The Fed’s bill of rights

July 30, 2010

From GBFM:

your daughter shall have the right 2 be assocked by thugmen of her choosing

men whose ancsetsors wrote greats books and classics of freedom shall be deemed guilty in any altercations and jailed lzozllzlzl

any attempt to discipline a girl who has a right to her own body and can let in any thugcocks as she siwshes will be a felony resulting in incacertaion

any attempt to impose deceny or standadrths on a owman above and beyond butthex will be riducled and castigated and impguned

the purpose of a man is to pay 4 thugchildren as teh fed grows the underclass and erodes freeedom

all men must pay for thugoffspring either by being cuckolded by tehri wives or cuckolded by a government which forces men to pay for chiclden that are not theirsz lozlzozzlllo

henceofrth only men who cooperate in secrteiv tapings of butthex and the fed’s deosuling progams wwill be wired fiat bernankecahs from powrful womenz ecxucitives lzozlzo

men sho suggets their are highter entiteis than getting it or putting it up the butt are to be exiled and defunded and denied bernankecash as tehir assetts are seized and given to the douchebagslututopia brave new neocon world lzozlzozlzlzllzlzlzlz

Translations here



July 30, 2010

Buckethead wrote a post on denialism that’s worth reading.

I’ve always admired, but never really trusted, people who think in a very questioning manner – i.e. people who are always questioning their beliefs.

That sort of thinking has never really worked for me. I have to try on new ideas. I’ve had better luck believing in ideas without reservation, finding someone smart who disagrees, and arguing with them a lot. Of course, one still has to be open to changing one’s position after the argument.

More liberaltarianism

July 30, 2010

On the definitional questions, this is where I usually hope Devin will jump in and clarify everything in a few sentences. I think of progressivism as the modern state religion. That makes it tough to define – how would someone in the middle ages have defined his religion? It would have been hard for such a hypothetical citizen of the middle ages. Religion just was for him – much like progressivism just is for us today. At best, you can only hope to catch dark glances of what progressivism really is. The reactionary seeks to escape this state of affairs.

Back to liberaltarianism, Aretae says:

While it is perhaps true that the Wilkinson/Lindsey project of convincing power-hungry DC Apparatchiks that a market would solve their problem better than the government is foolhardy…it is substantially less foolhardy to attempt to convince the black parents of the country, and many of their sympathizers that public schools are a government conspiracy to keep them down…and that a free market in education, perhaps (unhappily) voucher-funded, would be 100x better than the crap they’ve been getting for the last 50-100 years. There’s a real difference between addressing the concerns of the progressive on the street who thinks the poor need help, and addressing the concerns of the Washington establishment who thinks that the poor need to be managed.

I think this misunderstands progressivism. To "solve their problems" without government is not a possibility for progressivism. No such state of the world is possible in the progressive vision. Such a "solution" would not represent a compromise but a total destruction of progressivism.

Think of progressive achievements: institution of the income tax, direct election of senators, abolition of alcohol (this, by the way is simply unforgivable), women’s suffrage, the civil rights bill, affirmative action, equal opportunity laws, etc.

What do all these things have in common? They make government bigger. State intervention is equivalent to solving problems. This is true even for apparently "libertarian" victories. Progressives, for example, might claim credit for ending abortion (an arguably libertarian or un-libertarian view). But their victory came about in such a way that eventually still grows government. They want legalized abortion, so now you have to sell contraceptives if you own a hospital or pharmacy. To make the Constitution protect this right, they invented a new Constitutional protection. This precedent will allow them to expand and mold the state in any way they see fit in the future. This state of affairs is not a boon for liberty, unless liberty is so narrowly defined as to become meaningless or, at best, highly subjective.

If their goal is to make government bigger and your goal is to reduce the size of government, you cannot compromise.

I mock liberaltarians because it doesn’t recognize this obvious point (and one more, see the next paragraph). The best that can be said of liberaltarianism is that it politely asks government to please stop using some of its powers without doing anything to actually limit those powers. The net result is generally increased government powers that are temporarily used in more friendly ways. Could you possibly design a better losing strategy? This strategy makes modern conservatism seem brilliantly effective by comparison.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, progressivism doesn’t need to compromise. On a long time scale, it basically always wins (at least for the last several hundred years).


July 30, 2010

Ulysses is on a roll.

In which it is revealed that I am “pretty shallow”

July 30, 2010

Faster please, as Instapundit says

In defense of pessimism

July 29, 2010

Aretae is ripping on pessimism – thanks in part to Matt Ridley’s book.

Libertarians like to view progress one dimensionally, just like progressives. However, each group uses a different dimension.

Progressives use social justice (for lack of better term) as their dimension. For example, today is better than the ’40s because black people couldn’t vote then, or something. If you disagree with progressives, you’re a racist.

Libertarians use technological progress as their dimension. For example, today is better than the ’40s because you had to get chicken pox, you couldn’t access the internet and it took a long time to do the laundry and the dishes back in the ’40s. If you disagree with libertarians, you’re a Luddite.

Yet can one study history and honestly conclude that there has no decline along any variable? For (a mainstream) example, we used to live in a country in which a guy like Thomas Jefferson could get elected president. Now, the finalists are John McCain and Barack Obama. Do you really see no decline? I don’t think it takes much to see the incredible fall in quality.

If you really believe that the quality of government in the US hasn’t declined in recent decades, you may be past the point of reasoning with. I freely admit that some things have gotten better, why is it so hard for libertarians and progressives to admit that anything might be getting worse?

My beef with liberal-tarianism

July 29, 2010

I’ve taken swipes at "liberaltarians" before. I took another one today that Aretae didn’t like.

