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« Personal Pace | Main | Vanished Buildings Seen »

December 05, 2009

"New Right" Rumblings

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

For your weekend contemplation, below are some thoughts on politics by Zdeno.

First let me strap on my Kevlar flak jacket to do a CYA: My post that Zdeno mentions at the top was a link to a statement by someone who actually did raise the question of women voting; in the main text I simply added that, absent female franchise, U.S. politics likely would have been less liberal (probably a valid conclusion given polling data).

Just for the heck of it, all this brings to mind science fiction writer Robert Heinlein who, in one of his novels, allowed multiple votes to citizens who had various qualifications such as having served in the military.

Hmm. I served a hitch in the Army. Heinlein's notion is beginning to have a strange appeal ... :-)


* * * * *

Donald recently asked: Should women have the right to vote? Obviously this question is completely and unquestionably beyond the limes of respectable thought and thus should not be discussed.

But here’s the problem: By the standards of a Libertarian or Conservative, women are unarguably worse at voting than men are.

Or is it a problem? I suppose not, if one regards democracy as the only legitimate form of government, and that a person’s vote is no less fundamental of a human right as their life, liberty, pursuit of XBOX 360’s etc. However if, like me, you regard Democracy as a means to an end, a useful tool that has produced decent, if not spectacular government in Europe and North America for a half century and counting, the worst form of government except for all the others – well then, yes we have a problem.

Because it seems that, as great as Democracy is, it can be improved upon! We can have all the benefits of Democracy, but with a significantly more Conservative voting pool! And why stop there? The quality of public policy would be even more improved by a property-ownership restriction, an IQ test, or the disenfranchisement of everyone employed in the public sector. Once you start limiting suffrage to those who are (according to your personal political leanings) "good" at voting, the implications quickly become unpalatable.

This line of reasoning can be similarly dangerous to Progressives. How can one justify insisting on the suffrage of Caucasian, middle-class suburbanites, who remain obstreperously defiant in the face of American Progress? Sure, Democracy has proven quite amenable to the goals of Progressives over the past century or two, but Progress can always progress a little bit faster, no?

Fortunately, Progressives have an answer to this: Democracy is a Human Right! Says so right here! “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”

(Interestingly, that is a direct copy-paste from www.un.org, and that “will shall” slip-up is a legitimate typo, embedded in possibly the most famous article in the most famous document produced by the most powerful organization in the world. An anti-Democracy reactionary with a theological bent might read something divine into this, like a cookie shaped like the Virgin Mary. Me, I just feel less obligated to proofread this post.)

Anyways, there’s our Progressive rationale for not taking advantage of Democracy’s perfectibility. What says the Right? How do Conservatives justify their support for universal suffrage?

Well actually, they don’t. Or at least they didn’t until fairly recently. I doubt more than 5% of self-identifying Conservatives in 2009 are aware, but hostility to Democracy has been the creed and rallying cry of their ideological forebears, from Nock all the way back to God. Indeed, the tradition that we today call Progressivism can be quite cogently traced back in time to the Protestant Reformation, an assault on the authority of absolute monarchs to control their subjects via control over the primary information-dissemination apparatus of the era. Since then, it’s been a gradual descent (or, if you prefer, ascent) through tiers of decreasing centralized authority, terminating at our present situation of universal suffrage.

Now how do I, a man of the Right, feel about the present situation? Well. It’s certainly nice to realize that the present crop of sham Right Wingers – Rooseveltian in their lust for government spending, Wilsonian in their Universalist foreign policy, and self-destructively embarrassing in their courting of the lowest common denominator – is in no way deserving of my support or allegiance. On the other hand, it’s frightening to observe that this political axis’s 400-year old history seems to have been terminated not too long ago, and replaced by something that couldn’t function better as a puppet opposition if it had been designed as such.

So where is there to turn, for the non-Progressive of the early 21st century? There is Libertarianism, a movement as successful as it is able to imbue its followers with immortality and X-ray vision. There is apathy, an increasingly popular choice among my age group. And then there is (drum roll please…) The New Right.

The New Right is almost entirely internet-based. It is radical. It is subversive. It’s feelings on Democracy range from suspicious, to hostile. Political Correctness is not in its playbook. On the crucial empirical questions of our time, its perspectives are correct, or at least aspire to be. Its current role is not necessarily to seize power, but to create and organize ideas. In previous eras, when information was controlled by the state, being right (which is the same as, if we are correct, being Right) was not enough. In 2009, the nets have begun breaking down the boundaries and hierarchies that constrain the free competition of opinions and ideology. All of this will happen very much without the help of Sarah Palin. A new age dawns.

At least, that’s how this looks to my young, fresh, idealistic eyes. Perhaps the boot of experience will find its way to my windpipe at some point. Until then, I’ll finish off this novel of a post with a brief tour of the fledgling React-O-Sphere:

1) Mencius Moldbug has been a regular read of mine for some time now, which is obvious I’m sure to anyone reading both UR and this post. If any Open-Minded Progressives are reading this, please check out the letter addressed to you. If you enjoy history, you will be entertained, at least.

2) Love him or hate him, Roissy is among the world’s most influential detractors of platitudes and niceties on the subject of sex and gender relations. The old and married may prefer to skip this one, but for the young and the restless, click away.

3) Robin Hanson, while not explicitly right wing, is certainly no Progressive. His advocacy of prediction markets as a substitute for Democracy, plus his willingness to wade into the realm of the politically incorrect earns him (condemns him too?) inclusion on this list.

4) Econlog is my current favourite economics blog, mainstream and Libertarian, but occasionally tinged with quasi-Austrian influence. Bryan Caplan’s latest also read well.

So, Blowhards: What are your predictions regarding the future of Right-Wing politics in the western world? What are Conservatives and Libertarians best hopes for arresting the global trend towards socialism? Who are some of your favourite Right-Wing men of letters in the digital age?

* * * * *


Later,

Donald

posted by Donald at December 5, 2009




Comments

Let's bear in mind here that Richard Nixon, who knew a bit about elections and what voters wanted, often asserted that WOMEN were more firmly conservative and ideological than males. (I think Pat Buchanan reported this, back in the 1970s, in one of his books.)

Maybe Nixon was wrong, showing that we're subject to confusion. Or maybe Nixon was right then, but things have changed in the past 30 years, Or Nixon was right then and right now and Zdeno is missing something. Or Nixon and Zdeno are both in the situation of blind men grasping the elephant-like subject of women and trying to identify something neither could actually see.

Might I suggest that trying to ignore or write off the political opinions of half the human race is likely to be ineffectual at this point? Might I even go further and suggest that this OUGHT to be ineffectual, on moral grounds?

C'mon guys. If we're determined to disenfranchise women on the grounds that they aren't basically realistic/conservative enough, we should have the courage to disenfranchise most blacks, most hispanics, most orientals, most Jews, most Arabs, most homosexuals, most college professors, and so on and so on. And this takes us to regions where sane folks don't care to go.

Why not ask how our democracy could be improved by denying the franchise to people whose unworthiness is shown by red hair, or green eyes?


Posted by: mike shupp on December 5, 2009 1:34 PM



"this will shall ..." is NOT a slip-up and does NOT contain a typo. Here "will" is the noun "will", referring to "the will of the people" in the previous sentence, and is not the auxiliary verb "will" as you seem to think.
Sorry, but if you can't parse a phrase as simple as that, it's hard to take anything else in this post seriously.

Posted by: Proofreading Man on December 5, 2009 2:01 PM



I think the US has overplayed its hand economically and is headed for some sort of collapse. When that time comes, conservatives of differing stripes will be able to band together to form mini territories and states. I call Northern Idaho, so do stay out unless you are a white nationalist who is comfortable operating within the framework of a Catholic aristocracy.

For countries that aren't so far gone, like Canada, Australia, and many in Europe (I don't see the EU surviving this financial crisis either), I believe that the internet will facilitate the rise of new right wing parties to work within the democratic system. Climategate ought to be a wakeup call to a lot of people, and massive third world immigration is becoming hard to hide in the bigger cities.

Posted by: ASDF on December 5, 2009 2:19 PM



Good post.

