Memetics and Evolution

Followup: Materialism vs Purposeful Life

Crony Capitalism - Prager U

Crony Capitalism – Prager U

Thanks to Instapundit for the link to yesterday’s post, Materialism vs Purposeful Life: Trump, Bannon, and Teilhard de Chardin. I want to expand on some parts and add some new links for completeness.

First, “Lie Swarms,” which discusses how the atomization of media has created copied and mutated lies which swarm the victim from so many directions that the repetition establishes truth for many news consumers:

Spengler said that the attacks on Bannon are an example of the Big Lie. I take issue with that. What we are seeing with Bannon, and have seen and are seeing with Trump, is something different: it is the Lie Swarm.

The Big Lie is an effective propaganda tactic in a centralized, vertical media system dominated by a small number–and in totalitarian systems, basically one–of information channels. Radio or television with a small number of national stations either directly controlled by the state, or subject to substantial state pressure (e.g., the US in the days of the Fairness Doctrine). To oversimplify only a little: one message, one medium.

In the modern fractured information environment, with a proliferation of outlets and social media that allows free access to millions, coordinating on a single message is far more difficult in such a diffuse and fragmented system. But this technology is perfectly suited for unleashing a swarm of half-truths and lies that forms what can best be described as an emergent order. It is not consciously designed by anyone, but without central coordination design it does exhibit order and synergistic behaviors.

One swarm tactic that is becoming increasingly common is Six Degrees of Hitler/Putin/The KKK/etc. Target A has some connection to B who has some connection to C who has a connection with D who said something that could be interpreted as being vaguely fascist . . . so Hitler!

In some respects, it is harder to fight the Lie Swarm than it is the Big Lie in a society where there the media is not rigidly controlled. A single lie can be rebutted if the target of the lie has the ability to make the case and the access to enough eyeballs and ears to do so. It is almost impossible to swat every lie in the swarm, especially since the lies change and mutate from day to day, and since whenever you are in a position of rebutting a lie you tend to draw attention to it. But unrebutted lies are often as treated as facts, so if you don’t kill them all some damage is done.

Bannon, and especially Trump, are primary targets of the Lie Swarm, especially since Trump had the temerity to actually prevail in the election. Don’t get me wrong–there is much about Trump to criticize. But there has been a kind of Gresham’s Law at work here: the bad criticism has driven out the good. Screeching “racist!” “Anti-Semite!” “Fascist!” on the basis of the most twisted and biased interpretation of the flimsiest evidence has overwhelmed substantive argument.

And the Swarm really hasn’t figured out that their attack will do little to get Trump supporters to change their minds. If anything, it will do the opposite, because the “deplorables” know that they are being attacked and smeared as much as Bannon and Trump. Furthermore, the Swarm seems hell-bent on living out Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. Hillary’s whole campaign was based on personal attacks on Trump and his supporters, and she enlisted the Swarm in this endeavor.

And it backfired stupendously. Why should they expect that doubling down on it will work any better?

Behind-the-scenes coordination a la Journolist isn’t even required. The clickbait factories read each other’s output and copy the talking points almost immediately, so a Huff Post article is usually just a simplified and more hysterical version of Daily Beast, which in turn comes from a WaPo writer. See the hype progression on today’s news:

WaPo: Trump picks Sessions for attorney general, Pompeo for CIA. Sen. Jeff Sessions is known for his hard-line views on immigration.

Daily Beast: Donald Trump Puts the White Back in White House, Taps Jeff Sessions For Attorney General. With Jeff Sessions, Mike Flynn, and Steve Bannon, Trump’s early picks suggest he’s doubling down on his ugliest instincts.

HuffPo: DARK AGE A.G. – Civil Rights Groups Condemn Sessions… An ‘Extreme Anti-Immigrant’ Voice… Will ‘Erase 50 Years Of Progress’… Warren: Senate Has ‘Moral’ Obligation To Nix Nomination… FLASHBACK: Too Racist To Be a Judge… Said The Only Issue With KKK Is Their Drug Use… Suggested White Lawyer With Black Clients Was A Race Traitor… Denounced Civil Rights Groups: ‘Un-American’…

We’ve always had yellow journalism, but the clickbait farms are influencing the mainstream sites, making them compete to be more alarmist.


More thoughts on the forms of capitalism and the two forms Steve Bannon decried at the 2014 conference:

But there’s a strand of capitalism today — two strands of it, that are very disturbing.

One is state-sponsored capitalism. And that’s the capitalism you see in China and Russia. I believe it’s what Holy Father [Pope Francis] has seen for most of his life in places like Argentina, where you have this kind of crony capitalism of people that are involved with these military powers-that-be in the government, and it forms a brutal form of capitalism that is really about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people. And it doesn’t spread the tremendous value creation throughout broader distribution patterns that were seen really in the 20th century.

The second form of capitalism that I feel is almost as disturbing, is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism. And, look, I’m a big believer in a lot of libertarianism. I have many many friends that’s a very big part of the conservative movement — whether it’s the UKIP movement in England, it’s many of the underpinnings of the populist movement in Europe, and particularly in the United States.

However, that form of capitalism is quite different when you really look at it to what I call the “enlightened capitalism” of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost — as many of the precepts of Marx — and that is a form of capitalism, particularly to a younger generation [that] they’re really finding quite attractive. And if they don’t see another alternative, it’s going to be an alternative that they gravitate to under this kind of rubric of “personal freedom.”

He correctly calls out crony capitalism, and the fascist capitalism you see in China and Russia to a great extent today, where enterprise is heavily controlled by the state and the corrupt entanglements enrich the connected in both state and enterprise. There’s way too much of that in Obama’s America as well.

His mention of Ayn Rand and Objectivism is interesting. Ms. Rand’s followers have tended to the cultish, with a romantic emphasis that is anachronistic sixty years after she wrote her seminal works. While explicitly atheist, Rand replaced the element of religious purpose with the aggrandizement of the creative individual. As Bannon says, in a time of collectivist thought-police expropriating the fruits of labor and denying any individual credit for achievement (“You didn’t build that,”) her creed can be very attractive to the young rebelling against stifling conformity.

What’s left out of Ayn Rand’s heroic vision is room for the personal altruism of the family and friendship. She railed against mindless altruism and self-sacrifice, but that was aimed at those who glorify sacrifice to the state and abstract others like “public opinion.” She had built her heroes without dependents or those boring long-term attachments that aren’t glamorous or transgressive, so the real underlying motivation for most people, making a better life for not only themselves but their children, family, and friends, was left out. Attachments would have spoiled her superhuman heroes and heroines, and her villains were often relatives — social-climbing wives, clingy brothers and the like.

