Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

Dicks versus leftism

Back in my libertarian days I remember reading a piece (or was it an interview?) by David Friedman, about the future of freedom or something like that. He said that there are 2 mainstream wings of libertarians. There are those who think that what is needed to further freedom is a change in the culture, i.e. we need to persuade people into valuing freedom. And there are others who think that it is a legal problem, that what we need is more libertarian laws, a better designed constitution, etc. Then he said that both views were shortsighted because they fail to take into account the fact that statism may not be contingent, but a necessary by-product of states. That all bureaucracies, by their sole nature, will necessarily grow bigger and push for more statism. That the intrinsic structure of power will always push for more power. I was young and I thought this guy was a genius. What I failed to understand is how his conclusion didn’t make him stop being a libertarian. It certainly helped me grow out of it.

In a way this reminds me of a similar issue in the altright movement. We are the enemies of leftism, and at the present stage most of us writers and thinkers are mainly engaged in the analysis of the leftist hegemony. The Cathedral’s rule is so pervasive than rather than think “how do we get out?”, many of us are still mostly concerned with the “how did we get here?”. There are three mainstream etiologies of leftism circulating among us. Most famous, old, and simple is the Jewish Conspiracy theory, which is quite intuitive given that Jews have been always present in numbers in any revolutionary movement, from Austria, Russia, Germany, South Africa. Still a superficial analysis of history would tell you that we had leftists before Emancipation, and so some prefer to go further back and blame Calvinism and its utopian offshoots, foremost among them American Puritanism. The Reformation did break the old clerico-aristocratic order, and brought loony utopianism to the masses. Lastly then there are some race essentialists who channel Nietzsche and blame Christianity itself, for forcing its slave morality on the noble European stock. I’ll refrain from commenting about this, mostly because we have little data on the political theory of Valhalla. Still it is true that Christianity was the first religion to openly state the equality of all men. It brought the first Universal God, who superseded tribal deities.

Common among all these theories is the fault of Eurocentrism. Now, don’t get me wrong, Europe is cool, and it is the birthplace of most high political philosophy in the world. You could study only the history European political theory, ignoring all the rest, and you would know all that is worth knowing. But that doesn’t help us in the study of the origin and nature of leftism. Granted that modern leftism worldwide can be safely traced to European nations or groups, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist outside the West, nor that Western contamination is its only source. Western power is indeed the only source of political leftism, i.e. the use of state power to further leftist aims. But political leftism is not all there is, or it wouldn’t have flourished as it has. Leftism got his teeth because it is nourished by societal leftism, i.e. the equality cult. There is a Cathedral, and many small churches, but they were all born out of the faith of the people. People believed in equality before the United Nations Charter, before the  Déclaration des droits de l’homme, before the Declaration of Independence, before Luther, before the Bible itself. It’s not the Jews, it’s not the Christians. It’s not women, nor is it fags. It’s not Lenin, nor Marx, nor Wycliffe, nor Jesus. It’s Gauss. It’s people.

There is a long new post at Razib’s GNXP, which would be funny if it weren’t so sad. He’s talking about his 10 years of blogging, and of particular interest is the paragraph where he writes about comments policy. Razib is quite notorious in the blogosphere for he being a dick with commenters he doesn’t like. When somebody writes something, no matter how polite, that he doesn’t like, he’ll quickly threaten to ban people and attacks them with quite an angry tone. His tone is really very unpleasant, and many people have called him out about it. It’s not that he curses or calls people names, but many people regard him as being a dick.

He defends itself of the charge, by arguing, as I understand it, that his blog isn’t a damn college canteen, and that he doesn’t have time for stupid people with no expertise on the subject just trying to seem smart. In other words, his time is limited; he writes most posts with holes in the argument, expecting people with real expertise to correct him on the comments. Meaning that comments which are not by experts on the subject, and don’t provide him with any knowledge, aren’t tolerated in his blog. He makes his policy clear in this two sentences:

I think most of the readership of this blog should keep their opinions to themselves on any given post, because they don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute.

(…)

The reality is without aggressive supervision the arc of the human social universe seems to bend toward idiocy & group-think.

