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2012 October 14 Sunday
On Labeling Opponents Of Multiculturalism As Hateful

Ross Douthat draws attention to the Obama administration's decision to misrepresent the motives of the attack on the US embassy in Libya and to turn against the maker of a video which was very critical of Islam.

What happened instead was very strange. Having first repudiated the embassy’s apology to Muslims offended by a movie impugning their prophet, the Obama administration decided to embrace that apology’s premise, and insist that the movie was the crucial ingredient in the Sept. 11 anniversary violence.

For days after the attack, as it became clearer that the Benghazi violence was a Qaeda operation rather than a protest, White House officials continued to stress the importance of the “hateful” and “disgusting” video, and its supposed role as a catalyst for what Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, insisted was a spontaneous attack.

That the Obama Administration would label a video that lampoons a religion as hate demonstrates why I so distrust Barack Obama. The primary use of the term "hate" is to label someone as outside of civilized discourse and deserving of pariah status. But lets get to root causes. Why use the term "hate" for this purpose? The role of hate looms so large in the elite liberal mind in large part because liberals lack the ability to understand non-liberal minds.

The left has elevated their own psychological blindness and misunderstanding into a campaign of marginalization where they label their opponents as hate groups. This blindness of liberal minds to half the moral considerations used by conservative minds creates a condition very much like the Dunning-Kruger Effect where someone lacks the ability to detect the extent of their own misunderstanding, ignorance, and incompetence. In this case liberals are unable to understand conservatives. So they call conservatives hateful (and this gets so very tiresome). But at least liberal psychologist Jonathan Haidt understands the differences between liberal and conservative minds and the extent of liberal blindness on same.

Steve Sailer is concerned by the threat typified by the Obama Administration's reaction to the Al Qaeda attack on the US embassy in Libya. Says Steve: As immigration becomes more of a sacred civil right for foreigners, free speech becomes less of a one for Americans

The Grand Strategy of the Obama Administration isn't much different from that of the Bush Administration: Invite the World, Invade the World, In Hock to the World. But, you won't hear that from Romney and Ryan.

This is the part that scares me. Will multi-culturalism and the desire to placate ethnicities at home and abroad cause an even larger reduction in freedom of speech than it already has? Speech codes in workplaces are already left-liberal. I'm expecting them to become more strictly enforced and for that enforcement to extend beyond the workplace.

I would add one more explanation. The Obama Administration is reflexively pro-multicultural and therefore anti-free speech in the advanced European and Canadian fashion. They see the First Amendment as all very fine for pornography, but, to be frank, more substantive free speech is outdated in a multi-ethnic age of empire when the government has to keep hot-under-the-collar newcomers, such as Muslims, and old grievance groups, such as blacks, from burning down cities over perceived slights.

The argument for outlawing hate speech is made by some college professors and Jeffrey Waldron's book against the constitutionality of hate speech was published by Harvard University Press. This does not bode well for the former republic.

By Randall Parker    2012 October 14 09:50 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (18)
2012 September 02 Sunday
Conservatives Have Lost The Culture War

In a review of Dinesh D'Souza's documentary film about Barack Obama (which I'd never heard about before - I avoid personality politics due to lack of time) Steve Sailer praises the aesthetics of the movie and comments Republicans need to produce films with high aesthetic value. This makes sense.

Aesthetics are crucial to Republicans, since, let’s face it, most partisan politics are status games, and looks are the prime status marker. The GOP has started nominating good-looking candidates. Now they need more good-looking films like this one.

Partisan political rhetoric involves large quantities of rhetorical ploys such as definitional retreat, loaded language, poisoning the well, pregnant negative, and the classic red herring. This is all very effective because most people aren't competent enough to recognize how they are being deceived. Plus, they are too dumb to realize they are too dumb to recognize they are being fed a steady diet of deceptive rhetoric. Who is winning this rhetorical war of irrational arguments? On most fronts the Left wins and the anti-scientific sentiments of the Left have grown much larger as they face no faction powerful enough to call them on their nonsense. The Left packages their own propaganda in much more pleasing cultural products and in much larger quantities. The Left controls so much media that their rhetorical nonsense just plain drowns out right-wing rhetorical nonsense. At the same time the Left's rhetorical onslaught of irrationality drowns truths spoken by the heterodox minority of rational and empirical thinkers on the Right. Even reasonable liberal scientists can't be heard on human and most are cowed by the propagandists from expressing their views.

Why is the level of discourse in American politics so incredibly low after science has advanced so far? My guess at the biggest root cause of why our elites lie so much: near universal voting suffrage. If our elites didn't need to appeal to the left half of the IQ bell curve then their main audience would be much smarter and much more demanding of honesty and rationality. We need intellectual standards for voters. Our voters are too dumb and they are the targets of competing irrational arguments. It could be worse. At least criminals are still excluded - but for how much longer? We need a reversal of the trend toward universal voting suffrage.

I am stimulated to think all of this from reading a Chuck Rudd post on Gucci Little Piggy: The liberal media conditions people in ways that make it hard to have rational debates about important issues.

This is the first and hopefully the last time I link favorably to Jonathan Chait.  But his article at New York magazine is great.  The point, in a nutshell, is that the media is liberally biased (no news there) – conservatives’ worst fears have come true; that media has an impact on culture rather than just being a prism through which prevailing culture is reflected; the medium can be seen as a source of political capital for liberals to refer back to.  It contains memes, tropes, and entrenched arguments which evoke knee-jerk scoffs among liberal ideologues which allow them to bypass the detailed argumentation that is more often required of conservatives. Conservatives have lost the culture war because they have been routed by this medium.

Chait makes, in my mind, a stunning admission at the end of his piece:  “But they [conservatives] do have a point about one thing: We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite.”

Can the Right find ways to create media products that do a better job of meeting irrationality for irrationality in a way that partially cancels out the Left's irrational onslaught of conditioning for myths and falsehoods? If it can't then it will keep on losing ground.

Or can the forces of rationality prevail? The science of human nature will advance far enough just in the next 10 years as to disprove in much greater detail assorted myths on the Left (further undermining the Blank Slate and denials of the importance genetic variation frequency distributions on cognitive differences). So can secular liberal propagandists continue to prevail against advances in science? Will members of the secular liberal high church (think Harvard social scientists) more openly rebel against the mythology promoted by liberal propagandists? Will a loss of secular liberal faith undermine the excesses of the Left in America?

By Randall Parker    2012 September 02 08:11 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (13)
2012 January 02 Monday
BCE, CE, Common Era: Makes No Sense

Bob Sykes makes a great point:

Actually, the substitution of BCE and CE for AD and BC is an example of extreme cultural arrogance and stupidity.

There is no common era except as imposed by 200 years of Anglo-American dominance. The Orthodox Church still uses the Julian Calendar (AD/BC and CE/BCE are Gregorian), and the Hebrew, Hindu, Chinese and Muslim calendars are also still in use. Perhaps you have heard of Tet?

Before Common Era? Think about it. What changed around 1 AD that made what we live in into a common era? Common shared experience? Emergence of a common world shared culture? Nope. The Roman Empire's decline ushered in a shrinking of the size of shared polities, at least in Europe. As for the rest of the world: empires were expanding and contracting. No obvious pattern toward a common era.

It wasn't until the industrial revolution led to cheap enough transportation and communications and eventually the internet that we can speak of global shared cultural experiences. Even 20 years ago few people globally could share experiences with each other between historical civilizations. Now I can write posts knowing they will be read by people in multiple different countries who speak different native languages. I can watch referral URLs come up where people are using Google page translation to read posts I've written. This is starting to become a common era. Still not there yet.

By Randall Parker    2012 January 02 08:19 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (18)
2011 September 05 Monday
Book On Jane Fonda Plumbs The Depths Of Her Foolishness

Check out this Daily Mail piece about a new book on Jane Fonda by Patricia Bosworth. (h/t Ray Sawhill)

Not only that, but he’d made her sell her comfortable house in Los Angeles and buy a shabby two-bedroom shack in Santa Monica that smelled of mildew, where the couple shared a mattress on the floor. She couldn’t even wear her Cartier wristwatch any more, because Hayden disliked any show of possessions. So she’d replaced it with a cheaper Timex.

Sacrificing a Cartier for love.

Her brother and daughter loathed Tom Hayden. Good for them.

To the despair of her brother Peter and daughter Vanessa, who both loathed Hayden, she allowed herself to be belittled for years. ‘I simply didn’t think my ideas or feelings were as important or credible as his,’ she confessed later.

Before hooking up with Hayden she decided she ought to go to bed with lots of political activists. Ayn Rand would understand her man-worship.

‘She sat at Tom’s feet, literally,’ remembers fellow pacifist David Dellinger. ‘She looked up to him like he was some sort of god.’

Human beings go to ridiculous lengths to rationalize their instincts. The best example of her lack of self understanding:

Jane thought if she and Hayden had a child, it would express solidarity with Vietnam.

I haven't followed her at all. She seems like yet another Hollywood celebrity whose fame allowed them to express political nuttiness to a large audience. Ho hum. But I wonder if she ever became non-nutty about politics. Is it beyond intellectual capability to make sense of the world?

By Randall Parker    2011 September 05 09:37 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2011 August 07 Sunday
Modest Proposal For Global Community

I think a country should be founded called Global Community. Everyone who feels like they belong to the Global Community could move there.

By Randall Parker    2011 August 07 09:09 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2011 June 19 Sunday
Razib Sees Liberal Multiculturalism As Epiphenomenal

Razib "big words" Khan thinks liberal multiculturalism is epiphenomenal. But before start slogging thru those 6 syllables we need to look at why this came up in the first place. In response to the white guy who posed as a Lesbian Muslim Syrian blogger and got adulation from the liberal press Mark Steyn opines "Amina Arraf" supplied liberals with a fantasy figure who makes their belief in multiculturalism seem more plausible than it is in real life.

From CNN to The Guardian to Bianca Jagger to legions of Tweeters, Western liberalism fell for a ludicrous hoax. Why?

Because they wanted to. It would be nice if "Amina Arraf" existed. As niche constituencies go, we could use more hijab-wearing Muslim lesbian militants and fewer fortysomething male Western deadbeat college students. But the latter is a real and pathetically numerous demographic, and the former is a fiction – a fantasy for Western liberals, who think that in the multicultural society the nice gay couple at 27 Rainbow Avenue can live next door to the big bearded imam with four child brides at No. 29 and gambol and frolic in admiration of each other's diversity. They will proffer cheery greetings over the picket fence, the one admiring the other's attractive buttock-hugging leather shorts for that day's Gay Pride parade as he prepares to take his daughter to the clitoridectomy clinic.

The problem with liberal multiculturalism is that liberalism has a value system that really isn't compatible with a large number of existing cultures in other countries. The multiculturalists do not celebrate differences so much as they celebrate the idea that the only real enduring differences between cultures only encompass areas that do not conflict with liberal values and liberal fantasies.

Reacting to Steyn Razib says liberal multiculturalism is epiphenomenal. In other words, it is a result of another phenomenon. But how will it end? That's the important part.

Liberal multiculturalism as it is presently constituted is epiphenomenal. It will end with a monoculture, a de facto hegemonic culture atop others, or a Millet system.

As for the end of liberal multiculturalism: In a sense Razib is more optimistic than me. While I'm no fan of liberalism I fear what will replace it. Liberal multiculturalism is not only unstable but it undermines liberalism and threatens to make it a very marginal belief system while taking a number of other beliefs and cultural practices along with it. Will it remain strong enough to sustain itself as a hegemonic culture? World and American national demographics argue against this outcome. How can liberals stay strong enough in Europe, for example, when Muslims and other non-liberal groups are a rising fraction of their populations?

Then there's the Millet system where different cultures are allowed to rule themselves. I think the low cost and wide use of transportation and communication technologies today argue against this possibility because the different cultures can't achieve sufficient isolation of their communities to make this practical. We'd need something like Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Todos Santos in Oath Of Fealty where massive buildings function as their own local governments. In an era when national governments are creating massive electronic surveillance apparatuses will they allow that degree of local autonomy? What (I think quite unstable) balance of factions would make this possible? Carved out communities only seem to occur under dictatorships, and even then rarely.

By Randall Parker    2011 June 19 02:43 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (22)
2011 January 16 Sunday
Ted Nugent: Be Ready To Personally Stop Evil People

After listing some recent murders Ted calls for good people to be ready to stop evil people.

It is hard - almost impossible - for people of good will to fathom the depth of evil that resides in the soulless monsters who commit these senseless, violent and deadly crimes.

Regardless of whether we can fathom the evil and carnage that some rabid monsters do, we must be prepared and ready to respond to evil at a moment's notice. We can't depend on law enforcement, professional and brave as its members are, to protect us from murdering, psychotic monsters.

How does Ted think evil should be stopped? Hint: Ted does "Kiss My Glock".

By Randall Parker    2011 January 16 08:47 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2010 November 15 Monday
Angela Merkel Wants To Prevent German Decline

Merkel is inspired by Catherine the Great.

If Kohl taught Merkel anything, it was to focus on the end result. Visitors to Merkel's office on the 7th floor of the "Washing Machine", as the startling modern chancellery with its huge round windows is nicknamed, are immediately struck by her ambition. One clue, standing on a shelf behind her desk, is a small portrait of Catherine the Great, the German-born Russian empress with whom she seems to share a vision of transforming her country. "I want to ensure that in 2050 Germany and Europe are still taken seriously by the world, not just considered sanctuaries to the arts and beautiful old things," Merkel told Reuters when asked to define her ambitions.

If Merkel really wants Germany to be a formidable country in 2050 then she ought to take counsel from Thilo Sarrazin. Yet for the the trouble of trying to prevent the decline of Germany Sarrazin was forced to resign from a top position at the German central bank. No doubt some of that pressure to resign came from Merkel herself. Sarrazin sees Islam in Germany as a threat to the nation:

Mr. Sarrazin says his book can be boiled down to a few main ideas. To begin, ethnic Germans are having too few children, while Muslim immigrants are having too many. In a population of about 82 million, there are about four million Muslims (a number he said he calculated partly by looking at census figures for families with lots of children. Big families must be Muslim, he concluded). Within 80 years, he said, Muslims will make up a majority in Germany.

Second, Mr. Sarrazin believes that intelligence is inherited, not nurtured, and since Muslims are less intelligent (his conclusion) than ethnic Germans, the population will be dumbed down (his conclusion).

Sarrazin's best-selling book (in Germany), “Germany Does Away With Itself,” has changed the political landscape there. The Germans are willing to take its arguments seriously in spite of their elite mostly acting like the rest of the Western elite when it comes to realism about human nature: George Orwell's Crimestop:

"The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. In short....protective stupidity."

To prevent the decline of the West our elites must stop engaging in the practice of Crimestop. It is that simple. Problems must be thought thru rationally. Evidence must be followed thru to its rational conclusions, however much one might want those conclusions to be untrue.

Catherine the Great was unimpeded by Crimestop. She could ruthlessly pursue the expansion of Russian power and influence because she didn't need to believe the falsehoods about human nature that have become the modern day liberal mythology. If Merkel wants to cast a big shadow in history she's got to go a lot farther than she has so far to reject Crimestop. The whole West neeeds to turn away from the belief that Ignorance Is Strength.

By Randall Parker    2010 November 15 08:11 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2010 September 05 Sunday
Derb: Glenn Beck As Beggar In Chief

Derb takes a look at Glenn Beck.

On the one had, of course I was glad to see the Beckites/Tea Partiers out there in such numbers, and glad for the success of the rally. They jabbed a finger in the eyes not only of the left-liberal elites, but of the clueless and pusillanimous Republican establishment, who wouldn’t touch Glenn Beck and his followers with a barge pole, other than to coo some sweet nothings at them when there are votes to be harvested. I hate liberals and I regard the Republican establishment the way Evelyn Waugh‘s friend regarded the modern world: “with calm despair.” So put me down as, if not precisely pro-Beck—still not knowing enough about the guy and his views—quite definitely anti-anti-Beck.

At one level of my thinking my attitude about being against or for news/commentary channel celebrity personalities is that this is a waste of time. The discussions that occur even on the supposed right-wing TV media are so lame, shallow, and fenced in that being for or against is for rubes. These personalities give people to say (quoting Steven Stills from What It's Worth) "Hooray for my side". I also hear him in the same song "Nobody's right if everybody's wrong". That's how I see the mainstream debate on most political issues. The truth isn't even allowed into the room.

Derb sees Beck as forming his arguments based on liberal assumptions. Hence the irrelevance (at least as I see it).

On the other hand, as with most conservatism nowadays, I was left with the impression of a crowd of people marching east on the deck of a west-bound ship. The underlying concepts of Beckism are all liberal. They dare not be otherwise, or Beck would lose his TV show, his O’Reilly spots, his publisher and sponsors, Sarah Palin (and all his other links to official Republicanism), and be cast into outer darkness. To pursue the ship analogy, he would have jumped overboard. All public displays in our society, from 30-second TV commercials to Acts of Congress, are constructed on liberal premises. That’s the direction the ship is sailing—westward, to the left.

If the mythological premises of liberalism motivated a system of laws and regulations that made things better then at this point in my life I would make peace with the mythology. I've been around enough years now to know that the competition is between mythologies. The masses lack the attention and intellectual capacity to build up political belief systems firmly grounded on truths. Plus, feminization has reduced the standing of objective truth.

Even a large fraction of all intellectuals want to believe myths. We do not have an innate religious tendency so much as an innate mythological tendency. We want to believe we live in stories and we want the stories to make us happy about ourselves and our society.

As for America's political direction: Yup, we are headed leftward and downward. This trend is going to last for decades. Though possibly the Singularity will bring it to a halt before offspring genetic engineering does.

Here is why Derb sees Beck as Beggar In Chief.