I'm of this New Right phenomenon you describe, but I'm not sure where it's headed ultimately. You say correctly that it's largely about organizing ideas, and part of me says this is just a sign of its irrelevance. We don't have any real toys to play with so we just describe what other people are doing. This attitude has weakened my interest in giving the New Right thing an articulated shape and form. If we write more articles, do more research, and hold more gatherings, does that put us any closer to measurable success. I'm not convinced. There are plenty of possible responses to this--maybe we're tending a flame for a later generation to burn brighter, maybe we're the behind-the-curtain theorists at some level for a bigger legitimate movement (like Ron Paul's)--but none of them really move me. Anyways.

For me the core important group includes Paul Gottfried, Jim Kalb, Steve Sailer, Peter Brimelow, the late Sam Francis, J. Philippe Rushton, and Jared Taylor. I also read every Roissy post 30 seconds after he publishes.

Posted by: Evan McLaren on December 5, 2009 2:20 PM



And as for women voting:

"This paper examines the growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote...Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government
expenditures and revenue and more liberal voting patterns for federal representatives, and these effects continued growing over time as more women took advantage of the franchise. "

http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~iversen/PDFfiles/LottKenny.pdf

Posted by: ASDF on December 5, 2009 2:27 PM



I don't think that "will shall" is a typo. "Will", as used there, is a noun (short for "will of the people"). Expand it out and it becomes "this will of the people shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections..." Looks OK to me. Go ahead and proofread your post. ;-)

Posted by: Bill Tucker on December 5, 2009 11:24 PM



First point: It isn't that any topic "should not be discussed", but if you set forth, in debating terms, a resolution endorsed only by a small minority ... arguably, therefore, an extremist view ... you shouldn't be surprised to find there are those who will argue that it is an extremist view and doesn't merit serious consideration.

Second point: This one has already been made by other's who may well be old enough to have diagrammed sentences in school; while "this will shall be expressed", may call undue attention to an alternate way in which the word "will" may be used, it is neither a typo, nor grammatically incorrect. I am tempted to agree with Proofreading Man; if Z is going to make political pronouncements based upon misreading the language of diplomats and legislation perhaps he should expect less than complete respect for his own pronouncements.

Third point: "On the crucial empirical questions of our time..." many, if not most, dedicated progressives, libertarians, neo-cons, communists, and anarchists ... among others ... are all convinced that their "perspectives are correct, or at least aspire to be." Do not, however, expect an anarchist to accept a neo-con's insistence that the neo-con worldview has been "proven" correct by whatever rationale the neo-con puts forth. No political philosophy has an exclusive insight into the Truth.

Fourth point: If one goes to Z's NYT exit polls link and plays with both the year and the "size bars according to the share of the electorate" features, a range of different issues and possible conclusions might present themselves ... the squeezing out of alternative candidates by the two major parties since 1980, for example.

Fifth point: Few progressives believe that democracy is either perfect or perfectible. Most, however, accept it as the better choice among those real world alternatives various nations have actually employed, especially over the past couple of centuries. Absent some real world examples of potentially viable alternatives that point to a possible system of governance that seems to have the "advantages" of a Right-Wing "perfected democracy", perhaps it is prudent (there's that word again) to leave the imperfect democracy that has served us so well well enough alone. (Read it carefully, the double well is not a typo error, even if Microsoft's spelling and grammar check says otherwise.)

Posted by: Chris White on December 6, 2009 7:35 AM



Evan McLaren.

You say correctly that it's largely about organizing ideas, and part of me says this is just a sign of its irrelevance.

Culture precedes politics. What we are seeing right now is the birth of the new Right. And you're right Donald, the internet is the midwife of this birth. I never would have known some of the writers and the thinkers had it not been for Google and the net. Furthermore, the Left's triumph has been so utterly complete that many of us righties are would be without serious intellectual companions were it not for the internet. Not only that, the net lets you actually exchange ideas with others.

The whole climategate scandal is typical of the internet's power. The issues have basically been dropped by the MSM yet it is high profile on the net. The MSM basically speaks with one voice, the net renders that voice irrelevant. It has become the forum for those who have no mainstream voice. It's the forum for subversives.

The Right is a very broad Church and what I think is going to happen is that over time the right will become more homogenised as certain errors get hammered out in discussions. Take for example feminism. The Roissysphere's ideas with regard to women have powerfully influenced a lot people's ideas with regard to the sexes. Roissy may be a flawed individual, but he certainly has offered the best riposte to feminist thought.
Even the Christian conservatives seem to have noticed, to the extent that the traditional "pedastalisation" of women seems to have become a dirty word.

What's happening is a core group of intellectuals are being formed who are offering new solutions to the profound unease which many people feel with regard to society. Their time will come.

Posted by: slumlord on December 6, 2009 7:47 AM



Heather MacDonald of Secular Right

Posted by: unmoored on December 6, 2009 9:06 AM



C'mon guys. If we're determined to disenfranchise women on the grounds that they aren't basically realistic/conservative enough, we should have the courage to disenfranchise most blacks, most hispanics, most orientals, most Jews, most Arabs, most homosexuals, most college professors, and so on and so on. And this takes us to regions where sane folks don't care to go.

I agree that it seems unrealistic right now. I wouldn't call it "insane" though. Keep in mind that reserving national decision-making for the men of the "tribe" and excluding outsiders has pretty much been the rule everywhere all through history. You can hardly call a return to what is basically the historical norm "insane".

I think that what ends up being adopted in the end is what actually works to make a society a better place to live. At one time it seemed like society would be more just, and thus better, if women, blacks, Indians, and so forth were able to vote. If that ends up destroying the society then it's not better, it's worse, and the rules need to be modified.

My personal proposal would be to allow everyone who can currently vote to elect the representatives to the House, and change the rules so that only tax-paying, married family men over 50 can run for or vote for senators. This would be the equivalent of giving the "tribal elders" a decisive say in what happens, and I think that makes sense.

If you've gone where mike shupp has, and consider allowing women to vote as a moral imperative, you're faced with the reality that you may actually destroy the society. My sense is that there are real, genetic differences in thinking and worldview between the genders, and that women have an instinct to mollify and to yield to strength. Women do not have natural instincts for holding territory, competing for resources, and the other drives and motivations that operate at the national level where the "tribe" is competing with others for prosperity or survival. So when they're put in leadership positions, they try to treat it as though what's needed is a mothering approach and you end up with a feminized society that can't protect itself and hasn't got the capitalistic cojones to compete with the more confident, masculine nations in the rest of the world.

Evan McLaren: at this point, "organizing ideas" is not irrelevant. Ultimately the battle IS a battle of ideas. The "women's suffrage" and socialist ideas seemed like higher-quality ideas 100 years ago and thus they came to shape our society. Now we're finding that liberal ideas are destroying society - bankrupting us, rendering us incapable of effectively resisting being colonized by the most alien culture on earth (Islam) and the most incompetent races on earth. We're so feminized and neutered that most of our governments, like the Netherlands, actually forbid speech that hurts other people's feelings and makes them feel unwelcome, as though this were kindergarten instead of a question of national survival - witness the prosecution of Geert Wilders for daring to say outloud that Islam is a threat.

We can't possibly effectively oppose this destruction without being able to express why our ideas are higher-quality ideas than liberalism. And since liberalism so thoroughly forms the bedrock assumptions of almost every Western person, even those who think of themselves as conservative, those ideas have to be very simple, clear and, most of all, morally defensible if we are going to save ourselves. So this stage of sorting out those ideas, clarifying them, finding the language to communicate them to our liberal-ized brothers, is crucial. Once we have those ideas and that language, we can change things much faster than you might imagine. Think how many elections were changed by a single phrase, a single sentence uttered by a candidate. Think of the battles won because the right inspirational phrase was uttered by a leader at the right time. This is ultimately all about ideas.

One of the distinguishing traits of Western, white civilization is that we will do what we think is right even if it literally kills us. So there's a lot of whites who would rather see the white race vanish than to do something they think is immoral. Thus our great challenge is to convince white people that it is moral to think of themselves AS white people, as a distinct people, that is entitled to self-preservation as much as any indigenous tribe that liberals will commiserate with. I think most whites can sense that if things go on in the "progressive" track they are now, whites will suffer. But they don't feel they have the moral right to preserve themselves. That is what has to be changed. Nothing short of that will work, because nothing short of that is consistent with human nature and the geographic, racial, and national realities of the world as it is.

Posted by: Mark on December 6, 2009 11:04 AM



"Robert Heinlein who, in one of his novels, allowed multiple votes to citizens who had various qualifications": actually, we had this in Britain until the 1945 Labour government scrapped it. As well as having a vote in the constituency where they lived, University graduates could vote for an MP who represented their University, or a group of Universities. So there was Oxford, Cambridge, Scottish Universities etc.

