Monthly Archives: July 2019

Quick Take: The Severian Corollary

Since I haven’t posted in a while, a placeholder.

Y’all are doubtless familiar with “Hanlon’s Razor:”

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

A while back I wrote that this needs an update, and being a humble guy, I named it the “Severian Corollary:”

There’s a level of stupidity so profound, you actually hope it’s malice.

That’s where we’re at with this (Ace of Spades link).  It seems as if the FBI’s Andrew McCabe and a high-ranking member of MI-5 (British counterintelligence) actually believe this “Russiagate” shit that they themselves concocted.

These people selectively leak to the media so that the media will report a false impression of the contours of reality, and then, incredibly, they believe the false impression of reality that they know they themselves helped conjure up from ideology, fantasy, and lies.

When President Obama famously proclaimed he believed his own bullshit, we took that as either a joke or a taunt, depending on how we ourselves felt about Obama’s bullshit.  But he wasn’t kidding, and here’s the proof.  What would Dunning and Kruger have to say about people who are dumb enough to believe fantasias on their own bullshit, peddled by glorified stenographers?

Our leaders are terrifyingly stupid.  I’m starting to think that all our worries are groundless, comrades.  When the Thought Police finally come for us, just tell them we live at 123 Fake Street, Springfield USA.  They’ll never catch us.

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Sympathy for the Cucks

In one of his great essays, Orwell describes a joke in the satirical magazine Punch, making fun of pretentious wannabe-littérateurs (see what I did there?).  The pompous young man announces to his aunt that he’s going to be a writer.  The aunt asks what he’s going to write about.  The dork replies, “My dear, one doesn’t write about anything; one simply writes.”

Blogging in a nutshell, amirite?

But bloggers don’t get paid, and even if they do, it’s probably nowhere near commensurate with the effort.  For instance, here’s the Z Man’s advice to aspiring bloggers:

As far as material, post something every day, even if it is just a couple of paragraphs. That way, you get better and you get into the habit of running a blog. If after a few months it is no longer fun, you’re out a hundred bucks and you learned something about yourself.

Left implied is the actual time spent cranking out a few paragraphs.  You’ll have to take my word for this, but when I’m on my game I’m a blazing-fast writer (and even when I’m off, I’m pretty speedy).  Not quite up to Henry Morton Stanley standards — he apparently crashed out one of his umpteen-hundred-page travel books in something like three weeks — but pretty fast nonetheless.  Still, I bet my “average” blog post — tossed off with few or no links (meaning little to no research), no revisions, bare-bones on-the-fly editing, etc. — takes between 30 minutes and an hour.  Anything that takes sustained work — research, redrafting — can take all afternoon.  A quick search on “how much do contract computer programmers make?” comes back with a range between $35 and $400 an hour.  Assuming my stuff is low- but not bottom-end (and that I’ve taken the advice of Our now-unemployed Betters in journalism and learned to code), a day’s post costs me something between $50 and $250.

Obviously I don’t actually get paid squat, and there’s no legitimate comparison between blog posts and contract code, but the point is, “writing” is one of those “prestige-only” occupations.  Even those writers who are good enough to make a living solely off their authorial voice (the H-list, according to D-Lister Larry Correia’s hilarious official rankings) are so few and far between that it’s just statistical noise – you undoubtedly have a better chance of meeting a professional athlete than you do a professional writer.  Even if you make a buck or two off blog ads, or sell a novel or three on Amazon, writing is just a hobby, for 99.9998% of the people who do it.  When you take all the money your self-published novel made on Amazon and divide it by the umpteen hours you spent writing it, you get the kind of wage college kids stage protests about (be sure to pick up your authentic logo gear at the bookstore!).

Education works like that, too.  Nobody scoffs at teachers’ claims of being overworked and underpaid more than I do, but they’ve got a point for all that.  Teachers work iceberg-style — the work you actually get paid for is about 20% of the work you actually do.  It’s true no matter where you are on the academic food chain.  We joke that teaching is a 24/7 job — 24 hours a week, 7 months a year — but even the tenured work hard.  As I’ve tried to show, above, even those incomprehensible “gender studies” gibberish books represent a significant time investment.  Throw in committee meetings, all the other “university service” bullshit, and the umpteen zillion voluntary-yet-mandatory things the tenured are required to do, and if you’re not exactly at “Indonesian child laborer” wage levels, your plumber still out-earns you by several orders of magnitude.

Why do it, then?  Well, consider medicine.  Medicine is the ultimate iceberg profession.  Now, I’m not saying docs aren’t well-paid; of course they are.  What I am saying, though, is that if a machinist were capable of working 120-hour weeks — as medical residents routinely do — they’d be bringing in way more than doctors.  And those 120 hours are the hours actually in the hospital; they don’t get paid for writing notes, reviewing charts, studying for exams, and the million other things they do.  Dating a medical resident was, in fact, one of the great eye-opening experiences of my life.  When we finally did manage to get together, our “dates” usually consisted of a brief talk over takeout Chinese before she fell asleep on my couch.

Docs don’t do it for the money, in other words.  They do it to be doctors, in the same way professors do it to be professors, and writers do it to be writers.  I know lots of doctors and professors, and none of them — not one — has ever wanted to be anything else.  They’d still do it for half the pay.

