"Talks a good game about freedom when out of power, but once he’s in – bam! Everyone's enslaved in the human-flourishing mines."

Open Thread 82.25

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit, or the SSC Discord server.

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981 Responses to Open Thread 82.25

  1. Scott Alexander says:

    If anyone lives in Oregon, in or near the path of totality, and is willing to host me and some friends for the night before the eclipse, email me at scott[at]shireroth[dot]org. Happy to discuss paying in money, interesting conversation, buying you dinner, etc.

    • Well... says:

      Path of Totality sounds like the name of a video game, or a prog metal band. Could also be the title of a novel by Dean Koontz or some such author.

      Adding a prediction: within a year from now “path of totality” will become a way, in certain circles, to say something along the lines of “among others most likely to be affected”: “I had to reschedule the meeting because it was on a day that was in my vacation’s path of totality.”
      Confidence of prediction: 10%.

      • Urstoff says:

        Well it is a Korn album…

        • Well... says:

          OK, I read the Wikipedia article on that album. Seems about the right level of subtlety and sophistication for Korn: “We got, like, all these dudes together in the studio and it was, like, a once-in a lifetime thing man, so, like, yeah, it’s like that thing with an eclipse, which did you know I just learned it’s a shadow that passes in front of the whole planet?? Well, everything has to line up just right, so it’s like us trying to record an album and fit into Skrillex’s schedule.”

      • Well... says:

        Lemme adjust that prediction: within a year people in certain quasi-nerdy circles will be using “path of totality” to refer to things totally unrelated to astronomy, particularly abstract things.

    • Calion says:

      I live in the best spot in the world to view the eclipse—Carbondale, IL. Which doesn’t help you much.

    • Andrew Hunter says:

      For the record, you’re going to have a hell of a time getting there and back. (People are estimating 7hrs+ for what’s normally a 1.5 hour drive from Seattle, for instance.)

    • johan_larson says:

      You are very late to this game, asking that question now.

    • manga3dmann says:

      I live in Portland Oregon which will see 99% of the eclipse. If that is enough, I have some accommodations.

    • Aspiring Catgirl says:

      Sent you an email

  2. Paul Conroy says:

    Why do Socialists (both Nazis and Antifa) hate Free Speech so much?

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I think my answer was bunk, so am deleting it.

    • Well... says:

      Maybe people are able to accommodate only a limited amount of things that they think should be free. Socialists think all kinds of other stuff should be free (healthcare, education, child care, food, rent, etc.) so for them speech gets the short end of the stick.

    • James Miller says:

      Most people hate speech that conflicts with their sacred values.

    • Sluggish says:

      This isn’t a particularly useful way of phrasing this question.

      Having said that, to speculate a little:

      Charitably, the usual left-leaning argument is a combination of “mental harm is as real as physical harm, and it must be possible to restrict speech which causes mental harm without impacting the ability of ideas to circulate”, and “an unmoderated forum has the effect of marginalising quiet voices to the benefit of loud voices. It also allows for bullies to harass their way into a position of conversational dominance by making it too uncomfortable for those who disagree with them to speak. The majority of people who push for free speech are just using it as a way of justifying their own abuse of speech.”

      For ‘real’ leftists (ie actual communists), the answer is probably that we are or should be engaged in class warfare, and that societies which are at war always restrict speech and produce propaganda. I guess you could make the same argument from the Nazi side of things, but substitute in “race war”?

    • Atlas says:

      Do present day white nationalists really hate free speech as much as present day Marxists? I’ve heard of very few cases of Nazis (or “Nazis” as the case may be) calling for the censorship of speech they find objectionable. All the moderate to far-right figures I can think of—Jordan Peterson, Stefan Molyneux, Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor, Vox Day, Andrew Anglin, etc.—frequently signal support for free speech. Though I think that in both cases there’s probably a lot of opportunism—the same Communists today who sneer at the totally dumb of idea of freeze peach would probably suddenly start defending free speech as a sacred, holy value if a fascist government came into power and censored their preferred speech. Likewise, I suspect that most white nationalists would suddenly forget their previous commitments to freedom of speech if they obtained the power to be the censors rather than the censored.

      I think it comes down to what you value. Liberals (both left-liberals and libertarians) think that personal freedom is the most important value, so they think freedom of speech is important. Leftists think that destroying hierarchy and a “two legs bad, four legs good” memeplex (where white males are two legs and non-whites/women/non-heterosexuals etc. are four legs) are the highest values, so if freedom of speech seemingly conflicts with those they reject it. Rightists think that building hierarchies based on power/ability and a “two legs bad, four legs good” memeplex (where non-whites/women/non-heterosexuals are two legs
      and white men are four legs) are the highest values, so, while again I don’t see much evidence of this happening right now, if they did think that freedom of speech conflicted with those values they would reject freedom of speech.

      Edit: Also, I think that because liberals value personal freedom, they like achieving other goals through free expression, hence free discussion is a good thing. Whereas I think that far left/rightists are indifferent to trampling on the freedom of the hated two-legs (e.g. the bourgeoise) as a means to accomplish their other goals, because filthy two-legs don’t deserve freedom.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Presently they’re for free speech because they’re not in power. A lot of their propaganda seems to imply that once they’ve gotten rid of all the Jews and colored people, all the white people will just be one big happy family with no need to restrict speech or anything else (everyone will be too busy raising cute white babies), but I expect that’s nonsense and they’d be as restrictive as any authoritarian regime.

        • Atlas says:

          Yeah I agree:

          Likewise, I suspect that most white nationalists would suddenly forget their previous commitments to freedom of speech if they obtained the power to be the censors rather than the censored.

        • onyomi says:

          Yeah, I think the thing most people on both sides of the aisle fail to grasp is if your position is: “I’m in favor of free speech for all but the most odious ideological positions,” then you’re not in favor of free speech. Free speech exists to protect the right to express the most odious position. In the US today, “Nazi” (defined very broadly) is the most odious position, so if you’re in favor of free speech for everyone but Nazis, you’re not in favor of free speech.

          And by the same token, the Altright, and anyone else in danger of being called a Nazi currently, has a strong incentive right now to claim to be in favor of free speech because it means they get to talk, while not giving anyone else the right to talk who doesn’t already have it. So I agree with Nybbler and Atlas that we can’t trust they would remain in favor of free speech if they gained power.

          • Henrique says:

            You’re ignoring Karl Popper’s “Paradox of Tolerance”, that states:

            “Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

            So, no. Being in favor of Free Speech does not equal “being in favor of all speech”. It would be the same as an extreme form of pacifism in which you wouldn’t fight back or run when someone is trying to kill you.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Thank God the ACLU wasn’t that navel-gazing about Skokie.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I think Popper is a pretty cool guy (eh criticizes epistemology and doesn’t afraid of anything), but it seems to me like

            If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant

            and

            if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant

            are not so easily equated. The intolerant can’t talk the tolerant into not existing anymore.

          • Brad says:

            @Whatever Happened To Anonymous

            The intolerant can’t talk the tolerant into not existing anymore.

            The book that quote is from The Open Society and Its Enemies first published in 1945. It was written in New Zealand, which Popper left his native Austria for in 1937 fearing the rise of the Nazis in Germany given his Jewish ancestry.

            The Weimar Republic had a lot of problems. Had they taken a tougher line against the Nazis in terms of suppressing their speech, maybe it wouldn’t have done any good. But you should be able to see where Popper was coming from.

            In a way, Hitler and the Nazis did talk their way into a lot of those that tolerated them ceasing to exist.

          • The Nybbler says:

            “We will only allow the tolerant to speak” is not a Schelling point. We can “not tolerate intolerance” while still allowing Nazis to run around with swastika flags chanting “Blood and Soil”; there’s no paradox there. We can’t let them put people into gas chambers or run them over with cars, of course, but no one except the KKK suggests that’s OK.

            On the other hand, tolerating antifa beating up on anyone they deem intolerant, whether actual Nazis or not, IS a paradox.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Brad

            Historically, had Weimar laws about speech and so on been enforced, it would really have hurt the Nazis. They were always weak in Berlin, in large part because Berlin authorities enforced laws and policies against them to the letter of the law. Compare to Bavaria, where Hitler got away with a piddling prison sentence for an actual putsch attempt. In Weimar Germany people were more afraid of left-wing extremists than right – which made sense at the time; they didn’t have a crystal ball, and the USSR was pretty grisly in many ways – and that really affected how the two groups were treated. If you were a right-winger who attempted an insurrection, you got a cushy cell and a short sentence; if a left-winger, you’d get shot.

          • J Mann says:

            @Henrique

            I have two related concerns.

            1) One is that if we accept the general principle of “we (either the state or the mob – let me know if you prefer one and exclude the other) will stop the intolerant from speaking”, how do we identify the intolerant?

            – Are Palestinian rights organizations intolerant of Jews, or shall we accept their justification that they merely oppose zionism?

            – How about radical islam? Should we shut down any organization that permits radical islamic organizations to join their demonstrations? Attack them?

            – How do you feel about international socialism? TERFs? People opposed to interracial adoptions?

            2) A second related point is that it seems that the precautionary principle basically gets you to Ann Coulterism. The sedition laws, the blacklist, the internment camps – all of the stuff we grew up thinking was wrong.

            I guess if you have the ability to decide whether any particular TERF or campus speech code activist, or woman slapping a white guy for wearing dreadlocks or loser writing essays about how cool Che or Hitler was is the next, well, Che or Hitler, and if you’re confident that only you get to decide who is not to be tolerated, then you’re probably OK. But if we have to shut down someone, I personally plan to vote for the people I think are dangerous, and I think its SJWs, because I think their particular brand of crazy is more likely to spread, so their chance of containing the next Hitler, while still tiny, is still a lot bigger than American Nazis. How do we resolve that?

            3) I guess a third point is that our country has had a pretty good 200 years of espousing the right to let even the offensive speak, with some exceptions that we have historically viewed as mistakes. The intolerant have yet to destroy the tolerant. We survived Huey Long, Charles Coughlin (sp?). It’s true that if you could assassinate Hitler and Stalin, and probably Lenin and Mao and Che and Saddam and arguably John Maynard Kenyes and Nickleback, you would do some good, but how many people do you have to assassinate to get those guys?

          • Henrique says:

            @J Mann

            These are all good, and fair, questions. I am merely opposing the principle that “To be in favor of Free Speech means you must tolerate All speech”. If we establish that this isn’t true, I think we can start engaging with your questions.

            And I think the general philosophical issue you’re raising is: if “tolerance”, or “free speech” if you will, doesn’t mean “all encompassing tolerance”, that is: “if tolerance must be limited, how do we define the limits of tolerance?”

            And I don’t know. But I think we could find a general ethical principle that would work under our particular strain of democracy, while making sure to auto correct in the future. First we must frame the question correctly, and if we believe we have done that, then we can argue and try to find a solution (assuming we don’t find any other paradox on the way).

            My point being: if we assume that tolerance must be limited, than we have at least a chance to find the correct ethical principle. If we assume that tolerance must not be limited, then I believe we are completely lost.

            And anyway, I think we can agree with Popper’s point that to guarantee free speech, we must at least try to preserve the institutions that make free speech possible. Maybe we could start searching the answer from there (instead of trying to work our way up from very specific and politically-charged conundrums).

            Edit: “I think its SJWs, because I think their particular brand of crazy is more likely to spread, so their chance of containing the next Hitler, while still tiny, is still a lot bigger than American Nazis.”

            That argument doesn’t prove much. It’s like saying that flu is more dangerous than HIV because it’s “more likely to spread”. And what the hell is “the next Hitler” anyway.

          • The intolerant can’t talk the tolerant into not existing anymore.Report

            Assuming clear lines between speech and action.

          • Vegemeister says:

            @Henrique

            Popper is right, but you don’t have to use an expansive social justice definition of “(in)tolerance” to escape the paradox. It suffices to censor only advocacy for censorship. That is the maximum-free-speech fixed point.

          • onyomi says:

            @Henrique

            On the “arguments=soldiers” metaphor, the analogy to pacifism is not tolerating all kinds of speech, but failing to ever engage, rhetorically, with any arguments. As pacifism may often be a good strategy for keeping a nation safe, but there may come a time when one has to defend with violence, so ignoring bad arguments is usually a good strategy, but there comes a time when people have to work to refute them.

            The reason free speech has to mean tolerance of all kinds of speech is that one of the major features of a free speech norm is it allows a society to work through the most pressing issues of the day in a non-violent way. You have to allow the most “odious” ideas because they are often the ideas most threatening to the status quo.

            Inoffensive speech that doesn’t threaten anyone doesn’t need protecting, so one doesn’t get any free speech “credit” for allowing it, just as one doesn’t win any tolerance points for “tolerating” people and behavior that doesn’t bother you.

            Odious ideas with no currency in the society can, probably should, be ignored. Odious ideas gaining currency need to be refuted logically. Suppressing them violently doesn’t change anyone’s mind; it just pushes back the day of the violent revolution when the repressed idea boils over.

            Popper’s argument works just as well for Stalin to say “we have free speech in the USSR: you are free to say anything so long as you don’t argue against communism or in favor of capitalism; to do so could undermine the very system which guarantees our free speech.”

            We can see how absurd this is. In the USSR, free speech is, indeed, a danger to the status quo, as it always is. But sometimes the status quo is bad and needs to change. The question is, to what? If you allow free discussion of the ideas most threatening to the status quo the probability of arriving at a new, better synthesis is greater than if you simply crush those arguing against the status quo; they tend to go into hiding, regroup, and eventually lead an armed rebellion, quite possibly replacing the status quo with something even worse.

            There is no paradox: free speech is inherently destabilizing, but only because it acts as a peaceful alternative to the forces of violent destabilization. Free speech needs to be protected against violent threats from without and from within one’s own society.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            Of course the problem with the Paradox of Tolerance is that there’s a really big incentive to see whatever your political opponents do as censorship. Then of course you have no choice but to censor them.

            So Group A decides Group B is supporting censorship, so they censor it. If Group B doesn’t believe they’re supporting censorship (and may not be), now they’re being censored out of nowhere! Paradox of Tolerance says they should immediately start censoring Group A for their unprovoked censorship. This retroactively justifies Group A’s censorship of Group B, since Group B actually is promoting censorship (of Group A) now.

            After about 30 seconds, you’ve lost political free speech entirely, replaced by a norm of censorship that feels totally justified to all people participating. This seems less than ideal.

          • hlynkacg says:

            The Paradox of Tolerance is only a paradox because Popper is conflating two very different things.

            This came up recently in the SSC Subreddit and I think AlanCrowe had the best response…

            Words are the legs of language. If you have two words for two concepts you can walk through the discussion. If you only have one word for two concepts you are reduced to hopping and will not get far. “the paradox of tolerance” is a concrete instance of the abstract pattern of “hopping instead of walking”.

            One concept is tolerance as business deal. Is that the best metaphor? I’m talking about mutual tolerance, trading tolerance for tolerance, while business deals are usually more asymmetrical, treading goods for cash. Yet business deals can trade similar items. For example, trading 4 cubic feet of pine for 3 cubic feet of oak. An interest rate swap offers a financial example of trading similar “things”. tolerance as business deal is an adequate metaphor and I’m coining the word bustol to be the right leg of the discussion.

            The other concept is tolerance as charity. Tolerance is given without expecting anything back in return. Maybe that is not quite the right metaphor, because the paradox of tolerance concerns failing to demand reciprocation. But those who advocate tolerance of intolerance are not advocating an intolerance tax. The intolerant aren’t asked to pay in a different currency. So I’m coining the word chartol to be the left leg of the discussion.

            The core of the paradox of tolerance is the claim that bustol implies chartol. In more words, the claim is that those who believe in bustol must also believe in chartol. In a two-legged discussion this seems odd. It is the claim that some-one who believes in restaurants must also believe in soup kitchens.

        • John Schilling says:

          Actual Nazis haven’t held power anywhere since 1945, and won’t hold power anywhere ever again (p>0.95), so the point is mostly moot. When they did hold power, censorship was among their crimes but not one of the really noteworthy ones (particularly by the standards of nations waging total war) except for the bit about “degenerate art”. Also noteworthy, pushing their own propaganda to such a pervasive level that it hardly matters if the guy on the soapbox or publishing the indie newspaper hasn’t yet been silenced.

          Expanding it to conservatives generally, when they have been in power in the US they have I think been more tolerant of free speech in the narrow sense, but share the Nazi disdain for “degenerate art” (e.g. Piss Christ), and for expressive actions (e.g. flag-burning).

          Primary hypothesis: Free speech in the narrow sense (talking or writing about your dissident political views) by now a deeply-rooted traditional value in Western culture, and conservatives by nature can’t bring themselves to directly attack something perceived as a traditional sacred value. They need to be able to rationalize it as “not really speech” to feel comfortable censoring it.

          Backup hypothesis: Even when conservatives are in power, their power is weakest in places where the spoken and written word are prevalent (academia and journalism), so they default to the underdog’s appreciation for free speech in those venues.

        • Randy M says:

          Just wait and see what happens to free speech once the Grammar Nazis get into power. So much for descriptivism.

      • Atlas says:

        To expand on this, what was the last time you heard of a left-wing speaker subjected to the kind of farcically violent but violent nonetheless attempts at censorship that Charles Murray or Milo Yiannopoulous have faced? Or the kind of actual/attempted no-platforming that Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson and Heather MacDonald have faced? I guess the closest you can come to censorship of left-wing ideas is attempts to censor anti-Israel/Zionist speech and speakers like Linda Sarsour, but Zionism occupies a very complex position on the political spectrum and it’s kind of weird to say “hah! You Nazis oppose left-wing censorship of Holocaust denial, but what about right-wing censorship of criticism of the Israel lobby???”

        The reality—and this may be unfortunate, as per Scott’s arguments about choosing poster children for freedom of speech earlier—is that the people in modern American political discourse who run the most observable risk of material censorship are center-to-far right figures.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Yup, this is it. Take Sluggish’s bit about “This isn’t a particularly useful way of phrasing this question.” and paste it onto here and here’s your answer.

        Remember: Ideologies aren’t actually opposites of one another. As Taymon Beal put it, they see each other at an angle. Systems for classifying them based on one or two externally-defined axes are basically a mistake.

        In short, this is a general phenomenon. Grouping Nazis and Leftists together is a mistake — but it is something of a natural mistake to make if you’re a liberal, since if you care primarily about liberalism and its components, these groups will appear similar by those measures, for the simple reason that they care about other things; their distinction lies elsewhere. The Nazis would group us and the Leftists together; and the Leftists will even occasionally group us with the Nazis (because we believe in equal protection of the law even for Nazis and are therefore their “accomplices”).

      • Deiseach says:

        Rightists think that building hierarchies based on power/ability and a “two legs bad, four legs good” memeplex (where non-whites/women/non-heterosexuals are two legs
        and white men are four legs) are the highest values

        Is that what I think? Well thank you Atlas, for informing me that I actually believe that, as a woman, I am a “two legs” and “two legs bad”. I had no idea I wanted to oppress myself but plainly I do!

        And here was me thinking I believed in such nonsensical notions as justice, the common good, prudence, moderation, the rule of law, the duties and responsibilities of authority, citizenship, and the natural human rights. So glad we cleared all that up!

        Notice that, despite all the “we only oppose real Nazis” rhetoric, how easily that elides from “literal Nazis” to “rightists” in general, which means “anyone deemed conservative whether self-identifying as such or not”. Yes, it’s going to be so refreshing to live in the new liberal progressive Leftist regime (no no, you’re not one of those Leftists, you’re a proper liberal, are you not?) where we all have our own individual copies of the Little Red Book to help us make up our own minds all by our own selves!

        Your liberalism sounds awfully like Leftism to me.

        • BBA says:

          Not to speak for Atlas, but “rightism” and “everybody right of center” are not synonyms. More to the point, European “Christian democracy” and American conservatism are not the same thing at all, and most people here talking about conservatives don’t mean anyone like you or Angela Merkel. Please stop taking it so personally.

          • cassander says:

            I assure you, as american on the right, Deiseach gets it quite right. I’m at least as tired as she is of having people explain how racist, sexist, and heteronormative I am for not signing on to the latest left wing nonsense and see the slope as just as slippery.

          • Brad says:

            That’s rich coming from the guy that loves conflate everyone to the left of Mitt Romney with Stalin and Dworkin and Hitler(!).

            Charity begins at home.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            This may be charitable, but isn’t prudent for an American conservative. As we are constantly told, the Democrats are a center-right party, and all Republicans are rightist.

          • Brad says:

            There’s that omnipresent passive voice again. Maybe you should talk to whoever it is that is constantly telling you these things and tell him to quit following you around.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            You mean Blue Tribe political propaganda institutions and acolytes? They make up a non-trivial portion of the population, both IRL and online.

    • AnonYEmous says:

      if you can stop anyone from speaking against your ideology, you can convince people more easily that your way is correct. In fact, they may not even realise there are other ways.

      The best part is that you can stop the arguments before they even get started, so even if they make sense, too late: crimestop detected.

    • WashedOut says:

      Free Speech often results in some people feeling upset at the opinions they hear being espoused. Therefore sensitive people, or those whose identity is like a carefully curated, closely-guarded fragile art piece, are more likely to dislike Free Speech.

      I propose that Socialists, hard-left Greenies and Communists all have a lot of belief in the virtues of government and central control. This makes them less likely to be interested in the development of individual strength and liberty, which leaves them especially prone to “insults to the self” facilitated by free speech.

    • Are you saying that traditionalist religious conservatives, up to and including theocrats, love free speech?

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      Why do Socialists (both Nazis and Antifa) hate Free Speech so much?

      Comments like these are reinforcing my decision to retreat to the Discord.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Why do Socialists (both Nazis and Antifa) hate Free Speech so much?

      Everyone hates free speech, it’s what makes it so hard to mantain.

    • qwints says:

      The premise of the question is flawed as Nazis and many Antifa aren’t socialists (advocating social control of the means of production), but I think I understand the groups to which you’re referring. Atlas has it right – free speech is a liberal value, one that isn’t shared by Nazis or Antifa. It comes straight out of Mill, and is valuable primarily because of the value of individual freedom. Nazis and (many) antifa either don’t value individual freedom or value it less than things like an ordered society or social justice.

    • Well Armed Sheep says:

      If we we are talking about genuine Marxian socialism and genuine fascism, they both reject liberal individualism, and both have overriding values other than individual liberty and individual well-being. There is no positive value in letting an individual express a wrong view, either as a matter of individual rights (both ideologies reject the very notion) or as a matter of utility. Neither group believes in Millian “marketplace of ideas”-type adversarial approaches to collective decisionmaking. The only thing that matters is whether particular speech advances the relevant overarching cause.

      • ilikekittycat says:

        If we are talking about genuine Marxian socialism, Karl Marx hated the Prussian state censors and was a very strong proponent of free speech and a free press.

        “To fight freedom of the press, one must maintain the thesis of the permanent immaturity of the human race… If the immaturity of the human race is the mystical ground for opposing freedom of the press, then certainly censorship is a most reasonable means of hindering the human race from coming of age.”

    • Eric Rall says:

      Don’t classify them together as Socialists for this question. Classify them together as revolutionary movements. Free Speech is a Classical Liberal value, and we live in a society whose mainstream values and institutions are heavily influences by Classical Liberal traditions. A revolutionary movement, by its nature, encompasses a radical rejection of the status quo and a willingness to resort to violence and coercion to effect a change. In this light, it’s not surprising at all that revolutionaries in Classical Liberal societies reject Classical Liberal values.

      A principled application of Free Speech is also inconvenient for any movement that wants a radical shift in the Overton Window, but a cynical application of Free Speech can be tactically useful: a revolutionary movement can use Free Speech arguments defensively when under attack from the mainstream or a rival extreme, but can then reject Free Speech norms or propose exceptions (principled or unprincipled) to them in order to attack rival extremes.

    • apollocarmb says:

      They only hate white nationalist speech.

      • InferentialDistance says:

        No, they also hate science speech that contradicts their narratives. And liberal speech on individual rights and freedom when it creates obstacles to their agendas.

      • Zorgon says:

        By an astonishing alchemy that has been covered here around a million times or so, “white nationalist speech” becomes transmuted to “any speech which disagrees with their policy positions.”

        See also:

        “White supremacy”, used to mean “doesn’t slavishly accept every last derivative of critical race theory as gospel”

        “Misogynist”, used to mean “doesn’t slavishly accept every last derivative of intersectional feminism as gospel”

        and of course

        “Violence”, used to mean “literally anything that opposes the Ctrl-Left in any way.”

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      Nazi’s aren’t socialists, they are fascists. Antifa are anarchists. Why do smug self satisfied SSC posts fail to do basic research?

      • lvlln says:

        Nazi is short for National Socialist German Workers’ Party, generally shortened to National Socialism. They’re literally socialists.

        Now, they’re socialists in the worst-argument-in-the-world sense since they look nothing like the central example of socialists, but I think that’s pretty much common knowledge when it comes to labeling Nazis as socialists.

        • Brad says:

          Which makes it trolling rather than ignorance. And look how well it worked. One lonely sentence was all it took.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          Honestly the antifa part was worse. Saying nazis are socialists is just trolling. But antifa have no history of anything but anarchism.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Modern antifa, yes, but the original German AFA pre-Nazi rule was a largely communist organization – to some extent it was a replacement for the KPD streetfighters after that group was banned. The logo was originally two red flags rather than a red and a black flag.

        • Yosarian2 says:

          There were socialist elements in the original Nazi party, but Hitler drove those out long before the Nazi party got any actual power. By the time the Nazis were actually a force in govenrment, they were very strongly anti-socalist, in pretty much every way, including making the socialist party illegal in Germany.

          • cassander says:

            Lenin banned the mensheviks, does mean he wasn’t a socialist?

          • Protagoras says:

            Hitler’s government fits the description of socialism poorly because it suppressed wages, suppressed unions, and gave the owners of German industries greater authority over their workers and greater profits than they had had before the Nazis came to power. The Nazi regime did somewhat centralize power, but it does matter who got the power and what it was used for; it was essentially crony capitalism. If you want to argue that crony capitalism is not a variety of capitalism (as counterfeit currency is not a variety of currency) feel free, but it certainly isn’t a variety of socialism either.

          • cassander says:

            @Protagoras

            Hitler’s government fits the description of socialism poorly because it suppressed wages, suppressed unions, and gave the owners of German industries greater authority over their workers and greater profits than they had had before the Nazis came to power.

            replace owners with managers and exactly the same thing could be said of Stalin’s russia. Socialism doesn’t work, that german socialism also didn’t work isn’t proof it wasn’t socialism.

            it was essentially crony capitalism. If you want to argue that crony capitalism is not a variety of capitalism (as counterfeit currency is not a variety of currency) feel free, but it certainly isn’t a variety of socialism either.

            it was central direction of the economy complete with a four year plan it was surprisingly similar to what the russians were doing at the same time, though with slightly different goals and less overall suffering. And that is socialism, even if the industries weren’t formally nationalized, they no longer functioned as independent market actors.

          • rlms says:

            @cassander
            The owner/manager distinction is the whole point! Owners are capitalists, in the sense of having capital. You can’t have an anti-capitalist movement that deliberately gives them more power. The Nazis were no more qualitatively socialist than comparable war economies (such as the British or American ones), and I’m not even sure that there was much of a quantitative difference. If you want to say that they were all socialist (along with most modern developed nations), fine, but then the name National Socialists is still an accident.

          • cassander says:

            @rlms says:

            The owner/manager distinction is the whole point! Owners are capitalists, in the sense of having capital. You can’t have an anti-capitalist movement that deliberately gives them more power.

            you don’t “have capital” in any meaningful sense if you only get to use the capital how the government tells you to use it. ownership doesn’t matter nearly as much as control, and the german state definitely controlled capital. it did not make the capitalists more powerful. It took away their power and let them preserve the fiction of ownership.

            The Nazis were no more qualitatively socialist than comparable war economies (such as the British or American ones),

            they started doing it in peacetime, years before the war started, and had no intention of stopping after the war was done. this is a qualitative difference.

            then the name National Socialists is still an accident.

            It’s not an accident. it was deliberately chosen by them, in a highly competitive political environment to express their ideals. few things have been less accidental. They were the nationalist socialist german worker’s party. They basically called themselves socialists twice!

          • rlms says:

            @cassander
            “they started doing it in peacetime, years before the war started”
            What things are you talking about exactly?

            “had no intention of stopping after the war was done.”
            Given the scale of the Nazis’ imperialist plans, I don’t think you can speculate at all accurately about what they planned to do after the war. I don’t think they really had any more plans beyond “we will have lots of land and there won’t be any problems because they’re all the Jews’ fault”.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Both the Nazi and Soviet economies were opaque because most power was in the form of political connections. You can’t just count how much money someone has. The Soviets had equality of distribution of money, but money didn’t matter. The Nazi industrialists got to keep a lot of “profits,” but it didn’t matter much, either.

            But let’s look at something really concrete. The Soviets said that they were pro-union, while the Nazis said that they were anti-union. But was there any difference in how they actually treated unions?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Nazi post-war plans included killing and enslaving a lot of Slavs. Part of the point was making sure food went to Aryans.

          • cassander says:

            @rlms says:

            Given the scale of the Nazis’ imperialist plans, I don’t think you can speculate at all accurately about what they planned to do after the war. I don’t think they really had any more plans beyond “we will have lots of land and there won’t be any problems because they’re all the Jews’ fault”.

            I wouldn’t claim perfect knowledge, but the idea that they planned laissez faire capitalism flies in the face of everything they ever did or said. The nazis were not capitalists, had no belief in capitalism, and were, in fact, actively hostile to capitalism. It’s true that they cut some deals with the capitalists on the road to power, but they also cut deals with the strasserites and look how things turned out for them. the nazis were building up a totalitarian state with no tolerance for any sort of internal dissent or power outside the state, with a centrally planned economy. ALl that is anathema to capitalism.

          • rlms says:

            @cassander
            You can be hostile to capitalism without being socialist (see anarchism). If you want “socialist” to be a meaningful term, it must also be possible to be hostile to capitalism by wanting more than zero government involvement in the economy without being socialist.

            “the nazis were building up a totalitarian state with no tolerance for any sort of internal dissent or power outside the state, with a centrally planned economy.”
            The only relevant part here is “a centrally planned economy” which I dispute. Did the Nazis nationalise BMW and kill the capitalists who owned it? No, they supplied them with slave labour. Is that the kind of thing that happens in a pure ideal free market? No, but if you are using that fact to conclude that they were socialists, as far as I can see you have to reach the same conclusion about all Western countries in the present.

          • Mary says:

            “The Soviets had equality of distribution of money, but money didn’t matter. ”

            For instance, inflation was ghastly, and still more ghastly in that it wasn’t paid in money. The man distributing winter coats would get them to the secret police, to the teacher who had recommended his son for a special school, to the teacher who might recommend his daughter for a program, to the housing allotment officials who got him his nice place, etc.

            Your poor person couldn’t pay those even by scrimping.

          • cassander says:

            @rlms

            You can be hostile to capitalism without being socialist (see anarchism). If you want “socialist” to be a meaningful term, it must also be possible to be hostile to capitalism by wanting more than zero government involvement in the economy without being socialist.

            At the end of the day, decisions have to be made by someone. If there is some valuable resource, some entity can decide what to do with it internally, or some outside force can instruct them what do with it. There are no other possibilities, just gradations between the two extremes. To the extent you favor letting entities decide for themselves what to do with their stuff, you’re a capitalist. to the extent you want to tell them what to do with it, you’re a socialist. I am a fairly extreme capitalist. The Nazis, by contrast, were fairly extreme socialists, though not as extreme as the communists.

            The only relevant part here is “a centrally planned economy” which I dispute. Did the Nazis nationalise BMW and kill the capitalists who owned it? No, they supplied them with slave labour. Is that the kind of thing that happens in a pure ideal free market? No, but if you are using that fact to conclude that they were socialists, as far as I can see you have to reach the same conclusion about all Western countries in the present.

            That the nazis didn’t murder everyone who owns BMW is irrelevant. What matters, on the capitalist/socialist continuum is who got to decide what BMW made, Goering or the people who nominally owned BMW? The answer is Goering.

            Now is it true that in all societies, there is a government that, to a degree, commands production? Of course. but all that means is that there is no anarcho-topia. Modern industrial societies all have a good deal of socialism in them, but still far less than nazi germany did.

          • rlms says:

            @cassander
            You are using socialist in a non-standard way. Sure, the Nazis were socialist in the sense of being towards that end of the spectrum you describe, but that’s not what most people mean by “socialist”. Usually it is used to describe a particular cluster of ideologies that have similar characteristics and closely connected in a graph theoretical kind of way (socialists are people that socialists are friendly with). Relevantly, the Nazis definitely weren’t using in your sense.

            Separately, I don’t think your definition is consistent. Define “entity”. As written, I could argue that the USSR was capitalist, as the entity of the government did what it wanted without being influenced by external forces like what the general population wanted.

          • cassander says:

            @rlms says:

            You are using socialist in a non-standard way. Sure, the Nazis were socialist in the sense of being towards that end of the spectrum you describe, but that’s not what most people mean by “socialist”. Usually it is used to describe a particular cluster of ideologies that have similar characteristics and closely connected in a graph theoretical kind of way (socialists are people that socialists are friendly with). Relevantly, the Nazis definitely weren’t using in your sense.

            On the contrary, I am using socialism in the most traditional sense, centralized control of the means of production.

            Separately, I don’t think your definition is consistent. Define “entity”. As written, I could argue that the USSR was capitalist, as the entity of the government did what it wanted without being influenced by external forces like what the general population wanted.

            the soviet government asserted (and the assertion was not empty) that it owned the entire population of the USSR. There was nothing substantial outside the state within the USSR, only various subdivisions within it. Izhmash did not decide what sort of cars to make, then try to sell them to citizens that decided to buy them or not. Izhmash might suggest what it thought it should build, but it it was ultimately under the control of GOSPLAN, as was the distribution of the cars after they were built. Now, was every activity down to the last bolt planned? no, but that’s an even more absurd idea than the idea of utter anarchy. What matters is that it was far more controlled even than nazi germany, which itself was more controlled than western war economies and modern states.

          • skef says:

            If there is some valuable resource, some entity can decide what to do with it internally, or some outside force can instruct them what do with it. There are no other possibilities, just gradations between the two extremes. To the extent you favor letting entities decide for themselves what to do with their stuff, you’re a capitalist. to the extent you want to tell them what to do with it, you’re a socialist.

            I just want to check to make sure I’ve got this:

            If the paperclip maximizer first tricks us into signing the rights to all property over to it, it’s a capitalist. Otherwise it’s a socialist.

            Same with Galactus.

          • cassander says:

            @skeff

            >If the paperclip maximizer first tricks us into signing the rights to all property over to it, it’s a capitalist. Otherwise it’s a socialist.

            more like “if everyone individually agrees to work for the paperclip maximizer of their own free will, it’s capitalist. If he forces them all to work for him, or 51% of them vote yes to the question “should we all devote all our economic output to making paper clips?” it’s socialist.

          • Protagoras says:

            @cassander, Your definition is absurd, for the reasons rlms and skef have pointed out. Also, you seem to conflate central planning with socialism when you provide your alleged “most traditional sense” of socialism. If there is a “most traditional sense” of socialism, it would be about workers controlling the means of production. Which does not rule out anarchist socialists, as of course it should not (but your definition does). Your definition would also absurdly make some ancient societies socialist.

          • skef says:

            I’m relieved that the paperclip-only economy will still have widespread employment.

            if everyone individually agrees to work for the paperclip maximizer of their own free will, it’s capitalist.

            If we’ve been tricked into signing over all property, presumably we’ll “agree” to work for the maximizer in return for whatever gruel it gives us before the automation is complete.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            If there is a “most traditional sense” of socialism, it would be about workers controlling the means of production.

            In school, I was taught that this is communism, and socialism is government controlling the means of production. It seems to me like these definitions make sense, especially given that, without these two definitions, the words basically become interchangeable.

            So yeah, government control of the means of production is socialist. And even if you don’t think that’s precisely the right term, consider that government control of the means of production is a way to take away the means of production from (capitalists / owners / whatever). Given that this is the apparent goal of people in the socialist / communist sphere, this can’t be overlooked as a part of their ideology. Or…maybe it can, but you get my point.

          • cassander says:

            @Protagoras says:

            @cassander, Your definition is absurd, for the reasons rlms and skef have pointed out. Also, you seem to conflate central planning with socialism when you provide your alleged “most traditional sense” of socialism. If there is a “most traditional sense” of socialism, it would be about workers controlling the means of production.

            I’m not conflating things, those things are inseparable. Collective control of the means of production requires central planning. “The workers” cannot control the means of production without, you know, controlling them. If they don’t exercise that control collectively, then they haven’t abolished capitalism, just shifted around who owns what. You’re making a distinction without difference.

            Which does not rule out anarchist socialists, as of course it should not (but your definition does).

            anarchist socialism is a nonsensical notion. collective anarchy makes as little sense as a round square. I feel no obligation to fit pleasant delusions into my theories of how the world works.

            Your definition would also absurdly make some ancient societies socialist.

            some ancient societies were extremely socialist, in that small groups got together and planned out their economic activity collectively. This is not a new thought, it’s one with a venerable tradition in socialist writing. marx himself talks of primitive communism.

          • Protagoras says:

            “Primitive communism” refers to hunter-gatherer types, not to ancient societies, none of which were socialist (or capitalist).

          • Yosarian2 says:

            Oligarchy is where a very wealthy minority takes over the government and most of the functions of government , in a de facto way even if not in name. Fascism is where the government and the very wealthy work together directly to increase the power of both groups at the expense of the majority (often taking the form of mobalizing titans of industry for a war effort). Capitalim is a system where the wealthy and the government are essentially seperate and mostly independent centers of power. Communism is a system where the government takes all power and wealth from the wealthy class and puts it into the hands of the government.

            The four systems are all fundamentally different; saying that fascism is the same as communism seems just as wrong as when the socalists claim that capatilism is the same as oligarchy or fascism.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Yosarian, what is the difference between your definition of Oligarchy and Communism? Do they end up identical, the only difference is whether political power seized wealth or vice versa? Why should I care how we got there, rather than where we are? If William kills Harold and takes the throne, his government is just as much a monarchy as Harold’s.

          • cassander says:

            @Protagoras says:

            “Primitive communism” refers to hunter-gatherer types, not to ancient societies, none of which were socialist (or capitalist).

            marx’s conception of history was…..not particularly accurate. the line between hunter gatherer bands and settled agriculture was pretty fuzzy, and even for purely settled societies, villages were very often run quite collectively with decisions about when to plant, harvest, slaughter, etc. made communally.

            Fascism is where the government and the very wealthy work together directly to increase the power of both groups at the expense of the majority (often taking the form of mobalizing titans of industry for a war effort).

            This is a left wing cartoon definition of fascism. It’s not how fascists defined fascism, and it’s not how fascism ever worked in practice. Now, if you want to point out that some people got rich under fascists, fine, that’s true, but it’s equally true of communism, or any other political system. The powerful rarely go hungry in any society..

            Capitalim is a system where the wealthy and the government are essentially seperate and mostly independent centers of power.

            Which they most definitely were not in nazi germany.

            Communism is a system where the government takes all power and wealth from the wealthy class and puts it into the hands of the government.

            which definitely did happen in nazi germany.

            The four systems are all fundamentally different; saying that fascism is the same as communism seems just as wrong as when the socalists claim that capatilism is the same as oligarchy or fascism.

            I’ve not said that that fascism is the same as communism. In fact, I’ve repeatedly said the opposite, that communism is more extreme than fascism was.

          • Protagoras says:

            @cassander, I concede that on pre-history, where Marx had almost nothing to say, what he did have to say was not particularly insightful. And honestly a lot of what he did get right about later economic history others had already gotten right before him (for example, Adam Smith). But he did still get a number of things about economic history right, including some things of which you at least appear blissfully ignorant.

          • cassander says:

            @Protagoras

            But he did still get a number of things about economic history right, including some things of which you at least appear blissfully ignorant.

            Marxist history is, at best, not flat out wrong for early modern europe if you squint at it right. It’s wrong everywhere else I’m even vaguely familiar with. Even within early modern europe, his arguments work only if you squeeze his interpretations into more accurate molds, talk about conflict that was as much intra-class as inter- e.g. centralizing monarchies vs. local dukes with bourgeois used by both more than bourgeois vs. lords. On more recent periods, well, the man wrote a 1000 page book called capital without using the word risk once.

          • Protagoras says:

            @cassander, Once again you make it clear that you don’t actually know his theory, as it is central to his theory that pre-capitalist conflicts were complicated.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            >Yosarian, what is the difference between your definition of Oligarchy and Communism? Do they end up identical, the only difference is whether political power seized wealth or vice versa?

            I think they end up tending to look very different.

            In an oligarchy, power comes from property. In the classic example of an oligarchy, either you’re a landowner, or you’re a peasant with no real property who works for the landowner and then turns around and buys everything back from that same landowner or other people of the landowner class, usually in a system designed so that the peasant can almost certainly never accumulate enough wealth to become a landowner himself. The government beyond the landowner is more or less nonexistent, so the landowner ends up creating how own courts, maybe his own police force/ militia/ quasi-military force, ect. One effect of this is that power tends to be spread over a class of thousands of landowners; there may be a central government in theory (say, a king in medieval Europe, or the Emperor in feudal Japan) but the central government only has such power as the landowners allow him to have, and relies on them to exercise his power for him. In a lot of ways, the rule of law such as it only extends within the property of a certain landowner, which might be a specific plantation or town. In modern times, there were “company towns” that came close to this for a brief period of time. The wealthy landowners within a single nation may even end up making war on each other, in a small-scale kind of way.

            Ideologically speaking, the landowner in theory usually has a certain noblesse oblige towards the peasants, but he recognizes that only in as much as he wants to, when he wants to, if he wants to. And usually the only way to achieve power in an oligarchy is to be born into the rich/noble class, or maybe to marry into it; there is sometimes a small middle class of merchants but they are generally looked down upon and usually have no real political power.

            A communist system is very different. It’s far more centralized, with one central government making all the economic and decisions for the whole country. Instead of one rich landowner with a thousands peasants working for him deciding what should be grown, all decisions are made by a central government far away. In a country like the USSR or Maoist China power was really in the hands of members of the communist party; the route to power usually involved joining the communist party, getting involved in government on some level, and working your way up through the bureaucracy through a combination of meritocracy, ability to stick to the party line, and personal connections.

