One more link round-up

I’m going to post one final link round-up of things that I would have blogged if I hadn’t taken so much time off:

Here’s Joseph on America’s slave mentality: "My life abroad has emboldened me into saying things that I could/would never say in America. I suspected I was already past the point of no return. Now I have no desire to return whatsoever."

Has someone at Discover Magazine been reading The Bell Curve: "According to a new report in Discover Magazine, the human brain, which has expanded for most of our biological history, has begun to shrink"? They can’t think of a reason why this might be happening. I would like to suggest that stupid people are breeding faster than smart people.

Here’s a post from Matthew Yglesias in which he’s apparently being provocative about education. If someone could tell what the provocative part is supposed to be, I would be grateful.

A concise summary of Whig history:

Most people today believe that the prominence of rights is the almost-inevitable conclusion of a long process of moral development. Originating in Greco-Roman philosophy and Judeo-Christian religion, so the story goes, the idea of human rights expressed a cosmopolitan vision of universal humanity, which went on to find expression in modern times in the English Civil War, the French and American Revolutions, various antislavery movements, the Second World War, and the struggles against colonialism and racism. The history of the West is a continuous unfolding of this majestic idea, and if contemporary Western societies are superior to others, past and present, it is because of their respect for personal liberties.

The article goes on to criticize this focus on rights:

IT IS partly the loss of the insight that human rights can only be secured by an effective state that explains the failure of the regime-change policies promoted by neoconservatives and liberal hawks over the past decade. If rights are what humans possess in the absence of a repressive regime, all that needs to be done to secure human rights is to remove the despot in question. But if rights are empty without the state to protect them, then the nature of the government that can be reasonably expected to emerge when tyranny has been overthrown becomes of crucial importance. . . .

A willed ignorance of history was also at work. If rights are universally human, embodying a kind of natural freedom that appears as the accretions of history are wiped away, the past has little significance. But if human rights are artifacts that have been constructed in specific circumstances, as I would argue, history is all-important; and history tells us that when authoritarian regimes are suddenly swept aside, the result is often anarchy or a new form of tyranny—and quite often a mix of the two.

Aretae seems to think that effort trumps IQ. It’s been 7 years since I was in school, but as I remember it, the smart kids did homework because they took classes that actually required them to do homework. The dumb kids didn’t do homework because their teachers weren’t stupid enough to actually believe that they would do homework if they were assigned any. A kid with a low IQ is simply not going to spend 120 minutes a day doing homework.

You hear a lot of bad things about Russia these days, but Bruce Charlton reminds us that – unlike Western nations – Russia is no longer committing suicide.


6 Responses to One more link round-up

  1. Thx for the link(s).

    Loved your “advice to a new regulator.”

    Your mastery of the devious third of the dark triad delights.

  2. Tschafer says:

    With all due respect, what the Hell is Charleton talking about? Russia, the healthiest part of the West? Here’s what an article in the December 28th issue of the Moscow Times had to say;

    “There are four main areas that made 2010 a record year for Russia’s degradation:

    1. The country declined on the 2010 United Nations Human Development Index from 57th place five years ago to 65th place this year ….

    2. The state has become more corrupt and criminalized……

    3. The economy has become more state-controlled and ineffective….

    4. Most Russians are overcome by cynicism and anger over their declining standard of living and the fact that the ruling elite abuse their power and continue to embezzle money and assets from the people and businesses with impunity. In short, Russians have lost all hope for the future under the current leadership. This is reflected in rising crime, xenophobia and violence….”

    Yes, Russian birth rate are increasing slightly. If this keeps up, in a few years, they will be as high as in that hopeless bastion of corruption, the U.S. The country so influenced by “Christian Saints and Martyrs” according to Charleton, also has the highest AIDS rate outside Africa. Vladimir Ryzhkov calls Russia, “the world’s largest dying power.”

    I’m afraid that Charleton is letting his admiration for the Russian Orthodox Church, and his enjoyment of the Russian smackdown of the Somali Pirates this summer cloud his vision.

    • Foseti says:

      I’m inclined to agree after reading your follow-up.

      The only possible defense for his position that I can offer is that native Russians may be the only natives of a “Western” country that are replacing themselves. Surely this is indicative of something good?

  3. Tschafer says:

    Actually, Red-State Americans are replacing themselves too, but yes, the Russians are a great people; they are certainly the “something good”; they survived Stalin, invasion by Hitler, rule by one of the most venal, incompetent, and out of touch elites in history, a catastrophic economic melt-down in the 1990’s, and much else besides. I wish them nothing but the best, and I agree that there are a few aspects of Russia that therest of the West could emulate with profit.My point was that Russia is a long way from being healthy, or any sort of model. Every thing that is “right” about Russia is also “right” about other parts of the West, and I don’t see why Mr. Charleton has such kind words about Russia, and consigns the rest of the west to oblivion.

  4. Buckethead says:

    And in Russia, the church no longer has the power it had under the Tsars. Odd thought, though – just like Russia was the last place on Earth that the Marxists expected communism to take power, what if Russia was the first place that actually developed a formalist owner’s paradise?

    Sure, they’re mired in kleptocracy, thuggishness and hooliganism. Many parts of their economy and society are wrecked still from communism. But they’re certainly moving in an authoritarian direction. What if a large western nation with a capable populace adopted the reforms and policies of, say, Singapore?

    It might not be Putin, but maybe one of his successors. Russia doesn’t seem to be as affected by the more maudlin forms of modern democracy, so who knows?

  5. Tschafer says:

    Yes, Russia was so totally wrecked by the 20th Century, I’d think that they might give Formalism a try – I mean, what really do they have to lose? I remember, back in the 1980’s, Solsynetsin said that it would take Russia 100 rears to recover from Communism. Unfortunatly, that is looking to be about right.

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