Friday, August 18, 2017

Cosmetic Distinctions

The intertubes are clogged with denunciations of the President's remarks on events in Charlottesville. While Mr. Trump displayed his usual crass phrasing, lack of clarity and wretched sense of timing, his argument boils down to criticizing a flawed syllogism:

All Nazis/Racists are hateful
Hateful people marched in Charlottesville
All Charlottesville marchers are Nazis/Racists

Mr. Trump condemned the violence which the local authorities stood around and watched, then went on to say there were good and bad people on both sides. Aside from this mixed message, he was wrong in supposing there were actually two sides. The differences between Antifa and Alt-Right, between the KKK and BLM, are subtle points of doctrine; boiling down to a dispute over which tribe will dominate the other at the point of government guns.

Most people's idea of the political continuum is confused by misuse of the labels "Left" and "Right," and further warped by the deliberate corruption of words like "liberal." We now have to say "classical liberal" to distinguish that philosophy from "Liberal," the latter of which has become conflated with "Progressive."

The narrative is that Hitler was rightwing, Stalin was leftwing. No, they were both Statists of the leftwing sub-species. The difference was merely how they defined the "tribes" they wished to oppress.

The Democrats' have pursued a not dissimilar, if muted, identitarian ('typical white people,' 'deplorables,' 'clinging to their religion and guns') electoral strategy, and it is getting away from them. Now it's being used by Alt-Right Alinskyites. This is sad and dangerous.

I've seen it argued that a distinguishing Right/Left Nazi/Soviet difference was policy regarding ownership of the means of production. To wit, Nazism and Fascism differ from Communism in that under Nazism/Fascism the means of production are not owned by the State, and under Communism they are owned by the State. This distinction ignores the fact that in both cases the means of production are controlled at gunpoint by the State. Small differences in the aiming mechanism don't count for much. Whether it's the SS or the KGB kicking down your door at 3AM doesn't matter.

I've seen it argued that another important distinguishing feature is that Hitler was a racist and killed 6 million Jews. Well, between 15 million and 30 million people died from 1918 through 1956 in the prisons and labor camps of the Soviet gulag. Stalin deliberately starved 10 million Ukrainians to death. It’s Statism’s logical conclusion, whether associated with Krupp or some 5 year plan.

And don't forget Hitler supported the Fascist Franco while Stalin supported the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. While I suspect this single fact has much to do with the idea that Hitler had some consequential difference in governing philosophy with Stalin, it was merely a use of proxies in a quest for international socialism by both men. Hitler's party was the National-Socialist German Workers' Party, but he had definite plans for franchising it internationally. Stalin, on the other hand, only dissolved Lenin's Comintern in 1943 to keep his World War II allies from suspecting the Soviet Union was trying to foment Communist revolution worldwide.

Some leftwingers defend communism by blaming the actors, "Real Communism has never been tried." Nobody says, "Real Nazism has never been tried."

If replacing Stalin with a more enlightened dictator would work, why wouldn't the same thing apply to Hitler?

Here's the way the political spectrum really works:

Looking at it by group:

You can use the same basic continuum to place people. That exercise is left to the student. Hint: Hiter/Stalin/Mussolini/Mao/
Franco/Castro/Pinochet/Lenin all go on the right hand side.

My feeling about Antifa and the white nationalist cohort of the Alt-Right is that it would be a pity if they don't both lose.

I close with some recommended reading in the order I encountered them on my bookshelves:
Capitalism and Freedom
Milton Friedman

Straight and Crooked Thinking
Robert Henry Thouless

Why I Am Not a Conservative (free at Cato)
F. A. Hayek

The Road to Serfdom
F. A. Hayek

Seeing Like a State
James C. Scott

Last Exit to Utopia
Jean Francois Revel

The Black Book of Communism
Jean-Louis Panné, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Bartosek, Aldous Huxley

Liberal Fascism
Jonah Goldberg

Coming Apart
Charles Murray

The Closing of the American Mind
Allan Bloom

Civilization and its Enemies
Lee Harris

The Vision of the Annointed
Thomas Sowell

After America
Mark Steyn

And a few related posts:
A Rafflesia by any other name -2007
Lessons from Obamaville -2011
To the Bernie Bros -2016

Friday, August 11, 2017

From Evergreen College to Google

We should not be surprised that Google can't bear to discuss their HR policies: From College Indoctrination to Corporate Intolerance
Moreover, students are taught that political speech with which they disagree is “violence” that should be shut down at all costs. They avoid uncomfortable topics by retreating to “safe spaces” on campus and shout down speakers who do not toe the far left line. Too many administrators and faculty promote such behavior. Those who dare to disagree—like Allison Stanger and Bret Weinstein—are run off campus.

It is no surprise, then, that corporations are increasingly populated with young adults who do not know how to handle political views or scientific claims they have been taught are out of bounds of public discussion. When Google’s diversity officer replied to James Damore’s email, it was an incoherent affirmation of the company’s diversity policy, coupled with an accusation of sexism. It didn’t even attempt to cite reasons why the science Damore mentioned was wrong, or why his political views about diversity policy were misguided. It just asserted they were, and then used that assertion the next day as a pretext to fire him. This is what we get when university professors abuse their power and attempt to turn students into pawns in their political game, rather than autonomous agents with the capacity (but not yet ability) to think for themselves.
The linked article mentions Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate, which I recommend. I'd suggest that reading Alan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind first would repay the reader. It speaks practically to the question of how we got here.

I'll note that The Other Club has extensively spoken to the issue (note: there's a lot of link rot). A very partial (not even anything on the "wage gap") list:

Larry Summers in the fall
Feminism's self-inflicted wounds
Monkey business
My Mistake...

There are some ideas so idiotic, it takes an intellectual to believe them
People hearing without listening
The Snatch Soliloquy
Orthodoxy prevails

There are 3 kinds of women
Sex, math, and a feminist poll
Math and sex update

Why not Harriet Miers?
Hey big spender...

On the utter humourlessness of Canadian feminist fellow travellers

'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards.'
Title IX as our conscience
Safe-space creation gap?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017


Former Google employee James Damore distributed a memo that asked Google to contemplate its HR policies. For this affront, he's been fired. Here's a representative sample of his ten page memo:
I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).
He is polite and conciliatory, but he's questioning an orthodoxy which will not tolerate even the mildest suggestion that there are differences between males and females. Same thing happened to Larry Summers.

This, in a world where Facebook assures us that 58 "gender" options are not enough.

OK, so Google is intolerant of any opinions that don't agree with the Progressive narrative. Why would you trust search results from such a company? Would they show you results they dislike if they can't even bear polite internal discussion of employment policies?

How much confidence do you have in a company whose core principle is using you as a product to micro-define identity groups in order to sell advertising? Does that confidence increase or decrease when they fire someone who asks politely about internal identity group HR policies?