"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 52.75

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever.

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690 Responses to Open Thread 52.75

  1. Pablo says:

    Who here likes Mark Twain?

    My favorite book of his may be Pudd’nhead Wilson which has a great stinger last line.

    Tossing this out there for discussion because I appear to be the first poster.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Can’t stand to read dialect, myself. Slows me down too much.

      • Pablo says:

        I usually count dialect as a good thing, although it can be done badly by the wrong author – Uncle Tom’s Cabin, almost contemporaneous and aiming at some of the same dialects, is awful at doing it, in my opinion.

    • Nornagest says:

      I like his short stories more than his novels. The latter made it into the canon and the former didn’t, but I think the “tall tale infused with hundred-proof cynicism” schtick works better in shorter, tighter plots with a single punchline.

    • keranih says:

      I love a lot of his work. “The Ransom of Red Chief”, “Huck Finn”, but most of all the essays in “Letters to the Earth”, and of course, his work on Joan of Arc.

    • Tibor says:

      I only read the books about Huckleberry Finn as a kid. I remember I really liked it but I might have missed quite a lot of stuff since I was a kid and saw it only as an adventure story. I might pick up something else from him 🙂

    • Urstoff says:

      I read Tom Sawyer recently, and it really is an excellent book, even for adults. Twain understands how young boys think; many contemporary authors don’t, as children are often portrayed as having adult motives and thought processes.

    • My favorite book of his may be Pudd’nhead Wilson which has a great stinger last line.

      Normally, when I see a reference like this, I go right for the spoiler, but in this case, I decided to read the whole thing from beginning to end. That last line was every bit as great as you suggested.

  2. Chrysophylax says:

    My first first post!

    Scott, if you haven’t already, please look at the long-form survey responses in open Thread 52.5. If you have, replies would be appreciated!

    Edit: Curses! Foiled again!

  3. A Troubled Person says:

    Does anyone know any good websites for ex-leftists? My Google searches don’t turn up anything useful.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure what you mean. Like a survivors group? A 12 step program?

      • A Troubled Person says:

        Eh, sorry, I just want a discussion forum with this theme. I’d love a place that I can rant about things the Left do without being called right-wing. I have had a lot of bad experiences with leftists but I’d rather talk about them with other ex-leftists than sully these comment sections with this unpleasant side of politics.

        I love the Less Wrong and SSC posts about politics, so especially if rationalist ex-leftists hang around somewhere, please tell me.

        • Nicholas says:

          John Michael Greer runs two blogs that have a large population of ex-Leftists (in the sense of having been abandoned by the Democratic party of the United States and/or the Labor party of Britain, but it’s a pretty provincial couple of blogs). He’s considered Post-Rationalist by the other Post-Rationalists, but other than a few commenters neither he nor Orthodox Yudkowskian-Rationalists have really heard of each other.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        It is possible to be an ex-leftist without becoming a “smarter sort of bro”. Unless the Troubled Person was using “ex-leftist” as code for knee oh react ornery.

        • Anonanon says:

          It’s possible, but desirable? Hanging out at the Left Behind book club with Freddie de Boer while your old leftie friends call you a crypto-knee oh react ornery musoggynist anyway?

          I can’t think of worse ways to wash up, but most of them involve lobotomies.

          • Nicholas says:

            It’s probably possible to reject Neoliberal Cornucopianism without desiring to copy an older model of social values and organizations, just based off of the fact that before the 1970’s we had both liberal and social justice parties that weren’t Neoliberal at all. You have to admit that your cause has made bedfellows with Neoliberal cheerleaders, and saying that that’s a mistake out loud in any kind of specifics is probably going to get you put on the other side of the Rescue Game. But you could move forward with your more contemporary social values, as long as you were willing to accept that the contemporary social organization is on the outs.

          • Loquat says:

            I’m curious what Left Behind book club you’re referring to – the only one I’m familiar with is heavily SJ and the blogger has specifically criticized de Boer for his stance on SJ-style identity politics.

          • Anonanon says:

            Toss a link, Loquat? It was just a hypothetical based on a pun. Has someone already done it?

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            Fred Clark (now of Patheos) has a long running book club.

            He’s a very gifted writer, but very much a SJW (I don’t think he would object to the term and I can’t think of a better way to phrase it)

          • Adam says:

            You guys have to mean something than a book club devoted to the series about the post-rapture world of people who were not chosen, but what exactly?

          • Anonanon says:

            The reference was part of the joke, Adam. Sadly not a very clever one, I guess.

            Left Behind, as in the rest of the political left moved away from what you always thought “leftism” meant, and just throws peanuts at you, yelling “SPLITTER!“.
            And also Left Behind as in “I thought I was one of the virtuous chosen people, but atheism+ ascended to heaven and cast me out with the sinners¹”.

            And talking about Freddie being undone by left identity politics was a reference to this hilarious comment from March.

            ¹ “we will not work with you, we will not befriend you. We will heretofore denounce you as the irrational or immoral scum you are”

          • Adam says:

            Well, other people seemed to get it. I tend to take things pretty literally, so I thought it was specifically a reference to something else I didn’t know about.

          • Loquat says:

            @ Anonanon

            As has been mentioned, Fred Clark has been doing a detailed critique of the Left Behind series for many years now. He’s very definitely SJ – as you can see here, one of his primary assumptions regarding leftist callout culture is that if you’re called out that’s prima facie evidence you were wrong and must change whatever your accusers tell you to change.

          • Anonanon says:

            Wow, those responses to your comment. Scary that the prog-christian wing of atheism+ didn’t fall apart as fast.

  4. Sandy says:

    James Traub argues that with the advent of populist movements in the West leading to Brexit and the Trump campaign, it’s time for elites to rise up against the ignorant masses.

    What think you? I haven’t been able to find any discussions about this article anywhere; so far the only people I’ve seen talk about it are /pol/, who in their usual way quickly discovered that Traub’s father is Jewish and made much reference to Stalin’s “rootless cosmopolitanism” once they reached the part where Traub says “the celebration of national identity excludes non-whites and marginal groups”. A quick Google search says InfoWars has also commented on it; I haven’t read that article and I don’t want to because I expect it’s more of the same in perhaps a more polished way.

    Has anyone from the British or American left been putting forward this argument that elites should just openly defy the masses and do what they think is best for the nation in the long-term?

    • ReluctantEngineer says:

      Op-ed writers and editorial pages routinely call upon politicians to do unpopular things (typically either raising taxes or cutting entitlement spending) that risk getting them voted out of office.

    • Anonymous says:

      The whole attack on elites and elitism is and was misguided. We’ve had elites on the left and the right pandering to the masses for decades, praising them to the high heavens and denigrating their own class’ excellence — indeed the very concept of excellence. It amounted to burning social trust for short term personal gain and now it has come home to roost. The masses, and even the young elite, have come to really believe it in their bones. Almost everyone is participation trophy relativist now.

      I do think we need a return to elitism, but I’m not sure a revolt as such is going to succeed. This destructive path has taken decades and it probably can’t be reversed in less than decades.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        Uh. No. The problem is that the modern elite are stupid and everybody bloody well knows it.

        The elites attacking other elites for that stupidity is a symptom, not a cause. If you lose the Mandate of Heaven, you deserved to lose it; that’s the way the Mandate of Heaven works. And the elite have been cruising along for the past twenty years completely unaware of the fact that they didn’t actually have it.

        • Anonymous says:

          I don’t know what kind of sinophile nonsense this “mandate of heaven” business is about, but you can’t just assume your audience shares it.

          • Anonymous says:

            If he saying that Western elites have angered the Chinese gods then nonsensical is an exceptionally nice way of putting it.

          • Ruprect says:

            If I were being hyper-critical, I would agree that the use of the expression here doesn’t really add anything to the point being made, adding linguistic complexity without adding any additional information.

            I would have said “they are unpopular because they are shit”.

          • Nornagest says:

            If he saying that Western elites have angered the Chinese gods then nonsensical is an exceptionally nice way of putting it.

            He’s saying that Western elites now look sufficiently out of step with the governed that the legitimacy of their government is called into question.

            The Mandate of Heaven is cast in terms of Chinese cosmology, but the core of the idea is more political than religious: it’s saying that government is legitimate only insofar as it competently and fairly serves the interest of the people under it. Popular discontent is evidence of losing the Mandate; a successful revolution is proof of it. (Compare the Jeffersonian idea of the right of revolution.)

            It does drift into superstitious territory when natural disasters become evidence of heavenly disfavor, but I think we can forgive the 7th-century Chinese that.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Would we have had this same silly discussion if he had used “divine right of kings” instead? That’s the European version.

          • Nornagest says:

            Despite the similar name and the fact that both deal in supernatural legitimization of authority, that’s a very different concept: the Mandate of Heaven is highly conditional, applies to anyone that happens to be in power, and (retroactively) justifies the overthrow of unjust rulers, while the Divine Right of Kings is unconditional, applies only to royalty, and states that any attempt by subjects to subvert monarchical authority opposes the will of God. The latter’s also a lot less old: it’s a product of the early modern period of autocratic kingship.

            Some versions did give the Church the right to judge kings, though — a body that never had a Chinese equivalent.

          • Anonanon says:

            Wasn’t trying to frame the divine right of kings as a conditional social contract what got Hobbes in quite a bit of trouble?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            If anybody comes back and reads this: The Mandate of Heaven effectively says you deserve to rule as long as other people think you deserve to rule.

            Westerners often try to reframe it in terms of Divine Mandate, but it’s not; it’s far more brutally simple than that. It’s not about gods. It’s not about spiritualism. It’s not about religion. It’s a more generalized version of the principle that government exists only by the consent of the governed – which is to say, it says that government exists only while the governed respect it.

            A ship’s captain has the Mandate of Heaven – he’s lost it when a mutiny succeeds. If a mutiny fails, he hasn’t lost it. We can think of it in terms of gods deciding his fate, but it’s pretty clear in Chinese philosophy that this is largely a metaphor. It is politics, boiled down to its purest form: You’re in control only so long as others think you are. The “heaven” aspect is a metaphor for society.

            The Mandate of Heaven is what the military adage “Don’t give orders you don’t expect to be followed” refers to, along with a countless number of other, identical concepts refer to. We just don’t have a specific concept for it here, which leads to a surprising degree of stupidity among politicians who don’t actually understand the way power works.

        • Anonymous says:

          The problem is that the modern elite are stupid

          Thank you for proving my point. The elite are more highly selected for intelligence than any time in history. But every Tom, Dick and Harry feels perfectly able and willing to pronounce them “stupid”. Everyone’s opinion is equally valid and facts are just another word for opinions, right?

          • The Nybbler says:

            If being intelligent meant you’d have the right answers to political questions, we’d have a lot more agreement among intelligent people than we see in real life.

          • Ruprect says:

            I think we should get these elites more spread out. An elite on every corner.
            We think so poorly of them because the only interaction we have is via the mass-media nonsense manipulation stuff they put out. Distance breeds contempt, breeds hatred, breeds Brexit.
            Those elites need to start keeping it real.

          • Anonymous says:

            @The Nybbler
            First, I was responding specifically to the claim that “modern elites are stupid”.

            Second, when we get pretty strong agreement among very intelligent people, like many of the top physicists and mathematicians (even most wall street quants) coming out against Trump, it gets dismissed here anyway.

            Third, the multi-decade attacks on elites and elitism and the very notions of excellence and expertise have been far broader than just “the intelligent don’t necessarily have the right answers to political questions.” The consequences are felt everywhere from medicine to education.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Best_and_the_Brightest

            The focus of the book is on the erroneous foreign policy crafted by the academics and intellectuals who were in John F. Kennedy’s administration, and the disastrous consequences of those policies in Vietnam. The title referred to Kennedy’s “whiz kids”—leaders of industry and academia brought into the Kennedy administration—whom Halberstam characterized as arrogantly insisting on “brilliant policies that defied common sense” in Vietnam, often against the advice of career U.S. Department of State employees.

          • Anonymous says:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011%E2%80%9312_Kentucky_Wildcats_women%27s_basketball_team

            The 2011-12 Kentucky Wildcats women’s basketball team represents the University of Kentucky in the 2011–12 NCAA Division I women’s basketball season. The Wildcats, coached by Matthew Mitchell, are a member of the Southeastern Conference, and play their home games on campus at Memorial Coliseum—unlike UK’s famous men’s program, which plays off-campus at Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington.

          • Nornagest says:

            I think we should get these elites more spread out. An elite on every corner.

            A politician in every pot and a banker in every garage!

          • onyomi says:

            It is at least conceivable that today’s elites could actually be smarter than elites of the past yet also more prone to error due to increased hubris. That is, they could know more, yet the gap between what they know and what they think they know could nevertheless be greater. Though I think the early 20th century was the high water mark for hubris.

          • Adam says:

            Also possible they could be as smart as ever, but the problems are more complex. The insight of market economics and the virtue of small polities isn’t that they’re more likely to be right, but just that trial and error is more likely to produce a working idea just by sheer luck if there are a lot more actors trying out distinct ideas, not that the system is actually more intelligent. Some problems are beyond the grasp of intellect and have to be solved by heuristically-guided brute force search. Small polities without central guidance allow us to search more branches in parallel.

          • Jaskologist says:

            High INT, low WIS.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @onyomi

            I think the high point of hubris was probably whenever the whole divine right of kings was most popular. From a brief look on the wikipedia page, I think James I’s “The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth” is probably marginally more arrogant than any modern day “stupid poor people don’t know what’s best for them” stuff.

          • onyomi says:

            Stuff like

            “The bourgeoisie today is a falling class… by its imperialist methods of appropriation [it] is destroying the economic structure of the world and human culture generally. Nevertheless, the historical persistence of the bourgeoisie is colossal. It holds to power, and does not wish to abandon it. Thereby it threatens to drag after it into the abyss the whole of society. We are forced to tear it off, to chop it away. The Red Terror is a weapon utilized against a class, doomed to destruction, which does not wish to perish. If the White Terror can only retard the historical rise of the proletariat, the Red Terror hastens the destruction of the bourgeoisie.”

            and

            “The road to socialism lies through a period of the highest possible intensification of the principle of the state … Just as a lamp, before going out, shoots up in a brilliant flame, so the state, before disappearing, assumes the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the most ruthless form of state, which embraces the life of the citizens authoritatively in every direction…”

            Sound a lot more like hubris/pretense of knowledge to me than just saying “well, if I’m king God must have wanted me to be king.”

          • sweeneyrod says:

            Eh, to me that just sounds like generic “my ideology is the best and eventually it will triumph”. It doesn’t sound any more arrogant than What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I think the high point of hubris was probably whenever the whole divine right of kings was most popular. From a brief look on the wikipedia page, I think James I’s “The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth” is probably marginally more arrogant than any modern day “stupid poor people don’t know what’s best for them” stuff.

            On the other hand, I don’t think that James I ever thought the right combination of government policies would bring about a paradise on earth, or that the country needed to be rebuilt from the ground upward and that he was just the man to do it.

          • nydwracu says:

            Well, gee, I sure am glad that car that’s smashed to pieces at the bottom of that ditch has a powerful engine!

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Well, gee, I sure am glad that car that’s smashed to pieces at the bottom of that ditch has a powerful engine!

            Huh?

          • ChetC3 says:

            The problem with today’s elites is we know much more about them, and have a much harder time idealizing them.

          • Harkonnendog says:

            The elite are more highly selected for intelligence than any time in history.

            Proof? My guess is they are more credentialed, less intelligent, less experienced, and less accomplished than any time in US history.
            Obama’s Nobel prize comes to mind.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The problem isn’t being smart. The administration that got us into Viet Nam was incredibly intelligent.

            The smarter you are, the more likely you can convince yourself of how awesome you are.

    • shemtealeaf says:

      Has anyone from the British or American left been putting forward this argument that elites should just openly defy the masses and do what they think is best for the nation in the long-term?

      I don’t know about leftist politicians, but the center-left people who make up most of my family and peer group have been saying this forever.

      • Randy M says:

        I’m reminded of Thomas Friedman pining for Chinese autocracy.

      • TheAncientGeek says:

        I always assumed that Business as Normal was surreptitious, closeted defiance.

      • TD says:

        Which is really, philosophically speaking, an intrinsically right wing idea. Even Marxist-Leninists/Stalinists are ultimately arguing that total democracy of everything will be the outcome (workers owning the means of production). They just need to prepare the way for that with strong leaders.

        What’s so weird is that in America I think the center-left is more likely to look fondly on monarchy than the right.

        • Jiro says:

          Which is really, philosophically speaking, an intrinsically right wing idea.

          How is this not No True Scotsman applied to the left?

          • TD says:

            Because I would say (according to my theory) egalitarianism as an end goal defines the left, so if you deviate from that philosophy your ideology can no longer be categorized as leftist. The further left you are the faster you will deviate(!).

            The only real difference classically speaking is how quickly the various leftist philosophies want to get to the same end goal.

            Anarchist/anarcho-communists/libertarian socialists are the farthest left. They want the destruction of hierarchy NOW, immediately after the world wide revolution.

            Then you have the Left-Communists and Council Communists who were called infantile by Lenin, and then to their right, Trotskyites who believe in “permanent revolution”, using socialist states, but continually pushing forwards to socialism worldwide without any consolidation or need to transition from a feudal stage with intermediate state capitalism, as this will merely produce a degenerating worker’s state according to theory.

            Then you have Marxism-Leninism as elucidated by Stalin, where you collectivize but consolidate gains with “socialism in one country” and socialist patriotism. Arguably, Lenin is to Stalin’s right, because he ended “war communism” and instituted the state capitalist NEP.

            After that, you have fabians, who felt that they could reform their way to a situation where revolution was possible very slowly (Symbol: Tortoise. Motto: “When I strike, I strike hard.”), and to their right were regular social democrats who wanted to reform using bourgeois democracy all the way to communism. We might not think of social democrats as being “communist” today, but the movement originally formed from this theoretical basis. This was reflected in the manifestos of many socdem parties. For example: the UK Labour Party’s manifesto which discussed securing for the worker common ownership of the means of production. This was scrubbed under New Labour, and arguably most parties called social democrats have moved so far from common ownership as a theoretical goal that they can no longer be considered true leftist parties.

            The only thing to the right of a socdem before the center would be social liberals, who have far more faith in the market (near term; John Stewart Mill believed that economic democracy AKA socialism would eventually be the outcome of market activity).

            So you see, all egalitarianism runs towards the same logical endpoint, with caution distinguishing how “far” a faction is.

            Now, it should be considered that even Marxist-Leninists and Maoists talk in terms of creating the conditions for economic democracy. Any elitism professed by these de facto dictatorships is of a schizophrenic sort.

            It’s quite another thing to denigrate the masses and openly praise rule by experts. At least Stalin had the dialectical materialist theory he could point to, and say “Ah but…”

            Open elitism is rightist. The elitism that gets forced into being from the collision between reality and leftist theory is quite distinguishable, but readily tunnels into rightism, the faster you try to travel left (more speed = more vanguard centralization = more de facto inequality). This is due to the inherent instability in egalitarianism. Note the Kim family. The regime starts out Marxist, but as Kim Il Sung becomes a god like figure, it degrades into an obviously right wing monarchy. Eventually they take down the pictures of Marx and Lenin and you can’t even argue they have a leftist ideology anymore.

            Another example would be (ultra)multiculturalism where the desire for equality NOW means moving in right wing cultural elements (Islamists for example) faster than they can be converted to the left. Eventually the train derails… No scratch that metaphor… Does a fucking Lara Croft backflip with a twist and ends up speeding in the other direction. Yeah, that’s a better metaphor.

            What’s happening now is that the US left is in a very schizophrenic phase. I saw a progressive on reddit or twitter complaining about corporations, and then his next message was a response to the elites rising up post, saying that we needed to bring back aristocracy.

            All roads lead to the right. There’s a reason Stalin enforced patriotism, banned homosexuality, and persecuted Jews. There’s a reason Pol Pot exterminated ethnic Chinese for being “city dwellers”, and killed people with glasses. There’s a reason the “libertarian socialist” Zapatistas largely devolved into Mexican nationalism and banned drugs. There’s a reason US progressives are moving in favor of expert technocracy, and believe that the conservative race has a lower IQ.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            All roads lead to the right.

            This strikes me as implausible. To the extent that ‘left’ and ‘right’ are meaningful, they are relative terms; there is no absolute right or absolute left (at least, that any society has yet discovered). Would it not be fairer to say that all roads lead in the general direction that the vast formless things decree, which for particular combinations of environment, technology levels and other circumstances, may be quite far right or left of each other, and you are simply seeing our current society as having veered left of what the current stable equilibrium would be, and thus being due for a readjustment?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Anarchism, seeming to have its modern roots in a time where the going concern was eliminating monarchies, seems like it just does not map well onto a modern world that has mostly representative democracies.

            I think it’s a mistake to think of equality as the only true “left” impulse. The idea of community, that we are all in this together and ultimately succeed or fail together, seems to me more important.

            Caring about improving minimum, median and average outcomes seems to me the heart of the impulse. Not creating equal outcomes.

          • TD says:

            @Winter Shaker

            This strikes me as implausible. To the extent that ‘left’ and ‘right’ are meaningful, they are relative terms; there is no absolute right or absolute left (at least, that any society has yet discovered).

            There are absolutely existing divisions in the way different groups behave that comports on some level with the differences between the doctrines they espouse. I don’t see left and right as a slider bar, but as differing sets of emotional impulses.

            What I’m getting at is that “equality” is an abstract principle (much like “liberty”). The only time it can be unabstracted is when you specify what will be equal and in what sense, but nobody actually stops there. The people who profess “equality” as a value might call for specific things like equality before the law, or equal pay, but they never stop espousing equality as a general principle once these things have been achieved. They simply move onto the next thing to make equal. What matters is the abstract principle, and this is true for all politics.

            The libertarian never finds society to be “free” enough. I believe that if we ever achieved anarcho-capitalism, they’d just invent an even more “free” version to proselytize about (“PRIVATIZE THE ATOMS! STAMP ELECTRONS WITH DRM!”). It’s just the same for hard traditionalists on the right. They will never escape from their unease that society isn’t “pure” enough.

            But what about the moderates! I think what distinguishes the moderate from the extreme is more caution than anything else. Just see how many “liberals” admire communism, and how many conservatives admire the American society of the 50s. The premise that “communism is a nice idea, pity it doesn’t work!” is very common on the non-communist left, and this fits into my theory. The dream is that we could extend equality that far, but we simply need less barbaric methods. The end goal is the same because it has to be. Monomaniacal principles always consume all other values… eventually.

            Think of your dream society. What does it look like? There are few moderates who can say that their dream society looks pretty much the same as today. The vast majority of people are utopians; the extremists are just the people who want to get to the utopia really really fast. The real force that moderates things is cowardice with a dash of empathy.

            @HeelBearCub

            I think it’s a mistake to think of equality as the only true “left” impulse. The idea of community, that we are all in this together and ultimately succeed or fail together, seems to me more important.

            Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité? The universalist impulse stems directly from the principle of equality. Everyone matters because some slave worker from Ghana is as important as the high IQ programmer from China who will make him redundant in 30 years. As soon as you believe not everyone is equal, you start re-evaluating what counts as “we”, and whether we can succeed without “them”.

            Of course, abstractions like “equality” are unstable, and can only be maintained for so long, since the human mind tries to work around the fiction, producing the formulation “we’re all equal except for those people who don’t believe in equality”, or even “we’re all in it together, except them”.

            This is why it’s very hard to be left wing and very novel (the past and the modern third world are more rightist). The left is an attempt to escape from the banal horror of the right, but the faster you travel, the easier it is for Moloch to judo throw you back to the right. The horseshoe principle is really a one way wormhole.

            Left unchecked, the ultimate end of human impulses is the bunker where the last Aryan shoots the second to last Aryan for not being Aryan enough. Replace Aryan with proletarian if needed.

          • Tibor says:

            @TD:
            I guess you know Jonathan Haidt’s Righteous Mind. But you mind not know what he wrote about libertarians (the book basically takes it for granted that you have conservatives and social democrats and something in between, but does not explore anything fundamentally different than those two).

            Here you go:
            http://righteousmind.com/largest-study-of-libertarian-psych/

            I think he is spot in in some observations, less accurate in others (I also think there might be significant differences between natural rights libertarians of the Rothbard type and consequentialists like David (or Milton) Friedman). Generally more right than wrong.

          • TD says:

            @Tibor

            Yes, I’ve read a lot about Haidt’s work, though I haven’t read his book.

            I think I have the libertarian emotional impulse, but I rejected a strict libertarian ideology a few years ago. It’s easy to get trapped in certain ideologies (rat mazes) when you start with certain biases. On one level, you want certain means to fulfill certain ends, but the danger lies in warping your reasoning about reality to fit those ends.

          • Tibor says:

            @TD: I somewhat agree. I think a problem is when you start treating the ideology like a indivisible package, you either take all or nothing. I know many libertarians who I find extremely irritating exactly for this black and white view of the world.

            This is obviously not just the case of libertarianism, everyone seems to be just as susceptible to that, including the mainstream right and left. As long as you don’t treat people with other opinions as enemies and try to understand why they might do so then even if your opinion are very radical, you realize their limits and that your opponents may be right in something (or it is like the saying “I know I am wrong in something, I just don’t know what it is”). Of course, you actually have to honestly try to understand the reasons of others not just pretend to yourself that you do. That might be the hard part.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @TD:

            The only time [equality] can be unabstracted is when you specify what will be equal and in what sense, but nobody actually stops there.

            This doesn’t seem true. We have long had the argument over equality of opportunity and equality of result, and a lot of egalitarians are against the latter even today. In fact, much of the equality of result group considers ‘egalitarian’ to be a dirty word.

            The libertarian never finds society to be “free” enough.

            I suspect this is not true either; as society became more and more free we’d see that “libertarians” would still want more… but there would be fewer and fewer libertarians. It’s moot anyway, though; we’re not moving in the direction of freedom in the developed world.

    • Lumifer says:

      Isn’t it funny how rapidly a political movement loses faith in democracy when it finds itself in the minority for a change?

      • TheAncientGeek says:

        I’ve been dreading a vote on the EU forever. People have been lied to relentlessly about it, for decades.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Well to be fair to /pol/, a phrase I’m sure is not used often, it’s not exactly hard to untangle the riddle of where someone named Traub comes from.

      Honestly, this whole thing is reminding me of GamerG*** played out on an international scale. The initial outrage is pretty minor, relatively speaking, but the overwhelming media response of ‘Whites Are Over’ seems like the thing most likely to galvanize long-term resistance. Particularly, the charge that everyone and everything is fascist and/or Nazi-esque seems to be an ever more worthless insult when used by people openly pining for demographic replacement.

      And to bring those two threads together… how dumb do some of these guys have to be? Let’s say you’re Mr Traub or whoever: you’re Jewish, and more relevantly part of the hated political class, in a country where you’re worried about the rise of far-right extremism which you yourself equate to Nazism. It seems like if you wanted to redirect that anger away from yourself, away from antisemitism, wouldn’t you not want to play into classic antisemitic tropes about an international media-financial ruling class pulling the strings? Wouldn’t you want to reassure your countrymen that you’re not their enemy, that you’re one of them rather than a parasitic overlord? It used to be that the media was doing Trump’s advertising for him, now they’re doing the same for Stormfront!

      • sweeneyrod says:

        “it’s not exactly hard to untangle the riddle of where someone named Traub comes from.”

        Germany? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Traub

        • Anonymous says:

          Oddly, all the people in wikipedia named Traube are Jews, while most of those named Traub are not, with the exception of James, his father Marvin, and the unrelated Joseph. Traube is the German word for grape, while Traub is just a surname. I could imagine the names diverging over a long time span, but I think of German Jews as taking surnames very recently. Why would they take a word that is almost but not quite an established name? Were they skirting the rule that said that their name had to be distinctively Jewish? But why were they allowed to get away with that? All the Trauben are Silesian, so maybe it’s derived from a Slavic name?

          • Tibor says:

            My mother’s maiden name was Neumann, which is both typically German and typically Jewish. In fact many Jewish surnames are also German surnames, they are not always separated and exclusively Jewish.

            I don’t know Silesian (if there’s ever been such a language…if so then I would guess it was/is kind of something between Czech and Polish? There is a dialect spoken in the small Czech part of Silesia today, which sounds kind of funny and rude to my ear, but not really Polish), but Traub does not sound like much anything I can think of in Czech, maybe except for the word trouba, which means oven and also a simpleton. But Silesia used to have a large German population fro the 16th century (more or less) and until the mass deportations of Sudeten Germans right after the WW2, so it is more likely German in origin.

          • Creutzer says:

            Traube and Traub are basically the same name. Removing the final -e of words that end in such is a standard procedure for forming names from nouns; e.g. Goldfarb from Farbe ‘colour’. Possibly related to the fact that yiddish has apocope. I’d be surprised if the difference in the distribution of Jews were anything other than accident.

            When Jews were forced to take family names in the early 19th century, there was, as far as I know, no rule that the names had to be distinctively Jewish. In Austria, the opposite was actually the case and they were arguably skirting that rule.

          • Anonymous says:

            Creutzer, I’m not sure I’m following you. Are you suggesting that Jews adopted the name Traube because they were illiterate, so didn’t know how the goyim spelled it?

          • Tibor says:

            @Anonymous: I think he means that there are different spellings of that name in German. Hochdeutsch is in a way an artificial construct, there was no such language until Luther’s translation of the Bible (or rather some time after that), only many more or less mutually intelligible German dialects. Some rather less. Schwiizerdütsch is not going to be understood by Germans, save maybe for Bavarians and Swabians, without some training and in my opinion it is a different language (in fact it is not even a single dialect anyway, pretty much every valley in Switzerland has its own dialect and the Swiss, unlike Germans, consider their dialect a matter of pride, instead of regarding speaking in the dialect as somehow low status).

            In any case, there was no unified spelling of German and in a sense there still is none, because Austrian German, which has a unified written form (and also dialects which don’t have it), is a bit different from the German Hochdeutsch while the Swiss dialects do not even have an agreed upon written form at all and people either write in a Swiss version of Hochdeutsch or write their dialect the way they hear it, which might mean a bit differently for each person even in the same region.

            I mean even in English you have different spellings. Colour vs. color is kind of like Traub and Traube.

          • Creutzer says:

            Traub and Traube are not spelling variants – they are also pronounced differently. It’s just that losing a final -e when turning a noun into a name is a common process in German. In fact, Traub sounds more natural to me as a name than Traube. The phenomenon is visible predominantly in Jewish names because those are predominantly formed by turning nouns into names. Jiddish, like many other varieties of German has apocope, which means that final -e isn’t pronounced anyway, whether it’s a name or not; this may have contributed to the emergence of the final -e in names in particular.

        • TD says:

          There’s a certain amount of irony in /pol/ always spotting German names and calling them Jewish. In this case they are right, but still.

          • vV_Vv says:

            If I understand correctly, it is a good heuristics in the US to assume that people with German or Slavic names are Jewish, because of immigration patterns.

          • brad says:

            The U.S. has more people descended from non-Jewish Germans than any other ethnic group. It’s not migration patterns, it’s that those of non-Jewish German decent have anglicized their names in much higher rates than Jewish-Americans. The high point for that was the hysteria surrounding WWI.

      • Outis says:

        I think it’s supposed to be antisemitic to imply that someone’s Jewish heritage is politically relevant. But since you went there, I have to agree: these people’s strategy is inscrutable. Either they are playing 11-dimensional non-Euclidean kabbalistic chess that is beyond my understanding, or they have gotten so drunk on their intellectual superiority that their cunning plans have looped all the way back into irrational bumbling.

        Just consider how many of the arguments used against white people would be even more devastating if used against the subset of white people who is Jewish. Whites are overrepresented in politics! In finance! In tech! In VC! Amongst political donors! In Hollywood! But of course, in the most sensitive fields where whites are overrepresented compared to their share of the population, Jews are even more so. If you teach people that disproportional representation is a sure sign of injustice, how can you not expect it to backfire?

        As far as I can tell, everything hinges on the new caste system of progressivism. What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander, because ganders are not an oppressed (i.e. favored) group. There is no risk of the same argument being applied to the wrong target, because the question is no longer whether the argument is valid, but whether the target is. The group affiliation of participants comes before and above the content of their statements, which must be evaluated in light of the former.

        But there are at least three big problems with that. One, it’s hard to accept for many people: for rational people, yes, but also for anyone who ends up in one of the lowest castes. Even with full control of education on the media (which is actually pretty hard to attain), it’s going to be hard to get people to swallow it.
        Two, the ranking of castes might change! How can you be sure that you’ll always be a protected caste? We have seen many examples of the rankings changing before; look at what’s happening to gays now.
        Three, it required discarding the principles of liberalism and rationality.

        With the limited vision afforded by my middling IQ, I see two possible endgames for “the Jews” with this strategy:
        A) The anti-white arguments get turned against them, either by reactionary whites, or by other progressives after a rearranging of the stack. Result: the Jews are fucked.
        B) The caste system becomes entrenched, as well as the Jewish position within it, but liberalism and rationality are abandoned. Result: the Jews sit atop a ruined society, and therefore are still ultimately fucked.

        I just don’t understand the appeal of a strategy that promises either tragic defeat or Pyrrhic victory as the reward. I have to conclude that Jews are not driven by their own group interest in politics, or that they do not actually operate as a recognizable political force. But perhaps they should?

        • Julie K says:

          I think it’s supposed to be antisemitic to imply that someone’s Jewish heritage is politically relevant.

          It’s often antisemitic to assume that someone’s Jewish heritage is the key part of his identity. In the case of Jewish progressives, I think they would feel themselves to have much more in common with non-Jewish progressives than with Jewish non-progressives. To the extent that they have any “group interest” strategy, the group in question is not “Jews.”

          • Outis says:

            Right. The conclusion was supposed to show that I don’t believe they act as a self-interested political group, but I may have overdone the irony.

            However, there is a difference between not having your group’s interest as a goal, and actively pursuing policies that are against it. White progressives can be pretty open in their anti-white attitude, but I don’t see anti-Jewish attitudes from Jewish progressives. It seems like they genuinely assume the culture they are contributing to will never end up harming them. I’m trying to figure out why.

            (Edit: I used to have “I don’t see that from Jewish progressives”, which sounded like I was referring to anti-whiteness specifically.)

          • KR says:

            White progressives can be pretty open in their anti-white attitude, but I don’t see that from Jewish progressives.

            Depends on which ones. /pol/ has their own bookmarked compilation of Jewish progressives crowing about white demographic replacement in Europe and America. I think it’s generally just the case that Western progressivism has become anti-white and various groups under the progressive umbrella have their own unique biases that feed into that. I don’t think it’s inherently a Jewish thing, because I’ve seen Jewish progressives gleefully discussing how “the Nazis aren’t having any children” and how a multicultural Europe will prevent a second Holocaust while at the same time a lot of other Jews point out, “No, we’re not going to be safer in a multicultural Europe, because the influx of Arabs, North Africans and Pakistanis is going to lead to a lot more Jew-bashing.”

        • Anonymous says:

          It’s antisemitic to write as if Jews are a homogenous group with a unified strategy.

          Now where I have I seen something like that recently …

        • TD says:

          It’s not antisemitic if you are positive about Jews being a homogenous group with a unified strategy (which for the record they aren’t; there are grievances common to Jewish culture, but no common method and unified structure for dealing with them).

          • Julie K says:

            I would think that antisemites would be more likely to erroneously view Jews as a homogeneous group with a unified strategy. (In fact, looking at an individual and seeing that person as merely a representative of group X sounds like bigotry by definition.)

            Which common grievances did you have in mind?

          • TD says:

            I would think that antisemites would be more likely to erroneously view Jews as a homogeneous group with a unified strategy. (In fact, looking at an individual and seeing that person as merely a representative of group X sounds like bigotry by definition.)

            If I took National Socialist theory seriously, I would have to conclude the Jews are the ubermensch and have an honorable bloodright to rule me and my race. That’s a positive interpretation (if perverse).

            Which common grievances did you have in mind?

            Historical pogroms and the Holocaust were really bad(!) and psychologically traumatic so the Jews have a special interest in upholding the words “Never Again”.

            Unfortunately, this has led a large number of Jews to support the sort of internationalism that confirms Nazi fears.

    • Adam says:

      Has anyone from the British or American left been putting forward this argument that elites should just openly defy the masses and do what they think is best for the nation in the long-term?

      Isn’t that effectively the entire history of United States Constitutional law? Even ending slavery and letting women vote didn’t have majority support.

      • Lysenko says:

        No.

        Ending Slavery (if you define it by the Emancipation Proclamation) had majority support among the entirety of the united states at that time, given the temporary removal of the bulk of the pro-slavery population from the political process. I strongly suspect, though I’m not sure if there’s reliable data on it, that even with the pro-slavery states brought back into the political process that “end slavery” had majority support to the same degree as, say, Brexit, a 1-2 percent edge by the time the 13th Amendment was rushed through in 1865.