This is a key weakness for attacking the Left.

As C.S. Lewis said, the Devil can’t stand to be mocked.  That’s no longer true in this brave new social media world — mocking a Millennial means “ur h8in,” which means you’re thinking about her more than she’s thinking about you, which means she wins — so let’s modify it: The Devil can’t stand to be ignored.  Ace of Spades — no mean Twitter addict himself — points out all the time that the Jonah Goldbergs and David Frenches of the world pretty much live on Twitter.  This is because they know all the stuff I’ve written above is true.

Whatever they get paid, it’s nowhere near a “living wage” for the amount of work they do, if you include “basically living on Twitter” as work.  Which it is, of course, since opportunity cost is a thing and living the Twitter life basically precludes doing anything else.  To this type of person, “I have 100,000 Twitter followers!” isn’t a childish boast; it’s an existential claim.  Deny them that, and they are literally nothing.

It’s crucial that we understand the difference.  Oscar Wilde nailed these goobers’ psychology over 100 years ago: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”  Goldberg et al would rather be praised than mocked, of course, but: Mockery serves the exact same psychological function.  In a very real sense, these people are terrified they’re NPCs — they’re not real, because they’ve dedicated their lives not to doing something, but to being something… and that “something” rests entirely on external attention.  That’s why they’ll write anything, say anything, do anything, so long as they can keep telling themselves they’re “writers.”

Cut that off, and they’ll self-immolate.  It must be a horrible way to “live.”

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The Basic College Girl

As these are our rulers, we should get to know them.  Disclaimers, if you must: I’m retired, so I’m not entirely up on the new trends.  But do you really need to ask if things have gotten better or worse since then?

You don’t need to bother with the link.  It’s from a site called “The Odyssey Online,” which apparently is a place where Millennial girls can write about the only thing that matters: their very own special selves.  How it has not collapsed into a supermassive singularity of solipsism is a problem I leave for the theoretical physicists among the Fourteen Readers.  The list includes stuff like “avocados” and “ripped jeans” and “Post Malone” (apparently a singer).  Fair warning: If you click, expect to lose a few brain cells.

The first thing to note is that such a list exists at all.  I (and, I strongly suspect, the people who coined the phrase) intend the word “basic” as an insult — a synonym for “standard-issue,” i.e. “conformist,” i.e. “boring.”  Basic college girls use it with pride.  Though they are all special and unique snowflakes, they are also out-and-proud trend-surfing herd animals.  Unraveling that contradiction is above my pay grade, but I have a guess that I think gets us in the ballpark:

Those of us on the back nine of our lives remember high school as a process of differential diagnosis.  You try on a certain set of social roles to see which, if any, fit.  You don’t go out for the baseball team because it’s the first step to making the Majors.  Really, you might not even like playing baseball all that much.  You go out for the baseball team because you want to be a Jock.  If you make the team, you’re a Jock for a while, leading the Jock life and learning its lessons.  If you don’t make the team, you go find something else — the Debate Club, heavy metal music, whatever — and learn the lessons those lifestyles teach.

You didn’t understand this back then, of course, but your parents did, and — crucially — your teachers did.  If you wanted to be a Metalhead this semester, they’d treat you like a Metalhead, complete with the “Why are you wasting your potential (and ruining your ears) with that godawful noise?”  They’d make a show of having a Very Serious Conversation with you about the dangers of drugs and satanism…. knowing full well that you weren’t on drugs, weren’t sacrificing virgins to Moloch (if for no other reason than you didn’t actually know any girls), and would, in fact, come back as a clean-scrubbed Preppie after summer break your junior year.

The key word in “adolescent rebellion,” after all, is adolescent.  All of that stuff was just practice.  If it proceeded in the normal way, what going through all the permutations of high school identity taught you was:

  • you’re a fairly normal person; and
  • that’s ok.

In other words, you are not a collection of externals — clothes, music, hairstyles.  You’re you.  The externals can change, fairly radically — remember that one summer you broke your nose trying to be a skater? — but there’s a core in there that’s you.  Which is great, because it means that you are just person who takes customer service calls in a cubicle farm to pay the bills; they’re not going to put “Here lies Bill, a Customer Service Representative” on your tombstone.

Self-esteem culture changes all that.  What’s the point of being a Metalhead these days?  At best, you’ll get a gold sticker and a participation trophy like everyone else.  At worst, you’ll get diagnosed with some bullshit “learning disorder” and they’ll zombie you out on powerful prescription psychotropics.  The only lesson this teaches is: Come to the attention of the authorities at your peril.

That’s the effect on guys, at any rate.  Bad as that is, it’s far worse on girls.  Guys establish social hierarchy through conflict; when they can’t compete with each other, they drop out and embrace the Ritalin Zombie lifestyle of video games and onanism.  Girls compete through approval-seeking, which, since nowadays nobody’s different from anybody and everyone’s the best at everything, is easily channeled into conspicuous consumption.  Hence all the items on that list.

For the Basic College Girl, then, conformism is a virtue.  In fact, it’s the highest virtue — the “winner” is the one who does nothing, says nothing, thinks nothing but that which gets upvoted on social media….

