man in the high castle

Harvey Weinstein: Abusive Attachment?

I’ve had a few questions about Harvey Weinstein — like, what is his attachment type? Are abusive Lotharios dismissive-avoidant, or what?

If you haven’t read them, here are a few background stories:

“From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories” – The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow

“The Human Stain: Why the Harvey Weinstein Story Is Worse Than You Think” – The Weekly Standard, Lee Smith

Because of his loss of power recently, he is no longer able to shield himself or punish accusers as he did when he was at the center of motion pictures and casting decisions. From Virginia Postrel’s Bloomberg story “Why Weinstein Held On For So Long and Fell So Fast”:

Communism was considered invincible. Then the fall of the Berlin Wall started a domino effect that brought down six Soviet satellites in quick succession, and soon after the Soviet Union itself. Though communism’s failures were widely understood, no one thought it vulnerable to street demonstrations. In East Berlin in 1953, Hungary in 1956, and Czechoslovakia in 1968, it had demonstrated a willingness to crush dissent brutally. Moreover, for decades on end, the members of communist-ruled societies had displayed a remarkable tolerance for tyranny and inefficiency. They remained docile and even outwardly supportive of the status quo.

For all this submissiveness, it turned out that millions had been willing to revolt all along — if enough others would also revolt and they felt sufficiently sure of escaping punishment. But no one knew exactly what needed to happen to set off a successful uprising. In retrospect, all it took was a few thousand demonstrators calling for more freedom and a regime that signaled that it was afraid of overreacting. People standing on the sidelines suddenly found the courage to join in, and the East German revolt started feeding on itself.

Before long, fear changed sides. People who had never criticized communism publicly were now afraid to be caught defending it. Genuine supporters of communism (they, too, numbered in the millions) joined the opposition. They took to pretending to have been falsifying their political preferences out of fear, like their compatriots who had genuinely felt oppressed.

Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace fits the same pattern. Few Hollywood executives have been as powerful as he. His movies have earned hundreds of Oscar nominations. He was both admired and feared as someone who could make or break a career. As a major fundraiser for Democratic Party candidates, he had national political clout. Though he was rumored to be predator of young women, Hollywood insiders and many observers knew that he dealt ruthlessly with anyone who crossed him. Reporters who investigated his behavior found almost no one willing to speak honestly or on the record. Many people who were hurt by Weinstein suffered, we now know, for their own silence. They wanted to go public with their stories all along.

For his behavior to draw public criticism, it was not enough for Weinstein’s behavior to be widely known. Potential complainers needed to know that other victims and witnesses would back them up. They also needed to believe that Weinstein’s supporters or the press would not smear their reputations. It needed to be sufficiently likely that the early movers would be greeted with sympathy rather than condemnation.

A number of accusers are probably exaggerating or confabulating to pile on since a story of your encounter with him is now a net positive for your notice and career. But as with Bill Cosby, the numbers suggest many of the reports are true.

His “production line” for having starlets delivered into private situations so he could pressure them into sex had to have been enabled by helpful staff, agents, and others who could have blown the whistle, including a complicit media who were easily stopped from reporting stories as they came up. Weinstein controlled ad revenues, contacts both professional and political, and knowledge of others useful for blackmail. His participation in the corrupt Clinton-Democratic machine shielded him, as it did Bill Clinton, from the worst attacks by feminists and reporters. It has come out now because their power has waned, and the Clinton Foundation influence-peddling machine is dying.

This kind of methodical abuse is outside the usual attachment type considerations. Weinstein was closer to a psychopath-narcissist, with a special extra dash of sadism — he got off on the power to force beautiful young women to submit to his will, to degrade them with his sperm and get away with shaming them without consequence to himself. His insecurity was expressed differently than on the usual anxious-to-dismissive axis.

But this story shouldn’t produce a witch hunt to criminalize or punish anyone who commits an error in judgment.

If rude and clumsy approaches were crimes, we’d all be in jail (well, almost all.) When I was young and reasonably good-looking, I got hit on a lot in venues that invited that (bars, parties, etc.) It wouldn’t occur to me to think of myself as grievously wronged with the first grope — the offender gets rebuked and avoided, with a wagging finger and “tsk!”

One good example of a misdemeanor offense: one of the incidents being talked about has Philip K Dick’s daughter in a cab with the Amazon Films producer after a party going to another party. He’s aggressive and pushy and profane. So what? She knew there was no danger to her participation, he had clearly overdone the drinking, she immediately reported it, it didn’t happen again. That’s a common event for anyone who goes to mixed drinking/business/social events. Guy was presumably warned.

