Is libertarianism racist?

August 31, 2012

Will Wilkinson has a rather silly post arguing that libertarianism is not racist. Especially his sort of libertarianism, which is totally cool with intervention by the state to force people to favor certain racial, ethnic and sexual groups. Writing for The Economist must be a pretty nice gig.

As Bryan Caplan points out, before he tail-spins into his hobby horse that libertarianism requires us all to live in third world countries, Wilkinson’s sort of libertarianism justifies unlimited state intervention.

But it means well!

The more interesting question is whether or not libertarianism is racist.

People on the right tend to use a definition of racism as discriminatory thoughts or feelings or actions towards people of a different race (this is how Wilkinson uses it). People on the left have a definition of racism that’s best understood through the phrase “disparate impact.” Under this standard, racism is anything that has “a disproportionate ‘adverse impact’ on members of a minority group.” Note also that the left’s institutions get to define the various minority groups. Men, although they’re a minority, are not a minority group. Whereas women, even though they’re a majority, are a minority group.

Logically sound it is not. The point is political though, not logical.

Those on the right shoot themselves in the foot by using non-leftist definitions of racism that are operative nowhere but in the minds of rightists.

If you want to know if libertarianism is racist, the operative question (from the leftist perspective, which is the one that matters) is what would happen if libertarian policies were implemented on a large scale. There’s some room for debate here. On the one hand, many people believe that ending the drug war would benefit minorities. (I disagree with this line of reasoning. Lots of criminals would be freed if the drug war ended. Without the drug laws in effect, it would be really hard to convict these criminals of other crimes. My guess is the net effect would be bad for minority communities, as crime rates would go way up).

On the other hand, even if you wildly overestimate the minority gains associated with ending the drug war, you must acknowledge that big government is virtually synonymous with minority patronage. Just try walking through the offices of a large government bureaucracy. Welfare and other programs disproportionately benefit minorities, etc. The repeal of these sorts of programs would absolutely have a disparate impact.

Therefore, under the leftist/operative definition of racism, libertarianism is racist. What good does it do to pretend otherwise?

Even if you disagree with my line of reasoning, I’ll eventually be correct. Racism encompasses more and more things all the time. Eventually it’ll get to libertarianism.


Review of “The Currents of Space” by Isaac Asimov

August 31, 2012

This is the second book in The Galactic Empire series, and although it was a bit better than the first, this series is not nearly as good as the robot books.

Part of the problem is that we don’t get much of a sense of what has happened in the galaxy since the end of the robot series. There’s a planet, Trantor, that’s running a very large galactic empire. The number of planets is many times larger than at the end of the robot series. We don’t know much about these planets, so frankly I never really cared much when events unfolded. We also don’t know what happened to the spacer/Earthman/settler divide that characterized the robot series, though it appears the Earthman/settler side won. For whatever reason, robots seem to have disappeared as well.

In this book, there’s one independent planet oppressing another and the story is mostly of overcoming this oppression. Yawn.

Some rather bad scientific theories follow. There’s some discussion of Earth. It appears these advanced people of the future have very poor recording keeping, since they don’t seem to know that Earth was where humanity started. Science Fiction of the pre-early-internet days always seems to underestimate improvements in information technology. Anyway, the discussion of Earth doesn’t seem to go anywhere (I believe it’s setting up the next book).

To be honest, I’m glad there’s only one more book in this series before the Foundation Series starts.


Review of “Platform” by Michel Houellebecq

August 30, 2012

We [in the west] have become cold, rational, acutely conscious of our individual existence and our rights; more than anything, we want to avoid alienation and dependence . . . These are hardly ideal conditions in which to make love. The way things stand, the commercialization of sexuality in the east has become inevitable. . . .

In short, all the rich or moderately wealthy world was here [in Thailand], all answering ‘Present!’ to the gentle and constant roll call of Asian pussy.

This book is about the decline of the west – not the economic or the moral decline but the sexual decline.