Political scientist Karl Wittfogel coined the phrase “a beggar’s democracy.” This refers to the more relaxed sort of despotism in which the lower orders—the beggars—are permitted some modest freedoms of expression, so long as they do not challenge the basic assumptions of the state ideology too boldly.

The intensity of the TV talk show dramas aim at making people feel like they've got defenders who are fighting for their tribe. But there's the rub: Most do not. I'm not just talking about conservative white people as being without defenders. The apathetic middle and especially the vast majority of poor blacks lack defenders too. Watch the objective measures.

By Randall Parker    2010 September 05 05:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2010 August 25 Wednesday
About the "Obama Is A Christian" Myth

Slate has a funny (not that they meant it to be) subtitle for an article by John Dickerson: Why won't any Republicans condemn the "Obama is a Muslim" myth? I say this is funny because it is coming from dedicated myth-makers.

People are willing to believe that Barack is a Muslim because a) he's obviously just pretending to be a Christian and b) a large fraction of the American electorate sense they aren't part of his core range of loyalties. Basically, they feel they aren't in the same club or nation or allegiance as him and that this is a result of his upbringing and choices. They worry (justifiably) about where his real loyalties lay.

To think Obama might be Muslim isn't totally unreasonable given his father came from a Muslim family, his mother wasn't religious, and his stepfather came from a Muslim family as well. Given that his loyalties aren't clearly with the majority and that he dissembles about his loyalties this sort of speculation isn't surprising.

As for that Slate subtitle question, there's a far more compelling question about Barack Obama: Why won't any Democrats condemn the "Obama is a Christian" myth? The "Obama is a Christian" myth gave birth to the "Obama is a Muslim" myth.

The commentators in the mainstream liberal media are fully on board with the "Obama is a Christian" myth. Here's Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor proclaiming Barack's Christian faith:

Where are Americans getting their information about Obama’s religion? We ask that because, on this subject, a substantial and growing number of them are wrong. (Obama is Christian. We’ll say that up front, in case some of you are hazy on this point yourselves.)

You've got to be kidding. He's a political pretend Christian who, in order to help his political career, went to a black radical church for years. This church is led by one Rev. Jeremiah Wright (whose hostility to whitey and America was something that Obama took in for many years without complaint). Obama did this to try to establish his bona fides as a real American black and because he knows that in American politics it is harder for unreligious people to get elected. But Obama's obviously either agnostic or atheistic. What I want to know about Obama's religious beliefs: Is he a rational agnostic like myself? Or is he an extremist nutcase atheist who pretends to know that God (or the big universe simulation author) does not exist?

Obama needed to misrepresent himself to reach high office. Various elements of that misrepresentation are costing him politically now as the mythology becomes frayed and tattered. Competing mythologies are promoted by his political opponents. These mythologies provide a form of balance of falsehoods. Most people aren't up to getting their minds around the truth. So our political arena features an on-going battle of mythologies.

Update: OneSTDV, debating some liberal atheists about Obama's political beliefs, points to Obama's own revealed views of religion in one of his books:

I was unable to answer my daughter about heaven; I wondered if I should have told her the truth – that I was not sure what happens when we die; anymore than I was sure of where the soul resides or what existed before the big bang.

Sounds clear enough: agnostic.

OneSTDV says we have plenty of reasons to be skeptical of Obama's claimed Christian belief.

I’m making the argument that given his childhood background, his ostentatious admiration of Islam (what other professed Christian would feel comfortable repeating “Allah is Supreme! There is no God but Allah! in perfect Arabic), his lack of Christian background prior to and now following his admittedly poor attendance at Rev Wright’s church, his name, his bowing to the Saudi king, etc… it’s not UNREASONABLE to be skeptical of his Christianity.

Further, we’re generally justified in considering politician’s claims incredulously because of the precedent of lying.

Now given these facts, one can’t forthrightly conclude Obama is a Muslim. But that’s not my argument.

My argument is that skepticism concerning his faith is a reasonable supposition.

Instead, according to Hemant and the media, only a bucolic, ignorant idiot would extrapolate these facts into skepticism.

The media want us to be left-liberal idiots, not right wing idiots.

By Randall Parker    2010 August 25 10:33 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2010 July 16 Friday
Celebrate The Foot Long Burger

Okay, America is in decline. I do not deny that. In fact, I draw attention to all the reasons (most notably, the Great Dumbing Down) that this is happening. Tragic. But in the face of this unfolding tragedy there are still going to be high points, examples of greatness that we should enjoy in the moment even as the empire declines. Yes, we are on a road analogous to the path that led to the sacking of Rome. But right now great accomplishments are still possible. Granted, they will become rarer and less effectual. But they should still be savored and enjoyed. With that thought in mind: the foot long triple burger makes its debut at Carl's Jr and Hardee's restaurants.

A cheeseburger sold as a foot-long sandwich, with three burgers and three cheese slices, is being tested at 50 Carl's Jr. restaurants in Southern California and 50 Hardee's units in Indiana. That's the same chain that introduced the world to the 1,400-calorie Monster Burger and the Monster Breakfast Sandwich, with 47 grams of fat.

47 grams of fat? Like so many other great things about America that evil liberals deride, fat is good when properly packaged. Supposedly evil fat can do great things when properly packaged with natural substances. We could construct a high fat and high health burger. We could very healthily make like an ape man.

By Randall Parker    2010 July 16 05:55 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2010 June 18 Friday
New Crackpot Education Theory Against Best Friends

Anything that hints at exclusivity is evil - especially at the most exclusive liberal private schools.

Most children naturally seek close friends. In a survey of nearly 3,000 Americans ages 8 to 24 conducted last year by Harris Interactive, 94 percent said they had at least one close friend. But the classic best-friend bond — the two special pals who share secrets and exploits, who gravitate to each other on the playground and who head out the door together every day after school — signals potential trouble for school officials intent on discouraging anything that hints of exclusivity, in part because of concerns about cliques and bullying.

“I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,” said Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis. “We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.”

“Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend,” she continued. “We say he doesn’t need a best friend.”

Real life apes Brave New World. Do they even know they are trying to recreate a bizarre classic science fiction society? Will they next teach against marriage because it tends to encourage exclusivity? This is the next logical step. Legalize gay marriage just in time to work for a ban against marriage and a ban against long term relationships.

We can expect nothing better from an education establishment that enforces an ideology over empirical evidence.

By Randall Parker    2010 June 18 10:26 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2010 May 26 Wednesday
Ezra Klein Labels Rand Paul Extremist

Kentucky Republican Senatorial candidate and libertarian Rand Paul expressed unhappiness with the way the 1964 Civil Rights Act restricted right of free association in the private sector. This served as the occasion for lots of left-leaning commentators to call Paul racist and other names. Ezra Klein says Rand Paul is not a racist but he is an extremist.

Over at Right Now, Dave Weigel offers up the generous and, I think, correct interpretation of Paul's opposition to the parts of the Civil Rights Act that desegregated private businesses. "Paul believes, as many conservatives believe, that the government should ban bias in all of its institutions but cannot intervene in the policies of private businesses." And Weigel is right that this is not an unknown belief among conservatives: I've had this argument with some of my libertarian friends, and libertarians occasionally have this argument among one another.

So I take Paul at his word that he's not a racist. What he is, however, is an ideological extremist. He is so categorically opposed to public regulation of private enterprise that he cannot even bring himself to say that the Woolworth lunch counter should've been desegregated. Instead, he falls back on the remedies of the market: "I wouldn't attend, wouldn't support, wouldn't go to," a private institution that discriminates, he told Rachel Maddow. But he would let them discriminate. And in the segregated South, that would've been a perfectly viable business model for many, many very important institutions.

Let us be clear here: According to Ezra Klein if you support a right to free association as strong as, say, a right to free speech then you are an ideological extremist. Not just an extremist but an ideological extremist.

Once upon a time (say, for most of American history) a right of free association was considered a basic right. Clubs and companies could and did exclude applicants on any number of ethnic, racial, religious, class, and other characteristics of birth or achievement or belief. But since that was considered to be racist this right was greatly cut back starting in the 1960s, at least for some (mostly white) people. Not all rights of free association were curtailed. Certainly some groups can restrict memberships without getting called names or labeled extremists. But a substantial fraction of the populace can't.

While the people who sought to reduce unfairness based on race had some pretty laudable intentions that hardly makes libertarians who favor a right of free association into extremists. An extremist is someone who takes positions beyond the norm. But that automatically opens up the question of whose norm? Ezra Klein would like to make his norm (and those of other liberals who dominate the press) into the norm. Certainly from where he sits the left-liberal consensus among the press and academics seems like the norm. People who take views in opposition to the left-liberal consensus are quite effectively marginalized on a large assortment of subjects, free association just being one of them.

But just because a group dominates the press and academia that does not mean that they are representative of the populace as a whole. In fact, what's most notable about the press and academia is the extreme (ha!) degree to which they do not present the norm. For example, in academia Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1 in social sciences and humanities. Among anthropologists Democrats outnumber Republicans 21 to 1. One might raise questions about whether this makes anthropologists extremists and whether they therefore have views that should be discounted.

The same sort of extremism found among academics is found among reporters with a trend toward more Democrats than Republicans as reporters with that trend hitting extremes in recent decades and with greater extremes among the media elite.

The Left has marginalized a very large sector of the American public. Then, adding insult to injury, the Left now labels rational reasonable people as extremists. You gotta admire their audacity.

By Randall Parker    2010 May 26 07:14 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2009 December 27 Sunday
Political Correctness Plus Terrorism Makes Inconvenience

So some Nigerian Muslim tries to bring down an international flight headed for the United States and the US government imposes lots of inconveniences in place of rational profiling.

“Among other things,” the statement on Air Canada’s Web site read, “during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.”

To an old person with bladder problems that last hour plus additional time taxiing and waiting to deplane can be quite difficult. Plus, the lavatories will face even more competition for their use during their shorter available time for use. Makes one want to take a train or drive or just stay home.

The suspect in the Friday attempt, identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, tried to ignite his incendiary device in the final hour of the flight while the plane was descending into Detroit.

Very few people on US domestic flights will have names or accents anywhere remotely like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Most aren't in the right age bracket. Few are of the right religion. You can walk thru most flights, look at the people on them, and confidently pronounce "no terrorists here". But of course doing that amounts to profiling and profiling is verboten to our politically correct liberal weltanschauung. So millions of passengers will be unnecessarily inconvenienced. Makes me want to take a train.

Such is life in the latter years of the declining empire.

Update: America's Secretary for Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, proudly proclaimed that the security system worked because passengers stopped yet another airplane bomber. Never mind what the security people did or did not do. Passengers are part of the system. They did their job and so nothing is wrong with the system. Glad we cleared that one up.

"Once this incident occurred, the system worked," Napolitano told ABC's "This Week in Washington," adding that the public is safe. U.S. and Dutch authorities are investigating, she said, but "have no suggestion" that screening was not properly done at Schipol. "You can't rely on just one part of your security system," she said. "You have to look at the system as a whole."

You can't rely on religious, national, age, sex, and ethnic profiling to identify people to search as they pass thru security. You must rely on passengers to tackle other passengers when the guy sitting next to you whips out a bomb. The "system as a whole" hassles everyone going thru security screenings in order to get everyone on the mood to watch their fellow passengers for the first move by someone to blow up a bomb. Of course that bomb carrier might just as easily be a blue-haired lady from Des Moines. So be sure in the interest of fairness to watch everyone.

Life isn't always fair though. If you show the level of vigilance necessary be ready for some unfair treatment. Ivana Trump tried to stop a terrorist threat and got removed from a flight for her trouble. Those kids could have been hatching a terrorist plot. I must say the treatment that Ivana got seems unfair. Clearly she's got the spirit of volunteerism when it comes to stopping unruly passenger behavior.

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Police say Ivana Trump has been escorted off a plane in Florida after she became belligerent when children were running and screaming in the aisles.

By Randall Parker    2009 December 27 04:44 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2009 October 11 Sunday
Peace Prizes To Stop Which War?

Lost in the debate about the absurdity of Barack Obama winning a Nobel Peace Prize is the fact that there are no big military conflicts or even substantial possibility of a big military conflict in the world in 2009. A need to hand out prizes to keep or make the peace? Not even.

Look around. The conflicts are small. Darfur? Who can look at a map of the world without national border lines and pinpoint where it is? I can't. Below Egypt somewhere I think. Does it matter? Nope. It only matters to the people there and to a small number of Western observers who are trying to use it for status signaling. Did you know fighters in Nigeria try to blow up oil fields because they want a piece of the financial action? Not a big story. Do you care? I don't. I doubt I know anyone who does. I doubt anyone will win a Nobel Prize over it. I think the Tamil Tigers were defeated in Sri Lanka but I'm kinda hazy on the details. The conflict there does not matter. It doesn't even warrant a Nobel Prize.

To say these conflicts do not matter is not a nice thing to say. But it is the truth. Some groups are definitely losing. The Tibetans come to mind. Giving the Dalai Lama a Nobel Peace Prize didn't help their prospects any. Obama snubbed recently the Dalai Lama right before Obama won his own Nobel Peace Prize. The Tibetans are losers. The Han Chinese are the new winners.

We do have the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We started the Iraq conflict. The US will pull out. We won't negotiate the pull-out with an adversary. Most US negotiations are with the US government. Afghanistan? We are fighting religious tribes with one of the highest fertility rates in the world. We can either pull out or fight for many years to come. Negotiation is pointless.

Can Nobel Peace Prize winners matter on the scale of major potential combatants? Nope. The bigger countries have no interest in fighting each other.

The world has big problems relating to resource depletion, pollution, and population growth. But these issues aren't going to cause the major industrialized nations to duke it out on the field of battle. War isn't a problem.

By Randall Parker    2009 October 11 07:30 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2009 October 10 Saturday
Obama Won Nobel Prize For Winning Election

There were only 12 days from the time Barack Obama took office until nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize closed. So he didn't even win the prize for things he did in office. That relieves us from the problem of searching his record to find some accomplishment worthy of such a prize.

Editor's Note: Although President Obama had only been in office for 12 days before the nominations for this year's Nobel Peace prize closed the entire process actually takes a full year. According to the official Nobel Prize Web site invitation letters are sent out in September. Every year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee sends out thousands of letters inviting a qualified and select number of people to submit their nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. The deadline to submit nominations is February 1.

So Obama didn't need to negotiate peace treaties to win a peace prize. He didn't need to solve ancient disputes. But this means he's rising so rapidly that he's running out of potential for advancement. I see this as a serious problem that needs addressing. We can't have a glass ceiling for Barack Obama. Oh no. Obama's rise is so rapid that it begs the question of what's next. Steve Sailer reports on Obama's future big prize win.

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Directorate of the Milky Way to honor me by naming me Galactic Overlord

I think this highlights Obama's big Prize Problem at this point: What can he possibly do for an encore? Another Nobel committee has already snubbed him for a Nobel in Literature. Perhaps a campaign of global outrage for this slight could win him that prize. But then what?

Sure, once Obama's out of office (assuming the US constitution isn't amended to make him President For Life, or better yet, Emperor Of America) then he could go to Hollywood and direct and produce movies. He could even star in one. Then he would of course win Oscars in directing, producing, and acting. Heck, he could write a script (Bill Ayers could help) and win a screenplay Oscar too. But he's much bigger than Hollywood. So then what?

Steve's floating this idea of Obama for the Galactic Overlord position therefore makes a lot of sense. But I think a program of stepping stones up to Galactic Overlordship needs to be developed or else Obama will run out of room for advancement. Maybe there's a Vulcan Prize For Logic And Peace? Can anyone think of some useful steps up from the Nobel Peace Prize? (or, rather, the renamed Obama Peace Prize)

By Randall Parker    2009 October 10 12:32 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (11)
2009 October 09 Friday
When Obama Spurned Dalai Lama He Spurned Nobelist

Recently His Holiness Barack Obama rejected meeting with the Dalai Lama in order to curry favor with China. Well, the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize 20 years before Obama did. Truly exalted morally superior people do not turn their backs on their own kind. So what sorts of people are these guys?

By Randall Parker    2009 October 09 09:47 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
Modest Proposal: Rename Nobel To The Obama Prize

The name Nobel is clearly not as lofty or exalted as the name Obama. Isn't it time the rename the Nobel Peace Prize to the Obama Peace Prize?

Alfred Nobel invented dynamite. He clearly doesn't deserve to have his name honored by its association with such an, er, exalted prize. Whereas the Nobel Prize committee clearly thinks that Obama, without yet even accomplishing much, is a morally different and very very unusual human being. What better person to name a famous prize after?

Every time someone wins the Obama Prize we will be reminded what the prize represents. Fitting, no?

By Randall Parker    2009 October 09 07:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2009 August 15 Saturday
Whole Foods CEO: Customers Want Junk Food

The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare: Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit. Take a look. It is a pretty good list. But this list does not come from a leftist mindset which supports more government provision of health care. So the SWPL folks who patronize Whole Foods are upset and some liberals are boycotting Whole Foods. But that's not the most interesting story about Whole Foods. Oh no. Whole Foods is a hoot because it basically exists to allow SWPL people to pretend to buy healthy foods. After all, the food comes from Whole Foods. It must be healthy.

Don't believe me? CEO John Mackey says Whole Foods sells junk and he's going to try to convince SWPLs to eat better food:

Mr. Mackey said in an interview prior to Tuesday's results that Whole Foods this fall will launch a "healthy eating" initiative with cooking demonstrations and recipes. The blunt-speaking Mr. Mackey said the company's product selection had veered off-course.

"We sell a bunch of junk," he said, vowing to promote healthier lifestyles for its customers and employees. "We've decided if Whole Foods doesn't take a leadership role in educating people about a healthy diet, who the heck is going to do it?"