Libertarian-ish thinking today has evolved to include more nuance and understanding of economics, game theory, and evolutionary psychology. While there is a definite “drive to create” that motivates many artists and business founders, the more important drives are for status (for the esteem of others and attracting better mates) and the obvious fulfillment of basic needs for food, shelter, and security for oneself and attached others.

Capitalism works best conducted in a neutral setting with a predictable legal backing. It is also dependent on trust — the willingness to put some money or effort out despite the risk that the supplier you are contracting with will stiff you or turn in shoddy work. You trust initially because your commitment is small and you’ve checked out the reputation of the supplier, and you trust more later after completing numerous satisfactory transactions with that supplier. You share your good experience with others despite the fact your supplier may gain new customers and raise prices or have less capacity to do your work, because you are also building a reputation and credit for being a good cooperator. This trust is what really makes capitalism efficient and more capable of producing what is satisfactory for others than any other system.

So community on small and large scales is necessary to success. This isn’t “You didn’t build that,” which is intended to imply that government supplied you with the environment critical to your success; the legal system, the roads, the communications nets, and your network of suppliers all use the framework of law and government in the background, but it was the private elements that created the trust and incentives to produce. Law and government are necessary as backstops, but not sufficient, and no one who is productive owes the proceeds of their success to government. Taxes to pay for government need to be neutral, too: extracted as much as possible in proportion to services demanded, kept as low as possible to provide those critical services.

The Pope’s view of capitalism is colored by his Argentinian background; Argentina has been in the grips of crony capitalist-fascist demagogues for decades. But the notion that values are critical to capitalist functioning is reasonable; no business does well to neglect the health and security of its customers and employees, and individual transactions are about more than money and goods exchanged.

Materialism forgets about the human background, and its various flavors are damaging in different ways. Communism purports to replace the profit element and private ownership with central planning and state ownership, which destroys the incentives that make society run. Democratic socialism similarly reduces the rewards of effort and transfers to strangers the fruit of one’s effort, which weakens the strength of community bonds as the state replaces voluntary association. These flawed ideas are based on redistribution of material goods as if they were far more important than human relationships of cooperation and reliance which are critical to happiness and productivity.

Ayn Rand’s ideal society has never been tried, for the obvious reason that human beings are almost never like her characters. It is probably best to view her work as intended to counter the collectivist central planners of her youth in the USSR and later in America; she emulated the romantic socialist propaganda but to promote individualism, which was denigrated at the time. Her vision lacked the bonds between people that make them more than homo economicus, the model of man as cold calculator of transactional benefit.

So Bannon has a point here, even if he oversimplifies the views of today’s libertarian thinkers. Some overarching purpose to life and work is required to make an economy grow, and the Obama era’s stifling correctness and overregulation has been sapping the will to open new businesses and to invest in new employees. Vanquishing religious thought damages the motivation of those who rely on it, and some of the other streams of purpose — emphasis on competition and production — have been deprecated in favor of inclusion and identity politics in staffing (see my book Death by HR below.)


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


For more reading goodness:

Materialism vs Purposeful Life: Trump, Bannon, and Teilhard de Chardin
Sekrit Reform Agenda: Untangling Government: Medical Deregulation
No More Elections or Campaigns: Liquid Democracy
“Death by HR” – High Tech Threatened by Social Justice Activists

Crony Capitalism - Prager U

Crony Capitalism – Prager U

Materialism vs Purposeful Life: Trump, Bannon, and Teilhard de Chardin

Lots of interesting reading today as Trump’s victory has focused attention on the assumptions that led to underestimating his chances.

The media spin is working toward delegitimizing him further by casting his advisor Steve Bannon as an alt-right, antisemitic, neo-Nazi éminence grise. This isn’t backed up by much evidence other than guilt-by-association, with Breitbart the junkyard dog of new media flouting the rules of political correctness. But having rabid commenters and hosting some incorrect writers like David Horowitz does not make a media conglomerate or its managers antisemitic, antigay, misogynist, or otherwise the spawn of the Devil, which is what is being implied.

Alan Dershowitz went on MSNBC to decry the antisemitism charge:



The reliably rational Scott Alexander marshals the evidence that Trump is racist-sexist-etc and finds it wanting in his post, “You Are Still Crying Wolf.”

Bannon spoke and answered questions in 2014 at a conference hosted by the Human Dignity Institute at the Vatican. It’s a worthwhile read which dispels much of the simplistic narrative being spun by the New York Times and others. Here are some good bits:

I want to talk about wealth creation and what wealth creation really can achieve and maybe take it in a slightly different direction, because I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian west, is in a crisis…. It’s ironic, I think, that we’re talking today at exactly, tomorrow, 100 years ago, at the exact moment we’re talking, the assassination took place in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that led to the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of the bloodiest century in mankind’s history. Just to put it in perspective, with the assassination that took place 100 years ago tomorrow in Sarajevo, the world was at total peace. There was trade, there was globalization, there was technological transfer… Seven weeks later, I think there were 5 million men in uniform and within 30 days there were over a million casualties.

…180 to 200 million people were killed in the 20th century, and I believe that, you know, hundreds of years from now when they look back, we’re children of that: We’re children of that barbarity. This will be looked at almost as a new Dark Age.

But the thing that got us out of it, the organizing principle that met this, was not just the heroism of our people — whether it was French resistance fighters, whether it was the Polish resistance fighters, or it’s the young men from Kansas City or the Midwest who stormed the beaches of Normandy, commandos in England that fought with the Royal Air Force, that fought this great war… capitalism really generated tremendous wealth. And that wealth was really distributed among a middle class, a rising middle class, people who come from really working-class environments and created what we really call a Pax Americana. It was many, many years and decades of peace. And I believe we’ve come partly offtrack in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism….

I’m a very practical, pragmatic capitalist. I was trained at Goldman Sachs, I went to Harvard Business School, I was as hard-nosed a capitalist as you get. I specialized in media, in investing in media companies, and it’s a very, very tough environment. And you’ve had a fairly good track record. So I don’t want this to kinda sound namby-pamby, “Let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’ around capitalism.”

But there’s a strand of capitalism today — two strands of it, that are very disturbing.