        For female suffrage, you have the progression from smaller populations to larger. As majorities in cities or states came to favor female suffrage, women gained the vote in those elections. By the time the national amendment was on the table only 7 states still had no female suffrage.

        • Nornagest says:

          I guess this is a nitpick, but the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t end slavery; it applied only to the states then in rebellion, which conveniently were not under the effective control of the federal government at the time. Between the North and the South, a quarter of the American slaves then in existence weren’t even nominally affected by it.

          It did provide a legal justification for freeing slaves as Union forces advanced into the South, which they did, and effectively worked as a mission statement and a claim of the moral high ground. But an end to slavery in the US had to wait for the 13th Amendment, two years later.

        • Adam says:

          I was referring to the amendment, not the Emancipation Proclamation, but in retrospect, as I think about it more I don’t see how we can even speculate about which positions enjoyed majority support that far in the past. I’m not talking about the majority of people who actually voted on matters put to a vote. I mean the actual majority of people alive in the country, and since there are no historical opinion polls from the 1860s, we’re both only guessing.

          • Lysenko says:

            That’s a legitimate point, though I believe that we can get at least a general sense of the tenor of things based on the documentary evidence from the period. I’m trying to find that sort of thing now because I’m curious to what degree (if any) lincoln’s assassination galvanized public opinion and helped it through between April and December.

            Norm, I noted the distinction in my original reply. The bit about a narrow majority was in reference to the ratification of the 13th Amendment. And while there was a fair amount of noise about the Emancipation Proclamation, it didn’t swing the next election all that much, which tells me that it was probably more unpopular with political elites than the general population, with the qualification that Adam’s point about the limits of our insight pre-polling.

          • Nicholas says:

            Supposedly, up until the death of James potsowamay Brown, the majority of pubic sentiment was against abolitionists. But in his trial Brown argued so articulately for why he was allowing himself to die, when he totally could have escaped guys, so that abolitionism could have a martyr figure, because seriously that’s how bad slavery was, that people who read about the trial became converted to the abolitionist cause at an incredible rate, and by the time of Lincoln’s election there was realistic fear that abolition could win in the next 10 years.

          • …that people who read about the trial became converted to the abolitionist cause at an incredible rate, and by the time of Lincoln’s election there was realistic fear that abolition could win in the next 10 years.

            Fears of abolitionism were seriously out of control in the South as far back as the 1840s. However, historians of abolitionism insist that (before actual war broke out) there was never more than 1% support in the North for immediate emancipation.

            Obviously the war experience changed minds in the North. Not just the bitterness and bloodshed, but the disappearance of the forceful slaveholder voice changed the national political conversation.

            Still, it’s entirely plausible that a theoretical national plebiscite of all American white men in 1865 would have voted down the immediate abolition of slavery.

            It’s also probably true that, put to a similar vote, American independence from Britain would not have passed in 1776.

    • John Schilling says:

      Has anyone from the British or American left been putting forward this argument that elites should just openly defy the masses and do what they think is best for the nation in the long-term?

      Aside from the Death Eaters, you mean?

      So far, the American left is still sticking to More Democracy as a terminal value, with the implicit corollary that the masses will mostly listen to the elite and vote in their best interests as determined by the elite. Well, except for the Republican masses, but those are a declining minority on the wrong side of history and can be made a wholly impotent minority if they get enough nonwhite voters on the rolls. So, Democracy as the path to victory, with Trump’s dismal general-election polling numbers making the Left comfortable with this strategy for now. If anything, it’s the right-wing elite that has started thinking in non-democratic terms.

      And I think the pre-Brexit polling made Britain’s elite leftists similarly comfortable with the notion that the Good Masses could be trusted to outvote the Evil Masses, Yay Democracy! Only now that they are faced with the reality of Brexit is anything overtly anti-Democratic going to be speakable.

      But, ultimately, I think they are trapped. The whole legitimacy of their system of government and their ideology are bound up in democracy with nigh-universal sufferage.

      • TheAncientGeek says:

        Representative democracy is not direct democracy. The whole point of electing representatives is that hey can take a more considered view..it is a compromise between direct democracy, with its ignorant voter problem, and technocratic rule by elites, with it its problem of unrepresentativeness.

        • Tibor says:

          Direct democracy seems to work pretty well in Switzerland (there is a caveat – the country is really small and its 26 cantons enjoy a great degree of autonomy, so there is a lot of competition between the local governments which helps considerably). In fact, the Swiss voters routinely reject proposals that would probably be labeled “populist” such as introducing a minimum wage, a high tax for the rich and so on. Switzerland also does not show any signs of using the democratic vote to borrow from the future, there are no massive state spending initiatives like in the southern Europe. Somehow, the Swiss masses seem to act more responsibly than the elites of many other countries. It is partly because their say actually matters, a single vote in a canton of several hundred thousand people, with the frequent tradition of referenda where you actually vote about a particular issue rather than about who will represent you in the parliament, a possibility to both introduce and veto votes through such referenda (and the requirement of the minimum support for holding them are not very strict), that all increases the people’s interest in the policy. Rational ignorance is less rational than if your vote is one in tens of millions and you only decide which party gets your vote and gets to use it for whatever in the next 4 years. There is a reason that for the Swiss the word “sovereign” is synonymous to the people of Switzerland rather than the parliament or a president (they actually have a council of 7 members, one of which is always nominally the president for a year but in fact has no more power than the other six).

          Switzerland is small, but there is no particular reason you could not divide up a large country, like the UK or even a huge country like the US, in similarly small states/cantons and give them each a similar degree of autonomy.

          One another remarkable thing about Switzerland is their concordance system. That is really an unwritten tradition but it more or less says that a compromise has to be reached on which everyone in the government (which consists of pretty much all parties) has to agree unanimously. Once the agreement has been reached, all councillors are supposed to defend it as the official position. The reason for this system is that if you push something through with a small majority (as is usually the way laws are passed in other countries) then the opposition can block it more or less forever with referenda. So the standard for consensus is much higher in Switzerland, which means things are done much more slowly in politics (IMO a feature, not a bug) and they tend to be more stable, because they are things a vast majority agrees with.

          So this mix of a high competition and a pressure for a large consensus because of the threat of a direct democracy and small constituencies where one vote has a much larger role seems to work great, way better than the representative democracy of pretty much other countries and (obviously?) better than a semi-dictatorship of the “enlightened elites”.

          • Lysenko says:

            I very strongly agree, but I would attribute the success of that model less to the direct democracy, and more to the higher standards for consensus and the small size of the overall area being governed.

          • Tibor says:

            @Lysenko: Me too, but I think that the higher standard of consensus is in a sense a consequence of the direct democracy. Without enough stable consensus the laws you pass will be repealed before they are even properly implemented or the moment the opinion shifts slightly the other way. Still, I think that the competition between small very autonomous polities is the most beneficial thing. But the direct democracy definitely not harming the country, probably it actually helps it.

            It also makes (the whole system) the country quite specific. On one hand, Switzerland is one of the most nationalist countries in Europe. On the other hand, they are also one of the most open countries – more than 20% of the population consists of foreigners (mostly other Europeans). That is a higher ratio of foreigners than in perhaps any other country, definitely any other European country. At the same time it is both very socially liberal with things like euthanasia legal and very conservatives – the last canton to pass the law about women’s suffrage did it in the 1990s and only because the federal court ordered it to do so. The reason is that people in different cantons want different things and perhaps they even sort themselves out into cantons over time where people tend to share the same views. But since the federal government is quite lean, they can arrange it their own way without forcing the people from elsewhere to do it the same way. It is also a question of taxes – the “French” cantons have generally much higher taxation than the “German” ones. Ticino, the only solely Italian-speaking canton, is somewhere in the middle. Overall the taxation is lower than in the US in terms of the share of the GDP but in some cantons taxes are much lower than in the United States whereas in some others they are much higher.

          • I see that as a hybrid system leaning towards direct democracy.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      Openly defy the masses, huh? I guess Pompeius and his ilk once tried that. Good luck.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Infowars is pretty crazy, but I haven’t seen anti-semitism there. Then again, I rarely read it, because I can make up my own conspiracy theories. (and if I can’t, there’s zerohedge)

      I have certainly seen the argument (I think it’s even been presented here) that the UK Parliament should ignore the Brexit referendum, so there’s that. I think, however, that the “elites” have been openly defying the masses for a long time now, and what’s happening now is the backlash.

      I also note that nowhere in that article does the word “Islam” or “Muslim” occur, which seems like an awfully large elephant in the room.

      • NN says:

        I don’the have the statistics in front of me at the moment, but I’m pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of Muslim immigrants to the UK come from outside the EU. Specifically, most of them come from the Indian subcontinent.

        From what I’ve read, immigration issues were a part of the Brexit decision, but the focus was mainly on Eastern European immigrants from places like Poland and Romania.

        • Snodgrass says:

          This is because there is no paperwork for an employer to deal with to employ an Eastern European – free movement of labour is one of the four pillars of the EU – and so it’s much easier for an employer to decide to take on a Polish worker than to take on an equally-qualified Indian. So Poles are much more visible as competition for jobs that don’t require constant detailed use of English; since a Polish worker in Lincolnshire is in about the same position as a British worker in Dubai with regard to what he can make, what he can send home and what he can buy at home with the result, there’s quite an incentive to move to the UK.

    • suntzuanime says:

      You can’t “rise up against” someone if you’re already above them. The action he’s thinking of is “cracking down on”. And sure, there’s an argument that protestors are being severely under-machinegunned at present. Certainly democracy is a bad joke. I just wonder if Mr. Traub would really be part of the cracking down, though, or if he would be part of the cracked-down upon. Just as the elites need to control the ignorant masses, the nobility needs to control the corrupt elites. There’s a food chain.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        “The exemplary loyalty which this nation expressed to me at a time when others of my subjects so undutifully misbehaved themselves to me, or so basely betrayed me, and your seconding my Deputy as you did in his bold and resolute attesting my right in preserving this kingdom for me, and putting it in a posture of defence, made me resolve to come to you, and to venture my life with you in defence of your liberties and my own right, and to my great satisfaction I have not only found you ready to serve me, but that your courage has equalled your zeal.”

    • Outis says:

      Sandy: […]and do what they think is best for the nation in the long-term?

      They are not thinking of the “nation” in any possible sense of the word. That’s one of the main points of contention.

    • Tibor says:

      The so called elites also supported communism en masse when it was fashionable. I think democracy does not work very well, but the solution is not more authoritarianism but fewer areas where the state can decide (I first wrote less power to the state, but in fact a small state in scope tends to be much stronger in fulfilling its function). Of course, I also think it would be neat to try anarchocapitalism somewhere (ideally with a sample size more than one) and see how that works out.

      But putting my crazy libertarian ideas aside, the “elites” are perhaps less likely than the “masses” to favour a mildly bad policy, but they are much more likely to favour very harmful things like communism. Sure, they managed to convince the masses in some places that communism was a good thing, but the original support was overwhelmingly on the side of the “elites”.

      It is also noteworthy, by the way, that the support for communism came mostly from the technically educated people and the natural scientists, whereas the humanities were not nearly as enthusiastic about it at the time, at least based on what Hayek writes in his Road to Serfdom. I think this is a nice thing to remember for someone like me who has a presupposition for disdain towards the humanities. They may be much more socialist today than the STEM and maths but it not logically inevitable.

      And on an emotional level, whenever I hear a suggestion like this my blood boils. I try to be calm in politics but when someone suggests that some people know better what is best for other people (other people they don’t even know) then regardless of whether they are conservatives or (more often, I think) socialists, I have a hard time not to start yelling at them. If anything, the rising conservative and nationalist sentiments in Europe is exactly these people’s fault. If for a long time all you hear is pontification and condescension from the “elites” and complete unwillingness to consider opposing views, then you get angry and more radical than you would have ever been. And you might even support people like Marine Le Pen who you would never have thought of supporting otherwise, just because she fashions herself as a bulwark against these arrogant elitists. Usually, if things go wrong for you, you stop and think “what am I doing wrong?”. Instead, these people think “The problem is in the other people”. By the way the German president is supposed to have said recently that the problem are not the elites but the masses. Somehow, I feel that in any other country if the president (even in a parliamentary system where the president is a much more ceremonial function) said this, he would be leaving the office in a few weeks. That this is accepted is quite a bad sign.

      • tmk says:

        > The so called elites also supported communism en masse when it was fashionable.

        Are we not changing the definition of “elites” back and forth here? Does it include London bankers or not?

        • Outis says:

          Good point, but Tibor’s assertion is true if you use “intellectuals” instead. And it does suggest a strong empirical case for anti-intellectualism.

          • tmk says:

            Sure, I didn’t mean to blame Tibor. We just need to remember that many who support remain are not “intellectuals”.

            I do agree that intellectual theorizing often goes very wrong, particularly when there is no feedback from reality. Also intellectuals are about as susceptible to fads as everyone else.

            However, I think this is also a valid criticism of both “rationalism” and the death eaters. They are vast systems of intellectual theories creates by fairly insular groups that would rather extend their ideas further than stop and see if any of it actually works.

        • Tibor says:

          Hmm, interesting point. I never understood the bankers or people who only differ from the majority population by being rich as the elites.

          I’ve always understood the word elites as something like “intellectuals who like to put themselves above other people, because they consider themselves smarter than them”.

          In fact, even the word “intellectual” has this negative connotation to me. So sometimes I say I don’t like intellectuals and people are confused “but you are basically an intellectual??”.

          • tmk says:

            Thanks. I jumped on this because I am weary of “elites” getting used as basically a slur. If it is poorly defined it just becomes an euphemism for the outgroup. Then you get situations like Berlusconi who controlled both the Italian government and the media, but still managed to present himself as an underdog being attacked by the establishment.

          • Anonanon says:

            In the UK the distinction seems pretty easy. “Did you go to Oxbridge or the University of London (Goldsmith’s, King’s, the LSE, etc.), or are you one of the lesser breeds?”

            Even the London School of Economics was founded by the Fabian Society, so it’s at least historically tied in with “elites making horrible decisions on behalf of the proles they hate”.

    • Nicholas says:

      Yeah, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: Their whole deal was the salary class cutting the working class loose and throwing them under the bus. The thing this article suggests trying is the thing that got us here.

    • MalwareDetected says:

      Don’t know if you meant to include the redirect or if FP has been compromised, but there was a nasty little Trojan in that link.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        The masses don’t deserve to control their computers. We will do it for them.

  5. Daniel says:

    Does anyone else on here live in Toronto? Just curious if there are other readers in my area.

  6. Daniel says:

    One of the things that became obvious to me during the Brexit commentary is that most remain supporters couldn’t fathom why anyone would support Brexit, unless they were ignorant or racist.

    I think one of the causes for this viewpoint, is that many people today (most youths, elites, pundits etc) view nationalism as being an evil and racist concept that has no place in the modern world.

    Over the past 6 months, I asked a bunch of Europeans (all under the age of 35) if they thought it was important for their language/culture to exist 25 years from now; most placed little importance on the subject.

    Does anyone else agree that many people today (especially youths, elites and pundits) are post-nationalists? and that the nationalism has become a polarized concept?

    Thoughts?

    • Adam says:

      You guys conquered nearly the entire known world at one point. It’s hardly necessary to the continued proliferation of the English language and cultural tradition that England itself continues to exist at all. The entire land mass could be swept into the ocean and we’d still see everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Who re-runs for at least another seven centuries.

      • I, Tripoli says:

        I don’t see the relationship of your comment to Daniel’s question, so I’m taking your comment at face value when I ask you the following:

        1. Does having generated the English language or Shakespeare mean a society has served its purpose and can be justifiably wiped out?

        2. If so, should we even wait to wipe out societies that have NOT produced popular languages or cult TV shows?

        3. Is there a guarantee that English and Shakespeare will continue to be influential (or, in English’s case, recognizable) if England becomes less English and more, say, Pakistani?

        • Adam says:

          1. It means wiping out the country of origin for their culture would not wipe out the culture. Their culture is everywhere. You may as well try to wipe out fast food by closing all McDonald’s.

          2. I don’t really see a “should” in here, frankly. Societies are not intrinsically valuable and worth preserving just because they’re societies. English society is better than most, but because of that (and because they used to have a really big navy), they’ve spread way beyond England.

          3. Yes, there is. Greece hasn’t been a country worth a damn for 2,000 years, but the culture that existed 2,000 years ago is still wildly influential and will never stop being so unless some near-extinction events wipe out the entire western tradition.

          • I, Tripoli says:

            So, what do you think a typical ancient Grecian would have said if you’d told him “Don’t worry about your society being wiped out, its influence will live on”?

            (While a small number of people today might appreciate what’s become known as Classical culture, to most people ancient Greece just means togas, philosophizing, and sex with little boys. We have some use of bits and pieces of Greek language and thought but mostly we don’t recognize it as such. So, that’s even less consolation for our hypothetical ancient Grecian friend.)

            From an outside perspective it may not seem like a society has value, but when it’s your society you might not see it that way–regardless how influential your society is.

            To put it another way, society is software that runs on human hardware. Just because the software isn’t physical–you can’t take a phillips screwdriver, crack open your computer’s hard drive, and find your operating system with a microscope–doesn’t mean it is valueless. When you shell out your $800 (or whatever they charge these days) for an iPhone, a big part of what you’re paying for is iOS9 (or 10 or whatever they’re up to). A whole lot of people seem to think it’s worth the money.

          • Adam says:

            Who cares? This is really an incommensurate gap. All I’d tell the ancient Grecians is “welcome to the dustbin of history along with everyone else.” Maybe it’s just that my culture of ethnic heritage, several of them really, were wiped out all in the last few centuries. I don’t even honestly know who they were. Oh well. I’m sure the people I’m descended from hated it as it was happening, though to be fair, being conquered, murdered, raped, and forcibly converted to Catholicism on pain of murder and rape if you don’t convert is a little worse than anything currently happening in England. So sucks to be them. But their descendants are fine. I have no complaints.

            I also have a great deal of trouble even taking seriously the notion that England itself, the actual country mostly exactly as it is, is going the way of the Dodo because it’s part of the EU. Is it really more French just because it has an open border with France? They’ve been literally conquered and ruled by the French multiple times in the last several hundred years and yet here they are, English as ever.

          • ReluctantEngineer says:

            They’ve been literally conquered and ruled by the French multiple times in the last several hundred years and yet here they are, English as ever.

            I think it was just the one time, ~1,000 years ago.

          • NN says:

            @I, Tripoli: There’s also the whole Democracy thing, an architectural style that 2000 years later is present in the house of the most powerful man in the world, among many other places, their myths and history which are widely retold all around the world by both ivory tower intellectuals and mass entertainers

            Considering the frequent references in The Illiad to the desire for long lasting fame, I suspect that many Ancient Greeks would be pretty happy with this state of affairs.

          • John Schilling says:

            I think it was just the one time, ~1,000 years ago

            And those were just the snootier sort of Vikings who vacationed in France. The cosmopolitan global elite of the day.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Semi-related: If, as is being asserted here, a lot of young Europeans don’t really care about the preservation of their language and culture – how are immigrants supposed to integrate (forget assimilate – let’s just go with integrate) into that? Why would they want to?

            I wouldn’t have any interest into integrating into a culture so lukewarm about itself, and I’m a secular Western liberal democrat.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @dndnrsn

            I’d say that’s the 64,000$ dollar question

    • Gbdub says:

      I do think there is a growing “global elite” class identifies more with itself than with its country of origin.

      E.g. A college educated journalist in NYC is more like a college educated journalist in Paris, London, or Brussels than they are like a plumber in Omaha. The also care more about things that affect Paris, London, and Brussels than they do about things that affect Omaha.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m in that category. The nation just doesn’t seem like a particularly good dividing line. It’s both over and under inclusive. I’m still instrumentally nationalist to a certain extent, but there’s very little emotional valence.

        I can see how it would be different for Icelanders, Finns, Israelis and the like.

        • gbdub says:

          I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with this “global elite” class so long as they recognize that they are in fact rather elite and frankly privileged to have those opportunities.

          The problem with the Brexit reaction (and with the Donald Trump reaction frankly) is when the GE class forgets to give a damn about the desires and needs of the less privileged locals, who do still get a vote…

          • Adam says:

            Plumbers in Omaha are pretty damn elite and privileged by any reasonable worldwide scale of measurement. I’d even expect their income and wealth distributions to possibly have a higher median than journalists. The very top journalists can be fabulously well off, but most of them don’t even get paid for the majority of their work. Plumbers are less likely to be wealthy but are still well-paid and never out of work.

          • JayT says:

            By income, certainly, but not by relative social status.

          • gbdub says:

            Sure, but I doubt many of them got to take a year long “find myself” backpacking adventure in Paris.

            And the fact that they are “elite” compared to a Pakistani bricklayer is beside the point – the Pakistani bricklayer is probably pretty nationalist to, and thus also outside the tribe I’m describing.

            If you’d prefer, throw out “elite” and call it the “cosmopolitan class”.

          • Psmith says:

            I’d even expect their income and wealth distributions to possibly have a higher median than journalists.

            Likely not: 1, 2, , 3, 4.

            (I saw a tweet earlier today invoking “journalists making $30k/year sneering at plumbers making $150k/year.” I’m not saying there ain’t no such ordered pairs at all, but I suspect there are precious bloody few, and probably none where both parties are the same age.).

          • Adam says:

            My dad is a plumber. He retired at 55 and purchased an RV five years before that. He might have another 30 years to travel wherever he wants and find himself. I don’t get the impression talking to him that he’s mad he didn’t get the chance to do this when he was 20. I mean, that was mostly my fault and he chose to have me.

            Honestly, I wonder how many of you guys actually know any of these people you ascribe “low social status” to. I used to go to his softball tournaments, full of working class tradesmen. I worked side jobs with him. Some of my own first jobs were helping out these guys in my spare time while I was still in school. I still know a lot of them. As far as I can tell, they don’t seem to know tumblr exists and don’t care about college kids sneering at them. The only college kids they know are their own kids, who don’t sneer at them. The vast majority of people are not activists and aren’t even voters.

            Edit: I should add, I’m Mexican and from California. It seems that a lot of what people here complain about isn’t really about the elites sneering at the working class and the poor. It’s about people from the coasts sneering at lower-class whites in the deep south or whatever. So if that’s really what you mean, then maybe, though that has nothing to do with being a plumber in Omaha. The only story my dad ever told me about Omaha is going there for a tournament and having the local bar they all went to not let him in because he was too dark. If he feels no kinship with the plumbers there, I can’t say I blame him.

          • gbdub says:

            Adam I’m not seeing how that goes against the premise of a global elite / cosmopolitan class that is very much separate from the sort of culture that mid-US plumbers participate in. If anything it supports it.

            Point being that the two groups a bubbled off from each other, and the cosmo-class dominates media, but the mid-America culture is equally valid. They may not be as activist in general but if you get them riled up their vote still counts. Failure to recognize this seems to be a common theme in Brexit reactions from the Remain-sympathetic crowd.

            EDIT in response to Adam’s edit – I do think it’s mostly a coastal elite sneering at middle America in the US. But the “coastal elite” don’t seem to care about tradesmen much at all, though maybe not actively sneering at them.

            Anyway I think you’re getting too personal and focusing too much on “plumber in Omaha”, which was basically a throwaway line to indicate “culturally distinct” and not to make any statement about the relative merits of the Nebraskan plumbing trade. The broader point, that there is a distinct and growing class that is more global focused rather than national, is still relevant.

          • Lumifer says:

            @psmith

            Looking at your links, the plumbers’ mean income is about $55K. The mean income of “writers and authors” is $69K, but those aren’t journalists. A lot of these writers are highly paid marketing copywriters (mean $77K for the advertising industry) and if you look specifically at “Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers”, the mean salary there is only $60K. So the difference isn’t big.

            I would also bet that the distribution of incomes of plumbers is quite peaked and narrow, while the distribution of income of writers have a pronounced skew which affects the mean. I suspect the medians would be very similar.

          • Adam says:

            Adam I’m not seeing how that goes against the premise of a global elite / cosmopolitan class that is very much separate from the sort of culture that mid-US plumbers participate in. If anything it supports it.

            I’m just saying my experience of non-elites isn’t this unending resentment of elites and reactionary politics that is the dominant hypothesis of every discussion here. But again, I guess it’s not the same as being flyover country. Mexican culture, let alone Mexican-American culture, is already a horrible mish-mash of contradictions that have learned to live with each other. The Spanish conquered us hundreds of years ago, and the English defeated them. The fact that we’re in the U.S. at all is a blessing and we don’t need to campaign for the country to shut itself off to everyone else so we can be even better off. But for us, being plumbers is historical ascendancy. His dad swept an aluminum foundry. His grandfather picked fruit from the fields. Plumber was a tremendous step up. We have no former glory to return to.

          • Anonymous says:

            Gbdub, I’m not really sure where you are going with this.

            The problem with the Brexit reaction (and with the Donald Trump reaction frankly) is when the GE class forgets to give a damn about the desires and needs of the less privileged locals, who do still get a vote…

            As you point out they get a vote. That’s just a fact that all of us have to deal with.

            Why do I need to give a damn about their needs and desires when they have their own votes to use for exactly that purpose? Is it somehow illegitimate to be upset when a vote goes against the way I would have liked?

            I’m also not sure exactly what is supposed to be involved in “recogniz[ing] that [I am] rather elite and frankly privileged”? What does that mean in terms of brass tacks? Does it mean I shouldn’t vote my interests and values?

          • Lumifer says:

            @Anonymous

            Is it somehow illegitimate to be upset when a vote goes against the way I would have liked?

            Your emotional reaction is your own business. Getting upset is legitimate, starting to yell about bloody yobs who don’t know what’s good for them is… less so.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Lumifer
            Surely there were worse things than that said than proverbial plumbers in Omaha on November 4, 2008. Is this obligation of public silence universal or limited solely to the “global elite”?

            Also, is the obligation ethical or just instrumental (“you ought not to” vs “it wouldn’t be a good idea to”)?

          • Lumifer says:

            @Anonymous

            It’s not an obligation. Just advice for people who don’t know what’s good for them : -P You know, better be silent and be thought a git rather than open you mouth and remove all doubt…

            Purely instrumental and not limited to the, ahem, global elite at all.

          • Gbdub says:

            You have no obligation to vote against your interests. But if you want your interests to win out in a democratic society, you either need to be part of a unified majority (which the cosmo-class are not) or you need to coalition build.

            It’s a lot easier to coalition build when you don’t dismiss all of your opponents as dumb geriatric xenophobes. “I understand your concerns, but I think we’re all still better off in the EU because…” will work better.

            I personally think Remain had a better objective case, but bungled their campaign because they didn’t have anything to offer voters that were leaning Leave, and in many cases actively insulted them.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I just think it’s hilarious that gbdub gave a “check your privilege” shout out.

            Not that he is wrong, mind you. It’s just funny.

          • Cord Shirt says:

            I see your point, but I think what he was talking about was actually closer to the older concept of “noblesse oblige”…

            …will make a top-level comment.

          • gbdub says:

            If it’s wrong to hoist someone on their own petard, then I don’t want to be right.

          • Anonymous says:

            @gbdub re: coalition building

            Hindsight is 20/20. It’s certainly the case that making the other side seem “uncool” can work and has worked in certain situations in the past. Clearly not this time. And maybe less often in the future than in the past for various reasons.

            But in any event, I think this purely tactical argument is very different from the original contention that the “global elite” needs to “recognize that they are in fact rather elite and frankly privileged “. Now it sounds more like they need to find some allies to get to 51% and be sufficiently nice to said allies to avoid alienating them altogether. Those are quite different statements.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The petard is something you hoist with, not you getting hoisted on.

          • gbdub says:

            @Anonymous – Hindsight is 20/20, but foresight can be better than blind if you’re smart and humble. Yes, making the other side “uncool” can work, but it can also (probably will) piss them off, and the Remain campaign clearly underestimated the Leave voters (and/or overestimated the undecideds who’d appreciate the “Leave voters are uncool” style campaign).

            When I said they need to recognize their privilege, I’m not suggesting they need to start wearing hairshirts. They don’t need to change their preference for global cosmopolitanism – it’s a perfectly valid way of being. I’m just saying they need to recognize that what seem like obvious motivations and inviolable truths to them are really nothing of the sort, and only work inside their own bubble. It’s the proverbial Pauline Kael syndrome.

            The ability to get in the headspace of the people you disagree with is good tactics. That it also makes you a nicer, more rational, dare I say better person is a bonus.

            (NOTE: all of this applies to the folks in the “Leave” bubble too – but they won, so for the moment they’re not the subject of post-mortems)

          • Lysenko says:

            Specifically, it refers to an explosive device, and ‘hoist’ is meant to be ‘lifted into the air’.

            A modern phrasing of the saying would be “Blown up by his own bomb’.

          • Gbdub says:

            @Lysenko – I’m aware of the origin. I guess “by” or “with” would have been better than “on”, but I don’t think my usage was actually wrong? “I threw him through the air on the explosion of his own bomb” would be valid, no?

            While we’re at fun facts, “petard” is from the French (by way of Latin) for “fart”.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ gbdub

            The phrase is actually from Shakespeare:

            For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
            Hoist with his own petar’; and ‘t shall go hard
            But I will delve one yard below their mines
            And blow them at the moon: O, ’tis most sweet,
            When in one line two crafts directly meet.

            So the canonical preposition is “with”.

      • Jaskologist says:

        You know how the Communists declared “religion” bad, dumped it, transferred all that fervor to the Party instead, and then recreated all the horrors they’d attributed to “religion” a hundredfold? Same thing here. They think that because they are not loyal to a nation, they are immune to all of the problems “nationalism” causes. But all they’ve done is transferred loyalty to the nation to loyalty to a different group. And in thinking they are now immune to the problems of nationalism, they’ve really just removed the safeguards that nationalism provided against those problems.

        (Clearly, the answer is to eliminate loyalty.)

        • Lysenko says:

          You know, I know you THINK you’re joking about that parenthetical comment, but….

          • Teal says:

            The loyalty that religions, nations, the Party and so have hijacked probably originally arose in the context of a dunbar number sized tribe. It might not be such a terrible thing if it went back to only being relevant in that context.

          • Pku says:

            The loyalty thing is a bravery debate. In my experience, people who tell you you should be loyal to them are people who have no respect for you and in no way deserve your loyalty, while the people who actually deserve your loyalty don’t need to say it. Other people probably have different experience with this.

        • Pku says:

          You’re collapsing everyone who holds some version of that position into the most extreme version of it. For the sake of exercise, care to steelman a more acceptable version of it?

      • Sir Gawain says:

        I do think there is a growing “global elite” class identifies more with itself than with its country of origin.

        I hear this confidently asserted a lot, both by mainstream leftist commentators and fringe alt-right ones. But is there any good quantitative evidence that it’s true? The closest thing I can think of is the data Charles Murray presents on intra-American class/cognitive ability stratification, but it’s not clear to me that:

        1) Liberal elites have some extremely scarce amount of sympathy that they have to take away from native born whites in order to extend it to other groups.

        2) Liberal elites aren’t pushing policies that would be considerably better for the native born white working class than various conservative preferred policies.

        3) Liberal elites’ cross national ties aren’t limited by obvious boring stuff like geography, language, culture (in the art/food/movies etc. sense) and so on, that, while weaker than they would have been 50 or 500 or 5000 years ago, are still non-trivial.

        I’m fairly young, so I’m not sure if I qualify as a “liberal elite” quite yet, but personally, I identify strongly with both the country of my birth and a broader, more abstract global brotherhood of man. I don’t see appreciating the values, culture, heritage and institutions of my homeland as being necessarily mutually exclusive with liberal globalism.

        • Anonanon says:

          Even at a wishes-it-was-an-ivy west coast liberal arts school, it was pretty obvious. Huge proportion of dual citizens, lots of parents doing high level government work overseas, vacations in Switzerland and years lived in foreign countries (not on a military base, of course), anecdotes about dinner parties with ambassadors, doing a semester at Oxford, etc. etc.

          All very cosmopolitan and often quite literally unrooted from national identities.

          • Tibor says:

            Dinners with ambassadors? How many people are you talking about? This is not even a per mille of the population. You might (almost) as well be talking about the literal nobles with blue blood.

            Other than that I also do not see a dichotomy between being “globalist” in the sense travelling around and not hating people from other countries and also enjoying the culture of your home country. As for actual emotional national pride, my brain might be stuck in the antiquity but I really feel those emotions towards the town I come from and the immediate surroundings because I grew up there and therefore have memories and emotional connections to it. If I go to a Czech town 100 km away from my home town, I don’t feel differently about it than about a German town 100 km away from my home town. And – I feel more connection to the German town I’ve spend my last almost 3 years in than to a random Czech town. In a sports I would cheer for the Czech team, but I really would cheer a lot for the team from my home town. At the same time, I acknowledge that my hometown is objectively not better than other places, but it is mine and that makes it special for me.

    • Lumifer says:

      one of the causes for this viewpoint

      That’s not much of a viewpoint.

      Not understanding why someone (never mind half a country) might have a different opinion is called being stupid. “Unless ignorant or racist” is called demonizing the opponent. Still not a viewpoint.

      I’m reminded of temper tantrums by small children.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I know several people in their mid-late 20s who are either foreign students or foreign financial people of some nebulous sort working in London. All, obviously, anti-Brexit. Their statements before and after Brexit betray little to no empathy for or understanding of anyone but themselves, while simultaneously seeking sympathy – after all, Brexit will hurt them.

      They don’t seem to get that foreigners, including foreigners making good money working in London finance, telling Brits what Britain should do (or the perception thereof) is a huge motivator for the people who voted for Brexit.

      Completely tone deaf. Especially those who had some sort of variant on “well I’ve only been here for a few years, but Britain is home for me, when I go back to my country I feel like a visitor” – being told to stay in the EU by someone who emotionally abandons where they were born and raised after a few years is supposed to appeal to someone inspired at least in part by nationalism? Bwuh?

      • Pku says:

        I think you’re misemphasizing. The point is that brexit will hurt them. Way they see it (which is at least partly true), people voting for brexit are doing it in the name of things like patriotism and liberty, and forgetting there are a lot of people who get hurt by it.
        The part about feeling at home there is supposed to be an appeal to ingroup feeling – there are a lot of reasons to include someone in your ingroup, but their declaring loyalty for it is the most fundamental one.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Maybe I am.

          With regard to their empathy, or lack thereof – they recognize Brexit hurting them, but they don’t seem to recognize that others are hurt, or at least feel hurt, by the EU, by globalization, etc.

          And while it is an appeal to ingroup feeling, it’s a hamfisted one (“hey, accept me as one of you because of how quickly I cast off my own!”) and the fact that their reaction to Brexit was to condemn those who voted Leave as moron racist troglodytes, it’s pretty clear they don’t consider most Brits their ingroup. But then again, “multinational elites for multinational elitism” doesn’t have much of a ring to it.

          I also don’t know if declaring loyalty to a group is the most fundamental way to belong to that group: is a child of immigrants born in a country less a citizen of that country than their parents, born elsewhere, who became citizens?

          • Pku says:

            I won’t argue with the hamfistedness, but I think the divide is this: The first group are trying to say “I feel at home here… I’ve been living here for years… you don’t hate me, right? you’d only hate me if you were racist.” And due to a combination of hamfistedness in saying it, the angriest voices being the loudest, and probably a lack of charity in hearing it, it ends up coming across as “you all hate me because you’re racist!”

          • dndnrsn says:

            The people in question are almost exclusively white, and not dastardly Europeans either. Their claims of racism are always on the behalf of others.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            White in what construction of whiteness?

            I mean the signs talking about “Polish vermin” feel pretty racist to me. I somehow doubt that “John Smith” born in Poland, of English grand-parents, now emigrated back to the UK is going to be included under that epithet.

            I have to think that some conception of genealogical distinction is playing a role there.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            They’re not Polish, Romanian, etc immigrants, they’re North American middle-class kids.

          • vV_Vv says:

            The people in question are almost exclusively white, and not dastardly Europeans either. Their claims of racism are always on the behalf of others.

            Are Englishmen and Poles the same race?

            You may not be able to distinguish between them at first sight, at least not as easily as you could distinguish between, say, Englishmen and Pakistani, but once you listen to their accents or know their names you can, and then you can apply all the same array of ancestry-based prejudices.

          • Lumifer says:

            @vV_Vv

            Are Englishmen and Poles the same race?

            They are the same race, but different ethnicity.

            If you want a more generic term than “racist”, that would probably be “xenophobic”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            I misunderstood who were referring to and why.

          • dndnrsn says:

            What’s surprised me is that the English, and Europeans in general, either are or believe themselves to be capable of telling whether someone is English, Polish, whatever, by looking at them, not even hearing them speak.

            Is this an ability you lose when your family travels to the New World?

          • Ruprect says:

            There is definitely a ‘Scottish’ look – here’s the best example of it I’ve seen recently –
            http://cdn2.spectator.co.uk/files/2015/10/RD.jpg
            (Ruth Davidson… Nicola Sturgeon has it too)

            The Welsh too – pale skinned Spaniards?