Posted by: dearieme on December 6, 2009 12:19 PM



About my comment on double-voting: WKPD reports-
"University constituencies originated in Scotland, where the representatives of the ancient universities of Scotland sat in the unicameral Estates of Parliament. When James VI inherited the English throne in 1603, the system was adopted by the Parliament of England. The system was continued in the Parliament of Great Britain (from 1707-1800) and the United Kingdom Parliament, until 1950. It was also used in the Parliament of Ireland, in the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1613 to 1800, and in the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1936.

University constituencies have also existed in Japan and in some countries of the British Empire such as India. Today in the Republic of Ireland there are two university constituencies in Seanad Éireann, the Irish senate."

Posted by: dearieme on December 6, 2009 12:26 PM



I don't know. Things are really complex and as much as I'd like to make a simple graph, e.g. with amount of women's suffrage on the x-axis and desirability of society on the y-axis, things aren't that simple. Like I said before it was Bismarck and Imperial Germany that introduced many social welfare programs to the West, not liberal women.

The internet is a double-edged sword. It allows many more ideas to come to the public square which is good, but it also allows for people to self-sort based on their views so that many people at particular sites just end up parroting and congratulating each other, instead of critically examining their axioms and beliefs.

I appreciate that 2Blowhards has a diverse array of posters and commenters and is not afraid to stir the pot.

Posted by: I_Affe on December 6, 2009 1:18 PM



Apologies for the double post, but I've had one major question about conservatism for some time now. How does it avoid stagnation? How does a society keep up with other societies when conservatism is its prevailing viewpoint?

It could be said that conservatism held China back for hundreds of years vis-a-vis the West (a bit more complicated than that), the most famous examples being relying on Confucianism for so long ossified many aspects of Chinese culture. China was on top of the world for a long time, but fell behind so far that it's only starting to catch up now.

Or hell, look at a lot of Muslim societies, e.g. Saudi Arabia, that wish to emulate seventh century living and law. Times change.

Posted by: I_Affe on December 6, 2009 1:35 PM



Ahh yes, looks like the UN got it right after all! Today's meta-lesson: Confirmation Bias. It's out there, and it'll sneak up on you the first chance it gets.

@Mike:

I don't want to make an argument for the disenfranchisement of women (a bad, or at least sub-optimal idea since women's leftist tendencies are not timeless and immutable). Instead, I want to call attention to two very different thought processes through which people end up supporting Democracy.

One is the Churchillian view, in which government by mob vote is deeply flawed, but desirable because the alternatives are worse. This is the pragmatic approach through which (I think) most Conservatives arrive at a pro-democracy stance.

The second view is the capital-R Rights-based support of Democracy. From this perspective, the efficacy of Democracy at providing good government is irrelevant - choosing the structure and composition of government is a fundamental human right.

Anyone who takes a Churchillian view on Democracy should be willing to tinker with it at the margins. I don't think restricting the vote to men is a good idea, but this opinion is practical, not moral. If the conditions for implementing such a radical change existed, I think a better move would be restricting the vote to property owners, veterans, everyone who has never made use of the welfare state, etc. Women have tended to vote for un-Libertarian policies over the past 30-40 years, sure. I don't see that trend as particularly important though.


@ Evan:

Chin up! Perhaps the New Right is not new at all, and is just the remnants of the Old Right, driven underground to an aspergery and lightly-trafficked corner of the internet. Even so, writing about it beats the hell out of what's on TV these days.

And of course, there's the possibility that contributing to the Google Books and Wordpress-fueled reawakening of right wing thought may actually have some effect on the world at large. I see two ways in which this could happen.

One possibility is that the internet has created a new age of bottom-up memetic dissemination. The 20th century was an era of centralized media, of people at the bottom getting their understanding of reality from the people at the top. In the internet age, deception and mendacity are more easily exposed, and thus much harder to get away with. Paul Krugman and Malcolm Gladwell may get invited to better parties than Scott Sumner and Steve Sailer, but it is obvious to anyone who can work a mouse and keyboard who are the politically-savvy, platitude-vomiting shills, and who are the legitimate seekers of truths. The shills may have a larger and more influential readership today, but the passage of time seems to favour the blogosphere. If this analysis is correct, Right-Wingers can further their ideals via guerrilla-information-warfare: Start a blog, contribute to productive comment threads, harass progressives wherever they congregate with cogent arguments and links that make them question their worldview. Ideally, the decades ahead will punish false leftist dogmas and reward long-lost right-wing truths, with the result being a gradual increase in the quality of government worldwide.

The second alternative is that we are past the point of trying to salvage and reform the current government structures of the world. The US and her satellites are going down fast, and our job is to work on a credible alternative to the current regime, and implement this new alternative once the current one implodes. Economic collapse, spiraling debt, and a looming currency crisis in the USA all hint that this may be something we will have to deal with sooner rather than later. This is more or less Mencius Moldbug's
Antiversityidea, and while I still think it's possible to reform what we've got, I'm not anywhere near certain.

@ Slumlord:

I agree with your analysis, especially the last sentence. Something is amiss, and the majority of people I've talked to can feel it. The only ones who can't are those who remain immersed in grad school, NGO/gov work, i.e., who are still firmly in the grips of the machine. As in Orwell's 1984, loyalty to the party is of increasing importance the closer one approaches the circles of power.

With regard to the homogenization of opinions, I also think this is a good thing. The memetic marketplace of the 21st century is going to favour those who are right, above all else. This means casting off religious conservatives, regardless of how much common cause exists between us.

@Chris:

Of course, one of our problems is going to be defining what constitutes "good government!" I think America and friends were governed much better in the 1920's than they currently are, and better still in the 1790's. Presumably you disagree.

As for viable real-world alternatives, how about restricting the franchise to property owners? And giving each one a fraction of the total vote according to the amount of property they own?

Or: Abolish the United States Government, and return full sovereign authority to the 50 states. (Pour moi, les douze provinces.)

Or: Returning to a literal interpretation of the US Constitution, as it was originally drafted.

I am particularly fond of #2. What possible argument can anyone make against decentralization? Many Americans think massive social spending, military adventurism and unfettered immigration are good things. Let them live in their own states, and let the rest adopt saner policies! The contrast between the two, after a decade or so has passed, will be the best argument for one or the other philosophy of government.

Cheers and thanks for the thoughtful comments!

Zdeno

Posted by: Zdeno on December 6, 2009 2:06 PM



A distinction is becoming apparent. I feel conservative to the toenails, but the term right wing leaves me cold. It's as if we were supposed to crave what the left has: dancers, journalists, actors, CEO's, sword swallowers, intellectuals, fornication advisers, Mac users etc. I don't want to be patronised by a conservative Soros, or matronised by a conservative MoDo.

We should seek the support of the proprietors of sandwich shops who cut fresh, of guys with young families who work second jobs and resent the income tax, of that plumber who actually arrived on time and didn't overcharge...and maybe the meteorologist who didn't fiddle the figures. These are the superior folk who carry the rest of us. And I wouldn't worry if their a bit off-white, a bit beta, or have vaginas.

So I'm nominating Murdoch blogger, Andrew Bolt, because he writes in a small country, largely on behalf of the folk described above...and got more than two million hits last month, when the rest of the Oz media wouldn't mention Climategate.

Sorry. I'd like to nominate someone really clever...but right now clever people and theorists need to get out of humanity's way.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on December 6, 2009 3:50 PM



Zdeno.

So close, yet so far.

It's the religious conservatives that are going to save the Right. The old will suddenly become the new again.But not any old religious conservatives, it will be the hard core traditionalist religious. WASPy Protestantism has been utterly captured by the left. All the other Christian denominations are imploding and intelligent conservative atheism by necessity leads to nihilism(see recent posts).I don't mean to step on anyone's toes but in the end it's going to be the Catholic Church vs the rest.

It will win.


Posted by: slumlord on December 6, 2009 10:05 PM



Slumlord-

I'm a former catholic. Every time I go back to my family parish, I get the palatable feeling that the church is dying. In many cases, it is literally dying - the average age of American priests is over 65, and the priests of my parish keep dropping. Attendance is falling, churches are closing. I simply cannot see how the Catholic Church makes a comeback. It's lost the youth, it's lost its communities, its schools have been marginalized, it simply cannot compete with the state funded universities. The leadership is old, stagnant, insulated, and unimaginative.

