NꙮW WITH MꙮRE MULTIꙮCULAR ꙮ

Open Thread 67.5

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

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

642 Responses to Open Thread 67.5

  1. cactus head says:

    Anyone see that tweetstorm by David Hines about the book Days of Rage? The author Clarkhat collected the tweets and posted it to Status 451, so it’s in an actually-readable format now. Worth looking into. From the link:

    Days of Rage is important, because this stuff is forgotten and it shouldn’t be. The 1970s underground wasn’t small. It was hundreds of people becoming urban guerrillas. Bombing buildings: the Pentagon, the Capitol, courthouses, restaurants, corporations. Robbing banks. Assassinating police. People really thought that revolution was imminent, and thought violence would bring it about.

    (edit: factual correction)

    • suntzuanime says:

      I didn’t forget it. It’s part of why I don’t put so much stock in people claiming that polarization is tearing us apart and we’re about to have a new civil war. We can look at what lead to the one civil war we actually had, but then also look at an amount of serious unrest we had in the past that wasn’t enough lead to civil war. We’re maybe on an upswing in terms of breakdown of society, but things aren’t that bad yet. We don’t live in the 60s.

      • Deiseach says:

        Yeah, that’s why I was always so surprised the American Civil Rights Movement generally was peaceful or obtained some/many/a lot of its aims peacefully, versus Northern Ireland which in its early days copied the Civil Rights Movement but then exploded into the Troubles.

        Given what was happening around the world, the fact that even with riots and bombings and the rest of it, America avoided having “thirty years of guerilla movements doing civilian bombings and the government going ‘they’re not freedom fighters, we’re not fighting a war, they’re criminals, but we’re sending in the Army anyway'” was always a wonderment.

        • nimim.k.m. says:

          The Troubles resulted in around 3k dead. Taking the populations of Ireland and the US into account, the weird 70s “guerilla war” was fought with far less intensity (partly because of less professional ‘guerillas’). Also compare and contrast the German and Italian terrorists (“The years of lead”): in Europe, I think they are still generally remembered. (I was born after Soviet collapse, but I know about Baader-Meinhof and others, and so do quite many of my peers, at least on the level “this used to be a thing”.)

          • Deiseach says:

            But movements like the Black Panthers and the Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army etc. eventually petered out, there wasn’t an explosion of all that racial and other violence into actual warfare (guerrilla or otherwise) and there wasn’t anything like the Basque separatists, the Red Brigade or such. Most of the aims were achieved via legal means (laws, court cases, integration, public campaigns and protests and so on).

            For a while there, it did look as if the US could go one way, but it went the other. That’s something that needs to be looked at more closely, I think. And it probably has lessons for the protestors of today (see how the Occupy movement collapsed under its own weight and over-reaching); for all the fine talk, there isn’t a coherent, monolithic bloc of “all minorities will fall into line together against YT, even to the point of taking up arms for the resistance!”

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            @Deiseach. That is a very interesting perspective. I’ve often thought that the over-wrought attitudes of the ’60’s protesters is the antecedent of today’s partisan gridlock. But it never occurred to me that we dodged a bullet with no terrorist groups becoming ongoing deadly guerrilla groups in the vein of the IRA or Baader-Meinhof.

            Maybe it is because of the great diversity in the US? Even the terrorists couldn’t agree enough on tactics or aims to create a cohesive group?

            Or maybe it was even that the US had better counter intelligence? I choke on the thought that Hoover (FBI head) saved us from terrorists, but maybe it is true.

            Edit: D, when I say “we” I mean US.

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      The comments on that blog post are really …something.

      I thought 451 was on the saner side of right blogosphere. Is talk about genocide really that normalized there?

    • NIP says:

      He tweeted all of that? The absolute madman. I pray that his inevitable banning from Twitter is not permanent. Though perhaps his tweetstorm was too long for the thought police to actually read, seeing as it gave me a headache even in prose form.

      It’s a very interesting read, and while I agree with some of his conclusions and analysis, large parts of it seem way off to me.

      First of all, the violence he described from the 70’s was not the violence of two Americas butting heads. It was not a “civil” war. There weren’t two sides to it, unless the police count as a side. It was a bunch of whackjobs who were delirious from victory and trying to immanentize the eschaton because they thought anything was possible. As Hines noted, all those crazy leftist terrorists? They were harbored, funded, protected, aided, and abetted by mainstream leftist institutions, and when caught for their crimes basically got off with a slap on the wrist (the well-off, white and Jewish ones, anyway), and now are living fulfilling lives, many with professorships in prestigious universities. This is because they had already won. Allow me to reiterate: the 70’s craziness wasn’t a civil war, it was an afterparty.

      Secondly, while he is correct that leftists have total control over all major institutions in the U.S. except the military and police, and that they would, in a hypothetical period of civil unrest, be able to duplicate or exceed the feats of organized terrorism and crime they perpetrated in the 70’s, he assumes that they would feel the need to do so. But like I said, they don’t have to. They pull all the strings. Their current panic over Trump’s presidency and a Republican Congress is not because they feel existentially threatened, but because they assumed they’d have a boot free to stomp on the right’s face, forever. A setback, even a minor one (and a Trump presidency is quite a minor setback for capital-P progress) was simply unthinkable at this point. Thus the literal nationwide tantrums.

      Third, a lot has changed since the 70’s. The Internet, for one, has made effective right-wing organization possible. We’re starting to see seeds of that today with the Tea Party, Death Eaters, Alt-Right, and now Trump. There’s a lot of talk in right-wing circles about creating “parallel institutions” – basically, since the right doesn’t have any influence in the establishment media, academia, and beauracracy, it must instead circumvent them using modern technology to organize and create independent, alternative services and communities. Ultimately the goal seems to be to ignore establishment institutions entirely. Oh sure, they’re happy about the Trump thing, but only for purposes of schadenfreude. No one actually believes he’ll make lasting changes. He’s merely a stay of execution. Ergo, the right must prepare for when the breather is over and the left comes back madder than ever, and thanks to the Internet, they can.

      Fourth, Hines seems to vastly overestimate the left’s capability of, and stomach for, political violence, and underestimates that of the right. When I, as a rightist, look at the violence perpetrated by leftist terrorists in the 70’s I think two things: The first is “they stole forty cakes. Forty! And that’s terrible”; and the second is “that’s cute.” Over more than a decade, with the tacit (and sometimes explicit!) backing of every establishment institution except the FBI, they managed to…kill and injure a few hundred people and steal some money which they proceeded to blow on coke and heroin. This is when they weren’t chickening out after seeing blood for the first time and deciding to recruit black criminals to do their dirty work for them. Excuse me while I shake in my boots. Meanwhile, all the real work was already being done by those doctors and lawyers and government employees who sheltered them and pulled the levers for the Democrats during all that pointless craziness. As I pointed out, the 70’s wasn’t a period of civil war, it was a period of orgiastic triumph for the left during which the Silent Majority (which at the time was still a majority, if only in numbers of warm bodies) kept their heads down and voted for tougher crime legislation. It never got to the point we’re getting close to now, where you have two Americas, one doing everything in their power to make their enemies miserable, and the other feeling like those two Chinese generals just before the Dazexiang Uprising. “What’s the penalty for rebelling?” “Jail. So, limited employment prospects, substandard housing, and being surrounded by violent criminal thugs.” “…and the penalty for letting leftists continue their policies?” “Brazil. So, uhhh….”

      I can probably think of more criticisms, but my head hurts. So I’ll have to save a more detailed analysis later. Thanks for the link, though!

      • nimim.k.m. says:

        @NIP

        Your concept of the Left sounds more like a conspiracy theory than a regular political analysis. Especially, if you take a look and notice that the American left/right divide consists of quite weird alliances. I think a significant number of left-voting people (or heavens, even leftist people in media!) are just interested in policy questions such as healthcare, not stomping on your face. (Of course, those people exist, too, and I hear they are very vocal on Twitter.)

        • nyccine says:

          Your concept of the Left sounds more like a conspiracy theory…

          No, it doesn’t. It sounds like like-minded people creating a bubble, and using their influence to ensure that bubble has power. This is how every person in the history of ever has operated.

        • BBA says:

          Yeah, there’s a lot being papered over here. In the ’60s LBJ was part of “the Left” and also the most widely reviled figure for a large chunk of “the Left.”

          Nixon took a lot of the heat off them, but hawkish anticommunist Democrats like Scoop Jackson were still a major faction through the ’70s and up until the end of the Cold War.

        • shakeddown says:

          Yeah. Consider the democratic primaries: They were interesting in that not only the establishment, policy-focused candidate easily crushed the far-left candidate, but in that even the far-left populist platform talked almost exclusively about policy rather than identitarianism or violent revolution. People who spent too much time online were sure that Sanders would easily stomp through the primaries, which tells you something about the accuracy of getting your news through Twitter.

          Besides, it’s counterproductive – accusing leftists of being identitarian ideologists bent on revolution and destroying the right is the most effective method of pushing them in that direction.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Besides, it’s counterproductive – accusing leftists of being identitarian ideologists bent on revolution and destroying the right is the most effective method of pushing them in that direction.

            How is pushing leftists in that direction “counterproductive”?

          • shakeddown says:

            If you want to have productive, policy-focused debate, it’s counterproductive. If you like fantasizing about civil war where you get to shoot all those nasty people you disagree with, rock on I guess.

      • Deiseach says:

        But like I said, they don’t have to. They pull all the strings.

        I disagree. The left of today is not as coherent as the left of the 70s, due to (a) lack of an overall binding political philosophy, even if in the 70s that was Maoism or Maoism-lite (b) a lot more fragmentation due to the very success of identity politics.

        I mean, in all the crowing about the international Women’s Marches I’m seeing (and I’m seeing a lot of it right now), there are already several rifts within the lute: there’s a very definite if not stated outright split between white feminists and the rest (I think this has also been mentioned on the sub-reddit). If they drive away their white women allies and ‘sisters’, this is shooting themselves in the foot. Because it’s all very well cheering about Beyoncé, but for political representation they need the Democrats, and the women there are old white women. Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Warren. Drive them (and others in entertainment industry, academia, elsewhere) away as insufficiently ideologically pure, and they are left with small potatoes.

        There have also been at least two posts about transphobia (not all women have vaginas!) so there’s another binary (ironically) being set up. Too much “we are the Gold Medal winners in the Oppression Olympics, white women voted for Trump!” going on to achieve anything because if you’re constantly banging on about white people having all the power and being in power, you need to remember: white people have all the power and are in power, so you need those powerful white people working on your side for you. Driving away allies who are going to be super-especially offended (as distinct from those of us who are accustomed to being called harsh names) is not going to help your movement because they will not put their hands in their pockets and fund you or your activism if they’ve been insulted and driven away.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I think you’re missing one major thing the 70s radical leftists had that leftists now do not: Support from the USSR.

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          I think this is probably an important point: even if the USSR never did anything material to support these groups and even if these groups were not in fact pro-USSR, I’d expect that American fear of the USSR made leftist terrorism easier.

          Terrorism can only change peoples’ incentives if there is a prospect of more terrorism, so people will only perpetrate terrorist acts if they can credibly promise more terrorism. If an environmentalist shoots a coal executive tomorrow it will be interpreted as a one-off, and everyone knows this, so no environmentalist is going to do that. But if people are likely to interpret you as being backed by foreign actor which isn’t going away any time soon, you don’t have this problem.

          Compare to Islamic terrorism: because of the existence of IS, the Base, etc. all you need to do to appear part of a massive global conspiracy is to yell certain magic words as you attack. This makes Islamic terrorism exceptionally easy, so we should expect more terrorism from Islamists than from other groups (even if the Muslim world is no more violent than any other macroculture)

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            That’s an interesting analysis. The Left was both globally powerful and very weird when Stalin was alive. All the pure ones and lots of what were dubbed “fellow travelers” (the most powerful in the US being Vice President Wallace) were looking to one state and its ruler for direction. Their beliefs could turn on a time in unison, from general Comintern shenanigans before Stalin defunded it to pro-Hitler to equating Hitler with Satan. That changed with the Comintern issue and then the Sino-Soviet split.
            The chaotic diversity young people like me would expect to find wasn’t there. Now Leftism isn’t homogeneous and backed by foreign power. What IS, is Sunni Islam.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Sunni this, Sunni that… Has everyone forgotten the Ayatollah Khomeini? It’s not like Islam has only _one_ radical anti-Western sect.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            In his defense, Iran does have legitimate beefs with the West. Wahabbists (#NotAllSunnis) were crazy radicals even before the US started its unholy alliance with the KSA.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      Excellent article. Particularly timely given the inauguration rioting and the shooting at UWA.

    • Kevin C. says:

      Very good, and nice to see someone else point out what I’ve been telling my fellows on the right; that the Left is stronger than the Right, that the Left hold most the institutions, and that violence is also an advantage of the Left, so that talk of “2nd Amendment remedies”, army coups to “restore the Constitution”, and other such is utterly foolish, as the Left would win there too. And I see made the same point Moldbug made when talking about Breivik: that left-wing terrorism and violent protest works because it’s a “Mutt and Jeff” act with the Leftist establisment, and that right-wing violence, lacking such backing, is worse than useless.

      Yes, the Left, if not stopped, will, guaranteed, destroy civilization, likely beyond all hope of repair. But the Left is already too powerful to be stopped. It’s too late. All that is good and right in this world will be destroyed utterly, and Evil wins absolutely forever. There is no hope, there is no hope, there is no hope. All is lost.

      • The Nybbler says:

        But violent tactics have been failing utterly recently. The left tried violence against Trump, and the Trump people were able to fight back _and_ mostly not be punished for it. And, of course, win the election. Leftist activists attacked the literal Ku Klux Klan, the Klan fought back… and was exonerated. Milo Yiannopolous trolls the antifa into attacking people, one of them gets shot, and the shooter is released (though it’s not clear whose side the shooter is on).

        It appears that some of the institutions are no longer supporting the violent protesters.

        • Kevin C. says:

          “And, of course, win the election.”

          As if that matters. If voting could make a difference, it’d be illegal, and there’s a difference between taking office and taking power.

          I mean, look at the Press’ reaction to being attacked by President Trump. That’s the reaction of an affronted elite offended that a subordinate has dared talk back. If the presidency held any power to really change things, they’d never have let Trump take it (at the very least, they could have done to him what was done to Sen. Ted Stevens).

          At best, we’re only looking into a slowdown of the inevitable, unstoppable march of “Progress” to a pace more comfortably for the proverbial slow-boiled frog. Cthulhu may swim slowly sometimes, but he only swims left.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I think they screwed up. Trump wasn’t supposed to take office; the Presidency is an office with real power. It may be a mere eddy Cthulhu is caught in, but we will see some movement away from “Progress”.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            As if that matters. If voting could make a difference, it’d be illegal, and there’s a difference between taking office and taking power.

            Okay, the paranoia is getting pretty deep here. You sound like Moon from the right.

          • John Schilling says:

            If the presidency held any power to really change things, they’d never have let Trump take it (at the very least, they could have done to him what was done to Sen. Ted Stevens).

            You presume “they” have the power to stop him. I see them as having tried and failed to stop him. That is one of the big lessons of 2016 – the mainstream media’s control of public opinion in the United States is not nearly so strong as it was in the 20th century.

            That said, I do believe that the media still has the power to prevent a particular non-incumbent from becoming POTUS if they so desire, and the coherence to agree on a “we will use our power to ensure that X never becomes POTUS” strategy. But not by any great margin. The media, to the extent that it is a political entity, scored an own goal last year when it more or less decided to support Trump in the primaries as the GOP wrecker and/or media ratings-booster candidate.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Seems like a weird time to be pessimistic. Sure, Trump didn’t go full restoration but he has shown that the right can fight back and win.

        • Kevin C. says:

          “he has shown that the right can fight back and win.”

          Win what, though? Besides a figurehead office from which he will accomplish absolutely nothing of any real import (because the unelected bureaucracies and judges who hold all the real power will stall, counter, delay, and even outright defy him and everything he tries to do), save possibly slowing down slightly the inevitable Leftward progress to our inescapable doom. The hope that Trump has actually won anything, will actually accomplish anything, is a false hope.

          • rlms says:

            What hypothetical evidence would disprove your theory that leftward progress is inevitable?

          • Wrong Species says:

            What rlms said. Trump is probably not going to roll back abortion and gay marriage. Here’s what I think he could roll back:

            Obamacare
            Trade
            Immigration(especially illegal)

            Of course, “repeal and replace” will not exactly be push the country rightwards. And I’m not sure that trade is that important for the far right. But immigration is and with a republican congress, he has a fairly good chance at building a wall and cracking down on illegal immigrants already here. Would that not constitute a significant victory for the right?

          • NIP says:

            @Wrong Species

            he has a fairly good chance at building a wall and cracking down on illegal immigrants already here. Would that not constitute a significant victory for the right?

            It’s a significant victory in the same sense that you could say that, in a gladatorial contest in which I have been stabbed and am bleeding to death, but manage to remove the weapon and apply pressure to the wound, is a significant victory. So, yes, but context is important.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            But the President can appoint judges. The Democrats would have to control the Senate and openly defy him for him to a figurehead when the judiciary is so powerful.

          • NIP says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            The judiciary is powerful, but who is appointed to the judiciary is dependent on the Overton Window. A justice can be on the center-right end of it at best. Do you honestly expect any justice now living that Trump could (or would) conceivably appoint, who might, for example, strike down Roe vs. Wade? Preposterous. At best, we are going to see a freeze on leftist legislation from the bench, which they’ll find a way to work around. I mean, as a Catholic I do technically believe in miracles and am willing to be proven wrong in this case, but how your hopes are so high I cannot fathom.

          • rlms says:

            @NIP
            Making dark comments about how the modern world is hopelessly corrupted in some unspecified ways, and how no policies Trump could implement could have any effect on that is not conducive to productive discussion. Are you saying that we’ve already deviated too far from the ideal state of affairs? Then please state what and when you think that state of affairs was. Or are you saying that we are already fixed on a path towards “inescapable doom” (like Kevin C. above)? In that case, please describe the “inescapable doom” and give an argument for why it is inescapable.

          • Sandy says:

            Do you honestly expect any justice now living that Trump could (or would) conceivably appoint, who might, for example, strike down Roe vs. Wade?

            One of the top contenders for Trump’s Supreme Court pick is William Pryor, who described Roe v. Wade as “the worst abomination in the court’s history”, so maybe

          • Kevin C. says:

            @rlms

            “What hypothetical evidence would disprove your theory that leftward progress is inevitable?”

            Some significant, lasting rightward movement (on something other than guns). The Left has been winning steadily for over 300 years. Show me some rightward movement which is not some miniscule chipping away in comparison, and which the Left does not reverse back, with further overshoot, with a generation?

            And let me reverse the question: what hypothetical evidence would convince you that the Right can’t win, except small, temporary victories which never last?

            @Wrong Species

            First, you note that he’s not actually proposed much that’s really right-wing. Then you note that “repeal and replace” is essentially nothing, left-vs-right movement-wise. So you’re left with, what, “the wall”? No, Trump doesn’t have “a fairly good chance at building a wall and cracking down on illegal immigrants already here.” He has a very tiny chance of getting the wall built, and even if he does, the same liberals who announce “sanctuary cities” with utter impunity will flout Trump’s laws with even greater impunity, and will be out drilling holes in the wall or otherwise helping people bypass it. And when, not if but when, the Left get Trump out (I expect impeachment before year four), they’ll not only tear the wall down, they’ll have to make border controls and internal immigration even more lax to make up for the “evil xenophobia” of Trump and his supporters. All right-wing victories are temporary, and only make the Left shift harder left when the pendulum swings back. The Leftward Ratchet is real.

            And let me add a quote from the end of Peggy Noonan’s recent WSJ column, “President Trump Declares Independence”:

            Normally a new president has someone backing him up, someone publicly behind him. Mr. Obama had the mainstream media — the big broadcast networks, big newspapers, activists and intellectuals, pundits and columnists of the left — the whole shebang. He had a unified, passionate party. Mr. Trump in comparison has almost nothing. The mainstream legacy media oppose him, even hate him, and will not let up. The columnists, thinkers and magazines of the right were mostly NeverTrump; some came reluctantly to support him. His party is split or splitting. The new president has gradations of sympathy, respect or support from exactly one cable news channel, and some websites.

            He really has no one but those who voted for him.

            Do they understand what a lift daily governance is going to be, and how long the odds are, with so much arrayed against him, and them?

            All the elite institutions with actual power (save maybe the rank-and-file of the police and military, but not their commanders) belong utterly to the Left. All Trump has is us common supporters, and we’re naught but powerless peasants.

            And no, the wall would not be “a significant victory for the right”, it would be an utterly miniscule victory, a tiny (and easily removed) band-aid on a gushing cut in the femoral artery of civilization. What is it, compared to multiple centuries of leftist victory after leftist victory, since at least 1688, if not 1517.

            Let me reiterate my question to rlms for you: what will it take to get you to see that the RIght simply cannot win anymore? That all hope is false?

            Edit: also, try reading this pro-Antifa article in The Nation:

            To call Trumpism fascist is to suggest that it demands from us a unique response. We can deploy the “fascism” moniker to Trump’s ascendance by recognizing features like selective populism, nationalism, racism, traditionalism, the deployment of Newspeak and disregard for reasoned debate. The reason we should use the term is because, taken together, these aspects of Trumpism are not well combated or contained by standard liberal appeals to reason. It is constitutive of its fascism that it demands a different sort of opposition.

            Second edit: pile on “On The Propriety Of Punching Nazis, An FAQ

          • NIP says:

            @rlms

            please state what and when you think that state of affairs was

            …if I said “Catholic Europe prior to the invention of the printing press” with a straight face, and we then agreed that, of course, we could never return to that state of affairs, would that be more or less “productive to discussion?”

            But in all seriousness, I guess I’d be happy if:

            -Democracy was abolished
            -Leftist control of the institutions of media, academia, and the civil service were completely extirpated and never allowed to return
            -Atheism was stomped out
            -The institutions of the family, town, church, guild, etc. were allowed to replace the control of atomised individuals by the twin leviathans of corporations and the state
            -…and that’s about it. I don’t really care what political form society would take as long as it wasn’t democracy or communism (or anarchy, which as a former anarchist I know is considered by many to be the same as theoretically pure communism.)

            The same could theoretically be achieved if some sort of National Divorce, as per the linked article, could be achieved, but that’s rather a long shot, don’t you think? Doomsaying is all I’ve got, because everyone thinks my ideal state of affairs is nuts, anyway. No compromise is possible short of partition or a magical seastead or space rocket to Mars.

          • Iain says:

            Some significant, lasting rightward movement (on something other than guns).

            Unions.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @NIP

            “No compromise is possible short of partition or a magical seastead or space rocket to Mars.”

            Exactly, and Earth’s gravity well is too deep and space too hostile to human life for the latter to be plausible, and the modern world too small for a seastead to survive unmolested by the PTB, so “magical” is the right adjective. And let me otherwise second the bulk of your reply. The entire “Enlightenment” project is poison, and will destroy us.

            @Iain

            “Unions.”

            I think we have very different definitions of “significant”. (And besides, I’m not sure I’d call that unambiguously right-wing given my own support for Medieval-style guilds.)

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Kevin C.

            If all that is true and the right cannot win, we can see the end of Cthulhu’s leftward move _anyway_. Its name is Islam. What happens after the resulting dark ages is less predictable, but I don’t believe a worldwide caliphate (or far more likely, caliphates) would be any more stable than past government systems.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Kevin C

            I said building the wall and cracking down on illegal immigration. You’re probably opposed to more legal immigration too but remember that we had effective open borders for the first half of American history. My tentative hypothesis is that only a certain number of foreigners can enter the country before there is a backlash. That’s why immigration dropped significantly after the early 1920’s. If I’m right, then immigration actually “swims right”. It’s a tentative hypothesis but I do believe that the backlash is real, and the left won’t be able to fully reverse it.

            As far as Trump getting impeached goes, I don’t think it will happen. The only president out of 44 to have been forced out of office was Nixon, and that wasn’t because of ideology but some pretty damning corruption charges. However, I doubt you are resting your case on whether he gets impeached or not so I’ll leave that one alone.

            As far as the idea that we’re destined to lean leftwards, I’m not sure. But I certainly don’t think it applies to every situation. The left used to be socialist and government elimination of the market is simply never going to be viable so in that sense, it would be incredibly difficult to prove that the left always wins. The left doesn’t care about that anymore but that shows the limits of “left vs right” thinking. The left used to be anti-trade. If Trump manages to reduce trade do we count that as a point for Cthulhu?

            Just so you know I’m not avoiding the question I’ll make these predictions for the next 10 years:

            The right will be able to keep most of their abortion restrictions in conservative states (although Roe vs Wade will still be in effect, the left won’t be able to take these restrictions down)

            No significant gun control

            Dramatic drop in illegal immigration

            Bill for the Wall passes and construction starts(I would say it gets built but we know how long it takes to build anything here)

            No one reverses that bill

            Is this enough to bring us back to 1688? Certainly not, but it would be evidence against the left always winning.

          • James Miller says:

            Republicans could destroy the left’s hold on academia. The way to start would be with state colleges in Republican controlled states in which you make all hiring and promotion decisions determined by a committee of non-academics appointed by the governor.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @James Miller: What a great policy step, and I have no faith that the Republican Party will actually do it.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @NIP: Do you honestly expect any justice now living that Trump could (or would) conceivably appoint, who might, for example, strike down Roe vs. Wade?

            Kind of, yeah? It’s not clear to me what mechanism you’re suggesting that would prevent President Trump and a Republican Senate from pushing through someone the Left hates as much as, say, Tom Parker of Alabama, then if they get a second vacancy, leverage the personhood movement to argue that an AI simulation of Robert Bork counts as a person.

          • cassander says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            They can appoint whom they like, but when crunch time comes they’ll always wuss out the way Roberts did over the ACA.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @cassander: Ah, this mechanism? Yeah, swimming left to fit in with your elite peer group has been a key social engineering victory for them. I sadly grant that I don’t see a viable path to take over and copy that success.

          • James Miller says:

            Le Maistre Chat, thanks I’m going to do my best to promote it.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            But in all seriousness, I guess I’d be happy if:

            -Democracy was abolished
            -Leftist control of the institutions of media, academia, and the civil service were completely extirpated and never allowed to return
            -Atheism was stomped out
            -The institutions of the family, town, church, guild, etc. were allowed to replace the control of atomised individuals by the twin leviathans of corporations and the state

            Wow. I better change my survey question that Scott just issued, because it doesn’t seem I’m on the right after all. If these are the choices of the right, I’m a die hard leftist.

            NIP, do you really believe this stuff, or are you greatly over-stating in the excitement of the argument?

          • NIP says:

            @Mark V Anderson

            NIP, do you really believe this stuff, or are you greatly over-stating in the excitement of the argument?

            Do you mean, do I actually believe this stuff is desirable, or do I actually believe it’s achievable? Yes to the former. As to the latter, I can only say that all things are possible with God, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m not a conseqentialist, so I don’t find questions of feasability or revealed preference (centrally) relavant to propositions of a just social order. I can only do my best to live up to my own moral code, pray, and hope the world comes to its senses sometime before its inevitable downfall spirals into extinction territory. There are other people who think similarly to me, believe it or not, though you wouldn’t know it from our basically invisible public presence. There are regrettably few of us.

          • Some significant, lasting rightward movement (on something other than guns).

            Are you limiting yourself to the U.S.?

            The changes in China after Mao’s death were an enormous rightward movement, from communism to something not much less capitalist than the U.S., affecting a very large number of people. There have been lots of less extreme shifts of the same sort elsewhere in the world.

          • sohois says:

            @NIP

            When you speak of a downward spiral to extinction, are you speaking of a belief in an apocalypse, as described in the Bible, or do you see some other method by which extinction will occur?

            It’s difficult to imagine a drive ‘leftwards’ would lead to extinction via nuclear war, biowar or climate change, whilst Non-friendly AI or Grey goo would seem to be politically agnostic, so I have to assume you are referring to the former.

          • Civilis says:

            It’s difficult to imagine a drive ‘leftwards’ would lead to extinction via nuclear war, biowar or climate change, whilst Non-friendly AI or Grey goo would seem to be politically agnostic, so I have to assume you are referring to the former.

            If you can’t come up with a scenario where a drive leftwards would lead to total warfare with WMDs, you’re not thinking creatively. Is it intended? No, but neither side intends to drive us towards extinction.

            Right now, a portion of the left is fiercely protective of the independence and total self-determination of non-Western polities. The idea that Shia Islam, Sunni Islam, India, and China might compete for dominance militarily (escalating up to WMDs) if America and the West relinquish what control they have of the international order is reasonable.

            Likewise, the green left’s utopias involve a world with vastly fewer people than there are now. There’s no path to that world that doesn’t involve the chaos of a massive overhaul of the international order (with resultant risk of WMDs) even if you are somehow able to remove the human drive to reproduce.

          • Civilis says:

            Some significant, lasting rightward movement (on something other than guns). The Left has been winning steadily for over 300 years. Show me some rightward movement which is not some miniscule chipping away in comparison, and which the Left does not reverse back, with further overshoot, with a generation?

            The thing is, despite the left’s seeming dominance, we’d nearly won accidentally due to technological change.

            The fall of the USSR had demonstrated that socialist totalitarianism couldn’t compete with democracy and the free-ish markets of the west on anything. We had a world order that generally was willing to work to enforce peace on the international stage, and was demonstrably able to take on a bad actor (Saddam Hussein, 1st Gulf War) without compromising principles with minimal collateral damage, suggesting we’d be able to gradually free the rest of the world. International trade had opened China to the rest of the world. Starvation was no longer a real issue, disease was no longer nearly the threat it once was. People were living better everywhere. Playing nice with your neighbors and trading with the world and paying some respect to human rights led to everyone getting happy.

            Then we rested on our laurels, kicked the remaining cans (which we could have afforded to fix) down the road until they grew too big.

            What we missed:
            – Rwanda. By not being willing to substantially interfere with the inner workings of countries even in case of genocide, we left oppressive regimes with a hard limit of what we would not do. “Do whatever you want, just keep it in your own country” is not conductive to peace, because it will spill over.
            – We let countries go back to being totalitarian as long as they maintained a facade of democracy. Corrupt crony ‘capitalism’ and sham elections is functionally indistinguishable from totalitarianism.
            – We left state-sponsored terrorism as a viable means for small oppressive regimes to wage war under plausible deniability. Then state-sponsored terrorism showed how much it could grow out of control, and 9/11 happened, showing it could destabilize anyone.

          • Jiro says:

            The right will be able to keep most of their abortion restrictions in conservative states

            “Not having further restrictions” isn’t (nontrivially) an example of the right winning. It’s an example of the right not losing more ground.

          • sohois says:

            @Civilis

            Certainly one can foresee futures in which a very left wing globe ends up experiencing nuclear annihilation, but I’m not sure of the causality between left politics and said annihilation.

            For one, in your specified example, the current blend of right wing on the rise is nationalistic, deliberately focused on the country of origin and anti-globalisation and international co-operation. As such, one would expect such a scenario to be equally likely under both left and right wing governments. I am not sure that hawkishness is necessarily a facet of either left or right wing politics.

            However, even if one assumes a swing rightward would entail renewed dominance of international order, it is not clear that such a move would not lead to increased likelihood of nuclear annihilation via other means. I really don’t believe any one political position can claim superiority in being able to minimize the threat of nuclear annihilation.

            As for your final point, while I am perfectly willing to concede that there are ‘leftists’ who do in fact desire the elimination of humanity, I would say they represent such a tiny fringe as to not be worth discussing.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:

            “Not having further restrictions” isn’t (nontrivially) an example of the right winning. It’s an example of the right not losing more ground.

            But these are new restrictions enacted within the last 6 years.

            Compared to the landscape pre Roe v. Wade? Maybe this is the right still losing, although interestingly that immediately prior to Roe v. Wade the right wasn’t particularly anti-abortion.

            But in terms of recent history, this is the right winning. Which is different than the right having “won”.

            The thing being that the things that are “won” usually are simply classified as non-concerns. If I said the left is “has won” on Jim Crow laws, you would probably object that the right has no interest in Jim Crow laws.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Capitalist free markets are only “right-wing” when compared to Marxism. China has not undergone a “enormous rightward movement”, but a movement from Soviet-style leftism toward Anglo-American leftism. One of the biggest things destroyed in the “creative destruction” of the free market is traditional, organic, rooted communities. And our present-day capitalists are not exactly big supporters of (social) traditionalism, are they? “New money” have very different attitudes toward Tradition and Community (and breeding) than “old money”, who differ in turn from a landed aristocracy of warrior ancestry.

            Every environment selects for something, and that includes the market. And the free market in many areas selects for traits at tension with human nature and healthy communities (see Scott’s “Moloch”). Ultimately, human beings are almost certainly not the economically optimum arrangement of their constituent atoms, and a full-throated embrace of capitalism over all leads into Landian rooting for Skynet (or, more accurately, Stross’s “Vile Offspring”).

            “Classical liberalism” is still liberalism, still a strain of leftism. Left and Right were defined in the French National Assembly during the Revolution. The Right is the party of the Ancien Régime, of Throne and Altar. The American Constitution is a leftist document written by vile traitors.

            @sohois

            My view as to the most likely scenario for our doom is one I’ve laid out before in the context of the Fermi Paradox. Namely, that the Industrial Revolution was a once-per-planet event. Look at our power grid and it’s vulnerabilities. Look at how complex semiconductor electronics manufacturing is, with tools for making the tools for making the tools and so on. You can’t make a solar panel with 1800s technology. And our available fossil fuels are only accessible with positive EROI due to generations of technology built upon the energy from more easily accessible stocks now depleted. You can’t do fracking with 1800’s tech either. My metaphor is of a fruit tree; we plucked the low-hanging fruit, and traded some of it for a ladder, with which we can reach the higher fruit we’re living on.

            But now, we’ve got leftism’s insane nontheistic religion, mandating we make equal what fundamentally are not, throwing away more and more resources on schemes that cannot work because they ignore reality and human nature, while dysgenic demographic trends and policies that reduce fertility most strongly for those with the smarts needed to maintain that irreplaceable infrastructure (see, for example, this PNAS paper showing evidence from Iceland). Look at education spending versus results. Because it’s a religion, this trend will not stop, and the resources necessary to maintain that basic capacity, the seed corn of industrial civilization, will ultimately, after all remaining surpluses are exausted, be seized by our governments and consumed to fund futile leftist projects because they are too holy to abandon even in the face of technological decay. To return to the metaphor, we’re removing the rungs from our ladder and burning them as offerings to Holy Equality, and will be left ultimately destitute at the base of the tree, with no more low-hanging fruit accessable without the ladder, and no way to obtain a new ladder because all the fruit is out of reach.

            That said, I cannot leave out that this could be greatly accelerated by nuclear war or similar WMD usage. To quote from Tyler Cowen’s recent post: “What is the most likely use of nuclear weapons in the near future?

            My core model, by the way, is that political leaders are rational in the loose sense. So if you are looking for instances of possible nuclear weapons use, consider cases where politicians might be facing relatively dramatic “career-ending” events if they lose a smaller-level struggle.

            When serious decline of the resource base hits due to the evergrowing waste on sacrifices to Holy Equality, one can expect the ability of leftist governments to project power to begin to weaken. And that’s where nukes come in. Think of the bratty child who breaks their own toy rather than share it, on the principle of “if I can’t have it, no one can”. It’s why I nay-say secessionist efforts like in Texas. Because should conventional military force be insufficient to keep it in the Union, I fully expect our leaders to decide that Radioactive Wasteland Texas is preferable to Independent Texas, on that same “if we can’t have it, no one can”; the Progressive Religion is no more tolerant of mass apostasy than Salafist Islam.

            Scott’s “Universal Culture” is, as he notes, outcompeting its memetic rivals. It’s a mind-virus, a memetic plague, highly contagious, and in the long run highly lethal, and it’s devouring the whole world.

            @Civilis

            “The fall of the USSR had demonstrated that socialist totalitarianism couldn’t compete with democracy and the free-ish markets of the west”

            Which is Anglo-American liberalism.

            “suggesting we’d be able to gradually free the rest of the world.”

            Free them from what? From their tradititional societies?

            The spread of democracy, international trade and “paying some respect to human rights” you talk about? That’s not a right-wing victory, thats the very left-wing doom I’m talking about, the memetic plague that will kill us all.

          • rlms says:

            @Kevin C.
            I imagine that you are at liberty to move to a “traditional society” if you so desire.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Nybbler

            “we can see the end of Cthulhu’s leftward move _anyway_. Its name is Islam.”

            First, what makes you think that Islam will prove that much more resistant, in the long run, to the “Universal Culture” than Christianity was? Look at the fertility rates of Muslim countries. Secondly, consider my point about the unrepeatability of the industrial revolution. The Muslims who are resistant to the civilization-corroding mind-virus and are maintaining birth rates don’t look to me like the sorts who are capable of maintaining the essential technologies. There is no “after the resulting dark ages”; the Dark Ages that will come will last forever (or, more accurately, until something kills off humanity).

            @Wrong Species

            “The left used to be socialist and government elimination of the market is simply never going to be viable so in that sense, it would be incredibly difficult to prove that the left always wins.”

            No, one strain of the Left used to be socialist; support for “the market” is a different strain of leftism. The idea that being pro-business and “pro-market” is somehow “right-wing” is a byproduct of the unnatural Cold War political alliances within the Anglosphere against the Soviets, the break-up of which is part of the realignment that gave us Trump.

            The Son of Heaven, ruling All Under Heaven; the Five Relations; reverence for the Ancestors; Tradition, Tradition, Tradition. Engaging in business and trade was anathema to proper aristocrats. The Confucians place merchants as the lowest class of society. The noble samurai and the capitalist “baron” of industry are utter opposites. The victory of capitalism and the rule of the merchant class over hereditary aristocracy is another example of how the Left always wins.

            Also, why all the focus on Roe v. Wade? Besides that it’s the totem the Outer Party always waves to dupe their followers into believing they’re not pretty much useless?

            @Mark V Anderson

            “If these are the choices of the right, I’m a die hard leftist.”

            You said it.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I count the decline of state communism (fall of the USSR, market economy in China) as a significant rightward change.

          • Civilis says:

            I think we’re (once again) stymied by the lack of a consistent definition of what the ‘right’ is, which is fine. If your right is ‘throne and altar’ and my right is ‘federalist minarchy’, as long as we recognize that, we can recognize the difference and put in personal translation functions to compensate.

          • Jiro says:

            I would count such things as a market economy in China as a rightward change, but I think this discussion is mainly about US politics. The political institutions and blocs in foreign countries are different from those in the US, sometimes drastically so.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @rlms

            “move to a “traditional society””

            Really? Name one society on Earth that:
            1) is still authentically traditional rather than just moving leftward more slowly, that has a monarch who is not merely a “constitutional monarch” but truly rules,
            2) will accept a disabled (and thus not working) irreligious white guy?
            3) and isn’t likely to soon be “liberated” by the West in the name of “human rights” and “spreading peace, freedom and democracy”?

            Plus, that’s very much the answer of an atomized, rootless Modern, to simply ignore the bonds of family and individually relocate across the world. Some of us count on the physical proximity of those with which we share the close ties of blood.

            @Nancy Lebovitz, @Jiro

            See my responses to Wrong Species and Dr. Friedman

            @Civilis

            But using our “personal translation functions to compensate” still doesn’t change the underlying argument. It doesn’t matter where we each draw the line between Left and Right, the relevant division is between “dooms civilization” and not, and the entire Enlightenment “project” is on the former side of that division, even the parts you call “right-wing”.