The workplaces where pressure is constant and one rebuke doesn’t stop the approaches are where the legally actionable stuff happens. Weinstein had a whole system and cooperative employees/agents/staff, quite a different thing from an occasional drunken mistake.

Which is where the neo-Puritan, fragile flowers of femininity problem shows up. You can‘t claim equality and go out in the world and then turn around and claim privilege to never be offended or crudely approached. Men tend to excuse one or even several offenses from their fellow employees before going on the warpath. Woman are being trained to claim a right to success and a right to special treatment beyond what others enjoy. “I am good and strong on a team” does not quite jibe with “Every offense to my dignity should be punished by expulsion of the offender.”

More reading:

A Clinton Christmas Carol
“High Tech Under Diversity Pressure
Ban the Box, Credit Scores, Current Salaries: The Road to Hiring Blind
HireVue, Video Interviews, and AI Job Searches
“Death by HR” – Diversity Programs Don’t Work

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power

US Army patrol in Iraq

US Army patrol in Iraq

Standing armies were viewed with great suspicion by the Founding Fathers, who knew their influence could result in unnecessary wars and the corruption of the Republic when military leaders pushed into civilian governance. The Roman and European experiences were viewed as cautionary tales to be avoided. Seeing the US as relatively free of enemy border states and insulated by oceans, Alexander Hamilton argued for a strong navy but no standing army which could more easily be misused internally. The Founding Fathers understood that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, would necessarily need relatively free rein in wartime, but feared expansion of the President’s power over civilian life if war was a regular occurrence. They hoped to retain a limited government and a free citizenry of gentleman farmers and merchants as long as possible, and feared the Federal government would grow too large if involved in extensive wars. But the blessings of US isolation should allow growth free of the wars and power struggles of old Europe. Or so they thought.

The first great total war in the US, the Civil War, pioneered some of the mechanized death that later horrified Europeans in World War I. Trench warfare, repeating rifles, aerial bombardment (from balloons), and submarines were first used, and the barbaric strategy of destruction of civilian property and industrial base refined by such luminaries as General Sherman in his March to the Sea:[1]

Sherman himself estimated that the campaign had inflicted $100 million (about $1.4 billion in 2010 dollars) in destruction, about one fifth of which “inured to our advantage” while the “remainder is simple waste and destruction.” The Army wrecked 300 miles (480 km) of railroad and numerous bridges and miles of telegraph lines. It seized 5,000 horses, 4,000 mules, and 13,000 head of cattle. It confiscated 9.5 million pounds of corn and 10.5 million pounds of fodder, and destroyed uncounted cotton gins and mills.

But the great armies of the Civil War were demobilized when it ended and the Army and its spending shrank back to the low levels of pre-Civil War days, though the size and scope of the federal government was permanently increased as a result of the war’s decisive establishment of the Federal government’s primacy over State autonomy.

President Wilson, after winning re-election during World War 1 in 1916 with the campaign slogan “He kept us out of war,” called for a declaration of war against Germany after US merchant ships were sunk by German submarines. Also contributing to US outrage was the Zimmerman Telegram,[2] an intercepted German invitation to Mexico to join the war on the German side, with the promise of return of former Mexican territory in the US West for their help. As a result public opinion shifted, and Congress declared war on Germany.

In hindsight, was US entry into World War I actually necessary for defense of the US? Probably not. The Mexican government evaluated the German offer and concluded that war against the US would be ruinous. American merchant shipping was supporting the British and allied forces, and while the German sinking of US ships in neutral waters was a violation of international law, having a legal casus belli alone would not previously have drawn the US into all-out war.

After the declaration of war, Wilson’s administration acted quickly. The Selective Service Act of 1917[3] was passed by Congress after only 73,000 men volunteered, and 2.8 million men were drafted to expand the Army from its pre-war 120,000 men. After the war, the armed forces again were downsized and the draft ended, yet the military remained larger than before the war as the US took on more overseas roles.

The pattern of reluctant involvement was repeated in the runup to US entry to World War II, with US neutrality weakened by support for Allied defense and finances via lend/lease in 1941 and full entry into the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942. The US had started to build up its forces with the first peacetime draft in late 1940 and FDR needed to bring public opinion around toward joining the war on the Allied side. Japanese attacks in Hawaii and the far east led to the US and other Allies declaring war on Japan, and the players in the conflagration were set.

