Archives for category: Personal Strategies

This person makes some points that I have been making, but which, I am told, I should be grateful that somebody else put public.

Interestingly, I tried to put this video up on my Facebook political page (LocoFoco.US), but Facebook would not let me.

Let us see if Facebook will allow me to link to this page, protected, just a bit, by an alternative title. Consider this page a “frame.”

The point of the video is that wholesale anathematization is not exactly a recipe for convincing anyone to change his (or her) mind.

‪All my life the majority of smart, educated people have talked up the Left in such a way as to indicate that leftism is “cool.” I still hear it today.

Color me incredulous.img_5132

But I will admit that, long ago‬, this “Left Is Cool” mantra made a modicum of sense.

How?

The Right was moralistic and censorious, in the days of my childhood; the Left, less so, especially when engaging in the left’s sophomoric relativism — though leftists were, I do recall, prone to shouting and marching in “protests,” which they thought were cool but were, instead, cool’s opposite, hot. Right-wingers, on the other hand, paraded their offense-taking regarding sex, drugs, blasphemy and evolution while expressing outrage in moralistic high dudgeon, and always with an undercurrent of an itch to use government as censor, abrogating free speech rights as well as the freedom of the press.

Uncool, man; there is nothing “cool” about moralism and the suppression of free speech.

Now, this has been completely reversed. The Left is now utterly dominated by shrill, moralistic would-be censors, and the traditional leftist protest — all the shouting — has turned into mob-action shout-down brigades. Free speech as a political commitment has utterly evaporated left of center, with Yes But-ing everywhere:

We’re for free speech, yes . . . but hate speech isn’t free speech, and free speech isn’t freedom from the consequences of speech!

Not being complete morons, leftists elide the threat implicit in their idea of “legitimate” consequences (“you speak and we will get you fired, or worse”) and never acknowledge the sheer contemptuous hatred on their part when going off on each habitual iteration of a “hate speech” rap.

img_1711Why did the Left descend into moralism while the Right ascend to free speech advocacy?

Two words: cultural power.

Long ago the Left captured the commanding heights of the culture. And that, my friends, is power. And power, every schoolboy knows, corrupts.

Those who try to consolidate their power become censorious and moralistic. It is as natural as were their demands for freedom when they were out of power.

Similarly, the Right has been expelled from the key cultural positions. Out of power, right-wingers naturally swing to freedom.

It is the first law of political liberty: Out of power, people say they want freedom; in power, they try to secure more power, often in the cause of “security,” sometimes in the name of “justice” or “equality,” occasionally even taking “liberty” in vain . . . for those with power over others, liberty must run against the grain.

Now we see how “radicals” become “conservatives,” and conservatives radicalize. It depends on their relevant contexts, their situations. And the context that matters most? Power — propinquity to power; quantity of power; scope of power. The more you have, the less liberty means to you.

img_1174And why is that?

Because liberty is a sort of equilibrium of force. It is the condition where, by rule of law or custom, force is not initiated against others, each is free from initiated force. And coercive force is the most obvious form of power. When you lack it, the argument for liberty seems clear: let us share power equally. But when you possess it, giving it up to allow others to share? Well, that seems counter-intuitive at best.

We live in an interesting moment, because right now the Left is at apogee and is thus filled with the confidence that dominance provides.

Not radical any longer, leftists instead aim to conserve power (even if by overkill, pushing the envelope of their instinctive socialism). Thus they are now the conservatives. Further, their dominance being so well established, they have become hubristic. Add to this the recent multi-pronged attacks them, and no wonder they have become hysterical.

Pride goeth before a fall. Expect a legitimation cascade — an authority collapse —  soon. Or else tyranny. Or first the one, then the other.

twv

Americans have become unhinged. The Left, anyway. In their self-indulgent hatred of President Trump, they keep on floating bizarre satirical jabs at the man. Consider the Trump Chicken:

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It was placed upon the lawn near the White House:

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It took Twitter by storm, of course, and it is there that we learn that the man responsible had his reasons:

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“Too chicken?”