          • Jiro says:

            Name one society on Earth that:
            1) is still authentically traditional rather than just moving leftward more slowly, that has a monarch who is not merely a “constitutional monarch” but truly rules,
            2) will accept a disabled (and thus not working) irreligious white guy?

            Name one society on Earth that would have fit these qualifications even before the Enlightenment.

            You can’t (unless you are the recipient of a special lucky favor that most citizens don’t have).

          • Aapje says:

            @Kevin C

            I agree with Jiro: you are demanding a society to your specifications, which never existed and then call it traditional, because you want some parts from traditionalist society. But you also clearly want parts from modern society: tolerance of atheists.

            So I have little sympathy for your Utopian beliefs.

          • Civilis says:

            But using our “personal translation functions to compensate” still doesn’t change the underlying argument. It doesn’t matter where we each draw the line between Left and Right, the relevant division is between “dooms civilization” and not, and the entire Enlightenment “project” is on the former side of that division, even the parts you call “right-wing”.

            I consider relying on an absolute central authority, be it a monarch or a ‘central committee of the party’, to be a greater risk to a society than a self-correcting multicameral representative federal republic.

            Ultimately, the only way to get healthy communities is to let different types of communities flourish and see what works and what doesn’t.

            The only way forward is to keep building taller and taller ladders, to keep progressing. We’re at the point where we don’t know what sort of ladders are structurally reliable, so having different types of ladders built in different places means hopefully at least one will be viable.

            Relying on a central ladder-making authority fails as inevitably, the monarch tries to commission a ladder that won’t work, and the whole thing fails. Being authentically traditional won’t guarantee the ladder will go any higher.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Talking of tolerance for atheists, I’m surprised no one has commented on one of the scarier items on NIP’s wish list:

            But in all seriousness, I guess I’d be happy if:
            […]
            -Atheism was stomped out

            Do you mean that you look forward to new evidence emerging in favour of the existence of one or more gods, that is so compelling that no sane person can expect to not believe in it/them and still have any intellectual respectability, in the same way as you can no longer have intellectual respectability if you oppose the germ theory of disease, or espouse the flat Earth model over approximately-spherical?

            Or do you mean that you would prefer a society in which, no matter whether or not any gods actually exist, those who are unpersuaded of their existence are systematically terrified into silence by legal threats? In which case, I’m a) a little appalled at your willingness to burn down niceness, community and civilisation in a way that would harm me personally, but b) I’m also curious. You didn’t say you wanted to stomp out all belief systems that fail to be Catholicism, only those that decline to have any gods at all, implying that you think atheists present significantly more of a danger to your ideal society than, say, Muslims, Mormons or Yazidis. Would you mind going into why that is (assuming I’m not just massively misunderstanding you here)?

          • carvenvisage says:

            ‘All hope is lost’ is a special case which is never worth considering. If all hope is lost, what you do is inconsequential. Thus the possibility is inconsequential, even if it is more or less a certainty

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Kevin C.

            I think Islam has demonstrably proven resistant to Western culture; note second-generation Muslim immigrants being more conservative than their parents. Also, I think Western culture is no longer willing to assimilate, so Islam doesn’t have the battle it once would have.

            As for the Industrial Revolution… If civilization falls due to Islam, the result will be a society very far to the right of where we are now. If we can’t get another industrial revolution, it will stay that way (until humanity is wiped out). So… looks like victory, right?

          • Iain says:

            second-generation Muslim immigrants being more conservative than their parents

            Where does this claim come from? It does not match with my experience.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Iain

            The phenomenon has been discussed here before, and a search for
            [second generation muslims more conservative] turns up results from Brookings to the Telegraph

          • NIP says:

            @Winter Shaker

            Do you mean that you look forward to new evidence emerging in favour of the existence of one or more gods, that is so compelling that no sane person can expect to not believe in it/them and still have any intellectual respectability, in the same way as you can no longer have intellectual respectability if you oppose the germ theory of disease, or espouse the flat Earth model over approximately-spherical?

            From my perspective, we already live in such a world. But as Scripture hath it, “The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God. They are corrupt, and are become abominable in their ways: there is none that doth good, no not one.” I don’t expect the world to become any less foolish over time.

            Or do you mean that you would prefer a society in which, no matter whether or not any gods actually exist, those who are unpersuaded of their existence are systematically terrified into silence by legal threats?

            I’d prefer to live in a society in which atheists were not permitted to blaspheme and spread their false beliefs, yes. But let me flip the question back at you for a moment: Would you not to prefer to live in a society in which theists were not permitted to spread their (from your perspective) false beliefs? As long as they are permitted to do so, they will only be an obstacle standing in the way of your idea of a just society. Any society is technically predicated on a set of core principles that, if violated, threaten the fabric of that society, I’m sure you’d agree. Once you allow that, it follows that there are certain kinds of dissent which are fundamentally intolerable to that society. To put it more bluntly, I’m quite sure that while you may be willing to entertain what you see as the foolishness of the religious to be spoken freely, you would not be willing to see their wishes actually carried out in policy, and if there was ever a danger of that happening and politics couldn’t put a halt to it….what would you do?

            I’m a) a little appalled at your willingness to burn down niceness, community and civilisation in a way that would harm me personally

            If I presume, I think correctly, that the current state of affairs vis-a-vis “niceness, community, and civilization” is what you would consider to be fair and just, I can only say that I am equally appalled at the willingness of those such as yourself to eradicate the way of life of religious people through “education”, legislation, and control of the media in favor of such a status quo. It was not achieved by rational argument but by institutional capture. No one ever said that in battles to decide what is right and wrong that no one gets hurt.

            You didn’t say you wanted to stomp out all belief systems that fail to be Catholicism, only those that decline to have any gods at all, implying that you think atheists present significantly more of a danger to your ideal society than, say, Muslims, Mormons or Yazidis. Would you mind going into why that is (assuming I’m not just massively misunderstanding you here)?

            I mentioned, in the context of the conversation, that my specific preference was for a partition of our current pseudo-multicultural society (in reality a melting-pot in which traditional cultures only “survive” insofar as they slowly morph into exotically-flavored copies of the ruling progressive culture) into sovereign nations which each have their own culture. That, or that traditional societies should be allowed to form protected enclaves, or seasteads, or board rockets and colonize space or something. Anything that doesn’t end in the eradication of traditional societies. Conquest of the entire globe by the True Faith is a nice dream, but our Lord did say “But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Jiro, @Aapje

            “Name one society on Earth that would have fit these qualifications even before the Enlightenment.

            You can’t (unless you are the recipient of a special lucky favor that most citizens don’t have).”

            That was my point. rlms asked why don’t I move. The answer is because there’s nowhere left to move to, and if there ever was, they wouldn’t take me. I don’t want a traditionalist society that will take me. It’s like Groucho Marx’s “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”; or the Operative from Serenity, working to build a better world of which he can never be a part. I’d be fine with a civilization that would execute me as a heretic if I thought it would preserve industrial civilization and my co-ethnics against the equality-worshipping mind-virus devouring the world.

            @Aapje

            “But you also clearly want parts from modern society: tolerance of atheists.”

            I did not ask for a traditionalist society that tolerates atheists, I simply explained why I haven’t moved to a foreign land. And secondly, what about Confucian/Traditional Eastern society. Most consider the Confucian scholar Xunzi an atheist (and he was very much the Traditionalist), and as Razib Khan pointed out, the majority of all atheists to ever live have been Chinese, even before Mao. Or look at studies of religion in Japan. By self-identification especially, but also participation in religious ritual, Japan is one of the most religious countries on Earth, while polls about religious belief mark it as one of the most secular. Orthopraxy vs. Orthodoxy. I celebrate Christmas; put up a tree every year. This also gets into the whole Catholic atheists and Protestant atheists (and Confucian atheists).

            @Civilis

            And I’d call a “self-correcting multicameral representative federal republic” a unicorn. Experience shows they collapse into the same leftist mind-virus. And you obviously have never read about the Confucian conception of monarchy. Multiple scholars of that school have compared the emperor, in a functioning state, to the Pole Star. The Pole Star is the base starting point for surveying, for finding the directions and thus laying out the orderly structure of houses, buildings, towns, cities. But Polaris serves that purpose because it is the star that stands still, while all others revolve around it. In the ideal, the Emperor does nothing. He’s a human Schelling point, who checks ambition by placing the top of the pyramid out of reach, and who provides an unchanging point of continuity and stability. And remember that “absolute monarchy” was an early modern phenomenon. As the Chinese proverb says, “the mountains are high and the Emperor is far away.” Feudal subsidiarity. And even without the insistance on feudal monarchism, democracy still leads inevitably to leftist equality-worship, ever-more-wasted resources, and Idiocracy.

            “Ultimately, the only way to get healthy communities is to let different types of communities flourish and see what works and what doesn’t.”

            Yes, but the mind-virus Post-Puritan religion that Scott dubbed “Universal Culture” won’t let such communities flourish. It’s conquering and converting every part of the world genetically capable of maintaining industrial civilization.

            “having different types of ladders built in different places means hopefully at least one will be viable.”

            But the Left won’t allow any ladder to go unburnt. Allowing “racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, et cetera” to persist anywhere on Earth cannot be tolerated, and no dollar can go unspent, no resource left unclaimed, in meeting the endless, impossible obligation to fight human nature and equalize the unequal.

            @The Nybbler

            “If civilization falls due to Islam… looks like victory, right?”

            No, my people being wiped out and replaced by low-IQ, cousin-marrying savages is not “victory”, nor is the permanent destruction of centuries of technology. The Permanent Amish (or the Muslim or African equivalent) future is the failure condition that, so far as I can se, we cannot avoid.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I don’t think what you want is possible even in principle. No Enlightenment means no Industrial Revolution, so you’re stuck with either pre-industrial societies or societies too far left.

          • Iain says:

            @The Nybbler: Here is the equivalent survey for Canadian Muslims. Second-generation Canadian Muslims are more religious than their parents — more likely to wear the hijab, and more likely to pray regularly at a mosque — but less conservative than their parents — less homophobic, and less likely to say that the man should be the head of the household. Notably, 91% of second-generation Muslim Canadians say that they are “very proud” to be Canadian, and Muslim Canadians in general actually score higher on that measure than non-Muslim Canadians. Similarly, 94% of Muslim Canadians feel a “strong” or “very strong” sense of belonging to Canada.

            Seems to me that Canada kind of pokes a hole in the idea of Islam being inherently resistant to Western culture.

            (Also, I believe I have previously mentioned my girlfriend’s anecdote about watching girls on the Toronto subway pull up their niqabs to make out with their boyfriends.)

            @NIP:

            Would you not to prefer to live in a society in which theists were not permitted to spread their (from your perspective) false beliefs?

            Speaking as an atheist: uh, hell no? Absolutely not? Do you believe that the world would be a better place if nobody was allowed to voice a political opinion you disagree with, too?

            This seems like a particularly disturbing case of the typical mind fallacy.

          • Jiro says:

            From my perspective, we already live in such a world. But as Scripture hath it, “The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God.

            I’m sure some people here remember Isaac Asimov’s response to that. Matthew 5:22: “whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

            Would you not to prefer to live in a society in which theists were not permitted to spread their (from your perspective) false beliefs?

            I would be horrified at living in such a society.

          • NIP says:

            Boy do I wish wordpress had a hyperlinked reply system like on imageboards. These nested threads are abominably long and the comment box is fixed, so you need to travel a solar system’s distance to 1) find the “OP” to hit reply, and also to 2) examine and quote the post you’re replying to.

            @Ian/Jiro

            It’s all well and good to wax poetic about the joys of free speech when your own cultural values are unassailably dominant. It’s quite another thing to do so when they are hanging by a thread.

            It reminds me of an old story which came out of the English Civil War, which I cannot for the life of me find by searching online at the moment. It went something like this: There was once a proud and selfish rooster who made a habit of roosting in the rafters of a stable and shitting all over the shoulders of the horses below. The horses understandably were upset by this and contrived, when the rooster was out in the yard just before evening, to splash him with water from a trough. Unable to fly up into the rafters, and with the sun having disappeared so unable to dry off, he asks to be let in to the stables with the horses. They agree, on condition that he does not crow too loudly in the morning. He says yes, but at the first glimmer of dawn he lets out a bloodcurdling crow and the horses buck and stamp in terror. To which the rooster cries “Be careful, gentlemen, lest we should trample one another!”

            In other words, free expression is very much a “Who/Whom” question.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            It’s all well and good to wax poetic about the joys of free speech when your own cultural values are unassailably dominant. It’s quite another thing to do so when they are hanging by a thread.

            If your cultural values are genuinely hanging by a thread, it’s already far too late to restore them through minor sanctions like banning speech. Things wouldn’t have reached such a dire point if there wasn’t already a critical mass of people who believe what you don’t like, and aren’t going to allow themselves to be silenced easily.

          • Iain says:

            It’s all well and good to wax poetic about the joys of free speech when your own cultural values are unassailably dominant. It’s quite another thing to do so when they are hanging by a thread.

            75% of Americans call themselves Christian. In my God-forsaken Canadian hellhole, that number is a mere 67.3%. If you think your “cultural values” are losing, then it’s not the fault of the atheists; your fellow Christians apparently don’t like your values either.

          • rlms says:

            @NIP
            Yes, I agree that we should ban hateful speech that people are likely to find very offensive. It’s easy for people to claim that abstract principles of freedom matter when they don’t face harm from the application of those principles.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            NIP: Partially ninja’d by Jiro and Iain, but no, I wouldn’t want to live in a society where all non-atheist viewpoints were forbidden to be expressed. The question of whether any gods exist and if so, what their properties are, is a factual question on which we ought to want to converge on the correct answer. Anyone who cares about their beliefs being true ought to prefer for their beliefs to lose in a fair fight than to win in an unfair one.

            And unless anyone is arrogant enough to claim infallibility for themselves, all religious and non-religious people must acknowledge that there is a chance, however small, that they are mistaken, and it is better to try to persuade each other, examining the currently-available evidence, at worst merely agreeing to disagree, than it is to have to engage in a bloody scramble to acquire (and maintain) the political power to silence everyone who disagrees with you.

            You also mention that you would be happy to have a bunch of isolated enclaves each with their own religion, in which case, why not an atheist enclave too? I still don’t understand why you consider no-religion-at-all to be so much worse of a threat (bad enough to justify political persecution) than simply religions-other-than-mine.

            As regards policy incompatibility … most people can agree on a lot of laws as making sense regardless of whether any gods exist or not. A general prohibition on murder, theft, and other violent or acquisitive crimes, some sort of predictable law of contract, and lots of other things are useful regardless of whether any of the mainstream gods exist (I say mainstream because I can imagine a god who punishes those who enter into contracts, refuse to commit theft etc, but I don’t see a religion based on that god ever catching on).

            At the margins are the matters where what laws to choose would hinge quite heavily on what gods exist – whether abortion (at least of zygotes and embryos that are not sufficiently developed as to experience any suffering) is morally permissible depends quite heavily on whether a god somewhat like the Catholic god exists; whether it is morally permissible to have legal sale and use of alcohol hinges on whether something like the Salafi Muslim god exists etc.

            But the way to resolve these issues is: find a compromise position as best you can in the near term (eg abortions only under certain conditions, alcohol only available for sale to non-muslims in their expat compounds) while engaging with maximal intellectual honesty in the task of trying to resolve the question of what gods exist and what they want. After all, if I am mistaken about the non-existence of the god of Catholicism, I am also mistaken about the desirability of laws that only make sense conditional on the existence of the god of Catholicism, and I would want to change my position – to become less wrong in my policy preferences – if I am mistaken on that question. And I assume that, with the signs reversed, so do you. In which case, again, ‘whoever is in charge gets to threaten everyone else into silence’ is a terrible system for reaching optimal laws and policies.

            And I’m afraid I don’t understand the point of your rooster metaphor at all, sorry; you may have to spell it out for me.

          • Jiro says:

            It’s all well and good to wax poetic about the joys of free speech when your own cultural values are unassailably dominant. It’s quite another thing to do so when they are hanging by a thread.

            I don’t wax poetic about free speech because I have all I have already. I wax poetic about free speech because if I give someone power to restrict it, even if they agree with me about atheism, they won’t agree with me about everything, and they will surely use their power to suppress my speech on one of those other things.

            Your rooster parable only works because there’s only one thing to worry about (trampling) and the rooster doesn’t care about it. Anyone who suppresses speech is going to suppress lots of different speech, and it isn’t all going to be speech I don’t care about.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Iain:

            Canada is in an especially good situation with regards to immigration, though, because our geographical isolation means we can pick and choose. We do not have the problems the US has – long border with a poorer country: note that American anti-immigration sentiment is mostly built around anti-illegal immigration sentiment. Both the US and Canada are good at integrating immigrants, illegal or legal: so neither has it as bad as Europe (geographically very close to considerably poorer countries, with cultures more different from European cultures than Latin America is from the US, and bad at integrating immigrants to the point that even immigration from other parts of Europe is controversial).

            With regard to Muslims specifically , Muslim populations in the US and Canada are far less likely to express worrying beliefs indicating radicalization or possible radicalization than Muslim populations in Europe. The reasons for this are two-fold: first, we can pick and choose (I would bet that Muslim immigrants to Canada are better educated and less likely to commit crimes than the Canadian average, versus the opposite being true in Europe), second, we can integrate them far more effectively. We can definitely take more refugees than we do now (US and Canada both – and I think we should) because we are able to vet them overseas, prioritize bringing in families, etc, whereas Europe is freaking out, because their experience is far less positive (not to mention that Merkel’s handling of it made the situation even worse – Europe could have handled the refugee situation, but instead the populist right and far right have gotten a huge shot in the arm).

            I would note that the part of Canada that has the most exclusionary, ethnic-based culture at this point in time – Quebec – tends to be considerably more xenophobic than the country as a whole.

            So, it’s not really workable to extrapolate the positive Canadian (or, American) experience to Western countries as a whole.

          • Iain says:

            @dndnrsn: I don’t deny that Canada is in a particularly good place for getting to pick and choose immigrants. But the difference between Canada and the US is mostly limited to Hispanic immigrants; to the extent that there is a difference between Muslim Canadians and Muslim Americans, it is a difference in culture, not just an advantage of geography.

            I’m not saying that integrating Muslims is necessarily going to be easy in all Western countries. I’m just pointing out that the whole hyperventilating “if civilization falls due to Islam” attitude is overwrought nonsense. Islam is not incompatible with “Western culture” as a whole. Some western cultures may be better than others at integrating Muslims, but this is an immutable characteristic of neither Western culture nor Islam.

          • INH5 says:

            My view as to the most likely scenario for our doom is one I’ve laid out before in the context of the Fermi Paradox. Namely, that the Industrial Revolution was a once-per-planet event. Look at our power grid and it’s vulnerabilities. Look at how complex semiconductor electronics manufacturing is, with tools for making the tools for making the tools and so on. You can’t make a solar panel with 1800s technology. And our available fossil fuels are only accessible with positive EROI due to generations of technology built upon the energy from more easily accessible stocks now depleted. You can’t do fracking with 1800’s tech either. My metaphor is of a fruit tree; we plucked the low-hanging fruit, and traded some of it for a ladder, with which we can reach the higher fruit we’re living on.

            Leaving aside the fact that it demonstrably is possible to build a solar thermal power plant using 1800s tech, I fail to see how the conclusion follows. Solar power only generates 0.6% of US electricity. Hydroelectric, wind, biomass, and geothermal power, all of which are possible with 1800s tech (the first hydroelectric power plant was built in 1881, the first wind powered electrical generator in 1887, the first geothermal electricity generator in 1904), generate a combined 12.6% of US electricity. So even if all terrestrial fossil and nuclear fuels disappeared tomorrow, we would already have enough renewable energy sources to cover the power needs of a population and standard of living roughly comparable to what we had in the 1950s. Which would be a major disaster to be sure, but it would hardly take us back to the stone age.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Iain: If I phrased it badly, I’m sorry; Americans have done about as good a job of integrating Muslims as Canadians have. The research I’ve seen on Muslim attitudes shows US Muslims as being considerably less radical/radicalizable than European Muslims.

            Beyond Sunni radicalism (the vast majority of Islamist terrorism is committed by Sunnis, and by definition those who do have been radicalized), however, Muslims in Europe appear by all indicators to commit “mundane” crime at a higher rate than the norm, while the opposite is true of Muslims in Canada or the US. Street crime, sexual assault, that sort of thing. This is probably due in part to our culture being better able to integrate them, but probably more to the better ability to pick and choose: America has the ability to pick and choose except when the Mexican border is involved. Canada has the ability to pick and choose, period. The sort of people who pass our points system are unlikely to steal people’s cellphones at knifepoint.

            Islam isn’t incompatible with modernity (I don’t know if “Western culture” is a thing, and arguably Islam is western – it seems odd to say that two of the Abrahamic religions that developed heavily in the Middle East, Western Asia, and North Africa are “western” but the other one isn’t). Sunni radicalism certainly is.

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t know if “Western culture” is a thing, and arguably Islam is western – it seems odd to say that two of the Abrahamic religions that developed heavily in the Middle East, Western Asia, and North Africa are “western” but the other one isn’t

            Western culture pretty much means “Western European” culture, which spent, what, 1500+ years (to use round numbers so I don’t have to look up when Constantine was [edit: 330s AD]) being shaped by Christianity, and about as long repelling Islamic conquest.
            Why do you find it odd that the former is in and the latter out?

          • Iain says:

            @dndnrsn: The Nybbler linked this Brookings article. It’s possible (indeed likely) that the article is excessively negative about the integration of second-generation Muslims in America, in which case I would argue that Canada and the US are both counterexamples to the claim that “Islam has demonstrably proven resistant to Western culture”.

            I don’t think we disagree about anything here.

            @Randy M: To be pedantic, it seems moderately unlikely that Western Europe spent “1500+ years” repelling Islamic conquest, given that Mohammed was born in 570. Time travel?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Iain: I don’t think we’re disagreeing about whether Islam can fit into “western modernity” or w/e. It obviously can – Canada and the US are proof of that; most Muslims fit in fine. Sunni radicals don’t.

            In Europe, however, this is being made harder, maybe impossible, by a whole bunch of factors. So even if it could, that doesn’t mean it is. And a lower-education, higher-crime minority (as Muslims tend to be in Europe, instead of a higher-education, lower-crime minority as in Canada and the US) still is a problem, regardless of whether they fit into modernity or not. This isn’t a problem that’s limited to Muslims in Europe, either. European countries’ simultaneously overzealous and half-hearted attempts to become multicultural have not been a success.

            My point is simply that Canada is basically the world-best case of successful selection and integration of immigrants, and can’t be extrapolated to Europe, or even to the US completely.

            EDIT: And, problems with integrating Muslims beyond the usual problems with integrating immigrants (lesser in North America, greater in Europe) are largely due to Sunni radicalism.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @INH5

            First, I’m sorry, I should have been more clear. By “1800s”, I meant the decade, not the century; I should have said perhaps “circa 1800 technology”. So, 80-100 years earlier than your examples. And electricity is not the only form of energy you need to manufacture the essential technologies of society.

            Plus, it’s not just energy. Look at “rare earths”, at the depletion of the natural deposits (almost all in Greenland) of the cryolite needed to produce aluminum. Nor does that address the dysgenics/Idiocracy issue.

            In short, to go technologically from 1800 to now requires easily-accessible resources that simply are not there anymore.

          • Randy M says:

            @Randy M: To be pedantic, it seems moderately unlikely that Western Europe spent “1500+ years” repelling Islamic conquest, given that Mohammed was born in 570. Time travel?

            Pedantry is fine, but make sure you take a careful reading before undertaking it, as I’m not above looking petty by refuting it.

            The word “what” before the number indicated a lack of precision and openness to correction. The phrase “about as long” before the mention of Islam indicates a separate number that is roughly the same order of magnitude but somewhat greater or lesser.

            A better objection would have been that after about the Industrial revolution the conquests mostly went the other way. Doesn’t argue against the larger point, however, that the two saw each other as separate civilizations. Samuel Huntington would agree.

          • Civilis says:

            Yes, but the mind-virus Post-Puritan religion that Scott dubbed “Universal Culture” won’t let such communities flourish. It’s conquering and converting every part of the world genetically capable of maintaining industrial civilization.

            If people are choosing a Universal Culture over your proposed culture, there’s nothing you can do about it unless you are able to block people from being able to compare your culture to any alternatives. The system by its nature can’t distinguish between harmful interference and helpful correction.

            But the Left won’t allow any ladder to go unburnt. Allowing “racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, et cetera” to persist anywhere on Earth cannot be tolerated, and no dollar can go unspent, no resource left unclaimed, in meeting the endless, impossible obligation to fight human nature and equalize the unequal.

            There are large parts of your overbroad definition of the ‘left’ that don’t give a fig for stomping out any of those evils and want to live and let live, such as, going by recent American elections, a good chunk of the American population (the ones most people call the American right).

            The problem is that there is no social structure that is perfect for any and all sets of external conditions. Hence, the most important attribute to society is that it is able to evolve to meet changing conditions. Top-down society, as pushed by you under the ‘Throne and Altar’ or the authoritarian socialist left can’t function that way; they all postulate an ideal static unchanging end-state (in your case, the ‘Throne and Altar’ structure). Giving individuals the freedom to decide what values work best for them is the only way that the ability to adapt can be maintained. They may decide, paradoxically, that long term freedom requires short term submission to authority (see the US in World War II, for example).

            The unchanging point of stability is a dangerous illusion, and it’s why your system will never work. Everyone in the whole structure is human, and prone to failure. Even the mountains eventually erode away.

            Human nature is a constant. Humans will always be human. Building a system that relies on humans being inhumanly perfect will always result in failure, whether it’s based in one perfect person at the top or many at the bottom.

            You’re complaining that people aren’t choosing your way. I’m complaining people won’t let me choose my way. You’re free to go your way, don’t expect me or anyone else to follow you. And that’s why ‘Throne and Altar’ will never work, because it requires the majority of the people to lie down while you sit on the throne perched on their backs.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @carvenvisage

            So if those of us who believe democracy, equality, the “rights of Man”, and the “Universal Culture” are a growing existential threat to our tribe are forbidden to conclude that fighting those is futile and all hope is lost, then what should we do? How should we fight them, if concluding they’re unbeatable is forbidden?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Civilis

            “If people are choosing a Universal Culture over your proposed culture, there’s nothing you can do about it”

            That’s exactly my point: there’s nothing we can do about it; we’ve lost forever, and there is no hope.

            “There are large parts of your overbroad definition of the ‘left’ that don’t give a fig for stomping out any of those evils and want to live and let live”

            And they consistently lose to the ones that do; they’re the Outer Party to the Left’s Inner Party, the Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters.

            “Giving individuals the freedom to decide what values work best for them is the only way that the ability to adapt can be maintained.”

            Yes, but the “Universal Culture” of the Left won’t allow people that freedom.

            “You’re free to go your way”

            A simple examination of the world we live in proves that to be false. Because where on Earth is this place where whites are free to be subjects of a hereditary monarch and a hereditary aristocracy, with open rejection of the equality of races, sexes, classes, religions, and so on, without being subject to “regime change”?

            And once again is made the charge that the only real reason monarchists support monarchy is that they expect to be King. It’s as if the people always making that charge believe the only real reason for one to support any political system is if one belives their own individual status will be raised under that system, which I think says more about them and why they support the systems they do. I don’t want to be king, or a lord. Frankly, the kind of system I believe is needed to prevent civilizational collapse would probably have me executed.

          • Iain says:

            @Randy M: Curse your inevitable rebuttal!

            Yeah, I wrote that quickly before a meeting. If I were trying to make an actual point, instead of a joke, I would have talked about Avicenna, and algebra, and the non-trivial amount of time where the most active development of the ideas people like to claim as “Western civilization” was being done by Muslims.

            @dndnrsn: Again, I’m not arguing that Europe can easily integrate immigrants, or that Sunni fundamentalism is a basket of roses. I agree with you on those points. I’m just arguing against the world view that traces this to a timeless fundamental opposition between “Islam” and “the West”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Iain:

            Oh, definitely. I would argue against that too. I just think that saying “well look at Canada” can be misleading – it’s very hard to extrapolate from Canada to the rest of the world.

          • Randy M says:

            Oh, sure Iain, there was cross-pollination and Arabic civilization had achievements (although sometimes they are credited with discoveries from even further east or from recently subjugated populations). But the question was why one particular Semitic religion is associated with Western Civilization and another not. Christianity has had centuries shaping western thought and vice versa, while Islam has similarly informed Arabic culture.
            Inasmuch as one would say that there is difference between Western Civilization and Arabic Civilization, it’s pretty obvious which religions associate easier with which and why.

            Drawing the border between Western Civilization and that of Latin America is much more difficult; a fairly solid case could be made for not making a difference at that level of abstraction. Of course in reality these kinds of organic divisions are attempts to impose categories on a spectra, like color, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful.

          • Civilis says:

            A simple examination of the world we live in proves that to be false. Because where on Earth is this place where whites are free to be subjects of a hereditary monarch and a hereditary aristocracy, with open rejection of the equality of races, sexes, classes, religions, and so on, without being subject to “regime change”?

            Find an island, somewhere. Move into the deepest jungle. If you are fine with being a serf, you might find someone willing to be the aristocracy. The biggest problem is that you’ll never find enough people to volunteer to be serfs (there will be a few like you; you can find a few people up for anything, just not enough to keep your society going).

            If we waved a magic wand, and you had your hereditary aristocracy, the serfs will always eventually go somewhere else, or eventually kill the aristocrats and some will become the new aristocracy. And that’s if the whole thing doesn’t succumb to outside forces, man-made or natural. There’s many reasons serfdom died out; a big one is the change in military tactics and technology required a society that could field a professional force, not a serf levy, and required a greater number of troops that a military caste could provide.

            It’s like the idiots that want to go back to hunter-gatherer societies; those can’t survive against any more developed society. There will always be bad actors out there that are willing to act expansionistically if they can get away with it; any society that only survives if everyone else agrees to leave it alone is doomed.

            And they consistently lose to the ones that do; they’re the Outer Party to the Left’s Inner Party, the Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters.

            The Generals are doing a lot better now than they were in 1917, or 1945, or even 1980. The distribution of power shifts with technology and social pressure.

            Yes, but the “Universal Culture” of the Left won’t allow people that freedom.

            It’s human nature that some people look at the promise of authoritarian statism and see ‘if I back that nice demagogue, I can be a party member or even a commissar and lord it over the proles.’ It’s regrettable, but human nature. It’s not human nature for many people to look at your offer of a life at the bottom of the pile as a prole (or serf) under an authoritarian hereditary aristocracy and think it a good offer.

            It’s not somehow not freedom that your offer has been made and nobody is taking it up. If your problem is that the rest of us won’t allow you to force other people to be serfs, then tough luck.

          • NIP says:

            @Everyone because honestly this thread is way too long

            Look, the point I’ve been trying to make is simple. Modernism/Progressivism/Universalism/Chaos Undivided/Whatever-you-call-it has won out, not just over Christianity, but over every other culture on the face of the planet. It has done this not through rational argument, contra Winter Shaker, but through the institutional capture of the most technologically advanced societies, which went on to remake the world in their image, which they also did with no semblance of rational argument. Ideas/memes do not spread by argument. They spread like viruses. Their truth-value is completely independent of whether they actually get adopted in the real world. Questions of power and status decide who believes what. This is the way it’s always been, this is the way it always will be. Saying “well more people would believe in your ideas if you just won more public debates/wrote more persuasively/actually had a rational thought in your silly little head” is categorical nonsense. If I were to challenge some prominent atheist professor to a public debate, and subsequently laid out a defense of theism worthy of the greatest saints and doctors, which caused the professor to run away crying liberal crocodile tears while an eagle name “Traditio” flew in through the window and perched on my shoulders clasping a Douay Bible in its beak, and this was all captured on video – no, even if this feat were replicated dozens of times at different universities, and if you drew lines on the map connecting them all it spelled out “GOD EXISTS, STUPID” – not a thing would change. Nothing would change, because nothing is meant to change except in the one direction that those who control the academies, schools, media, and civil service want society to go. It’s not exactly some kind of conspiracy to say that people will think what the institutions whose job it is to tell everyone what to think want them to. It’s called “manufacture of consent”, and it is not a reactionary idea. As Ian and Thirteenth Letter pointed out, there is no possibility of quarantine when we live in a society that insists, contra to evidence, that we all have the freedom to believe and think whatever we want, and oh don’t mind breathing in that industrial-strength brain-washing solution coming out of every cultural vent. You can have any color of belief you want, so long as it’s progressive.

            And as to the point of my rooster parable, it’s simply this: crowing loudly about how we should take care not to trample each other – aka, we should be in favor of “niceness, community, and civilization” – is hypocritical of a party when that party takes every available opportunity to shit all over the shoulders of their ideological enemies. You all may be shining paragons of virtue who honestly wish for a level playing field for all ideas; in fact I have no doubt that you are. But in practice, you shining paragons are not the ones who decide policy. The roosters do.

          • BBA says:

            Frankly, the kind of system I believe is needed to prevent civilizational collapse would probably have me executed.

            When I reach a bleak, terrifying conclusion like this, I take it as a sign that there’s something wrong with my reasoning.

            I can’t even begin to address anything in this subthread. I just want to say: holy shit, dood. Do you need a hug?

          • TenMinute says:

            Civilis, what’s with the obsession of insisting that the right’s only motivation is power-hunger, and “lording it over the proles” is the only possible goal?
            It seems like projection, doesn’t it?

            If you read a little bit, you might notice all the stuff about wanting to be left alone in peace, as long as one doesn’t try to overthrow the state.

            Moldberg and the rest of us want to be Singaporean office workers, not your weird fantasy of LARPing royalty crushing the peasants. (No offense, David!)

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Kevin C:

            Energy really is the only big problem, unless you’re contemplating nuclear holocaust. Sure, the easily-mined ore deposits have been mined out… but the refined metals are now on the surface, even more easily accessible.

            For production of aluminum, natural cryolite is entirely unnecessary; it can be produced by various processes using reagents known to alchemy if not antiquity.

          • “Giving individuals the freedom to decide what values work best for them is the only way that the ability to adapt can be maintained.”

            Yes, but the “Universal Culture” of the Left won’t allow people that freedom.

            You might consider the Amish. They are not your particular preferred culture, but they are very far from the Universal Culture of the Left. They have prospered in America, with a population doubling time of a bit over twenty years.

          • Inasmuch as one would say that there is difference between Western Civilization and Arabic Civilization, it’s pretty obvious which religions associate easier with which and why.

            When the Muslims conquered Spain, both Christians and Jews were permitted to remain and keep their religions. When the Christians reconquered it, the Jews and Muslims were required to leave or convert. When the Christians took Jerusalem, they massacred the inhabitants. When the Muslims retook it, they didn’t.

            Until quite recently Muslim societies were more tolerant of other religions than Christian societies, not less. What is tolerant isn’t Christian civilization or western civilization, it is modern civilization–which has largely abandoned Christianity.

          • Obelix says:

            dndnrsn:

            I would note that the part of Canada that has the most exclusionary, ethnic-based culture at this point in time – Quebec – tends to be considerably more xenophobic than the country as a whole.

            That’s really not true, and it’s quite unfair as well. Belonging to the Quebec nation is of a different nature than belonging to the Canadian nation, but that doesn’t make that nation any more (or less) xenophobic than the other.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ David Friedman:

            When the Muslims conquered Spain, both Christians and Jews were permitted to remain and keep their religions. When the Christians reconquered it, the Jews and Muslims were required to leave or convert.

            And equally, Muhammad executed people who refused to convert, and the Normans of Sicily permitted Muslims to keep their religion and property. There are plenty of examples you can pick to argue the case whichever way you want.

            When the Christians took Jerusalem, they massacred the inhabitants. When the Muslims retook it, they didn’t.

            That was because the Christians took* Jerusalem by storm, whereas later it surrendered on terms. The practice of sacking cities that resisted and treating leniently those which surrendered was standard procedure from the year dot to the 19th century, and had nothing to do with religious tolerance. The Crusaders didn’t sack Jerusalem when they took it by diplomacy in 1229, and a considerable part of the population of Outremer consisted of non-Catholics.

            * “Retook”, surely, since it was Christian before it was Muslim — if the Muslim capture of Jerusalem in 1187 counts as a reconquest, so should the Christian capture in 1099.

          • John Schilling says:

            You might consider the Amish. They are not your particular preferred culture, but they are very far from the Universal Culture of the Left.

            And the Universal Culture of the Left, some of its representatives here at least, consider the Amish to be an Evil that must be abolished from this Earth. Something about not training their children to be engineers, if I recall, and the Amish can surely be abolished by forcibly taking all of their children off to be “properly” educated.

            They have prospered in America, with a population doubling time of a bit over twenty years.

            But almost unknown in Western Europe. The Amish prosper in places where the Universal Culture of the Left has not been able to dominate in the political sphere.

          • Randy M says:

            @David Friedman
            So your definition is Western Civilization = tolerance? Otherwise that seems a non-sequitor.

          • sflicht says:

            I don’t think it’s true that Muhammed executed non-converts, provided they were Abrahamic monotheists. Didn’t he explicitly make terms with his Jewish subjects and implement the dhimmi system?

          • Civilis says:

            Civilis, what’s with the obsession of insisting that the right’s only motivation is power-hunger, and “lording it over the proles” is the only possible goal? It seems like projection, doesn’t it?

            In any society, people are going to gradually move towards positions which grant them what they want. Some people want social recognition and status; they’ll work towards fame. Some people want material wealth; they’ll work towards money. Some people want power over others; any system must assume that the people that want power over others will eventually end up at the top.

            I don’t assume the right’s goal is power-hunger, I assume people that hunger for power will find the quickest, easiest way to get it. That means either infiltrating or overthrowing the system. (I also assume that some people will only discover themselves to be power hungry on actually being given power.) The only way around it is to distribute power to minimize the damage someone that is incompetent or evil and power hungry can do.

            If you read a little bit, you might notice all the stuff about wanting to be left alone in peace, as long as one doesn’t try to overthrow the state.

            That’s fine, but any system that relies on everyone behaving is not going to work. That’s especially true about people outside the purview of your system. (It’s doubly true about the people making decisions in the system itself.) Your system needs to deal with people that are willing to not leave you alone. No system can rely on conditions being perfect, and, thus, the only way to survive is for the system to be able to change with conditions.

            Moldberg and the rest of us want to be Singaporean office workers, not your weird fantasy of LARPing royalty crushing the peasants. (No offense, David!)

            Frankly, from what I hear, I’d be fine with being a Singaporean office worker alongside you. I’m actually amenable to the idea of a benevolent dictator. I have no desire for power. I just admit that there are people who want to be LARPing royalty crushing the peasants (thus no way to guarantee any dictatorship will stay benevolent). We have evidence of that in totalitarian states, from the Soviet Union to Venezuela.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Iain:

            That’s really not true, and it’s quite unfair as well. Belonging to the Quebec nation is of a different nature than belonging to the Canadian nation, but that doesn’t make that nation any more (or less) xenophobic than the other.

            As I understand it, support for things like hijab bans has been stronger in Quebec than elsewhere. There’s also the separatist conviction that “money and the ethnic vote” was the reason the referendum failed. The English Canadians (who are just as xenophobic as the French Canadians, historically speaking) have lost power in Canada to a greater extent, relatively speaking, than the French Canadians have in Quebec.

          • Iain says:

            @dndnrsn: That comment was Obelix, not me.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Iain:

            Sorry. I got the gravatars mixed up; yours is one of the few green ones around here. Not sure how I did that.