            Ideologically, the communist party got its legitimacy and its support from the idea that in the long run it was going to make everyone’s lives better, especially the life of the “common worker”. In the name of creating utopia, it could sometimes get away with horrific acts that no oligarchy would be able to do without revolutions, but the flip side of that is that if in the longer term it fails to deliver economic prosperity and a steadily rising standard of living it will eventually lose legitimacy and collapse. The USSR met that fate; China slowly switched over to a more mixed/capitalistic system in order to avoid it.

            Really, the two types of governments look almost nothing alike, in terms of policy, or governance, or standard of living, or by really any other metric.

          • cassander says:

            @Yosarian2 says:

            In the classic example of an oligarchy, either you’re a landowner, or you’re a peasant with no real property who works for the landowner and then turns around and buys everything back from that same landowner or other people of the landowner class, usually in a system designed so that the peasant can almost certainly never accumulate enough wealth to become a landowner himself. The government beyond the landowner is more or less nonexistent, so the landowner ends up creating how own courts, maybe his own police force/ militia/ quasi-military force, ect.

            That, at best, is feudalism, not oligarchy. And even there, the power comes from force, not property owning.

            In modern times, there were “company towns” that came close to this for a brief period of time.

            Company towns as you describe them here are largely a myth. As I recall, Davidfriedman has written on this here.

            Ideologically speaking, the landowner in theory usually has a certain noblesse oblige towards the peasants, but he recognizes that only in as much as he wants to, when he wants to, if he wants to. And usually the only way to achieve power in an oligarchy is to be born into the rich/noble class, or maybe to marry into it; there is sometimes a small middle class of merchants but they are generally looked down upon and usually have no real political power.

            Funny That’s exactly how I’d describe how every communist country in history has functioned.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            My understanding of ‘feudalism’ is that it’s understood a little too vaguely and modern historians are beginning to shy away from it. What it suggests is a society arranged top down in a system of military or financial obligations, where each class would bequeath to the one below it land in exchange for revenues or leal service. In reality, in medieval Europe, while there were such feudal arrangements here and there, there were also many other arrangements; arrangements where land might be rented out, or simply gifted with no obligations attached to it, so that Europe was really more of a patchwork of various arrangements and that feudal arrangements didn’t even compose the majority of them. This is what I have read from more legit sounding historians in recent times.

            Fascism is also used very loosely. Robert O. Paxton attempts to give it a concise definition in Anatomy of Fascism and comes close to succeeding. Here is what he comes up with:

            A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

            @Cassander
            Don’t property rights also derive from force? Once you’ve obtained the property you can legalize its distribution, but obtaining it in the first place (and keeping it) is dependent on force.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Yosarian,
            If the important difference is level of centralization, maybe that should be the definition, rather than the consequence?

            And maybe the name should be feudalism rather than oligarchy. Your description sounds driven by technology and I wouldn’t have asked about that pair if I thought that’s what you meant.

            I should have just directly asked about communism and fascism. Can you describe the difference without abstractions like “government” and “ownership”? These are dangerous terms because we disagree about who constitutes the government and who owns what. I can’t tell the difference between the actually existing examples of the USSR and Nazi Germany. Sure, when they started, they killed different people, but so did Harold and William; I just don’t care. Sure, they had different ideologies. But did these have any practical consequences? It made the Soviets pretend not to have money, but that’s a pretty superficial difference. The only concrete suggestion made on this thread is that fascists suppressed the unions. But so did the USSR. (Maybe communist ideology allowed them to get away with atrocities, but so did Nazi ideology.)

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Red Foliot,
            Brown says that there are two definitions of feudalism. One is about the fief and if it turns out that the fief is complicated, maybe that isn’t a good definition. So we should use the other one: “the landowner ends up creating how own courts, maybe his own police force/ militia/ quasi-military force.” And that’s what we’re doing on this thread.

            [Part of Brown’s point is that the fief is a bad way to detect the other definition, because ceremony got ramped up as local power decayed.]

          • Yosarian2 says:

            >And maybe the name should be feudalism rather than oligarchy. Your description sounds driven by technology and I wouldn’t have asked about that pair if I thought that’s what you meant.

            I don’t think it’s necessarally driven by technology. I think it’s probably possible for a capitalist society to collapse into an oligarchy, if the central government grows weaker and the rich get more powerful. (I think that very nearly happened in Russia under Yeltsin, before Putin took over and re-centralized power in a pretty brutal way.) There are also some mid-20th century “banana republics” you could probably describe that way, although there it’s a little different since the rich live outside the country.

            I really do think that in practice you would always be able to distinguish between the two, both in terms of who holds power and how they use it.

            >I should have just directly asked about communism and fascism. Can you describe the difference without abstractions like “government” and “ownership”? These are dangerous terms because we disagree about who constitutes the government and who owns what. I can’t tell the difference between the actually existing examples of the USSR and Nazi Germany.

            In Nazi Germany, the govenrment took control of a portion of the economy to feed the war machine and there was a tight co-ordination between the industrialists and the govnerment in a lot of ways, but much of the rest of the system continued to function in a capitalist kind of way. Especially when you get down to the level of individual merchants and farmers and stuff, the difference is very clear; they continued much the way they always had, instead of the govnerment trying to form collectivized farms or people having to buy everything from govenrment stores. In the big industries, the government did have some influence in designing consumer goods, but only in a few high profile examples like the Volkswagen; in most ways, it was a lot more limited then in communist countries, and so long as the industrialists were contributing to the war effort they were given a lot more leeway in other areas then the USSR central planners ever gave anyone.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            Would it be fair to say the Nazi government pursued an unprincipled course in economic affairs, simply contriving an ad hoc system according to its military exigencies and the campaign promises and caprices of its leadership? It seems like it was a jumbled mess of state interventions here and there, often too clumsy to accomplish its goals, but still managing to cover everything with red tape. In that sense it was either a shitty quasi-capitalist system or a shitty quasi-socialist system, depending on your metric.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Thanks! I’m not sure industry being more or less centralized deserves a different name, but maybe small scale commerce does.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @The Red Foliot

            That would be a pretty decent description. The economy, and especially the war economy, of Nazi Germany was a real shambles.

          • cassander says:

            @foliot

            My understanding of ‘feudalism’ is that it’s understood a little too vaguely and modern historians are beginning to shy away from it. What it suggests is a society arranged top down in a system of military or financial obligations, where each class would bequeath to the one below it land in exchange for revenues or leal service. In reality, in medieval Europe, while there were such feudal arrangements here and there, there were also many other arrangements; arrangements where land might be rented out, or simply gifted with no obligations attached to it, so that Europe was really more of a patchwork of various arrangements and that feudal arrangements didn’t even compose the majority of them. This is what I have read from more legit sounding historians in recent times.

            this is accurate, though to my mind, the pendulum has swung a bit too far in the “no such thing as feudalism” direction.

            A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

            this definition is so vague as to be useless, and continues my lack of faith in academic analysis of fascism. left out entirely, for example, is any mention of what fascists actually want to achieve beyond violence.

            Don’t property rights also derive from force? Once you’ve obtained the property you can legalize its distribution, but obtaining it in the first place (and keeping it) is dependent on force.

            I didn’t use any violence to buy the computer I’m typing on.

            @yosarian

            In Nazi Germany, the govenrment took control of a portion of the economy to feed the war machine and there was a tight co-ordination between the industrialists and the govnerment in a lot of ways, but much of the rest of the system continued to function in a capitalist kind of way.

            No, it did not. resources were allocated by government, not bought on the market. production decisions were made by government, not markets. enormous numbers of people were drafted and told what to do by the government, not markets. And all of these things happened in vastly greater amounts than in western war economies.

            Especially when you get down to the level of individual merchants and farmers and stuff, the difference is very clear; they continued much the way they always had, instead of the govnerment trying to form collectivized farms or people having to buy everything from govenrment stores.

            By this logic, Lenin’s USSR was a capitalist state because the government didn’t try to nationalize grocery stores.

            In the big industries, the government did have some influence in designing consumer goods, but only in a few high profile examples like the Volkswagen;

            This is flat out false. government limits on export credits and assigning raw materials affected all aspects of the market.

            in most ways, it was a lot more limited then in communist countries,

            Again, no one denies this. but “less socialist than literal soviet communism” is not the same as “capitalist”

            and so long as the industrialists were contributing to the war effort they were given a lot more leeway in other areas then the USSR central planners ever gave anyone.

            Again, this is false. the raw material situation alone made this impossible.

          • Mary says:

            “enormous numbers of people were drafted and told what to do by the government, not markets.”

            Or outright enslaved from foreign countries. . . .

            Not, to be sure, helped by the way Nazis really believed the stab in the back theory, and so were at great pains to keep the civilians happy. Hinders your ability to get women into war work, for instance.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            @cassander: What you’re saying is true, but the problem is, if “the central govenrment controls and directs many vital resources to certain industries to support the war effort and therefore has a lot of control over the economy” is enough, then you’d have the call the US during WWII a socialist country as well. The degree to which industries and businesses across the US had access to a large number of vital resources considered key to the war effort (Iron, steel, silk, gasoline, even meat and sugar) was rationed and controlled by the US govnerment to a pretty extreme degree, in a way that largely made the US governments the deciders of which products could be produced and which products couldn’t. Famously, the Coca-Cola company managed to convince the govnerment that producing Coke was “necessary to US morale” during the war, so they were freely allowed to produce Coke even while everyone else had to deal with severe sugar rations. This happened to such an extent that you can find recipes today from the WWII era for cakes and other sweets made using Coke as a sweetener instead of sugar, because sugar was rationed and Coke was not.

            If your definition of “socialist” would also include the US during WWII, then I suspect your definition of “socialist” is more broad then how most would use the term.

          • cassander says:

            @Yosarian2 says:

            @cassander: What you’re saying is true, but the problem is, if “the central govenrment controls and directs many vital resources to certain industries to support the war effort and therefore has a lot of control over the economy” is enough, then you’d have the call the US during WWII a socialist country as well.

            I would certainly say the US was much more socialist during the war than before or after. But the US did not institute that level of control in peace time, or plan to keep them up after the war. the Nazis did both.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            Eh. It’s probably just as accurate to say that the Nazi party shifted Germany into a “militarized economy” as soon as they took over. Similar to what capitalist economies of the period did during wartime, but Hitler did that pretty much as soon as he took power, with the intent of building a military.

            He probably would not have been able to sustain that kind of economy during a period of extended peace; in fact, I’ve heard it argued that Hitler basically had to start WWII when he did or else the military spending of Germany would have ruined the country; when you build a military that large, you can’t sustain it without conquest.

        • ResonantPyre says:

          The Nazi use of the word socialism is like the ‘Democratic’ in the Democratic Republic of North Korea. They share far more in common with fascism than they do with socialism. Key components associated with socialism, things like an egalitarian ethos and class conflict against the bourgeoisie were not at all found under the National Socialist regime. On the contrary, his regime gained much of its support from the German bourgeoisie. Much of the resistance against him also came from the actual socialist parties in the country. At most, Hitler may have implemented a few policies, like public works, that could be considered congruous with a socialist plan.

          The Strasserites, an early movement within National Socialism that could be considered more socialist, criticized Hitler for abandoning the socialist aspect of National Socialism, and one of their leaders was killed after being seen as a threat.

          • cassander says:

            >The Nazi use of the word socialism is like the ‘Democratic’ in the Democratic Republic of North Korea. They share far more in common with fascism than they do with socialism.

            There is nothing democratic about north korea. there were many socialistic aspects to the third reich. this is a false equivalency.

            >things like an egalitarian ethos and class conflict against the bourgeoisie were not at all found under the National Socialist regime

            No, but things like economic central planning via 4 year plans, social leveling, and expanding the welfare state were there.

          • ResonantPyre says:

            You say, cassander:

            No, but things like economic central planning via 4 year plans, social leveling, and expanding the welfare state were there.

            Government control of the economy doesn’t make something socialist. It may be one of the associations you have with socialism, but the government control of the economy in itself has nothing to do with socialism and is a feature of many other political economic ideologies such as fascism. Same goes with the welfare state. The welfare state is a feature of most Western capitalist societies and its appearance in Nazi Germany says nothing about whether or not it is socialist. These two claims you make do not support your thesis in any way; does your definition differ from the standard historical one?

            In regards to social leveling, you linked to a book without summary or quotes to prove your point, which is a shitty thing to do because nobody is going to read a book to investigate the veracity of a random claim in an internet comment. But also, the description of that book goes against your argument, somewhat. One, it describes him as offering the “mirage of a classless society”, which implies he did not truly implement social leveling.

            The description goes on to say that “In fact, the gap between the ideology of the Reich and its actual character was enormous.”, something I will happily agree with. Certainly, the official ideology of National Socialism included some socialist concepts but its true character was not socialistic for the most part. This ties into my North Korean comparison–both ideologies contain promises to something else which they don’t really implement. I suppose if you’ve read the book now would be a good time to explain how the book supports your thesis.

            Also, social leveling would seem to imply class conflict with the bourgeois, if social classes were being truly leveled. Perhaps you could tell me what specific policies he socially leveled with?

          • cassander says:

            ResonantPyre says:

            Government control of the economy doesn’t make something socialist. It may be one of the associations you have with socialism, but the government control of the economy in itself has nothing to do with socialism and is a feature of many other political economic ideologies such as fascism

            government control of the means of production is the textbook definition of socialism. Like it or not, Fascism is a subset of socialist ideologies, particularly in its non-nazi forms.

            > does your definition differ from the standard historical one?

            no, but yours appears to.

            One, it describes him as offering the “mirage of a classless society”, which implies he did not truly implement social leveling.

            the USSR also offered the mirage of a classless society. failure to succeed does not mean you aren’t socialist.

            I suppose if you’ve read the book now would be a good time to explain how the book supports your thesis.

            The book talks extensively at the efforts that the Reich made to try to achieve social levelling among germans, to abolish old sources of privilege. it was an odd sort of leveling, but the efforts were real.

            Also, social leveling would seem to imply class conflict with the bourgeois, if social classes were being truly leveled. Perhaps you could tell me what specific policies he socially leveled with?

            The same as in many other social countries. The nazis attacked the privileges and status of the the old old aristocracy, tried to break up its monopoly in the military. They took control of the universities. they instituted expansive welfare spending, had a frankly bizarre obsession with small family farms. Hell they even designed and massively subsidized a car so that every german could drive. these sorts of egalitarian measures were the second most important aspect of nazi domestic policy. A distant second, granted, to war preparation, but still second. There was no conflict with the bourgeois because it was very much an effort to make everyone bourgeois, or at least on the same level.

            The nazis were socialists through and through. Racist, warmongering socialists, to be sure, but still socialists. Even a cursory look at their domestic agenda makes this inarguable.

          • They share far more in common with fascism than they do with socialism.

            Fascism was invented by Mussolini, who had been a prominent Italian socialist but broke with the movement over his support for Italian involvement in WWI.

          • ResonantPyre says:

            The wiki article on the four year plan you cited says

            Göring was put in charge of the Four Year Plan at its inception and given plenipotentiary powers. Göring had complete control over the economy, including the private sector.

            The dictionary definition of socialism that pops up when you look it up online says

            a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

            Göring and the administration that put him in power = the community as a whole. I’ve heard other definitions specifically say “the people” as a whole, meaning that the means of production were in the hands of the workers that used them.

            The first dictionary definition that pops up when you look Fascism up online says

            a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

            Holding to these two definitions, which you can dispute if you want, fascism would not be a subset of socialism. In fact, a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader with severe economic regimentation seems to go against a means of production owned by the community. Without a doubt, fascism as seen in Nazi Germany featured government control of the economy and all the examples you cite reinforce this. But mere control of the economy doesn’t mean socialism, unless you would like to contest the definitions I’ve used.

            In regards to social leveling, I didn’t know they worked against the old aristocracy, that’s interesting. Researching further, I found the wiki article on Völkisch equality which seems to be the primary concept behind this. It says

            This type of equality was not an equality of people as individuals but an equality of people as members of a master race, and thus individuals’ interests were subordinate to the collective interest of the Volksgemeinschaft.

            It says that this concept was the backing behind the Nazi Germany welfare state and equality of opportunity policies. Neither of those two things are socialist or have any socialist associations even. Furthermore, the equality that broke down the old aristocracy doesn’t seem to be the same equality most socialists talk about or even capitalists, since it is an equality allowing for individuals interests to be subordinated to the collective interest of a racial group. This is social leveling of an odd sort I’ll concede, but pretty different from the one prescribed in socialism that involves seizing the means of production.

          • ResonantPyre says:

            Responding to DavidFriedman, I still consider that Fascism is a different enough political ideology from Socialism that it should not be considered a ‘type’ of Socialism. So my statement that the National Socialist ideology is closer to Fascism than Socialism does make sense, unless you disagree. If you do disagree, I’d be curious to know why. I certainly acknowledge it bears some stuff in common, owing from some inspiration.

          • cassander says:

            ResonantPyre says:
            August 20, 2017 at 8:48 pm ~new~
            The wiki article on the four year plan you cited says

            Göring and the administration that put him in power = the community as a whole. I’ve heard other definitions specifically say “the people” as a whole, meaning that the means of production were in the hands of the workers that used them.

            This is a bullshit cop out and you know it. A minority of openly anarchistic socialists aside, socialists everywhere equate government with community. “government is what we call the things we decide to do together” and all that, and explicitly call for government control of things in order that they be managed collectively. Hell, the nazis were even more or less democratically elected.

            a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

            As I have said elsewhere in this thread, most definitions of fascism are utter crap that completely ignore the things fascists actually did, wrote, and strove for in favor of creating a right wing bogeyman. The example you gave, for example, applies at least as well to stalin’s russia as hitler’s germany, and if it can do that, it’s demonstrably useless.

            Holding to these two definitions, which you can dispute if you want, fascism would not be a subset of socialism.

            in other words “if I define fascism arbitrarily, it’s not socialism, by definition!”

            In fact, a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader with severe economic regimentation seems to go against a means of production owned by the community

            again, that description applies to literally every communist country. Will you claim that they weren’t socialist too?

            It says that this concept was the backing behind the Nazi Germany welfare state and equality of opportunity policies. Neither of those two things are socialist or have any socialist associations even.

            what? how can you say things like that with a straight face? the national as a whole, coming together equally, working for the good of all not the individual? Are you seriously going to say that socialists don’t speak in almost identical terms? Because I can go looking for quotes to the contrary if you want.

            Furthermore, the equality that broke down the old aristocracy doesn’t seem to be the same equality most socialists talk about or even capitalists, since it is an equality allowing for individuals interests to be subordinated to the collective interest of a racial group.

            Again, change racial to national and there is no left wing politician in the wrold what would disagree with that notion. I will grant you that Hitler (though by no means other fascists) conception of the nation was explicitly and exclusively racial, but that is frankly incidental to whether or not he was socialist.

            This is social leveling of an odd sort I’ll concede, but pretty different from the one prescribed in socialism that involves seizing the means of production.

            It is no different from policies pursued by socialists in every other country with an aristocracy.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            @ResonantPyre

            On the contrary, his regime gained much of its support from the German bourgeoisie.

            If you are talking about the donations the Nazis received from wealthy industrialists before the election, they didn’t actually amount to very much. The Nazi party derived most of its income from membership fees throughout the entirety of its pre-election existence. The infamous donations always used to indict capitalists was only a one time thing and it wasn’t as significant as it’s made out to be. Wealthy industrialists donated to most of the other major parties, too, and in two cases outmatched what was given to the Nazis.

            I agree that the economic status of fascist regimes was insignificant in light of their other characteristics. The quote given by Robert Paxton posted somewhere in this OT (by moi) focuses attention on the various social phenomena associated with fascism, and I think it is correct to do so. Whether the Nazis had a more capitalist or more socialist system seems to be highly irrelevant as to which of those systems is actually better… unless, that is, you are playing the karmic association game, explicated by our host, Scott, where you attempt to associate things you don’t like with other things you don’t like in order to give them bad karma. Then it really matters.

            It is the worst game on Earth, and also the most popular game on Earth.

          • ResonantPyre says:

            @The Red Foliot

            Perhaps I may have exaggerated industrialist support in the beginning, but the fact that there was any donations from wealthy industrialists shows that they didn’t expect him to go socialist on them, I think. Indeed, this makes sense considering Hitler used fervid anti communist rhetoric.

            You are right that this discussion might be devolving into a fruitless association game. To clarify, I neither think it should be associated with either socialism or capitalism. It featured aspects of both mixed up in a weird shitty way. I take it mostly as a warning against government authoritarianism. Fascism isn’t a really well defined concept which shows when you have a bunch of people calling Trump a fascist.

            I think it’s mostly a definition problem and in retrospect cassander is right that the dictionary definition I found for Fascism is kind of a shitty one. That was the most detailed one I found offhand, others were just like ‘autocratic regime’.

            @Cassander

            this is a bullshit cop out and you know it. A minority of openly anarchistic socialists aside, socialists everywhere equate government with community. “government is what we call the things we decide to do together” and all that, and explicitly call for government control of things in order that they be managed collectively. Hell, the nazis were even more or less democratically elected.

            In regards to that, most socialists equating government with community assume a government controlled by the workers more or less democratically — a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. A dictatorship in the sense that the non-proletariat are dis-empowered. The Soviet Union certainly devolved away from that, but it did attempt it some ways early on and tried to keep up the fiction of it.

            In regards to the other stuff you said, I’ll just say again that most of the policies like welfare or social leveling can exist in other systems just as well. You could have a capitalist system where you socially level via various redistributions and it’s still capitalist. I’ll agree with you that on the face if you look at some of the rhetoric and swap in other terms it looks like it could be socialist, but that’s it. There was *some* social leveling, but certainly you agree nothing on the level of Mao or Stalin early days redistribution where land owners feared for their lives against proletariat terror.

            So I guess my overall position is that you can consider National Socialism as practiced by Hitler to be socialist if you are fine throwing out a lot of Socialist stuff like class warfare against the bourgeoisie, still a lot of respect for private property, and adding in a lot of extreme racism and militarism. Hitler said

            The government will not protect the economic interests of the German people by the circuitous method of an economic bureaucracy to be organised by the state, but by the utmost furtherance of private initiative and by the recognition of the rights of property,”

            Obviously he didn’t keep to the utmost furtherance of private initiative or the other one entirely, but you can see that he doesn’t have the basic socialist goal to deconstruct these notions to a great extent. I agree with you that he took some ideas from socialism but I feel the important differences, like the ones I’ve just said, make it inaccurate to call it socialism; if you agree that there are the differences I’ve just said but still feel in he should be considered a socialist, then we’ll just have to disagree on where to draw the line between socialism and non-socialism. Once again, I agree you can point at individual policies here and there and say, that’s kind of associated with socialism–I just don’t think they coalesce into socialism.

            On a side-note, I realize that the whole arguing by looking up online definitions and then comparing them was a bad tactic–this is doubly true for broad political ideologies. I apologize.

          • cassander says:

            @The Red Foliot

            Perhaps I may have exaggerated industrialist support in the beginning, but the fact that there was any donations from wealthy industrialists shows that they didn’t expect him to go socialist on them, I think. Indeed, this makes sense considering Hitler used fervid anti communist rhetoric.

            They didn’t like him, they thought he was a better alternative than the communists and the left wing socialists. They also thought they could control him.

            In regards to that, most socialists equating government with community assume a government controlled by the workers more or less democratically — a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. A dictatorship in the sense that the non-proletariat are dis-empowered. The Soviet Union certainly devolved away from that, but it did attempt it some ways early on and tried to keep up the fiction of it

            .

            the nazi state was democratically elected.

            In regards to the other stuff you said, I’ll just say again that most of the policies like welfare or social leveling can exist in other systems just as well. You could have a capitalist system where you socially level via various redistribution and it’s still capitalist.

            It’s not a binary distinction. Regimes are not capitalist or non-capitalist, there’s a spectrum. the more you centralize economic decision making, the more socialist you are. I’ll grant you that there are some trickier propositions (e.g. which is more socialist, a country where 75% of economic decision making is made by independent local communes or one where 50% of decisions making is made at the national level) but in general, there’s a clear spectrum.

            I’ll agree with you that on the face if you look at some of the rhetoric and swap in other terms it looks like it could be socialist, but that’s it. There was *some* social leveling, but certainly you agree nothing on the level of Mao or Stalin early days redistribution where land owners feared for their lives against proletariat terror.

            Again you damn by faint praise. No, it wasn’t Mao, I grant that, but there was at least as much as, say, post-war labourite Britain.

            So I guess my overall position is that you can consider National Socialism as practiced by Hitler to be socialist if you are fine throwing out a lot of Socialist stuff like class warfare against the bourgeoisie, still a lot of respect for private property, and adding in a lot of extreme racism and militarism. Hitler said

            One, class warfare against the bourgeoisie is not a universal feature of socialism, only revolutionary socialism. Two, Hitler didn’t respect private property. Three, you don’t have to add in racism, all socialisms require a community to be socialist within, hitler just defend his community racially.

          • Mary says:

            In regards to that, most socialists equating government with community assume a government controlled by the workers more or less democratically — a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.

            And most democrats assume that democracies protect human rights. That does not mean countries ruled by majority voting that exploit, imprison, and massacre the minority are not democracies.

          • Civilis says:

            It’s not a binary distinction. Regimes are not capitalist or non-capitalist, there’s a spectrum. the more you centralize economic decision making, the more socialist you are. I’ll grant you that there are some trickier propositions (e.g. which is more socialist, a country where 75% of economic decision making is made by independent local communes or one where 50% of decisions making is made at the national level) but in general, there’s a clear spectrum.

            One of the problems in this discussion, and I admit to falling victim to this myself, is that both sides are playing motte-and-bailey games with definitions of words, using narrow or broad definitions when it suits their needs.

            A capitalist is either a supporter of capitalism or someone that owns capital. One can own capital and not be a supporter of the economic system narrowly defined as capitalism, and economic systems other than capitalism can allow someone to own capital.

    • Yosarian2 says:

      Calling Nazis “socalists” is almost entirely incorrect.

      As for antifa; they believe that we are in the midst of a total fascist takeover of the United States, and want to fight back any way they can. They think there should be “no platform for hate”, and they also believe that when you provide a platform for fascists to speak, you are inherently allowing them to silence minorities and other oppressed groups. In their worldview, we’re in a place now where giving fascists free speech inevitably takes free speech away from other groups. In a more general sense, I think they believe that trying to counter fascists with just words and trying to “take the high road” is inherently doomed to fail because fascists are not afraid to use force themselves; you see sarcastic comments about how liberals “try to bring a think-piece to a knife fight.”

      That’s my best understanding of their worldview anyway, based on reading a few of their writings.

    • Toby Bartels says:

      This is not a direct reply to this comment, but I’m saddened to see, on Slate Star Codex of all places, so many people talking past each other, asserting that theirs is the one true definition of a contentious term such as ‘socialist’, and consequently saying so little of substance. We need to review the rules of Rationalist Taboo.

      https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Rationalist_taboo

      • I think part of the problem is that “socialist” has at least two quite different meanings. The economic meaning is government ownership and control of the means of production. From that standpoint, if fascism is government control with private ownership, it makes some sense to view it as socialism disguised as capitalism. In terms of that definition, whether the government is democratic or a dictatorship, whether the distribution of consumption is egalitarian or highly unequal, is irrelevant to whether it is socialism.

        But “socialism” also has a much fuzzier meaning as an ideology, one which is about worker control, and equality, and lots of related things. Arguably the Soviet Union was socialist by the first definition, wasn’t by the second.

        Arguably, the two definitions are not merely different but incompatible, given the public choice problems of getting a government making decisions to make the right ones.

        • The Red Foliot says:

          A more basic problem is that people often have a vague idea of what their intentions are when they define ‘socialism’ a certain way. If the intent is to logically show that socialism is bad by demonstrating its similarities with national socialism, that only works if the definition captures similarities that are germane to what actually makes national socialism bad. If you’ve shown that socialism is similar to national socialism because they both have the government make decisions in economic matters, that isn’t relevant to the core of what makes national socialism bad, so the intention is foiled.

          If instead your intention is to smear the name of one thing by linguistically associating with another thing, a thing considered ‘bad’, then using a definition that encompasses the two things is a highly efficacious way of achieving that goal. The only thing is, one ought to be vocal about this intention, as it predicates its success on facile reasoning and is therefore widely considered inane.

          The thing to remember is that the definitions you use are dependent on what you are trying to show, and if you are trying to show something worthwhile, you must be aware, and honest about, what your intentions are. I’m not saying anyone in this thread is guilty of facile reasoning or deceit, but often when I see debates about whether the Nazis were left or right, or capitalist or socialist, it is just a back and forth game of building arbitrary associations between the Nazis and [thing you don’t like]. It is a difficult game to avoid, as humans seem fundamentally given to it, but by being precise in one’s reasoning and cognizant of one’s purpose one can strive to avoid it.

        • nimim.k.m. says:

          I think part of the problem is that “socialist” has at least two quite different meanings. The economic meaning is government ownership and control of the means of production.

          Erm, to avoid miscommunication, the term one really should use is “state socialism” for that. If you want to be more generous, your description also fits “[most of things called] socialism as actually practiced in the history”, which I believe is referred as Realsozialismus in German (I guess it would be “realized socialism” in English; I have not seen the English term very often, but the similar notion exist in continental European languages). And most of that traces its roots to Lenin.

          “Socialism” as vague word or umbrella concept is better left as it is: a vague term for ideologues inspired by Marx and committed to the analysis derived from the Capital and idea of “control of production by the workers”. If you insist that “socialism” means “government control” in any sense (economic or otherwise), you are going to have much confusion if you ever a meet the group of people who wrote 30k-word long wikipedia article called “libertarian socialism”.

          The reason the confusion exists is because the USSR was very committed to the idea that their official Leninist doctrine of socialism was the socialism. (Realsozialismus was East Germany’s political class’ own term for their version of socialism, so I’m content using that particular term.) But many other “socialist” theories have been espoused (e.g. I believe “mutualism” is often counted under socialism), and equating socialism = state ownership will cause confusion, because practically nobody who today calls their ideas “socialism” and isn’t hardcode oldschool Marxist-Leninist does not subscribe to that idea.

  3. bean says:

    Naval Gazing
    Survivability and Damage Control, Part 2
    Series Index
    A very long time ago, I did a column on survivability and damage control. I wasn’t entirely happy with the results, and have always planned to do a follow-on. I’ve finally gotten around to it.
    That time, I mostly discussed ways that ships could die. But not dying isn’t necessarily the only worry. If you get mission-killed, that’s nearly as good for the enemy in a given battle, even if your crew prefers it over an actual kill.
    There are lots of ways a ship could get mission-killed without actually being sunk. Probably the best example is the USS South Dakota at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Initially, power throughout most of the aft section of the ship was lost due to the shock of gunfire, when a relay tripped and caused two phases to be connected that shouldn’t have been. Fortunately, she wasn’t under fire, and the problem was corrected, except for two of the secondary turrets.
    Later, South Dakota found herself silhouetted against a burning destroyer, and power was lost again when damage to the fire-control and internal communications circuits tripped the master breaker before the fuses meant to isolate the damaged circuits blew. This took out all of the fire-control and communications equipment for several minutes, until the circuits were manually disconnected. However, she took 26 hits during this time, and the damage was extensive enough to force her to withdraw from the battle. Later on, the electrical distribution equipment was modified to make sure that the fuses blew first, and to protect against shock damage.

    German ships provide good examples of mission kills turning into actual kills. Bismarck took a hit from Prince of Wales at the Denmark Strait, which contaminated much of her fuel. A later aerial torpedo hit on her rudder doomed her. Graff Spee (admittedly not technically a battleship) suffered a shell hit which destroyed her fuel processing equipment, trapping her in Montevideo, and forcing her captain to scuttle her.

    Some potential mission kills can’t be protected against. The most prominent are the shafts and screws, which have to extend outside of the hull, and can totally disable a ship if damaged, even if said damage doesn’t cause massive flooding. The underwater forms of the US fast battleships were intended to give some protection to the inner shafts against torpedoes, although they probably wouldn’t have worked that well in practice.

    Another big threat is loss of power, either electrical or steam. All battleships I’m aware of generated primary power from steam, although it was normal to have secondary emergency diesel generators. Iowa has two Ship Service Turbogenerators of 1250 kW in each of the four engine rooms, along with a pair of 250 kW diesel generators. Obviously, a loss of steam would rob the ship of most electrical power (necessary for almost every facet of ship operation), steering, and also most pumping capability. Most of the heavy auxiliaries are steam-driven, and you’re likely to lose both the firemain pumps and the highest-capacity pumps for keeping your engineering spaces dry.

    Prince of Wales suffered a similar fate. She lost six of her eight 5.25″ turrets to the first Japanese torpedo hit, along with all power to the aft section of the ring main, and jammed steering gear. Also, both of her diesel generators were lost to the first torpedo hit, and while this did not contribute directly to her loss, it could have been an issue if all steam was likewise lost. Even then, Vanguard was designed with an increased number of steam-driven auxiliaries.

    The last major threat is that of small-caliber shells hitting the ship’s upperworks. South Dakota is again a good example of this, where even though the positions themselves remained intact, many of the wires necessary for the operation of fire control, radar, and communications equipment were cut. (I’m actually a bit confused by this, as on Iowa the director tubes are armored. I may need to do more digging for details.)

    Bismarck is an even more obvious case of this. Her forward director was knocked out by an 8″ shell from the cruiser Norfolk about 10 minutes into the battle, and her aft fire-control station followed about 15 minutes later. Over the course of the battle, several dozen hits were sustained, at least two dozen of them doing serious damage. The conning tower was wrecked, as were all of the primary and secondary guns, despite the armored belt rejecting all but a few hits on it. The engines remained operational throughout her last battle, despite the fact that the superstructure was almost totally destroyed.
    Also, I’ve set up an email for this purpose, battleshipbean at gmail. If anyone is interested in guest posting (expect irregular service while I’m moving) let me know.

    • bean says:

      To expand on my request for guest posts (I was up against the edit window), I’m interested in any readers who have stuff of naval interest, particularly in niches I can’t fill. I have lots of books on the technical and even tactical sides, but very little on the day-to-day life aboard a naval vessel. We have several people here who do, and I’d be interested in their stories. I usually aim for ~1000 words in my posts, but it’s certainly not a hard and fast rule.

      • Andrew Hunter says:

        Would sea shanties (age of sail, i know…) be on-topic enough?

        • AlphaGamma says:

          I would be interested to discuss these (I’ve picked up a reasonable amount of knowledge as an amateur sailor and folk musician).

          It’s not just age of sail, either- there is also the work of Cyril Tawney, who was a folksinger who served in the Royal Navy from 1946 to 1959 and composed shanties while doing so, though by this point they were purely for entertainment rather than work songs. They also tended towards the comic- Chicken on a Raft may be his best known- though Grey Funnel Line is much more melancholy.

        • bean says:

          It’s an effort post I’d be really interested in reading, but I probably wouldn’t include it under the Naval Gazing byline. It’s two degrees off of the main topic (wrong era and a tangential subject) and I’d prefer to limit to one degree (sea shanties of the steam age or naval warfare in the age of sail.)

          • Andrew Hunter says:

            I actually know at least two powered-shipping shanties! They’ve never been used as actual shanties but still…

          • bean says:

            I actually know at least two powered-shipping shanties! They’ve never been used as actual shanties but still…

            Hmm….
            I guess that counts, then. Why not?
            (I may or may not add it to the long-term index, but ti’s certainly better than nothing naval-related in an OT.)

          • Andrew Hunter says:

            I don’t have time to write the whole effort post right now, but:

            A shanty isn’t just a song sailor sing. A shanty is a work song, or to be even more precise, a song used to time physical effort. Listen to this song:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmZVQmxrwx0

            You can hear the two points in the chorus that you are supposed to pull like hell on the rope. Part of the song is about just keeping high energy, but it’s also about synchronization: when everyone pulls the rope at the same instant it’s much more effective. In any case, though, shanties are fundamentally about managing muscle-power on ships that use that. Not every shanty is about timing:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TA_E6ibPEM

            (This is one of my favorites.) It’s a capstan shanty, used for hauling anchor; it mattered less that everyone pulled simultaneously than that everyone pushed hard. But one way or another, all shanties that deserve the names were songs used to make muscle power more effective. So, what the hell is a steam-powered shanty?

            Answer: it’s a song, like this one:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr2PtkxGnUA

            That’s done in the shanty style. You can hear the work-points in the chorus here where one heaves. But no one on container ships actually heaves on sail lines! So this song is a fundamental anachronism. But great musically even so.

            Topics to expand on: the rhythmic differences in shanties corresponding to different sailing actions; forebitters (non-work songs, without the rhythmic constraints, sung by shantymen), more of the history of shanties in general, Stan Hugill (the last working shantyman)…

          • Matt M says:

            A shanty isn’t just a song sailor sing. A shanty is a work song, or to be even more precise, a song used to time physical effort.

            Yep. Military marching cadence operates on the same principal.

          • Deiseach says:

            A shanty is a work song, or to be even more precise, a song used to time physical effort

            Same with churning songs and songs for sowing seed. One I learned in school, with a sung version of it here (the “buail” is the part where you strike with the dash when churning with a dash churn, as in the accompanying photo).

    • John Schilling says:

      Also worth mentioning, though it overlaps with “small-caliber shells hitting the upperworks”, is setting the ship on fire. Steel doesn’t burn, but it’s pretty much impossible to build a warship without using things that do, and impractical to keep them all inside the armored citadel. And fires in a tightly-confined space like a ship are quite destructive and deadly. Electrical wiring is both a source and vulnerability to fire, smoke can incapacitate crew and machinery, and by World War II you had lots of antiaircraft weapons whose highly flammable ready-use ammunition really couldn’t be kept under armor.

      For obvious reasons, warships generally have first-rate firefighting equipment and dedicated firefighters aboard, but that only goes so far. Particularly if, as bean notes, you’ve also lost electrical or steam power to the pumps.

      Battleship examples: HMS Hood. Even if her magazine hadn’t exploded, there’s a good chance Hood would have been mission-killed by the fire in her boat deck and superstructure, started by an 8″ shell from the German cruiser Prinz Eugen. The fire hadn’t taken the ship out of the fight by 0600, and we don’t have much firsthand evidence of its effects, but distant observers reported it as severe. RN Giulio Cesare, at the Battle of Calabria, suffered a single hit at extreme range which started a fire near the stacks. Smoke was drawn into the engine rooms, shutting down half the ship’s boilers and reducing her speed to 18 knots. As the ship was then attempting to flee a superior enemy force, this would have been a mission-kill that turned into a hard kill if the British hadn’t delayed their own pursuit.

      And a related vulnerability: Torpedoes burn real good, and their warheads have the explosive power of a couple dozen armor-piercing shells from a battleship’s main gun. Early battleships and battlecruisers often carried torpedo armament, and some navies continued the practice into WWII. At first, these were sensibly located below the waterline and behind armor, but that space was cramped enough already and there was a perception that putting torpedo-sized apertures in the armor belt would unacceptably weaken the ship. So later ships, including the aforementioned HMS Hood, had the torpedo tubes located in relatively unprotected deck mounts. This greatly increases the vulnerability to fire; it probably wasn’t a factor for any battleships, but at least one Japanese cruiser was lost when a fire reached her deck-mounted torpedoes, and others (not just Japanese) fired their torpedoes early and to no effect just to be rid of the things.

      • bean says:

        I discussed fire last time out, although in fairness I should have discussed it here, too. This topic is hard to get right.
        I wasn’t aware of the situation with Giulio Cesare. Interesting. I really need to read more on the Italian ships, but I don’t have good books on them.
        I’m not quite with you on Hood’s deck fire. IIRC (and I’d want to check to be sure) it was something they thought they could control without huge problems.

        At first, these were sensibly located below the waterline and behind armor, but that space was cramped enough already and there was a perception that putting torpedo-sized apertures in the armor belt would unacceptably weaken the ship.

        Not quite. The torpedoes were fired through the ship’s side under the armor. This stopped for a couple of reasons. The torpedo spaces were large and vulnerable to flooding and firing a torpedo broadside is difficult to impossible at high speed.

        So later ships, including the aforementioned HMS Hood, had the torpedo tubes located in relatively unprotected deck mounts.

        Not quite. Hood’s torpedoes were fired through the side, and were under an armored shell. They were not in a destroyer-type deck mount. I don’t recall any battleships which used those, although they were reasonably common on cruisers.

        • John Schilling says:

          Good catch on the details of the underwater torpedo mounts, thanks.

          Wikipedia says that Hood’s upper torpedo-mount armor was deleted during construction to save weight, then reinstated in a ~1930 refit. Unclear what the thickness of the post-refit armor was, but I doubt it was much more than splinter protection.

          What really matters is the quality of the fire protection – direct hits on the torpedo mounts will likely be rare, but fires in the upper works are common and you really don’t want them to spread to the torpedoes.

          • bean says:

            Unclear what the thickness of the post-refit armor was, but I doubt it was much more than splinter protection.

            Don’t have sources to hand on actual thickness, but it was thick enough that they were pretty sure during the inquiry that the torpedoes wouldn’t be set off unless the shell detonated inside the mantlet. While that may technically be ‘splinter protection’, 15″ shells make some pretty big splinters. I’ll check R&R tonight, or see if I have other sources to hand.

          • bean says:

            Finally managed to track the answer down. (Much harder than expected. Seriously, I’m amazed. But Friedman, as always, came to the rescue.)
            The mantlet was 3″, but they’d tested and found a 15″ shell 4 ft clear of the mantlet didn’t set off the warhead. I’m not sure of the exact physical configuration, as the whole area is rather mysterious.
            3″ is a bit heavier than what I’d call normal splinter armor, which runs about 0.5″-2″.

  4. Calion says:

    In Against Murderism (which you blocked comments on, I think wisely), you leave out what I think is the best definition of racism, i.e. what most people really mean when they say or hear the word, whether they realize it or not: The belief that one race should have inferior rights to another. Now, mind you, very few people have anything quite that coherent in mind; indeed, it took me years to perfect my wording. Most people, I’m sure, add other things, such as your “motivation” definition, on top of it. But it would seem difficult to call someone who did not think another race should have inferior rights “racist,” regardless of their other beliefs, and difficult to not call someone who did believe that another race should have inferior rights “racist,” even if, say, they weren’t motivated by irrational hatred and didn’t believe that other races were naturally inferior. What’s more, this definition is coherent, and does not suffer from any of the problems you mentioned for the other definitions. If “racism” and “racist” mean anything useful and meaningful at all, I think that this would have to be it.

    (Other than that, I thought the article was amazing. It’s making the rounds on Facebook today.)

