Damn

March 15, 2013

After Scott Alexander’s awesome post on the reaction, I was hoping for some good follow-ups.  It appears I’ll be disappointed.

His initial post dealt almost exclusively with the reaction’s critique of modern society.  His first counter-argument quickly changes the subject (a wise move) and focuses on his view of what reactionary society would look like in the 21st Century: “In other words, this argument [i.e. the one in favor of reaction] only works because the Reactionaries are comparing our gritty reality to their beautiful thought experiment.”

This approach – given his first post – is super lame, but not necessarily fatal.  Alas, he ends up by saying reactionaries will fail for the same reasons communists failed, which is nonsense.

(As an aside, my least favorite anti-reaction fallacy is the idea that history begins in 1970.  Did Lord Cromer exist only in my mind?  Wikipedia says otherwise).

Communists believe that one precise form of government was the best, and only, type of government for all societies, in all areas of the world, at all times, and across all other dimensions (population size, education, etc.).  Reactionaries believe almost precisely the opposite.

Do you know what a reactionary Switzerland looks like?  It looks like Switzerland.  You can actually visit it right now.  It’ll be a nice trip – the reaction has nice airports.  Do you know what a reactionary Sweden looks like, it looks like Sweden with less immigration (more (central) Stockholm than Malmo).  As they say, if it ain’t broke . . .

Let’s take his closing statement and examine it through the lens of my favorite example of reactionary government:

Reaction will never end up with that kind of power, but if it does, I see them in the same position as the Communists. Reaction is contra-zeitgeist. Societies, left to their own devices, become more Progressive; a Reactionary state is going to have to constantly expend energy pumping against entropy to prevent that from happening. That energy is going to take the form of internal oppression and incur automatic enmity with the rest of the world. As long as that happens, they won’t be a secure dictatorship. They’ll be a communist dictatorship promising security just as soon as those evil evil progressives are taken care of, one day in the Golden Future.

What sort of pressure did Rhodesia need to “expend energy pumping against”?  All they really needed was an absence of pressure from Britain and the US (pressure largely exerted through South Africa).  Indeed, if a true sampling of Rhodesian public opinion was possible, it’s likely that pressure would have favored the reactionary government (as it should have in hindsight).  Thus, we see that Mr Alexander’s suggestion that “internal oppression” would be required is precisely incorrect.  The key part of the sentence is the remainder, the incurring enmity from the rest of the world, part.  Indeed, the British and the rest were happy to starve poor Rhodesians to set them “free.”

Is the reaction impossible, perhaps.  But hopefully, this example makes clear that it’s impossible not because of the bloodlust of the reactionaries, but because of the bloodlust of our opponents.


Randoms

March 15, 2013

– Moldbug returns to, what he’s previously described as, the dire problem.  From the former, a few selections.  On the process of calculating GDP:

For example: how much more fun of a computer is an iPad than an Apple II?  Is it 37.6 times more fun?  Or 198.2 times more fun?  Or even 547.9?  It would seem clear, to anyone not a blithering idiot, that any process which claims to be able to derive any such number is retarded at best and may well constitute felony math abuse.

Not at all!  The Bureau of Labor Statistics is, in fact, in possession of exactly this figure.  Here’s how they do it.  Since Apple was selling computers continuously from Apple II to iPad, we can look at the period when both the Apple II and Apple III were on sale, divide the list price of the Apple III by the Apple II; later, the Mac 512K by the Apple III, and so on until we reach the iPad.  This process is called hedonic regression.  It is thoroughly official – approved of by both Harvard and the US Government.  So who’s the blithering idiot now?

And on the dire problem (i.e. the problem that society contains some people who consume more than they produce and the number of these people will increase as technology increases):

We move on to Solution B [i.e. welfare – paying such people not to work], which I think is the solution most people believe in. . . .