What fun. An attempt to convince people to eat healthy rather than just to pretend to eat healthy. Sounds like a tough order to me. It is an even tougher order now that some liberals have gone negative in their emotions about Whole Foods. Seems like an opportunity for another food chain to appeal to SWPLers with faux healthy food. The demand is there. The customers want to pretend. Help them and make a profit satisfying their need.

By Randall Parker    2009 August 15 01:07 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2009 May 31 Sunday
Michael Blowhard Calls For Tradition In City Park Design

Down with modernity. Up with public spaces that people like to look at and spend time in. Works for me.

One easy lesson to take from this: Modernism (and its stylistic descendants) can be reasonably conceived-of as "the defiance of common experience." Modernism: Endless experiments based in theory and speculation, very few of which work out. Tradition: Practices based in experience that almost always succeed.

Another lesson: If public space is to serve any useful purpose it shouldn't be dealt with as "empty space." It needs to be crafted and created as a positive thing in its own right.

Designers rise to the challenge and botch designs of plazas and parks.

I was reminded of a great line from William H. Whyte: "It is difficult to design a space that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished."

The problem comes from narcissistic design. We need more of a customer-centered focus with plazas and park areas.

(A short parenthesis: Modernists just love putting their creations up on pedestals. Think of all the stark geometric skyscrapers you've seen that sit up on plazas five or six steps above sidewalk level. Why do modernists do this? Simple answer: They want their creations to be taken as freestanding artworks. You're meant to experience these buildings as autonomous creations, rather like sculptures on stands in a museum.)

Accept tradition. Accept proven solutions.

If "decent," "workable," and "pleasing" is the goal -- as, by the way, it almost always should be in architecture and urbanism -- then why not start by accepting tradition (hey, another name for tradition is "what has shown itself to work") and go from there? Memorable may not be achieved, but acceptable is pretty well guaranteed. And -- especially where public facilities go -- acceptable is pretty damn good.

Sounds like Total Quality Management is needed. No risky design changes. Use proven components. Make the same thing and control your process to ensure you make the same thing.

By Randall Parker    2009 May 31 11:43 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2009 May 28 Thursday
Empathy: Code Word For Leftist Causes

Heather Mac Donald looks at what lies behind Barack Obama's search for an empathetic judicial appointee.

“Empathy” is a code word, naturally, for privileging the usual suspects: the alleged victims of American classism, racism, sexism, and homophobia.  (Glenn Greenwald notes that Samuel Alito paraded his empathy during his confirmation hearings.)

But why accept the conventional wisdom about who deserves empathy and who doesn’t.  Here’s some hypothetical litigants and affected parties who probably wouldn’t meet the Obama empathy test but who should (regardless of their actual legal rights in a dispute):

–A landlord trying to evict a deadbeat tenant.
–A landlord trying to evict a tenant who has trashed his property.
–Taxpayers who will be forced to fund whatever new welfare entitlement or reprieve from responsibility that Obama wants to cook up for his “young teenage mom.”
–The children of future “young teenage moms” who will be produced at an even higher rate thanks to the new welfare entitlement.
–The victims and neighbors of some of those children of future welfare-enabled teenage moms.
–A business owner who can’t make a go of it thanks to onerous new taxes or regulations imposed to satisfy an empathy lobby.
–His employees.
–Chrysler’s secured creditors who assumed on the basis of settled law that they would have priority in bankruptcy court.
–Intending immigrants waiting patiently to enter the country legally, while the courts block deportations of illegal aliens.
–The casualties of affirmative action policies, as conservatives have long pointed out, including the successful New Haven firefighter test-takers.

The received wisdom about who the underdogs and overdogs are has been formed over decades by the left.  But the assumption that underdogs—usually conventionally defined–occupy a special place of virtue is probably also a legacy of Christianity, as Nietzsche would have it, one that, combined with knee-jerk leftism, can have its downsides.

How about people who live within their means who have to pay for the bailing out of financial institutions, home buyers, and credit card users who live beyond their means?

How about people who save and work hard to make money before raising kids who also have to pay taxes to pay for babies born to single mother high school drop-outs?

The real victims are the talented, hard-working, prudent people who live within their means and pay for those who give less and take more.

By Randall Parker    2009 May 28 10:54 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2009 May 05 Tuesday
IQ Important For Supreme Court Picks?

Razib points out that faced with a decision of who to put on the Supreme Court suddenly people on the Left start comparing candidates by levels of intelligence.

As many have noted, The New Republic is now publishing perceptions that Sonia Sotomayor is not that intelligent. Granted, even if affirmative action played a role in her acceptance to Princeton and Yale law school, the fact that she graduated and passed the bar suggests a minimum threshold of ability. But that's not good enough, it seems that many liberals would like someone who can go toe-to-toe with the conservatives on the court intellectually, and she doesn't pass the grade on that elevated level. When the stakes are high, and a Supreme Court position is arguably one of the most powerful positions within the American government, the perceived marginal returns on more g become stark for those who would pooh-pooh it in other contexts.

How could be be not that intelligent if we are all equally intelligent? How could she not be that smart if environment is all powerful and she attended intellectually stimulating Princeton and Yale?

I'm reminded of a recent excerpt Steve Sailer did of a Geoffrey Miller book and Miller's comments on IQ.

In the 1970s, critics of intelligence research such as Leon Kamin and Stephen Jay Gould wrote many diatribes insisting that general intelligence had none of these correlations with other biological traits such as height, physical health, mental health, brain size, or nerve conduction speed. Mountains of research since then have shown that they were wrong, and today general intelligence dwells comfortably at the center of a whole web of empirical associations stretching from genetics through neuroscience to creativity research. Still, the anti-intelligence dogma continues unabated, and a conspicuous contempt for IQ remains, among the liberal elite, a fashionable indicator of one’s agreeableness and openness.

Yet this overt contempt for the concept of intelligence has never undermined our universal worship of the intelligence-based meritocracy that drives capitalist educational and occupational aspirations. All parents glow with pride when their children score well on standardized tests, get into elite universities that require high test scores, and pursue careers that require elite university degrees. The anti-intelligence dogma has not deterred liberal elites from sulking and ranting about the embarrassing stupidity of certain politicians, the inhumanity of inflicting capital punishment on murderers with subnormal IQs, or the IQ-harming effects of lead paint or prenatal alcoholism. Whenever policy issues are important enough, we turn to the concept of general intelligence as a crucial explanatory variable or measure of cognitive health, despite our Gould-tutored discomfort with the idea.

When a seat on the Supreme Court is at stake suddenly IQ becomes too important for the Left to ignore.

But if you think seriously about IQ differences then you are not a nice guy? Is the truth ugly? Or are standards for which facts are ugly learned from one's environment?

By Randall Parker    2009 May 05 11:56 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2009 May 03 Sunday
On Obama's Attempt To Screw Creditors

Obama wants to give 55% of Chrysler to a UAW pension trust fund, 35% to Fiat, 8% to the US government, and 2% to the Canadian government. Obama wants to give only 30% of the face value of secured credit to the secured creditors. This amounts to putting politically favored junior creditors ahead of senior creditors.

The proposal to grant the UAW a large equity stake has stirred concerns among Chrysler's secured lenders. They question why the union should be given preferential treatment when bankruptcy law grants priority to the secured lenders.

Barack Obama the demagogue has decided to blame the secured creditors for the bankruptcy of Chrysler while he basically tries to screw them out of secured assets they rightfully own.

At the same time, in an echo of the tensions that have run high between Washington and Wall Street, the president and his aides blamed the filing squarely on about 20 smaller investment firms and hedge funds. This group voted against the government's last offer to eliminate $6.9 billion in debt owed them.

They "decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified, taxpayer-funded bailout," Mr. Obama charged. Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, called the holdouts "rogue hedge funds" and "vultures" and said in a statement that they "will now be dealt with accordingly in court."

Obama decided to give the Chrysler UAW retirees a company to use to make money to pay their benefits. Obama's problem was that a large chunk of that company was assets pledged to back up loans. His solution: ignore bankruptcy law and property law and try to force thru his will. He managed to pull this off with those creditors who are banks regulated by governments. But pension funds, hedge funds, and other creditors who are less under Obama's thumb objected to this property steal. They are hoping a bankruptcy court judge will recognize their legal rights.

No one forced Chrysler to put up assets in exchange for loans. Had Chrysler not put up assets as collateral Chrysler either wouldn't have been able to get the loans or would have had to pay interest rates far too high for it to afford. Now Obama is trying to give the secured lenders the big shaft. This is highly unethical.

Megan Mcardle points out that Obama's tactics will make it harder for very unionized companies to raise money.

Which brings us to the real question, which is, when did it become the government's job to intervene in the bankruptcy process to move junior creditors who belong to favored political constituencies to the front of the line? Leave aside the moral point that these people lent money under a given set of rules, and now the government wants to intervene in our extremely well-functioning (and generous) bankruptcy regime solely in order to save a favored Democratic interest group.

No, leave that aside for the nonce, and let's pretend that the most important thing in the world, far more interesting than stupid concepts like the rule of law, is saving unions. What do you think this is going to do to the supply of credit for industries with powerful unions? My liberal readers who ardently desire a return to the days of potent private unions should ask themselves what might happen to the labor movement in this country if any shop that unionizes suddenly has to pay through the nose for credit. Ask yourself, indeed, what this might do to Chrysler, since this is unlikely to be the last time in the life of the firm that they need credit. Though it may well be the last time they get it, on anything other than usurious terms.

In the long run this will make unions smaller. Companies will flee from union areas and will resist unionization attempts even harder. Governments, utilities, and other organizations tied to the region they service will not escape from unions. But mobile companies will move factories and take other measures to make sure that unions do not block their access to credit markets.

The Chrysler episode shows most clearly how far to the left Obama stands. He's revealing more of his true nature.

By Randall Parker    2009 May 03 12:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
Socialism Grows Due To Fewer Taxes On Lower Incomes?

Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, argues that the declining percentage of people paying income tax in America increases support for socialism.

The government has been abetting this trend for years by exempting an increasing number of Americans from federal taxation. My colleague Adam Lerrick showed in these pages last year that the percentage of American adults who have no federal income-tax liability will rise to 49% from 40% under Mr. Obama's tax plan. Another 11% will pay less than 5% of their income in federal income taxes and less than $1,000 in total.

To put a modern twist on the old axiom, a man who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart; a man who is still a socialist at 40 either has no head, or pays no taxes. Social Democrats are working to create a society where the majority are net recipients of the "sharing economy." They are fighting a culture war of attrition with economic tools. Defenders of capitalism risk getting caught flat-footed with increasingly antiquated arguments that free enterprise is a Main Street pocketbook issue. Progressives are working relentlessly to see that it is not.

Well, I guess I have no heart then. But I think that axiom is wrong. A man who is not a socialist at 20 is an empiricist.

Socialism is more popular with adults under 30. They have accumulated less and so have less to lose. But I'd like to see the numbers broken out by race to see if the most rapidly growing ethnic groups are more socialist.

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided. Thirty-somethings are a bit more supportive of the free-enterprise approach with 49% for capitalism and 26% for socialism. Adults over 40 strongly favor capitalism, and just 13% of those older Americans believe socialism is better.

We really need a longitudinal track on where this is going.

Governments serve both serve useful functions and also function as parasites. That parasitism can get out of control and ruin things. Getting involved in politics to protect yourself from government is widely seen as necessary.

Forty-five percent (45%) of Americans adults say most people get involved in politics to protect themselves from what the government might do, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Update: We are entering an era characterized by a growing need for political involvement in order to protect oneself. Analysts at Clarium Capital refer to periods such as this one as bull markets in politics.

After a placid quarter-century, many cannot bring themselves to believe that the future holds anything more than a continuation of the recent bear market in US politics. But tremendous structural changes to the world’s economy render impossible any such continuation: for the US, global integration and competition have reached a point where a signifcant political response is inevitable. The bear market is giving way to a powerful new bull market and for the frst time in many years, US domestic politics will become a central concern for investors around the world. The background assumptions of the past three decades — that there will be no major changes in trade, immigration, and tax policy — have become unreliable. Portfolios that underweight the possibility of major policy shifts therefore risk signifcant underperformance as the US moves into an increasingly politicized future.

I disagree with them about immigration. We've had amnesties during Reagan's and Clinton's presidencies. We might have another (disastrous) amnesty under Obama even though unemployment is very high and rising rapidly. But the general gist of their argument, that government intervention will increase, sounds right. Obama is using the financial crisis as an opportunity to grow the size of the state. We should expect a lower rate of economic growth due to the expansion of the state, the aging of the population, and the dumbing of the population.

By Randall Parker    2009 May 03 01:29 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2009 April 10 Friday
Only 53% Of American Adults Prefer Capitalism Over Socialism

Never mind that capitalism produces the goods and services.

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided. Thirty-somethings are a bit more supportive of the free-enterprise approach with 49% for capitalism and 26% for socialism. Adults over 40 strongly favor capitalism, and just 13% of those older Americans believe socialism is better.

I'd really like to see a break-down by race. Are the growing ethnic groups less supportive of capitalism than whites? My guess is "yes". So support for capitalism will probably decline long term. It is all part of being a libertarian open borders society. More freedom means less freedom. War is peace.

By Randall Parker    2009 April 10 01:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2009 February 18 Wednesday
Eric Holder Calls Us Cowards

People who think like Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder have created a legal and social atmosphere on the topic of race which causes most people to just shut up about it. What does Eric Holder say about this silence? He calls the silent scared people cowards.

Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, a nation of cowards. Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about things racial.

It is an issue that we have never been at ease with, and given our nation's history, this is in some way, understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.

Tolerant enough? He's now a leader in the army of intolerance. I think what he's saying is that he doesn't want his enemies to wear camouflage.

Holder is going to hunt down corporations which reward based on performance and accuse them of racism when they reward Asians and whites more than blacks and Hispanics. Then he's going to call the masses cowards when the masses try to keep their heads down and not get noticed by his hunting club. Cheeky.

Holder thinks people should stand up and get punished without fear.

To respect one another, we must have a basic understanding of one another. And so, we should use events such as this to not only learn more about the fact of black history, but also to learn more about each other.

This will be, at first, a process that is both awkward and painful, but the rewards are, I believe, potentially great. The alternative is to allow to continue the polite, restrained mixing that now passes as meaningful interaction, but that in reality, accomplishes very little.

Imagine, if you will, situations where people, regardless of their skin color, could confront racial issues freely and without fear. The potential of this country, that is becoming increasingly more diverse, would be greatly enhanced. My fear, however, that we are taking steps that, rather than advancing us as a nation, are actually dividing us even further.

People respond to incentives and disincentives. Holder is a man of the Left. These responses frustrate him.

Imagine that for just one day everyone in America was honest about race. The following day the people who enforce the current boundaries of allowable discussion would proclaim that the previous day allowed us to air all of our misconceptions and reveal our ignorance so that now we could make progress and solve our problems involving race. They would then work to reestablish deterrence and silence people while proclaiming that the silent majority are cowards.

Update: On the other hand, If we could somehow get everyone to speak honestly about race people would feel less stressed about their race-related conversations and blacks would feel better about what they heard. At least that seems to be the results found by two Tufts U psychologists.

Self-control is one of our most cherished values. We applaud those with the discipline to regulate their appetites and actions, and we try hard to instill this virtue in our children. We celebrate the power of the mind to make hard choices and keep us on course. But is it possible that willpower can sometimes be an obstacle rather than a means to happiness and harmony?

Tufts University psychologists Evan Apfelbaum and Samuel Sommers were intrigued by the notion that too much self-control may indeed have a downside - and that relinquishing some power might be paradoxically tonic, both for individuals and for society.

They explored the virtue of powerlessness in the arena of race relations. They figured that well-intentioned people are careful - sometimes hyper-careful - not to say the wrong thing about race in a mixed-race group. Furthermore, they thought that such effortful self-control might actually cause both unease and guarded behavior, which could in turn be misconstrued as racial prejudice.

To test this, they ran a group of white volunteers through a series of computer-based mental exercises that are so challenging that they temporarily deplete the cognitive reserves needed for discipline. Once they had the volunteers in this compromised state of mind, they put them (and others not so depleted) into a social situation with the potential for racial tension - they met with either a white or black interviewer and discussed racial diversity. Afterward, the volunteers rated the interaction for comfort, awkwardness, and enjoyment. In addition, independent judges - both black and white - analyzed the five-minute interactions, commenting on how cautious the volunteers were, how direct in their answers - and how racially prejudiced.

As reported in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, those who were mentally depleted - that is, those lacking discipline and self-control - found talking about race with a black interviewer much more enjoyable than did those with their self-control intact. That's presumably because they weren't working so hard at monitoring and curbing what they said. What's more, independent black observers found that the powerless volunteers were much more direct and authentic in conversation. And perhaps most striking, blacks saw the less inhibited whites as less prejudiced against blacks. In other words, relinquishing power over oneself appears to thwart over-thinking and "liberate" people for more authentic relationships.

If we all spoke our true thoughts at the same time current mechanisms for controlling the boundaries of discussion would be totally overwhelmed. But I do not see a way to accomplish that level of coordination.

By Randall Parker    2009 February 18 10:32 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (19)
2008 September 24 Wednesday
Environmentalists Fly More

Shallow left-wing materialistic narcissists are unsurprisingly bad for the environment.

According to the researchers, people who regularly recycle rubbish and save energy at home are also the most likely to take frequent long-haul flights abroad. The carbon emissions from such flights can swamp the green savings made at home, the researchers claim.

Stewart Barr, of Exeter University, who led the research, said: "Green living is largely something of a myth. There is this middle class environmentalism where being green is part of the desired image. But another part of the desired image is to fly off skiing twice a year. And the carbon savings they make by not driving their kids to school will be obliterated by the pollution from their flights."

I used to work with a liberal environmentalist who criticized me when I told him I couldn't be bothered most of the time to separate my trash for recycling. He drove an SUV and liked to fly off to Asia for vacations. So I'm not surprised by this report. Christian Lander has ably nailed these people.