One is state-sponsored capitalism. And that’s the capitalism you see in China and Russia. I believe it’s what Holy Father [Pope Francis] has seen for most of his life in places like Argentina, where you have this kind of crony capitalism of people that are involved with these military powers-that-be in the government, and it forms a brutal form of capitalism that is really about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people. And it doesn’t spread the tremendous value creation throughout broader distribution patterns that were seen really in the 20th century.

The second form of capitalism that I feel is almost as disturbing, is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism. And, look, I’m a big believer in a lot of libertarianism. I have many many friends that’s a very big part of the conservative movement — whether it’s the UKIP movement in England, it’s many of the underpinnings of the populist movement in Europe, and particularly in the United States.

Bannon is clearly a Catholic and is defending the value of his religious feeling in a world of brutal materialists. The entire discussion is worth your time, but I’m going to take off from there to connect some dots on materialism vs. purpose in life, and why the current danger to human progress is thoughtless Progressive emphasis on collectivist social services and expanding the number of government employees and clients.

Why do we strive? The biological and evolutionary imperative is to reproduce, and underlying all of our humanity are the behaviors encoded by the DNA of ancestors who survived and reproduced. Humans were bred to cooperate and compete for resources, love and fight for a place in the tribe, and war on other tribes. The addition of language and culture to humanity’s animal heritage meant additional threads of evolution of memes, religions, and cultures were added to the mix.

We have big brains and consciousness — what for? Some provocative theorists suggest it’s entirely a fitness display to attract better mates. But our brains help us survive in a competitive social environment by manipulating it to our advantage just as our motor skills let us defend ourselves from predators and hunt and gather food from the physical environment.

Our evolutionary heritage explains why humans will generally strive to give their children the best chance of success. But the culture component gives even the childless a secondary motivation: one can contribute to the cultural heritage of mankind and thereby do everyone’s children a service. Your seed may not survive, but your intellectual children — your books, plays, art, contributions to the body of knowledge of science and technology — may carry on doing good for others long after you are gone. And we are all cousins, in the end, and every human is carrying our genetic heritage.

So survival comes first, and when your and your children’s survival is threatened you will be entirely focused on escaping the threat. Which is why the first technique used in propaganda is to paint a picture of threat — to make you afraid, and to point you toward taking action which suits the propagandist’s purpose. This can be anything from the small — swaying your vote toward candidate A instead of B — to the murderous, getting you to cut your neighbor’s throat because of his tribe.

Fear is the enemy of rational thought. Threats overrule reason, and since good decisions come from a mix of feeling and logic, fear leads to irrational actions.

Religions are an attempt to explain the world and create a framework for deciding what is moral behavior. Early religions mixed science with moral guidance — what made the world, what do we need to do to placate the gods who determine what happens in it? The gods could be cruel and demand sacrifice, as when Aztecs tore the beating hearts out of living victims, or the Carthaginians (apparently) sacrificed children to the fires of Baal.

Religions, too, evolve. Temporal power mixed with spiritual authority corrupted the universal (Catholic) church which continued the heritage of the Western Roman Empire. Catholic dogma retreated from explanations of the physical world as the competing explanations of science expanded and discredited some early Catholic writers — Christ himself said very little in the Bible about science, so this was not fatal to the corpus of Christian doctrine. Jesuits in particular were able to reconcile science and faith by viewing God’s hand as visible in the workings of Nature; the micromanaging God who would intervene by changing the workings of the laws of nature to produce miraculous outcomes was deprecated, but the sense of His power in arranging the universe as a demonstration and test of faith remained.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest and scientist who eventually got into trouble with the Church for his attempts to transcend Catholic teachings to grasp a broader purpose — to explain what God was about, in other words. As a paleontologist and priest, he tried to reconcile evolution with his faith and introduced the concept of the noösphere, the body of all knowledge and culture created by humanity. He went on to hypothesize that God intended humanity to evolve and grow so that the noosphere would merge with the mind of God at the end of time. This led to a lot of serious science fiction like Olaf Stapledon’s 1937 The Star Maker and parodies like The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide series. De Chardin imagined a mystical union with God that would be a sort of Rapture and second coming of Christ as reconciled with the cosmology of scientists.

The Catholic Church now honors him as a thinker ahead of his time, though wrong on many details. His “heresy” was another attempt to outline a religious purpose for life — with the search for knowledge and understanding elevated to a calling of his faith. And this search for meaning and truth is at the heart of both science and faith.

I was brought up to be Southern Baptist and enjoyed the history lessons of Vacation Bible School. But my father was literally a crazy Bible-thumping Pentecostal preacher, and his irrational fervor (he heard from God directly!) caused me to react against all religious doctrines. He spent the rest of his life in and out of mental institutions after he left us when I was five, and I refused baptism when I was eight. Today I am neither religious nor denying the value of religion; I think personal religion can be a valuable guide to good behavior and useful habits of thought. All religious communities have good and bad people in them, and the good generally outweighs the bad, as in most human communities. My religious training, stripped of its specific doctrines, serves me well in helping me find my way to the Golden Rule and empathy for others.

Jews in America have tended to support a completely secular government, remembering the scars of European pogroms and antisemitism as the tribal impulse to use government to suppress and expel them. The Founders were quite supportive of a secular framework for governance, with the Bill of Rights prohibiting direct support for any single religion. This did not mean religious values were to be ignored — but law was not to be based on any sect’s singular view of morality, and the rights and liberty of individuals trumped all religious proscriptions. Many states retained established churches for years after 1787, but the live-and-let-live ideal won out, tying the different founding nations together and allowing free settlement between the regions. Americans learned to get along with their neighbors regardless of religion, and that made us a world leader in tolerance and freedom of belief.

There are still poisoned, prejudiced hearts that retain the hatred of people solely for their race or religion, but far fewer of them, and they are not in power — even under President-Elect Donald Trump. Bannon is no simple hater, but Breitbart’s tolerance for ugly commenters and attacks on political correctness can easily be seen by the paranoid as tarring both Bannon and Trump by association. Feeding this contamination theory of morality where failing to condemn the bad actors often enough makes you guilty by association suits the propagandists of the crony capitalist machine, which has gained nearly complete control of public education and the media in the West. The populist movements that have sprung up are indeed reactionary — reacting to the suppression of dissenting thought and speech. While some of the people supporting them are “deplorable,” the majority are not — and half the US voted for Mr. Trump despite all his flaws, wanting a change from the business-as-usual machine which systematically loots the middle class to support its credentialed nomenklatura and increases the fortunes of the financial industry and the 1% while pretending to care about income inequality.

