their experience, government-enforced belief came in the form of a State Theistic Religion. So they enshrined within the Constitution the Establishment Clause, as part of the Amendment intended to guarantee that liberty of thought and expression would be respected (note today that "freedom of expression" is commonly described to be one of the things protected by the First Amendment; there is some double-think here, because it extends only to certain kinds of expression). This was to prove a profound mistake.

No sooner had the Constitution been ratified than the first non-theistic State Religion was created, in Revolutionary France, complete with its own calendar, holidays, ideology, and a non-theistic inquisition in the form of revolutionary terror aimed at enforcing this belief on those deemed unsuitably enthusiastic about it, including inevitably supporters who weren't seen as fanatical enough (thus the end of Robespierre, hoisted on his own petard).

Enforced belief is nothing if not as jealous of rivals as Hera, so during the French Revolution Christianity was driven from the public square. That revolution foundered as a result of the bloodbath it produced, but its legacy lived on, and it would not be the last non-theistic (as opposed to atheistic, though some are) State Religion. What was Fascism and NAZIsm if not enforced beliefs? Or Communism in the Soviet Union and Maoist China (and even now, potential rival religions are kept to state-tamed/approved versions, or driven underground).

Today America has a set of enforced beliefs, increasingly fanatical and intolerant of rival views (ironic from a belief set that ostensibly teaches tolerance, but in reality is only tolerant of differences it itself claims are superficial - race, sex, sexual orientation). Its roots, the roots of Progressivism, are tied to a branch of Christianity, and indeed it's origins are from New England's Puritan Roots (thus it's popularity on Harvard). Ethnic Studies Departments and the like are nothing if not Faith-Based Initiatives, valued not for their scholarly worth but as ideological proving grounds. Similarly, ethnic organizations (on campii and outside of it) serve not merely as social organizations, but as enforcers working in collusion with administrative power to punish those who stray into heresy.

Coincident with the Warren Court decisions on "Separation of Church and State", a balderization of the First Amendment that gets us what we have now, this belief-set dropped its explicitly Religious ties and "secularized" (though it is still widespread among many mainline Protestant churches - such as the ones I went to - the "Liberation Theology" branch of Catholicism, Trinity United/Black Nationalist theology &ct). This was not a conscious move, but a subconscious one, to give Progressives a tool to which to hound their still-Theistic rivals and initiate what amounts to a wave of (relatively mild, but still powerful) persecution, and also introduce the sort of religious indoctrination the 1st Amendment was intended to prohibit into schools, universities, workplaces, &tc. Any time you receive "diversity counseling" or are taught multiculturalism (I have nothing against other cultures - as a historian, how could I? But in reality, "Multiculturalism" ends up meaning not having to know anything about other cultures, simply projecting Progressive beliefs upon them and describing them all as communal, consensus-based, peace-loving, &tc &tc. Scratch the surface of 95% of Multiculturalists, and they know next to *nothing* beyond the superficial about any actual civilization).

As a non-Theistic State Religion enforced by the Extended Civil Service (the bureaucracy, whether under putatively Republican or Democratic elected office-holders, the education establishment, NGOs, Responsible Press, &tc), it is intolerant of rivals, and accepts only "tamed" versions of theistic faiths. This is one reason why the information-systems are full of invective against "the Religious Right" and their supposed influence, but you hear very little against the Religious Left and its wide influence, except (naturally) from opponents on the Right, who naturally react to the war being waged against them (thus being portrayed all the more demonically in the "Responsible Press" and State institutions of learning/instruction/indoctrination: Thus is born the Consistent Standard of Progressivism, having two standards for the same behavior, I.E. protest movements, one for itself and its mascots, and another for its opponents/anyone else), and their abhorrence of "culture war", which really boils down to "Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l'attaque, il se defend." Like any other fanatical faith, they detest resistance and respond viciously (thus why they are soft on foreign enemies - wanting to extend understanding and not engage in inflammatory rhetoric - but harsh on domestic opponents).

Very worth watching, 8 min of your life, a *must* see.

The Origins of Political Correctness, Pt. 1 of 3, worth watching all 3 if you have time.

The Ideological War Within the West & Transnational Progressivism; long, but good.

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What a Prize

What more can be said about this farce of an age, this self-parodying epoch we live in, that has not already been said? Other than from the 2006 Time Being of the Year to the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winne...er, recipient, congratulations.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

On Asymmetric Warfare: Sedition?

The connection between my first post on Asymmetric Warfare and this one on Progressives being "tough with domestic enemies, and soft with foreign ones" should be as obvious as it is outrageous. Therefore, it's worth starting with this:

[A]s I listen to the increasingly vitriolic and even seditious rhetoric coming from the political right, I can't help thinking that we need a threatening external enemy
Especially after the previous eight years, one might think the unsupported assertion of "sedition" on the political right is a simple case of projection, but it's not quite.