Al Gore travels by private jet and pays huge electric and natural gas bills. Do as I say, not as I do.

By Randall Parker    2008 September 24 10:15 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2008 September 20 Saturday
Muslim Politics In America And Materialistic Shallow Progressives

Razib rifts off of a recent report that evolutionist and avowed atheist Richard Dawkins' web site has been banned in Turkey (which wants to become part of the European Union btw). After commenting that Anglo-American and Scandinavian attitudes toward free speech are alien to most of the world Razib points out that in spite of a higher IQ skew of Muslim immigrants to America they take political positions close to those of Evangelical Christians.

In the USA the Muslims are relatively civilized because of immigration which skew toward those with industry and education, which naturally means inculcation in many disciplines which presuppose a Western outlook. Nevertheless, I have pointed out that by the data the average American Muslim has views in line with the average Evangelical more than the typical religious person. On a pan-religious distribution of traits in many ways moderate Muslims and conservative Christians are isomorphic. There are Muslims who might be the equivalent to liberal Christians, but their numbers proportionally small even in a relatively assimilated and integrated community such as American Muslims.

Razib points out that American secularists (and by these I think he's referring to the left-liberal subset of secularists) focus their criticisms on Evangelical Christians while simultaneously saying nothing about the threat posed by letting Muslims immigrate to America.

I only bring this up because many American secularists are in the habit of mocking and attacking the "American Taliban" and the primitive knuckle-dragging predispositions of Bible-believing white Evangelicals. On the other hand, to a great extent they treat Muslims like they treat black Christians; with benign neglect. This makes sense to some extent, Muslim politics today resembles that of black Americans; roughly, relatively fiscally liberal and socially & religiously conservative, and strongly Democratic. Muslim and black Americans are not perceived to be a threat to abortion rights, for example, despite their avowed opposition to the practice, because they support a political party which generally supports the maintenance of Roe vs. Wade. In contrast, large numbers of white religious conservatives are mobilized around this issue. The social conservatism of Muslims and black Americans is directed inwardly, against deviants and misfits within their own communities, and so to a large extent invisible to the anti-religious progressives who are allied with these communities politically.

But context matters. Turkey is not the United States, it is a 99% Muslim country where religious conservatives flex their muscle in a manner very reminiscent of American religious conservatives, except to a far greater magnitude of medievalism. For example, the stalled attempt to criminalize adultery. Across the Muslim world heterodox men and women exist under an oppressive traditionalism which would put small town Mississippi to shame. Of course despite any universal avowal of human rights there is only so much that one can practicably do. Here in the United States gay rights activists usefully turn their attention to religious conservatives as their primary opponents despite the much greater repression of open homosexuality in most of the world, especially the Muslim world. It is to some extent a matter of bang-for-your-buck, and also an issue of concerns near which are realized in our day to day life vs. abstractions of justice and fairness on the grand scope.

I do not see American left-liberalism as stable. The left-liberals act in ways counter to their long term interests because some of the elements of their faith blind them to their interests. As a result they support public policies that do great harm. Unfortunately from my perspective to the extent that my interests overlap with theirs my interests get sacrificed along with theirs. I will live in a less free and less prosperous society because they were too content to criticize Evangelical Christians and people in Fly-Over Country to develop in depth understanding. Their biggest mistake is going to turn out to be their support for immigration of groups which will, in the long run, act in ways that undermine the goals of middle and upper class liberals.

This all reminds me: Stuff White People Like blogger Christian Lander (read his post on white people moving into Harlem for an example) has a book out entitled Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions. Writing for The Atlantic Benjamin Schwarz takes a look at the white progressive status-seekers and Lander's critique of this population segment.

Lander’s White People approve of the kind of diversity that affords them the aesthetic and consumer benefits of what they like to think of as urban life—that is, the kind that allows them to

get sushi and tacos on the same street. But they will also send their kids to private school with other rich white kids so that they can avoid the “low test scores” that come with educational diversity.

Here and elsewhere, accompanying the book’s mockery of the essentially innocuous solipsism of White People is what Lander, a man of the left, described to me as his exasperation with progressives’ “cultural righteousness” and “intolerance and groupthink”—a set of attitudes that enhances and is enhanced by a profoundly smug and incurious outlook. To be sure, these faults aren’t peculiar to the progressive and the hip, but Lander repeatedly and cleverly shows how some of White People’s favorite activities (watching political documentaries, “raising awareness,” foreign travel), which they complacently embrace as broadening, are in fact lazy and tend to be intellectually and politically stultifying: White People “like feeling smart without doing work—two hours in a theater is easier than ten hours with a book.”

More damning is the conclusion produced by a careful reading of this often fine-grained semi-sociological analysis: a good deal of the progressives’ attitudes, preferences, and sense of identity are ingrained in an unlovely disdain for those outside their charmed circle. In Lander’s analysis, much of their self-satisfaction derives from consumption (the slack-sounding “stuff” in the title is deceptively apt)—and much of that consumption is motivated by a desire to differentiate themselves from the benighted. Sushi, for instance, is “everything [White People] want: foreign culture, expensive, healthy, and hated by the ‘uneducated.’” And whatever its goals, the ACLU is beloved by White People, Lander satirically but not wholly unjustifiably asserts, because it protects them “from having to look at things they don’t like. At the top of this list is anything that has to do with Christianity”—an aversion, Lander discerns, rooted not in religious enmity but in taste (Christianity is “a little trashy”), formed largely by class and education. To those of this mind-set, the problem with a great many Americans is that they don’t “care about the right things.”

What is especially exasperating to me about the "White People" which Lander describes is the lasting damage of their shallow condescending outlooks. When translated into public policy their desires lead to long-lasting harm to the commonwealth.

By Randall Parker    2008 September 20 01:52 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2008 July 13 Sunday
British Preschoolers Who Dislike Spices Seen As Racist

The tragic decay of once Great Britain continues.

Toddlers who turn their noses up at spicy food from overseas could be branded racists by a Government-sponsored agency.

The National Children's Bureau, which receives £12 million a year, mainly from Government funded organisations, has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.

This could include a child of as young as three who says "yuk" in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.

Mom to 4 year old son: "Never say yuk." "Why mummie?" "They'll come and take you away from me and send you to a reeducation camp." "What's a reeducation camp mummie?" "A very bad place." So then Johnnie tells the school teacher about this and then the government comes and takes away Mummie for calling the reeducation camp a bad place.

The thought police want to start early.

The 366-page guide for staff in charge of pre-school children, called Young Children and Racial Justice, warns: "Racist incidents among children in early years settings tend to be around name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships."

Mummie will need to teach Junior that he can have only one white friend and must instead make friends with non-white kids or else, again, Junior will be taken away.

While communism has collapsed the evil leftists are still in our midst.

By Randall Parker    2008 July 13 06:59 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2008 July 12 Saturday
Obama Foolishness On Value Of Multilingualism

Barack Obama thinks Americans need to learn other languages.

I don't understand when people are going around worrying about, "We need to have English only." They want to pass a law, "We want just, uh, we want English only."

Ron Unz waged a battle in many states across the country against so-called multi-lingual education. In practice multi-lingual education amounted to putting Spanish-speaking kids in Spanish instruction classes so that they didn't get exposed heavily to English when they were young and most able to rapidly learn a language. We have every reason to worry about kids learning English because teachers and school administrators can make more money by keeping kids in Spanish language educational ghettoes. But Obama is oblivious to all this.

Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But, but, understand this. Instead of worrying about whether, uh, immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish.

Our children do not need to learn Spanish if all the people around them speak English. Having everyone speaking the same language is called having a communications standard. Communications standards are extremely useful. You are able to read what I've written here because standards such as TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML, Javascript, and ethernet allow a large number of computer devices to communicate with each other.

People can communicate because they speak the same language. The tower of Babel is a bad idea. Fewer languages mean more people can communicate with each other.

You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language.

Why? What is the point of this? I learned German in high school and rarely had any opportunity to use it. I'd have to spend a lot of money to go to some place where speaking German would be useful. This is just leftist elite snobbery. He is embarrassed that we do not measure up to multi-lingual Europeans. But the linguistically balkanized Europe is at a huge competitive disadvantage because they can not communicate in a single shared language. The advantage of America is that all the immigrants learned English and English became a worldwide standard for business communications and scientific communications.

We embarrass Barack Obama. Poor dear. We do not measure up.

You know, it's embarrassing, it's embarrassing when -- when, uh, Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say is, "Merci beaucoup."

In Europe the big push for decades has been to learn English so that everyone can talk to each other in a common language. That's true in international companies around the world. A world standard language lowers costs and improves efficiency.

I had a Dutch friend in college who could speak 5 languages. He told me he needed to speak 5 languages because he could drive a couple of hours in a car and find himself in areas where the people speak 5 different languages. But living in America he saw it as a waste of time to spend time learning languages that you'll have little opportunity or need to use.

Obama reacts to criticism of his statement by claiming that learning more languages is learning more knowledge and how can anyone be opposed to learning more knowledge?

"This is an example of some of the problems we get into when somebody attacks you for saying the truth, which is: We should want our children with more knowledge. We should want our children to have more skills. There's nothing wrong with that. That's a good thing. I know, because I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing," Obama said chuckling as his audience did the same.

This is yet another example of left-liberal elite folly. Some kinds of knowledge are useful. But other kinds of knowledge are a waste to learn because they have little or no value. How many job advertisements do you see saying "We'll pay you $20000 more per year if you speak Czech"? Or how about the big bonuses for speaking Swahili? You might be able to make more for speaking Chinese - but only if you work in occupation where you coordinate the work of Chinese engineers or production workers. Or if you want to go sell your products in a country that speaks another language then skills in that language can help. But this advantage from speaking other human languages is rare for people who speak English.

Obama thinks we should think about how to make our kids trilingual.

"Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English - they'll learn English - you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish," Mr. Obama said. "You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language."

...

This is not the first time Mr. Obama has addressed the issue of bilingualism, as he touched upon the subject during a town hall meeting held in Colorado on May 28.

"Understand that my starting principle is, everybody should be bilingual or everybody should be trilingual," Mr. Obama said in response to a question about bilingual education. The Illinois senator explained his position was predicated on the belief the U.S. would be economically impaired if it remained a country geared toward English only.

He has a "starting principle"? Obama is like the sum of all Ivy League liberal prejudices. He's never worked in an international corporation. He doesn't speak the foreign languages he thinks Americans should speak. He hasn't done cold hard calculations on the economic value of speaking various languages. He hasn't done trade-off analyses of the relative value of learning Spanish versus Chinese versus C++ or Java or petroleum engineering. He's just got this belief common among his clique which he hasn't thought hard about.

We are headed into 4 to 8 years of hearing foolish left-liberal elite utterances from a sitting President of the United States. While Democrats see Obama as a big departure from Bush I see him as Bush Plus. He'll be just as wrong on immigration. He'll be just as wrong on education. But he'll add on to that even more liberal beliefs than Bush believes.

Update: Steve Sailer points out Barack Obama has not availed himself of excellent opportunities to learn foreign languages.

Obama lacks a second language despite living for four years at an impressionable age in a foreign country, and then spending eight years at a lavish prep school that currently offers five different languages and makes studying at least one of them mandatory in 7th grade. Sen. Obama also has an undergraduate degree from Columbia University, which has a foreign language requirement and offers 37 different foreign languages, including some that don't exist anymore, such as Akkadian. He later spent three years at Harvard, which offers instruction in more languages than I'm willing to count. I did make it through Harvard's "African Languages" list and counted 20 separate ones offered at Harvard.

So, Obama has had more opportunity to learn a foreign language than 95% of all native-born Americans, but he hasn't.

I do not like "Do as I say, not as I do" messages.

Update II: Obama thinks people in India who speak English have a huge advantage by being bilingual.

"We as a society do a really bad job teaching foreign languages, and it is costing us when it comes to being competitive in a global marketplace," the Illinois senator said at a school here Wednesday. He said India has a "huge advantage" because most people speak English besides their native language.

India has several hundred languages with 29 languages each spoken by at least 1 million people. That's not a competitive advantage. That is a competitive disadvantage. This necessitates complex constitutional clauses and laws on the use of languages. A late 1964 attempt to phase out English in government in favor of Hindi met with violent protests. The existence of multiple languages widely used within a nation's borders causes political divisions as we see in Iraq, Canada, Belgium, and other countries which labor under political splits that result from competing languages.

Update III: John Derbyshire points out beyond early childhood people find it very hard to learn additional languages. Derb also argues that Obama overestimates the amount of cognitive capacity most people have available to learn languages. Most people are not as smart as Obama. People with high verbal IQ but not as much spatial IQ seem to overestimate the IQ of others.

By Randall Parker    2008 July 12 09:47 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (13)
2008 July 05 Saturday
Dennis Dale: America Is Not The Answer

We are led into false beliefs about our nation by ambitious people who seek to harness us in their pursuit of their goals.

America is not the answer. This statement does not constitute sacrilege, as we've been conditioned to believe. Yet its opposite assertion, the prevailing sentiment of our times, is taken for granted and only rejected by the remnants of the sixties radical Left who haven't yet gone mainstream, mad or over to the neoconservative Right, where the business of quasi-religious global revolution, still, is so much better.
But this sentiment, that American values and institutions, that is to say America, are the answer to the ills of the world, is sacrilege in the literal religious sense, as well as loosely speaking--against decency, good sense, modesty, those tragically under-appreciated values that compel us to, for instance, recognize the rights of nations to self-determination and liberty. This widely held if little examined faith works through the same means of cultural intimidation as political correctness--is becoming intertwined as an article of political correctness--and is how liberal interventionists and neoconservatives alike have become the useful idiots of adventurous practitioners of machtpolitik--Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, et al. It's illustrative that there's not an ideologue in this unsavory triad.

We have become incapable of recognizing the tragic pride of this attitude. This, the closest thing we have to a national religion, is a faith that cannot rise to the level of religion because it requires nothing of us--other than nodding, unthinking acquiescence to power. It combines the worst aspect of religiosity--resistance to contradictory reality, with the worst consequences of secularism--immodesty, intellectual and moral sloth, decadence. We forget ourselves.

Read the whole thing. By saying that America is not the answer we actually defend America from people who would turn our republic into an empire. We can not maintain an internal republic and an external empire. They are not compatible. Liberals and neoconservatives both promote American exceptionalism as an argument for remaking the world. Patriots should hear these calls with skepticism.

Update: I am reminded of a quote from John Adams:

Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.

By Randall Parker    2008 July 05 11:47 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2008 June 30 Monday
Nicholas Kristof: If Only Mugabe Were White

If the tyrant Robert Mugabe was a white man he'd already be a dead man.

When the white supremacist regime of Ian Smith oppressed Zimbabweans in the 1970s, African countries rallied against it. Eventually, even the white racist government in South Africa demanded change and threatened to cut off electricity supplies if it didn’t happen.

Yet South African President Thabo Mbeki continues to make excuses for Mr. Mugabe — who is more brutal than Ian Smith ever was — out of misplaced deference for a common history in the liberation struggle. Zimbabweans suffered so much for so many decades from white racism that the last thing they need is excuses for Mr. Mugabe’s brutality because of his skin color.

The cost of Mugabe's rule has wiped out most of the progress that white rule brought to Zimbabwe.

Life expectancy in Zimbabwe has already dropped from the low 60s to the high 30s.

Kristof claims Britain squandered its influence by complaining loudly about the plight of white farmers. Think about that. Why should complaints about the mistreatment (killings, rapings, dispossessions, etc) of white farmers cost Britain the standing to oppose Mugabe? Because in the twisted liberal moral calculus one loses status by complaining about whites in a black country. It just isn't done.

Few people care about the fate of Africa. In America even few black people care. We do not hear the NAACP or the Congressional Black Caucus calling on the US government to overthrow Mugabe. Bill Gates isn't offering a big cash prize to mercenaries to overthrow Mugabe's government. Yet cash for mercenaries is a really cheap way to make Zimbabwe a better place. Compared to other ways the US spends foreign aid it would be far more cost effective.

Paul Wolfowitz thinks Mugabe should be offered retirement.

Most importantly, dramatic action by the international community could embolden other Africans to confront the tragedy in their backyard. One step would be to offer Mugabe an honorable way out. South Africa or some other country should offer Mugabe a safe and comfortable retirement if he leaves without further violence.

But Wolfowitz admits that does not always work. Why not try bullets? One bullet in the skull would retire Mugabe.

One of the more complicated cases is that of Charles Taylor in Liberia, because he was offered exactly such a deal to leave Liberia and go to Nigeria. And I think that was a good thing. But what he did once he got to Nigeria was terrible, because he kept using communications and probably money to keep stirring up trouble in Liberia, and so eventually the Nigerians handed him over to the court. If I were going to get very explicit, I would say any deal with Mugabe has to make sure that he is no longer interfering in the affairs of Zimbabwe. It really has to be the end.

Zimbabwe just had a travesty of an election.

So, how'd the voting go in Zimbabwe today? John Simpson, the BBC World Affairs editor, reporting from Harare, said the atmosphere of fear and intimidation was the worst thing "he has seen in 40 years of reporting."

Many voters reportedly believed they would be subject to violence and harassment if their fingers were not dipped in red ink, a sign that they had voted. Although this might mean that they cast a protest ballot for Mr. Tsvangirai, don't bet on it -- election officials and Mugabe goons are requring voters to write down the serial numbers of their ballots, so they will have a record of everyone who voted for the opposition.

Over at the Foreign Policy Passport blog Blake Hounsell explains Africa's leaders stayed quiet about Mugabe at an African Union meeting because he shares too many characteristics in common with them.