What those voters want is an end to the condescension and being told what to do by people who think their education entitles them to direct the lives and even the simplest behavior (plastic shopping bag and lightbulb use, for example) of other less enlightened people. We now know from Wikileaks that Obama’s first cabinet was almost literally dictated by a Citibank employee, that Clinton campaign operatives hired people to disrupt Trump rallies then blamed Trump for inspiring violence, and that nearly all media broke journalistic ethics to try to elect Hillary Clinton after they had given Trump so much exposure that he won the Republican nomination. This story quoting a long-time New York Times editor gets at their behavior: the Times wrote to promote a narrative, selectively choosing facts to support it. Stories which did not support their desired narrative weren’t reported at all or were consigned to back pages.

The administrative state has malfunctioned and produced a bureaucracy that cannot build anything at a reasonable cost, or provide the best standard of healthcare for veterans or anyone else. There is little accountability, with even criminal and negligent employees shielded by government employee unions and Civil Service rules. The union of administrative state apparatchiks and the media elite has controlled what the people are allowed to see, but social media now reveal the lies and inconsistencies.

Which is the source of the anger that fed Breitbart’s growth. Citizens who strive to make a living for themselves and their families find themselves denigrated and blocked by bureaucrats. They want to see a return to rewards for the intelligent application of labor and an end to bailouts for losing bankers, subsidies for connected businessmen, and government-enforced monopolists charging too much and limiting their choices.

To quote Douglas Adams:

The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

Donald Trump may end up being a terrible president. But what’s clear from the hysterical reaction to his victory is that the media-academic-bureaucratic forces will sacrifice their credibility to demonize him and try to erode his legitimacy even before he takes office. The new administration would be doing the citizens of the country a great favor if they help Congress take back much of the rule-making and enforcement authority delegated over the years to the executive branch agencies, staffed largely by partisans and entitled hacks. Reforms to Civil Service and government employee unions are necessary to reduce their corrupt and deadening influence on government productivity. Citizens are not getting their money’s worth and are getting tired of the agencies ruling against growth and business, which has created the stagnation that has half of our youth underemployed and the lowest rate of new business formation in post-Depression history. The return of accountability and popular control of government means some incompetent bureaucrats, teachers, and law enforcement personnel will have to find other things to do.

As for me, I retired from running a family office for a wealthy high-tech friend around 2003, when I realized none of the extra money I was making for his family by clever investment was going to do the world any good. Quite the opposite — his wife began donating large sums to causes like the National Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Democratic politicians. More than likely they gave a large sum to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Emily’s List. These organizations actively harm the people and the future of humanity through promotion of anti-free-market and anti-limited-government propaganda, and are staffed by lawyers living well by doing good, if good is defined as blocking other people’s projects and regulating some businesses to death while awarding others that support their agenda monopolies and subsidies. Because the core support for the Progressive bulldozer is elite, educated people who work in academia and government jobs, where business is seen as a threat likely to lift the Wrong People up to threaten their comfortably class-ordered existence. The ultimate conservative is the cloistered academic or bureaucrat, who sees danger in the freedom of others to act out of their control, and whose income is secure no matter how slowly the economy grows.

And to connect this to my attachment theory works, I should point out how many of the those so shocked by the election result appear to be substituting belief in progressive government for religion and personal attachments. The failure to get what they want — be it election results or attention from attractive others — makes them angry or despairing, as if they were personally insulted. About 20% of the adult population — and closing on 40% of the unmarried population — is anxious-preoccupied, tending to be insecure in their relationships and demanding reassurance from partners.

Followup post expanding on the crony capitalism-libertarian comment: Followup: Materialism vs Purposeful Life


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


For more reading goodness:

The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men

steve-bannon

Shibboleths of the New Class: Identity Politics and Language

Judith Butler - Wikipedia

Judith Butler – Wikipedia

Freddie de Boer has a short critique of the New York Magazine profile of Judith Butler that makes a good point:

I find the author’s basic contention – that Butler and the type of academic leftism she has spearheaded have transformed the American cultural and political world – indisputable. In its obsession with language as the sole arbiter of all things, its sorting of all people into broad camps of good and bad based on the use of abstruse vocabulary and assorted virtue signaling, and its near-total silence on the economic foundations of injustice, I find the theories and ideas discussed in the profile to be entirely indicative of 21st century American liberalism….

This is the reality of capitalism: everything that is perceived to be a social good will be monetized, and everything that can be monetized will be distributed unequally. And so today we have these radical queer arguments and terms bandied about by the very people who perpetuate a world of entrenched and powerful inequality, Pride flags whipping in the breeze in front of Goldman Sachs, people in $3,000 suits dismissing the gender binary as they meet for cocktails in a hideously expensive DC hotel. Meanwhile, the grubby masses, lacking access to the kind of private liberal arts colleges where one learns these Byzantine codes, now can add political and moral poverty to their economic and social poverty. This is the next great project of the American elite: building a political system that ensures the winners in winner-take-all enjoy not just the fruits of material gain, but the certainty that their elevated station is deserved thanks to their elevated moral standing. Manhattan vocabulary for Manhattan people leading Manhattan lives, and all of it expressed in just the right terms.

Let’s back up and look at the subject of the fawning profile he’s critiquing, Judith Butler:

Gender Trouble, published in 1990, made Butler a star: It introduced “performativity,” the idea that gender isn’t something we are but something we continually do, opening the door for “cultural configurations of sex and gender [to] proliferate,” as she put it in the book’s conclusion, “confounding the very binarism of sex, and exposing its fundamental unnaturalness.” If not for Butler’s work, “you wouldn’t have the version of genderqueer-ness that we now have,” says Jack Halberstam, a gender-studies professor at Columbia. “She made it clear that the body is not a stable foundation for gender expression.”

For much of her career, Butler was known mostly within academia, in part because of the difficulty of her prose. And yet the work Butler demands of readers is of a kind that, more than ever, they are willing to do now — if not necessarily while reading theoretical texts, then in moving through their daily lives. People outside the academy question their assumptions; they wrestle with unfamiliar ideas and examine their own discomfort. “Don’t laugh,” read a recent headline in the Washington Post. “I have a serious reason for raising my cats gender neutral.” (The reason: as a reminder to use the right pronouns for nonbinary friends.) Theoryspeak, meanwhile, has infiltrated civilian vocabularies. Trope and problematic and heteronormative; even, in a not-quite-Butlerian sense, performative — the sort of words that rankled queer theory’s culture-wars critics — are right at home on Tumblr and Twitter. In a broad-stroke, vastly simplified version, the understanding of gender that Gender Trouble suggests is not only recognizable; it is pop.