As far as blogs go, he has perhaps too high expectations of what blog comments are, but the fact is that very smart people do comment in his blog, and the average comments that smart yet un-expert people such as you and I write are a positive nuisance to him. My blog isn’t about science, so I can happily accommodate people nitpicking my logic or putting out some speculation of their own. But in real life I have experienced the same thing Razib is describing, and I too am very often regarded as an arrogant dick, who thinks he’s always right. Happens that I am. It is my cross that I happen to be knowledgeable at history and politics, topics that even average people enjoy talking about. I also strive to remind people to don’t talk about what they know nothing about. I also don’t curse or call people names, but they tell me there’s a certain look of contempt in my face. That created me many enemies at college, and also the odd gina tingle. I don’t enjoy being a dick, but sometimes you have to. Razib seems to feel the same way.

Now why should the writer of Gene Expression, which is the holy shrine of HBD in the blogosphere, where people should know what a damn Bell Curve is, need to explain himself about the objective fact that most people don’t know shit? I assume that he wrote this to explain further a point he made in a post earlier this week. There he writes in a less apologetic tone:

Over the 10 years of running my own blog(s) I’ve shifted in my own perspective and outlook. In the beginning I was rather laissez faire. But it became rather obvious that most people were either stupid or ignorant, or, they took advantage of the anonymity of the internet to waste other peoples’ time.

(…)

In real life most people are not worth deep engagement because they’re dull or incurious, or, our interests do not overlap (i.e., I’m incurious about their topics of passion). It’s no different on the internet. Sitemeter says thousands of people read the content on this weblog per day. The vast majority do not leave comments, obviously. I’m glad for that.

As you see he is saying the same thing: most people don’t know shit and I don’t have time to deal with their crap. You would think that people in GNXP of all places would be understanding, but there a commenter left a comment that stroke me as the most condensed example of popular leftism ever.

But surely blogging is about the conversation, a two way street? Otherwise it’s just a print model, talking at the audience. I know this is sometimes difficult or uncomfortable for bloggers, especially when people disagree.

While it’s true that there are many trolls out there, I fundamentally disagree with your assessment of humanity, e.g. people not being worth deep engagement. That strikes me as highly elitest. I think you might find that just about everyone has a story worth telling, experiences that are unique or that confirm profound commonality in what it means to be human – but you aren’t going to experience that if you assume everyone is dull or stupid, because believe me people will pick up on that very quickly in real life and make some assumptions about you in return.

It’s pure gold. It has every single point of leftist thought, all in one short comment. See how he 1. totally misunderstands the point: Razib likes the two-way street, he just doesn’t like every single pedestrian. Then he 2. signals his higher status in a totally uncalled value judgment: “I disagree”. Then the 3. all too telling spelling error, “elitest”. The 4.  long-winded profession of faith in the equality cult: “everyone has a story worth telling”. And finally the failsafe, the leftist theory of evil 5. if people sound stupid is because they are withdrawing their expertise because you are a bad person who looks down on them.

As I was saying I am a real life dick, who looks down on people and disregards their opinions. I have heard people make the same argument as this dude at least 1000 times, in all countries and languages. The idea that everyone has a story to tell, that all people are interesting and fun, and that is your hardened heart that doesn’t let you share their humanity. Damn they told me so many times that my brain pulled a Goebells and internalised the shit, and I took a long tour to the Third World, trying to share the unique stories of the natives. It was fun for a while but after 10 minutes you can mostly guess what a 80 IQ is going to say.

Then I stopped trying, got in the internet and read about HBD and all that. It seemed so obvious, it was just proof of all I had already known since childhood. But why did everyone lie then? Why did everyone insisted that all people had their own unique-snowflake take on things, that everyone’s opinion was valuable? Is it the Cathedral indoctrination? You might say so, but it sn’t true. It can’t be, I’ve been around, talking to Lefebvre followers, Neo-Nazis, people educated under Franco and Salazar, to Chinese pro and anti-Communist, Japanese or Koreans. All these people have not been into Cathedral dominated schools, don’t read Cathedral-ish newspapers nor participate in Cathedral churches or NGOs. Yet they would still appeal to HNU when called out on their bullshit.