The Post's Ellen Knickmeyer, I think, gets it right when she attributes the silence to the fact that a lot of the other folks in the room have also stolen power and maintained it by force. I mean, what could they say? Steal the election more artfully? Mugabe pretty much said the same last week at a campaign rally: "I want to see that finger pointed at me and I will check if that finger is clean or dirty." I wonder, though, if the tone would be different were the summit held in a democratic African country, as opposed to Mubarak's Egypt. Nobody wants to insult the host.

Rather than complain about Mugabe and propose impractical solutions for Zimbabwe the fastest way to improve the quality of its government is to pay some mercs to overthrow Mugabe and kill him and his top henchmen. Make them dead. Do it quick. Offer big cash prizes for the mercs who pull it off. The Executive Outcomes mercenaries from South Africa did an excellent job in Sierra Leone stopping rebels from killing lots of people until the IMF forced the President of Sierra Leone to fire them. He got overthrown a few months later and the place decayed once again. If the IMF politically correct liberal-minded fools hadn't interfered the conditions in Sierra Leone would have improved.

Zimbabwe needs overthrow of a government rather than the beating back of rebels. A private army could get this done.

By Randall Parker    2008 June 30 10:41 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (19)
2008 April 20 Sunday
Dennis Dale On Condescending Elite Flattery And Code Speak

Dennis Dale has written an excellent essay on the occasional slips of the masks our elites wear as they look down on us.

Too bad we the public cannot conspire, away from the calculating gaze of the political/media class, to pay no heed at all to "gaffes." To starve them once and for all of the raw material of manufactured controversy, a random bludgeon of opportunity that only serves to introduce an element of caprice into politics and further chill our already tepid national discourse. No, occasional disciplinary lapses into honesty should be encouraged and welcome for what they often are: the brief lifting of the veil of rhetorical obscurity between the people and the governing elite.

After explaining that Obama's candidacy is built upon a circle of flattery (go read it) Dennis then gets down to how Obama's gaffe was basically to slip out of code-speak and say more bluntly something he's said many times in code.

Senator Obama said nothing he hasn't said a thousand coded times before, assuring one group its resentment of another is proof of its righteousness. There are two distinct groups he must appease with demagogy, blacks and self-styled liberals; the same bogeyman template works well for both: gun-toting, God-fearing, white. The Wonder Brother could give the Clinton in this race a lesson in triangulation.

Yes, Obama's "gaffe" is evidence of elitist disdain, but it distinguishes him in no way from his peers. Exacting a political price for it is a sort of censorship, nothing more, and only serves to sink us further into obscurity. Barack Obama said nothing he and the political class doesn't take so much for granted that occasionally they will let it slip: the conservative white middle class is another nation with conflicting interests. They are to be humored and isolated politically, wherever possible, but, rest assured, they will not upset the order and progress of things. Their concerns are the delusional product of their ignorance and mean state, born of inferiority. But we can still congratulate ourselves for the enlightened pity we feel for them.

This, in a nutshell, is the main reason why I do not want an Obama presidency. My problem is that I have very compelling reasons to not want a Hillary Clinton presidency or a John McCain presidency either. They look upon me with disdain to varying degrees as well. But Obama takes it further. He much more profoundly does not believe he's part of the same group as I am. From his rough (snicker) upbringing in Hawaii he's built up a model of victimized black guy and I, as a white guy, am in the club that victimizes him. Well, I think blacks in America ought to look at African countries which have few white people on the ground and ask themselves if they really are getting a bad deal by co-occupying a country with a majority white population. I think we deliver huge benefits and take a lot of costs in response (e.g. more real victimization of whites by black criminals and racial preferences which discriminate against whites).

Now we are expected (by condescending white liberals and assorted other fools) to accept the prospect of President Obama with excitement. We'll be ruled by a better. Gimme a break. American politics is built on large stacks of lies. Gotta agree with Dennis. It would be far easier if gaffe-speak was the norm. The truth of what our elites really believe would be easier to take if they were more honest about it.

To my readers who are Democrats: Read Dennis' next paragraph that I do not quote here. How can you get excited about your party as a source of greater economic justice for the working class? The elites who run the Democratic Party are just as much enemies of the white working class as are corporate lobbies working for cheap labor. You delude yourselves if you think the Democratic Party still resembles to any appreciable extent what it was in the era of Harry Truman. That party of our imaginations is dead.

By Randall Parker    2008 April 20 09:12 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
2008 January 29 Tuesday
Mark Krikorian: John McCain A Multiculturalist

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies

We all know John McCain is terrible on immigration. For years he held America’s sovereignty and security hostage to amnesty and increased immigration, and his newfound support for “enforcement first” is so insubstantial and transparently insincere that it insults our intelligence. He’s so bad that Americans for Better Immigration ranks his performance in office as the worst of all the presidential candidates — including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (See the GOP grid here and the Democratic one here.) And as Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has pointed out, passage of McCain’s bill “would represent the largest expansion of the welfare state in 30 years.”

But his support for de facto open borders is merely one manifestation of a larger problem — John McCain is a multiculturalist.

Krikorian argues that McCain is an ideological multiculturalist who supports special rights for minority cultures. This is highly problematic because if values diverge too radically we will end up with a very corrupt system of ethnic spoils and a low trust society with little social capital.

I don’t mean he eats tacos at the Cinco de Mayo parade (nothing wrong with that!) — I mean he’s an ideological multiculturalist. Francis Fukuyama has described (PDF) the ideology of multiculturalism this way: “not just as tolerance of cultural diversity in de facto multicultural societies but as the demand for legal recognition of the rights of ethnic, racial, religious, or cultural groups.” At almost every turn over his entire public career, John McCain has supported the pluribus over the unum.

Take bilingual education. McCain has been an enthusiastic proponent of this divisive and discredited program for years. He was honorary co-host of the 1995 convention of the National Association for Bilingual Education; The New Republic reported that he wrote to convention participants that “[t]o reject a native language as a tool for teaching as well as enriching our national heritage makes learning all the more difficult and makes us a poorer nation.”

In 1998 he said, “I have always supported bilingual education programs to help students learn English. Proposals to restrict the use of languages other than English are always divisive.” That was the year that California voters approved Proposition 227, “English for the Children,” which (sort of) abolished bilingual education there.

Prop. 227 leader Ron Unz went on to organize successful efforts restrict or abolish "bilingual" education in many other states. It is important to emphasize that bilingual education as practiced by the ethnic Left in educational systems isn't just a way to balkanize the nation. It is a really stupid and inefficient way to get non-English speaking youngsters to become proficient at English. Younger kids can learn a new language if they are immersed in it. The best way to convert Spanish speaking 6 year olds into fluent English speakers is to expose them only to English.

Krikorian also reports that in 1996 McCain lobbied Arizona state legislators to vote against a proposed state law that would abolish racial preferences. There's a reason why McCain is the favorite Republican of the liberal national press: when they look at McCain they see a kindred spirit.

I'm not sure who would be a worse president, Huckabee or McCain. At this point Romney seems least bad. Anyone agree, disagree? Have specific reasons why?

Update: McCain’s “Hispanic outreach director” feels primary loyalty toward Mexico, not the United States.

“I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think ‘Mexico first.’ ” These are the words of Juan Hernandez, John McCain’s “Hispanic outreach director,” on Nightline June 7, 2001.

The blogosphere has been abuzz over the news of Hernandez’s position in the McCain campaign, thanks to the spadework of Michelle Malkin (see here, here, and here) and Jerry Corsi. Thanks also to the power of the Internet, McCain was actually asked about this at an event in Florida Sunday, though he tap-danced his way out of answering directly.

I'm thinking McCain will make a worse President than Hillary Clinton.

By Randall Parker    2008 January 29 05:37 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2007 December 18 Tuesday
Happy Holidays? Which Holidays?

The VDare reporting on the War Against Christmas (and parts II and III) reminds me of how annoying the term "Happy Holidays" really is. Happy Holidays? Which holidays exactly? Easter? Halloween? Why, in the month of December, do commercials say "Happy Holidays" and they don't say it before Thanksgiving or Labor Day?

Granted, Christmas and New Year's Day come in quick succession, a mere week apart. But the sales in the department stores aren't for New Years gifts. Santa doesn't hook up his reindeer and ride to hundreds of millions of homes on New Year's Day. We do not put up New Years trees or New Years lights. Christmas is the holiday event of the year in the United States and in many other Western countries as well.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And to hell with Happy Holidays.

By Randall Parker    2007 December 18 08:33 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2007 December 08 Saturday
German Double Standard On Scientology And Islam

The German government is probably going to ban Scientology for being repressive and a threat to democracy.

Germany's federal and state interior ministers have declared the Church of Scientology unconstitutional, clearing the way for a possible ban.

The ministers have asked Germany's domestic intelligence agency to examine whether the Church's legal status as an association could be challenged.

Scientology is not recognized as a religion in Germany.

So if a non-religious organization has parasitic and problematic aspects it can be banned. But if the members of a large religious organization held similar views and engaged in similar behaviors because of their beliefs about the supernatural then the German government would show more tolerance for it .

This exaltation of supernatural belief over this world origin belief is an enormous mistake. It empowers any group that wants to engage in unacceptable behavior. Do it in the name of God and suddenly the rules change. The original motive for it (to avoid any more religious wars among European peoples) doesn't even make sense. Islamic Jihadists aren't going to treat us better just because we tolerate Islam. They'll take it as a sign of weakness on our part and up their demands.

Ralf Stegner thinks Scientology uses massive repression.

"Scientology works on the basis of massive repression, like a totalitarian organisation which wants to break the will of the people, which is precisely why we have to fight it," Ralf Stegner, interior minister of Schleswig-Holstein, said after yesterday's meeting.

What does Ralf think about Islam? I'd be curious to know.

Unlike these German security officials Ayaan Hirsi Ali knows real repression when she sees it:

"The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with 100 stripes: Let no compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day." (Koran 24:2)

Absurd and parasitic Scientology is pretty mild stuff as compared to repressive Islam. Hirsi Ali recounts recent episodes of Muslim repression such as the Saudi case where a raped woman was sentenced to a couple of hundred lashes for being in the company of a man without her family around and the British school teacher in Sudan arrested and nearly whipped for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Mohammad". Hirsi Ali sees these episodes as stemming from the core nature of Islam.

It is often said that Islam has been "hijacked" by a small extremist group of radical fundamentalists. The vast majority of Muslims are said to be moderates.

But where are the moderates? Where are the Muslim voices raised over the terrible injustice of incidents like these? How many Muslims are willing to stand up and say, in the case of the girl from Qatif, that this manner of justice is appalling, brutal and bigoted - and that no matter who said it was the right thing to do, and how long ago it was said, this should no longer be done?

Usually, Muslim groups like the Organization of the Islamic Conference are quick to defend any affront to the image of Islam. The organization, which represents 57 Muslim states, sent four ambassadors to the leader of my political party in the Netherlands asking him to expel me from Parliament after I gave a newspaper interview in 2003 noting that by Western standards some of the Prophet Muhammad's behavior would be unconscionable. A few years later, Muslim ambassadors to Denmark protested the cartoons of Muhammad and demanded that their perpetrators be prosecuted.

But while the incidents in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and India have done more to damage the image of Islamic justice than a dozen cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, the organizations that lined up to protest the hideous Danish offense to Islam are quiet now.

Imagine the German government banning Islam because it is repressive. If repressiveness is the standard that should trip illegalization then Islam crossed that line a long time ago.

Curiously, the German people see Islam as repressive.

In May last year a national poll was published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allegmaine which indicated that attitudes towards Islam had worsened in the two years since 2004. 91% of respondents thought that Islam oppressed women (in 2004, the amount was 85%). 83% of Germans thought Islam was dominated by fanaticism (in 2004, the figure was 75%). 71% of Germans questioned felt Islam was intolerant, compared to 66% in 2004. 56% thought the "Clash of Civilisations" had already started. In 2004, 46% believed it had started.

The German survey also asked if strict limits should be imposed upon Islam in Germany, and nearly half (40%) agreed. Germans were asked if building of mosques should be forbidden in their nation while some Islamic states refused permission for churches to be built. Again, more than half (56%) agreed. More than half (61%) of the respondents agreed that there would perpetually be "major conflict between both faiths". The pollsters concluded: "If one looks at this from a pessimistic viewpoint it could be seen as the start of a downward spiral toward conflict...The clash of civilizations has already begun in the minds of citizens."

The German government fears that Scientologists will influence German politics.

The argument is nothing new; in fact the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution has watched the group for years because of its recruitment practices. The federal government worries that Scientology, as a foreign organization, wants to win over adherents and influence German politics. "There is substantial evidence that the Scientology organization is involved in activities directed against the free democratic order," the agency has written in official reports.

Islam is winning adherents by conversion and by reproduction. Muslims have more babies than Germans do. The Germans would be lucky if their biggest problem was Scientology. But it is not.

By Randall Parker    2007 December 08 09:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2007 June 17 Sunday
Race As Social Construct With Factual Basis

An unrealistic typical inside-the-dogma-boundaries debate about race, this one at The New Republic, ellicits a response from Razib at Gene Expression. Razib says race is not simply an ideological construct.

Race is a social construction. But it is not one constructed purely from human ideology. That many perceive Greeks as white and Turks as non-white is a reflection of social axioms (Christians are white, Muslims are brown). That may perceive Greeks as white and Thai as non-white is not a reflection of social axioms (Greeks exhibit physical characteristics of the white race, Thais do not). Humanists are well schooled in the interplay between ideology and facts in generating a narrative of the world. To pretend as if there is no factual basis in the outlines of an ideology is a denial of reality, which would less concerning if not for the fact that most Americans parrot this very line about race as if it was universally accepted.

I like to cite the example of dog breeds. Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois are different breeds. Some dogs sit clearly inside the definition of Border Collie or Aussie or Malinois. Others are mixes. Just because mixes exist does not mean that the group average characteristics of each breed isn't unique. Just because mixes exist doesn't mean that breeds do not exist or that breed labels are not useful. Breed names have real world utility. If you are near Golden Retriever who is barking at you your odds of getting bit or even killed are a lot lower than if you are near a Rottweiler that is barking at you. Group average differences in behavior rationally should influence your choices about house pets, guard dogs, or defensive behavior when challenged by a stranger dog.

Responding to the same TNR discussion Steve Sailer repeats his common sensical definition of race: "a partly inbred extended family".

I've long felt my single biggest contribution was coming up with a definition of "racial group" that was both rigorous and common-sensical ("a partly inbred extended family"). Simply having a useful definition should do much to dispel the hysteria, bad-faith, status-seeking, and general air of nonsense surrounding the topic of race.

On the other hand, my definition hasn't exactly swept like wildfire through the intellectual world as Chowkwanyun's essay demonstrates. But that's the way it generally is. You don't persuade famous thinkers, like, say, Richard Rorty. You outlive them. A new generation then comes along that doesn't have their egos invested in bad old ideas.

So, I was pleased to see in TNR a reply to the article by Justin Shubow that demonstrates a good familiarity with state-of-the-art thinking on the subject.

Why is Steve seeing a sensible idea getting adopted more quickly? I think the internet has accelerated the speed at which ideas spread. New ideas (or previously marginalized ideas) get put in front of many more pairs of eyes and lots of people who do not have vested interests in the current conventional wisdom decide the current conventional wisdom is wrong.

My guess is that the gap between the conventional wisdom and empirical reality is going to get narrower because the gatekeepers of the conventional wisdom are experiencing a reduced ability to control what people read and hear. Some of the middlemen in the markets for ideas are getting automated out of existence just as distributors of many physical products have gotten replaced with computer systems that allow more direct shipments.

Some pessimists think the defenders of conventional wisdom are still holding the line and keeping everyone in line. But my sense of it is that the intellectual building they constructed to hold everyone inside of might still look strong but it has termites. A lot of people are still afraid to publically speak their minds. But a growing number are changing their beliefs in the privacy of their own minds (or hiding behind pseudonyms as bloggers and blog commenters) and they are waiting looking for signals for when to all start speaking truthfully all at once. Those signals for when honesty becomes possible are coming soon and will come in the form of scientific evidence from DNA sequencing studies.

By Randall Parker    2007 June 17 05:05 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2007 April 22 Sunday
A Harvard Liberal And Barbarians At The Gates

Alex Copulsky, Design Editor of the Harvard Political Review, reacts to a recent New York Times Magazine piece on Pope Benedict with some revealing comments about how one secular liberal views the conflict between the West and Islam.

Let us leave aside the question of whether there is a present or approaching “clash of civilizations”. It is eminently debatable. However, Benedict has a point that if one believes a clash of civilization is coming, the West's rejection of the Church has weakened it. As a liberal, secular Western liberal, I must admit that thinking in these terms makes me somewhat uneasy...after all, it's very far from PC, and only a skip, hop, and leap away from saying that “They are barbarians, and they ARE at the gates”. No one is saying that (publicly, anyway), but rather they are analytically pointing out that a certain tradition and way of life seems to be fading out, and may be approaching a crisis.

No one? I'm "no one". Lawrence Auster is "no one". Swedish blogger Fjordman is no one. (read more Fjordman on the demographic and cultural crisis of the West) Audacious Epigone is "no one". Steve Sailer is "no one". I can point to many other "no one" writers on the web. We do not exist as thinkers and observers in the minds of an intellectual at Harvard. Yet we repeatedly make arguments for how the West's existence is threatened by demographic trends which have parallels with the fall of Rome.

But Copulsky acknowledges that civilizations do collapse.

Civilizations have died before, one might want to remember. The Maya and Incans did, the Persians did, and (most relevantly) the Romans did. Pope Benedict may be a cantankerous old alarmist, or he may be a prophet in the wilderness.

That wilderness which Benedict and others speak into would be the modern Western liberal universities.

