Breaking: Economists discover the law of supply and demand

September 29, 2013

See here and here.

I wonder if the “blockbuster” paper cited Pat Buchanan.


Bruce Charlton, neo-reaction and the Pope

September 29, 2013

Here’s Charlton:

From the perspective of the religious Right, the neo-reactionary Right is “dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good” – to quote TS Eliot – and the religious Right believe that this is a deadly delusion.

I don’t really follow his line of reasoning. Certainly no one on the neo-reactionary Right dreams of any such thing. If I had to describe the “dream” in a sentence or two, I’d say: The neo-reactionary Right approaches governance as though it’s an engineering problem. The goal is to get the best possible outcome from the resources at hand. If you think this is idealism, you should at least offer a word to replace the current word “idealism.”

Here’s Charlton describing the dream of the religious Right:

Thus the ‘strategy’ is to try and evoke a wholesale repentance and mass conversion – a religious Great Awakening.

Only if or when this has happened will systems and ideology, flow diagrams and propaganda, become relevant.

This was a cool theory . . . until it happened and we got . . . more Leftism.

This is a particularly odd thing to highlight at a time when the Pope is flaunting his Puritanism – much to the chagrin of many of my favorite religious bloggers (Dreher has been trying to argue that the Pope’s comments aren’t that bad, but he’s protesting too much, if you ask me).

The only solution to too much protestantism is more protestantism! Now, perhaps you could argue that the Pope isn’t religious in the right way, but if you’ve lost the Pope . . .


In which someone actually manages to disgust me

September 29, 2013

Arnold Kling recently wrote one of the most disturbing posts I can ever remember reading. You should read the whole thing once or twice. I’ll excerpt (lots of) relevant bits in case you don’t:

Tyler pictures an economy evolving over the next twenty years to one with a slice of high earners (the 20 percent or so whose skills complement the ever-expanding power of computers) and then a large group that lives comfortably but without a financial cushion to protect against adverse shocks to health or other major risks.

This is a nice (modern) way of saying that 80 percent of the population will be poor.

(My anecdotal evidence (which is substantial, since I live about half a mile from some Section 8 housing) is that poor people consume a lot. Most of them drive nicer cars than me, have more channels on their TVs than I do, wear more expensive clothing/electronics/jewelry than I do, and enjoy a considerably larger amount of leisure time I do.)

A recurring topic of discussion around these parts of the interwebz is the idea that society is getting so advanced that lots of people have: 1) no need to actually work to maintain a high standard of living; and 2) don’t have the intellectual ability to do anything of value in such an economy anyway.

On one hand, this vision is incredibly optimistic – we’re so rich that large swaths of the population don’t need to work to maintain first world living standards.

On the other hand, this vision is darkly pessimistic – we really have no idea what to do with people that aren’t working. Humans don’t seem to be made for not working, even if they’re being provided for (passive voice intentional). The results from early experiments, e.g. modern Detroit, are chilling even to the most pessimistic. Moldbug has referred to this problem as the Dire Problem (among others).

The Detroit solution still has its defenders, but we can always count on apologists for mainstream theories to apologize for them, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. (Indeed, their best defenses don’t appear to be very serious).

(One reasonable idea would seem to be to stop importing more of the bottom 80%, but I guess the next paragraph explains why that won’t happen . . .)

Back to Kling:

Matt Yglesias wonders how, in a world that requires technical skill and social skills, those of us in the room [i.e. Court or Official Intellectuals] have survived. It seems that most work for think tanks, newspapers, and other non-profits. Tyler replies that our presence in the room is indicative of marketing skills. Each of us has proven adept at marketing, with wealthy donors as our consumers in most cases. Steve Teles points out that as society’s rich accumulate wealth beyond what they can consume, their philanthropic ideas will, for better or worse, allocate society’s resources. Afterward, it occurs to me that this suggests that there will emerge a toady class, meaning people whose work in one way or another flatters the wealthy.

I’m not sure any Neoreactionary (or Walter Lippmann) ever put it better. Nevertheless, if you make your living by manufacturing consent for the elite, aren’t you supposed to at least pretend that you’re doing something else? There’s something incredibly chilling about someone admitting that they make their living by shilling for the establishment.