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I don’t think “inferior” is needed as a qualifier; ‘differing’ is better. Those who believe in racial separation in the form of physical nations would effectively have people limited to certain areas of the world. As these areas differ with respect to climate and material diversity and opportunity, you’re effectively assigning people to inferior conditions without otherwise limiting their rights.

      It can also be pointed out that sex ratios will differ based on population genetics, and possibly even a mix of nature and literal environment, leaving a greater number of those bereft of mate. Limiting a person’s opportunities with respect to the makeup of their children (by limiting who they can have children with) assigns them inferior choices. Allele diversity varies among populations, as does sheer population size (absolute theoretical number of mate choices). Some peoples would have far more incidences of cross-race Romeo and Juliet romances (in the original meaning of the term) than other peoples would. All of this ensures inferior conditions to them (on average) without explicit inferior rights.

      • Calion says:

        >I don’t think “inferior” is needed as a qualifier; ‘differing’ is better. Those who believe in racial separation in the form of physical nations would effectively have people limited to certain areas of the world. As these areas differ with respect to climate and material diversity and opportunity, you’re effectively assigning people to inferior conditions without otherwise limiting their rights.

        I’m not sure about this; it seems that a) “inferior” is clearer and less subject to confusion, in that it’s more obvious that racism is something that most people today would think is bad, while “differing” would cause people to have to stop for a second to consider, and b) I’m not 100% sure that I would object to a system of differing rights for different groups. I might; I can’t think of a counterexample, but I don’t have an innate philosophical problem with differing rights. What if some people want different rights than others, and those others don’t object?

        As for assigning people to places with inferior conditions, the very fact that you could force some people to settle somewhere would seem to be a deprivation of rights in itself. Ditto assigning mates.

    • Aponymouse says:

      > The belief that one race should have inferior rights to another

      That definition would make opinions like “members of X race are strictly inferior to members of Y race in almost every way that matters, but should still have the same rights because we’re a free country” be considered non-racist. I don’t think that reflects real-world usage of the word.

    • onyomi says:

      But it would seem difficult to call someone who did not think another race should have inferior rights “racist,” regardless of their other beliefs

      Lots of people don’t seem to have much trouble with it.

    • qwints says:

      That’s a useful and coherent definition, but I don’t agree that it’s what most people really mean. It doesn’t include many things that I think would be widely labeled racist – such as the use of slurs, jokes relying on racial stereotypes or expressing personal animus towards a racial group. All of these are compatible with believing in equal rights – for example, American college students frequently use all of them against rival schools without seeming to have any belief that those rival students should lose any rights (see also music fans of different genres or participants in different subcultures).

      • crh says:

        This was my first thought as well. As another example, I believe in equal rights for, say, neo-Nazis, but if someone felt towards black people the way I feel towards Nazis, I would feel extremely comfortable characterizing them as racist, despite generally agreeing that we should be careful throwing that label around.

  5. Nick says:

    How often do you guys use hedges in written and spoken speech? I’m thinking particular of ones used to express epistemic modality: “a speaker’s evaluation/judgment of, degree of confidence in, or belief of the knowledge upon which a proposition is based.” How carefully do you think about which one to use—e.g. “I think Alice is lying” vs. “I think Alice may be lying,” or “The world seems to be made up of particles” vs. “I’m pretty sure the world is made up of particles”? And are these hedges successful, or do people seem to ignore or overlook them?

    I ask because of a comment a friend made a while back that hedging is way overlooked. I’m inclined to agree: we seem to have a variety of ways to express degrees of evidentiality and certainty, and they rarely seem ambiguous to me either, though we are certainly susceptible to saying things more or less confidently than we should. And how confident someone is about something, or how certainly they want to say it, seems really important to me, surely it should have a huge impact on how you should respond—how confident your response should be, for one, and what claim precisely you’re even discussing.

    But they are overlooked. “I think Alice may be lying” may of course get elided to “I think Alice is probably lying” or “I think Alice is lying.” Is this justified or unjustified—especially given that people do commonly hedge more than they should? Perhaps my interlocutor perceives that I intend to use “I think Alice may be lying” to then establish “I think Alice is probably lying” and wants to cut me off or just jump to the chase. Or perhaps he’s reading too much into it. Are there times where modifying the modality of something someone said is justified?

    I don’t have any conclusions here; I’m interested in anything anyone has to say about this.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I think that generally it would be more important that a person be actually willing to reality check than to merely hedge a statement they have far less intent to reality check, or willingness to modify based on a reality check.

      I give cassander’s response to my own only minimally hedged speculation here, and my response to cassander’s correction here.

      Of course this point of view ignores the importance of hedging/not hedging on social dynamics. As such I have no comment on your second and third paragraphs, sorry, except to note that Studies Have Been Done (and those perceived as good leaders tend not to hedge, IIRC).

      Read the penultimate paragraph here (I have no idea how much personal information I’m disclosing in this link): https://books.google.com/books?id=AzotCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq=conversational+hedging+leadership&source=bl&ots=xrr4kA88rd&sig=ABT5Vl2woNDrKkpKy924QiYc99o&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjR9Mauwd3VAhUh5IMKHVJ8BFAQ6AEIOjAC#v=onepage&q=conversational%20hedg%20leadership&f=false

      Final addendum: I speculate that a non-hedged statement is more likely to get a strong rebuttal (if wrong) than a hedged statement. A non-hedged statement would thus be better for personal reality checking. So if you care about being right, don’t hedge!?

      • Nick says:

        This response is great because it largely goes against my preconceptions about hedging, in particular:

        A non-hedged statement would thus be better for personal reality checking. So if you care about being right, don’t hedge!?

        You make a good case for this. I’d be inclined to say instead that, since hedging is a way of qualifying one’s claim, it makes the claim more likely to be true. But a lot of hedged claims, read literally, are just trivial or even irrelevant. If I claim “I think Alice is lying” and that’s all I’m willing to defend, I’ve got a too easy job, because only I’m privy to my inner thoughts anyway. But of course the claim everyone’s interested in is “Alice is lying.” But is this problem a consequence of any hedging, or just careless hedging? I’m not sure.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          Thanks! Glad you found it interested. Unfortunately the first response is the only one I’m really qualified to make on this topic.

      • cassander says:

        I agree in principle. I’ll respect someone a lot more who is says something wrong but is willing to reconsider than someone who says something slightly less wrong but won’t shift their position when confronted with contrary evidence. That said, in practice, most people seem to prefer the opposite, and I have a bad habit of sounding a lot more certain than I am.

    • HFARationalist says:

      I personally tend to use hedges a lot so that my views can be more accurate.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      For what it’s worth, people who don’t explicitly hedge when they should kinda drive me up the wall. Claiming 95% certainty for something you are only 51% certain about is a lie. (Granted natural language doesn’t communicate this stuff so well, and it’s easy to innocently miscalibrate, and I’m guilty of this myself.)

    • Well... says:

      I think I use them a lot, or at least I try to when applicable. They make the epistemological state of what I’m saying more transparent, and also give me deniability if I’m later accused of asserting something I only said I thought was possible or likely.

    • James says:

      My natural inclination is to hedge much too much. If you do it too much you sound wimpy and can get on people’s nerves. “I feel that it appears possible that it may be the case that….”

      • onyomi says:

        I also tend to hedge more than is probably ideal, given American listeners’ expectations (yes, that is the sentence that naturally came out). In my mind I’m just being “careful,” but too much of it sounds wordy and lacking in confidence.

        Plus, everyone mentally tacks on “but I could be wrong” to everything everyone else says, so no need to do it yourself.

    • rahien.din says:

      I tend to hedge. I enjoy the precision that hedges can bring to arguments. I genuinely want to communicate epistemic humility and charity. I’m far from perfect though. My favorite hedge is the southern American utterance “I might could.” Used to drive my wife crazy. I’ve successfully convinced her that it means “It is possible that I would have the ability to do so.”

      On one hand, the primary difficulty with hedges is their connotations, a conflicting bidirectional mess of genuine precision and rhetorical slipperiness, epistemic humility and fearfulness. You might use a hedge in order to communicate charity, and I might interpret it as creating a rhetorical bastion to which you may retreat if I out-argue you. You might use a hedge for precision, and I might interpret it as being too chicken to just say what you believe. Etc.

      On the other hand, adding noise to a signal can sometimes increase classification accuracy. Maybe, by dint of their conflicting connotations, hedges are performing an analogous function? (Disclaimer : not a linguist.)

    • beleester says:

      I use them probably more than I should. Part of it is because the internet has taught me there’s no such thing as an absolute – any time you say “The world is like this” you can find a thousand anecdotes where the world isn’t like that even if you’re still right in the general case.

      I think they’re good practice online, where tempers are likely to flare, and thus “I don’t think that’s true” is a more useful phrase than “You’re lying” even when you know the other person is completely wrong.

      However, my fiance has pointed out that I also do this in real world conversations, and it can be sorta weird at times. “I’m pretty sure I’m free on Thursday.” “Is that a hedge, or…?” “No, I checked and my schedule’s clear. We’ll do it on Thursday.”

      • carvenvisage says:

        “I don’t think that’s true” is a more useful phrase than “You’re lying” even when you know the other person is completely wrong.

        maybe just phrasing but that’s also because if someone is merely wrong accusing them of lying is an unprovoked attack.

    • dodrian says:

      I’ve recently noticed that in written text I hedge quite a lot – this is something I’m working to cut down on.

      “I think that…” “I believe that…” etc., are usually self-evident. If I’m arguing in favor of a moral position or belief then “this is my opinion” type hedges are superfluous, only serving to interrupt the argument or flow. Plus they make my point seem less convincing!

      If I’ve put in a hedge because there’s something I’m speculating on then I go back and ask why I’m speculating. Is it something I can find data to support my argument? In that case the hedge should be replaced with the data. If there’s no data in support of it should I include it in my argument? Sometimes the answer is yes, such as when the topic or question specifically calls for speculation, but often the answer is no – if I can’t support it with evidence I shouldn’t be arguing it even if it feels right.

      • dodrian says:

        As a sort of aside – natural conversations are very different, and I hedge away. But there’s an added complexity here, for foreign speakers British English is notoriously tricky when hedging and conveying intensity.

        “That’s not bad…”, actually means “That’s good.”
        “That’s not bad…”, actually means “That’s sub-standard.”

        There are many more examples of these types of hedging/misleading phrases. Here are a few.

    • andrewflicker says:

      I use them often, but it bothers me when others misuse them in either direction- my wife often says something like “I think I might want X for dinner”, at which point my immediate mental response is “Great! Tell me when you actually want it, and I’ll start cooking.” Luckily, I catch myself 9 times out of 10, and respond with something like “Is there something you’d like more, or should I start cooking?”

      On the flip side, I often see coworkers say things like “That promotion will fail” or “Our competitor will respond in way X to our action Y”, when they really ought to be hedging with “probably” or “usually”. In many cases, it’s also not hedging that’s needed but the switch to “should” instead of “will” – as in, “Our competitor *should* do X in response to our Y”.

      • Randy M says:

        my wife often says something like “I think I might want X for dinner”, at which point my immediate mental response is “Great! Tell me when you actually want it, and I’ll start cooking.”

        Speaking from experience as a smart-ass, I bet she loves that. My wife has started verbalizing her commas, lest there be an unintentional , more amusing alternative interpretation of a string of syllables.

    • Randy M says:

      Edit: As was said above 4 or 5 times:
      I think I usually use them more than I should, especially in verbal communication. Confidence is an important attitude to project.

      If it isn’t understood that what I assert without evidence is “what I think may be” then hedging would probably be overlooked anyway, at least in casual conversation. Once someone responds with “Are you sure?” or “I disagree” or “wow, really?” one can add “I’m not positive, but it seems that way to me.”

    • Deiseach says:

      I’d be more inclined to say “I think Alice may be mistaken” rather than “I think Alice may be lying”; if I think someone is lying, I’m more likely to say “I think Alice is probably lying/Alice is lying”, but if I think Alice is saying something untrue/unlikely out of genuine good faith, I’ll go for the “mistaken” – maybe she really does think three-eyed lizard men live in the interior of the Hollow Earth.

      Hedging is tricky – as you point out, someone may dismiss your careful hedging and take it to mean “You said Alice is a liar”. My own view is that hedging is done either where someone is really unsure or on tentative ground when offering an opinion and they don’t think it’s a big enough deal to really get into it, or when they are trying to maintain civility and be charitable in their interpretations of another person’s statements (see the “mistaken” versus “lying” above).

    • Constantly. I worry it makes me seem as though I lack confidence or self-belief at work…

    • Iain says:

      I have a tendency to start every other sentence with “I think”. If I’m putting effort into a post, I will often go through and trim half of them out, just to tighten up my prose.

    • Rex says:

      I’ve tried to cut back on hedging as I’ve developed my writing over the years. At best, excessive hedging can produce a tedious style where the author seems to bend over backwards in order to make her claims as safe as possible (e.g. by needlessly prepending statements with “In my opinion …”). At worst, it approaches sophistry.

    • carvenvisage says:

      Saying something more definitely to get more rebuttals, yes that does work, but it’s burning the commons, if everyone does it we lose something and no one is better off.

      _

      I remember being advised never to say “I think” in essay writing, rather to just assert yourself, as well as to use the royal ‘we’ instead of I. (lol)

      If this is a common experience, then people are actively trained a at a young age to not only to be incapable of hedging, but to look down on it as unacademic or ignorant.

      I think that writing (/thinking) norm is pretty clearly optimised for things like journalism and sales, places where you want to come across as energetic and have a definite message. And away from how you should think if you want to make accurate judgements.

      It’s kind of amazing to me that the former is taught as the one true way rather than as a methodology. Strikes me as actively trying to break/stunt a kid’s mind if you teach them that.

      On a practical level, the situation is comparable to the one with giving bullshit answers in interviews. -There’s a thing ‘everyone knows you’re supposed to do’ that on its face makes no sense, but signalling a willingness to do and believe in stupid things is viewed as a plus, so it’s not just a question of what’s right in the abstract/in actuality, there’s also a strong ‘shibboleth’ element to deal with.

      _

      In in-person interactions, you can effectively hedge something without directly doing so, and sometimes it’s more effective:

      For example, if you assert something but make a point of appearing (roughly-) nominally-argumentative in a hopeful way, the message can come across “not only are you free to argue with me, I encourage you to do so”. I find things like this more effective at getting people to believe I’ll listen to counterarguments, than directly giving them that information. Probably partially because it’s easy and flattering to lie about whereas with tone etc you can get a more costly signal.

      _

      One of the (potential) benefits of hedging is that people can use it to gauge your trustworthiness. Consistently hedging uncertainty is hard, so it’s a costly signal. (not contradicting myself, doing it once is easy, consistently doing it is hard)

      But there’s a problem here in that a lot of people simply aren’t sensitive to that signal. Hedging is something people are not only irrationally but institutionally down on, so often the signal just doesn’t get picked up, or even gets reversed.

      _

      my personal conclusions:

      1. I automatically like anyone who hedges well or a lot. It implies either 1. not only intelligence/diligence/independence, or 2. humility, reticence, etc. Traits from both of which spectrums are good reasons to be generously inclined towards someone.

      2. there’s a clear anti-hedging element loose in the zeitgesit. Resulting natural biases might be: to underrate it’s objective utility/merit, to overrate hidebound people’s ability to tolerate something they were trained to dislike.

      3. When speaking in person, if you want to draw out answers it can be as important to signal with tone as to hedge your statements. If you say ‘I think such and such’ but in a fairly brusque and definite way ..’what do you think?’, people might listen to your tone instead of what you literally said, because they aren’t necessarily going to assume you’re a person of honor.

      _
      _

      edit: one other thing, I’ve observed that a lot of people dislike hedging because they see assertions as a vehicle for a kind of ‘struggle of wills’ social interaction which they aesthetically prefer/which they benefit from. Their idea of exchanging ideas involves an ideal/illusion of magical thinking where people struggle to form the consensus. Often seen as either inevitable or romntic or both.

      Not sure exactly how common this is but from this pov not aggressively asserting yourself like a toddler is either being weak or making them look bad.

      Which I suppose brings me onto one more other-thing. I think hedging is obviously great when talking to intelligent and well meaning people, and functional when dealing with well meaning people, but dealing with conversational graspers is a different paradigm.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        In the whole hedging thing one thing that I think most people would find very annoying is when someone else hedges your statement that you are certain about. (i.e. “That’s what you think.”)

  6. Aponymouse says:

    In reading the discussions of Damore’s memo (the ones focused on the scientific validity of his claims) I’ve seen this study (Escudero et al., 2013) coming up multiple times as evidence against people/things preference differences between sexes at an early age. Indeed, the abstract states “The infant results showed no sex-related preferences”.

    However, looking at the graphs in the study itself, the boys appear to prefer faces to objects slightly less then the girls in every face/object pair tested. My (very limited) understanding of statistics suggests that this can either be taken as strong evidence that there is, in fact, a preference difference between sexes (if it was statistically significant) or as weak evidence of the same (if it was not statistically significant).

    Would anyone with better understanding of statistics and scientific methodology than me care to explain how the authors came to the opposite conclusion? Is there some statistical paradox involved?

    • The Nybbler says:

      However, looking at the graphs in the study itself, the boys appear to prefer faces to objects slightly less then the girls in every face/object pair tested.

      The study, perhaps cleverly, did not ask that question. It only asked whether or not the infants preferred the one thing over the other. Since in all cases the sign of the preference (though not the magnitude) was the same between sexes, “no sex-related preference”.

      Studies whose conclusions don’t match their data are endemic in this field; this is at least a defensible case.

  7. ManyCookies says:

    Does Charlottesville fall under the off weekend thread restrictions?

    • Montfort says:

      There’s no official “culture-war free” warning in the post, and it’s not a .5 thread, so culture warring is probably allowed (though not endorsed by me). There used to be (and I think it was forgotten or discontinued, given the previous open thread), a three-day moratorium on politicizing tragedies, but that has expired in any event.

  8. ManyCookies says:

    This essay on nuclear warfare by a former analyst was a very interesting read. I came out of it oddly cheery considering the subject matter; I always thought “full nuclear exchange = end of humanity”, but his take is far more optimistic.

    • Nornagest says:

      I like the concordance between the URL and the subject matter.

    • bean says:

      Nuclear war! We haven’t done that in a while. Better sharpen my… Oh, wait. That’s Stuart’s essay, which is where I got my start in this stuff. Yes, it’s good information. We’ve discussed possible consequences of nuclear war quite often here.

      • ManyCookies says:

        I had a feeling I was late to the party, it is a 15 year old essay! Do you have any recommendations for further reading off the top of your head?

        A while back, there was a Naval Gazing commentator that asked about using a nuclear warhead against a carrier group. I now understand much of the disdain he got (his rudeness also did not help).

        • bean says:

          Not really. Unfortunately, this is an area where a lot of things don’t get written down where they’re easy to get to. I’ve built up my knowledge over several years of hanging around people who know these things.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          I must’ve missed that convo. When was the talk about using a nuke against a battlegroup?

          I imagine using a strategic nuke against a carrier group is a stupid waste of time, being difficult to target and the actual damage inflicted relatively small (battle groups being pretty spread out, I guess). I imagine Tsar Bomba would do major damage, but the targeting problem means Tsar Bomba Missile is probably not going to hit anything.

          • bean says:

            I must’ve missed that convo. When was the talk about using a nuke against a battlegroup?

            Partway down the discussion on Why the Carriers are not Doomed, Part 1.

            I imagine using a strategic nuke against a carrier group is a stupid waste of time, being difficult to target and the actual damage inflicted relatively small (battle groups being pretty spread out, I guess). I imagine Tsar Bomba would do major damage, but the targeting problem means Tsar Bomba Missile is probably not going to hit anything.

            Tsar Bomba was huge, and unless you’re using a Saturn V as an ICBM, it’s not something you can fit on a missile. And trying to drop it as a bomb on a carrier group is an even worse idea. Using a normal nuke as a missile warhead doesn’t help that much, because as you note, you can’t really get the whole group. You’d be able to avoid most of CIWS, and maybe the last volley of RAM and Sea Sparrow from your target. Back in the days when shooting down missiles was a lot less certain, it made some sense, as you could cut down the number you had to fire. These days, it’s not cost-effective, and the diplomatic repercussions are very serious.

    • Lirio says:

      Oh hey it’s Stuart’s essay!

      That one’s a classic, though i always thought his relative lack of knowledge about the early modern and medieval periods made him overly pessimistic in his conclusions. For example, he thinks people will go back to bows and arrows, but old fashioned powder and guns are so easy to manufacture relative the industrial tooling that will survive. Thus i seriously doubt they will go away. Musketry may come back sure, but bowmen are not likely beyond hunting. Though sword and lance armed cavalry might be a thing again. Also while he is correct that patriarchial norms will come roaring back, he is wrong as to both their extent and its specific forms. The closest reference point we have to a nuclear apocalypse is the Black Plague, which wiped out one third of the population in Europe. While it women’s rights did take a hit, Europe was in no danger of suddenly go full Islamic State on the subject, nor where they throwing old women out into the snow and locking childbearing women in their homes. Hell they didn’t even crack down on abortion and infanticide!

      Fact is that the real hard limit on population growth isn’t available wombs, it’s food supply and child mortality rates. Therefore societies suffering from a population crunch never actually want to maximize the number of available wombs, and if anything they have a tendency to restrict them via female infanticide. The most lopsided gender ratios are found in places suffering famine and breakdowns of social order. If i recall correctly the sex ratio for baptisms in Florence was something like 1.2 boys for every girl before the Black Plague, and more than 2 boys for every girl after it. This is clearly not a society trying to maximize its birth rate, and i’m inclined to believe they knew what they were doing. As for the elderly, technological regression means the finer points of social policy are going to be decided at the local level. This means that nobody is going to be voting on whether to get rid of useless old men and women; instead they’ll be aghast anyone would suggest they get rid of Auntie May and Old Man Ben.

      Also thinking about Stuart Slade reminds me of his forum. It used to be an interesting place to engage in high level intellectual discourse with right wing people. Unfortunately it slowly lost its collective mind over the course of the Obama administration, and glancing at it now it doesn’t seem like it’s gotten any better. It’s sad, but with so many left wing places now losing their collective minds over Trump, i guess that’s just the way things will be now. The madness is the new normal.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Lirio, thanks for the details. In particular, Heinleinian ideas about maximizing population growth just don’t make sense, generally speaking. He may have gotten fixated on a situation which allows for fairly simple rules and bombast, but which only applies very rarely– maybe for pioneers into good agricultural land.

        How far can people get with low-tech antibiotics?

        Country B isn’t what it was– a region which has low-population specialized high tech agriculture might have a hard time recovering.

        The post-war civilization isn’t going to be like anything that’s been seen before– there’s going to be a lot of good-quality stuff to scavenge, even if it can’t be replicated any time soon.

        It seems like there could be good stories set in post WW3 that are sensible rather than dystopian. Any suggestions?

        • Dissonant Cognizance says:

          It seems like there could be good stories set in post WW3 that are sensible rather than dystopian. Any suggestions?

          The World Made By Hand series by James Howard Kunstler comes to mind, though it also made me see his nonfiction writing as somewhat motivated reasoning and take it less seriously.

    • qwints says:

      A true classic.

    • Deiseach says:

      I always thought “full nuclear exchange = end of humanity”, but his take is far more optimistic.

      Not to start up the whole AGW kerfuffle again but yeah, this is one reason why I find the doom-saying too exaggerated. I grew up with the same view – we must strive to prevent nuclear war and disarm all nuclear weapons because otherwise it is the END OF THE WORLD. NUCLEAR WINTER!!! MUTANTS!!!! ONLY COCKROACHES WILL SURVIVE!!!!!

      Now we’re talking in terms of “eh, even if it does happen, it’s survivable”. This naturally influences my attitudes towards new scares about END OF THE WORLD! OVEN-BAKED DESERT HELLSCAPES!!!! ONLY COCKROACHES WILL SURVIVE!!!!

      • Nick says:

        OVEN-BAKED DESERT HELLSCAPES!!!!

        Misreading that as “oven-baked dessert hellscapes” the first time round, I was both concerned and hungry. 😀

        In seriousness, how common are big doomsday scares? I’ve heard about a bunch over the years—2012 of course, and Y2K is another modern one, although I was too young to grasp it—but has society ever gone a hundred years or so without a noticeable-on-a-personal-level fraction of the population (say, more than 1%) thinking the world was going to end?

        • bean says:

          No. It used to be The End Times Are Coming!, but that’s gone out of fashion. Now we have to invent new and exciting ways to end the world.

          • Deiseach says:

            has society ever gone a hundred years or so without a noticeable-on-a-personal-level fraction of the population (say, more than 1%) thinking the world was going to end?

            I would think possibly the High Victorian era, though that in itself was not 100 years, but I do think part of the huge damn surprise the First World War turned out to be was because society had become accustomed to a level of relative peace, high prosperity, scientific and technological advances by the new time, and a general feeling of “we’re fat and happy and on the pig’s back now, things can only get better and will continue to get better”.

            I do think part of the reason for the clusterfuck that resulted in the First World War was the attitude that “eh, even if we do go to war, our superior navy/army/really spiffy uniforms means it’ll be quick and fast and over without too much really bad damage”.

            I’m going on personal impressions from reading a shedload of fiction of the time, but the Edwardian era (1901-1910) which of course naturally followed on from the Victorian (1837-1901) really does give me the impression of comfort, wealth and a certain complacency, an attitude of “look how far we’ve come and how far we can go”. I’m not at all surprised that Freud got psychoanalysis kick-started in Vienna (and the organising as a formal movement took off in the 1900s) because there’s an atmosphere of almost too rich, over-stuffed and stifling in the society of the time, ripe for an outburst of all the repressed forces bubbling up beneath. Little wonder hysteria was the ailment of the age. England wasn’t as bad, but there is a certain ossification into class and social attitudes and an idealisation of the social structure of the time (the classic mystery novel of the country house, with the structure of the local squires as landlords from time immemorial and the culture of the university-educated gentleman representing in his attitudes the best of English and Western civilisation) that was expressed in nostalgic and even elegiac terms while it still existed that also resonates with that “this is too good to be true and can’t last”. Which it didn’t, the succeeding nascent Second Georgian Era got whomped not alone by the First World War but as Wikipedia says of the reign of George V:

            His reign saw the rise of socialism, communism, fascism, Irish republicanism, and the Indian independence movement, all of which radically changed the political landscape. The Parliament Act 1911 established the supremacy of the elected British House of Commons over the unelected House of Lords. As a result of the First World War (1914–1918), the empires of his first cousins Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany fell, while the British Empire expanded to its greatest effective extent. In 1917, George became the first monarch of the House of Windsor, which he renamed from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as a result of anti-German public sentiment. In 1924 he appointed the first Labour ministry and in 1931 the Statute of Westminster recognised the dominions of the Empire as separate, independent states within the Commonwealth of Nations.

            So all that really survived into that period as heirs of the preceding culture were some minor (and a few major, to be fair) Neo-Classical/Romantic poets; modernity had arrived with a bang and a vengeance and once again the spectre of “the world is gonna end” had been raised.

            1837-1910 is a period of 73 years and I think you could definitely say there was a solid 50-60 year period there that people forgot all about “the world is gonna end” and instead believed in “the glorious conquests of the Empire spreading civilisation, justice and democracy to the world” (remember, Westminster is regarded here as “the mother of Parliaments”) and “the scientific and cultural triumphs of the Anglo-Saxon race” (where Anglo-Saxons included Americans and to an extent Germans as well).

      • rlms says:

        Part of it is that the threat actually has decreased; see here.

      • ManyCookies says:

        I mean a “far more optimistic” take is pretty freaking easy when the alternative is total annihilation, it’d still be a terrible calamity we should strive to prevent.

      • Nornagest says:

        Survivable on a species level. It’s not going to put us permanently out of commission, but I don’t particularly want to live out the rest of my days tilling the mildly radioactive soil and trying to debug my janky homebuilt wind-turbine generators, either, and that’s assuming I survive the nuclear exchange and subsequent starvation as every logistical chain in the world goes to hell.

    • cassander says:

      The end of industrial civilization, at least for a good while, is not the end of humanity, but it’s still the death of billions.

  9. HFARationalist says:

    Race/Ethnic/Religious Wars as Existential Threat

    (Warning: Another Dark Tribe thread. I talk about really horrible hypothetical events so that we can prevent them from happening.)

    How can we prevent race/ethnic/religious wars involving grey goo, strong AI, nuclear weapons, ethnic bioweapons and other efficient genocidal weapons? I’m personally pretty concerned with the possibility of such wars in the long run. When we have West Europeans, East Europeans, Jews, Northeast Asians and Sunni Muslims having nukes the world is really unsafe. Who knows whether some people will suddenly start a global genocide? Imagine an ultranationalist or fundamentalist government control a sufficiently powerful nation such as US, Russia, China or Pakistan. Then it suddenly starts a global genocide along the lines of Exterminationist Tribalism (i.e. Only we can live. Everyone else must die. ) or at least a partial global genocide (i.e. Haitians and other people without the ability to use nukes can be spared. However all citizens of other nations with nukes and other genocidal weapons need to die.) Such an attack is called an ET attack from now on. Maybe the sudden genocide will succeed. Maybe the attacked tribe will retaliate with its own ET attack. Regardless of whether an ET attack fully succeeds it can cause billions of deaths. An ET attack plus ET retaliation can end humanity.

    I think the only defense to an ET attack is ET deterrence. For example Tribe A needs to be able to almost completely exterminate humanity or at least other powerful tribes in order to establish ET deterrence. Then Tribe A could announce that any attempt to exterminate it will result in ET retaliation on the rest of humanity. In particular to deter genocidal attacks by biological weapons it can further declare that if more than 0.1% of Tribe A members suddenly suffer from some mysterious life-threatening illness it will be considered a genocidal attack and will result in a global ET retaliation unless the cause of the illness can be determined within a short period of time. Mutual Destruction will no longer work if the perpetrator of an attack can not be determined which is the case for grey goo and biological weapons. On the other hand ET deterrence still works. Regardless of who Nazis and Nazi-equivalents want to exterminate any tribe capable of ET attacks are effectively protected from genocidal attacks by other tribes. However tribes incapable of ET attacks are still vulnerable to genocide at least theoretically. By theoretical I mean I doubt that powerful nations are going to allow sudden genocides to be happen unless they are also exterminated in the attack.

    Fellow SSCers please analyze whether such scenarios are likely.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Unfortunately this is an experiment you only get to run once, but I think there is not much danger of humans 1.0 doing this. It’s striking how few people are crazy – if you’ve ever taken the subway or driven a car, you’ve put your life in the hands of 1000s of potential evil-doers. And yet you are still alive. Even the Nazis weren’t this eliminationist, they seriously considered a Jewish zone in Russia or Madagascar.

      (I’m actually optimistic enough about human nature to think that if the USA had launched a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USSR, the USSR would not have shot back. And vice versa.)

      • HFARationalist says:

        I think later Nazism was the largest Exterminationist Tribalist or ET-adjacent ideology that has ever existed. However it failed because it was basically a century too early to actually be able to exterminate billions easily.

        Here is the basic reasoning behind ET. Ironically you have to forsake racial pride and the idea of a stable racial hierarchy to do so. Pride makes it less likely to recognize potential threats and hierarchies are never perpetually stable.

        First of all, submission of one tribe to another is always temporary. Submission is basically a deal. The stronger tribe spares the weaker tribe while the weaker tribe serves the stronger tribe. However there is no guarantee that anyone will actually abide by the deal forever. Either the submitted tribe disappers or it will eventually emerge into an independent one.

        Secondly technology will make autarky possible especially if ET is carried out and all the resources on the planet now belong to your tribe. Other tribes including submitted ones will be useless.

        Finally it is always possible that other tribes will start sudden genocides before yours hence at the very least your tribe needs to be ET-capable to establish ET-deterrence.

        Of course if ET happens the surviving tribe will split into more. Then ET attacks will repeat until maybe only one AI or transhuman is left. The last ET attack is an ES (Exterminationist Selfist) one.

        Here is an amazing fact: Why haven’t people attempt to carry out ET in general?

        • Deiseach says:

          Here is an amazing fact: Why haven’t people attempt to carry out ET in general?

          Because generally what the stronger tribe does is absorb the weaker tribe: kill the males of age to be warriors, take the women and small children in, make the women concubines/wives and so unite your genes and theirs via child-bearing to make it in their interests to assimilate to the customs of the tribe, raise the babies/small kids in your values as anything from slaves to janissaries. See the Romans capturing the Sabine women to provide themselves with a genetic future; they didn’t end up killing all the Sabine men, but rather had forced alliance via marriage (which makes you and the other tribe now all family and kindred) and binds your interests together: now you have their support and help and your strength and influence is increased. By adding their numbers to yours, you are now stronger. Clearing the land of all the enemy tribe means that you’re dividing your numbers between those holding on to what your own territory is and those settling the new territory so you’re weaker (unless you’ve got a massive surplus population to move onto the newly-cleared land). Letting the survivors of the original tribe remain there to farm the land, trade and run a productive economy but now as your tenants/vassals/subjects/clients means that you make profits and gains out of them. Again, look at the Romans – the carrot for conquered peoples was that they had a path to gain citizenship and rights as a Roman. Tax farming was a way to get rich (fairly) quick and depending on how greedy you were – too rapacious and you triggered uprisings and revolts by the subject people and got recalled to Rome to answer for it; to start on your political/civic career if you got a place on the staff of a governor assigned to a rich province, this was getting on the gravy train. (See Catullus, poem 28, for when it didn’t go so well).

          Same with the English planters in Ireland; supposed to drive out the native Irish and replace them with good English and Scottish stock as tenants, instead let the natives remain but charged them exorbitant rents (also, it was very hard to persuade English and Scots to risk their lives and livelihoods on the wild frontier as Ireland then was, so lack of tenants was a problem):

          The second major influence on the plantation of Ulster was the political negotiation among the interest groups on the British side. The principal landowners were to be English Undertakers, wealthy men from England and Scotland who undertook to import tenants from their own estates. The planters were granted around 3,000 acres (1,214 ha) each, on condition that they settle there a minimum of 48 adult males (including at least 20 families), who had to be English-speaking Protestants. However, veterans of the war in Ireland (known as Servitors) led by Arthur Chichester, successfully lobbied for land grants of their own. Since these former officers did not have enough private capital to fund the colonisation, their involvement was subsidised by the City of London (the financial sector in London). The City was granted their own town, and lands. The final major recipient of lands was the Protestant Church of Ireland, which was granted all churches and lands previously owned by the Roman Catholic church. The Crown intended that clerics from England and the Pale convert the population to Protestantism.

          The Plantation of Ulster was a mixed success for the English. By the 1630s, there were 20,000 adult male English and Scottish settlers in Ulster, which meant that the total settler population could have been as high as 80,000 to 150,000. They formed local majorities of the population in the Finn and Foyle valleys (around modern Derry and east Donegal), north Armagh and east Tyrone. Planters had achieved substantial settlement on unofficially planted lands in north Down, led by James Hamilton and Hugh Montgomery, and in south Antrim under Sir Randall MacDonnell. The settler population increased rapidly, as just under half of the migrants were women – a very high ratio compared, for instance, to contemporary Spanish settlement in Latin America or English settlement in Virginia. New England attracted more families, but still was predominately male in its early years.

          But the Irish population was neither removed nor Anglicised. In practise, the settlers did not stay on poorer lands, but clustered around towns and the best land. This meant that many English and Scottish landowners had to take Irish tenants, contrary to the terms of the Plantation of Ulster. In 1609, Chichester deported 1300 former Irish soldiers from Ulster to serve in the Swedish Army, but the province remained plagued with Irish bandits, known as “wood-kerne,” who attacked vulnerable settlers. It was said that English settlers were not safe a mile outside walled towns; the natives plagued the forests and wolves roamed the countryside.

          The attempted conversion of the Irish to Protestantism also had few successes; at first the clerics sent to Ireland were all English speakers, whereas the native population were usually monoglot speakers of Irish Gaelic. Later, the Catholic Church made a determined effort to retain its followers among the native population.

          Completely killing everyone else is generally last resort; either desperation for scarce resources, fear or vengeance of an absolutist nature (“Carthage must be destroyed”), or where the conquered cannot or will not integrate with the conquerors and have nothing of their own that can outweigh the value of taking over the raw natural resources by the victors. The nearest that we’ve come to this is the treatment of the Native Americans and the Australian Aboriginals, and even that was less a matter of deliberate and long-settled policy. When one side is less technologically advanced than the other, and so cannot offer advantages, then they tend to be displaced, driven off and replaced by the victors. The whole idea of African slavery in the New World, for instance, was because the natives could not or would not make good labourers, tended to die in captivity or servitude, and were vulnerable to disease; even more so the European indentured servants.

          There was a sloppy story linked (vaguely) to religion that got reproduced in various media; I say “sloppy” because the idea was (in the words of one headline) “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out”.

          Story basically is that DNA analysis allegedly shows the descendants of the Biblical Canaanites live in modern-day Lebanon – and thus, the Bible is proven wrong when it says they were wiped out.

          Except, as several religious news commenters pointed out, the Bible says no such thing. The ancient Israelites were commanded to wipe them out but they didn’t do so (for various reasons) and so the Canaanites kept popping up in their history. To quote from the Book of Judges: “And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites under tribute, but did not completely drive them out.”

          Leaving religious history aside, the point here is that this applies – the victorious tribe does not in fact exterminate its beaten rivals, it puts them under the yoke and uses them for labour, trade, and intermarriage:

          5 Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods.

          • HFARationalist says:

            It seems that human sexuality is one reason why ET and ES aren’t popular. However it does reveal something dark about tribes. A tribe was basically a gang of male criminals and the women they raped. Tribal “cultures” were probably just about who got to rape whom and who got how much of the spoils they robbed. I’m glad that I can use the past tense to refer to these tribes now. 🙂

            Note that you are in fact implying that genocide of Canaanites actually happened when in fact it is likely that Israelites never even went to Egypt at all. By using this as an example you are assuming that it is certain that this event actually happened. I think you should look at Y-chromosome haplogroups of Sephardic Jews. There are more J2 ones than J1 ones. J1 is overrepresented in the Aaronite line so they might actually be the original Israelites while J2 is a typical Canaanite/Lebanese haplogroup. There is also E as well.

            “Carthage must be destroyed” was not literally carried out in the sense of a complete genocide either. There were those who became slaves instead of getting killed. Furthermore exterminating all inhabitants of Carthage does not constitute a complete genocide because there were and are Phoenicians around outside Carthage.

            White settlers did not simply exterminate every single Australian Aboriginal or Native American even though they were certainly capable of doing so. Why did they just drive them away instead of shooting them all? I mean if you leave a tribe alive it is always possible that they may regain some power or your future descendants may go liberal and give them some and hence your own power diminishes. Is this because of religion?

            Humans haven’t exterminated all other apes either. Isn’t it possible that one ape species may evolve into something better than humans? Of course I don’t encourage extermination of apes but why haven’t humans done that?

          • qwints says:

            A tribe was basically a gang of male criminals and the women they raped. Tribal “cultures” were probably just about who got to rape whom and who got how much of the spoils they robbed

            This is ludicrously bad anthropology.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @qwints I don’t know. I usually have a tendency to think of others as robots and maybe just sociopathic monsters.

          • Deiseach says:

            Will you please stop pushing your thinly-disguised version of the Dark Forest Theory from The Three-Body Problem? We get it, you think it’s a super-spiffy novel series and the one word of truth, but just because an SF author presents a theory of how the alien civilisations in his created universe work things, that does not mean that this is the explanation for real-world matters.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @Deiseach Nope. We already had a nice discussion on the Third-Body Problem and I consider the issue with aliens and the DF theory over.

            This time it’s actually not the same. This is actually inspired by Nazis and some real neo-Nazis. The scenario does not involve many light years and other TBP-related ideas. Instead it involves an unprovoked sudden genocide among humans. No “suspicion chain” of malice and struggle for resources is necessary either.

            I once dealt with a real neo-Nazi who is actually into mass exterminations. ET deterrence is my response that can save the world from people like him. That was before I read the novel lol.

            When it comes to grey goo and biological weapons traditional mutual destruction no longer works because culprits are hard to identify. Hence we need ET deterrence which is basically Samson Option used by Israel.

            As for AI we need to deter it as well. If Clippy makes too many paperclips we will shut it down. If Clippy attempt to turn the world into a paperclip factory and it is almost there we will use EMP to shut down all the electronics in the world. All AI will be destroyed. Then we will destroy all the paperclips. Hence Clippy has to stop for the sake of at least having some extra paperclips. All other AI also have incentives to stop Clippy or they will be destroyed as well.

            I don’t believe that designing a friendly AI will be easy. However as long as we have means to shut down AI if it goes haywire AI actually has incentives to be sufficiently friendly that we don’t shut it down.

        • cassander says:

          >I think later Nazism was the largest Exterminationist Tribalist or ET-adjacent ideology that has ever existed. However it failed because it was basically a century too early to actually be able to exterminate billions easily.

          the communists were worse. liquidation of class enemies was always on their agenda.

          >Here is an amazing fact: Why haven’t people attempt to carry out ET in general?

          If you do, all the other tribes will gang up on you, and so far no tribe has managed to be strong enough to beat every other tribe.

          • HFARationalist says:

            the communists were worse. liquidation of class enemies was always on their agenda.

            I agree. However I’m really interested in the absence of complete genocides. I mean..for example when European settlers entered Australia or Americas they could have decided that all natives must die no matter what. Why didn’t that happen? The funny thing is that almost nobody (including modern “Nazis”) believes that this needs to be done.

            If you do, all the other tribes will gang up on you, and so far no tribe has managed to be strong enough to beat every other tribe.

            When nanotechnology and ethnic biological weapons are available I think this will change. All it takes to conquer the world forever is a sudden genocide masqueraded as some obscure disease. I doubt it will be possible to find the culprit at all. Instead the only deterrence that works is probably an ET threat, namely if an ET-capable tribe feels that it is a victim of a sudden genocide it will start an ET attack to exterminate the rest of humanity. The threat of an ET attack can keep others from attempting to exterminate the tribe. It doesn’t matter who is breaking the “no genocide rule”. It has to be some human groups unless it is AI and ET deterrence has covered and hence deterred all of them.

            I think Israel is currently using ET deterrence to protect Jews from antisemitic hordes. I believe such deterrence is not only justified but also worthy of emulation by all other nuclear-capable tribes. I believe that humans should forsake hatred and promote cooperation. However ET deterrence (but not actual ET attacks) is necessary to guarantee that such cooperation can continue.