The church only remains strong among third world people. Not exactly the base upon which to build a restoration. I simply cannot see any future in which the Catholic Church rises again.

The only fight has come from the evangelical Christians. But they are losing too, politically they are outnumbered, and they have no allies among the elite. If you don't have the numbers, and you don't have the elite, you don't have anything.

Posted by: Devin Finbarr on December 6, 2009 11:27 PM



@slumlord

Culture and politics, if we'll accept those as unambiguous categories, shape each other. To my eye neither takes clear precedence, or at least the issue of precedence is variable and situational. Either way it's hard to get anything started practically or analytically to restore traditionalist sanity to things. If culture takes precedence one wonders what is to be done with deracinated post-Christians who lack roots in their own historical identities, and know little that cannot be learned at the mall, the drive-thru, or the megachurch. If politics takes precedence then the obvious obstacle is a gargantuan managerial state that transcends territorial boundaries, host to overbearing New Class experts and bureaucrats.

The intelligent New Right has bravely managed to scrape together an identity, and I'm grateful to have been able to latch on. But that identity and purpose is highly contingent and fugitive.

Posted by: Evan McLaren on December 7, 2009 7:34 AM



It fascinates me that many of the same voices here on 2BH, folks who rail against The Elite (one of the few general political predilections I share), seem eager to "perfect democracy" by better codifying, limiting, and enforcing governmental control by an even more narrowly defined Elite. This is apparently based on reasoning that assumes that they will be part of The Elite in this New Democracy. Talk about naive wishful thinking.

I am reminded of the poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller:
*
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

*
Add a few categories ... the Muslims, the immigrants ... and voilá, you've seemingly got the current situation of the "New Right" covered.

@ Zdeno – Given that in human affairs the only constant is change it hardly matters whether you or I might want to believe things were better in the 1790's, the 1920's, or whenever. Those were times with different technologies, different social constructs, different scientific understandings, and so on down the line. While we might draw inspiration or find caution by considering the past we cannot (outside of the realm of science fiction) return to some supposed Golden Era.

Accepting that we must always move forward from the present into the future, let's take the three suggestions you make for possibly "perfecting" democracy.

Your first idea is "restricting the franchise to property owners ... giving each one a fraction of the total vote according to the amount of property they own." While not literally true, this model seems very close to our current reality. Around the world you see nations where, practically speaking, poilitical decisions are made by the wealthiest to serve their interests; the oligarchs of Russia, the princes of Saudi Arabia, the K Street lobbyists in the employ of our homegrown version of oligarchs and princes. One might argue, in other words, that the problem is NOT an excess of democracy with too many poor folks voting, but rather too little, with the real power already far too concentrated in the hands of the Elite.

Two; dissolve the Union and become fifty newly hatched sovereign nations instead. (I say newly hatched to remind you that one cannot "return full sovereign authority" to entities that either never held full sovereign authority to begin with, or had it only briefly, long ago ... Hawaii excepted, Spike.) While this is the most attractive among your three suggestions, it has a plethora of pitfalls. Let's list a few of them by way of shorthand: (a) The War Between the States, (b) Quebec, (c) The Balkans.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, who among the American Blowhards can honestly say they want their next trip to Las Vegas or Miami or Honolulu to require a passport and visa? How many of us would find ourselves citizens of a different country than other members of our families? What "improvements" do you really imagine accruing by having the United States become 50 +/- independent nations? Or Canada becoming thirteen nations? Or Australia eight?

As for your third suggestion of "returning to a literal interpretation of the US Constitution, as it was originally drafted;" this is so intellectually disingenuous as to be meaningless. First, it assumes there were no disagreements among the Founding Fathers as to how to interpret the original text, which we know to be false. Second, which Amendments, if any, do you lop off as being beyond what was "originally drafted"? Do we resubmit all the amendments previously ratified?

If these are the sort of suggestions that excite and interest the "New Right", then the "New Right" appears destined to continue to occupy a small corner of the blog-o-sphere where its whining and rants can provide supporters with the illusion of relevance and the rest of the populace an occasional chuckle or moment of shocked outrage.

[Apologies for the length of the comment.]

Posted by: Chris White on December 7, 2009 9:30 AM



I noticed that "will shall" actually was correctly phrased, too. Bad miss. Oh well.

Posted by: Evan McLaren on December 7, 2009 9:32 AM



"Who are some of your favourite Right-Wing men of letters in the digital age?"

Lawrence Auster (View From The Right) hits the issues with a combination of logic, passion and succinctness that's hard to find anywhere else.

Posted by: Geddes on December 7, 2009 11:12 AM



I have a strenuous weekend job.

On November 5 and I got up at 3:15 am and walked, in the dark, five miles through a flooded forest. After a long day's work, I walked home.

On November 6, I had to do it all again. The business was already short-staffed because of flooding, and there was no question of staying home.

I'm sixty years of age. And no, I'm not telling you all this to exhibit my frontier ruggedness.

So, why am I telling you all this?

Because people in my area who stayed home on that weekend, even if they're young and healthy, don't work, don't farm and had no intention of going to town on those days, can claim $1000 in flood relief per individual adult. Some families are receiving over four thousand dollars for staying at home for one day on a wet weekend. To give my neighbours some credit, most know it's absurd, but can't refuse money that will simply be wasted elsewhere. If I was prepared to juggle a few facts, I could probably pocket a thousand tax-free dollars myself. Instead, I'll just whine to you guys.

The job of conservatives - and this week our focus should be on Copenhagen - is to fight the Slave State. Stop worrying about whether you're a beta or any other Greek letter, forget your IQ, your gene mix. Pay what you owe. Give value.

The Slave State. Teabag it. Ridicule it. Fight it.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on December 7, 2009 4:45 PM



I love reading Hanson, but he just came out for open borders, maybe for the first time. Like Caplan and the rest.

Posted by: Eric Johnson on December 7, 2009 5:28 PM



It's a bit much to say that "Roissy is among the world’s most influential detractors of platitudes and niceties on the subject of sex and gender relations." Come on, he is a blogger who is read by maybe a thousand people a day --- have we defined "influential" down so much that a blogger with niche appeal is one of the "world's most influential"? I don't think so.

Posted by: James on December 7, 2009 5:29 PM



It's a bit much to say that "Roissy is among the world’s most influential detractors of platitudes and niceties on the subject of sex and gender relations." Come on, he is a blogger who is read by maybe a thousand people a day --- have we defined "influential" down so much that a blogger with niche appeal is one of the "world's most influential"? I don't think so.

Posted by: James on December 7, 2009 5:29 PM



It is a well-known fact that many constituencies which progressives assumed would support them were much more conservative than expected. Thus the doctrine of "false consciousness".

For instance, in the mid-1800s, the British Conservatives pushed through a Reform Bill that extended the franchise to many workingmen. Many (including some hard-line Tories) thought this would ruin the Conservatives. But a few years later, at a mass meeting in London's Crystal Palace, a speaker remarked

A few years ago, everybody said that if a Conservative workingman could be found, he ought to be put in a glass case. We have found for him the largest glass case in England tonight!

When the Spanish Republic was proclaimed in 1930, the interim government was left-dominated. One of its first acts was to enfranchise women. The anticlerical Republicans also moved to restrict the charities of the Church. The shock result was that in the 1934 elections, the right-wing party won. This was in large part because of the votes of pious rural women.

Historically, women tend to be social conservatives. In countries with an active "Red" socialist movement, men were more likely to be radicals. I think this ties to women's risk-aversion tendency - especially since the "Reds" tended to keep men on top.

In the last 50 years or so, though, women have moved into formal employment, giving them economic self-suffiency, and also an interest in breaking down tradition that restricted their work.

More generally: the Left's turn to top-down coercion in pursuit of their goals has pushed the Right to embrace democracy.

Another key point was noted by Charles Murray in this post: over the last 37 years in the U.S., all segments of the white population have shifted from center to slightly right of center - except "Intellectual Upper", which has moved from center to strong left.

I suspect this is also true in Europe. The U.S. trend has been to enact Left policies through the courts and bureaucracies, rather than through popularly-elected legislatures. In Europe, note that the "Lisbon Treaty" (EU Constitution) was brought into force despite repeated thumping rejections in referendums.

I think this reflects a divide between the "thinking class" and everyone else. The thinking class, unsurprisingly, thinks they are right and everyone is a pack of ignorant rubes. Therefore they bypass and manipulate democratic processes.