Progressive implies progress — the moving forward toward a goal. But what is the goal of today’s intersectionalist, academic-influenced identity politics? Not a state where all individuals are treated equally under the law, and not a society where merit and competition determine who gets the resources to invest in the future wellbeing of everyone. No, it is more about the getting of resources — in the form of secure academic and government jobs — by showing oneself to be the virtuous defender of downtrodden people of color and alternative gender identity. Demonstrating “advanced” abilities to use the language of identitarian politics gives you access to advancement in academia and government, where reality testing in the form of having to produce satisfying products for customers isn’t a big factor in organizational survival.

Here’s a paragraph of her academic writing from her 1997 paper in the journal Diacritics:

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Yes, that was very bad, wasn’t it? [Channeling Leonard Pinth-Garnell, played by Dan Aykroyd in early Saturday Night Live sketches about pretentious, bad art.]

Freddie is irritated because this upper-class SJW virtue-signalling has almost blotted out old-fashioned redistributive political movements. Class warfare, trade unions for industrial workers, soaking the rich — all lost their currency, and now the most-connected, most-privileged people of all colors and genders use their perfected command of identitarian language as just another way to bar the entry of the real downtrodden of all colors and genders. As he points out, one of the characteristics of free market capitalism is its ready co-optation of nearly every social movement — buy your hippie beads here, kids! — by not resisting but enveloping and adopting. The movement is defused and the power structure remains untouched, at the expense of the unwashed masses who vote and pay taxes. The Progressive Barack Obama typifies this strategy of distraction — while apparently offering a Progressive agenda, his administration was staffed by Wall Street finance types who were unlikely to disrupt the finance industry’s over-large share of the national income, and the revolving door between health insurance companies and his ACA implementors in HHS led to headlines like this in the New York Times: “Head of Obama’s Health Care Rollout to Lobby for Insurers”:

WASHINGTON — Marilyn B. Tavenner, the former Obama administration official in charge of the rollout of HealthCare.gov, was chosen on Wednesday to be the top lobbyist for the nation’s health insurance industry.

Ms. Tavenner, who stepped down from her federal job in February, will become president and chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade group whose members include Aetna, Anthem, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and many Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

The “stray voltage” issues put up by the Administration are designed to distract from their many failures in foreign policy and their crony-capitalist corruption in sending tax dollars and settlement money to political supporters. The issues of bathroom laws, gun control, and the (nonexistent) epidemic of campus rape are designed to be largely symbolic gestures generating conflict with the perceived enemies of Democratic client classes and have nothing to do with the really critical work of keeping money flowing into campaign coffers and providing high-paid sinecures for fellow travellers.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More reading on other topics:

Update: California High-Speed Rail Nearly Dead
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism
Orlando and Elite Bigotry: Come Out as an American
Progressive Displacement and Social Media: Gun Control Edition

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

“Red Queen: The Substrate Wars” First Part

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars, Cover

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll have noticed my rate of posting has declined lately. This is because I’m working on a novel, my first venture into fiction in years. It’s science fiction and adventure; my effort to write a good story the kids will both enjoy and learn from, as I did in my youth.

I have criticized modern “politically correct” science fiction for its grim view of progress and its conformist political content. This is my answer to books for young people like Pills and Starships. And the resemblance to Hunger Games is intentional — what Hunger Games gets right is that young people can remake the world to be a better place.

The world of Red Queen is post-terrorist disaster, repressive and regimented — rather like China today, but poorer. In that sense it is a dystopia, though not so far from our own day and time; only a few steps beyond where we are now. The kids are cowed but not unaware, and they seize the opportunity to make a difference when their smarts and courage allow it. And so they change the world.

I’m putting the first section out for beta readers. I’d appreciate any thoughts and error corrections you might have. The science gets more fully explained in the next section, for those of you into physics.

I’m doing a Hugh Howey and publishing this myself. I’d be most interested in hearing from agents or publishers who are interested, but I expect to finish in three months and the legacy publishing timetable is simply too slow, even though a good editor would be very helpful.

So I’m counting on you folks. If you read the first section, send me your comments at jebkinnison@gmail.com, and also email me if you want to be on the beta reader list for the full draft version. I apologize in advance for getting you interested and involved in the story, then making you wait to finish it!

[edit: removed drafts since full book is available]

Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities

Sparkle Pony Social Justice Warrior

Sparkle Pony SJW

Excellent piece (“The Problem of Social Justice Elitism”) in the Bulletin for the Study of Religion by Matt Sheedy, highly progressive faculty member at the University of Manitoba, which gets at the heart of what is wrong with Social Justice Warriors and their quasi-religious belief in their own righteousness regardless of truth:

I have been thinking about this problem ever since an experience I had as a Master’s student at Harvard Divinity School. While the political culture of HDS was overwhelmingly progressive, seminars were often plagued by the sort of one-upmanship described by Ahmed, wherein the perfect were made the enemy of the good. Then one night there was a party in the courtyard of Beckwith Circle, an apartment complex for divinity students. A large, slightly inebriated man wandered up from the street and joined us. The stranger turned out to be a Neo-Nazi who proceeded to debate us about whether the holocaust had really happened. He also asserted that deporting all Jews from the United States and Western Europe was the only way to prevent widespread violence and rioting when the population rises up against “Jewish arrogance.”

The divinity students made a few efforts to debate him, but of course, the Neo-Nazi had come prepared for this debate. No one asked him to leave. Instead, one by one, they excused themselves and retreated into their apartments. I was one of only two students who continued to talk with this person. While I became mildly concerned the encounter might end in violence, everyone remained calm. I stopped trying to argue with him and instead asked him how he became a Neo-Nazi. He told me he was a quarter Jewish and that he had been attacked in a nightclub “for being Jewish.” He also praised the intellectualism of the Boston Neo-Nazis he had met, who could allegedly read Sanskrit. My overall impression was of someone struggling to form a sense of identity from the resources available to him. Eventually, he left of his own volition.