            Not so sure about the English, perhaps a bit too much mixture from the continent?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            My sense is that America is far more heterogenous than just about any place else. That means that there is not a uniform look to deviate from, there are many different sub-populations represented in great numbers and also a great deal of admixture.

            Waldo is really easy to spot when everyone else wearing the same shade of grey.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @dndnrsn

            There are definitely cues of people’s nation of origin that don’t require they speak. The way they dress, the way they move, facial mannerisms. I really noticed this when I was working on a team which included a number of Koreans and a number of American-raised but 100% ethnically Korean people; they were distinguishable at a glance.

            I wouldn’t put too much stock in Europeans being able to do it, though; my experience traveling there is that people from England, France, Switzerland, and Germany generally assumed I was Spanish or Italian until I opened my mouth, whereas darker-skinned people (probably immigrants to where I was) knew I was American immediately. Outgroup homogeneity bias, perhaps.

          • Tibor says:

            @The Nybbler: Weren’t the darker skinned people Italians (for whom it should be much easier to tell you are not from Italy)? Americans are hard to tell just from the looks because you are so mixed.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            My sense is that America is far more heterogenous than just about any place else.

            I’d definitely say that there’s a while male American look, though.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The original Mr. X:
            Just in politics:

            Al Franken, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Trey Gowdy, Max Bauchus, Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, George Bush, Michael Dukakis, ….

            Which among those guys don’t look white-male- American?

        • Tibor says:

          @dndnrsn: I cannot always distinguish where someone comes from in Europe, but I can often make guesses with a success rate better than chance.

          Also some countries seem to look more “stereotypical” than others. I find it easier to tell who is German and who is Czech than who is Austrian and who is Czech (which kind of makes sense…if you go to Vienna, maybe a third of the doorbells there have Czech, or more often Germanized Czech surnames). So this is simply an effect of some populations being more mixed than others.

          I also cannot tell between the Portuguese and the Spanish because I just don’t get to see that many Portuguese and Spanish people, ditto for Ukrainians and Russians (but I can tell Russians from Germans even more easily than Czechs and Germans, similarly with Spaniards and Germans or Russians). The French are very distinct for some reason and the English are as well. I cannot really describe the features in words, but I think it is easier for me to recognize a Frenchman than an Austrian, despite never having been to France (but I met some French people and pretty much all of them were “obviously French”) and despite being in close proximity to Austria.

          In the New World, people are mixed enough so that you don’t see these small differences clearly, whereas in Europe, people are much more geographically separated by ethnicity and so you get to observe them more.

          Of course, it does not always work, which is why I said at a rate better than chance.

          • dndnrsn says:

            So, somebody from anywhere in Europe who spent time in Italy, and spent time in Portugal, would be able to tell the Italians and the Portuguese apart (without hearing them speak, etc) – but I, living in a neighbourhood where almost everybody who’s white (source: the incredibly scientific method of seeing what flags are on cars during major soccer tournaments) is either Italian or Portuguese, will never develop this ability?

          • vV_Vv says:

            @dndnrsn

            You might eventually develop the ability, but with more difficulty.

            In machine learning unsupervised clustering is generally more difficult than supervised classification, and I don’t expect it to be any different for humans.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ dndnrsn

            I think the ability to recognize national/ethnic background depends less on facial features and more on the general style of dressing and carrying oneself. The Russians and the Germans wear different clothes and behave differently.

            These cultural hints would be much less pronounced in the US.

          • Tibor says:

            @dndnrsn: Well, maybe you just don’t have a good face recognition software?

            Also, Italians and Portuguese are still relatively difficult to distinguish (I guess it will be much easier for Italians or the Portuguese, maybe for the Spaniards as well). But Greeks look very different already. Can you tell between the French and Russians for example? I am pretty sure you would be able to tell between Germans and Greeks for example, even without spending any time in either country.

            Also, what Lufimer said. The stereotypical Russian tourist in Prague wears adidas sweatpants and a golden necklace, maybe a golden ring or two. The women wear tons of makeup, high heels and generally dress in a way which makes them very distinct from the locals. If you see something close to that, you can be sure those are Russians. But there are some facial features as well. The Russians are, like the Scandinavians more likely to be pale, blond and have blue eyes. But they have much rounder faces than people from the Germanic countries. The Czechs look sort of like something between Germans and Russians. French women are kind of typified by the Amelia from Montmartre. The English look kind of specific too but I cannot describe it in a meaningful way. But I think you can usually tell who’s English and who’s American even before they open their mouth. Can’t you?

          • dndnrsn says:

            I do, for the record, have awful face recognition. I’d have a very hard time describing my father other than “well he looks kind of like me but with xyz differences”.

            I would probably be able to tell the difference between a German and a Greek – but a German and a Dutchman? A German and a Frenchman? A German and a Pole? Almost certainly not.

          • Tibor says:

            @dndnrsn: Umm, the French look much more “mediterranean” than Germans, except that they are on average more pale (not than Germans). Poles also look sort of like something between Germans and Russians except more Russian-ish than the Czechs. The Dutch…well, they are really tall. Seriously, they are the second tallest people in the world, second to only people from the Dinaric Alps. And they look maybe kind of Germanic but not as clearly and not quite the same way as Germans or as the Scandinavians. But Germans and the Dutch would be the most difficult of the three comparisons that you mentioned. I think I might still be able to guess with a more than 50% chance but not by all that much.

            Also, regarding your father – I am talking about being able to differentiate the people from two populations with a better than 50% success probability. There are always people that look more stereotypically [ethnicity] than others and they are those by whom you will be the most successful. I don’t think I look stereotypically anything for example (also I have some mixed heritage) and when I play the game of “guess where I am from” (I don’t have a Czech accent in English…not quite the British or American but not distinctively anything else either) and people not only cannot guess right (not so surprising given how tiny the Czech republic is), their guesses are also pretty wild, covering most of Europe (well, not southern Europe, I have brown, almost ginger hair, ginger facial hair, green eyes and I’m rather pale). But with some people you can just tell pretty clearly.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Tibor: I brought up my father more to illustrate that my ability to recognize (or, at least, describe) faces is terrible.

            I think it must just be something you learn when you’re younger – I’ve been in various parts of northwestern to central Europe, and I couldn’t tell who was who without resorting to clues other than physical appearance.

          • Tibor says:

            @dndnrsn: Hmm, maybe. Then again, when you’re younger (I mean when you’re a child) you don’t usually get to meet so many foreigners, you only travel with your parents when you go on a holiday. I don’t know how it works.

            Last year, I went to Prague with two colleagues – one from Vietnam and another one from Mexico. The Vietnamese guy asked me if I can tell between Czechs and Germans just from the looks and I told him that I can do that more often than not. The Vietnamese guy did not see any differences, the Mexican guy said he did. Maybe it just boils down to some people being able to distinguish common patterns more easily than others. You mentioned that you don’t think you are very good at it.

            Of course, the Vietnamese guy had a handicap, being Asian, because the differences between the Asian (which he knows well) and European facial features are so large that it becomes more difficult for him to notice the differences in details details.

          • dndnrsn says:

            It is probably just my poor ability to recognize people. If a friend gets a significantly different haircut or is wearing big headphones, I won’t recognize them from a block or so away, and I’m really bad at describing what people look like. My description of what, say, a German looks like would be “blond and blue-eyed, except for the ones that aren’t”.

            It could be that a lot of the travel in Europe was done when I was a kid, with parents – but the times I’ve been there as an adult it’s been no better. I just can’t do much better than “what broader part of a continent is this person/their ancestry from”.

          • Anonanon says:

            > the French look much more “mediterranean” than Germans

            I have an easier time telling whether someone is from the north or south of France than if they’re Belgian, German, or northern French. The Mediterranean look seems pretty localized.

          • caethan says:

            Anyone who’s interested in testing their ability to tell different Europeans apart, try looking at these images of averaged faces from various nationalities: https://pmsol3.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/world-of-averages-europeave/

            I think the Irish one is particularly hilarious because it looks just like my wife (half Northern Irish, half Boston Irish).

          • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

            @dnd

            You have trouble recognizing familiar faces without contextual clues? Are you familiar with prosopagnosia (aka faceblind)?

            There is a test you can take in that link somewhere.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The descriptions of that I’ve seen make it sound way more serious. I think I’m just low range of average at facial recognition.

        • JDG1980 says:

          I think you’re misemphasizing. The point is that brexit will hurt them. Way they see it (which is at least partly true), people voting for brexit are doing it in the name of things like patriotism and liberty, and forgetting there are a lot of people who get hurt by it.

          I think that many Brexit voters would consider the fact that cosmopolitan London elites (and elites-in-training) get hurt to be a feature, not a bug.

      • tmk says:

        Brexit actually hurts Europeans living and working in the UK, while the hurt the Brexiteers have supposedly experienced seems very fluffy. I would understand if people voted for high taxes on London banks to get a share of the wealth. Brexit, at least how it is argued for on this site, seems like spiteful destruction for nobodys benefit.

        • Ruprect says:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KSryJXDpZo

          It must be good for something.

          • tmk says:

            > It must be good for something
            I am sure some people believe it is good for them, but I have not seen any convincing arguments. I have been told repeatedly that I am not paying enough respect to the bad arguments.

          • Ruprect says:

            Argument for Brexit: around about 50% of the population of the UK are racists.
            Seems like an exceedingly dangerous policy to allow large scale immigration with such a population.

            I was convinced by the remain argument that most problems in the UK are caused by British government policy rather than the EU – it’s just that the only way to achieve drastic change in domestic policy is to destroy the current parties. Brexit seems to be facilitating that.
            I would also say that unless we are prepared to concrete over large parts of the green belt, or pay ever increasing sums of money to live in ever smaller cupboards, there does have to be some limit on the number of people entering the country.

        • vV_Vv says:

          @Ruprect

          I would also say that unless we are prepared to concrete over large parts of the green belt, or pay ever increasing sums of money to live in ever smaller cupboards, there does have to be some limit on the number of people entering the country.

          If I understand correctly, the areas of the UK which have the highest costs of living (e.g. London) are also the ones that are more pro-Remain, while the pro-Leave areas are the the low-cost areas that are currently depopulating. Hence, immigrants taking up too much space and driving up housing costs doesn’t seem to be a valid complaint, at least in pro-Leave areas.

          This is not to say that immigration doesn’t cause negative externalities for some part of the native population, and I agree that writing off the Leavers as “ignorant racists” is wrong and politically foolish.

          • gbdub says:

            How many of the Leave voters outside London would prefer to live in or near London, if only they could afford it? How many of the Remain voters in London are themselves recent immigrants likely to be pro-Remain, or are wealthy enough to not give a much of a damn about housing costs? Both factors could work against your conclusion.

          • Lumifer says:

            the areas of the UK which have the highest costs of living (e.g. London) are also the ones that are more pro-Remain, while the pro-Leave areas are the the low-cost areas that are currently depopulating.

            Let me change a couple of words:

            the areas of the UK which have the highest incomes (e.g. London) are also the ones that are more pro-Remain, while the pro-Leave areas are the the low-income areas that are currently depopulating.

            Of course richer areas have higher costs of living.

        • JDG1980 says:

          Brexit actually hurts Europeans living and working in the UK, while the hurt the Brexiteers have supposedly experienced seems very fluffy. I would understand if people voted for high taxes on London banks to get a share of the wealth. Brexit, at least how it is argued for on this site, seems like spiteful destruction for nobodys benefit.

          There wasn’t a referendum on higher taxes on London banks to fund redistribution to the English heartland. And even if there had been, it still wouldn’t address the issues with mass migration. You may see the problems caused by mass migration from alien cultures as “very fluffy” but the people of Rotherham probably disagree.

          “Either give me my fair share or I burn the whole thing down” makes a lot of sense from a game-theoretic perspective.

          • BBA says:

            There wasn’t a referendum on Pakistani immigration either. The EU has nothing to do with that, it’s purely domestic UK policy.

          • TD says:

            @BBA

            So far.

            The UK is not in the Schengen Area, but the UK agreed to devolve certain powers over immigration under various treaties (Maastricht, Amsterdam). The fear from many was that in the future, given the direction the UK was going in, and with the migration crisis getting worse, it might move into the Schengen Area and have binding restrictions put on it with regard to immigration quotas.

            Inside the EU, in order to be to sure to change those quotas, the UK would have to be able to use its position in the EU Council to appoint new hopefully anti-immigration (there’s little way to hold them accountable to this) members of the EU Commission in agreement with the other heads of state on the Council (who might have different opinions on immigration), and then would have to ratify the new Commission term in the EU Parliament by vote (who might have different opinions on immigration), and then wait for the EU Commission (who might have different opinions on immigration) to propose new lower quotas, and then the EU Parliament (who might have different opinions on immigration) would vote on this new piece of legislation.

            In an independent UK, any MP can propose legislation, since the House of Commons has legislative initiative. Once a bill is up for debate, the UK Parliament (who might have different opinions on immigration) can vote on it, and if it passes the vote, the House of Lords (who might have different opinions on immigration) can only delay the process of passing bills into law and have no outright veto. Then there’s Royal Assent, but this hasn’t been refused since 1707 (the Scottish Militia Act), being that it’s basically a formality by now.

            So, unless I’m getting any details drastically wrong here, it seems like the structure of democracy in the EU is drastically distanced from direct accountability, and that the EU Parliament being unable to propose legislation lacks any way to directly fulfill the wishes of the public outside of waiting for the Commission to propose bills for it to vote on. This isn’t even getting into the fact that a larger democracy is always going to drown out the UK even if it did function like the Westminster system. On any issue, given the structure of EU democracy, integration would make the voice of the UK public weaker, and that’s especially concerning for people who feel that they already marginalized as it is.

          • BBA says:

            All I’m pointing out is that JDG1980 is suggesting that EU migration policy is to blame for Rotherham, when in fact it had absolutely nothing to do with it. And yes, all you mention is possible, and the sort of politicians who’d support increased migration are also likely to support closer ties with the EU, but Brexit is at best an extremely indirect way to address the issue.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @BBA
            I’d go as far as saying that Brexit might well be counterproductive if you want to reduce the number of Pakistani immigrants, since I think a close remain vote would have likely bolstered Ukip, and encouraged the government to reduce non-EU immigration in order to meet their target (since they wouldn’t have been able to reduce EU immigration).

          • A vote for “Leave” which is subsequently ignored by Parliament will probably bolster Ukip even more, though. Just about the only thing that doesn’t bolster Ukip from here is if Brexit actually happens and turns out to be a disaster.

    • John Schilling says:

      Does anyone else agree that many people today (especially youths, elites and pundits) are post-nationalists?

      I think the effect you describe is real, but it’s much stronger in Europe than the US – and stronger in some parts of Europe than others, as has just been made clear.

      I also think that anybody who defines themselves as post- or anti- anything is almost preemptively marking themselves as being on the Wrong Side of History. Or at best, a footnote to history. In the United States, slavery is history, abolitionism is a footnote to the history of slavery, and the present reality belongs to those who collectively spent the next hundred and fifty years working towards what they were for.

      Pro-European sentiment seems to be at best a pale imitation of nationalism, a grudging acceptance that if we have to have (ugh) borders they should be as far away as possible and encompass as many people as possible so we don’t have to worry about them as we go about our business.

      Which business is, what exactly? Making more money to buy more consumer goods? What is it that the youth, the elite, and the pundits of Europe are for, that will inspire them to build something in place of the nations they would tear down? Because if they don’t have something to fill that void, someone else will do it for them.

      • Winfried says:

        Tearing down what is is much harder than building a viable replacement. Maintaining that which is is somewhere in the middle for difficulty.

      • Anonymous says:

        Which business is, what exactly? Making more money to buy more consumer goods? What is it that the youth, the elite, and the pundits of Europe are for, that will inspire them to build something in place of the nations they would tear down? Because if they don’t have something to fill that void, someone else will do it for them.

        This seems like an unfair criticism. What is it exactly that the contemporary nationalist is for? Yes, sovereignty and limited immigration and preservation of national culture. But to what end? It’s no longer to try to take over the world. What is it that the nationalists are all pulling together towards if not making more money to buy more consumer goods? Winning the world cup and eurovision, maybe?

        • gbdub says:

          What about “I rather like my country, that one over there looks less pleasant, and I’d prefer to avoid anything that might make my country more like that one”?

          • Anonymous says:

            Doesn’t that essentially mean the same thing as “I don’t want to worry about anything while I go about the business of making more money to buy more consumer goods”?

            Maybe the nationalists and the euro-ists have a factual dispute about what the best way to accomplish that is, but I don’t see how one side can be painted as being involved in an exciting life-meaning giving project and the other as dull boring hedonists when they are after more or less the same thing.

          • Creutzer says:

            A feeling of belonging among the people where you are, reduced anxiety, a lack of a need to be afraid of crime and watch your surrounding very well in certain areas (and worry where you can go in the first place) – those are all things that proponents of monoethnic and monocultural national states would regard as good in themselves. I think it’s somewhat bizarre to reinterpret those as only instrumental to doing business and engaging in consumerism.

          • vV_Vv says:

            The point is that for the educated European youth, “my country” is the EU, and “member state” nationalists are treasonous secessionists.

            There seems no easy way to reconcile these sentiments.

            Europe has a great deal of shared culture, and it has been politically unified in some sort of ways through various points of its history, therefore it seems like a natural Schelling point especially from the point of view of the educated youth that speak a common language, watch the same shows, listens to the same music, enjoy freedom of movement for tourism, study, work, and so on.

            The English factory workers who get fired from their jobs in England because they can’t communicate with their coworkers who speak Polish, on the other hand, feel that they have much more in common with fellow Englishmen rather other European workers who they primarily see as competitors for the same commodified jobs.

          • Tibor says:

            @vV_Vv: I don’t know. I don’t observe this, not even in Germany which is the country probably most scared of anything that might be interpreted as nationalism. Sure, you have some far leftists and “Green Youth” which wanted to ban flags at the European football championship but those are a tiny fraction of even the young people.

            I strongly suspect this is a media image of “the irresponsible youngsters”. You want to pick something interesting, you want it to fit the stereotype of young people who don’t know anything about the world. And then you want to say that this applies to all young people, or the majority. It does not match my everyday experience at all and I mostly interact with people with college degrees, many of whom are doing a PhD or something. Sure, they are not nationalist. But they are far from this kind of EU-fanatics.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Sure, you have some far leftists and “Green Youth” which wanted to ban flags at the European football championship but those are a tiny fraction of even the young people.

            Football fans typically care more about their local city them than their national team. Does it mean that they are city-state nationalist?

            Sure, they are not nationalist. But they are far from this kind of EU-fanatics.

            Lots of people will say that there are problems with the EU. But disagreeing with your government is not the same as not feeling part of your country. Poll these young college-educated European youth you know about how they feel about Brexit and you will see.

          • Tibor says:

            @vV_Vv: Is being against Brexit synonymous to not feeling a part of you country?

          • vV_Vv says:

            Is being against Brexit synonymous to not feeling a part of you country?

            I don’t think so.

        • John Schilling says:

          Winning the world cup and eurovision, maybe?

          If fandom is what you’ve got, you can build on it. But there isn’t an EU football team, even though it would dominate the cup, and Eurovision seems to be mostly a forum for nationalistic competition.

          So if you tear down nationalism, and what you have left to build with is a subset of nationalism’s building blocks, I’m not sure that’s a net improvement.

          • Sane Anonymous says:

            Build on it to what end? I’m afraid whatever larger point you are trying to make is lost on me.

            Edit: apparently I typoed what I wanted as a username. It should be same anonymous i.e. green with four diamonds.

          • John Schilling says:

            At a minimum, build something that will inspire people to collectively defend it. Unto the death, if need be. Otherwise, some group of people who do have a positive goal will come along and take all your blocks for one of their projects.

            If, in addition to motivating collective defense in a way that negative goals usually don’t, you find some other value in the thing you’ve built, so much the better. Put your mind to it and I expect you could come up with something.

          • Vorkon says:

            Considering some of the Anonymouses we get around here, I thought “Sane Anonymous” was a rather clever nickname. I’d suggest you stick with it!

      • walpolo says:

        In the United States, slavery is history, abolitionism is a footnote to the history of slavery, and the present reality belongs to those who collectively spent the next hundred and fifty years working towards what they were for.

        What?

        Is this supposed to be a criticism of abolitionists? Were they making a mistake by being “anti” something and not “for” something?

        • John Schilling says:

          Well, they were opposed to slavery and they ultimately made slavery go away. That’s not nothing. But looking at the subsequent history, it seems like no small unpleasantness might have been avoided if they’d had some positive idea of what to do next.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:
            I’m not sure what you mean here.

            Reconstruction wasn’t anti, it was pro. It was defeated by anti-reconstruction forces, who were anti “blacks in positions of authority”.

            You could, of course phrase it as pro white power, but that is just playing with semantics, I think.

          • keranih says:

            Reconstruction wasn’t anti, it was pro.

            Reconstruction was anti “those nasty secsh rebels who thought they could run their states the way they wanted.” Dis-enfranchizing the local whites and voting in African-descent judges, mayors, and legistators (whether former slaves, freemen, or immigrants from the North or Europe) were the tools uses.

            It was defeated by anti-reconstruction forces, who were anti “blacks in positions of authority”.

            They were (mostly) anti “telling us what to do”. And when the Northern forces withdrew –

            – back up to their majority-white towns and states, where blacks were very few, blacks in power were next to non-existent, and blacks in fine society were objects of conversation at best –

            – the white southerners forced a partial (not whole) reversal of the tide, and ended up with a society where the racial balance of power looked pretty much like it did in the north.

            And for that, the Northern liberals still sneer at the South.

            You could, of course phrase it as pro white power, but that is just playing with semantics, I think.

          • Anonymous says:

            You are comparing apples and oranges. There’a a big difference between blacks being very rare and blacks being disenfranchised even if the color balance of the resulting legislatures are similar.

            After the great migration when the north had to deal with blacks, there was tension and discrimination sure, but no Jim Crow. And not too long after the migration hit full force you started seeing black politicians.

            As for those that committed high treason, they got off really easy.

            The sneering is well deserved.

          • Jiro says:

            As for those that committed high treason, they got off really easy.

            Yes, but that’s only because they won. I’m pretty sure George Washington and Benjamin Franklin would have been executed if the rebellion against their government had failed.

          • Anonymous says:

            Which just goes to show you how good a deal Davis, Lee, et. al. got.

          • keranih says:

            After the great migration when the north had to deal with blacks, there was tension and discrimination sure, but no Jim Crow.

            You might want to spend some time doing more research on this. Legal discrimination followed failure of social pressure, so the lack of legal discrimination was a reflection of lack of need, not a lack of bigotry.

            California, for example, had laws controlling Asians where most of the country did not – not because the rest of the population loved Chinamen, but because the population of Chinese in the rest of the country was so low. “Sunset towns” and neighborhoods were commonly appearing across the west, preventing a notable level of African Americans. And the Davis-Bacon Acts (and related ones) were overtly discriminatory. And once the Great Migration began in earnest, the Northerners responded by moving out of the cities just as fast as they could, using economic means to segregate themselves from African Americans, and establishing separate communities.

            There were ways to get to the goal of establishing equality and opportunity for all races – but those weren’t the options taken by the North, because that wasn’t the goal.

    • Russell says:

      This is an interesting article which sort of addresses your question. As someone who couldn’t decide how to vote it was certainly startling and off putting to have people assume my doubts were either racist or indicative of a low IQ. It felt like the Remainers were pretty good at hating their opponents while somehow still self identifying as being on the side of tolerance. Well, I voted Remain in the end.

      http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/reflections-of-a-referendum-fence-sitter

    • Pku says:

      Another phenomenon that bothers me: Nationalism becoming a tribe that focuses on opposing globalization is a lose-even-if-you-win scenario: The nice parts of national identity focus on local efforts and community building (e.g. having your country’s traditional dance and food or whatever), start getting subsumed into talking about how bad globalization is.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Nationalism has caused a lot of problems in the past. No one wanted to give up nations then. It’s only now that nationalism is not causing a lot of problems — world wars — that people have the freedom to consider giving up the concept of a nation.

      • The Nybbler says:

        We had major wars spanning much of the civilized world when we didn’t have much in the way nations. The 30-years war being the most prominent.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Hm. I wanted to say something about how nation-states naturally formed because they were locally superior, but I’m not really sure now what my end argument was. Probably something along the lines of “it’s only because of the benefit of nation-states that you have the safety to consider life without nation-states.”

          • Adam says:

            The only theory of the formation of nation-states I’ve ever read was Benedict Anderson’s, which postulates that it had to do with the rise of newspapers printed in vernacular languages, allowing people to identify with anyone in reach of the publication who spoke the same language, a broadening compared to prior religious, feudal, and tribal groupings (with, of course, city-states being much more Dunbarish). It sounds plausible enough, but also peculiar to Europe. Are there any other competing theories? This isn’t something I’m all that well-versed on.

          • Pku says:

            Hmm if it is, the rise of the internet is definitely going to undermine the concept of nation-states as time goes on.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Hmm if it is, the rise of the internet is definitely going to undermine the concept of nation-states as time goes on.

            I used to think this as well, but given the recent rise of nationalism in the developed world, especially in the form of parties that primarily gather their support on the Internet, it may not be the case.

        • John Schilling says:

          We had major wars spanning much of the civilized world when we didn’t have much in the way nations. The 30-years war being the most prominent.

          The Thirty Years War had quite a bit in the way of nation-states, which was pretty much the point. The nation-states of Europe went to war with the rest of Europe, won decisively, and established by the Peace of Westphalia that from now on it was nation-states uber alles.

          That the nation-states broke mostly Protestant and the kingly states stayed Catholic is not entirely coincidental, but is often overstated as a cause.

          • Tibor says:

            How are France or Spain not nation states? Perhaps Spain is not in a sense but France is. Both are catholic.

            By the way, do you consider the United States a nation state? From a European understanding of the word nation, it pretty much isn’t, actually no country in America is. Of course, even in Europe, the oldest nations which saw themselves as a nations are not older than 1000 years, with the sole exception of the Greeks. This is also why it makes much more sense for me to identify with my home town than with my home country. I actually have personal connections to my town. In a sense instead of a supranationalism I would like to go back to the infranationalism, just this time with people being aware that those from other cities, even if (sic!) they speak a different language are not devils.

          • Lysenko says:

            By the way, do you consider the United States a nation state? From a European understanding of the word nation, it pretty much isn’t, actually no country in America is.

            If you stick with the classic definition that a nation-state is a state that is homogeneous due to shared ethnic and cultural heritage, sure. But really, how good a definition is that? I don’t think it was all that relevant by the 19th century, let alone the 20th. You had too many sizable ethnic minorities in too many of the old nation-states, too much cross-cultural mixing. Examples of “A State with exactly one Nation in it” in the classic sense have been thin on the ground for a long time.

            I propose a more modern definition: a state which is relatively homogenous due to shared cultural values. This can be language, ethnicity, philosophical or religious principles about life and government, or a combination of all of the above, and doesn’t necessarily have to remain static as long as it doesn’t shift too far too rapidly.

            I’ve always HATED these metaphors, but to put it another way: a ‘melting pot’ can still be a nation-state with a shared overall cultural identity. A ‘salad bowl’, not so much.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Lysenko

            I propose a more modern definition: a state which is relatively homogenous due to shared cultural values. This can be language, ethnicity, philosophical or religious principles about life and government, or a combination of all of the above, and doesn’t necessarily have to remain static as long as it doesn’t shift too far too rapidly.

            That looks a bit too flexible to be useful. I struggle to think of anything which won’t match. Empires, from Roman to Russian, fit quite well.

          • Tibor says:

            @Lysenko: Depends on your definition of just one nation (does the about 2% Czech Vietnamese minority count as a nation in the Czech republic? Does the about 4% German Turkish minority count?) and also what you are and are not willing to consider a nation. But given these caveats, almost all European countries qualify…the ones which don’t:

            Britain, Belgium, Switzerland, perhaps Spain. There are of course minority populations in many countries. But save for these mentioned there is always one clearly dominant ethnicity the country is sort of centred around (and in fact, many non-British Europeans have a tendency to say English instead of British).

          • Lysenko says:

            @Lumifer

            Hmmm, I see your point. In which case, how would you distinguish the historical US model of national identity from the nation-state? I don’t think you can call it ‘post-national’ in the way that people here describe the idea of the EU.

            @Tibor

            I was thinking of the UK, Belgium, and Switzerland in particular, yeah, but you and Lumifer both make good points.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Lysenko

            I don’t know if it’s possible to come up with a neat (= not messy) definition of a nation-state. It’s not a particularly well-delineated concept to start with, plus it has been the subject of a great deal of propaganda for a long time. And, of course, nation-states originated as a predominantly European thing.

            As a crude first-order approximation I’d say a nation-state is a state where (1) everyone (plus-minus) speaks the same (plus-minus) language; (2) there is some sense of identity associated with belonging to the nation-state, often driven by the language; and (3) the language and the identity are unique to the nation-state.

            Maybe approach it from another direction? We need context for the concept of “nation-state”, so let’s see what other forms of states we can come up with. There are multi-ethnic polities, sometimes called empires, sometimes not (e.g. India). There are duo-ethnic states with large (up to 50%) minorities (e.g. Canada or Belgium). There are monoethnic states without a strong identity (e.g. Jordan). There are “someone drew some lines on a map, so we’re now a country” states a lot of which are in Tropical Africa. US seems pretty unique as a “melt your old identities into this new thing” proposition. South and Central America are a bit of a problem in this context, as are places like Pakistan. What else is there?

          • Tibor says:

            @Lufimer: Why are Central and South America a problem in this? At least Brazil or Argentina seem to me about as “melted” as the US. Argentina had large waves of European immigration at the beginning of the 20th century (at that time it also had a series of really liberal – i.e. classical liberal – governments and it was one of the most developed countries in the world, richer than Canada…then it had the misfortune of a series of really bad protectionist and socialist governments and it is where it is today), mostly from southern Europe but not exclusively.

          • John Schilling says:

            How are France or Spain not nation states? Perhaps Spain is not in a sense but France is. Both are catholic.

            France and Spain are nation states, but were not always so. At the time of the Thirty Years’ War, Spain was personal dynastic empire with holdings in Iberia, Italy, and the Low Countries. France was coalescing into a nation-state, a process that wouldn’t be entirely complete until the era of Napoleon, but it would be fair to call them more of a nation-state than not in 1618.

            France, you may recall, sided with the Protestants during the Thirty Years’ War, as that was clearly in the geopolitical interests of France as a nation.

          • Tibor says:

            The Catalan and the Basque might disagree with you about modern Spain. In France, which has much less respect for regional nationalities (for example it does not recognize any minority languages such as Occitan or Basque), the process of melting into one nation is more complete.

            France sided with the protestant side because it was in the interest of the French king.

            But my point was that it was not a war between nation state protestants and non-nation state catholics. And not all protestants won. The protestant Czechs lost pretty badly, losing the Bohemian crown to the catholic Austria, or one should probably say to the Austrian house of Habsburg, for the next 300 years.

            In fact, without the catholic France, the protestants would probably have lost, most of Europe would be unified by the Habsburg and forced re-catholization would happen all over the place. Obviously, the prospect of Habsburgs controlling most of Europe was a nightmare for the French king which is why France had to step in.

            I don’t think you can make any conclusions from this about the military merits of the nation state and I am not sure what religion has to do with it either. Also, note that the most feared military force in Europe in that period were the Swiss mercenaries, people motivated by money rather than any national pride.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            In fact, without the catholic France, the protestants would probably have lost,

            Yeah, the basic pattern of the Thirty Years’ War was that the Hapsburgs almost won, which scared some other country who then got involved and dragged the war out longer. The fact that it took repeated intervention by other powers to finally wear Austria out actually speaks rather well of Hapsburg military prowess.

          • Tibor says:

            @The original Mr. X: Or rather their diplomatic prowess. The house of Habsburg was incredibly good at making the right alliances and especially at marrying the right people.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Bella gerant alii; tu, felix Austria, nube,
            Et, quae Mars aliis, dat tibi regna Venus.

          • John Schilling says:

            But my point was that it was not a war between nation state protestants and non-nation state catholics.

            Which was never my claim. My claim is that it was a war between the nation-states and the emperors, and the nation-states won decisively. The presence of some Catholics on the winning side and some Protestants on the losing side, doesn’t change that. Possibly I should never have mentioned the religious dimension; it seems only to have confused the issue.

          • Tibor says:

            @John Schilling: Ok, but still the overall score was 2:1 for the Habsburgs. This was a huge all-European war (even if not all of Europe fought in it at the same time) with big alliances on each side, so I don’t know if you can make conclusions about the relative military ability of multinational empires versus national states (especially since at least at this time, the nation states are not quite as well established…probably there is already a notion of the French nation among the people of France but not quite like today). You would at least need a one to one comparison between about equally sized countries.

            I think that by far the most decisive elements are the sizer of your army and the sizer of your treasury. Richer countries with bigger armies almost always beat poorer countries with smaller armies (there are exceptions, but then it is mostly due to unique climate or terrain conditions). The reason not all small countries have been devoured by the bigger neighbours is that they either have had powerful allies or were sufficiently well protected to bleed the enemy enough for its other enemies to use the opportunity to attack. This is also the Swiss or Singaporean modern defence strategy.

    • Ruprect says:

      Perhaps – look at Emily Thornberry and the flags.

      For the most part, I don’t think it’s that intelligent though – most people, even intelligent people, don’t really have considered opinions about most things – they have a knowledge of how opinions will sound to others. The “leave has ruined my life” thing is actually quite incoherent – I’m inclined to view it as the same old spluttering outrage that you always get from young people who don’t really understand what they are talking about.
      In fact, this kind of thing always reminds me of the assassination of Inuaki Tsuyoshi:

      Inukai was shot by eleven junior Navy officers (most were just turning twenty years of age) in the Prime Minister’s residence in Tokyo. Inukai’s last words were roughly, “If I could speak, you would understand” (話せば分かる hanaseba wakaru?) to which his killers replied, “Dialogue is useless” (問答無用 mondō muyō?).

      I know several people who have practically disowned members of their family because they voted leave. One woman I know hasn’t spoken to her fiancé for a week – she has lots of friends with good jobs in the city, and they are terribly worried.
      Yawn.
      It’s just the same old social nonsense, but from people who aren’t used to being told “no”.

      Perhaps the reason why they can’t comprehend anybody intelligent disagreeing with them on this matter is that any intelligent person who disagrees with them, wouldn’t dare (or care to) discuss it with them?

    • Lumifer says:

      if they thought it was important for their language/culture to exist 25 years from now; most placed little importance on the subject.

      Ask them a less abstract question: for example, would they be fine with their (future, potential) kids speaking only English as the native language?

    • Theo Jones says:

      I’m solidly in the post-nationalist category. I think that nationalism is really an anachronism that is on the net harmful, and that over the course of the 21st century the nation state as currently exists will fade in importance.

      • Adam says:

        Frankly, nation-states have been such a tiny blip in the overall arc of humanity. There’s no reason to think they have any special staying power. They’ve been a convenient means of pooling resources to provide units of competition in a capitalist era more inclusive than private firms, more powerful than tribes, yet distinct enough to harness some power of identity politics. They haven’t been runaway successes and there is no reason to think we can’t do better, though I don’t necessarily think the EU in particular is “better” (but the trial and error movements of history involve failed attempts to replace things that nonetheless get replaced by something).

        • John Schilling says:

          They [nation-states] haven’t been runaway successes

          Nation-states control essentially all of the habitable land on Earth, command the loyalty of the majority of the human race and the obedience of just about everyone, and are the clear apex predators of the political food chain. This has been consistently true for centuries. What, in your view, would constitute a runaway success?

          • Adam says:

            Permanence. Tribes used to control all the habitable land on Earth, too, at least that people had reached at that point. Nation-states have presented enough ills that a sufficient number of people want something else and there will probably eventually be something else.

            I mean, not that the next thing will be permanent, either. But that’s just to say that no form of organizing human activity will ever be a perfect runaway success. Nation-states are not unique in disappointing some people.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Nation-states have presented enough ills that a sufficient number of people want something else and there will probably eventually be something else.

            Here’s the other problem with post-nationalism: what would “something else” possibly be? I’m guessing the proposal isn’t for anarchy, since after all, someone has to force bakeries to bake cakes for gay weddings, right?

          • John Schilling says:

            Nation-states have presented enough ills that a sufficient number of people want something else and there will probably eventually be something else.

            The number of people who want something different, is a small minority of humanity. The number of people who want some specific different thing is smaller still. So I do not share your confidence in the inevitable demise of the nation-state, and if it ever does happen it will not be until something specific has been widely recognized as a replacement worth fighting for. Since no such thing has been identified even by the clever, forward-thinking anti-nationalists here, I’m guessing that will be far enough in the future as to not be worth worrying about now.

          • Lumifer says:

            @Adam

            Permanence

            I think you’re engaging in what’s known as a nirvana fallacy.