For Progressives, political opposition to Progressive policies, politicians, and extraconstitutional transformamtion of America is tantamount to treason. But it is not conservatives who are trying to restrict military options or that the war is lost.

No, that bill will not come close to passing through Congress. Progressives have become more subtle since Tom Hayden called for many Vietnams, protesters openly carried the enemy flag and chanted that the NLF is going to win, and cut off military support to our allies.

An exchange here is illustrative, however, of both now and then:
Unknown Speaker 1: "Just a few months ago, I spoke to someone who was carrying the NFL flag. I see that you're carrying an American flag, aren't you? How do you feel about those who are displaying the flag of the Vietcong?"

Unknown Speaker 2: "Well, this is my flag. That may be their flag, but this is my flag and I love it; so I carry it, and I wave it. I'm not gonna burn it, spit on it, it's mine. Somebody try to take it away from me, and I’d fight them to take it away from me."
To Gregory Rodriguez, "Unknown Speaker 2" is vitriolic and seditious, not the person who carried the NFL flag, because "Unknown Speaker 2" will fight back. ("Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l'attaque, il se defend.")

How does that relate to overseas enemies of the United States, and the understanding and even sympathy Progressives extend to them? Even when they are theocratic reactionaries of the sort Progressives would viscerally abhor and detest if they were "Christianists"?

There is the direct, and the indirect. Lets explore the indirect first, how information supportive of our efforts is expunged from the record of The Narrative. On my 2nd blog, I had an extensive post on what was found in Iraq. Since that is gone, I'm able to use Andrew Sullivan and the Kay Report as a case study.

Do follow the links, if you have (understandably) forgotten about this. Under circumstances where the application of telling power to truth does not apply, what was in the Kay Report would critically inform everyone's understanding of the Iraq War. Instead, it is largely forgotten, and the belief that nothing of import was found in Iraq with respect to WMD is widespread. Along these lines also, the previous Joe Wilson is viewed as a Whistle Blower, when in fact he was found, in the Senate investigation, to be a serial liar (see also here and here).

Sullivan quotes from the links above are, given later turns of events, too apt to pass up:
The war was legally based on the premise that Saddam had clearly violated U.N. resolutions, was in open breach of such resolutions and was continuing to conceal his programs with the intent of restarting them in earnest once sanctions were lifted. Having read the report carefully, I'd say that the administration is vindicated in every single respect of that argument. . .

But what we now see may not impress those who are looking for any way to discredit this administration and this war. But it shows to my mind the real danger that Saddam posed - and would still pose today, if one president and one prime minister hadn't had the fortitude to face him down. We live in a dangerous but still safer world because of it. Now is the time for the administration to stop the internal quibbling, the silence and passivity, and go back on the offensive. Show the dangers that the opposition was happy for us to tolerate; show the threat - real and potential - that this war averted; and defend the record with pride and vigor.
What a difference an age makes: Sullivan subsequently turned on Bush, not just over spending and opposition to Gay marriage, but on the Iraq war itself, and not just it's conduct, but in toto, and soon found himself once again featured on MSNBC and celebrated in fashionable venues.

This demonstrates the power of The Machine over The Narrative, and how it can contribute to "Asymmetric Warfare" through manipulation of information. It takes a person of particular courage and intellectual integrity to resist it, when they run in its social circles. The Kay Report, and similar finds, are forgotten today, having been dropped down the memory hole.

By changing people's perception of reality, both in what is deleted from The Narrative and what is inserted into it that just aint so by the "Reality-Based Community" enables small-time thugs to compete with superpowers not just on an equal footing, but on one where all involved think they can emerge victorious.

We'll explore the more direct ways this dynamic plays out in the next post On Asymmetric Warfare.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

By Their Own Model, Stimulus Doing Harm

"The stimulus apologists are ignoring the original prediction based on a model. By that prediction, the stimulus is doing harm"

It was obvious in advance of the passage of the "Stimulus", even in advance of the Inauguration, that the Stimulus would not live up to the predictions they were making in arguing for it, and that they would end up dropping those arguments entirely and instead say it was successful anyhow because things would have been even worse without it.

Why should I say it was obvious? Because this happens every time, with virtually every Progressive policy since the Great Society, if not before. They almost always fail if judged on the bases of the original arguments of what benefits they would produce, so those are dropped down the memory hole and "things would be worse without it" is substituted as the new rationale.

I agree wholeheartedly with this, with one caviat:

"I suppose I should be relieved. Claiming success is far less destructive than another irresponsible "stimulus." I'm grateful for small favors."

