Randoms of the day

Bruce Charlton argues that PC (i.e. progressivism) is not a descendant of any form of Christianity. I won’t be persuaded – even a little bit – until he tackles Moldbug’s favorite primary source. Could there be a more pure expression of progressivism as a form of Christianity?

Vox finds a great comment:

In reality, the natural state of mankind is a mother and her children (as the feminists claim). The family, instead, is the natural state of civilization. The monogamous marriage of patriarchal control and exclusive sexual access guarantees each man a woman and thus gives him a stake in the civilization around him. This reduces one major source of conflict and allows men to cooperate more easily. In fact, this exclusive sexual access is a hallmark feature of Western Civilization and a major reason why it surged ahead against the various polygamous societies of Africa and the Middle East.

Chuck on brawls.

Sometimes Matthew Yglesias expresses the absurdity of progressivism in shockingly sincere ways. Here he discussing the unemployed:

Does anyone seriously deny that there’s something these people could be doing that would be more useful than being unemployed? Now ask yourself this. Suppose you had more money. Would you buy more goods and services? I would. And if more people were buying more goods and services, then wouldn’t firms need to hire more people to provide those goods and services? I don’t see any way around it. So why not put some money into people’s hands so they can go out and buy more goods and services? Maybe you think we can’t do that because “the money has to come from somewhere.” But it doesn’t. It’s fiat currency, we can just make more.

He recognizes that this might cause inflation, but he doesn’t recognize any other side effects. One envisages the creation of a Democratic army, being paid to get poor people to vote or something. One further envisages the creation of a vast army of dependents becoming ever more dependent. In other words a continuation of the FDR strategy for getting Democrats elected.

Laura Wood is reading Ian Fletcher’s Free Trade Doesn’t Work. I’ll be reading that soon.

Isegoria links to a positive review of Modern Family. I’m not sure I agree. The men are portrayed much too negatively (and the women too positively) for my tastes.

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31 Responses to Randoms of the day

  1. Kalim Kassam says:

    I think you’ve mischaracterized Charlton’s assertion.

    For more context see this comment thread.

    As I read him, he’s *not* denying that political correctness descended from or was fostered by “any form of Christianity”. He is no doubt familiar with Malvern etc from reading Moldbug’s blogs and other sources and will not deny that proto-PC was developed by soi-disant Christians and incubated in their institutions. I don’t fully understand his claim, but what he’s denying is that PC fits the description “Christian heresy.” He also claims that PC’s Christian descent is historically contingent. I don’t think we can understand what he’s saying if we don’t recognize that Charlton has a definition of Christianity different from the descriptive: “what people who call themselves Christian believe.”

  2. Bruce Charlton says:

    Thanks to KK for help in explaining myself – you do a better job of it than I do!

    Christianity is 2000 years old, and it wasn’t until 1942 (the Time article your reference) or maybe 1965, or maybe 1700 – or perhaps the Reformation; or (as I would say) until the schizm between Eastern and Western Catholic churches… that there was any sign of even proto-PC in the Christian world.

    That leaves anything from 1000 years to 1900 years during which Christianity was much stronger than it is now, and this devout Christianity was not-at-all PC.

    Early signs of PC were mere glimmers, like Aquinas favouring a kind of ‘constitutional monarchy’ which was an unstable stage on the path to democracy – and proto-PC only became really obvious with the pacifism (and abolitionism) of non-conformists such as English Quakers in the late 1700s.

    (Remember my reference point for the most devout Christian society was the Byzantine Empire, which was not-a-bit PC – if it had been, it would have lasted only 1000 hours, rather than 1000 years.)

    I will get back to this on my blog, by trying to make clearer (including clearer to myself) what I think is the (non-Christian) basis of PC.

    This is the way things are at present: My main reference point is the distinctive psychology of highly intelligent people – especially their compulsive abstraction. They can rationalize anything, and are dominated by abstract rational systems rather than instincts (or divine revelation).