          • And equally, Muhammad executed people who refused to convert, and the Normans of Sicily permitted Muslims to keep their religion and property. There are plenty of examples you can pick to argue the case whichever way you want.

            What is your evidence for Muhammed executing people who refused to convert? Traditional Islamic law makes converting away from Islam a capital offense, not refusing to convert to it.

            You are correct about the Norman rulers of southern Italy, but you might consider that one result was that Stupor Mundi was suspected of being a closet Muslim.

            I don’t think you can find plenty of examples both ways. Islamic law explicitly tolerated Christians, Jews, and Sabeans, and in practice got extended to Zoroastrians and Hindus when Muslims were rulings lots of them. I don’t know of a parallel in Christian law. Jews were often but not always permitted to live under Christian rule–but they were not a potential enemy in the way in which Christians and Muslims were to each other.

            Where, other than southern Italy and Outremer, did you have Christian ruled states that, for an extended period of time, freely permitted Muslims to live in them? Pretty nearly all Muslim states freely permitted Christians to live in them.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            What is your evidence for Muhammed executing people who refused to convert? Traditional Islamic law makes converting away from Islam a capital offense, not refusing to convert to it.

            I must have misremembered, since on checking it seems he didn’t execute them, but merely declared war. Then again, I’m not sure that “Convert or I’ll send my army against you” is much more tolerant than “Convert or I’ll cut your head off”.

            You are correct about the Norman rulers of southern Italy, but you might consider that one result was that Stupor Mundi was suspected of being a closet Muslim.

            Frederick II was a Hohenstaufen, not a Norman, so I’m not sure what the relevance of this was. Plus, I’m not aware of any of the previous Kings of Sicily being accused of closet Islam.

            I don’t think you can find plenty of examples both ways. Islamic law explicitly tolerated Christians, Jews, and Sabeans, and in practice got extended to Zoroastrians and Hindus when Muslims were rulings lots of them. I don’t know of a parallel in Christian law.

            Probably because there’s no such thing as “Christian law” in the same sense that there’s Islamic law.

            Jews were often but not always permitted to live under Christian rule–but they were not a potential enemy in the way in which Christians and Muslims were to each other.

            But Christians and other non-Muslims were made second-class citizens, made to pay extra taxes and subject to various legal disabilities.

            Where, other than southern Italy and Outremer, did you have Christian ruled states that, for an extended period of time, freely permitted Muslims to live in them? Pretty nearly all Muslim states freely permitted Christians to live in them.

            Given that the only instances in medieval Europe where Christian states ruled over a large body of Muslims for long periods of time were Spain, Italy and Outremer, dismissing two of those instances by argumentative fiat seems like bad faith.

            And, to answer your question: British India.

          • Frederick II was a Hohenstaufen, not a Norman, so I’m not sure what the relevance of this was.

            He was the grandson, through his mother, of Roger II, who united the Norman conquests in southern Italy. He was king of Sicily by inheritance from his mother.

            Probably because there’s no such thing as “Christian law” in the same sense that there’s Islamic law.

            There were canon law and Roman law in addition to the laws of the various Christian kingdoms. Which of those provided for a general right of Muslims to live under Christian rule?

            But Christians and other non-Muslims were made second-class citizens, made to pay extra taxes and subject to various legal disabilities.

            Correct, although “extra taxes” is somewhat ambiguous since they were not required to pay the zakat, the Koranic tax that Muslims had to pay. I don’t know if, on average, the jizya was more or less than the zakat—do you?

            But it is true that witnesses against a Muslim defendant had to be Muslims, that some schools of law held that the damage payment for killing a non-Muslim was lower than for killing a Muslim, and that there were various other legal disabilities. But of course, Jews, when permitted to live under Christian rule, also suffered disabilities.

            I am not arguing that traditional Muslim societies were as tolerant as modern day America, merely more tolerant than contemporary Christian societies. Do you disagree?

            Given that the only instances in medieval Europe where Christian states ruled over a large body of Muslims for long periods of time were Spain, Italy and Outremer, dismissing two of those instances by argumentative fiat seems like bad faith.

            In Outremer it would have been difficult to drive out the mostly Muslim population. In Italy, the last Muslim settlement (in Lucera) was destroyed in 1300–earlier than the expulsion from Iberia. Were there any Christian kingdoms where Muslim immigrants were welcome?

            And, to answer your question: British India.

            You could as easily, and irrelevantly, have cited Dutch Indonesia or French Algeria. As you may remember, my original point was “What is tolerant isn’t Christian civilization or western civilization, it is modern civilization–which has largely abandoned Christianity.”

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t know if, on average, the jizya was more or less than the zakat—do you?

            It’s hard to say, since the zakat was structured as a wealth tax and the jizya appears to have been something between a poll tax and an income tax — for Iraq in al-Rashid’s time, Wikipedia gives values between 12 and 48 dirhams annually, depending on occupation.

            I have no idea how much a dirham was worth at the time. But just by looking at the structure, we can tell that poor Muslims would have been better off than poor dhimmis (and conversely that rich dhimmis might have had an easier time, presuming there were enough of them to matter). Since almost everyone in that era was poor, it seems very likely that Muslims would have been less burdened by taxes on average.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @David Friedman

            “You might consider the Amish.”

            Who only exist at the sufferance of the American state, which seems lately to be wearing thin, and likely thinner as their growing numbers make them more prominant. I’ve already read multiple legal thinkers arguing that Wisconsin v. Yoder is ripe to be overturned, increasing numbers putting forth that many of the measures the Amish take that reduce the rates by which their youth “defect” to the greater culture (such as the early school withdrawal allowed under Wisconsin v. Yoder) constitute “child abuse” and should be suppressed, the whole milk incident with the FDA, that “Amish Mafia” show (and plotlines on other TV shows) seeking to portray the Amish as “scary, insular, backwards, fanatically religious (in a weird way) white (and thus likely racist) people” rather than “quaint”. I give them less than a century at best.

      • James Miller says:

        It might be different with Trump. I’m not sure if this is real, but this might be what now faces the violent left:

        “We organized this event like we’ve done a million fucking times before. We followed the formula that we’ve used in Europe and the US for years, ie, show up, fuck up fascist faces, break some random shit, watch the right wing tears.

        But this time was different, and it’s your fucking fault. We didn’t get slaps on the wrist, we didn’t get lost in the crowd. We got fucking rounded up and arrested.

        Now some of us, like yours truly, got bailed out by our backers, but we have court dates and TEN FUCKING YEARS in jail. FOR HUNDREDS OF US. THIS IS FUCKING INSANE.

        It’s not fair. It’s not fucking fair. We’re not fascists like you fucks. We’re the good guys.

        You have no idea how much this is hurting us. A fuckton of our young members are just checking out, because guess fucking what, they don’t want to go to jail.”

    • Earthly Knight says:

      These days, of course, right-wing terrorists pose a much bigger threat.

      • Mary says:

        The idea that the Southern Poverty Law Center has anything to tell us about terrorism — or anything else — is too ludicrous for words.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          *random wingnut on twitter talks about Cold-War era leftist terrorism*

          “THIS IS IMPORTANT, LET’S DISCUSS IT”

          *SPLC compiles long list of recent right-wing terror attacks*

          “I DON’T TRUST IT, LET’S NOT LISTEN TO THEM”

          I point out often that the right has by and large lost all contact with reality. This is precisely how that happens.

          • Sandy says:

            That list blames the Orlando massacre and the Dallas police assassinations on the American right. Setting aside how deluded you’d have to be to think an Afghan Muslim who condemned America for killing “his people” in Syria and a black separatist who hated white people are representative of the American right when those are the left’s pet causes, why is it so arbitrary in choosing which attacks are right-wing? If terrorists who kill American soldiers are right-wing, why isn’t Muhammad Yusuf Abdulazeez, who killed five soldiers in Chattanooga, included on that list? Or Nidal Hassan, who killed thirteen soldiers in Fort Hood? Why are only white terrorists who kill soldiers to lash out at the American government considered right-wing?

            I agree that Christian violence is right-wing, basically all religious violence is right-wing, but I don’t see why the SPLC doesn’t classify every single terrorist attack ever committed by Muslims on US soil as right-wing for this list. In an ideological sense, they would be absolutely right to do so, and yet they seem hesitant. Are they just picking and choosing what they can get away with? Why not call 9/11 right-wing violence? Despite its support among Western left-wingers, Islamism is thoroughly right-wing.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            The guy who shot up the gay nightclub in Orlando presumably made it on the list because he was suspected (falsely, it appears) to have been motivated by homophobia. I have no idea why the Dallas police shooter is on there.

          • Montfort says:

            Black separatism is not one of the left’s “pet causes,” unless by the “left” you mean “black separatists.” Very few other people care. I guess arguably you could say black nationalism is, though I don’t hear much about it these days.

            The Dallas shooter, I assume, is on the list because he liked black separatist groups, which the SPLC doesn’t approve of (most are categorized by the SPLC as hate groups). However, he seemed to mostly stick to those which claimed to be “far-left” or blamed capitalism and imperialism as the cause of black people’s problems, so I think they forgot to check which separatist groups he supported.

          • shakeddown says:

            I point out often that the right has by and large lost all contact with reality.

            I suspect this is because right-wing alarmism about things has failed (Obamacare ended up working out reasonably well, legalizing gay marriage didn’t cause any unexpected disasters, the last two democratic presidents saw growing economies while the last two republican presidents had collapses…), but on the other hand really can’t stand to concede anything to those smug annoying liberals (to be fair, quite a lot of liberals, especially the SJ part, are extremely obnoxious, and this is made worse by the fact that the most vocal liberals tend not to be the ones advocating good policy). There really isn’t a good way to deal with that – you can concede to arrogant jerks (which no one ever wants to do), retreat to calm policy discussion (which hardly anyone wants to do), or resort to confirmation bias and increasingly outlandish conspiracy theories (which everyone loves doing). It’s not surprising the vast majority of the right went with the third option – the left would probably have done the same if the positions were reversed (actually, this is kinda what happened in the USSR).

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I expect the guy who shot up the gay nightclub in Orlando made it on the list because he was suspected (falsely, it appears) to have been motivated by homophobia. I have no idea why the Dallas police shooter appears on the list.

            Given that you agree about the absurdity of these two extremely high-profile examples, does that make you readjust your confidence in the quality of the list as a whole?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Has reading the list persuaded you that the right’s fringe is far, far more dangerous than anyone on the left?

          • cassander says:

            @shakeddown

            I suspect this is because right-wing alarmism about things has failed (Obamacare ended up working out reasonably well,

            If by working out well, you mean costing a little more, insuring people a lot less than was predicted, sure.

            >legalizing gay marriage didn’t cause any unexpected disasters,

            who was saying it would cause immediate disaster?

            >the last two democratic presidents saw growing economies while the last two republican presidents had collapses…)

            you’re giving presidents credit for the business cycle now? And accusing others of losing touch with reality?

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            The SPLC listed Ayaan Hirsi Ali of being an “anti-Muslim extremist.” Their credibility, as far as I’m concerned, is 0.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The SPLC listed Ayaan Hirsi Ali of being an “anti-Muslim extremist.” Their credibility, as far as I’m concerned, is 0.

            Oh God, so much this.

          • Sandy says:

            The SPLC listed Ayaan Hirsi Ali of being an “anti-Muslim extremist.” Their credibility, as far as I’m concerned, is 0.

            And Maajid Nawaz.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Has reading the list persuaded you that the right’s fringe is far, far more dangerous than anyone on the left?

            No: in fact it’s persuaded me that the SPLC are deliberately dishonest instead of just blindly ideological. Why should I trust them on the obscure events I’ve never heard of, when they described gigantic, high-profile events that got saturation media coverage precisely backwards, and in the way that is most convenient for their thesis?

            (Now, you answer my question.)

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Alex Zavoluk

            The SPLC listed Ayaan Hirsi Ali of being an “anti-Muslim extremist.” Their credibility, as far as I’m concerned, is 0.

            And if I find just one dubious ideological classification or error in the twitter rant, it will also lose all credibility in your eyes, correct? Or are you holding it and the SPLC to different standards?

            @ ThirteenthLetter

            Why should I trust them on the obscure events I’ve never heard of,

            You’ve never heard of the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, or of Eric Rudolph, or of Dylan Roof? What rock have you been living under?

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            @Eartly Knight

            It’s not merely “dubious” it’s complete bullshit, and it’s far from the only example just in this thread of their classification being purely ideologically driven.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            And it is your opinion that absolutely nothing in the twitter rant is bullshit or ideologically driven?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Earthly Knight:

            The actual facts – the names and dates – in that Twitter rant are taken from a book by a legitimate author that has been reviewed in multiple legitimate sources.

            The spin that the guy writing the tweets puts on it is a mixture of plausible and bizarre. On the one hand, I think he’s wrong that there’s widespread sympathy for left-wing radicals among the mainstream left: if there was, it wouldn’t be a constant complaint of left-wing radicals that liberals don’t appreciate their limo-burning and so forth. Lots of left-wing radicals talk as though liberals are a more serious threat than the right.

            On the other, there are left-wing radicals who did get happy endings as tenured profs, etc. The twitter guy also makes a point that to me seems rather left-friendly: the left-wing radicals who came out of it OK and now inhabit faculty lounges are mostly white, while the black ones mostly ended up dead or in prison. One might even say there’s privilege going on…

          • John Schilling says:

            Has reading the list persuaded you that the right’s fringe is far, far more dangerous than anyone on the left?

            Even if the list were at all credible, that the SPLC even sees a need for a list is proof that the right isn’t dangerous. And if it took a David Hines tweetstorm to make me aware of leftist or Islamic violence, that would prove that they aren’t dangerous either. Unfortunately, I need look no further than the headlines of my local newspaper to see otherwise.

            In a nation where something like a hundred thousand people die every day, even a 9/11-level exercise in political violence is utterly inconsequential except to the extent that it shifts public opinion, e.g. by making people afraid. Violence, in some circumstances, can have a very consequential impact on public opinion. But in order to do that, people have to notice.

            The violence that I have to dig into a list provided by an advocacy group to find, by definition doesn’t meet that threshold. Maybe the right-wing fringe kills more people than lightning bolts or moose attacks or whatnot, maybe it doesn’t, but either way it is down in the list of things that nobody considers really dangerous.

            The left, and whatever part of the political spectrum it is that we’re putting radical Islam on, does violence in ways that get noticed by people who aren’t already rabid partisans. That is potentially dangerous, in a way that the right-wing fringe hasn’t been in twenty years.

          • TenMinute says:

            This is just getting ridiculous and embarrassing.

          • And if I find just one dubious ideological classification or error in the twitter rant, it will also lose all credibility in your eyes, correct? Or are you holding it and the SPLC to different standards?

            I don’t know what twitter rant you are referring to, but I would hold a single poster to a different standard than a long established organization.

            Someone just this evening told me that the Clinton’s were shutting down their foundation. As best I can tell, that was a misunderstanding of an announcement that one part of it was being shut down. I don’t conclude that the person who told me that is particularly irresponsible or incompetent–most people don’t put a lot of time and effort into following news.

            But if WSJ or NYT made the same mistake, that would be strong evidence against their reliability.

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t know what twitter rant you are referring to, but I would hold a single poster to a different standard than a long established organization.

            EK’s talking about the series of tweets on “Days of Rage” by David Hines, thankfully compiled here (which speaks well for the compiler; just the thought of going through that many tweets makes me want to shoot myself).

            The compilation is worth reading, especially in light of recent events. Go read it; it’ll be a better use of your time than sparring with those who treat it, and everything else, as a prompt to expound on the evils of the modern right.

          • EK’s talking about the series of tweets on “Days of Rage” by David Hines

            Thanks. I read part of it–it’s pretty long. What facts is EK claiming are false? It seems to be based entirely on the book–is he claiming that many of the facts in that are wrong, and if so is there a critical review somewhere?

          • Nornagest says:

            I can’t tell if EK has even read it, and in fact some things he’s said here make me think he hasn’t.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Right-wing terrorist cartoon frogs!

      • neuromancer says:

        That list has a lot of questionable classifications.

        Just looking at the events listed in 2016 (since they are the ones I can best remember), we have

        1. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation (fair; the Bundy clan is definitely right-wing)
        2. Pulse Nightclub Attack (not a right wing attack by any stretch of the imagination; the perpetrator pledged allegiance to ISIS and demanded the withdrawal of US troops from the Middle East)
        3. Dallas Police Massacre (This one is the most WTF. How can the SPLC say with a straight face that a black separatist targeting white police officers is part of the right wing?)
        4. Baton Rouge attacks on police (Again, a member of a black separatist group and targeted white police officers)
        5. Joseph Garguilo’s threats against Obama (hadn’t heard about this one, but sounds like a far right motivation)
        6. Kansas militia plots to attack a mosque (also fine)

        So that’s 3/6 attacks which are not just misclassified, but classified exactly backwards wrt motivations of the attackers. Also note that all of the actual right-wing plots didn’t end up with anyone except the plotters getting arrested or injured, while the deadly attacks on that list were all perpetrated for what any reasonable person would describe as left-wing purposes.

        I don’t find that list to be very good evidence that right-wing extremism poses a greater threat than left-wing extremism. In fact, I think the net effect (for me personally) was to somewhat decrease my trust in SPLC to accurately assess what counts as a right-wing terror organization.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          I agree that some of the recent items on the list should not be classified as right-wing. There’s still the other ~150, though. If we go by death toll, the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building alone will easily eclipse all left-wing terrorism in American history.

          while the deadly attacks on that list were all perpetrated for what any reasonable person would describe as left-wing purposes.

          In fact, no reasonable person would describe the Orlando nightclub shooter as left-wing.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Knowing that there is some propensity to mistakes, what makes you certain the other 150 are credible?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            If I combed through the wingnut’s twitter rant, how many mistakes do you think I would find? It’s silly to expect perfect reliability, especially when it comes to something as nebulous as left/right ideological classifications.

          • Wrong Species says:

            I would hope that we would hold the SPLC to a higher standard than random twitterers. Lets say that 90% of the list is mistaken, you honest to god wouldn’t see that as a problem for its credibility? You’re making your case based on the fact that these reports aren’t fictitious. If they are, then you can’t go around accusing right wingers of denying reality without being a hypocrite.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I agree that, if 90% of the list were mistaken, that would be a “problem for its credibility.” Fortunately, it is not the case that 90% of the list is mistaken.

          • Wrong Species says:

            And how do you know if you haven’t checked?

          • CatCube says:

            @Earthly Knight

            I’ll help you with the “wingnut’s” Twitter rant: All of the organizations named in it are left-wing by their own declaration. FALN, Weatherman, SLA, and BLA are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

            He overstates his case about “Aaaaah! The Left has unassailable control of Institutions!” However, all of the groups or attacks he discusses are unarguably left-wing.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            And how do you know if you haven’t checked?

            What makes you think that I haven’t checked? I posted the SPLC article, despite the fact that they made a couple of extremely questionable calls on who counts as “right-wing” and who doesn’t, because I know that their accounts of the terrorist attacks that I lived through and followed in real time are quite accurate.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Because you implied it? I asked how you know that the other reports were accurate and you said that you didn’t have to bother checking all of them to know. Now you’re saying you know because it feels right. You know you would be all over a right winger who had given the same excuses you have, accusing them of caring more about what they thought was true rather than double checking the facts. Believe what you want, but have at least a little bit of self-awareness.

          • John Schilling says:

            because I know that their accounts of the terrorist attacks that I lived through and followed in real time are quite accurate

            Do you mean to say that you have firsthand experience of multiple terrorist attacks, or are you merely asserting that the SPLC’s account is consistent with the accounts of whatever media you followed at the time of the attacks?

          • John Schilling says:

            I agree that, if 90% of the list were mistaken, that would be a “problem for its credibility.” Fortunately, it is not the case that 90% of the list is mistaken.

            Going through the list and counting fatalities, I get 59 people killed by probable right-wing attackers, 58 people killed by probable left-wing or Islamic attackers, and 9 people killed by people with no known political motive. I’m calling the list roughly 50% “mistaken”. And if you are 50% mistaken in sorting out left-wing from right-wing murderous terrorists, I’m calling that 100% bullshit.

        • Montfort says:

          I know the temptation is to categorize all black political activity as “left,” but black separatists are a far cry from the left’s wheelhouse. For instance, if you look up the specific organization the Baton Rouge shooter is from, the Washitaw Nation, you’ll see they’re another sovereign citizen movement, albeit one that pays lip service to an “empress” mostly in charge of convincing people to send them money for “official” documents that will somehow put them out of the reach of the federal government.

          I haven’t found a copy of their constitution to determine whether their proposed separatist state would fall out as “right” or “left,” but there do seem to be empresses and princes, as well as no taxation.

          Things like this are one more reason I think the overpowering urge to categorize every political event and platform as “left” or “right” is destructive and inaccurate (and that goes for the original article as well as SPLC’s list).

          • Sandy says:

            but black separatists are a far cry from the left’s wheelhouse

            The Republic of New Afrika included among its founders and members Malcolm X’s widow, Freedom Riders, NAACP leaders and a future Democratic mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. Any of this crowd seem like a far cry from the left’s wheelhouse?

          • Montfort says:

            Yes, some black separatists are leftists, some are not. Mostly it is its own weird orthogonal thing.

          • Jiro says:

            I know the temptation is to categorize all black political activity as “left,” but black separatists are a far cry from the left’s wheelhouse.

            That’s true as it goes, and likewise for Islamic fundamentalists (people use the term “Islamofascism” for a reason, and it’s not because they are left-wing.) But on the other hand, the argument is really about the mainstream left and right in the US. Ask yourself “of the Democrats and the Republicans, which is more likely to show sympathy to these guys’ cause?” or “Is the Overton window for the US left or the Overton window for the US right closer to these guys?” That would put them on the left.

          • Randy M says:

            Which, of course, would make it equally wrong to classify as right wing hatred (or moreso, if some fraction is left-wing and no fraction is right-wing.) and indicts the list no less.

          • Montfort says:

            Randy, I meant this criticism to apply to the list, and actually said so in my post. What new information are you trying to convey?

            Jiro, what benefit do we gain from lumping dramatically dissimilar political ideologies together? How is the discussion made clearer if we call islamic terrorism “right” and black separatism “left”?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            “Right” and “Left” are coalition terms that apply within a given political system. They tend to lose much of their meaning once you get into international comparisons.

            I don’t think, for instance, Israeli settlers who commit acts of political violence, are inside the US right-wing coalition, even if the settlers are right-wing in Israeli terms. Even though most US Jews are in the left wing coalition, it’s also nonsense to ascribe that settler violence to the US left-wing.

            Yes, there are many similarities in right/left divides around the world, but fundamentally the have to be ~50/50 splits of a given political body, and each left/right split will be at its own unique point with its own unique set of policies.

          • Jiro says:

            Jiro, what benefit do we gain from lumping dramatically dissimilar political ideologies together?

            We get to categorize them by who, in practice, does the most to support them. I’m not suggesting that we categorize them randomly; I’m pointing out that if you pick the side that sympathizes the most with them, that side will be the left.

            And I’d consider Islamic terrorism “left” for this purpose, because the US/European left is more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt than the US/European right (and also because of the “oppressed by colonialism” schtick).

          • Montfort says:

            Jiro, but why? You’ve already outlined your classification scheme, what does it get us? Why use party affiliation instead of some other feature that would actually identify the supporters with reasonable specificity?

          • Randy M says:

            Randy, I meant this criticism to apply to the list, and actually said so in my post. What new information are you trying to convey?

            That, uh, I don’t always register parentheticals? Sorry.

        • Tekhno says:

          The main difference between left and right is in ideas, not actions (far-right and far-left regimes tend to converge, so that the right takes on “socialist” aspects, and the left takes on nationalist and/or traditionalist aspects), so you need to check whether the foundational ideas conform to left or right wing principles before passing judgment.

          the perpetrator pledged allegiance to ISIS

          Radical theocratic traditionalist organization that endorses a hierarchical slavery based society, so right wing, just the right wing of a foreign land with a foreign tradition.

          black separatist group

          Borderline. If they are arguing for black separatism as a temporary liberation strategy to achieve equality and internationalism*, then they’d be considered left wing, but most of these groups are basically black nazis who believe in crazy shit like Big Head Yakub. They’re racial nationalists, so far-right, just the far-right of a different race than white.

          *This is what complicates things, since the far-left often argues for temporary inequalities in favor of minorities so as to achieve eventual equality, but the result is often that the far-left will ally with far-right traditionalists, theocrats, and racialists, so long as they are foreign and/or non-white, because this is seen as a chess move in the grand game of strategy.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Referring to it as “right wing terrorism” is a clever way to avoid having to say the words “radical Islamic terrorism”, I’ll give you that.

          • Nornagest says:

            Trying to project a left-right political axis across cultures will get you into trouble every time. In the Middle East, for example, Ba’athist-style dictatorship tends to look pretty rightist to us — but it’s also often the most secular, least traditionalist major power bloc. In the Syrian Civil War, we’re currently backing rough Islamic equivalents of Pat Buchanan in a four-way fight, and while opinions differ I think Obama and company did feel a clear conscience in doing so.

            Black nationalism is not as distant from our culture as that is, but a lot of its features still map very poorly onto the conventional political spectrum.

          • Radical theocratic traditionalist organization that endorses a hierarchical slavery based society, so right wing, just the right wing of a foreign land with a foreign tradition.

            I don’t know about IS, but I think that’s a bit unfair to traditional Islamic societies. They had slavery but, although I don’t have data, my impression is that slaves were a fairly small fraction of the population.

            In Periclean Athens, on the other hand, slaves may have been a majority, depend on whose estimates you believe. Would you count that as “a hierarchical slavery based society, so right wing”?

            All of which suggests the difficulty of applying such categories.

            An alternative approach is to ask who the modern U.S. left or right is more sympathetic to. That’s relevant if the context is “should we be more worried about the ascendancy of Trump or continued drift to the left?” And by that criterion, the Islamic radicals count as left, since the right dislikes them more than the left does, judging at least by rhetoric.

          • Nornagest says:

            They had slavery but, although I don’t have data, my impression is that slaves were a fairly small fraction of the population.

            It certainly varies between times and places, but the Arab slave trade was quite substantial — contemporary sources claim the Zanj Rebellion, a large-scale slave revolt in 870s Iraq, killed millions of people. That’s almost definitely an exaggeration, but it gives an idea of the scales we’re dealing with here.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Nornagest

            Ba’athist-style dictatorship tends to look pretty rightist to us — but it’s also often the most secular, least traditionalist major power bloc.

            I would argue that Ba’athists are far-right and strongly resemble fascist parties (and I said fascist specifically, not National Socialist, hence the focus on statism over ethno-statism), as befits their origin.

            It’s just that things like ISIS are even further right in the same way that a feudalist would be to the right of a fascist in a European context imo, due to the modernism and nationalism (nationalism is left wing compared to the ancien regime, but far-right compared to where we have ended up now).

            @DavidFriedman

            I don’t know about IS, but I think that’s a bit unfair to traditional Islamic societies. They had slavery but, although I don’t have data, my impression is that slaves were a fairly small fraction of the population.

            Yes, but ISIS argues that even the societies of the “Islamic golden age” were diverging from Muhammad’s(pbuh) word, and so they want an Islamic reformation to go right back to a time of war and constant taking of slaves. This is why they say that there are “no borders, only front lines”.

            In Periclean Athens, on the other hand, slaves may have been a majority, depend on whose estimates you believe. Would you count that as “a hierarchical slavery based society, so right wing”?

            It’s not the number of slaves that matters but the belief that slavery is okay, since we are talking about ideology. In practice, different societies that both believed slavery was moral, may have been more or less able to take arbitrarily high numbers of slaves.

            An alternative approach is to ask who the modern U.S. left or right is more sympathetic to. That’s relevant if the context is “should we be more worried about the ascendancy of Trump or continued drift to the left?” And by that criterion, the Islamic radicals count as left, since the right dislikes them more than the left does, judging at least by rhetoric.

            It’s purely nonsensical to call organizations that call for the death of homosexuals, support the subjugation of women, support slavery, and support total submission to a theocratic ever expanding state, “left wing”.

            Who and what the left wing are sympathetic to is based on left wing principles, and the left are sympathetic to Islamic radicals not because they share their values, but because the left always sides with everything foreign to American conservative culture even if the foreign is far far far further to the right than pretty much any American right winger, to the point that they have to delude themselves about what the Islamic radicals actually believe and dress them up as progressive.

            Of course, it’s really the far-left where you can find outright sympathy to Islamic radicalism. Most of the mainstream left do hate ISIS and realize that they are far further to the right than American conservatives, with the result that they’ll provoke things like the Tea Party by comparing it to the Taliban, but at the same time they practice a sort of anti-anti-Islamism because its the left wing way to fear that the larger group of moderate (further left) Muslims will be persecuted by being tarred with the actions of radicals like ISIS (further right). Again, the foreign underdog or the minority is what is important.

          • Civilis says:

            It’s purely nonsensical to call organizations that call for the death of homosexuals, support the subjugation of women, support slavery, and support total submission to a theocratic ever expanding state, “left wing”.

            The problem is it also doesn’t describe the American right wing, either.

            The Soviets also persecuted homosexuals, didn’t pay more than lip service to Women’s Rights, supported forced labor, and you can’t get more ‘ever expanding state’ than a socialist totalitarian state. It’s just the theocratic part that doesn’t fit (and given the cult of personality involved, theocratic may not be too off). And don’t tell me the Soviet Union wasn’t left wing, or that the Soviets were unique, as that also seems an apt description of Castro’s Cuba, Mao’s China…

            If you’re going to conclude that believing in a hierarchical society is what makes an ideology left or right wing, the American political left is more on the right than the American political right. I view the American left/right spectrum as: the left favors central control and power while the right favors federal or individual control and power. The American left’s hierarchy believes in a central elite of progressive thinkers that knows what’s best for the rest of us should lead, while the rest of us should follow. “It takes a village”, after all, “to raise a child.”

            Both the left and right can come to the same positions, the central motivation as to why they’ve reached that position is what matters. The right is willing to let racists be racists; Wilson (most definitely a man of the left) pushed racism as government policy to make America stronger. Right wing opposition to homosexuality is rooted in ‘we don’t like the government promoting immorality’. Left wing opposition to homosexuality (such as found in the Soviet Union) was rooted in ‘it harms the state’.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Civilis:

            I view the American left/right spectrum as: the left favors central control and power while the right favors federal or individual control and power

            This seems like it is clearly not true.

            The left and the right favor national control for issues they are winning on the national level and state control for issues they are losing on federal level. That’s sort of politics at the 101 level.

            There is no principle there. The right would happily ban abortion and gay marriage at the national level. The national war on drugs was hyper-charged by Reagan, etc.

            The left will fight for minimum wages at the state level if they can’t get one at the national level, will endorse sanctuary cities, fight for gay fights and abortion rights at the state level, etc.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Civilis

            The problem is it also doesn’t describe the American right wing, either.

            Not in its extremity, but it’s in the right direction for the evangelical socially conservative segment.

            The Soviets also persecuted homosexuals, didn’t pay more than lip service to Women’s Rights, supported forced labor, and you can’t get more ‘ever expanding state’ than a socialist totalitarian state.

            Homosexuality was initially decriminalized and then later criminalized again under Stalin, who IIRC also criminalized abortion, because he was trying to increase the Soviet birthrate. This doesn’t reflect what the communists were calling for, it reflects the fact that under certain conditions the bias of reality forces actions that don’t reflect basic principles, because those principles aren’t in line with reality.

            Same with slavery. In the communist manifesto, the enslavement of reactionaries and emigrants is called for as a temporary measure to expedite the formation of the worker’s state, so as to advance the material conditions towards communism, upon hence the oppressive apparatus will wither away. The state also wasn’t expanding on the basis of upholding a traditional religion, but on the basis of achieving a new world in which material equality would be possible. It is this that defines the project of the USSR as left wing.

            There is really little difference between the most basic actions of the far-right and far-left when they get into power. The separation exists in justification, which is all ideology is, in the end. Stalin might have been in practice the fuhrer, but Soviet ideology explicitly rejected Fuhrerprinzip, and held the state to be a true worker’s democracy, instead of a false democracy ruled by capitalist oligarchs.

            Far-left thought requires that certain inequalities are to be produced in the service of creating greater equality, whereas far-right thought just says “Fuck it. Inequality is awesome!”

            That is really the main difference between the two. Both produce similar outcomes when actually enacted because there is only one reality for them to actualize their ideology within. They are certainly able to be more oppressive to specific groups like the Jews or more business friendly, but the nature of needing to round up all your enemies, left or right, means a convergence on total control, and the necessity of the individual becoming relative to the needs of the state.

            If you’re going to conclude that believing in a hierarchical society is what makes an ideology left or right wing, the American political left is more on the right than the American political right.

            The left might exist in a hierarchy, but that doesn’t mean they believe in hierarchy, except where hierarchies are required to produce equality in some other sector, before themselves dissolving away. This is why even the most hierarchical left wing societies in fact always make great pains to portray themselves in the light of humanitarianism and democracy, using terms like “worker’s state” or “worker’s democracy”. Where the left proposes ultra-statism it always proposes that the state is owned by the people, and that greater and greater demoracy is desired, at least ideologically.

            The left might end up more hypocritical on this point because at least when it comes to the question of equality/hierarchy; reality has a right wing bias.

            I view the American left/right spectrum as: the left favors central control and power while the right favors federal or individual control and power.

            This has nothing to do with hierarchy. You are confusing hierarchy/equality with statism. The left’s ideal vision is a centrally controlling state that is governed by extremely democratic mechanisms (the US left is the side most in favor of mandatory Australia style voting). The right’s ideal vision is state’s rights based because they believe that being subjected to the popular opinion of coastal liberals would destroy the (market) hierarchies they openly value.

            The right might portray the left as elitist aristocrats, but that’s not the official position of how the left portrays its own ideology. Maybe we can pull a few hypocrites off of twitter, but the position of the left, ideologically, is anti-hierarchy/inequality.

            The American left’s hierarchy believes in a central elite of progressive thinkers that knows what’s best for the rest of us should lead, while the rest of us should follow. “It takes a village”, after all, “to raise a child.”

            Notice the phrase says “a village”, and not a “village elder”. The left’s ideology is based on total inclusion. At least the ideology is.

            Unfortunately, reality intervenes, and no one can actually float above the rest of us perfectly without judgmental thoughts, so they transfer the kind of thoughts the right has about minorities onto the right, rednecks, and so on. Basically, what Scott said in “I can tolerate anyone except the outgroup”.

            This doesn’t mean that the left’s ideology is: “inequality is the law of nature!”

            Thoughts like that are very clearly and obviously right wing.

            Both the left and right can come to the same positions

            When reality forces them. Policies aren’t what ideology is about.

            In order to beat the communists, the German far-right came around to “National Socialism”, but this doesn’t mean the Nazis were left wing. It’s simply absurd to say that statism is inherently left wing, when the entire point of the furthest most exteme and pure left is to wither away all hierarchy, including the state.

            Similarly, it’s absurd to say that the USSR was right wing. They adopted “Socialism in one country” and came closer to National Socialism, only because the demands of reality precluded the purest expression of their desires. Their ideology had the same internationalist, egalitarian end goals.

            “Socialism” is purely contingent for any far-right ideology, and nationalism is what is truly important.

            “Nationalism” is purely contingent for any far-left ideology, and socialism is what is truly important.

            It’s telling that left wing nationalists usually seem to end up supporting lax immigration laws, such as in the case of the IRA linked Sinn Fein, and it’s telling that far-right socialists always seem to kill their socialist wings and set up a state backed oligarchy of capitalists.

            The strong degree of convergence that exists is caused by constraints. This is why the horseshoe model appears valid.

            The right is willing to let racists be racists; Wilson (most definitely a man of the left) pushed racism as government policy to make America stronger.

            A man of the left in the 1920s.

            Right wing opposition to homosexuality is rooted in ‘we don’t like the government promoting immorality’. Left wing opposition to homosexuality (such as found in the Soviet Union) was rooted in ‘it harms the state’.

            This reflects the American right’s link to classical liberalism moderating how far right it can push its agenda, not something inherent to right wing thought itself.

            A right wing unencumbered by, and oppositional to liberalism, very much does have the position “it harms the state” (or perhaps nation, appeals to morality, the children etc), and as we’ve seen in Europe sees fit to put homosexuals in concentration camps.

            Even the American right wasn’t so encumbered that this wasn’t within its thought space in the past, with homosexuals being seen as undermining national security in agencies like the FBI, and sodomy most definitely being illegal for moral reasons.

            The right might be in favor of live and let live now, but you know fine well that this wasn’t always so.

          • It’s not the number of slaves that matters but the belief that slavery is okay, since we are talking about ideology.

            I don’t see how that gives you “a hierarchical slavery based society.” If there are not very many slaves, then the society isn’t based on slavery.

            But I gather you agree that Periclean Athens was, by your standards, right wing, since they pretty obviously believed slavery was okay.

          • It’s simply absurd to say that statism is inherently left wing, when the entire point of the furthest most exteme and pure left is to wither away all hierarchy, including the state.

            So do you regard anarcho-capitalists as extreme left wing?

          • Nornagest says:

            I would argue that Ba’athists are far-right and strongly resemble fascist parties […] It’s just that things like ISIS are even further right in the same way that a feudalist would be to the right of a fascist in a European context imo, due to the modernism and nationalism

            I’m not talking about ISIS so much as stuff like Ahrar ash-Sham, most of the groups under the Free Syrian Army banner, etc. These sometimes get labeled as moderates in Western media but that is basically bullshit — by and large they’re fighting for a non-expansionist, small-S Islamic state in Syria, and they’re quite serious about the Islamic part. Think Saudi Arabia without the monarchy.

            Would that sort of thing be on the extreme right if it appeared in American or European politics? Absolutely. Does that label make sense in the context of Syrian politics? Absolutely not. And failure to appreciate this sort of distinction has gotten us in serious trouble more than once, most notably in Iraq where we assumed there’d just be a natural upswell of support for liberal institutions after we killed enough people and broke enough stuff holding up the Ba’athist regime.

            ISIS itself is something that has absolutely no parallels in Western politics; when I look for Western parallels at all I come up with stuff like street gangs and cults and 419 scams, though none of these really capture it well. I think assigning it a point on the political spectrum can’t help but make the issue more rather than less confused.

          • Tekhno says:

            @David Friedman

            So do you regard anarcho-capitalists as extreme left wing?

            Left wing compared to far-right statists, but they only want to get rid of the hierarchy of the state but unleash the hierarchy of private property, because its a right wing position to believe that this hierarchy is beneficent for society (a position I agree with). Ancaps and liberals broadly are to the left of absolutists and feudalists, because they believe in a kind of equality before the market, where the hierarchies that form are dynamic and can be sold, rather than fixed aristocratic hierarchies of birthright that only change through succession or war, but they are way to the right of socialists.

            Various statist far-leftists want to oppress the hierarchy of the market and use ideas of worker’s democracy and “soviets” to make the state less hierarchical (won’t work, and results in the opposite, but this is what they believe), and anarcho-communists go so far to the left that they want to abolish all hierarchy at once in the revolution, capitalism and state together (this is why Lenin called them “infantile left-communists” – they were to his left). The vanguardists are the rightmost communists, then you get left-communists/libertarian marxists, and finally outright anarchistic communists on the furthest left position possible.

            @Nornagest

            I’m not talking about ISIS so much as stuff like Ahrar ash-Sham, most of the groups under the Free Syrian Army banner, etc. These sometimes get labeled as moderates in Western media but that is basically bullshit — by and large they’re fighting for a non-expansionist, small-S Islamic state in Syria, and they’re quite serious about the Islamic part. Think Saudi Arabia without the monarchy.