Their argument that it was a success is destructive down the road, because it always leads to more stimulus packages, which historically have always been successful only in political terms, by allowing politicians to claim credit for the upside of the business cycle while putting all the blame on private actors for downturns in the same cycle, but such packages are not successful in economic terms.

Update: Graphs! We have graphs!


Exchange With Mencius

Mencius responds to post and some e-mail exchanges, very lucidly. Some reactions:

No, I haven't enabled comments, and for reasons only known to myself I haven't even provided an e-mail to contact me with, which is rather boorish and inhospitable. I might rectify at least one of these soon. [Indeed I just did, so it's possible to comment on this if one wants].

"Porphyrogenitus" means "Born in the Purple [room]", but I'm sure Mencius knows that and is just having a little fun with me. :p

"Therefore, this problem must be solved politically - ie, through the usual old-fashioned means."

Well, then we haven't eliminated politics after all, which was one of your goals. We may have minimized it, but it can never be eliminated, because of human nature.

"Unfortunately, while Europe existed, the joint-stock sovereign does not."

We have had joint-stock corporations ruling/governing nations though. The attractiveness of Moldbug's outline will depend in part on how well or badly you think they governed the lands they held, and leads to:

"But had it been perfectly stable, it would still exist. So why not shoot for perfectly stable?"

True; also true of Cameralism, but you combine it with your technological system, and I include that in the "NeoFeudal" structure as well. So it would be as stable.

I personally don't think anything human-made can be perfect. It's always worth striving for the perfect and achieving excellence along the way, but belief in the perfectibility of human institutions has been a pitfall of Progressivism and utopians generally, one no reactionary should fall into.

That said, your system might endure longer than the current system. It does have more stability built in. Hopefully that does not mean it will also achieve stasis, but there is enough competition among states for clients/residents that this would only be a problem if they cartelized somehow, something that's difficult if there is enough of these polities.

"The latter question can be answered easily: no. We know that the answer is no because we know that a crazy person can buy a publicly listed company, today, and intentionally run it into the ground in some deranged manner. And how often does this happen? Never."

Nobody ever intentionally runs something very expensive that they own into the ground. This does happen unintentionally all the time. Leopold's Congo is always a possibility. Helotism is always a possibility. Faddish-but-ineffective management theories are always a possibility. Humans are not always rational, even rich ones, and the unintentional effect of their actions can be counterproductive, contrary to what they expected and hoped for.

Historically, in my observations, corporations have been best run while under the dominance of their original owner(s): U.S. Steel, The House of Morgan, Microsoft, and it's not a surprise Apple brought Steve Jobs back. But management tends to deteriorate or ossify over time. See IBM, K-Mart, &tc, which decline or go out of business and are replaced by more vigorous competitors A question might arise whether Moldbug's polities become so stable they are too stable, and cannot be supplanted. (It's possible that they can be "not as stable as Moldbug expects" and "too stable, even if they stagnate", but these are really separate points; we don't know what might happen, because it hasn't happened yet, so both sides of the coin should be considered).

"But any system containing an election can be no better than its electors."

This is the real crux of the matter. Almost any sort of government can work well if properly run (and under certain definitions of "work well" - work well for whom?), but the mechanism for selecting proper people, letting the cream rise to the top instead of the scum, is the fundamental problem of good government.

I do applaud Mencius for trying to devise a structure that is more likely to result in responsible, accountable rule than what we have today.


What Was Your First Clue?

This is an observation? A insight? That Obama is "tough with his domestic enemies, soft with foreign ones"? Obama is a Progressive. Of course he acts this way.

Foreign foes are merely enemies of the United States. Domestic political opponents oppose Obama, and Progressivism, and thus are seen the a real, ideological, menace to be eliminated. Foreign enemies therefore just don't raise the same visceral, emotional reaction from Progressives that domestic political opponents do. The later arouse primate rage. Foreign enemies of the United States aren't to be "demonized" or talked about with "inflammatory rhetoric" that "alienates people", but domestic ones are because they are seen as the ones who caused foreign enemies to hate us in the first place. One unspoken premise of Progressivism is that if it wasn't for their domestic opponents, we wouldn't have foreign enemies. Therefore, the domestic enemy must be dealt with severely, but the foreign enemy must be extended understanding, on at least some level, at least with respect to their (foreign) sympathizers/support base.

This has been true of Progressives for decades. It is also true that right now many Americans, being treated as domestic enemies by the Progressive Administration, have been responding in kind. But that side of the political spectrum was aroused to fight the overseas enemy in a way that Progressives never really were.

I'm not suggesting that Progressives don't know what their priorities are. They certainly do. Those priorities are very telling...however, we're not supposed to observe that: To do so is to be a "hater", a domestic enemy of Progressivism, which will be dealt with harshly and without the kind of mercy that Progressives reserve for foreign enemies of the country.