    This combines with the fact attested by Jesus that it is harder (much harder) for rich/ successful/ powerful people to ‘get into heaven’

    (In other words, the rulers are on average more this-worldly, more hedonistic, more focused on power over nature (including themselves – their own bodies and minds) rather than salvation).

    Then there was the specialization of social institutions which proceeded from the Great Schism and the development of the Western Universities (where philosophy and science was pursued independently of theology – unchecked by theology).

    Then there was the division of labour/ functional specialization of the modern era (from c 1700) – leading to a great increase in humankind’s power over the world.

    The non-priestly intellectual class began to separate-out from the late 18th to early 19th century, and the modern type of PC came about due to the rapid establishment of a post-1945 IQ-meritocracy as described in The Bell Curve.

    The came a massive expansion in mass media – so PC burst out in the mid 1960s in countries with huge mass media.

    So, in a nutshell, PC is high IQ, hence excessively abstract; hence tending to atheist – and ruling, hence tending to worldly. Then – in a society of functional differentiation and mass media – we get PC

    (Of course, having had its effect, this IQ meritocracy has been dismantling itself for several decades; due to various forms of group preferences – for sex, class and race – and the increase in bureaucracy, which will kill PC – of course PC is indeed self-destroying, not merely self-hating. We now have a conscientiousness meritocracy – a meritocracy of diligent sheep. Nonetheless the intellectual elite remains very high IQ and abstrcat in world historical terms.)

    • Foseti says:

      I understand your point, but I don’t think I agree that the first inklings of PC in Christianity are in the latter part of the 1900s.

      For example, the abolitionist movement was obviously intertwining with Christianity and the more extreme parts of that movement sound a lot like PC-talk to me. (The most recent book I reviewed on the subject is here: https://foseti.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/review-of-the-dark-side-of-the-left-by-richard-j-ellis/).

      • Bruce Charlton says:

        I certainly agree that the abolitionist movement was one of the earliest visible and powerful forms of PC, and have blogged about it:

        http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2010/11/abolition-movement-as-precursor-of.html

        This posting also describes how I think it is helpful to regard PC as having grown exponentially. What was once in the minds of a tiny minority grew over centuries to dominate.

        Exponential growth is invisible at first (and weak) the early doublings seem insignificant – 1 person – perhaps Peter Abelard (!), 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512… Looks insignificant.

        But after the phenomenon has been first noticed at a national level, say 100,000 people, it soon becomes very visible and very powerful – 100,000, 200,000, 400,000, 800,000, 1,600,000 etc.

        I think this was exactly what happened with PC.

        Almost as soon as PC become unambiguously visible, it rapidly grew to domination – but the process had been going-on for centuries.

  3. John says:

    Could it be that the sheer volume and amount of goods and services available to eliminate the basic housing and food needs of the masses were never great enough to distribute until relatively recently, and therefore such would not have been a political consideration because it was not physically possible, and therefore illogical to think in those (PC) terms.

    When that tipping point was reached, in other words, when wealth became so plentiful that the government could indeed start providing for the basic needs of the poor, then it became a political consideration, and further, a new imperative; a fundamental right of food and housing vs a charity to be received and appreciated. Before the government started providing for the poor, they looked far more to divine provenance for any relief of their woes. The church used to be the provider of charity. Now the government is the provider.

    Without the relative plenty that we have in this age, PC would be impossible.

    • Bruce Charlton says:

      Yes.

      I would add that the principle which led to PC also, in its early stages, led to the plenty.

      But you cannot have the one without the other, cannot have the plenty (i.e. philosophy, science, technology = *power*) without the PC – because it is a self-destroying (parasitic) process – but operating across a multiple generational timescale (like most evolutionary biological processes) – and in the case of humans a generation is 20-30 years.

  4. I find the shift of reactionaries to protectionism very depressing. Ian Fletcher is a paid shill for rent-seeking corporations seeking higher input prices for its competitors – the US Business and Industry Council. Nonetheless, his arguments are shocking absurd outside of his book, though his book may contain the same tired old cliched crap that free-traders have been demolishing for 200 years.