            That’s certainly right wing, far far right wing.

            Would that sort of thing be on the extreme right if it appeared in American or European politics? Absolutely. Does that label make sense in the context of Syrian politics? Absolutely not. And failure to appreciate this sort of distinction has gotten us in serious trouble more than once, most notably in Iraq where we assumed there’d just be a natural upswell of support for liberal institutions after we killed enough people and broke enough stuff holding up the Ba’athist regime.

            I’m confused by this. My position is that characters like Saddam and Assad are far-right, and all the radical Islamists are various degrees of preposterously ridiculously archaically far to the right in a European context. If the establishment believed that, they wouldn’t have believed that liberal institutions would magically spring up after the removal of the strongmen, they’d believe in my position, which is that we are better off with the brutal strongmen than the ridiculously brutal and fanatic “freedom fighters”.

            The reason the establishment believed that liberal values would flower is because they believed the rebels falsely to be broadly liberal, that is, left of Assad. So it’s the opposite of what you are saying from my point of view.

            ISIS itself is something that has absolutely no parallels in Western politics; when I look for Western parallels at all I come up with stuff like street gangs and cults and 419 scams, though none of these really capture it well. I think assigning it a point on the political spectrum can’t help but make the issue more rather than less confused.

            You could pick out the most insane over the top Christian militia you can find and then just mentally move right getting so socially conservative that you think music with instruments is impermissible.

            I’d say it makes things loads clearer to consider ISIS far-right and radical Islamists generally. Or maybe it just serves my purposes so I can tell left wingers to stop inviting the Middle East in so freely. Part of the reason for their behavior politically is that they don’t consistently remind themselves of the parallels between radical Islam and domestic Christian theocrats and apply the metric across different scenarios.

          • Civilis says:

            The right’s current positions on abortion is that Roe vs Wade should be overturned, which puts abortion laws back to the local level. This is acceptable across the spectrum of the right, from libertarians to social conservatives. Further, the right frames abortion as a matter of individual rights, the right of the fetus. The whole point of government, to the right, is to guarantee the rights of the individual.

            Likewise, the current debate over homosexuality. The right is not a monolithic block; the only way the right sticks together on homosexuality is by concentrating on the individual rights aspects of it, ie “The government should not force individuals to endorse homosexual behavior”. The Defense of Marriage Act wouldn’t have outlawed homosexual marriage, it left it to each state individually to make a decision. Marriage is only an issue because ‘marriage’ has become a package of government benefits, which suggests government endorsement. Most on the right that I’ve heard from would be fine with decoupling marriage and government altogether.

            The American right’s unifying principle is, if the government is to exist, it is to guarantee the (natural) rights of the individuals that it represents. The American right may internally disagree on how best to accomplish that goal, but most see National Security against outside threats as something only a government can do.

            It’s simply absurd to say that statism is inherently left wing, when the entire point of the furthest most exteme and pure left is to wither away all hierarchy, including the state.

            In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, not so much. Has the state ever shown signs of withering away under communism? You’re willing to believe that the “nationalist socialists” just say they’re socialist to get support, so why aren’t you willing to believe that the communists just say “yeah, the state will wither away. Trust us!” to get rubes to support them? After all, the state never withers away and it always ends up as a hierarchical system with the communists on top (with a party elite above them), the workers in the middle, and the kulaks and other undesirables on the bottom (if not dead).

            The whole point of communism is that it is an all-encompassing system that dictates everything within society to the needs of the collective good rather than the individual good. Industry, science, entertainment, art… all exist to serve the collective good. And who defines the collective good? A small group, all coincidentally the people that think the whole thing should be collectivist in the first place (under my definition, the leftists). This is the way it was done in the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the goal of Roosevelt’s New Deal and the modern American left.

            …it’s telling that far-right socialists always seem to kill their socialist wings and set up a state backed oligarchy of capitalists.

            There’s only one queen in a hive. “Far-right” socialists kill the threats to their power that stray too far from party dogma and put compliant lackies in place. The far-left socialists… do the exact same thing. Stalin was famous for it (see Trotsky, purges, etc.), but just about every communist leader, on assuming power, has removed potential rivals from the hierarchy of power, often violently. Kim Jong Un does it with heavy weapons.

            Far-left thought requires that certain inequalities are to be produced in the service of creating greater equality, whereas far-right thought just says “Fuck it. Inequality is awesome!”

            “We need to create certain inequalities now to create a greater equality in the future!” is the same as “We’ve got to burn this village to save it!” The whole point of the greater equality, the collective good in my parlance, is that it requires someone to define what equality is, or what the collective good should be. This person or group is automatically at the top of a hierarchy. It’s why communism keeps ending up as totalitarian authoritarianism. The people who define when everyone is equal by definition have a power that no one else has, and are thus above everyone else.

            The American right, saying “everyone should seek their individual good as best they can; the best we can do is to guarantee a level playing surface”, accepts that true equality is impossible. Alice likes apples and hates oranges. Bob likes apples and oranges. Which is equal, ‘Alice has 8 apples and Bob has 10 oranges’ or ‘Alice and Bob both have 4 apples and 5 oranges’? There is no objective answer. Since all our preferences are different, pretending there is some ‘greater equality’ that can be achieved is nonsense, because it requires an impossible objectivity. The best that can be accomplished is to let Alice and Bob work it out, and both will come away thinking what they have is better than what the other one has (and thus, not equal). The goal of proper government can only be to provide what is necessary so that Alice and Bob can work out the best arrangement themselves (protection from theft by violence or fraud).

            Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao all thought they knew what was best for the people under them; that they were more qualified to judge what the ideal arrangement was for everyone than the people themselves, and that arrangement had them at the top of the pyramid.

            All of your arguments come down to ‘ignore the evidence of history, all of the evil people were on the right, and the left has never done anything wrong’, based on the declared ideal end state of communism, which has never been reached or even seriously attempted.

          • rlms says:

            @Civilis
            “All of your arguments come down to ‘ignore the evidence of history, all of the evil people were on the right, and the left has never done anything wrong’, based on the declared ideal end state of communism, which has never been reached or even seriously attempted.”
            You are strawmanning hard here. No-one is arguing that the left has ever done anything wrong; no-one is even arguing in favour of the left at all as far as I can tell. I don’t fully agree with Tekhno’s idea that the left-right scale maps perfectly onto the nonhierarchal-statist scale, but the existence of left-wing anarchists and the attitudes of the American mainstream left and right towards embodiments of the state like the police and military show that it doesn’t map the other way round either.

            In general, you are equivocating between the far-right that Tekhno is talking about, the mainstream American right, and the very small part of the American right that consistently thinks things should be decided on state levels. As of 2005, 37% of Americans supported a constitutional amendment banning abortion except where the mother’s life is in danger.

            Specifically on abortion, I don’t think it is accurate to frame it as about the rights of the fetus. The whole point of a rights-based system is to argue that certain rights are inalienable and can’t be taken away, even if it might seem like a good idea (like taking freedom of speech from Islamists). But a fetus’ right to life is very alienable indeed; many people (including those on the right) are happy to ignore it if say the mother’s life is in danger (or the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest, or…).

          • Civilis says:

            You are strawmanning hard here. No-one is arguing that the left has ever done anything wrong; no-one is even arguing in favour of the left at all as far as I can tell.

            The Nazis? “Oh, they’re on the right.”
            Islamic Fundamentalists? “Right.”
            Arab dictators? “Right.”
            Black separatists? “Right.”
            Anarcho-capitalists? “Right.”
            The groups above have nothing in common except they don’t agree with modern lefty dream utopian ideas.

            The problem is that given those examples, saying something is on the “right” has no predictive value. I want to be able to look at a country or political movement and, when told whether it is on the left or right, have that predict something. It’s like defining left and right by similarity to a kumquat, with true left being 100% a kumquat, and true right being 0% kumquat. The scale is useful when comparing oranges and watermelons, where we can say the orange is left of the watermelon because it’s a citrus fruit from a tree, but it’s useless when we’re comparing puppies and washing machines, which both are pretty far right. In this case, telling me something’s on the left is useful, as it’s close to a citrus fruit, but telling me something’s on the right tells me nothing.

            We’ve used both direction and color (red/blue) to describe a political/ideological spectrum. Let’s call a new one free of past distinctions ‘sweet’ and ‘sour’. Let’s assign North Korea to be the (temporary) ‘sweet’ pole and Switzerland to be the (temporary) ‘sour’ pole. Now start placing more countries on the list; we’ll start with a few easy ones. The Soviet Union was pretty close to ‘sweet’, especially during Stalin’s reign. America is pretty ‘sour’, as is most of Europe, though they both have different (very slight) sweet tones; one could argue which is sweeter. Modern Russia is more ‘sweet’ than America or Europe. As we get more examples, it’s easier to fill in more and more countries by looking at comparisons. We may find things more ‘sweet’ than North Korea or more ‘sour’ than Switzerland. We may not agree about precise placement of every country or movement.

            The thing is, with ideologies and political organizations, we need to ask if our comparison is useful. A comparison of political leaders with ‘Gandhi’ at one end and ‘Hitler’ at the other is very useful. A comparison with ‘Stalin’ at one end and ‘Hitler’ at the other is useless for most purposes. A comparison with ‘Stalin’ at one end and ‘Hitler’ and ‘Rothbard’ both at the other end is completely useless. Our left and right comparison is like crunching a world map into two dimensions and trying to do geography. You’d end up with things like “Paris is at 2.3E, Berlin is at 13.4E, and Kinshasa is at 16E, so it’s more useful to compare Berlin to Kinshasa than to Paris”.

            But if I say that the Philippines under Duterte has become more ‘sweet’, or that Chile is more ‘sour’ than Argentina, or even that Singapore is very difficult to place on the sweet-sour axis, it’s a useful relative metric. The thing is, I should be able to build the list regardless of what point I start at, so if I don’t have North Korea as an example, and start with Burma as my (temporary) starting ‘sweet’ pole, I should be able to complete the list. If I then get North Korea to place on the completed list, it should end up in about the same place. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘this comparison is useless; perhaps we need a ‘bitter-salty’ axis with Singapore on one end and Somalia on the other’.

            Before we go any further, for any axis, we need to pick end points. I’m willing to work with people on this but ‘Hitler and Rothbard’ (or ‘Anarcho-Capitalist and Nationalist Socialist’) doesn’t make for a good endpoint, nor does ‘unattainable fantasy utopia’.

          • Tekhno says:

            All of your arguments come down to ‘ignore the evidence of history, all of the evil people were on the right, and the left has never done anything wrong’, based on the declared ideal end state of communism, which has never been reached or even seriously attempted.

            I think you missed my point. I’m not arguing that all the evil people are on the right. In fact, I’m arguing that reality has a right wing bias, in that reality tends towards hierarchy/inequality.

            In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, not so much. Has the state ever shown signs of withering away under communism?

            That’s part of my point. Ideology doesn’t determine outcome on many many issues. Ideology and the political spectrum are largely about justifications, not policies. I mustn’t be explaining myself very well here.

            EDIT:

            The Nazis? “Oh, they’re on the right.”
            Islamic Fundamentalists? “Right.”
            Arab dictators? “Right.”
            Black separatists? “Right.”
            Anarcho-capitalists? “Right.”
            The groups above have nothing in common except they don’t agree with modern lefty dream utopian ideas.

            This is exactly expected. The right is about hierarchy, and/or tradition. Since each culture, religion, and/or race has a different tradition, the right is particularist where the left is universalist. So there are many different completely opposing right wing modes of thought. We can arrange them in a line where fascist comes to the right of conservative, and Evolian reactionary comes to the right of fascist, but a racial nationalist is a racial nationalist for his race, so a white nationalist and a black nationalist can be equally right wing while being completely opposed, simply due to the inherent revering of tradition (traditional ingroup in this case) that goes with the far-right.

            Left wingers meanwhile squabble all the time, but over strategy, tactics, how fast or necessary transitional stages should be, but all of the far-lefters agree on the end goal. All of them are communists, just at different speeds, and can easily be arranged in a straight line.

            The right can be arranged in a line, but there are also forks. This is inherent to valuing tradition and hierachy (whose tradition? whose hierarchy?) and represents a clear difference between right wing and left wing thought.

            The (far) left only considers this question in a temporary context, and the answer is “the proletariat, until class is dissolved and then no one”.

            The problem is that given those examples, saying something is on the “right” has no predictive value.

            The only thing that it predicts is that someone values hierarchy and/or tradition. It has to be this way, because if you restrict the definition to “also must be Western and/or white”, then foreign societies couldn’t be right wing, and non-white ethno-statists couldn’t be far-right just because they are non-white.

            This can’t be the case because no one is fooled into thinking that Syria doesn’t have a left wing just because it’s Arabic. Communists exist everywhere, it’s just obvious when it’s communists because they all share a universal anti-hierarchical end goal that is not subject or tradition dependent. The Middle East’s equivalent of a Christian militia but Islamic is just as far-right as a Middle Eastern communist is far-left.

          • Sandy says:

            Arab dictators? “Right.”
            Black separatists? “Right.”

            I’d really only disagree with these two. They could go either way depending on the ideological inclination of the dictators and separatists. Nasser was a left-wing Arab dictator, for example, and while the PKK are ethnic separatists, they are also Marxist-Leninists, militant feminists and a whole bunch of other stuff that doesn’t really fit on the right in any way.

          • Civilis says:

            That’s part of my point. Ideology doesn’t determine outcome on many many issues. Ideology and the political spectrum are largely about justifications, not policies. I mustn’t be explaining myself very well here.

            No, I’m getting back into a long discussion chain. You most recent post, which I could take in isolation, was clear. I’m used to dealing with progressives using any criteria to push unfavorable groups onto the right, and unfortunately pattern-matched that when I saw the disparate groups lumped together as on the “right” by various posters in this thread.

            You have a rule, and it makes sense, to some degree, but I don’t know that it’s useful. Justification is easily faked. While theorists on the left were likely sincere about the utopian endpoint of progress, I’m not sure anyone that tried to put it into fruition had that noble of an end goal. I’m also not willing to bet that the insanity which gave birth to Nazism didn’t sincerely have an endpoint of ‘once we eliminate all the non-Aryans, the remaining Aryans will populate the world in a non-heirarchical utopia’. If the left is just ‘delusional communist theorists at universities’ and the right is ‘everyone else’, it’s a valid rule, but predicts nothing and bears no relation to the way right and left are used by just about anyone else in this thread.

            I also don’t mean to imply that nobody bad is on the right. I can accept as useful political spectrums that include Islamic Fundamentalists or Nazis alongside the modern American right, but not both, as I don’t see anything aside from having a hierarchical structure in common among all three groups that isn’t common to most if not all political groups.

            I can get that call[ing] for the death of homosexuals, support[ing] the subjugation of women, support[ing] slavery, and support[ing] total submission to a theocratic ever expanding state wouldn’t be acceptable to our idealist communist theorist, but those also aren’t common to most or even many of the branches on the right.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m confused by this. My position is that characters like Saddam and Assad are far-right, and all the radical Islamists are various degrees of preposterously ridiculously archaically far to the right in a European context.

            All these characters are ridiculously far right… in a European context. But my whole point is that the left-right political spectrum gives you no substantial insight into Syrian or Iraqi politics. These groups hate each other, they have good reasons for hating each other, and those reasons just don’t map onto the spectrum. Often they mutually hate each other for being something we’d perceive as “right-wing” — greedy, or authoritarian, or barbaric, or anachronistically hyper-Islamic. Other times it’s stuff that we have to paper over as e.g. tribal differences, which is basically a way of saying “weird brown-people politics that we don’t get”.

            The reason the establishment believed that liberal values would flower is because they believed the rebels falsely to be broadly liberal, that is, left of Assad. So it’s the opposite of what you are saying from my point of view.

            I was talking about the 2003 invasion of Iraq in that bit there; Syria is more complicated. Conventional wisdom among a certain segment of its supporters was that in the absence of the Ba’athist regime, Iraqis would immediately embrace relatively liberal democratic institutions; in other words, that destroying a right-wing regime would by itself provide an opportunity for relatively left-wing institutions to develop, with a little guidance from the CIA. I don’t hang out with Donald Rumsfeld, but that looks an awful lot like something you might think if you took the American political spectrum and applied it to Iraq: if you destroy an institution on the right, it must empower the left, right?

            It’s not totally insane; there were no non-Ba’athist strongmen and no substantial sectarian or ethnic forces in the country at the time, except for the Kurds, who are culturally different enough from the rest of the region that nothing I’m saying here really applies to them. But for about a decade nothing indigenous was able to stand up on its own two feet except new strongmen and sectarian forces, and when enough of those forces got tired of shooting each other and attached themselves to the kinda-sorta democratic government we’d propped up, the resulting institution was so weak that its American-trained and -equipped army got rolled over in a matter of days by a relative handful of guys riding Toyota pickups.

          • Civilis says:

            I’d really only disagree with these two. They could go either way depending on the ideological inclination of the dictators and separatists. Nasser was a left-wing Arab dictator, for example, and while the PKK are ethnic separatists, they are also Marxist-Leninists, militant feminists and a whole bunch of other stuff that doesn’t really fit on the right in any way.

            The problem is that it’s then useless to talk about “right wing violence” in any coherent way, if the “right wing” is the circle broad enough to include Anarcho-Capitalists, Nazis, and Islamic Fundamentalists. If the right-wing circle is “all believers in hierarchical society”, it’s 99% of humanity. Drawing conclusions at this scale doesn’t work.

            If we use Tekhno’s definition, of course the SPLC identifies all violence as right-wing. Just about everyone that could commit violence is right wing. What is the point in talking about Right-Wing violence if everyone is on the right?

            It’s obvious that the SPLC’s definition of right wing is not Tekhno’s. It’s more likely, the SPLC is assuming left / right of the average American. If the investigation above is accurate, almost 50% of the cases listed by the SPLC as having been from the right of the American middle are by people that are not to the right of the American middle. The SPLC is left of the American middle. The SPLC could be very sloppy, but it has a motive for misassigning violence to the American right of the middle.

            Which brings us back to one of my earlier points: what’s the difference between the American ‘left wing’ and the American ‘right wing’, given both are at least somewhat hierarchical?

      • NIP says:

        I have several rhetorical questions for you:

        Did any of these right-wing terrorists recieive direct assistance from well-off professionals, student groups, government workers, or other members of mainstream institutions?

        Did any of these right-wing terrorists get away with their crimes and go on to live productive lives in the public sphere, up to and including professorships and being the mentor to the 44th President of the United States?

        Does the press ever let us forget about right-wing terrorism? Does academia?

        Does the SPLC have a list of left-wing terrorists?

        The questions are rhetorical because in all cases the obvious answer is “no”.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          Did any of these right-wing terrorists recieive direct assistance from well-off professionals, student groups, government workers, or other members of mainstream institutions?

          Here are some terrorists who, I am assured, were bankrolled by Republicans at the highest levels of the US government. Here are some more.

          • cassander says:

            >Here are some more.

            Charlie Wilson was a 12 term democrat.

          • NIP says:

            I specifically asked about the terrorists you listed from the SPLC, as the context was politically-motivated terrorism in the United States.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            What’s the idea here, that the mainstream right’s ties to terrorism don’t matter because the victims were Central American nuns?

          • NIP says:

            @Earthly Knight

            The idea is that those examples aren’t relevant to our discussion about American institutional support of American terrorists. Overseas, the U.S. deep state will obviously support whoever they think will advance their interests. They could give a toss about the ideology of foreign agents. It’s that very fact that led to the creation of the term “blowback”. It just happened to be less likely during the Cold War between Liberal Democracy and Communism that leftist radicals would play ball with USG.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Overseas, the U.S. deep state will obviously support whoever they think will advance their interests.

            Obviously, it’s okay for Republican presidents to illegally finance murder, so long as the victims are dark-skinned foreigners.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @Earthly Knight, if you really want to drop your argument that right-wing terrorism is more dangerous than left-wing inside the United States and concede that point — probably wise — then I suppose we could indeed go on to discuss left vs. right-wing terrorism internationally. If you didn’t like the domestic answer, though, I bet you’re really not going to like the international answer.

          • hyperboloid says:

            Here are some terrorists who, I am assured, were bankrolled by Republicans at the highest levels of the US governmen

            And here are some more, and some more, and some more, and some more. Notably these groups were involved in both the killing of American citizens overseas, and in actual terrorist attacks on American soil.

            @ThirteenthLetter
            Depending on how far back we want to run the clock, domestic Right wing terrorism includes not only the largest
            single act of politically motivated murder on America soil before 9/11, but more importantly the largest and longest running terrrorist organization in American history; one responsible for literally thousands of deaths.

            @Earthly Knight
            The nuns (and one law missionary) in question were from New York, Cleavland and Connecticut, respectively. Also people most often use the word terrorism to describe violence by non state actors, while those women were murdered by members of the Salvadoran national guard.

            Though the distinction between state and non state actors is often unclear, as in some of the cases I noted above; and of course tens of thousands of central Americans were also killed by right wing paramilitaries.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @ThirteenthLetter:

            Are you suggesting that terrorism by Sunni radicals is “left wing”? Because it isn’t by any definition of left wing that makes sense.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            if you really want to drop your argument that right-wing terrorism is more dangerous than left-wing inside the United States

            You seem to be confused, this was proven incontrovertibly by the SPLC link I posted above.

          • Nornagest says:

            These linguistic gotcha games are obnoxious.

          • Sandy says:

            Are you suggesting that terrorism by Sunni radicals is “left wing”? Because it isn’t by any definition of left wing that makes sense.

            By any rational definition, Islamic terrorism is right-wing; it’s just that the American right has no sympathy for it while the American left imposes a colonial context to garner a sympathy that fits a lens they’re comfortable with (religion not being their forte).

            It is somewhat interesting to note that the common refrain among contemporary leftists is that violence against Nazis, even ones who have never killed anyone, even ones who are only Nazis because the left says they are, is the rational response because Hitler wasn’t defeated through civil discourse. I say interesting because the same standard never seems to apply to contemporary Salafis; they weren’t repressed through discourse either. After the Salafis massacred the inhabitants of Karbala, they were put down by an Ottoman war and their leaders were executed in public. I can only assume this history isn’t considered important in the West, which is understandable, and probably also why no one advocating street violence against unilaterally-identified Nazis advocates violence against Anjem Choudhary.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Sandy
            I don’t think left and right wing are, as categories, a useful lens to view Islamist movements through. The political terrain of the Muslim world is just to different from the west.

            Also the “colonial context” was not imposed by leftists, but by Islamists themselves, who rail against western imperialism, and the humiliation of the Umma at every opportunity.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Sandy:

            I would not say that many on the left are sympathetic to Sunni radical terrorism (really, very little of it is done by Shias, and as far as I know Ismailis, Sufis, and other small sects commit zero terrorism) but more that there is a failure to understand religious extremism in general, especially religious extremism that they experience as “foreign”. The unfortunate tendency of many on the left to fail to spot right-wing extremism (religious or not) when it’s not being done by white guys with twangy accents, or the general ignorance of westerners about any religion that isn’t Christianity or maybe Judaism, is something that I (as someone on the left) worry about.

            More generally, though, there’s a great deal of ignorance. Most nominal Christians know very little of their own religion, so they can hardly be expected to know the difference between Sunni and Shia, not get that not all Buddhists are pacifist monks, not know what Hindu nationalism is, etc. This ignorance isn’t limited to the left.

            Further, a lot of agnostics and atheists think of religion as a poor cousin of politics. “The Crusades were really about trade routes”, they’ll say, or “Muslim extremism is really about poverty and political repression”. Regardless of the contributing factors, believers actually believe, and a lot of people who aren’t believers don’t get that.

            Of course, the ingroup/outgroup, neargroup/fargroup thing is at play, too.

          • Sandy says:

            @hyperboloid:

            I don’t think left and right wing, as categories , are a useful lens to view Islamist movements through. The political terrain of the Muslim world is just to different from the west.

            I think they work fine. I mentioned this in the previous open thread, but I understand left and right by their relation to the subject of hierarchies (left seeks to eliminate them, right believes they are important) and Islamism fits into the political right by that definition, because it explicitly privileges certain classes over others — Muslims over non-Muslims, Arabs over non-Arabs (however they deny it), Sunnis over non-Sunnis, and I suppose at the top of the pyramid you’d have Sunni Qurayshi Arabs over everyone else.

            Also the “colonial context” was not imposed by leftists, but by Islamists themselves, who rail against western imperialism, and the humiliation of the Umma at every opportunity.

            I agree with this, but it didn’t start with Western imperialism. The Salafis who founded the First Saudi State condemned the Turkish caliph as a foreign heretic imposing false theology in the Hejaz; this is something the Arabs have been whining about ever since their own caliphates crumbled. It takes Western leftists to spread the idea that Salafism began because of the Allied occupation or the Iraq war or whatever stupid thing.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @d&d&rsn: Point of order, the Ismailis are Shias; they just lost the politico-demographic contest to the Twelvers.
            Twelver Shi’ism is weird stuff. Violence by the Iranian Twelver theocracy is almost enough to make me believe Voltaire’s epigram about absurdities and atrocities. They believe that a male-line descendant of Ali, the only legitimate Commander of the Faithful, was born in 868 of our era and is still alive in hiding from the Sunnis. The Ismailis hold the less bizarre belief that Ali’s hereditary authority passes through their Aga Khans like a regular monarchy.
            According to his Wikipedia article, the current Aga Khan is a pretty cool guy who uses his Pope-like authority to interpret the Quran in a pluralistic, pro-development way.

          • dndnrsn says:

            My understanding was that the Ismailis are different enough from most other Shias to be considered a different thing, but it’s not really an area I have a great deal of expertise on. I’m reaching back to courses I took a looooong time ago. Ismailis today are generally very chill.

          • Nornagest says:

            Further, a lot of agnostics and atheists think of religion as a poor cousin of politics. “The Crusades were really about trade routes”, they’ll say, or “Muslim extremism is really about poverty and political repression”. Regardless of the contributing factors, believers actually believe, and a lot of people who aren’t believers don’t get that.

            I don’t think this is an agnostic/atheist thing, I think it’s a Blue Tribe thing, and specifically a legacy of academia. It’s been fashionable for a long time, in history, anthropology, and adjacent fields, to favor materialistic rationales for stuff that might in a previous era have been put down to e.g. genius or religion or a desire for individual prestige: I think that’s related to the Marxian dialectical-materialist conception of history, but it’s not limited to it.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            You seem to be confused, this was proven incontrovertibly by the SPLC link I posted above.

            The SPLC link that called the Pulse Nightclub shooter, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, and black nationalists “right-wing”? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

          • Obviously, it’s okay for Republican presidents to illegally finance murder, so long as the victims are dark-skinned foreigners.

            Your comment that one should be more worried about right wing terrorists was in response to someone obviously worrying about things in America. You have now shifted the goalposts, from which I conclude you had no response to the demand that you offer examples of right wing terrorists with respectable right wing support and were not willing to admit it.

            If you have really gone global, which right wing terrorists supported by the U.S. killed as many people as the Khmer Rouge? It was your claim, after all, that one should be more worried about right wing than left wing terrorists.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @David Freidman
            If we’re going to talk about cold war era governments committing genocide, I would point you in the direction of a friend of your father , and his actions with regard to east Pakistan/Bangladesh.

            But this has gotten so far afield from the original topic as to be ridiculous. let me just fast forwards through the next few rounds of “did the left kill more people then the right”.

            Lefties:
            “Hitler killed millions, you Fascist scum. Sure some reactionary oppressors got killed here and there on along the road to progress, but it’s their own fault, the revolutionary forces were just expressing the violence innate in the system , chickens coming home to roost and all that. ”

            Righties:
            “Hittler was a dirty socialist, you commie slime, and anyway he was nowhere near as bad as Stalin, and his tyrannical ally Roosevelt. Generalplan Ost, what’s that? Hitler was going send all those Poles and Russians on a skiing holiday in the Urals. And, any way, how can Barrack Obama sleep at night with the blood of the hundred million victims of communism on the hands of his comrades?”

            Lefties:
            “You white male cis gendered imperialists have been slaughtering indigenous people for centuries from Cortes to the Belgian Congo. Compared to that the gulags are a drop in the bucket ”

            …..and so on.

            The Communists killed more people then the Nazis, and European colonialism likely killed more people then the Communists, at least if you calculate by the same methods that generate that 100 million figure. This seems to be to be largely a matter of the duration of the regimes in question; the longer one rules, and the greater the number one rules over, The more chances one has to kill.

            Right and Left are large nebulous categories that include ideas that have little do do with each other; and since Marxism-lenninsim, Fascism, white man’s burden imperialism have, I suspect, relatively few defenders in this day and age I’m not sure what the point of this argument is.

            People have been slaughtered nominally in the name of one thing, or another since time immemorial. The most common real motive has not been religion, or it’s close cousin secular political ideology, but simple wonderfully uncomplicated greed and lust for power. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao are outliers only because of increasing population density and technological sophistication. If Genghis Khan had gas chambers he would have put them all to shame.

            As for domestic terrorism, the history of paramilitary violence in the US needs to be broken down by era.

            First you have reconstruction and it’s aftermath. With the first Klan, the white leagues, Red Shirts and the like acting as the armed wing of the Democratic party and launching a massive campaign of violence against blacks and, to a lesser extent, pro civil rights whites.

            Then from the turn of the century until World War II we have the “strange fruit” era, with the second Klan reaching million in numbers, before dying out by the beginning of the war. The early part of this period coincides with the worst labor violence in American history, with anarchists setting off bombs, and those private defense organizations you’re so fond of machine gunning striking wobblies.

            Then in the nineteen fifties and sixties you have the third Klan and anti civil rights violence, and by the late sixties and seventeens an up tick in Marxist terrorism. A few decades latter in the eighties and nineteens you have a return of right wing violence, with the militia movement, the white supremacist ancestors of the modern alt right(eg, the order)and of course Timothy Mcveigh.

            Ordering american terrorists by actual number of casualties we get:

            1)Pre World War II white supremacists,
            2)Anti-Labour violence(Blair mountain, Ludlow, columbine mine).
            3)Anarchist and Labour militancy.
            4)Eighties and nineties far right.
            5)Sixties and seventies Marxists.
            6)The third Klan and anti civil rights violence.

            You can swap numbers four and five if you want to discount Mcveigh as a statistical outlier.

            The first group dwarfs all others. Just counting lynchings, 3215 blacks were murdered between 1882 and 1941, and that’s not any kind of comprehensive tally. The Tulsa race riot of 1921 alone killed around 200.

            The leftist groups of the Vietnam era and after were small, incompetent, unsuited (for ideological reasons) to organizing on military lines , and often lacked the will to engage in the most serious kinds of violence. Their victims numbered in the dozens, rather then the hundreds or thousands.

            Who should we more afraid of right now, the left or the right? it depends on what era of American violence you think our current situation most resembles. At the moment I feel there are more real terrorists willing to kill in large numbers on the right (thanks almost exclusively to the white supremacist fringe); but there are many more vandals and rioters on the left.

            The good news is that the long term trend in American terrorism has been downwards for decades.

          • The Communists killed more people then the Nazis, and European colonialism likely killed more people then the Communists, at least if you calculate by the same methods that generate that 100 million figure.

            Rummel, as I expect you know, tried to do calculations on democide. For the 20th century, his figure is 50 million for colonialism, about 140 million for USSR+China+Cambodia.

            I can’t find a total figure for pre-20th century colonialism, but looking at the numbers on his site I don’t see anything there that would add up to another fifty million. Do you have another source?

          • cassander says:

            @hyperboloid says:

            @The Communists killed more people then the Nazis, and European colonialism likely killed more people then the Communists, at least if you calculate by the same methods that generate that 100 million figure.

            The people killed by colonization were overwhelmingly killed by diseases that there was no way to stop, not deliberate mass starvation and execution.

            >The first group dwarfs all others. Just counting lynchings, 3215 blacks were murdered between 1882 and 1941, and that’s not any kind of comprehensive tally. The Tulsa race riot of 1921 alone killed around 200.

            And how do you assign the death tolls for the race riots of the 60s and 70s? Hell, 55 people alone died in the Rodney King riots.

          • Nornagest says:

            The people killed by colonization were overwhelmingly killed by diseases that there was no way to stop, not deliberate mass starvation and execution.

            I’m not saying the figures are accurate — 50 million sounds quite high to me — but if he’s talking about colonialism in the 20th century, then he’s not going to get 50 million deaths from disease. The deaths from smallpox, typhoid, etc. during the Columbian Exchange almost all happened in the 17th and 18th centuries, trailing off into the 19th — disease was a problem during the colonization of Africa, too, but there it was usually the colonizers getting sick.

            I’m not going to bother parsing the source deeply, but 50 million deaths from colonialism during the 20th century sounds to me like a number that you might get from adding up the Indochina Wars, Cold War and later conflicts in Africa and South America, and maybe the Qing Dynasty’s breakup. You could arguably make a case for the Pacific War, too.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            Unless I missed it, can you provide a link to Rummel’s work? 140 million seems … pretty high.

          • @dndnrsn:

            There was a link in my post. Here is another.

            My memory is that his 20th c. colonial deaths were mostly the Belgian Congo.

          • quanta413 says:

            @hyperboloid

            Depending on how far back we want to run the clock, domestic Right wing terrorism includes not only the largest
            single act of politically motivated murder on America soil before 9/11, but more importantly the largest and longest running terrrorist organization in American history; one responsible for literally thousands of deaths.

            I get that the whole game here is to play fast and loose with categories and identities that move over time, but… When the KKK was most effective and the most black people were lynched, the KKK and entire south was solidly democratic. All the way from after reconstruction through going for FDR for >90% in a lot of the south until the flip in affiliation in the 60s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1932#/media/File:PresidentialCounty1932Colorbrewer.gif

            Sure, they’re right wing if you define racism as right wing. Which seems to be the SPLC strategy, but this has even less to stand on than “all variations of Islam are at terrible fault for any terrorism committed by any Muslims”.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @quanta413

            I said “right wing,” not Republican. If I were to choose a political faction of nineteenth century America I, and I think almost all modern American leftists, would identify most with the political tradition of the radical Republicans, the most committed enemies of the KKK.

            How the Democrats went from a party that defended the antebellum southern aristocracy, to being a party of the left is a fascinating story, but it is beyond the scope of this discussion.

            Sure, they’re right wing if you define racism as right wing. Which seems to be the SPLC strategy, but this has even less to stand on than “all variations of Islam are at terrible fault for any terrorism committed by any Muslims”.

            Yes, I think the defense of white supremacy is a paradigmatic example of a right wing cause.

            (racism ∈ right) ~= (racism ⇔ right)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @quanta:
            You seem to be under the misapprehension that parties can’t change ideology over time.

            Also, remember that parties weren’t nationally ideologically coherent back then.

            The KKK wanted to keep society as it was and did not want certain people to have individual rights. That’s conservative.

          • The KKK wanted to keep society as it was and did not want certain people to have individual rights. That’s conservative.

            That’s a reasonable sense of “conservative,” but not the sense in which the term is usually used in the political context. Consider a political contest between someone who wants to maintain the New Deal institutions and someone who wants a shift towards smaller government, more freedom of exchange, something more like the classical liberal society of the 19th century.

            By your definition, it’s the New Deal supporter who is the conservative. That fits the literal meaning of the word, but it means that in 1964 LBJ was the conservative candidate. If you want to map your “conservative” onto “right wing,” it makes LBJ right wing, Goldwater left wing.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            I actually don’t disagree with the idea that defending the the long existing welfare state from those who wish to eliminate or radically alter it is a conservative position.

            This is one of the reasons I keep insisting that it’s very hard to understand political positions as strictly ideological. Political positions are necessarily coalitional.

            Which is one contributing reason to the tendency to grandstand on supposed principles when out of power and but an absence of adhering to them when in power. Consider the example of the budget deficit.

            Or, take the various agricultural subsidies and price supports as an example of (mostly) failing to even pay lip service to what are supposed principles to be applied elsewhere.

            As to the KKK, the fact that Southern populist whites were allied with Northern progressives in enacting the New Deal means the political coalitions resist easy analysis when framed with a modern lens.

          • quanta413 says:

            @hyperboloid

            Yes, I think the defense of white supremacy is a paradigmatic example of a right wing cause.

            (racism ∈ right) ~= (racism ⇔ right)

            While the alt-right may agree with you on this; the majority of the mainstream american right would no doubt disagree. I would argue that racism is largely orthogonal to the left/right divide. It simply happens to fall one way or the other based upon other historical circumstances. Racism and slavery were once most staunchly defended by Jackson Democrats, whereas conservative religious protestants of the North (pro business, pro manufacturing, etc.) were the more likely to be abolitionists or at least want to stop the spread of slavery fight fugitive slave laws etc. Even further back, the Catholic Church largely acted as a brake on slavery against secular interests.

            @heelbearcub

            You seem to be under the misapprehension that parties can’t change ideology over time.

            I am not making that mistake at all, and it’s bizarre that you think I am considering I linked the election support of FDR not Grover Cleveland. The same people who were super racist were also some of the biggest supporters of FDR who sure as hell wasn’t conservative. New Deal, etc. I’m pointing out that if you look at stuff besides the racism part, a lot of the racist South of old maps onto the current left.

            Everyone only thinks of mapping racism onto the right because of U.S. politics post 1960s. In many other times and places, this mapping would make no sense. In particular it makes no sense to use a mapping of current politics for an organization that has existed for almost a century before the current alignment.

            Also, remember that parties weren’t nationally ideologically coherent back then.

            The KKK wanted to keep society as it was and did not want certain people to have individual rights. That’s conservative.

            The parties are only nationally ideologically coherent now if you squint. The republicans are a weird amalgam of Christian fundamentalists, business interests, and libertarians and the democrats are even more spread out.

            The only part of society the KKK really cared about keeping as it was was the race divide. And your claim that “not wanting certain people to have individual rights” can be mapped to conservative belief in specific rather than to both some conservative beliefs and some extremely not conservative beliefs is not terribly accurate. Are we counting communists as half-conservative now?

          • Nornagest says:

            The only part of society the KKK really cared about keeping as it was was the race divide.

            Depends which iteration of the KKK you’re talking about. The first one (mid-to-late 19th century) was basically a Southern revanchist movement; it hated blacks, especially aspirational ones, but it hated white Northerners just as much. The second one (early 20th century) was mainly white nativist, with some of the character of a Protestant religious police: anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-Catholic, along with pro-Prohibition. It lost the revanchist angle and even spread into the North. The third one (mid 20th century to present) is a collection of groups united mainly by a desire to adopt the previous one’s image and by their opposition to civil rights legislation.

            All three were and are pretty racist. But of the three, race is probably most central to the third.

        • 1soru1 says:

          Calling it a rhetorical question seems to suggest that you are genuinely unaware of some matters of undisputed facts:

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

          For example, David Duke was a state representative, multiple-time presidential candidate, author of multiple well-selling books, etc. How exactly does that not constitute a ‘life in the public sphere’?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_T._King

          Peter King is a Representative and member (former chair) of key security committees. You couldn’t find a figure more central to the Republican establishment.

          • NIP says:

            In the same vein as my reply to Earthly Knight above, I was talking about terrorists within the United States, and so King’s support for the IRA isn’t relevant.

            As for David Duke and the KKK, they haven’t done anything relevant on any stage since the turn of the century, and disavowing any affiliation with him because of a retweet became an accepted ritual for vetting presidential candidates this last election, so I think our definitions of “success in the public sphere” are different. That a clever man like Duke can survive and do well for himself is notable, certainly, but it’s not with any help or approval of the establishment, unlike the leftists in the 70’s who now have cushy tenured jobs at respectable universities, and one of whom was mentor to Barack Obama.