Islam challenges the very condescending liberal notion that liberalism is the natural universal belief of all humanity. Elite liberals at places like Harvard can't admit to the Islamic threat without conceding that there is no Liberal Manifest Destiny for the world and liberal elites are not the vanguard for a movement that is destined to sweep the world. But they do not want to make that concession because to make it would lower their own status in their own eyes. This all reminds me of some remarks Sage McLaughlin made to Lawrence Auster in a post called "Is the Islamic takeover of Europe inevitable?":

If "racist" now means "doesn't hate one's own kind" or "isn't interested in groveling before Muslim interlopers," then lots of otherwise decent people may simply conclude, "Very well then, God help me, I am racist." Liberals never fail to miss this important point. By declaring practically all interest in the maintenance of ethnic integrity and social distinctiveness "fascistic," "racist," "hateful," "xenophobic," or what have you, they virtually guarantee that normal people will eventually become desensitized to these words and lose their ability to distinguish between love of one's own and hatred of the Other. If liberals can't see the difference, and if they are the self-appointed experts on these matters, who is the average man in the street to disagree? Since the average man on the street has no burning desire to be displaced by foreigners and forced to comply with their every demand, he might just conclude that violent hatred is the natural and indispensable companion of ordinary self respect.

In the end, I think things are going to get much, much worse before they get better, precisely because liberals refuse to accept the most common sense limitations on the principle of tolerance. They risk discrediting tolerance altogether by making it synonymous with self-extinction.

Liberalism has become an unempirical ideology. It is just another religious faith yet its elite believers fancy themselves as unreligious.

By Randall Parker    2007 April 22 04:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
2007 February 04 Sunday
Steve Sailer On Debating Ploys Of The Smug And Stupid

A reader of Steve Sailer writes in with a number of debating ploys widely used by liberals and neoconservatives. (see the whole list)

Appeal to theoretical human potential: Actual human behavior seems to mean less to liberals than potential human behavior. I think this is one of the things that distinguishes liberals and neoconservatives from actual conservatives. For liberals, the fact that a person or people could conceivably do something often seems to be as good as if they actually do do something. Worried that Mexican cultural values are inferior to traditional Anglo-American cultural values when it comes to maintaining a First World country? "Sure, Mexican-Americans may not currently be as highly individualistic as Anglo-Americans, but no problem," the liberal will respond, "I see no reason why they couldn't be." The liberal is then happy to rest their case as if "could" solves the problem once and for all. They will simply ignore the reality that there is no force forcing Mexican-Americans to adopt such Anglo values. As a matter of fact, those traditional values are in decline among whites also. "But not to worry," the liberal might say, "we could regain those values if we really needed them."

But in reality groups that are not individualistic remain that way for many generations. The causes are probably at least partially genetic. The "could" argument is only true because of the future potential for genetic engineering to remold human nature. But the people using the "could" argument are believers in the Blank Slate and in the primacy of environment to easily mold humans.

In the discussion thread for that post another reader, Dave, comments that right-wingers often make arguments which similarly assume qualities in humans that are not present in a substantial portion of the population.

Interesting that you write that liberals often assume that theoretical human potential equals actual human potential. Conservatives do the same thing in many instances.

Examples abound when it comes to retirement security. Conservatives expect that lower-income folks will take advantage of 401(k)s, IRAs and other tax-advantaged retirement accounts because... who wouldn't be that prudent? They seem to forget that one reason these folks have been poor for generations is that they aren't prudent and they have no concept of thrift. We would all be better off if the government mandated a certain level of participation in retirement plans.

My reaction is that the argument Dave criticises isn't really conservative. It comes from right wingers of libertarian free-marketeer and economic bents (where economists assume we are all utility maximizing members of the species homo economicus). We heard this argument a lot a few years ago when George W. Bush was trying to get Congress to create supposedly private Social Security accounts. The argument made no sense to me for exactly the reason Dave cites: a substantial fraction of the population (I'd say well over three quarters) do not know how to invest money and lack the time and intellectual capacity to analyse investment choices. It strikes me as conservative to say that and left-liberal to say that everyone has equal capacity to do anything.

During the Social Security privatization debate big Wall Street money from both sides of the political aisle lined up in favor of the proposal. The prospects of immediate big profits often cause ideological beliefs to fall by the wayside. The Wall Streeters stood to make huge yearly fees managing the many personal investment accounts. But outside of the investment industry the argument had greater appeal on the right since most (not all) capitalistic individualists consider themselves right wing and want control of their own money and want to believe a totally voluntary society would work much better than what we have now.

Some advocates of Social Security privatization recognized the lack of capacity of most people to make investment decisions but saw that as an opportunity. The greater the number of foolish investors the better the opportunity for more astute investors to make money off of the stampedes of the crowds. But privatization would eventually have brought even more taxes to pay for retirements of the unwise investors. The masses aren't going to let a substantial number of old folks get put out on the streets due to extreme poverty.

Our larger problem is that a substantial (and growing) portion of the population lack the capacity to analyze large quantities of data and to make correct decisions about their own interests or about the interests of the society at large. Lower IQ people aren't competent members of juries or voters or raisers of children. I wish it were otherwise because I'd much prefer to live in a society of more autonomous individuals and a smaller state. But in a non-solipsistic universe wishing does not make things come true.

By Randall Parker    2007 February 04 02:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (23)
2006 July 14 Friday
Whites Not Good Enough For Accredited Universities

America's political Left is fully evil and just likes to screw things up.

The University of Maine's College of Education is among only a handful of teacher training programs nationwide cited for failing to achieve more racial diversity among its faculty and students, its national accrediting agency said.

But that does not mean that the program, based at the University of Maine's flagship Orono campus, will not win back its good standing quickly, said Jane Leibbrand, a spokeswoman at the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education in Washington.

Her agency warned the college that it could lose its accreditation if it doesn't achieve more racial diversity among its faculty and students.

Get this: Maine is 97% white. The education school at Orono managed to get 4% non-whites. But since Left likes to pretend that whites just come up short on all scores (unless the whites are Leftists who condescend toward non-Leftist whites as a way to show how superior they are toward other whites) those 96% whites are just not seen as adequate to make a useful university. Think about that. In the mind of Leftists all-white universities can't possibly grant degrees worth having.

By Randall Parker    2006 July 14 10:46 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2006 July 09 Sunday
Supposed Traditional Views Of Marriage Ahistorical

Stephanie Coontz, history and family studies professor at The Evergreen State College and author of Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage, says defenders of a supposedly traditional view of marriage do not appreciate just how much the rules and customs around marriage have changed over the last couple thousand years.

Nor did the early church establish elaborate rules about what made a marriage legitimate. One pope proposed that a marriage ought to take place in church to be valid. But his bishops pointed out that such a change would immediately render most of Europe's children illegitimate. So the church decided that a man and woman were married if they had exchanged "words of consent," even if they had done so out by the haystack, without any witnesses or involvement by a priest.

Not until 1215 did the Catholic Church make marriage a sacrament, and not until 1563 did it begin to enforce rules mandating that certain ceremonies had to be performed to make a marriage legitimate.

Sixteenth-century Protestant reformers had a much more positive attitude toward the blessedness of marriage than Catholics. But Protestant clerics were stricter than Catholics in enforcing the tradition that marriage should be governed by considerations of patriarchal authority and property rather than free choice based on love. In many Protestant regions, authorities forbade impoverished individuals from marrying at all. And Protestant officials often stepped in to dissolve marriages that had been made without parental consent, even if both parties were adult and children had already been born to their union.

It is also not "traditional" to insist that the state should have the final say over what constitutes a valid marriage. In the Roman tradition, which served as the basis for Western European law, the only difference between marriage and unmarried cohabitation was if the partners thought of themselves as married. It wasn't until 1754 that the English state required a license for a marriage to be valid. And even after that, "self-marriage" and "self-divorce" remained commonplace, especially in the early decades of the United States. In 1833, Pennsylvania's chief justice warned that a strict legal interpretation of rules governing marriage validity would render "the vast majority" of births in that state illegitimate.

I've had arguments with people who maintained that marriage is a creation of the state and that therefore the state can define it anyway the state wants to. But marriage as a state-licensed legal institution is a fairly modern invention.

In reaction to the gay marriage debate I question whether government recognition of marriage should even be an option for those who do not have children. What is society's major stake in individual marriages? Marriage is an institution which helps to protect and raise children (at least some of them). Why should we support legal benefits and divorce courts for people who do not have children?

Maybe couples should instead enter legal partnerships for property ownership issues and then only be able to graduate to marriage when they've either given birth to a kid or legally adopted one. With genetic testing becoming so affordable perhaps even birth as a basis for marriage should be dependent on either a genetic test or a formal signed avowal on the man's part that he recognizes a baby as his own.

By Randall Parker    2006 July 09 11:01 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
2005 September 01 Thursday
New Orleans Demonstrates Power Of Race Taboo In America

Writing for Slate Jack Shafer notes that TV newscasters steer clear of discussing the race of the people shown in New Orleans looting or just simply trying to get out.

I can't say I saw everything that the TV newscasters pumped out about Katrina, but I viewed enough repeated segments to say with 90 percent confidence that broadcasters covering the New Orleans end of the disaster demurred from mentioning two topics that must have occurred to every sentient viewer: race and class.

Nearly every rescued person, temporary resident of the Superdome, looter, or loiterer on the high ground of the freeway I saw on TV was African-American. And from the look of it, they weren't wealthy residents of the Garden District. This storm appears to have hurt blacks more directly than whites, but the broadcasters scarcely mentioned that fact.

While Shafer at least brings up the elephant in the room he still dances around and gives predictable liberal public lines without shedding much insight on why the events in New Orleans have taken such a terrible turn.

A life long liberal Democrat friend called me up and said "I don't want to sound racist or anything" and then launched into a tirade about black looting in New Orleans. This is how honest discussion of race in America takes place: in private between people who are fearful of revealing their thoughts on racial differences. My friend knows me well enough to know I won't repeat anything he said. So I get to hear what he really thinks. But in public people who disagree with the liberal taboo rules on race stay silent or mouth platitudes that keep them off the screen of taboo enforcers.

Some people express shock about the looting and armed bands of thugs roaming New Orleans. But blacks commit crimes at over 9 times the rate of whites and lower class people commit crimes at higher rates than middle and upper class people. The thin blue line holds back even greater criminality. Take that line away and large scale looting by a lower class black urban population just seems inevitable.

A helicopter evacuation service had to be suspended due to fears of gunfire.

But the ambulance service in charge of taking the sick and injured from the Superdome suspended flights after a shot was reported fired at a military helicopter. Richard Zuschlag, chief of Acadian Ambulance, said it had become too dangerous for his pilots.

FEMA has also suspended some operations due to lawlessness.

FEMA has had to suspend rescue operations in some areas after gunfire broke out.

Imagine an America where the taboo against discussing racial differences did not exist. In pre-disaster and immediate post-disaster planning the need to rapidly bring in large numbers of troops to maintain order in a large lower class black population would have been recognized and acted upon. New Orleans would have gone through far less looting (and likely rape, assault, and murder) than it has gone through under the liberal racial taboo regime. The liberal taboo has high costs. Turn on CNN or Fox or MSNBC and you can watch the costs play out.

Update: Zach at the Our Way Of Life blog makes an excellent observation when he points out the significance of a picture of flooded New Orleans city buses that the complaining mayor of New Orleans did not use to evacuate the city as the hurricane approached. This is pure incompetence.

By Randall Parker    2005 September 01 12:17 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (16)
2004 November 19 Friday
Jerry Pournelle: Jacobinism Root Cause Of Iraq Debacle

Jerry Pournelle sees the embrace by American intellectuals of Jacobin assumptions about human nature as providing the flawed rationale for the Iraq Debacle. (go read the whole thing!)

The more I think about the Iraqi campaign, the more I am convinced that the chief cause of this debacle -- I fear that is none too strong a word -- is the pervasiveness of Jacobinism among the intellectual leadership of this country. The notion that "all men are created equal" is a noble concept, and useful when establishing a government by the middle class which has only begun to wrest political control from an aristocracy that controls most of the wealth. It is useful as a legal principle in a nation governed by the rule of law. Objectively, though, it is nonsense. All men -- and women -- are not created equal. Some are smarter than others. Some are so stunted as to be counted human only through religious assumptions and legal definitions. If we expand our horizons beyond our own borders, the notion becomes even more absurd. Be it heredity or be it culture or be it a combination of both, nothing is more clearly false than the assumption of the equality of cultures, societies, and the people who live in them. To say otherwise would be to say that a culture of death and destruction which seeks to enslave as sub-human all those outside that culture; which says that there can be no peace with outsiders, only conquest; is the equal of the liberal democracies that believe in the notion of equality. Carried to extremes, the assumption of general equality states that the only thing the Nazis did wrong was to lose. Of course logic is never the strong suit of the Jacobins.

Jerry gets to the heart of the flawed Jacobin assumption about human nature:

All are equal, and thus all will be reasonable, and thus if given the opportunity all will choose to be like the Jacobins; and make no mistake, this is taught in almost every political science and anthropology class in the nation, and if the enlisted troops have not been forced to act as if they believe it, the officer corps, all of whom have college degrees, most certainly have been required to act that way to get those degrees. Think upon the fate of anyone in our colleges who asserts that some people are born smarter than others, and nothing the society can do will change that; and who asks for the evidence that his view is false. We do not have anything like freedom of thought or rational debate of ideas on our college campuses, and in our credentialed society one cannot become an officer without pretending to believe the current views despite the simple fact that those views are self-evidently nonsense.

It probably comes as no surprise to my long term readers that I think Jerry's analysis is correct. In a way this is the problem of an anti-empirical solipsism among intellectuals who think if they just can stifle all dissent from the modern liberal view of human nature that they can make their view be reflected in the way that all humans behave. The belief in the liberal ideal of man as Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "noble savage" is intellectually not at all far from the belief that the vast majority of Iraqis strongly desire a free and democratic society. Never mind that the Iraqis continue to demonstrate an unwillingness to fight for such a society. Liberalism and its offshoot neoconservatism keep the secular faith with a view of human nature that is inconsistent with a scientific view of what we now know about homo sapiens. What is now wrong with a large range of social policies ranging from education, immigration, racial preferences, and the neoconservative foreign policy agenda is a result of a willful denial of what is now known about human nature.

If you are unfamiliar or insufficiently familiar with the term "Jacobin" as it originated in the French Revolution then the Wikipedia Jacobin entry is a useful starting point. Also the Wikipedia Enlightenment entry has some relevant description:

The Enlightenment idea of rationality as government found its way to the heart of the American Declaration of Independence, and the Jacobin program of the French Revolution, as well as the American Constitution of 1787.

The French Revolution, in particular, represents the Enlightenment philosophy through a violent and messianic lens, particularly during the brief period of Jacobin dictatorship. The desire for rationality in government lead to the attempt to end the Catholic Church, and indeed Christianity, in France, change the calendar, clock, measuring system, monetary system and legal system along lines suggested by what was seen as an orderly rationality. It also took the ideas of social and economic equality further than any other state.

The Iraq Debacle may still serve a useful purpose of helping to undermine Jacobinism in the West. Though expect the growth of a large liberal and even neoconservative critique of Bush's Iraq intervention as something that could have been a smashing success if it had only been executed better. You know, communism failed because it was never tried in its pure form. That sort of nonsense.

Update: Prince Charles holds a very un-French view of human nature:

Charles’s note was read yesterday at a tribunal hearing into former Clarence House personal assistant Elaine Day’s compliant of sexual harassment against a senior member of staff.

In the letter, the Prince complained: “What is wrong with people now? Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities?

“This is to do with the learning culture in schools as a consequence of a child-centred system which admits no failure.

“People seem to think they can all be pop stars, high court judges, brilliant TV personalities or infinitely more competent heads of state without ever putting in the necessary work or having natural ability.

“This is the result of social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically and socially engineered to contradict the lessons of history.”

The English and Scottish Enlightenments were more practical and empirical. English Burkean Conservatism stands in opposition to Jacobinism.

By Randall Parker    2004 November 19 05:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (22)
2004 July 12 Monday
Lawrence Auster On Universalists And Multiculturalists

Lawrence Auster, View from the Right blogger, has a long essay in Front Page Magazine on the failure of liberals and conservatives to recognize multiculturalism as their enemy.

Since multiculturalism claims to stand for the sanctity and worth of each culture, the discovery that its real tendency is to dismantle the existing European-based culture of the United States should have instantly discredited it. Yet it has not—not even among conservatives. A leading reason for this failure is that modern conservatives are themselves ethnicity-blind, democratic universalists. Their conservatism consists in seeing multiculturalism as an attack on their universalist tenets. They fail to understand multiculturalism as an attack on a particular culture and people, namely their own, because as universalists they either have no allegiance to that particular culture and people or their allegiance is defensive and weak. Thus the typical conservative today will say that multiculturalism is bad because "it divides us into different groups"—which is of course true. But he rarely says that multiculturalism is bad because "it is destroying our culture"—America's historic culture and civilization—since that would imply that he was defending a particular culture rather than a universalist idea. Because conservatives are unwilling to defend the very thing that multiculturalism is seeking to destroy, they are unable to identify the nature of multiculturalism and to oppose it effectively.

It is certainly the case that neoconservaties are universalists and highly ideological. In fact, neoconservatives are not really conservatives. They just decided they no longer fit on the political Left and included the word "conservative" in their name because that is what most (though not all) people on the Right call themselves. This has led to a lot of confusion which has benefitted the neocons as they have tried to co-op the rest of the Right to their causes.

Leaving aside the complex question of whether and under what conditions Western culture includes non-Westerners, the more immediate concern to us here is that Western culture is the culture of Westerners. Gates wants to include other cultures within Western culture so that the resulting hodgepodge will belong equally to everyone in the world. But—and this is the point overlooked both by the multiculturalists and their conservative universalist opponents—that means taking Western culture away from Westerners. The debate becomes a debate between the global multiculturalists on the left, and the global universalists on the so-called right, with no one standing up for the historical Western culture.