    Read this amazing piece of erudition and wisdom:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-fletcher/libertarianism-the-new-an_b_811271.html

    You want us to take THIS guy seriously?

    • Foseti says:

      I think the shift is due – in part – to free immigration. The argument goes that if free immigration is just a subset of free trade.

      Personally, I think the argument about free trade is a waste of time. Trade isn’t going to be free. The only time it has been close to free is when one country was willing to forcibly make it free.

      • In that case, all political discussion is a waste, is it not? At least for us non-powerful mortals. I guess Robin Hanson would agree.

        And yes I believe you are right – When people understand and reject free immigration and watch libertarians claim it a subset of free trade, they are inclined to reject both. For this reason, I believe libertarians should highlight the libertarian case for immigration restriction like Hans Hermann Hoppe’s.

        Nonetheless, the truth of the matter is that free trade in goods is an unassailable position, and that in people is nowhere close.

      • Bruce Charlton says:

        When I was a pro-libertarian free trader (just a few years ago) I tried to work through the implications of free trade in human bodies.

        It can be made to make sense in economic terms, but only if you really did treat humans as commodities.

        e.g. is someone ‘imported’ too many humans of the wrong sort, and nobody wanted to ‘buy’ them (the market values them less than the cost of their upkeep); you would need to leave them to rot on the dockside or dump them in the sea – just as you would with unwanted imported apples or potatoes.

        And if you exported humans then you would have the same kind of consequences.

        But of course open immigration free traders (like Bryan Caplan) will not follow their arguments through to this logical conclusion.

        If humans are being treated asif commodities by the economic model for the purposes of political planning, then humans would also need to be treated asif commodities (and not as humans) in the political models.

    • sconzey says:

      Any chance of a link to that Hoppe piece on immigration? I recently wrote an essay for a UK Libertarian think-tank justifying immigration restrictions from a Libertarian perspective.

  5. I may as well argue the point here as there….

    Prof. Charlton and I agree on very much, but I just don’t buy his claim about proto-PC dating back to the Great Schism, and it therefore being useless to interpret PC as a Christian heresy. If you want to view Gnosticism as a type of proto-PC, this is not an unreasonable claim. But then there’s nothing really special about 1054. Gnosticism dates back at least as long as Christianity itself, and its heyday was largely before the (united) Church got her own feet under her (and jack-booted the hell out of Gnosticism!). Gnosticism was not, as near as I can tell, given any special impetus in the East-West split.

    Now as a Catholic, I see the Great Schism as unfortunate, a severe wound in fact, and can appreciate how it set Christianity going off in two different directions, one of which (at least) contrary to the will of God. But I don’t see how Catholicism, qua Catholicism, (seen, for the sake of argument, as an aberrant form of Orthodoxy, i.e., Charlton’s True Christianity) offers any aid or comfort to PC. Unless you want to lay the Protestant Reformation at the feet of the Catholic Church… which as an Orthodox, I suppose Prof. Charlton well might. But do bear in mind that the Protestant Reformation was rather famously opposed by the Catholic Church at the time, and, with all its uniquely modern penumbras, strenuously strenuously resisted well into the 20th Century.

    Of course today one could point a plethora of stupid statements from a myriad of Catholic Bishops, or even the occasional Pope (see, e.g., the embarrasing Gaudium et Spes) that could be seen as promoting (or sometimes do promote) PC. See, Charlton would no doubt say, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) was infected too! But one has to remember A) None of these statements, even Vatican II, defined any new doctrine; and B) it is much easier to believe that the RCC sometime between 1942 and 1960 was infected with PC by her errant Western children: Mainline Protestants. Much easier, i.e., than to believe that the Western Church was infected with PC somewhere around 1054, an infection which lay largely dormant for nearly a millenium, during most of which the RCC was arguably the most reactionary institution on earth, and only to affect the whole body quite lately, in the lifetimes of most of us.