My more fundamental point is that when you stop talking about general and potential areas of compromise among liberals and libertarians, you’re left with some pretty small and lame actual policy compromises. In a liberaltarian world, you’ll be able to wear baggy pants and make pot brownies according to government-specified pot-baking instructions. I don’t see a lot of other areas for compromise – from a truly libertarian perspective, this "compromise" is also dubious, at best.

Libertarians may want to scale back government, but think of all the minorities and women and children that would be hurt by such action! What sort of libertarian changes wouldn’t have some kind of disparate impact? A move to a more libertarian world would require progressives to admit defeat. Progressivism is incapable of admitting defeat – by its definition of itself, what it wants is always "progress."

On a separate note, I must object to Aretae’s closing lines:

I’m with Matt Ridley here, requoting:

I find that my disagreement is mostly with reactionaries of all political colours: blue ones who dislike cultural change, red ones who dislike economic change and green ones who dislike technological change.

This counts as cultural change, offends the blue reactionaries, and its distastefulness is attributable almost entirely to prejudices of the current day. I’d think especially that a hyper-reactionary like Foseti would know this. It’s certainly no less ridiculous than togas or neckties.

I use the term reactionary to mean "opposed to democracy." Like Carlyle. I think any modern reactionary would like to see lots of cultural, economic and technological change. We’d just like to move away from the progressive definition of "change."

Liberal-tarian victory

July 29, 2010

This is pretty much what I imagine when I imagine a liberal-tarian world.

In which I am condemned to the fiery pits of hell

July 29, 2010

For being a heathen

The official press

July 29, 2010

Since Carter linked to it, I decided to re-read this old Moldbug piece.

It’s interesting to read in light of the JournoList business. It’s also a good example of Moldbug’s ability to clarify things be re-naming them, which something Devin and I discussed last week over beers. Anyway, here are some excerpts:

Of course, this is consistent with the Polygon hypothesis – that power in modern democracies belongs to those who manage public opinion. This hypothesis is actually not mine – I believe it was first stated by Walter Lippmann in 1922, in his book of that name. And Lippmann himself did quite a bit to put his system into practice. The Polygon is not so crude as to have a name or a mailing address – it is a movement, not a conspiracy. But if it did have a name and address, its name would be the Inquiry and its address would be 68th and Park.

The key to the Polygon hypothesis is that three words are synonyms: responsibility, influence, and power. The New York Times, for example, is responsible because if it does the wrong thing rather than the right thing, it can cause a great deal of suffering. It is influential because its actions affect the lives of many people. And it is powerful because there is no conceivable meaningful sense of the English word power which is not synonymous with responsibility and influence. Power is the ability to make a difference, to change the world. Remind me again what people say on their J-school applications?

. . .

For example, suppose you see an article about Israel on the front page of the Times with the by-line "Steven Erlanger." Perhaps there is one of these every few days, and no doubt if you put them together they tell a story. But the one thing you are guaranteed not to read in this story is that one of the ten most powerful people in Israel – maybe even one of the most five – is… "Steven Erlanger."

I recommend a lot of old books, but let me switch gears and recommend a new one, Mark Moyar’s revisionist history of the first half of the Vietnam War. What Moyar did was to go back through the archives and rewrite history as though the American correspondents in Vietnam were human participants in the story, not dispassionate, angelic observers. It’s really a remarkable read.

There is a sense one gets when one reads a history in which some of the players have been airbrushed out. It’s like being in a novel in which there’s a poltergeist. Plates suddenly fly out of the cabinet and leap across the room to smash on the wall. Flying plates! Irresistible forces of historical destiny! When you see the same story with all the characters restored, and you realize that someone actually picked up the plate and threw it, you get this very comfortable feeling of reality returning.

. . .

Yellow journalism, such as that practiced by Hearst, Pulitzer, etc, used its political power to serve a variety of divergent private interests which did not always coincide with the interests of the State. Gray journalism has learned its Hegelian manners, and invariably serves and upholds the State.

(Of course, this does not mean it serves "the government." It means that when the New York Times attacks the White House, it sincerely believes that it is serving as a nonpartisan watchdog in the public interest. Apparently the State Department never does anything wrong, and thus never needs to be barked at. Perhaps this is because State too is a nonpartisan agency, selflessly performing its difficult work of diplomacy in the public interest. Ladies and gentlemen, the Polygon.)

. . .

For me, the reason I see journalism as official is that I think journalists are civil servants. Stators, we might say, in the rotary system. They have the same ethos of public service, they have the same protection from political interference, they are nonpartisan – they serve only the State. If you believe in the Hegelian apolitical civil-service state, you believe in official journalism. Of course, then you have to explain what was so wrong with Brezhnevism, but that’s another story.

Moreover, the Department of Journalism is clearly one of the most powerful departments in the Western civil-service state. A journalist can attack anyone, and no one can attack him – except a judge, and then only in a limited set of ways that correspond to approved procedures, aka "laws," which journalists have great influence in designing.

This is perhaps the most salient remaining difference between the post-Communist civil-service state, as seen in China and increasingly in Russia, and its Western cousin. In the post-Communist system, power is in the hands of the security services, who can command the journalists and judges. In the Western system, it’s the other way around. Of course, as a Westerner, it’s easy to see the advantages of our approach. But it’s also interesting to look at who runs a trade deficit versus whom.

. . .

Losing your faith in official journalism is an extremely large mental step. It’s really in the category of giving up a religion. It creates an enormous set of questions which you thought were answered, and now suddenly are questions again. And it’s very easy to get those questions wrong. To paraphrase Chesterton, when people stop believing in the Times, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.