The book is about Michel, a French bureaucrat. Michel’s dad is killed by Muslims, leaving Michel with a nice (but not huge) inheritance. Michel uses this money to take a vacation to Thailand, were he enjoys the local offerings, so to speak. On his trip, he meets Valerie. They later move in together. Valerie is everything that the average western woman is not (mostly this means that she is seems to enjoy pleasing Michel).

Valerie has a high-powered job for a travel company. On Michel’s suggestion, the company starts a new line of resorts staffed by people who have sex with the resort-goers (African resorts for female patrons and Asian resorts for male patrons, naturally). The resorts are very successful. Michel is at his most happy when one of the resorts is suddenly attacked by Muslims and Valerie is killed. Michel kills himself soon afterwards. In the middle of the action, there are a few more brutal attacks on Europeans by Muslims (e.g. gang rapes in the subway).

Of course, since Houellebecq’s book does include Muslim violence, most critics can’t see anything but bigotry and the book is generally seen as anti-Muslim. These reviews miss the point.

Houellebecq is certainly anti-Muslim, but Houellebecq’s so generally unimpressed with the west that one gets the impression that he disrespects Muslims mostly for attacking such a weak civilization. Here’s a sample of Houellebecq’s take on European civilization:

I [i.e. Michel] was living in a country distinguished by a placid socialism . . . All in all, I needn’t really worry anymore. In fact, I never really had. . . .

What had I produced in forty years of my existence? To tell the truth, not very much. . . .

Those qualities of intelligence and determination shown by my ancestors, I had manifestly lost. As a wealthy European, I could obtain food and the services of women more cheaply in other countries; as a decadent European, conscious of my approaching death, and given over entirely to selfishness, I could see no reason to deprive myself of such things. I was aware, however, that such a situation was barely tenable, that people like me were incapable of ensuring the survival of a society. Perhaps, more simply, we were unworthy of life. . . .

To the end, I will remain a child of Europe, of worry and of shame. I have no message of hope to deliver. For the west, I do not feel hatred. At most I feel a great contempt. I know only that every single one of us reeks of selfishness, masochism, and death. We have created a system in which it has simply become impossible to live, and what’s more, we continue to export it. . . . Nothing of me will survive, and I do not deserve for anything of me to survive. I will have been a mediocre individual in every possible sense.

Muslim violence is just another symptom of the decline of the west. These Muslim attacks just happen every now and then. The people in the book react to the violence the same way they’d react to a hurricane or an earthquake. If anything, they’re more laid back about Muslim violence. They’d demand assistance for hurricane victims, whereas violent Muslim attacks are just facts of life.

Yet for every page Houellebecq devotes to Muslim violence, he devotes fifteen to complaining about the fact that western women are really bad at sex. They’re so bad that, sex tourism to Asia is the future. As one character puts it:

You won’t find a white woman with a soft, submissive, supple, muscular pussy anymore. That’s all gone now.

And with it western civilization?

He goes on and on cataloging the problems with western women, including divorce and S&M.

In the end, Michel eventually opens his eyes to the decayed civilization around him – best exemplified by the totally crappy sex that everyone is having. As a result, he can’t think of a reason to stay in the west.


Randoms

August 26, 2012

– "Mitt Romney has 0 percent of the black vote. If you find this deeply disturbing, as opposed to hysterical, you are lame." Here

Half Sigma vs Yglesias on poor people. The "professional economist" is the one who wants to subsidize poverty. What could possibly go wrong with the latter’s plan to give money to people who are bad with money?

WRM on the racial bargain.

– “If it’s the last thing I do," she told the Post Star, "I will see him die.” Good luck.

Credit ratings are racist. So is quantitative easing. So is sleep. So is Bill Nye.


Randoms

August 21, 2012

– I was due for a DC post, but Borepatch beat me to it.

– Isegoria follows up on my review of Joe McCarthy’s book.

– Circumcision may be recommended again.

– Sailer makes fun of economists.