    So no. The infection does not date to the undatable Christian past. AD 1517 is the formal birthday of first identifiable ancestor of modern PC. That was the first tiny crack in the snow pack in the avalanche that was to come. Within a century, hyper-Protestant Puritan settlers, abandoning the still too Romish practices of the Anglican Church, risked life and limb to come to the Western hemisphere to build God’s City on a Hill. Within less than an other century, their cousins back in the Old Country had once and for all expelled a Catholic Monarch and permanently established Whiggism as the default mode of thought for enlightened minds of any language. Within less than a century more, the Puritans, having succeeded in North America more than anyone could have dreamed, instigated a bloody Revolution against what was at that time the most Liberal Regime that had ever existed on earth. The reason: it just wasn’t Liberal enough.

    Moldbug’s epidemiology is correct: Liberalism (and its late variant: PC) is a (Protestant) Christian heresy. And isn’t Nietschze’s critique of Christianity largely based on this perception? Of course we can’t expect Nietschze to be any expert on the evolution of Christian doctrine, nor to take any particular view on what counts as Truly Christian. Every doctrinal error is based on some truth, just taken too far, out of context with the rest of truth (whether revealed or accessible to unaided human reason).

    We (few, and perhaps future) Christians on the Reactionary Right need, I think, to come to grips with this and stop relying on the No True Scotsman fallacy to absolve Christianity of its ostensible role in birthing and promoting Liberalism. It is unimaginable that the religion of Liberalism could arise from any other extant religion.

    The truth is, and here I suppose Charlton would vehemently disagree, but this is my real point in this whole debate: There is no uniquely Christian view of government and public policy. Jesus offers no special insight into good government, certainly nothing that wise men (like Aristotle or Lao Tzu), unaided by special revelation, would not already know. St. Paul positively affirms that governments rule, by the will of God, to punish wickedness; but they do so whether they are aware of God’s grace or not. Augustine sets it out plainly: There is a City of God, where perfect peace and justice reign, and a City of Man, where we must settle for something less.

    So Christians desire Good Government… just like everyone else. And Christianity itself offers nothing unique, save for prayer and fasting, to aid us in getting it. If you want a successful society, of course the people should be virtuous, but pagan Romans knew this far better than many Christians. Of course patriarchal monogamy should be the norm. But this was discovered long before Jesus walked the earth. Of course we shouldn’t kill our infants, but fallen human reason alone is more sufficient to see that.

    Where the Christian Church (East or West, AFAIK) has spoken authoritatively, she either agrees with or tolerates what human reason alone formulates as good government. Whenever, wherever good government arises, the Christian Church will almost always be happy to reside.

    The West, informed by Christianity, has had (more or less) from time to time good government. The West, informed by Christianity, has more often had terrible government as well… but done a magnificent job exporting the same sort of bad government to oppressed peoples. Other lands, informed by Christianity little or not at all, have had (more or less) good government too. Singapore, largely secular and rather non-Christian, has better government today (and certainly less PC) than the US or the UK. How, if Charlton’s model is correct, can this be?

    Agnosticism doesn’t necessarily lead to bad government any more than Christianity necessarily leads to good. In fact, the lands where Christianity had previously reigned (the West) will be uniquely susceptible to the mutated forms (PC), not the only kind, but a particular form of bad government, because of its near (but false) fit with Christian Revelation. In my view, it is precisely this near fit that makes PC so poisonous and difficult to eradicate, like a cancer that your own T-cells won’t attack.

    • Bruce Charlton says:

      I don’t think we really disagree.

      And certainly I don’t think that any form of Christianity leads to good government in any necessary way.

      But I do believe that the *intellectual basis* of the schism was important – in the sense that it could be summarized as Eastern monasticism versus Western Universities.

      The distinction is whether intellectual endeavor (philosophy) should be subordinated to Christianity – not merely institutionally but in the mind.

      A figure like Peter Abelard could be an example: he made great progress in philosophy (and Aquinas took this to completion) by detaching philosophy (reason) from theology (including also faith, including mystery) – intending that they should be put-back-together when he had finished work on it.

      And of course philosophy never did get put back together with theology, but instead philosophy kept sub-dividing until we got what we now have.