Japan is perhaps one of the nations less contaminated by mainstream Leftism in the world. It’s not free of it, the UN is there, the US embassy is there, and some pockets of the bureaucracy are undistinguishable from what you would find in the West. But the school system is old-school (pun unintended), racism abounds and is widely tolerated, women’s careers are blocked by a rather thick concrete-reinforced glass ceiling.

Last year Satoshi Kanazawa was Watsoned for saying that black women are unattractive, which is as easy to prove as 5 minutes spent googling porn videos. Well I wondered what would have happened if instead of the LSE, Kanazawa was working for a Japanese university. The news got back home, and I read the reactions in the popular forum 2chan. I was expecting that Japanese netizens would rally to defend their countryman for saying the truth against the Ministry of Truth. Big error. 95% of the posts were lashing him for being a dick. “That’s bullshit”. “He’s a scientist?” “That’s a matter of personal preference”. “How could he say that? Every one has its own taste”. “People like him make us Japanese look bad abroad”. “What a dick”. “Send him to Africa so he learns to respect people”. “I like them black girls!!”.

Poor fella couldn’t find solace even in his native land. And take my word when I say that 90% of Japanese people would say that Black women are hideous, look like men, look barbaric, surely stink, or that black pussies are just revolting. They wouldn’t tap a black girl even if their lives depended on it. Hell they are so picky they don’t even tap most of their own womanfolk. But Kanazawa couldn’t be excused, he had committed the worst of crimes: he had denied equality.

Political leftism produces long-winded texts and majestic declarations on the equality of all humans, justifying in religious or pseudo-scientific terms. But popular leftism is not really about faith. In sociological terms, is the manifestation of the desire for equal status. As Aretae would tell you, authority is evil. He couldn’t really answer why, but I’ll tell you. Authority is evil because it means that some people have more status than you. And people HATE HATE HATE that. It’s violating Jante Law.

There are tons of reasons why people would like to enforce equal status, or at least drag down those who would have more status than themselves. By any definition of attractiveness, or intelligence, the unattractive and unintelligent will always be a majority. The problem is that society can’t function without a hierarchy, and that enforced collectivism disables natural eugenic instincts (hypergamy, greed). As I see it, society used to function because collectivism was only enforced ingroup, while the outgroup was out of the status hierarchy. Peasants in a village will all be very vigilant about respecting each other and don’t let any neighbour get uppity. But the lord of the land wasn’t in their group, he was part of the aristocracy group, where themselves had their own status rules where they contained each other.

Democratic society destroyed all classes inside society, so we are all one big group. And inside each group, status disparities aren’t easily allowed. People’s instincts fly when they feel slighted by someone in the ingroup, and you see how democratic politicians, no matter how privileged their upbringing, all try to be “one with the people” who respect and understand them. This dynamics apply to any human group, and you see priests ganging up against “arrogant bishops” or the peer-review mechanism who effectively controls any eccentric scientist.

Still as much as people like to pull down those with superior status to them, they like to tread on others to feel superior to them. In a homogeneous nation state, you aren’t allowed to be superior to your countrymen, so all that energy is channeled against other countries. Why did people enlist en masse during WW1? To teach a lesson to those uppity Germans. The move towards world government and the deconstruction of nation states has pulled the collectivist instinct to an ever bigger scale. Now the ingroup is the whole world. No one is better than anyone else. The proposition is insane to begin with, but it didn’t do much harm while the real world consequences of it was that you had to be polite to your immediate neighbours, or towards your fellow peers in your nation’s court. In that scale it does what it was designed to do, human’s evolved collectivism as a way of tightening the bonds of the tribe. For the purposes of war against other tribes. Societal cohesion only makes sense if there are enemies to use it against.

But what would social cohesion do in a global village? Who would people gang up against? In the absence of real enemies, the collectivist instinct only flares up to put down the superior. Whitey. The patriarchy. The arrogant. The dicks! The oldest instinct of humanity today is only used to put down the arrogant. The People against the dicks. If you include feminism it makes up for a good metaphor.

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25 responses to “Dicks versus leftism

  1. David Friedman July 7, 2012 at 18:19

    “What I failed to understand is how his conclusion didn’t make him stop being a libertarian. ”

    Glad you asked.