            The alternatives to nation-states are sub-nation governments (like city-states) or supranational governments (like empires). Out of this set nation-states seem to have done the best. They are a success.

            So far, of course, future is uncertain : -)

          • Tibor says:

            Hong Kong and Singapore are examples of very successful modern city states.

            Also, you might have both. A multitude of largely independent city states which are highly interconnected by trade, military and other agreements (enforcement of those agreement is a difficult question…you don’t want a to create a supranational government but at the same time you need something that will enforce them…maybe if you have enough city state which are small enough, competition among them is a strong enough force – if those agreements are to the benefit of every member, leaving will make your city state worse off and people will move away).

          • vV_Vv says:

            It has been true only for decades, unless you want to consider things like the British Empire as a nation-state.

          • Adam says:

            I don’t have a concrete proposal. I’m not advocating any particular other form of government, just saying at some point (possibly not even remotely close to my own lifetime), nation-states can be widely replaced by something else. Maybe city-states in some places, involved in loose regional alliances. Maybe loose regional alliances of larger organizations in other places. I have no idea, but there’s no way nation-states are here to stay. Come on. The world changes. It took thousands of years for empires to disappear, but it happened. I doubt nation-states last that long. When they are gone, I imagine about as many people will give a shit about gay weddings and cakes as presently care about philosophers being executed for corrupting youth.

            Edit: In response to John, yeah, I’m not at all worried about this happening now. Maybe this is just the wrong place to talk about it at all, since it’s apparently a political issue (sorry, I’m sure this seems obvious to most people, but I really don’t pay much attention to news and didn’t even know about Brexit until the day before it happened and still barely know what the EU even does) and I’m going to be conflated with whoever these “post-nationalists” are that are actively campaigning to get rid of nation-states right now.

          • Lysenko says:

            @Tibor
            It sounds like our views on government size line up pretty well, but I think your example of Switzerland works a lot better than Hong Kongs and Singapores. As someone pointed out recently, dense and highly-urbanized centers are not self-sufficient, and I would like to submit that to be healthy and stable in the medium term (call that a century or so) or longer, a state must be able to operate self-sufficiently if it has to without collapsing.

            Modern city states exist only because of their dense and strong global interconnectedness, so while any theoretical future arrangement where we have more smaller states rather than fewer bigger superstates might have some city-states, I think they will of necessity be the minority.

            And yeah, if you can figure out how to create a confederation strong and stable enough to back down larger aggressor states or super-states, that isn’t so strong that it will inevitably lead to coalescence from confederation or mutual defense and trade alliance to an actual federal government, let me know.

            I haven’t, and to my mind it’s a fatal flaw.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Tibor

            I don’t suppose you’re familiar with the Hanseatic League?

          • Tibor says:

            @Kevin: Good point. Learned about them at school. Forgot all about them 🙂

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            And yeah, if you can figure out how to create a confederation strong and stable enough to back down larger aggressor states or super-states, that isn’t so strong that it will inevitably lead to coalescence from confederation or mutual defense and trade alliance to an actual federal government, let me know.

            Yeah, that’s the thing. I could imagine a European Union that generated feelings of belonging and patriotism, an attitude of loyalty from upper and lower classes alike, a willingness to take up arms and defend its borders next time Putin gets frisky. An EU whose people stopped thinking of themselves as Britons or Frenchmen or Germans and started thinking of themselves as EUROPEANS. It could happen!

            …At which point, it would be a nation-state. Way to go, guys, you just recreated what you were trying to get away from.

            (And if you, the reader, felt your heart flutter a bit when I described that noble and strong European Union just now? Yeah, that was nationalism you just felt. Sorry.)

          • caethan says:

            @ThirteenthLetter That’s pretty much what Bismarck did with Germany in the 19th century. Transfer the focus of loyalty from the little mini German states to Germany as a whole via hatred of the French. Tada, unified!

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        I’m solidly in the post-nationalist category. I think that nationalism is really an anachronism that is on the net harmful, and that over the course of the 21st century the nation state as currently exists will fade in importance.

        What happens when the nation-state next door which didn’t fade quite as quickly as yours, or which put all of its post-nationalists into concentration camps before they could really get their teeth in, invades your nation-state?

        • Pku says:

          There might be problems with the concept, but this definitely isn’t one of them. Fadeout is a gradual concept that goes together with different nations, and affects the ones who feel threatened the least. Monaco isn’t exactly worried about Italy invading, for example. (And even if they did, the worst that would happen is they’d become part of Italy, which is unpleasant but not the end of the world.)

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Yeah, like if Italy were to transform itself seemingly overnight from a harmless, ramshackle democracy into a militaristic fascist state and join an axis of dictatorial nations bent on racial purity and global conquest. But what are the odds of something like that happening, right?

            I mean, again?

            The post-nationalist doctrine has the same flaw as anarchy or unilateral disarmament: a post-nationalist state is completely vulnerable to any other state which is not post-nationalist. In a world of easy and quick air travel and instant communication, that’s literally any other state.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ThirteenthLetter

            a post-nationalist state is completely vulnerable to any other state which is not post-nationalist

            Why is that? I don’t see why being post-nationalist implies disarmament and lack of cohesion.

            ISIS is trying to build a post-nationalist state in the Middle East. I don’t think it will survive, but it certainly doesn’t fall under the “completely vulnerable” level.

            Looking historically, were empires “post-nationalist”?

          • Sandy says:

            It seems to me that ThirteenthLetter is going off post-nationalism in the EU context, where it has certainly implied disarmament and a lack of cohesion because the EU’s security is mostly provided for by America rather than the Europeans themselves.

            Empires were either post-nationalist or pre-nationalist; either way, they were non-nationalist and the same nationalist arguments were leveled against them then as are now — sovereignty, local culture, the pride of a people in their unique history, etc etc. Ataturk, a nationalist who euthanized the Ottoman caliphate and became the father of Turkish nationalism, banned the veil on the grounds that Turkish women “had lived free of the veil for 5000 years and had been covered only in the last 600 years”. ISIS is in some ways trying to restore what Ataturk, Nasser et al ended — a Dar-al-Islam where people identify or are expected to identify as Islamic first and foremost rather than Turkish, Egyptian, Syrian etc. The EU wants people to identify as European first and foremost rather than English, French, German etc. Different results ensue since European values and Islamic values are different, but the EU and Dar-al-Islam are both post-nationalist in that sense.

            It is sometimes said that nationalism like the Arab Revolt and the Indian independence struggle led to the collapse of empires in the 20th century, but that’s probably only a piece of the puzzle — the seat of those empires had been through damaging world wars that left them unable to control their foreign territories, and technology had spread to the point where it was no longer necessarily the case that the colonial powers used weapons that were far more advanced than those of the people they conquered.

          • Aegeus says:

            In a world of easy and quick air travel and instant communication, that’s literally any other state.

            No, it’s just your neighbors. An Italian civilian could easily hop aboard a plane and fly into the UK, but that doesn’t mean that Italy is easily capable of invading the UK. The logistics for moving an army are a wee bit more complicated.

            You’re vulnerable to your neighbors, sure. I don’t see standing armies going away for a very long time. But keeping a standing army doesn’t prevent nationalism from fading away between you and your allies. The fact that NATO is still standing guard against Russia doesn’t mean that Monaco also has to stand guard against Italy.

          • Lysenko says:

            @Aegeus

            Monaco need to guard itself from Italy and France unless it is willing to accept that it will exist only for so long as Italy and/or France find it more useful to exist than to be annexed and assimilated. To be clear, providing an example of “see how nice and enlightened we are, we -could- conquer you, but we won’t, and that makes me feel warm and fuzzy” falls under the heading of “useful”.

            If you cannot guarantee your own security and freedom, then you live on someone else’s sufferance, and I would be leery of forecasting that because your neighbors have been friendly for centuries that they will remain so. Jews and Arabs got along for a lot more of history than they violently clashed.

            Things change.

          • Aegeus says:

            @Lysenko: The trouble is, under that logic, probably half the nations on Earth only exist at the sufferance of the US. And pretty much none of them are capable of surviving the US’s military power even if they became the most ferocious, nationalistic, united nation on the planet. You could join all of Monaco into a psychic hive-mind and they still wouldn’t be strong enough.

            (Monaco’s army is 255 soldiers strong. They aren’t even remotely a deterrent against Italy)

            So while this is a true statement, it doesn’t seem like a useful argument for nationalism. It just seems like another restatement of the fact that a government is ultimately defined by a monopoly on force in an area. That’s going to be true regardless of how you draw your borders, whether you think of yourself as a resident of Monaco or as a resident of the EU.

            This kind of reminds me of the libertarian argument that all governments are supported by armed robbery. Technically true, but it’s not as hard to swallow as you make it sound.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Aegeus

            And pretty much none of them are capable of surviving the US’s military power

            So, there was that little wisp of a country called Vietnam. Afghanistan is in the habit of giving the finger to foreign powers who lack sufficient sense and stick their head it: the Brits were first, the Russians followed, and the US fared no better. Saddam Hussein was destroyed but it’s not like Iraq stopped being a huge headache (and it took, what, two wars and a full-Western-world military alliance?).

            Sure, in theory the US has the mostest armed forces. But the political will to deploy it is another matter. Example: Syria/ISIS.

            all governments are supported by armed robbery. Technically true, but it’s not as hard to swallow as you make it sound.

            It depends on whether you find yourself a direct target of that armed robbery

          • Adam says:

            True as that is, I don’t think the goal of most states is “hey, let’s be as stable and prosperous as Afghanistan.” By most measures that a European state would consider acceptable, Afghanistan is a failure even though it continues to exist.

          • Agronomous says:

            @Lumifer:

            …there was that little wisp of a country called Vietnam

            In land area, Vietnam is in between Norway and Finland, twice as big as California, 7/8 the size of Japan, almost as big as Germany, and significantly larger than West Germany was.

            Its population in 1969 was over 40 million people, comparable to Spain today and significantly more than Spain, Turkey, or Poland in 1969. Today, it has 91 million people—more than Germany, the most-populous (all-)European country.

            I discovered this a couple years ago when an article mentioned its population was 88 million, and I figured they’d dropped a decimal point. Nope.

            I feel like my education could have taken a few minutes to point out these facts. Especially the part of my education that spent a couple months on the Vietnam War.

          • Jiro says:

            Vietnam was supported by the Russians anyway, which counts as a country “capable of surviving the US’s military power”.

          • Lysenko says:

            Yes, Aegeus, they do. Luckily for them, The US has a combination of generally good relations and a culture that highly prizes self-perception as the good guys who are magnanimous in victory and show mercy when possible. For now.

            (side note, I do not claim that America is always magnanimous in victory and shows mercy when possible. I claim that this is something that we like to believe of ourselves, and that is one of the things that tends to inhibit -openly- ruthless uses of our economic and military muscle.)

            But relationships change (again, cf. Jews and Arabs, or the English and Americans for that matter, from one people to enemies to the special relationship), and so do cultures. Compare Rome in 400 BC to 200BC to 100 or 200AD.

            Famously Neutral and defensive-minded Switzerland’s main interaction with the rest of the world used to be supplying professional soldiers to fight other nations’ wars for them, to the point that the word ‘nostalgia’ was coined by medical professionals looking at behavioral and emotional disorders in Swiss mercs too long from home.

            Or to sum it up: The conditions that allow countries to ignore that reality you just described as “not hard to swallow” are not permanent. That reality is, and history doesn’t come with an arrow.

            It’s not an argument for nationalism. It’s an argument for having a strong military. Whether it’s being wielded by a nation-state or a “post-national” EU superstate is irrelevant to the point I’m making.

        • vV_Vv says:

          You nuke them into oblivion.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        In a post-national world, who controls the armies and the nukes?

        • fibo says:

          In a post-national world, why build them?

          • Jiro says:

            Because anyone who doesn’t have them can become a victim of someone who does.

          • TD says:

            Because I’m fed up of being outvoted on everything by the Chinese?

          • eh says:

            What’s your post-national world look like?

            If it’s made up of empires, there’s a very good reason to build nukes – controlling subjugated areas and deterring bigger fish. For city states, military deterrence is even more important. A Neal Stephenson-meets-Moldbug ultracapitalist hodgepodge could have Megatonnage-as-a-Service (Bombers in the cloud! Consolidate your weapons infrastructure! Integrates with our award winning automated coup detection platform!). A one-world government needs to control diverse populations, and always has the excuse of destroying comets to fall back on. I’m not sure what an anarchist world would look like, but if such a world was more accurately described I’m sure someone would be able to come up with a reason why its inhabitants would make nukes.

          • Tibor says:

            @eh:

            For an entertaining sci-fi account of a post-nationalist and partly anarcho-capitalist society, see this story by Verner Vinge:

            http://www.baen.com/Chapters/1416520724/1416520724___4.htm

            It involves nukes! (I won’t say more not to spoil the story in case you want to read it)

            As David Friedman pointed out (I know about the story from him), the most interesting part is how people from different societes (there is an anarcho-capitalist country/region bordering something like a half-totalitarian version of the United States) think differently about things. This is best illustrated by a conversation between a boss of a protection agency (called Al’s Protection Racket…another private protection agency is called Michigan State Police) held hostage and a military officer from the army of that state country. Again, I don’t want to go into too much details in order not to spoil the story.

          • LHN says:

            It’s been a while since I read The Peace War and “The Ungoverned”, but my impression of the Republic of New Mexico was that it wasn’t so much half-totalitarian as an ordinary US-style democratic republic, as seen from the perspective of the anarcho-capitalist author. (And in the case of the short story, anarcho-capitalist viewpoint characters.)

        • vV_Vv says:

          The governments of the post-national entities, obviously. In the limit, the one world government.

          Post-nationalism doesn’t mean anarchy.

          • Lysenko says:

            Absent a true one-world government with the power to crush any sub-unit at any time, The top level state of the world IS Anarchy in the most pejorative sense of the term.

            That’s geopolitics 101. We attempt to fight this with treaties and trade agreements and Inter-Governmental Organizations like the UN, which has done….pretty much nothing to reduce the frequency or severity of conflict. NATO’s done more, and the distribution of nukes across the major powers combined with American, Russian, and more recently Chinese military dominance wthin their respective regional spheres of influence has done even more than that.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Absent a true one-world government with the power to crush any sub-unit at any time, The top level state of the world IS Anarchy in the most pejorative sense of the term.

            And how would political power being fragmented in hundreds of nation-states be any safer than having it split between a few super-national empires whose leaders can all sit at one table and negotiate while looking at each other in the eyes?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ vV_Vv

            And how would political power being fragmented in hundreds of nation-states be any safer than having it split between a few super-national empires whose leaders can all sit at one table and negotiate while looking at each other in the eyes?

            It’s not unreasonable to prefer a number of petty regional conflicts to one World War (especially between nuclear supranational empires).

          • Anonymous says:

            We attempt to fight this with treaties and trade agreements and Inter-Governmental Organizations like the UN, which has done….pretty much nothing to reduce the frequency or severity of conflict. NATO’s done more, and the distribution of nukes across the major powers combined with American, Russian, and more recently Chinese military dominance wthin their respective regional spheres of influence has done even more than that.

            How do you know that the effect of UN/WTO/etc is zero?

          • Lysenko says:

            Well, first, what do you consider a satisfactory level of ‘safer’? Because I will tell you up front that I am not proposing more, smaller states over fewer, larger states because I believe it will put an end to war. Even if I believed that consolidation into regional super-states or a single global government would be successful in ending war (which I don’t), that would be insufficient reason for me to support it. I suspect we may have pretty different terminal values there.

            That said, it’s safer because it reduces the scale of warfare. War is as inevitable as crime and poverty. You can reduce its frequency and you can reduce the severity of its impact, but to talk in terms of ending it as a fact of human existence is to depart off into the realms that bear no resemblance to the real world. I will grant you that it may be possible in some hypothetical post-singularity and/or post-human future where ‘human nature’ truly can be transcended or at least edited as desired, but at that point ALL political and social organizations that can be built by current humans, for current humans are equally obsolete. That makes that hypothetical future irrelevant to this sort of discussion.

            So, if ‘the wars shall be with you always’, the goal is then to minimize their frequency and their severity. Wars strain and limit the economic engine of a state, and they halt or at the very least disrupt and slow the flow of trade across state borders. Therefore how long a war can be sustained is a function of size of the state. The US, Canada, Russia, China, or the EU, cut off from other states or super-states, can fight a war for longer than Chile, Denmark, the Czech Republic, or Israel can.

            The other easily controllable factor that can reduce the severity of war’s impact is scale. Smaller countries cannot fight large wars, or wars on multiple fronts simultaneously because once again they cannot sustain their military under wartime conditions.

            So, generally speaking smaller countries can’t create really big, long-lasting wars. The other important factors are -intensity- of warfare and for lack of a better term what I’ll call “viciousness”, but those are not really subject to structural controls. For those, you need treaties and the like. Software, not hardware, I think would be the right analogy.

            That leaves the main problem of coalitions, and absent really strong -external- stimulus, it’s harder to build a coalition the more component parts it has. You can get 60 countries to band together against an outside existential threat. It’s a lot harder to get 60 countries to ally to fight a war of aggression. And if you need a certain sized force in order to enact your plans for expansion or aggression, it’s a lot easier to get 3 or 6 countries to agree than 60.

            There are a lot of other reasons for preferring the “many, smaller” model to the “few, big” or even the “single, global” models, but that pretty much covers the structual advantages as far as war goes.

          • Lysenko says:

            @Anonymous

            I made no claims about the WTO, which A) didn’t exist until the 90’s, and B) is not a UN organization except insofar as it’s predecessor trade agreement was negotiated under UN Auspices. In any case, for most of its history GATT was focused on Tariffs, and no, I don’t think it contributed in any significant manner to the prevention of wars relative to other factors.

            Regarding the UN, I said pretty much nothing, and while my confidence level isn’t 100%, it’s pretty high. In most cases I can think of off-hand where the UN might have threatened to intervene in a military conflict, one security council member or another shot it down. Of the rest, most amounted to ‘observer’ missions, toothless and with no power to control the actors involved. They come in and pick up the pieces AFTER the war happens. They don’t stop the conflict, and I don’t think they’ve been that sucessful at containment or preventing escalation. For that, once again I think you can thank the major cold war military actors and their direct influence on the states involved.

            In the cases where they weren’t blocked outright at the Security Council level, and have tried to intervene more directly, well, let’s see…

            ONUC and subsequent missions rather spectacularly -failed- to do much good in the Congo, I mean the DRC, I mean Zaire, I mean the DRC, I mean…

            UNOMIG worked right up until someone actually challenged them to back up their enforcement of the ceasefire, at which point they failed utterly. Russia vetoing the extension after the fact was just putting it out of its misery…

            And of course one of the very first missions was to ensure an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict…hmmm….

            So, yeah, on the whole I think the UN’s successes have been in realms other than security, and the best examples of more successful UN missions look suspiciously unlike ‘UN’ missions and more like missions dominated and set by single state actors.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Lysenko

            So, generally speaking smaller countries can’t create really big, long-lasting wars.

            This is empirically false. You have wars such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Turkish-Kurdish conflict that have been going on for decades. And I bet that there are some tribal conflicts in Africa or something that has been going on for centuries.

            On the other hand, when was the last time that the US, the EU, Russia and China openly fought each other? Large nuclear powers can’t sustain a prolonged war of attrition. Nuclear peace based on the MAD doctrine is a risky equilibrium, but so far it prevented war.

            As for war being inevitable like crime and poverty, I’d like to introduce Switzerland as a counterexample. It has some crime and poverty, though less than most other countries, but it hasn’t had any war for almost two centuries, despite being a federation of substantially autonomous cantons with different ethnicities, languages and religions.

            Can the world organize itself as a big Switzerland? I don’t know, maybe there are some size threshold effects, maybe the Swiss are genetic Übermenschen that are able to coordinate in a way that we filthy apes can’t, but at least in principle I don’t see any good argument against it.

          • Lysenko says:

            Isreal has not had a long lasting war. It has had several small, short wars. The distinction is actually fairly important, because the total number of deaths and destruction and the amount of economic disruption is very different when there are periods of recovery and economic regrowth between them.

            EDIT: about the best you can say about a truly United Arab state is that absent American or UN (HA!) intervention it would probably have been able to crush Israel completely by now, thus reducing any conflict to low intensity terrorist actions or guerrilla war in the absence of a complete ethnic cleansing.

            The conditions preventing open war and limiting indirect conflict between Russia, China, and the US (nukes) work equally well for smaller nations. However, their larger sizes, influence, and military power allowed for proxy wars on a far larger scale, so I think it’s a false distinction to point to the way the big 3 have gotten along in the 20th century while throwing out Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and so on to say nothing of Russia’s actions regarding Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

            And I find it ironic that your best example for a great peaceful nation is exactly the one I was talking about up-thread as being a good example of the virtues of SMALLER states. 🙂

            The answer to “can we organize the whole world like switzerland”, by the way, is no. When you try, you get something a lot closer to the current United States, and that’s before you even hit a billion people.

          • Nornagest says:

            And I bet that there are some tribal conflicts in Africa or something that has been going on for centuries.

            Yes, but they’re not really comparable; endemic warfare is a totally different thing than modern-style state warfare. About all they have in common is that they both involve people shooting at each other; the tactics, strategy, objectives, cultural context, and expected progression of the conflicts are nowhere close to each other.

            (A little closer to insurgency, though. And a lot closer to gang warfare, or, interestingly, to Cold War-type situations.)

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Lysenko

            The answer to “can we organize the whole world like switzerland”, by the way, is no. When you try, you get something a lot closer to the current United States, and that’s before you even hit a billion people.

            Maybe the Swiss model is not directly scalable, but the US model seems to work fairly well at 320 million people. China and India, both above 1 billion people, may not be the best places in the world to live, but they do look a lot better than the tribal conflict-ridden areas of Africa and Middle East, don’t they?

            Would you think there is some fundamental problem why an US-like system couldn’t function as a world government for 7 billion people? Would you consider it undesirable?

            EDIT:

            EDIT: about the best you can say about a truly United Arab state is that absent American or UN (HA!) intervention it would probably have been able to crush Israel completely by now, thus reducing any conflict to low intensity terrorist actions or guerrilla war in the absence of a complete ethnic cleansing.

            Before Israel and the warring Arab states, there was the Ottoman Empire. It was somewhat outwardly aggressive, but as long as it lasted, it provided substantial internal peace and stability, despite being multi-ethnic and multi-religious.

            After the Ottoman Empire fell apart into nation-states, the hell broke loose. That’s when the ethnic cleasings and genocides and constant fighting started in the area: Sunni vs Shia vs Christians, Jews vs Arabs, Turks vs Armenians and Kurds, everybody against everybody else in the Balkans (that’s where the word “Balkanization” comes from).

            In hindsight it seems to me that the whole region was in many ways better off under a super-national empire.

            @Nornagest

            I fail to see why I should feel any better about being shot at the order of the local tribal chieftain/gang leader, than being shot at the order of a distant emperor.

            If having distant emperors generally lowers my probability of being shot, and possibly also improves my welfare, why should I not prefer them to local chieftains/gang leaders?

          • Nornagest says:

            I fail to see why I should feel any better about being shot at the order of the local tribal chieftain/gang leader, than being shot at the order of a distant emperor.

            Well, one of those cultural differences is that participating in endemic warfare is generally voluntary. A distant emperor might have a recruiting squad come by your village and press you into line service, where you’ll certainly be miserable and might be forcibly curtailed by a Minié ball; a tribal chieftain probably won’t. He could, if for some reason he wanted to, but total war isn’t the point of the exercise and there’s no shortage of bright-eyed youngsters looking to make their bones. And noncombatants are relatively safe, modulo the chance of getting abducted or your cattle stolen.

            (Note that this is not the case for warlordism, which maps more closely to feudal societies than to tribal ones. But that’s not endemic warfare in this sense.)

            There is also a school of thought that says that endemic warfare is mainly performative and that casualties are much lower than in industrial warfare, although to me that carries a certain odor of motivated reasoning.

          • Lysenko says:

            Maybe the Swiss model is not directly scalable, but the US model seems to work fairly well at 320 million people. China and India, both above 1 billion people, may not be the best places in the world to live, but they do look a lot better than the tribal conflict-ridden areas of Africa and Middle East, don’t they?

            I disagree with you about the US model working fairly well. The checks and balances intended to prevent excessive accretion of power have mostly failed, and at this point a consensus has been reached by a section of ‘elites’ that the fundamental rules constraining exercise of power and protecting the rights of individuals are more ‘guidelines’ than rules.

            This means that barring a major retrenchment, the concept of inalienable rights is rapidly being replaced with a concept where rights are defined by majority consensus and it is acceptable to redefine, restrict, or simply violate rights if you have sufficient popular support.

            You have semi-stable two-party equilibria where both parties collude to exclude other parties from ballot access wherever possible.

            The vision of a ‘melting pot’ has been effectively sabotaged and deconstructed on the grounds of cultural imperialism and racism, so that assimilation and in many cases integration is seen as undesirable, decreasing social cohesion. And finally,

            Widening cultural rifts. The part where this becomes serious is that we are edging towards groups which have fundamentally irreconcilable differences in their terminal values.

            My personal prediction is that barring major changes the US will not make it to the Roman Republic’s span without morphing into a new country in structural and/or cultural terms entirely, or disintegrating.

            I will absolutely concede that authoritarian regimes who

            -believe it is more important to protect societal order than individual rights,

            -restrict positions of leadership and financial and military power to a specific cultural group and exclude other minorities systematically and deliberately,

            -Don’t allow the outgroup to testify against the dominant leadership cultural group in court.

            Can provide superior “law and order” and long-term stability than a rights-based liberal democracy. I don’t think that’s quite the ringing endorsement you think it is, though. Oh, and the Armenian ethnic cleansing/genocide (pick your term as you please) was enacted -by- the Ottoman Empire, not by its successor state of Turkey.

            Finally, a review of their history may indicate that not everyone was quite so content as you may believe.

          • Adam says:

            I just don’t get how people see any reasonable timeline over which respect for individual rights has degraded over time in the U.S. We used to have slavery, women couldn’t vote, we slaughtered an entire race of people, confiscated all the property of American people of Japanese descent because they were of Japanese descent. We chased the Mormons into the desert. How the heck have things not gotten better?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Adam
            If you don’t consider the rights of women or the people who were enslaved to exist?

          • Lysenko says:

            Adam, my point is not that respect for individual rights has gotten worse, though for some specific rights their trajectory for “freedom to exercise” peaked prior to now.

            My point is that we have for the past several decades been in a slow but steady process of weakening the structural safeguards put in place to prevent popular sentiment from infringing individual rights, and simultaneously shifting from a view of individual rights as inalienable and emerging naturally from being a human being towards a view where they are contingent upon grant from the government and subject to revision at any time by popular consensus.

            We are not in any immediate danger of slavery or restricting the franchise from a disfavored group (aside from felons currently serving time, or felons period in FL and VA), but at this point that is a product of inertia and consensus. And as I keep pointing out, what is the consensus now may not be the consensus 20-30 years from now, definitely won’t be the consensus 120-130 years from now, and there is no reason to presume that the trend is always going to be towards “more and better protected individual liberties”.

            EDIT: This is not the world’s best analogy, but I feel like an analogy of some sort is needed to help communicate what I’m getting at. There’s a reason you always use your seatbelt in the car, or lock the door when you leave the house, and it’s not because you will immediately instantly get into a crash or be robbed if you don’t. You may get away with it for a few instances. Or for years. Or even for the rest of your natural life. But it doesn’t mean that the seatbelt or lock is unnecessary. It means that you happened to luck out when it came to a complex set of variables that you could not fully control or even fully foresee or understand.

            Ideas like “humans have inalienable rights, and they are still there even if the majority or the people in power say they are not, and even if they are not respected” are like a safety belt. They help to reduce the probability of negative outcome when your Car of State hits the black ice of illiberal and authoritarian populist sentiment, if you will.

      • TD says:

        There’s this weird sort of idea that if you have a load of nation-states with disparate interests that drawing borders around them intrinsically gets rid of the disparate interests. As if nations cause conflict rather than being a product of conflict.

        It can be argued that these are just teething issues and that in time people would come to identify themselves with Earth rather than their previous nation-state, but I think that while specific conflicts of interest have a shelf life, as a general concept, conflicts of interest are eternal. Even if people give up the identity of the nation-state they previously existed within, they’ll end up adopting some new identity that serves their interests contra “society as a whole”. This doesn’t mean that a global state will fail straight away, since this is much the same as it is within existing nation-states, but it does mean that a global state would eventually splinter, just as all other forms of state shift borders, transform and collapse over historical time. New nations are born within existing nations, and that will be no less true for a global state.

        So, there is no end of history in which we will simply have peace as a threshold we can’t return from. Every movement to “unify” the globe shuttles the question of whose unification safely out of sight.

        Consider the question: “How do we stop war?”

        “We need global government” is considered a sufficient answer in many quarters, whereas “Just stop fighting” is an absurdity, but does the first answer really contain any more information than the first?

        People approach the European Union this way, as if the EU kept the peace since WWII, rather than being a product of peace. When nation-states break from the EU and start fighting again, it will be the nation-state as a concept which is blamed once more, and so we’ll need a new union to solve the problem of people breaking from unions, until we are all finally enlightened enough to stop doing that for some reason.

        “The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, it must divide. Thus it has ever been.”

        Nation-states might go away, but they’ll be back again.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          The attempts to get rid of the nation-state seem to cause more conflict than just letting them be.

          Greece is pissed at Germany. France and the UK are pissed at each other. This is all because of the EU.

          The formation of the EU seemed to be built on the premise of “breaking this apart will be so painful that it never will happen.” Well, guess what? You didn’t take care of the underlying problems, which is that different people want different things. So now we are faced with the threat of break up, and it’s causing lots of pain.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Are you actually serious? The EU causes these issues? Even a brief glance at history shows that much worse could and has happened. The EU has problems, and it may not be the cause of peace, but at all comparing the current status quo with what conflict once existed is silly.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            These particular issues, yes. Absolutely. A bunch of things that were internal matters now become external matters.

            It’s possible there is a counterfactual where, without the EU, these countries would be even angrier at each other. Do you think that without the EU — or with the EU in the same state that it was in at 1990 — that there would be armies moving across Europe?

            Right now, though, it looks like the attempt to “fix nation-states by getting rid of them” is causing the current problems.

            The usual way this is explained by the pro-EU folks is saying “well, this is what happens when you have a currency union without a political union,” implying that even more power needs to be turned over to the EU.

            The USA would never have accepted the massive Federal power the Federal government has in its first 50 years. It took a long time for people to think of themselves as Americans. The EU-backers are far too eager. They think that if they jump-start the European identity, the people will follow along. Whoops, they aren’t going along.

            Lots of wars start with someone getting the bright idea to unify a bunch of people.

        • Aegeus says:

          There will always be local interest groups, yes, but there’s no reason those interest groups have to organize into violent military actors. Iowa might have very different interests than New York, but I don’t expect to see a campaign to found the People’s Republic of New York anywhere in my lifetime.

          If people considered themselves “citizens of the world” in the same way that New Yorkers and Iowans both consider themselves “American citizens,” if the world could treat a dispute between the US and Russia the way that we treat a dispute between New York and Iowa, I would consider the globalist project successful, even though there would still be political conflict.

          Ninja Edit: The corollary to this is that any global government is still going to need state-level administration, for the same reason that the US still has state governments. Because different places have different needs. There’s no reason that global government should require abolishing all state and local governments.

          • Lysenko says:

            And if history’s taught us anything, it’s that disputes between two regions or sub-units within a larger polity never lead to violent military conflict.

            Wait, what?

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Looking at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts the vast majority of conflicts are internal conflicts.

            I.e., someone had the bright idea to draw the border really big because it would stop conflicts between states.

            Stop trying to shove countries together. Let them merge if both sides really want it, sure, great.

        • Lumifer says:

          @ Edward Scizorhands

          Greece is pissed at Germany. France and the UK are pissed at each other. This is all because of the EU.

          Nope. Greece is pissed at Germany because Greece wants more money and Germany is balking. And France and UK have been pissed at each other for centuries.

          @ Aegeus

          I don’t expect to see a campaign to found the People’s Republic of New York anywhere in my lifetime.

          How about Texit?

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Greece wouldn’t be dependent upon EU (meaning German) funds if they weren’t in the EU. They could have floated their own currency and gone into debt as needed. It would be up to them (and markets) what they did.

            The French are using the EU as a weapon against the British.

            Trying to replace nation-states with something else looks to be a bad idea. Accept that nation-states have problems and deal with them.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Edward Scizorhands

            Greece wouldn’t be dependent upon EU (meaning German) funds if they weren’t in the EU. They could have floated their own currency and gone into debt as needed.

            That is not necessarily true. A lot of… less-developed countries depend on capital from more prosperous ones. Moreover, the lenders are not exactly stupid and often provide loans (and demand repayment) in hard currency, not in local scrip.

            The Greek situation is a very typical emerging-markets problem. The Greeks were able to make a big stink about it because they were in EU, otherwise they would be just another Argentina.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          There will always be local interest groups, yes, but there’s no reason those interest groups have to organize into violent military actors.

          Counterpoint: Human beings frequently do things for no reason.

          • vV_Vv says:

            But a functioning government prevents the formation of independent paramilitary groups within its borders, so even if different interest groups would want to resort to violence, it is difficult for them to do so.

            It seems to me that anarchy and globalism are, in principle, much more internally consistent positions than any form of nationalism: if it is good for a group of people to live under one government that exerts monopoly of coercive power, because this allows for better coordination within the group, then it is good for all the people to live under one government, because this maximally extends the benefit of increased coordination.

            Or at least if a nationalist wants to claim that there is some threshold size after which political unity becomes a net loss then the burden is on them to prove it. It would be very unlikely that states of highly variable size, wealth, ethnic and religious homogeneity, etc., whose borders largely depend on wars fought hundreds of years ago, constitute the ideal unit of political aggregation.

            Practically, implementing a world government right away doesn’t seem to be feasible, cultural differences do exist and freedom of movement of people, goods, services, capital, creates both wealth and negative externalities, and these are not necessarily uniformly distributed, therefore it may make sense to take some form of nationalism as a pragmatic position. But in the long term nationalism seems unjustifiable.

        • TD says:

          There will always be local interest groups, yes, but there’s no reason those interest groups have to organize into violent military actors.

          An additional factor is that stretching democracy over the planet is going to be difficult. Lots of people feel like they don’t have a voice as it is. When you take that up to a planetary scale, very large groups of people are going to be consistently outvoted by colossally large groups. Then perhaps you have some critical mass of pissed off people in a certain province. Their votes don’t count, and they can’t emigrate to live under a significantly different government. When the scope of action is restricted that much, people start running out of options which aren’t violent. Consider that American secessionists and right wingers are already organizing, forming militias, stockpiling weapons, and in some cases using them, and then multiply the intensity of these actors by how much more restricted their options for change are. There’s no wait for the next election, or “don’t like it, then get out!” anymore (unless you carve your way out from the belly of the beast).

          Iowa might have very different interests than New York, but I don’t expect to see a campaign to found the People’s Republic of New York anywhere in my lifetime.

          You can look at existing nation-states (or “states” in this case) and ask why they don’t collapse down into city-states, but those sort of minimum thresholds don’t help you when you are dealing with an unprecedented scale-up. At some level of decentralization (sans future technology) you are talking about destroying the industrial base of society, but above some level of centralization, you are talking about extremely marginal increases in average living standards.

          We have no idea historically whether a global state is above some maximum threshold that makes it start suffering from massive diseconomies of scale. We know that this will happen at some point (for example: with a speed of light limit, a galactic central government would be waaaaaay too slow to enforce rule), but can’t say whether this is true for the global scale. Nonetheless, all bubbles pop, and all stars die.

          Previously existing Empires like the Roman Empire and the Mongol Empire have been extremely large, but did eventually collapse back. Many large countries today are relatively recent in origin and could easily also splinter into smaller states.

          It’s certainly not that a global government couldn’t work, but it would take a radically different world for us to get there in the first place, and when we did get there, I suspect it wouldn’t last on significant historical scales. Stagnation may also occur faster due to a lack of external competition. Socialization and extreme mismanagement are more tempting under a global state, since there is no such thing as capital flight anymore (until we get good, cheap, and easy spaceflight). No one from the outside can come to the rescue if some tyrant starts crazy social engineering schemes. There is an enormous single mode of failure here that would create tremendous pressures on the inside. Many already feel this way about the EU and the USA.

          The corollary to this is that any global government is still going to need state-level administration, for the same reason that the US still has state governments. Because different places have different needs. There’s no reason that global government should require abolishing all state and local governments.

          This helps, and a global government that was very hands off and minarchistic would last a lot longer, but at some point you don’t have a government anymore, and you instead have some sort of non-binding agreements nation-states have chosen to enter into.