The problem with Solution B is that we’ve already tried it, quite extensively.  You see Solution B every time you go to the grocery store.  Next to the button marked “Debit/Credit” is one marked “EBT.”  Ever pressed that one?  Even just by mistake?  It’s the Solution B button.  America has entire cities that have moved beyond anti-hedonic labor disutility and entered the gleaming future of Solution B.  One of them is called “Detroit.”

Solution B is not the culmination of human civilization, it turns out, but its destruction.  Even in terms of mere Pig-Philosophy, it is destructive, because it ruins a human asset.  If we appraise humans as robots, we see that this is a special kind of robot: it rusts up if not continually operating.  As beasts, we are beasts who evolved to work.  Our species achieved world domination as a result of our capacity for work.  To feed and entertain a human being, without requiring productive effort or at least some simulation of it, is in the end just a way to destroy him . . .

– Speaking of Detroit, I could have done the work of the “state-appointed review team” for free and in 2 seconds: “But recent findings from a state-appointed review team and interviews with past and present city officials also suggest a city that over the years was remarkably badly run.”  Detroit is now a monument to the failings of democracy.  What’s gone wrong there is that the people of the city were allowed to elect their leaders – the poor souls never had a chance.

I’d always assumed that progressives needed to believe that evolution happened super slowly.  So slowly, in fact, that groups with different appearances had identical intellectual abilities.  Apparently that’s not the case.

Anomaly UK: “when the chips are down, I want to be surrounded by people who have a positive pre-rational subconscious reaction towards me, not a negative one.”

– Mangan digs up an example of anarcho-tyranny.  I think that story is a better of example of how retarded Steven Pinker is for thinking that violence is on the decline.  In the old days, those two criminals would have been killed for their previous crimes.  Now, one guy is dead.  By my calculation violence has increased.  By Pinker’s calculation violence has decreased.

Prenups are now worthless.

Quoting actual Islamic dudes is now extreme anti-Islam.

Betas are totally beta.

Heh.

– Google is killing Reader, which means I will finally be able to completely sever ties with Google.  They (of course) lie and claim that it’s because no one’s using it.  Here’s how to move all your feeds and saved items.  Here’s alternatives (I’d recommend waiting a couple months to see how it shakes out on multiple fronts) and here’s another list.


Randoms

March 10, 2013

– Basically everyone linked to this “White in Philadelphia” article.  It’s worth reading if you haven’t.  Also, here’s Nick Land, Rod Dreher, Chuck, Heartiste,

– Marion Barry doesn’t want to be out-done by Obama’s call for universal pre-school.  Barry wants to make it mandatory.

– Sailer is having fun with Oberlin.

– I, for one, am completely shocked by this.

This story seems under-reported around these parts.

– The Carlyle Club tackles manliness.

– I often read my Google Reader feed in chronological order.  This one was immediately followed by this one.

– It’s apparently cool to admit this and to support massive un-skilled immigration.  Go figure.  Just to complete the stupid, Megan McArdle asks: “Why not institute a special [government hiring] preference for people who experienced long-term unemployment between 2009 and 2013?” Because the jobs are already being given to veterans?  Or is this some kind of trick question?

Rand Paul’s filibuster made it clear that a surprisingly large number of mainstream Republicans think that the Constitution doesn’t prevent a President from assassinating a US citizen without any sort of trial.  One can’t help but wonder what these people think the Constitution actually does.

– Female writer thinks that it makes no sense that women would want to share their last names with their children and with the family that they live most of their lives’ with.  What does make sense then?

– What won’t porn stars do?


Harry Dexter White

March 6, 2013

Harry Dexter White was a spy. Thanks, Captain Obvious. Let’s examine some excerpts from the article.

Over the course of 11 years, beginning in the mid-1930s, White acted as a Soviet mole, giving the Soviets secret information and advice on how to negotiate with the Roosevelt administration and advocating for them during internal policy debates.

Note that this begins pre-war and pre-peace conferences.

The truth about White’s actions has been clear for at least 15 years now, yet historians remain deeply divided over his intentions and his legacy, puzzled by the chasm between White’s public views on political economy, which were mainstream progressive and Keynesian, and his clandestine behavior on behalf of the Soviets.