      Aquinas seemed to have completed the process, but instead of accepting this, the newly liberated intellectuals merely began picking-apart Aquinas – Duns Scotus, William of Occam etc.

      Instead of having the possibility of a unified Christain society like Byzantium – under divine monarchy, there was an unstabke abd continually evolving system of dual control – Christian Pope ruling theology and Monarch ruling secular matters – including the later developments of ‘philosophy’.

      Of course philosophy brought power, and so did the early subdivisions – power over ‘the world’ – which is why the process continued.

      But it didn’t stop at that , and has now gone beyond – so that the process is now killing the host, and reducing the worldly power – but still it cannot be stopped, because wordly power is the only thing being sought and short-termist pursuit of power destroys the long-term.

  6. Red says:

    I divide Christianity into 2 types: Hard core Christianity (Old testament/Nationalistic) and soft Christianity (Jesus is love, were all brothers, Open the gates and let the barbarians in, hippy crap).

    Early Christianity seems to have been mostly of the soft type until the fall the Rome and the barbarian invasions. In fact leading Christians argued to let the barbarians past the frontier and let them settle. They wrote enthusiastically about the tribes beating their swords into plow shears for a few years. Not sure what they wrote after the same barbarians sacked their churches.

    Soft Christianity started to return with the protestant reformation. It took a long time for the softer ideas to overcome the 1000 years of cultural training against it. People said the words, but did the hardcore deeds. The old testament was largely the primary book preached from. It’s only been in the last 200 years that the new testament has become predominate again.

  7. Dr. Charlton should definitely have a look at C. Gregg Singer’s _Theological Interpretation of American History_ (1975). He may find it difficult to obtain, as the publisher was an American religious imprint. The works of R.J. Rushdoony, esp. _The Messianic Nature of American Education_, are also excellent and surprisingly lucid. Finally, for the Orthodox, there is always Pobedonostsev – a personal friend of Dostoyevsky, I’ll have you know, and also of course Procurator of the Holy Synod.

    Are Protestants Christian? No two great minds agree. But the connection between Protestantism and atheism, liberalism, etc, seems like a matter for disproof rather than proof.

    As for free trade, I cannot defend Fletcher as I have not read his book. I have run into several respectable intellectuals, even right-wing intellectuals, who believe sincerely in dumbing down and/or PC-izing their content for a mass audience. Obviously this reflects a completely mistaken understanding of the real nature of political force in our society, but the belief is sincere and well-intentioned, and also reflects an accurate understanding of personal economics. So I would be hesitant to denounce a fellow just for whipping a cheap strawman or two on the Huffington Post. Sure, he sounds like a ‘tard. He also comes to the same conclusions as Friedrich List, who was not a ‘tard.

    I feel a reasonable person would state the question as: if a sovereign operates a country as a business and like a business, will he offer the benefit of free trade to his residents/guests/subjects/serfs? I also feel the only reasonable answer is: “in many if not most, but not all, cases.”

    In fact “free trade” is an imprecise label – which especially considering its historical connections with the liberal movement should be worrying. Confucius say: call all thing by light name. The usual question in reality is whether subjects should enjoy freedom of *import*. There exists such a thing as export restriction, with occasional legitimate motives – you don’t sell H-bombs to your enemy in a war – but it’s much rarer.

    The unconditional nature of the “free trade” policy is also worrying – it seems like an attempt to guide the art of statesmanship through intellectual means. Ding, ding, ding, goes the little red alarm.

    Or is free trade not an absolute principle of statesmanship, but simply a contingent one? Are their cases, even absurd cases, in which free trade is not appropriate? Can we construct these absurd cases, and at least describe them in general? Are we confident that this description will not produce cases which are not in fact absurd?

    Exporting is more popular with sovereigns than importing, because exports are sales – revenue on the sovereign balance sheet. Imports are costs – expenses on the sovereign balance sheet. All foreign transactions go through the sovereign account. When USG 4 lets a Chicagoan buy a bottle of French wine, Washington is actually purchasing that claret on his behalf, then selling it to him. This produces (in a righteous world) an outflow of bullion. If the Chicagoan drinks a California cabernet, probably a better value anyway, there is no entry on the sovereign balance sheet for this internal transaction.