Ask Marty McFly how dangerous that can be.

Maybe because I’m so old, I remember the widespread mockery of George Herbert Walker Bush. Some folks did not like his style. The in-crowd mavens of corporatist rectitude called it “the Wimp Factor.” Well, that didn’t go well. Not long after, Bush I started flexing his muscles in distant lands.

Well, he sure showed them!

Do you folks aim to goad Trump into a nuclear war with North Korea? You say you think he’s emotionally unstable. And yes, he may very well be emotionally unstable; that is quite plausible.

But if you believe that is the case, yet go around perpetrating this kind of nonsense, that makes you worse than a fool.

It makes you, as the Bard said,* a Fucking Fool.

twv

 

* I know, I know: it was not Shakespeare who used the epithet, but Kingsley Amis.

This answer to the title question first appeared on Quora.

Because people are, for the most part, ill-educated and unthoughtful.

Is that aggressive enough? Sorry. Let me be more specific.

The idea that there are not diminishing returns to government, that kludge cannot be a problem for law, that hormesis does not apply — this sort of nincompoopery is actually promoted by politicians, who gain prestige by enacting laws and “standing out” . . . and gain reëlection funds from special interests for feeding into the legislative pile-on. (Big businesses and government employee unions really like kludge.)

Further, journalists and other media personnel play a game of hysteria-mongering and messianic politics, to make themselves feel more powerful, meaningful. So they continually feed the absurdity.

Finally, citizens fall for all this nonsense because they do not have many incentives for rational appraisal, seeing as they cannot directly effect change and thereby learn from mistakes. So they tend to rely upon dogma and virtue-signaling, instead.

Tribalism fuels this too, and everyone plays the fool. This is a bipartisan folly. There are several sectors of American society that are routinely betrayed by the parties to which they are most loyal. I’m thinking especially of African-Americans by the Democrats, and evangelical social conservatives by the Republicans.

These two groups find themselves trapped by partisanship, and thus can stand in for the nation as a whole. They routinely play the role of Chump. They are milked by their leaders, shamelessly.

Maybe we should laugh. Crying, whining, and voting don’t do any good, anyway.

twv

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N.B. John Stuart Mill, in his great and under-consulted Considerations on Representative Government, argued that “Instead of the function of governing, for which it is radically unfit, the proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government; to throw the light of publicity on its acts; to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which any one considers questionable; to censure them if found condemnable, and, if the men who compose the government abuse their trust, or fulfill it in a manner which conflicts with the deliberate sense of the nation, to expel them from office, and either expressly or virtually appoint their successors.” We might notice, here, that creating new laws is not the body’s most “proper office.” A representative body should never limit itself to creating new laws, and never pride itself chiefly on that task.


The current Trump Resistance strikes me as politically dangerous in ways we have not seen since at least the Sixties and early Seventies. Hatred and violence have escalated. The idea seems to be that, if Republicans contemplate withdrawing a few pennies for “the poor,” then those who oppose these cuts can feel justified in engaging in violence, because withholding benefits is, uh, itself violence.

Though anyone honest about the nature of such institutions — any thinker studiously attempting transactional clarity — can see that ceasing to give a benefit differs from inflicting a harm.

After the congressional baseball shooting event, I saw immediate blaming of the violence on . . . Republicans. No kidding. The would-be assassins was a Democrat, and he selected Republican legislators as targets, but it was the Republicans whom Democrats blamed. Even the usually not-an-airhead Juan Williams (Fox News contributor) attributed the start of all this to “the right’s” reaction to Bill Clinton. I guess it is always thus with feuds. Every provocation is taken as an occasion to escalate, and the source of the problem is always the enemy, never one’s own side.

Indeed, the logic of escalation rests on a simple idea: Force is never initiated. It is always retaliation. And thus excusable. Justified.