LMFAO. It’s super puzzling.

He urges the United States to draw the Soviets into a tight military alliance in order to deter renewed German and Japanese aggression

This is a defensible policy pre-war. It’s a fscking retarded policy after Germany and Japan have unconditionally surrendered.

During World War II, a surprising number of U.S. officials provided covert assistance to the Soviets without considering themselves disloyal to the United States. “They were,” in the reckoning of one famous confessed spy, Elizabeth Bentley, “a bunch of misguided idealists. They were doing it for something they believed was right… . They felt very strongly that we were allies with Russia, that Russia was bearing the brunt of the war, that she [Russia] must have every assistance, because the people from within the Government … were not giving her things that we should give her … [things] that we were giving to Britain and not to her. And they felt … it was their duty, actually, to get this stuff to Russia.”

If only someone had said something. (Citing Bentley warms my heart).

Truman nominated White to be the first American executive director of the IMF on January 23, 1946, intending to nominate him for the top job of managing director shortly thereafter. Truman did not know that White had by that time been under FBI surveillance for two months, suspected of being a Soviet spy. Two weeks later, the FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, sent a report to the president describing White as “a valuable adjunct to an underground Soviet espionage organization” and accusing him of placing Soviet intelligence assets inside the U.S. government. Hoover warned that if White’s activities became public, it could endanger the IMF. But the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, unaware of the allegations, had approved White’s nomination to become the fund’s U.S. executive director on February 5, the day after Hoover’s report was delivered.

In light of Hoover’s report, Secretary of State James Byrnes wanted Truman to withdraw the nomination; Treasury Secretary Frederick Vinson wanted White out of government altogether. Truman did not trust Hoover but realized that he had a potential scandal on his hands. He decided to stick with White as an IMF executive director, a huge step down from managing director. But nominating another American to a post above White’s would have raised eyebrows, since the White House would have had to explain why the fund’s chief architect had been passed over.

There’s some Presidential leadership right there.

A 35-year-old freshman Republican congressman named Richard Nixon, hoping to set White up for a perjury charge, prodded him to state categorically that he had never met Chambers. But White would not take the bait, replying only that he did not “recollect” having met Chambers. . . .

The next day, Nixon revealed on the floor of the House that he had in his possession “copies of eight pages of documents in the handwriting of Mr. White which Mr. Chambers turned over to the Justice Department.” The original documents composed a four-page, double-sided memorandum, written in White’s hand on yellow-lined paper, with material dated from January 10 to February 15, 1938, that had been part of Chambers’ life preserver. Handwriting analysis by the FBI and what was then the Veterans Administration confirmed White’s authorship.

I feel for Nixon. That’s the sort of thing that would make somebody paranoid.

I’ve reviewed 10-15 books on this issue from this era. There’s nothing in this article that is new. Let me repeat, there’s nothing in this article (other than decoded Venona information) that people didn’t know at the time. Of course, only crazy people believed it. There’s a lesson in that somewhere.


Randoms

March 5, 2013

– You are should read this whole thing (HT: Isegoria).

– In a related post, Paleo Retiree says:

These days, I love tracking and exploring the Dark Enlightenment, and it’s great fun to steer a few people to provocative examples of it. There’s a buzz happenin’ there that reminds me of the buzz I felt from the old eco-fringe. I confess, though, that my own appreciation of the DE is partly aesthetic: “Wow,” I marvel, “is this part of the world ever fizzy with energy, insight, contributions and brains!” It’s heartening to see bright people throwing off the shackles of conventional thought and discover a larger world extending beyond what the newspapers, profs and elites want us to be aware of. And, opportunistically speaking, I know perfectly well that one of my strengths as a culture-observin’ blogger is simply being a radar screen: “Hey, come on over and take look at this! There’s something going on here!”