            It’s also notable that David Duke has never commited murder.

          • 1soru1 says:

            > As for David Duke and the KKK, they haven’t done anything relevant on any stage since the turn of the century

            So whats your example of a left-wing murderer, who killed within the last 15 years, on US soil, is significant on the national stage, and never gets disavowed by anyone?

          • Civilis says:

            So whats your example of a left-wing murderer, who killed within the last 15 years, on US soil, is significant on the national stage, and never gets disavowed by anyone?

            There’s none on the right that fit this definition either. There’s none on the right going back 30 years. And when lunatics on the right commit murder and get arrested, the rest of us on the right cheer that they were caught.

            Both sides have lunatics. Nothing’s going to stop people from reading crazy stuff on the web and going on to try to shoot up the other side over perceived slights. Some of those lunatics are going to be inventive. Others are going to find the first person they try to bring in to their little scheme is an FBI informant.

            The point is that the left, unlike the right, is free to just forget that this all happened. In part, this is because the right is kind-of hypocritical, both fetishizing law and order and fetishistizing independence from government. But ultimately, the left still controls the narrative via the media.

            The right gets excoriated for thinking that neo-Nazis should be free to speak without getting assaulted just like everyone else, while the left cheers on an unrepentant nationalist socialist murderer without blinking an eye, and nobody notices the disconnect, because the media gatekeepers don’t notice, because they’re on the left, and everyone thinks they’re on the side of the good guys.

        • Aftagley says:

          @ NIP

          Did any of these right-wing terrorists recieive direct assistance from well-off professionals, student groups, government workers, or other members of mainstream institutions?

          Did any of these right-wing terrorists get away with their crimes and go on to live productive lives in the public sphere, up to and including professorships and being the mentor to the 44th President of the United States?

          These morons who took over the federal building in Oregon for 41 days. They were undeniably guilty, but still were let off. Among their number was a man closely affiliated with the Trump campaign.

          It’s not a direct comparison because your criteria are pretty specific, but the broad strokes are similar: a patently illegal, politically motivated action perpetrated through violence (or at least the blatant threat of violence) that, for the vast majority of the people involved, will have no long-term negative consequences.

          • Civilis says:

            How much property damage was involved in the Oregon standoff?

            At this point, we’ve entered the tit-for-tat stage of the prisoner’s dilemma. Each side can see what the other side gets away with, and see if there’s a disparity, and call attention to it as evidence of bias. Protest groups on the left have a history of occupying places (like, say… Wall Street). Very rarely does anyone get arrested.

            (Added) I really, really don’t want to see tit-for-tat with ‘it’s acceptable to punch out members of very-broadly-defined political movements with a history of political violence’, because it means it spirals out of control, but it looks like that’s what we’re going to see.

          • Nornagest says:

            A shitload of people got arrested during Occupy, although most of them didn’t spend more than a night in jail.

          • Civilis says:

            The resources I can find say that they were arrested for other crimes than mere ‘occupation’ (ie, trespassing), most noticeably a large group which blocked the Brooklyn Bridge. Few of those prosecutions were successful, and NYC ended up having to pay a judgement.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m most familiar with Occupy Oakland, where the usual charge was “failure to leave the scene of riot”. Almost always the charges were dropped, though.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @Aftagley, yeah, so about those morons: they hurt nobody, they occupied an empty government-owned shack literally in the middle of nowhere, one of them was shot by police, their support by right-wing politicians was mostly (although not completely) on the fringe, and they received universal abuse in the news media. Meanwhile, Occupy occupied private property in the middle of major cities for far longer than 41 days, rioted several times, committed extensive property damage, a number of people were raped, and the news media, the intelligentsia, and the most high profile left-wing politicians cheered them on as saviors of America. So that is, actually, a very useful comparison.

          • Aftagley says:

            @ thirteenth letter

            You’re reinterpreting my point after the fact. The argument I was attempting to refute was NIP’s claims that criminals motivated by right wing ideology unilaterally are unsupported and never go free once captured by the police.

            I made no comparison to OWS. If anything, the fact that both groups avoided any major criminal penalty for their behavior probably reveals that America as a whole doesn’t care when whack jobs take over public land.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Warning: It’s a shaggy-dog story.

    • Urstoff says:

      The reification of the Left and the Right has become incredibly stupid lately.

      • Jordan D. says:

        I feel that this comment is unfair because I don’t remember “let’s group bad things into piles of left or right” threads ever being good.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          Is it unfair, or is it too fair?

        • Urstoff says:

          Well it was stupid before; now it’s just incredibly stupid.

        • JulieK says:

          Anyone in favor of tabooing the terms “left” and “right?”

          • Urstoff says:

            That would be nice, even though I’m as guilty of using it as anyone.

          • Jordan D. says:

            Honestly, I’m a bit torn. Whenever we get these right-vs-left threads, there’s always a lot of ball-hiding, eliding definitions and double-standards that make the political discussion incredibly frustrating to read through. If the Right and Left labels could be ditched and replaced with more specific groups, that would be very nice.

            (Maybe it would even work? Something Scott did caused his blog to switch rapidly from having every political thread dominated by The Forbidden Ideology to more mainstream discussion, and I don’t know if it was a ban on the use of that term or the more general practice of banning members of that movement who put a foot wrong anywhere.)

            On the other hand, I fear that a requirement like that would quickly lead to the more active (and largely, the more interesting) commentators being banned when they couldn’t restrain themselves, and it might even kill off interesting discussions too.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            sadly, I’m pretty sure the reduction in bickering about neo traction faries is because their transgressive value was eclipsed by the rise of Trump.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      FYI, there exists a free 70s-style radicalism game called Liberal Crime Squad. So if at any point reading that link you thought “that sounds like fun”, check out http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=125450.0 .

      • TenMinute says:

        Urist McAyers withdraws from society…

        This is a cardboard bomb. All craftsleftyship is of the lowest quality. It is encrusted with old newspaper and studded with steel nails. On the item is an image of Ted Gold and Terry Robbins. The terrorists are exploding.

  2. Wander says:

    How’s the lifetime cost of solar panels? I’ve heard from varying sources that, like those “environmentally friendly” houses, the environmental cost to produce them isn’t actually made up by what they save. It seems to make sense on the surface, looking at the energy needed to purify silicon into crystals compared to the lifetime and efficiency of the panels themselves.

    • Aapje says:

      @Wander

      A factor is that part or all of the silicon that solar panels use is off-grade silicon that is scrap from the electronics industry (it used to be all, don’t know if that has changed already). That silicon would cost energy to produce anyway and would simply end up in a land fill.

      Another factor is that panels have been using less silicon, as technology has improved and efficiency has been going up. So payback has improved.

      According to Fraunhofer, the current energy payback times are about 1-2.5 years for Europe. Given a life expectancy of 25 years, that means that it pays for itself many times over.

  3. nimim.k.m. says:

    A blog post I found while traversing the comments on the more complexity theory oriented Scott A.’s blog.

    Now the post is interesting on it’s own and portrays a weirdest conspiracy theory I have heard of this date… but actually I want to talk about the curious tangential thought I had: Why some poeple have a need to come up with layman’s psychological explanations for people doing things?

    I mostly can’t understand why people say nasty things in the first place, including even the times when I find myself being not nice (on the internet or elsewhere). And then there are the people I simply never could get (for example, the children that torment small animals). I wouldn’t even know where to start speculating.

    • Deiseach says:

      In the particular instance they’re talking about (comment on post about anniversary of a death), I can understand the impulse. It’s tactless, it may have been motivated by spite (or not, who knows?) but I can understand why someone would reply “Junkie” to a post not in the immediate aftermath saying “Why did this happen? Why did God do this to us?”

      It didn’t come out of nowhere, there was a reason, and the reason was the guy took heroin, got addicted, and overdosed. I don’t know anything about “Parks and Recreation” but if the presumption is “this was a relatively successful, well-off white guy who had a good career and lots of opportunities; nobody forced him to do drugs; he made a decision; he paid the consequences. God didn’t make you sad, your son did. The blame lies with him, not irresistible forces in society no-one could control or forecast”.

      Probably not the best thing to tell a grieving parent but it’s not some mysterious unknowable impulse that lurks in the psyche, it’s common and understandable. Yeah it’s nasty but it’s human. Maybe the person who posted that comment was being unthinkingly cruel, but maybe they had a tragedy in their family and when they see someone with more advantages throwing their life away for nothing, it stings them to be unkind: your son killed himself, my son died for no fault of his own and would have taken the life your son threw away.

      Who knows? We none of us can read the thoughts of another.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @Deiseach:
        If you were at a restaurant and over heard this conversation between two grieving family members, would you walk over, say “Junkie” and stand there waiting to see if they reply? I think this is far less likely. That seems to be where the author starts from.

        You might think it in your head, though. So one question is why the different behavior in one setting rather than the other.

        As to the question of why you might think it, the author seems to posit what is essentially a cognitive dissonance with “just world hypothesis” as the motivation. You seem to be agreeing.

        In fact, you are going one level further, and positing that the commenter might have even more reason to be in dissonance than the person in immediate grief.

        • Deiseach says:

          No, not at a restaurant. On a public social media site a year after the event where someone is going “how on earth did it possibly happen or who is to blame that my son died?”, yes, it’s very tempting to say “because he was a junkie who overdosed and a guy who came from a relatively privileged background who let his selfishness overcome the harm he would do to his family”. Yeah, there’s judgement going on there, but it’s also hard to see how the family can think “Someone – God even! – must be to blame, not him!” It’s unfair on the family because ultimately it was his choice and he put “injecting poison into my veins” over “my family and those who care about me” but that’s the very painful truth. It wasn’t their fault and there was little or nothing they could have done to stop him, apart from rehab which he seems to have tried. But it’s not some unsolvable mystery, or rather, it’s the same unsolvable mystery of the universe: why me? why us, not them? why did this happen?

          It’s like the answer to the “why did this bus full of school children go over a cliff and this one didn’t in a similar accident?” that atheists/non-believers give to posts about “my child was on that crashing school bus and was saved, it was a miracle!” No, it was chance because there was an equal probability that the bus would have gone over the cliff as we see happen other times. Unless you want to say God chose to kill that other bus load of school children, you can’t say God chose to save your child.

          Why did he die? Why us? The fruit of personal choices in the first place, and chance in the second.

          I’d certainly think it even if I didn’t write it. And we don’t know the motives of the person who did write it; maybe it was nastiness, maybe they were acting out of their own pain. Maybe they were hoping to avert some other family having the same experience: if someone is addicted and in danger of relapsing, reminding them of the damage they are doing might help motivate them not to do so. Leaving it as “God did it” means they can shrug off personal responsibility and go right ahead and take that next fix which might kill them.

          Unkind and unnecessary comment, I do agree, but not untruthful: you know why and how it happened, he was a junkie. I’m sorry for your grief but it’s not a mystery no-one can ever untangle. Why do some people, with seemingly everything to live for, turn to drugs? That’s the hard part to answer and yes, I agree, there are no easy glib answers there.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:
            All of that seems to amplify the author’s point.

            We say the junkie deserved it to avoid thinking about all of the ways in which this stuff is arbitrary. For instance, there are people who don’t get addicted even though they take heroin. That’s not choice, anymore than any genetic predisposition is choice.

          • Deiseach says:

            That’s not choice, anymore than any genetic predisposition is choice.

            Nobody deserves it, that’s the point. But there is an inescapable element of personal responsibility, unless you are in circumstances that are so horrendous or you are forcibly addicted to it or other things happen to make it something you couldn’t help.

            The choice is the first time you try it. “I can try it and if I don’t like it that’s it; I won’t get addicted just from trying it once; I know all the pitfalls, I’m not going to be one of those addicts who wreck themselves; there’s safe ways of doing this; not everyone gets addicted, that’s just anti-drugs propaganda; the whole anti-drugs thing is so misinformed and wrong about things like cannabis and other drugs, they must be wrong about this too; I’ve been able to handle recreational drugs up to now, how hard can this be to keep under control?” – all the list of reasons people tell themselves when they try something risky.

            We don’t know the strains or what reasons made the guy turn to drugs. But abusing heroin is not a good idea, and you have to do a lot of “the straights and the squares don’t know what they’re talking about” persuading of yourself – or getting persuaded by others – to get past the bad press, even if there is still an element in the creative world (fashion and its hangers-on) that like to think it’s daring, cool and fun, and a way of provoking the moral panickers who just don’t get the joke.

    • shakeddown says:

      Why some poeple have a need to come up with layman’s psychological explanations for people doing things?

      For the same reason you asked this question, I’m guessing.

  4. Perico says:

    Scott,
    In your AI persuasion experiment, you posted a draft version of your Superintelligence FAQ. Would it be OK for us to link to this essay, or should we wait until the final version is ready? I recently found myself in a discussion about AI risk, and being able to reference this document would have been very useful.

  5. Chalid says:

    I thought this was a good compact example of how readers of Fox get a completely different view of the world than readers of other major news networks. Each story is nominally about the same event, Trump’s press secretary Spicer discussing inauguration crowds.

    FOX News

    CNN

    USA Today

    The CNN and USA Today stories aggressively fact-check Spicer, while Fox essentially quotes him without criticism.

    The stories are completely factually compatible, but a reader of the Fox story likely comes away with the incorrect impression that either Trump really did have gigantic crowds or at least that it’s hard to tell. It’s hard to believe that this isn’t a deliberate choice by the author.

    (Fox did separately post a fact-check article on the topic, not about Spicer, but about similar statements by Trump himself.)

    • Deiseach says:

      Attendance numbers for anything are something that is very hard to check. I’ve seen this kind of argument over the March for Life numbers, with competing estimates from both sides that are not compatible. Media tends to cover it (if they cover it) as “thousands showed up” where that’s a downplaying by a factor of about ten, if not more (estimates range from 300,000 to 600,000 depending on the year). I do remember one particular year where there was outrage over media coverage; CBS did a slideshow on the march where they included no (that would be no, zero, none) photos of the marchers but did include pro-choice protestors who were present in nowhere near the same numbers (until after protest, they did include pictures of the pro-life marchers).

      In 2012, the Washington Post had this to say:

      Staff writer Katherine Driessen wrote the main article on the march, which appeared online and on the front page of the Metro section. She noted that Catholic organizers filled Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory with young people attending morning Masses. That amounted to at least 17,000 people, but there weren’t just Catholics at the protest.

      …But no one knows how big it was. Law enforcement agencies no longer estimate crowd size, nor does The Post. One side or the other will accuse you of being biased if they perceive the estimates as too large or too small.

      …Vernon Loeb, Post Local editor, said, “In retrospect I wish we had given readers a better sense of the overall magnitude of the march. . .it was far larger than 17,000.”

      Yep, bigger than 17,000. Try an estimation of 400,000 because it was the anniversary of Roe vs Wade (though as pointed out, nobody officially counts).

      Nobody officially measures numbers, is the problem. You have to apply for a permit to the National Parks Service, and organisers put an estimated number of attendees on the permit (for the Women’s March in Washington, that’s 200,000). With Trump’s inauguration, there were also active efforts to disrupt the paths in so that attendees would be blocked (I see the Black Lives Matter protest where they chained themselves together to block one entrance in being touted as a victory). How many turned up? I have no idea. Probably not as many as Trump claims turned up in person, probably more than the anti-Trump protestors claim.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Attendance numbers for anything are something that is very hard to check. I’ve seen this kind of argument over the March for Life numbers, with competing estimates from both sides that are not compatible. Media tends to cover it (if they cover it) as “thousands showed up” where that’s a downplaying by a factor of about ten, if not more (estimates range from 300,000 to 600,000 depending on the year). I do remember one particular year where there was outrage over media coverage; CBS did a slideshow on the march where they included no (that would be no, zero, none) photos of the marchers but did include pro-choice protestors who were present in nowhere near the same numbers (until after protest, they did include pictures of the pro-life marchers).

        And of course, even when you do include photos of the event, the same rally can be made to look much bigger/smaller depending on the angle at which you photograph it.

        • Well... says:

          depending on the angle at which you photograph it

          The lens even more.

          • Iain says:

            This is ridiculous.

            This CNN article has two photographs superimposed. One is the crowd during Obama’s inauguration speech in 2009; the other is the crowd during Trump’s speech. The angle is effectively identical. You can drag back and forth with a slider to compare. There is no lens in existence that will fill the empty spaces in the photo of Trump’s inauguration.

            Why is it so hard for people to just acknowledge that Trump’s crowd was smaller? Why are so many people so invested in denying the obvious?

          • cassander says:

            @ian

            the 2012 photo would be a better comparison.

          • Iain says:

            @cassander

            the 2012 photo would be a better comparison.

            A fascinating assertion. Sean Spicer got up as the official voice of the President of the United States to declare that Trump’s inauguration had attracted “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe”. Last I checked, 2009 was considered part of “ever”. Do you disagree?

          • cassander says:

            @ian

            Don’t know what Spicer said, don’t care. As a rule, I try to ignore people whose job it is to lie pleasingly. I don’t give a shit how many people came to trump’s inauguration. I think the people that are insisting his hand puppet’s comments about the crowds are significant are looking for excuses to be outraged.

          • Iain says:

            Of course. Nothing says “I don’t care about how many people came to Trump’s inauguration” like comments quibbling about which photo would be a better point of comparison.

            Equally clearly, there is no conceivable reason to be concerned that the Trump Administration started off its first full day in charge of the country by blatantly lying to the American people about petty nonsense. It is totally normal for the leader of the country to be so insecure that he has to send out his press secretary to lie on his behalf upon the mere suggestion that his meaningless number is smaller than somebody else’s.

            Good point.

          • Vorkon says:

            There may be no lens or angle that can fill in those blank spaces, but there is actually a simple a way to take that picture such that the blank spaces are filled in:

            Actually take the picture WHILE the speech is going on, rather than trying to pass off a picture taken several hours earlier as the truth.

            Note that this picture was taken BY CNN, the same organization that tried to pass off the earlier picture as having taken place during the speech. Admittedly, the real picture does show some empty spaces, which Obama’s inauguration certainly didn’t have, and is taken at a more favorable angle, but as you said yourself, there is no angle that could possibly cover up all the empty spots in that first (fake) picture. If I wanted to spend more time searching, I could find tweets from people who were there who also say that the picture in CNN’s comparison article doesn’t represent the crowd at the time of the speech as well, but I think the picture from CNN’s gigapixel tool should speak for itself.

            Make no mistake, no one reasonable (and it’s safe to say that neither Trump nor Spicer are particularly reasonable) is trying to argue that Trump’s crowds were larger than Obama’s. That would be silly. What people have been trying to argue is that there was a concerted effort by the media to portray the crowd at Trump’s inauguration as being smaller than it was, in some sort of attempt to discredit him, which started long before Spicer came out to deliver whatever ridiculous argument Trump’s people cobbled together to protect his fragile pride. Anecdotally, I know I remember hearing them talk about how small the crowd was on NPR the whole way home from work on Friday.

            Then, somehow, as soon as Spicer came out and shoved his foot in his mouth, the narrative mysteriously changed from “look at how small Trump’s crowds were,” to “why is Trump so concerned about proving his crowds were large,” as if no one was going to notice that they were the ones pressing the issue in the first place. Seriously, I woke up this morning to find people on my friends list who I knew were rather anti-Trump espousing an argument that pro-Trumpers were making only a day ago. (Namely, that there was nothing abnormally small about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd.) The cognitive dissonance on display here has been striking.

            Don’t get me wrong, the fact that CNN started it certainly doesn’t excuse Trump’s thin skin on the matter, or his peddling of bogus, unchecked facts to try to save his pride, but it does make it difficult to place the blame entirely on him for this whole kerfuffle. This whole thing seems like a pretty clear case of toxoplasma.

            (Which I, unfortunately, am responsible for perpetuating by even responding to this, but ugh, this entire argument has been annoying the shit out of me, and I wanted to at least get this off my chest.)

          • Iain says:

            @Vorkon: You’re fooling yourself. Perspective is tricky. CNN’s Gigapixel is at a flat angle. It is difficult to see gaps from that low down, because there are people in the way, and they look smaller because of the perspective. It is even harder to estimate the crowd size from ground level. If you look closely, though, the photos match up.

            In the high-angle shot, you can see that the dividing fences break the area up into chunks of roughly equal size. The closest one to the camera is mostly empty, and the second-closest one to the camera has a good chunk of people on the right (as seen from the high angle, looking towards the Capitol), but only a thin line near the fence on the left.

            What do we see if we zoom into the Gigapixel? We see that the farthest chunk (which looks small, but we know is actually quite large) has very few people in it. We can also see that the right-hand side of the second-farthest chunk (corresponding to the left-hand side from the high-angle shot) has a line of people near the fence, but empty space behind them. That matches precisely what we saw in the high-angle shot.

            (Feel free to repeat the exercise with the gaps closer to the front. You will see that they also match up.)

            The Gigapixel also shows a two-story structure at the back of the crowd, just past the red building on the left (which I believe is the Smithsonian Castle). If you compare the photo of Obama’s inauguration, that obstacle didn’t exist in 2009, and the entire area where it stands was full of people.

            Finally, if you turn towards the steps of the Capitol, you can see that the Gigapixel photo was taken while Trump was delivering his inaugural address. The Gigapixel photo is therefore not understating the size of Trump’s crowd by lying about the time at which it was taken; given the close correspondence between the Gigapixel and the high-angle shot, we can therefore be confident that the high-angle shot was also taken during the inauguration (and not “several hours earlier”).

            PS: If you look closely, you will note that I said no lens could cover up those gaps. It’s amazing what you can find, when you look closely!

          • Vorkon says:

            If you recall, I admitted from the beginning that there were gaps which would not have been there during Obama’s inauguration, and that the gigapixel image was shot at a more favorable angle. There’s still no way the two images were shot at the same time, however.

            The overall dispersion of people on the mall is similar in both photos, with the south side (near the Smithsonian) generally being more packed than the north side, with a wedge shaped gap at the end of the first (closest to the speech) block, and the last block (closest to that two-story building) being the least populated. That’s to be expected; events like this take hours to fill up, but you can tell the crowd in the gigapixel image has built up quite a bit from the high angle one.

            It’s most noticeable in the second to last block. In the gigapixel image, the crowd clearly extends all the way to the barrier separating the mall from the Smithsonian area, while in the high angle shot they don’t extend nearly so far south, or as far back, and leave a good deal of the brown dirt trail exposed. None of that is visible in the gigapixel image, except in the furthest block back.

            And speaking of the furthest block back, although it’s still largely empty, it’s nowhere near as empty as it was in the high angle image. Again, on the south side, there is a solid clump of people that clearly extend all the way from the beginning of that block, back to the two-story building. They’re all clustered around the south end, for some reason, but they’re definitely not there in the high angle shot. Furthermore, right in the middle, between the north and south sides, there’s a clump of people who extend a little ways into the furthest block, which are also not there in the high angle shot.

            Even on the north side, the crowd seems larger than the high angle image would suggest. Admittedly, that might very well be an optical illusion due to the perspective, but considering that there are demonstrably more people in the second to last block and the last block, I don’t think it is.

            I also notice that the third and fourth block, and to some extent the fourth and fifth block, seem to blend into each other with no gap in between, as there is on the high angle shot. You could argue that this is also a trick of the perspective, and I might agree with you if it were not for the mostly open line down the middle. Since the middle is largely a clear pathway with only a few guards/volunteers/whatever-they-are holding the path, and you can see the white under their feet just fine, you would expect to be able to notice a gap between those blocks, by looking up the center line, where there’s nobody blocking your view. I can’t see any such gap. To me, this seems to imply that the blocks in the middle have filled in considerably since the high angle shot was taken, as well.

            Really, the only part of the mall that looks identical to the high angle image is the first block, the one with the wedge-shaped gap at the end, and since that’s so near the front, you would expect that to fill up first, and for them to not allow any more people in that area. (Also, interestingly enough, there is a similar wedge-shaped gap in nearly the same spot in Obama’s picture, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m not comparing Trump’s picture to Obama’s only Trump’s “before” picture to his “after” picture. Still interesting, though. Some feature of the terrain, maybe?)

            Finally, as I said before, I’ve seen several testimonies of people who were there that the high angle photo was inaccurate. Most were from people I’ve never heard of, but here’s one from Brit Hume, at least. (Whether or not he’s trustworthy is up for debate, but at least he was there, in that two-story white building we’ve been talking about, which is more than either of us can say.)

            I was in the building at the bottom of picture on right yesterday. Shot was taken early, area was considerably fuller by time of speech. https://t.co/bzhWjm4alC
            — Brit Hume (@brithume) January 22, 2017

            Note: Upon further inspection, it seems he was responding to a similar high angle shot from the NYT, which shows an even smaller crowd than CNN’s, but only just slightly, and it’s still obvious that CNN’s high angle shot does not match their gigapixel image.

            So, mea culpa, perhaps I said “several hours,” when I should have said, “at least an hour, but probably more,” for all the difference that would have made. Good catch

            But even if the NYT was lying worse than CNN, it still supports my main point: That the media was actively pushing the “Trump’s turnout was low” narrative, until Trump pushed back with some bullshit of his own, at which point they pretended they never pushed that narrative in the first place.

            As I said, that doesn’t excuse Trump bullshitting in return, since two wrongs don’t make a right, but it also goes a long way toward explaining how the situation got to where it is now, with both sides arguing heatedly over something that seems silly and irrelevant.

          • Iain says:

            Nope. You’re still fooling yourself.

            The blocks at the back are nearly a mile away from the camera. The difference between half full and full is extremely difficult to distinguish at that distance. For comparison, look at the block that is close to the camera with a large gap on the right. At first glance, the left half of that block looks like it is full. If you look closely at the fence between the left and right sides of the block, though, you can see that there is a thin line of people standing up against that fence, extending further back than the main crowd. If you scroll left from that point, you can also see white gaps between the heads of the people in the back row.

            Now consider that the blocks you are confidently asserting look full are more than twice as far away from the camera.

            The existence of tweets from people who were standing near the Capitol building means literally nothing. There is no way they could actually see the difference here; this camera is well above the ground, and it can’t make out the details.

            Or for an alternative angle: suppose that, as you say, the second-to-last block really did fill up. That would mean it contained thousands of Trump supporters, the vast majority of whom have cameras on their phones. Surely one of them would have taken a clear photo that demonstrated the fullness of the crowd at that point. Why isn’t Fox News showing us that photo? Why isn’t the Trump administration rubbing it in the media’s face? If the truth is so easy to demonstrate, why is Sean Spicer telling such stupid lies?

          • Vorkon says:

            As it clearly states within the tweet itself, that is a tweet from somebody in the white building closer to the Washington Monument, NOT from somebody in the Capitol building. You know, the one right next to the block you’re trying to argue was empty?

            As for the second to last block, I never said it was 100% full, I said it was more full than in the high angle photo. There is no arguing this point. You can see the barrier around the Smithsonian in both pictures. In the gigapixel image, you can clearly see people touching it. In the high angle shot, you can see open space around it. That means the crowd expanded both toward the Smithsonian AND toward the Washington Monument. Nevermind the people around those two tents in the last block, who are clearly not there in the high angle photo. There are clear landmarks you can use to measure one picture against the other. I said all of this in my last post.

            I DID say that the second and third blocks looked full, which I determined by following the empty center line and looking for gaps there. It would be one thing if there were people in the way, but because the center line is open, that is not the case. Considering how far you can zoom that gigapixel image in, you would expect to see SOME kind of gap if you follow the center line. Again, why can’t you?

            And I’m not sure what you mean to prove by referencing the gap at the end of the first block. That’s the “wedge-shaped gap” I keep pointing out as being the one thing that looks identical in both photos. I never said anything about it looking like the left side of the first block had no gap. There’s clearly a gap there, in both pictures. That proves nothing about what’s going on in the blocks further back. I’ve admitted over and over that the perspective makes it harder to see the gaps in the gigapixel image, but at the same time there is absolutely no way the gigapixel image does not show a larger crowd.

            As for Spicer, I’ve repeatedly stated that I make no apologies for him. The administration was obviously throwing together whatever bullshit they could immediately think of, to try to save face. Why, then, do you keep making apologies for CNN?

          • Iain says:

            “The barrier around the Smithsonian” is unclear. You do realize that half the buildings lining the Mall are the Smithsonian something-or-other, right? I assume you mean the Smithsonian Castle — the red building on the left — but if so, I don’t see your point. Are you talking about the row of porta potties running past the two tents on the left? There’s a pretty solid prima facie case that nobody is standing right next to those.

            Anyways, I’m done quibbling about photographs with the willfully blind. If Brit Hume, paragon of reliable reporting, had such a good view of the full crowds, I’m sure he or somebody standing near him took a photo of the area that clearly shows how full it was, and you will be able to find it and rub it in my stupid face. Until then, I bid you adieu.

          • Well... says:

            For the record, I wasn’t saying a lens trick was used in this instance to report the story a certain way. I was only saying the use of certain lenses can be an even more effective way to alter the look of a scene than the angle at which the scene is photographed.

      • Iain says:

        Read the CNN article. You are correct that it is difficult to measure numbers, but Spicer had a number of other blatant lies that are less debatable:

        This is the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall,” Spicer said, claiming that this “had the effect of highlighting areas people were not standing whereas in years past the grass eliminated this visual.”
        In fact, coverings were used for Obama’s second inauguration in 2013.
        “This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past,” Spicer said.
        In fact, a United States Secret Service spokesperson told CNN, no magnetometers were used on the Mall.

        (The difference in attendance between 2009 and 2017 was also stark enough that there isn’t really any doubt which one was bigger, regardless of the exact numbers. Contra the original Mr. X, there are a number of photos that were taken at the same time from the same vantage point, making questions of framing irrelevant.)

        The actual size of the inauguration doesn’t prove anything. The fact that Trump sent his press secretary out to lie about it does not bode well, though. Best case: he is incredibly insecure. Worst case: this is a calculated tactic to reduce his base’s trust in the media, establishing the precedent that if the media does not repeat everything he says without question, he will call them liars and do his best to turn his base against them.

        • Kevin C. says:

          “a calculated tactic to reduce his base’s trust in the media”

          You say that like it’s a bad thing. The sooner the power center that is the establishment media is neutralized, the better.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            That would be fine, if there were a good alternative. Since the existing alternative is Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Reddit, this seems extremely misguided.

          • Kevin C. says:

            But why do we need an alternative at all?

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            You don’t need one, but you are going to get one. And it is going to suck.

            In Utopia there are no media organizations or lowest-common-denominator social media websites. People do all their own research and just keep their big mouths shut about a topic until they’ve finished doing so. But I can’t see us getting there from here, ever.

          • Kevin C. says:

            The bulk of human beings got along for millenia without mass media, or much news of any kind beyond word of mouth. The point is, what the Media says or does only matters because the opinions of the (rationally) ignorant masses matter. Why should we care how well-informed or ill-informed the masses are on topics over which they have little influence?

    • JayT says:

      While CNN was aggressively fact checking they seem to have forgotten to check and see how many people streamed the event from their own website, which apparently had ~17 million live streams. That obviously isn’t quite the same as Nielsen ratings, but considering every major website was streaming the event, and the fact that streaming is far more ubiquitous today than it was in 2009, I think it is quite likely that Spicer was correct that this was the largest audience to ever see an inauguration.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        How is “largest audience to ever live stream an inauguration” self-evidently the same as “the largest audience to ever watch an inauguration on any live media”?

        You might be right that this is true, but you haven’t actually made any case that it is true.

        Nor is that the claim that Spicer seems to have made, which had to do with in-person attendance at the event.

        • JayT says:

          Spicer’s exact quote was:

          This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe

          so he is saying there were more people in person, and, everything combined, more people watched this inauguration than any other. In the CNN article they point to the Nielsen ratings to say that it wasn’t the most watched inauguration, but I disagree with that assessment.

          On TV this inauguration had about seven million fewer viewers than Obama’s 2009, and about eleven million fewer than Reagan’s 1980.

          So, all Trump would have had to do is have a little over eleven million people watch the inauguration on streaming for this to have been the most watched inauguration. Seeing as though CNN alone had 17 million open streams, I think it is fairly likely that this was indeed the most viewed inauguration.

          At best, CNN’s fact checking is poorly researched, at worst they knew what they were saying was an outright lie. Neither one gives me much confidence in them.

          • Iain says:

            Here’s the full context of Spicer’s remarks. I have bolded the parts that are demonstrably false.

            Secondly, photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall. This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall. That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual. This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.

            Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted. No one had numbers, because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out. By the way, this applies to any attempts to try to count the number of protestors today in the same fashion.

            We do know a few things, so let’s go through the facts. We know that from the platform where the President was sworn in, to 4th Street, it holds about 250,000 people. From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000. And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people. All of this space was full when the President took the Oath of Office. We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural. This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.

            The floor coverings were used in 2013. The Secret Service has made it clear that magnetometers were not used on the Mall. Spicer actually understated the number of Metro rides during the Trump inauguration (but understated the number of Metro rides during the Obama inauguration by a larger number).

            I admit that “both in person and around the globe” is ambiguous: does Spicer mean that the sum of the two numbers is the largest ever, or that both numbers are independently record-breaking? I think the latter interpretation is the plain reading of his sentence, but I suppose you could argue that a charitable interpretation would accept the former. It may well be the case that enough people were watching on the internet to put Trump ahead, but that’s not the argument that Spicer was spending his time on. In any case, even if you grant Spicer the benefit of the doubt, he’s at best half-correct on that statement, which followed a string of completely false nonsense that can be trivially disproved via a couple of minutes on Google.

            I don’t see how CNN’s fact-checkers are to blame here.

          • JayT says:

            I am not saying that Spicer was correct on all of his comments, and I don’t think I was clear enough on that point. My point is purely that his comment of the inauguration being the most seen across the globe is most likely true, but CNN “fact checked” it as false. Either they did a bad job of fact checking that claim, or they just tried to slip a lie in with their truths to try and make Spicer look as bad as possible.

            I am no Trump fan, but the levels people are willing to stoop down to just to try and make him look bad seems very counterproductive to me. CNN had no reason to even try to address the worldwide numbers when they could have stuck to easily verifiable facts, but they just went a bridge too far, and to me, that hurts their overall trustworthiness.

          • Iain says:

            Here’s what the CNN article said:

            “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said, contradicting all available data.

            Aerial photos have indicated that former president Barack Obama’s first inauguration attracted a much larger crowd. Nielsen ratings show that Obama also had a bigger television audience.

            So the only part you actually object to is the inclusion of a comment about Neilsen ratings, without saying anything about online streaming? You are reading an implication about online streaming into Spicer’s speech that it is not at all clear he intended. He almost certainly did not have any facts available about the streaming numbers. It seems a bit rich to complain that CNN did not directly address a potential reading of Spicer’s speech that he never actually made explicit, particularly given the complete lack of honesty he displayed throughout the rest of the speech.

            Incidentally, now that I look it up, it actually appears that more people streamed Obama’s inauguration on CNN than Trump’s (16.9M vs 21M). So it’s not even clear that the most charitable interpretation of Spicer’s remarks was true.

            To sum up: Spicer lied through his teeth. CNN’s article, written at most a few hours after the press conference, did not address one possible reading of Spicer’s comments that might theoretically have made one clause half-accurate. However, it seems implausible that this was intentional on CNN’s part, because the real numbers for online streaming are actually good for CNN’s case.

            Remind me: at what point in this whole affair did CNN “stoop” to some terrible level to make Trump look bad?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Iain:
            Even more to the point, in telling those falsehoods, Spicer is specifically attacked the media for estimates about crowd size. Meaning the conversation isn’t in any way only about viewership numbers.

            @JayT:

            So, all Trump would have had to do is have a little over eleven million people watch the inauguration on streaming for this to have been the most watched inauguration.

            The internet existed back in 2009. So, there is an obvious error there.

            ETA: Ninja’d by Iain

          • AnonEEmous says:

            look

            Trump has a thin skin and a giant-size ego

            as such, he makes these ridiculous claims. In this, it seems Spicer acts as his appendage.

            i’m not sure if the media provoked him to this point, but beyond possibly focusing a bit too much, and maybe not presenting all the facts as thoroughly as possible…this is on Trump. and I say Trump, not Spicer. Yes, despite the fact that Trump was apparently unhappy with Spicer for doing this; he is an appendage and a whipping boy. (i’m making those judgments on the basis of this example alone, so it’s a bit circular, but it’s also probably true, so there)

            oh yes, all of this has no real bearing on the epistemic status of the statement. but I think that’s already been decided, so.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            The internet existed back in 2009. So, there is an obvious error there.

            Streaming wasn’t nearly as widespread as it is today. Also, are the Nielsen ratings just for America or for the rest of the world?

            I would be very surprised if Spicer was actually wrong about this inaguration being the most viewed, even if he obviously reached the conclusion through very faulty means.

          • JayT says:

            My complaint is that they obviously thought it necessary to try and debunk the claim that it was the most watched inauguration ever, but didn’t even bother looking at their own streaming numbers, or even acknowledge that streaming is far more popular today than it was in 2009. They just dismiss it out of hand.

            Now, it’s possible, though I think very unlikely, that Obama had more people streaming, but they didn’t even attempt to answer that question, which is my main complaint. Even in the article you link to, I’m not certain that they are comparing the streaming numbers on CNN correctly. The article from 2009 refers to 21 million streams on the day, whereas the Entertainment Weekly article is unclear, but seems to imply that the 17 million streams were for the event.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Whatever Happened:

            Streaming wasn’t nearly as widespread as it is today.

            Sure, but I was critiquing this statement:

            So, all Trump would have had to do is have a little over eleven million people watch the inauguration on streaming for this to have been the most watched inauguration.

            Which is clearly incorrect. He needs enough more streams than Obama had streams, not a raw 11 million. This might be true, but it is not self-evident.

          • Iain says:

            @AnonEEmous: I agree that Trump is the force behind this mess, although Spicer should not escape condemnation for knuckling under and sacrificing his dignity so cheaply.

            @JayT: You claim that CNN dismissed the number of livestreams out of hand. I claim that they didn’t consider it because it was not a claim that Spicer ever made. I further claim that you can tell that they did not consider live-streaming, because if it had crossed their minds, they would have cited the numbers that show that Obama had more CNN livestreams. Again: Spicer never mentioned livestreams. You are accusing CNN of malevolence for failing to aggressively steelman a speech that clearly had no interest in corresponding with reality. This is not a reasonable expectation.

            You are allowed to stop digging.

          • JayT says:

            The fact that it either didn’t cross their minds or that they chose to ignore it is my complaint.

          • Iain says:

            Okay. Well, heaven forbid I stand in the way of your righteous indignation about CNN failing to make the strongest possible case. How dare they!

          • JayT says:

            I wasn’t aware that “basic reporting” was the strongest possible case. They pulled a specific quote, debunked half of it, and then gave what amounted to a non sequitur as an argument against the second half of the quote. They should have said something like “there are no known global numbers at this point” and left it at that, but that would have weakened the piece, so they instead throw out a half truth and call it good. This kind of reporting is very, very annoying to me, and I’ve been seeing more and more of it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @JayT:

            This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.

            When the press secretary phrases it like this, and then walks out without taking questions, who the fuck knows what he means?

            Spicer’s contention is that there is an incontrovertible case and that everyone knows it. This contention is definitely not true, and was even more definitely not true on Saturday. (Because we had less information then than we do now).

            What you want is for CNN to bend itself into a pretzel trying to come up with some way for one part of it to maybe be true and just ignore the rest of it. That’s not how it works.

            ETA:
            And by the way, you are continually ignoring the word how the word “both” is commonly used in a sentence like that. Normally, for your interpretation to be correct, he would have needed to make evident that he was talking about the combined audience, not both audiences individually.