Examples of this abound. Multiple “parades” with threats of violence in Portland, Oregon, caught my attention because close by to me, just upriver. Both leftists’ and rightists’ weapons were confiscated by police, but public reports consistently called the confiscated makeshift weapons of the anti-left as designed to be offensive, with no mention of possible (and plausible) self-defense uses. (After all, the “anarchists” have been engaging in violence within the context of anti-Trump and anti-conservative speakers for several months now. Berkeley is a horrorshow, complete with violent attacks by BAMN and Antifa insurrectionists. Reasons for self-defense abound. The threats are in the open.)

My real worry? The very meme, “not my president,” serves as a repudiation of “the deal” that is a democratic republic. Protesting before the president-elect did anything was disreputable. Giving no time for the new president to prove his true stripes? A radical break from the past. The whole “pussy hat” parading was worse than silly, and the talk of violence by Madonna and other celebrities were examples of madness.

I could go on and on. But hey: maybe it is time for a splitting up of the federal republic. Maybe it is time for the blood to run in the streets. Every excuse made for BAMN, Antifa and Black Lives Matter is a declaration of rebellion, and perhaps I should make the most of it. Perhaps the United States is an atavism.

[Shudder.]

So, this is my challenge to the Not My President crowd. If you won’t accept a constitutional accession to office, why should I approve of or accept any of the policies that you no doubt espouse that I would find abhorrent? I cannot think of one. If the deal is off, the deal is off.

See why I worry? I may want less government, but I really do not want mob violence, social chaos, and a breakdown of civilization. I want a rule of law. The current lack of acceptance of the results of a democratic-republican election strikes me as inviting a civilizational breakdown.

Open rebellion is a dangerous path to a better state. It sets the path to anarchy, by which I mean: It is the way of Chaos.

Which is the usual excuse for tyranny.

twv

You know a person isn’t serious about opposing child labor if they keep up bringing sweat shops but never mention farm work.

Traditionally, had children not worked on family farms, many families would have starved. Personally, I worked on our family farm without recompense, growing up, and also worked on other farms for money. Before I came of age. I know that this was good for me, and everyone else knows this too.

img_0056My mother grew up in the Great Depression. She was one of the family breadwinners — as a child. Only an evil person would regard this as exploitation and wrong to the point that it should have been illegal.

A close friend of mine and I both spent time picking fruit in the summers. We earned a few bucks. This was good for us, even at ages nine, ten and eleven.

Now, in the state due south of where I live, such child labor is unlawful. Or so I’m told. I do know that illegal Mexicans pick most of those crops. Progress?

Harping on sweat shops and factory work by children makes moderns feel good about themselves. It is much like imagining themselves as great opponents of slavery — despite their lack of interest in slavery rampant, today, in the Islamic world.

Harping on sweat shops and factory work by children means never having to think about context, progress, wealth creation, or even what actual conditions in most of these situations were really like. I have never met a progressive who talks about this who has read one word of the current scholarly literature on the subject. They are merely repeating stuff pushed to them by brainless high school teachers and Marxist college professors.

Every time I mention that rates of child labor were plummeting prior to child labor being regulated and then prohibited, I get blank looks or eyebrows of incredulity.

Some day these uninformed ideologues may realize that they are merely ignorant buffoons parroting dogmas of little value.

By then, though, they will have supported dozens of insane regulations and deceitful politicians.

twv

EvergreenProtest

Power is the ability to get things done. If, in the course of fighting power you win, or your side wins, you then achieve power. If your objection to power is pure and simple, if you see all power/non-power relationships as “oppression,” then it follows that any attack upon power becomes oppressive at success. When you win, you have achieved something. You got something done. You have exerted power.

And, in politics, one achievement tends to lead to more achievement. In government, the point of “being in power” is to exert power. So the success at fighting oppression (so conceived) immediately transforms into oppression itself.

This is so obvious that one wonders how it never seems to cross the minds of the current batch of “social justice” activists now causing havoc on campuses and in the streets.