– James makes fun of Yglesias and other economists.

Gold confiscation.

Bipartisanship.


Randoms

August 19, 2012

– Ulysses on the freedom of responsibility (the only kind of freedom there is).

– Take a guess as to the strongest predictor of early death before you click the link.

– Audacious Epigone on immigrants

– Whiskey on libertarianism as stealth white identity politics

Progress

– Everybody believes in HBD:

The Obama staffers who can judge what’s a safe enough street in gentrifying Washington within a half block just by watching pedestrians stroll by will go back to the office and sue school districts for racial disparities in suspension rates.

– Nydwracu on universities

– James on race

Multiculturalism fail

Jim (NSFW): "Progressives have done to Christianity what Christians did to pagans."


Review of “America’s Retreat from Victory” by Joseph R. McCarthy

August 19, 2012

Yeah, that Joseph R. McCarthy.

Why would anyone read a book by McCarthy? The official story of what the hell happened at the end of World War II doesn’t make any sense.

As General Wedemeyer (from whom we’ll hear much more in a separate review sometime in the future) puts it:

. . . the United States became involved in a war which was to result in the extension of totalitarian tyranny over vaster regions of the world than Hitler had ever dreamed of conquering.

However, according to the official story, the war was fought to defend free peoples from tyranny (or whatever Churchillian/Rooseveltian version of propaganda you prefer). Unfortunately, if we’d just left Hitler alone to take over Europe, a lot less of the world would probably have found itself living under tyranny and a lot fewer people probably would have died. Surely this requires some explanation?

It’s impossible a current US Senator could write something that shows as much depth of knowledge and understanding as McCarthy of complex post-war issues. If the guy was a lunatic, he was a really smart lunatic. Unsurprisingly (given the fact that the official story doesn’t make any sense at all), McCarthy’s version of events is much more logical than the official story.

McCarthy’s argument is that the US lost the peace to Russia. This is basically unarguable if you look at a map of the post-war world: . McCarthy famously believed that US officials purposefully lost the peace because they were really Soviet agents. In this, McCarthy is very generous. The other option I see is that all of the top officials in the US were half-tards – how else can you win a war and not get anything from the victory?

The book/speech is, more specifically, an indictment of George C. Marshall. Wikipedia’s entry on McCarthy seems confused about why McCarthy would criticize Marshall when it notes:

Marshall was a highly respected General and statesman, remembered today as the architect of victory and peace, the latter based on the Marshall Plan for post-war reconstruction of Europe, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

In brief, McCarthy’s argument is that Marshall’s "peace" came at the cost of selling all of Eastern Europe and China to the Soviets. In exchange, the US got . . . nothing. I guess since Marshall won the Nobel Peace Prize, we can be sure he wasn’t a Communist sympathizer.

Anyway, let’s take McCarthy’s arguments by theater.

Asia

Let’s start with US strategy in Asia. According to McCarthy, the overwhelming aim of US military policy in Asia should have been to keep the Soviets out of the actual fighting with Japan. Among other things, McCarthy digs up various intelligence reports (given to Marshall) that stated that if the Soviets joined the war in Asia, "China will certainly lose her independence, to become the Poland of Asia; Korea, the Asiatic Rumania; Manchuria, the Soviet Bulgaria." He also finds a statement from Admiral Leahy (pre-dating Yalta) noting:

MacArthur and Nimitz were now in agreement that the Philippines should be recovered with ground and air power then available in the western Pacific and that Japan could be forced to accept our terms of surrender by the use of sea and air power without an invasion of the Japanese homeland.

In other words, a non-retarded US strategy would have been to keep the Soviets out of the war with Japan.

The early key to Asia was Manchuria, according to McCarthy. The US officially recognized Manchuria as belonging to the Republic of China. Yet at Yalta, Stalin asked for it and FDR obliged, in exchange for Russia agreeing to enter the war against Japan (which Stalin had already indicated he intended to do, which made sense given Stalin’s position, and which was probably detrimental to US interests anyway). McCarthy notes (apparently without humor) that Roosevelt was simultaneously enabling Soviet expansion while haranguing Churchill for the British empire’s control of India, etc.