….or downvoted on social media, as the case may be.  Self-esteem culture has completely bypassed the normal feedback loops.  Back in the days of meatspace-only communication, strong signals of disapproval from your peers were, 99 times out of 100, clear indicators that you’re doing it wrong.  If the kids are making fun of your personal hygiene, then unless your name really is “Dick Smelley,” you need to take a long hard look at your showering habits.  Kids can be horribly cruel, but most of the time they’re not wrong.  And yes, bullying can (and often did) go overboard, but generally “stop being such a dork!” is great life advice, and the process of figuring out just what you’re doing that’s so dorky, and how to stop it, is crucial for one’s social development.

Social media changes all that.  Anyone who has ever written a blog post — really, anyone who has ever made a substantive comment on a blog post — has had the experience of some drive-by troll shitting on you.  As functional adults who grew up in meatspace we recognize this for what it is, and ignore it.  But imagine that you hadn’t grown up in meatspace.  What if you mistake this for substantive criticism?  As it’s not psychologically sustainable to take it that way for long, you do what the Basic College Girl does: You call the commenter a “h8r” and, crucially, you consider having “h8rs” as confirmation that whatever you’re doing is right.  After all, they couldn’t “h8” if they weren’t thinking about you.

Thus “approval-seeking,” a.k.a. chick competition, curdles into an attitude where you actively seek out “h8rs” to annoy.

This is where Normals grossly underestimate women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  I’m personally terrified of AOC, because she is the embodiment of the Basic College Girl.  Basic College Girls can’t be bargained with, they can’t be reasoned with, and the reason for both is: Both “bargaining” and “reasoning” imply that you think she’s doing something wrong, which is “h8.”  And since “ur h8in,” that means you’re thinking about her more than she’s thinking about you, which means she’s validated, which means she wins.  Which means she’s not only going to keep on doing what she’s doing, but will crank it up past 11, in order get more h8, to attract more h8rz.

This is our future.  Since the only way to deal with a Basic College Girl is to say “no” — all the time, to everything, unconditionally — and we as a society have lost the ability to do that, we’re screwed.  Get to know your new mistress.  Xzhyr name is Becky, and she’s everywhere.

 

 

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Which Hand Holds the Whip?

Here’s a surprising report: President Trump’s support is actually rising after his attack on “The Squad.”

The rise in support isn’t the surprising part.  The surprising part is that the Media still find this surprising.

Not to toot my own horn too much here, but I’ve been writing about this since 2015 (seriously – check the archives!).  “Make America Great Again” was the Trump campaign’s official slogan, but unofficially — and much, much more effectively — it was: “Fuck the Media.”  The 2016 election is known far and wide as “The Great Fuck You,” but somehow, some way, almost everyone still fails to grasp that it wasn’t the Democrats who got told to fuck off.  It wasn’t even the “Progressives.”  It was The Media.  The Great Fuck You was aimed entirely at the Media.

The reason is, back in 1968 the Media convinced themselves they held the whip.  Between the “Chicago Police Riot” (in reality a bunch of SDS goons finally goading the cops into cracking down) and the Tet Offensive (in reality, a communist catastrophe that all but destroyed the Viet Cong as a fighting force), the Media convinced themselves they truly were the shapers of the nation’s hearts and minds.  From then on out, the Media assumed their primary job was not to report the news, but to instruct us how to feel about the news.  They anointed themselves as a secular priesthood, and from that moment forward, people went into “journalism” specifically to change the world.

That suited the Democrats’ short-term interests just fine.  Then as now, the Democrats were a bunch of fellow-traveling wannabe-totalitarians.  The difference, though, is that in 1968 grownups were still in charge of the party.  Being intimately familiar with the concept of “useful idiots,” the grownup Dems were happy to encourage the journo-kids’ delusions of grandeur.  The kids might not have been able to stir up enough shit to get Hubert Humphrey elected — that would’ve been a tough sell for Josef Goebbels — but they could make life hot for Richard Nixon.  In other words, the Democrats thought they held the whip.

1972 should’ve been a wakeup call, but to be fair, all the campaign wonks were still reeling from The Great Magic Party Switch of 1964.  Both halves of the failed Democratic ticket from 1968 ran in the 1972 primaries, and so did George Wallace (who actually won more primaries than either Humphrey or Muskie — 6 to 5 and 4, respectively).  Which left George McGovern, a goofy hippie from a nothing state who was so bad at politics that he got outflanked as a peacenik by Richard Nixon, the man who was right at that moment actually running the goddamn war.  How did he ever end up at the head of a major party ticket?  Well, here’s Wiki:

During his primary victories, McGovern used an approach that stressed grassroots-level organization while bypassing conventional campaign techniques and traditional party power centers.  He capitalized on support from antiwar activists and reform liberals; thousands of students engaged in door-to-door campaigning for him.  He benefited by the eight primaries he won being those the press focused on the most

Uh huh.  Emphasis mine, but it doesn’t really need emphasizing.  Especially when you add in this:

McGovern ran on a platform that advocated withdrawal from the Vietnam War in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war and amnesty for draft evaders who had left the country.  McGovern’s platform also included an across-the-board 37-percent reduction in defense spending over three years.  He proposed a “demogrant” program that would give a $1,000 payment to every citizen in America.  Based around existing ideas such as the negative income tax and intended to replace the welfare bureaucracy and complicated maze of existing public-assistance programs, it nonetheless garnered considerable derision as a poorly thought-out “liberal giveaway” and was dropped from the platform in August.