Either they would have to accept their revolutionary status as masters, as “the powerful,” whenever they get their way, or they would have to revise their theories of power, freedom, and oppression.

I recommend to them careful transactional analysis, not crude, class analysis with concepts derived from Karl Marx by way of the Frankfurt School and the Sorbonne.

twv

The reason people accept the institutions of the State in their lives also explains why they often demand horrific tyrannies. Once you give a special role for the State, it is hard not to identify that “special role” as tyranny.

The very core notion of the State looks like usurpation. Statism — including support for socialism, fascism, and the imperial presidency — is there in the kernel of accommodation to any and all political governance.

This is why democratic-republicanism is so unstable, and perhaps why hard-core Republicans and Democrats in America often enthusiastically yammer for outrageously criminal policies.

twv

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If you aim, in my direction, some cockamamie rap about “the myth of the gender binary,” be assured: I’m not interested. Your gender is none of my business. And keeping track of pseudo-science is not my avocation.

Indeed, I have yet to be convinced that there is much of anything in Gender Theory worth considering at length. I know the definition of “gender,” as a stand-in for “sex role.” More importantly, I know the open secret of the notion: even its adherents keep confusing “gender” with sex.

I am interested in sex. That’s biological. And I am interested in the roles that people make from their sex, and the norms they advance regarding sex and sexual behavior. But when I meet you, I can only guess what weight you give to “masculinity” and what weight you give to “femininity” and any other kind of sex-role “inity.” But I have little incentive to spend much time on the subject. I engage in a parsimony of attention. So I have no real interest in whatever cooked-up alt-pronoun you are pushing to honor your conception of “gender.”

There is indeed a sex binary. This is incontestable. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool of such proportions that I would not talk to that person if I could help it. I avoid crazy people. Besides, I am not a “science denier.” The biology is very clear.

As for “there is no gender binary,” my response is, at best: “Yeah, right, Goober.” Tautological truths about uninteresting fantasies are not my bag.

If you are a boy, and want to pretend to be a girl (or vice versa) that’s fine by me. But I am under no obligation to cater to your delusions or your frauds. I will call you what seems reasonable at the time, but not make much of it. If you make much of it, you can go screw yourself.

That is, unless you have gelded yourself.

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My cat, Bene: he is a neutered male.

Which brings up an interesting point: though we hear much of “gender reassignment surgery”* and “trans-” this and that, I haven’t heard of a rush to create eunuchs. But such operations were once widely performed on men, and are even now routinely performed on pets of either sex.

But we still call neutered males “he” and “him” and spayed females “she” and “her” out of convenience.

So, your pronoun trouble is yours and not mine.

It’s true, as a wordsmith by trade, I have indeed experimented with constructing a set of non-sex-specific pronouns and possessives, but it’s a Sisyphean task to get a new word shoved into a language. And it would be Orwellian to try to do such a thing through the State’s police power, as the collegiate social justice crowd is indeed trying to do in Canada and on some U.S. campuses.

Yes, when it comes to sexing humans, it remains what it always has been: a matter of cox and kunz. If you lack either the referred-to penis or vagina, or have both, then you are indeed a special case, and I will no doubt pity you. If you once had one, and now have the other, I’ll try to humor you, but I feel no obligation. And if you try to oblige me, I will take that as a threat upon my person and my liberty, and swear you are my enemy. And reach for a weapon or a lawyer.

And if you are merely pretending to have something between your legs that you don’t, or are “treating yourself” with the opposite sex’s hormones, I’ll likely avoid dealing with you, and if I cannot, your respect for me means that you must forgive my smirk.

But be assured, the only respect you are owed is the same as the respect I am owed; respect for our rights. And your rights to dress as you want, call yourself whatever you want, talk with whatever inflection you prefer, and generally behave in any peaceful manner are all the respect I feel I owe you. I may give you more than that, but you may not demand more.

Notice what I have not talked about: your interests in other people via-à-vis sexual desire and gratification. Unless we are friends, I have no interest at all in your sexual orientation(s), unless you are an attractive woman who finds me attractive in return.