          • JayT says:

            The post directly above yours makes it quite obvious that I understand the meaning of the word “both”. One of Spicer’s claims was that this was the most watched inauguration around the globe. Is your argument seriously that US Nielsen ratings is enough evidence to disprove that claim?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @JayT:
            Is it your argument that there was incontrovertible evidence that it was both?

            Because that is the essence of that sentence, that it was the most watched in person, and the most watched via media. And there isn’t clear, let alone incontrovertible evidence of either.

          • Iain says:

            @JayT: I continue to be amazed by how far you are willing to go to give Spicer’s words a fair interpretation, and how desperate you are to read malice into CNN. Reminder: here are the three sentences that you are so worked up about:

            “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said, contradicting all available data.
            Aerial photos have indicated that former president Barack Obama’s first inauguration attracted a much larger crowd. Nielsen ratings show that Obama also had a bigger television audience.

            That doesn’t even say that he’s wrong! It just says that there is no data to prove that he’s right, which was certainly true at the time the article was written. As the numbers continue to trickle in, they stubbornly refuse to validate Spicer’s claim.

            So just to put this in perspective: CNN made an indisputably true claim. You chose to read it as a stronger claim than the words on the page, then complained that CNN did not add a caveat to the claim they did not make, in response to an an argument that Spicer never said. The addition, had CNN made it, would have merely been additional evidence that Spicer was wrong. Meanwhile, Spicer’s entire speech was full of lies, and the most you can bring yourself to say is “I am not saying that Spicer was correct on all of his comments”.

            Maybe you should spend some time reconsidering your priorities.

  6. Wrong Species says:

    Hypothetical for Christians:

    Lets says that we had perfected genetic engineering to the point that people didn’t grow old and dying of natural causes was a thing of the past. Lets say that there was a person who was Christain and wanted to go to heaven, but he didn’t want to commit suicide as that would be a sin. Should they be able to kill themself? If so, when would it be acceptable? Also, for the sake of argument let’s say that he couldn’t reverse the process so that he would live a normal lifespan.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      I guess he’d just have to wait till the Parousia.

    • nyccine says:

      He would await the Second Coming.

      Your questions seems odd, as most, though likely not all denominations, don’t believe in immediate judgment upon death. Anyone wanting entrance to Heaven is obligated to wait the eschaton.

      • Wrong Species says:

        What makes you say that? As far as I know, the only groups who endorse soul sleep are groups like 7th day Adventists and Jehovahs Witnesses. Not exactly mainstream Christianity.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          John XXII caused a massive controversy when he gave several sermons supporting the idea of soul sleep, and was eventually forced to retract his view.

        • nyccine says:

          I’m guessing “soul sleep” refers to a specific doctrine I’ve never heard of, and that’s where there’s controversy?

          Scripture is clear that you don’t get to Heaven until after the tribulations, the Final Judgment, all that.

          • Wrong Species says:

            The idea that you’re referring to is called soul sleep. Catholics don’t believe it. Most protestants don’t either. I can dig up links if you don’t believe me.

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            No, soul sleep is particular idea where the soul sleeps (or even more extreme formulations, is dead) during the interim state between the death and the final resurrection, i.e. is not conscious. Thus alternative term “mortality of soul”. (“Soul sleep” is not the preferred term by the people who believe it, more like a pejorative.)

            I also doubt that Martin Luther can be called exactly a minority figure. It’s not exactly an unheard position in the modern day Lutheranism, either.

            There exists other versions, where soul is not “sleeping” while in the “intermediate state” between the death and and the final resurrection, but neither is yet in Heaven (which is still decided until after the final judgment). If memory serves, orthodox church (you know, the small insignificant church that …is major political player in Russia …) is one of those. (The good wait in a Heaven-lite and the bad in a Hell-lite, though.)

          • John Schilling says:

            Scripture is clear that you don’t get to Heaven until after the tribulations, the Final Judgment, all that.

            Scripture is not Christianity, and Christianity is not Scripture.

            A majority of practicing Christians are very comfortable with the idea that their dearly departed grandmother is enjoying the blessings of heaven and looking down on them with love, right now. They are rather less comfortable with being told that said grandmother is insensate worm food, but trust us, she’ll get better someday. Since scripture is vague about what happens between death and Judgement Day, and since there is always an open-minded church down the street that needs to fill pews and collection plates, most Christian clergy find ways to avoid dealing with the issue head-on.

            “Soul sleep”, as noted, is a disparaging term for one version of “no, we’re going to deal with this head-on”. It is a minority opinion within Christianity, because the broader “we’re going to deal with this head-on” is a minority opinion within Christianity. It is the one I find most consistent with scripture, but see para. 1 of this post.

    • Vermillion says:

      Not a theologian but I remember reading a novel where a character was both religious and determined to die. He decided to go deep into the forest and starve to death, under the justification that he didn’t take his own life, merely didn’t act to prolong it. Hunger as penance/to achieve salvation/protest has a pretty long history in Christianity so at least on the surface this sounds plausible.

      No matter how good genetic engineering gets I doubt it would be able to sustain life without any resources whatsoever.

    • Kevin C. says:

      Not a Christian, but I regularly read several. I’ve also posed loosely similar questions. Specifically, in the context of the present decline of traditional Christianity, and of attempts like Dreher’s “Benedict Option” to keep the True Faith alive through the coming dark age (until either the present modernist insanity collapses and people return to the true faith, or the Parousia) how they would hope to regrow the faith, if the predictions of the techno-optimists are mostly right, and how does one proselytize to the likes of ageless genetically-enhanced hyper-intelligent cyborgs? The answer is generally that genetic engineering of human beings must be considered a horror and an abomination, antithetical to Christianity and to be fought at every turn. Add in references to C.S. Lewis’s “That Hideous Strength” and “The Abolition of Man” and the like. In short, at least the ones I know would reject the hypothetical, as in my question; if Christianity is the True Faith, God will not allow such a state to come to pass; and if such a situation indeed comes to pass, then Christianity will have been proven false.

      Rod Dreher’s posts tagged “transhumanism” might be relevant. Some quotes:

      I hope Christians will read the Kahneman-Harari interview closely. This is the future. If you are not part of a church community that is consciously resisting this vision, then your children, or at best your children’s children, will be lost to the faith. There is no thought more corrupting to the human soul than the Serpent’s promise in Eden: “Ye shall be as gods.”

      Right now, it’s about preventing the passing-along of incurable genetic diseases. How long do you think it will take for this to go to the designer babies stage? If we can do it, we will do it.

      I think I have an idea of what it must have felt like to be a spectator in the first decades of the 20th century, watching the eugenics movement start. The best, most progressive and scientific minds of the day supported it.

      • ivvenalis says:

        Rod Dreher’s attitude that transhumanism is basically demonic is definitely more mainstream/orthodox. I personally don’t think that even radical forms of hypothetical transhuman/posthuman technology will necessarily destroy one’s soul. They might be spiritually dangerous, but so is hermetic monasticism. Being engineered not to age or to think really fast isn’t actually going to threaten to usurp God’s throne (though it might seduce you into thinking so). Even an intelligence built on intergalactic scales wouldn’t actually do that (as John C. Wright continually points out in his Countdown books).

        That it’s possible, or even likely, that future technologies will enable the construction of fundamentally immoral beings with enormous power doesn’t meant that must be the case, narrow though the right path may be (sound familiar?).

      • NIP says:

        if Christianity is the True Faith, God will not allow such a state to come to pass; and if such a situation indeed comes to pass, then Christianity will have been proven false

        But that’s wrong. Scripture makes no claims or predictions as to the sorts of techno-wizardry humanity will be capable of prior to the Second Coming, precisely because it doesn’t change anything. It’s not any easier or harder to proselytize to weird cyborg people with pretensions to immortality than it is to proselytize to pure flesh-and-blood people with pretensions of other sorts. In fact, as is explored in vampire fiction, for example, people with pretensions to immortality might, as they continue to live and experience the vanity of material existence for hundreds and thousands of years, begin to think “oh shit, I made a mistake somewhere.”

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Somewhere in Augustine’s City of God Book 20, he talks about how everyone alive on the Last Day will die a short time before the general resurrection, with an exegesis of the 2 Thessalonians passage that gave rise to the 19th century Anglophone Dissenter belief in the Rapture. I remember thinking he makes it sound like the Last Day will start with an omnicidal fire (nuclear war?).
      What I’m getting at is that if we ever defeat old age, we most definitely will not have defeated the Last Enemy, something we believe only God can do. So he’d know that he’ll still die and, if in a state of grace, go to Heaven when it’s providential to die.

    • ivvenalis says:

      No, he can’t rightly kill himself. He’d just keep living and waiting until the Second Coming, the same as everyone else. If he really just “didn’t want to be alive” in the sense of dealing with the world he could become a monk or a hermit.

    • NIP says:

      As a few others pointed out, it’s a silly question. Even an “immortal” genetically-engineered or cybernetic being – even an AI, for that matter, if you wanted to consider such a being as alive – is not technically immune to death in the sense of there being no circumstances in which they could cease to exist on the material plane. Entropy, particularly the heat death of the universe, is inescapable over the timeline of eternity, and even if it was somehow scientifically plausible to ride out entropy on the space-time continuum, a Christian being in such a scenario would still be expecting the Second Coming. God cannot be cheated. A Christian in a transhumanist world would (or, I guess to be safe I should say “should”) behave precisely the same as one in our own mundane present.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Religiosity is already on the decline. And even before people stopped calling themselves religious God was already becoming more of an abstract concept, less tethered to our lives. I’ll be shocked if most people are explicitly religious before we perfect that kind of technology.

        • NIP says:

          I mean…I agree. But I’m not sure what relevance that has to what I said, or to the OP.

          • Wrong Species says:

            If religiosity is already on the decline thanks to modernism, what makes you think that the possibility of living indefinitely will cause people to “behave precisely the same as in our own mundane present”?

          • NIP says:

            If you’ll re-read what I wrote, I said

            A Christian in a transhumanist world would (or, I guess to be safe I should say “should”) behave precisely the same as one in our own mundane present.

            I didn’t say all people would behave the same, I said those whose convictions led them to be Christians in a transhumanist world would be no different from Christians now. Now, if you’re saying that somehow, the presence of material “immortality” would somehow make it even harder for people to believe in Christianity in the first place, that’s a different argument. My answer in that case would still be “why would it?” The message of Christianity is directly orthogonal to desire for material comfort and earthly happiness to begin with, so I’m not really sure what’s so different in that scenario.

          • Now, if you’re saying that somehow, the presence of material “immortality” would somehow make it even harder for people to believe in Christianity in the first place, that’s a different argument. My answer in that case would still be “why would it?”

            Because one reason to believe in a religion that claims life after death is fear of death, although not, of course, the only reason. The fear of death is a weaker motive if you expect to live for thousands of years than if you expect to die in a few decades.

    • rahien.din says:

      As above, silly question.

      Not as above : by invoking a heaven, you are necessarily assuming a domain that succeeds the Christian’s current natural realm and that God wishes him to enter. If a person can be genetically engineered to the degree that God can not usher them into heaven despite His desire, then genetic engineering has surpassed divine agency. If a natural process can surpass divine agency, then “sin” has no coherent definition.

  7. rlms says:

    I think some SSC readers will like this Facebook page. It’s called “Philosophical theses you have never seen because they’re extremely weak” (presumably based off a similar one with false mathematical theorems). Most of them are too technical for an amateur like me, but I like these ones: “A God who could find a flaw in the Ontological Argument would be greater than one who could not. Therefore if the argument is valid it must be flawed.”; “Kant himself violates the categorical imperative, for if everyone were to write long Philosophy books we would run out of paper.”; “We should renounce the material world and become no-boxers.”.

  8. Alex Zavoluk says:

    Does anyone else get the impression that the most of the left has ceased to give any shits about functioning society, liberalism, or democracy since Trump was elected? My facebook feed has been full of blatant lies, often by leftist news organizations (e.g. posting a highly misleading picture of Trump’s inauguration crowd), cheering on the punching of Richard Spencer, refusal to even engage with anyone who disagrees at all (even people who still oppose Trump), doubling down on arguments as soldiers, etc.

    • Civilis says:

      I could credibly say all three sides have ceased to care about decency (the three sides being the left, the populist Trumpists and the anti-Trump right, with the latter two temporarily going after the left more than each other).

      I think it’s that all three now realize that in order to shift the Overton Window, they need to look strong. Compromising gives the other side ammunition. That means throwing out the hardest attacks without caring about decency. We’ve entered the Total War phase of the Culture War, to misuse a horrible memetic structure to create a soundbite-friendly description.

      I think it’s human nature to see even blatant lies from your own side as minor, while your opponent’s lies are major because they are used to attack you.

    • shakeddown says:

      …Not really? I mean, there’s protests, but they mostly seem like fairly standard protests.
      The whole Trump-inauguration crowd thing is bizarre, because of the blatant denialism on the right of this. It’s not at all news that Trump is massively unpopular, especially in the DC area (where Trump got 4% of the vote). You could easily defend on this with arguments like “well if you waited a few years you’ll see he does a good job and becomes popular”. Instead you spend ridiculous efforts on arguing with easily-checkable facts that don’t even really matter. WHY.

      • Iain says:

        Yeah. The press secretary of the President of the United States came out yesterday and blatantly lied to the press. (Forget about the crowd counts, if you want to pretend they are misleading; he was also saying easy-to-disprove stuff about floor coverings and magnetometers.) I don’t know how anybody looks at this situation and complains that the left has given up on telling the truth.

        • Civilis says:

          I don’t know how anybody looks at this situation and complains that the left has given up on telling the truth.

          [Insert ‘If you like your health care plan…’ joke here.]

          I expect that politicians (and their press flunkies) will lie. This was stupid obvious Baghdad Bob level lying. I can’t figure out the point in it.

          • JayT says:

            I think that Trump’s strategy is to make silly stories that don’t matter fill the news cycle. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who had a bigger crowd at their inauguration, but it keeps the attention away from anything he might want to do.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            @JayT

            And the other side happily helps him out by making the silly stuff stay on top of the twitter feed.

        • cassander says:

          >The press secretary of the President of the United States came out yesterday and blatantly lied to the press.

          good think that’s never happened before.

          • Wency says:

            The difference is how trivially obvious the lies were. He’s not playing the game correctly.

            Politicians lie constantly, but the lies aren’t supposed to be trivially obvious. Especially if the Pres is lying. You’re supposed to have to work to find them, and even then they might be along the lines of “misleading but technically true” or “false, but the speaker could plausibly have thought it true at the time”.

            I guess if we wanted to show some charity, we could accept the latter. Or we could modify it to “He heard that information somewhere, possibly in a dream, and forgot to verify before saying it. And then he decided to double down rather than admit the mistake.”

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          I mean, there’s protests, but they mostly seem like fairly standard protests.

          Was the rioting and fighting with police also fairly standard? Would it be considered standard if some Tea Partiers did it?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            When the left is mad at government, that anarchists think “Now is the time. We finally get to start the revolution!”

            So, yes, fairly standard.

            But the Democratic left never joins up. Because Democrats (and the broad left) believe in the need for civil society.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @HeelBearCub: When the anarchists are standing right next to you and chanting the same things you are while throwing things at the police, in what sense are you not “joined up”? Do you need a membership card or something?

          • John Schilling says:

            When the anarchists are standing right next to you and chanting the same things you are while throwing things at the police

            What fraction of card-carrying Democrats or other “leftists” do you believe have literally stood next to anyone throwing things at the police in, say, the past year? Because your argument is a bit weaker if all you have is that the stone-throwers insist on using the same tribal labels as the more respectable leftists.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Because your argument is a bit weaker if all you have is that the stone-throwers insist on using the same tribal labels as the more respectable leftists.

            What difference do “tribal labels” make when you are thoroughly intermixed with the guys throwing rocks at the police? That’s what I’m getting at.

            Look, I feel for people who organize a peaceful march for what they believe in and then see the Black Bloc jagoffs show up and ruin it, I really do. But life isn’t fair. If you don’t want to be lumped in with the Black Bloc, you’re going to have to put in some effort to keep them out.

          • skef says:

            @ThirteenthLetter

            Look, I feel for people who organize a peaceful march for what they believe in and then see the Black Bloc jagoffs show up and ruin it, I really do. But life isn’t fair. If you don’t want to be lumped in with the Black Bloc, you’re going to have to put in some effort to keep them out.

            You’re doing the lumping, right in this thread. You’ve basically just said “I’m not being fair.” Why are you knowingly being unfair?

            I mean, I get it: rhetoric. But there’s an art to this stuff.

          • Iain says:

            It’s worth being clear that the “guys throwing rocks at police” were Friday, and the large organized protests were Saturday. There were no arrests during the Women’s March.

          • Civilis says:

            But the Democratic left never joins up. Because Democrats (and the broad left) believe in the need for civil society.

            It’s tough to make generalizations about small incidents with very large groups, but still there is something to the fact that this sort of violence seems to only occur at the fringes of the left’s protests.

            Take the story making it’s way around the right of the pro-Trump woman who had her hair set on fire on Friday (http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/22/can-you-identify-this-woman-who-set-a-trump-supporters-hair-on-fire-in-dc-on-inauguration-day/): yes, this is an anecdote. It’s a single leftist protester choosing to go violent from within a crowd. But this wasn’t some separate black block anarchist, this was an otherwise normal lefty that went instantly from indistinguishable from the rest of the peaceful crowd to Sudden Violence Syndrome. If I was the sort to protest, and someone supposedly on my side suddenly attacked someone on the other side, I’d grab them myself, both because it’s not something I accept of anyone and because it indicates that this isn’t something my side does; this person is a lunatic.

          • Aapje says:

            @Civilis

            That sounds a lot like armchair heroism though. In reality, you’d probably still be processing what is going on until the violence already happened.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            We had numerous on camera attacks against people protesting Trump inside of Trump rallies, and Trump encouraged the crowd to make those attacks.

            Do I get to claim that life isn’t fair and that the right is just full of violent people engaging in violent rhetoric and until there are no attacks and no rhetoric that the right will just have to accept that everyone thinks that they are violent thugs?

            I don’t think that I do.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            There were no arrests during the Women’s March.

            Pro-tip: Have protests full of middle-aged women to discourage violence.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            It’s worth being clear that the “guys throwing rocks at police” were Friday, and the large organized protests were Saturday. There were no arrests during the Women’s March.

            Yes, there were two different protests. The Women’s March was peaceful. The ones the previous day were not. Are we now arguing that the protests against the inauguration are not representative of leftism?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Edward Scizorhands

            Pro tip 2 to avoid violence: Protest unopposed. Trump supporters by and large simply didn’t go to the Women’s Marches. There were few counterprotestors.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @ThirteenthLetter:

            If we divide “liberal” and “leftist”, as leftists themselves tend to (colloquially, it is used as a synonym for “left-winger”; anarchists, democratic socialists, communists, and sometimes social democrats often use it to divide themselves from liberals) the protests on Friday were more leftist, and the protests on Saturday were entirely liberal.

            The increasing tendency of people who are not leftists but are liberals to adopt the “everyone to the right is a fascist” attitude of many leftists in more than rhetoric (“Bush is Hitler! McCain is Hitler! Romney is Hitler! Trump is DOUBLE HITLER!”) is somewhat alarming. Whether there will be (already is?) a tendency of conservatives (or, right-wing liberals, as it can be argued many conservatives are) to adopt rightist attitudes in a larger way than rhetoric (“dang socialist lib’ruls!”) is an open question. It won’t be good if they do.

            Right now, you have some leftist types (some communists, some anarchists) condemning the Saturday protests for being too liberal: no burned limos, nothing thrown at cops, etc.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          I agree Trump and his supporter’s relationship with the truth reminds me of dystopian novels like 1984 and Animal Farm, but I can be reminded of that with ease and in many places.

          I asked about the left here because there’s no way I’m getting a real answer on my regular social media.

          • Iain says:

            I think, as HBC says above, that you are overstating the degree to which this is occurring among the mainstream left. Even if I grant your assessment, though: if, as you say, Trump’s administration looks like it escaped from a second-rate Orwell novel, why are you surprised that some people on the left are feeling threatened, and doing stupid shit because of that?

          • Philosophisticat says:

            Look, if Trump’s administration escaped from an Orwell novel, it would be the best Orwell novel, not a second-rate Orwell novel. There’s never been an Orwell novel as great as the one Trump’s administration escaped from, and any poll suggesting otherwise is rigged.

          • Vermillion says:

            I don’t know if Scott’ll put in upvoting, but if he did you’d get a whole lot of upvotes.

      • Civilis says:

        The right that I’ve seen, especially the anti-Trump right, has been very clear to differentiate between the Women’s March on Saturday and the violence on Inauguration Day. We all agree that the Women’s March is a standard lefty protest. Likewise, I haven’t seen anyone more than jokingly defending Spicer’s statement, even the Trumpists.

        I will give our host some credit here, justified or not, his prediction that Trump would unite the left more than the right seems to be accurate, at least so far. We’ll see how long this energy lasts. The Republicans tended to burn out whatever energy they got from the 2010 and 2014 midterms fast enough to cause problems in 2012 and 2016.

      • BBA says:

        It would be easy to spin the smallish inauguration crowd as “Our supporters are hardworking Real Americans in the heartland, very few of them are going to want to take a day off work and travel a great distance even for an inauguration. Sure you can turn out a big crowd of elitist coastal liberals to drive the much shorter distance on a Saturday, but that’s not impressive at all. It’s a distraction from the task at hand” and so on.

        Insisting that it’s not true…I mean, it’s like when he bought some steaks from a supermarket, pointed at them onstage and insisted Trump Steaks was still in business. I guess somebody would be impressed by that, but for the life of me I can’t imagine how.

    • cassander says:

      “The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth”

      – HL Mencken

    • The Nybbler says:

      That segment of the left thought they’d WON. They thought they’d won FOREVER. They thought they’d never have to give an inch, that they could simply silence their opponents, win the elections, pass their policies into law, and crush all dissenters as thoroughly as they did one Kentucky county clerk.

      What you’re seeing from them now is pure frustrated RAGE. They couldn’t silence the Trump supporters. They couldn’t even silence the actual white nationalists. They lost a bunch of elections. They’re realizing they’re not going to be able to put any more policies into effect nationally for a while now. Some of their past wins could even be rolled back. If they want to crush dissenters they’ll have to do it through private force, and those mechanisms of government they loved so much when they were in control might even get in the way. This is their Big No.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        WHY WOULD YOU LINK TO– oh, the link is a clone of TVTropes? That’s weird.

      • James Miller says:

        Many members of the left literally feel that Trump’s victory puts their life in danger sort of like how you would feel if you lived in a 50 person prehistoric clan and the guy you mocked as a disgusting loser just took control of the clan.

        • Civilis says:

          Many members of the left literally feel that Trump’s victory puts their life in danger sort of like how you would feel if you lived in a 50 person prehistoric clan and the guy you mocked as a disgusting loser just took control of the clan.

          I kinda sorta get that. It’s more ‘Alice took control of the clan, and she’s friends with Bob, and Bob tried to kill me, so I have to stop Alice’ while forgetting ‘I’m friends with Mike, and Mike tried to kill Alice, therefore Alice really has a motivation to make sure I don’t take control of the clan’.

          There is an interesting variation of Motte and Bailey at work. Yes, the Nazis were assholes who tried to commit genocide. However it’s a leap from Nazi to self-described Neo-Nazi to externally described Neo-Nazi to neo-Fascist (as I seriously doubt there are any true Fascists outside Italy). They’re not interchangeable. (And what’s worse, I’ve seen the argument coming from people that say they’re Communist, but Lenin, Stalin, and Mao can in no way be considered Communist). Further, your movement is explicitly “anti-Fascist”; if you think I’m going to buy that you’re careful to distinguish between Nazis and Fascists, and only punch the Nazis because the Nazis were genocidal unlike the rest of the people you’re lumping under the label Fascists, I have a bridge to sell you.

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          Evolutionary psychology is fun, but I think it’s a lot simpler. Trump has an explicit strategy of appearing unpredictable in order to appear threatening in order to get better deals. Step 1 worked, and now his opponents feel threatened.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            How do you separate that from actually being threatening and unpredictable?

            Because if your goal is to threaten your rivals and make it hard for them to predict what lengths you will actually go to, and you succeed, then appear isn’t the right word for it.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        It’s also that while the right is not in a position to permanently enact any of their priorities, they are in a position to permanently damage certain left-wing priorities. This means the left should focus on resistance right now, rather than on setting the stage for their inevitable comeback.

        For example, even if the left gains power 4 years from now and keeps it forever, we don’t know of a safe way to cool the planet. If Trump causes everyone to bail on the Paris accords, that will be some extra degrees that are never going to go away.*

        Similarly, if Trump manages to hunt down every undocumented immigrant in the US, he will ruin around 10^6 careers that cannot be easily un-ruined, even if we add open boarders to the constitution 4 years from now.

        *I don’t endorse this example by the way – as far as I know the US is currently ahead of it’s commitments on CO2 thanks to fraking – but this is the sort of calculation that many on the left are making.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          But you could make that same argument about every single policy ever. Your opponent proposes stricter FDA regulation? Think of all the people in the future who will now die because medicines weren’t developed! RESIST NOW! Your opponent proposes looser FDA regulation? Think of all the people in the future who will now die due to unsafe medicines! RESIST NOW!

          It’s hard to avoid thinking that the line of argument began with “RESIST NOW!” and worked backwards from there.

          • suntzuanime says:

            If I understand the argument, the former works but the latter doesn’t. Looser FDA regulation can be tightened again and stop people from dying due to unsafe medicines, it doesn’t cause a permanent problem like the Hole Left By The FDA Dark Ages.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            In light of your point, I think my undocumented immigrants example is very weak, but the global warming one still works.

            (Maybe a better explanation of the left’s strategy on undocumented immigrants is simply that resistance is likely to be at least a little effective and to cost nothing. By “resistance” I just mean “stop snitching, don’t use city funds to track down illegal immigrants, etc.”)

    • Wander says:

      CNN has been retweeting faked tweets, which would have taken literally less than 10 seconds to verify.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      My facebook crowd has been surprisingly constructive: lots about legal defenses of undocumented immigrants, what can states can do to keep the momentum on green energy going, etc.

      However I’m getting really sick of all the “how can we coast-people understand midwest whites better?” Like, it’s not that you are missing some Rosetta stone. You guys just disagree, and your disagreements are based on anecdotal evidence from your own lives rather than statistics or a priori arguments, so you’re never going to convince each other.

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      Some of the left, yes, but neither the right is setting a stellar example. Consider this particular open thread. Somewhere on a sibling comment thread we have a rightist commentator arguing that any attempt at objective media is not needed (I guess we should just trust what hte press secretary says…?), and it would be beneficial to drive the left into revolutionary terrorism. Then again, in a comment on other thread he argues that the Left has already won and will inevitably drive the civilization into chaos.

      I beg to disagree. If anything is prone to inciting the people to act like there’s no functioning society or not to care about the other necessary trappings of civilization, it surely is screaming on the top of your lungs that the Enemy is going to burn the whole civilization down.

      I accuse every rightist that promotes this kind of insanity of a heinous crime against civilization and an attempt of undermining the functioning society.

  9. Tekhno says:

    Are there any ethical systems that add on likeability or even attractiveness? So if you had a train with two track options heading towards two different people who are equally moral, you add on this factor and save the one who is more attractive and enjoyable to be around by sacrificing the other. Most people already value their friends (who they have grown to like/love) more than random strangers, but I think most people would balk if you had two strangers and the difference was that one was more physically attractive. It seems bad in a way that sacrificing a stranger to save a friend doesn’t. The idea that attractiveness might add to a person’s value is repulsive and low status, and suggests a reptilian and commercial view of all interactions.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      I think utilitarianism can handle this whole thing. I get pleasure from being around attractive people, so on first analysis I should save the attractive person. On the other hand, I know that attractiveness generally tends to mess up my judgement, so I have made it a principle to discount attractiveness as far as possible when making decisions (and society has decided to help me maintain this principle, which is where the ‘low-status’ part enters).

      On the other other hand, if God himself has guaranteed that these two people really are equally valuable aside from appearance, then error of judgement is impossible and I am not in the situation that my principle is supposed to guard against. So in this one highly unrealistic case, I can disregard my principle and save the pretty one.

    • Randy M says:

      I doubt it’s necessary to intellectually bolt instinctive human biases back onto the system. It assumes you were able to remove them in the first place.

  10. Synonym Seven says:

    Since “growth mindset” seems to be a hot topic again, I figured I’d finally ask for clarification here:

    Dweck puts a bunch of students in a room and gives them an unsolvable puzzle. The group primed for “growth mindset” spends more time trying to solve the puzzle. This is touted as a “good thing”, but, um, why? How is this not just a group of kids primed against an actually-valuable belief (“some things are unsolvable, and some other things are beyond my ability”) wasting their time in a futile endeavour that the “control group” quickly – and correctly – identified as unsolvable?

    The fact that the “growth mindset” group was less frustrated by the experience isn’t terribly surprising, either. If I say you have to spend the next hour throwing tennis balls at a coconut until you knock it off the dummy, you’re probably going to end up a lot more peeved as the charade continues than the punter who doesn’t know (or doesn’t allow themselves to believe) that the coconuts are nailed on.

    • 1soru1 says:

      > I can’t figure out the point in it.

      Baghdad Bob was a member of an administration that ruled a country unchallenged (until it hit an outside context problem).

      You can run a country based on persuading people that certain things are true, and so getting them to act on it in the way you want.

      Or you can run a country on the basis of persuading people that you are in charge, and opposing you would be futile and unpleasant. Establishing dominance means ensuring everyone understands that their consent to being governed is neither asked for or required.

      • Synonym Seven says:

        Growth mindset didn’t work out too well for the Yihetuan.

      • Iain says:

        @1soru1: I think this is intended as a reply to a different post.

        • Synonym Seven says:

          I thought so too on first glance, and now that you’ve said as much I think so again.

          That said, it can also be read as a support of promoting growth mindset – if people believe “only talent/genius” can overthrow crummy leadership, the leadership is (at least according to 1soru1) less beholden to reasoned justification for their continued presence.

          Hence my citing the Boxer Rebellion as a counterpoint instance where the growth mindset did very little to help persuade crummy leadership to shape up.

        • John Schilling says:

          And yet the growth mindset demands that we try to find a response to that post in its new context. What man has set his mind to achieve, man can achieve!

    • Loquat says:

      Some things are indeed unsolvable and beyond my ability! But, in most real-life contexts where I’d be trying to solve a problem, I have no way of knowing in advance whether this particular problem is one of those, or if it’s actually just really hard but still doable (and thus rewarding).

      • Synonym Seven says:

        But at some point, isn’t it ultimately more rewarding and enjoyable to spend an hour developing an already-acquired talent past the Pareto point (i.e., a functional/competent guitarist jamming on their guitar) rather than bashing your head against the wall in what might be a completely futile endeavour (that same guitarist, who for the purposes of this analogy is not also a mathematician, deciding it’s time to figure out an answer for Weinstein’s conjecture)?

        I must admit that it’s a little bit of a challenge to discuss this, as it really seems like there’s a false dichotomy of sorts. One can argue that “talent” is simply the result of hard work that didn’t feel like work at the time. Similarly, from the other direction, it seems any advocate of “growth mindset” would have to allow for stuff like the critical period hypothesis, and at that point you can slowly chip it away to “if it takes someone twenty years to achieve a particular level of mastery that takes an average person two years to grasp and can be achieved by a prodigy in the field in far less time, is that, functionally and practically speaking, any different from a fixed-mindset outlook?”.

        And that’s leaving aside the sense I get that it all leads to “that dyslexic kid just isn’t trying hard enough” / prosperity theology / social Darwinism – and at that point I just really can’t find myself buying into it beyond reducing it to “practice makes better, and people who don’t mind practicing will enjoy practicing more than people who do mind practicing, and people do things they enjoy more than things they don’t enjoy, so people who don’t mind practicing will practice more, but you’re still not gonna win a guitar showdown in Georgia“, and then shrugging it off as more trite new-age Chicken Soup-esque tautological bullshit that will probably lead to a redoubling of the efforts to guilt band geeks into sitting through tedious calculus classes they Don’t Get™ and STEM-kids into art classes they also Don’t Get™, much to their personal detriment and to the detriment of those in the respective classes who could (and would!) learn a lot more if the class could be paced around their proficiencies and not be stopped every five minutes to re-establish the quadratic formula or the concept of the color wheel.

        Forgive the tortured prose, I hope the gist of what I’m getting at somehow manages to shine through.

        • Cadie says:

          This captures a lot of why I don’t like the growth mindset thing. It’s true that people need to put some effort into things to get better at them, and sometimes you don’t know at the beginning how you’ll do. But we really do all have different levels of natural ability with different things. Real success requires both working at it AND some innate ability; you can partially compensate for one being weak with lots and lots of the other, but never completely.

          There are some things I will NEVER be good at, no matter how much I repeat “I’m not good at it yet” and keep pouring precious hundreds of hours into it. Unless I manage to live several centuries with little to no loss of cognition and physical ability, I won’t get beyond average, at best. And there are other things that are fairly easy for me to get basic proficiency in and I’m confident that if I put a reasonable amount of time and energy into them I could excel.

          And it’s stupid IMO not to acknowledge this. Expending a lot of effort on things that one has little natural ability in is simply foolish unless it’s done as a pleasurable hobby and improving skill beyond the minimum doesn’t add much to the experience. Because when that effort is put into things that one DOES have natural ability in, there’s a lot more bang for your buck. I could work hard for years to go from a terrible singer/songwriter to a poor one, for instance, but to make the jump from terrible to poor in programming only took a couple of months back when I did that (and refreshing my memory later took a few days), and the ceiling on how good I could get with extended effort is much, much higher. So why should I bother with music, unless it’s just for fun? For any other purpose it would be a waste of time and even then I can’t expect dramatic improvement. It’s just not realistic. Far better to choose my favorite from the things I’m more naturally geared for and focus my efforts there than to ignore the role of innate ability completely and waste thousands of hours on something that won’t work out well.

          Also agreed with the growth mindset tendency to blame people with learning disabilities and subclinical difficulties for lack of effort and lack of faith in themseles etc. instead of accepting that they have limitations, trying to work with and around those limitations, and discovering what abilities they have a lot of so those can be maximized and turned into useful, fulfilling skills.

    • Fossegrimen says:

      A fairly strong argument goes:

      For any given skill X there are 4 different categories of people

      A – Those with no capacity to learn X and belief they cannot learn X
      B – Those with no capacity to learn X and belief they can learn X
      C – Those with capacity to learn X and belief they cannot learn X
      D – Those with capacity to learn X and belief they can learn X

      A-C will not learn X, only D will because they will put in the necessary effort and have the ability. Instilling everyone with belief they can learn X with effort will make C learn while making no difference to A and B.

      Since you don’t know which category a person is in before they attempt learning X, growth mindset for everyone is a net benefit even if some are perpetually disappointed. Most crucially, you don’t know if you can learn X until you have applied your best effort.

      Therefore putting in a lot of effort to solve a puzzle shows that you are in (B,D) which gives better odds of learning X than (A,C)

      • Aapje says:

        while making no difference to A and B.

        I disagree. Misleading people into thinking they can do something they can’t can have negative consequences (Ok, that is a cat video, not a person, but this very cute).

      • Cadie says:

        It’s only a net benefit if you’re solely using the number of people learning X as the metric. There are costs involved that that metric won’t capture. Yes, group C will probably benefit, if X is useful to them. But groups A and B are hurt; their outcome on “did they learn X” is not changed, yet they’ve been spending a lot of time trying to learn something they never will. They pay the opportunity cost; they could have spent that time trying to learn something they actually can learn instead. There are also self-esteem hits, especially to group B, but even group A will get frustrated.

        It’s a good idea for all the groups to try at first, sure. Then you can pick out the Cs from the ABC group and encourage them to keep trying. But the As and Bs also need sorted out and away from X so they can go learn Y instead with minimal loss of time and minimal personal harm.

      • Synonym Seven says:

        Instilling everyone with belief they can learn X with effort will make C learn while making no difference to A and B.

        First, this makes the assumption that ABCD are all equal in number. If it turns out that, for instance, 50% of people are A, 20% are B, 5% are C and 25% are D, you’re only benefitting 5% of the population.

        Moreover, as Cadie said, I disagree that there’s “no effect” to A and B. In addition to Cadie’s time-wasting objection (that is to say, the objection of time-wasting, not the objection that wastes time, heh), you turn a “lack-of-positive” into an outright negative which stigmatizes those groups – group A is no longer simply “not possessing requisite talent”, but either lazy or actually deficient compared to the average person.

        And the model – which I suspect is a pretty accurate summary of growth theory proponents’ fundamental rationale – makes no attempt to account for desire, which, to put it mildly, is somewhat counter to the trend of developed, modern Western society. How many of group C are just using a socially-acceptable white lie to express that they derive no particular joy from learning about X, and would prefer to dedicate their time and passions to improving their knowledge of Y?

  11. dndnrsn says:

    To what extent should society protect the rights of people who espouse views and actions that threaten that society and the rights of others?

    This could be about Richard Spencer getting hit, but it could just as easily be anyone someone else who calls for something that would almost certainly involve significant violence (as I think white nationalism would, and I have not heard any convincing arguments to the contrary). Pretend a Stalinist gets slugged on camera, if you like.

    • Civilis says:

      Society needs to protect the rights of everyone equally, including those that are perceived to threaten that society and the rights of others. The right to communicate your beliefs (including the explicit first amendment rights of speech, press, and petition for redress of grievances) is a cornerstone of a free society.

      As soon as you allow the government to determine what “actions […] threaten that society and the rights of others”, you’re on your way to tyranny, as even a well-intentioned government is going to come down more harshly on people that oppose it than those that support it (via the discretion of police and prosecutors). Eventually, someone you don’t like will be making that decision.

      • dndnrsn says:

        At what point do you move, though? If someone says “we need to rise up against the government and put all the left-handed people in camps; the sinister reign of Big Lefty must end today” what do you do? If they start stockpiling (constitutionally protected!) arms and training a (free to associate!) militia? If they are encouraging felonies?

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          I think the usual approach is to start monitoring or even infiltrating them, so you can take action if shit hits the fan.

          There is a real moral/legal problem here, namely “when is monitoring itself wrong, and when does infiltration turn into entrapment”. But that is a different problem than the one with which you started this discussion.

        • Civilis says:

          At what point do you move, though? If someone says “we need to rise up against the government and put all the left-handed people in camps; the sinister reign of Big Lefty must end today” what do you do?

          You can violate their rights as soon as speech becomes actions that would put you in imminent danger. That doesn’t mean sit idly by; there are actions you can take in case of a worst case scenario before they do anything that don’t violate their rights.

          If a populist demagogue takes office talking about the evils of Big Lefty, and you’re left-handed, you buy a gun, get a bug-out bag, and make plans to get out of dodge. You don’t shoot him.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Historical experience suggests that there’s a tipping point. In this scenario, some left-handed people would be smart enough and lucky enough to get out of the country and get somewhere safe before the militiamen start going around forcing people to write with their right-hands to suss out the Left-Handed Menace. Others would get out of the country but would end up somewhere not, in the end, safe – if left-handed people were to flee the US to Canada and Mexico, and then the US invades Canada and Mexico down the line… Others still would not get out before passport controls, etc happened.

          • Civilis says:

            The US founders did a good job of working out what rights were basic to guarantee individual liberty. If the Right Handed have enough support that they can take away the rights of the Left Handed to speak, to assemble, to own effective self-defense, etc., then you’ve got a problem no matter what happens. America, in fact any democracy, is doomed if the majority are willing to throw their support towards tyranny.