    Of course, if the California cabernet is not purchased it is not produced, and if it is not produced the Manager’s valuable serfs can quit their winemaking jobs and go produce something else – which might be exported in exchange for bullion, maybe even more bullion. But this calculation is not trivial; it must be made. Another possibility is that the productive assets will simply decay, as both people and factories do if they aren’t used. On the opposite side, of course, the privilege to import French wine is a valuable one which delights your customers.

    Thus the classical trade policy of mercantilism, which is to export as much as possible and import as little as possible, works out to a basic business maxim, which is to sell as much as possible and buy as little as possible.

    Even more precisely, the choice between importing and domestic production is the choice between “outsourcing” and “insourcing.” It is often prudent for a company to outsource goods and services when external resources can do the work more cheaply, as measured by fictional dollars in internal accounting. However, it is often prudent to insource as well. As with most practical questions, there is no simple, absolute formula for this business decision. If there was such a formula, our government would certainly be competent to calculate it.

    • The problem with a general policy of mercantilism is the geopolitics. If every country is practicing mercantilism, then each individual nation becomes very nervous. Unless a nation has great internal resources, that nation will always be worried about losing trade access to vital resources. Thus that nation may be tempted to engage in destructive military adventures to secure control of resources via force. This type of competition was among the causes of the great wars of the first half the twentieth century (especially the wars Japan fought).

      In game theory terms, trade rules are a prisoners dilemma. Frederich List is quite right that mercantilism can be quite good from the stand point of one particular nation. But everyone being mercantilist is the worst case top left. The compromise solution that is best for the most countries is the bottom right – a world wide free trade regime (like the WTO). That said, I wouldn’t object to such a free trade agreement having a limited number of temporary exemptions a country could use in the case of wanting/needing to develop an infant industry.

    • Bruce Charlton says:

      I would focus on the problem of short-termism and free-riding; which lead to destruction of the whole.

      Nothing in a secular system such as you describe can (even in principle) prevent short-termism and free-riding at an lower level – and these tactics will be rewarded in the short-term, and become more powerful.

      As a matter of common observation, we can see that there are always some people are constitutionally incapable of long-termism (short time horizons), and everyone is susceptible to corruption by short-termism.

      This is exacerbated when we move away from direct personal experience (‘anecdote’ as it is now libelled) and into the abstract measurement and prediction of phenomena in vast modern societies.

      People now simply don’t know (or don’t agree on) what is has happened, is happening, and are unsure about what will happen – e.g. the future consequences of present policy.

      So there is nothing (not even in principle – since policy is atheist and hedonic) to stop them (people, groups, institutions, nations) taking the surest and most certain (and destructive) path of ever more short-termism and free-riding.

    • Mencius

      In your whole exposition, not once did I see the word “consumer.” I agree with obvious export restrictions like H-bomb technology. The question, as you rightly note is concerning imports. You ignore that production also uses imported inputs from abroad, and so its not simply a case of buying french wine or california wine. Its also a case of buying Japanese steel to make American trucks to transport Ford cars, for example. Slapping tariffs on this import will increase costs all across the board. The sovereign accounting you explain is of dubious nature which Bastiat dealt with.

      jehu

      yes I would also prefer higher tariffs in lieu of income taxes. However, that is not why tariffs are lower (if they are). Recall that the income tax amendment was passed, so that Prohibition could be passed, as the feds did not want to lose the massive revenue from alcohol sales.

  8. Jehu says:

    Why is it that everyone talking free trade or protectionism almost never focuses on the main use of tarrifs and the like…which is to raise money. We used to have ‘protectionism’ and tarrifs, and no income tax. Now we have ‘free trade’ and a large income tax. Coincidence, I think not. Any way you draw money out of the economy for governmental purposes is going to hurt and suck for some subset of the population, whether it be income taxes, VATs, tarrifs, or just doing the whole printing press…I mean…quantitative easing…thing.