    • James says:

      My very leftist housemate (22) was pretty emotional about the Brexit result. Trying to intuit why: I guess it wasn’t because she felt like no longer being in the EU would have that large a negative impact on her life. I guess it wasn’t because she was that invested in the beaurocratic body that is the EU. My best guess is that she was upset at the motives she assumed for those who voted to leave; she was upset to live in a country so full of nationalists, xenophobes and racists.

      • Pku says:

        The emotional response is “the outgroup won the power to force people they don’t like out of the country.” I can see why that would be hard.

    • Tibor says:

      What were the political opinions of those Europeans? I think this is quite an extreme position, found on the far left and parts of the Green party.

      An anecdote – there is the European football championship going on now. In Germany, football is really popular so you have even mathematicians talk about football more than anything else during those days (it is mildly annoying to me, since I don’t know much about football). Then the discussion was about the way presenters talk about their teams, people comparing the frantic and almost hysterical Icelandic presenter (but yeah, Iceland is doing almost impossibly well this year) with the kind of dull sounding German presenters who want to look all serious and professional. I mentioned that during the last ice hockey championship, which I watched online since I don’t have a TV at home, I watched the final between Russia and Canada from a Canadian stream, so with Canadian presenters. I was surprised that they said “Canadians do this, Canadians do that, Canadians scored a goal” and even when saying it cheerfully, they always say “Canadians”, not “we”. And I said that I actually liked it because it is not “we” (even if you are Canadian) who is in the rink, it is the ice hockey players and it is above all their accomplishment. And I was surprised how the people (most of whom were German, all of them under 37, most under 30) found that idea really annoying, they liked the “we”.

      So I would say you probably have a selection bias. And even then I suspect that some people see this question as “are you a nationalist?” Which is of course something else.

      As for me, I think that it was a mistake for Czechs in the 19th century to revive the language (at that time, everyone living in the cities would speak German, only villagers and people without any schools would speak Czech and the language was full of German words, even more than it is today), mostly because I had to learn German as a second language because of that and Czech would have never been quite wiped out anyway, Welsh or Gaelic haven’t been wiped out by English either, so Czechs would be similarly bilingual as the Irish are today. Even in this stance I am very far from being representative. But I would see the extinction of the culture as a loss. I suspect that again, the people responding to that question might thing “If I say I like my culture it is like saying I don’t like any other culture”.

      Also, if you go to France, you see a horrible amount of actual nationalism (far beyond “I like my culture and it would be a shame if it ceased to exist”). There is a law in France which says that I think about 30% (I forgot the exact ratio) of the songs on French radios have to be in French…the result is that you have a lot of popular hits being rewritten in French. You have a rising support of Marine Le Pen and it does not just come from the old people. Her niece is something like 25 and she seems to be able to reach out to the young people (note that I am in no way in favour of the Fronte National, I am just illustrating the situation).

      • Kolmogorov says:

        Off-topicish comments on the hockey anecdote:

        It should perhaps be noted that the yearly hockey ‘world championship’ is not that big thing in Canada (in my understanding, though I’m from Finland and here it definitely is huge). The teams don’t have the best players from the countries since the NHL playoffs are ongoing etc. I’m left wondering if the Canadians would use ‘we’ in a Real Tournament like the Olympics where the team is the best team the nation can send rather than some random players that happened to be available and interested.

        Another point: in Finnish, the announcer would typically say ‘Finland scored a goal’ rather than either ‘we’ or ‘the Finns’.

    • Outis says:

      I think a big problem with young people nowadays is that, thanks to the internet, study abroad programs, easy travel etc., they have a completely unrealistic idea of what other nations are like.

      In practice, what happens is that they get put in touch with the cosmopolitan bourgeoise class from other countries, which of course they perceive as quite similar to them. They have no idea that the other 90% of those countries’ population even exists, much less what they are like. Then they get surprised when the Syrian rebellion “for freedom and democracy!” turns into the Islamic State rampaging all over the place, with Al fucking Qaeda playing the good guys.

      (If you pointed that out, of course, they’d say that their own country is just as bad, because look at all those bigots who voted for Brexit.)

      • vV_Vv says:

        Were young people who spend too much time on the Internet the ones who sponsored the rebellion in the Arab world and continue to fuel it with weapons and money?

        Because I was kinda under the impression that the incompetent American and European “world leaders” had something to do with it…

        • Sandy says:

          No, but young people who spend too much time on the internet were given to understand the Arab Spring as a rebellion of the middle class youth for the values of the middle class youth — see the coverage of the Arab Spring as a Twitter revolution led by a Google engineer.

          But there is no real equivalent, in terms of influence or prominence, to the Muslim Brotherhood or Hosni Mubarak or Salafists in the West, and so a lot of these young people discounted the role of these actors in that drama, if they knew about them at all. And as it turns out, if you watch a play only for the bit actors rather than the stars, you’re going to miss most of the play.

        • Vorkon says:

          It’s also worth noting that those “world leaders” want the young people who believe they’re on the forefront of a twitter-based revolution voting for them in as high numbers as possible.

    • Alex says:

      One of the things that became obvious to me during the Brexit commentary is that most remain supporters couldn’t fathom why anyone would support Brexit,

      This really really is a problem, I think, thoughout all European countires. The red tribe / blue tribe model, whether its accurate or not, did a lot to make me realize the possibility that e. g. Brexiteers live within a system of values so alien to mine, that judging their decision within my system of values is bound to fail.

      unless they were ignorant or racist.

      I think “ignorant or racist” no longer mean what they used to mean. Nowadays they mean “your system of values is just wrong!” regardless of what it actually says about race.

      I think one of the causes for this viewpoint, is that many people today (most youths, elites, pundits etc) view nationalism as being an evil and racist concept that has no place in the modern world.

      I think this misses the point. I don’t think the debate really is about nationalism.

    • blacktrance says:

      I don’t know what it’s like in Europe, but in the US nationalism is still very popular among the youth, both in its right-wing flag-waving and the left-wing “protect our middle class from the Chinese” forms.

  7. Jaskologist says:

    The complaints about Brexit have largely been along the lines of it being anti-free-trade and anti-open-borders. Sanders is both of those things. Ergo, somebody who liked Sanders should like Brexit.

    Yet it seems like the exact opposite is true. Everybody instinctively sensed that Brexit was a victory for the not-left and aligned accordingly. I felt the same pull. It’s a fascinating case study in tribalism.

    • Gbdub says:

      Weren’t an awful lot of the “Leave” supporters part of the Labour Party? Even the identification of this as a “victory for the right” seems weird to me (or is that unique to the US reaction, and in the UK it’s less of a left v right narrative?)

      • Sandy says:

        Weren’t an awful lot of the “Leave” supporters part of the Labour Party?

        Yes, but they were poor white working class people from the North without college degrees, and thus crypto-right wingers all along.

        • gbdub says:

          I’d be interested to see the breakdown by both party and region though – my admittedly fuzzy understanding was that many of the not-London-or-Scotland districts that voted Leave are traditional Labour strongholds, so it’s still an unexpected result if things were breaking on the typical left-right axis (sort of like if Romney won California).

      • Zorgon says:

        They weren’t members or even necessarily voters. For the most part the Leave vote in the North consisted of the Great Unwashed, and they just don’t bother voting in elections because absolutely no-one represents them since Labour purged it’s Labour members.

    • Anonymous says:

      Open borders in the full sense is a tiny irrelevant positions that virtually everyone is against. Open borders in the intra-EU sense is not on the table in the US so Sanders perforce has no opinion on it.

      The free trade comparison is more telling. I think you are right that a fair number of Sanders supporters would be pro-Brexit (and Corbyn supporters) if they were in the UK but posted all kinds of anti-Brexit stuff on social media. I think that probably comes down to what Tyler Cowen calls mood affiliation.

      • Randy M says:

        Open borders in the full sense is a tiny irrelevant positions that virtually everyone is against.

        And yet, the people with opinions such that you are forced to qualify with “virtually” tend to be the types in power or positions of influence in western countries.

        • Anonymous says:

          The United States is a a pretty important Western Country, right? Can you name three people that are currently or within the last 10 years were:

          on the Supreme Court or one of the Courts of Appeal
          the President, Vice President, or in the cabinet
          in the Senate or House of Representatives
          that have expressed support for open borders?

          Or by “in power or positions of influence” do you you mean have a column in an online news magazine with a couple million monthly uniques?

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Even if the case is overstated, I’d say the Koch Brothers are pretty powerful.

            That being said, politicians (specially higher up ones) are not allowed to say a whole bunch of stuff, looking at the track record of the policies that they support (or don’t support) would probably tell us more about their position. This doesn’t mean you’re wrong (I’m not particularly well versed in the views of American politicians), but it’s a bit disingenuous to say “They don’t support open borders, because they don’t openly advocate dissolving the border patrol”.

          • Anonymous says:

            Do the Koch Brothers support full-on open borders?

            The only people I’ve ever read advocating under their own names were libertarian leaning economists generally with the caveat that we need to eliminate the entire social welfare state first (or limit it to a grandfathered population of original citizens).

            That’s why I said virtually, because I was thinking of people like Bryan Caplan. I don’t think it is fair to call Caplan powerful or particularly influential.

            In any event and as to your subterfuge point, saying a national level U.S. politician opposes open borders is disingenuous, because again everyone does at least in terms of their publicly stated views. It’s an attempt to tar the entire non-anti-immigration side of the political spectrum with a radical viewpoint. It’s dishonest and worthy of being called out every time.

          • vV_Vv says:

            People in power in the US and the EU don’t overtly support open borders, but they have implemented a de facto open border policy, respectively with Latin America and with Africa/Middle East.

          • Anonymous says:

            but they have implemented a de facto open border policy, respectively with Latin America and with Africa/Middle East.

            This is bullshit. If we had open borders, de facto or otherwise, I’d be out of a job. An immigration lawyer in a country with open borders is a contradiction in terms. But in fact I am not out of a job. I make a very good living at it and I have to turn away people every week that want to pay me thousands of dollars because there is nothing I can do to help them.

            You are engaging in dishonest hyperbole.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Yeah, speaking from a country that does have close to de-facto open borders, US immigration policy could certainly be a lot less restrictive (“should” is not something that concerns me).

          • Dahlen says:

            @12:40 PM Anonymous: Now that’s an anon if I’ve ever seen one. Nice gravatar.

          • Anonymous says:

            I checked in paint and it is RGB 254/249/244, pretty darn close to white.

          • vV_Vv says:

            This is bullshit. If we had open borders, de facto or otherwise, I’d be out of a job. An immigration lawyer in a country with open borders is a contradiction in terms. But in fact I am not out of a job. I make a very good living at it and I have to turn away people every week that want to pay me thousands of dollars because there is nothing I can do to help them.

            De facto open borders don’t mean that all immigrants are equal. There are first-class “legal” immigrants, who work high paid jobs in the City or Wall Street or the Silicon Valley and so on, and there are second-class “illegal” immigrants, who clean the toilets and pick up tomatoes.

            You make a living at capturing part of the premium that the first-class immigrants and those who employ them enjoy, but it doesn’t mean that the border is not open for anybody who wishes to cross it. Nobody is going to physically deport the people that you turn away, they could stay if they really wished, but they would have to accept some shitty job rather than the good jobs that require the paperwork that they wanted you to help them obtain.

            The de facto open border policy of the US and the EU creates a politically, legally and economically disenfranchised proletariat, which is seen as unfair competition by the native, formally enfranchised, proletariat. Hence working class Americans voting for Trump, and working class Brits voting for Brexit, and working class French voting for Le Pen, and so on.

          • Anonymous says:

            So “de facto open borders” doesn’t mean what you’d expect by combining the usual definition of “de facto” with the usual definition of “open borders”. Instead it means just conveniently what you choose it to mean so you can engage in hyperbole as a political tactic to paint your ideological opponents as supporters of a radical policy.
            Can’t say I find that very persuasive or honorable argument.

            Even on your own terms you are wrong. About one quarter of a million people were removed by ICE last year.

            If you want to convince people that we should spend a lot more money on enforcing immigration law, it’d be better to do so honestly instead of making dishonest claims open borders and open border supporters. Not as much fun, I guess.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Yes, the famous de facto open European borders. So open that hundreds of people drown in trying to cross the Mediterranean, so very welcoming that the EU at one point threw money at Erdogan because they really really really needed the immigrant influx to stop. How very easily crossed and entered Europe is, indeed.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Anonymous

            So “de facto open borders” doesn’t mean what you’d expect by combining the usual definition of “de facto” with the usual definition of “open borders”.

            It means that a foreigner who wants to live in your country without having an official right to do so will be generally allowed by the authorities to live in your country.

            Even on your own terms you are wrong. About one quarter of a million people were removed by ICE last year.

            Most of which are convicted or suspected criminals (source).

            I’m sure there are also a few unlucky people who did nothing wrong but happened to run into an immigration officer who had a bad day or needed to fill some quota in order to justify their salary, but again, being subject to arbitrary enforcement is exactly the sort of thing you expect to happen to the disenfranchised proletariat.

            @Stefan Drinic

            Yes, the famous de facto open European borders. So open that hundreds of people drown in trying to cross the Mediterranean,

            But once they cross it, they apparently can’t be removed.

          • Anonymous says:

            It means that a foreigner who wants to live in your country without having an official right to do so will be generally allowed by the authorities to live in your country.

            If this were the case any Honduran person that could scrape together $500 or Chinese person that could scrape together $700 could move to the United States if he choose to. That’s clearly not the case. Our border controls have increased the price by at least an order of magnitude and in many cases by two orders.

            We don’t have as much enforcement as you’d like, that’s not the same thing as open borders.

            Most of which are convicted or suspected criminals (source).

            And therefore what? Open borders mean just that.

            But once they cross it, they apparently can’t be removed.

            Choosing to spend more of your dollars on prevention rather than mitigation is a strategy choice. As is the opposite. Neither choice amounts to open borders.

          • Nornagest says:

            The only time I’ve rubbed shoulders with the INS is when they deported one of my landlords in college, who was Scottish and as far as I know not a convicted or suspected criminal. Definitely a weird guy, though: I woke up once to find him in the backyard, sawing his couch in half with a chainsaw.

            He did try to pull some shady-looking stuff to stave off deportation, including marrying his girlfriend for citizenship at the last minute (the marriage went through, but it didn’t help). That may have attracted attention. Or there may be some kind of anarcho-tyranny type thing going on.

        • Adam says:

          For open borders?! Even the actual Libertarian party platform supports border control to prevent the entry of people deemed to be credible threats, if not to artificially boost the bargaining power of native labor.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      Your first paragraph is correct. The nearest equivalent to Sanders in the UK is Corbyn — an old socialist who actually managed to become leader of his country’s main left-wing party, rather than just a runner up like Sanders. He is currently experiencing a coup, mainly because the more centrist members of his party think his campaign for Bremaining was incredibly half-hearted. The reason for that is that he is blatantly a crypto-EU-sceptic, who actually wanted to leave.

      • Zorgon says:

        He’s facing a coup because the Fabian Society have been waiting for months for an opportunity to start a coup. I’m not normally keen on The Canary but they’ve been doing some sterling work on Portland Communications:

        http://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/29/blairite-pr-firm-tied-to-labour-coup-anticipated-mass-resignations-six-months-ago/

      • BBA says:

        The hard left has spent the better part of the last decade railing against the EU and its treatment of southern Europe. It would be quite awkward to suddenly offering a wholehearted defense of the system you’ve been attacking for so long.

        But the hard left is also pro-immigration, which means they were also opposed to the Leave campaign’s main argument for Brexit. Quite the pickle. No wonder Corbyn clammed up.

        • Adam says:

          Isn’t the criticism a criticism of austerity measures and specifically a criticism of the ECB? To be fair, I don’t honestly know what the EU even does aside from administer the currency and central bank, but it does something else, doesn’t it? The UK never even adopted the Euro, so the exit couldn’t have been about that.

          • Ruprect says:

            It certainly adds into it – if you think the austerity measures are unnecessary, the damage caused to Greece seems perverse, and the institutions that enabled it, flawed.

            Though national governments not necessarily any better…

          • Tibor says:

            The EU regulates the intra-EU market, all regulations passed by the Commision have to be turned into laws of the member countries, they do not have an option to opt out. Of course, the EU does not have “compentencies” (a particularly EU word I think) in many areas, it cannot pass regulation about everything but especially in commerce they have a lot of power and it has been gradually expanding. They also are completely in control over the international trade agreements of the member countries, so for example Spain could not have a separate free trade agreement with Argentina without the EU Commission agreeing to that and then it would hold for all of the EU. They also have a “development program” where the money payed by the taxpayers of the member states is redistributed and used to subsidize projects (you have to write a proposal for the subsidies which is quite a lengthy process and there are actually companies in the EU whose sole purpose is to help their clients get the money from the EU for their projects). Those projects often tend to be quite questionable, because in many cases it amounts to corporate welfare.

            They also set up member states quotas for agriculture, which is centralized in the EU so that no country is allowed produce more than their quota for each commodity. If they do, which sometimes happens if there is an exceptionally good year, the country is either fined by the EU or the production has to be destroyed. The farmers also are heavily subsidized by the EU (this is separate from the subsidies you can get from the development programs and more automatic).

      • suntzuanime says:

        Is this what passes for a coup in Britain these days? The CIA ought to show them how it’s done.

        • Amnon says:

          Michael Gove showed them all how it’s done. He got rid of Boris inside of 4 hours. The Labour MPs started their coup a week ago and have nothing to show for it. The inescapable conclusion is that the entire Parliamentary Labour Party is utterly incompetent.

          • erenold says:

            In the interests of fairness, the PLP have pulled off a very successful ‘coup’ within the conventional parliamentary definitions of the word; viz., a coordinated demonstration of no confidence in the parliamentary leader by his party’s parliamentarians, such that any rational parliamentary leader would conclude that continuing in his office no longer served any productive purpose. Coups smaller than this claimed the leaderships of Iain Duncan Smith, Thatcher, Blair and others. The problem with that is, the word ‘rational’ in the above sentence is doing a lot of work, and there’s literally nothing that can be done with a irrational actor – well, I suppose there’s the possibility of an actual military coup – who just literally sits in his office with his fingers in his ears even in the face of this.

            It’s not dissimilar to how HRC has had Bernie Sanders mathematically whupped since March 15, but he just keeps on going.

          • suntzuanime says:

            It’s kind of weird that the leader of the party is voted on by the members of the party instead of just the MPs, if that’s how it’s going to work. I guess that’s why you’re calling it a coup, despite the disappointing lack of tanks, because it’s the elites overriding an election result they disagree with?

          • erenold says:

            That’s probably it, yeah, if I had to guess. But, of course, it’s not actually a term of art and we’re just using the term in a colloquial sense.

            Incidentally, Labour Fun Shambles Fact: When Labour overhauled their leadership selection process pursuant to the Collins Review in 2010, there was a suggestion that a rule be introduced requiring the leader to step down if he lost a vote of no confidence by simple majority (by way of reference, Corbyn lost his vote of no confidence by 172 to 40). It appears that the rule was not introduced because it was considered obvious that a leader would step down of his own accord under such circumstances, rendering such a rule otiose.

  8. Lumifer says:

    An interesting idea from Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution:

    One argument against Brexit, and in favor of a literal conservatism in many spheres of life, is simply that big changes can induce a lot of stupidity from the other players in the system.

    Heh.

    It’s worth pointing out that although everyone is focused on the consequences for the UK, the consequences for EU could be considerably more dire. That may explain why many European leaders are making so aggressive and stupid noises in the general direction of the English Channel.

  9. Julie K says:

    AEI is trying to convince readers of National Review of The Conservative Case for Universal Basic Income.

    My thoughts:

    “Slashing government bureaucracy”
    This is a big benefit of a UBI. Unfortunately, firing all the bureaucrats who manage the current welfare system would be politically impossible.

    “The current system punishes those who try to escape poverty…in the form of diminishing benefits.”
    Another big benefit of UBI, no question, compared to benefits that cut off when you earn more than a certain amount, meaning at that income level you are suddenly much *worse* off.

    re the effect of UBI on “an able-bodied unemployed man supported by his girlfriend”: I think this is a strawman. According to Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work, “A mother seldom allowed her boyfriend to stay with her unless he contributed both cash and in-kind goods to the household…This pattern of “no pay, no stay” is in sharp contrast to media images of men who hang out on street corners and live off the welfare checks of naive women.”

    ‘With a UBI, he doesn’t have the excuse of poverty when it’s time to chip in.’
    $10,000/year is still poverty. He can quite plausibly say he spent it all on rent and has nothing left to chip in.

    “He may even feel pressured…to marry his girlfriend.”
    I’m not convinced. Who is pressuring him? In 1912, middle-class people didn’t “live in sin.” That’s not the case in 2016.

    In summary:
    “Murray suggests … that a guaranteed income is the surest route to restoring old-fashioned, middle-class morality.”
    This is the most extreme version yet of the often-mocked idea that giving people the trappings of middle-class-ness (college degrees, home-ownership) will make them behave like middle-class people. (My husband adds that while Alfred Doolittle is fictional, we have the real-life counterexamples of many lottery winners who did not become financially responsible.)

    • NN says:

      My husband adds that while Alfred Doolittle is fictional, we have the real-life counterexamples of many lottery winners who did not become financially responsible.

      Though those examples are confounded by the fact that buying a lottery ticket is a financially irresponsible decision.

      • Julie K says:

        Okay, but the claim is that irresponsible Alfred-Doolittle types will be transformed by the UBI.

        • Lumifer says:

          That looks unlikely to me. I believe a similar argument was advanced when welfare was introduced and we know the outcome.

  10. Sir Gawain says:

    1) When will Scott do his long promised, eagerly awaited post on open borders??? It seems to me that the national question is the question of our time, and as a kinda-sorta open borders supporter I’d love to read an SSC post on the subject.

    2) The new book by Barry Latzer, the Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America, is fantastic and you should read it if you’re at all interested in criminal justice issues. It pushes back on the current media (by which I mean the media I consume, like Vox, the NYT and NPR) consensus quite a bit. Here’s an interview on it with him and (ugh) David Frum: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/the-cultural-roots-of-crime/487583/

    3) Why is there so much anger from the social justice crowd over the underrepresentation of blacks in Hollywood (#OscarsSoJe—Uh,White) relative to the African-American population share, but the overrepresentation of blacks relative to the African-American population share in popular music draws no comment? Of the 10 top selling albums in the U.S. in 2015, for example, 3 were recorded by black artists; this figure is even more impressive when you consider that it includes artists from all around the Anglosphere and the % black U.S. > % black U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Is there any logically consistent reason we should be angry and complain about one as discriminatory while considering the other uncontroversially right and just? (I’m asking honestly, though I strongly doubt it.)

    • L says:

      You’re not comparing directly analogous phenomena. The social justice crowd is in fact thoroughly convinced that the Grammys are racist.

    • Earthly Knight says:

      Note that blacks actors/actresses are barely underrepresented at the Oscars relative to their share of the US population, and are probably slightly overrepresented when you account for the slews of nominees from other countries where there are fewer black people (principally the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and France). On the other hand, the directing and writing categories do have genuine diversity problems: only 3 blacks and 4 women have ever been nominated for Best Director!

  11. sweeneyrod says:

    I recently learnt that the UK’s fourth largest party is the Co-operative party, who have 25 MP’s. They have an agreement with Labour that only one of them will stand a candidate (under the banner of the Labour and Co-operative Party) and are in many ways just part of the Labour party, but they are still somewhat independent. I wonder how successful this approach (or variations) would be for other ideologies, for instance a Libertarian party could make a similar pact with the Conservatives, with the condition that they would vote with them on a certain proportion of issues.

  12. Theo Jones says:

    Time to arrgh at the media coverage of supreme court cases.

    Lets meet VOISINE ET AL. v. UNITED STATES (opinion here http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-10154_19m1.pdf ). This is the one involving guns and domestic violence. If you read what Huff Po and Daily Kos had to say about this, you would have thought it had to do with all types of domestic violence, and loled at the gun nuts who want wife beaters armed. The first signal that this interpretation of the case is off is to note that the dissenting opinion is by justices Thomas and Sotomayor. The actual case is more complex. The domestic violence in question here misdemeanors where the injury was caused by recklessness instead of intent (intentional harm and felonies pretty clearly make you a prohibited person under settled law). What does that mean? Annoyingly the opinion doesn’t into the particular facts of the violence in the two cases involved here, but the opinions give the following two examples that qualify —

    1. The Angry Plate Thrower: “[A] person throws a plate in anger against the wall near where his wife is standing.” Ante, at 6. The plate shatters, and a shard injures her. Ibid.
    2. The Door Slammer: “[A person] slams the door shut with his girlfriend following close behind” with the effect of “catch[ing] her fingers in the jamb.” Ibid.

    So, much more complex issue, that involves both interpreting the statute provided by congress and constitutional issues. I think the majority got things right here but, there is some complexity that a lot of media coverage of the case missed.

    • Brad says:

      It is not necessarily the case that the crimes in question were reckless as a factual matter, but rather they could have been because the statutes included recklessness as one of several qualifying mens reas. Under this area of law (there’s a couple of similar tests in immigration law) the analysis is based on the state law and whether it necessarily meets the federal definition rather than based on the convict’s actual conduct, which can often be unclear.

    • Adam says:

      Sounds like things my sister did to me all the damn time.

  13. Callum G says:

    Does anyone have a good introduction or place to start to learn about effective altruism?

  14. ediguls says:

    An interesting study about the Gender Gap in Engineering (mostly focussed on IT). Technical interviews were conducted with voice modulation, masking women as men and vice versa. Interviewers didn’t know what was going on. Besides an unmodulated control, there was another group of people whose voices were modulated but not shifted in pitch so that (wo)men still sounded like (wo)men. Interviewees were then evaluated. The results are unexpected and point towards neither a difference in “innate ability” nor a difference in evaluation, but a difference of “grit” of some sorts.

    What do you think?

    • The Nybbler says:

      Ms. Lerner concludes that the reason for the disparity is “about women being bad at dusting themselves off after failing”. I suspect, however, that the high poobahs of diversity will take the entirely wrong lesson, and conclude this means that women must not be allowed to fail in the first place.

    • John Schilling says:

      I think they almost lost me with “Gender Gap in Engineering (mostly focused on IT)”, because IT and (the rest of) engineering are two entirely different cultures.

      But I persevered, and the part that I didn’t expect was the part where they said “contrary to what we expected…”, but maybe that’s the different-culture thing. Because, duh. There aren’t many women in the non-IT engineering field. The women who are in the field are about as good as the men, and are treated about as the men are except where it matters that many of them are lacking in self-confidence.

      Possibly there is some element of accurate selection there in that the women who are actually less competent, feel less confident than their mostly-male colleagues and so leave the field. In which case, how do we bottle that and slip it into their male colleagues’ drinks? For the competent female engineers, and how many there are out there that we never get a chance to meet I will probably never know, they don’t need cheesy voice-masking technology but do need confidence. The ones who have both confidence and competence, well, I work for one of them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Possibly there is some element of accurate selection

        If women had more accurate confidence than men, we’d expect the remaining women to be more competent than the remaining men, which is not what the article finds.

      • ediguls says:

        I’m sorry, I’ve probably confused the actual subject of the interviews since I don’t exactly know what it is – I remember reading “engineering” and “technical” somewhere but going back to the article, I can’t exactly say which field this is about. Might be some sort of software engineering or programming, but I don’t know what the differences are and so I can’t really judge it (for the record, I’m in the ‘hard sciences’).

        Apparently 15% of the members on the platform are female.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        In my experience, women engineers bifurcate. There are the really good ones, and the ones who are sticking around because they’ve established friendships.

        The good news is that it’s really easy to tell the difference. With men, I have to really dig to find out if they are bullshitters or not.

      • Adam says:

        It stood out to me too that this is silly to have a narrow focus on software engineering interviews. This can’t possibly answer the broader question, especially since the gender disparity is much greater in the hard engineering disciplines (mechanical, electrical, civil, etc.).

        • HeelBearCub says:

          It’s a (relatively) natural experiment, emerging as a side-effect of the goals of this particular site, and the data taken from is only useful, not dispositive.

        • The Nybbler says:

          The gender disparity isn’t too much lower in software than in traditional engineering. The BLS puts computer programmers at 21% women, software developers (a much larger category) at 18%, engineering ranging from 8% (Mechanical) to 20% (Industrial)

          Also, there’s no great progressive push to get women into traditional engineering. Besides, Interviewing.io is a software-focused site and they have to work with what they have.

          • Adam says:

            I suppose software companies depend much more upon the interview, too. It’s not like an electrical engineer will be asked to build a circuit board on the spot or a civil engineer to build a bridge from toothpicks or whatever. Presumably, they get evaluated more on portfolio.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            “Also, there’s no great progressive push to get women into traditional engineering.”

            I disagree, I think (in the UK at least) there is more effort to encourage women to become traditional engineers (mechanical, civil) than programmers. Are you a programmer? That may skew your view (or things might be different in other countries).

          • The Nybbler says:

            I am a programmer, but I think being in the US is probably the bigger factor; searching for “gender” “engineering” brings up mostly UK articles.

    • Ivy says:

      The results are unexpected and point towards neither a difference in “innate ability” nor a difference in evaluation

      Unless I misunderstood something, all their experiment shows is that there’s no apparent gender bias in the evaluation. It actually provides weak evidence for a difference in “innate ability”, by disqualifying alternative explanations. And they don’t manage to explain the observed difference in the average performance of men vs women – the fact that women have a much higher attrition rate only explains the difference in the number of women.

      The voice modulation is a really nice technique, I didn’t know that was possible. Ideally I think you’d want to measure its effectiveness by e.g. asking each interviewer to guess the real gender, and seeing if they do better than random.

      • Pku says:

        It might show a lack of innate ability difference, if the women did the same as the men (in an innate ability case you’d expect them to do worse, even conditioning on the fact that they’re good enough to apply in the first place). Don’t know if the study was precise enough to have caught this even if it’s there, though.

        • Ivy says:

          But I think women did worse than men:

          men were getting advanced to the next round 1.4 times more often than women

          men on the platform had an average technical score of 3 out of 4, as compared to a 2.5 out of 4 for women.

          masking gender had no effect on interview performance

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Women who perform more than 2 interviews perform at the same level as men.

        It’s not clear to me from the reported data, but based on the high difference in the attrition rates, the overall score differences might simply be a measure of relative experience on the platform.

        The men on the platform are, on average, more experienced users of the platform, and score increases with experience, therefore men should be expected to score better on average.

  15. Cord Shirt says:

    It seems to me that the cultural feature of “noblesse oblige” or “with power comes responsibility” that I was raised with…is one that many people today seem to lack. I don’t mean just that they’re cynical about it, as in, “We all agree people should do this, but sadly it’s a custom more honored in the breach than in the observance”; I mean they seem to inhabit a culture which entirely lacks this concept.

    I see “elites” who aren’t ashamed to sneer at those with less wealth and/or social power than themselves, rather than feeling any obligation to represent such people’s interests and “keep the Mandate of Heaven”; I see discussion board mods who seem unashamed to behave as whimsically as they would when alone with their two best friends, rather than feeling any obligation to fairly steward their online communities; I see journalists who seem unashamed to announce, “You shouldn’t piss me off because I have a megaphone and I’m not afraid to use it,” flagrantly violating the ethical standards of the Society of Professional Journalists (do they even know it exists, let alone what its standards are?).

    In other words, I see people with power great and small doing things which I was raised to believe would earn them disrespect at best and enmity at worst. Things I was raised to believe were abuses of power.

    So re this old comment:

    If there was grassroots support for some terrible idea like a centrally planned economy, would you accept it ? What about the 51% disenfranchising the 49%? Is democracy such an unalloyed good that it can be allowed to destroy the economy or even itself?

    A balance needs to be struck. Representative democracy is a balance between rule by smart but unrepresentative elites , and rule by people who don’t understand the issues.

    Rule by “smart but unrepresentative elites” can work fine *if they feel obligated to care for the interests of the majority*.

    For example. The famous Burke quote: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

    It’s said in the context of assuming…well, what does Burke say is of course true, *before* he makes the quoted point? He says:

    Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.

    That speech follows the form, “We all know that of course X. But one small caveat, Y.” IOW, “We all know that of course your representative must put your interests first. But one small caveat, he should use his own judgment.”

    That first part, that initial assumption that *of course* the representative must put the people’s interests first, *that* is what seems to have disappeared.

    More generally: Sometimes one person will say, “This is the way humans work; why are you surprised?” and the reply will be, “I know it’s how our *instincts* work, but I thought there was a cultural institution in place which changes people’s behavior. What happened?” This is a “new” (to me) lack of the specific cultural institution of “noblesse oblige”…anyone want to discuss others? If you’ve lived in more than one culture, care to compare cultural institutions and their effects?

    • Pku says:

      I agree with this, and it bugs the hell out of me. I think it’s slightly worse in america than Israel, for various reasons (e.g. feeling surrounded by enemies gives Israelis more of a community feeling), but Israel’s catching up.

      It’s also what depresses me about both major political parties here – the democrats say they want to take care of the weak, the republicans talk about personal responsibility, but whenever I listen to either of them’s actual ideas it immediately becomes apparent that they just don’t have “noblesse oblige”, and campaign by telling their voting blocs (blocks?) how their outgroup is taking advantage of them.

    • The Nybbler says:

      The thing about “noblesse oblige” is a precondition is that you have to accept that there is a noble and better class, and there have to be benefits as well as responsibilities. That’s pretty much anathema in the US nowadays.

    • Lumifer says:

      Well, that’s your basic feudal political structure. You have lords which wield power but have obligations (mostly to protect). And you have serfs which owe loyalty to the lords, but it is conditional on being protected.

    • gbdub says:

      I think part of the issue is that we’ve de-valorized privilege. Previously, nobility was good, and noblesse oblige was a burden, but also a way to signal your superiority. Now that “privilege” is a four-letter word, people go through all sorts of mental contortions to convince themselves they are the righteous underdog (which reduces their feelings of obligation – why help someone who already has it better?).

      The sort of people you’re complaining about don’t feel noblesse oblige because they generally don’t think of themselves as noble. Privilege is something that white males have – so if you’re not white or not male, bam, you’re an underdog and can confidently “punch up” at that guy no matter how poor or socially outcast he is. Or if you’re in that tribe but unfortunately white and male, you just have to signal how ashamed you are of that fact by participating in the punching.

      On the flip, the “nobility” of the conservative side can downplay their own privilege (and thus responsibility) by convincing themselves they are self-made. They don’t have a responsibility to help out because they just “worked hard” and are doing all they need to by setting an example to follow.

      That said, not everyone sneers. Some people legitimately believe they are using their admitted advantages to help others, and some of them really are. Bill Gates seems to be leading an increasing group of the very wealthy who want to spend their latter years “giving back” to big tricky world problems (whether or not you agree with his methods, his intentions seem reasonably sincere). Let’s not assume the worst examples are the norm. I doubt all the nobles in the past were actually keeping the spirit of noblesse oblige.

      • Anonymous says:

        The sort of people you’re complaining about don’t feel noblesse oblige because they generally don’t think of themselves as noble. Privilege is something that white males have – so if you’re not white or not male, bam, you’re an underdog and can confidently “punch up” at that guy no matter how poor or socially outcast he is. Or if you’re in that tribe but unfortunately white and male, you just have to signal how ashamed you are of that fact by participating in the punching.

        I don’t know where you guys come up with some of this stuff. I’ve lived in NYC my whole life. I know all of two Republicans — that includes friends, relatives, co-workers, and acquaintances. I think I must fit into this tribe, as I certainly don’t fit into the next one (“conservative side”). I’ve never met anyone ever that said anything that even began to suggest that he was unhappy or ashamed to be white and male (and straight).

        I can come up with a few possible explanations for the discrepancy: this is a west coast thing (but on the other hand I have relatives in Portland and friends in SF), this is a late millennial college student thing (in which case it is probably too narrow and possibly transient a phenomenon to start making grand theories about), or this is solely internet thing (ditto).

        • Adam says:

          Internet and college campuses, but even there, it’s a tiny subset of the Internet and college campuses. It just happens to be a subset that is very loud and particularly loud inside the same bubble inhabited by SSC readers, at least many of them. I don’t experience it at all, either. I honestly doubt anyone I know except here even knows about the Oberlin or Yale protest things or has ever even heard the phrase “check your privilege.” Hell, I haven’t even heard it except here.

          • Gbdub says:

            I actually fully agree with you here, and was trying to get that across in my last paragraph. I should have emphasized that part more.

            That said, “we” didn’t “come up with it”. As you say, they are a real, small, very loud minority. But they do exist and given their influence (I mean, they did force the resignation of the Missouri president and that master at Yale, Jezebel is a thing, etc.) they are worth considering.

        • Lumifer says:

          this is a late millennial college student thing

          Mostly that, plus everyone loves them some good outrage porn.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Internet, west coast, millennial to whatever-the-next-group-is college students — all yes. Though it had its origins in on campuses in the 1990s and you’ll see some Gen X people in there also.