            My right of self-defense triggers when threatened with imminent harm. I don’t have to wait until he attacks, I’m allowed to preemptively attack if I have no other reasonable opportunity to guarantee my safety if he is intending to attack. Now extend that to acts of government: I don’t fully buy the theory, but libertarian philosophy has a point in that government is backed by implicit threat of force.

            The Right Handed Party is railing against Big Lefty. I’m not justified in launching a violent revolution against them while I still have non-violent options available. If they have power and cancel the next elections, or pass legislation that would effectively negate their opposition, that justifies overthrowing the system. The Civil Rights era demonstrated how robust the American system is in that peaceful democratic processes triumphed.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The ability of the authorities to suppress their opponents is arguably greater today than it was then. The capability of the military, and even of the police, is considerably greater than what private citizens could muster. By the time they’ve cancelled elections, it’s too late.

          • Civilis says:

            The ability of the authorities to suppress their opponents is arguably greater today than it was then. The capability of the military, and even of the police, is considerably greater than what private citizens could muster. By the time they’ve cancelled elections, it’s too late.

            If you think anyone in the United States today has the political power to suppress elections, you’re delusional. If you’ve got a polity that is willing to accept the transition from freedom to totalitarianism that quickly, you’ve got bigger problems.

            Let’s go to first principles, with the Nazis and World War II, rather than keep playing with hypotheticals.

            The following is my opinion of what is acceptable behavior:
            It’s acceptable for me, as a US soldier, to kill German (Nazi) soldiers, even if they aren’t obviously immediate threats, unless they take active actions to indicate they are not threats (hands up, no weapons, white flag). It is acceptable to target German military infrastructure at any point in the war process, from factory to the front lines, even if civilians get killed in the process, as long as the means I choose are those that cause minimal collateral damage for the given risk to friendly forces (and given the accuracy of the bombs I have, that’s a lot of collateral damage); I am not obligated to risk myself or my fellow soldiers to reduce risk to enemy civilian. On the other hand, I can’t deliberately target purely civilian targets outside the military infrastructure. I can’t just attack random German civilians, even those that otherwise are still loyal to the Nazis, unless they actively enter the battle by engaging in military actions. I can’t blow up that German house because I feel like it, but am not obligated to spare the house if I have no safe way to get the tank or arms factory behind it.

            Now let’s take this a step closer to what we’re talking about:
            instead of a US soldier, I am a member of the French Resistance. Have the moral restrictions on my behavior changed any? My means have changed, which affects what I can do. Perhaps the only safe place for me to blow up that munitions train given my limited equipment is where it will cause collateral damage. I don’t think this changes the fundamental moral calculus; I still can’t morally target civilians, if given two otherwise equivalent options I must choose the one that minimizes German civilian casualties, etc.

            Now take this another step: I am a German Jew fighting against the Nazis, who will kill me on sight. Aside from having even less resources, I don’t think my moral position is any different than the French Resistance member. Am I suddenly morally allowed to start killing random regime supporters? If so, why am I allowed to go on a murder spree killing random loyal Germans and the French Resistance member and US soldier not?

          • dndnrsn says:

            If you think anyone in the United States today has the political power to suppress elections, you’re delusional.

            Wait, I thought we were talking about elections being suppressed by force?

          • Civilis says:

            Wait, I thought we were talking about elections being suppressed by force?

            I just wanted to make sure we’re not talking about anything remotely resembling the US today. As for more extreme historical or theoretical cases, see “If you’ve got a polity that is willing to accept the transition from freedom to totalitarianism that quickly (or is willfully blind to what’s going on), you’ve got bigger problems.”

            My base point is this. We expect our soldiers to not deliberately physically harm enemy civilians or even surrendering former combatants, despite knowing that they intend to threaten our society and safety, and, in the case of enemy prisoners, may very well have been actively trying to kill our troops minutes before. The least the rest of us can do is apply the same standards to our fellow countrymen.

            On thinking about it, I now clearly understand why things like My Lai happen. (That’s not you, dndnrsn, your points are reasonable. I mean the comments from the more vocal Antifa types make me understand how those sorts of massacres happen.)

        • bja009 says:

          the sinister reign of Big Lefty

          Excellent work.

    • Wrong Species says:

      “Trump is tearing apart the Constitution!”
      “Completely unrelated, how inconvenient does the first amendment need to be before we can ditch it?”

      I don’t think Stalinists should get slugged because get this, I actually think Free Speech means something. I know it’s a strange concept in this day and age but the First Amendment exists for a reason. The irony of you supporting violence to stop people you don’t like from hypothetically being violent is truly astonishing.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Who says I support violence? I haven’t said anything about my opinions on the matter. I am quite pro-free speech. I don’t believe in hate speech laws, I don’t believe in campus speech codes, etc.

        • Wrong Species says:

          My bad. My free speech sensors are hyperactive. To answer your question, if someone could demonstrate, without a shadow of a doubt, that more censorship is the only thing that can save our country, then I’d consider it. It needs to be a ridiculously high bar.

          • dndnrsn says:

            My views on this are … complicated. I don’t know. “No platform” doesn’t work as well as it once did thanks to the internet, in the sense of “nobody knows you’re a dog”, and in the sense that the page views business model gives news sources, regardless of their politics, an incentive to give Spencer and people like him a soapbox, in effect.

            Additionally, I’m a Canadian, and we have both less robust free speech laws and a less expansive cultural history of free speech. So, that’s relevant.

            I’m gonna think about this and write some more when I’m not exhausted.

          • Tekhno says:

            “No platform” doesn’t work as well as it once did thanks to the internet, in the sense of “nobody knows you’re a dog”, and in the sense that the page views business model gives news sources, regardless of their politics, an incentive to give Spencer and people like him a soapbox, in effect.

            Really, every country has open access to any ideology thanks to the internet, so shutting down the speech of in real life organized groups doesn’t work. You’d have to play whack-a-mole by shutting down 4chan’s /pol/, then 8chan’s /pol/, then endchan’s /pol/, and so on, and each one would organically get more ad resources behind it due to the diversion of traffic. Actually, if you wanted to stop Spencer’s views from being heard, you’d need to shut down as many possible Nazi websites on the internet as you can, and ban all commenters of Nazi views on other sites such as twitter and Youtube. This seems like an insurmountable task based on how poor governments are at shutting down torrent sites and how poor Youtube and twitter are at removing things that they already class as hate speech (Yes, they remove some stuff, but it’s 1% of what exists, so it’s just the martyr effect again).

            Looking at it materialistically, I’m not sure that US speech laws changing to become more European would do anything, since Europeans already have access to information that is illegal in Europe due to the internet. It’s not hard for Germans to find Holocaust denial websites or Holocaust denial hidden in regular websites even if it’s illegal for a person to speak this view in Germany.

            It’s really technology that is ensuring liberal values more so than laws in the end. It’s the capacity to send out information freely that matters, and since the internet is so integrated into the economy, it’s hard to gather the political capital to change that in a way that matters. It’s much analogous to how most people know someone who does drugs even though they are illegal. You check the money that goes into the US drug war and it just climbs and climbs and climbs while usage rates more or less oscillate around a flat line trend.

            Certain things are materially easier to regulate than other things. Laws have to be capable of being enforced to be meaningful.

            EDIT:
            Really, we’d be better served looking into what conditions are causing young men to gravitate to the far-right today, and try and tackle those instead.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Tekhno:

            What you’re describing all falls into “no one knows you’re a dog”. When the Atlantic is putting video excerpts from Spencer’s NPI speech on its site, knowing that if they don’t get the clicks someone else will, that’s giving him a wider reach than if people had to seek him out more specifically. It’s free advertising.

            I think you are completely right that the “root factors” must be addressed (with the obvious problem that, just as how to the political right talking about the root factors of Sunni radical terrorism is seen as “soft on terror”, talking about the root factors of the alt-right will be seen as sympathizing with racism).

            My personal hypothesis is that, on the one hand, there’s identity politics percolating over to white people (an argument can be made that identity politics was once a white thing before, but I don’t buy the argument that it was always a white thing – there clearly was a recent period where identity politics was not a majority thing). I think a more important factor, though, is that the alt-right to some extent answers a need for “manly comradeship”. All-male institutions are attacked as sexist and exclusionary (the same does not happen to all-female institutions – the need for spaces where women can be women without men present is recognized, but not the inverse), people are less physical in general, conscription has disappeared, even fairly harmless manifestations of traditional masculinity are derided as ridiculous or “toxic”, etc. The best-adjusted men I’ve met are the guys I grapple with at the gym (of course, there are women there too; we still don’t share a locker room – although I would observe that there is a distinct lack of “locker room talk” at this particular gym at least; there is less of an atmosphere of disrespect towards women than I have seen among male groups in general). I am certainly more happy with myself than I was before I started doing physically demanding things.

            The irony is that this is an apolitical thing. Antifas – I find it highly unlikely that the majority who actually go out and punch nazis, instead of just crowing about Richard Spencer getting punched and posturing on social media, aren’t men – are a bunch of guys going out and putting on uniforms (more or less) and having symbols binding them together and probably having a few drinks and, whether they actually punch a nazi (or, to be frank, beat the shit out of somebody who made the mistake of doing something that was interpreted as nazi-ish, and I’ve made the point that people who like punching usually aren’t too careful about who they punch) or just show up en masse and scare the Nazis away, they can go celebrate their victory and drink more and do the whole “masculine camaraderie” thing. The communist countries’ conscription facilitated masculine bonding in the same way as that of countries of any ideological stripe.

            So, to me, the tragedy of it all, is that they were looking for masculine cameraderie, and they got an ersatz, online version of it, packaged up with a bunch of awful shit that they swallowed. The problem is that a society that looks down on masculine camaraderie will open the door for awful shit in the guise of masculine camaraderie.

    • The Nybbler says:

      To what extent should society protect the rights of people who espouse views and actions that threaten that society and the rights of others?

      Espousing views? Completely. Because the culture wars have proven you can always draw a link between “views you disagree with” and “threats to society”.

      • lvlln says:

        I agree with this completely. It seems to me that literally anything anyone says can be interpreted as “threats to society,” as long as one is creative enough with the interpretation. And I’ve observed that people can be extremely creative with interpretation, and people tend be arbitrarily credulous when it comes to interpretations of members of their out-groups. Not setting a hard boundary like this is literally just justifying free-flowing violence. It’s not even a slippery slope, it’s just a sheer cliff.

        • Aapje says:

          @lvlln

          You are rationalizing. People have rationalized horrific crimes against humanity. Clearly, you are a “threat to society.”

          QED

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Well, first off we need to define “protect”.

      Because Spencer should have full access to the law. If the man who punched him can be identified, he should be subject to the legal consequences of his action. I think it was wrong to hit him on principle and a tactical error because I think it might help him in his cause.

      But I don’t think anyone in any official capacity is saying this should not be so. So I’m wondering what you mean by “protect”.

      • Iain says:

        Agreed. This was assault, plain and simple, and the guy who punched him should face charges. It was also just a stupid thing to do from a pragmatic standpoint: I can’t imagine that Spencer is anything less than thrilled by the opportunity to claim martyrdom over this incident.

        • Civilis says:

          That’s the whole point of those whole Westboro Baptist Church idiots. Piss off the left and right so badly that hot-headed people assault you, then sue them, then profit.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Or a big part of the point, anyway. I’ve always assumed that their guiding principle is “any publicity is good publicity”.

    • shakeddown says:

      I like the Dresden Files view that “Criminal laws* aren’t there to control power, they’re there to limit it.” I think criminal law should exist to stop people crossing the line, not judge their moral value.
      We’ve decided that “randomly punching people in the street” is past the line we want to draw. I think it would be relatively reasonable to put cases of it that don’t lead to significant injury within the bounds of behavior we don’t call the police on, but if we do, we should do it independently of the person being punched. I’m sure most punchers have reasons – maybe it’s a Nazi, maybe it’s a guy who slept with your wife, or maybe just called her fat. Judgement should not depend on how justified we think his reasons are.

      • Jordan D. says:

        I think my favorite character exploration of the dynamic between righteousness, law and power comes in the several ‘City Watch’ Discworld books. Vimes manages to simultaneously encapsulate why society has kept violence on a leash at its disposal, how frustrating it can be when corruption hides behind civil order, why the police have such a difficult job, why it is important not to give them carte blanche because of that, and how, in the end, restraints on righteousness are just as important as bans on evil.

        (Although the definitive memorable quote is still from A Man For All Seasons, I think.)

        Anyway, I agree. If they can find the guy who punched Spencer, he should be charged. If Spencer wants, he should be able to bring a civil action, and hopefully recover an amount which approximates any damages he’s suffered. We should condemn punching our fellows for speaking their minds. And I think that’s as far as anyone has to go.

        • beleester says:

          If you haven’t read it, this is the quote:

          Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
          More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
          Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
          More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast– man’s laws, not God’s– and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety’s sake.

    • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

      Another good example would be Madonna’s very deep thoughts on the subject of blowing up the White House. A good article here about why it’s still protected speech.

    • suntzuanime says:

      People can do nasty things with their voices, but they can do even nastier things with their fists. Free and open discourse makes for a much nicer society than free and open violence.

      Vigilante action against speakers should be even more harshly limited than state action (which should be very harshly limited). Basically, if the guy is not actually on the radio coordinating an ongoing genocide of the Tutsi people, stick to counterargument. Vigilante action has all the problems of state action *plus* it contributes to a general breakdown in civil order, so it should be saved for the most dire emergencies.

      • dndnrsn says:

        I think that part of the problem here is that “No Platform” was really effective for so long that arguing against things that are terrible has become a lost art, so to speak. Which means that, beyond the internet being a factor in a couple ways (coordination of people who can’t/won’t meet in public – works for political extremists as well as for fetishists, and clickbait making giving a soapbox to extremists profitable), you have stuff like news shows having Spencer on for 10 minutes, giving him a platform, and not being able to shut him down with argument because they have forgotten how to argue against something that is actually pretty dang easy to argue against.

        I was going to use a complicated sports analogy, but it’s simpler to say it’s like a disease that got vaccinated out of existence back in the 70s or whatever but there’s still vials in a lab somewhere.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          you have stuff like news shows having Spencer on for 10 minutes, giving him a platform, and not being able to shut him down with argument because they have forgotten how to argue against something that is actually pretty dang easy to argue against.

          I submit that this has nothing to do with no-platforming.

          That has to do with the quality of argument that gets sufficient ratings and the fact that adversarial press is something that can be avoided in the US (for the most part).

          Thus the cable news host is mostly someone who keeps the two people who are yelling nonsense at each other talking. Each side is expected to regurgitate their talking points and is incentivized not to engage in actual argument. If they admit that the other side has a good point, they will stop being brought on as an adversary, because they will no longer have any official position.

          No one can argue in an intellectually honest manner, because people are rewarded for being argumentative instead.

          • dndnrsn says:

            You might be right.

            However, even in longer-form, not-10-minutes-of-soundbites, what seems to me a really obvious argument against white nationalism, or racial nationalism in general (you cannot transfer populations without enormous human suffering) doesn’t get made.

          • Iain says:

            In many contexts, arguing about the implementation details of white nationalism (and thereby appearing to implicitly concede its principles) is not actually a strong line of argumentation.

          • dndnrsn says:

            How is arguing that something would, if implemented, implicitly conceding principles, or appearing to? If somebody says “ground glass is a great lean source of protein, and is highly recommended for people trying to lose weight” am I implicitly conceding, or appearing to, that it is a great source of lean protein, if I say “do not eat ground glass, you will cut up your digestive tract and maybe die” without first addressing the macronutrient content of ground glass?

            Further, they don’t tend to attack its principles, either. It tends to be a circular argument – it’s wrong, because it’s wrong. Again, I think this goes beyond white nationalists on TV or whatever – I know a lot of people who can’t really articulate their political views from first principles. They’re almost all left-wingers. The handful of right-wingers I went to university with were usually better at articulating their views, because they got pushback.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndrsn:
            The handful of right wingers that engaged with you had good arguments. There is a pretty obvious bias there.

          • Iain says:

            If you focus on what ground glass will do to your intestines without saying anything about its protein content, you are absolutely giving the impression that ground glass contains protein. Why else would you be focusing exclusively on the negative side-effects? (I suspect this would be more obvious to you if “ground glass contains lean protein” was even slightly less ridiculous.)

            I have no doubt that you know left-wingers who are bad at articulating their principles. I will point out, though, that “right-wingers you went to university with” are hardly a representative sample of the right wing overall.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            How so? What’s the bias in the right-wingers I engaged in at university generally having better arguments – even if I disagreed with them, which I usually did – than the left-wingers I engaged with usually not being able to argue their positions well – even if I agreed with them? Why would right-wingers with shitty arguments, or left-wingers with good arguments, be less likely to engage with me?

          • Iain says:

            Given that universities tilt left, right-wing students who find that they can’t defend their arguments tend to either stop arguing, or gradually become left-wing students.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Iain:

            If you focus on what ground glass will do to your intestines without saying anything about its protein content, you are absolutely giving the impression that ground glass contains protein. Why else would you be focusing exclusively on the negative side-effects? (I suspect this would be more obvious to you if “ground glass contains lean protein” was even slightly less ridiculous.)

            OK, granted. I suppose my reason to focus on negative effects is that they are easier to argue for on a factual basis. But, you are right that it is worth arguing the principles too, in case arguing the consequences is seen as a retreat on the principles. So: the argument for genetic IQ differences by ethnicity are actually quite weak (certainly the ones for deficits below 100 are), and discriminating against individuals for group membership is hugely unjust under most circumstances. Those are the two major points I can think of off the top of my head.

            I have no doubt that you know left-wingers who are bad at articulating their principles. I will point out, though, that “right-wingers you went to university with” are hardly a representative sample of the right wing overall.

            Likely the left-wingers I went to university with are not a representative sample either. I have no doubt that right-wingers in places where they encounter only affirmation of their views are garbage at arguing too. The problem is that universities are predominantly left-wing, and the people turned out from them disproportionately take on the tasks of arguing against racism, against sexism, against homophobia, etc. It is a problem that they are terrible at arguing their positions, relying heavily on social pressure instead.

            For example: the science on genetic IQ difference by ethnicity is quite a bit weaker than it seems at first glance, and there’s far too little exploration of environmental causes (case in point: I undoubtedly have experienced fewer environmental deficits to my genetic IQ ceiling than my half-starved parasite-infested peasant ancestors did, so it seems untenable to argue that the IQ gap between developed countries and countries that still have substantial levels of subsistence agriculture must be genetic in nature). However, those you would expect to argue this point – to take the field against the HBD’ers – either think that this is a subject that one simply does not discuss, or go a bit further and deny the value of IQ measurements altogether.

            The “institutionalization” of left-wing thinking in universities has been a disaster for the argumentative quality of left-wing thinking.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:

            Why would right-wingers with shitty arguments, or left-wingers with good arguments, be less likely to engage with me?

            Let’s take as a given that your college campus was -substantially more left-wing than right-wing.

            Let’s also take as a given that shitty arguments are fairly common, but that the ability to debunk shitty arguments, while less common, is not exceedingly rare and can be expected to be distributed in a manner that does not differ from the general ideological distribution.

            Let’s take as a third given that any argument, shitty or not, is going to receive the most approval from ideological allies, and that shitty arguments are less likely to be debunked by ideological allies.

            Right-wingers on liberal college campuses are not going to receive much approval, and, when they make shitty arguments, are much more likely to have them debunked, leading them to be less likely to speak up with their shitty arguments.

            The converse is true for shitty left-wing arguments.

            ETA:
            Iain is a ninja striking from the darkness of a potentially misleading word cloud.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Iain/HeelBearCub:

            So, you’re positing something like how antibiotic resistance develops? The weak-willed or uninformed ones get converted, leaving only the strong? That’s actually quite plausible. I hadn’t thought of that.

            Maybe that explains why a good friend of mine who held wacky Tory views all through university and still does is so unusually stubborn in debate.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            Not really.

            I think those who would make shitty right wing arguments (but don’t in college) subsequently go on to make shitty right wing arguments elsewhere in their lives, you just don’t ever see them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            So, they’re a self-selected group?

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            The issue is that any admission of differences in ability, even purely due to nurture, undermines the case for the favored approaches by some on the contemporary left. Affirmative action/quotas are strongly based on the idea that different ethnicities are equally capable at all stages of their life, no matter what happened before and are merely held back by discriminatory work/schooling environments and such things.

            It is the classic left and parts of the right who advocate improving the capabilities of people. This is strongly opposed by many people who favor AA/quotas, as they see it as victim blaming.

            What you see as a small admission (a bad diet/pollution/etc reduces IQ), would actually punch a hole in their categorical dismissal of the idea that people could be helped by changing them, rather than other people.

        • suntzuanime says:

          I dunno, how many people were going to actually be converted to Crazy Nazism by hearing this guy talk about Pepe the Cartoon Frog? I think you’re confusing a purity violation for an actual danger. The disease metaphor implies that it would spread, and unlike in your metaphor, I’m pretty sure we haven’t stopped vaccinating our children against Literal Nazism.

          • dndnrsn says:

            But we’ve done a bad job of it.

            Albert Speer described, in an interview after he got out of prison (of course, take everything Albert Speer says with a shaker of salt), how his students got him to go to a Hitler speech in the 20s. He went expecting a raving, uniformed lunatic and was surprised that Hitler, wearing a suit, gave a fairly calm speech, well-targeted to an audience of university students (Hitler was very good at adjusting his rhetoric to his audience, especially before he got into power).

            When people are told that the thing to watch for is Crazy Nazism, and what they see instead is guys in tweed jackets, joking-not-joking memes, etc, I think something similar happens.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            Exactly, an overhyped movie is almost guaranteed to disappoint and someone who is called the devil is almost guaranteed to appear more reasonable.

    • skef says:

      There are (at least) two levels to this question.

      At the more basic and easier level motive is just set aside: the person hitting faces the punishment for hitting someone unprovoked. This is a significant form of societal protection that still seems to apply in the relevant situations.

      The second level starts with the old movie joke of a defendant finding out his fine for assault is just $50 and then going over and hitting the same person again. If enough people start to think hitting people of group X is worth the legal consequences, that may or may not call for handling such cases differently. (Another risk in this area is (self-aware or not) jury nullification.) It is concerns about this second level, I believe, that generally prompted hate crimes legislation.

      So I think the more specific question of interest is whether additional legal protection for certain views such at those held by theoretical or actual Stalinists, Neo-Nazis, etc., is called for. Take for granted that it’s wrong to hit someone for holding certain views. Is it more wrong, or wrong in an importantly different way, than other reasons for hitting someone?

      • dndnrsn says:

        I oppose criminal law-related legislation that gives special protection or special punishment in general on subjective grounds, because the law should try to be as objective as possible – witness the shit show of “was this a hate crime?” arguments.

    • Jiro says:

      Who gets to decide what counts as “views and actions that threaten that society and the rights of others?”

      Also, it tends to fall down the slippery slope fast. Calling for violence is one thing. Calling for something that “almost certainly” leads to violence is noticeably down the slope already and deciding such a thing is heavily subject to bias.

      • dndnrsn says:

        This is the problem to me. The people who are most noisy about the evils of such-and-such an ideology are the ones most likely to have a pretty wide view of what that ideology is. Among the street-brawler types, it usually amounts to “whoever I want to punch”, and if the power is put in the hands of the authorities, it becomes “whoever the authorities want to shut up”.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Collecting my thoughts about this – epistemic status rambly, and it’s long, but if you’re here you gotta have some tolerance for length and rambling.

      A) I think part of the issue is that for the longest time no-platforming worked against the right.Before the internet, it was fairly easy to suppress right-wing extremists. Now, it’s not. The internet makes it easier for people who would never meet in real life to meet – it’s as true for right-wing extremism as it is for niche fetishes. It also revs up the motive of media outlets to get eyeballs by any means possible – when the business model is ads and clicks, that drives sensationalism more than when the model is based around newspaper or magazine subscriptions, when cable news is packaged in bundles, etc. Traditional sources are now competing with online sources – so they have to be more sensationalistic.

      So, mainstream-left wing outlets have an incentive to bring Richard Spencer on, report on him, etc, so they can say “look at how awful this guy is!”. On a smaller scale, tribalism and signalling plays into it – if a few alt-right posters go up, a bunch of people will post photos of them on Twitter so they can say “look at how awful this is! I think this is bad!” – and then the media picks it up, etc.

      Unfortunately, in much the same way as the eradication of smallpox means that vaccination has stopped, so nobody is protected if a vial in some lab somewhere goes missing, suppression of opinions means that people lack good arguments against them. I have met a lot of left-wing people, friends of mine, who are absolutely terrible at arguing their opinions. Not just against racism – against anything that’s unacceptable on a left-wing university campus. So, when a news station has Richard Spencer on because they know that having a Real Live Alt-Right Guy on will get people to watch, or a left-wing news site writes about how bad he is, they give him free publicity, and they don’t have ready counterarguments.

      B) In the US and Canada, the extremist left has never been especially strong – long on talk, short on action, lots of weenies talking about the need for a people’s army that will never materialize, thus freeing them from the need to do more than repost Rosa Luxemburg quotes or whatever, and when there were radicals who actually graduated to terrorism, they were pretty incompetent at it.

      Even now this continues – how much overlap is there between “person who reblogs gifs of Richard Spencer getting punched” and “person who would be of any use whatsoever in a violent conflict”? It is hard to see someone as part of the future anti-fascist resistance when their “beat up fascists with a baseball bat” posts are interspersed with posts in which they talk about their own fragility. Violence does happen, but consider videos of scuffles between Trump protesters and people wearing Trump hats, neo-Nazis and antifas, etc: I’ve seen videos of teenagers fighting in high school that are more violent than most of them; they’re usually awkward shoving matches and maybe someone eats a punch or two. All the serious incidents of violence surrounding this election have involved people who were almost certainly scumbags and would be if the election had been the nicest election the world had ever seen.

      C) It is true that there is more tolerance for the extremist left than the extremist right within US borders (outside US borders, tradition has been to support right-wing death squads over democratically elected left-wing regimes). Plenty of former Weathermen got nice jobs. Part of this, though, as that tweetstorm (which, in its whole, I do not endorse) noted is that the left-wing radicals for whom things turned out nicely were affluent, well-educated whites. The black left-wing radicals largely ended up dead or in prison – and, the one who got the happiest ending, Angela Davis, is well-educated and of middle-class background. It’s not some kind of revelation that life is better for people who aren’t born poor and for people who have a good education. Universities are disproportionately left-wing. Do the math.

      Personally, I think this is a lousy double standard. Someone who defends Stalin and thinks Lenin was an angel and talks about the need for violent revolution and pooh-poohs the idea that, hey, there might be reasons to be a bit leery of this, what with all those mass graves and such (“ugh, how can these liberals compare communism to fascism”), is honestly not much better than someone like Richard Spencer. He calls for something that would almost certainly lead to significant bloodshed and would probably be disastrous for the US, but claims (or, actually believes) that this could be accomplished peacefully (I can’t think of any incidences of “peaceful ethnic cleansing”, myself) – that he actually thinks it could be accomplished peacefully is suggested by the fact that he thought walking around Washington during a protest without bodyguards was a smart idea. Clearly not a man comfortable with violence – then again, none of the communists I know are either (that’s why they are obsessed with the notion that the workers don’t resent their university-educated asses – they need someone accustomed to labour more intense than picking up books to form the Glorious People’s Army).

      D) I like free speech. I have a much higher tolerance for it than most people I know; “free speech is just a tool of the privileged” seems like one of the most privileged opinions it is possible to hold – it marks a person as someone who doesn’t think that they might ever be denied speech. I would prefer to live in a world where speech is protected. I think the free speech standards here are pretty good.

      However, I don’t know the degree to which I can get behind the idea that you have to wait to shut something down until it has gotten to the point where open conflict is imminent. By that point it might be too late. I understand that American legal precedent is that speech can only be prohibited if there’s imminent danger (someone correct me on this if I’m wrong) – imminent incitement of violence, or whatever. I also don’t like the idea that respectful debate is the answer to people who do not respect me, my rights, my safety, etc – I would probably not do well in a dictatorship of whatever variety. What is gained by protecting people who fantasize about the day of the rope or about gulaging the kulaks? Should society protect the rights of people who would destroy society? I don’t want to hold someone’s coat while they gather stones to throw at me or my friends.

      E) On the other hand, I do agree with the whole “protect the Devil to protect us” notion. Getting rid of or contravening due process to get the obviously guilty leads to the not-so-obviously guilty losing due process leads to the conviction of innocents. Giving random vigilantes the power to fight bad people leads to random vigilantes coming to the conclusion that anyone they want to fight must be a bad person. Giving the government the power to shut them down will lead to something similar. If there was some sort of test strip you could wave at someone and it’d say “yup this person would definitely run labour camps if they had the chance” this would be one thing. But the sort of people who like punching are the sort of people who are good at finding reasons to punch. We, as a species, are highly skilled at motivated reasoning.

      In conclusion: I really don’t know. I predict things are going to get considerably worse, and I don’t know if the institutions of liberal society – already under some pressure – are going to hold. I don’t see any solution, just a grab bag of different problems. Ugh.

      • Civilis says:

        I went into this with an active response, because I like a good debate, but on reading it and rereading it, I can’t find anything to really oppose. I don’t 100% agree, but the points made seem perfectly reasonable. Thanks for the good starting point for the discussion.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Thanks. I kind of cheated, because my position is basically “I don’t know what to do and we’re probably in a big heap of trouble” which is not a hard position to hold.

      • AnarchyDice says:

        Part D is absolute gold. I don’t know if you stole that from somewhere or wove it from the beautiful aether of your mind, but once I read these words they snapped into place perfectly. It explains maybe one source of why I cannot seem to grasp the mindset of those leading the arguments to restrict free speech, even just in spirit.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Staaahp, I’m blushing.

          I probably pieced it together from here and there. In part I was influenced by this piece by Freddie deBoer, in which he points out this weird situation:

          We have broad consensus on the left wing that we imprison too many people in America and that our police forces, in general, are overly aggressive and overly protected from punishment when they are guilty of abuse or corruption. And yet there’s also a constant impatience with any advocacy of due process, the presumption of innocence, or rights of the accused.

          The Unit of Caring on tumblr had a similar post at one point, to the effect that why do people who think that the police/court/prison system is classist, racist, etc, also often support removing due process protections in cases of accused sexual assault (deBoer’s piece is also about sexual assault, really) without considering that changes to make arrests, convictions, etc easier to come by will hit the victims of classism, racism, etc the hardest. It’s harder to find because of tumblr’s navigation.

          The “free speech is a tool of the privileged” is, to me, a similar case. That’s how it clicked in my mind, at least. I’m always baffled by the sentiment – free speech is something that the powerless fight (and often die) for, and in general the powerful do as they please, whether or not what they want to do is protected by law; power is its own protection. And, if you’re the person who gets to tell other people what they can and can’t say – surely it is you who are powerful, at least in that particular context?

          Just as a lot of people seem not to realize that weakening protections for the accused will hurt those already hurt most by flaws in the justice system, a lot of people don’t seem to understand that if freedom of speech were removed in the US – if the first amendment was gotten rid of – the first thing that would happen is the powerful would pass laws banning criticism of them. They never seem to ask themselves the question “is keeping Milo Yiannopoulos or Ann Coulter from coming to campus worth having criticism of the police, the corporations, and the military banned?”

          I think it’s a sentiment that mostly exists among those who face disadvantage or oppression in some areas but who have class, education, or both on their side: the left-wing university student who only experiences “free speech” invoked in defence of stuff objectionable to them, as an example. I know people like this, at the very least. I hope for their sakes they don’t get what they want.

        • Tekhno says:

          @dndnrsn

          They never seem to ask themselves the question “is keeping Milo Yiannopoulos or Ann Coulter from coming to campus worth having criticism of the police, the corporations, and the military banned?”

          I think they usually look over at Europe and see less free speech protections and conclude that they can have Milo banned without any of their speech or expressions they like being restricted.

          Of course, I would argue they have an overly rosy view of Europe, and attacks on free expression such as the woman removed from the beach for wearing a burkini in France should have got more coverage, and are surely horrifying to the American left.

          Now they might point out that the bans were later overturned in court as being “discriminatory”, but that they were in place in the first place is telling, so violations already occurred, and if the right wing populists who are rising throughout were in place, they would only have to go the extra step to change that criteria to be in line with right wing values.

          It’s similar in the UK with hate speech laws, and even the police intimidating people on twitter for criticizing them. If a real far-right party came to power they would find little resistance from security services, courts, and the wider public due to the established norms. I’m not joking when I say that I consider the UK (my country) to be in the very early stages of a police state.

          What the American left really need to be disabused of is their romanticization and homogenization of Europe. I think the election results Europe is going to get in the next five years or so might do that nicely, although the fact that America is ahead of everyone else in electing a right wing populist might forestall that change in perspective, I do think that Americans are going to find themselves with more pre-established norms with which to fight him.

      • TenMinute says:

        I can’t think of any incidences of “peaceful ethnic cleansing”, myself

        What is White Flight?

        • Nornagest says:

          Ethnic cleansing usually implies something deliberately imposed on a group. If the group came up with it on its own, you call it a diaspora or a migration, even if there are non-deliberate factors that might have made things uncomfortable for that group where they were living before.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I think we need to stop giving demons a pass just because they don’t tell their human pawns what their plans are.

          • JayT says:

            If you asked my grandparents they would say they were deliberately forced out to the suburbs. I don’t know that I would call it ethnic cleansing, but I think they definitely felt that they were pushed out more than they decided to leave.

          • Civilis says:

            Generally, any time the national borders shift involuntarily, like after a war, you can expect at least a few involuntarily displaced people. In some cases, this migration is even relatively peaceful.

            For a great “it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people” article, Wikipedia has this on the displacement of ethnic Germans after World War II (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expulsion_of_Germans_after_World_War_II).

            (On the one hand, this is horrible. Nobody should have to suffer that. On the other hand, war and immediate aftermath are where you’re always stuck with a ‘lesser of two evils’ dilemma, and given that this is the aftermath of a war between two of the worst ideologies of humanity, I can be thankful it wasn’t even worse…)

          • Nornagest says:

            @JayT — If you asked an Irish immigrant to Boston circa 1850 why they left, they’d probably say they were forced out. Ethnic cleansing at the hands of Phytophthora infestans?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @suntzuanime:

            Which demons? Are you suggesting white flight was intentional? Is gentrification intentional?

            @Civilis:

            If we take the numbers of 12 million Germans fleeing west, and the conservative estimate of 500k dead, that’s 1/24 dead – a little over 4%. That’s pretty serious bloodshed.

          • Civilis says:

            According to the article, the 500,000 number also includes Germans who died after being forced to work in the Soviet Union as reparations, which, while an example of how horrible the Soviets could be, is a different horror than the ethnic cleansing.

            My understanding is that the sheer scale of destruction of transportation networks meant that starvation was a serious issue in Germany and Japan immediately post-war. It’s not that we didn’t try to feed people, there was just no way to get enough food in country to stave off problems. That’s also likely a contributing factor.

            I have a serious problem with situations that lead to this level of deaths during ‘peacetime’ but it’s not necessarily bloodshed.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I’m suggesting that when we’re dealing with historical forces, intentionality in the minds of the individual people implementing those forces is mostly irrelevant.

          • cassander says:

            The history of the German ethnic cleansing is a lot of Germans being told “Leave or we’ll kill you”. Being German, and knowing that the Russians were coming anyway, most chose to leave. That said, no process that involves someone saying leave or we’ll kill you can be called non-violent.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @suntzuanime:

            What’s the historical force at play?

            EDIT: I don’t mean this to sound snarky. I kind of am leery of “historical forces” as a concept – I studied history, and frankly, it’s just one damn thing happening after another.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I have read that. I just doubt it’s reasonable to put white flight or gentrification in the same box as “shoot/machete/rape/loot the hated enemy until they flee the region”. Or in a box anywhere near to that.

          • suntzuanime says:

            You’re right, urban crime rarely involves machetes, which is clearly an important distinction.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The most violent sort of urban crime in US history – race riots, whether of the “white people fucking up black people’s shit” or “black people fucking up white people’s shit (and also that of Korean shopkeeps)” variety, or whatever other variety – is considerably less violent than ethnic cleansing tends to be.

            The 1921 Tulsa race riots (the former variety) killed perhaps 300 people over 2 days and destroyed 35 blocks. The 1992 LA race riots (the latter) took place over six days, killing 55 people. If this is the worst it gets, look, that’s awful, but nothing compared to ethnic cleansing. For reference, half a million to a million people were killed in Rwanda over a period of a little over three months. That was a fifth of the population.

            If you’re referring to the steady drumbeat of violent crime in the US, it is largely intraracial. There are also places with heavily diverse populations that manage to have significantly lower violent crime rates than the US – so race can hardly be the US’ primary problem in that regard.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Given that we were originally talking in the context of “peaceful ethnic cleansing”, complaining that it’s not violent enough for your standards is a total bait-and-switch. Saying that you can’t think of a time a thing was accomplished without bloodshed and then disregarding the examples provided because they don’t have enough bloodshed is hugely disingenuous.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Given that the level of movement of people from place to place and distance moved was far less than would be required to create an ethnically homogeneous nation-state in the US, it is neither a bait-and-switch nor disingenuous. White flight was the movement of white people from inner urban areas to the suburbs, which were generally parts of the same greater metropolitan areas, and the inner urban areas were never entirely depopulated of white people – some were.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Trying to argue that it doesn’t count because there wasn’t enough bloodshed is absolutely disingenuous, don’t try to deflect.

          • dndnrsn says:

            How is white people moving from some, but not all, inner-city areas to suburbs still in the same greater metropolitan area akin to ethnic cleansing, much less the kind of ethnic cleansing that would be needed to create a racially homogeneous nation-state?

            The history of white flight is one that is usually presented in a misleading fashion – there was a rise in crime; it wasn’t just dumb racists being racist – and in general there are a lot of people on the left who want to pretend that the explosion of crime in the late 60s and in the 70s was make-believe dreamed up by Republican politicians.

            But I don’t think it’s ethnic cleansing, much less the sort of ethnic cleansing that would produce the results that racial nationalists of whatever colour want.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Suntzuanime
            I am a white man living in a mixed race neighborhood in Baltimore, If I’ve been ethnically cleansed it’s news to me.

            It’s weird that I keep hearing about this white genocide that is supposedly happing around me, yet me and my fellow honky devils seem to go about our business with out too much trouble.

            Hordes of negro super predators are plaguing the streets, or so I’m told, preying on white citizens to cowed by political correctness to stand up for themselves, and yet my interactions with the black criminal classes mostly involve them trying to sell me drugs.

            White flight was driven by a number of factors, including the collapse of manufacturing jobs, and crime, but the number one reason was declining real estate values. It’s not that people were afraid that they’d be killed, as the overwhelming majority of violence was intraracial, and disproportionately involved professional criminals. Instead it was that neighborhoods became comparatively less pleasant places to live and the fall in housing demand caused an economic death spiral.

            For a lower middle class person in the mid 1970s a substantial fall in the value of their house could wipe out decades of hard work and savings, so the incentive to get out fast was strong.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that a major factor here is whether Spencer wants 100% white population or ‘just’ to reduce the number of non-whites by a large amount. The latter can probably be achieved with serious Apartheid style discrimination*. The former can’t without a lot of violence by the state.