The universalist denial of the importance of cultural differences is a major (though not only) cause of splits on the Right between neoconservatives and paleoconservatives. The neoconservatives favor Open Borders and an aggressive military foreign policy aimed at spreading democracy. By contrast, the paleoconservatives are more interested in preserving our own culture and do not think there is a large set of universal values that we can convert the whole world to believe.

For the multiculturalists, Western individuality is nothing but a mask of illegitimate dominance, which must be stripped away. But for Westerners, Western individuality is an integral aspect of their being. Therefore to get rid of Western individuality (so as to include non-individualistic, non-Western cultures) is to destroy the very essence of Western people. Conservative critics of multiculturalism never grasp this fact, because, as universalists, the notion of a particularist Western essence is alien to them.

My only beef with Auster is that, contrary to his assertion (which is perhaps a necessary simplification and so this is more a quibble), there are conservative critics of multiculturalism who grasp that it is an enemy ideology. Granted, these conservatives have been marginalized by the neocons. But they exist. Granted, the paleos are nearly invisible in the mainstream media and even the neoconservatives pile on attacking their character labelling them racists and all sorts of other dirty words. But Auster ought to give a nod in their direction since they exist. I even suspect that in wake of the Iraq debacle and George W. Bush's idiotic immigration proposal their ranks are growing.

In the second part of his article Auster sees the fragmentation of political systems.

In every field one can think of, ranging from student groups to professional associations to legislative bodies, the former mainstream organization has been "quota-ized" via minority representation so that it no longer represents or can represent the traditional American majority culture, but only the idea of "diversity," while at the same time each of the minority groups has been granted the right to a separate and exclusive sub-organization to represent its racial interests. There is the Congressional Black Caucus that speaks for blacks as blacks, but no Congressional White Caucus that speaks for whites as whites; the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials that speaks for Hispanics as Hispanics, but no association of white elected officials that speaks for the interests of whites as whites; an Hispanic Journalists' Association, but no European-American Journalists' Association; black policeman's organizations, but no white policeman's organizations; an infinite number of nonwhite student organizations, but no white students organizations. And, of course, any attempt to create white-oriented organizations is stopped in its tracks by the same mainstream institutions that officially promote the development of non-white organizations.

...

If minority groups do not need to give up any aspect of their culture, as Ravitch and others have suggested, then it is hard to see why they shouldn't have their own systems of justice as well. Such an alternative system is already being practiced by black juries who refuse to convict their fellow blacks regardless of the evidence. Depending on the ethnic identity of the parties in a given case, there could be an African tribal council one day (complete with "enstoolment" ceremonies and ritual bows to ancestors), a Communist Chinese-style inquisition hearing the next day, a Mexican village-style gathering the next day, then an Iranian-style revolutionary tribunal presided over by a Mullah, then a trial with a black judge and jury getting revenge against the racist police. When things like this start happening, will the liberal believers in a pluralist civic culture—having encouraged non-Westerners to keep their language, dress, and folkways—cry out: "But this is not what I meant, not what I meant at all"?

That is not far-fetched. Ontario province in Canada has authorized the use of Sharia law in civil arbitrations. Of course the result will be the pressuring of Muslim women by their families to submit to Sharia court arbitration. In Canada this is the logical outcome of years of compromises with French Canadians (who may yet secede from Canada to form their own country) and native tribes as possessors of unique legally protected cultures. Increase (whether through teaching or immigration or both) the numbers of people who think of themselves as distinct enough to deserve special legal status and representation and the result will be rising levels of inter-group hostility and eventual break-up of a polity.

There is a conflict between group rights and individual rights and differences in cultures translate into incompatible desires for how to order society.

If there are no important differences between Western and other cultures, then no hard choices between Western and other cultures are necessary. When a niece of mine was in college she said to me: "Western culture is good, but others are good, too." Her point was that we should welcome all cultures and fear none. Like my niece, the typical moderate liberal cannot understand that certain differences may be irreconcilable. Confronted with dichotomies as old as the hills, the moderate innocently asks: "Why can't we have both? Why can't we have Western culture and multiculturalism? Why can't we have excellence and diversity?" When his wishful thinking collides with reality, he must resort to further evasions. Jim Bowman writing in the Chicago Tribune complained that advanced courses in the Oak Park elementary schools were being dropped because those classes tended to be all-white, which went against the school's goal of racial diversity in every classroom. "A good thing, diversity, is used as a club to bash another good thing, gifted or advanced classes." The schools, Bowman writes, "have elevated racial diversity (our civic religion) from a legitimate, permeating element to an illegitimate, all-encompassing one."(14) But what is the difference between a "permeating" element and an "all-encompassing" one? Somehow Bowman imagines that the drive to establish proportional racial diversity in every niche of society is suddenly going to be abandoned when it threatens something he likes, such as advanced academic classes. Unable to grasp the radical essence of his own ideas, the moderate liberal always ends up believing that he can eat his civilization and have it.

This is where we are today. Moderate liberals think multiculturalism is not their enemy. Neoconservatives believe they can convert the world to their own universal culture by invading the world while simultaneously letting the world immigrate in massive numbers. They are both very wrong.

Auster agrees with Samuel P. Huntington on the importance of culture alongside creed.

Thus the multicultural ideology has advanced and entrenched itself through a variety of false and deceptive arguments, even as the leading spokesmen and ordinary members of the former mainstream culture have either actively subscribed to it or have failed, time after time, to understand what it was about and to confront it effectively. This failure is evidenced by the remarkable fact that while grassroots and Beltway activists have successfully organized themselves over the years to oppose such progressive innovations as Whole Language Learning, bilingualism, and the promotion of homosexuality in the schools, no activist organizations have come into being to fight multiculturalism as such.

And the reason the defenders of our culture, the so-called conservatives, have failed to oppose multiculturalism is that they themselves subscribe to radically liberal ideas that, without their realizing it, have for all intents and purposes defined our culture out of existence. To use Samuel Huntington's terms, today's conservatives define America almost exclusively in terms of its liberal, universalist creed rather than in terms of its historical, Anglo-Protestant culture; or, if they do claim to see America as a culture, they reductively define that culture as nothing more than the set of behavioral values needed to maintain a productive economy. Since modern conservatives see America in creedal rather than in cultural terms, when the culture began to be attacked,—through the subversion of classic works of literature, for example, or through the inclusion of cultural standards and perspectives wholly incompatible with our traditional values and sense of nationhood—many conservatives barely noticed or cared that this was happening.

Auster's lengthy essay is worth reading in full.

By Randall Parker    2004 July 12 07:49 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (15)
2003 October 07 Tuesday
Tom Tancredo: Ban Racial Caucuses

Colorado Congressional Representative Tom Tancredo wants the US House Of Representatives to abolish ethnic caucuses.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) plans to introduce a rule to abolish all race-based congressional caucuses. The rule would banish all caucuses created on the basis of ethnicity, such as the Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific caucuses.

His suggestion, which the congressman said he knows will spark outrage, immediately drew accusations of insensitivity from members of the caucuses he proposes to destroy.

If you happen to have a Congressional representative who belongs to a racial or ethnic caucus and you are not of the same ethnicity as your Congressional representative then basically your representative is not even pretending to represent you by being a member of such a caucus.

Tancredo ties his position on this proposal to his support for a large reduction in immigration. Large scale immigration helps prevent people from assimilating. But there are strong forces working against a change in immigration policy:

“The Democratic Party sees massive immigration as a source of votes, and the Republican Party sees immigration as a source of cheap labor, and the president sees it as a wedge issue,” he said.

By Randall Parker    2003 October 07 02:05 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 September 25 Thursday
Ann Coulter On Mount Athos And The European Parliament

The Mt. Athos Orthodox monastery in Greece (see it in context here) does not allow females to enter and hasn't for centuries. But, as Ann Coulter reports, the European Parliament is not happy with this state of affairs.

Who could object to such an arrangement? The European Parliament, that’s who. You see Mt. Athos is all male. Only males who are monks can reside there. Only males can visit.

That violates today’s extremist ideology. That ideology demands that there never be separation between the sexes. No all-boy schools. Not even boys’ choirs. Even in athletics there is a challenge to the male domination of some sports.

What makes this ideology capable of being exercised in the first place? We need to look at what basic right is at stake. What is violated here is not just freedom of religion. The violation of freedom of religion is a side-effect of a more fundamental violation of the basic right of freedom of association. This is a right that is rarely defended in the current era.

They propose to violate a fundamental right of association in order to defend human rights.

This followed the Strasbourg Parliament’s adoption of its annual report on human rights in the EU, which called on Greece to abolish legislation that imposes 2 to 12-month jail terms on women caught entering the easternmost leg of the Halkidiki peninsula, from which all women have been banned for over 1,000 years.

The report also urged Athens to allow the construction of mosques and Muslim cemeteries, to legalize proselytism and to ease draft terms for conscientious objectors.

Fodo Sylla is leading the fight to end the right of free association.

The Greek Orthodox Church, in its latest Ecclesia Report, announced that "the plenary session of the Euro-Parliament passed a proposal-report prepared by French Euro-deputy Fode Sylla concerning the EU Fundamental Rights situation for 2002, which includes, among others, a reference to the special status enjoyed by the monastic community of Mount Athos, in northern Greece."

According to the Euro-deputies, the controversial point is that the isles of Athos do not allow entry to women. The Euro-deputies see this prohibition as an infringement on women's human rights, so they asked the Greek government to revise the prohibition.

But what about female birds that land on the roofs or trees?

· In the Greek monastery of Mount Athos, nothing female is allowed. Men can enter but not women; roosters but no hens; horses but no mares; bulls but no cows. The border is patrolled by armed guards to ensure that nothing feminine passes the gates. It has been this way for more than 700 years.

To repeat myself, why is there so little recognition today of a right to free association? Granted, it was not mentioned as a fundamental right in the US Bill Of Rights. But I suspect if James Madison had been able to see the future he would have written one in. Imagine that you wanted to give a dinner party and you sent out a guest list and the government found out about it and insisted that you couldn't restrict who could come to your house for the party. Wouldn't you think that was a moral outrage? Why is this any different? Why can't a church choir be able to be all boys if that is what the church wanted? Why shouldn't a country club be able to be all males or all South Carolinians or all people with green eyes, or all people with double joints if that is their preference? Why shouldn't we have total control over who we associate with outside of the corridors of government?

By Randall Parker    2003 September 25 03:06 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 August 23 Saturday
Charles Murray On Europe's Run As Dominant Culture

Charles Murray argues that, contrary to all claims by postmodern scholars that other parts of the world have made as many contributions to science, art, and literature, Europe was overwhelmingly the biggest source of intellectual accomplishment from the end of the Middle Ages thru 1950.

The third caution is to remember that many civilizations arose independently of Europe, and rose to similar technological levels-developing tools and techniques that enabled them to build large structures and road networks, develop complex agricultural practices and distribution mechanisms, conduct commerce, and build thriving cities. Evidence scattered from Angkor Wat to Machu Picchu attests to the ability of human beings throughout the world to achieve amazing technological feats.

And yet the underlying reality is that Europe since 1400 has overwhelmingly dominated accomplishment in both the arts and sciences. The estimates of the European contribution are robust. I write at a time when Europe's run appears to be over. Bleaker yet, there is reason to wonder whether European culture as we have known it will even exist by the end of this century. Perhaps this is an especially appropriate time to stand back in admiration. What the human species can claim to its credit in the arts and sciences is owed in astonishing degree to what was accomplished in just a half-dozen centuries by the peoples of one small portion of the northwestern Eurasian land mass.

Murray explains why he came to those conclusions in the text of the article.

The article is an overview of the topics covered by his new book Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950.

By Randall Parker    2003 August 23 01:43 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2003 August 01 Friday
James Woods On Playing Golf, Politics, George Bush, Northfork

James Wood, talking to Salon.com's Amy Reiter about his new film Northfork, offers a number of political opinions including the fact that hugs and love can't melt the hearts of evil people.

And you're pretty happy with the kind of decisions Bush's been making so far? You're unfazed by recent controversies, like the ...

Uranium in Africa?

Right.

It's like playing golf. Even Tiger Woods gets a triple bogey but still goes on to win the U.S. Open. Clearly, everyone's going to have their moments, but by and large do I think -- to me the more relevant question -- and you probably won't print this -- but the more relevant question is when millions of people are suffering and millions are being murdered, do we as a nation have a moral obligation?

A lot of my friends in Hollywood have actually said things like "Let's melt their hearts with hugs and love." It honestly doesn't work. So I respect people's sweetness for believing that you can melt the heart of Osama bin Laden with a hug, but you can't. The only solution to Osama bin Laden is a fucking 88-millimeter shell through his forehead.

The whole interview is pretty interesting.

By Randall Parker    2003 August 01 11:02 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 June 26 Thursday
Mark Steyn Sees Virtue In Destruction Of Trans-National Imperialism

Mark Steyn notes Matthew Parris's reasons for opposing the war in Iraq and sees virtue in those very same consequences of the war that Parris finds so objectionable.

Last week Matthew said that, had he been president, he would not have invaded. That way, ‘international law would not have been violated, swollen-headed neocons would not have gained sway, the yee-hah tendency in US foreign policy would have been restrained, precedents for future unilateral regime-changes would not have been set, Nato would be intact, the UN Security Council would not have been damaged, America’s relationship with Europe would have remained good, and Britain would still be on speaking terms with our EU partners.’

Actually, aside from anything else, they’re all reasons why I was in favour of war. If the overriding issue for M. Parris is American hegemony, the issue for me is the rise of transnational neo-imperialism. I’d rather take my chances with nation-states and great power politics than submit to ‘international law’. I think Nato and the UN Security Council need ‘damaging’, and so does America’s relationship with ‘Europe’.

What is imperialism but the rule of one group by another group? However, what is democracy? Best case in a close election it is the rule of one group (the slightly more than 50% who voted for the winner) over another group (the slightly less than 50% who didn't get their way). An even worse case take on democracy from the standpoint of the individual is that since one rarely gets one's way on the vast majority of subjects about which one has opinions even the majority are not really rulers.

It seems fair to say that we are each more ruled than ruler. Each individual lives under some form of imperial rule. The difference between various systems of government really amounts to a difference in which group or individual makes the decisions on any given subject. My own preferences over who I want to be ruled by lead me to the say that I'm with Mark on this one. Down with the transnational progressive neo-imperialists. Better to be ruled by the militaristic liberal democratic nationalists.

Curiously, Parris has since gone on to write a column proclaiming that America's national character is German.

I do not find all these qualities unattractive. I love the sudden directness of Germans; I share their hankering for road maps in life; I admire bullishness; and I think an instinct to impose theory and system on a haphazard world marks a high order of intelligence.

...

But is it not uncannily like George W. Bush’s America? Is it not as close an approach as we are likely to get to a definition of the neoconservative personality? And has the Tory Right removed continental Germans from the party’s guest list, only to welcome their reincarnation from across the Atlantic?

Perhaps Parris as an Englishman has so totally internalized the norms of anti-Germanism that he can instinctively sense German patterns of though emanating from Washington DC. This has led him to oppose US influence. Parris then supports transnational neo-imperialism against America because he sees it as a force that opposes the spread of German rule over the world.

In that case then is Paul Wolfowitz really working to establish Deutschland Uber Alles like Henry Kissinger before him? Is Germany's membership in the EU just an elaborate trick to hide the German plan to achieve world supremacy thru German control of America? It would explain so much. Germany's opposition to the war in Iraq could have been just an elaborate trick to throw off any suspicion that Germans were really behind the whole operation from the start.

If Parris is right then England has been caught in a pincer movement. It can either ally itself with the German United States or the German European Union. Hah! You lose either way Matthew. We have you surrounded.

Oh, and Mark, you are revealed as a Wilhelmine German nationalist.

By Randall Parker    2003 June 26 02:30 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 February 11 Tuesday
Theodore Dalrymple On British Academic Boycott of Israel

Theodore Dalrymple has written an excellent essay on the phenomenon of contempt masquerading as compassion.

There’s nothing British academics like more than a good academic boycott. It makes them feel they are at the center of things, important cogs in the motor of history—and virtuous into the bargain: for virtue these days is more a matter of making the right gestures and expressing the “right” opinions than of conforming one’s behavior to inconvenient ethical standards. It allows one to be a libertine on a Neronian scale and yet detect the odor of sanctity emanating powerfully from oneself.

Dalrymple argues that one reason academics do not boycott Syria and other countries with worse human rights efforts is they expect more from the Jews than from the Arabs. Why? Because they really believe that the Arabs are not capable of better behavior but that the Jews are. So this boycott is a compliment to the Jews because it views them as having a greater capacity than the Arabs to live up to Western moral standards (though that brings us to the separate question of whether the academics really believe those moral standards should be the ideal that all should live by).

This argument reminds me very much of an argument that Steve Sailer has made about why liberal whites like to accuse other whites of racism: it gives them someone to feel better than.

And this is typical, in my experience: whites who proclaim their anti-white feelings don't really care much about blacks or other minorities, pro or con. What they care about is achieving social superiority over other whites by demonstrating their exquisite racial sensitivity and their aristocratic insouciance about any competitive threats posed by racial preferences.

For the British academics (and some American academics as well) Israel provides a group that is enough like them that they can point at the Israelis, draw a distinction, and say "see, we are better than those folks". Their protest is motivated by a desire for more status. It also becomes a way of proclaiming solidarity and membership within one's group: "Oh, of course I support the boycott. You know how I feel about colonialist oppressors and fascists".