But one of the Allies in the war effort, the USSR, was becoming the primary danger to the West even as the Allies cooperated with the Soviets to defeat the Axis powers. WWII segued into the Cold War without a break, as the Soviets occupied the eastern half of Europe and set up puppet Communist states to form what came to be called the East Bloc. Meanwhile in China, the Communists under Mao evicted the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-Shek and took over complete control of mainland China. The US, as the unchallenged and undamaged great power left standing in the West, never fully demobilized, with the strategic game of containment of the Soviets already underway and the defense of Western Europe left largely to the US until Europe could be rebuilt.

The graph below[4] tells the tale of the upward ratchet of the size of peacetime forces as the US developed into a world power. After the peak of the Civil War and the similar peak for WWI, peacetime military forces had doubled in size relative to GDP from the 1880s low. After WWII, forces remained continuously higher as the Cold War required large occupying forces in Europe and the Far East. After smaller peaks for the Korean War and Vietnam, the draft was abandoned and a volunteer army (more expensive, but of higher quality) took over, and the advanced technology weaponry required to stay ahead of the rest of the world took up much more of the budget. The end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the opening of China to capitalist trade and industry reduced the need for standby forces and the number of military personnel continued to decline slowly, with the less labor-intensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan barely stopping the decline.

US Military Personnel and Spending

US Military Personnel and Spending – OMB

The Founders would have been interested in how decisions were made to go to war as the US became one of the world’s great powers. Isolationism and pure defense might have left the US without allies in a dangerous world full of enemy states — or peaceful and prosperous while other powers weakened themselves in destructive warfare. Philip K. Dick’s alternative history novel The Man in the High Castle[5] was set in a world where FDR had been assassinated before the war and isolationists successfully kept the US from joining the Allies — but after the Axis victory, a weakened US was defeated by the German nuclear bombing of Washington, DC, and occupied by Germany and Japan. Such a chilling scenario is implausible, but fear of defeat by an aggressive totalitarian state drove military spending for decades.

President Obama has mentioned the concept of the “war of necessity” vs the “war of choice” — after the book War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars by George HW Bush advisor Richard Haass.[6] Exactly when US interests are threatened enough to justify a mass armed response is never easy to decide, and an increasingly globalized world makes threats by stateless groups in faraway failed states more credible, as in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Defense from now on may require less conventional armed forces and more intelligence, rapid-response forces, and remote or automated weapons, with autonomous drones and fighting vehicles on the not-so-distant horizon.

[4] OMB numbers via
[5] And there’s an excellent adaptation into a miniseries by Amazon Studios: see “The Man in the High Castle” – Pilot Episode.. The book is here.
[6] War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars by Richard Haass.

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 the military:

US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy
More reading on other topics:

Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
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

The greatest hits from (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

“The Man in the High Castle” – Pilot Episode

The Man in the High Castle - Amazon Studios

The Man in the High Castle – Amazon Studios

Philip K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle is one of his best books, apparently having been written in less haste and under fewer drugs than some of his others. It’s an alternative history set in the US of a 1962 where the Axis powers won WWII and the pacifist US succumbed and is partitioned, with the West Coast ruled by the Japanese Empire and the East Coast under a Nazi puppet state a la Vichy France. But like all his books, much more is going on here than just an alternative history story; reality is slippery and no one is quite what they seem, and this history may not be real, either.

It is not really science fiction — there’s no scientific explanation for what is going on, or portals between multiverses, although some characters can “see” other realities in foggy San Francisco. The delicacy and ferocity of Japanese culture is examined, the I Ching functions as a kind of Greek chorus pronouncing on the plot, and there’s a shadowy author who has written a book describing a world where Roosevelt wasn’t assassinated and the Allies win the war. The author points out what all historians know — the conquerors are affected by the conquered and absorb some of their culture.

Most of Dick’s novels and stories have been made into movies by now:

Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty,[6] eleven popular films based on his works have been produced, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau and Impostor. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923.[7] In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.

He is now seen as marketable by Hollywood financiers. His estate’s commercial success is a bit tragic, since he died largely unrecognized in 1982.

Now we have a miniseries of Man in the High Castle, partly produced by Ridley Scott (another magic name in Hollywood) and financed by Amazon Studios. I watched the pilot and highly recommend it for its high production values and good acting. Because the complexity of the novel would be hard for film viewers to follow, it’s been simplified a bit, but the essence of the novel appears intact. This is the kind of production SyFy would mount if it weren’t run by science fiction illiterates.

Watch the Pilot Episode at Amazon Prime Streaming

Review by Jim Henley

For more on pop culture:

“Game of Thrones” and the Problem of PowerThe Lessons of Walter White
“Blue Valentine”
“Mad Men”
The Morality of Glamour
“Mockingjay” Propaganda Posters
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
“Raising Arizona” — Dream of a Family
Coen Brothers: 30 Years of Great Movies