I woke up the next morning feeling frustrated with my fellow divinity students. What did it mean that we spent so much time in seminar challenging each other over increasingly subtle concessions to the kyriarchy, but retreated when confronted by an honest-to-goodness Neo-Nazi? What if well-meaning academics had made this Neo-Nazi feel vilified and ashamed, driving him into the arms of the white supremacists?

In the years since this incident, I have thought a lot about the difference between sincere discussion about social justice and the more self-interested rhetoric described by Ahmed. First, true discussion about social justice is conjunctive rather than disjunctive. That is, it creates connections by promoting an understanding of the experience of the other. By contrast, the rhetoric of social justice elitism divides people by assessing the degree to which they contribute to a system of injustice. Second, while sincere dialogue about social justice requires courage, social justice elitism rarely involves risk. Speaking truth to power is a frightening undertaking. So is talking about social justice in a way that leverages one’s privilege or runs the risk of being misunderstood. The rhetoric of social justice elitism generally occurs through channels in which there is no risk of being challenged: online comment sections, gossip, and seminars full of like-minded people.

Ironically, I suspect that we engage in social justice elitism for the same reason an otherwise reasonable man became a Neo-Nazi: out of a desire to construct and perform an identity. While the SJWs really do care about social justice, they are also invested in constructing a heroic self-narrative. This often entails a Quixotic project of creating villains by casting whoever is around them as the forces of oppression. As a teaching assistant, an undergraduate asked me about a paper she wanted to write on the Bible and gay rights. She explained that she was very pro-gay but knew “by word of mouth” that the professor opposed gay rights. In essence, she wanted to know if she would be punished for defending gay rights against an intolerant authority figure. The problem with this narrative was that there was no such authority figure. The professor was an arch-progressive and the victim of malicious gossip. At its worst, the move to create villains where none exist can amount to “weaponizing” the values of social justice. I have even seen cases where undergraduates have used the rhetoric of tolerance to punish faculty for giving them low grades. There has probably never been a religion professor who “hates other cultures,” but this accusation has been made on teaching evaluations.

This game of heroes and villains is not merely annoying or hypocritical. It directly undermines the very causes that SJWs advocate. When well-meaning students fear being attacked for their lack of sensitivity, the opportunity for a sincere dialogue or a teachable moment about structural injustice closes. A judgmental classroom environment also lends credence to the canard that higher education claims to promote critical thinking while actually enforcing “liberal brainwashing.” The most ironic consequence of these sorts of attacks is that untenured white male professors (i.e. professors like me) may feel discouraged from discussing those voices and traditions that have historically been neglected by academia. Had the professor I worked under not invited students to write on Biblical hermeneutics regarding homosexuality, he probably would not have been slandered as homophobic.

The sealed grievance bubble of like-minded true believers is impervious to facts and assumes only they have a connection to “truthiness.” In that, it resembles a cult or one of those hate groups the Southern Poverty Law Center likes to label dangerous, but of course the prevailing politics gives them a pass because they “mean well.”

Young people who latch onto a belief system and self-righteously hurt others are also in the news: jihadists leaving privileged backgrounds in Western countries to behead innocents also fit the pattern. They seek glamour and meaning at the expense of human values, defending an abstract victim class by crucifying real people.

As moderate Muslims give a pass to Jihadists because they are “just trying to do good,” older and wiser academics fail to stand up to SJWs because they are sympathetic to their ideals, but they are doing great damage to freedom of thought in their schools.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More on Social Justice Warriors, etc.:

Social Justice Warriors: #GamerGate Explained
Emma Watson’s Message: Intelligence Trumps Sex
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Life Is Unfair! The Militant Red Pill Movement
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
Madmen, Red Pill, and Social Justice Wars
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Ross Douthat on Unstable Families and Culture
Ev Psych: Parental Preferences in Partners
Purge: the Feminist Grievance Bubble
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Modern Feminism: Victim-Based Special Pleading
Stereotype Inaccuracy: False Dichotomies
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
Red Pill Women — Female MRAs
Why Did Black Crime Syndicates Fail to Go Legit?
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
Feminism’s Heritage: Freedom vs. Special Protections
Evolve or Die: Survival Value of the Feminine Imperative
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Gaming and Science Fiction: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Culture Wars: Peace Through Limited Government

Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech

Google Sign

Google Sign

GigaOm has a good overview of the recent diversity data released by major tech companies after a push by Jesse Jackson. The data shows women, and blacks underrepresented compared to total US population ratios, but no comparison to Silicon Valley-specific numbers. Asians are massively overrepresented, but this reflects the large number of Indian and Chinese engineers who have migrated to the Bay Area. There is no data on age, which would likely show a deficiency of older workers.

This is a fine example of the conflict between meritocratic equality of opportunity and equality of outcome proponents. The lack of representation of women and blacks in computer science and engineering courses, majors, and graduates means it is impossible for all or even one company to recruit enough qualified women or minority workers to show proportional representation. Great pressure to do so would mean compromising quality and hiring less capable employees, and less capable programmers are actually worse than useless to a team — they hold back progress on a task. A super-programmer is capable of producing 100x as much valuable output as a mediocre programmer, and a bad programmer produces output that actually decreases the viability of the product.

The apparent belief of our bureaucratic masters is that there is a binary function: qualified or unqualified. A company which hires the objectively best candidate for a job is not protected from claims of discrimination; the bar must be set low enough so that there is a pool of “qualified” candidates, and the hiring should prefer the candidates from underrepresented classes until the workforce is representative. This views employees as replaceable cogs that each have the same value to the work product, very much an old industrial union idea — where those who did more were pressured to stop overachieving so as to make slackers look average.

This is, of course, a recipe for failure in a competitive, international marketplace. We all await their efforts to equalize men in nursing and teaching, as well as all the other fields where there are notable group differences in interest and ability.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


Modern Feminism, Social Justice Warriors, and the American Ideal of Freedom

Marxist-Feminist Poster

Marxist-Feminist Poster

Some degree of gynocentrism in culture is probably evolved out of sexual strategies pursued under natural selection. Relations between men and women in traditional cultures were delicately balanced, with more or less overt or covert power sharing, depending on the culture; it’s easy to look at those cultures with our modern-day glasses on and see the powerlessness of some women, but not to see the powerlessness and abuse of low-status men in those cultures. There has been no shortage of mistreatment and callousness toward fellow human beings in the past, and only advancing civilization brought forward the concept of universal rights and respect for all.