Or, in short, “amnesty, abortion, and acid,” a Donald Trump-level linguistic killshot if ever there was one.

The point isn’t that McGovern was a goofy hippie.  The point is that McGovern was The Media’s fair-haired boy.  Hubert Humphrey was no one’s idea of a steely-eyed realist, but he was a grown-up.  When he attacked McGovern as too radical during their primary debates, he was expressing America’s frustration with bratty, coddled, know-nothing college kids and their bong-addled, patchouli-soaked nonsense.  But since it was the aforesaid spoiled, stoned college kids who wrote the election coverage….

Viewed from this perspective, Democratic Party politics up to now can be seen as the increasingly desperate attempts of the few remaining grownups to fend off The Media’s increasingly frantic grabs for the whip.  Take a gander at these goofballs from 1976.  Remember the “Scoop Jackson Democrats” all the National Review types kept gushing about when they needed some Democratic cover for W’s imperial misadventures?  “Scoop” Jackson was a real guy, and probably the only adult in the room in 1976.  Jimmy Carter, the eventual nominee, could at least fake being a serious, mature human being when he wasn’t being chased by enraged, swimming bunnies.  The Jerry Brown of 1976 is the very same Jerry Brown who is putting the finishing touches on the shitholization of California here in 2019, and guess who The Media just loooooooved back in the ’76 primaries?

See also: Every other election through 2016.  Sometimes The Media and the Party moved in tandem — e.g. Bill Clinton  — but more often it played out like 1988, when the Party had to drag a bland nonentity (Mike Dukakis) over the finish line in the face of a Media darling (Jesse Jackson).  This dynamic also explains the weird “enthusiasm gap” of Democratic voters starting in 2000 — nobody actually liked Al Gore or John Kerry, but since W. made The Media lose their tiny little minds, they went all-in on painting those two human toothaches as The Saviors of Mankind.   We’ve covered 2008 before, and that’s where the split between Party and Media really became obvious — the Party desperately wanted the only “adult” (by 21st century Democratic Party standards) in the room to be the nominee, but The Media wouldn’t hear of it.  It seemed as though the struggle for the whip hand was finally over…

But then Donald Trump happened, as my students would’ve written.  Though it’s only a few years in the past, we’ve already forgotten just how much The Media loved Bernie Sanders when the Republican nomination was still in doubt.  Trump, of course, made The Media lose their shit so egregiously that what they did to W. looked like the happy ending to an Oriental massage, but virtually nobody was cheerleading for Hillary qua Hillary.  It took the specter of The Donald as president to get them all on the same page.

Which brings us to now.  The Democratic Party can read a poli-sci textbook.  They know how difficult it is to beat an incumbent president in a good economy.  Hell, it’s almost impossible to beat an incumbent president in a bad economy — see 2004 and 2012.  It takes a major systemic shock to turf out an incumbent in the modern era — a catastrophe on the magnitude of a serious third party challenge (Ross Perot in ’92), or the incumbent being Jimmy Carter.  The poli-sci textbooks say that the Dems’ only hope is to run the closest thing to the Antimatter Donald Trump they can find.  That is to say:  the blandest, SWPL-iest Goodwhite on their roster.

Alas for them, The Media will be having none of that.  Trump somehow triggers them even more than he did in 2016 — don’t ask me how; it violates several important laws of thermodynamics — so they’re going all-in on goofballs like AOC and her “Squad.”  The Media loves “the Squad,” and since The Media have convinced themselves that theirs is the whip hand, they’re ordering us to love “the Squad” too.  To which Trump replies with a version of “lol get fucked,” and since “you’re free to leave this country if you hate it so much” seems forehead-slappingly obvious to anyone without a journalism degree, Trump’s poll numbers rise.  Which prompts another stern lecture from The Media, which receives another “lol get fucked,” and around and around and around we go…..

But here’s the thing: The battle for the whip is a battle royale.  There are more than just two combatants.  The Party still thinks it’s in charge.  The Media, with 2008, 2012, and 2016 in its pocket, think they’re in charge.  Nobody bothered to ask “the Squad,” though, and that’s the truly terrifying thing: “The Squad” thinks they’re in charge, and they might actually be right.

We’ve already got Congress voting to condemn Trump’s tweets.  Set aside how brain-bogglingly infantile that is — and how petty and retarded it appears to the American public.  Consider just how badly Nancy Pelosi et al, aka The Party, had to screw up to find themselves in this situation.  Then consider that some idiot named Al Green (warning: autoplay video), riding “The Squad’s” coattails, has just filed a motion to impeach Trump, which will require a floor vote.  It doesn’t matter which way that vote goes.  If it happens at all — and given the “condemn the tweets” vote, Pelosi may not have the juice left to stop it — that’s pretty much game over.  There are few faster ways to get to an actual shooting civil war than by impeaching Trump, because no matter how it goes, someone goes to the gun….

…with the full, active connivance of “The Squad.”  Do you think those fools are going to somehow keep their mouths shut during impeachment?  Will theirs be the voices of moderation, urging us to respect the Constitutional processes, however they turn out?

Or will they be inciting people to flip cars and throw molotovs in the street?  People who suddenly find themselves holding the whip in their hands aren’t known for their restraint.