What most concerns the discussants, including McArdle, William Galston, Jonathan Rauch, and Brink Lindsey, are the social implications of losing the middle class. (Hanson comments on this focus.) [ed: not that this stops them from importing more competition for them] Tyler insists that societies will not fracture, nor will redistributionist demagogues take power. Factors favoring stability include aging, surveillance technology, the skill of the rich at controlling the political environment, nativism, NIMBYism, and the basic comfort achieved by the lower class. He points out that Britain and Germany are farther along than the U.S. in the growth of the new lower class, and their societies appear to be stable–Merkel just won re-election by a wide margin.

Tyler says that in the long run mood-altering drugs may be a solution.

In other words . . . are you ready for it? . . . these Court Intellectuals are generally comfortable with destroying the middle class (or at least intend to justify it on behalf of their patrons) because: 1) those that get screwed will still live[] comfortably; 2) hey, that’s how these guys get paid; 3) they’re pretty sure the guys getting screwed will just keep taking it; and 4) if not, everyone can always be drugged.

It’s difficult to offend or disgust me, but these views might just have achieved that result. I always wondered what this felt like . . .

Update: See #5 here. It appears we can add: 5) even though Americans are getting screwed, they’re pretty sure it’s probably helping some other people somewhere else (even though it’s not at all clear why physically locating certain people in the US causes people in other parts of the world to increase their entrepreneurial zeal and love of democracy).


Randoms

September 16, 2013

Nick Land:

Could it imaginably be said more clearly? Liberty is legitimate if, and only if, it serves to promote the consolidation of the Cathedral (through chaotic multicultural criminality), which is then retrospectively interpreted as the intrinsic telos of freedom. Whatever does not subordinate itself to this agenda is to have its brains eaten, and be systematically recycled into progressive zombie flesh. This is a project for libertarian hipsters and Leviathan apparatchiks to undertake hand-in-hand — fusionally. The new age of the cannibal is come.

Neoreactionaries are libertarians mugged by reality (to adapt a pre-coined phrase). . . .

If it wasn’t for Hoppe, it would perhaps be understandable if the shuddering neoreactionary (N) were to suspect that libertarian thought (L0) tends — slowly but inevitably — to compost down towards this liberaltarian (L1) ‘walker’, in which all the degenerative forces of conformism and revolt have been compacted, as if by some ideological parody of providence. Is not our liberaltarian zombie the still-recognizable avatar of the old liberalism, resurrected hideously as the animated putrescence of the new?

My favorite question to ask fellow reactionaries is how they got to neoreaction. What steps did they take in their ideological journey? My last stop was on the Old Right, but I got there from libertarianism.

Forney reviews Burnham.

Life in a communist country. Or here.

Anarcho-papist: “I think pseudonymity comes at the expense of credibility.” (I guess this could be filed under life in a communist country too.)

That’s interesting, because I automatically don’t trust anyone writing under their real name. With few exceptions, they have to lie.

– Business Insider tries to explain the Red Pill. Hilarity ensues.

– Loper OS on the spying “scandals”.

Yeah, but Russia.

– I’m choking on how gay this post is, but it’s worth a read, since he’s essentially complaining about how modern propaganda isn’t propaganda-y enough on all relevant dimensions.

– Speaking of propaganda, it appears Russia is getting ready to ban all movies made in Hollywood.


Shot across the bow

September 16, 2013

Handle sounds the call to arms for the communism debate in response to Moldbug’s latest.

(The thoughts herein owe something to a conversation with Loper-OS at the last DC meetup. If he’s reading this, he should really speak up.)

In this post, I’m not going to argue that Moldbug is right, but I will try to show that TGGP is wrong.

TGGP says:

There’s an expression: “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck”. Stalin’s Russia & Mao’s China look like each other in many important respects. Such as mass murder, rather than discrimination lawsuits. The United States doesn’t.

If we follow the logic of this definition, the post-Stalin USSR and the post-Mao China aren’t communist anymore. That’s an absurd result, and so the argument is absurd.