          NYC seems relatively resistant, outside the outposts of the west-coast tech companies. I suspect it simply is impossible to make it take hold in the finance crowd; their worldview is not compatible with it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cord Shirt, see my comment here: http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/06/29/open-thread-52-75/#comment-379399

      The left and the right have spent decades tearing down elites and elitism. How can their be a self-consciously elite culture when participating in that culture would only earn you the hatred of the masses for the sin of elitism?

    • Kevin C. says:

      I’d say at least a significant portion of this is due to meritocracy. Note than when Michael Young coined the term, he indended it to be negative. Or go back to Justus Möser’s 1770 “No Promotion According to Merit“. Meritocracy removes much of the “there but for the grace of God…” understanding. There’s also similar thoughts from Edmund Burke’s
      “Reflections on the Revolution in France”:

      You would have had a protected, satisfied, laborious and obedient people, taught to seek the happiness that is to be found by virtue in all conditions; in which consists the true moral equality of mankind, and not in that monstrous fiction which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and embitter that real inequality which it never can remove; and which the order of civil life establishes as much for the benefit of those whom it must leave in an humble state as those whom it is able to exalt to a condition more splendid, but not more happy.

      Or as Swiss economist Wilhelm Röpke (1899-1966) wrote,

      If everybody has the same chances of advancement, those left behind will lose the face-saving and acceptable excuse of social injustice and lowly birth. The weakness of mind or character of the overwhelming majority of average or below-average people will be harshly revealed as the reason for failure, and it would be a poor observer of the human soul who thought that this revelation would not prove poisonous. No more murderous attack on the sum total of human happiness can be imagined than this kind of equality of opportunity, for, given the aristocratic distribution of the higher gifts of mind and character among a few only, such equality will benefit a small minority and make the majority all the unhappier.

      If you tell the elites that they are “self-made” and deserve their higher position by virtue of smarts, talent, and merit, and that those at the bottom layers are lacking in such, and sweep away the sense of “there but for the grace of God…”, then is it any wonder if you get a sneering elite devoid of noblesse oblige to the stupid hicks of flyover country?

      • Cord Shirt says:

        But…how does being born extra lucky/talented/conscientious make you extra *deserving*? And isn’t it “the grace of God” that gave you that luck/talent/conscientiousness?

        I’m reminded of the discussions that have happened here before on the difference between “entitlement” and “desert.” Being entitled to something does not automatically mean you deserve it. In this framing noblesse oblige says that if you’re entitled to something…then you have an obligation to do something *to* deserve it.

        Or look at this old Progressive Era quote (Franklin K. Lane, 1864-1921):

        Progress means the discovery of the capable. They are our natural masters. They lead because they have the right. And everything done to keep them from rising is a blow to what we call our civilization.

        When he says “they have the right,” he means he thinks they are *entitled* to lead. Not that they *deserve* it. So…

        Can’t noblesse oblige apply to that?

        If not, why not?

        • Kevin C. says:

          First, I think you might find this essay by Michael Young’s son Toby interesting, as it touches on some of the same points:
          The Fall of the Meritocracy
          He points out that the conflation of “desert” and “entitlement” can be found in Rawls. And note how “entitled” has become a dirty word. It seems to me that many people (especially on the left) pretty much reject the idea of entitlement (as distinct from desert).

          More important though, is how our society, and especially our elites, reject the idea that one is born “lucky/talented/conscientious” (let alone the evidence that intelligence, conscientiousness, and many other traits correlated with “merit” in our meritocracy are significantly heritable). They really do believe they are “self-made”. At least partially, this is because of the above rejection of entitlement. Nobody is entitled to anything; the only legitimate elite are those who deserve that status. And if they are elite by accidents of birth rather than their own efforts, then, as you note, they don’t deserve it. Thus, anything that sheds doubt on the “self-made”, “10,000 hours” model is an attack on their legitimacy and self-image (as well as on our society’s ideas on fairness and equality).

    • JDG1980 says:

      It seems to me that the cultural feature of “noblesse oblige” or “with power comes responsibility” that I was raised with…is one that many people today seem to lack. I don’t mean just that they’re cynical about it, as in, “We all agree people should do this, but sadly it’s a custom more honored in the breach than in the observance”; I mean they seem to inhabit a culture which entirely lacks this concept.

      In the past, our elites (even if democratically elected) were chosen by a process pretty much everyone knew wasn’t meritocratic. The Roosevelts, for instance, knew full well they’d won life’s lottery. That started to change around the 1960s. Today’s elites believe they have won a fair contest (even if in fact the deck was stacked in their favor), and often do work very hard, at least as students and interns before they’ve arrived. They are also more cosmopolitan than their predecesors. For all these reasons they are more likely than the old WASP elite to think ordinary Americans stupid and lazy.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Bret Victor reminding us that others’ maps are part of the territory.

    Reading Tip #1:
    It’s tempting to judge what you read:

    I agree with these statements, and I disagree with those.

    However, a great thinker who has spent decades on an unusual line of thought cannot induce their context into your head in a few pages. It’s almost certainly the case that you don’t fully understand their statements.

    Instead, you can say:

    I have now learned that there exists a worldview in which all of these statements are consistent.

    And if it feels worthwhile, you can make a genuine effort to understand that entire worldview. You don’t have to adopt it. Just make it available to yourself, so you can make connections to it when it’s needed.

  17. Outis says:

    In a medieval fantasy setting, someone got stabbed in the abdomen a couple of times, with the knife getting twisted too, but then escaped, and survived after getting bandaged up by someone who is not even a doctor. No magic involved.

    My suspension of disbelief is broken, because I would assume that such wounds would be life-threatening, or could easily lead to lifelong disability, even with modern medicine, let alone with medieval science. So I ask the experts: is there any way that two stab wounds in the abdomen could have been survived in the middle ages? Maybe with luck the blade could have slipped between organs or something? Basically, is there any way to mend my suspension of disbelief?

    • Sandy says:

      I want to say no, there’s no way to mend your disbelief in that case; it’s either Arya receiving the benefit of generous plot armor or perhaps some Faceless Men special assassin training bullshit.

      Assuming you haven’t watched the episodes after that, I’ll try not to spoil too much, but the finale has one character receiving a single stab from a child that cripples them almost instantly, so the showrunners aren’t even playing by their own rules.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        Arya is also part of an organisation that have shown the ability to magically alter their bodies– potentially this also includes either organs moving out of the way of the blade, some kind of rapid healing, or both.

        To be honest, a way to have it make more sense would have been to have a 10-second cut where Arya removes a slashed, bloody bag of coins from her clothes to imply that the coins partly deflected the blade and stopped it going too deep.

      • Adam says:

        I didn’t think that wound was comparable, though. The kid stabbed him right in the spine and instantly paralyzed him. The Waif was trying specifically to make Arya suffer by not giving her a moral wound right away. I could easily see her surviving that. The part that I could not believe was her ability to run through the streets and jump off roofs and stuff seemingly only a day later.

    • Dahlen says:

      Simple answer. Arya has plot armour.

      I know that it doesn’t console you in the least bit, so all I can say is that you should pretend that didn’t happen and that the wounds inflicted on her were less severe.

    • John Schilling says:

      and survived after getting bandaged up by someone who is not even a doctor. No magic involved.

      Do we know what level of medical attention Arya received? She was being cared for by a member of a theatrical troupe, possibly by the troupe as a whole. In the standard medieval fantasy setting (and to some extent the real middle ages), theatrical troupes were itinerant outsiders who had to be collectively self-reliant because nobody else was going to help them in a crunch. I would assume that such a group has at least a skilled amateur “healer” in its ranks, with access to the usual fantastic array of quasi-magical Potent Herbal Remedies.

      • LHN says:

        What we see is bandaging and painkillers (“milk of the poppy”). Lady Crane also explains how she has some empirical experience with wounds (from knifing and then nursing ex-lovers), but the implication is more jackleg nurse than experienced field surgeon.

        In reality, there are outlying results from all sorts of wounds– a scratch becomes infected and fatal, being shot through the head and making a full functional recovery, etc. Protagonists being able to rely on being on the correct side of the bell curve while mooks are made of glass is a strain on suspension of disbelief, if a very common one. (The role-playing game “Feng Shui”, which tries to simulate Hong Kong action movies, makes this an explicit rule– having a name known to the players actually means that a non-player character is more durable.) In this case, surviving a stabbing that would take down a less important character is standard adventure fare stuff. (If something of a departure from the idea the story has built up that everyone is vulnerable and injury, even to major characters, has lasting consequences.)

        But following it up with exposure to dirty harbor water, leaps that would tear stitches, falls that would reopen wounds, and combat with a skilled and uninjured opponent does start getting into Saturday morning serial territory.

        • Outis says:

          It also raises the question of why the Faceless Men bother with all the magical ninja stuff if they can just chase their target Terminator-style through a busy market in open daylight while showing their own face.

          • gbdub says:

            It’s a bit weird how they are handled. On the one hand Jaqen H’ghar in Harrenhal makes an effort to at least leave some plausible deniability that his murders are accidents.

            But then in Essos, you’ve got a Faceless Man trying to off Dany with an exotic venomous creature, suggesting that the stealth was mostly just to make the killing easier. And the existence of the Faceless Men seems to be an open secret at best, suggesting that the people of Braavos are at least mostly okay with the FM acting as a sort of vigilante-for-hire justice system.

          • Sandy says:

            @Outis:

            It also raises the question of why the Faceless Men bother with all the magical ninja stuff if they can just chase their target Terminator-style through a busy market in open daylight while showing their own face.

            I got the impression the Faceless Men are either venerated or feared in Braavos so no one questions them.

            @gbdub:

            But then in Essos, you’ve got a Faceless Man trying to off Dany with an exotic venomous creature

            That wasn’t a Faceless Man, it was one of the warlocks of Qarth.

          • Adam says:

            I also don’t think the Waif was a full-on journeyman Faceless Man like Jaqen. She was an advanced apprentice, but still an apprentice. I mean, Arya defeated her. Jaqen would not in a million years have failed to kill a target, pretty much any target, definitely not Arya. Her decision to ignore stealth and just chase Arya through the streets was obviously stupid in retrospect and backfired on her.

          • Gbdub says:

            @Sandy – actually we’re both kind of wrong / kind of right. It was a Sorrowful Man, another assassins guild, basically the Qarth version of the Faceless Men. But he was hired by the warlocks (this is in the books. I think in the show they imply it was a warlock with the nasty teeth).

          • Anonymous says:

            Gbdub, in any event, that assassin is not a Faceless Man, so his or her lack of secrecy does not tells us about the interests or methods of the Faceless. In particular, the Sorrowful Men are have the trademark of addressing their victim “I am so sorry,” suggesting that they are opposed to secrecy and deniability.

          • onyomi says:

            “I got the impression the Faceless Men are either venerated or feared in Braavos so no one questions them.”

            This aspect makes sense given how, when Arya is first attacked in Braavos, her attackers run away in fear at the mere approach of the weird black man in white (whom they correctly saw as a representative of the House of Black and White).

            They talk about the possibility of hiring a Faceless Man to assassinate Dany, but someone like Littlefinger comments that, to kill a queen, they would ask for a correspondingly astronomical payment, on the order of a kingdom, also noting that if the Faceless Men were, in fact, after her, nothing in the world could save her.

        • John Schilling says:

          but the implication is more jackleg nurse than experienced field surgeon.

          In any historically accurate medieval society, your odds of surviving an abdominal injury are probably better with the “jackleg nurse” than anyone calling themselves a surgeon. And as you note, those odds are small but nonzero.

          In any medieval-ish fantasy society, nobody is going to die from an infected wound unless the plot demands it. Gritty reality only goes so far, and the necessary Potent Healing Herbs will be available to whichever healers are available to the protagonists.

          Just make sure the healer isn’t a slave whose family you had slaughtered a few episodes earlier. Because healers have lots of different herbs at their disposal…

          • LHN says:

            As you say. But I do think the storytelling would work better if they either hadn’t so lovingly detailed the stabbing and knife twist, or else made the healer’s unusually effective healing herbs or esoteric skills explicit. Just to ensure that plot convenience isn’t so openly doing as much of the work of reinforcing why Arya survives her wounds while other characters didn’t survive similar ones.

            When Batman falls out of a plane, of course he isn’t going to die when he hits the ground no matter what. But it’s still generally better form for him to use the Bat-parachute he’d put in his belt for just this exigency, versus having him simply tuck-and-roll while muttering about Vesna Vulović.

    • Urstoff says:

      Related: how common was it to get an infection from fairly normal cuts before antibiotics were discovered? How often would such infections lead to death? It seems like there was some knowledge of “cleaning a wound”, but was that really effective (did they use alcohol)?

      • keranih says:

        Soap and clean water does a lot of good, esp for minor wounds, but swelling and inflammation was typical. Covering an open wound with a clean bandage – +/- with a paste of specific herbs, for which we don’t have a lot of data on which ones work and which ones were neutral – were a help in keeping microbes out. There was frequent reference to “a good pus” – ie, a creamy thick pus without odor that was probably staph, as opposed to something nastier like strep or psuedomonus.

        It was pretty much a crap shoot as to whether or not a surface cut would heal – but stab/penetrating wounds were much more dangerous. Abdomen wounds were considered expectionally vile, as the person would not die immediately but slowly die from sepsis. At least a limb could be cut off and cauterized (which was the most effective method of cleaning a wound prior to inventing antibiotics.)

      • Anonymous says:

        Urine was popular for cleaning and honey for bandaging, both for good reason. (And not vice versa: as Keranih says, you want a paste to stay on.) Alcoholic drinks in the premodern world were pretty weak and might not be a good option.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        Apparently, the parable of the good Samaritan in the Bible includes medical advice for dealing with wounds:

        33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

        Notice that wine is mildly antiseptic, and prevents wounds from becoming infected, while oil protects the exposed living flesh that is trying to form scar tissue to cover the wound. Jesus is not only commending good behavior, but also reminding his audience to follow the best medical practice of the day.

    • Lumifer says:

      My suspension of disbelief is broken, because I would assume that such wounds would be life-threatening, or could easily lead to lifelong disability

      You are doing a subtle substitution here. Arya surviving is perfectly consistent with receiving wounds that are life-threatening or ones which could lead to disability. In order to break your suspension of disbelief, these wounds need to be invariably fatal which is a different thing.

      On the reality level, I don’t think stab wounds in the abdomen are invariably fatal. Even in prehistoric times people survived some very gruesome injuries (you can tell because you find bones with marks of these injuries, but the bones also healed which implies that the person survived).

      • onyomi says:

        If she were incredibly lucky in terms of the stabs missing vital organs and Lady Crane knowing infection prophylactic, it is conceivable Arya could have survived the attack. What is inconceivable was the rapidity of her recovery. Also, her stupidity at letting herself get stabbed so easily in the first place.

        • gbdub says:

          “Rapidity” is the first thing you need to get over if you’re really making an effort to suspend disbelief though.

          It’s been very clear throughout GoT, especially with this season, that they play fast and loose with timescales (the creators have been open about this). For all we know, Arya may have been laid up for a month (maybe it took that long for the Waif to find out she was still alive / where she hid – after all, her initial post-attack reaction seemed confident that Arya was very dead).

          • onyomi says:

            “For all we know, Arya may have been laid up for a month”

            We are given the very strong impression that when Arya woke up from her poppy-induced sleep, Lady Crane had already been killed. Further defying all reason, the super ninja stealth assassin chose to kill a secondary target in a loud and ostentatious way, thereby waking up the other target.

            I am not bothered by, e. g. Varys’s seven-league plot boots. The end of Arya’s time with the Faceless Men was just very poorly handled.

          • Adam says:

            Yeah, that. It was very obvious that a ton of time had passed between the Battle of Meereen and the last scene with the new Targaryen fleet leaving. The ships had been fitted with gold dragon and horse heads, the Ironborn taught the Dothraki how to sail, the Tyrell and Martell fleets were both there. All of that had to take at least six months.

            There is no indication at all that more than a single night elapsed between Arya being stabbed and that chase scene. It’s not impossible, but there is no way to infer the passage of time as you can with other scenes.

          • John Schilling says:

            How is it that “The ships had been fitted with gold dragon and horse heads [etc]” make it obvious that a long time has passed, in a way that “Arya Stark has mostly recovered from a deep abdominal wound” doesn’t? Or, how is it that if Arya’s recovery from an abominal wound between scenes means the producers are dragging us into unbelievable medical implausibilities, the Targaryen fleet’s reconstruction between scenes doesn’t similarly mean that the producers are dragging us into unbelievable nautical implausibilities?

            This is a serious question. It was obvious to me from the start that a substantial amount of time had passed in the Arya Stark timeline; what are the signals that lead you to believe otherwise in the one case but not the other?

          • Adam says:

            To be fair, I have no idea how long it takes in reality for a stitched wound to close up for good, but hers hadn’t. It still seemed fresh when she was fleeing with all the blood coming out. Combine that with the last thing they show is her going to sleep and the next thing they show is her waking up in exactly the same bed, it gave the strong impression it was the next day.

            Edit: Also, since I didn’t get the impression her wound had healed at all, it wasn’t fast healing that was hard to believe. It was running through the streets and jumping off of roofs and what not with an open gut wound still leaking blood all over the place. My experience with heavy blood loss is you tend to get woozy and pass out pretty quickly. If you can stop the bleeding, adrenaline can take you far, but you have to actually stop the bleeding.

    • onyomi says:

      As great as the last episode of the season was, the antepenultimate episode and the handling of the end of Arya’s time with the Faceless Men was bad. At least she seems to have learned something other than how to fight in the dark.

    • Vorkon says:

      Note: Spoilers below.

      (Probably doesn’t matter as much, with all the spoilers above, but I felt it was prudent to say, anyway.)

      At first, I thought the same thing. Even more importantly, the person who did the stabbing was not only a trained assassin, but a magical one, who would know where to strike to make the wounds lethal.

      The more I thought about it, though, I came to realize the waif being a magical super-assassin is precisely WHY Arya survived. The show’s gone out of its way to show that the waif resents Arya, or at least sadistically enjoys tormenting her in a way that is very different from Jaqen’s detached manner. It seems to me that she would know exactly where to strike to ensure the wounds were NOT lethal, and would do so, because she wanted to torture Arya.

      This explains a lot of things, actually: first and foremost, it explains the Terminator-style stalking of Arya later on, which actually broke my suspension of disbelief even MORE than Arya surviving the stabbing in the first place. There is no reason a Faceless Man would do that, unless they were trying to toy with their prey. Second, it would explain why Jaqen simply let Arya walk off in the end. Just like he made Arya pay for refusing to put her past behind her with the blindness, he seems to have accepted the waif being killed and Arya getting away as the waif’s punishment for letting her emotions control her. (Perhaps with a side order of “the Many-Faced God required a death, and the waif is as good as Arya.” He seems to be big on equivalent exchange.)

      That said, I wish the show had tried a little harder to explain that motivation. Even something as simple as Arya yelling, “stop toying with me, and finish it,” or the actress making an offhand note about, “it’s almost as if whoever stabbed you was TRYING to miss the organs,” rather than a ridiculous story about knifing former lovers, would have been enough. At face value it really does mess with suspension of disbelief, like you said.

      • onyomi says:

        Well the Waif’s whole Terminator schtick bothered me a lot, also. The whole point of their cult is NOT to nurse personal feelings, resentments, grudges, etc. and here the Waif, who’s been there longer than Arya, develops an intense dislike for her? I thought she was just being tough with her as part of the training, at least at first.

        They earlier imply that the Waif and Jaqen are almost interchangeable when Jaqen drinks poison and dies for Arya’s sins but then replaces her. Jaqen clearly has absorbed the “no personality” philosophy. Why would the Waif not have? The Waif having been there longer than her presumably also would have known how to fight with her eyes shut, so her loss to Arya under those circumstances also made no sense, especially considering how wounded Arya had been.

        And Arya drank the magical water which was only supposed to heal her blindness if she had truly become “no one” (presumably it kills “someone”), yet a couple episodes later she’s all “I’m Arya Stark!” Also unclear is, when Jaqen says “a girl has finally become no one,” after Arya presents him with the Waif’s face, was he then surprised to hear her say “I’m Arya Stark!” or was the whole point of the training to show her who she really was on some deeper level. It’s unclear.

        It all could have been made a million times better with any number of easy plot twists: the Waif is actually Arya’s own hatred, which is holding her back and she has to slay to find her true self, etc. etc. In a show known for surprising plot twists, the only surprise this time was that they could really be so dumb and obvious. One just feels the show creators didn’t get what made the Faceless Men interesting in the first place.

  18. Funonymous says:

    Regarding kaboom indeed’s previous comment[1] in the last open thread, can anyone explain why cold approaching is so emphasized for men? Is it a simple numbers game? Wow factor? I honestly can’t tell.

    [1] http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/06/26/open-thread-52-5/#comment-378413

    • suntzuanime says:

      As compared to what?

    • Dahlen says:

      Could be because the men who are most in need of dating advice may not have the interest, the patience, or the social skills to try the usual, longer, socially acceptable route of widening one’s circle of acquaintances and letting things happen from there, so they’d rather press Fast Forward, cut through the instrumental social bullshit and rush right into the scenario where it’s clear from the beginning that sex is the reason they’re there.

      Could also be that people might get confused as to where, physically, the sexual marketplace is. Might be the actual marketplace?

      • Tibor says:

        Also, they might not realize that this is a good way to do things at all. I used to be very confused about “how the hell do I even meet women?”. Asking out random people on the street was never my thing and I don’t think it works. I asked my female friends about this and mostly the response was “you are trying too much, let it just happen naturally”. I did not understand that at the beginning, my response was usually “you are a woman, men who want to meet you actually come to you but this does not work for men”. But all of them were also much more social than me, having a wide array of friends and acquaintances through whom they got to know a lot of other people and in much more comfortable and natural settings than asking random people in the street, so then I realized that this is what they, at least implicitly mean. Also, in a sense they meant it literally – if you are like me, you meet a woman, conclude that she is perfect in every way and then direct all the attention to her (I have to make sure to restrain myself a bit not to look to needy and eventually annoying). Then you get too nervous about that and that makes you ultimately less attractive than if you just approached it in a more relaxed way. The only thing that helps is that after some time the women you thought were perfect start to appear far less perfect and at least intellectually (if not emotionally) you can then be aware of the fact that the new “perfect” woman is probably not perfect either. But maybe this is just me…a friend of mine told me this is how he was thinking/feeling when he was 15 but I am 27 and still at least feel that way about most women I end up being interested in. Perhaps tellingly, my only long term relationship was with a girl where things happened so fast that I did not get into this “oh my god she is a goddess” before we were already together.

        I think women sometimes underestimate how clueless, confused and inapt some men are about interacting with other people 🙂

        Of course, there are even men who can do the street thing and who are very successful at that. A friend of mine told me of his colleague whom he suspected of bragging about his sex life but then he saw him “in action” and pretty much everywhere they went together, for example a restaurant with a pretty waitress, he would get women’s phone numbers in a matter of minutes and usually sleep with them on the same day. From what he says the guy is not even particularly good looking but he has his way with words and a lot of charm and suave. He (the friend of mine) also said that while he envied him at first, the guy seems to be so consumed by his libido that he can hardly do much else than work and have casual relationships (I mean consumed by his libido even more than men normally are 🙂 this might have also driven him to learn all the charm, he basically seems to ask out almost every girl he talks to even if she is just selling him train tickets or something), so maybe it is not such a big win.

        The same friend told me something I could also identify with. He told me that he can only get women’s attention by the Stockholm Syndrom 🙂 That is, if he gets to talk to a woman for a considerable amount of time then he can be interesting and even charming perhaps but getting women’s attention in the first place is the hard part for him. I feel a bit similar and I suspect this might be the case of many “nerdy” men (at least those who are not completely asocial).

        • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

          “I asked my female friends about this and mostly the response was “you are trying too much, let it just happen naturally”.”

          Asking women for dating advice is like asking a music critic how to write music, or like asking a movie reviewer how to make a movie.

          • Tibor says:

            I disagree. Thankfully, it takes much more skill to shoot a good film or a musical masterpiece than to ask someone out. If I stick by the simile, a film critic is going to tell you what he likes or does not like about films. He won’t be able to tell you how to do the film because it requires the skill but he will tell you what the result should not look like.

          • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

            The point of the simile is that asking someone for advice about something they’ve never done — especially one where their only interaction with that activity is judging the finished project — is irrational.

            I’m not going to ask someone who’s never played piano how to play piano. It doesn’t matter how much piano music they consume. I’m going to ask someone who, you know, actually plays piano.

            The simile expands to pretty much everything that requires some sort of learning. How do I create a webpage? How do I write good blog posts? How do I run faster? How do I build a house? How do I type faster? How do I take better pictures?

            You’re not going to learn any of those things by asking people who surf the web, live in houses, are in photos, etc. how to do those things.

          • Dahlen says:

            Sex. You don’t mean dating, you mean sex. Actual dating can be pretty hard for women too, in a world where lots of men just want to treat them as one-time-use human fleshlights.

            And even so, it would be bullshit anyway. People like to emphasize how asymmetrical these things are between genders, but it ain’t so, there are more similarities than one might think.

          • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

            “Sex. You don’t mean dating, you mean sex”

            Women don’t have sex? This is news to me.

          • Outis says:

            Think about it. Have you ever seen a woman having sex, in real life?

          • Dahlen says:

            Try harder. Or troll harder, whichever way you’d have it.

          • Nicholas says:

            The point being made here is that the asymmetry is between men and women’s access to casual sex, that the supply of long-term (longer than one year) relationships is more symmetrical, and that if you care particularly much about the second symmetry, women’s experience of getting men to be their (longer than one year) relationship partners will be relevant in a way it will not if what you are interested in is short term (less than three months) partner acquisitions.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Asking women for dating advice is like asking a music critic how to write music, or like asking a movie reviewer how to make a movie.

            The analogy I have always heard is that it is like asking a fish for fishing advice. Not only does the fish not know anything about fishing, but it is actively against the fish’s interests to tell you even if it knows.

          • Tibor says:

            @jaimeastorga2000: What? I don’t want to be rude but this is just complete nonsense to me. Dating is not a zero sum game.

            The only (and a bit torturous) example I can think of where what you are saying kind of makes sense is when the woman being asked is interested in the man asking and does not want him to be successful with other women because she hopes he will then be interested in her. But this is definitely not the case of me asking an ex (especially one who broke up with me and who is now married and has a child…not sure whether she already had a child when I asked her but anyway).

          • suntzuanime says:

            Dating is not a zero sum game, but neither is fishing. If the fish is mutilated by the hook but pulls free, that doesn’t benefit the fisherperson at all.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Fishing is a pretty common analogy for dating, but there’s the obvious discrepancy that the “fish” wants to be “caught” — but only by the right “fisherman”. It’s not in the fishes interest to teach the wrong fisherman how to act like the right fisherman. (One would have to be a bit paranoid to suggest they deliberately give bad advice as part of the choosing system)

          • The fish does want to be caught, but it can still be in the fish’s interests to discourage fishermen in general, simply because this puts up a stronger filter against bad fishermen and ensures that when the fish does get caught, it’s on its (her) own terms. This can, of course, be so effective that the fish never gets caught at all. It’s a balancing act.

          • hlynkacg says:

            The fish wanting to be caught by the “right person” and not wanting to be caught are functionally identical for *population of the earth* – 1 people in the world.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’m not enough of a romantic to think that there’s only one right fisherman for every fish. (yes, I should have said “by one of the right fisherman”, precise language is hard). Certainly the chance of a fisherman being in that “right” category is usually much greater than one in several billion.

        • Dahlen says:

          Mostly, yeah, that’s the meaning. Presumably the guys your female friends hooked up with were also the same type, very social, hanging around with many different people and constantly meeting new ones. In these contexts, making the first move has a much lower “activation energy”, so to speak. Also, alcohol. 😀 In a sense, there are sociable people, and then there’s everybody else. The dynamics of interconnected nodes in a network lead to that, to effects such as the friendship paradox. Also, this graph (snarky comment mine).

          The same friend told me something I could also identify with. He told me that he can only get women’s attention by the Stockholm Syndrom ? That is, if he gets to talk to a woman for a considerable amount of time then he can be interesting and even charming perhaps but getting women’s attention in the first place is the hard part for him.

          *shivers* …That’s not what the Stockholm Syndrome means. It refers to captors falling in love with their kidnappers or abusers. See for yourself.

          • Tibor says:

            I know what it means. He said it jokingly. Sort of “if I can get the girl to spend 3 hours with me, I am much more successful at making a good impression”. In this sense, she is his “captive” for the 3 hours.

          • Dahlen says:

            The two paragraphs seem to contradict each other. You’re saying that there’s an innate fear non-reciprocal child-bearing in the female mind, and that it’s overestimated in practice?

            What?

      • The Nybbler says:

        Could be because the men who are most in need of dating advice may not have the interest, the patience, or the social skills to try the usual, longer, socially acceptable route of widening one’s circle of acquaintances and letting things happen from there

        If they’re in need of dating advice, it’s rather likely they’ve actually tried that approach and nothing has happened.

        • Dahlen says:

          Well, you do have to stand out in some positive manner from the crowd you’re in, else it’s just extra unneeded competition. The self-improvement part is, as always, something you should always do in parallel to whatever type of socialization.

        • Nicholas says:

          That’d be the last one then.

    • TD says:

      Cold approaching inconveniences and pressures women, so it may be effective for callous and attractive men to use. Less attractive men get brushed off and/or called creepy.

      I’m convinced that most dating problems (EDIT: for losers) are learning to lower your standards, or accepting being alone. I have chosen to be alone, because the one woman who I knew for sure was into me (and even now keeps pestering me) isn’t up to my exacting standards (not lumps on the face and smelling of piss). Relationships are trouble anyway.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Cold approaching inconveniences and pressures women,

        . . . and lots of men have internalized that only horrible men do that. I know I’ve internalized it.

        Cold approaching is shock therapy to undo that damage.

    • tmk says:

      If you are talking about cold approaching you may be interested in the very unique Japanese phenomenon of “Nanpa”. The Wikipedia article is so-so, but here’s a short description: http://www.japanfortheuninvited.com/articles/nanpa.html

      • Tibor says:

        This has to be quite annoying for the Japanese women…if it happens on a scale that it seems like from the article.

        • TD says:

          If it all happened on the weekends then at least they could prepare for it, rather than it happening any random day elsewhere in the world.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Flirting is a skill like any other, and if you want to maintain excellence you have to practice constantly. If a guy is looking for advice on how to get a girl, then whatever he’s doing now isn’t working for him. Mostly likely, he needs to develop his socializing/flirting skills, and that means practice practice practice.

      Cold approaching lets him practice with a bunch of girls he’ll never see again (unless it goes well). The cost of screwing up is low (embarrassment, but not in front of anybody he cares about yet). This lets him get better at it, and gain the confidence needed to maybe finally make a move on that girl he knows in real life and has always had a thing for. It also gets him used to rejection; learning that being rejected isn’t that terrible an outcome is itself a benefit. And if he hits it off with a cold approach, well, that works too.

      • lemmy caution says:

        You don’t want to act like a weird inexperienced pickup artist in front of your social circle. The pick up dudes also advise men in college not to learn pick up – just try to be friendly with everybody.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      The usual answer as to why people recommend it is that they’ve tried the normal model and found it lacking.

      That’s been true for me at least. Cold approaches have a low success rate taken individually, typically something like 5%, but given the sheer number of people you meet in a given day it’s actually not hard to make four good approaches a day without putting aside time for that specifically. In terms of quantity and quality you end up with better results for a similar level of effort expended.

      Plus, in practical terms, it’s not all cold approaches anyway. To keep up the sales terminology, you still get the same hot leads that anyone else would but the difference is that you’ve also built up a lot of experience closing in the meantime. When you’re not afraid or ashamed of striking out, and you’re not desperate for any one woman, it’s a lot easier to take advantage of those natural opportunities.

    • Urstoff says:

      It works for Gene Simmons.

    • Adam says:

      How often do you see comments like that around here from people who have “never had a girlfriend?” Honestly, I don’t think this is a place to ask for dating advice, even from people who eventually had success by just throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and occasionally discovering they’d earlier swallowed tape. You can do that, and it might work, but if your basic relation to women in the world is one of desperation and fear, nothing you do will work. Cold approaching might eventually lead to success just by trial and error with reinforcement. That’s fine, but brute force search isn’t necessarily the efficient way to develop a strategy.

      I’m not going to give a plan to make you successful at dating, but I’m going to say, I spent half my childhood absorbed in books and much of the other half locked in my room re-enacting the Battle of Endor with Legos. The Internet loves to self-diagnose itself with autism and I hate self-diagnosing and I refuse to do it, but I’m going to be suggestive. I love routine. I have strong compulsions and a need for order in life, constantly arranging things into grids, I’ll only allow even-numbers volumes, I won’t step on the imaginary diagonals formed by cracks in a sidewalk. I have irrational rage fits whenever these routines or order are broken, and then go back to completely normal ten seconds later. I feel nothing at all when friends or family suffer or die, but cry like a baby when I see animals hurt. I’ve experienced those bizarre shaking fits where you hit your head against the wall on purpose repeatedly and can’t stop and being confined and pressed in on is relaxing and calms you down. I’m a very awkward person. I haven’t had a close friend in about 15 years and have only have 2 in my entire life, and it was their doing. I’m not even lonely. I just don’t care about being with people and don’t desire it. I prefer spending my free time solving math and coding puzzles than spending it with people. I definitely have symptoms.

      But unlike the people who self-diagnose and then blame all their social problems on it, I’ve never had those problems. Being awkward and asocial does not make women hate you (to be fair, I don’t look awkward – I’ve been tall, athletic, had a full head of hair, etc. my entire life – even in puberty, I didn’t look funny). Women were asking me out as early as elementary school and I’ve had girlfriends almost continuously since I was 14. I’ve been married three times. I’m probably not one to tell you how to make a long-term relationship last, but just getting women to date me and have sex with me has never been a problem. The thing I don’t have a problem with at all, and that I think kills most of you around here, is I don’t suffer from low self-esteem.

      I can see it in Scott’s writing. He has this horrible anxiety that the world hates him because he’s a nerd. He suffers panic attacks that he’s treating women the wrong way. You think these are problems that an actual autistic person has? I can barely even imagine how other people feel and I get it wrong every time I try. I’ve never felt anxiety over it. I barely care how people feel, especially since I personally feel so little and am mostly indifferent to social behaviors. I can’t imagine that my actions hurt other people because their actions don’t hurt me. I’ve probably overestimated how much people like me my entire life, not underestimated it. And you know what? I’m not going to say women are attracted to bluster and overconfidence, and I don’t think I’ve really had bluster at least since high school or so. But they hate it when you hesitate, when you ask if you can kiss them or take their hand, when you start taking her bra off but then immediately look ashamed and like you regret it and aren’t sure you’re right.

      Please don’t think I’m trying to say go out and rape people. Hopefully when you’re to the point that you’re alone together and taking clothes off, you’re well past the point that there is any ambiguity there about what is going on. It helps to not be drunk and not be a teenager. But if you’re a person like Scott, you’re going to imagine ambiguity when there isn’t actually any because you’re going to remember something mean Amanda Marcotte once said about someone who looks vaguely like you on the Internet ten years ago and go into an anxiety fit over it. Don’t do that. Women out there in the real world actually enjoy sex. They want you as much as you want them. And they appreciate being treated like a person, not a landmine.

      There is no magic trick here. Like I said, I don’t even have friends. I don’t go to bars. I don’t go anywhere. But I’ve still been around women most of my life in one capacity or another. I’m sure you are, too. They might be people you know, they might be at parties someone drags you to, they might be co-workers, classmates at school, or people who used to be classmates 15 years ago that you kept in touch with and see when you go home to visit your family. They might be other women on the Internet, maybe even here. Maybe they go to SSC meetups. You know women. You don’t need to meet even more of them. The problem isn’t that they aren’t there. The problem is you view the ones you know as objects of mystery and fear and loathing, not as people with physical bodies and urges just like you who enjoy using those bodies. That isn’t all they are, mind you. There has never been a woman I’ve had sex with that I didn’t also eat with, talk to, maybe travel with, take a class with, whatever the hell you do with men or just of your own accord because you enjoy doing it and now you do it with her around, but on top of that you also have sex. It’s important to remember that. They’re just people. They’re not sex toys, not objects, but they’re not mystery balls of rage waiting to pounce on you and accuse you of rape because they regret it the next day. They’re as likely to do that as your male friend is to murder you. It’s not impossible, but you shouldn’t live with any thought of it at all in the front of your mind.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        This is one of the most interesting comments on dating I’ve seen. Some parts like me, some parts totally unlike me. A very valuable perspective.

      • Anonymous says:

        There was a guy above that said you shouldn’t take dating advice from women because they have no idea what’s involved from a guy’s perspective. The same is true for someone more than 4″ taller than you. The two of you aren’t playing the same game.