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The John Brown Moment

We talk a lot about the “John Brown Moment” around here.  Here it is, for the record:

In the run-up to the Civil War, lots of Americans thought the country was in thrall to what they called the “slave power conspiracy.”  There was some truth to this, in that thanks to equal representation in the Senate, slaveholders held a perpetual veto — since only vehement defenders of slavery would ever be sent to the Senate by Southern states (senators being appointed, not elected, in those days), no law affecting the “peculiar institution” would ever be passed.  As slavery was an all-encompassing socioeconomic system, though, virtually nothing the government did failed to affect it in some way.  The partisan politics of the 1850s were legendarily nasty, in large part because of this Southern-imposed gridlock.

But the “slave power conspiracy” was a misnomer.  Oh, the Southern senators all voted together, but that’s not a conspiracy.  “Conspiracy” implies an end, a goal, and the slave power simply didn’t have one.  Their actions were purely negative, and if that meant absolutely nothing got done, well, so be it.  They were deeply skeptical of federal power anyway; if vetoing anything and everything that might somehow affect slavery meant that the nation would simply drift along, directionless, that suited them just fine.

But there was another conspiracy afoot in the 1850s: The abolition conspiracy.  You don’t hear about this one in high school history because the victors write the textbooks, but it was quite real.  And this one really was a conspiracy, in that they had a clear goal: The end of chattel slavery.  And it was a conspiracy in a more fundamental sense, in that it was illegal.  The so-called “slave power conspiracy” was obstructionist to the bone, but it’s perfectly legal for legislators to vote against proposed legislation.  It’s not legal to advocate armed insurrection but that’s what the abolitionists did.

On October 16, 1859, a lunatic abolitionist named John Brown led a partisan band in an attack on the Federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.  He wanted to distribute the stolen guns to local slaves, thus sparking a race war.  We know this because Brown was captured alive, and the great state of Virginia put him on trial, as they were legally required to do.  Being a fanatic, and knowing that he was a dead man already, Brown took the opportunity to advertise his cause to the world….

At which point it became obvious that not only did Brown have the financial backing of several prominent Northerners, but he had the moral backing of a large segment of the Northern population.  Brown became a martyr, literally — he was frequently compared to Jesus Christ in Northern periodicals.  The important thing to note is this: Brown was captured in armed insurrection against the United States, and lots of the country was ok with it.  This man simply decided that the legal processes could never result in the outcome he deemed morally necessary, so he took the law into his own hands — with the active connivance of prominent Northern financiers and intellectuals, and the avid approval of many Northern citizens.

Remember that, and Southern belligerency makes a whole lot more sense.  The North was obviously ready to go to the gun in 1861, because they’d already gone to the gun in 1859.  The “John Brown Moment,” then, is the point at which violence becomes inevitable, because one significant, influential segment of the country not only passively tolerates it, but actively cheers it.

Are we there yet?  Hard to say, but recall that just this weekend, an “Antifa” got himself killed trying to firebomb an ICE installation.  How many of our fellow Americans even know about this?  Of those, how many approve?

I don’t know, but I guarantee you, something like this will happen again.  It has to, because there’s only one way to deal with a John Brown that doesn’t involve lots of future bloodshed — immediate, brutal reprisal, and repudiation by the entire political, cultural, and social elite.  That obviously didn’t happen this weekend.  Indeed, how many of our “elite” were silently cheering this guy on?  How many of them would have, had they known about it?  How many of them will cheer on the next guy, who does something bigger?

There’s no coming back from a John Brown Moment, because that’s when a significant fraction of the people who matter give up on the very idea of peaceful grievance resolution.  I don’t know who our John Brown is (or will be), but he’s coming — of that, there’s no doubt whatsoever.

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The Spirit of ’68, Again

For the record, I agree with Pickle Rick in the comments on the previous post: Trump is the last peacetime president.

The Left always goes to the gun.  Violence is a feature, not a bug, of their worldview.  The only question is when, and given that the Left is made up of exceptionally dumb, impulsive children, the smart money is on sooner, not later.

Speaking of exceptionally dumb, impulsive children, I didn’t see the “press conference” — really, a Trump-bashing pep rally — held by the so-called “Squad” yesterday, but since I’ve got basic historical literacy I didn’t need to.  It was just seven years from the Port Huron Statement to the Weather Underground — just seven years, in other words, before spoiled, coddled preppies decided that change was taking too long, and should be accelerated via firebomb.  Please note that those were 1960s preppies — White kids, from intact families, who went to good schools where they got real educations.  Their parents came of age in the Depression and World War II, so they had decent role models.

If those kids decided to get violent in just 7 years, how long do you think “the Squad” is going to wait?

That name, in fact, tells you everything you need to know.  Simultaneously frightening and childish, it calls to mind your high school’s Mean Girl clique in paramilitary gear.  And they’re Millennials, Basic College Girl edition, which means they make the 1969 version of Billy Ayers look like Fabius Maximus. Remember how I suggested that the Dems’ 2020 convention in Milwaukee might make the “Chicago Police Riot” look like a weekend at Disneyworld?  These days, I’m seriously wondering if they’ll even make it to 2020.  It’s not like Democrats have any problems about shooting each other when the party votes don’t break their way…

As aneurysm-inducingly lulzy as the thought of the so-called “Justice Democrats” running their own ticket is, there’s no way a Democratic party split happens peacefully.  Why would they bother?  They’re going to the gun no matter what in the next few years.  Even if they win the Presidency, the guns are coming out — they’ll be too busy rounding us up to start shooting each other right away,  but again, basic history shows what happens in a successful Leftist revolution.  The execution of useful idiots, too, is a feature not a bug of Leftism in power.