Modern feminists and Social Justice Warriors, having fixated on the flaws of the highly progressive and rights-sensitive culture of the West they are embedded in, have a tendency to see Western culture as soiled and unjust, while other cultures have greater authenticity and deserve respect. Thus it is when you discuss the genital mutilation practiced by some Muslims on girls or the pogroms against the Muslim Rohingya people of Burma by Buddhists, their outrage is muted by a desire to agitate only against the villains in their own parent culture. They take to Twitter to emotionalize the kidnapping of hundreds of young girls by Boko Haram while failing to exert their outrage on behalf of the hundreds of boys killed in similar incidents.

By choosing to notice only the bad things that happen to women in our own time as well as other cultures and times, modern feminists have failed to work for truly equal treatment of men and women. Instead of seeing individuals and their rights as important, modern feminists and other Social Justice Warriors believe the relentless focus on oppression of some categories of individuals by others is the key to righteousness, and their collectivist view of group rights leaves little space for sympathy for anyone who cannot claim membership in an oppressed class. They believe as a religious cult would believe that if only they explain their beliefs hard enough to the unenlightened, the scales will fall from their eyes and goodness will triumph. No amount of victory in achieving their goals would ever be enough for them to end their battles, since new groups of the wicked can always be identified to battle against; the battle itself nourishes their egos and so it must continue. If all their enemies have been vanquished, villainy is defined down to catch a new class of micro-villains whose microagressions and incorrect thoughts must be corrected.

Note that it is no longer enough that “victim” classes be treated equally by government and in employment and public accommodations — theirs is now a push for equal outcomes to overcome private rights of association and contract, so women (or men!) who desire to work less or take out more time for family would not be allowed to bargain for those conditions of employment by asking for less pay for less work. Implicitly all employees with the same job title and duties must be paid the same regardless of their individual contributions or their own desires for a lesser degree of commitment to the business.

Equal treatment does not imply there should be equal outcomes, because diversity of interests and abilities between individuals and the sexes means there will be unequal interest in career options that require 60 hours a week of work, intense focus on mechanical problems, manual labor, or hazardous conditions. Similarly, you will not get or expect equal interest in the highly social, helping professions that on average women appear to prefer. Efforts to force equal employment in every company by race, sex, age, or other class are simply doomed — any company which balanced its workforce to match these desiderata would find themselves forced to hire less productive employees, crippling them against their competition not so constrained. When you talk to a Social Justice Warrior about this, you get an answer remarkably similar to what socialists said in the 1980s when you asked how any country could level outcomes (“to each according to his needs”) without the productive escaping to another country to achieve what they could without the shackles: “well, that’s why they had to build the Berlin wall.” Prevention of the defection of those who want to be free to follow their own preferences requires that this preferred system be extended everywhere or somehow escape must be controlled and punished by, say, walls, machine guns, and Gulags.

So what we have is a small but highly influential group, educated, generally well-off, and embedded in academia, government, and non-profit work throughout the United States. They continually agitate for larger and more intrusive government which would employ more of their kind, the better to regulate away all imperfect thought and behavior. Business and profit-making enterprise is viewed as suspect because it is partly beyond their political control, so efforts to take control of decisions inside businesses continue, and the expanding HR departments, lobbyist payments, and political contributions of businesses reflect the need to pay for protection against this bureaucratic tendency. Similarly, hospitals and schools have responded to the increasing regulation and government funding of their activities by hiring many more high-paid administrators while shorting the low-level staff that actually do the work, because they must do so to get along in an increasingly bureaucratized, legalized, and controlling environment. This employment of large numbers of high-paid staff that don’t directly produce anything of value for customers has hugely increased the cost of domestic services like healthcare and education, and the increasing drag on Western economies has brought economic growth to a halt in many places.

We have seen such bureaucracies before — the Catholic Church, which for centuries held both political and moral authority over weak governments in Europe, attempted to regulate thought and action to increase its own power. The solution to the problem of state interference in private thought and belief was found after centuries of turmoil in the Enlightenment idea of separation of church and state. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.

The early history of the colonies which later became the United States is instructive. Many of the colonies had an established church (the Massachusetts Bay colony notoriously drove out religious dissidents and hanged the Quaker Mary Dyer on Boston Common in 1660) and wished to maintain their government support for a specific religion even as the Enlightenment took hold, but it became clear that any government uniting the colonies would have to take a neutral stance toward religion which enforced a set of negative rights (constraints on government action on individual thought and choice) to allow them all to co-exist peacefully. The great flaw of this compact, its political tolerance of slavery and second-class citizenship for slaves, was only corrected by the upheaval of the Civil War, which cemented the primacy of the federal government and its enforcement of the ideal of individual rights within the states.

Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer is an eye-opening look at the four founding British cultures of colonial America, and how each of them continues to influence present-day political preferences and power struggles. Other immigrant cultures (German, Irish, Scandinavian…) were also influential, but tended to join with one of the four founding cultures that closely represented their views, resulting in the welter of memes of political belief now contending for influence.

In New England, the Puritans from East Anglia settled between 1629 and 1640, the years immediately preceding the English Civil War in which Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan army defeated and beheaded King Charles I. Their colony started with a rigid established church which was intolerant of free thought.

In Virginia, settlers consisted of vanquished supporters of King Charles and the Established (Anglican) Church of England, primarily from the south and west of England. They tended to be more relaxed about religion and more business and trade-oriented.

Quakers then arrived in the Delaware Valley (Philadelphia area) from the English midlands (and their religious kin from various German sects) between 1675 and 1715. Their way was strongly religious and pacifist, recognizing as important freedom of conscience.

The good coastal lands having been occupied, the Scotch-Irish, referring collectively to immigrants from the north of England, lowland Scotland, and Ulster, settled the Appalachian hill country from 1717 to 1775. Scrappy and suspicious of any effort to tax and control by hated distant governments, their attitude of automatic resistance is still visible in today’s politics, with Sarah Palin an example of the type.

Only a government which respects and mediates the difference between these founding cultures could work for a larger United States.

As time has gone on, these Enlightenment understandings have been eroded, and “Americanism” (the practice of tolerance and “minding your own business,” belief in progress and rugged independence and freedom of thought and contract for all citizens of sound mind regardless of sex, race, wealth, or heritage) is less practiced. Our Social Justice Warriors value freedom of speech and thought but only for approved speech and thought; heretical ideas are to be stamped out by denying speech and punishing the heretics. It is no longer unusual to hear a college activist suggest that certain kinds of speech be forbidden by law.