What we are heading for is not socialism, but an overbearing welfare state with massive "crony capitalism". There will be no Terror Famine or liquidation of kulaks. Instead there will be endless state favors for the politically connected. $Billions for "green energy" projects that produce no net energy, ever-increasing pay and benefits for public employees, subsidies for favored industries...

Fighting this will be very hard, because there are few "smoking guns". Import quotas, obscure tax provisions, backdoor loans that get "forgiven" down the road - a thousand ways to feed on the commons. "Carbon credits": already a multi-$billion fraud in Denmmark.

I am afraid that the feeding will soon began to eat into the capital stock of the industrialized world: that the factories and infrastructure will wear out faster than they are replaced.

The other side of the coin is the increasing cultural decay of society. "Tucker Max" vulgarity, the championing of sexual deviance (google "GLBTTQQI2S"), the postmodern rot in the academy, the increases in bastardy... And it looks to me like fertility is increasingly skewed toward the stupid, ignorant, criminal, violent, and incapable.

And I don't see any way to fight it. The thinkers are all on the other side. They dislike and despise conservatives. And conservatives increasingly dislike and despise thinkers. (With some justification: remember Orwell's comment that "One has to be an intellectual to believe such things. No ordinary man could be such a fool.")

The scandals of "global warming" may be fatal. The obvious hijacking of "Science" for a political agenda could lead to a broad rejection of science by populist conservativism - already tainted with creationism, for instance - thus justifying the Left "thinkers" in their dominance.

BTW: Heinlein discussed multiple voting, but not in his novels. In Starship Trooper, he proposed making the vote conditional on completing volunteer government service (not necessarily military). You may be thinking of In The Wet by Nevil Shute, in which future Australia citizens had up to seven votes each (automatic, college degree, two years abroad, married parents, high earned income, clergy, and gift of the Sovereign).

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on December 7, 2009 8:41 PM



don't be a hater, james.

ps yay me!

Posted by: roissy on December 7, 2009 9:02 PM



Roissy is pretty big, far bigger than 1000 readers a day. Stats:
http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/roissy.wordpress.com

23,000th ranked page for the US is pretty high I think. You have to realize the rankings are full of practical sites: ISPs, e-stores, real-world stores, information sites, software info sites, the DMV, stuff like that. Much of it is not "writing" or "a read".

Posted by: Eric Johnson on December 7, 2009 10:55 PM



Devin Finbarr

I'm a former catholic. Every time I go back to my family parish, I get the palatable feeling that the church is dying.

It's been on the ropes many times before yet refuses to die. It has been run by the most corrupt and foul men around and still could not be destroyed. There's something weird about it.

You are right, the numbers are down, the priests old and regular church goers few yet it still draws in new people. Benedict's vision is probably the correct one. The Church will shrink to a small disciplined core which people will turn to when the West finally disintegrates. Personally, I think what will happen is that people after trying all else and not finding happiness, will try it and find it. Still God works in mysterious ways. I remember in my youth worrying about the inevitable fight between the West and the Communists. I never imagined that Soviet Russia would go down in anything but an ocean of blood. And yet it passed, not as anyone imagined it would, despite years of study and analysis.

Stalin once sneered " The Pope!, How many divisions does he have?"

Score:

Pope 1: Stalin 0.


Posted by: Slumlord on December 8, 2009 4:37 AM



@ R. Rostrom - If nothing else, the Charles Murray link with the graph depicting the shifts in time of the political leanings of various economic groups puts a very different spin on the "perfected Democracy" notion that weighting or limiting the vote to those who have more wealth, property, and education would result in a more conservative leadership.

It is also worth noting that the Murray graph depicts data for whites only and tracks the self-assessments of respondents. As various other threads and discussions show, the definitions of "liberal" and "conservative" are neither fixed nor objective, but instead are malleable notions. Given that the loudest and most public "conservative" voices often vehemently reinforce the impression that conservatives increasingly dislike and despise thinkers it is not surprising to find highly educated whites self-identifying more strongly as liberal. A thinking liberal might be tempted to draw the conclusion that today's so-called "conservatives" are, in fact, not "conservative" in any meaningful way, but are often unthinking individuals, manipulated into adopting radical and bigoted positions by bombastic personalities who appeal to the worst impulses of their followers.

BTW – One of my long held views (a view that may seem out of sync with the stereotype label I have here of hippie leftist) is that we should all engage in one to two years of Universal (not necessarily military) Service. My vision of this is that upon graduation from high school, or, with a deferment, after college, or at the age of 21 if one drops out of school, each individual would spend three months undergoing a version of Preliminary Basic Training and Assessment after which they would choose from among an array of service options ranging from the military to hospital and educational aids, public works programs, etc. and move on to whatever specific Basic Training is required by the service chosen before serving a minimum one year hitch. As much as possible individuals would be able to choose how they serve, with some limits based on their capabilities and abilities assessments made during their initial Basic Training combined with whatever the current national needs might be. And I'd happily sign on to Heinlein's proviso that one must have finished their service before being granted the right to vote.

Posted by: Chris White on December 8, 2009 8:38 AM



@ Chris:

So we share a general disdain of the present elite! Excellent. Now I only need convince you that you have your cigar-chomping elites and poor, downtrodden masses mixed up.

Consider Rich's description of the big business/government dystopia that we appear to be headed for, slash, are very much already in. When well-paid, prestigious politicians conspire with well-paid, prestigious academics to raise ire over the spectre of global warming, and use it as an excuse to dole out trillions in green technology subsidies and carbon-trading permits to the well-paid and prestigious heads of multinational corporations with a habit of contributing generously to well-paid, prestigious politicians, all to the detriment of Americans outside of this triangle, how exactly do you conceive of the first group as the underdog?

I think if you look around, you'll notice that the majority of left-wing policies serve to enhance the relative status of a small group, to the detriment of everyone else. Who have been the primary beneficiaries of the Welfare State, for example? Certainly not the urban poor, many of whom might as well live in a third world country, for all the good the Great Society has done them. Bureaucrats have done pretty well by it though.

On the subject of immigration, the issue is frequently spun in the most altruistic of terms - and I admit, in my ideal world, productive, law-abiding citizens would have a large degree of freedom in choosing where to live and work - but immigration policy as it is currently practiced amounts to nothing less machiavellian than importing vast swaths of Democratic voters.

(As an aside, I often use American terms when I'm really speaking more broadly about the western world. Much of what I say, I apply to Europe and the English commonwealth as well, although the relative sanity of Canada's immigration policy is notable.)

As for the importance of Roissy to the New Right, it is true that he is just an asshole with a blog. But if the barely-breathing Right has any hope for the future, that hope lies in assholes with blogs. He is read by many, and ideas have a life of their own. Perhaps not a lot of influential people read Roissy (although I suspect more than a few do) but the same can't be said of Robin Hanson and Tyler Cowen, who have learned a step or two from him.

Hanson (and Cowen, Kling, McCardle, Wilkinson, ad finitum) harp on open borders, and refuse to think critically on the subject, because open borders is one of the few politically correct implications of Libertarian philosophy. Peer pressure! Still, the above are some of the clearer, better and more honest thinkers in the world today. Must we demand perfection? Hanson is still a titan in my eyes.

Cheers,

Zdeno


Posted by: Zdeno on December 8, 2009 11:08 AM



Ha, I was going to second the Heinlein motion that Rich mentions around restricting voting to those who have completed some kind of service program (not necessarily military), but then I read CW's comment and realized I'd be thirding it.

Posted by: JV on December 8, 2009 11:35 AM



Chris White,

How is it that working at a job and paying your taxes isn't considered good citizenship? Why should I or anyone else have to devote 2 years of my life for "universal service"?

Regular people already serve society. But being the good Stalinist that you are, you don't recognize it. Instead, the idea of a capitalist system, where the inidividual is paid money for rendering a service or good to another is flawed or "unholy".

There is already a way to serve others--through capitalism. There is already a way to redistribute wealth--it's through work.

You like the idea of "universal service" because then the government can direct everybody's labor for two years (or more). No individual choices allowed. Good God, you love totalitarianism!

Stalin and Hitler also promoted "national service". Your current advocacy of their policies must make them proud! Long live Chris White and Adolf Hitler!