Fun times ahead.  Do you see what I mean about everyone always misjudging the pace of change?  Even five years ago, I would’ve called myself a lunatic for writing something like this.  Hell, maybe even three years ago.  And yet…. here we are.

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The People Reconsidered II

[continued from below]

What does all this have to do with political theory?

First, recall that all modern political theory is based on the “social contract,” which was a direct result of the English Civil War.  The “social contract” can’t exist without individuals.  I hope you’ll agree with me that in retrospect, that’s a serious flaw, but at the time it made sense, for the simple reason that all the individuals in England — that is, all the people whose opinions mattered, and thus whose buy-in was necessary for a legitimate government — were all assembled at Putney.

Cultural studies people love the word “encode.”  For normal people, it’s the Moonbat Signal — it’s the cue for all the wackos to come out of the woodwork, screaming about how The Lion King “encodes” fascism or some such.  But like everything academia craps out, there’s a nugget of truth in there, and it’s this: All functional groups share common assumptions, which show up in their language.  So when the boys at Putney, or at Philadelphia, started talking about the “rights” of “men,” they of course didn’t mean that their pronouncements applied to all humans.  “Encoded” in their language of rights were their assumptions about individuals: The “rights of Englishmen” meant “the rights of the people who are in this room right now, that said people can and will enforce at gunpoint.”

And there you have it: “Representative government” in a nutshell.  When the boys at Philadelphia pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to defending each others’ lives, liberties, and properties, they meant it.  But they also knew that, as the effective individuals in their societies, everyone else would follow along.  Joe Schmoe’s life, liberty, and property are secure, because he’s in George Washington’s community — because George Washington will go to the mattresses for George Washington’s life, liberty, and property, so Joe Schmoe will go to the mattresses for his….

….provided George Washington is there to lead him.  That’s the “social contract.”  A contract between George Washington and Alexander Hamilton is valid, because both men can, and will (and did) shed blood to enforce it.  Each man will kill, and risk death, on the other’s behalf.

So what happens, then, when there’s no George Washington?  When there are nothing but “individuals” in the modern sense — rootless, soulless, purposeless, useless bugmen who “exist” only through “social” media?  Again, please note that I’m not saying “there are no individuals in America.”  There are lots of them.  The problem is,

  • we don’t know who they are, so
  • they can’t possibly represent us, so
  • there is no “social contract” possible with them

even if we wanted one, which we clearly don’t.

“The people,” in short, don’t matter.  They never really did, but now we’re in a worst-of-all-worlds scenario, fetishizing “democracy” without the slightest understanding of what it is.  The individuals who rule us are not our “rulers,” on any political theory that makes sense…..

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The People, Reconsidered

[continued from below]

My argument is this:  Politics is the art of maintaining the level of individuals in a given society.  Find out who the individuals are in any given group.  See how they buy in, or don’t, to the leader’s vision.  And there you have it — the rise and fall of a people.

My definition of “individual” is: A person whose preferences actually matter in a given system.  That is, someone with sufficient power that his preferences influence events.  Crudely reductive theories (if that isn’t redundant) like Marxism assign all the individuals to broad social classes — the bourgeoisie, the capitalists — but we all know that in any given group, only a select few people set the tone.  These are the individuals, as I’m using the term.

Even in the so-called “Deep State,” for instance, it’s guys like Peter Strzok calling the tune — James Comey will end up taking a bigger fall if there’s ever a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the 2016 coup attempt, but we all know that Comey’s too dumb and weak to have actually done anything on his own.  Had Strzok been a huge MAGA man, “Comey’s” FBI would’ve been MAGA-fied too.

Or consider a less contentious example: Teenagers.  I’ve written before that I’ve never met an honest-to-God SJW among the studentry, even though I’ve taught gazillions of college kids.  I’ve had a whole bunch of literal blue-haired nose-ringers drift through my classes over the years, but as I said, the key word in the phrase “college kid” is “kid.”  The blue hair and the nose rings are just fashion.  Yeah yeah, I’m sure they’d check all the SJW boxes if you gave them a social survey, but they’d take the survey in the exact same spirit — and with the exact same level of effort — as they take midterm exams:  That is, not at all.  Everyone knows the lines you’re supposed to parrot when it comes to stuff like global warming, LGBTQwhatever, etc., just like everyone knows what the professor wants to hear on the midterm exam.  Put the required words in the required order, everyone gets an A, and now we can all go get blackout drunk on Wednesday night.

Those kids, then, weren’t individuals in my sense, despite the blue hair and the nose rings.  But here’s the rub: I wasn’t an individual either.