            I think ET deterrence works against self-interested AI as well. If AI ever tries to exterminate or seriously harm humanity we just act on our threat and destroy all electronics which will kill any AI.

          • Randy M says:

            when European settlers entered Australia or Americas they could have decided that all natives must die no matter what. Why didn’t that happen?

            Because even tribal humans aren’t as bloodthirsty as you imagine. “My tribe is best, so all others must die” is not a common mindset. It can be the practical effect for a time, but it requires extensive justification. Empires would usually prefer tribute and subjugation from defeated foes, or a gradual expulsion, like the Germanic tribes fleeing west displacing one another during the late classical early medieval times.

            Historical empires weren’t interested in extermination, and genocides that have occurred in more recent times weren’t ever intended to be global in nature. I guess maybe Isis wants to, eventually, conqueror the whole world and eliminate Jews from it, but even their focus is on a smaller geographic area.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @Randy M “My tribe is the best” does not imply that “all other tribes must be 100% exterminated”. Instead arrogance actually has an interesting effect of stopping genocides by making other tribes look harmless. On the other hand “We aren’t necessarily the best tribe hence all other tribes must be 100% exterminated so that they don’t 100% exterminate us first.” is a more reasonable but really evil stance. In fact this is the true reason why Nazis attempted to exterminate Jews, not some sense of superiority/inferiority.

            Maybe Nazism is actually some anomaly instead of a reasonable but really evil group evolutionary strategy.

            Of course empires usually do not prefer mass extermination. In the past an emperor or empress needed service from their subjects. Exterminating one’s own subjects was certainly not a good idea. When it was a royal house vs subjects subjugation was enough and genocide was absurd. On the other hand, nation states that serve a particular ethnic group or race and religious groups are much more likely to be genocidal because these groups are much more likely to be self-sufficient compared to a royal house.

          • Matt M says:

            Because even tribal humans aren’t as bloodthirsty as you imagine. “My tribe is best, so all others must die” is not a common mindset.

            Which is why I think the term “genocide” gets thrown around way too loosely these days.

            If one group has the full power and capability to exterminate another group, but just doesn’t really bother to get around to it – then that wasn’t a genocide.

            Killing a lot of people then getting lazy and saying, “meh, guess we killed enough” isn’t genocide imho. It’s mass murder and it’s still terrible and all that, but not genocide.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @Matt M I agree. However why have we seen no examples of pure ET? Why are we still alive without anyone attempting ET against us? I think it does reveal something interesting about human nature. Something that isn’t dark.:-)

          • John Schilling says:

            I agree. However I’m really interested in the absence of complete genocides

            .
            How many Carthaginians have you met lately?

            Genocides in the real world are almost always accomplished by forced assimilation, not absolute extermination. This is so obviously rational that I am surprised it hasn’t occurred to you. People are useful, particularly for governments and tribal leaders. And anyone in a position to carry out a genocide, almost always has enough land to feed the people it is contemplating genociding (they didn’t all starve last year). Since young children are basically blank slates, and there are very effective means for imposing absolute control on adults you don’t acknowledge as having rights(*), why are you killing these people instead of putting them to use and making them part of your tribe? Slaves or second-class citizens, obviously, at least for the first generation or two.

            This is what real people usually do, if the matter comes up. Particularly successful real people; note that your go-to example for literal murderous genocidalists are counted among history’s losers.

            * Possibly excluding single young adult males. Those, you might want to exterminate.

          • Randy M says:

            Most groups aren’t both expansionist and eliminationist. A nation may want to expel an outgroup from what it sees as its homeland, or it may want to make subjects of foreign peoples, but conquest for the sake of genocide is outside the norm, for good reason. We’re not really increasing our safety or prosperity or that of kin by going abroad and wiping out the other.

          • cassander says:

            I agree. However I’m really interested in the absence of complete genocides. I mean..for example when European settlers entered Australia or Americas they could have decided that all natives must die no matter what. Why didn’t that happen? The funny thing is that almost nobody (including modern “Nazis”) believes that this needs to be done.

            Because why bother? What the Australians and Americans wanted was land. they were absolutely insistent that the Indian tribes had to live elsewhere, but once they did that, what good would come from killing them? If you needed more land, you could just push them further west.

            People use violence when it gets them what they want, just like any other tool.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @cassander However when you allow a tribe to continue to exist it may rebel against you in the future even if the word “future” means 1,000 years later. There may also be sentimental people among your descendants who want to help the tribe you fail to exterminate. How to handle that? If you assimilate a tribe into your own you are de facto giving them free memberships of your own tribe.

            @John Schilling From a pure individualist point of view I don’t care about which tribe I’m in as long as the tribe is viable and I do get something from its membership. I don’t consider forced assimilation genocide because it is not inherently deadly. Tribal labels are just stupid labels, not humans. The reason why I oppose genocides is that I don’t want humans to die. Who cares about whether tribal labels/brands do? As for Carthagians they continue to exist. Their brand/company no longer exists but the shareholders are still around, owning shares of other companies. Extermination of Carthagians failed.

          • John Schilling says:

            I don’t think you understand what “extermination” of Carthaginians was meant to accomplish. It absolutely succeeded.

            I also don’t think you understand how little you understand of how human beings work.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @John Schilling Yes the identity of Carthagians disappeared. However their descendants are still around. Most of them aren’t in chains or concentration camps either. From the point of view of an individual Carthagian who survived what happened was awful but was not death.

            My concept of genocide is identical to the Nazi one. Genocide literally means a group defined by ancestry regardless of culture or allegiance is completely killed.

            I openly admit that I don’t understand how human beings work.

            @Randy M Interesting. Why is this true though? Why isn’t extermination itself a goal people pursue in general? A dead tribe isn’t going to exterminate or enslave you so that’s certainly an incentive. Expansion can be another incentive because a dead tribe isn’t going to start a guerrilla war against you if you occupy places where they used to live in.

            @other SSCers The only way to ensure that genocides don’t happen is to make them sufficiently costly so that they are not profitable.

          • cassander says:

            @HFARationalist says:

            However when you allow a tribe to continue to exist it may rebel against you in the future even if the word “future” means 1,000 years later. There may also be sentimental people among your descendants who want to help the tribe you fail to exterminate. How to handle that? If you assimilate a tribe into your own you are de facto giving them free memberships of your own tribe.

            As I often say in jest, that’s a problem for future me, and fuck that guy, he’s a jerk! Exterminating them, moral issues aside, imposes costs today, letting them live might impose a cost tomorrow. Given That people, particularly when acting politically, have fairly high time preferences, their attitude is not suprising.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @Cassander I agree. Time preferences are important.

            Here is my question: What is the likelihood of a global genocidal race war or religious war using weapons of massive destruction in the next 30 years?

          • Mary says:

            How would you know if it did happen? Most tribes are illiterate, and are you going to tell your kids that you massacred the people before you? And since they are DEAD. . . In North America, many tribes can tell of being driven out of their lands by other tribes. That’s because it wasn’t a successful genocide.

            There’s evidence, still. For instance, that only survivors of the first inhabiatants are on the southern-most tip of South America, having been wiped out elsewhere. That the Sioux and Maori, to take two, would wipe out the people when they wanted the land.

          • Mary says:

            My concept of genocide is identical to the Nazi one. Genocide literally means a group defined by ancestry regardless of culture or allegiance is completely killed.

            clears throat

            The Nazis never used the term “genocide,” so you can’t be.

            It was defined after the fact to mean “things that the Nazis did (but not things that the Communists did because some mass murders of the innocent are worse than others)”

            And it definitely included things that were not even murderous. For instance, abducting Polish children, sometimes right off the street, for “desirable racial traits” and after some quite brutal Germanization, offering them for adoption to German families. (Children who failed muster were sometimes killed, but that was not the intent of the program.)

      • HFARationalist says:

        SSC, do you believe it is the social nature of most humans and woo that prevented ET from happening? ET is actually natural while lack of ET is amazing. ET is more than genocide of enemy tribes or headhunting. Instead it is extermination of every non-ingroup member. In ET any tribe other than one’s own tribe is a deadly enemy by definition because even if you do not carry out a preemptive genocide the other tribe probably will. However I don’t think ET has ever been attempted at all. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

        I personally believe that ETism is obviously very dangerous hence any tribe that attempts to conduct it will be destroyed or contained by a collection of horrified non-ET tribes. We can also look at other animals. They aren’t into ET or ES in general either. We don’t have tigers going after other tigers simply for existing or wolfpacks attack other wolves simply for being wolves outside the particular packs. In general ET and ES are very unusual on this planet.

        Could this be a reason why most alien civilizations destroyed themselves before they could come into contact with humans?

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          Why do you think ET is natural? There’s no ev-psych reason for it, no rational self-interest reason for it, and it’s never happened.

          • HFARationalist says:

            I’m sure that there isn’t any ev-psych reason for ES because killing your spouse and kids simply for existing, being sentient and not being you is certainly not good for your genes. Reproduction requires some form of altruism regardless of whether sex is involved. Sexual reproduction requires even more altruism compared to asexual reproduction. As for rational self-interest I believe if a sentient being is self-sufficient it can actually afford to pursue this strategy. However for human 1.0 it is almost impossible.

            As for ET I doubt this is in ev-psych either. Sexuality can cause lots of issues but ET isn’t one of them. In fact the existence of sexuality provides incentives to spare at least fertile females from other tribes so a tribe may lose all its Y-chromosome to genocides but its X-chromosomes and other genes will always continue to exist.

            However rational self-interest may cause ET in the sense of maximizing one’s chance of survival. ET will obviously lower living standards. However it will guarantee that no other tribe can use ET against the tribe that has commited a successful ET.

            Let’s just look at these two scenarios.

            1.One day it seems that everyone other than a certain capable group (that can be white Europeans, Jews, Chinese, Russians, Germans, Japanese, etc) begin to die en masse due to some weird disease. The internet is likely to be shut down to obscure the fact that there is a group that isn’t dying. Humanity may or may not be able to identify the culprit. What is humanity going to do about it?

            2.One day a certain nation such as Tanzania is hit by a weird disease. 10 days later almost all of its inhabitants are dead. Those outside the region are generally immune to this weird disease. What is humanity going to do about it?

        • qwints says:

          ET is actually natural while lack of ET is amazing.

          How can something with no examples in nature be natural? Or do you have any examples of it actually happening?

        • Deiseach says:

          ET is actually natural while lack of ET is amazing.

          You state this and then state that wolves, etc. don’t do this and humans in general don’t do this. So it is not “natural” and what you seem to mean is that it is theoretically more advantageous (but in practice it seems not to be).

          Aliens species that wipe themselves out by killing off all groups of their species that are not “our group” are never going to get to be space farers and indeed I imagine they won’t get far past the “small mammal/whatever species” stage at all and so not even as far as a civilisation. Try and find another reason why flying saucers are not landing on the White House lawn every Tuesday.

          • HFARationalist says:

            I agree. In fact it is weird that multicellular organisms even exist. If every cell treasures its own freedom that will be cancer in the literal sense.

            I also agree that ET and ES are theoretically more advantageous at least in the sense of survival rates (in ET’s case even that is debatable because a tribe that resorted to ET is likely to use ET against its own subgroups so it will be a spiral of extermination and nobody knows when this purge will ever end) but it is indeed amazing that these don’t exist.

  10. Andrew Hunter says:

    Cringe comedy is an interesting thing–it’s widely used in modern television, and there are some people who really don’t like it. I mean, that’s true of any form of comedy, but it’s unique among major genres that there are some viewers who find it actively painful to watch.

    One thing I noticed is that I’ve seen a lot more complaints about cringe comedy from “weird” people (my friends IRL, rationalist tumblr, etc) than normies. Question: does anyone know if disliking cringe comedy is associated with being non-neurotypical–either things like the autism spectrum or even just having various mental illnesses?

    (My personal perspective: can be funny, can be physically painful to watch; I usually attempt to work through the pain as exposure therapy, at least if the show in question seems worth it in general.)

    • Nornagest says:

      I don’t think it’s an autism thing, I think it’s a sympathy thing. People with bad social skills are likely to be sensitive to shame and humiliation and to sympathize with characters going through it rather than laughing at them, because they’ll have lots of experience receiving shame and humiliation and not a lot of experience giving it.

      (That might sound geek-supremacist, but I don’t mean it that way. Consider that after junior high, people generally don’t shame other people purely for kicks.)

      • Matt M says:

        As someone who hates cringe comedy and would self-identify as “bad social skills” I think this is about right.

        Being in awkward social situations is both an omnipresent concern of mine and something I’ve personally experienced and can relate to. As such, I think I empathize with it VERY strongly when it’s portrayed. Probably even more strongly than I would empathize with say, the victim in a Saw movie, because I myself haven’t ever been tortured by a random psychopath, nor do I have a constant fear of that happening to me.

        Cringey stuff bothers me a lot to the point of often turning the channel, muting the show, or taking out my phone and focusing on something else until the cringe part is over.

      • Shion Arita says:

        For me, I think it’s funny exactly because I sympathize with it. To me it’s simultaneously hard to watch and hillarious. I think it fits well with my tastes in comedy in general, where for me to find something funny, it also has to be serious in some way at the same time. The kind of comedy I don’t like is the stuff where nothing serious ever happens, or it’s all just dumb and ridiculous, because then I find it really hard to care about what’s happening at all.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      One datapoint: I am 100% neurotypical. The ancient wisdom of the race flows in my lymphatic system, limpid, unoccluded by the taint of personal eccentricity. And it says “whoa, cringe comedy sucks.”

    • James says:

      Personally I hate it because it’s become such a cliche. I love The Office (the original, UK series) because it was so original (and so bleak), but it’s become common enough that it almost seems hard to escape. It also seems kind of lazy. Once upon a time, comedy writers had to come up with actual, bona fide jokes! I feel like the comedy zeitgeist has changed such that writing actual jokes seems a bit try-hard, which makes me sad.

      As for neurotypicality, my hunch would be the opposite of yours: I’d assume that feeling vicarious embarrassment would correlate with being attuned to and caring about social cues, i.e. that hating cringe comedy would correlate positively with neurotypicality.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Your last paragraph reminds me of this quote by Jony Ive about Steve Jobs:

        He’s a very, very sensitive guy. That’s one of the things that makes his antisocial behavior, his rudeness, so unconscionable. I can understand why people who are thick-skinned and unfeeling can be rude, but not sensitive people…. Because of how very sensitive he is, he knows exactly how to efficiently and effectively hurt someone.

    • onyomi says:

      I also hate cringe comedy. Not sure if it’s because of a history of social anxiety traumatizing me or just because it sucks.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I’ve always said that there is a difference between comedy where you are meant to laugh with someone and laugh at someone. I’m not really a fan of laughing at people.

      One thing I find interesting is that Chaplin I think is funny, but Mr. Bean is cringe after cringe. There is a subtle line that gets crossed.

      • dodrian says:

        I think this is a very important distinction that I agree with, but then I have to add on a cludge because it doesn’t actually reflect what I enjoy watching.

        A lot of British humor is farcical, and it’s intended to be laughed _at_. Monty Python is the obvious example, I’d add Mr. Bean onto that list (which I do enjoy), and many sitcoms fit this category too: Black Books, Father Ted, Red Dwarf, etc. Even the ones with mundane settings are outlandishly unrealistic, with caricatures not characters.

        This means that I don’t like The Big Bang Theory, because I feel like we’re supposed to laugh at real characters (who ostensibly have ‘character development’ and reveal feelings over the course of the show), but I do like The IT Crowd because there’s no way that Moss, Roy and Jen are supposed to be real people.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I agree, the distinction, or kludge, you are adding is important.

          FWIW, I have always found Monty Python fairly appealing. But I think the difference is that we are mostly supposed to laughing at the absurdity of it all.

          So when, Bryan is up on the cross, we aren’t laughing at the fact he is up on the cross, but the absurdity of a “crack suicide squad” that actually just commits suicide.

          Whereas, if Mr. Bean did that skit, we would be laughing at him because he shat himself when he was pierced by the spear. I mean, that wouldn’t be a skit he would do, but that is how the comedy formula would apply itself.

          But, I don’t think we are supposed to accept Mr. Bean as real. He has no character growth, etc. He is always supposed to absurd, but also odious enough that we aren’t tempted to have sympathy for him.

          Maybe that is the difference. The absence of sympathy on the part of the character creator for the character.

          • dodrian says:

            I think you’ve hit it – without absurdity sympathy is very important.

            Maybe that’s why the first season of Parks & Rec flopped – the characters were all annoyed by Leslie. In subsequent seasons they care for her, and even the show’s sad sack Gary (definitely the cringiest part of the show) is shown to have a wonderful life outside of work.

            Of course where people draw the lines as to what’s sympathetic or not, and what’s absurd or not will be different.

          • Matt M says:

            Not just Leslie. In seasons 1-2, pretty much every character was largely hateable with most of their development focusing on their flaws.

            Around 3 they flipped it entirely, with almost every character becoming heroic and most development focusing on their positive attributes.

          • sandoratthezoo says:

            The thing that made me actually watch Parks & Rec was the telethon episode. Spoilers follow:

            So a character whose name I don’t even remember is thinking he’ll propose to Anne on the air, even as Anne considers dumping him. And Leslie puts herself on the line for the telethon being successful.

            And I was fully expecting that what would happen is that the guy and Leslie would both be publicly, terribly, crushingly humiliated. And instead, what happened was that the guy didn’t propose on the air and the telethon was successful and I got the general sense that the writers didn’t hate their characters.

          • Matt M says:

            I think his name was Mark.

            His role was basically “only sane/normal person surrounded by weirdos.” But once the writers decided their main cast weren’t going to be weirdos anymore, there was no place for him…

          • Dissonant Cognizance says:

            The Parks and Rec shift after Season 2 actually bothered me, as it seemed to go from an absurdist comedy to a surrogate for being surrounded by loving and caring friends. The last two seasons were basically not funny at all, but were enjoyable as a kind of narrative group-hug.

            The other thing was that when the characters stopped being caricatures, the political bias of the writers started to show through omission. In a small farming town in rural Indiana, the show focuses on a group of urban hipsters and one straw Libertarian. No one even goes to church unless they’re an antagonist.

      • carvenvisage says:

        What do you think of buster keaton? Also are you basing this on the movies or the tv series?

        (I ask because I’m surprised at that impression of mr bean. I think the tv series might be a bit more ‘lovable doofus’ and the films have more cringe humour)

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I’m basing it based on any Mr. Bean stuff I have seen, which is far less than anyone who actually likes Mr. Bean.

          Haven’t seen a lot of Buster Keaton. What I have seen is more “zany stuff happens”.

          Laurel and Hardy is perhaps a comparison point. If you tried to make an entire comedy premised around only Laurel, I think you end up in the same sort of problem. Hardy, by being an overbearing buffoon, highlights the fact that Laurel means well, and basically is trying to do what Hardy wants him to, even though he isn’t exactly competent. Hardy’s overbearing nature makes us sympathetic to Laurel.

          Mr. Bean never seems to mean well. He seems completely self-centered.

          • Deiseach says:

            Mr. Bean never seems to mean well. He seems completely self-centered.

            Mr Bean is meant to be childlike, or at least childish. He’s not actively malevolent or malign, he just doesn’t realise the consequences of his actions because he doesn’t think that far ahead beyond “if I want this, then if I do that, I will get it”.

            He is self-centered in the way a child is: their wants, needs and desires are the major things and the ones uppermost in their mind, and the idea of “this might get me intro trouble” (rather than “this might get other people into trouble”) is the only real deterrent.

            Well, the TV series at least, I have no idea what the films were like.

          • carvenvisage says:

            If you like jackie chan you’ll probably like Buster Keaton. Apparently he’s like the inventor of that genre.

    • HFARationalist says:

      Yes I find it painful.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Absolutely cannot STAND it. I’ve actually jumped up and walked quickly out a room before because I couldn’t tolerate it.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        Same here. My siblings report the same.

        Even on a show I otherwise generally like, such as Friends, I’ll switch away from some of the abuse they dish out to Ross (e.g. the leather pants date).

        I imagine non-Christian Romans found it a lot more entertaining to watch Christians being torn to bits by wild beasts than the Christians in the audience did.

        For what it’s worth, I’m definitely not on the autism spectrum, but you’d have a hard time arguing I’m neurotypical. I think like a lot of smart kids, I developed a greater sense of sympathy with other (even fictional) people. You see this in its most extreme form in descriptions of genius kids: they realize how much evil and suffering there is in the world before they’re even ten, and it really gets them down.

        Maybe I also have a much easier time imagining getting into similar awful social situations (and spent a lot of time as an adolescent imagining everything going wrong in social settings, which was not exactly confidence-building).

        Sometimes I can tolerate cringe humor (though it’s still almost physically painful); I think this is the case when the victims are shown to have had it coming, as is usually the case in Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

        By contrast, Wile E. Coyote can plunge off a cliff a hundred times and it doesn’t bother me.

    • andrewflicker says:

      Count me as another neurotypical that strongly dislikes cringe comedy. I think people with strong sympathetic response tend to dislike it, regardless of ASD status.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      I used to think that I didn’t really like it, but given the list of shows in the article, now I’m not so sure. Most of those shows I really didn’t care for, but at the same time, The IT Crowd, Parks and Recreation, and especially It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are some of my favorite shows. I wonder what sets them apart.

      • smocc says:

        One idea: in the IT Crowd, Seinfeld, and maybe Always Sunny (I’ve never watched a full episode), the characters are reprehensible people who create awkward situations, but they always end up suffering the most from it, and the storytelling always makes it clear that their suffering results from their backfiring schemes (even if they don’t realize it themselves).

        On the other hand, in The Office the boss is terrible and makes other people suffer, then weasels his way out without learning anything. Mr Bean creates awkward situations for himself and for others, but the character is always presented as childlike and poor at understanding consequences, so it’s uncomfortable to watch him suffer.

        I don’t know about early Parks and Rec, but my experience is that later Parks does not rely on cringe humor.

        • Well Armed Sheep says:

          My memory of watching Parks and Rec several years ago — so I *could* be misremembering — is that it would often set up scenes that I could just feel would be awful cringe scenes… and then somehow divert them or skip right over them to their aftermath.

          Every time this happened I would breathe a sigh of deep relief and physically relax.

    • Brad says:

      I’m not sure about that wikipedia link. I found Rushmore to far more cringe-worthy (unwatchably so to me) than any of the Guest mockumentries.

      The only list TV shows, most of which I’m unfamiliar with, so I’m not sure if the POV advanced in it would disagree.

    • Randy M says:

      Cringe comedy is basically social slapstick, isn’t it? How do you feel about the three stooges?
      I think a lot of the appeal of shows like The Office are “My worklife is bad, but not quite that bad” or “Hey look, someone else understands what it’s like to work with jerks.” For the rest of us, it’s just kind of absurdly amusing. Or, for someone who hates it, a cruel reminder.

      • carvenvisage says:

        Cringe comedy is basically social slapstick, isn’t it?

        i don’t think so, isn’t slapstick supposed to be jolly and lively?

        I think a lot of the appeal of shows like The Office are “My worklife is bad, but not quite that bad” or “Hey look, someone else understands what it’s like to work with jerks.”

        I think there has to be an element of this. If you have to deal with a high level of ‘cringe’ in your day it might be nice to see something that 1. recognises it 2. desensitises you to it.

        • Randy M says:

          i don’t think so, isn’t slapstick supposed to be jolly and lively?

          Sure, unless you actually stop and think about it with a modicum of empathy. Same with cringe comedy, right?

          • carvenvisage says:

            No because I see a lot more difference between tom and jerry and watching a cat run over IRL than between a simulated ‘cringe’ situation and an actual one.

            Comedy type pratfalls are really different from actual potential-injury-causing accidents in a way that simulated emotional fraughtness is not so different from actual emotional fraughtness.

            You can’t have actual accidents on a set, and they’re not trying to anyway, while there’s nothing stopping you with cringe, and it is what they’re aiming for.

          • carvenvisage says:

            In retrospect this explanation was probably good enough without the heavy handed example at the start.

            (and in any case not such a vital topic of inquiry as to *require* clarity)

    • SUT says:

      Looks like there’s near 100% corroboration with your theory.

      I wonder if there’s a valid category of ‘cringe drama’ – two that come to mind are Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Straw Dogs. Both feature a man who continues to be pushed to the brink of being cuckolded, while refusing to stand up to his abusers.

      My suspicion is cringe comedy mimics situations where a group or tribe will collectively decide that the offender’s infraction are sufficient to merit ostracism or worse. For example, Michael Scott would have been Damore-ed dozens of times a year in real life (not just fired, but without a public word of support from anyone). Community recognizes this, and makes its cringe characters, namely Pierce, but also Chang and The Dean, face constant banishment and ever lowered status within their group.

    • crh says:

      Huh, I had the opposite impression. I generally really like cringe comedy, and am not especially bothered by the stuff I don’t like. I had theorized that people who experience social awkwardness as a relatively rare Bad Thing to Be Avoided are more averse to media depictions of awkward situations, whereas I have tons and tons of awkward interactions and am more or less used to it. But maybe my experience is atypical among atypicals, here.

      Semi-related: on average I tend to find the characters in “cringe comedies” much more relatable than those in other comedies.

    • carvenvisage says:

      I also dislike and have a low tolerance for cringe humour, most central example imo being the british office.

      I appreciate the office though, because they took it so far, so there was potentially an element of shock humour, and/or of being pleased at their daring. (it was pretty original at the time). I can see the point of the office even if it’s a bit much for me.

       

      I know it’s not because it’s boring or stupid that I dislike it. -I quite like the humour in rick and morty or family guy or spaced where they freeze on something dumb. A good natured ‘Bluh huh huh, durrrrrrr..’ usually gets a laugh from me, give me a quick ‘lolololol..’ and I’ll join in, so it’s not a case of cringe humour being dull or blase.

    • BBA says:

      For our contingent of anime fans, the finest animated cringe comedy in Japan is WataMote, in which our protagonist is thoroughly unsympathetic and completely to blame for her misery, and yet obviously the writers were that person in high school. (At least I know I was. I’m not proud of it.)

      • Nick says:

        I’ve seen a few episodes of this show, and while I guess it was well done I found it unwatchably depressing.

    • Cringe comedy is my favourite sort of comedy.

  11. johan_larson says:

    Moral philosophy is a mess. Take a course in the subject, and they’ll teach you several different ways of looking at the question of right and wrong: Aristotle’s notion of virtue as something that can be trained, Bentham’s idea of utility, Kant and the categorical imperative, Rawls’s veil of ignorance, and maybe a couple more. There’s something to all of them, but they really don’t agree. And the field doesn’t have a coherent notion of which of them got what right. Moral philosophy comes across as not a single coherent field of study, but a loose collection of different perspectives or paradigms.

    This notion of morality as a matter of conflicting perspectives can be enormous good fun for the intellectually inclined, but it’s not much good if you are trying to actually figure out what’s right and wrong in any particular scenario. You go to the Wise Men with a question and they don’t have an answer. Maybe they have a handful of answers. Or maybe they’ll teach you ways to ask better questions in the first place. But that’ not what you came for. I find this very troubling.

    Why is moral philosophy such a mess? Other fields of inquiry aren’t like this. They don’t teach you several different systems of math or chemistry. Even physics, which is wrestling with two very different paradigms, only has two of them, not half a dozen.

    • Moral philosophy is typical for philosophy.

      • rlms says:

        Yes. My deep (that is to say, pretentious and probably poorly thought out) opinion is that philosophy is precisely the field of inquiry where not only is there no single paradigm, but there can be no nice and sensible set of paradigms at all! If you find a philosophical paradigm that sticks, eventually it just turns into maths (mathematical logic), science (the original natural philosophy), or linguistics or something.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      The reason that you’re confused is because you’re comparing scientific (I’m counting math for reasons I’ll explain below) disciplines to non-scientific ones.

      In science, if you come up with a hypothesis it can be tested for soundness and validity. Scientific models are math and can be evaluated for soundness by mathematical proofs. And scientific experiments can test hypotheses for validity to a desired level of confidence.

      In other academic disciplines this isn’t possible. At the absolute best you can use formal logic to determine the soundness of an argument. But there’s no equivalent of hypothesis testing.

      Math can get away with that because (the way I understand it) it’s the study of abstract relations. Testing for validity is inappropriate: if your conjecture is true for given assumptions then you’re done. But the second that you start talking about the real world it’s absolutely necessary.

      • albatross11 says:

        The thing that I always find interesting along these lines:

        a. Math done 2000 years ago is still useful and right and used every day. They had the right tools to start doing useful stuff and so it’s still worthwhile.

        b. Science done 2000 years ago is almost entirely useless–they didn’t have the right tools, so mostly it’s just crap.

        c. Philosophy from 2000 yeats ago is still about as worthwhle as later philosophy, because we still dont have some massively better set of tools. (Or so I think, anyway–I’m nowhere near being an expert.)

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Science done 2000 years ago is crap, but science done 2200 years ago is pretty good.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          There is no science from two thousand years ago. That’s sixteen centuries before the scientific method and at least a thousand years before anything recognizable as science.

          Beyond that, math from two thousand years ago means no logarithms, not to mention calculus and higher math. I’m not trying to knock ancient mathematicians but it’s a night and day difference in terms of usefulness.

          • There is no science from two thousand years ago. That’s sixteen centuries before the scientific method and at least a thousand years before anything recognizable as science.

            You don’t consider the correct deduction of the diameter of the Earth to be science?

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Nabil ad Dajjal
            This strikes me as obvious cargo cult thinking. You’re claiming that ancient works lack the trappings of modern science and are thus “unscientific” despite, as David Friedman notes, obvious evidence to the contrary.

          • For what it’s worth, I can point to two examples of the experimental approach being deliberately used in the 14th century, one Norse, one Muslim.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @hlynkacg,

            If I had said that Newton or Roger Bacon weren’t scientists then you’d have a point. That there were people conducting scientific experiments before Francis Bacon formalized the scientific method should be obvious.

            What I am saying is that you do need some sort of method even if it’s informal. One-off experiments by curious vikings aren’t really in the same category as Kepler and his contemporaries.

            Science isn’t just a synonym for learning in general. It’s a specific way of interrogating the natural world such that our understanding of it reliably increases over time. People have been learning through observation for as long as humanity has existed but science has only come into existence recently.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      Possibly that actual morality, as practiced by humans, is either a kludge or disparate.

      Humans have non-overlapping personality types with distinct motivations and senses of right and wrong. It’s expected that we’d have differing active moral systems. It’s also expected that, to the extent our personalities (types and formative experiences [e.g. moral salience]) differ from that of our parents and fellows that whatever we learn from them in terms of morality will form an ad hoc kludge with the innate morality of our personality.

      All personalities also have ideal morals, and moral behavior which comes from a less healthy survival or controlling state. As these behaviors have differing justifications, they will have differing philosophies.

      All philosophers have personalities, and their philosophical systems will be informed by this. I’m reminded of this quote or Nietzsche that I first found on Dave Kelly’s Ptypes website:

      “Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy so far has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

      While this quote is not fully accurate, upon detailed thought it is possible to see how any philosophy is informed (in details or structurally) by the basic personality of the philosopher, by the formative experiences impacting their personality, and by the social milieu impact on their personality.

    • carvenvisage says:

      Apart from it being really difficulty and hard to measure, I think it’s also because we are evolved monkeys and it is to our advantage not to be too clear on moral philosophy. ‘morality is whatever you want it to be, it’s like a smorgasboard’ is a state of the field that certain powerful people or groups would want to hear. Maybe moral philosophy is more distorted by outside influence than drier fields of philosophy.

      (Like consider the enron guys, or the people playing chicken with the banking crisis. It’s in their interest that they don’t understand moral philosophy, and even moreso that we don’t. if it’s all a big mystery they’re not so much worse than anybody else. I think this is part of the reason you get things like thieves codes. Asserting your own system of morality confuses things and gives you cover.)

  12. Art Vandelay says:

    I wan’t to pick up a discussion from the last OT. I was arguing against this idea:

    “We have too much political strife so we need to reduce the power of government and increase the power of the free market”

    My argument was that this is in itself a political position so is not going to reduce political strife at all. Let’s imagine that Trump was an undercover libertarian and on assuming office he instantly instituted a plan to drastically reduce government, getting rid of welfare, government agencies, all regulation, privatising or simply disbanding almost everything currently run by the government. He would obviously face massive political opposition to his political decision to slash government power.

    @Onyomi made the claim that this is just semantics. Sure, getting rid of politics in favour of free markets is a position on politics, but only if you want to be pedantic about it.

    This wasn’t quite the point I was making though. I agree that the disagreement here is semantic but my take is rather different. The libertarian side of the argument seems to treat government and politics as synonyms, or at least close enough that it makes little difference but I think this deeply misunderstands what politics is.

    Let’s imagine another hypothetical situation in which Trump has used his Master Persuader skills to negotiate a deal where everyone agrees to pursue their goals through the market. Damore releases his memo in this new libertarian USA. Do all the SJ people decide, “Well, seeing as government doesn’t really have any power any more I’m not going to get angry about this”? And if he does get fired, do all the anti-SJW people think to themselves “If we still had a government this would really grind my gears, but we don’t have politics any more so I’m going to let it slide”?

    As I was thinking about this I realised that the idea we need to reduce government in order to heal political divisions is actually not just wrong, it’s dangerous. The idea came from this piece, which wasn’t about the Damore controversy, it was about the Charlottesville violence. I find it hard to believe that anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of 20th Century history could possibly believe that the way you deal with threat of rising fascist and communist violence is to REDUCE the power of the government. The far-right and far-left don’t get into power because government is too strong, precisely the opposite is the case. This seems so obvious I’ve started to wonder if the Mises Institute is actually a Communist cabal, playing the long con by arguing for massive reductions to the state, biding their time until this comes to pass and they can raise a people’s militia to take advantage of the resulting power-vacuum to seize control and implement some 5-year plans.

    • Aapje says:

      I think that it’s really dangerous that many neoliberals are now telling people that no tweaks can be made to the system but the only choice is to let the market operate freely and accept the outcome. It logically leads people who dislike the outcome to desire radical chance/revolution.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I think that it’s really dangerous that many neoliberals are now telling people that no tweaks can be made to the system

        Huh? Who do you mean here? The technocratic left?

        The technocratic left loves tweaks…

        • Aapje says:

          Perhaps tweaks is the wrong word, I did mean substantial change that still preserves the basic capitalist system.

          Bill & Hillary Clinton, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Merkel and the EU all have this narrative where large scale migration, lower taxes on business, a reduced safety net, etc are inevitable and no other choice can be made.

          • Iain says:

            Huh?

            Obamacare was one of the largest expansions of the US safety net in decades. Clinton had detailed proposals for closing corporate tax loopholes. I don’t know what you mean by “large scale migration” — there is a gap between politicians and voters on the right, sure, but the same gap is much less salient on the left.

            Do you have an example of a policy that you would count as a sufficiently large tweak to the system?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            “Politics is the art of the possible” — Bismarck
            “”I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.” — FDR

            My point here is that the technocratic left includes, with a very high priority, a calculation of what they think is possible in their decisions on what they propose.

            Call it pragmatism as a moral principle.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            Obamacare was one of the largest expansions of the US safety net in decades.

            That provides support for my argument, actually. There was huge tax evasion during those decades, welfare was gutted, work security greatly reduced, the 1% got a much bigger part of the pie and then Obamacare is supposed to make up for this???

            I’ll grant you that Obama can plausibly be considered a victim of circumstance, as more might simply not have been possible, but Obama did try to push popular opinion on (silly) topics like equal pay, but not so much for other topics.

          • Iain says:

            There was huge tax evasion during those decades, welfare was gutted, work security greatly reduced, the 1% got a much bigger part of the pie and then Obamacare is supposed to make up for this???

            I was about to type [citation needed], but on second thought that’s not my biggest objection. My real objection is that nobody on the left is saying anything about these being good/inevitable.

            This is not a case where “neoliberals” are telling people nothing can be done; this is a case where politicians do not achieve all their goals you like, and have other goals that you personally dislike. Calling this “really dangerous” is a bit silly.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            Having universal healthcare is a really low bar for modern societies to reach for. The fact that Obama achieved it doesn’t show that he or his friends were big on wealth redistribution, just that they finally got around to doing the bare minimum expected of hyper-advanced post-industrial societies. There is a lot of disdain by neoliberals for social engineering. Canada is a good example, as leftists are in firm control of Canada, but because they are neoliberal leftists they don’t bother to augment the system in any way. Instead, they keep taxes extremely low so that half the population can buy really big houses and fancy cars that have been shown by science to not increase happiness by one iota, while neglecting to spend even a dime for the common good.

          • Iain says:

            @The Red Foliot:

            Your personal opinions on bar height are irrelevant. The simple fact is that the United States previously didn’t have universal healthcare, and now it does, funded in large part by a significant tax increase on people making more than $200K/year. That is not a small change, and I don’t see why Obama’s personal feelings on redistribution matter in the slightest.

            PS: That is not a good summary of Canadian politics. For example, it’s a bit weird to say that leftists are in firm control of Canada when there’s a whole major party (the NDP) to the left of the majority government. Source: I’m Canadian.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            It’s not my personal opinion on bar height; virtually all other advanced countries had universal healthcare, so one can conclude that its introduction wasn’t indicative of any significant desire for social spending on Obama’s part relative to his international peers. That Obama’s national peers, who are neoliberals and neoconservatives, thought that even universal health care might be “a bit too much” is only an indictment of neoliberalism, as countries without neoliberalism don’t think that way.

            As for Canada, I am Canadian, too, and so I am aware that the (neo)liberal party is in solid control, and furthermore that the vaunted NDP which you say is right wing is actually culturally left wing, as they are host to a lot of social justice people. If they appear right wing to you, because of their economic policies, that is funny because their economic beliefs are essentially those of neoliberals, showing that you think neoliberals are right wing (I would concur).

          • Iain says:

            the vaunted NDP which you say is right wing

            What? I said that there is a whole party to the left of the Liberals. That is precisely the opposite of saying the NDP are right-wing.

            And again: I don’t care about Obama’s motivations for supporting universal healthcare. I don’t care about a comparison to Obama’s “international peers”. I care about the comparison to the status quo. I care that millions of people got health coverage who previously didn’t have it, and that the fundamental question of health policy in America is slowly but surely pivoting from whether everybody should be covered to how.

            I’m not King of the Left. If you want to sit around bellowing “neoliberal!” at everybody who fails your arbitrary purity tests, I guess I can’t stop you. I just hope you’re not expecting to convince anybody.

            (If you are actually interested in convincing people, you could start by defining what you mean by “neoliberalism” and explaining why you see it as a bad thing.)

          • The Red Foliot says:

            The value of assessing what people like Obama and his peers think is that it helps you predict future trends, as they are on the ascendant. The fact that neither Obama nor his peers seem to care much for social expansion beyond just the low bar of universal health care indicates that neoliberalism probably won’t be developing in that direction anytime soon. One can also look at the receding popularity of social democrats of Europe and their general non-existence in North America, as well as the increasing prevalence of neoliberals in all quarter, to see that the only true champions of humane societies are likely to be supplanted by neoliberals who hate everything but low taxes and fancy cars.

            I see neoliberals as essentially mild-mannered libertarians. They favor free trade and low taxes but don’t take it as far as ancaps. The fact that they are considered left wing only proves to me that the left is the new right, and there is no new left to replace the old left.

          • Iain says:

            Hillary Clinton campaigned on making college debt-free. Would you categorize free college as a low tax, or as a fancy car?

            To be clear: I think free college is a dumb social expansion, but it’s clearly a social expansion. Your theory is bad, and you should spend more time observing the world instead of complaining about how you imagine it to be.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I see neoliberals as essentially mild-mannered libertarians

            You think the people pushing for universal national healthcare are libertarians?

            You think giving up a quarter of my income to the government (or more!) is low tax?

          • The Red Foliot says:

            Hillary’s proposal is indeed a radical (and stupid) departure from neoliberalism, and perhaps my views do need a teensy bit more nuance; however, there is definitely a trend of center-leftists coming to favor more libertarian-ish positions on economic matters, eschewing, in particular, wealth transfers to the very poor. I admit it is not bad on all fronts, however.

          • I see neoliberals as essentially mild-mannered libertarians.

            Who want governments to spend about forty percent of national income, regulate a wide range of industries, have government produce and control almost all K-12 schooling and most higher ed, decide what drugs, medical or recreational, people are allowed to take, …

            Your view is the mirror image of the libertarian position that both Democrats and Republicans are statists, differing in detail in exactly what they want the state to control.

            Seen from the North Pole, everything is south. Seen from the South Pole … .

          • cassander says:

            Bill & Hillary Clinton, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Merkel and the EU all have this narrative where large scale migration, lower taxes on business, a reduced safety net, etc are inevitable and no other choice can be made

            Bill Clinton and Obama both expanded the safety net, as it has under every president since FDR. It didn’t shrink under blair or cameron. Don’t know about merkel. I lose patience with those on the left who prefer the myth being under attack to the reality of their success. The left is not fighting some rearguard action, it is constantly advancing, and it is so used to automatic advance that it confuses temporary abatement of progress with catastrophic defeat.

            That provides support for my argument, actually. There was huge tax evasion during those decades,

            please show evidence of this, or don’t make the claim.

            welfare was gutted,

            one welfare program was made less generous. every other one expanded, and by much more.

            work security greatly reduced,

            what does this mean?

            the 1% got a much bigger part of the pie and

            only if by that you mean “the wealth of every sector of society increased, but it increased faster for some than others”. Which is true, but not exactly a catastrophe unless your only motive is avarice.

            then Obamacare is supposed to make up for this???

            There is nothing to make up for.

          • Well…no. The neoliberal left differ from the neoliberal right.

          • Aapje says:

            @cassander

            Do you mean by absolute numbers or by relative numbers? Because the US population increased, which naturally gives you an increase, even if the per capita size of the programs stay the same.

            I also believe that relative wealth is very important and has a great impact on how society hangs together, so if GDP increases, you need increase in the programs as well or you lose something.

            However, the changes I’m complaining about go beyond wealth redistribution. I think that meritocracy has been taken too far and respect has been lost for the human behind the provider of labor. Some people’s abilities are so valuable that they benefit from this, but many others are part of the precariat.

            What most of the modern left and right misunderstand that the precariat is fundamentally not demanding handouts, but a fair deal. As Roosevelt said:

            When I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.

            And as Truman said:

            Every segment of our population and every individual has a right to expect from our Government a fair deal.