Posted by: B on December 8, 2009 1:29 PM



Chris White:

Given that the loudest and most public "conservative" voices often vehemently reinforce the impression that conservatives increasingly dislike and despise thinkers it is not surprising to find highly educated whites self-identifying more strongly as liberal. A thinking liberal might be tempted to draw the conclusion that today's so-called "conservatives" are, in fact, not "conservative" in any meaningful way, but are often unthinking individuals, manipulated into adopting radical and bigoted positions by bombastic personalities who appeal to the worst impulses of their followers.

This is all undoubtedly true. However -- to take, out of countless examples, the one that has achieved most public prominence recently -- would you agree that Reverend Wright's audience could be fairly described as "unthinking individuals, manipulated into adopting radical and bigoted positions by bombastic personalities who appeal to [their] worst impulses"? I don't think anyone could answer "no" to that question with a straight face. (I encourage everyone to actually listen to the whole above linked clip, and perhaps also to others in the "Related Videos" tab.)

Yet, the current President of the United States, who is almost uniformly lionized and exalted by the highly educated liberal elites you mention, has been a friend and a major financial patron of this man, as well as a regular member of his audience and a self-professed admirer of his teachings, for many years. Also, individuals who get their political opinions from similar people have been a significant part of his voter base. (The Wright affair has in fact been an unusual glimpse by the mainstream media into this lowest level of identity politics in the U.S., of whose existence most people are aware only vaguely, if at all, even though it is all-pervasive and often raises its head on the national level through personalities which I'm sure I don't even need to allude to.)

These facts are indisputable and a matter of public record. So, what is your explanation why these masses of unthinking individuals eagerly soaking up radical and bigoted views from sundry bombastic personalities do not have the same effect on liberal intellectuals, who are, as you correctly note, outraged and repelled by outbursts of intellectually deficient rabble-rousing on the Right, even much milder ones?

The lowest level of democratic politics in a large polity, where great masses of people are addressed directly, is always about rabble-rousing whose logical and epistemological deficiencies are guaranteed to annoy any intellectual who scrutinizes them -- unless he instinctively desensitizes himself because he supports the practical goals that this rabble-rousing (as he believes) will lead to. Of course, the present elites have their political and ideological preferences, and it's clear what side they will be desensitized against. Maybe this is all for the best and those who object to this state of affairs are just confused and misguided souls burdened by antiquated prejudices, but it certainly seems to me that detecting unthinking individuals with radical and bigoted views led by bombastic personalities on only one side of the partisan divide is a sign of curious partial blindness.

Also, consider the fact that lots of stuff taught and written at the most prestigious academic institutions nowadays has effectively the same content as Reverend Wright's sermons, only couched in a more temperate language, loaded with learned-sounding buzzwords, featuring more intricate (yet still rather transparent) sophistry and less crude fabrications of fact, and backed by august academic honors and titles. The right-wing equivalent of this phenomenon is entirely nonexistent and unimaginable -- for fun, imagine a "studies" department run by someone like Jared Taylor (in fact, an exact equivalent would be far more extremist). An honest analysis of this phenomenon would undoubtedly point to a lot of manipulation of unthinking aspiring intellectual minds into what is effectively bigotry that stems from very bad, if not worst impulses. Yet, again, when it comes to the intellectuals' outrage against this phenomenon, the silence is deafening. Even the worst examples that cross into out-and-out extremist territory are looked at, at worst, as a mild and fully excusable intellectual peccadillo.

Posted by: Vladimir on December 8, 2009 2:12 PM



Zdeno:

Hanson (and Cowen, Kling, McCardle, Wilkinson, ad finitum) harp on open borders, and refuse to think critically on the subject, because open borders is one of the few politically correct implications of Libertarian philosophy. Peer pressure! Still, the above are some of the clearer, better and more honest thinkers in the world today. Must we demand perfection? Hanson is still a titan in my eyes.

I have very different opinions about the above-mentioned individuals. Wilkinson is basically a left-liberal who is trying to sell libertarianism-lite stripped of all its un-PC implications as the next cool SWPL thing. McArdle occasionally writes some interesting commentary, but for an independent "econo-blogger," I'm struck by her unquestioning adherence to the kindergarten version of the orthodox view on monetary and banking issues that she apparently espouses. Cowen is a prominent academic and the house libertarian at the New York Times, and thus, obviously, as such a high-ranking member of the official establishment, he can't tread too far out into un-PC territory, nor can he discuss the dirty laundry of his own profession too openly. Still, I greatly respect his willingness to link and nod to extremely un-PC sources and patronize unconventional figures in the academia; it is something virtually never seen from people who are so high up in what is effectively our Inner Party. Finally, Kling is the figure I respect most of them all -- it is almost impossible to find anyone else with such high academic and professional credentials in economics who is willing to ask unpleasant questions about the soundness of various mainstream views so openly.

As for Hanson, he may well be the most interesting thinker of them all. He is one of those people who don't hesitate to dissect all traditional views (and even many PC views) with sharp and merciless reductionist logic, and undoubtedly much valuable insight can be gained in that process, especially when done by someone as smart and well-versed in science as Hanson. His problem, however, is that like nearly all such people, once he's vaporized everything with his Bayesian/reductionist grinder until he struck the issues of consciousness, personal identity, and ethics that aren't amenable to such an approach, he has found substitute in philosophical beliefs that are not just outright bizarre, but also devoid of any rational basis. (I wonder why all such people believe in some sort of utilitarianism. What rational basis exists for utilitarian beliefs that makes them any more grounded in reality than traditional religion? I've never found even the slightest hint of an answer to that question.) Also, when it comes to his most extreme beliefs, I honestly think he's faking it on a fundamental level -- there's no way he'd be willing to follow in practice what he advocates in many of his gedankenexperiments.

At the end of the day, his writings provide for excellent ammunition against certain modern superstitions that hide beneath a thin facade of common sense, rationality, and science, but their usefulness stops at that.

Posted by: Vladimir on December 8, 2009 2:59 PM



@ Vlad:

Actually, our opinions on those individuals are remarkably similar, although perhaps with a more charitable skew. I also greatly respect Tyler Cowen - He may self-censor on occasion, but who knows how much courage I would display, if I had a NYT column to think about? Would I have the courage to link to Roissy and Steve Sailer? Even I avoid, and probably will continue to avoid Sailerian topics, despite the fact that I blog semi-anonymously.

For an example of Tyler at his best, see here. This is the comment I left on that post:


Couple of points:

At the fundamental level, "game" is nothing more than men using the tools of science, logic and experimentation to be successful with women. Is that wrong? Seems to me like both sexes have been honing their "games" since we became self-aware. The online Seduction Community is a product of new technology, not new thought processes.

Is Roissy evil because he prefers a variety of short-term relationships to a 50+ year marriage? Many (most?) of the men who cling faithfully to their one true love do so not because this is their preference, but because they lack the sexual market value to do any better.

As Chris Rock says, "A man is only as faithful as his options"

Often true...

Second point, I've considered Tyler Cowen one of my intellectual heroes for the past 2ish years I've read this blog. This post was closed-minded, politically correct and.... unfair. TC, look to MBlowhard for a role model in terms of remaining open to new ideas and trends, no matter how shocking they might be at first glance.

Then again, maybe this post one of the most brilliant in MR's illustrious history. Consider:

1) "This post is so EVIL that I'm not linking to it etc etc..." (What better way to inspire the inquisitive and curious to google "Where pretty lies perish" +Roissy?)

2) Demonize Roissy for a paragraph or two to placate the easily offended masses who would seize up at the thought of some of their prettiest, most deeply held lies perishing

3) Close with a Roissy quotation (again, easily googled) that is practical, clever, a good representation of his body of work... and one of his better pieces of prose.

1+2+3 = A blog post that has readers self-select based on their natural curiosity, with the open-minded exposed to some new, shocking thoughts and the timid allowed to live in the comfort of ignorance. Not to mention plausible deniability if Mrs. Cowen is in the reading audience.

Zdeno

Posted by: Zdeno on December 8, 2009 9:55 PM



As for Wilkinson, my feelings on him resemble Luke's on Darth Vader. I agree with your assessment of him, but the optimist in me hopes that he will one day see the light an renounce his trendy Liberaltarianism.

McCardle is smart, perceptive and generally honest, but still very much affected by the pressure to conform. This was especially evident during ClimateGate. Also, she is out of her depth in matters most matters economic.

Kling, and really the whole EconLog crew, are my personal favourites among mainstream bloggers.