    Political outcomes in a democracy can be seen as the result of two control mechanisms, which I like to think of as analogous to the fine focus and the coarse focus on a microscope. The fine focus is interest group politics, the coarse focus is free information–what everybody knows, whether true or false. The coarse focus matters because government policies that exist to benefit a concentrated interest group at the expense of a dispersed interest group can’t be too obvious, or there will be serious political costs to the politicians who support them. Thus tariffs have to be justified with the false claim that they help the country, which is made easier by the fact that almost no voters understand the principle of comparative advantage, hence almost none of them realize that U.S. auto workers are being “protected” not from the competition of Japanese auto workers but from the competition of U.S. farmers–who produce the wheat that is exported in exchange for Japanese autos. There are almost certainly more efficient ways of subsidizing auto workers at the expense of everyone else, but they don’t get used because it would be obvious that that is what they are doing. The coarse focus depends on free information because of rational ignorance.

    It follows that one way of altering outcomes is to alter the mix of free information in the culture–by writing books and articles, giving speeches, teaching courses. Thus arguing for libertarian conclusions can result in a more libertarian society, even though good arguments are not guaranteed to lead to the ideal outcome.

    • spandrell July 7, 2012 at 18:41

      Wow, thanks for coming by.

      What’s your position on the possibility that most people aren’t cognitively prepared to understand libertarian economics? Especially when they are likely to be overwhelmed by the government promoted media flood of collectivist arguments.

      As I see it the mix of free information in the culture isn’t free Bernays and Goebbels. It’s hard to fool all people all the time, but it’s certainly not impossible given enough resources. 60 years after Human Action we are consistently getting worse.

      By the way do you have a link of the original source I was referring to? I remember the argument well but I forgot where I found it.

      • David Friedman July 7, 2012 at 23:03

        I don’t know what source you are referring to, although it sounds like something I might have said.

        It isn’t necessary for the arguments to convince most people, merely enough of the influential ones–academics, media figures, novelists–so that most people’s beliefs about what “everyone knows” change.

        • spandrell July 8, 2012 at 00:58

          Well I think you could say that libertarianism has grown somewhat more prevalent among influential types, but I don’t see it reflected in government policy. Besides things like free trade or immigration, which is not pushed out of support of freedom in abstract, but rather because it favors big interest groups.

          • Alrenous July 9, 2012 at 10:26

            Someone should list the words that have become corrupted according to what everyone knows. Words that have or had a clear dictionary definition, instances of which it is almost never applied to anymore.

            I’ve got four off the cuff. Fascism, capitalism, individualism, and free trade.

            Free trade apparently means e.g. the US forcing Canada to change its lumber laws to what the US prefers. This is an example of skillful political laundering. Of course it isn’t actually about free trade, but a not-uncommon level of gullibility is enough to be fooled, because this particular issue happens to have some effect on balances of trade.

            Thing is, even if Canadian lumber is subsidized, when Americans buy it, it means Canadian taxpayers are subsidizing things like American homebuilding. Why would USG object to letting Canadian taxpayers pay for its citizens houses? Well, if they’re getting lots of money from American timber companies and want more…. I’m sure there was some manoeuvring to make USG yet higher status compared to Canada as well.

        • asdf July 9, 2012 at 14:36

          Influential people are often influential precisely because they take the path of least resistance when it comes to influencing the masses. If the masses like X, they give them X, and thus become influential people.

          Take the Supreme Court, which is in the new lately. The Supreme Court is full of smart people, smart enough to know what they are doing. And yet Justice Roberts clearly did something he knows has no legal merit. Why? Because he was chosen by congress. And anyone chosen by congress is chosen because they aren’t going to rock the boat. And congress chooses people like that because that’s what gets them elected by the masses.

          The problem is still the masses.

  2. thrasymachus33308 July 7, 2012 at 20:22

    My hunch is that all this has to do with mass communication- once you have mass communication, you have to appeal to the masses. Democratization came about with the printing press. With the printing press came the translated Bible, and the priesthood of the believer. The Reformation was much more about authority than theology- the fine distinctions of Protestant vs. Catholic theology and Protestant vs. Protestant theology are lost on even most intelligent, educated, religious people. But who tells you what to do? That’s a much easier issue.