            However, at this point I think we must look beyond mere equality of opportunity, but also a level of respect and consideration for those who can’t. When society starts demanding more from people than what they can provide with a healthy amount of effort, the capitalist system becomes one of abuse.

          • cassander says:

            @Aapje says:

            Do you mean by absolute numbers or by relative numbers? Because the US population increased, which naturally gives you an increase, even if the per capita size of the programs stay the same.

            That didn’t happen. Pick your measure, spending per capita, inflation adjusted spending, spending as a share of GDP, all up.

            What most of the modern left and right misunderstand that the precariat is fundamentally not demanding handouts, but a fair deal. As Roosevelt said:

            and how would you propose this fair deal be achieved without handouts? And then elaborate which concrete policy changes in the last ~30 years have undermined that. And fictional policy changes, like “gutting safety nets”, don’t count.

            However, at this point I think we must look beyond mere equality of opportunity, but also a level of respect and consideration for those who can’t. When society starts demanding more from people than what they can provide with a healthy amount of effort, the capitalist system becomes one of abuse.

            Nothing has done more to decrease respect for others’ effort than a welfare state that made work unnecessary for broad swathes of the population.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            @Cassander

            and how would you propose this fair deal be achieved without handouts? And then elaborate which concrete policy changes in the last ~30 years have undermined that. And fictional policy changes, like “gutting safety nets”, don’t count.

            In my view helping the poor in this way would involve a host of specific changes rather than a few general ones. For instance, public transit should be given more funding so that it doesn’t take poor people two hours to commute to work. This would make up for the fact that rich people created sprawling, impractical suburbs and then abandoned them, forcing poor people to inhabit them in their stead. Another change would be to ban the zero sum game of advertising, as well as the extension of credit for frivolous purposes, as these things are a detriment to everyone but especially poor people. I have read that there some people who, lacking much aptitude in financial matters, will instantly run off to buy expensive luxury items if they are sent a credit card through the mail. In light of this, sending them credit cards should be regarded as a predatory venture, as it is guaranteed to screw them over without producing society anything of positive value. The war on drugs has had a particularly harmful effect on the poor and should be repealed. There are a lot of specific adjustments like this that could be made, without even requiring the transfer of wealth, that would make the world easier to inhabit for people less competent at generating and handling wealth.

          • Aapje says:

            @Anon

            Your links are about social programs, not welfare. See chapter II, indicator 3, Figure 3a.

            @cassander

            and how would you propose this fair deal be achieved without handouts? And then elaborate which concrete policy changes in the last ~30 years have undermined that.

            Good question and a tough question. Charles Murray argued that welfare programs ultimately didn’t help to reduce poverty. However, the welfare to work programs have been shown to lead to mostly the same incomes, just with less coming from the government and more from low paying jobs. So we have more working poor.

            One solution for this is to reduce the income necessary to live on, like having single-payer healthcare (at least for the poor) and/or a far more progressive tax system (possibly including negative taxes for low earners). Another possibility is to try to increase wages for simpler jobs (by requiring certain benefits and/or raising the minimum wage).

            What certainly should happen is that certain abusive practices are banned, like ‘interns’ who work full jobs for less than minimum wage. People who have very irregular job schedules where they only get told how much they will work the morning before work. Etc.

            Then there is the creative destruction option, where we fix the scientific system to stop optimizing for p-hacking and other corruption, which results in most scientific spending being wasted. Instead, we fund science that can be truly significant & disruptive and thus either enable ‘post-scarcity’ to some extent or just create a large boom. Large economic growth has been shown to help the poor a lot. Of course, this also means redirecting money from soft sciences to engineering and hard sciences.

            Another option is social engineering: start teaching people to be content with better social lives and less material wealth, to judge others less by income, etc. This so people will act less selfishly and more communally.

            As far as I can tell, doing these things will piss off both the mainstream left and right, as it goes against the dogma of both sides. So that probably means it’s correct 😛

          • cassander says:

            @The Red Foliot says:

            In my view helping the poor in this way would involve a host of specific changes rather than a few general ones. For instance, public transit should be given more funding so that it doesn’t take poor people two hours to commute to work.

            the poor in the US, by and large, do not work. in the bottom 1/5 of households (which is, roughly, equivalent to those under the poverty line) almost 70% of households do not work at all, and half of the rest work only part time. More and cheaper public transit might benefit this group, but not in the way you describe. And that’s before we even consider that the largest beneficiaries of more transit spending will be the unionized groups that control it, the builders and operators of such systems.

            This would make up for the fact that rich people created sprawling, impractical suburbs and then abandoned them, forcing poor people to inhabit them in their stead.

            This is an extremely odd description of US housing patterns. the suburbs, almost by definition, are places where housing is overwhelmingly single occupancy homes owned by the people living in them. Putting aside that no one was forced anywhere, the idea of people being so poor they have to move away from their job and buy a house is…..somewhat incoherent.

            Another change would be to ban the zero sum game of advertising, as well as the extension of credit for frivolous purposes, as these things are a detriment to everyone but especially poor people

            and who gets to decide what counts as frivolous? Good work, if you can get it, I suppose. But I for one would not feel comfortable telling other people how they must spend their money. Should spend, yes. but not must. Need I dredge of the history of restrictions on payday lending and how they tend to hurt rather than help the poor? This is pure Calvinist leftism.

            @Aapje says:

            Your links are about social programs, not welfare. See chapter II, indicator 3, Figure 3a.

            welfare is one social program among many. to speak of one of them being cut while every other one was expanded is to mislead.

            Good question and a tough question. Charles Murray argued that welfare programs ultimately didn’t help to reduce poverty. However, the welfare to work programs have been shown to lead to mostly the same incomes, just with less coming from the government and more from low paying jobs. So we have more working poor.

            I don’t disagree, but that still seems like a win, over all.

            One solution for this is to reduce the income necessary to live on, like having single-payer healthcare (at least for the poor)

            We have one, it’s called medicaid.

            and/or a far more progressive tax system (possibly including negative taxes for low earners).

            The US already has the most progressive tax system in the developed world. the top 20% make 55% of income and pay 70% of taxes. The bottom 20% pay less than one percent of taxes, and the bottom 40 less than 5%.

            https://www.cbo.gov/publication/51361

            Another possibility is to try to increase wages for simpler jobs (by requiring certain benefits and/or raising the minimum wage).

            I don’t want to get into a thing on the minimum wage. I think raising it will hurt the people you claim to help. Can we agree that evidence on the subject is, at best, mixed? As for raising wages, I see no way of doing that that isn’t a handout. Now, I happen to think that wage subsidies are a decent way to help people, certainly better than most alterantives, but they are definitely a handout.

            What certainly should happen is that certain abusive practices are banned, like ‘interns’ who work full jobs for less than minimum wage. People who have very irregular job schedules where they only get told how much they will work the morning before work. Etc.

            I have worked as an intern, and I did so because doing it made it easier to get a better job. This, to me, sounds like cutting the ladder out from under people.

            . Instead, we fund science that can be truly significant & disruptive and thus either enable ‘post-scarcity’ to some extent or just create a large boom.

            there is no such thing as post scarcity, human wants are infinite. And the path from basic science to economic growth is, at best, extremely long and indirect.

            Large economic growth has been shown to help the poor a lot. Of course, this also means redirecting money from soft sciences to engineering and hard sciences.

            it does, but it helps the rich more, something you were lamenting earlier.

            Another option is social engineering: start teaching people to be content with better social lives and less material wealth, to judge others less by income, etc. This so people will act less selfishly and more communally.

            any plan that amounts to “make people better” is a bad plan.

            So that probably means it’s correct 😛

            sacrificing everyone named ted or sam to cthulhu in hopes he blesses us will also be condemned to by both sides. Condemnation is not a measure of wisdom .

          • The Red Foliot says:

            @Cassander

            the poor in the US, by and large, do not work. in the bottom 1/5 of households (which is, roughly, equivalent to those under the poverty line) almost 70% of households do not work at all, and half of the rest work only part time.

            Does that statistic include workers who take their paycheck under the table? And, in relation to that, does it include illegal immigrants? If not, taking cognizance of their likely undeclared incomes, the figure doesn’t seem so bad. (Also, it says 63% of poor households have no earners. That’s not ‘almost 70%’; it’s ‘just over 60%’.) I also note that the lowest bracket has the second highest amount of elderly people, who amount to 35% of their population, so presumably a lot of the non-earning people are simply too old to work. In any case, not all of those who don’t work are undeserving–as some of them cannot work–and if helping the deserving poor means rendering inadvertent assistance to the undeserving poor as well, that doesn’t seem so bad. I’d guess that a portion of the undeserving poor would suddenly start participating in the legal economy if 1. the war on drugs was abolished, 2. well-funded public transit made the prospects of having a job less daunting, and 3. minimum wage laws were struck down and less competent people were able to find work in the first place.

            Another thing to mention is that public transit wouldn’t just help the very poor, but everyone else in the hierarchy as well, even those at the very top. One thing that isn’t priced into the cost of private vs. public transit is how private transit less space efficient. This leads to traffic jams and longer commutes for everyone, as well as a need for broader roadways. It also causes a lot of unpleasant noise and pollution. Public transit would directly help everyone for whom a personal car is a significant expense, and it would indirectly help everyone else by cutting down on overall traffic and all of its unpleasant side effects.

            The reason I blame the middle-class people for suburbanization is that they were the ones who caused it. They reworked the landscape of North American cities in ways that were somewhat livable for people with cars but hellish for everyone else. Now, as they move back into the inner cities, supplanting the urban poor, the urban poor are forced to move out into the hellscape created by the middle-class. But regardless who created it, it is presently a source of woe for many people in our society. The problem ought to be fixed or alleviated.

            For credit and advertising restrictions, there are laws effecting them already in place. As such, I see no reason why they cannot simply be expanded. Particular practices such as giving random loans to low-income people can obviously be curtailed very easily, as we have evidence of other countries already doing it.

          • cassander says:

            @The Red Foliot says:

            Does that statistic include workers who take their paycheck under the table? And, in relation to that, does it include illegal immigrants?

            It’s census survey data, so yes to the former, not sure about the latter, but probably.

            (Also, it says 63% of poor households have no earners. That’s not ‘almost 70%’; it’s ‘just over 60%’.)

            Look further down, it says “69.4%” I believe we are confusing “percentage of householders who don’t work” and “percentage of households with no workers”. your figure was the latter, mine the former.

            I also note that the lowest bracket has the second highest amount of elderly people, who amount to 35% of their population, so presumably a lot of the non-earning people are simply too old to work.

            the average SS payment is almost enough to get one out of the lowest 1/5. Most retires rely heavily, but not entirely on SS. but even if you assume that every single one of those elderly people isn’t working even part time, you still have more non workers than full and part time workers combined.

            In any case, not all of those who don’t work are undeserving–as some of them cannot work–and if helping the deserving poor means rendering inadvertent assistance to the undeserving poor as well, that doesn’t seem so bad.

            I did not say they were un-deserving. Or deserving for that matter. I merely wished to point out that the idea of a large mass of working poor is not borne out by facts.

            I’d guess that a portion of the undeserving poor would suddenly start participating in the legal economy if 1. the war on drugs was abolished, 2. well-funded public transit made the prospects of having a job less daunting, and 3. minimum wage laws were struck down and less competent people were able to find work in the first place.

            While I don’t think any of that is bad policy, I think the idea that they would fundamentally alter american work patterns hard to credit.

            The reason I blame the middle-class people for suburbanization is that they were the ones who caused it. They reworked the landscape of North American cities in ways that were somewhat livable for people with cars but hellish for everyone else.

            It wasn’t people in the suburbs that drove mid-century urban policy, it was people in the cities. Urban renewal project dynamiting neighborhoods of ethnic and political rivals all around the country was an intra-city issue driven by internal as much as external dynamics. See the curly effect.

            Now, as they move back into the inner cities, supplanting the urban poor, the urban poor are forced to move out into the hellscape created by the middle-class.

            calling suburbia a hellscape doesn’t lend credence to the notion that this is dispassionate analysis. And I think you substantially overestimate the amount of actual movement going on, especially in recent years.

            For credit and advertising restrictions, there are laws effecting them already in place. As such, I see no reason why they cannot simply be expanded. Particular practices such as giving random loans to low-income people can obviously be curtailed very easily, as we have evidence of other countries already doing it

            Yes, we do have evidence. Evidence it hurts the poor.

    • IrishDude says:

      Let’s imagine another hypothetical situation in which Trump has used his Master Persuader skills to negotiate a deal where everyone agrees to pursue their goals through the market. Damore releases his memo in this new libertarian USA. Do all the SJ people decide, “Well, seeing as government doesn’t really have any power any more I’m not going to get angry about this”? And if he does get fired, do all the anti-SJW people think to themselves “If we still had a government this would really grind my gears, but we don’t have politics any more so I’m going to let it slide”?

      I don’t expect reduction of decisions being made in the political realm to eliminate conflict, I do expect conflict to be reduced.

      Consider the opposite of my political preference happens, and imagine more decisions start to get made politically rather than through the market. What cars people buy, what food people eat, where people live, what TV shows they watch, what recreational activities they engage in, etc. What if instead of individuals deciding what preferences they’d like to pursue, the political process was used to impose one-size-fits-all preferences on everyone? You can only buy a Ford truck, or Game of Thrones is banned, or you can only play soccer and no other sports, because politicians, elected from the population, have decreed it so. Do you think this would lead to more or less conflict?

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        Plausibly less, though it wouldn’t be worth it. Spain had less religious conflict than France after all, the Inquisition was good for something. Outlawing football is pretty silly but hey, that is one less Real American shibboleth.

        • IrishDude says:

          Spain had less religious conflict than France after all, the Inquisition was good for something.

          I would describe the Inquisition, using politics to impose one religious preference on the entire population, as an incredible increase in conflict. It involved mass scale killing, torturing, jailing, expelling, and oppressing people with varied religious preferences.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            With 65% certainty: I’m just saying the end result is less conflict-prone, not more.

            With 55% certainty: I don’t think the inquisition harmed anywhere near as many people as the French, British, or Holy Roman Empire wars of religion, so the pro-inquisition side actually comes out ahead in this comparison. Gross.

          • IrishDude says:

            With 65% certainty: I’m just saying the end result is less conflict-prone, not more.

            If you expel, jail, and kill people with varied religious preferences, and the only people left are ones that favor the politically imposed religious preference, then conflict might be lower among those in that religion. Sure. Then their preferences don’t cause conflict with anyone that can impose on them, because the heretics have been decimated.

            I don’t think the inquisition harmed anywhere near as many people as the French, British, or Holy Roman Empire wars of religion

            A reasonable claim. Though, noting that political leaders engaging in wars against their external enemies is worse than an internal Inquisition doesn’t argue against the claim that markets are preferable to politics when it comes to making decisions.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            With 55% certainty: I don’t think the inquisition harmed anywhere near as many people as the French, British, or Holy Roman Empire wars of religion, so the pro-inquisition side actually comes out ahead in this comparison. Gross.

            The Inquisition was actually set up to reduce the number of people harmed. Before the Inquisition, it was easy for corrupt local lords (who were generally in charge of the local judiciary) to frame people they didn’t like for heresy (just bribe some villager to say they’d overheard you praying to demons or whatever); the Inquisition was there to make sure that standards of evidence etc. were actually followed.

            Another thing was that the Inquisition was essentially reactive: its job was to try people who were accused of heresy, not to go proactively looking for heresy itself. You didn’t get gangs of Inquisitors turning up round people’s houses and searching them for evidence of heresy, the way you got in (Protestant) England.

          • Deiseach says:

            The Spanish Inquisition was very much the Spanish one, as in, an arm of the state. In the aftermath of the Wars of Reconquest, rooting out disloyalty and fifth columnists as well as creating and imposing a standard national identity was the plan. It’s more like McCarthyism in that manner.

            The Spanish Inquisition often tussled with Rome trying to exert control over it and rein it in, because the Spanish monarchs did not want to hand over authority. But even the Spanish Inquisition was bound by the rules of how trials were meant to be carried out, and it didn’t have the same chaos as the witch hunting in the aftermath of the English Civil War, for instance.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            Mr. X & Deiseach:
            I have to say, those were some unexpected takes on the Spanish Inquisition.

          • rlms says:

            @Machina ex Deus
            “The Inquisition wasn’t so bad” and “nuclear weapons won’t kill us all” are the two classic SSC contrarian beliefs (which is not to say that they’re wrong).

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            “The Inquisition wasn’t so bad” and “nuclear weapons won’t kill us all” are the two classic SSC contrarian beliefs (which is not to say that they’re wrong).

            Never bet against a SSCian when nukes are on the line!

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        What if instead of individuals deciding what preferences they’d like to pursue, the political process was used to impose one-size-fits-all preferences on everyone?

        This also happens in the market economy. I know because of the sheer difficulty many people have in finding an alternative to various products when the manufacturer decides to alter the formulation, change the design, or get it manufactured elsewhere.

        Never underestimate the effect economic competition has on uniformizing a market. People still have to buy particular items, even if all the options are highly dispreferred (very few go the “make your own” route, and even these few still buy various inputs and devices in order to make their own).

        As examples: Look at how many topical products use jojoba oil, how common chamomile or lavender is in various products lines, complaints about fabric products that are now manufactured in another country (using different inputs, unfortunately), etc…. And think of the personal economic waste an individual must go through buying and trying until they finally find a “good enough” solution.

        • cassander says:

          >Never underestimate the effect economic competition has on uniformizing a market. People still have to buy particular items, even if all the options are highly dispreferred (very few go the “make your own” route, and even these few still buy various inputs and devices in order to make their own).

          this is nonsensical. a market without competition is, by definition, uniform. competition can’t make it LESS uniform.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            competition can’t make it LESS uniform.

            Cost-competition can, and does. So does fad competition.

            It doesn’t make it completely uniform, but it makes it far more difficult to find alternatives for particular products which do include ingredient X, or don’t include ingredient Y, or what have you.

            This is based on experience, unfortunately.

          • cassander says:

            >Cost-competition can, and does. So does fad competition.

            A market without competition is one with a single provider (or no providers, I suppose). You can’t be more uniform than a single provider, by definition.

            >It doesn’t make it completely uniform, but it makes it far more difficult to find alternatives for particular products which do include ingredient X, or don’t include ingredient Y, or what have you.

            You can only look for alternatives if alternatives exist. I don’t dispute that some markets have insufficient alternatives, but less competition is never going to be make for more alternatives, almost by definition.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            You can’t be more uniform than a single provider, by definition.

            It really depends on how many products they offer. One of the benefits of true competition is that the Unilever’s and Procter & Gamble’s of the world do compete with a diversity of products within a particular product line.

            less competition is never going to be make for more alternatives

            This is true. One of the minuses of cost competition though is that it minimizes alternatives. Due to cost competition Foxconn has few competitors, even though it’s not a consumer-facing company. Thus all of the consumer-facing companies which contract with Foxconn to make their product are just selling slight variations on a theme. (This example meant for illustrative, not literal purposes)

          • cassander says:

            This is true. One of the minuses of cost competition though is that it minimizes alternatives

            .

            we’ve been over this. the default number of products is one. things can only go up from there.

            Due to cost competition Foxconn has few competitors, even though it’s not a consumer-facing company. Thus all of the consumer-facing companies which contract with Foxconn to make their product are just selling slight variations on a theme. (This example meant for illustrative, not literal purposes)

            it’s also wrong. foxcon is a huge contract electronics manufacturer, the biggest in fact, but far from the
            only one.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Lowest common denominator or most prevalent common denominator.

            You know as well as I that even in a market of 100s of millions consumers the 5% outliers get hardly any service. Nearly every company is aiming at the most common want (or the richest).

          • You know as well as I that even in a market of 100s of millions consumers the 5% outliers get hardly any service.

            Not my experience or close to it. I have hobbies shared by a tiny minority of the population–and I can buy things made for those hobbies. Some even on Amazon.

            Indeed, I just did. One of my hobbies is historical recreation. At Pennsic a week or so back, the ceramic brazier I brought back from Morocco, which had proved very useful for medieval camp cooking, got broken. I have just ordered a replacement from Amazon. If you add up all the people interested in doing medieval Islamic camp cooking and throw in a few other interests that might lead someone to want such a thing, I doubt you get up to one percent of the population.

            The SCA actually provides evidence for an estimate of how big a minority you need before it pays people to make stuff targeting you. In the early years, almost everything you needed for the hobby–medieval clothing, shoes, armor, ..,,.–you either made for yourself or traded with someone else in the hobby for. Nowadays you can buy all of it at Pennsic, from multiple vendors, much of it also online. Pennsic population is about ten thousand. I don’t know what the current SCA membership is, but even if you include other groups similar enough to want some of the same stuff I doubt it adds up to a hundred thousand people in the U.S. So something under 1/3000 of the population is a large enough minority to get people making things to sell to them.

            Evidence that you are off by more than two orders of magnitude.

          • cassander says:

            @anonymousskimmer says:

            DavidFriedman made the point I was going to make, and with greater eloquence than I was going to. When amazon.com first started driving little mom and pop bookstores out of the market in the late 90s, people complained that it would homogenize the market, destroy the market for used books, small print runs, etc. The opposite has been the case. It’s monopoly that caters to the lowest common denominator, not competition.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Congrats on having a different experience than my household David Friedman.

            Congrats also on being ‘rich’ enough to have a hobby which is catered to by niche suppliers. This in no way addressed the homogenization of mass-produce products I was addressing earlier.

            Nearly every company is aiming at the most common want (or the richest).

          • John Schilling says:

            Congrats also on being ‘rich’ enough to have a hobby which is catered to by niche suppliers.

            What is the good that you think fifteen million ‘poor’ Americans want to buy, and could plausibly afford if it were made on that scale, that isn’t being made? Or maybe you were exaggerating; let’s take 5% of 5%. What is the good that 750,000 poor Americans want and can afford but isn’t being made?

          • g says:

            Here is a somewhat-plausible candidate good that a lot of poor Americans would like but can’t get at reasonable prices: clothing in nonstandard sizes. People with very wide or very narrow feet, people who are very tall or very short or very thin or very fat, women with very large or very small breasts.

            I happen to be of fairly typical dimensions and not in the US, so I’m going only on hearsay here, but my impression is that while there certainly are makers of clothing that cater to people on the edges of the bell curves they tend to be expensive and not to have their shops everywhere.

          • Brad says:

            The internet helps on that one a lot. For mostly logistical reasons, but also with respect to women’s clothing for branding reasons, stores only stock a certain range of sizes. And the old days that’s all they made. But now a lot brands that don’t stock a 30/28 or a size 18 in their stores will sell them online.

          • but my impression is that while there certainly are makers of clothing that cater to people on the edges of the bell curves they tend to be expensive and not to have their shops everywhere.

            I’m unusually, but not extraordinarily, short–5′ 3.5″ for most of my life, probably 5′ 3″ now. I get my pants from Haband, and have done so for decades. They now have a web page, haband.com, but for a long time they were mail order. Checking their web page, I see pants on sale for $14.99 a pair if you buy two pair. I’m seeing shoes at D and 3E widths for about $40.

            Their stuff is generally inexpensive and available in a wider range of sizes than most stores carry. Quality varies.

      • Art Vandelay says:

        You seem to be defining politics as “what government does” which I’ve already argued is too narrow for the topic at hand.

        imagine more decisions start to get made politically rather than through the market. What cars people buy, what food people eat, where people live, what TV shows they watch, what recreational activities they engage in, etc.

        These things already are decided by government. Cars must meet certain safety standards, certain emission requirement. Food is also regulated – I couldn’t raise a load of monkeys in my house, butcher them in my kitchen and then sell them from a stall outside the front of my house. The same goes for TV and recreational activities.

        This is very unscientific but my impression is that in most countries where these things are less regulated they generally have a higher degree of conflict. In societies where they are/have been more heavily regulated there seems to generally be less conflict. Totalitarian regimes are not normally known for open displays of political disagreement. Of course, that means a lot less freedom – I’m not saying heavier government regulation of these things would be better, but it might well lead to less conflict.

        • IrishDude says:

          You seem to be defining politics as “what government does” which I’ve already argued is too narrow for the topic at hand.

          Defining politics as “what government does” carries on from my OP in the last thread (that you originally responded to) that noted a passage from your linked article:
          “In a winner takes all political world, elections are weapons. Unless and until we learn to reject politics as the overarching method for organizing society, hatred and fear of “the other” will remain pervasive. Americans understand viscerally that government has far too much power over who wins and loses in our society, but haven’t fully grasped the degree to which the political class benefits from division. We still want to believe in grade-school notions of democracy and voting.

          That’s the type of politics that I’m arguing against. If you have a different definition of politics, I may or may not think that alternative conception is helpful for reducing conflict.

          These things already are decided by government.

          It’s a matter of scale. There are many, many choices for what car I buy, what food I eat, where I live, what TV show I watch, what recreational activities I engage in, etc. Government intervenes some around the edges, but the bulk of the decision-making process comes from consumers pursuing their varied preferences. Contrast cars and food against something like Social Security or Medicare, mandatory one-size-fits-all retirement and health programs imposed on the entire population, with no choice to opt out and choose different programs to spend that portion of your paycheck on. Those programs are highly political, while cars and foods are much less so. Subsequently, I see a lot more emotional discussion and engagement when changes to those systems are discussed, given that they affect and are imposed on everyone, versus whether or not Coke makes a new type of soda or Ford updates its F-150 truck, given they affect only portions of the population that choose to engage with those products, and consumers can switch to competitors if they desire.

          EDIT: Particular to the current situation, I think the confederate statue issue would produce much less emotional conflict if the statues were on private property versus government property.

          • Art Vandelay says:

            @IrishDude

            Defining politics as “what government does” carries on from my OP in the last thread (that you originally responded to)

            Well yes and I’ve disagreed with it. Although actually, that article isn’t consistently using this definition and that is a large part of the problem. It begins:

            The political violence in Charlottesville yesterday…

            Now, I suspect they are not referring to force used by the police. They are talking about non-Governmental violence, they are using the word “political” in a broader sense which is what I have been arguing for.
            There is something of a bait and switch going on here:

            Look at this awful (non-grovernmental) political violence. How can we get rid of it? Well, seeing as the violence is political I guess we need less politics. How do we do that? Well, everyone knows politics and government are synonyms, so we need less government.

            Contrast cars and food against something like Social Security or Medicare, mandatory one-size-fits-all retirement and health programs imposed on the entire population, with no choice to opt out and choose different programs to spend that portion of your paycheck on. Those programs are highly political, while cars and foods are much less so.

            So you think that if the Republicans tried to literally get rid of all social security and turn medical care 100% over to the free market this would somehow be unpolitical and would also lead to less conflict? It seems obvious to me that this would vastly increase political conflict.

            Again, I think this muddy thinking is caused by treating government and politics as synonyms. “Democrats and Republicans disagree, to reduce this political conflict we should reduce the importance of politics, i.e. reduce the size of government”. The size of government is their main point of disagreement.

          • IrishDude says:

            The political violence in Charlottesville yesterday…

            Now, I suspect they are not referring to force used by the police. They are talking about non-Governmental violence, they are using the word “political” in a broader sense which is what I have been arguing for.
            There is something of a bait and switch going on here:

            The clash was over the decision by the city council to remove the Lee statue from a public park. The government made a decision about government owned property, and the people with opposing preferences on the decision were driven to conflict. It seems to me the clash was driven by politics, defined as decisions made by government officials, so I don’t think there’s any bait and switch. I don’t think that clash happens if the Lee statue was on private property and the property owner decided to take down the statue.

            So you think that if the Republicans tried to literally get rid of all social security and turn medical care 100% over to the free market this would somehow be unpolitical and would also lead to less conflict? It seems obvious to me that this would vastly increase political conflict.

            I agree with you. Those programs have been put in the political domain, so any tweak to them will be subject to political conflict. There’s one lever of power, and the tribes will fight over who controls that lever. If they hadn’t been put in the political domain to begin with, then there’d be a wide variety of private retirement and health care programs for older people across the U.S., and tweaks to any of those private programs wouldn’t lead to the scale of conflict that’s to be expected when the decisions are made by the state on the one-size-fits-all mandatory programs.

            Again, I think this muddy thinking is caused by treating government and politics as synonyms. “Democrats and Republicans disagree, to reduce this political conflict we should reduce the importance of politics, i.e. reduce the size of government”. The size of government is their main point of disagreement.

            See some of my thoughts on this on my response I made to you on the prior thread.

          • rlms says:

            @IrishDude
            “I don’t think that clash happens if the Lee statue was on private property and the property owner decided to take down the statue.”
            I think you vastly overestimate the extent to which the events were about the statue, and the ability of anyone involved to care about what kind of entity owned the property. If the statue had been on private as in inaccessible property, no-one would have known and nothing would have happened, but in a hypothetical world where everything is the same except the park is owned by a benevolent private entity rather than the government I’m pretty things would have happened the same.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The private entity would have just yanked it down when he decided to, instead of passing a resolution to yank it down at a later date, giving people a chance to form a protest.

            As I was typing that I realized it’s good government works that way. People ought to be able to have time to protest things.

          • Matt M says:

            I don’t think that clash happens if the Lee statue was on private property and the property owner decided to take down the statue.

            Haven’t researched, but I’ve heard that the city of Seattle has avoided the issue of a (increasingly) controversial Lenin statue by simply saying “It is privately owned and resides on private property therefore it’s none of our business”

            Which, even if true, strikes me as somewhat shaky, as I’m sure if a private business owner erected a giant swastika in the middle of town, the city government would make it their business…

          • Matt M says:

            As I was typing that I realized it’s good government works that way. People ought to be able to have time to protest things.

            Didn’t New Orelans remove its statues well ahead of the announced date, at 2 AM, with police officers wearing masks and bulletproof vests?

          • Dissonant Cognizance says:

            @Matt M
            New Orleans didn’t announce a date or time, specifically to avoid conflict in taking them down.

            I’d also like to point out that the law invoked to remove the statues gives the City Council the power to remove any structure deemed a “public nuisance” – so presumably the statues of Lee and Beauregard would still be forcibly removed even if the Confederate Museum bought them and put them out on the front lawn.

          • Matt M says:

            Right. And I’m gonna guess Seattle has a similar plausible option. And I’m gonna guess that Lenin will not be declared a public nuisance.

    • onyomi says:

      Re. Damore and Google at Tanagra:

      Libertarians arguing for the reduction or elimination of state power as a solution to problems are not claiming that there will be no more problems society has to work through. In fact, abandoning state power is, in some sense, only the first step to finding a real social consensus with respect to some issue.

      For example, I haven’t seen any libertarians arguing that the state should force Google to change its diversity policy or rehire Damore. But that doesn’t mean we can’t argue about what Google ought to do.

      If we want to call those voluntary negotiations a kind of “second-order” politics, then okay, but the distinction is not immaterial. Libertarians want more such issues to be worked out by the free and voluntary interactions of individuals rather than being subjected to a “political” (state-based) decision process.

      • Deiseach says:

        Re. Damore and Google at Tanagra

        Notional upvote for this alone 🙂

        • Toby Bartels says:

          Damore and Google stranded on an island together, forced to work out their differences in order to survive, might be a good thing, but I doubt that Google will go for it.

      • Iain says:

        People who want more hot-button issues to be worked out by the free and voluntary interactions of individuals should consider what that looks like in practice. It looks like Damore. It looks like Brandon Eich. When the official mechanism for eliminating discrimination is boycott and protest, you’d better believe that people are going to use it, and you’re not always going to be on board with their targets.

        Under the status quo, there is a floor for what companies ought to do, enforced in a relatively consistent manner by the courts, and mechanisms for legally amending it. These laws exist because, to the extent that “a real societal consensus” is ever possible, it has already been reached. Politics provides an end point for individual battles in the culture war. I’m not sure anybody should be eager to reopen hostilities.

        Obvious response: “Iain, you naive fool! Do you really think that culture wars end when somebody passes a law?”
        Pre-emptive rebuttal: No, of course not — but they get a lot less hostile. In any sort of remotely open society, you are going to have ideological differences, and no system exists that would completely resolve them. It’s easy to compare the beautiful clean system in your head to the messy reality of the status quo. Just remember that liberal democracy, too, was once a beautiful clean idea.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          A very good point, but I disagree with your conclusion.

          Societal consensus is a moving target, and if there’s one thing to be taken away from 20th Century American Politics is that you can be quite successful at getting your agenda normalized if you internalize the lesson that Politics Is Downstream Of Culture, and focus on challenging and changing that societal consensus as much or more than legislative or even structural political reform.

          This is a lesson that both Liberals and Conservatives have learned, though in general the Liberals have been better at it. It’s long past time for Libertarians to start figuring out ways to work towards cultural and eventually societal change. Of course, this is a much slower process. Liberal cultural victories might seem like they happened fast (e.g. acceptance and normalization of homosexuality), but that’s because they were able to use collected cultural leverage and persuasion to push things past a tipping point. Getting to that tipping point took literal decades of work.

          Libertarians and libertarian-minded conservatives and liberals have a disadvantage here. The ideology and approach tends to attract people who are more systems-oriented than people-oriented, and that probably puts a would be grassroots movement for libertarian cultural reform at more of a disadvantage than one pushing for political reform. But I sincerely believe that this is the way forward and have for awhile now.

      • ResonantPyre says:

        In a libertarian society would people really boycott to make it a significant mechanism for change? Voting turnout isn’t even very high right now. Boycotts, especially for large companies, are way more marginal for the individual person in terms of effect than voting. One of the things I worry about with a libertarian society, is that you’d just be swapping government power for corporate power.

        Regular elections are an easier mechanism for changing power, a simpler schelling point if you will, compared to myriad boycotts that are hard to organize and follow through with.

        • cassander says:

          > Boycotts, especially for large companies, are way more marginal for the individual person in terms of effect than voting.

          the marginal effect of most votes in an election is zero. there are the votes of all the people who lost the election, plus all the people who didn’t matter to the victor. With a boycott, by contrast, every single boycotter has a real, if small, impact on the company’s bottom line. ANd to get a company to change, you don’t need to get every customer, you don’t even need half, you just need enough to make it more expensive to not change than to change. voting is definitely a more reliable path to change….if you win. But by focussing on the winning, you’re ignoring all the votes that don’t win.

          >is that you’d just be swapping government power for corporate power

          .

          Except corporations can’t arrest you, can’t tax you, can’t seize your property. All they can do is offer you money to do what they want.

          • ResonantPyre says:

            Marginal in terms of effect, once you consider how big the difference is between slightly changing the behavior of a company and changing the members of a government is. You are correct, if you ignore the stakes of the outcome, that boycotting is a more reliable means of change than voting.

            Even if they do not officially hold these powers, they may use the power you admitted they have on the same politicians that do have these powers. I could list many examples of eminent domain being used by the government for a company. In addition to the manipulation of an existing government, certainly corporations have a kind of power over you if it is by their employment (offering you money to do what they want) alone you may survive? I assume no welfare in this libertarian society.

          • cassander says:

            You are correct, if you ignore the stakes of the outcome, that boycotting is a more reliable means of change than voting.

            I did not say it was more reliable. I said the marginal effect was greater than for voting.

            Even if they do not officially hold these powers, they may use the power you admitted they have on the same politicians that do have these powers

            So, in other words, corporations can corrupt the government, and therefore we should have more government? This is the underpants gnomes theory of political economy.

            Step one: assert that corporations can control the state
            Step two: support expanding the power of the state
            Step three: ????
            Step four: corporations somehow end up with less power.

            If you think government can be bought, the LAST thing you should want is larger government. making the government bigger just gives them more things to buy.

          • ResonantPyre says:

            Well, I guess I just disagree with you then that the marginal effect of voting is lesser than that of a boycott. Perhaps on the largest votes it might be, but for most other ones I think the stakes are high enough and the vote matters enough that the marginal effect is higher than that of a boycott. Most boycott stakes also aren’t that high, and each individual that participates in the boycott will have their effort and inconvenience rendered kinda pointless unless the company changes the behavior the boycott was trying to change. Most boycotts seek not just to punish but actually change the behavior of the company. So you end up with a similar dynamic to elections where your boycott/vote is rendered somewhat of waste if the outcome you want does not happen. Is there a flaw in this logic?

            In regards to your second point, you have misinterpreted me or constructed a strawman. From what you quoted, it doesn’t follow that “corporations can corrupt the government, and therefore we should have more government”. I have not used this chain of logic anywhere that I know of.

    • cassander says:

      @Art Vandelay

      My argument was that this is in itself a political position so is not going to reduce political strife at all.

      the second part of that argument does not follow from the first. If people constantly fight over what color to paint air force one, and some faction succeeds in abolishing the plane altogether, their action is political but political strife might be reduced.

      Do all the SJ people decide, “Well, seeing as government doesn’t really have any power any more I’m not going to get angry about this”? And if he does get fired, do all the anti-SJW people think to themselves “If we still had a government this would really grind my gears, but we don’t have politics any more so I’m going to let it slide”?

      No, but they can no longer pressure their legislators do do anything about it, convince regulators at justice to interpret laws to ban it, and so on. At the very least, you’ve made the path they need to walk down to impose their preferences politically a lot longer, because now the status quo is stacked against them instead of sympathetic.

      I find it hard to believe that anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of 20th Century history could possibly believe that the way you deal with threat of rising fascist and communist violence is to REDUCE the power of the government. The far-right and far-left don’t get into power because government is too strong, precisely the opposite is the case.

      You’re confusing the strength of a government and its size. You can have a government that is small and strong. It doesn’t do a lot, but what it does do it does strenuously.

    • albatross11 says:

      It takes a lot longer for a fascist dictatorship to take hold when you start out with a minimal night watchman state than when you start out with an extensive police and prison and secret informant infrastructure, detailed records on every citizen, and bureaucracies designed to intervene coercively in everyone’s life.

      • Mary says:

        Even if — perhaps especially if — you started the records in fear of the people who would take over to make a fascist dictatorship.

  13. mobile says:

    The word fascism derives from Italian fascio and Latin fasces, meaning a bundle of rods or sticks. The obvious political symbolism — strength through unity — has been employed faar beyond nominally fascist polities.

    British English has (or had, as the term has since acquired a very different meaning) its own term for a bundle of sticks. That term is faggot.

    The upshot is that we are one or two historical accidents away from lamenting the resurgence of faggotism in western civilization and worrying how to stand up to the faggotists marching through our streets.

    • JulieK says:

      Thanks to the Brothers Grimm, I learned the older definition first.
      Actual conversation:
      7th-grade bully: You’re a f*****.
      7th-grade me: A f***** is bundle of sticks.

      • The Nybbler says:

        In middle school we had a guy named Sven who was bullied for a while. Until one time a bully called him a f*****. Sven whipped out an axe, whapped the guy across the cheek with the flat of it, and said “No, I’m a fasces!”

        (OK, didn’t happen. But it should have.)

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      @JulieK

      HAH.

      And here I thought I was the only one. It actually somewhat defused the build-up towards a nice beating, because first they were just puzzled, then they settled for mocking me for being so dumb as to think that that’s what faggot meant.

      It probably says something about young me that I was more offended that they didn’t believe my definition than relieved that they didn’t end up kicking my ass.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        It probably says something about young me that I was more offended that they didn’t believe my definition than relieved that they didn’t end up kicking my ass.

        I know what you mean, but having been in that situation many times myself, they probably did kick your ass, it was just social and emotional, instead of physical.

        At least, that is how I felt growing up. Constantly emotionally bruised because I was on the receiving end of what were essentially social beatings.

        Of course, I also didn’t get that I completely misunderstood one of the purposes of teasing, which is frequently at first a means of encouraging bonding.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Well, no, mockery cuts deep when you’re a kid, and I got more than my fair share, but this was the same school where a kid pulled a knife on me and drew blood, so it certainly could’ve been worse.

        …and you lost me on that last one, outside of a context of “Shared stress and strain pushes people together” a la Basic Training.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          it certainly could’ve been worse.

          Oh, sure. I wan’t disputing that.

          …and you lost me on that last one

          Well, since you brought up basic training, think about movies you have seen with soldiers in them. You almost always have a scene where the soldiers are ribbing each other. And frequently, there is a scene where one guy seems to take it “too far” and there is a very tense moment, until the other guy burst out laughing and says “I like you.”

          Or sometimes it goes the other way, and they are enemies from that point forward.

          That is a highly stylized and overly dramatic version of a dynamic that plays out all the time. Something like “if you can’t take a joke, then you are a poor candidate for friendship”.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Yes, I’m familiar with the “You’ve got -guts-, kid, I -like- you” thing. And ribbing-as-testicular-fortitude-check is certainly real enough in certain team environments. It’s basically a simple way of stress-testing a newbie to see how they handle stress.

          I’m just dubious that this extends to Middle School/Jr. High. In the examples above, what gets accepted is being able to take it and laugh and give as good as you get, or being able to blow it off jovially at least. Generally when you try “laugh and give it back/make a joke of it” the response is anger and “oh so you want to fight now”, while simply blowing it off gets you escalation.

          Having spent several years in the US Military, there are aspects of that sub-culture at the enlisted level that I didn’t care for, but even there aside from the occasional bullying asshole who liked his rank a bit too much, there was a VERY clear difference between that and the sort of shit that you get with boys in school.

    • Deiseach says:

      Faggot is also a British term for a dish made of offal and breadcrumbs – not quite meatballs but in the same general category.

      Mr Brain’s Faggots is a commercial brand of these.

      • Aapje says:

        The British seem to be doing this intentionally, so they can say naughty things while ‘just’ talking about food:

        – Spotted dick
        – Scotch Wood Cock
        – Bangers And Mash
        – Dorset Knobs
        – Cock-a-Leekie

      • Winter Shaker says:

        Amusingly, they’re needing to take the fight to Facebook just be allowed to advertise their product without being banned for using offensive words.

        This probably isn’t a fight that’s worth the effort, in my opinion – though what to rename them? Well, their meatball like product is kind of a ‘bundle’ of little ‘sticks’ of meat and plant products… I vote for Mr Brain’s pork fasces 😛

    • carvenvisage says:

      I’m always left wondering if I’m crazy or everyone else is blind when people have such blase confidence about complex social issues. Humans were capable of getting the nazi question wrong, but us, nowadays, we’re obviously right about everything. Yeah, just like all the other times…

      Is no one else scared of the category ” fucked up dominance things”? -Nazism, imperialism more generally, convert-or-die abrahamic religions, that asshole boss you had.. rape, slavery,…

      -all the other times our anti-dominance norms were 100x too weak, and it led to thousands of years of exploitation and abuse..

      but Jim Crow was wrong and civil rights is cool, so homosexuality is kawaiiiiiiiii!! *japanese girl spinning around holding up peace signs*?