As for Hanson, I appreciate his delving into the mystical with the tools of the rational. Of course, our difference on this question is just unresolved baggage from the materialism thread =)

In any case, I think these are the people who need to be persuaded that many of the things they believe to be true just ain't so. We are in the midst of a transition from a world in which people get their information from newspapers and network broadcasting, to one in which they get it from the blogosphere. We aren't there yet, but every minute, another NYT reader dies and another bright high school kid finds himself reading Marginal Revolution. Part of this transition is that, as means of engendering trust, official credentials and close ties to the current elite are going to matter less than the ability to consistently deliver truth. My hope is that the current reigning opinion leaders adjust to this, and start openly espousing anti-PC, anti-Progressive wrongthink.

Cheers,

Zdeno

Posted by: Zdeno on December 8, 2009 10:15 PM



Vladimir: I wonder why all such people believe in some sort of utilitarianism. What rational basis exists for utilitarian beliefs that makes them any more grounded in reality than traditional religion? I've never found even the slightest hint of an answer to that question.

I've often wondered that myself, but really, where else would they go? An honest nihilism would seem more consistent, but I think the choice is essentially based on temperament - utilitarianism feels (and I use that word advisedly) "more rational", and, being the most "quant-y" of ethical systems, the sheer scope for running the ethical algorithms, as it were, can satisfyingly distract attention from the its utter groundlessness. (Just a guess, based on previous interactions with the types. Can't speak to Hanson, as I've never read 'im, so who for all I know could admirably defend his choice.)

Ditto on Wilkinson and McArdle - or rather, nice concise coherent expression of my usual inchoate dismissive mutterings when I read their stuff.

Posted by: Moira Breen on December 9, 2009 9:11 AM



Somehow, I suspect I'm going to regret bothering, but here goes...

@ B – You manage to pack so many straw man arguments, distortions, and personal attacks into such a short comment it's like a verbal hand grenade or IED; I'm impressed.

Nowhere have I stated or implied that I do not consider working and paying taxes as good citizenship. My understanding of good citizenship includes responsibilities as well as rights. Universal service would, I believe, foster a greater sense of national cohesion and pride among all citizens. With the focus in this thread on "perfecting democracy" many of the suggestions have suggested limiting voting rights to an Elite determined by such factors such as wealth, gender, and I.Q. (with an underlying implication that race would also be considered). The notion, therefore, of "perfecting democracy" by having voting limited not by factors beyond an individual's ability to control, but rather by the requirement that each citizen should gain the right to vote through service, seems to me far more equitable and preferable.

I am not a "good Stalinist" ... I'm not even a bad Stalinist ... I consider myself a small "c" capitalist. I see no sin or flaw in individuals being paid by one another for the exchange of goods and services, I applaud it. I abhor totalitarianism, which logic and evidence suggest comes with limiting the full rights of citizenship to an elite defined by race, religion, gender, political party affiliation, and other externals.

Where we so obviously disagree is over such notions as whether taxes are "theft" and whether there is any place for government beyond homeland security. Since you offer Stalin and Hitler as exemplars of dictators who promoted "national service" (not, of course, "universal service" since Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and other lesser life forms were not eligible to serve) what do you think about Israel's requirement that everyone serve a hitch in the military? Does this make Israel a totalitarian state? Would you equate Israeli leaders with Stalin and Hitler? How about Switzerland, which has a similar requirement?

FWIW the idea of "universal service" in local militias (as opposed to maintaining a standing army) was among those advocated by that noted Commie/Nazi Thomas Jefferson during the process of crafting the Constitution.

@ Vladimir – First, let me commend you for a thoughtful and challenging comment and suggest that "B" could learn much from you in terms of effective and respectful debating.

You make a compelling point when you suggest that there are bombastic personalities holding radical views to be found everywhere on the political spectrum. I do not deny this.

As for the specific of Rev. Wright I confess that I have no strong opinion because I only know what has come out since he became a factor in the election. While he may be an influential figure in Chicago's African-American community, he was not particularly prominent nationally until Obama became a presidential candidate. You offered a link to a clip from Fox News that pulls a quote out of the context of the full text. I took your advice and clicked on a few of the "related videos" and found a more complete excerpt which, while still bombastic, shows Rev. Wright's views are both more subtle and less radical than the impression one gets from the shorter clip.

To the larger point, Rev. Wright and other African-American preacher/politicians grew up in an era of de facto (and even de jure) segregation and discrimination in this country. They saw various government agents turn a blind eye to beatings, lynchings, and church bombings. While you and I might wish these things did not happen, they did. Because they did it is hardly surprising that some individuals became hardened, suspicious, and at times prone to leap to a negative conclusion when faced with perceived racism. Or sexism. Or homophobia. Or antisemitism.

Forgive me if I tend to think that the answer is not to "blame the victims" for being angry or defensive as a result of being discriminated against for so long, but rather to work toward a more just and equal society.


[Since I have sometimes had difficulty properly coding my links, here is the URL address for the longer YouTube clip of Rev. Wright:

Posted by: Chris White on December 9, 2009 10:55 AM



Interesting that both of the efforts I made to provide a link to a more complete clip of the Rev. Wright sermon disappeared.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvMbeVQj6Lw&feature=related

Posted by: Chris White on December 9, 2009 1:15 PM



Chris White,

You are a Stalinist. You advocate just about everything he did. You just don't think it will turn out like it did in National Socialist Germany or Soviet Russia.

National Service required in Nazi Germany, Facist Italy, Fascist Japan, Soviet Russian Labor Armys, etc.

You're really good at telling everybody else what their responsibilities are. So let me spell out what your responsibilities are.

Leave everybody the hell alone with all your nonsense Utopian schemes that lead to genocides and totalitarian dictaorships. We don't need the government to be our parents.

You are without question the least educated, least aware, and thoughtless ideologue that has ever posted here. You will lie and distort at the drop of a hat.

Go on and tell a few more of your lies and distort what you, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Emperor Hirohito, and other loving genocidal leaders think is in the best interests of society. It should be at least as entertaining and false as everything else you have to say.

Posted by: B on December 9, 2009 2:06 PM



Zdeno:

We are in the midst of a transition from a world in which people get their information from newspapers and network broadcasting, to one in which they get it from the blogosphere. We aren't there yet, but every minute, another NYT reader dies and another bright high school kid finds himself reading Marginal Revolution. Part of this transition is that, as means of engendering trust, official credentials and close ties to the current elite are going to matter less than the ability to consistently deliver truth.

I think it's too early for any optimism about this. I'm still not noticing any signs that the absolute power of the academic-media complex to dictate the official truth and set the limits on respectable opinion is weakening. (Though the Climategate affair might -- maybe! -- turn out to be the first minuscule crack in it, but even that is still too early to tell.)

Take Wikipedia for example. Any attempt to present an unconventional viewpoint there, even on issues where we are surrounded with mountains of evidence that the official viewpoint is entirely out of touch with reality, is certain to be struck down under the "reputable sources" and "no original research" policies. Of course, what makes sources "reputable" and published writings true and trusted research (as opposed to the crackpot phenomenon of "original research"), are exactly their official credentials and close ties to the current elite. To take a fairly dispassionate example, try editing some Wikipedia articles on macroeconomics by citing an article from Econlog or Mises.org that honestly and objectively characterizes some aspect of (say) New Keynesian economics as pure bunk, and see how long it lasts. But when it comes to Austrian economics, you'll find plenty of illustrious academic luminaries saying it's bunk, so no problem! (Even if these luminaries have never managed to demonstrate the slightest connection between their theories and reality, or even that their theories have any internal logical coherence.)

Things are similar for the internet in general. In the white noise generated by the fact that anyone can set up a website to propagate any viewpoint, no matter how deranged, there must be some criterion of respectability that will tell people whom to believe on all the countless issues on which they aren't experts. I find it quite plausible that even if all paper publishing dies out, the academia and mainstream media may well manage to preserve their privilege to bestow (and withdraw) the seal of respectability on ideas, publications, and individuals. When I look at the advantage that the printed material published by the New York Times and Harvard University enjoys over vanity press and xeroxed pamphlets, I don't see that it's essentially that much greater than the advantage of their web domains over the blogs and websites of non-accredited individuals and organizations. Sure, they'll lose the advantage of their distribution network, but this effect is offset by the fact that any non-accredited website will be drowned by countless others espousing a myriad of other viewpoints over which it can't credibly claim any a priori advantage to the average reader. Whether snowballing reputation effects can remedy the situation is unclear at best.