There are signs that popular culture has taken note of the tendency toward totalitarianism and government propaganda from the Social Justice Warriors. Dystopian YA novels like The Hunger Games show a population repressed and manipulated by a media-controlling central government. The movie version of the novel The Giver takes some shots at this mindset; a thoughtful review of the movie version in The Atlantic “What Is the Price of Perfect Equality?” gets at its politics:

Engels saw the institutions of family and private property as deeply entwined. Part of Engels’ objection to the institution of the family was that it involved a “progressive narrowing of the circle, originally embracing the whole tribe, within which the two sexes have a common conjugal relation.” Marxism’s benevolent tendencies are swallowed up by concern and preference for one’s immediate family, which becomes the unit of basic inequality.

Commerce and trade, it turns out, are just as dependent on the passions as the passions are dependent on commerce and trade in The Giver. The true nightmare of a dystopian world is that all of these things are interconnected, and that by losing one or the other, by engineering it away socially or medically, nightmarish unintended consequences will ensue.

Only intentions matter to Social Justice Warriors. The fact that all of their well-meaning attempts to stamp out incorrect personal preferences and social disparities create damaging unintended side effects is only seen as a reason to stamp harder and control more until the thoughts of the people are perfected. The source of these failures is always pinned to the improper thoughts of the backward citizenry. As a result none of their programs is ever recognized by them as a failure or boondoggle, and evidence to the contrary is flushed down the memory hole.

The solution to this contention over social preferences and culture is analogous to the separation of church and state. To accommodate all religious and social beliefs in a framework of law and justice that respects all such beliefs that can be consistent with universal human rights, a government has to be prohibited from interfering when those beliefs are practiced without harming an individual’s rights. We might call this generalized idea “Separation of Culture and Government.”

While the Social Justice Warriors would wish to eliminate such current cultural communities as Mormonism, ultra-orthodox Judaism, socially conservative evangelical Christians, conservative Catholicism, and unreformed Islam from the scene, the bargain must be struck to prevent further strife: the law will not take a position on any social belief — it will not take sides for or against social conservatives or Social Justice Warriors. Any individual is free to practice their beliefs with other like-minded individuals in voluntary association. Attempts to bring the force of the law to bear on changing social mores and behaviors that are not in violation of individual rights would be prevented. The law of marriage would revert to the law of contract, with social conservatives free to enter into perpetual marriage contracts with features like dowry, alimony, and discriminatory child custody and support arrangements, while others would be free to bind themselves to marriages which maintain individual property and call for equal arrangements for child custody, with no alimony implied unless provided for by contract. No group could punish an individual member for behavior contrary to its beliefs except by private action: social sanctions, excommunication, and shunning. Lobbying the central government to adopt your preferred social arrangements by law would, ideally, occupy far less time and attention in national politics as such efforts were struck down by the courts.

Currently modern feminists have considerable ability to use government support and propaganda to free women of some of the obligations of the patriarchal culture feminists want to replace. Not only to correct injustices in law and employment, but to increase government spending and regulation to provide support that women formerly might have had to negotiate and serve a partner or employer to obtain. Both ever-expanding social welfare states and the failed Communist states reduced individual accountability and replaced allegiance to family and employer with allegiance to the state’s goals, and that is the model modern feminists prefer and are now working toward in the US.

Under such a controlling regime there is far less reward for striving. Hard work is replaced by contentious committee meetings and political struggles for pieces of a shrinking pie. The increasing numbers of academics, government workers, and nonprofit workers operate detached from practical considerations of serving customers. It becomes easier to slack off, and so more people slack off. The endpoint occurs when the productive have fled or chosen more leisure over work, and the economy collapses after years of stagnation.

Men and women who don’t want to take the role offered them in a culture have the choice of not doing so, or bucking their culture to find a partner who more closely reflects their values. But under a government that micromanages social arrangements and decides family custody and support decisions based on “victim feminism,” men are never safe from rape accusations, your children can be taken away from you easily, and the population of women one might productively partner with has been programmed to see themselves as victims entitled to use government to win any disputes that might come up. If you are hardworking and successful on your own, you are taxed heavily to support other men’s children and fund the politically correct bureaucrats who harass your business. This thumb on the scale of justice makes marriage a negative-sum game for many (especially poor and disadvantaged) men, and the elevation of bureaucrats and academics above workers in the private sphere damages men’s career prospects, unless of course they adopt the conformist ideology.

The small-government crowd doesn’t want no government. It is generally recognized that externalities and free-rider problems can only be handled by a government; defense, civil justice and policing, pollution regulations, and public health regulation (quarantines, vaccination requirements, etc.) are areas that can only be directed by a monopoly state. But political decision making is a blunt and inefficient mechanism, and those matters which can be handled by private business and voluntary social organizations should be, both for efficiency and freedom of choice. The libertarian and smaller government crowd wants a government that is less parasitic and concentrates on effectively and efficiently handling matters only it can handle well. The expansion of the government sphere at the expense of the private sphere is analogous to Microsoft’s destruction of most competitive software applications companies in the 1980s: using its near-monopoly in operating systems and the enormous profits to enter the applications market, marketing its mediocre applications and funding them when any normal company would have given up. Eventually competitors were worn out and stopped funding new development; Office products took over, ending most of the progress in the field for a decade. Using the power to tax and the lack of any mechanism to disband failed government programs, mediocre government-funded services (like monopoly elementary and secondary education) crowded out the privately-funded community schools, and after a century of increasingly centralized control, local parental control of schools and their curricula has almost vanished.

So it will be “interesting” to see how all this ferment and turmoil comes out in the only mechanism the people have to control their government: elections. People attracted to office tend to favor Doing Something as opposed to a hands-off approach, though the American people once had the wisdom to elect as President an examplar of the type: Calvin Coolidge, who noted “Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.” Minding our own business, while respecting the freedom of thought and action of everyone, ought to be our goal.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 



The Latest from Jeb Kinnison:


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, In Kindle and trade paperback.] The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of Death by HR

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat. For it is now fairly impossible for any company not to erect an HR wall as a legal requirement of business with the sole purpose of keeping government diversity compliance enforcers as well as unethical lawyers from pillaging their operating capital through baseless lawsuits… It is time to turn the tide against this madness and Death by HR is an important research tool…  to craft counter-revolutionary tactics for dealing with the HR parasites our government has empowered to destroy us. All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


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