      Like is no one else is a bit cautious about that category?

      ..Am I crazy or are you blind?

      _
      _

      Also, hitler screeching away is very impressive. if you’re inclined to kneel before something, he was very very good at taking advantage of that, and he’s not the first guy or the last guy. Yet our culture has moved towards blind acceptance and group dogmas. On what basis? Why, in a world where Nazism happened, would it ever be safe not to form your own views ?

      • lvlln says:

        I’m not sure if you responded to the right sub-thread, but FWIW I agree with your general thrust. I think it’s reasonable to be hyper-skeptical of any ideology or movement that demands that you go along with them without actually convincing you. That asserts that they’re so obviously right that if you don’t comply, they’re fully justified in using power to shame or otherwise coerce you into complying. And I think the more confident its adherents are that it’s correct, the more it deserves to be scrutinized.

        I think the obvious lesson from the Holocaust isn’t just that Nazism or fascism or antisemitism are wrong, but that having hyper-confidence in any ideology is wrong. If you’re hyper-confident about an idea, that makes you comfortable with doing extreme things for that idea, and extreme things can cause almost unimaginable amounts of suffering. See also: Communism, Inquisition, ISIS.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          @lvlln,

          Actually this guy has a way more specific hobby horse than what you’re talking about.

          He’s made the argument before that male homosexuality is, at least in large part, about a dominant top humiliating and injuring a submissive or unwilling bottom. Like if one were to take the culture around prison rape and extend it to the majority of MSM.

          It’s a view without a good place in the normal ideological hierarchy. It’s homophobic in an unusually literal sense so it doesn’t seem likely to be embraced in polite society. But it’s also viscerally opposed to masculinity which means that the far-right doesn’t have much room for it either. Maybe Christians or MRAs might approve of it.

          • lvlln says:

            Huh, that must be why I was confused at that post’s existence in this subthread. Certainly not what I expected, but you do see all sorts on SSC, which is why I like this place so much.

          • carvenvisage says:

            You either have a weird definition of masculine or you’re reading too much between the lines.

      • Brad says:

        Am I crazy or are you blind?

        Are you saying gay (male?) sex is akin to nazism because you think it is inherently and always about domination?

        If that’s the right reading, then I’m pretty sure the answer is behind door number one.

        • carvenvisage says:

          No more than slavery or rape or imperialism or convert-or-die are always about domination. Sometimes they’re about sex, or economics, or unifying a culture behind a bullshit rallying cry.

          But somehow if your norm is ‘don’t do OTT dominance shit’ you would have coincidentally got the right answer on all of these questions humanity emphatically did not get the right answer on. Which suggests that it’s a pretty good norm/outside-view-check.

          _

          Which by the way makes perfect sense in a species with strong sexual bonding where one sex is significantly bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than the other. -Having the correct ‘stay the fuck away’ calibration is insanely unadaptive evolutionarily.

          _

          Then there’s also the meta arguments, like that we’ve seen what consequences believing with absolute certainty, just because your group does can have, and how often that’s epistemically accurate.

          • beleester says:

            I feel like if you can stretch the definition of “OTT dominance shit” to include gay marriage you can stretch it to cover just about anything.

            For instance, traditional marriage is clearly meant to express the dominance of the man over the woman. Sure, some people would say that it’s about mutual love and respect, but take a look through the Bible and tell me if you still think an Iron Age society was big on egalitarianism.

            Or how about capitalism? It was the driving force behind slavery and imperialism. What purer expression of dominance is there than to reduce a human to the dollar value they can provide you?

          • Deiseach says:

            I feel like if you can stretch the definition of “OTT dominance shit” to include gay marriage you can stretch it to cover just about anything.

            A strand of feminist theory has denoted straight marriage as “meat for sex” or “legal prostitution”, and Andrea Dworkin for one had the idea that all heterosexual sex is precisely what the OP was saying: dominance of one partner by a bigger, stronger one not caring if the other partner was willing or not (hence, all heterosexual sex is rape and can never be considered consensual in any circumstances).

            So there are people out there thinking along these lines.

            For instance, traditional marriage is clearly meant to express the dominance of the man over the woman.

            No, traditional marriage was about controlling these impulses, providing some protection to women, and imposing duties and responsibilities upon the man, especially when it came to children.

            take a look through the Bible and tell me if you still think an Iron Age society was big on egalitarianism

            Egalitarianism? No. Women not the slaves beneath the feet of men? Yes.

            Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

            He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.

            House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.

            An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

      • Charles F says:

        Do you happen to know where I can find the previous comment thread about this? I don’t want to make you rehash your whole argument about what’s wrong with gay relationships.

        The first thing that strikes me is that it seems like you’re ignoring how many people are versatile rather than tops or bottoms. I suppose there’s an argument that that just leads to the same problem in alternating directions and it’s not that much better, but I prefer the idea that some mutually pleasant ways for men to be intimate have become associate with dominance stuff that I find somewhat squick, but that doesn’t make it impossible to do the same things with a different intent.

      • cassander says:

        >Is no one else scared of the category ” fucked up dominance things”? -Nazism, imperialism more generally, convert-or-die abrahamic religions, that asshole boss you had.. rape, slavery,…

        Do we not include, for example, progressivism on this list?

        • rlms says:

          You can include anything you dislike.

          • carvenvisage says:

            try shoehorning something dumb into my list then.

          • rlms says:

            @carvenvisage
            As someone mentioned before, heterosexual relationships and capitalism. You could also have eating meat (where humans dominate animals in fucked up ways), or legal systems. Those aren’t even that dumb — I’m sure people have made honest arguments similar to yours for the first two — but I imagine you would disagree with them.

            Looking at your list, I think a better argument than “these things have dominance stuff, these things are bad, hence things with dominance stuff are bad (hence gay is bad)” is “these things are violent (apart from the asshole boss, which isn’t really comparable to the others), these things are bad, therefore violent things are bad”. Violent gay is definitely bad! But most gay isn’t violent (the same goes for most of the other things I mentioned).

          • carvenvisage says:

            You could also have eating meat

            Killing stuff to eat it is harsh but killing something by definition isn’t dominating it. Actual OTT dominance shit, like the worst sides of factory farming, is definitely fucked up.

            Plus I’m willing to bite the ‘between humans’-addendum bullet, and you presumably wouldn’t argue that changes the whole thing. Our attitude to animals isn’t like our attitude to humans. We treat them like something between insects and us. At best it’s comparing apples to oranges.

            capitalism

            Wtf?

            Literally just the idea people can keep stuff they earned or made.

            But… unfettered monopolies are bad, as capitalism fails whenever someone has too great a stranglehold on a market. (no competition, no marketplace). what a coincidence, the right answer again!

            Ridiculous

            legal systems

            you what?

            heterosexual relationships

            Not necessarilly dominant. certainly not in a particularly OTT way. It’s literally baseline normal. it’s also literally how the species reproduces, so you’d expect this to be an exception if there ever was one, because it’s literally inescapably necessarry. (or at least has been for the last 100,000 years).

            Beyond ridiculous
            _
            _

            violence

            Other things which are violent: self defence, cutting down a tree. Violence is not just sometimes ok, it’s sometimes morally wrong not to engage in it. You obviously can’t argue that violence is inherently wrong, but you can that dominance is.

            _
            _

            the asshole boss, which isn’t really comparable to the others

            Less extreme than others, but asshole bosses have caused plenty of misery and are thousands of years old, and getting assertive with little bits of power towards those beneath you is a well recognised thing to avoid.

          • Brad says:

            heterosexual relationships

            Not necessarily dominant. certainly not in a particularly OTT way.

            Same thing applies to gay relationships. I have no idea why you believe otherwise. It’s frankly bizarre.

          • carvenvisage says:

            BTW 2 more items my heuristic covers that are obviously (but apparently not that obviously) wrong, and don’t have to be violent:

            1. bullying

            2. subjugation of women

          • rlms says:

            @carvenvisage
            The dominance part of animal farming is humans controlling every aspect of animals’ lives. But sure, you can reasonably bite the addendum bullet and we can ignore it.

            By capitalism, I meant what actually happens in capitalist societies, not a cutesy “feminism is the radical idea that women are people”-style ideological summary*. Employers decide what happens in the majority of their employees’ waking lives by ultimately threatening them with starvation if they don’t obey. Sounds pretty dominanty to me.

            Legal systems: firstly, the idea that we are forced to obey laws we have no control over, and secondly, the idea that if you break those laws you can be deprived of your property, freedom, and occasionally life.

            As Brad pointed out, common wisdom is that homosexual relationships are also “not necessarily dominant”. Presumably you disagree. Where is your information on this subject from? Intuitively, one would think that since there is a significant difference in size and strength in almost all heterosexual relationships, but not in homosexual ones, the former would have more dominance stuff.

            Bullying is commonly physically violent or contains the threat of physical violence. Even when that isn’t the case, it could be said to contain mental violence (intentional infliction of mental harm).

            Subjugation of women (at least, the obviously wrong kind) also generally contains physical violence or the threat thereof. If you want to define non-violent (including mental violence) subjugation of women and argue against it, go for it. But I don’t think it’s obviously wrong.

            More examples of dominance things that aren’t terrible: the teacher-student and parent-child relationships, the military.

            *Out of context, your “workers have the right to the fruits of their labour” sounds rather more communist, but I don’t want to get into that discussion.

          • Employers decide what happens in the majority of their employees’ waking lives by ultimately threatening them with starvation if they don’t obey.

            Odd, in that case, that in modern capitalist societies nobody starves to death–unlike modern non-capitalist societies.

            You are ignoring the fact that there is more than one employer. If the employee does not do what his employer wants him to do and gets fired, the result is not that he starves, it is that he gets a different job with a different employer.

            Possibly relevant fact: In modern developed societies, real per capita income is twenty to thirty times as high as the global average through most of history. That suggests just how wildly unrealistic your “starving to death” model is. Given the power you imagine employers to have, surely they could push the employees down to making only two or three times as much as the average person in the past and pocket the difference.

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            What are these modern non-capitalist countries you are talking about? About 9 million people starve to death each year. I’m pretty sure that not all of them live in North Korea, Venezuela etc. Also, according to this, a couple of thousand Americans do die of malnutrition each year.

            By “ultimately”, I mean that if you refuse to work for any employer, your chances of starving are fairly high. You might quibble that this isn’t true in developed countries. Possibly relevant fact: the majority of people don’t live in developed countries.

          • What are these modern non-capitalist countries you are talking about?

            The Soviet Union, Maoist China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge were all modern non-capitalist countries with mass famines.

            About 9 million people starve to death each year.

            Source? Where and under what circumstances?

            Also, according to this, a couple of thousand Americans do die of malnutrition each year.

            Could be true. But dying of malnutrition isn’t the same thing as starving to death.

            Your source is WHO. I quote from their site:

            Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition covers 2 broad groups of conditions. One is ‘undernutrition’—which includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals). The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer).

            Someone who dies due to obesity has not starved to death.

            By “ultimately”, I mean that if you refuse to work for any employer, your chances of starving are fairly high.

            Not true in the U.S. at present. Even without welfare payments, the income from begging would be enough to prevent starvation, although not to give you a very attractive life. Calories are cheap.

            Further, what you wrote was:

            Employers decide what happens in the majority of their employees’ waking lives by ultimately threatening them with starvation if they don’t obey.

            The fact that if you refuse to work for any employer you will starve, even if true, does not let your employer decide what happens in your life by threatening you with starvation. It might let a cartel of all employers do so, but no such cartel exists.

            Would you claim that the woman you propose to can make you accept whatever terms she wants by ultimately threatening you with celibacy if you don’t agree?

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            “The Soviet Union, Maoist China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge were all modern non-capitalist countries with mass famines.”
            I assumed from your use of the present tense that you were talking about currently existing countries, which none of those are.

            “Source? Where and under what circumstances?”
            Source here. The figure varies a lot depending on how you are counting, but I think it’s pretty definitely between 5 and 10 million.

            “Someone who dies due to obesity has not starved to death.”
            No, obviously not. However, I’m confident that considerably more than 2000 people die in the US each year from heart disease and other obesity related issues. So I doubt they are included in that statistic. Based on what I know about the US, I think that a couple of thousand deaths/year from undernutrition sounds approximately right.

            “Not true in the U.S. at present.”
            Sure, but most people don’t live in the US.

            “Would you claim that the woman you propose to can make you accept whatever terms she wants by ultimately threatening you with celibacy if you don’t agree?”
            No. But I didn’t make the analogical claim about employers, I said that they can control what you do, not they can make you do anything you want. I would say that the same applies to people of your preferred gender you propose to. However, the degree of control is different because being unemployed is different to being single.

          • carvenvisage says:

            @rlms

            If you include ‘mental violence’, you’re now lumping in all forms of aggression together without a hard line between physical (and potentially damaging), and otherwise, which is flipped almost 180 from the ‘never be violent’ heuristic you proposed.

            And the non aggression principle is a good heuristic, just not a reliable ‘keep well away’ warning because aggression is much harder to pin down and avoid ambiguities of. (and is also inherently much milder)

             

            >The dominance part of animal farming is humans controlling every aspect of animals’ lives.

            No it isn’t. A secretary isn’t dominating their boss by planning out details of their work life. It’s treating them without any concern for their welfare, not mere micromanaging. If you farm animals humanely it doesn’t mean you are treating them with contempt.

            Plus, they’re animals. One doesn’t have to bite a bullet to say we have less duty to respect their their agency, when objectively do have (and are capable of) way less.

             

            legal systems

            Which is why courts are immune from scrutiny, process, and there’s no such thing as juries or appeals, and judges are trained and encouraged to rule based on self-assertion and whim rather than bound to the law.

            That we should all have to follow rules is not a radical idea, or that we have to employ some people to arbitrate.

            And the point of the rule of law is in large part to avoid power struggles between individuals and groups. Rather than settling things by who can get the other party to surrender, we have a neutral arbiter. The idea of legal systems is diametrically opposed to ideas like ‘slavery, rape, convert-or-die religions’.

             

            >parent-child relationships, the military

            You shouldn’t dominate your kids in any sense comparable to the examples on the list. The reason they have to obey you isn’t supposed to be because you’re stronger than them and can make them do what you want, but because you’re a better steward of their future than they are being older and wiser or more experienced.

            The military half fits in, but it’s not gratuitous, it’s a life or death situation.Plus military is in the first place, viewed as a necessarry evil. Meaning a bad thing. A heuristc that says something is really bad doesn’t predict that nothing can ever ever supercede that factor.

             

            So the only two half exceptions are heterosexual relationships and the military, which are life and death situations respectively. One is literally how the species has continued and survived, the other is how people have prevented foreign aggression and domination.

            And ‘military’ is a way tamer part of imperialism, which includes military and a bunch of other stuff on top of it (including training people in how to terrify and suppress civilian populations as well as defeat armed enemy combatants).

             

            as for why gay relationships are inherently fucked up in that way. Fine:

            1. mechanically, someone has to get fucked in the ass. Someone with a peener. To try to cut through the bullshit, who the fuck would want that for their kid? Like sure you can argue people can do what they want blah blah blah. If you want to get fucked by a horse and die on camera, I can’t stop you, (and maybe am not charitable enough to even try), but at some point, the fact remains that that was a baby and a healthy child at some earlier point, and something has gone severely severely wrong between then and now.

            2. It’s a deviation from the norm. Heterosexual relationships don’t indicate anything about fucked up dominance ideas because choosing them is a standard and obvious default.

            Doesn’t mean that it can never be a purely hedonistic thing, or people don’t sometimes do it for good reasons like the funny accents or parades and not giving a shit, or that the potentially the least bad thing if you’re stuck on a bad configuration can be to indulge in it, ..but it really doesn’t seem like something we should be promoting. Don’t lynch people, don’t beat anyone up for what they subject themselves to, obviously, but equally obviously not doing that doesn’t mean you have to promote it to children as something normal and healthy (or better).

            Like personally, I really want any future kids to one day come home with an anal prolapse wondering why I not only supported the lie that this stuff is cute and no big deal, and sexuality is immutable, (because those were politically convenient lies to combat empowered ‘bigots’ being violent 30 years ago). bit evem demanded they support it- made it look forbidden and bigoted to think or feel otherwise, and of course sexuality is immutable because that’s a nice convenient idea and never mind the science or facts.

            Like, remember we’re living on hitler world and moloch world, not the world where if a group says something loudly enough and often enough it’s definitely true. On that world, I don’t take risks blindly following group dogmas that look evil as all hell

            _

            >capitalism

            The idea is to leverage competition and people’s incentives + knowledge. Monopolies are bad forms of capitalism where one group gains dominant control over an area and is no longer subject to competition, and in general markets don’t work when people use leverage aka power to sidestep competition in the market.

            And ‘OTT dominance shit’ obviously doesn’t mean being less than maximally egalitarian. Other bad things like letting someone starve on the street or not saving someone drowning is bad but different.

            >teacher-student

            It’s not so different from having a boss. The fucked up part is that it’s compulsory so you can’t veto it or leave.

            You can argue that it’s more important to get kids away from really bad parents without much fuss, or that it’s necessarry for a functioning society (weaker argument imo, you get down with 3Rs basics very early) but the compulsary side of it is a little bit fucked up on the face of it.

          • rlms says:

            @carvenvisage
            I might respond more substantively at some point, but first, what is your opinion of heterosexual sodomy?

          • Brad says:

            mechanically, someone has to get fucked in the ass. Someone with a peener. To try to cut through the bullshit, who the fuck would want that for their kid?

            You have an unusually* strong disgust reaction to gay male sex. Why not just leave it at that instead of trying to dress it up in this unconvincing theory about dominance?

            It’s like if someone spun out an entirely theory about how big ag was going to destroy civilization rooted in the fact that he really hates the taste of asparagus.

            * Yes, unusual. In case there was any kind of doubt you aren’t saying out loud something everyone thinks but doesn’t say.

          • cassander says:

            @rlms

            If your theory of capitalist starvation were true, why are we not all slaves to the farmers? If “do what I say or else I won’t sell you food” were as strong as you suggest it is, then they should be the richest, highest status, most powerful people in capitalist societies the world over, because they have most direct access to the threat of starvation. yet this is true nowhere. how do you explain this?

          • carvenvisage says:

            I might respond more substantively at some point, but first, what is your opinion of heterosexual sodomy?

            It’s way way less of a departure from what you should /have to be adapted to doing anyway. it shows dignity if you don’t want to do it as a woman or respect as a man, but it’s really not a big deal.

            If on the other hand humans were a gender neutral non-sexual species that could change its shapes, it would be a sign of very bad mental health to (regularly) do things equivalent to the ‘bottom’ role, and a sign of psychopathy (and manifestation of) to take the ‘top role.

            Between males its way worse than that, but the dominance part is fucked up regardless of any genders, just necessarry and natural between male and female, -which is probably why we are insensitive to its messed up nature.

          • carvenvisage says:

            You have an unusually* strong disgust reaction to gay male sex. Why not just leave it at that instead of trying to dress it up in this unconvincing theory about dominance?

            It’s the same reaction I have to paedophilia and getting fucked to death by a horse, and is the same heuristic that gives you the right answer on every huge moral question that humanity got wrong. If a heuristic is always right, and people consistently get things wrong that it would have avoided, it’s a pretty good heuristic.

            And because everyone seemed to be against it until a sustained campaign of propoganda, which aren’t exactly famous for their ineffectiveness or tendency to push people towards the truth. How did gay rights “‘gay’= cute and harmless” get in on the back of righting the wrongs of slavery, exactly? Current consensus in polite society is clearly a matter of momentum rather than consideration.

          • carvenvisage says:

            @cassander

            there are lots of different farmers, and if they coordinated to deny people food they would be taken over by force.

          • Protagoras says:

            @carvenvisage, Gotta second Brad on your reaction being unusual. If you are under the impression that all of the rest of us are as disgusted as you are, and just pretending otherwise to be PC, you are seriously mistaken.

          • Charles F says:

            If humans were a gender neutral non-sexual species that could change its shapes, it would be a sign of very bad mental health to (regularly) do things equivalent to the ‘bottom’ role, and a sign of psychopathy (and manifestation of) to take the ‘top role.

            Between males its way worse than that

            That sounds testable. Gay men do have a higher risk of a variety of mental health problems. But it’s not *that* much higher, and with a few minutes of googling, all I’ve found are some assertions that it’s definitely all social pressure and there’s nothing wrong with you, dear reader, and not much in the way of studies about whether that’s actually the case, or studies that compare anything more interesting than handedness in tops vs bottoms.

            Do you know of any research indicating that tops/bottoms actually have those qualities?

          • Charles F says:

            @Protagoras
            I’ll be the dissenter here. It is pretty unusual for this group, but it’s well within the norm for, say, Christian Texans, I think. And whether it’s unusual is less important than whether it’s unwarranted, which might depend on whether/how gay sex dynamics are harmful (waiting on citations) and whether the disgust would be protective for potential gays. (I doubt it. Maybe for bisexuals, but probably not very)

          • cassander says:

            @carvenvisage says:

            there are lots of different farmers, and if they coordinated to deny people food they would be taken over by force.

            That is accurate. There are also lots of employers. Does the same logic not apply to them?

          • However, I’m confident that considerably more than 2000 people die in the US each year from heart disease and other obesity related issues. So I doubt they are included in that statistic.

            Your figure was from WHO. I quoted the WHO definition of malnutrition. How they decide which deaths from obesity related issues count as deaths due to malnutrition I don’t know, but it is clear that they are not limiting the figure to those who starve to death.

            Approximately 9 million people die of world hunger each year according to world hunger statistics

            It isn’t clear if those are all people who starve to death or include people who die of something else due to being malnourished.

            That aside, I note that the largest number of hungry are in a country that has been officially socialist since it’s founding, although I concede that the actual system is some mix of capitalism and socialism. I also note that hunger, by that source, is largely of people who grow their own food, so are not starving due to being unwilling to accept the orders of their employers.

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            “it is clear that they are not limiting the figure to those who starve to death.”
            Why is that clear? What would be a more accurate estimate? It is clear that they aren’t including people who die from obesity-related issues. They might well be including people who die from causes linked with other forms of malnutrition, but I don’t think that’s obvious.

            “It isn’t clear if those are all people who starve to death or include people who die of something else due to being malnourished.”
            Sure. But as crimes against epistemology go, using hyperbole in the same way as official statistics isn’t a particularly bad one.

            “I also note that hunger, by that source, is largely of people who grow their own food, so are not starving due to being unwilling to accept the orders of their employers.”
            I could argue that this is evidence in favour of my argument! Those people either refused to accept the orders of their employers, or couldn’t even find employers, and thus end up starving.

          • @DavidFriedman
            “it is clear that they are not limiting the figure to those who starve to death.”
            Why is that clear?

            Because I just quoted and linked to a statement by the organization generating the statistics you were citing which said what else they were including in malnutrition. Someone who dies from obesity didn’t starve to death.

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            Do you agree that people who die from obesity-related problems are not included on the list? I think *that* is clear, given that heart disease is closely linked to obesity and also the leading cause of death in the US. The fact that death from obesity is the opposite of death from starvation is totally irrelevant.

            If you do agree, why do you think it is clear that the figures include deaths from non-obesity-related non-starvation malnutrition? I agree that it certainly plausible; it depends on where they and we draw the line between starvation and non-starvation undernutrition, and how prevalent both those things are in the US. I don’t think either of us know enough about either factor to reach a conclusion.

          • carvenvisage says:

            @charles F. The ‘gender neutral shapeshifter’ thing was meant to be a spherical-cow-land control to isolate something, and what something would indicate there would be different from on planet earth where the species has a reason to default to comfort with that vague class of activity, -and could certainly get wires crossed or feel like being transgressive for the lulz, etc. (Plus contemporary factors strongly further ‘normalising’ it)

            So for a comparison, if you had a world where it was always trivial to flee and no one ever had to fight, it would strongly indicate something if people locked themselves in rings or cages, to fight in tournaments. And what it would indicate might reflect on the nature of those activities, but one wouldn’t be making a prediction about bare-knuckle-boxing in this world if they said ordinary boxing, -including pain and risk of injury/damage, (and of inflicting the same to someone who might be making a mistake) in ‘never have to fight’ world would indicate something.

            Ok hopefully it’s clear what I was saying now.

            _

            As for studies, I don’t trust any study I haven’t vetted the methodology of (and even then there’s still the issue of burying unfavorable non-preregistered studies, and just lying) -let alone on this issue.

            Maybe I’ll go digging for studies at some point, but if I do it will probably be as a rhetorical thing, not because I think it’s a good argument with current levels of scientific quality control /on a hard to pinpoint issue with so many confounding factors.

            I dug a bit of favorable sounding stuff up in the last thread, but I’m not inclined to make a positive argument along that vector unless my actual argument is being attacked along it.

          • Do you agree that people who die from obesity-related problems are not included on the list?

            No. My guess is that some subset of such people are included in the count, presumably an estimate of how many died because of obesity as opposed to how many died of heart attacks, which are made more likely by obesity. But that’s only a guess.

            What is clear is that the definition of malnutrition by WHO is not limited to starvation, since the WHO page says so.

          • g says:

            rlms’s figures for malnutrition-related deaths do not, in fact, come from the same organization one of whose documents considers obesity a variety of malnutrition. Those who say they do haven’t been reading carefully enough.

            According to this about 3 million children die of undernutrition every year. I don’t know what the figures are for adults.

            As for the sex thing, carvenvisage, I agree with what seems to be everyone else: you are not being in any way rational about this and your (what I take to be) strong intuition that homosexuality = ass-fucking = dominance is not one that other people generally share, for the good reason that it’s — hmm, what’s the right technical term? ah yes, wrong.

        • carvenvisage says:

          Unless you mean communism, no.

          Maybe there’s some vague overlap with an incidental part of the cluster (The ‘incautious dogmas’ part) but you might as well include quilting if you’re going to take it that direction because lots of things metastasize into dumb cliques or religions. Being wary of that is mostly a seperate issue. Like jainism probably has some weird dogmas but definitely doesn’t belong on the list.

          Plus note that half of those aren’t even group dogmas/religions. Slavery is a legal state. Rape is an action commited by an individual, imperialism is… a sum-up word isn’t coming to mind, (aesthetic?), and of course your asshole boss is, taxonomicly, an ‘asshole’.

          Only naziism and convert-or-die are religious, which makes them extra explosively bad. The unifying element, as set out previously, is embracing the idea of dominating people/subjugation.

          _

          Another reason it’s not:
          Amongst religions, progressivism is inherently (if not currently) well on the more egalitarian front. And I don’t grant that the recent identity politics offshoot is the real thing. (certainly not the whole of it.)

          I’d say progressivism is roughly the idea that we should rush ahead to make things better without worrying about chesterton’s fences or caution, because so much is obviously wrong. (And perhaps not only wrong but entrenched and set to resist. and/or attack)

          So I’d say progressivism has been a reasonable ideology, or guiding principle, for most of its history. Lots of stuff really was really bad (and correctly idtentifed as such), and in an entrenched way, so ‘lets clear this shit aside WOOO’ seems like a pretty well attuned reaction to something that might need some attunement to deal with. If it was a mistake, it was certainly an understandable one, reacting against something that asked for reacting against.

           

          Like if we consider abolitionists real idealist progressives, the current batch would be more like the prophibitionists, who created the mafia (or alternatively some hypothetical anti-boxing hysteria that precluded progress on anything else). Because you’d expect ‘Progressive’ implies an incremental approach that starts with stuff that actually matters. Like if abolitionists were entrenching people FOR slavery with their antics (I’m not saying were, this is a hypothetical to illustrate a point), then at least they were aiming at a genuinely important cause. (and also being genuinely brave)

          I don’t think actual progressivism is without its disasters (french revolution), but for the most part it hasn’t been clearly morally wrong like every other item on the list, doesn’t share the unifying element I already spelled out, is pretty young in its recent ‘obviously wrong’ phase and generally, all around, obviously doesn’t fit in the list.

          • cassander says:

            Maybe there’s some vague overlap with an incidental part of the cluster (The ‘incautious dogmas’ part) but you might as well include quilting if you’re going to take it that direction because lots of things metastasize into dumb cliques or religions.

            This is sort of my point. the issue isn’t the precise details of the ideology that matter, but the level of violence with which is pursued that’s the issue. Had a bunch of germans in the 1930s decide they really didn’t like the jews, and so offered every jew in germany 10x what their property was worth to sell it and move elsewhere, nazi wouldn’t be a synonym for evil. I’ll fully grant that some ideologies are more susceptible to violence than others, but the issue is still the violence.

            >I don’t think actual progressivism is without its disasters (french revolution), but for the most part it hasn’t been clearly morally wrong like every other item on the list,

            at best, I’d consider the french revolution proto-progressive, but let’s put that aside for a minute. if the french revolution wasn’t totally wrong, than I don’t know what is. Tens of thousands murdered, millions killed in two decades of continental war war, it was a disaster. And if you want to say “sure it was bad on the whole but it had a lot of good parts” then, well, the nazis built lots of autobahns, and those are pretty great.

            And then, of course, we have the ultimate expression of progressivism, communism, which murdered an order of magnitude more people than the nazis did, and caused several orders more poverty and oppression, over a period of 70 years (more if you count the latent holdouts), not 13.

          • carvenvisage says:

            This is sort of my point. the issue isn’t the precise details of the ideology that matter

            yeah but the dominance thing also gets you the right answer on things that aren’t religious in nature. I didn’t say this is a more important principle that ‘think for yourself’, just a seperate one.

            Plus my one derives the ‘don’t adopt other people’s views verbatim and regurgitate them like a drone’ heuristic.

            at best, I’d consider the french revolution proto-progressive, but let’s put that aside for a minute. if the french revolution wasn’t totally wrong, than I don’t know what is. Tens of thousands murdered, millions killed in two decades of continental war war, it was a disaster. And if you want to say “sure it was bad on the whole but it had a lot of good parts” then, well, the nazis built lots of autobahns, and those are pretty great.

            Sorry, I was referring to progressivism in general, not to the french revolution specifically.

            And then, of course, we have the ultimate expression of progressivism, communism, which murdered an order of magnitude more people than the nazis did, and caused several orders more poverty and oppression, over a period of 70 years (more if you count the latent holdouts), not 13.

            I did grant that if you were talking about communism my answer would be different. (I’d add to that that it’s partially responsible for the rise of nazism as well).

            Based on your definition of progressivism it’s not quite so clear, but I still don’t think it fits in the class. The class isn’t (just) ‘worst shit ever’, it’s OTT dominance shit you could easily recognise as such if you have the heuristic. Progressivism might be more dangerous but if so I think you need another way to spot it, as it cloaks itself in the opposite appearance.

            As to whether communism was progressive, I think the communism we’re talking about is based on marxism, which is just a plain old vanilla cult, nothing ‘progressive’ about it. (well, a slow burning one) -“We need to restructure the whole of society to this weird way some guy who sounds smart said.” You can argue that e.g. allowing women to vote was short sighted, but not that it doesn’t have some common sense or natural appeal, or that it can’t pose as progress. The same isn’t true for a radical restructuring of society based on nothing but faith and wishful thinking like marxism. There’s little or no common sense element to it.

            Ordinary ‘we have to do something’ progressivism might get you the french revolution, but, marxism is a different (aggressive, ambitious, more directly religious, much more dogmatic) beast.

          • Mary says:

            Amongst religions, progressivism is inherently (if not currently) well on the more egalitarian front.

            Anything that you can not be is not something you inherently are. To be inherently something you must be it at all times (at a minimum).

          • carvenvisage says:

            @mary you’re right, I chose the word inaccurately.

            (‘Naturally’ more on the egalitarian side, then.)

          • cassander says:

            @carvenvisage says:

            I did grant that if you were talking about communism my answer would be different. (I’d add to that that it’s partially responsible for the rise of nazism as well).

            My point is you can’t separate the two. At the very least, progressives openly supported communist regimes for 70 years. And not just supported them, looked to them for inspiration and leadership.

            As to whether communism was progressive, I think the communism we’re talking about is based on marxism, which is just a plain old vanilla cult, nothing ‘progressive’ about it. (

            Again, progressives alive at the time thought differently. they absolutely saw communism as progressive. Hell, “progressive” was a euphemism for communist for many years.

            There’s little or no common sense element to it.

            “From each, to each” is a very common sensical idea. It doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have common sense appeal. And in the more technocratic modes, communism central planning was just an extreme version of what the progressives were selling.

      • Charles F says:

        Why, in a world where Nazism happened, would it ever be safe not to form your own views?

        What makes you think that, in a world where somebody formed Nazism as a view, it’s safe to assume you won’t make a similar mistake? If you can observe groups and their views, you get the opportunity to see that if you believe ABC, you’ll fit in with those people and probably have a stable job and a nuclear family, and if you believe XYZ you’ll fit in with these people and have contract work and a polycule. And you can try to pick up a dogma that has already undergone some testing to make sure it’s not Nazism.

        As for anti-dominance norms, it doesn’t seem like it should be surprising that ours aren’t very strong. We spend a pretty long time as children dependent on adults, and then unless we’re the leader of our group (which seems to have only gotten rarer as we’ve modernized) or close enough to make a bid for that spot practical, bucking the hierarchy is a terrible idea, fitness-wise. So there would seem to be a motivation to be blind to that sort of dynamic in favor of being a part of a functioning group. (Maybe lacking that particular human quality makes you crazy?)

        • carvenvisage says:

          What makes you think that, in a world where somebody formed Nazism as a view, it’s safe to assume you won’t make a similar mistake?

          Well if we all come up with our own views, at least we won’t be falling down one single insane direction. The marketplace of ideas relies on you not metagaming it in the laziest possible way. –

          So it’s basically a deontological thing. Individually it might be more profitable to adopt a dogma, but there needs to be a preponderence of people using their discernment/judgement, or else things get into feedback loops and disconnected from reality.

          -Basically consensus needs peer review. It’s kinda like leeching a torrent if you don’t do it (and way way worse if you actively distort it), except that if an illegal download goes down it’s not the end of the world while if consensus falls into blind feedback loops it literally could be.

          If you can observe groups and their views, you get the opportunity to see that if you believe ABC, you’ll fit in with those people and probably have a stable job and a nuclear family, and if you believe XYZ you’ll fit in with these people and have contract work and a polycule

          I definitely could be missing something, but if the idea is something like ‘join a group for selfish reasons.’ I don’t see how it’s so different from ‘join the nazis and have a shining glorious angelic aryan future!’. That sounds pretty appealing to me..

          Is the difference that the first two are more sedate? Idk if most nazis were more brownshirtish rather than ‘patriotic workers and housewives’ that would have struck a german of the time as normal. I mean I guess it would come off more extreme, but I don’t know if that would be enough.

          There was way more upheaval then, even not including the communists street militias that inspired the nazi brownshirts, which are a pretty big temptation and also mean there’s no such thing as ‘pick a safe option’.

          And you can try to pick up a dogma that has already undergone some testing to make sure it’s not Nazism.

          There’s a point! Didn’t take naziism long to go off did it? Maybe joining a stolid predictable group does work. Need to think about this.

          And democracy was new in germany, so it isn’t like bickering between ‘venerable’ parties gradually descended into the situation of the time. They started with instability and never fully got rid of it.

          I guess my best response to that, then, other than maybe-admitting that that heuristic could be pretty safe, is that people following ‘joiner’ impulses don’t seem too scared of communism, which is communism, so maybe ‘beyond the pale’ or ‘recognised as abnormal’ is not sufficient criteria, and one still needs to independently peer review the legitimacy of the party they give their soul to, if that’s what they’re going to do.

          You could also argue that marxism grew out of a relatively harmless dogmatic tradition. 20th century marxism had a precursor in marxism proper, which had a precursor in communism more generally. And naziism had precursors too. Maybe if more people had thought critically those ideas could have been exposed before it was too late.

          As for anti-dominance norms, it doesn’t seem like it should be surprising that ours aren’t very strong. We spend a pretty long time as children dependent on adults, and then unless we’re the leader of our group (which seems to have only gotten rarer as we’ve modernized) or close enough to make a bid for that spot practical, bucking the hierarchy is a terrible idea, fitness-wise

          Didn’t think of those on the evolutionary side.

          That kind of helps my argument, so, playing devil’s advocate:

          1. There’s a pretty sharp transition between childhood and adulthood though. The whole ‘rebellious teenager’ thing (if it is a proper thing) could indicate that this is smoothly mediated by something-or=oether, and wouldn’t explain tolerance of a parent-child type relationship between adults. (which might also be confusing or disconcerting, or insulting, for (primitive) people who have children.) And there’s kind of precedent with how siblings are imprinted as not-sexual-partners.

          2. If you let someone below you on the social ladder be dominated by someone on your level, that sets a precedent that you can be by someone above, so I think it would make sense for people to resist it if possible. (and maybe become inured/blind to it if there’s no hope of protecting/establishing norms). And in a hunter gatherer tribe there’s never going to be so much stratification between the top and bottom that you can’t just up and murder the chief if he’s getting above himself or trying to push others down.

           

          Argument that could go either way:

          A male hunter-gather is likely to be a killer if he’s a hunter, and might have to fight in wars with other tribes.

          I’m fairly sure ‘dominance’ is generally something that happens in controlled group contexts, not in a state of combat. -If you are dominated in combat it means you could killed, and that you didn’t manage to flee when you were losing or disadvantaged, while in a social situation ‘dominance’ can potentially happen without a life-or-death total defeat.

          So being closer to combat and killing, I imagine your average hunter gather is going to be, it would be nice if I had a better way to put this… ‘less of a pussy’, and might therefore have a far stronger inclination and ability to react against threats, and to process them in a combat (i.e. all out) rather than social, mode.

          (Plus at least some incentive not to compromise their combat routines. If I you roll over and die in an office social confrontation, you’re probably not going to get eaten by a sabertooth tiger next week as a result. Maybe you can afford to be much more compromising when you don’t have to defend yourself from nature and other tribes and physical threats in your tribe)

          But the flipside of that is that if you’re hunting then you’re killing stuff to eat, so if you view the animals as “people” of some sort (I think some native american terms for animals are like ‘people-of-the-X, which is (very?) weak evidence), you might consider yourself to be dominating them, which would be a strong reason not to object to the general idea.

          And I vaguely remember some stuff about hunter-gatherer tribes being egalatarian. (Not 100% sure whether this is well established or just some random story I read)

          Maybe lacking that particular human quality makes you crazy?

          I think it It definitely doesn’t in the usual sense of ‘lost track of reality’.

          Maybe it could in the ‘mad dog, keep away’ sense, but I feel like people generally admire that kind of recklessness and know how to deal with it.

          Also I think people are aware when they have to swallow an insult, that it would be great if people wouldn’t do that, which having an occasional ‘defensive-escalater’ around strongly disincentivises. (if you have none around insults become pretty costless/riskless)

          Also christianity is a confounder here as it tells you not to take such things into your own hands.

          • Charles F says:

            Well if we all come up with our own views, at least we won’t be falling down one single insane direction. The marketplace of ideas relies on you not metagaming it in the laziest possible way

            I definitely like this in spirit, but in practice I think it’s a bit unlikely that “dominance is bad” is going to be a really common view. It seems like most people stop at object-level concerns and wouldn’t get here. Then individuals who happen to have some relative power and didn’t come up with “no dominance” is going to mange to control others somehow for their goals, people without the “no dominance” idea are going to notice that fighting back isn’t such a great idea and just pursue their goals with the resources left to them or notice that being on the winning side makes them more able to pursue their goals, and help the first guy dominate people.

            “Fucked up dominance shit” is the default state of nature, I think. And creating institutions and ideologies that anyone can join (or be indoctrinated into), so that they don’t try to come up with their own and accidentally hit the “I’m an ubermensch and others should submit to me” cluster is an ongoing project of civilization. Maybe after they’re mostly indoctrinated, they’re even encouraged to think for themselves a bit and question parts of it, but you’ve got to get them to the point where they’re probably mostly on-board first. Leading to a possibly-safer way to get consensus peer-reviewed.

            people following ‘joiner’ impulses don’t seem too scared of communism, which is communism

            Scary point. I’m hopeful that a mostly youthful (I think) enthusiasm for communism is because it’s a naively attractive ideology when you still don’t have much skin in the game. And that people will age out after thinking about maybe not wanting to give their house and job to the workers collective. But this seems like a great case of thinking for yourself not being such a fantastic defense, because communism is a really easy ideology to come up with when you don’t have as much stuff as people around you. I know PrimarySchool!Charles managed to figure out that if our magic cards belonged to everybody, we could all make better decks and have more interesting/fair games (and win more tournaments), and that it benefited me extra must have just been a coincidence. So while spreading a “no dominance” norm is probably a good strategy, relying on people to come up with their own, and to come up with ones that don’t immediately benefit them, seems like it wouldn’t help much.

            I haven’t spent much time on the evolutionary idea either, and I know you can come up with an evo-psych explanation for anything, so this probably isn’t the most productive, but my perspective is:

            There’s a pretty sharp transition between childhood and adulthood though. The whole ‘rebellious teenager’ thing

            I think this makes much more sense as a process of taking your own place in the status hierarchy as an adult, rather than a transition from the parent-child dominance relationship to the free egalitarian community relationship. Rebelling against your parents is the first time your status is determined based on merit rather than just your need for support, and a rebellious phase encourages you to keep climbing until you’ve hit the highest status you can reach.

            If you let someone below you on the social ladder be dominated by someone on your level, that sets a precedent that you can be by someone above, so I think it would make sense for people to resist it

            On a meta level, maybe. On an individual level, if preventing that domination is essentially trying to lower the guy on your level’s status, and status is achieved/enforced through violence, then hell no it wouldn’t make sense to resist it. I think the two pretty easy kinds of dominance structures are a fuzzy ladder and a pyramid.

            In the case of the ladder, most people are dominated a bit and dominate a bit, and it’s not a great idea to dominate somebody too close to your level (since they might think they’re actually more dominant) or somebody too far below your level (since interacting with somebody very low status lowers your status by association). So the people near the top benefit from it, everybody in the middle is kind of neutral, people at the bottom lose out, but the order is based mostly on ability to enforce your will through violence or social maneuvering, so nobody in a position to do something about it has an incentive to.

            In a pyramid, everybody but the lowest level dominates more people than they’re dominated by, so only the bottom step has an incentive to do away with the system, and they’re outnumbered and low-status.

            Edit: missed this bit

            I definitely could be missing something, but if the idea is something like ‘join a group for selfish reasons.’ I don’t see how it’s so different from ‘join the nazis and have a shining glorious angelic aryan future!’. That sounds pretty appealing to me..