  9. […] If you’re at all interested in Christianity and Progressivism or free trade, be sure to check out the comments to my Randoms post from yesterday. […]

  10. Ulysses says:

    To go in a slightly different direction – Does anyone else find free trade arguments difficult in light of the fact that the US economy is decidedly not free nor are the economies of anyone we’re trading with?

    To put it another way, I’m a former ardent free trader who currently has some slight misgivings based on the systems in which we all must operate. Since we’re all dealing with what can be loosely described as socialist economies, what’s the best trade policy? Do tariffs and quotas help ameliorate any of the flaws inherent to socialist to socialist trade policies or just exacerbate the downsides? Does one-sided free trade accomplish net good?

    More simply, how does a more free economy best respond to a less free economy in a way that benefits the citizens of the more free economy equal to the way it benefits the less free economy?

    Tangentially, how does the standard of living in the US skew the views of the masses like myself toward the benefits of more or less free trade? Am I ignoring the net benefits of free trade? Am I ignoring the benefits of controlled trade in a heavily regulated system?

  11. dearieme says:

    Yet when PCism was undergoing vigorous exponential growth, in Bruce’s view – say around 1900 – Eugenics was all the rage on the Progressive side of politics. So how does one explain the victory of one and the demise of the other? Is it really as simple as “Hitler”?

    • Bruce Charlton says:

      The demise of eugenics didn’t have much to do with Hitler, because eugenics was perfectly acceptable and mainstream until the mid-1960s – i.e. for about twenty years after the discovery of the Nazi death camps.

      Indeed many of the first rank biologists of the 1945-65 era were quite open advocates of eugenics – Francis Crick, Julian Huxley, WD Hamilton.

      The turn against eugenics only came with the New Left ‘student revolutionary’/ Vietnam War/ ‘civil rights’ era – exactly the same time that IQ research was suppressed and the subject made taboo (Eysenck was attacked in public appearances etc)o.

      For example, Francis Crick suddenly found himself in hot water over eugenics, and never mentioned it again in public (see Matt Ridley’s biography).

      It was a part of the turn of the left away from equality of opportunity and towards equalization of outcomes.

      And that turn to equalization of outcomes (by bureaucratic allocation) was bound-up with electoral strategies – if the left had not made this change they would have had no reason for being, since there was by that time pretty-much a meritocracy of talent (de facto equality of opportunity – at least, as near as possible in an imperfect world), and poverty had been abolished (by world historical standards of poverty).

      • Bruce Charlton says:

        Actually, the *real* reason that liberals object to eugenics has nothing to do with the idea that government might enforce small families on poor people; but has everything to do with the fear that government would enforce large families on rich people.

      • RS says:

        I might suggest that the 60s itself had a lot to do with reaction against Nazism, and with the demoralization by Nazism of rightists and centrists who might otherwise have reacted against excessive reaction against Nazism.

        The extent to which that is true is difficult to evaluate. I’m pretty sure it’s partly true.

        Also, while it’s indubitable that eugenic advocacy existed in the mainstream of the 50s (the Wik article makes this clear), that doesn’t mean it was as strong as it was in 1935. On the other hand, I can’t prove that it was weakened. Wik strongly asserts that it was, but marshals basically zero evidence in the text. I have no doubt that racialism was dealt a blow in the 40s-50s, but that’s a largely separate matter.

  12. […] I decided to read this book quickly after the nice discussion of free trade in the comments to this post. […]

  13. […] Thus the classical trade policy of mercantilism, which is to export as much as possible and import as little as possible, works out to a basic business maxim, which is to sell as much as possible and buy as little as possible. Even more precisely, the choice between importing and domestic production is the choice between “outsourcing” and “insourcing.” It is often prudent for a company to outsource goods and services when external resources can do the work more cheaply, as measured by fictional dollars in internal accounting. However, it is often prudent to insource as well. As with most practical questions, there is no simple, absolute formula for this business decision. If there was such a formula, our government would certainly be competent to calculate it. See here. […]

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