    Democratization did’t occur in the Orthodox world until much later, because this issue didn’t come up. China held on to a caste of scholars even longer, but I don’t know when printing and widespread literacy became common there.

    Democratization is initially good because it motivates the people to do more for the state. But the state has to pretend to care what they think, and provide good outcomes for them, and that is hard to manage. Maybe this is why mass revolutions tend to burn out quickly.

    • spandrell July 8, 2012 at 01:11

      I can very well tell the difference between Protestant and Catholic theology, I don’t think it’s that hard. But you are right that the Reformation was, on the ground, little more than a Peasant revolt against authority. They looted churches and monasteries for the fun of it. Revolutions are fun.

      It’s not that you have to appeal to the masses, is that you can. If you don’t, someone else will, and he will have an army while you don’t. So everyone appeals to the masses for support, pandering to them, promising status. That’s why limited suffrage always breaks down, there’s always a Gracchus playing the mob to get more power for themselves. Mass communication enables the same process to a much bigger scale.

      Once the technology reached Russia, they didn’t need a reformation, they soon had a Tolstoy, an anarchist movement, Tsars killed, etc. China is different because it never formed a nation, and the literary culture hang on to the obscure classic language until 1910, not unlike medieval Latin universities. Literacy went up and down but never beyond 10% probably.

  3. Razib Khan (@razibkhan) July 9, 2012 at 06:14

    just to be clear, i’m a much milder person in “real life” with my real friends. and i *have* made a few friends via the internet. smart intelligent people all. but, my site now gets thousands of visitors. they’re basically a natural resource, and i’m sifting it for gold. so i have to use industrial scale agents on occasion. what do you expect?

    and yes, i regularly get comments where people are angry at my “elitism.” that’s because i get a lot of new consistent traffic and that comes and goes.

  4. Alrenous July 9, 2012 at 10:13

    Must agree. Leftism is poisonous but large chunks of it are natural; things the leftists exploit for power rather than things they introduce for power.

    Tragically, the problem is self-inflicted.

    As least compared to the average, I have excellent judgment, excellent epistemology, and a habit of doing my due diligence. If you want something done right, you can do a lot worse than persuading me to take the responsibility.
    Does that make me higher status? I don’t think so. I think it just makes me handy to have around, like a clock or something.
    However, most would disagree. They’ll call me an arrogant dick, only proving that they do, in fact, think I’m better for having judgment and so forth.

    They want to have it both ways. Perhaps all three ways. They want these things to be respected but they don’t want anyone else to have more of them, and further they’re not willing to develop these capacities. They’ll fight tooth and nail to tear someone down but aren’t willing to so much as scuff a nail to lift themselves up.

    Indeed, come to think, perhaps this goes three levels deep. They don’t in fact respect judgment. They do want to tear others down, though, and perhaps that’s the fundamental value. Perhaps the part where they try to force the torn down to look up to them is just a bonus.

    “Everyone has a story to tell.”

    Not without some effort, they don’t. And I say this as one without a story most are interested in. If you think it’s important to have a story, maybe you might want to actually pursue one?

  5. asdf July 9, 2012 at 14:53

    In Japan they have two truths. A public truth and a private truth. People act based on the public truth in public, but on the private truth in private. Also, their elites understand the difference between the two, and they don’t let the false public truth completely overide the private actual truth in policy making (on more issues then here at least).

    Another thing about classic Japanese status structure is that they gave the peasents a lot of status. The class structure from highest to lowest went:
    Samurai
    Farmers/Peasents
    Artisans
    Merchants

    The Farmers has a much harder life then the other two, but were given more status in return. The merchants were so reviled other castes would only interact with them to do business, though many amassed fortunes and lived comfortably.

    Also, each caste had to live in a seperat section of any major city, so if you compared yourself to your neighbor they would all be of the same class.

    http://asianhistory.about.com/od/japan/p/ShogJapanClass.htm

    • spandrell July 9, 2012 at 17:09

      I know all that, I lived there. I speak the language.

      The point was that the internet forum is the place for private speech. PC doesn’t work there, it’s full of people who go there precisely to speak their minds, fed up with polite society.
      Yet they trashed Kanazawa. The vast majority actually said that sexual taste is 100% a matter of autonomous personal choice. It’s thad bad.