Posted by: Vladimir on December 9, 2009 2:20 PM



B sure is making a great case for the intellectual vibrancy of the "New Right".

Posted by: Steve on December 9, 2009 6:26 PM



@B - Well, it is obvious you haven't attempted to learn anything from Vladimir. I'm surprised not to have been linked to Pontius Pilate, Pol Pot, and Genghis Kahn. You offer yet another comment with no cogent arguments, just a steaming mound of personal insults and bombastic nonsense.

It strikes me that you should consider moving to one of those nations where the ideals you hold ... low taxes, weak central government, no entitlements ... are more closely realized. Somalia and Afghanistan immediately come to mind.

Note to other conservatives commenting on 2BH: as long as the likes of B are given a free pass to spew thoughtless venom and personal insults with no rebuke or moderation it is unlikely that you'll ever succeed in winning over many independents to your views. If a dedicated leftist radical wanted to function as a troll here at 2BH they'd have a difficult time beating B's inflammatory excesses.

Posted by: Chris White on December 9, 2009 6:33 PM



Some good overall remarks in the post and some of the initial comments, but I think the conversation is spinning off a bit here.

Posted by: Evan McLaren on December 10, 2009 8:44 AM



Chris, B may not have linked you to Genghis Khan, but I certainly will!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html?a=0609809644

He's not without rough edges, but he made the covered wagons run on time. IMO, he's one of the most underrated historical figures out there.

Posted by: Zdeno on December 10, 2009 9:53 AM



Steve,

I'm not the one advocating "universal service" to the government for 2 years or face a jail sentence. That's how "universal service" works. What a lovely idea! Do anything and everything the government says for 2 years or its off to prison! Gosh Steve, I bet you never knew that "universal service" worked that way, and that it's been used by the most murderous regimes in history. Maybe you ought to read a book once in a while.

Chris White,

Again you are proven to be wrong, and repair to one of your many techniques of obfuscation, exaggeration, and claiming false victimhood to cover your tracks. You are a Stalinist. This is just another example.

Posted by: B on December 10, 2009 10:52 AM



@ B - While I have philosophical and political disagreements with Vladimir (among others) his arguments are cogent and well reasoned. He sets forth his cases logically and respectfully, if I disagree I must grapple with and attempt to counter his line of reasoning with my own. He makes me think, regardless of whether I alter my view on a particular topic or not, I nevertheless respect him and his view.

You, on the other hand, do nothing other than spew personal insults and make unsubstantiated pronouncements as if God were speaking through you ... the very definition of hubris. You have not "proven" anything, let alone that my opinion is "wrong", merely that you don't like me and don't accept my opinion. That's fine and the feeling is certainly mutual.

I do not claim to know THE TRUTH, merely that I have a reasoned and reasonable opinion and every right to express it. My belief in democracy is that when all citizens are freely able to express their opinions and elect representatives to act in their behalf, we achieve some degree of consensus to guide our collective actions, whether as a town, state, or nation.

One fundamental disconnect between us seems to be whether we consider our government to be an entity different from and imposing an outside will upon "We the People", or whether we consider our government to be a means by which the will of "the People" is enacted. My belief is that a representative, democratically elected, government remains the best means by which collective interests are served and needs met. You apparently believe government is an independent force that will (unless, a la Grover Norquist, it is whittled away until it can be drowned in a bathtub) inevitably crush individuals under the heel of its jackbooted thugs. I believe that if and when only a select group based on race, judgments of intellect, property ownership and similar restrictions (the very definition of an elite) is allowed to vote, THEN and only then is when we will see the jackbooted thugs, the gulags, and all the other manifestations of the homegrown Stalins, Hitlers, and Maos I supposedly remind you of come to pass.

Posted by: Chris White on December 10, 2009 2:59 PM



B: you're a fool, and an embarrassment to conservatives. You don't like the idea of a voluntary "national service" qualification for voting? Go argue with Robert Heinlein - it was his idea, not Chris White's.

Chris White: "Given that the loudest... public "conservative" voices often vehemently reinforce the impression that conservative... dislike and despise thinkers it is not surprising to find highly educated whites self-identifying more strongly as liberal."

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? The conservative disdain for "Thinkers", or the "Thinkers"' embrace of leftism?

"My belief is that a representative, democratically elected, government remains the best means by which collective interests are served and needs met. You apparently believe government is an independent force that will... inevitably crush individuals..."

Democratically elected representative government is a good idea. But as a rule, government action does not rigorously track the popular will, even in democracies. The ability of the people to control and constrain the government is very limited. For instance, the people get to exercise control only at elections, once every two or four years. They don't have time to watch everything that the government does.

Bureaucrats in authority wield the power of the Rods and Axe: disobey and one can be fined, imprisoned, stripped of property. Yes, an "independent" judiciary and the efforts of the press are a countereffect. But only a limited one: people get railroaded every day. And the government is often conspiring with the powerful against the public. Note the KELO decision, and the huge fight put up by local governments and connected real estate interests to prevent eminent domain reform.

Many power wielders are insulated from popular control by layers of delegation. The enforcement agents, for a regulatory commission, whose members are chosen by the legislature: where does one go if they're messing with you?

Representative democracy is the best system for controlling government power, but it's still not a good system; and a society is best off by strictly limiting government power.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on December 11, 2009 6:18 AM



Chris White,

You are a Stalinist. Stalinism is the use of terrorizing tactics on the population in order to get them to defer to central governmental control. "Universal service" requirements are enforced through jail sentences. Sending people to jail in lieu of "charitable" and "community" service is a terror tactic.

When you finally decide to give up two years of your life or go to jail to serve a government you don't agree with, I'll take you and your nonsense seriously.

Rich Rostrum,

Who the hell are you to call me a fool? You and the circle-jerk of pseudo-conservatives that populate the internet are an embarrasment to conservatism, not me. Pro-undeclared and pre-emptive wars, huge deficit spending, pro-corporation, anti-religion, pro-police state, etc. It's people like you who have completely divorced conservatism from its traditional independent and religious roots to serve a neo-facist agenda. I'm not one of the unaware herd that falls for the new neofascism that's being built in this country. I know very well what's going on.

I couldn't give less of a crap about Robert Heinlein either. Go flog his worthless ideas and worship him somewhere else.

Sieg heil Rich! Sieg heil Chris! Let us all put the State before God Almighty and His Law! Let the new facsist conservatism rule!

Posted by: B on December 11, 2009 4:22 PM



> as a rule, government action does not rigorously track the popular will, even in democracies

Examples? If I'm not mistaken Byran Caplan says that it generally does do so in democracies, the major exception being that democracies have to allow freer markets than their people want, lest capital flee to other countries. Competition. Capital easily mobile across seas, people not so mobile.

Affirmative action may be another example of an unpopular policy. But I'm not aware of any others.

Posted by: Eric Johnson on December 11, 2009 5:04 PM



@B – You might consider moving to one of the off the grid communities experimenting with extreme conservative fundamentalism (or at least a hardcore/ hard right echo chamber blog) where you can be surrounded by like minded folks. If not, at least try to moderate your insulting and bullying rants directed at anyone whose views don't agree exactly with yours. It's a big ol' world out here and there are all sorts of ideas and philosophies that well-meaning, intelligent people subscribe to and those people merit a modicum of respect, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. You might also consider anger management, or perhaps mood altering drugs, to help you deal with your seemingly considerable inchoate rage.

Posted by: Chris White on December 11, 2009 8:31 PM



Chris White,

You might improve yourself by not saying one thing and then doing another, minding your own business, keeping your fingers off of other people's money, reading a book instead of watching the communist propaganda on PBS and or listening to NPR, and generally developing a respect for other people's time, property, freedom and opinions yourself.

I don't need to remove myself to a monoculture like you have in Woodstock and rural lefty Maine. I can deal with people just fine who don't think like I do. That doesn't mean that they are right, and if they ask me, I'll tell them so.

Anybody who stands by stupified while watching fascism and communism take over the entire world and doesn't get angry has a problem, not me.

And as a far as name-calling goes, you engage in it as much as anybody. The only thing you even pay attention to in anybody's post is the name-calling. You completely ignore anything you don't agree with, then lie and distort what they say to make yourself look good.

Keep polishing your Stalinist halo.

Love,

B

Posted by: B on December 12, 2009 12:21 PM






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