Marshall next took interest in the Chinese Civil War between the forces of Chiang and Mao which was going on during China’s war with Japan. The US was allied with China and was arming China in its struggle against the Japanese. Here Marshall insisted that aid would only go to China if it suspended its civil war (Mao was delighted, as I’ve noted elsewhere).

Marshall then insisted that Chiang accept Communists into his government (again delighting Mao). He later vetoed the appointment of General Wedemeyer as ambassador to China because Zhou En-Lai (who was in rebellion against the actual government of China!) objected. Leighton Stuart (Zhou’s former teacher) was later appointed. The tide eventually turned and Mao eventually won. As Wikipedia elegantly puts it: "Marshall seems to have disagreed with strong opinions in The Pentagon and State department that Chiang’s success was vital to American interests." I guess we might as well give the whole country to the Soviets then. Or, as Marshall put it:

As Chief of Staff I armed 39 [Chinese] anti-Communist divisions, now with a stroke of a pen [preventing the Nationalists from buying ammunition] I disarm them.

McCarthy sums up the results of Marshall’s Asia policy:

Suppose . . . we had not implored Russia to enter the war in the Far East, had not equipped her army [when the Communists eventually took China, they did so with US equipment via Russia], had not given her the right to take Manchuria–were would the sudden collapse of Japan on the 10th of August, 1945, have found the Russians? . . . Had we followed the advice of Admiral Leahy, instead of Marshall, the war with Japan would no doubt have come to its abrupt end with the Kremlin dickering with us for a bribe which they obtained with such miraculous ease at Yalta. The situation in the Far East–then and today–would have in that case looked something like this:

The surrender of the Japanese Kwantung army in Manchuria would have been made to the Americans and Chinese. The Americans would have held Manchuria–and all Korea for the Koreans . . . "

Incidentally, it’s worth noting that MacArthur almost screwed up the Soviet plans in Asia. Coincidentally, he was fired by Marshall and Truman.

Finally, it’s not like the correct policy in Asia was hard to discern. Wedemeyer had already spelled it out:

The result was the "Wedemeyer Report," in which Wedemeyer stressed the need for intensive U.S. training of and assistance to the Nationalist armies.

Fearful the Nationalists may rise to challenge US hegemony in the Far East [?!?! but not fearful the Soviets would do so?], President Truman not only rejected the recommendations in the report, but imposed an arms embargo against the Nationalist government, thereby intensifying the bitter political debate over the role of the United States in the Chinese civil war. While Secretary of State George C. Marshall had hoped that Wedemeyer could convince Chiang Kai-shek to institute those military, economic, and political reforms necessary to defeat the Communists, he accepted Truman’s views, and suppressed publication of Wedemeyer’s report, further provoking resentment by pro-Nationalist and/or anti-communist advocates both inside and outside the U.S. government and the armed forces.

After the fall of China to Communist forces, General Wedemeyer would testify before Congress that while the loss of morale was indeed a cause of the defeat of the Nationalist Chinese forces, the Truman administration’s 1947 decision to discontinue further training and modernizing of Nationalist forces, the U.S.-imposed arms embargo [i.e. Marshall's policies], and constant anti-Nationalist sentiment expressed by Western journalists and policymakers were primary causes of that loss of morale. In particular, Wedemeyer stressed that if the U.S. had insisted on experienced American military advisers attached at the lower battalion and regimental levels of Nationalist armies [rejected by Marshall] (as it had done with Greek army forces during the Greek Civil War), that aid could have more efficiently been utilized, and that the immediate tactical assistance would have resulted in Nationalist armies performing far better in combat against the Communist Chinese. Vice-Admiral Oscar C. Badger, General Claire Chennault, and Brigadier General Francis Brink also testified that the arms embargo was a significant factor in the loss of China.