Israel is a great place to boycott or condemn because what happens there attracts so much press attention. Its rather more easy to get attention for one's views about Israel than about, say, Tibet (the "Free Tibet" bumperstickers I see on the occasional Volvo in an upscale community are definitely much quieter statements of moral superiority - though great for showing up in a museum parking lot and having acquaintances see it when they arrive at the same time). Also, since the uber-capitalistic United States (colonial oppressor, ya da ya da) is Israel's chief supporter a boycott of Israel is also a way to boost one's status (at least in the group that the academics imagine themselves to be a part of - and its status within one's group that matters most) by looking down on the United States. This is double bonus points.

When someone is proclaiming membership in a protest movement or identification with a cause it is always important to ask why. For a lot of young men in college and afterward involvement in environmental and other politically correct protest activities is a great way to meet young women and impress the women with their principled compassion. For academics (who after all could just as easily be protesting much larger scale violence and killing in Africa) protest is mainly a way to demonstrate the correctness of one's moral beliefs to one's peers. In far too many cases the prevention or ending of an injustice is not the main goal of protest and workable solutions are not offered.

Update: My original quote from Steve was apparently from an earlier draft and the URL had a slightly later version. The quote now represents what the URL points to.

By Randall Parker    2003 February 11 01:26 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 January 15 Wednesday
Kay Hymonitz On Feminists And Islamic Women

Kay Hymonitz examines why the three major schools of feminism are failing to speak out more forcefully against Islamic oppression of women.

That this combination of sentimental victimhood, postcolonial relativism, and utopian overreaching has caused feminism to suffer so profound a loss of moral and political imagination that it cannot speak against the brutalization of Islamic women is an incalculable loss to women and to men. The great contribution of Western feminism was to expand the definition of human dignity and freedom. It insisted that all human beings were worthy of liberty. Feminists now have the opportunity to make that claim on behalf of women who in their oppression have not so much as imagined that its promise could include them, too. At its best, feminism has stood for a rich idea of personal choice in shaping a meaningful life, one that respects not only the woman who wants to crash through glass ceilings but also the one who wants to stay home with her children and bake cookies or to wear a veil and fast on Ramadan. Why shouldn’t feminists want to shout out their own profound discovery for the world to hear?

Perhaps, finally, because to do so would be to acknowledge the freedom they themselves enjoy, thanks to Western ideals and institutions. Not only would such an admission force them to give up their own simmering resentments; it would be bad for business. The truth is that the free institutions—an independent judiciary, a free press, open elections—that protect the rights of women are the same ones that protect the rights of men. The separation of church and state that would allow women to escape the burqa would also free men from having their hands amputated for theft. The education system that would teach girls to read would also empower millions of illiterate boys. The capitalist economies that bring clean water, cheap clothes, and washing machines that change the lives of women are the same ones that lead to healthier, freer men. In other words, to address the problems of Muslim women honestly, feminists would have to recognize that free men and women need the same things—and that those are things that they themselves already have. And recognizing that would mean an end to feminism as we know it.

Western intellectual factions such as those described by this article effectively reduce the ability of the United States to reform Iraq. Far too many of the intellectuals of America have embraced ideological views that make them hostile toward any effort to spread core values that make a liberal democracy possible.

By Randall Parker    2003 January 15 02:56 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 December 19 Thursday
Collin May on Root Causes of Terrorism

Reflecting on the latest Lord of the Rights movie Two Towers Collin May finds problems with root causes explanation for terrorism.

For my part, this speaks to an issue that has become increasingly prevalent in the face of terrorist attacks around the world today. It is often said that we have to look at the root causes of terror to determine why people turn to such desperate measures as blowing themselves apart in a crowded bus. Inevitably, the root cause in question is poverty caused by the greedy western world, and just as inevitably, you can be sure that wherever someone is talking about the mighty root cause, you’ll find an expert with a Ph.D. nodding smugly in agreement.

Unfortunately for our scholarly friends, there is a problem with root causes. Root causes assume something that is rarely mentioned. Root causes assume that humans can escape their moral obligations by standing outside the normal world. It assumes humans can abstract themselves from reality and go romping through history looking for the all-powerful distant cause that will explain each and every aspect of our current situation. Then, having discerned the historical secret, the wily scholar can, with a gentle wave of his hand, dismiss all those silly concerns about morality, responsibility and honor, while providing the road map for solving all our social ills. That this approach, which is really none other than the methodology of the social sciences, is simplistic in the extreme, reducing human decisions to little more than unthinking reactions to a single dominant stimulus, means little to its proponents. They accept all this because the root cause provides an immediate and simplistic explanation to impress the gullible and justify the foolish.

Regardless of what has happened in our historical past we are each still responsible for making moral decisions. There is no "get out of moral obligations for free" card which is handed out to those who can weave together the most tragic-sounding story of historical wrongs done to our ancestors.

The root cause explanation doesn't make sense for other reasons, not least of which is that the terrorists are coming from the more affluent Muslim nations and from the middle and upper classes of those nations. These people have not experienced the real poverty of places such as Bangladesh. Their claims of victimhood are not credible. The modernizing Islamic countries are the ones that are experiencing the greatest increase in radical Islamist sentiment in part because modernization causes changes and bring influences that threaten Islam's central role in society. Historical grievances and current poverty are not the main causes of the rise of anti-Western radical Islam.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 19 12:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 29 Friday
How Churchill Narrowly Defeated Diana In Britain

The popularity contest war could easily have gone the other way. Dianism could have become ascendant and assumed total control of the hearts and minds of the British. It was a closely run battle but once again Churchill saved Britain from an embarrassing defeat at the hands of sentimental idiots. Frank Johnson on the BBC popularity contest for greatest Briton:

But Churchill saw us through. Somehow he made the British believe that they could defeat this woman. Probably, what told against her in the end was Britons’ fear that, if she won, Blair — voice quivering once more — might read a lesson again in Westminster Abbey. The British would not tolerate such a thing twice in a generation.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 29 12:20 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Matthew Leeming: Afghans And The Guardian

Matthew Leeming travels to Afghanistan with a collection of newspaper clips of articles written by assorted British lefties such as George Monbiot, John Pilger and Terry Cook and compares what they said to the facts:

I read this article out to a class I took at Kabul University. I thought that they would find it quite funny, but halfway through I realised it wasn’t getting any laughs. I stopped because the women were angry. The few of them who had received any education during the long night of Taleban rule had done so at secret schools. The mother of one had been beaten with electrical flex because a spy from the ministry for the prevention of vice and propagation of virtue had heard her shoes clicking on the pavement.

‘Who is this man?’ she demanded. I said that he was the Observer’s chief reporter. ‘How can he say such things?’ ‘Because he hates America,’ I said. ‘He also says that all the Taleban did was to make law out of what had always been the case in rural areas.’ There was uproar. Even the men joined in. They thought that this was really impertinent and offensive. ‘He also says,’ I went on, ‘that there is no need to ban television because there aren’t any.’ ‘Who does he think we are. Of course we’ve got television.’ And that’s true. I’ve watched television all over the country, even in a Khirgiz yurt in the High Pamirs.

Reflexive anti-Americanism is a substitute for the much harder job of thinking, research, and learning.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 29 12:54 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 November 16 Saturday
Kenan Malik: Diversity Is Not An End In Itself

While I disagree somewhat with Kenan Malik about the origins of multiculturalism (I think it was cooked up by lefties who basically hate Western Civilization) he makes some good points in this essay on multiculturalism:

The real failure of multiculturalism is its failure to understand what is valuable about cultural diversity. There is nothing good in itself about diversity. It is important because it allows us to compare and contrast different values, beliefs and lifestyles, make judgements upon them, and decide which are better and which worse. It is important, in other words, because it allows us to engage in political dialogue and debate that can help create more universal values and beliefs. But it is precisely such dialogue and debate, and the making of such judgements, that multiculturalism attempts to suppress in the name of 'tolerance' and 'respect' - as, for example, in David Blunkett's attempt to outlaw incitement to religious hatred.

Its easy to see that multiculturalists oppose making of judgements only about other cultures. They are more than willing to condemn capitalistic America and do so at every opportunity. They are really just trying to convince the people who live in Western civilization to abandon an intellectual defense of their own culture. Other cultures are seen as useful tools to use to dilute the cultural beliefs that they oppose.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 16 04:47 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 November 07 Thursday
Theodore Dalrymple on The New Inquisitors

Theodore Dalrymple finds parallels between the UK Equal Opportunities Commission and the Spanish Inquisition

The lady from the commission demanded to know where the volumes by such and such black authors were. My friend showed her where they were, among all the other books.

“You should have a section for black authors,” she said.

“We don’t classify books by race,” my friend repeated.

The lady from the commission, very annoyed, stormed out, exclaiming for all to hear, “This is a white racist bookshop!”

By Randall Parker    2002 November 07 11:46 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 01 Friday
Salman Rushdie: Liberal Argument For Regime Change

Salman Rushdie says the suffering and oppression of the people of Iraq deserves more attention.

In this strange, unattractive historical moment, the extremely strong anti-Saddam Hussein argument isn't getting a fraction of the attention it deserves.

This is, of course, the argument based on his 31/2-decade-long assault on the Iraqi people. He has impoverished them, murdered them, gassed and tortured them, sent them off to die by the tens of thousands in futile wars, repressed them, gagged them, bludgeoned them and then murdered them some more.

Saddam Hussein and his ruthless gang of cronies from his home village of Tikrit are homicidal criminals, and their Iraq is a living hell.

There is a thread of anti-war rhetoric that is based on the idea that regimes have legitimacy just because they exist. This statist argument treats governments as rights-possessing entities by placing more importance on the survival of regimes above the rights of individuals. While Rushdie starts out taking a position that is an effective counter to that argument he still ends up falling back on it in a later paragraph:

The complicating factors, sadly, are this U.S. administration's preemptive, unilateralist instincts, which have alienated so many of America's natural allies. Unilateralist action by the world's only hyperpower looks like bullying because, well, it is bullying. And the United States' new preemptive-strike policy would, if applied, make America itself a much less safe place, because if the United States reserves the right to attack any country it doesn't like the look of, then those who don't like the look of the United States might feel obliged to return the compliment. It's not always as smart as it sounds to get your retaliation in first.

Well, is bullying always bad? Are there not regimes in this world that it would be beneficial to bully? Do regimes have rights? Then there is his "any country it doesn't like the look of" comment. What is he talking about? The US is expending its effort trying to oust governments that are involved in WMD development or the support of terrorists or both. Does Rushdie think we shouldn't view governments that are hostile to the US and which develop WMD and support terrorists as enemies?

As far as "natural allies" are concerned, what exactly makes a country a natural ally? A strong desire to fight the same enemies seems like a necessary characteristic of a natural ally. By that definition the US does not have many natural allies. But the US does have a great many fair weather friends who are willing to try to convince us not to do things that many Americans believe are necessary for our security.

Rushdie's lack of mention of the strategy of preemption is clearly an intentional avoidance of the arguments of the pro-war camp. What is not smart about preemption? If an enemy regime has hostile intentions, if it treats its own citizens like serfs or slaves, and if it is development weapons of mass destruction then how is the US harming its own interests by taking out that regime? It is disappointing that Rushdie, like so many on the Left, ignores the argument for preemption. The argument is compelling. You can read my collection of posts on preemption here.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 01 09:42 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 21 Monday
Christopher Hitchens: So Long, Fellow Travelers

Christopher Hitchens has written another excellent essay about the values and beliefs of the anti-war Left. Be sure to read the whole thing:

Instead of internationalism, we find among the Left now a sort of affectless, neutralist, smirking isolationism. In this moral universe, the views of the corrupt and conservative Jacques Chirac -- who built Saddam Hussein a nuclear reactor, knowing what he wanted it for -- carry more weight than those of persecuted Iraqi democrats. In this moral universe, the figure of Jimmy Carter -- who incited Saddam to attack Iran in 1980, without any U.N. or congressional consultation that I can remember -- is considered axiomatically more statesmanlike than Bush.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 21 01:00 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 October 17 Thursday
Roger Scruton on the Salisbury Review's History

Conservatves became even more ostracised in Britain than in the US. Roger Scruton discusses his founding of the conservative Salisbury Review 20 years ago in the UK, his experiences editing it, and the price paid by him and contributors:

One of our earliest contributors was Ray Honeyford, the Bradford headmaster who argued for a policy of integration in our schools as the only way of averting ethnic conflict. Ray Honeyford was branded as a racist, horribly pilloried (by some of my academic colleagues in the University of Bradford, among others) and eventually sacked for saying what everyone now admits to be true. My attempts to defend him led to extensive libels of me and the Review. Other contributors were persecuted (and also sometimes sacked) for coming to Ray’s defence. This episode was our first great success, and led to the 600 subscriptions that we needed.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 17 01:43 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 14 Monday
Why Ron Rosenbaum is no longer a Leftist

Ron Rosenbaum has written an essay in The New York Observer entitled Goodbye, All That: How Left Idiocies Drove Me to Flee:

Here’s the analogy: Heidegger’s peculiar neutrality-slash-denial about Nazism and the Holocaust after the facts had come out, and the contemporary Left’s curious neutrality-slash-denial after the facts had come out about Marxist genocides—in Russia, in China, in Cambodia, after 20 million, 50 million, who knows how many millions had been slaughtered. Not all of the Left; many were honorable opponents. But for many others, it just hasn’t registered, it just hasn’t been incorporated into their "analysis" of history and human nature; it just hasn’t been factored in. America is still the one and only evil empire. The silence of the Left, or the exclusive focus of the Left, on America’s alleged crimes over the past half-century, the disdainful sneering at America’s deplorable "Cold War mentality"—none of this has to be reassessed in light of the evidence of genocides that surpassed Hitler’s, all in the name of a Marxist ideology. An ideology that doesn’t need to be reassessed. As if it was maybe just an accident that Marxist-Leninist regimes turned totalitarian and genocidal. No connection there. The judgment that McCarthyism was the chief crime of the Cold War era doesn’t need a bit of a rethink, even when put up against the mass murder of dissidents by Marxist states.

Most of the modern left has turned away from empirical evidence and from reason because when faced with a choice between giving up their wrong beliefs or turning away from the evidence they decided that the rejection of relevant evidence was less emotionally painful. Its too humbling and humiliating to admit that one spent much of one's life fighting for the wrong side. Few people can do that once they get into middle age because they have too much invested in their beliefs.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 14 01:32 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2002 October 06 Sunday
Why the Nazis get more bad press than the Soviets

Over on Daniel Drezner's blog he and his readers are discussing "why commentators tend to treat public figures and thinkers associated with communism with more respect than those associated with fascism." Assorted reasons are offered. I agree with the explanation that he attributes to Tony Judt: that intellectuals are drawn to power. However, this does not explain why they are still going easy on communism when communism is pretty much in the dustbin of history. There is, after all, no more power left to be drawn to.

I think the Nazi vs Communist system comparison is restricting the scope of the debate. Hence, the arguments are coming up short of a satisfying explanation. What one first ought to ask is one that the late philosopher Robert Nozick asked in a 1998 essay: Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?"

Intellectuals now expect to be the most highly valued people in a society, those with the most prestige and power, those with the greatest rewards. Intellectuals feel entitled to this. But, by and large, a capitalist society does not honor its intellectuals. Ludwig von Mises explains the special resentment of intellectuals, in contrast to workers, by saying they mix socially with successful capitalists and so have them as a salient comparison group and are humiliated by their lesser status. However, even those intellectuals who do not mix socially are similarly resentful, while merely mixing is not enough--the sports and dancing instructors who cater to the rich and have affairs with them are not noticeably anti-capitalist.

Why then do contemporary intellectuals feel entitled to the highest rewards their society has to offer and resentful when they do not receive this? Intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people, the ones with the highest merit, and that society should reward people in accordance with their value and merit. But a capitalist society does not satisfy the principle of distribution "to each according to his merit or value." Apart from the gifts, inheritances, and gambling winnings that occur in a free society, the market distributes to those who satisfy the perceived market-expressed demands of others, and how much it so distributes depends on how much is demanded and how great the alternative supply is. Unsuccessful businessmen and workers do not have the same animus against the capitalist system as do the wordsmith intellectuals. Only the sense of unrecognized superiority, of entitlement betrayed, produces that animus.

Why do wordsmith intellectuals think they are most valuable, and why do they think distribution should be in accordance with value? Note that this latter principle is not a necessary one. Other distributional patterns have been proposed, including equal distribution, distribution according to moral merit, distribution according to need. Indeed, there need not be any pattern of distribution a society is aiming to achieve, even a society concerned with justice. The justice of a distribution may reside in its arising from a just process of voluntary exchange of justly acquired property and services. Whatever outcome is produced by that process will be just, but there is no particular pattern the outcome must fit. Why, then, do wordsmiths view themselves as most valuable and accept the principle of distribution in accordance with value?

From the beginnings of recorded thought, intellectuals have told us their activity is most valuable. Plato valued the rational faculty above courage and the appetites and deemed that philosophers should rule; Aristotle held that intellectual contemplation was the highest activity. It is not surprising that surviving texts record this high evaluation of intellectual activity. The people who formulated evaluations, who wrote them down with reasons to back them up, were intellectuals, after all. They were praising themselves. Those who valued other things more than thinking things through with words, whether hunting or power or uninterrupted sensual pleasure, did not bother to leave enduring written records. Only the intellectual worked out a theory of who was best.

So here is own theory for why intellectuals were more attracted to communism: capitalism accords intellectuals even less status than fascism did. By contrast communism accorded intellectuals a higher status than fascism did. Fascism didn't have as much of a need for intellectuals because it was a more tribal and primitive ideology. One wasn't a great fascist because of one's thoughts. Fascism was a form of ethnic nationalism. One was a great German fascist because one was a prototypical German. That definition based on idealized national characteristics downplayed the role of the mind. Communism, being a more abstract and theoretical political ideology, has a greater need for intellectuals as justifiers, planners, and intellectual defenders.

Here's another post from Drezner's blog that follows up with more explanations.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 06 04:05 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (31)
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