        If you are over 6′ tall and have a BMI under 30 women will come on to you. The most socially awkward guys I know that fit those parameters have managed to stumble into relationships. Not so for the even mildly socially awkward 5’5″ guys.

        It is somehow taboo to talk about this for reasons which are obscure to me.

        • Adam says:

          This is largely true, but not universally. Short guys and fat guys still get plenty of women if they’re not openly self-loathing about being short or fat. Short and fat both is going to hurt you more. And of course it’s easier to not hate yourself when you match the basic physical ideal of your society, but the key is not hating yourself. Look at frickin’ Eliezer himself. The dude is objectively ugly, almost painful to look at. But he attracts followers like his name is Jesus and always has multiple girlfriends because he is very clearly in love with himself and love is infectious. It’s like marketing hype. People will want something just because other people want it, even if they don’t understand why.

          • windmill tilter says:

            That’s interesting to me that you cite self-doubt as a turn-off because obviously some degree of self-doubt is necessary for career success-people who do whatever pops into their head generally make bad decisions. So it seems necessary to maintain at least two distinct “faces”, one where you are able to confer in a more honest way with colleagues about matters of actual importance and another one where you are consistently optimistic.

          • onyomi says:

            I don’t know much about Eliezer’s love life, but to the extent he attracts a lot of women, it is probably because a lot of other people platonically love/respect him. Women are attracted to men whom other people, including other men, respect or admire. Just being in love with how awesome you are would not get you a ton of action if no one agreed with you (though it is still superior to lacking confidence, most likely).

        • Lumifer says:

          You can’t change your height, but you *can* change your BMI.

          I know a short guy who used to have issues finding girls. He started weigthlifting and in less than a year became ripped. Not bodybuilder competition style, but very nice to look at shirtless. His girl problems disappeared completely.

          • Adam says:

            I think short guys are severely punished by online dating. It’s like resume screening and it’s just another excuse for instant disqualification. In-person, though? How often are you even standing? And most women aren’t tall. Their experience of you is not mostly your height. I don’t know. I might be biased, too, because since I am tall, just by regression to the mean, pretty much all of the boyfriends who preceded or followed me were shorter, so I’ve seen short men take the same women I did.

          • Dahlen says:

            Lumifer! Interesting seeing you here again. In search of greener pastures, I infer?

            Yes, you can change your height, but that means a lot of broken bones XOR a few broken bones and disproportionate limbs. Tough stuff.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Dahlen

            I migrate with the herds… : -D

          • Anonymous says:

            You’re kidding yourself if you think it doesn’t matter in person. Hetro woman can very quickly size up a man’s attractiveness. Even if he is sitting.

            The difference between online and in person is that because of filters and the like a short guy may be literally invisible online and not even have a chance to be extraordinarily funny, charming, rich, ect.

        • Anonymous says:

          Adam and Lumifer

          I’m not claiming it is hopeless if you are short. Clearly that’s not the case. I’m claiming they are playing a different game from tall guys. I don’t think either of you directly disagreed.

          I get the self help, you can do it stuff but that shouldn’t take away from factual observations.

          • Adam says:

            I don’t disagree depending on the quantification of “short.” I don’t think it’s a problem to be under 6′ tall, except on OkCupid or something. It’s a problem if you’re below the average female in your region, though.

          • Lumifer says:

            I agree that being tall is a big advantage. I don’t know if I want to go as far as to call it a different game.

        • Tibor says:

          I have a friend, who kind of fits Adam description of personality in some ways, I am not particularly sure whether he does not understand that he can be annoying or even rude to people or whether he simply does not care. He is maybe 170 (cm), so pretty short (the average Czech height is 180cm for men…that is just slightly under 6 feet, average female height pretty much his height). Yet he does not have problems with dating exactly because he treats it in a much more practical way. He does that with everything, actually. He is a designer and completely obsessed with his craft, but he is much more an artisan than an artist. He can bore you to death with the new cool programming technique to model some curves of a car or whatever but even though he is incredibly talented (judging from the job offers that he keeps getting and a considerable carreer success) and I think also very smart, he is by no means stopping to think and worry about things too much. He does things.

          One more dating advice I got – from my ex girlfriend (when she already was an ex) – was that “You are like a woman, be more like a man!” I asked her what she meant and she said that I overanalyze relationships (before they even start) and think and worry about every stupid little detail just like women do and that “proper men” don’t do that, they don’t waste time being worried about things, they do things and when those things don’t work out, they shake it off and go on. It is not a natural thing to do for me, but I had to conclude she was right and that this is a much more healthy approach to dating.

          • Creutzer says:

            Your ex’s advice seems to boil down to “neuroticism is unattractive, be lower on neuroticism”. I’m not sure neuroticism is any more malleable than any of the other Big Five, though, so this advice may be impossible to follow.

          • Tibor says:

            @Creutzer: What are the “big five”? I think that you cannot get rid of neuroticism entirely. But you can limit it. What I try to do now, when I meet a woman I get so emotionally invested in, is to meet (or even just look at) other women at the same time. Not necessarily to try to date them, just to remind myself that “no, she is not the only one in the world and you would very likely be equally happy with many other women so don’t take it so seriously, whether she accepts you or not is not a matter of dying alone or living a miserable life with someone you don’t really love.” It does not completely solve the neuroticism, but it helps.

            What makes it worse (since it complicates things considerably) is that I routinely feel this way about women who are in a relationship. Actually, I can’t think of a woman where it was not the case, including my only proper relationship (even though her previous relationship was already rather unstable at that point). Since I usually find out they have a boyfriend only after I become interested in them, I think it is a coincidence or the fact that many attractive women generally tend to be in a relationship basically all the time, only with different people or with really short periods in between the relationships. Definitely it is not some kind of nonsense like “she is hard to get so that is why I have to have her”.

            Also reminding myself of the past when I felt similarly about women I don’t feel like that about any more makes it better. It is like with flying. I actually feel uneasy on an airplane, especially during the take-off and the landing but at least intellectually I can convince myself that it is actually safer than when I drive and while it does not remove the uneasiness completely, it makes it better.

          • Anonymous says:

            I wonder if this tendency to bring up exceptions is a part of the taboo? If I had said it is significantly harder for people without college degrees to get a high paying job would the responses have all been about the one friend each person has that’s extraordinarily intelligent or hard working or Larry Ellison’s son that are making six figures a year despite not going to college?

          • Creutzer says:

            @Tibor: I was referring to the Big Five personality traits, which are pretty heritable, pretty stable, and pretty hard to change even if you try.

            One problem with the “plenty of fish” mindset can be for some people, it is plainly and simply false. What do you do when instrumental rationality would require you to have an epistemically indefensible belief? Some sort of compartmentalisation hacking, I suppose…

          • Tibor says:

            @Creutzer: Why do you think it is false?

          • Creutzer says:

            Some people, who are outliers in the distribution of humans in the space of possible minds, are compatible with only a small fraction of the population as partners. For those individuals, the plenty-of-fish mindset is not accurate.

          • Tibor says:

            @Creutzer: I don’t think I am such an outlier. I might be a tad bit neurotic in some things but much less in others. I am pretty sure I am fairly “neurotypical” in that I don’t have any extreme personality which would make it hard for me to interact with people normally.

      • Outis says:

        Adam:

        to be fair, I don’t look awkward – I’ve been tall, athletic, had a full head of hair, etc. my entire life – even in puberty, I didn’t look funny

        You could just replace your entire post with the two rules.

        • Adam says:

          I have trouble believing all of you are seriously ogres. Scott is not that bad-looking (I keep using him as a reference because I don’t know what any of the rest of you look like), maybe a James Carville/Patrick Stewart mix. He’s also a doctor and women love doctors.

          • FranzPanzer says:

            I have trouble believing all of you are seriously ogres.

            You’re making the mistake of thinking that “not fugly” is enough. I don’t know whether there’s some proper science, but the internet tentatively agrees with my intuition that “attractive” is a more restrictive category than you are implying.

          • Ruprect says:

            “You’re making the mistake of thinking that “not fugly” is enough.”

            It’s not worth worrying about. The vast majority of dateless men aren’t so ugly that they couldn’t vastly increase their success with women by imagining they were handsome.

            (Or just not caring)
            (If they do care)

            In my experience ugly people will have sex – often at more or less their own level – but still. The real problem is with men who don’t really want to have sex – I mean… let’s be honest, if sex didn’t already exist, would anyone invent it? – but kind of do. They end up in torment.

          • Adam says:

            There are loads of ugly women in the world, too. If you’re not seriously hideous, shit, I don’t know man. I want to say stop only trying to sex hot women and date down to your own level, but is that even it? I grew up watching Jerry Springer. The world has no shortage of half-bald, beer-gutted, one-toothed greasy wife-beater wearing trailer trash that somehow manages to have three wives and eight children. Are they even rare? People are out there doing it somehow. I’m not the only person in the world having sex, and yeah, I’m not ugly, but I’m far from a supermodel.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The world has no shortage of half-bald, beer-gutted, one-toothed greasy wife-beater wearing trailer trash that somehow manages to have three wives and eight children. Are they even rare?

            No

  19. Anonymous says:

    Is it moral to take welfare?

    • Ruprect says:

      Morally neutral – same as work. It really depends on what you are getting paid for.

      • keranih says:

        Yes – it’s not accepting assistance that’s the issue, it’s about how you go forward from there.

        IMO, you don’t even have to be “deserving” poor – ie, widows, orphans, cripples. If you have been thrown out in the street because you didn’t pay your rent because you spent it all on booze and hookers, and so need homeless shelter/foodbank/unemployment/whatever…there is not a moral fault in taking assistance that is offered to you.

        What *is* unacceptable, imo, is either a) the expectation that people have an obligation to you and/or b) failing to recognize that by taking their assistance, you are limiting their ability to help other people.

        All independent adults in a community have a responsibility to assist those less capable/advantaged in all areas where there is a capability/advantage gap. No one has the right to the expectation that they themselves should be helped. The unemployed dockworker without even a GED has an obligation to help the little old rich lady across the street – and the LOL has the responsibility to use her wealth to help others. But neither has any moral call on the assistance of anyone else. IMO, this is *only* a one-way obligation.

        So long as one is using no more assistance than needful, is using it with gratitude and a lack of entitlement, and is coupling effort with firm resolve to return to the state of helping others more than they are being helped, then I have no issues with anyone using public assistance.

        People who expect assistance, who don’t see themselves as having a responsibility to help others, and who get greedy, that is wrong.

        Compounding this – a lot of people who need welfare have chemical dependency issues, or mental health problems (including just plain depression) which can make it easy to stay in rut of “I am worthless and can’t be expected to help anyone.”

        • Ruprect says:

          “What *is* unacceptable, imo, is either a) the expectation that people have an obligation to you and/or b) failing to recognize that by taking their assistance, you are limiting their ability to help other people.”

          Hmmmm… I’m not sure whether this comment only applies to welfare, and some specific implementation of welfare, but, in the most general sense, I don’t think it’s immoral to expect humanity from others – quite the opposite.

          If I didn’t have an expectation that my own child would treat others well, I think it could only be because I viewed him as incomplete in some way, either sick or someone distant and unloved.
          If you love someone, you have an expectation that they will behave in a certain way – a good way. You wish the good life on them in the same way that you expect good things of yourself.
          I think the society where we expect nothing from others, would be a cold one. I expect my family to look after me. Would it necessarily be bad if I expected the same of society in general?

          • keranih says:

            It’s a sign of not such a good day when I fall to the point of quoting country-western lyrics, but It’s too much to expect, but not too much to ask sums up my feelings on this.

            More directly to your response, though – You wish the good life on them in the same way that you expect good things of yourself.

            I’m not really following your thoughts here. As I read your statement, my response would be:

            I expect “good things” – ie, a satisfying life, etc – to come from a combination of my own work and God’s grace. I don’t expect my good things to come from the work of others. My wishing a good life for others has naught to do with my effort or theirs.

            Is this entirely opposite what you meant?

          • Ruprect says:

            I think I agree with you where you say that being ungrateful or complacent is bad (not sure I’d go as far as to say immoral), but at the same time, there are certain behaviours that I expect of others, and I don’t think that the expectation itself is bad.

            For example, if there were a man blocking my path who didn’t move when I said “excuse me” I would assume he was either deaf, mentally ill, or my enemy.
            Being pleased by the kindness of others doesn’t preclude me from being angered by its absence.

            In the case of my family, if my mother cooks me dinner, I am thankful. If she cooked dinner only for my brother, but refused to do the same for me, I might feel angry. The only alternative to anger would be pity (because she is mad, or sad) or indifference because I don’t feel any bonds of affection exist between us.

            I think the same is somewhat true of society – the reason why we aren’t angered by other people treating us with indifference is simply because we have no expectation of any relationship existing between us. If we lived in a society where there was such an expectation, I can’t say that it’d necessarily be a bad thing.

            “More directly to your response, though – You wish the good life on them in the same way that you expect good things of yourself.”

            I’m not really following your thoughts here.

            Tentatively – if we view ethical behaviour as a benefit rather than a cost, and if I view a consideration of others as part of the ethical life – wouldn’t part of my consideration of others be to hope and encourage them to live in the same way as me? That for their own benefit, they should also consider my feelings?

      • Anonymous says:

        Morally neutral – same as work. It really depends on what you are getting paid for.

        But wait – you get paid for work by earning that money. You don’t earn that money when taking welfare. Furthermore, the source of that money – your boss – is not compelled to give you money regardless of your conduct; if you cease working, he’s in his rights to cease paying, perhaps permanently.

        Hm. I guess what also needs to be answered is – does the money that the government earns through taxation belong to the government, or is it still in some sense the “people’s” money, common property?

        • Creutzer says:

          But wait – you get paid for work by earning that money.

          That is a tautology.

          And one that should not be uttered, because it somehow suggests that you deserve what you earn. The concept of desert, in a moral sense, is very dubious, especially in this context. You earn money by being able to perform actions that the market values highly and then performing them. Only the last thing could possibly have anything to do with desert. And when you’re in a position to take welfare, the reason for that is very often not your unwillingness to perform actions, but your inability to perform any action that the market values highly – a matter which you have very little control over.

          • Anonymous says:

            How about entitlement, then? You’ve entered an agreement, and held up your end of it, which entitles you to the other party holding up their end; regardless of how deserving you are of it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Actions the market highly values are, to a first approximation, actions which create value for other people. It seems a little contradictory to contest the meaningfulness of that in order to defend taking the very embodiment of being able to obtain what you yourself find valuable (i.e. money).

            It’s hard to imagine a similar statement being made in a world with only barter.

          • Creutzer says:

            I am not contesting the meaningfulness of actually performing the action (although I’m not admitting it, either). I’m contesting the meaningfulness of your ability to perform such actions, which is in large part a matter of genetic and biographical luck and outside of your control.

          • Anonymous says:

            Why you have nothing of value to offer to others, doesn’t change the basic fact that there is something at least faintly immoral about taking something in exchange for nothing. Certainly in virtue ethics, and arguably in consequential ethics.

            In this analysis being unable to do anything valuable for anyone else is a kind of moral bad luck in addition to plain old bad luck.

          • Ruprect says:

            “To know what is useful for a dog, one must study dog-nature. This nature itself is not to be deduced from the principle of utility. Applying this to man, he who would criticize all human acts, movements, relations, etc., by the principle of utility, must first deal with human nature in general, and then with human nature as modified in each historical epoch. Bentham makes short work of it. With the driest naivete he takes the modern shopkeeper, especially the English shopkeeper, as the normal man. Whatever is useful to this queer normal man, and to his world, is absolutely useful.”

            Isn’t the question of whether you think the thing that you are consuming is due to another’s labour, also important?

            My feeling is that the social structure, existing machinery, inherited knowledge, culture, etc. are more important features of our productive capacity than individual effort. As it stands, one person wins the right to make use of a certain social position/ certain machinery, and then they win a right to some proportion of the output associated with it.

            They don’t have the right to all of the output, however.

          • Creutzer says:

            Why you have nothing of value to offer to others, doesn’t change the basic fact that there is something at least faintly immoral about taking something in exchange for nothing. Certainly in virtue ethics, and arguably in consequential ethics.

            In this analysis being unable to do anything valuable for anyone else is a kind of moral bad luck in addition to plain old bad luck.

            You may have a point about virtue ethics, with respect to the “faintly immoral”. I find the notion of moral luck revolting, so I’m inclined to take this as an argument against virtue ethics.

            I don’t think your point stands for consequentialism, though. Taking welfare and not starving is clearly consequentially superior to starving while somebody else has a bit more money that they don’t really need all that much.

        • Ruprect says:

          “does the money that the government earns through taxation belong to the government, or is it still in some sense the “people’s” money, common property?”

          I suppose that depends on what you view the purpose of government to be – but, I think most people view government as existing (at least in theory) for the common good, with taxation used along those lines. Where government doesn’t contribute to the common good, it shouldn’t exist.

          Anyway, on property.

          Property is a product of the social environment – it’s a set of rules about how different people will treat certain objects.

          When you are creating that set of rules there are a number of considerations – Firstly, if the rules don’t have sufficiently broad appeal they’ll require massive violence to enforce. Secondly, the appeal that the rules have will be related to both their functionality (what kind of social structure/property system do we need to ensure the provision of basic necessities and continued technological/ cultural development), disagreements about what it is actually desirable to produce and who is best placed to decide it, and also notions of fairness (which can differ considerably).

          There are several avenues there to advocate for welfare of various kinds. But again, I don’t think this question of taking welfare is *really* a moral question – we might hope that ethical thinking informs the construction of our property systems, but for the individual acting within that *existing* system, asking whether their actions are moral/immoral without reference to their specific circumstances and actions isn’t really meaningful.
          We can only declare that it is always good to work if we have absolute faith in our legal system always resulting in ethical outcomes – bad work cannot exist in our system – and if that is the case, then living on welfare must also be entirely good.
          If we don’t have absolute faith in the system then we must look to our individual circumstances and make the best decision we can.

    • Zorgon says:

      It is exceptionally moral to take welfare, in that in doing so you are working towards the demise of the concept of labour as worth and thereby helping to advance humanity out of the 19th Century.

      *ducks*

    • Adam says:

      It’s clearly moral from a consequentalist viewpoint. Unless you’re going to kill yourself in the next few minutes after not taking it, the very fact of your existence is going to impose costs on other people. I live downtown in a city with a rising homelessness problem. As soon as my lease is up, I am almost certainly moving uptown, where there are zero homeless people, but the rent will probably be a thousand bucks a month higher. Take that from all the people who live downtown as a tax and just pay the homeless so they can get housing and leave us alone and make the streets walkable again where you don’t face harassment every ten feet, and that isn’t obviously a worse thing.

      Presumably these people get hurt every now and again, too. They go to hospitals but can’t pay, taking away triage and intake time from other patients, and forcing prices to raise to cover the fact that some people don’t pay. They distract the police from dealing with real crime. All of these are costs and if don’t they exceed the cost of just buying these people apartments and food and health insurance, we may as well just buy them apartments and food and health insurance.

      Maybe this isn’t an argument in favor of welfare programs existing in the first place (because there are still other considerations from the viewpoint of the person providing the money), but if the money is being offered to you and you have no other means of supporting yourself, you should absolutely take it if the alternative is to make a public nuisance and city blight of yourself.

      • keranih says:

        Take that from all the people who live downtown as a tax and just pay the homeless so they can get housing and leave us alone and make the streets walkable again where you don’t face harassment every ten feet, and that isn’t obviously a worse thing.

        Not quibbling the math, but pushing back against the idea that the issue of homelessness can be solved by “giving people housing.” This is not the case in the USA.

        Overwhelmingly, the people who are homeless at any one time are chronically homeless. There are a large number of transient homeless people – and this is where nearly all of the homeless kids are – but they shift back over to ‘housed’ very quickly. The people who are chronically homeless have substance abuse issues, mental illness, or both. They don’t need money/food/housing, they need minders.

        Which can very quickly fall into questions of personal sovereignty and individual liberty.

        A more famous case that you may well recall – the homeless man who received boots from a cop actually had a city-provided apartment.

        I am not sure how this information will affect your assertion of the morality of taking welfare/assistance.

        • Adam says:

          It doesn’t, really. As it stands, the people out there bugging me every time I go outside and making the public library unusable and what not strike me as severely mentally ill and giving them money isn’t going to change that. My reasoning for saying you should take welfare if offered to you is more the worry that if there was suddenly a widespread epidemic of people who had been receiving that as their only source of income refusing it, then we’d have a whole bunch of new homeless people there because they have no money rather than because they’re just insane.

          I mean, I definitely got a kick out of the local dude “Al” in the Fedex store the other day spending 30 minutes on the phone with the Dallas PD and then 30 minutes in person when they sent officers to talk to him insisting he needed a bodyguard and the mayor had agreed to give him his own police protection escort, because he’s a retired gay porn star and he’s been followed around and harassed by straight porn producers trying to force him to star in their movies.

          I wonder how many weekly man hours of police work are devoted to that single person, though? I see the guy all the time and the police obviously know him. Maybe even paying to give him an actual babysitter instead of using the police as babysitters would even still be more cost-effective. But who knows? I’m not going to say I’m not a budget analyst because I actually used to be a budget analyst, but I’m not familiar specifically with the Dallas police budget.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            And people say robots are going to take all our jobs.

          • CatCube says:

            There was a fascinating magazine article that I cannot find again, where the author followed up on the amount of money that a major American city spent on the homeless. (Las Vegas is what sticks in my mind, but Google can’t turn it up if that’s the case.) He found that there was one single individual that had spent over $1,000,000 in medical care in the past few years, from getting drunk and falling down in the street or fighting with the cops.

            The cops all knew the guy, and actually liked him. He was apparently a good dude when he could keep it together and stay off the bottle. He apparently ended up right back on the street after a while, though, because he just could not stay sober and hold down a job.

            I can’t remember the exact numbers, but something on the order of 10% of the money being spent on the homeless population was on 1% of the homeless, in a classic power-law distribution. The thesis of the article is exactly what you were getting at: that just straight-up giving homeless people an apartment, even if they destroyed it twice a year, would be cheaper than giving them medical care for free every time they got sick or jacked themselves up on the street.

            Now, just because the article told a good story doesn’t mean that the numbers were true; I didn’t pencil out the article’s claims myself or chase down the sources. If there’s anybody else who remembers it, I’d like to read it again. It was from the past 5 years or so.

          • linker says:

            Malcolm Gladwell, ten years ago. Not Vegas but Reno. Quite recently Chicago hospitals decided that it would be profitable to provide apartments for certain people who used the ER as a shelter.

          • CatCube says:

            @linker,

            Thanks. At least I got the state right. And, I definitely didn’t remember it was a Gladwell piece.

  20. I, Tripoli says:

    Question for anyone here who owns a NutriBullet:

    Mine seems to have gotten a lot louder, to the point where I feel like I need ear protection to use it. Anyone else notice this problem too? Any idea what the issue is or how to fix it?

    (I’ve owned mine for about 2 years and during that time have used it about once every other day. I make smoothies with items like fresh and frozen fruit, raw leafy vegetables, shelled walnut halves, yogurt, juice, an occasional ice cube or two, etc. Nothing outside the recommended parameters.)

    • bluto says:

      Loudness in spinning things is usually the result of a bearing that’s become worn down. Googling indicates that bearing failure appears to be a common issue with the device. You can probably replace the bearing in the bases, but thanks to the economies of scale it might be cheaper to buy new bases than replace bearings (if you replace bearings, you may be able to install a much higher quality bearing that will last longer).

    • The Nybbler says:

      At which point no non-intersex women will medal in anything. Somehow I don’t think that’s going to fly.

      Unfortunately, that’s ALSO a strong possibility if intersex women are allowed to compete as women.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t see any stopping point defensible against a sustained demand for rigor short of “identifies as a woman”. At that point intersex is the least of the problems. It’ll all be no-op transwomen. Which in turn will drain all interest in the competitions by virtually everyone and the so they wither away. At least that’s how I see it.

        • Nornagest says:

          I’m not so sure about that. We could expect transwomen to have an athletic advantage in many events (though hormone therapy might erode that? dunno), but there aren’t very many of them — the highest estimate outside the activist community is what, half a percent or something like that?

          With that big a difference in sample size, we’d expect the highest-performing cis-women to be a much more elite group than their trans counterparts, to the tune of at least a couple SD. I seem to recall the difference in male/female records, even ignoring hormones, is smaller than that in a lot of contests.

          • Outis says:

            Consider the number of ladyboys in Thailand. When there is a social and economic advantage in doing so, a much larger proportion of people in the intermediate area of the spectrum (whatever spectrum it is) ends up crossing the gap. Fame and success in international sports should be a very attractive carrot for lots of people in poor countries.

          • Nornagest says:

            I was going to say that women’s sports isn’t much of a carrot, but then I saw the bit about poor countries. You might actually get big incentives there on the margins, though I think there’s still some path-dependence issues.

            And probably just in a few events. Anything highly technical or subjectively judged would be less affected, because you need top-level coaching to be competitive there and that’s a privilege of wealth (national or individual).

          • Outis says:

            So the women’s sports that will survive will be those who rely less on pure athleticism and more on finesse, skill and elegance?

          • Anonymous says:

            With that big a difference in sample size, we’d expect the highest-performing cis-women to be a much more elite group than their trans counterparts, to the tune of at least a couple SD. I seem to recall the difference in male/female records, even ignoring hormones, is smaller than that in a lot of contests.

            Supposing that this study accurately depicts the difference in male/female strength (and it’s not an oddball finding at all), I would expect that an average man claiming to be a woman would be extremely competitive at least in strength-based sports.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            It might not make a difference for your local women’s softball league.

            But at anything really serious, like the Olympics? In lots of sports, a man who trains lightly is competitive with a Olympian woman who trains as a fulltime job. You only need 10 men in the world to decide to compete as women and they will have all the medal positions in anything objective.

          • onyomi says:

            Yeah, I’m all in favor of letting people self-identity, change their birth certificate, etc. however they want, but if we’re still going to have women’s sports, you simply can’t have people with Y chromosomes competing in them. It’s simply not fair. It’s not even fair if that person has recently been on hormone therapy or had surgery, because all the muscular strength, bone density, etc. from years of man-level testosterone are still going to be there.

          • dndnrsn says:

            There seem to be three different claims being made here.

            One is “trans women, under current rules, will outcompete cis women”. However, as I understand it, the current rules in the Olympics are that trans men can compete without mandatory hormones or surgery and trans women can compete without mandatory surgery but must prove that their testosterone has been below a cutoff for a while – essentially, that they must have been taking medical steps to have a female rather than male hormonal profile.

            Hormones are the big part here – everything I’ve read (not an expert though) suggests that it’s the hormones that give men significant advantages in strength, muscle mass, fat distribution (for obvious reasons, men carry less fat than women, which helps them in weight class sports), anaerobic and aerobic endurance, speed, etc etc etc.

            I think the rule used to be 2 years on hormones for trans women competing in the Olympics. We haven’t seen any trans women come in and obliterate female world records, etc. In MMA (not an Olympic sport obviously) Fallon Fox was controversial because she was demolishing her opponents. Then she got TKO’d pretty badly, and while she’s picked up a couple wins since then, she’s kind of fallen off the radar. “Prospect picks up some devastating wins, loses, everybody forgets about them” is a super common career trajectory in MMA, and the whole sequence of events suggests her being trans had nothing to do with it.

            The second is “if they allow trans women not on hormones to compete, they will dominate”. This is probably true, because, again, hormones. There’s no reason to think that athletes with female hormonal profiles can, for most sports, perform even remotely close to athletes of the same level with male hormonal profiles and plenty of reasons to think the opposite. Just look at the world records: the best female sprinter is far behind male also-rans, the best female weightlifters are easily outlifted by men several weight classes below them (even allowing some wiggle room for body fat % difference), etc. There are some exceptions (gymnastics maybe). And this is true across skill experience levels: consider that elite female athletes get outperformed by boys’ teams consisting of kids barely out of puberty.

            But I think it’s highly unlikely that governing bodies would allow this. And it’s probably pretty unlikely that trans activists will push for it: I can’t imagine much worse for optics than a bunch of trans women not on hormones showing up and winning everything.

            The third is “men will claim to be women so they can face easier competition”. I don’t think this is a realistic problem, any more than I think men claiming to be women to get into the women’s washroom is a realistic problem, for similar reasons. Also, in elite athletics, you get a personality type that doesn’t really want the easiest competition possible.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            However, as I understand it, the current rules in the Olympics are that trans men can compete

            For most sports, the “men’s” category is better understood as “open.” Anyone can go in. Other leagues, like “senior” or “women’s” exist because they otherwise can’t compete in the open league.

            The third is “men will claim to be women so they can face easier competition”. I don’t think this is a realistic problem, any more than I think men claiming to be women to get into the women’s washroom is a realistic problem, for similar reasons

            It doesn’t need to be common. It needs to happen ten times, in the world. Also check Wikipedia for women champions who had titles revoked after refusing sex tests.

            Hormones are the big part here – everything I’ve read (not an expert though) suggests that it’s the hormones that give men significant advantages in strength, muscle mass, fat distribution (for obvious reasons, men carry less fat than women, which helps them in weight class sports), anaerobic and aerobic endurance, speed, etc etc etc.

            Has a transman, pre-op or post-op, on hormones or not, ever been competitive in men’s sports? All the cases on Wikipedia were of people being competitive in women’s contests, or transitioning after a career in men’s sports (Jenner).

            Usian Bolt is 6 foot 5 inches. Would he shrink if he started taking hormones?

          • dndnrsn says:

            Jenner is a trans woman. I can’t think of any trans athletes, male or female, who had athletic careers after they transitioned other than Fox, and she’s not an especially elite fighter in her division. I was under the impression the concern here is for what might happen in future.

            Frame is a factor, but the ideal body type varies from sport to sport, and there’s probably more of an overlap in terms of frame than in terms of strength etc.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Richards went from being just outside the top 5 for 35+ men, and doing quite well in the Navy, to being just at or outside the top 20 for either all women or 35+ women (the Wikipedia article isn’t quite clear) in her mid-40s – if it’s “all women” that’s obviously more impressive, although I don’t really know tennis very well and don’t know if it’s a sport where people burn out young or not. The Wikipedia article doesn’t indicate whether the hormone injections in the 60s continued after that, or if she went off hormones after deciding not to transition in the 60s, and went back on when she did in fact transition.

            For the purposes of argument, let’s assume the latter. So by 1977, when she’s playing pro, she’s 43 and has been on hormones for at least 2 years, having transitioned in 1975. If she’s ranked top 20 or so among all women in her mid 40s, that’s more or less impressive depending on how people in their 40s do in tennis in general. But you find outliers in terms of age in lots of sports – there’s the occasional 40something even in sports where athletes usually peak in their early 30s, for instance – so it isn’t necessarily Richards having an advantage over cis women. If on the other hand she’s ranked top 20 or so for women over 35+, that’s not a massive deal, even taking into account the difference between mid 40s and late 30s.

            So, at most, this is someone transitioning and doing better as a woman than as a man, relative to age, but still not well enough to be anything special.

            Richards is quoted as saying that if she had transitioned at 22 and returned to tennis at 24, she thinks she would have obliterated the competition. Even if this is the case, though, we haven’t seen it happen, and it would be allowed by current IOC rules.

            If trans women who had 1 or 2 years of hormones under their belt could come in and dominate women’s sports, wouldn’t it have happened already?

          • Richard says:

            Not sure about women, but I believe Arthur Ashe is still the oldest male to win Wimbledon and that was IIRC @ 31, mid seventies some time. The Williams sisters are probably older than that, but you don’t get much more extreme outliers than them.

            Edit: Turns our Navratilova is the Oldest champion of all time for singles of either sex with a win @ 33.

          • dndnrsn says:

            That makes it seem as though tennis is a sport where you peak a little later than the norm (quick Googling suggests late 20s is the average peak), but makes mid 40s look more impressive than I had estimated.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d say the opposite is true. Women’s sports exist because their participants can not compete with men.
      If you let intesex in it will become “Intersex’s sports”, if you let transwomen in it will become “Transwomen’s sports”. It doesn’t matter that there are few intersex and transwomen, olympic athletes are an even smaller percentage of the population.

  21. Kevin C. says:

    What’s the opinion here on Franz Joseph Gall? On one hand, his attempt to connect localization of function with skull morphology was seriously misguided. On the other hand, localization of function, and the naturalistic approach to mental activity as a function of the brain are essential components of modern neuroscience and psychology. Further, the technology to effectively measure brain activity wasn’t there yet. Also, much of phrenology came more from his associate Johann Spurzheim that Gall. He also systematized brain dissection from random cutting to slow, systematic exploration of structure.
    (I can’t remember the source, but I’ve also read a book which, quoting the rival scientists of the time, pointed out that even most scientific opposition to the idea of localization of function was opposition the mind having specific subfunctions or any sort of divisibility at all, because first, we experience a unified sense of self, and second, because “nothing dies but by dissolution”, and so a truly indivisible, “atomic” (in the original sense of the word) mind is therefore incapable of dissolution (thus immortality of the soul).)

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Why do you care? You sound like you are contemplating ancestor worship and you want to determine if he is worthy.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Sorry, that was supposed to be a preface to a longer comment, but in the end I didn’t have anything else to say and I would have deleted the original, but lost that ability in a posting accident.

    • Earthly Knight says:

      David Hull once wrote an interesting article comparing phrenology with sociobiology (the forerunner of evolutionary psychology). It’s called Sociobiology: Scientific bandwagon or traveling medicine show? Well worth reading if you have the appropriate journal access.

  22. windmill tilter says:

    You can be famous as an individual but also famous as part of a group. The ancient Romans are collectively much more famous as a group than as individuals-meaning that if you take the admiration given to the group “ancient Romans” by later peoples and divide it by the number of Romans, that amount of admiration is much bigger than that given to the average Roman during their lives or by people who knew them personally. Do you agree?

    • onyomi says:

      Somewhat related observation in favor of the advantages of smaller political bodies and greater cultural diversity: I feel like, while there is no doubt nations and cultures with big populations like China, India, and the USA get taken more seriously on the international stage than nations and cultures with smaller populations, nevertheless, if you were divide the degree to which everyone takes seriously, eg China by the population of China, you’d find that the citizens and culture of e g, South Korea, Ireland, and Sweden get way more love, per capita, than China.

      Like, if you have a distinctive language, culture, cuisine, etc., and especially if you have your own polity, I feel like, on some level, your group of 1 million people is nonetheless seen as being on par with a group of 1 billion people, if those 1 billion are also perceived (even to some extent wrongly, as is the case with China) to have one language, culture, and polity. The dialects of China, for example, are as different as French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian, but what university with a Spanish, French, and Italian department has a Mandarin, Wu, and Cantonese department, even though the number of native Wu speakers is greater than the number of native French speakers? If China broke into several different countries intent on asserting their difference rather than their sameness, however, this might be different, though.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        You are failing to take into account that you are already in the US. Through familiarity, you are contemptuous of the States, and discount how much everyone everywhere else wants to come here.

        Edit:
        The tone of this doesn’t read as I intended. I was just trying to riff on the common phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” to show that you are always going to find “exotic” locales intrinsically more attractive than home. The “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”, so to speak.

        Well, that and my sense is that the US is still the preferred destination for immigration by a wide margin worldwide.

        • onyomi says:

          Is this a response to my post? If so, I don’t see how.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’m attacking the premise that the US gets less love/respect per capita.

          • onyomi says:

            I didn’t say anything about desirability of moving to a place. I’m talking about cultural impact and political gravitas. Also, the US is somewhat exceptional in that it probably gets the most love/respect on a cultural level of any one nation-state-cultural unit. Therefore, the US could be an exception to the rule and it could still hold pretty generally.

            Nevertheless, consider: the US has 70x the population of Ireland. Does it seem like American culture gets 70 times the level of respect as Irish culture? Do people think of the United States as 7000% more important than Ireland, politically?

            I’m not talking about realpolitik, I’m saying when people think of nation-states and cultures, I think they think of American culture and Irish culture as existing on something of the same conceptual level. They don’t think, “oh, there’s Irish culture and then there’s this amazing amalgamation of 70+ other equivalent cultures we call the USA.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            I think the majority of people in the world don’t think of Ireland at all.

          • ChetC3 says:

            Ireland seems like an exceptional case. How much of its cultural cachet comes from Ireland itself, as opposed to from American culture’s outspoken love of all things Irish? My first impulse is to class Ireland with Scotland and the Scandinavian countries – countries whose cultural influence is out of proportion to their tiny populations, and which coincidentally have significant diasporas in the US.

          • brad says:

            After Ireland population-wise come Liberia, Oman, Croatia, and Kuwait. I don’t think any of them come close to Ireland in terms of cultural impact and political gravitas.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @brad:
            And what gavitas does Ireland (or, better yet, Croatia) hold in Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil or Chile?

          • brad says:

            Even if we say that Ireland doesn’t hold much gravitas in India, I still think it is fair to say it holds more than Croatia in India, even though they are comparably sized. I was intending to agree with ChetC3 that there are other factors involved than just size.