If Breshnev doesn’t fit in your definition of “communist,” your definition may be a wee bit too narrow.

TGGP’s view of communism is a caricature of the system of government that emerged in late-stage USSR. As Loper said, it’s akin to believing that the US is still governed by an assembly of dudes in Philadelphia wearing tri-cornered hats. In addition, this sort of fact would be impossible if his view was correct.

Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China may look very different from the modern US. However, if you focus on Gorbachev’s Russia and Deng’s China (or modern China) it’s impossible not to notice that the picture is getting pretty blurry.

I’ve been to China (more than once) and you certainly seem to be able to discuss some ideas more freely there than you can here, for example.

TGGP’s view, followed to its logically conclusion, then requires us to reach the conclusion that self-identified communist countries were not in fact communist. To the extent that they were ever Communist, they seem to have oscillated back and forth between periods of communism and non-communism (whatever this is called in his nomenclature). The definition is so narrow as to become meaningless, and we’d have to come up with a new word to replace the perfectly good one we’ve already got to described the ideas that it already describes. Why would we do that – we not progressives after all?


Randoms

September 9, 2013

– It’s not that often that I get to link to a style blog.

What is neoreaction?

– Heartiste on the Cathedral.

– The Legionnaire: “The Manosphere is a starting point, nothing more. This is a truth that more men need to realize.”

– AnomalyUK has a couple posts on Victorian progressivism.

– Yglesias hearts white people.

Diversity is strength.

– Charlton on arguing with progressives.

– There’s no way I’m not linking to a post with this title.


The Joos

September 9, 2013

Your humble blogger has come under a bit of fire for believing that the Puritans are the problem instead of the Joos.

The whole argument is rather silly, since it misunderstands the Puritan hypothesis – see here.

(If there’s any distinction between the beliefs of reformed Jews and unitarians, I certainly am not perceptive enough to detect them).

If I had to summarize the neoreactionary position on American history in one sentence, I’d go with: American history is the slow process of Massachusetts taking over its region, the nation, and the world.

This process is evident from at least the early 1800s (if not much sooner). So, the biggest problem with the Joo argument is that the timeline doesn’t work.

It’s also strange how many people are able to believe that under-performance by one group with an IQ that’s one standard deviation below the mean is entirely explained by genetics while simultaneously believing that over-performance by another group with an IQ that’s one standard deviation above the mean must be explained by some nefarious process.


Proof that libertarianism is racist

September 9, 2013

Many of us in the Dark Enlightenment are recovering libertarians. Radish has a great post on libertarianism’s race problem.

There’s one aspect of this topic that deserves a bit of extra analysis. It’s possible to logically prove that libertarianism is racist. Here’s my shot at it:

1) Any system which results in “disparate impact” across certain groups is racist.

2) Libertarianism is a system in which no government force will be used to ensure equality across groups.

3) Traits, such as intelligence, athletic ability, etc, vary across groups and the levels of certain traits are highly correlated with outcomes in a world absent government coercion.

4) Therefore libertarianism is racist.

I think point 1) is terrible definition of racism, but it’s the operative one in our society.

Conservatives would do well to recognize that the same chain of logic applies to them. They (and libertarians) would be even more wise to stop discussing racism as if it were defined in a way other than 1). A few decades ago, racism may have been about treating everyone equal, but that ship has long since sailed.

If you follow this logic correctly, you’ll see that all non-progressive systems of government are racist.


Randoms

September 3, 2013

– The dark enlightenment’s best commenter is now blogging. His first post is here. (Follow-up here).

Scharlach: “There will always be sovereignty. There will always be someone to serve, someone or some group who has some element of control over certain elements of other peoples’ lives. This is a necessary condition for civilization.” (More here).

Nydwracu: “The single most important error of liberalism is that it either has forgotten or actively desires to avoid knowing that there are prerequisites to civilization, and that these prerequisites, like most traits, are most likely about 50% genetic.”

– Economists have now discovered that increasing supply can increase the clearing price and that increasing competition drives prices up. No word yet on whether or not they’ve finally discovered that economics is just a series of just-so stories that “prove” the a priori view of “economists,” but this finding surely can’t be far behind.