            The idea was “join a group with some confidence the doctrine doesn’t have a lot of unforseen bad outcomes.” Admittedly I chose dumb examples, since it seems too early to have a really good idea of whether rationalists will end up turning Berkeley into a hellscape of Dragon-Army-Gone-Wrong cults, but if you become a Democrat or a Republican, either way you’re probably going to contribute to a gradually increasing government and regulatory ecosystem without creating any sort of dystopia/apocalypse in the next 50 years with high confidence. Joining an upstart National Socialist party, not so much. High chance of fizzling out, low chance of disrupting things (probably in a bad way if people aren’t really careful).

          • carvenvisage says:

            But this seems like a great case of thinking for yourself not being such a fantastic defense, because communism is a really easy ideology to come up with when you don’t have as much stuff as people around you. I know PrimarySchool!Charles managed to figure out that if our magic cards belonged to everybody, we could all make better decks and have more interesting/fair games (and win more tournaments), and that it benefited me extra must have just been a coincidence

            I think 20th c marxism is more like a prophetic warrior religion of revolution, not just the idea we should share our cards, and no way would someone normal come up with that on their own.

            (especially 100 years later, after some successful union movements and the conditions that gave rise to the highly ‘reactionary’ ideology don’t hold to the same extent).

            Marx was a most unusually (amoral) “impact-ambitious” guy, -see the quote about ‘the point is to change history’, and was reacting to contemporary circumstances.

            He wasn’t trying to find the truth but to have the most influence (one way or another), and he practically admitted it. So the kid-communism example is not the same. (When I say ‘is communism’ maybe I should be more precise and say ‘is marxism-derived communism’.) Just the idea of sharing stuff one day in the future is not so dangerous. There’s no more continuity between that and “inevitably the proletariat must and will rise up and seize the means of production, by any and all means, (preferably all), and neutralise regressive elements”- than there is between deism and convert-or-die.

            -The former in each case is a common and innocuous destination in logic, the latter is made dangerous by a vast acretion of insane embelishments which people didn’t manage to dismantle or contradict before a critical mass could be reached.

            _
            _

            And do mass idelogies actually immunise people from the I’m an ubermensch/narcicism individual attitudes? Seems to me more like it legitimises that approach to life. If an all out struggle between political parties is where you find your religion, I don’t think that exactly encourages you to be a monk.

            _

            (I leave replying to the rest of your points because these are the only two perhaps-interesting replies I have)

          • Charles F says:

            I think 20th c marxism is more like a prophetic warrior religion of revolution, not just the idea we should share our cards, and no way would someone normal come up with that on their own.

            Hmm, yeah it’s definitely much harder than just sharing resources. But maybe not quite as hard as you’re making it out to be. People with less than they think they deserve deciding that they should have more (and more and more) control over what gets produced and who gets it, seems not *really* hard to hit on, and also would have a lot of the bad effects of Marxist communism.

            I think overall I agree with you that people making their own views would probably not get Marxism with much frequency at all. They definitely would come up with a lot of half-formed systems with bad unintended consequences, but probably not so appealing as Marxism, so maybe less likely to cause massive humanitarian disasters.

            (Though I continue to expect that pretending to adopt views of the powerful to gain some advantage pursuing your own goals will end up producing pretty much the results we’ve gotten.)

            And do mass idelogies actually immunise people from the I’m an ubermensch/narcicism individual attitudes? Seems to me more like it legitimises that approach to life.

            This doesn’t seem right to me, but I don’t have much of anything to say against it. At least, if you’re in a political bubble, you’re kept separate from the people you might like to lord over, so you don’t end up doing much of it, maybe? If that were the case at one point, social media might have ruined things a bit.

  14. James says:

    I was enjoying the OKCupid/dating discussion in the last open thread. Shall we carry it on? But maybe focusing a little less on Andrew (who, after all, didn’t sign up for all that scrutiny) and more on general observations.

    A few words about my situation, because Andrew’s reminded me of it a bit: I’m about the same age as Andrew, or a tiny bit younger—I’m 28—and I was surprised to see the claim that this is late to get married. I missed that memo! Most of my friends of my age would consider themselves too young to get married, and the ones I know who are married tend to be a bit older. Then again, plenty of them don’t plan on getting married at all. I guess our crowds are different.

    I probably have about the same success rate with women as Andrew, I think. A little bit of success here and there, but in general, I’m chronically single. But I’m very aware of why this is in my case: My standards are very, very high! Maybe unreasonably high. Partly they’re high in an absolute sense—things like looks and smartness—but I’m also seeking a high degree of compatibility. I don’t have that much of a problem with whether or not women like me (it happens from time to time), but I never like the ones who like me, and vice versa.

    Should I relax my standards, or continue holding out for great women? A detached, game-theory-ish perspective (The Secretary Problem?) suggests that maybe I should relax them, but this seems depressing to me, though it’s hard to say why. I just don’t really want to share myself with anyone I don’t feel is a really close match for me. (Lovers aren’t secretaries, after all!) But I barely ever meet anyone who I like enough. Maybe this means I’ll end up old, alone, and past my prime. That seems a waste, but I like the alternative (hooking up with people I only half-heartedly like?) even less.

    Other miscellaneous thoughts on OKCupid, dating, etc. also welcome here.

    • powerfuller says:

      Eh, I’m in the same boat; also nigh-30. The big difference between secretaries and spouses is that you need a secretary; I don’t feel much of a duty in the abstract to get married, though I’d like to. Like you, my standards are pretty high, or perhaps “narrow” is the better term, and they’re mostly based on positive qualities in my exes. I kind of wish I had had worse luck with women as a younger man, so that I might find women more attractive today who instead fail to coincide with my desires (not fail to measure up, mind you; my desires don’t matter to anybody and nobody’s obliged to meet them). And I really wish I could just consciously change my desires to be more open to various kinds of women. I end up dating women I respect and care for but don’t really like that much, and then feel guilty the whole time for failing to like them better. But I rarely ever meet women I actually like (romantically). It’s very hard for me to conclude that I’m chasing a dragon and ought to trade duty for desire and enter a mundane, functional marriage instead of looking for a romantically / sexually / spiritually / etc. satisfying one. At least I have a few more years to put off that decision (I’m fairly confident the mundane option will be available to me in, say, 10 years). Not sure I had a point here other than commiseration…

      • James says:

        I end up dating women I respect and care for but don’t really like that much, and then feel guilty the whole time for failing to like them better.

        Rings a very distinct bell.

      • Deiseach says:

        It’s very hard for me to conclude that I’m chasing a dragon and ought to trade duty for desire and enter a mundane, functional marriage instead of looking for a romantically / sexually / spiritually / etc. satisfying one.

        This is why I would like to kill with fire the whole goddamn notion of “soul mates”, “the one”, “Mr/Ms Right” and so forth.

        Our culture has been brain-washed into the worst of both worlds: retaining some of the traditional notions of marriage as permanent, a major life decision, something you will enter into expecting to last, and a marker of adulthood, while bringing on board the ideas that the only valid reason for marrying is romantic/sexual love, that your spouse is and should be all-in-all to you (emotionally, physically, spiritually and the whole nine yards), that this new relationship supersedes all former ones (family, friends, others) and worst of all, if you fail to maintain the pink fuzzy clouds tingly champagne feeling of “falling in love” for fifty years then it’s a failure.

        Bah, humbug. Nobody has that fairytale marriage where their spouse is their other half and fulfills them utterly. That’s why you have family, friends, work colleagues, weird people you meet on the Internet to discuss cactus people with, and the rest of it: so you have a life that does not revolve around one single person who has to be mother/wife/lover/best friend/household manager/etc. Everybody settles in some way, shape or form. Your gorgeous, intelligent, interesting, heart-stirring partner is going to have days when they get sick, are tired, are stressed at work, have fat days, or just don’t feel like going trekking in Peru, they’d rather stay at home in their pyjamas binge-watching Game of Thrones.

        I’m fairly confident the mundane option will be available to me in, say, 10 years

        So long as you remember not to think of yourself as a ‘catch’ or that you’re doing the other person a favour; if you’re deciding that you’re settling for the mundane option, chances are very likely the other person regards you in the same light – well, he’s not what I was hoping for, but he’ll do I guess, especially as time is ticking on.

        • powerfuller says:

          Please chill out, Deiseach. I don’t expect a spouse to fulfill all of my desires, or complete me, or be the center of my life. I just want a relationship where I feel more than “objectively this person is reliable, worthy of respect, ought to be happy, and would make a good spouse/parent” at least some of the time; I don’t expect relationships to be nothing but romantic dates and great sex, but I do want a relationship where it’s like that at least some of the time. I don’t expect a spouse to be a great conversationalist on all of my favorite topics or interests, but I would like one that I actually enjoy talking to about a shared interest, at least some of the time. I don’t expect a spouse to never be sick, or flawless, or anything like that. It’s difficult to talk about this sort of thing because whenever I say, “I’m unhappy in an functional but emotionally flat relationship,” people always respond as though I’m demanding a perfect woman who conforms to my every desire. To want something is not to want everything.

          No relationship is perfect, but they do admit of better and worse, and couples who are really into each other over the long term do exist (and yes, I know those relationships take work, too). If I have a chance of finding one, I might as well not call off the search prematurely. I don’t think I deserve or have a right to have one, but I have a chance. I’m not saying life is unfair for this — I’m blaming my own experiences and the obstinacy of my desires, not women, and not the world.

          And yes, I expect that if I settle, the woman would be settling for me, too. I’d prefer that, in fact, to the situation where I’m settling and she’s crazy about me. Then I would end up feeling guilty for not reciprocating her feelings.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m glad that is your opinion, but you really don’t help yourself by phrasing it as “a romantically / sexually / spiritually / etc. satisfying one.” because that does sound like putting all your eggs in one basket and especially when contrasting it to a “trade duty for desire and enter a mundane, functional marriage” where you make it sound as if you and she will be shackled together like galley slaves at the registry office and live in dull mutual loathing with no joy of life.

            Perhaps if you re-phrased it as “I don’t want to marry merely for the sake of it, I want to have a relationship of mutual affection and shared interests”, you wouldn’t get crotchety middle-aged non-romantics shaking their palsied fists at you?

            To quote from a letter from Tolkien to his son Michael (and stripping out all the religious references) – women are people in their own right with needs and desires of their own and not guiding stars or divinities for the sake of the sighing lover:

            There is in our Western culture the romantic chivalric tradition still strong, though as a product of Christendom (yet by no means the same as Christian ethics) the times are inimical to it. It idealizes ‘love’ — and as far as it goes can be very good, since it takes in far more than physical pleasure, and enjoins if not purity, at least fidelity, and so self-denial, ‘service’, courtesy, honour, and courage. Its weakness is, of course, that it began as an artificial courtly game, a way of enjoying love for its own sake without reference to (and indeed contrary to) matrimony. Its centre was …imaginary Deities, Love and the Lady. It still tends to make the Lady a kind of guiding star or divinity – of the old-fashioned ‘his divinity’ = the woman he loves – the object or reason of noble conduct. This is, of course, false and at best make-believe. The woman is another fallen human-being with a soul in peril. But …it can be very noble. Then it produces what I suppose is still felt… to be the highest ideal of love between man and woman. Yet I still think it has dangers. It is not wholly true… It takes, or at any rate has in the past taken, the young man’s eye off women as they are, as companions in shipwreck not guiding stars. (One result is for observation of the actual to make the young man turn cynical.) To forget their desires, needs and temptations. It inculcates exaggerated notions of ‘true love’, as a fire from without, a permanent exaltation, unrelated to age, childbearing, and plain life, and unrelated to will and purpose. (One result of that is to make young folk look for a ‘love’ that will keep them always nice and warm in a cold world, without any effort of theirs; and the incurably romantic go on looking even in the squalor of the divorce courts).

            …However, the essence of a fallen world is that the best cannot be attained by free enjoyment, or by what is called ‘self-realization’ (usually a nice name for self-indulgence, wholly inimical to the realization of other selves); but by denial, by suffering. Faithfulness in Christian marriage entails that: great mortification. For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify & direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains. It will not satisfy him – as hunger may be kept off by regular meals. It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state, as it provides easements. No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial. Too few are told that — even those brought up ‘in the Church’. Those outside seem seldom to have heard it. When the glamour wears off, or merely works a bit thin, they think they have made a mistake, and that the real soul-mate is still to find. The real soul-mate too often proves to be the next sexually attractive person that comes along. Someone whom they might indeed very profitably have married, if only —. Hence divorce, to provide the ‘if only’. And of course they are as a rule quite right: they did make a mistake. Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgement concerning whom, amongst the total possible chances, he ought most profitably to have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the ‘real soul-mate’ is the one you are actually married to. You really do very little choosing: life and circumstance do most of it (though if there is a God these must be His instruments, or His appearances). It is notorious that in fact happy marriages are more common where the ‘choosing’ by the young persons is even more limited, by parental or family authority, as long as there is a social ethic of plain unromantic responsibility and conjugal fidelity. But even in countries where the romantic tradition has so far affected social arrangements as to make people believe that the choosing of a mate is solely the concern of the young, only the rarest good fortune brings together the man and woman who are really as it were ‘destined’ for one another, and capable of a very great and splendid love. The idea still dazzles us, catches us by the throat: poems and stories in multitudes have been written on the theme, more, probably, than the total of such loves in real life (yet the greatest of these tales do not tell of the happy marriage of such great lovers, but of their tragic separation; as if even in this sphere the truly great and splendid in this fallen world is more nearly achieved by ‘failure’ and suffering). In such great inevitable love, often love at first sight, we catch a vision, I suppose, of marriage as it should have been in an unfallen world. In this fallen world we have as our only guides prudence, wisdom (rare in youth, too late in age), a clean heart, and fidelity of will

          • powerfuller says:

            What in “a romantically / sexually / spiritually / etc. satisfying relationship” implies I think women ought to exist for me, or that a relationship ought to be for my own benefit, and not for hers as well, or that women are not “people in their own right with needs and desires of their own and not guiding stars or divinities for the sake of the sighing lover”? That’s an absurdly uncharitable reading of what I said, and is just more of the same old knee-jerk reaction I alluded to above. Considering you were capable of much more charitable interpretation, as you wrote one out yourself, I don’t get the righteous indignation.

            I’m not saying a marriage of desire is free from of duty, nor vice versa, but I am saying that I’d rather marry and have children because I love my wife and want to see her existence continued somehow, and not just because it’s the expected thing to do, or produces better life outcomes on average, or would make her and my parents happy, or because I need the structure and social ties in my life lest I become a total weirdo hermit. If you want to go for literary references, the dynamic I have in mind is less “become Sir Lancelot” and more “avoid becoming Newland Archer, if I can.” Like I keep saying: women owe me nothing, life owes me nothing, but I can take my chance. You think I’m being stupid? Good for you.

          • Deiseach says:

            powerfuller, if you really don’t see what contrasting “trade duty for desire” with the laundry list of “what I would like/expect in a spouse” sounds like, then I can’t help you.

            Y’know, I will come out and say now what you claim I said: all this defensiveness does make me think you were only thinking of “what can I get out of a marriage, what do I want in a spouse” and not thinking of “what can I offer a spouse, what can I put into a marriage”.

            I end up dating women I respect and care for but don’t really like that much, and then feel guilty the whole time for failing to like them better. But I rarely ever meet women I actually like (romantically).

            Again, all that is about “I can’t find a woman that appeals to me in all the ways I want one to appeal to me” and again it sounds like “yeah I date them because it’s better than nothing” but not really hugely convincing, especially with the “I don’t really like them that much”. What kind of liking, exactly, are you talking about? Liking them as people, or liking them as “suitable mates for someone of my calibre”?

            You never said word one about that, merely smugly assumed that if you had to settle for Less Than Helen of Troy in ten years time, you’d have your pick of desperate and willing women. What makes you so sure that in ten years time any woman will want to marry you? Can you list off your desirable qualities? If all your attractions only come down to “have a really good job with a reasonable amount of disposable income”, is it enough to compensate a woman for having to live with a man sighing over “I only settled for you, you know, I still pine for someone to fulfill me utterly“?

            Uncharitable enough for ya?

          • James says:

            Yes, this is the trouble with discussing love on SSC. There’s a strong likelihood of Deiseach diving in and, erm, being Deiseach all over it.

          • rahien.din says:

            Well I’m with Deiseach.

            I could go less charitable?

            I’d proceed further on the anti-soulmate idea. It isn’t merely that soulmates’ trve love is some rare gem and nary but bluebird-attended maidens and caped charger-bourne princes shall experience it. I actually think that landing with your “soulmate” is probably a bad thing to want and to get.

            This is because the right person isn’t necessarily the one with whom you are perfectly compatible right off the bat – if that person can even exist and be found. The right person is the one you want to make compromises for. If you never compromise, you aren’t actually in a relationship with another person. You’ve just located a meat-computer whose outputs are comprehensive expressions of your own god-like qualities, as though a finely polished mirror. Wanting that is kind of creepy and subtly invasive and free-will-destructive.

            The nature of love instead is that it drives you to give of yourself and it is that act of giving which is love. Love isn’t perfect satisfaction, but instead love exists despite imperfect satisfaction. Love isn’t never having to say no, or never feeling sad, or never being disappointed, it’s that involuntary response you always have, despite slings and arrows*. That’s the whole meaning of “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud.” You’re going to be disappointed. You’re going to disappoint. So you’re going to have to love. Charity suffereth long.

            Thus, every time someone says “I can’t find anyone who meets my high standards!” I subconsciously read “I can’t find anyone who will do all the compromising!” or “I can’t find anyone who won’t ask anything of me!” or “I just want a relationship where I don’t have to expend emotional effort!”

            It’s like Twain said about the classics, those books everyone wants to have read but doesn’t actually want to read. You’re searching for the trappings of love, without having to actually love.

            * Yes of course no one should stay with a shitty asshole derelict philandering demeaning possessive wasteful destructive partner. That fact does not change a single thing about the nature of love, and it is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for people who don’t want to have to put in any effort. Consider all y’all’s selves headed off at the pass.

          • Matt M says:

            You’ve just located a meat-computer whose outputs are comprehensive expressions of your own god-like qualities, as though a finely polished mirror. Wanting that is kind of creepy and subtly invasive and free-will-destructive.

            Eh, I mainly agree with you, but I’ll push back on this one a bit.

            I think wanting that in a general sense is fine, so long as you

            a. Recognize the odds of achieving it are very low
            b. Do not attempt to pressure people who aren’t that into becoming that for you

            Telling someone “You need to be like X or I won’t love you” is a bit of an asshole move.

            But saying “Being single is a decent enough life for me and I’m unwilling to let it go for anything less than X” is everyone’s individual right, so long as they’re honest about it up-front.

          • James says:

            Well, I feel either misunderstood or insulted.

            The right person is the one you want to make compromises for. If you never compromise, you aren’t actually in a relationship with another person.

            Yes, I am happy to compromise! I even want to compromise. I want to find someone whom it feels worth compromising for, and I don’t.

            You’ve just located a meat-computer whose outputs are comprehensive expressions of your own god-like qualities, as though a finely polished mirror. Wanting that is kind of creepy and subtly invasive and free-will-destructive.

            I agree that’s creepy. I’d appreciate you not telling me that’s what I want, because it isn’t.

            The nature of love instead is that it drives you to give of yourself and it is that act of giving which is love. Love isn’t perfect satisfaction, but instead love exists despite imperfect satisfaction.

            Imperfect satisfaction sounds great! I’d kill for imperfect satisfaction! Where can I get some? The trouble is I don’t find even that.

          • rahien.din says:

            All,

            Fair points. Consider me walked back a bit. Whatever further contention I could offer, it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so.

            Most specifically, James, I can see how the post was insulting. If permitted, I would offer that : my feeling in writing it was more generally-directed-rant than accusatory-targeted-dogpile, and I regret making a pile-on of it, and (to the extent the post pertained to you) you were genuinely misunderstood.

            Thanks for being so immediately tolerant of an outburst, heh.

          • James says:

            Thanks, rahien.din. No hard feelings.

          • Deiseach says:

            Yes, this is the trouble with discussing love on SSC. There’s a strong likelihood of Deiseach diving in and, erm, being Deiseach all over it.

            Forget destroying the universe to end suffering. What those people should be working towards is destroying the universe to end love!

          • Randy M says:

            I think Deiseach and AutisticCat are soulmates co-conspirators.
            😉

          • dndnrsn says:

            “Co-conspirator” to replace “partner in crime” on online dating profiles?

    • rahien.din says:

      I think it’s a mistake to say “I will only date women whom I know I would marry.” It’s a bit like saying “I will only perform experiments that I know will be successful.” You’ll never learn anything that way.

      Here’s the other thing : people have this idea that dating exists prior to marriage, and that you just have to endure dating long enough to find someone you like enough to marry, and then you get to stop dating. But successful marriage is just a different kind of dating.

      You’ve got to discover the ways and situations in which James enjoys dating.

      So there’s a third alternative : go out with people you seem to enjoy, hook up with them sometimes, and allow yourself to be surprised.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Re: 28 age
      Your crowd is different. I’m 30, and the majority of my friend group is now married. Marriage typically occurs in the late 20s. IIRC, this is median age of first marriage in the US, so half of everyone will get married older.

      Anyways, it’s not that 28 is late to get married, it’s that 28 is late to find a spouse. I got married at 27 (I think?), but I had already been dating my spouse for several years by that point. Looking for a marriage partner at 28 means losing out on a HUGE chunk of the dating market, because they are already married, or already dating people who they will eventually marry.

      Besides the smaller market, certain people still single at 28 are also really bad at dating/getting dates. To be 100% frank, you should assume your lack of success will continue to hold going forward….if you keep doing what you’re currently doing. Like, most people start dating at, what, 15? So you’ve had 13 years of failure. Why are you ASSUMING that the next 13 years will be better, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing?

      That means you’re running a high chance of Forever Alone.

      So if you really want to get married, you need to hit the pavement and make changes. If it’s not an important goal to you, then keep on keeping on (and don’t complain online about how Forever Alone you are).

      So that’s the marriage part.

      Regarding “high standards”:
      You should have high standards. You do not want to marry someone that makes you miserable. One of my friends almost made this mistake. Thankfully, his brain finally smashed some neurons together and he ejected from his dumpster-fire relationship before making any sort of major commitments.

      That’s good.

      But your standards need to be realistic. Like those companies whining they can’t hire superstar programmers at $40k/year and so there must be some huge STEM shortage? Yeah, same thing, if you’re ugly, you’re not going to get a model, full stop. So you might want to relax your standards, but I have no idea what your standards are.

      • James says:

        Anyways, it’s not that 28 is late to get married, it’s that 28 is late to find a spouse.

        Good point.

        Besides the smaller market, certain people still single at 28 are also really bad at dating/getting dates. To be 100% frank, you should assume your lack of success will continue to hold going forward….if you keep doing what you’re currently doing. Why are you ASSUMING that the next 13 years will be better, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing?

        Well, possibly. I do think about trying to improve the rate at which I meet women, since that’s the other relevant variable if I won’t change my standards. I’m trying (and managing) to get a bit bolder when it comes to signalling interest to women that I’m speaking to and asking for their numbers, and so on. (Though I’m still not brave enough to cold approach.)

        Like, most people start dating at, what, 15? So you’ve had 13 years of failure.

        Whoa, whoa! I take your point, but let’s not go nuts. I’ve had, depending on how one counts, 2-5 relationships in that time.

        (and don’t complain online about how Forever Alone you are)

        Sure. I realise that I relinquish all rights to bitch about my situation.

        So you might want to relax your standards, but I have no idea what your standards are.

        Yeah. I suppose it’s tricky to quantify, so tricky to compare notes on.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Just FYI, I am speaking in the general “you” with the marriage discussion, not the specific “you.” A lot of guys who have already been struggling with dating by 28 are probably going to continue to struggle with dating, so need to improve strategies.

          I don’t think 2-5 relationships is bad at 28, but I’m a pretty reserved guy and I think 5 relationships at 28 is high….my opinion might not count for much.

      • Randy M says:

        I think all of this is well said.

    • My standards are very, very high! Maybe unreasonably high. Partly they’re high in an absolute sense—things like looks and smartness

      Why would it be important to you that a woman was very good looking? That strikes me as a characteristic that might be desirable, but not very important.

      I could even argue that it’s a liability. Looks are the characteristic most easily recognized by strangers, so you will have more rivals for a very good looking girlfriend than a moderately attractive one.

      And how attractive a woman looks to you depends more on how you are relating to her, what emotions she is expressing, than on physical details.

      • James says:

        I don’t know! De gustibus non est disputandum. (If anything, I seem to be getting shallower the older I get.)

        • andrewflicker says:

          To some degree I’m shallower than I was when I was younger because I’ve realized how *easy* many of the trappings of attractiveness are to achieve with a little effort. People obviously can’t easily change their general facial shape, but stuff like “shaving without filling your face with nicks and ingrown hairs” or “replacing your shoes when they are disgusting, hole-filled messes” or “shower regularly” are really, really easy, and I gave people too many passes when younger.

          None of this really applied to dating/relationships, but just generally evaluating others. When I was a kid, I think I thought people were just sort of magically in-born more or less attractive than others- which is true on a naive level, but holy cow can you screw with that baseline by conscious effort!

          • Charles F says:

            stuff like “shaving without filling your face with nicks and ingrown hairs” […] is really, really easy

            So, I think I might be outside of your target audience since I get them all the time even when (or in places) I don’t shave, but, how? 90% of the advice I see on the internet is about shaving, which doesn’t seem to be my problem, and the other 10% is about exfoliating, which hasn’t helped. Is there some really basic easy thing that is so blindingly obvious to everybody that nobody thought to put it on the internet for me?

          • andrewflicker says:

            Charles F – yeah, I’m specifically talking about the ones that come about from bad/unhygenic shaving practices. If you’re having a lot of problems with ingrown hairs anyway, I’m guessing you have very curly hair. Best recommendation for curly/coarse hair men is to just grow out the beard a bit and stop shaving so that the hairs never have a chance to ingrow. Use a needle or *very* sharp tweezers to “fix” any ingrown hairs as they first appear, and eventually every follicle on the face will have a longer hair growing out of it that’s “safe”- at that point you’re good until you shave it off again (which, if you’re a curly haired guy, I’d just suggest “never”).

        • Deiseach says:

          Looks are also the thing that fades fastest as people get older, so looks alone are a poor basis.

          Like the saying goes “Kissing don’t last, cookery do!” (which I see now is actually a quote from a novel by George Meredith).

      • knownastron says:

        I have to agree with David here. I had this girl that I thought were a 6.5 in overall attractiveness become a 10 after a conversation where we talked about our shared core values and beliefs.

        This happened recently and was a bit of a revelation. It made me realize I shouldn’t filter too harshly based on looks in the future.

        @James, maybe you eliminate potential mates based on looks too early to realize that they are indeed attractive/compatible.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I don’t get this.

      I avoided any kind of dating until my mid 20s over a rebellion against my innate biological impulses (in retrospect it seemed easier/more justifiable to rebel against myself than my parents; I was also semi-consciously trying to make a “bargain with the universe” over longevity vs. reproduction, but knew this was bunk). So I never got any practice.

      I found my mate on a mutual interest online forum and she also happened to be pretty, though looks are really less important than any degree of intellectual and values compatibility. It was a forum with a high degree of gender balance.

      Have gender balanced interests and talk about those interests with others (if needed at least one of you should be willing to move)? Have standards of the mind (mechanism of thought and/or interests) and allow your body’s natural attraction to a particular sex to be amorphous enough that you find body types outside of the supermodel, swimsuit model, pinup model, or whatever style attractive? (A high libido and exposure to a variety of body types might help with developing this broadened attraction, if absolutely necessary. I’m only speculating as my body type sexual attraction was broad enough from the beginning.)

    • sandoratthezoo says:

      Here’s how I see age of marriage working for my set (mostly white or Asian, privileged, went to elite colleges, got good jobs):

      If you exited college with a serious SO, you were probably going to get married in your late 20’s, maybe early 30’s, to that SO.

      If you exited college without a serious SO, you probably wouldn’t meet your future SO until your late 20’s, and then you’d get married in your early 30’s.

      If you either missed that first round or got divorced/broke up with your long-term SO, you’d meet your futures spouse in your early 30’s and get married in your mid 30’s.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I do see people say they’re surprised to find they’re happily married to someone who isn’t their “type” so it may make sense to relax your standards about looks somewhat.

    • Drew says:

      I’d guess that you’re optimizing the wrong thing and applying your filters too early.

      When I hear people talk about, “high degree of compatibility,” it often seems to mean ‘sharing a bunch of interests.’ People give this way, way too much weight. And they define interests too narrowly.

      Interests, at the level of “rock climbing” or “board games” or whatever, are really a matter of immediate circumstance. I go rock climbing because I happen to live near a rock-climbing gym. I like the people at the club. And the hours fit my schedule at work.

      People think they want a partner who shares those specific interests. And they rule out people who don’t.

      The thing is that, if my circumstances change, I’d change my hobbies. A move to Hawaii might have me surfing instead of climbing. A change in the board-game group would have me playing D&D. And, in the long-term, your circumstances will change.

      So, the relevant question is not, “does she also like rock climbing?” but rather, “if we moved to Hawaii, would she join me in exploring new options? Would we find stuff we both enjoy?”

      The important things, at that level, are compatible levels of extroversion, novelty-seeking, athleticism, and energy. Also the ability to communicate.

      Those things are really, really hard to judge at a distance. Maybe the girl you’re talking to would be up for sports, but never got introduced to a running club she liked. Maybe you’d share her interest in movies, but didn’t get a good introduction.

      The fact that you’re chronically single, and ruling out almost all potential-dates makes me think you’re over-filtering, and filtering too early. You could be meeting a great woman every day, and with the current strategy, you wouldn’t notice or know.

      Instead, go on a bunch of 1st dates. Check your assumptions about the type of girl you’d be compatible with. And then be choosy among the people who you’ve spent effort getting to know.

      • James says:

        When I hear people talk about, “high degree of compatibility,” it often seems to mean ‘sharing a bunch of interests.’ People give this way, way too much weight. And they define interests too narrowly.

        I definitely used to do this; not sure whether I still do. I would filter based on things like “music taste”. No-one has my exact taste in music, so this was a waste of time. And the logical end point of that line of thinking would be to date someone exactly like myself, which sounds like hell. So I’ve tried to ditch this.

      • Deiseach says:

        So, the relevant question is not, “does she also like rock climbing?” but rather, “if we moved to Hawaii, would she join me in exploring new options? Would we find stuff we both enjoy?”

        Or even “Can we both have separate interests we enjoy without bitching at each other about it? I like rock-climbing, she likes her knitting club. She doesn’t complain that I’m always going out with the gang risking my neck and buying expensive equipment, I don’t complain that there’s not one square inch of the house that hasn’t got a knitted fol-de-rol covering it, we both enjoy our thing and don’t begrudge the other enjoying their thing”.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        In the “how I met my SO” discussion, the big deal doesn’t seem to be “person’s interests are identical to mine” or “person met my specs”, it’s “we are much more delighted by each other’s company than we’ve been with other people”.

        There’s probably both an overlap of specific interests and some meta-overlap– there’s being delighted by the other person’s angle on the world.

    • rahien.din says:

      One more thing (deliberately separated from my other replies) and then I’ve my peace :

      I get something from participation here that I neither need nor want nor could get within my marriage. This sort of hyper-precise, esoteric, pseudo- (or non-pseudo) adversarial debate is something I genuinely need. It is an important part of my person. But my wife is driven totally nuts by having to engage in this owlishness, and so it’s not a helpful thing for it to exist in my marriage. Likewise, playing basketball. So we don’t do those things.

      If I pre-thought dating and decided I needed my wife to be able to spar with me in the way we do here – because, hey, that’s genuinely an essential part of me – I would have written my amazing future wife right off the list. And subsequently missed the single most important relationship of my life.

      This is the evidence that convinces me of the principle : finding the right person is not even finding a person who can engage with you in the ways that are most important to you.

      Edit: clarity

  15. kieranpjobrien says:

    What’s with the Wait But Why AI Persuasion thing? And is the missing ‘Essay B’ deliberate?…

  16. John Schilling says:

    For anyone wondering whether there is likely to be a nuclear war between the US and North Korea in the near future, I 99% endorse this explanation of why the answer is “no”. Fisher and Taub get a few of the details wrong, e.g. in 2010 North Korea sank a South Korean surface warship, not a submarine, but this doesn’t change the assessment in any significant way. Kim Jong Un’s bombastic statements are the standard North Korean MO, and Trump’s are aimed at his own base more than they are at anyone in Korea. Neither one of them is deploying or alerting military forces in the way they would if they actually believed war was likely.

    • Randy M says:

      I don’t disagree, but is there anyone in Trump’s base eager for a war with Korea? Maybe some rah-rah middle American types who think we’re getting a bum deal appeasing them or something? Neo-cons who think it might be worth the risk to save the oppressed North Korea populace?

      edit: Or just edgy types who like macho posturing?

      • John Schilling says:

        Trump’s base is eager to see Kim Jong Un kowtow to US might and give up his nuclear weapons because a Strong Leader told him, “Give up your nuclear weapons, Or Else, And We Mean It!”. This is a pleasing fantasy, and not even remotely limited to Trump’s base – though other groups may imagine different people doing the kowtowing over different issues.

        Kim Jong Un isn’t going to give up his nuclear weapons, of course, but he also isn’t going to actually nuke anyone. Trump will claim credit for stopping Kim from nuking anyone. Kim, for his part, will say things that Trump can spin as Kim being real close to nuking someone before he was stopped (and tell his own base that stopping was his choice and good judgement).

        • Jiro says:

          Kim, for his part, will say things that Trump can spin as Kim being real close to nuking someone before he was stopped

          Trump doesn’t need to spin it. The media will spin it, to make Trump look like a warmonger.

      • Unsaintly says:

        I know an ardent Trump supporter who is highly intelligent and well educated (masters degree, big fan of military history, and attained a high officer rank in the military) who believes that a war with North Korea is a good idea. He thinks that the US not attacking the Soviet Union at the end of WW2 was a mistake, and that the immediate casualties would have been well worth the tradeoff of not having another nuclear superpower in the world. He sees this situation with North Korea as a chance to not make that same mistake again.

  17. Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

    It came up in the subreddit, so I might as well ask: whatever happened to the 3 day moratorium on talking about tragedies of this sort?

    • Aapje says:

      It expired after 3 days.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Eh. The big conversation kicked off Monday, which wasn’t three days.

        If the first response had been “Yo. 3 day moratorium.” I think there would have been a fair amount of respect for that. As it was, nobody really thought about it.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          Yeah, it didn’t come to mind in time. The discussion seemed extremely hot, so I decided to sit it out.

          I would guess that’s evidence for the policy being useful, but maybe it would’ve turned up like this anyway.

        • John Schilling says:

          If the first response had been “Yo. 3 day moratorium.” I think there would have been a fair amount of respect for that. As it was, nobody really thought about it.

          I remembered it after the edit window for my first few posts, alas. I suspect it was too late by then anyway, but an early reminder would have been helpful.

        • Aapje says:

          @HeelBearCub

          I meant that as a meta-joke: the 3 day moratorium expired after 3 days.

    • skef says:

      The torch rally was Friday, and I expect a number of people were subjectively taking “the event” to having started then.

  18. Deiseach says:

    Impressive new re-design of the header!

    Has anyone else read this? It’s absolutely hilarious, but it is of some concern as it does show how people have their opinions formed by coverage. It’s very pertinent in the case of jury selection as we can see here, and why there is a sub judice rule on this side of the water, but also I think it shows how, when speaking of the media as “neutral”, it goes a long way further than merely “They didn’t flat out call Ronald Clantone a baby-eating puppy-drowner, what more do you want?”

    We can form opinions – or have opinions formed for us – of people we not alone have never met, but are never likely to meet in real life. We judge them based on those opinions. Maybe we even decide to take action in the real world based on those opinions – that guy deserves to lose his job! she should not be allowed teach young children!

    All based on whether a newspaper’s style guide decides you call people espousing these views moderate and those views extreme.

    Digressing a little, the linked article mentions the EpiPen price hike and today I saw this news story about a possible cure for peanut allergies. Could the two be linked? That is, if the EpiPen manufacturers were aware of this research – and it’s possible, given that the experiment ended in 2013 and I imagine they would want to keep on top of news about allergy treatments – that they decided to squeeze the last drop of blood out of the turnip before a ‘cure’ made their product about as relevant as buggy whips? You can’t terrify parents into demanding all schools carry EpiPens in each classroom, which is a nice little earner for your company selling replacement stock annually to every school in the nation, if parents now can get an effective treatment for their kids, after all!

    • Rob K says:

      I will say, based on my experience of jury service you’ve got a room full of people who are torn between a reluctant desire to discharge their duty (where I live we get a somewhat inspirational 20 minute video about the role of jury trials in our democratic system) and a strong desire to not spend several days stuck in a box listening to something boring.

      As a result, you’re really hoping to get disqualified without lying. Getting to note for the legal record that Martin Shkreli disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan while doing so is icing on the cake.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      Peanuts are not the only allergy that can cause anaphylaxis. Of the two people I know who carry Epipens, one is allergic to a laundry list of foods that does include all nuts but also other things (dairy, eggs, fish, and sesame). The other is allergic to wasp stings.

      And while we’re on the wasp sting subject, my parents got a friend who is a doctor to write them a prescription so they could have one to store at a fairly remote house in rural New England where they spend vacations, essentially in case a guest gets stung or bitten by something that they turn out to be allergic to and have a dangerous reaction.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’d imagine though that if a genuine peanut allergy cure comes along, then work on other food allergy cures would be in the pipeline. I wouldn’t see EpiPens vanishing, certainly, but on the other hand if there is no longer the spectre of “Can you be sure YOUR child didn’t try a bite of a peanut and butter jelly sandwich at school/someone’s house?” cajoling parents into buying and carrying these and lobbying to have them everywhere, then the market is going to reduce sharply, I would have thought.

        Still sold for beestings and the like, yes. In case you turn blue in the face because a café made your slice of cake in the same kitchen as they made peanut cookies, no (and I’m not being flippant here, I know it’s a real risk and can be triggered by infinitesimal traces of the allergen).

  19. Well Armed Sheep says:

    What is the most effective way to advance the open borders cause in the US right now?

    I’m not particularly interested in discussing the merits of open borders in this thread. Instead, I’m hoping for insight on what groups and organizations I should donate time and money to if I want to affect the current political debate. I am not very concerned with ideological purity, in the sense that incrementalism is fine. However, “donate to the Democratic Party” is not useful given the overall balance of my political views.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I’m an open borders opponent so take the following with a large block of salt:

      The answer depends on what you see as the primary value of open borders.

      Someone who sees it in humanitarian terms, that everyone from the third world deserves to come here for a better standard of living, should donate to migrant rescue organizations. Recently Italy and whoever is in charge of the Libyan Coast Guard have been cracking down on them but they’re still towing boatloads of people from Africa to Europe. That’s bad for Europe but great for those Africans.

      Someone who sees it in economic terms, that free movement of labor is a rising tide which lifts all boats, should donate to organizations which advocate for visa applicants. The most economically productive immigrants are perversely the easiest to keep out. The system is badly broken and those who would navigate it need the help of lawyers.

      I’m much more sympathetic to the latter than the former as my writing should make clear. But regardless of what sort of goal you’re trying to achieve it’s important to start with an assessment of what your priorities actually are.

    • qwints says:

      Somewhat facetiously – make immigrants more pro-Republican, and Republicans more pro-immigrant.

      • Well Armed Sheep says:

        Making Rs more pro-immigrant would obviously be good. More interested in the “how.”

      • J Mann says:

        Yes, but what if it makes Democrats less pro-immigrant?

      • dndnrsn says:

        @qwints, Well Armed Sheep, J Mann

        In Canada, the Conservative party is a lot better at attracting visible minority voters and immigrant voters than the Republican party is. No party sees immigrants as a lock for them, and no party (except the parties dedicated to Quebec sovereignty) sees immigrants as especially unlikely to vote for them. In fact, socially conservative Conservatives have found some immigrant groups to be a welcome source of support. This is one of the reasons that Canada has a much weaker anti-immigration movement than the US, even though we have over 2x the per capita legal immigrants per year.

        The question of how this could happen in the US is a different matter. I don’t know if the political climate would really make it feasible, unfortunately. It probably would make the Democrats a bit less pro-immigration, but having one party confident immigrants will always vote for them, and the other party confident immigrants never will, seems like a recipe for terrible immigration policy.

        This hasn’t led to open borders for Canada; we have a points system, but we let in a lot of legal immigrants compared to the US. 0.7 per 100 per year versus 0.3, last I checked the numbers.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Gay marriage took off when everyone knew a gay person; similarly open borders could take off when everyone knows an immigrant, especially an illegal immigrant. So programs that help illegal immigrants find a bit of legal twilight are helpful in the long term and the short term.

      At least in NYC there are a few little programs that do this, often affiliated with some church. They basically need people who can learn a smidgen of immigration law and own a suit to accompany people to immigration hearings and give them advice/moral support. Language skills are a plus. I don’t know how effective these programs are; my mom volunteers for one and she’s skeptical (she thinks they might be doing illegal immigrants a disservice by encouraging them to interact at all with the authorities, even in a sympathetic place like NYC).

      • Well Armed Sheep says:

        Yeah, that seems counterproductive — my sense is that they’re much better off laying low as far as the authorities are concerned.

    • Space Viking says:

      Open borders will never happen in the United States, or if it does, there will be a civil war first. So, your best bet is to push for secession. The “Calexit” movement is especially worth looking at, as it’s real right now, it will receive a major boost when Trump wins reelection in 2020, and open borders would easily pass in an independent California. I’m on the right, and I would be delighted to see California leave the union — it would make right-wing presidential politics in the U.S. much easier — so you wouldn’t get any opposition here.

      And hey, if against all odds open borders is a good thing for California, you’d inspire other countries to try it, too. Smaller scale experiments with a receptive population are easier than larger scale experiments with a militantly opposed population. I know we’re not on the same side politically, but I mean it when I say that secession is the best way for our disparate tribes to get along peacefully, and to actually try different policies, smashing the current deadlock.

      • If only a fixed number of visas are being given out, helping people get them doesn’t move us towards open borders.