            Anyway, I don’t think that collective fame per capita is very meaningful to me so it is an academic question.

          • onyomi says:

            The point is definitely not that nation-states of equivalent population levels will have equivalent political/cultural gravitas. It is, rather, that, all else equal, a given group of people seem to attain greater political/cultural gravitas, per capita, if they have their own state, culture, language, cuisine, etc. than if they are seen as just part of a much bigger conglomeration.

            To take a US case: it is clear that California has more cultural impact in the world than South Dakota. Its population is 50x that of South Dakota, which is also less than 1/300th of the US population. Now imagine that this proposal for parts of North and South Dakota+low-population areas of a few other states to secede and form a new nation were to somehow succeed. Imagine also that they manage to make Lakota the official language and start to become known for having a unique cuisine and culture in this area.

            Even after all this, they will still have nowhere near the total impact on world culture as California does as a part of the US. Yet might it not be more than 1/300th the impact of the US? Put another way, by being part of the US, Californians are actually diluting the recognition they get for their cultural achievements, given that Californian cultural products have a much bigger influence than most of the rest of the US.

            So independent California would probably get more recognition, per capita than independent South Dakota; but would Californians, as part of the larger group called “Americans,” get more recognition, per capita than independent South Dakota? It’s much less certain, since it means being 300x more impactful rather than 70x.

          • onyomi says:

            Re. why I think this matters: there seems to be a big overlap between the people who claim to care about cultural diversity and the people who are dead set against, e. g. Brexit. Yet to me it seems obvious that political unity in e. g. China, is a very strong force for cultural assimilation and erasure of diversity.

            It seems to me that what the anti-Brexit types really want, at the end of the day, is one world government where everyone speaks Spanglish-Mandarin and looks like Tiger Woods. That isn’t necessarily inferior to a world with a million different systems and a million different unique, local cultures (well, I think it is, but not objectively so), but if that’s what they want, then they should be honest about it.

            I’m sure some think that we can somehow simultaneously achieve political/legislative unity while also enjoying maximal cultural diversity, but all of history seems to deny this possibility.

          • ReluctantEngineer says:

            I think Onyomi is on to something. To get out of the Anglosphere, does Minas Gerais (population ~20,000,000) have as much “gravitas”/influence/whatever as Chile (population ~18,000,000)? I’m pretty sure the answer is that no, Chile is generally a bigger deal than Minas Gerais, despite having a smaller population. I’m further pretty sure this is because Minas Gerais is a subset of a larger polity.

          • onyomi says:

            The Olympics seem to be a good index: Chile gets its own team for any event they can field a team. Does Minas Gerais get its own team?

          • Anonymous says:

            t seems to me that what the anti-Brexit types really want, at the end of the day, is one world government where everyone speaks Spanglish-Mandarin and looks like Tiger Woods. That isn’t necessarily inferior to a world with a million different systems and a million different unique, local cultures (well, I think it is, but not objectively so), but if that’s what they want, then they should be honest about it.

            You see the problem inherent in pulling a secret goal for other people out of thin air and then condemning them for not being honest about this goal you decided they must have, right?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            “It seems to me that what the anti-Brexit types really want”

            There probably exists at least one anti-Brexit type for whom your assessment of their beliefs is accurate, but I don’t think there are many. Most anti-Brexit types don’t want to have their country’s economy collapse, or for racist people to get political power. Cultural unity isn’t a consideration.

          • onyomi says:

            “You see the problem inherent in pulling a secret goal for other people out of thin air and then condemning them for not being honest about this goal you decided they must have, right?”

            As I stated, I’m sure there are many, probably even most who don’t actually see this as the logical endpoint of their view. What I’m saying is that it is the logical endpoint, and that if they are okay with that, so be it. I’m not saying that most are consciously being hypocritical, but that these two views, commonly held by the same people, are not actually compatible.

            Edit: I’ll agree that claiming what “they really want” was a poor choice of words. Better to say that this seems to be the logical endpoint of what they want. That said, I have seen lots of people claim that an eventual end to racial diversity through intermarriage would be a good thing. And while I don’t think there’s any necessary connection between racial diversity and cultural diversity, and I do value the latter more highly, the idea that we can have that degree of intermarriage and still maintain a high level of cultural diversity feels doubtful.

          • NN says:

            Also, and I know this is incredibly pedantic, widespread interracial marriage does not result in everyone looking like Tiger Woods. See Brazil.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The small polity might increase in local “x”.

            But you are discounting all of the places their “x” will drop to near zero.

            China cares a great deal about the US. So does Japan. So do Myanmar, Australia, Germany, Croatia, Kyrgzstan, Mongolia, etc.

            How much will those places care about the Republic of North Dakota, absent some political upheaval to be exploited (which will still just be a measure of how much “x” being near to the US confers)?

          • onyomi says:

            “Also, and I know this is incredibly pedantic, widespread interracial marriage does not result in everyone looking like Tiger Woods. See Brazil.”

            My Tiger Woods comment is sort of a joke, but in defense of my joke, Brazil probably greatly lacks Asian DNA relative to the world average.

            If the result is increased skill in magic as with, e. g., the liger, however, I’m all in favor.

          • Adam says:

            Re. why I think this matters: there seems to be a big overlap between the people who claim to care about cultural diversity and the people who are dead set against, e. g. Brexit. Yet to me it seems obvious that political unity in e. g. China, is a very strong force for cultural assimilation and erasure of diversity.

            Communist countries are particularly bad examples, though. The Cultural Revolution and Russification were specifically intended to wipe out diversity.

            I have no idea what it’s like in England. I’ve never been there and probably never will, but I don’t think the EU was shutting down Anglican churches and throwing people into forced labor camps because they refused to stop practicing traditional shepherding techniques in the Highlands or something (analogy to the stupid things the Soviet government did to the Chukchi).

            This seems a bit weird specifically coming from you. Aren’t you in favor of open borders because of the efficiency gains from labor mobility? I thought free labor mobility between member nations is exactly what the Brexiters are protesting and why they wanted to leave.

          • ReluctantEngineer says:

            How much will those places care about the Republic of North Dakota, absent some political upheaval to be exploited (which will still just be a measure of how much “x” being near to the US confers)?

            I’m pretty sure the answer is “Not much, but more than they currently care about the state of North Dakota.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Reluctant Engineer:
            Only if you discount the part where the state of North Dakota is in the U.S.

            If the County of Sligo were to Slexit from Ireland, and started proudly proclaiming themselves as Sligoan (and disavowing Irishness) they would have far less cultural currency than being Sligoan AND Irish.

            I’m willing to concede that getting all the cartographers in the world to draw your lines on a map as a separate country gives some small bump in currency, in so much as any kid who has to memorize the names of all the countries in the word will now memorize yours, but I really don’t think anyone gives flying rip about Kyrgyzstan’s culture, and I don’t think that really changed when they re-gained their independence.

          • ReluctantEngineer says:

            It may be that nobody cares about Kyrgyztan’s culture, but it is definitely the case that these days, if you want to negotiate some sort of trade deal with Kyrgyztan, you go to Bishkek instead of going to Moscow.

            Edit: And specifically Re: the Hypothetical Republic of North Dakota losing influence etc. by leaving the U.S.: the people of North Dakota, who make up all of 0.2% of the US population, would have essentially no influence within the US if it weren’t for the fact that the US system gives them a disproportionate amount of power on the grounds that they are a state rather than a city or county or whatever.

          • Anonymous says:

            This seems a bit weird specifically coming from you. Aren’t you in favor of open borders because of the efficiency gains from labor mobility? I thought free labor mobility between member nations is exactly what the Brexiters are protesting and why they wanted to leave.

            See http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/06/22/open-thread-52-25/#comment-378065

          • onyomi says:

            “Aren’t you in favor of open borders because of the efficiency gains from labor mobility?”

            Somewhere also in an earlier thread on Brexit I expressed my wish for a “third way” between political unity and protectionism. My ideal world is politically highly divided but with a high degree of freedom of movement and trade. The mobility alone might conceivably result in less cultural diversity than I’d ideally like, but I’m not against cultural exchange, and some reduction in diversity might be the price necessary for a globalized economy and for having authentic Thai food in the same neighborhood as authentic Mexican food.

            Also, I think it’s immoral to unnaturally limit people’s freedom of movement and trade, but I also think it’s immoral to force people to stay in political unions they don’t desire: hence free trade with small polities is my ideal, though there may be some degree of inevitable tradeoff.

          • “After Ireland population-wise come Liberia, Oman, Croatia, and Kuwait. I don’t think any of them come close to Ireland in terms of cultural impact and political gravitas.”

            In terms of cultural impact, ancient Iceland is off scale. A population of about fifty thousand people in a far corner of the world seven hundred years ago producing (I’m guessing) ten to twenty books that are currently in print in English translation.

            The obvious competitors, in output per capita, would be Elizabethan England and Periclean Athens, both of which had much larger populations.

      • Timothy says:

        Iceland. The place has ~330k people, about the same as Santa Ana, California, much less than dozens of Chinese cities I mostly ain’t heard of.

      • tmk says:

        As the saying goes: a language is a dialect with an army.

      • @ onyomi:

        Speaking of cultural regions within the U.S., it is very striking how much cultural currency the New England states have, both individually and as a group, and how comparatively little the adjoining part of upstate New York has.

        Apart from the seacoast, the two regions have closely similar landscape and climate. But Upstate New York is deeply depressed and widely ignored, and has been for decades, whereas New England thrives on plentiful national attention.

        You can see a really dramatic difference between Vermont, which has an outsize role in the culture, with a wildly positive reputation for the last century at least, and the comparably sized area immediately west of Vermont, which is little thought of.

        Think, for example, of Bernie Sanders’ home town of Burlington, VT, a highly regarded place which millions of Americans would be willing to move to if they could. Directly across Lake Champlain is the seemingly very comparable college town of Plattsburgh, NY — but it has none of Burlington’s stellar national reputation. One measure of the difference is housing values: the average house in Burlington is worth $256,700, whereas the average house in Plattsburgh is worth $143,000.

        Another measure of cultural salience: Wikipedia’s list of American television series by setting. The list shows only five TV series set in upstate New York (three of those are in Buffalo, so far west that it’s almost Midwestern, and the other two are fictional places). But New England has 44, including 25 in Massachusetts alone. That’s more than five times more TV series per capita!

        Wikipedia lists 586 movies set in New England. It’s harder to tell how many were specifically set in Upstate New York, versus NYC and suburbs, but it’s probably a lot less than 200.

        It’s no wonder that many Americans are only dimly aware that New York State extends much outside Manhattan.

        New York thinks of itself as The Empire State, ruling a domain that runs from Long Island to Lake Erie, but it’s clear that much of that territory would have been better off divided into smaller separate states with their own individual identities.

        • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

          “closely similar landscape” is doing a lot of work here.

          Directly across Lake Champlain from Burlington is a mountain, soaring sharply a thousand feet above the shore. Plattsburg is a fair bit to the north because it is the only place on the western shore to actually put a city. The eastern side however is relatively flat for a several miles inland.

          And this wide-ish flattish region is fairly accessible from the coast. Because the geology of the Adirondacks and green mountains is quite a bit different. While the green mountains (Vermont) is, very roughly, a series of North-south ridges that open onto the coastal region, the Adirondacks (NY) is a big clusterfuck that leads nowhere. Seriously, there’s no reason to go through the Adirondacks.

          Oh, and the Adirondacks is a freaking park the same size as Vermont. And insofar as people actually live there, they are preoccupied with preventing anyone else from building anything on the same lake as them. The archtypical architectural form is the “great camp.” Emphasis on the great part and not so much the camp part, because we’re taking about the “only a few dozens of servants is a hardship” kind of camping.

          And it probably was kind of a hardship, because the mountains are such a clusterfuck the only way to get around is to carry your boat (or have your servants do it) over the mountain to the next lake. Roads were basically unheard of until fairly well into 20th century. Even now, lots of private property is only accessible by water or a ten mile cross country hike.

          Despite all of that, the Olympics were hosted in the Adirondacks back when they were actually relevant.

          Upstate NY has a rich and unique culture that never got out much because there was no reason to build a road there. The only people that went there were the the ultra-elite old money from NYC looking to have servants hold a wounded deer down while they bludgeon it with an oar because they emptied the rifle and only managed to wound it in some kind of Victorian masculinity thing. Western NY is where the economic development was. Because geology, and the Erie canal.

  23. Orbiting says:

    What do Scott/other people knowledgeable about psychiatry on here think about the studies (I can’t post links because then the comment doesn’t show up, but here are some names: Second Generation Antipsychotic-Induced Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms in Schizophrenia: A Review of the Experimental Literature, 2014, Trehani M. Fonseka, Peggy M. A. Richter; Comorbid obsessive-compulsive symptoms in schizophrenia: contributions of pharmacological and genetic factors, 2013, Frederike Schirmbeck, Mathias Zink; Do antipsychotics ameliorate or exacerbate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms? A systematic review, 2004, Jitender Sareen et al.) showing second-generation antipsychotics might induce or exacerbate obsessive-compulsive symptoms – might this be a real effect?

    • Zorgon says:

      The first reports indicated that the truck jack-knifed across the road, while the later ones indicate it was turning. I could easily ignore the first, as it sounds like a complete freak accident, but the second does sound very worrying.

    • The headlines are also misleading as the mode it was driving in was specifically designated as assisted driving and was in beta. The driver is supposed to remain available and give their attention to the road. I am all in favor of AI driven cars, but the guy was too reliant on the automatic controls and then had a freak accident. Not that I trust the fear mongers on this one, the sample size is small, but autonomous cars have no where near the accident rate as normal people doing their normal shitty driving.

      • NN says:

        Not that I trust the fear mongers on this one, the sample size is small, but autonomous cars have no where near the accident rate as normal people doing their normal shitty driving.

        Last year, a study found that self-driving cars had higher per-mile accident rates than human driven cars.

        http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/10/31/study-self-driving-cars-accidents/74946614/

        • Njordsier says:

          That article claims the rate of accidents for self-driving cars is five times higher, but when you control for unreported minor accidents, the rate is twice as high.

          I’m going to wager that the remaining higher per-mile accident rate for self-driving cars is mostly caused by self-driving cars staying on city roads, where traffic is slower and there is a much higher density of decisions per mile for all parties. To my knowledge, most self-driving car testing has taken place off of highways.

          This article corroborates the idea that the per-mile accident rate for city driving is higher than highway driving:

          Ironically, the part of driving that people fear the most [highways] turns out to be the safest part. Federal transportation data have consistently shown that highways are considerably safer than other roads… For instance, in 2007 0.54 people were killed for every 100 million vehicle miles driven on urban interstates, compared with 0.92 for every 100 million vehicle miles driven on other urban highways and arterials, and 1.32 killed on local urban streets.
          And here’s an even more striking irony: one of the major things that makes highways scary is also a major thing that makes them safe.
          And what is that magical essence? Well, just consider what makes accidents so rare on highways. For one thing, everyone is headed in the same direction at about the same speed. No trucks are pulling out randomly from side streets, no SUVs are throwing on their brakes to make an impulsive left turn. On a highway, each driver’s options are severely limited. And that means it’s much harder for them to create unpleasant surprises for one another.

          Keep in mind the statistic this article tracks is the death rate, not the accident rate, but I would expect the death rate per accident to be higher for highways than city driving (which is why they’re testing self-driving cars off of highways first). So the rate of accidents per mile off of the highway is probably several times larger than that off the highway.

          Let’s pretend the accident rate per mile is 3 times higher in the city than on the highway, which is a conservative estimate considering that the death rate per mile is 1.32 per 100 million vehicle miles in the city and 0.54 per 100 million vehicle miles on the highway, and considering that accidents on the highway are probably much more likely to be fatal than accidents off of the highway. Then we need to ask what fraction of miles drivers spend on the highway versus off to determine how to control for this confounder. I can’t find data on what proportion of miles a typical driver spends on the highway versus city roads, but the higher self-driving car accident rate goes away if that number is >=75% by my back-of-the-envelope calculation.

          Can anyone with better Google-fu than me find data on either the highway-versus-non-highway accident rate per mile, or the proportion of miles drivers spend on highways versus non-highways? My hypothesis is that the higher accident rate for self-driving cars can be completely explained by the fact that self-driving cars so far have driven exclusively on roads that have an inherent higher accident rate (but lower inherent death rate), but I want better data before drawing final conclusions.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Note that your quote had 3 numbers, not just highway vs local road. Freeways are the safest and local roads the most deadly per-mile, but other highways (like the one in the Tesla crash) are about midway in between.

            which is why they’re testing self-driving cars off of highways first

            No, self-driving cars started testing on freeways decades before anything else, because it’s so easy. The two non-google samples in the study are only on highways. The first generation of google cars, the ones with professional tester behind the wheel ready to take over, they tested everywhere. But, yes, the second generation of cars with passengers not paying attention are limited to 25mph for safety. (Also, if the machine gives up, it has a lot more options at low speed, like just stopping.)

            Tesla considers freeway driving a solved problem, which is why they made it a commercial product. I believe that google considers highway driving to be a solved problem. They aren’t testing highway driving because they don’t need more data. But what they learn on local roads will definitely help them on highways, if only spotting traffic lights. But mainly they’re trying to learn how to drive at 45mph, which they consider pretty much identical to 25mph, just more dangerous.

      • Montfort says:

        Somewhat related: July 1st (the day the story broke to most people) was the first time I noticed anyone driving a Tesla in the self-driving mode. His hands were off the wheel and he was looking away from the road.

        Of course, anyone driving with their hands on the wheel, I’d have no way of knowing if it was self-driving or not.

  24. Zorgon says:

    Interesting akrasia note:

    I have been effectively self-employed for the past six months. In that time, I have struggled a great deal with actually getting constructive work done; distractions in my home environment are both plentiful and effectively unavoidable, and my projects have therefore proceeded exceedingly slowly.

    However, I have recently taken on some external contracting work with a new startup, and over the past month I have noticed a marked improvement in my output and ability to focus. Most notable, though, is that said contracting work is part time, and I have noticed my output increase in both my startup work and my personal projects. I’ve probably done more work on my projects in the past month than in the past 6 combined, in fact.

    To say I did not expect this outcome is an understatement, and I as yet do not fully understand it. I will note that this has also coincided with a general improvement in my health, which may be a chicken-and-egg situation; I don’t know which way the causal arrow goes there. I don’t feel consciously more driven or confident. The only personally-discernible change (other than the obvious improvement in my output) has been an improvement in the frequency and quality of my flow states, and I have no idea why the presence of exterior-determined tasks would improve that.

    (Also, if you notice a sudden plummet in my incessant ranting comments about gender politics, you now know why…)

    • Even weirder, I have always noticed I counter-intuitively get the most done and have the most free time when I am the busiest. I think this is because a packed schedule means that instead of slacking off doing nothing, I am very purposeful about my free-time as well as my personal projects. Once I realized it, I made myself deadlines like posting on my blog twice a week so I could artificially create that environment. Success is mixed, but still correlates positively with how busy everything else in my life is.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It’s not cross cultural so the analogy doesn’t really work. For example, if a Japanese man wears a kimono it may be transgressive but it isn’t culture appropropriation because there no separate “women’s Japanese culture”.

  26. Ruprect says:

    I want to go on that tinder (or something like it) just to see if anyone will swipe my face. I don’t want anyone I know to know I’ve gone on it and I don’t want to meet anyone for a date.
    I just want to see how good my face is.

    Is there any way to do this?

    • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

      You can use tinder, always swipe yes and not talk to your matches.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Can you register for Tinder in a far away city? No one will know it’s you.

    • Nornagest says:

      I think there’s a subreddit for that. Don’t remember what it’s called, though.

    • Acedia says:

      Not sure if it still exists, but OKCupid used to have a thing where you could upload a photo of your face and have members of your chosen gender rate it for attractiveness (in return for doing a number of ratings yourself, to prevent freeloaders).

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        When we were kids we had to go to hotornot.com but that looks like a dating site now. I guess everything converges towards everything else.

        • Anonanon says:

          Oh wow, I was going to provisionally suggest that site, but couldn’t bring myself to visit it.

  27. Alliteration says:

    There is the concept that “Cthulhu always swims to the left”. I propose that instead “Cthulhu always swims towards nice.” Nice being defined as not wanting to hurt people in a direct manner that is easy to emotionally identify with.

    Nice-Cthulhu would explain why Communism failed in spite of on the left. Communism wasn’t nice (at least as it was implemented then). It also allows one to believe in Cthulhu without believe that left and right are coherent categories over time.

    As a mechanic for causing Nice-Cthulhu, I propose that improving communication technology help people empathize with distant people. However, that doesn’t seem like a sufficient force to cause all of Nice-Cthulhu because historical people seem be far more okay with hurting people extremely directly, like watch public executions for entertainment, et cetera.

    • Sandy says:

      Nice-Cthulhu doesn’t explain why the failure and/or atrocities of Communism aren’t held against it as a case-closed indictment of the ideology. It’s still very common for many people on the left to go nudge nudge, wink wink, Mao and Stalin and Ceaușescu weren’t real Communists, or their Communism wasn’t fully developed, or true Communism has never been tried, or whatever.

      Speaking of Cthulhu only swimming left, there was quite a bit of commotion when Lamdaconf invited Moldbug to their conference. Various leftists said “Oh, he’s a racist and people of color will feel unsafe around him, owing to the violent history of American racism”, never mind that Yarvin is literally incapable of making anyone heavier than 100 pounds feel unsafe around him. Over at Status 451, Simon Penner noted that one of the other conference speakers who led the crusade against Yarvin, a Mr. Jonathan Sterling, is a Communist who brandishes the hammer-and-sickle on his Twitter page and openly advocates Stalinist policies like sending enemies of the revolution to gulags. Penner is of Russian and Chinese ancestry, and so various members of his family have died or suffered at the hands of not one but two Communist revolutions. Thus Penner would have just reason to feel unsafe around someone like Jonathan Sterling, but if you start saying “Please ban Communists from conferences because they make some people feel unsafe, owing to the violent history of Communism”, it’s not going to get you very far.

      Communism may have just failed because it’s a stupid system, but Cthulhu always swimming to the left might explain why it is socially acceptable to pine for a “true Communist” state, or why people I know can call themselves Maoists in public without receiving the stigma that would be due to anyone who called themselves a Nazi in public.

      • Ruprect says:

        I don’t really get the sense that there are (now) many more people who proudly declare themselves “Maoists” than there are who proudly declare themselves “Nazis” – both seem to me to be fairly fringe positions. Certainly, the “Nazi” tag has a particularly bad reputation, but I’m not sure it would be any less socially acceptable to call yourself a “Falangist”, than it would be to call yourself a “Maoist” – anybody who knew what you were talking about would probably start inching towards the door with either.

        Also, surely the fact that there isn’t universal condemnation/support for something is irrelevent to the question of whether some general process exists – Marx believed that Cthulu swam left – he didn’t expect that everyone everywhere would always be happy about it, or that even if the future represented a general improvement each incremental step would be to everyone’s advantage.

        • Tibor says:

          It is interesting that this is the poeple’s reaction. My response to people with weird opinions (after all my own maybe-anarchocapitalism is probably even more fringe than maoism and falangism), especially when I do not agree with them, is to talk to them and try to understand their views. It does not always work. Many such people are either unwilling to talk to anyone who holds different views (so they might be willing to “explain” why they are right to you, but they do not tolerate anything but acceptance) or they are otherwise unreasonable and unable to argue for their position in an interesting way. But I don’t want to miss those who do.

          Moldbug has a really weird set of ideas, maybe even more fringe than anarcho-capitalism, I have never even heard of it before I visited Scott’s blog. I also disagree with a vast majority of his views. But he can argue well for it and even if I still find the argument lacking in the end or find a rebuttal by Scott for example more persuasive, it is fun and interesting to learn about it. I would treat a similarly civil Maoist the same way.

          I would suggest that communism is more tolerated than full blown nazism because many people care a lot about intentions and only then about means and only then about whether it actually works the way it is imagined. A communist paradise, as described by a communist, is not such a bad place to live. I’d still not like it even if it were able to provide the wealth and prosperity the communists think it would, but compared to “we have this group of people who are the Chosen and what we should do is to make sure they are well off at the cost of others, ideally we should get rid of the others, because they weaken the glorious Chosen”, it feels “nicer”. And even when someone advocates gulags, it is “just for the bad people” who are bad because of their Wrong Views, not because of something they cannot change like their ethnicity. I don’t see it as in any way better myself but I can understand why someone would. And then Moldbug is simply put into the same category as the neonazis without any introspection, because people cannot be bothered with finding out what he actually says.

          It could also be universalism versus localism. Neonazis cannot be universalistic simply due to the nature of their ideology. Communism can at least in the ideology be entirely universalistic (even if it has always been just as nationalistic in practice, but of course “those were not real communists”). If the Cthulhu swims any way, it might be towards universalism. And he has been swimming that way for some time. For example Christianity or Islam are much more universalistic than all the local Gods (even if for example the Romans were very inclusive about the new Gods, they just kept adding them to the pantheon, but still it was not as all-encompassing as the One True God, which is apparently usually a much more successful meme, even if potentially also much more dangerous).

        • DavidS says:

          You may be talking about more literal Maoists, but ‘Maoist’ can have (at least in political-type circles in the UK) an overtone that isn’t to do with Mao’s precise policies, or Communism or even the left.

          For instance, David Cameron the British PM once described Michael Gove as a ‘bit of a Maoist’ in the sense that he believes in progress through creative destruction. For non-UK watchers, Michael Gove is in the (right-wing) Conservative Party, and not on the left of it. I’ve also heard people talk about ‘Maoism’ meaning permanent revolution, even if this is something technical like ‘we have to constantly strive to update the software rather than thinking we can have a single solution’

          • Tibor says:

            I am not so good at differentiating between communist sects, but I thought that the permanent revolution was Trocky’s idea. I am not sure how Maoism differs from Marxism-Leninism except that Maoism gives the leading role to the farmers and not to the workers. But the proposed policies seem to be the same.

            I did not know about this UK-specific meaning of the word Maoist. I imagine it can be really confusing to non-British.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      You’re probably already familiar with him, but Stephen Pinker made a broadly similar argument in ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature.’

      I don’t find the argument convincing, not because of any particular counterargument but more out of a learned suspicion of the intellectual honesty of those who would support Whig history with statistics. When I see the distortions and outright lies just about the supposed decline of violence in the last century it hardens me against similar claims about remote historical periods. It is in the interest of modern thought-leaders to exaggerate the brutality of the past while painting a rosy picture of the present. Of course, if you have more trust in social science academia then your conclusion could easily be the reverse of mine.

      Anyway, I think that Nice is a bit less accurate than Millenarian. Almost all modern ideologies and religious movements explicitly promise utopia for their followers. And utopia is nothing if not pleasant. But it also justifies essentially unlimited atrocities to get there.

      • Outis says:

        Could you elaborate on the distortion and lies about the decline of violence in the last century?

  28. Traveler says:

    I need computer advice.

    I will be traveling overseas shortly to a remote location for several months with my wife for her work. I plan to do a lot of writing while we are there. I can use my wife’s laptop some of the time for things like web browsing, but I would like to have my own laptop to write on.

    I am wary of buying a new laptop because of the risks of it getting stolen and because the electricity there tends to ruin the batteries on American electronic devices. I have a ~10-year old Lenovo 3000 n100 Laptop (http://www.cnet.com/products/lenovo-3000-n/specs/). The battery does not work, and the computer only works if I take the battery out. I am considering bringing that and using it just as a word processor. The only thing besides writing Word documents I would likely use it for would be reading PDFs. However, it is still slow and it occasionally freezes up with a blue screen of death. I’ve already uninstalled/deleted almost everything non-essential from the computer, and do not plan on even using it for Internet (although I haven’t gotten rid of Internet connectivity from it yet).

    Do folks here who are (unlike me) tech-savvy have any advice on how to convert an old laptop like this into a workable word processor? A bit of Googling reveals some people advising me to install Ubuntu. Is this a good idea? (I’ve never used Ubuntu before.) Are there other things I could/should do?

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      Ubuntu is probably too heavy for your laptop. Try Puppy Linux instead. It’s really fast even on old machines. You download the .iso file and burn it on a CD or install it on a USB drive with Universal USB Installer.

      Do you know how to get your computer to boot from a CD/USB?

      • Traveler says:

        I do not. Is it the generally same process for most PCs, or do I need to look something up for my computer in particular?

        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          It’s a similar process for most computers, but the exact details vary. When your computer is starting (before Windows loads) there is a message telling you which keys to press to access the boot menu and the BIOS setup (example 1, example 2, example 3). If you just want to boot from a CD/USB once, then you can go to the boot menu and pick your drive. If you want to change the order of drives your computer boots from (so that it always tries to boot from a CD before booting from the hard drive, for example) you go into the BIOS setup and change the boot order.

          If you need more help, try this tutorial.

      • Tibor says:

        What about Lubuntu?

        • Traveler says:

          Looking at Wikipedia this looks promising. Does jaime or anyone else want to weigh in?

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Probably a bit more user-friendly than Puppy, but probably a bit slower as well. It’s up to you whether that trade-off is worth it or not.

            Keep in mind that you can make two USBs/CDs and boot into both of them to try them out before which deciding which one to install on your laptop’s hard drive.

          • James says:

            I’ve used Puppy Linux as a boot disc (whenever I bork my machine badly enough that I need to boot from a disc) and lubuntu as a primary operating system. Lubuntu has the advantage of being primarily intended as a full-install operating system. I get the impression that Puppy is primarily intended for use as a live/boot disc, with installation onto hard disk/running as a primary operating system something as an afterthought. This might mean that the experience of running Lubuntu is just a little bit smoother in terms of ease of use/setting up. Then again, someone who has installed Puppy may well correct me.

            It may still be too much for your computer, though. There are plenty of other lightweight linux distros you could also look at, if so. (Too many, if anything – you can hardly swing a cat without hitting one.)

      • Theo Jones says:

        It looks like ram is really the limiting factor on that laptop (512 of ram is pushing it for modern distros). If traveler could get another 512 of ram to upgrade it with he could probably run the x32 editions of Ubuntu or Mint. Debian may also be an option. That old lenovo has similar ram to RPIs (512) and Debian is there preferred distro there.

    • Agronomous says:

      I know this isn’t the question you asked, but:

      You can get a 13″ ChromeBook for under $200. Some are as cheap as $149. Combine it with a 2GB USB drive for backup (in case it gets stolen), and you’ve got a very functional word-processor-plus-pdf-reader. I can vouch for its user-friendliness, since my non-techie wife rarely asks me for any help with hers (made by Acer).

      The only downside is it involves Google, who seem totally cool with having a Doodle about Yuri Kochiyama, who totally hearted the Shining Path and Osama bin Laden. That was the day I switched to Duck Duck Go.

      • Traveler says:

        ChromeBooks need to be connected to the Internet to be functional, right? Internet connection where we’ll be is very spotty; some days we will likely not be able to connect at all.

      • suntzuanime says:

        Why not take it just one step further, and refuse to associate with anyone who’s ever used Google?

    • Anonanon says:

      Check refurbished trade-in company laptops on newegg. My dad got one with a replaced battery for $110.
      Hell, you can get a Lenovo for $80.

      I stuck Mint on my old Toshiba Satellite. Worked fine for another year, but eventually started freezing at increasingly frequent intervals, until it finally just couldn’t boot—think it was a mobo/capacitor issue. If you’re already getting BSODs, you might not be able to trust it for the whole trip.

      • Traveler says:

        Does operating system make a big difference for intermittent BSODs? Or does this vary too much from case to case to give a helpful answer? (Even if the answer is ‘maybe”, the thing for me to do may be to install a new OS and then try using it for a couple of weeks before the trip. I should have time before our trip to see if my laptop is functional after reconfiguring it.)

        • Montfort says:

          The answer is “sometimes.” BSODs might be a hardware fault or might be some kind of software issue. A fresh OS will get rid of software issues, but doesn’t fix hardware (ignoring weird edge cases). Of course, the new OS might have some issues of its own, too, but that’s the risk you run.

        • Anonanon says:

          Yeah, sorry, I didn’t mean to imply a connection between Mint and the hardware issue. It’s just that if your machine is already having some kind of hardware issue, a lighter operating system won’t be a real “fix”.

          There’s also the issue of “trying to learn linux bullshit with an intermittent internet connection so you can’t look stuff up”. If you’re new to playing with operating systems, Puppy can be… a bit of a shock?

          One disadvantage to my suggestion: a refurbished machine will probably weigh the same as your current one, at around 6lb. A new chromebooky thing would be significantly lighter.

          Have you considered a cheapo tablet with a usb-keyboard-case? I got one to test out the whole tablet concept, and actually kinda like it.

          Advantages: lightweight, cheap, disposable, more durable than a laptop, twice the RAM of your old laptop, good battery life, even if you’re traveling to the People’s Democratic Republic of Bongo-Bongo literally nobody will want to steal it from you.

          Disadvantages: shitty OEM Android, typing’s awkward, potentially new OS if you don’t already have an android phone, you will look like a poorfag, filthy hobos will think you’re one of us and speak to you in public, and the natives and all your friends will laugh at you.

    • CatCube says:

      I’d like to echo the advice to check for hardware issues before getting too far into new OS stuff. One check to make if you were getting a lot of crashes in Windows is that your machine is not overclocked.

      It’s not likely, since slowness is a problem and it sounds like you bought it from a large supplier, but Microsoft was dealing with that happening at about the time you purchased your machine.

    • Traveler says:

      UPDATE: I have installed Lubuntu on the laptop. It seems to work pretty well, and I find it user-friendly so far. I think this will make the laptop usable for basic word processing.

      HOWEVER: My wife has reminded me that there are frequent power outages where we are going, and my laptop does not have a working battery. So bringing that is not a good option, and I am back to square one.

      NEW PLAN: I need to get a new device. Anonanon suggests a cheapo tablet with a keyboard, but I find it very difficult to write on that small of a screen. I am leaning towards a low-end laptop that I can use mainly for word processing, with occasional use for E-mail and light web browsing. Ideally I would like something that is light with a long battery life. A Chromebook would be ideal, except that I will have limited internet connectivity. So I need another option.

      Any suggestions?

      • Clockwork Arachnid says:

        If you’re looking for something inexpensive, not super powerful, but with a long battery life, you might want to check out HP’s Stream series of laptops. They’re basically chrome books that run windows 10, and are fine for word processing and very light other tasks, such as web browsing and email checking. I have the previous generation of this laptop and it works well enough, but it would be painful for any kind of heavy uses.

      • Traveler says:

        I’ve found an Acer Aspire One Cloudbook on Amazon that looks pretty nice to me. So I think I’m going with that.

        Thanks everyone for your help!

  29. James Picone says:

    Australian federal election: Results so far. Looks like a hung parliament. As of time of posting, The Liberal Party (right wing) has 64 seats they’re clearly leading in and 3 that are close but leaning Liberal, the Labor Party (centre-left) has 69 seats they’re clearly leading in and 2 that are close but leaning their way, the Greens (left-environmentalists) have a seat, Katter’s Australian Party (agrarian protectionists) have a seat, the Nick Xenophon Team (centrist populists) have a seat, and two independents have a seat (one of them’s ex-Greens, I don’t know about the other). 7 seats are ‘not determined’. You need 76 seats to be able to form government.

    All the polls were suggesting essentially a tie or for the Liberals to win. Shy leftie syndrome? :P.

    Last time we had a hung parliament Labor got government by negotiating with the three minors. The Greens and one of the Independents will realistically never support the Liberals, so I think the only outcomes here are some kind of Labor-Greens-NXT-Wilkie coalition government or back to the polls (and goodness knows what would happen then).

    Senate not yet counted but it’s a double dissolution, so the quota is only ~4.5%, so it’s probably roughly even Liberal and Labor and about a million minor parties. Likely to be hilarious.

    The only downside: Pauline Hanson (Populist anti-immigration) is probably back in the senate.

  30. Outis says:

    This was linked from a thread linked here: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/05/gil-scott-herons-poem-whitey-on-the-moon/239622/

    Nice song, sure, but am I the only one who finds it funny rather than moving? Does Gil not realize he wouldn’t have doctors, hot water, toilets or lights without whitey? Then he complains about taxes taking his paycheck, which is impossible if he is as poor as he claims to be (chances are he is not paying income tax at all, in fact). If you look at the tax base, whitey paid for the moonshot with his own bloody money. And why can’t he?

    I could understand saying “don’t tax me for an expensive boondoggle”: don’t take money from the American poor for a project that doesn’t directly benefit them. I could understand saying “we have more urgent needs to spend taxes on”: take money from America’s rich to help America’s poor. But I just can’t understand the racial angle. If this is not a national victory for Americans, if you think of yourself as a completely separate group from whites, then what claim do you have to whitey’s taxes in the first place?

    The level of self-entitlement in black Americans is completely insane. Yet everyone over there has gotten so used to it that they treat it as if it were normal. It’s not!