I’m blissfully retired now, praise Buddha, but I can assure you that if an honest-to-god SJW had ever shown up in one of my classes, the entire experience would’ve changed.  Instead of teaching “the students,” I’d now be “teaching” Trigglypuff exclusively.  The reason for this is simple:  You can’t beat Trigglypuff.  I have other responsibilities; Trigglypuff doesn’t.  Hell, I have to sleep sometime; Trigglypuff — who by definition has access to powerful prescription psychotropics — doesn’t.  Trigglypuff can and will chain herself to the radiator outside the Dean’s office until I either recant or get fired, so I’ll either recant or get fired — either way, problem solved.  My preferences, such as they were, made no difference at all.

Finding the individuals, then, can be tricky.  Indeed, that’s where you see your major historical ruptures — your civil wars and whatnot.  Charles I, for instance, thought the bluebloods were the individuals in his society.  He figured that he had the Duke of This and the Earl of That and the Bishop of the Other Thing in his pocket, so his throne was secure.  But the Duke of This and the Earl of That hadn’t mattered for a hundred years or more, because they were landed gentry in a money economy.  This was brought home in dramatic fashion when the Dukes and Earls, and King Charles himself, marched out to settle the Covenanters, only to find half the army unwilling to fight and the other half actively joining the rebels.

In Charles’s society, the individuals were the merchants and “hot gospelers.”  That’s how Parliament could get an army together in the blink of an eye.  And not just any army, but a ruthlessly effective one, despite almost all the military training and experience being on the other side.  Mano-a-mano and in a vacuum, Prince Rupert might’ve been the equal of any Parliamentary general, but modern wars aren’t fought mano-a-mano or in vacuums.  Modern armies need support staffs — quartermasters, paymasters, pen-pushers of all kinds — and all those guys were fighting for Parliament.  At bottom, the Cavaliers were trying to fight a medieval war with modern armies, which is why they lost.  The locus of individuality, if you want to put it pretentiously (but accurately!), had shifted.

To be continued….

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Political Theory IV: The People?

This one’s gonna be episodic — like Indiana Jones, I make it up as I go along — but please stick with me as we veer wildly across time and place….

Last time, we said that social contract theory doesn’t work.  Social contract theory rests on two assumptions, both false:

  1. that “society” is a collection of physically-proximate individuals; and
  2. individuals are rational actors.

There are actually several things wrong with these statements, but let’s focus on “individual.”  Humans aren’t built for individuality.  They just aren’t.  I know, I know, most people squirm a little in their seats when they read that — what, after all, are red-blooded ‘Murricans if not rugged individualists? — but this is why I say I’m the only guy I know who really believes in evolution.  Humans are monkeys; monkeys have the most elaborate, rigid social hierarchy in the animal kingdom.

Please note what I’m not saying: That there are no individuals in human society.  Society is, in fact, full of individuals.  What I am saying is: That’s a problem.  A serious problem.  “Politics,” on my view, is little more than the process of threading the needle between a group of too few individuals (a “mob”), and too many.*

Individuality is one of the great problems of prosperity.  You don’t have to worry about differences of opinion when you’re on the ragged edge of survival.  This is the origin of the myth of the “noble savage” — as every 19th century anthropologist remarked, primitives seem deliriously happy, because their lives are filled with purpose.  For them, every meal is a real achievement; a day without serious physical pain is a minor miracle.  Primitives are primitive, quite simply, because they lack the free time to be anything else.

Higher forms of social organization involve a dangerous tradeoff.  Greater food-security (via agriculture) means lesser physical security.  Now you’re not only a target for those with less food, but, more insidiously, greater food-security means that more individuals have time to develop.  “What should we do with the excess food?” is a serious question, with life-threatening consequences.  If we’re not on the same page with our answer, we may not be able to pull together in time when the barbarians come over the hill… which means our city gets sacked, we get killed, and our women and children sold into slavery.

Hence Greek political theory.  Aristotle maintained that the purpose of “the State” is to attain “the good.”  That sounds utilitarian to modern ears — we hear “the greatest good for the greatest number,” which in turn means something like “maximizing the happiness of each individual.”  But that’s not what Aristotle meant.  He meant something like “increasing the total amount of virtue in the city,” which doesn’t make sense to us — “virtue” and “happiness” being, in the parlance of our times, almost complete opposites.  But it makes perfect sense in the “sacked-city, women-and-children-enslaved” kind of world Aristotle inhabited — Aristotle, you’ll recall, was the personal tutor to Alexander the Great, whose father, Philip II, brutalized most of Greece (and was gearing up to invade the Persian Empire when he was assassinated).

Philip II of Macedon was an individual if ever there was one, and so was Demosthenes.  The latter kept the Athenians from getting on the same page when the former came over the hill.  In case your Greek history is a little rusty, that didn’t work out so well for Athens.  Had the Athenians been virtuous in Aristotle’s sense — had they pulled together, assessed the situation calmly and rationally, and presented a united front, instead of letting themselves be swayed by a demagogue — they would’ve found themselves in a much better position, with lots of their young men still alive….

Let’s backtrack a bit (I told y’all I make this up as I go along).  You’ll recall that Aristotle was Plato’s student.  You’ll also recall that Plato’s Republic is a seminal work of political theory.  But what most people don’t remember is that the Republic wasn’t written to answer the question “What’s the best way to organize a state?”  Rather, it was to answer the question “What is Justice?”  All that famous stuff they glossed over in Western Civ I — the allegory of the cave, etc. — was in service to that question: What is Justice?  Whatever the answer actually was — consult a Western Civ text written before about 1960 — the end result, the ideal form of government that brings “Justice” to all, was, for all intents and purposes, Stalinism.