In related news, someone actually had to explain the following to an economist: “There is no society of Einsteins.” In other words, we’re not all many standard deviations above average. God save us from economists.

– Detroit figured out a way to solve its murder problem.

– Some worthwhile thoughts from Frost.

Progress

America deserves collapse.

Related, from Nick Land:

This is the phase of historical progression in which neoreaction necessarily emerges, its diagnoses dramatized by everything that now occurs, undisguised.

Also related.

The zombie apocalypse already happened. The social collapse which beckons will only be a symptom. You’re already a survivor. We cannot save the system, it is gone. There is hope, however, in rebuilding.

– Again, women are not moral agents.

Das racis. Detect a pattern?


No true Scotsman

September 2, 2013

At The Orthosphere, there’s a post purporting to argue that the Cathedral was not constructed by Christians. Presumably the title was changed by someone other than the author of the text of the post, because the post ably demonstrates that Christians did in fact build the Cathedral. Indeed, the post is recommended.

Here’s the gist:

What you should do is remember that a Great Schism rent American Protestantism in the early nineteenth century, with the sundering fissure tearing through denominations, and even congregations. Protestants on one side of the fissure called themselves “liberals,” those on the other side called themselves “orthodox.” . . .

Liberal Protestantism is a new, post-Christian religion that in its early stages opportunistically spoke in a Christian idiom, but nevertheless preached a new gospel. . . .

We live today under the watch and care of officious Puritans. As of old, they believe that they are better than other people, and they have got hold of a “great ‘moral’ idea” to get themselves into power. This regime has no official name, but its detractors use terms such as “totalitarian humanism,” “political correctness” and “the Cathedral.” I suspect that most conservative Christians feel intuitive distrust of this regime, and sense that it is at heart an alien ideology. But they will at the same time read writers on the left and right who claim that it grew out of Christianity, and more especially out of Calvinist New England. These writers, many of whom are exceedingly capable and interesting, may cause some conservative Christians to wonder whether it is, indeed, possible to be both conservative and Christian. This post attempts to answer that question. It is a sort of paternity test on the Humanist Heresy; and what it has shown is that the Humanist Heresy is not our baby. There is no reason on earth why we should pay child support.

I plan to pick a few nits, but – again – the post good and well worth your time.

The first nit is the timeline. American progressivism is not a force that sprung from minds of few in the early 1800s. It’s a force that is older than the republic itself. Of course, on this subject, I can do no better than defer to Nick B. Steves:

But the Puritan Hypothesis isn’t about the slate of doctrine, but the evolving memetic culture. If you extract any Protestant memetic DNA from amber that solidified prior to about 1940 (certainly prior to 1910), sure it all looks pretty non-progressive by today’s standards. But once you compare that sample with others taken each decade, it is quite clear that you’re 1940 sample was an ancestor of today’s NYT editor.

And it also becomes quite clear that the 1940 sample itself was descended from the Puritan DNA that landed in New England three centuries earlier, who “progressed” from demanding Charles’ head, to fomenting a colonial rebellion, to bringing slavery to a violent end, to giving women the right to vote, to banning alcohol, to “No-Fault” Divorce Laws, to “Gay Marriage”, to bombing Syria just for the helluvit. With a lot of twists and turns along the way to be sure, but all in an unmistakable direction: The Zeitgeist—the Arc of History.

The second and third nits are with the concluding thoughts. If progressive Christianity is really the bastard spawn of Christianity, don’t the Orthodox at least need to call out their enemy? Yet when I – is there any other non-religious commenter on the interwebz more pro-religion that me? – criticize progressive Christianity, my Orthodox readers jump to the defense of their supposed enemy. If you don’t owe it child support, why do you all seem to pay it anyway? How obvious does it have to get?

Finally, and most importantly, the issue at hand is not whether it is “possible to be both conservative and Christian.” In that, all sides agree that it is possible. The issue is whether or not (orthodox) Christianity is a vehicle capable of combatting (progressive) Christianity. The track record would suggest that the answer is no. We can question whom the true Scotsman is all day long, but if one of our potential Scotsmen always wins, he’ll eventually inherit Scotland in all the ways that matter.