Oakeshott:

The first order of business will be to devise a more adequate periodization in which it is acknowledged that today’s U.S. constitutional arrangement has about as much to do with that of either 1785 or 1805 as the contemporary British constitutional arrangement has to do with its 18th-century “mixed constitution” ancestor. There have been at least four distinctive American republics, if not more, though, unlike the French, we don’t normally rip up our document and start over when we change constitutions.

Academic historians of American political thought should eschew hagiography and pay attention to what the participants actually say, why they say it, and how far what they say differs from the actual political and social reality of their time. Leave the hagiography to the journalists and focus on the historical meaning of various utterances and actions and the connection between such meanings and the self-conceptions (largely mythical) of Americans contemporary to the subjects of study.

– If dads just act like moms, is nothing really lost?

Nydwracu: “The concept of world citizenship leads naturally to the progressive antithesis of the Moldbuggian thesisto all voice, no exitin a word, to democracy. The world is that from which there is no exit.”

– You should probably read Chuck on the hysterical Oberlin business.  In theory, these people are supposed to be intelligent.

– If I had to hazard a guess, I’d go with the big tax increase that hit at that same exact time.

– Dude that works at National Review complains about others enforcing ideological uniformity.  Doesn’t get joke.


Randoms

March 3, 2013

Nick Land and Spandrell have more thoughts on what to do.

– On not having kids.

– On Christopher Lasch: “Lasch argued that today’s liberal elites have ‘the vices of the aristocracy without its virtues’.”

– Auster on anarcho-tyranny.

Radish has changed formats, but is still awesome.

– Sailer has the best graph on the 2012 election that I’ve seen (by far).

– Our society serves old people. My favorite example of this is at the airport. My wife and I are waiting in the security line with a toddler and an infant, while a old person (who, once standing, seems perfectly capable of walking) is wheeled to the front of the line. The old man essentially bypasses security (no doubt due to some metallic implant that we’ve paid for), while TSA wrenches the toddler’s blanket from him despite his cries.

– American flight attendants in the ’60s (same holds for Western European ones).


<drunken rant

March 3, 2013

Sometimes, I think I’m crazy.

After all, we live the era of diversity fanaticism.  Yet, no matter how hard I try, I seem be unable to bask in the warm, healing, and all-powerful glow of diversity.

But, just when I think I’m losing it, I come across something that is so dumb and so obviously contradicted by “accepted wisdom” that I’m saved.  I know that I’m not crazy.

Here are a couple facts that all right-thinking people know:

1) There is a big “wealth gap” across races.  (The God damn Huffington Post has two separate tags for it – or three?).

If you’re too lazy to click the first link (and please, don’t click the others), the average white person has a net worth of about $113k, while the average Hispanic person and black person has a net worth of about $6k.

2) If you buy a house, the size of your down-payment matters.  You’re much more likely to default if you put virtually nothing down than if you actually have some equity in the house (after closing costs and Realtor’s fees).

If you know these two facts (or rather if you know the first (which all Good People know) and can intuit the latter (which is fscking obvious)), it’s not exactly a huge leap of logic to conclude that a huge increase in the rate of minorities buying houses just might, might lead to more defaults.

So, what happens if someone draws this conclusion?  They get shamed.  That’s right, basic logic is fscking shameful.  Behold, the warm glow of diversity.

(Ironically, it’s possible that no one (in these circles) was non-retarded enough to actually draw the obvious conclusion.  Instead, in an effort to satiate the ever-hungry God of diversity, the paper may just have hired a minority to design its cover.  The Gods, apparently, will not be mocked – they mock themselves).

History is full of people who persecute those who discover truth.  It’s less full (though full nonetheless) of people who attempt to deny and shame those who tell obvious truths.  Say what you will about those who persecuted Galileo, but it’s considerably harder to demonstrate that the Earth revolves around the Sun than it is to demonstrate that people without any money “buying” houses might increase defaults.

I’m not a hateful guy, nor do I get worked up about much.  But I do hate hostility to the truth.

Or maybe, it’s just the booze talking.

</drunken rant>