      I don’t think Edo society was that special. Merchants have been universally despised in all societies. They weren’t high status in medieval Europe either, and in China they were positively despised. Merchants make money from clueless peasants, are clannish, mobile and harder to tax. It’s natural that both the government and the people hate them.
      Peasants always had some status because they are necessary. They are only despised by urbanites, which are now the big majority, but until recently were not.

      • Candide III July 9, 2012 at 20:24

        2ch.net is certainly a place for private speech, but I doubt whether it’s very much representative and it’s definitely not uniform, some boards are occupied by would-be-Americans, some by Korea-haters etc.

        • spandrell July 9, 2012 at 23:35

          2ch has lots of boards, but the bulk of the population is in the Nyuusoku and VIP boards, and the most vocal people are what in Japan are considered rightists (netouyo). Those are the very conspicuous Korea haters.

          Precisely my point is that 2chan is not representative of society at large, it’s the rightist racist fringe. They’re our Japanese counterparts in many ways. But even they felt obliged to trash Kanazawa’s judgementalism. It was like Stormfront regulars defending feminism.

          • Candide III July 10, 2012 at 06:49

            Well, objectively speaking Kanazawa did make Japan look bad, even if what he said was true. Japan lost a bit of face because of what he said. I wonder whether that could account for at least part of the reaction.

  6. RS July 12, 2012 at 16:30

    > Does that make me higher status? I don’t think so. I think it just makes me handy to have around, like a clock or something.
    However, most would disagree. They’ll call me an arrogant dick, only proving that they do, in fact, think I’m better for having judgment and so forth.

    Oh come off it….. the best choose one thing in exchange for all, ever-flowing fame among mortals, but most men have sated themselves like cattle. Your existence is hopelessly superior, the median is fairly depressing. The 25th
    percentile is pretty damn shabby.

    However, the fraction of rather impressive people is fairly large, it seems like 15% of them are pretty striking. (Not because of their deluxe epistemic kung-fu, of course — few of them have anything like that.) They are as good as me, better, in a lot of ways.

  7. Pingback: Can You Handle It? | Handle's Haus

  8. n/a August 25, 2015 at 08:06

    spandrell,

    “Leftism got his teeth because it is nourished by societal leftism, i.e. the equality cult. There is a Cathedral, and many small churches, but they were all born out of the faith of the people. People believed in equality before the United Nations Charter, before the Déclaration des droits de l’homme, before the Declaration of Independence, before Luther, before the Bible itself. It’s not the Jews, it’s not the Christians. It’s not women, nor is it fags. It’s not Lenin, nor Marx, nor Wycliffe, nor Jesus. It’s Gauss. It’s people.”

    You seem to have been approaching involvement with non-moldbuggist reality here. But then I look through some of your later posts and it appears you got pulled back in.

    http://racehist.blogspot.com/2013/09/haidt-on-moral-foundations-22.html

    • spandrell August 25, 2015 at 08:20

      Hey, what brings you here?
      I like to think I’ve been doing a little but more than “approaching involvement”. But I know you’re not the charitable type.
      I don’t see how my latest posts have anything to do with Moldbug though.

      • n/a August 25, 2015 at 14:33

        I wasn’t talking about your latest posts, just later than this. I’d spent a few minutes looking back through your older posts, and in some cases (more recent than this) you seem to have forgotten your conclusions here and slid back to be taking moldbug’s version of history more seriously than is warranted.

        • spandrell August 25, 2015 at 15:08

          Later than this? That’s 70% of my blog. May you elaborate a little? What conclusions you like and which don’t? I take it you’re not that interested in Chinese history.

          • n/a August 26, 2015 at 08:42

            “What conclusions you like”

            Politics are ultimately a manifestation of human genes (in combination with environment; but relevant environmental factors don’t boil down to “influenced / not influenced by Puritans”).

            “and which don’t?”

            That modern leftism has anything much to do with New England Puritans, and moldbug’s entire “cladistic” conceptualization of leftism.

            “I take it you’re not that interested in Chinese history.”

            Not particularly, no.

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