No, seriously.  The “republic” of the Republic is a classless society where all property is held in common, ruled by philosopher-kings who alone have access to the truth.  The “guardians” (of the famous “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?“) are to “guard” the people for the people’s own good; the guardians themselves don’t need to be guarded because of the pristine condition of their souls.  Felix Dzerzhinsky (whose dream in life was to be a schoolteacher!) couldn’t have said it better.

The point is that Plato’s “republic,” like Aristotle’s “virtue,” drastically reduces the number of individuals in a polity.  We all know that Aristotle dismissed women, children, and slaves as irrational, and therefore unworthy of consideration in political life.  But he dismissed pretty much everyone else, too.  Again, this man was Plato’s student and Alexander the Great’s teacher.  Aristotle lived through Alexander’s entire reign.  He saw Philip II up close and personal while Philip was terrorizing Greece.  If he, Aristotle, had a problem with any of that, he certainly never said so.  What “good,” one wonders, was Alexander’s state (such as it was) organized to achieve?  Plundering Persia?  That would be a perfectly acceptable answer in the ancient world, but it doesn’t have anything to do with “virtue,” let alone “the good,” for any individual other than Alexander….

to be continued.

 

 

 

*Don’t take it from me.  Social- and evo-psych people have probably written on this in depth, but since this is the Internet, I’ll quote Dune: “A leader, you see, is one of the things that distinguishes a mob from a people. He maintains the level of individuals. Too few individuals, and a people reverts to a mob.”
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Friday Quick Take: Welcome to 1517

It’s fairly common these days to assert that we’ve hit “peak SJW” or something to that effect.  I’m starting to wonder if it might really be true this time.

The reason the “peak SJW” hype never affected me in the past is simple: I spent a lot of time in higher ed.  You’ll have to take my word for this, but on campus, the stuff y’all consider bottom-of-the-barrel, can’t-possibly-get-any-crazier is known as “the midterm exam.”  The “ideology-trumps-biology” school of gender studies, for instance, has been a staple on campus since before the millennium.  Here’s Jonah Goldberg, for instance, writing about it in National Review:

For example, consider Colette Dowling’s The Frailty Myth which came out in 2000. Ms. Dowling, also the author of acclaimed feminist tome The Cinderella Complex, argues in the Frailty Myth that there are, in fact, no physical differences between men and women in the athletic sense. Differences in athletic performance are purely a result of the patriarchy’s “hidden agenda of keeping women in their place by keeping them believing in their weakness.” She insists that “studies show gender to be barely relevant as a predictor, or limiter, of athletic performance,” she writes. “What really counts are acquired skills, trained muscles, and movement efficiency that comes from refined technique.”

Seriously, she explicitly believes that if women were unleashed from the shackles of the patriarchy, the NFL, the NBA, the world of boxing, etc. would be completely coed.

Note the dates.  Goldberg’s column is from 2002, critiquing a book that came out in 2000.  The book was published by Random House — i.e., by one of the biggest of mainstream publishers — so you know the ideas behind it had been percolating for years, if not decades, before the yoni warriors in Manhattan penthouses decided to market it to Barnes and Noble.  By the time Normal America got the chance to freak out about it, in other words, the idea that “studies show gender to be barely relevant as a predictor, or limiter, of athletic performance” was taken for granted on campus.  We eggheads had already moved on to things like the fundamental human right of trans-women to have taxpayer funded aboritons.  

But here’s the thing: Back in 2002, nobody suggested that gender constraints should be removed from college athletics.  Back then, Title IX was still a big deal, and the same ditzy gyno-activists who bought books like The Frailty Myth would go bananas if you suggested chick sports should be eliminated — since “trained muscles and refined technique” are what really counts, just open the football team tryouts to the girls, and in no time some 5’2″, 110-lb sorority girl will be tearing it up on the defensive line.  

These days, of course, our SJWs are suggesting exactly that.  More importantly, they’re actually writing it into law.  So yes, we now have the brain-busting spectacle of girls suing colleges under Title IX to get spots on girls’ teams because they can’t compete with biological males who are somehow also girls.  Biological men are also crushing — the feminists’ own word — biological females in women’s sports all across the spectrum.  From bodybuilding to bike racing to soccer to track, chicks-with-dicks are actually competing with, and blowing away, actual women in women’s sports.

And won’t the 2020 Olympics be a hoot?  Right there in an election year and everything.

That, my friends, is why I’m starting to think “peak SJW” is real.  Before it was just talk; now it’s actually happening, with real consequences.  We all know that SJW will only end when it affects something that White suburban women care about.  Well, what do Soccer Moms care about more than soccer?  Little Stacy just lost her college scholarship to a 6’2″ entity with a 10″ wang that calls xhyrzelf “Desiree.”  This is actually happening.

Throw in the rise of Ocasio-Cortez — such that all of America can now see, in all her glory, the Basic College Girl — and this stuff at last has real consequences to the voters that matter.

It may well be 1517 for the Church of Leftism.  Stay tuned… and grab the popcorn.

 

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