Europe

In Europe during the war, McCarthy believes that the logical strategy (and the one favored by Churchill according to McCarthy’s accounts) would have been to invade North Africa, then Sicily and Italy, and then cut up through Austria and the Balkans (sweeping as far East possible so as to ensure that the territory did not fall into Communist hands). Various other US generals (McCarthy cites Clark repeatedly) supported this plan. Clark states that, "after the fall of Rome, Kesserling’s army could have been destroyed if we had able to shoot the works in a final offensive. Across the Adriatic was Yugoslavia and beyond Yugoslavia were Vienna, Budapest, and Prague."

According to McCarthy’s accounts, the Soviets wanted the US and Britain to start a second front as far west as possible, specifically in France. According to McCarthy’s accounts, the biggest proponent of this same plan in the US Army was Marshall, who was eventually able to convince FDR. The result was the outcome of the Quebec Conference, in which it was basically agreed that the Balkans would fall to the Soviets, to promote democracy and all that.

McCarthy dug up a document that Harry Hopkins brought to Quebec, which stated (in full):

Russia’s postwar position in Europe will be a dominant one. With Germany crushed [thanks to the policy of unconditional surrender], there is no power in Europe to oppose her tremendous military forces. It is true that Great Britain is building up a position in the Mediterranean vis-à-vis Russia that she may find useful in balancing power in Europe. However, even here she may not be able to oppose Russia unless she is otherwise supported.

The conclusions from the foregoing are obvious. Since Russia is the decisive factor in the war, she must be given every assistance and every effort must be made to obtain her friendship. Likewise, since without question she will dominate Europe on the defeat of the Axis, it is even more essential to develop and maintain the most friendly relations with Russia.

Finally, the most important factor the United States has to consider in relation to Russia is the prosecution of the war in the Pacific. With Russia as an ally in the war against Japan, the war can be terminated in less time and at less expense in life and resources than if the reverse were the case. Should the war in the Pacific have to be carried on with an unfriendly or a negative attitude on the part of Russia, the difficulties will be immeasurably increased and operations might become abortive.

In other words, in Europe and Asia, the US should start doing what Russia wants. And that’s basically what happened. As Admiral Leahy put it: "The Soviets and Americans seemed to be nearly in agreement as to the fundamental strategic principles that should be followed." (He’s referring to the agreement made at Tehran, in which Stalin got everything he wanted). Later, Marshall slowed the march of US troops into Berlin and prevented Patton from taking Prague.

In post-war Europe, McCarthy draws a distinction between the "Forrestal-Truman" position, which is the Truman Doctrine, and the Marshall Plan. The former committed the US to help free people fight tyranny. The latter gave money to tyrannical governments (aid was, after all, offered to Russia and all Soviet satellites) and free people alike. The former plan also focused on military aid, while the latter explicitly ignored military aid. Under the former plan, free European countries would be able to withstand aggression from a tyrannical government. Under the latter plan, wealthy European countries would be unable to defend themselves against aggression (I’m sure it’s a coincidence that this aligns nicely with Stalin’s stated desire for a power vacuum in Europe).

Conclusion

McCarthy points to some other oddities associated with Marshall’s career. For example, six years after believed relieved of command of a regiment by MacArthur, Marshall was placed (by Roosevelt) in command of the entire US Army. It’s possible to read McCarthy’s speech as accusing Marshall of putting his own career ahead of everything else, including his country. Marshall curried favor with certain very powerful folks in Washington, who in turn ensured that he was promoted. It just so happen that these powerful Washingtonians were sympathetic to Russian interests or their beliefs about how the war should be conducted were identical to Stalin’s.

McCarthy’s portrayed as a lunatic calling everyone a communist. His actual statements are surprisingly measured. For example, he states that Acheson was loyal to first and foremost to the British Labor Party (not the Soviets). Actually, that argument makes a lot of sense.

No wonder McCarthy drank himself to death. I need a drink after writing that up.