        One thing you could do is work for or contribute to groups that assist illegal immigrants–I expect such exist, although they may not label themselves as such. Another is to engage in or support research on the effects of immigration. Julian Simon did some of that quite a while back, producing results inconsistent with the then current anti-immigrant stereotypes.

        qwints’ point is an interesting one. Bush tried to make the Republican party more pro-Hispanic, which in practice would be more pro-immigration, but he failed. Encouraging immigration by groups likely to vote Republican–Cubans in Miami are one obvious example–and publicizing their existence might help.

        But of course, that would tend to make the Democrats less pro-immigration.

      • Open borders will never happen in the United States

        The U.S. had effectively open borders, with no limits on New World immigration and restrictions only on Chinese immigration, for the majority of its history. What, in your view, has changed to make that impossible short of a civil war?

        • alchemy29 says:

          Wasn’t immigration only open to white people? In any case, open borders to people able and willing to leave everything behind to cross the ocean by boat, is not quite the same as what open borders would be like today. The difficulty of physically traveling and the uncertainty were de facto barriers to immigration. If I recall correctly, immigration levels have been on the order of 10% of the population throughout the history of the US. Barriers to travel have decreased and legal barriers to immigration have increased to keep the flow roughly constant (with big fluctuations admittedly).

          • Wasn’t immigration only open to white people?

            No. Until the 1920’s, the only restrictions I am aware of (other than on people carrying infectious diseases and the like) were restrictions on Chinese immigration starting in the second half of the 19th century. New world immigration was unrestricted, and would have included people who were not white by any likely definition.

            In any case, open borders to people able and willing to leave everything behind to cross the ocean by boat, is not quite the same as what open borders would be like today.

            You don’t have to cross an ocean to get to the U.S. from Mexico. European and Asian immigration would be somewhat easier today–but the U.S. was accepting about a million immigrants a year, into a population of about a hundred million, during the years just before WWI.

          • alchemy29 says:

            The naturalization act of 1790 only permitted citizenship for white persons. Who were the non-whites that were immigrating? Slaves? Indentured workers? Genuine question, I can’t find that information. Open borders with only citizenship for certain people seems not quite in the spirit of open borders. It also seems like it would create many social problems.

            Having read your other response I see that is what you are going for and I can’t say I’m thrilled with the idea. Bringing in immigrants and then denying them social benefits will not encourage self reliant immigrants – it will make poor immigrants worse off who will then grow to resent their new country but probably not have the resources to leave and re-establish their life again. And there are certain social benefits you can’t deny. Someone gets shot? You can’t leave them to die. Someone has their limbs paralyzed? You can’t deny them disability and leave them to rot, unable to move. Someone loses their job and can’t feed their children? You can’t leave their children to starve. Those children would still be US citizens.

            Of course technically you could deny them all of those things and make them second class citizens. That would quickly lead to social unrest and a new civil rights movement – especially since these immigrants would be very large in number – there are several million people trying to obtain US citizenship every year.

            Maybe you’ll argue they shouldn’t have immigrated. People don’t plan for the worst. They will immigrate, and society will have to deal with the consequences.

            Empirically I think that the best successes with immigrants have been the complete opposite approach. Invest lots of resources into immigrant literacy and integration so that they will have stable lives. Iceland has a better immigrant situation than France for instance.

            With regard to quantity, immigration was at it’s highest pre WWI wasn’t it? Otherwise it’s been steady with about 9-12% of the population being foreign born. (with a dip in the post WWII era). The US already gets the benefits of having access to foreign talent, and there is no great shortage of immigrants despite all the barriers. It seems like a working system.

          • Aapje says:

            I agree with alchemy29. There is this naive libertarian idea that you can just let the immigrants come over, live in slums and then they’ll pick them up by their bootstraps.

            Even if it could work in a harsh system with minimal welfare (doubtful at the current level of societal development), society just won’t stand for it (anymore).

          • Bringing in immigrants and then denying them social benefits will not encourage self reliant immigrants – it will make poor immigrants worse off who will then grow to resent their new country but probably not have the resources to leave and re-establish their life again

            Back when immigrants, including my grandparents, were coming at the rate of a million a year, the “social benefits” you are concerned about pretty much didn’t exist. The results of that experiment are not consistent with your theory.

          • Space Viking says:

            @alchemy29:

            Because non-white immigrants in the United States prior to the 20th century essentially don’t exist. It didn’t happen, aside from a limited number of Chinese in California. (The other exception is black slaves, of course, but that stopped in 1808).

            @DavidFriedman:

            Obviously, open borders immigrants today would vote overwhelmingly to increase welfare benefits, including for themselves, thereby bankrupting the United States. That’s what the data shows, do you deny it?

          • alchemy29 says:

            David Friedman my response is to follow, but I’d really like to know why you think it will benefit the US to let in immigrants and then make them second-class citizens. “It worked in the past” isn’t compelling. Yes high levels of immigration were beneficial when land was dirt-cheap and labor was a heavily scarce resource. Also children were guaranteed citizenship (I assume you are okay with keeping this?). I deny that this would work now. I think it will lead to slums at best and more Charlie Hebdo at worst (mostly because it has already happened in other countries).

            Anyways to respond – I started my dispute by pointing out that the past is not analogous to the present. So my dispute continues. If someone gets shot in the gut in 1920 then they usually die. If someone gets shot in the gut in 2017 then life saving resuscitation and surgery are performed which often works if they make it to the hospital. This is done for everyone who makes it to the ER regardless of ability to pay and regardless of visa or citizenship status. I think this is a clear social good and will fight tooth and nail against any efforts at dismantling it. I think the medical community and public agree that it’s not okay to leave people to die who could have been saved. There is a big difference between a technology not existing and on the other hand excluding a certain class of people from it.

          • Drew says:

            Back when immigrants, including my grandparents, were coming at the rate of a million a year, the “social benefits” you are concerned about pretty much didn’t exist. The results of that experiment are not consistent with your theory.

            In past threads, I’ve seen people note that the poor in the US are, in objective terms, significantly richer than people in the 1920s. But we notice that there are still huge negative consequences to modern poverty.

            There seem to be two forces at work. Poverty can be material deprivation (“I’m starving”) or it can be status deprivation (“I’m so below everyone else that I feel depressed.”)

            The status-deprivation is so unpleasant that people will spend money on status, even if it means not eating a healthy amount.

            If this is true, then the objective wealth of the immigrants might not be the important thing. The immigrants in the 1920s were objectively poor. But they weren’t that far below other people in their communities. So the psychic costs of poverty didn’t kick in.

            If you brought those people into the US today, I’d expect that we’d get multiple generations with really horrible outcomes.

            The thing that I find hard about this is that I can see an argument for doing the immigration anyway.

            If I look at global utility, then immigration is probably good, even if it has horrible consequences for the US. The immigrants might feel poor. But they’re not starving in a slum somewhere on $2/day. The benefits outweigh the costs.

            If I look at utility for people who are currently inside the US, then this proposal seems like an obviously bad idea. We’d destroy our internal markets for unskilled labor, and create a new semi-permanent underclass.

            So do I recommend policy based on what’s good for the US, or what’s good overall?

          • Space Viking says:

            @Drew:

            I wouldn’t be so sure that open borders would be good for non-Americans, because open borders is dangerous enough to risk destroying America’s status as a first-world country.

            The United States leads the world by far in scientific and technological innovation. Are we going to risk ruining that with out-of-control crime, terrorism, civil war risk, environmental destruction, taxes, regulations, government debt, outright socialism from importing left-wing voters, lowered GDP from a low-skilled workforce, increased corruption, etc., all from open borders? Will third-worlders be helped if, say, American medical innovations occur at a slower pace? Open borders could kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. It’s just not worth it.

            Helping third-worlders is good, so let’s do it with the Against Malaria Foundation, Give Directly, increasing the foreign aid budget (something Trump is open to), etc. We don’t have to do it by destroying ourselves — that helps no one. And I haven’t even mentioned the international instability and wars that would result from a destabilized, internally weakened America, but you get the picture.

          • Obviously, open borders immigrants today would vote overwhelmingly to increase welfare benefits, including for themselves, thereby bankrupting the United States.

            1. Who immigrates depends in part on whether they can collect welfare or have to support themselves. The latter group, who are the ones who would be coming under my proposed rules, are not the ones who would support expanded welfare.

            2. Under my proposal, they can’t vote until they have been here long enough, supporting themselves, to see themselves as the payers, not the receivers, of expanded welfare.

            Because non-white immigrants in the United States prior to the 20th century essentially don’t exist.

            Do you count Hispanics as whites or non-whites? They are the main group of current illegal immigrants and would probably be the largest group of immigrants under open borders. And quite a lot of them immigrated legally before restrictions went on in the nineteen twenties.

          • @Alchemy:

            I agree that if someone shows up wounded at the ER, he is going to get treated whether or not he is a recent immigrant. But I don’t think that would be an adequate reason for people to come who were not planning to support themselves, which is the problem I’m trying to solve with my proposal. And it isn’t a significant cost to those already here–ER expenditures are a trivial fraction of all medical expenses.

            My reason for thinking those already here would benefit by free immigration is conventional economics, the same arguments that imply benefits from free trade. As long as all exchange is voluntary, we benefit from increased opportunities to exchange.

            More than that would require a much longer explanation than I am prepared to offer in a blog comment–I have a webbed price theory textbook I can point you at if sufficiently interested.

          • Drew says:

            My reason for thinking those already here would benefit by free immigration is conventional economics, the same arguments that imply benefits from free trade. As long as all exchange is voluntary, we benefit from increased opportunities to exchange.

            Maybe I misunderstood my macro core, but this doesn’t seem true.

            Removing a trade barrier doesn’t mean that “we” benefit. It just means that overall productivity increases. The group protected by the trade barrier (in this case ‘US Labor’) can easily end up worse than they were before.

            Saying that this represents a benefit for “us” requires some extremely strong assumptions about our social welfare function.

            I’m imagining a toy example where countries have CES production functions. The US has a ton of capital and very little labor. Some other country has a glut of labor and very little capital. Should they merge?

            The consequence of a merge might be something like, “US Labor loses $10/year, US Capital gains $20/year.” It’s a good deal in net. But there are obvious consequences for income distribution.

            If you want to claim that there’s some analysis showing that the numbers work out in the specific, real-world case of the US, that’s fine.

          • Space Viking says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            Non-white immigrants who oppose welfare don’t exist. Why would they? Incentives are incentives.

            Now, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Again, only whites support smaller government. We can bring some in with more selective, restricted immigration than what we have today — this I support.

            Libertarians have a hard time accepting this, but libertarianism is, with few exceptions, an ideology that appeals only to whites. (Only white men, really, but that’s a separate issue). Open borders would destroy that ideology, your ideology, forever.

            Get it through your head: minorities will never vote for you. And yes, Hispanics are minorities. Why don’t you ask one if he sees himself as white or not?

            And you should see the data on racism in minorities. David, they hate us. Blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims hate whites and Jews much more than whites and Jews (rightly) feel uncomfortable around them. Why should we invite in more people who hate us?

          • alchemy29 says:

            @David Friedman
            Thank you for your response. I apologize if my last comment was impatient, I understand that this is a more complex topic than can be fully discussed in a blog comments section.

            I do think that immigration involves too many externalities for a supply and demand model to capture the biggest effects. And I do think that stability is a huge issue. But perhaps thats a discussion for another time.

          • Removing a trade barrier doesn’t mean that “we” benefit. It just means that overall productivity increases.

            “Overall productivity” is an odd way of putting it, but other than that you are correct. If nobody benefited by steel tariffs, nobody would lobby for them.

            I am not claiming that every individual benefits by the abolition of a tariff, or all tariffs (the latter is more likely), or all immigration restrictions. “We benefit” means that the summed benefits to those of us (in this case present residents) who are better off are larger than the summed losses to those of us who lose, both defined in willingness to pay terms. That’s in addition to the benefits to the immigrants.

            For abolition of a single tariff, it’s reasonably clear who the gainers and losers are. Owners of inputs (capital, labor, raw materials) to the protected industry lose, consumers of the output of the protected industry and producers of export goods gain. Gains larger than losses.

            For abolition of all tariffs or all immigration restrictions, figuring out gainers and losers is much harder.

          • INH5 says:

            And yes, Hispanics are minorities. Why don’t you ask one if he sees himself as white or not?

            About half of US Hispanics and Latinos identify as white on the census.

        • Space Viking says:

          @DavidFriedman:

          Because now the American political climate has changed to be at its most adversarial since, well, the Civil War, and before that, the Revolutionary War. We understand on the right that open borders is meant to replace us with more pliable, leftist voters. Instead of the people electing a new government, it’s the government electing a new people. Full-on open borders would remove any legitimacy USG still has left — the only possible responses would be another 1776, or doing nothing and turning into Venezuela, or worse, South Africa.

          Past immigration to the United States was overwhelmingly European in origin, and whites are the only American racial group who support smaller government. Open borders as envisioned today would certainly mean tyranny on a scale never before seen in American history, and that’s what we have a 2nd Amendment to prevent. In an open borders future, if war doesn’t break out immediately, it will once it becomes clear to all that not only the left, but the socialist, anti-white, anti-Semitic left will never lose another election with their hordes of new voters.

          • Matt M says:

            or worse, South Africa.

            Good luck with that. In the last topic someone unironically suggested “White people were worried about ending apartheid in South Africa too, and that turned out to be fine.”

          • Past immigration to the United States was overwhelmingly European in origin,

            Europeans who were viewed at the time by many here as a terrible threat, for much the same reasons you offer now for non-European immigrants.

            and whites are the only American racial group who support smaller government

            I don’t think any American racial group supports smaller government, unfortunately,

            My proposal would be open borders with new immigrants not entitled to either vote or receive welfare benefits for a substantial period of time, at least a decade, perhaps more. That way you only get people who are willing and able to support themselves. To be fair, they should have some sort of reduced tax burden to compensate for the tax funded benefits they are not eligible for.

            I see no reason to expect that the immigrants you would get under those rules would be any more in favor of large government than the present population.

            Incidentally, you seem to assume that the Democrats support open borders. In my experience, pretty nearly the only people supporting that position are libertarians.

          • BBA says:

            Venezuela, or worse, South Africa.

            By what possible metric is South Africa, a country with a lot of problems but still more-or-less functional, doing worse than Venezuela, a country undergoing a complete societal breakdown? For extra credit, answer without regard to skin color.

          • Space Viking says:

            @ Matt M:

            Good point. There’s a lot of education that needs to be done on this issue. Americans don’t know how bad it is in South Africa.

            @ DavidFriedman:

            Except that they didn’t have extensive polling and other techniques 150 years ago. Now we know all sorts of things, like how immigrants and potential immigrants vote, what their policy positions are, their propensities for crime, their IQ levels, their economic productivity, etc. — we don’t have to guess. All of these demonstrate that open borders in America would be enormously destructive. I’m sorry, but open borders is just not a data-driven position.

            And unfortunately, from what I’ve read, whites really are the only race to support smaller government. It’s true that many whites do not, of course.

            Your proposal is just not restricted enough. Their children will cause all of the problems they would, just delayed by a generation, if that.

            According to Pew, American whites support smaller government 52%-37%, while for foreign born Hispanics, it’s 12%-81%(!) Numbers are also bad for native born Hispanics, blacks, Muslims, Asians, etc. The numbers belie your optimism.

            Left-libertarians, yes, who often, but not always, support the Democrats.

            @BBA:

            Here you go. And no, I won’t answer without regard to “skin color”, because race matters, whether we like it or not. It may not matter to us, but not only is it an important source of human differences in nature, it sure does matter to just about everyone else. We ignore it at our own peril.

          • their IQ levels, their economic productivity, etc. — we don’t have to guess.

            Do you assume that we only gain by interacting with very productive people? High IQ people?

            That might be true if you are imagining a communist society with equal division of incomes. But in a market society, how much you get depends mostly on how much you produce. The less productive person gets a lower income, consumes less, and is still much better off than he was where he came from. That doesn’t make him a burden on the more productive.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The less productive person gets a lower income, consumes less, and is still much better off than he was where he came from.

            But we don’t have that kind of society and we get further and further away from it all the time. We have a society where the (much) less productive person gets free housing, free food, free medical care, free schooling, now moving towards free post-secondary education, even free recreation and entertainment. Also for the least productive, effective exemption from laws against personal crimes at least until they put someone in the hospital.

          • BBA says:

            My friend, when you respond to me with a link to an hour-long video based on premises I’ve already indicated I don’t accept, and it doesn’t even answer the question I asked you, I get the sense we aren’t going to be able to have a productive discussion.

          • Space Viking says:

            @BBA:

            If you don’t have time to learn the facts, then don’t waste my time by commenting on what you’re ignorant about.

            Unless you have a substantive response?

          • @Nybbler:

            I’ve been defending a particular proposal–open borders, with new immigrants not qualified for welfare for an extended period of time and with their taxes reduced to compensate them for the fact that some of what taxes pay for isn’t available to them.

            You are correct that the case for open borders is weaker in a welfare state. On the other hand, the existence of open borders makes a welfare state less politically attractive–that’s why supporters of a welfare system generally want it to be federal, to keep interstate competition from driving down welfare levels. If you are opposed to a welfare state, that’s a further benefit of easy immigration.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If you are opposed to a welfare state, that’s a further benefit of easy immigration.

            It’s just not practical, though, because if you don’t have a welfare state, or even if you bar it to immigrants, someone’s going to blame dead mothers and children on you, get the welfare state passed or reinstated for immigrants, and then you’ve got open borders and a welfare state. Dead mothers and children outside the country aren’t yet at the point that they’re an automatic trump to any policy that allows them.

          • John Schilling says:

            Literal cash-payment welfare, or soup-kitchen welfare, is only part of the problem. The most important part of what the United States provides to residents and immigrants alike, on the general welfare front, is a high-trust society with good government, This isn’t free, and it isn’t easy to scale to a large new immigrant population.

        • Aponymouse says:

          I would imagine the creation of welfare state have increased the numbers of would-be immigrants, decreased their mean productivity, and thus increased opposition to open borders. Having no property and no job is much more survivable in the US today compared to third-world countries – that was not necessarily the case a hundred years ago.

      • BBA says:

        Calexit isn’t polling that well and it’ll probably take until after 2020 to happen, look at how slow Brexit is going and that’s a cake walk compared to leaving the US. But strictly speaking, it might be constitutional for Congress to expel California from the Union just by passing a law; that’s how states are admitted, after all. And it’s absolutely in the Republican party’s interest to kick California out.

        • Matt M says:

          Calexit will vanish as a thing as soon as Trump is gone from office.

          At which point Texit probably returns.

          I think we’d need like 10+ years straight one one party rule for either to get far enough along to have any legitimate shot.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Any provision for expulsion would be shaky. Texas Vs. White makes numerous references to “perpetual union” and “indissoluble.”

          Maybe you can draft a Constitutional Amendment, but the amendment provision says a state cannot be deprived of its senate suffrage without its consent, so California would have to agree as well?

          • Evan Þ says:

            On the other hand, expelling a part of California would probably be Constitutional. The Boundary Treaty of 1970 ceded to Mexico several small tracts along the Rio Grande that were hitherto part of Texas, including at least one that was inhabited. Similarly, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 ceded to Britain what were arguably several inhabited parts of Massachusetts. As far as I know, neither of the affected states ever consented.

            So, could the United States government give independence to… oh, all of California except Fannette Island in Lake Tahoe? Or if independence doesn’t fall under those precedents, could we cede it to some cooperative foreign government – maybe the Maldives, which are known to the State of California to be about to lose all their territory?

            (Yes, all this is pie-in-the-sky theorizing. But I like it!)

          • James Miller says:

            @Evan Þ

            If, say, 60% of Californians wanted independence, we would probably only have to expel a small *geographic* percentage of California to get that number under well 50%. And we could sell that expelled part to Mexico in return for them paying for Trump’s wall.

          • Aapje says:

            That would give a lot of power to the inhabitants of Fannette Island.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Aapje, good point. Even after the next census, they’d still have one Representative and two Senators. Rump!California could merge with another state (like Nevada) to solve that, but that’d need consent of both state legislatures… and they might not be willing to give up their sudden power.

            On the other hand, if we’re literally talking about Fannette Island (instead of going with James’s plan), it’s uninhabited! Which means they’d still have Congressional seats, but they’d go unfilled!

          • Aapje says:

            What happens if a Californian would row out to the island the day before the split and camp there? She wouldn’t own any land in the old state, but would she still be a Californian who can vote?

        • Space Viking says:

          @BBA:

          It’s true that it probably won’t happen, but it has a genuine, decent shot. My point was that it’s amenable to funding and activism to improve its odds. The fact that it polls better among California’s youth means that it likely does have a future. I agree that if it does happen, it will take a while.

          @Matt M:

          That may well be true, but politics can move fast. The sanctuary cities issue hasn’t truly come to a head yet, neither has the border wall, neither has preventing illegals from voting. I’m not confident enough to make your prediction that it requires a decade of one party rule.

          @Definite Beta:

          Ah, but that’s only one SCOTUS decision away from changing.

          @Evan:

          Or how about just coastal and southern California? This would also make a Calexit referendum more likely to pass within California, because Trump supporters in the north and east of the state could then remain within the US in a rump State of California without being forced to move.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Polling well among youth doesn’t mean “in 20 years everyone will believe it.”

            This looks much more likely as “in 20 years those people will realize it was a stupid idea and stop believing it.”

            Those youth have little to lose and/or don’t realize what they would actually lose.

          • Space Viking says:

            @Edward:

            Possibly. A contrary view is that those youths are mostly minorities who won’t change their mind as they grow older about living in an America controlled by the Republicans. Statistically, they’re not about to become Republicans themselves.

  20. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Would you take a salary cut to have your own office? How much?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Do you literally mean having an office or are you using it as a metonym for a managerial position (e.g., “getting a corner office”)?

      I’m a bench scientist / PhD student, so an office isn’t very useful to me. I wouldn’t spend enough time there to justify lowering my stipend even further. But if I could hit a button and become a PI in exchange for a pay cut that would be wonderful.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I meant a literal physical office, with walls that go to the ceiling and soundproofing if necessary. Also a door.

    • Charles F says:

      I finally managed to request a shared office a couple months ago. I’m certainly not giving that up along with a chunk of my salary.

    • John Schilling says:

      I have my own office, and you’d need to offer me at least a 10% raise to go back to anything less than a shared office with a partition. And understand that you would be paying more for less work, because the distractions etc really do matter.

      Flip side, I don’t hire more people than I can accommodate in private or shared-and-partitioned offices.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      No, I don’t make enough money to take a pay cut. 🙁

      Rumor is my office is planning to move to an Open Office. Open Offices are the dumbest office trend. I plan to put some cardboard to separate myself from my co-workers.

      • Randy M says:

        I had an open office for a few years. It was helpful in being able to lean over and ask the stats expert for help now and then, or get another engineers attention by raising my head a couple inches, but for keeping concentration for beyond a few minutes… not so great.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          I just don’t want people looking at me all day. Why? totally uncomfortable. Shout as much as you want, just leave me in peace!

    • Urstoff says:

      I have my own office and would gladly take a raise to share an office with someone.

    • The Nybbler says:

      A small one, maybe 5%-10% max. To be able to work from home all the time I’d take a large cut, maybe ~25%. Open, crowded offices are unpleasant but my view of it is that it hurts the company more than it hurts me; if the top brass want to economize on space by reducing the productivity of their employees that’s on them.

    • sandoratthezoo says:

      No.

      (And this isn’t a cute answer, like “oh, haha, I already have an office.” I work in an open floorplan. I like it.)

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I’ve learned something, and there may be something worth generalizing.

      My question was based on the vociferous complaints I’ve seen about open offices, but it didn’t occur to me that there’s something between one’s very own office and an open office.

      Maybe the lesson is to remember that there may be non-dramatic alternatives.

      • The Nybbler says:

        it didn’t occur to me that there’s something between one’s very own office and an open office.

        Lots of things. Private office, small shared office (2-3 people max), group office (8-10 people), cubicles with high walls, cubicles with low walls, then open office. And density variations within these. The Dilbert corporate dystopia was high-walled cubicles; this would be considered heavenly from the viewpoint of a Googler with a 4-foot desk, no walls, and jammed in a huge room with concrete floor and ceiling with hundreds of others at similar desks lined up in tightly-spaced rows. (to be fair, I think the 5-foot desk is still standard, but there were definitely spaces with small desks)

      • Iain says:

        My workplace has relatively spacious, high-walled cubicles — 7 to 8 feet, by eyeball — with sliding doors. It looks drab, but in practice it’s quite a good balance between quiet when you need it and easy communication with your coworkers nearby.

    • andrewflicker says:

      Nope- had one before, didn’t really care for the isolation. I work in a more-or-less open office now (big “shared” cubes so low that everyone’s heads are over them, and many of us (myself included) working standing desks with no walls at all), and just take my laptop and go off to a break room or unused meeting room when I need/want privacy (or just to sit down ’cause I get lazy).

      But I don’t feel strongly- if you gave me a 5% pay raise to take an office, I’d go for it.

    • Andrew Hunter says:

      I’d jump at the opportunity (though worry a bit about perverse incentives: would my employer be motivated to make my day to day experience shitty so they could sell me back the nice parts? It’d be tremendously shortsighted of them, but we’ve done dumber things to pad sociopath executives’ bonuses before.) It is not offered by my current employer and won’t be, for a sort of annoying reason I worked out a while back: Google (and most of the SV tribe, I think) is allergic to the idea that “rank hath its privileges.”

      My sister works in the State Department, and to her it of course makes sense that FSO-X and up (I don’t actually know the cutoff!) get private officers, with Y and up getting nice wood ones. That’s just one of the perks that come along with being higher ranked; it’s not an egalitarian environment. Your seniors are Better Than You (hopefully they’re nice about it–she certainly hasn’t reported bullying or the like to me.) In Silicon Valley…there’d be a riot. “He thinks I should bow and scrape just because he’s three levels up???” Of course, the actual execs get exceptions to this–at many companies they nominally have the same work spaces as everyone else, but in practice have nice private offices and conference rooms that are Theirs. But a normal coworker, even a vastly higher-ranked one? They can have more money, because that’s private and we don’t talk about it, but not nicer offices or food or assistants.

      There’s something morally nice about this, sure, but it’s also frustrating, because it means we can’t have nice things. In particular, as SV companies grow, the average quality is diluted. (Everyone denies this, but it’s a fact. The bar was higher to be employee #100 than #10000.) With 100 employees, all of whom are effectively highly ranked (or at least “elite”)–it’s totally justifiable to give people nice offices, serve foie gras in the cafeteria, and take the entire team to Tahoe for a week. With 10,000…you can’t do that for all of them. It would be unaffordable (or at least uneconomical), and most of them don’t “rate” it (in the eyes of leadership.) The original 100 would…but you can’t give them anything nice, other than money, without giving it to everyone. So no one gets it.

      I suppose paying for the perks would be slightly less in opposition to egalitarianism in principle, but Google at least is sort of allergic to internal markets, and I think it comes from the same place. (We also have massively oversubscribed subsidized masseuses; I’d happily pay double to get reliable scheduling when I fuck up a joint in BJJ, but every time this gets brought up the egalitarians scream bloody hell.) So I doubt we’d be able to offer such a program [1].

      Next time I get promoted I am seriously considering pitching a fit about this, even so. It’s just good business sense, anyway–I would be massively more productive in a broom closet than my current workspace, which is a desk in the middle of a heavily trafficed hallway next to the security office.

      [1] An exception I recently learned: some Microsoft offices have nice parking spaces you can buy…by giving the most to charity in some sort of internal competition. (I don’t know the exact rules or the going rates, though, unsurprisingly, senior execs win every time.) I wonder if that might fly at Google for offices.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Instead of giving everyone offices, another way to avoid perks is to give everyone offices. Isn’t this what Microsoft used to do?

        Wouldn’t it be fairly easy for Googlers in Seattle to get a job with an office at MS? Lots of people complain about this, but do any of them jump ship? I’m sure that there are many downsides to MS, but the value of actually answering the question, of putting a dollar (or percentage) figure on offices (and the other differences) is that you can see whether you have coherent preferences.

      • Deiseach says:

        It’s just good business sense, anyway–I would be massively more productive in a broom closet than my current workspace

        I have my own office! Yes, it used to be a broom closet (well, storage room) but I have one, even if it is a teeny-tiny one! 🙂

        Last two jobs were local government so run along civil service/public service lines (like your sister); the ordinary staff (Grade IIIs) shared an office each with our own desk (along the lines of the 8-10 shared office The Nybbler describes); Acting Grade IV was the office manager and had an office of her own, but it was connected to the group office and the door was always open because she was in and out more than she spent time in her office; the Staff Officer – Grade V – had her own separate office down the hall but again, relatively open to people going in and out, and in both places Da Big Cheese (CEO of one job and Director of Service for the Section in another) had their own private office where you very definitely did not wander in and out but waited to be called if you were wanted. That was the level at which you spoke of them as “Mr So-and-So” and addressed them as “Manager” when speaking of/to them in the presence of others who were not from within the section, though both did do the whole “call me Bob” routine, which worked better with one guy than the other since one was much more approachable in manner. I got on way better with the Senior Executive Officer – Grade VIII – who was the second-in-command at the second job, because (a) I kind of knew him already from the first job and (b) he was much more easy and convincing in the whole “call me Bob” role and (c) more of my own class/background than the bosses from that job and job before that who were very middle-class and aspirational with it. Oddly enough, though I come from a lower-class background, I can be a thundering snob in some matters of taste and have a tendency to internally go “Oh. How very… bourgeois” like the most grande of grande dames in Downton Abbey 🙂

        So what is going on at Google? If the guys three levels above are supposed to be on the same playing field as you, what about all these managers in the memo brouhaha going on about how they had blacklists of people they wouldn’t work with, and the bragging in some quarters about how they could ruin someone’s career not alone in Google but within Silicon Valley as they talk to managers in other companies and could blacklist a candidate from ever getting a job again?

        Or are those managers much, much higher up and would have their own office?

        • Andrew Hunter says:

          Those managers with the blacklists still worked in open office bays, they just have political power anyway.

          • Deiseach says:

            So the egalitarian thing is – mmm, don’t want to call it a sham, how about a veneer? “This is Joe, an ordinary co-worker just like you who gets no special perks – except he can make or break your career and if you get on his wrong side he can make sure you never work in this business again”.

            I think I’d prefer if Joe had even a teeny office of his own so I know not to shoot my mouth off around him 🙂

          • sandoratthezoo says:

            @Deiseach

            I’m not at Google, but I work in the Silicon Valley in an open-floor-plan office for a software company. I don’t think that at my company or any other company I’ve worked at that there’s a pretense of egalitarianism. I mean, we’re still a corporate hierarchy. Nobody is unclear about what management means. (There are some companies that try to do really flat management structures, but they’re a small minority of companies that work in an open floorplan).

            I guess that there’s an element of “I’m the boss but some privileges are unseemly” in the same way that, in the most stodgy places in the world, your boss is your boss but there are still things that he won’t ask you to do. But more so, I think that the appeal of open floorplans is cost-savings and lines of communication, not the illusion of equality.

          • Matt M says:

            As a slight twist on things, I work at a consulting firm where for the consultants and junior consultants, its open office. The managers and partners still have offices.

            The twist is that the managers actually have bigger offices than the partners do, despite being significantly junior, lower pay, lower status. The justification is that managers often have to have team meetings with 4 or 5 people, where partners usually meet with clients one on one (or in large groups that necessitate a conference room anyway). Very utilitarian rather than status-oriented.

        • DavidS says:

          In policy departments of UK civil service the norm for maybe decade has been that senior folk sit in open plan with everyone else. And definitely don’t get addressed by title or surname!

          I’ve never had my own office and suspect I wouldn’t like it. Turns quickly checking something with someone into a bigger more formal deal. Though I can usually work from home if I really need to get my head down on one thing.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Hah, no, I don’t make enough money to consider any kind of salary cut in exchange for anything. Ask me again when I crack 40K, and have a job where I wouldn’t be constantly leaving my desk to work a front desk.

    • Eric Rall says:

      Not again I won’t. When I left the startup I was working for a few years ago, both Microsoft and Google were interested in hiring me back (I’d work for both previously and my former managers at each company both had openings on their teams). Microsoft came through with an offer faster, and I accepted despite it being considerably less than what I’d been making at Google before leaving for the startup. The big reasons were:

      1. I prefer Microsoft’s balance of structure vs autonomy to Google’s.

      2. Private offices at Microsoft vs bullpens at Google.

      3. Bird-in-the-hand offer from Microsoft, while Google was taking their time moving the process along.

      Accepting the offer from Microsoft was probably the right call in hindsight: both companies phased out the SDET/Test Engineer role not long after, and the way Microsoft did so worked out well for me, but it sounds like Google’s way of phasing out Test Engineers would have had a significant chance of dead-ending my career or pushing me out of the company.

      But the private office didn’t last long: Microsoft moved my team to open-plan offices about a year later. So if a future decision came down to a strict choice of pay vs private office, I’d be very aware that there’s no guarantee of the private office lasting long enough to be worthwhile.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      No; when I need my own office, I either work from home or invade an unused conference room.

      Open office plans are great—if you combine them with private office space available to anyone who needs it. The offices don’t have to be personal: I could spend one afternoon in one private office, the next afternoon in a different one. The pattern is known as “Cave and Commons” among software methodology nerds.

      The worst approach* is five-foot cubicles: they’re enough to prevent collaboration between cube spaces, but not enough to provide any kind of sound insulation. Guess what most of my work spaces have been? At one point, I had a cube, but spent almost all my time in an open shared lab space; about half the time I was the only one in it, so it functioned as a very large private office; the other half of the time one of my small set of co-workers was in it, which provided occasions for opportunistic communication.

      Finally, I should note that sometimes I need privacy so that my coworkers are insulated from me: my muttering when wrestling with messy code or recalcitrant software tools can get very loud (and profane).

      (* Yet: growth mindset!)

  21. postgenetic says:

    What is the dominant phenomenon of our era?
    I contend it’s exponentially accelerating complexity, which includes exponentially accruing knowledge.
    Add ~5.9 billion people since 1900, give an increasing and significant percentage of humans access to exponentially more powerful technology, extending our reach in-and-across geo eco bio cultural & tech networks.
    Historically and evolutionarily, we’ve generated unprecedented environs … And we, humans, can’t handle these novel environs, the myriad consequences of this emergent (& still emerging) phenomenon.
    Due to the rate of change, our situation is somewhat analogous to dropping 500 penguins on a summer dune in the Sahara … coding doesn’t work for interface with those environs, hence, the coding won’t be, can’t be selected. Our situation is different in that we can create and implement knowledge.
    Even with those incredible powers, think that humans aren’t sufficiently coded — biologically, culturally or technologically — to pass natural selection tests in environs undergoing exponentially accelerating complexity for X number of years.
    Year X approaches.
    Exhibit A: Sky.
    Exhibit B: Ocean.
    In addition, collapse, or the large and rapid restructuring of a network’s relationships, is part of the when-not-if physics of non-equilibrium systems. It’s called self-organized criticality, or critical-state universality: meteor hits; plagues; world wars; climate changes; super volcanoes; mass extinctions; stock crashes; etc.
    So the chaos that abounds world wide, and yes, it’s always been there, is about to get significantly worse.
    The collapse dominoes are aligning … and think thusly: the forces are larger than humans can control.
    Culture, Complexity & Code2: link text

  22. lvlln says:

    Has anyone read and have any thoughts on The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn? I only heard about it recently when watching one of Jordan Peterson’s lectures on YouTube, and the way he described it seemed depressingly relevant to today, which made me curious about checking it out. At the same time, Peterson is hardly an unbiased source on something like this, and I’ve also heard from a Russian friend of mine that I might have gotten the wrong impression about the gulags and dekulakization. Yet the little research I’ve done on Google and Wikipedia also tends to tell me that Peterson generally has it right.

    In any case, it seems to me that the history of the gulags and the politics surrounding them is important to learn, and they’re also something I wasn’t taught much of in school compared to, say, what was going on in Western Europe around the same time. So I think it’d be a good idea for me to check this out, but I’m curious if others have thoughts on the book or if there might be better resources for learning about this stuff.

    • Randy M says:

      I have not read it, but I am surprised you have only recently heard of it. I believe it had a fairly large historical impact, something like an Uncle Tom’s Cabin, perhaps? Western visitors to Russia were often shown a more sanitized version of the conditions, and I think Solzhenitsyn’s work was influential it opening a window to what the Soviet state was willing to do, solidifying Western & dissident resolve.
      Given the risk at doing such a thing, I’d weight it as likely to be truthful, though as I said I can’t say exactly what all it contains.

    • Sluggish says:

      Tangential response, but if you get the chance, I recommend Solzhenitsyn’s novel ‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’. It’s not as related to ‘Gulag Archipelago’ as you might expect, but it has the advantage of being much shorter.

      • lvlln says:

        Thanks for the recommendation. I see that it’s only about 170 pages, so I think I’ll start with that, in terms of offline reading.

    • zoozoc says:

      I heartily recommend reading at least the first couple volumes. I found them extremely fascinating. He is extremely detailed about the entire prison complex (and its history), so you can always skim over those parts. But his story and the other’s stories about living in the Gulag is very much worth reading. As mentioned earlier, his book is split into several volumes. I believe I only read volume I and II (but I could be wrong). I’ve been meaning to pick up the entire book myself and read it again.

    • Levantine says:

      Recently I came across resources regarding Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago here:
      http://www.unz.com/ishamir/the-russian-scare

    • uncle joe says:

      I’ve read about half of it. It’s an OK book. It was probably more impressive in the 70s when the horrors of the Soviet system were largely unknown. It tends to describe things in detail and at excessive length, which made it something of a chore to read. The major strength of the book is the volume of individual testimony Solzhenitsyn collected about life in the gulags. I’m not aware of another work that matches it in this regard. However, I prefer the Black Book of Communism as a source of facts, and I prefer Darkness at Noon as a narrative.

  23. Nabil ad Dajjal says:

    This is going to get into some inflammatory topics, specifically the murder of children by their parents and Donald Trump, so I’m going to rot13 it and ask people to try not to flame.

    Fb n pbhcyr pb-jbexref naq V jrer gnyxvat nobhg fbzr FS obbx jurer na NV unq gevrq gb cerirag jne ol ubyqvat gur puvyqera bs jbeyq yrnqref ubfgntr. Vs nal gjb pbhagevrf jrag gb jne, gur NV jbhyq xvyy gur bssfcevat bs obgu fvqrf’ yrnqref.

    Bar thl fcbxr hc naq fnvq fbzrguvat nybat gur yvarf gung vg jbhyq arire jbex orpnhfr jbeyq yrnqref jbhyq whzc ng gur punapr gb xvyy Qbanyq Gehzc We rira vs vg pbfg gur yvirf bs gurve bja xvqf. V jnf chmmyrq naq nfxrq uvz vs ur frevbhfyl gubhtug gung nalbar ungrq gur Gehzcf zber guna gurl ybirq gurve puvyqera. Ur erfcbaqrq gung ur sryg gung jnl.

    V erohxrq uvz ohg gung fgngrzrag vf fgvyy obgurevat zr. V’z abg rknpgyl n uvccl ohg V yvgrenyyl pna’g vzntvar n ungr gung vagrafr. Vg qvfgheof zr gb guvax nobhg vg.

    V thrff V jnf envfrq gb rzcunfvmr snzvyl yblnygl zber guna zbfg Nzrevpnaf ohg V pna’g frr znxvat n genqr yvxr gung nf nalguvat yrff guna zbafgebhf. Crbcyr urer graq gb ovg ohyyrgf ba gurfr fbegf bs guvatf fb uryc zr haqrefgnaq: jul jbhyq fbzrbar srry guvf jnl?

    • powerfuller says:

      Jul abg whfg nccbvag puvyqyrff yrnqref va guvf fvghngvba? Bgurejvfr, gur Cbcr nybar unf pnegr oynapur gb ynhapu nyy bs gur Ingvpna ahxrf!

      Ohg gb erfcbaq gb gur dhrfgvba — V qba’g haqrefgnaq vg, rvgure, hayrff lbh nffhzr gung zbfg jbeyq yrnqref ner fbpvbcnguf jub qba’g npghnyyl ybir gurve puvyqera. V pna’g vzntvar qbvat fhpu n guvat zlfrys, naq vs V xarj bs n zna jub pbhyq unir, fnl, fgbccrq gur Ubybpnhfg ng gur rkcrafr bs uvf puvyqera naq qrpyvarq gb, V qba’g guvax V pbhyq oynzr uvz.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        Lrnu gung obbx’f cybg fbhaqrq ernyyl qhzo. Vg’f boivbhfyl abg n jbexnoyr cyna sbe znal ernfbaf orlbaq oyvaq ungr.

        Gur bayl jnl vg ernyyl znxrf frafr gb zr vf vs gur NV jnf gelvat gb havgr uhznavgl va bccbfvgvba gb vgfrys, Mreb Erdhvrz fglyr.

      • Iain says:

        V pna’g vzntvar qbvat fhpu n guvat zlfrys, naq vs V xarj bs n zna jub pbhyq unir, fnl, fgbccrq gur Ubybpnhfg ng gur rkcrafr bs uvf puvyqera naq qrpyvarq gb, V qba’g guvax V pbhyq oynzr uvz.

        Tvira gur bcgvba gb fgbc gur Ubybpnhfg ol fnpevsvpvat lbhe bja puvyqera, vg vf haqrefgnaqnoyr gb qrpyvar — ohg lbh jbhyq cebonoyl abg irurzragyl erohxr n crefba jub znqr gur fnpevsvpr. Vaqrrq, V guvax vg pbhyq cynhfvoyl or qrfpevorq nf urebvp.

        Gur qvssrerapr urer vf gung, rira vs lbh guvax Gehzc vf nf onq nf gur Ubybpnhfg — naq juvyr V’z pregnvayl ab Gehzc sna, V guvax gung’f cercbfgrebhf — xvyyvat uvf fba qbrfa’g npghnyyl qb nalguvat. Whavbe frrzf yvxr n ovg bs n gjvg, ohg gung qbrfa’g erzbgryl whfgvsl zheqrevat uvz whfg gb fcvgr uvf sngure.

        Guvf frrzf yvxr cbbeyl gubhtug-bhg gbhtuthlvfz, engure guna n qrsrafvoyr zbeny senzrjbex.

      • Jiro says:

        Consider that in real life, kings often were able to kill their children for their own benefit. Of course, the children often plotted against them and that’s why the kings had to do that, but it still shows as a general principle that rulers would be able to kill their children for their own safety.

        Also, if you set this up you construct a system which gives the advantage to ruthless people.