Sunday, August 27, 2017

Von Mises looks at the "left"/"right" split

I don't think this invalidates my contention that the differences between Antifa and Alt-Right are not practically consequential today, but from a historical perspective, Ludwig von Mises points out differences..
Mises tosses off an insight that shakes up everything. Here is the mic-drop moment:
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the famous German philosopher, gave rise to two schools —the “left” Hegelians and the “right” Hegelians. Karl Marx was the most important of the “left” Hegelians. The Nazis came from the “right” Hegelians.
I’ve never seen it put so plainly. In my own education, I was highly educated on the left branch but not the right branch. Over the last two years, coinciding with the rise of a quasi-Nazi movement in Europe and the US, right-Hegelianism has been resurgent. It should be called the other threat to liberty. In other essays, Mises goes into further detail.

In brief, Hegel’s view of history as having some acting purpose aside from individual human beings bled into an attack on the idea of economics and free markets. Hegel became the most important antiliberal until that moment of time.

Mises points out that Hegel’s following split into right and left. The right believed that history was driving toward a culminating moment in which all final authority on earth was embodied by the Prussian state and church. The left believed that the culminating moment was more universal and was characterized by the birth of a new man who would live completely differently from anyone else in history. The right Hegelians became the fascists and corporate/theocratic/ conservatives, while the left Hegelians followed socialism straight to Marx and beyond.

Using that model of understanding, you can literally reconstruct the whole of the intellectual history of politics and society from the early 19th century to the present day. It is rich and pregnant with massive implications for our own time. And, so far as I know, this is the only place he states this observation with such clarity of exposition – again, owing to the informal structure of the venue.
RTWT

Friday, August 25, 2017

Fake moos

If I told you 22 percent of Michigan’s total employment, 923,000 jobs, come from agriculture, would you be skeptical? Well, WJR's Paul W. Smith and the Detroit News wouldn't be.

Media Personality, State, Exaggerate Economic Impact of Agriculture Sector

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The most consequential American free-speech case in half-a-century

That is not hyperbole.

A few of those few who visit The Other Club may do so because we talk a lot about free speech. As the post title suggests, some are doing much more than that.

Consider joining the Mark Steyn Club.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What Trump should have said about Charlottesville:

"People who insist only black lives matter are fighting people who claim white lives are superior over whether inanimate historical objects do, or should, celebrate the political ideology of Jefferson Davis, Woodrow Wilson, Bull Conner and Robert Byrd.

As a result of this “contretemps of the racists” an innocent woman died. Sad. Very, very sad.

What is wrong with you people?"


The press would have been forced to parse it, Trump’s point would have been made unassailably, he would have looked more literate than he actually is, the MSM-splaining from CNN/MSNBC/etc. would have looked foolish when they denied its truth, the Democrats would have been apoplectic, and, as red meat for the base, it is even more incendiary-standard-Trump than what he actually said. Win-win-win-win-win-win.

Trump has a communications team who are unable to modify the trajectory of stupid that characterizes the man’s reality-TV ‘reality.’ It’s a wonder he has the requisite autonomic nervous system.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On the Failure to Recognize Patterns

Two from Jonah Goldberg, related to my post Cosmetic Distinctions, below.

The Alt-Right Is Bad — And So Is ‘Antifa’
There’s a natural tendency to think that when people, or movements, hate each other, it must be because they’re opposites. This assumption overlooks the fact that many — indeed, most — of the great conflicts and hatreds in human history are derived from what Sigmund Freud called the “narcissism of minor differences.”
Re: On Charlottesville, Trump, and Anti-Americanism
I’m reminded of this passage from Alan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind: “I have seen young people, and older people too, who are good democratic liberals, lovers of peace and gentleness, struck dumb with admiration for individuals threatening or using the most terrible violence for the slightest and tawdriest of reasons.” He continued: “They have a sneaking suspicion that they are face to face with men of real commitment, which they themselves lack. And commitment, not truth, is believed to be what counts.”
RTWTs

Bloom is writing about people avoiding the messy distractions of understanding their own ideas, because "[C]ommitment, not truth, is believed to be what counts.”

They are committed to no more than having unexamined good intentions: Liberal Ayn Rand?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Pershing and pigs

Turns out the Trump Tweet about General John "Black Jack" Pershing:
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
...which attracted MSM ridicule, has a basis in fact.

From Pershing’s My Life before the World War, 1860--1917: A Memoir:

Trump had previously claimed that Pershing had his troops dip their bullets in pig’s blood. There is no evidence Pershing ever ordered this, but there is some evidence that it did happen without orders. In any case, I think burying Moros with pigs counts for something. The fact that Pershing didn’t claim to have ordered such burials is irrelevant. Colonel West was his subordinate. Pershing regrets the necessity, but he didn't bring Colonel West up on charges.

The MSM keeps forcing people to defend Trump. Not to say that when Trump makes an incendiary comment that he shouldn’t be exquisitely precise, but if a Dem had said this the MSM would have located the quote above as exculpatory. Of course, the Tweet itself didn’t even make the questionable claim, as evidenced by the words “seemingly” and “apparently” in the ABC report.

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. 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:

2005
Larry Summers in the fall
Feminism's self-inflicted wounds
Monkey business
My Mistake...

2006
There are some ideas so idiotic, it takes an intellectual to believe them
People hearing without listening
The Snatch Soliloquy
Orthodoxy prevails

2008
There are 3 kinds of women
Sex, math, and a feminist poll
Math and sex update

2009
Why not Harriet Miers?
Hey big spender...

2011
On the utter humourlessness of Canadian feminist fellow travellers

2015
'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards.'
Title IX as our conscience
Safe-space creation gap?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Googlethink

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?