All others may . . . Well, let us just say that it is none of my business.

And if you ask me for my gender, I will tell you my sex.

twv

* Of course, “gender-reassignment surgery” is a self-contradiction. Surgeries are biological procedures, manipulations of the body, and gender is supposed to be about socially constructed roles, so surgeons could have nothing to do with “gender.” Their purview is entirely limited to sex. This is just one of those terms that show the whole Gender Hooey to be just that, hooey.

 

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A friend of mine on Facebook, definitely not in my camp but a very intelligent person nonetheless (!), asked his friends for assistance:

Question: what are the advantages of characterizing the Trump administration as fascist?

I’m not asking here if this description is true. I’m wondering about its practical uses and benefits.

Many of the answers ignored my friend’s stricture about whether or not the description were true. I tried not to. But I still did not quite follow his guidelines either. For my answer characterized the utility of the word as extremely limited.

My response was as follows:

Using the term, especially when shouting down people who are engaged in peaceable assembly and normal free speech activities, makes you look insane. Against Trump it just seems gratuitous. We have reason to fear tyranny from him (as with his predecessors, if more so), but not all tyrants are fascists.

More importantly, it is worth remembering that, by calling Trump a fascist, you are insinuating that his supporters are fascists (fascism was a popular movement, if not quite populist). And since most of his followers are simply not fascist, their reaction is to dismiss you as an unhinged zealot.

Is that what you want? It certainly exacerbates the gulf between camps. When I argue against Trump with his supporters, I do not go there. But then, I am trying to convince them of something, not make myself feel good.

I’ve used the f-word, too. It makes me feel so righteous!

The full-war verbal arsenal we deploy when we fire the f-word yields quite a thrill. I know. And there are fascists in this world, and they deserve to be called by the name. So, sometimes use the word.

But when we have little evidence of fascism, and use it anyway, it does not really accomplish much but score brownie points with our tribe, while utterly alienating most people not in our tribe.

Those who use the word often, and especially indiscriminately, are not merely engaged in what we now call “virtue signaling.” They are engaged in open cultural warfare with those whom they disagree.

Unless your interlocutor whom you have dubbed “fascist” self-designates as such, you have used a word that he (or she) will likely regard as a fighting word, and you should expect full retaliation, of whatever kind that may take.

And at that point, dialogue enters a quite different realm. People are no longer arguing matters of fact and logic and perspective; no one “follows the argument wherever it leads” in such situations. Political philosophy becomes a distant dream of a forgotten time.

Now, in many situations, were I called a fascist, I would probably laugh in the name-caller’s face. The idea is ridiculous. And my opponent — enemy, really — can only be one of two things: a ridiculous boob, an idiot, a moron; or a liar, a fiend, a very knave.

So, of course, after being called a fascist, one really should be looking for and securing a weapon. For, though when you (dear reader) use the term you are mostly harmless, your opponent may be quite dangerous, and you have a right to defend yourself. Look around for pens, chairs, vases — anything to strike back at the person. Or hold up as shield.

People who throw around mad charges in high moral dudgeon should not be merely brushed off. They present a high probability of grave danger, and should be regarded as potential threats. The fact that the “anti-fascists” of antifa and BAMN are now engaging in open violence on the streets indicates how dangerous such people can be. Prepare yourself for total warfare at the personal level.

And accept the likelihood that a mass, citizen-participating civil war is in the offing, not beyond the horizon, like it used to seem, just a few years ago.

However, if you are a fascist, why should you mind being called one? Well, most people who lob the term around are in warfare mode, so even if the charge sticks, caveats, still.

But why would you be a fascist? Fascism is collectivist corporatism, and corporatism is what we have now. Fascism is just more of what we have now. Why would you want more?

Less, please. Less corporatism; less statism; fewer regulations; an end to group-based law and culture; more competition in politics; and calm down on the war lust, please.

And one way to do the latter might be to stop throwing the f-word about so easily.

twv