            * Of course, most likely this will be resisted violently by at least American black people**, which will cause the state to use violence, so you’ll end up with many deaths anyway

            ** Whose culture seems very different from Jewish culture during WW II

          • Aapje says:

            To clarify my comments about the Jews: they cooperated with the Nazis mostly and if the Nazis had been able to find a country who was willing to take them or if they had been willing to simply move the Jews to the edges of the conquered territory, they could probably have moved most of them with relatively little violence.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The “Jewish leaders cooperated” thing is an unfair slander. They had little choice – they had few weapons, they had few support from gentiles in their countries, and they cooperated because they hoped they might not die.

            No country was willing to take many Jewish refugees from Germany in the 1930s, because they were worried that the 200k or so German Jews would be followed by 3 million Polish Jews, who they definitely did not want to take. The Polish did not want their Jews – prior to the war, they had been training young Jewish men in covert military tactics, with the goal of supporting the Zionism movement, entirely so they had somewhere they could send Polish Jews.

            The initial German plan appears to have been to ship the Jews east of the Urals (where there likely would have been huge suffering and death – the Germans were unlikely to provide them with what they would need to build sustainable communities there; they were already planning to starve tens of millions of Slavs to death as part of the whole lebensraum project) after the defeat of the Soviets. When the Soviets did not collapse as predicted, the Germans began killing Jews by shooting in the Baltics and the USSR, and then began murdering Jews industrially in Poland – the ghettoes were crowded because Jews had been pushed off their land to replace Poles who had been pushed off their land, which was being given to ethnic Germans.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            I didn’t intend it as slander, but rather as a statement of fact. It is a fact that the Nazis let Jewish councils (Judenrat) do some of the work required for deportation. There were no gypsy councils or gay councils.

            I believe that the council members meant well and hoped that their cooperation would result in more kind treatment, but it seems very likely to me that the Jews would have been better off with more chaos (delaying the various stages) and for the Holocaust to require more German henchmen to implement (making the Germans choose between harming their war effort or their genocidal efficiency).

            Of course, this is 20/20 hindsight, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t draw conclusions; like that Jewish culture probably caused more casualties in these circumstances.

            Again, this is not about blame, this is merely me arguing that different cultures result in people achieving better outcomes in some contexts and worse in others. In our modern society, (liberal) Jewish culture seems to do very well, for example.

          • @Aapje:

            In support of your point about different cultures having different effects, the Nazis seem to have succeeded in killing a much lower fraction of Romani than of Jews, possibly because the traditional Romani strategy was to stay below the radar of the authorities.

          • Aapje says:

            And the Romani culture that helped them in those circumstances seems to be ill-suited to our current society.

            Anyway, I recognize that these kinds of things are outside of the Overton window of many people, but it still seems rather obvious that certain cultural traits work out better in some contexts than in others.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I would boil this down to the question:

            “Can I trust the State and the agents of the state to have my interests in mind?”

            Once you have reason to believe that answer is no, a culture of general non-compliance and obfuscation becomes a more useful strategy for long term survival.

            Wasn’t this claim advanced as a reason for some of the black community – police issues in the US?

          • And the Romani culture that helped them in those circumstances seems to be ill-suited to our current society.

            The Romani culture in question is dissolving in the current society, at least in America.

        • dndnrsn says:

          White people moving out of places that had seen a lot of black people (or, other minorities, but it’s usually applied to black people) move in due to a combination of racism, fear (often legitimate) of rising crime, and falling property values due to the first two factors.

          This isn’t ethnic cleansing, and neither is gentrification, which is basically white flight in reverse. The intentionality is limited to real estate speculators pulling blockbusting.

          Some degree of white flight is not even due to fear of crime, etc. There are plenty of neighbourhoods where poor “white ethnic” (ie not Anglos) immigrants moved in back in the day, and then when the second or third generation has more money and decides that living somewhere nicer would be better, a new immigrant group moves in. Given patterns of immigration, this immigrant group is probably not going to be white. Or, there are cases where one minority group replaces another in this way, and most people don’t notice – there are Chinatowns that are now made up heavily of Vietnamese or Vietnamese Chinese, for example.

        • Well... says:

          What is White Flight?

          The Alt Right’s version of when Jill Stein supporters say a job at Walmart is wage slavery.

          • TenMinute says:

            So you’d have to be paranoid and hyperbolic, nay, hysterical, to claim that a mass population transfer necessarily involves genocide?

            I see…

          • So you’d have to be paranoid and hyperbolic, nay, hysterical, to claim that a mass population transfer necessarily involves genocide?

            “Necessarily” is a pretty strong claim.

            Suppose you have a government which is clearly biased in favor of one race, against another–it could be a black government unfriendly to whites or the other way around. Further suppose that there are other governments not too difficult to move to which have either no bias or the opposite bias.

            I don’t see why one couldn’t get a peaceful move over time to a separating equilibrium, as members of the disfavored race emigrated. If you ended up with a few of the disfavored race still there, it would still be a black nationalist or white nationalist nation state, since they would be the large majority and the people running things.

          • TenMinute says:

            Yes, that’s basically what happened in Rhodesia, and what’s currently happening in South Africa.
            I haven’t heard any criticism of this process from the American left, so I can only assume it’s perfectly legitimate.

          • Well... says:

            I haven’t heard any criticism of this process from the American left, so I can only assume it’s perfectly legitimate.

            Makes sense. Basically everyone in the Alt Right takes their cues from the American left.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The habit of many people on the left to ignore such things is fairly deplorable, but ignoring things that don’t fit your narrative is a standard human tendency. This is one of the most “both sides do it” things possible. However, many of the people on the left should know better; right-wingers are more likely to appeal to hard-headed realpolitik, whereas there is a strong tendency of smart and educated left-wing people to idolize butchers. At least American right-wingers weren’t writing poems about what a nice guy Pinochet was, or whatever.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Would you have supported censorship during the Red Scare?

        Do you think that the alt-right is more of an existential threat to the US than communism was?

        If so, why do you think so?

        • suntzuanime says:

          Not just censorship, but in fact vigilante attacks on anyone speaking out in favor of communism.

        • dndnrsn says:

          When did I say I supported censorship, or vigilante attacks? I think the situation is really messed up and I don’t know if there are any good options. I’m in favour of neither rocks nor hard places, is how I would put it.

          Which Red Scare are we talking about, by the way? I don’t know if attacks on random communists would have been good in, say, the 50s, but the US, UK, etc governments could have done a better job at rooting out communist infiltrators. Communists in the movie industry were not a threat. Communists in the intelligence services were.

          • Wrong Species says:

            You didn’t really answer my questions, especially the second one. And yes, I was referring to the McCarthy era.

          • dndnrsn says:

            1. No. The Red Scare, Hollywood Blacklist, all that, was a bad way of responding to the threat. The real threat was a small handful of people in sensitive positions, and they mostly got away with it, for reasons that had less to do with being “soft on communism” and more to do with ordinary human cognitive faults – “he can’t be one of them; he’s one of us!”

            2. The alt-right is not all white nationalists. I don’t know if white nationalism is more of a threat to the US than communism was. Foreign communism was certainly more of an existential threat – nukes, after all. On the other hand, communism has never had much mass support in the US; Americans seem to be a lot less susceptible to class struggle ideas than, say, Europeans. Race, on the other hand, appears to be an extremely powerful motivation, more powerful than many others. I think that racial tension in general was and is a greater internal threat to the US than communism.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Let’s look at what you’re acknowledging:

            1.White Nationalists are a much smaller group than the alt-right

            2.You don’t have any kind of evidence that white nationalists are an imminent threat

            3.You don’t think censorship was a good idea in the 50’s

            4.You don’t know if white nationalists are more of a threat than communists were although you suspect it(and we’re supposed to take your word?)

            5.Despite all of that, you still think something needs to be done

            Do you realize that anybody could use this excuse at anytime for pretty much anything? Why should we make an exception for you? This is why we have a first amendment, so people don’t go off the latest fashion what they think is acceptable to censor.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Where did I say something needed to be done? I have not, to my recollection, called for censorship, for vigilante violence, for vigilante violence to occur with impunity, or anything of that kind. If I have, point it out to me, and I will admit that you are right and I am wrong. If not, you’re reading stuff into my comments that isn’t there, which isn’t really in the spirit of this place.

            I have a) posed questions to stimulate discussion and b) expressed my general concern that the situation is broken and cannot be fixed, and that no option present to us as a society seems to be especially good.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Interesting points. Riffing on a couple of things you just said (and I’m not claiming you hold these views, by the way)…

        1) “It’s okay to beat up X to silence him” is just an evolution of “It’s okay to no-platform X to silence him.” In both situations, we aren’t even trying to debate the ideas; we’re just looking for a mechanism to prevent them from being expressed, and because no-platforming has become less effective, we turn to a more severe option.

        But given that no-platforming led to the current situation, where we are unwilling or incapable of arguing against obviously stupid and destructive ideas and those ideas have therefore (allegedly) grown in power and influence, resorting to No Platform 2.0 seems unlikely to be more effective. And then what’s No Platform 3.0 going to be, once 2.0 stops working? Probably nothing that’s consonant with a civilized society, not that 2.0 or even 1.0 were of course.

        2) It’s hard not to be reminded of the whole “it’s not my job to educate you” line of social justice thinking, or complaining about “sealioning.” In both cases, the complainant is saying that they don’t want to have to defend their beliefs to an endless series of randos. Which is admittedly exhausting, granted. But guess what? That’s how you create political change. One rando at a time, until you win. If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine, but then don’t pretend you actually want to change things.

        Similarly, if our modern-day anti-fascists really want to convince everybody, they’re just going to have to do it. Convince them. One by one. Over and over again. There are no shortcuts through no-platforming or beating people up in the streets, unless they’re planning a fascist state of their own that is.

        • Tekhno says:

          @ThirteenthLetter

          2) It’s hard not to be reminded of the whole “it’s not my job to educate you” line of social justice thinking, or complaining about “sealioning.” In both cases, the complainant is saying that they don’t want to have to defend their beliefs to an endless series of randos. Which is admittedly exhausting, granted. But guess what? That’s how you create political change. One rando at a time, until you win. If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine, but then don’t pretend you actually want to change things.

          I feel like someone might have linked this meme before, but it seems relevant to this.

          (if a little mean, and right slanted)

          • dndnrsn says:

            Well, it’s true. Setting up your opponents to seem like brave truth-tellers, even when what they are actually saying is the most horrible bullshit, is never a smart move. Not that anybody is going to stop doing that stupid smug crap – if they don’t listen to Freddie deBoer, they aren’t going to listen to mspaint.

      • Synonym Seven says:

        when the business model is ads and clicks, that drives sensationalism more than when the model is based around newspaper or magazine subscriptions

        Except newspapers and magazines have been driven by ad revenue for quite some time. Even as far back as the 1980s, magazines that relied on subscription income were a rarity (I believe the exhaustive list would basically just be MAD and Consumer Reports, and maybe some shoestring niche trade journals), and I believe newspapers were giving away the razors to sell the packaging (so to speak) long before that.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Driven by ad revenues, but less sensationalistic due to the blunter nature of advertising – it is far more possible to figure out who’s reading what and for how long and so forth with the internet. The news cycle is faster. There are lower bars to entry, so more competition. And that’s even before social media gets into it.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        You might not believe it given my post below, but I sympathize with:

        I don’t know the degree to which I can get behind the idea that you have to wait to shut something down until it has gotten to the point where open conflict is imminent. By that point it might be too late.

        I really do. Unfortunately, I think that we have to face a few ugly truths here.

        Truth The First: While it is theoretically possible to derail any societally destructive movement before violence becomes necessary, it depends on the capacity of human beings to listen to the better angels of their natures when given the chance, and of being influenced by other altruistic people willing to give them that chance. This means that at the end of the day you cannot be confident of succeeding through rhetoric, sweet reason, and the milk of human kindness alone. The Enemy gets a vote, and that includes on the question of whether or not they’re going to be The Enemy.

        Truth The Second: Because of that, the only way you have of guaranteeing security and stability in your society without occasionally having to apply lethal force against people bound and determined to be its enemy is to deploy lesser degrees of coercive, violent force against people who aren’t enemies yet. However, history teaches us that this WILL be abused. Finally,

        Truth The Second: Sometimes, the application of violence IS the only truly moral and ethical solution to a problem.

        • TenMinute says:

          that includes on the question of whether or not they’re going to be The Enemy.

          See, a lot of us only made that decision once you started punching us, and we realized that you never intended to stop. Before that it probably wasn’t too late to stop this ending in violence.

          Shame, really.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Yeah. I think we’re all screwed. By something else, if not by this.

          Of course, we could also have the bioweapons escape and SHODAN show up as antifas and neo-Nazis punch it out while the sea level continues to rise.

          • TenMinute says:

            That sounds pretty epic, to be honest. Dibs on any voiceless super-soldier awakened from cryosleep.

      • Tekhno says:

        @dndnrsn

        What is gained by protecting people who fantasize about the day of the rope or about gulaging the kulaks? Should society protect the rights of people who would destroy society?

        Doesn’t it depend on the rights in question? Taking away their right to free speech is implicitly totalitarian in the scope of action it implies, whereas taking away their right to run for office on that platform would merely be authoritarian/a restriction on liberal democracy.

        I’m a staunch free speech extremist, but I wonder if the solution isn’t putting restrictions on the democratic process instead? America already has those same as any other representative system, and in addition it has the electoral college, as well as supreme court justices and the constitution.

        How about adding an extra line of defense, where these groups are allowed to freely speak, associate, and organize, but at the end of the day are disbarred from running for office on those platforms? You could say this, and use whatever court in your country deals with electoral issues to enforce it:

        No party may run for office that has in its official platform or refuses to expel any members that support the following policies and/or principles:
        -Explicit support for ethnic cleansing
        -A definition of the state and/or citizenship based on race
        -Explicit support for the abolition of private property and/or markets
        -Explicit support for a totalitarian state, the enslavement of political enemies, and suspension of the freedoms laid down in the constitution
        -Plans to suspend the democratic process

        First two points check Nazism, third point checks communism, the fourth and fifth check both.

        Now, you might say that they could just lie about their support for such things or dogwhistle, but that makes it immeasurably harder. People will be joining their party and rising in it based on their explicit positions, and not being able to advocate these things openly while running for office will act to moderate their organization over time through osmosis. The idea that you could pretend to be super moderate and then spring a totalitarian state on an unreceptive public is not really tenable and I can’t think of any historical examples coming out of a democratic system. Hitler was ranting and raving about the Jews being evil and hanging traitors from lampposts from the very beginning. It makes it a load harder to get where you want to go if you haven’t already primed people for it.

        I’m pretty sure many European countries already have something like this.

        • Jiro says:

          If you allow the courts to decide that a party may not support ethnic cleansing or suspension of democracy, everyone will race to get their opponent classified as “supports ethnic cleansing or suspension of democracy”.

          (You won’t be able to fix this by saying “explicitly supports”, either. Everything will count as explicit even if it goes against the plain meaning of the term, just like everything counts as interstate commerce.)

        • Tekhno says:

          You’re right. It’s the same problem as with restricting free speech.

          Bummer. I thought I’d come up with a good alternative.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Right up to the point where it becomes morally permissible to kill those people. If you’re not willing to use lethal force against someone, you shouldn’t initiate use of force at all. Note that this is NOT the NAP. I am not a good Libertarian in that sense since I believe it is sometimes appropriate for states, or for individuals in circumstances where the rule of law has broken down or is unavailable, to initiate the use of lethal force.

      In the case of your group stockpiling arms and setting up training camps, the response there is investigation and/or infiltration as others have said. Given credible intelligence that these people pose an imminent threat, I want to explicitly suggest that the appropriate follow-up is guys with guns, armored vehicles, and explosives going in. Before someone asks, that is not a blanket defense of all government actions during past uses of force (e.g. waco, ruby ridge). I am simply defending the basic category of response (lots and lots and lots of heavily armed LE personnel).

      I’d say the same applies from the perspective of citizens: Either you’re to the point where it is appropriate to resort to full-on guerrilla warfare to overthrow your failed and corrupt government which has shown itself to be past all possibility of non-violent reform…or you are not, and the system is damaged but still functional. If the system is NOT fully collapsed, you have no right to initiate force except in self-defense against the imminent threat of physical injury. If you aren’t willing to start shooting politicians and soldiers, blowing up police stations, and so on, then you have no business doing anything but engaging in the democratic and legal processes of your country and utilizing your right to free speech.

      As for “It’s too late once they’re in power” – If it is possible for them to get INTO power in the first place, then either your system of government has failed and needs to be replaced, including by aforementioned violent overthrow if structural legal reforms have failed…or you live with a population with a plurality or even a majority of people who you probably SHOULD be willing to use violence to fight. At the very least Secession should be very much on the table.

      If someone really, REALLY thinks they live in a country where 40-50% of the population will get behind a mass-murdering authoritarian regime, and they AREN’T either getting the hell out or organizing a raft of Tragic Boating Accidents(tm), then they’re very, very irrational. Or, most likely, they DON’T actually really, really think that at all.

      Either way, face punching and/or state suppression of speech doesn’t enter into the picture at all, in my view.

      • Wander says:

        I totally agree with those first two sentences. The only way physical force can be used to stop someone holding certain opinions is to stop them from holding opinions at all. Nazism as an ideology was defeated with violence, yes, but it was firebombing the entire country, not throwing a few mediocre punches. If you say that it’s acceptable to use physical force on someone because of their opinions, it has to be all or nothing because otherwise it’s meaningless.
        There was a similar thing pre-election, with people saying that they had to do whatever possible to stop Trump getting elected. For some reason, these people never went as far as physically stopping people from voting, which makes me wonder if they were expressing a different sentiment from the one that they actually held.

        • Aapje says:

          @Wander

          Those people are probably direction pushers, rather than target hitters.

          These different mental models tend to produce rhetoric that confuses people who use the other mental model.

      • Wrong Species says:

        I probably agree with you but it doesn’t seem inconceivable that banning Mein Kampf and Hitler Youth could have been enough to prevent Nazis from gaining power.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          It’s worth keeping in mind that the Weimar Republic had extensive hate crimes laws and banned the Nazi Party altogether at least once.

          If people are determined to support a political party in a non-authoritarian state, you are going to have a very hard time stopping them through what government force is available to you. Arguably you’re just enhancing their feelings of persecution, hardening their positions, and making them look like innocent victims to outside observers, with the end result of making them more popular. Look at Geert Wilders for a modern example.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The Weimar Republic had extensive hate crime laws and banned the Nazi Party, yes. But they did a piss-poor job of enforcing those laws and of suppressing the Nazi Party. Hitler led an attempted putsch and ended up getting a relatively short prison sentence, of which he actually served a small fraction.

          • suntzuanime says:

            So it seems like both punching Nazis in the streets and freeing attempted revolutionaries don’t work to stop the rise of fascism. What else ya got?

          • dndnrsn says:

            Where did I endorse either of those things?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Where did I endorse the claim that you endorsed either of those things?

          • dndnrsn says:

            If you didn’t mean that, I apologize if I read that into your comment. “What else ya got” to me seemed to imply that; I was mistaken evidently.

            Punching Nazis in the streets didn’t work in Weimar Germany but historical context is relevant. Communist internationalism, and the general fact that the non-communist left’s experience of “popular fronts” and “left unity” was already by the late 1920s one of “they will use you until they don’t need you and then you’re in trouble”, meant that the SPD had the opposite of a reason to trust the KPD, which was really tight with the Soviets. The KPD retaliated by endorsing the concept of “social fascism”.

            Had the KPD and SPD been willing to work together – the lack of which was largely the fault of the KPD and the tendencies of international communism in general – it is conceivable that what happened in the early 1930s in Germany could have been avoided.

            Part of what I’m trying to say here is I don’t know if street punching would even work to keep bad guys of whatever variety out of power if that was in the cards, and I know full well that the kind of people who want to punch (on whatever part of the political spectrum) will take whatever excuse they can get to do that punching. My thoughts are confused because I am confused and worried about the future.

            I’m also not sure what Puerto Rican nationalism has to do with the rise of fascism or national socialism.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            The Weimar Republic had extensive hate crime laws and banned the Nazi Party, yes. But they did a piss-poor job of enforcing those laws and of suppressing the Nazi Party.

            It strikes me that the more popular the Nazi Party is, the less good of a job a democratic government is going to do of enforcing the laws against it.

            In other words, when the laws work, you don’t need them (because the Nazis are a harmless, unpopular fringe anyway) and when you need them, they stop working (because the Nazis are too popular, at least in their strongholds, to ban and make it stick.)

            Holocaust denial laws are probably another good example of this phenomenon.

            Edit:

            Had the KPD and SPD been willing to work together – the lack of which was largely the fault of the KPD and the tendencies of international communism in general – it is conceivable that what happened in the early 1930s in Germany could have been avoided.

            But maybe then Germany would have become a Communist state, instead. Put one’s trust not in face-punchers, and all that.

            I think that the solution to this problem is to genuinely put one’s faith in the people. No, stop laughing, I mean it. What I’m saying is, no instructions, no narratives, no lectures, no bans. Come down like a million tons of bricks on violence or disruptive protests (blocking roads, shutting down speakers and such) but other than that, make sure everyone has their say and can run for office, no matter how stupid and destructive their views. Keep the crazy fringes in their basements instead of in jail, in other words. Maybe it won’t work, but everything else has a worse track record.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @ThirteenthLetter:

            The Nazis were still relatively fringe in 1924 but the judges when they were tried were varying levels of sympathetic.

            Had the SPD and KPD worked together, it’s far from sure that a communist dictatorship would have resulted – after all, if they had been confident a communist dictatorship would result from cooperating with the SPD, presumably the KPD would have cooperated – because the SPD had 50% more seats than the KPD.

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        As for “It’s too late once they’re in power” – If it is possible for them to get INTO power in the first place, then either your system of government has failed and needs to be replaced, including by aforementioned violent overthrow if structural legal reforms have failed…or you live with a population with a plurality or even a majority of people who you probably SHOULD be willing to use violence to fight. At the very least Secession should be very much on the table.

        If someone really, REALLY thinks they live in a country where 40-50% of the population will get behind a mass-murdering authoritarian regime, and they AREN’T either getting the hell out or organizing a raft of Tragic Boating Accidents(tm), then they’re very, very irrational. Or, most likely, they DON’T actually really, really think that at all.

        I really like these two paragraphs. If it is likely that some new regime is about to take over the country, either the old regime is so corrupt that it is inevitable and maybe a good thing, or else a very bad ethic has taken over your country and the best thing to do is leave. In neither case does it make sense to censor those taking over. Mostly because it won’t work.

        And censorship before the regime change is imminent is a waste of time, because you don’t know what will happen. If the Wiemer (sp) Republic censored the Nazied; if it worked the Communists would have taken over. If they successfully censored the Nazis and the Communists, the worst aspects of each would have likely gotten together and taken over. It is hard to imagine something worse then Hitler, but probably not much better.

  12. hoghoghoghoghog says:

    Anybody know any good historical fiction (or even actual history) about China’s Warring States period? The setup – of a bunch of states competing, while some of history’s best philosophers wander around trying to get their systems put into practice, and with victory actually turning on Qin’s adoption of Legalism – is incredibly seductive. (I ask for fiction because there’s no way that something this seductive could be accurate.)

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Isn’t Onyomi a grad student with a focus relevant to this?

    • FollowTheQuest says:

      If you were asking for book recommendations, I don’t have any, but if MOOCs are your thing, HarvardX has a free, self-paced 10-part series on Chinese history. Or if that seems like a bit too much, maybe try “资治通鉴: Chinese History From Warring States to the Tang Dynasty” by TsinghuaX. The latter looks like it explores the time period via the historical text Zizhi Tongjian, which wikipedia describes as “a chronological narrative of the history of China from the Warring States to the Five Dynasties” published in 1084.

      (I haven’t taken any of these courses, but I definitely recommend trying a MOOC if you haven’t experienced one before. I am planning on exploring ChinaX after I finish my current course.)

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        Thanks! I hadn’t even considered looking for MOOCs. That second one seems very interesting, since annals + archeaology are probably how we know about the period, but there is no way in hell I would read an annalistic history on my own.

  13. rlms says:

    Regarding the inexorable SSC comments debate about what is left-wing and what is right-wing, what’s wrong with Political Compass-style division into social and economic liberalism and conservatism?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      There isn’t anything wrong with it.

      But does it describe how people actually act?

      For example, the right wing commentariat on this site theoretically skews libertarian, but you see very little willingness from them to criticize Trump, who clearly skews very authoritarian. Mostly what happens is attacks on criticisms of Trump.

      To my mind, the vertical line in the graph is perceived to be much more consequential than the horizontal one.

      • Thegnskald says:

        As far as I can tell, libertarians generally will defend anybody from an attack they don’t feel is really justified, without regard to political affiliation. It is just harder to notice when you agree with them, since then they’re merely being “rational”, rather than partisan.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Yes, but they should also be criticizing Trump for his authoritarian tendencies, which they aren’t doing.

          Or even just agreeing with critiques of his authoritarian tendencies. Or amplifying the parts of those critiques they agree with the most. (“Not a racist, but at least a nativist authoritarian demagogue.”)

          Which they aren’t doing, for the most part.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Or they could be waiting to criticize things that actually happen, as opposed to the things his political enemies accuse him of wanting to do?

            All he’s done so far is make terrible-to-us appointments that look like they will serve libertarian interests by dismantling agencies (or at least make them dysfunctional and thus easier to dismantle later), and sign a couple of executive orders I highly doubt the libertarians care about. He hasn’t done anything yet.

            We need to stop criticizing him for what he MIGHT do, because we’re destroying our credibility in criticizing what he actually does, later.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            For whatever it’s worth, as a libertarian I’m not happy about this, but I figure it’s not super relevant to you guys (hell it’s hardly relevant to me). The TPP thing is worth discussing, but it’s such a convoluted mass of things that it’s not clear libertarians should be supporting it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Thegnskald:

            C’mon man.

            If a Democrat was arguing for muzzling the media or protectionist trade tariffs, or any number of other proposals or actions, libertarians wouldn’t wait to criticize it.

          • Thegnskald says:

            HBC –

            If I looked, could I find comments by you suggesting Trump is a liar who tricked the populace into voting for him on the basis of a platform he has no interest in carrying out?

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            If a Democrat was arguing for muzzling the media or protectionist trade tariffs,

            I can’t argue for anyone else, but I just don’t believe he has the tools for it.

            If Obama threatens freedom of speech (not saying he has, but as a hypothetical), he’ll have the backing of a whole bunch of opinion setters, both because they agree with him politically, or because he’s very popular.

            With Trump, I have no such worries, everything bad that he does (bad in my opinion, anyway), will be endlessly criticized by news media, regular media, social media, universities, etc.

            And the media itself is really damn hard to muzzle, our similarly authoritarian government, in a country with far weaker institutions, had a public feud with a newscorp a fraction of the size of the stuff you have over there, and couldn’t bring them down. There were no press conferences for years, and even attempts of harming it through legislation, and they’re still in pretty good shape.

          • IrishDude says:

            I don’t like Trump’s stated anti-free trade and anti-immigration policy positions. I didn’t like his nationalist rhetoric during his inaugural speech. There’s a couple things about him that intrigue me positively, but since you’re looking for libertarian criticism of Trump I’ll stop here.

            Edit: I don’t like the Jeff Sessions pick for attorney general either.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Yes, but they should also be criticizing Trump for his authoritarian tendencies, which they aren’t doing.

            What’s the point? There’s no discussion there, it’s like saying the sky is blue. I think I’ve mentioned Trump’s authoritarianism once or twice, either here or on the subreddit. It’s just not notable.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Also, I’m reasonably certain Hillary Clinton’s opposition to the Citizens United case, when you consider the matter of the case in question (non-profit formed to criticize political candidates, forbidden from doing so by law), is pretty much exactly “muzzling the media”. And Sanders, the other leftist who ran, ran in large part on protectionist trade policies.

            So where was the rampant libertarian criticism of the leftists? I mean, there was lots of discussion here about Clinton’s e-mails and such, and ENDLESS discussion about Trump’s endless streams of nonsense, but here we have exactly the things you’re bringing up, and if they were brought up at the time, I didn’t notice.

            But aside that, Trump has spent the last year playing us for fools; he spent half of what Clinton did, and still won, because of the willing propensity of the Left to take his bait and run around showing it to everybody. And people scoff about how stupid Trump is? He’s doing what he does because it works – and it works, not because of his voters, but because of the way we on the Left have amplified everything he says to deafening volume.

          • If a Democrat was arguing for muzzling the media or protectionist trade tariffs, or any number of other proposals or actions, libertarians wouldn’t wait to criticize it.

            Hillary claimed to be for protectionism. The only comment I remember making on the subject was that, fortunately, she was probably lying.

            I’ve commented in various places, probably including here, that the bad part of Trump’s policies is opposition to free trade and immigration, the good part support for vouchers and deregulation and, more ambiguously, a less interventionist foreign policy. Which parts he will actually implement we don’t yet know.

            But I think it is true that libertarians enjoy seeing leftists discomfited, which makes us less hostile to Trump than his stated policies would justify. An attitude encouraged by the leftists being more hostile to Trump than anything he has so far done justifies.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Citizen’s United actually pops up fairly frequently around here and gets beat on for a little while, and that was especially true as relates to Clinton.

            As to whether there is any point to criticizing Trump for his tendencies, was there any “point” to criticizing Clinton for hers? I mean, Hillary Clinton likes her info shielded from view, what else is knew?

            And, to the libertarians who are chiming in and saying here is a thing or there is a thing that you don’t like about Trump, have you been tempted to offer these criticisms here before? If not, why not?

          • Glen Raphael says:

            I’ve mainly been waiting for Trump to do anything worth criticizing after taking office. So far the first thing I’ve been annoyed by is something Trump has alluded to but not yet done – he indicated he was going to insist the new pipelines be made from American (rather than imported) steel.

            This is a terrible idea if one cares about improving the US economy. Protectionism of any one industry tends to harm US consumers and every other US industry much more than it helps those employed in the “protected” industry, for reasons any economist will happily explain. Heck, even Krugman can explain it.

            So on the one hand, I hate that Trump is either ignorant of economics or doesn’t mind knowingly making bad (populist) economic arguments for short-term local gain. Bastiat would disapprove. But on the other hand, pretty much all politicians share this exact same flaw. Bernie would probably have been worse and Hillary would have been about the same but protecting different industries; they’re all on a spectrum that is so far from what us free-marketeers would like as to be virtually indistinguishable.

            So: I hate Trump’s protectionist streak and fear that he might in that respect turn out to be worse than other recent presidents or president-candidates.

            I also hate Trump’s resistance to immigration; I favor open borders.

            My general optimism about Trump stems partly from the fact that presidents have limited political capital to spend and unpopular presidents have even less. A popular president (say, Obama) scares me much more than an unpopular one. (Trump probably won’t accomplish as much as Obama did, and Obama didn’t accomplish much. So there’s that.)

            @HeelBearCub:

            have you been tempted to offer these criticisms here before? If not, why not?

            Before the election I didn’t expect Trump to win, so there wasn’t much point in giving detailed criticism of his expected policies.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            A major issue here is that Trump clearly likes to make hyperbolic statements that he walks back on later. He also has a bully mentality where he likes to say offensive or threatening things to people/groups he has a beef with. He clearly has a beef with the media.

            So far, I’ve not seen Trump make any statements about the media that strike me as a desire for Putinesque or Erdogan-like control of the media, even before you dilute his statements a little due to what I said in the former paragraph. He focuses on discrediting/criticizing the media, which is small potatoes on the authoritarian scale. If that is ‘muzzling the media,’ then I’d suggest that you are overly sensitive and are shouting wolf too soon.

            For example, I rank Obama’s prosecution of whistle blowers as worse when it comes to hiding facts from the public than anything that Trump has done so far. I do expect Trump to act similarly or worse on this front, but until he does, he is not even worse than Obama.

            PS. TPP and TTIP provide marginal increases in free trade at best. Major gains on free trade have already been achieved, not doing more cannot reasonably be called anti-free trade. A person who wants to keep the current abortion laws, rather than allow for late term abortions can similarly not reasonably be called anti-abortion. You need more than that (to go back to free trade: Trump has strongly suggested he will take actual anti-free trade measures, but abandoning TPP is not that).

          • Aapje says:

            @Glen Raphael

            The Chinese seem to give huge subsidies to their steel producers, so you can argue that it is pro-free market to protect your own market from a ‘subsidize to get a monopoly -> increase prices greatly’ cycle.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @aapje:

            The Chinese seem to give huge subsidies to their steel producers, so you can argue that it is pro-free market to protect your own market

            No, you really can’t – if China wants to give us free money we should take the free money. Given an entire world to buy steel from, I refuse to believe China on its own could drive every supplier out long enough to collect much in the way of monopoly profit.

            Maybe what I said above would be clearer if I gave a couple examples. Here’s the first two that come to mind.

            (1) Steel tariffs. US steelworkers were worried about foreign competition so we put up barriers (tariffs and/or quotas) to make imported steel no cheaper here than domestic steel. A near-immediate effect was to make the US auto industry less competitive on the world market because the rest of the world could locally buy better steel at a lower price than we could at home so the rest of the world could build cheaper/better cars than we could do at home.

            (So the auto industry had to be protected too, which in turn hurt everybody who buys cars or uses them for business purposes…and so on.)

            (2) DRAM. From the 1980s through the 1990s foreign manufacturers were often accused of “dumping” memory chips on the US market at an unfairly low price. To avoid the likely imposition of “dumping duties”, suppliers were forced to charge American firms much much more than they wanted to charge for imported memory. This was to “protect” a US industry that literally didn’t exist yet; there were no US DRAM manufacturers when it all started.

            Effect? This protectionism nearly killed Apple Computer.

            See, in 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh, building them all right here in the US, at a plant in Fremont California. To assemble a circuit board in the US they had to buy DRAM chips from abroad. Then this happened:

            “In 1985 the United States Dept. of Commerce had slammed DRAM dumping duties on Japan.” (source)

            after which imported DRAM chips had to be either wildly overpriced or restricted by possible sanctions. Whereas clone PC manufacturers in Japan or Korea could buy DRAM chips at home for half the price Apple paid, solder them onto a board and sell the board here as an already-assembled product without worrying about “dumping” issues. So one reason Macs were more expensive than PCs was due to government protectionism. (It got so bad that people would import entire PCs just to desolder the chips to sell on the US grey market!)

            Apple eventually got around this tariff by closing the Fremont plant and moving Mac main circuit board assembly out of the US, initially to Cork, Ireland. Which doesn’t seem to be quite the result protectionists would want…but the Law of Unintended Consequences is a powerful enemy to well-meaning regulators.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            I’ll say that I’m a libertarian (at least closer to it than to any other political paradigm) and find Trump the most vile and dangerous candidate I’ve ever seen. In many other places where libertarians gather, I’ve seen much more criticism of Trump (I agree that the libertarian commentary here is weirdly quiet about things they should be up in arms about), and this commentariat seems atypical, probably because it’s disproportionately obsessed with social justice culture war stuff.

          • Aapje says:

            @Glen Raphael

            if China wants to give us free money we should take the free money.

            So you accept government interference in the free market as legitimate? Because that is what going on and you seem to accept its market-distorting effects.

            Given an entire world to buy steel from, I refuse to believe China on its own could drive every supplier out long enough to collect much in the way of monopoly profit.

            They succeeded before:

            http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/at-the-edge/2013/04/02/chinas-continuing-monopoly-over-rare-earth-minerals

            Of course, it may be easier to restart steel manufacturing than rare earth mining.

            A near-immediate effect was to make the US auto industry less competitive on the world market

            You do have a good point that fighting against a free market distortion by adding a distortion that is intended as a remedy can have worse outcomes.

            However, that criticism is really just technocratic, both Trump and consistent libertarians oppose the Chinese subsidies and the only disagreement is whether his remedy works or not, right?

          • skef says:

            This was to “protect” a US industry that literally didn’t exist yet; there were no US DRAM manufacturers when it all started.

            If you’re saying that there was no DRAM manufacturing in the U.S. prior to 1985 (as opposed to companies getting out of the business because of price competition), I’m pretty sure that’s false. Maybe you’re referring to a specific density?

          • IrishDude says:

            And, to the libertarians who are chiming in and saying here is a thing or there is a thing that you don’t like about Trump, have you been tempted to offer these criticisms here before? If not, why not?

            I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned at least once before that I didn’t like Trump’s anti-free trade and anti-immigration positions, but in general I’d rather argue about the positions than the person. There were things I didn’t like about Clinton, but I don’t think I posted any critiques on her. I did have a couple posts on Gary Johnson, but haven’t talked about him much either. In general, debates about ideas are more interesting to me than debates about people.

            Still, like others have mentioned, I’ll be more apt to post criticism (or praise) once Trump takes actions, as I’ve wondered how much of his rhetoric is bluster. Does he state ridiculous positions so that his more moderate actions seem relatively sane? Is the trade war rhetoric an attempt to get other countries to more aggressively lower their trade barriers? In other words, I’m still not sure if Trump is crazy like a fox or just crazy, but his actions in his presidency will make that clearer.

            So far, I’ve been more pleasantly surprised with his actions, as he’s picked cabinet leaders that mostly seem to have a deregulatory bend. Also, I kind of like the media getting told off so that aspect of his personality doesn’t bother me. If he starts filing frivolous libel suits I’ll be more concerned. And if he raises tariffs or starts massive deportations of immigrants you’ll see me offer criticisms here.

          • However, that criticism is really just technocratic, both Trump and consistent libertarians oppose the Chinese subsidies

            Consistent libertarians, or consistent economists, think the Chinese subsidies are a bad thing, but not a bad thing for the U.S. They make us better off at the cost of Chinese taxpayers.

            I’m curious–are you aware that the most famous supposed example of the predatory pricing strategy you believe in, by Standard Oil, is entirely fictional? There’s a classic article on the subject by someone who went through the many volumes of the Standard Oil anti-trust hearing which I can probably find for you online if you want.

          • Aapje says:

            @Friedman

            They make us better off at the cost of Chinese taxpayers.

            They make steel consumer-us better off, but they make steel producer-us worse off.

            You are showing some serious bias here, where you ignore those who lose out. This kind of ‘bigger GDP is better, losers of policies to achieve this should just suck it up’ is exactly why I am opposed to the currently mainstream globalism.

            PS. I don’t see what purpose disproving the Standard Oil example would serve. Are you denying that one can sometimes create monopolies by running others out of business with ultra-low prices and then increasing the price again when they are gone?

          • IrishDude says:

            @Aapje

            They make steel consumer-us better off, but they make steel producer-us worse off.

            You are showing some serious bias here, where you ignore those who lose out. This kind of ‘bigger GDP is better, losers of policies to achieve this should just suck it up’ is exactly why I am opposed to the currently mainstream globalism.

            I like Bastiat’s quote: “Treat all economic questions from the viewpoint of the consumer, for the interests of the consumer are the interests of the human race.”

            Mechanization made many farmers worse off, but made consumers that could buy cheaper food better off. Technology, like free trade, displaces workers as things can be produced more cheaply with fewer workers. But, when all consumers have more money in their pocket, making them wealthier, they can suddenly spend this on other things creating new jobs. Russ Roberts has a really nice piece on this that I recommend: https://medium.com/@russroberts/the-human-side-of-trade-7b8e024e7536#.x4bfijcpa

            Self-sufficiency is the road to poverty. We gain from trade, whether it’s with our neighbors, outside our town, outside our state, or outside our nation. Some people do lose, at least in the short-term, but reducing trade makes pretty much everyone lose, since we’re all consumers.

            Do you think protectionism that insulates trade within a single town would make the people there better or worse off?

          • Jiro says:

            It is well known that giving food to poor African countries can sometimes be harmful, because if you give them food, it destroys the livelihood of local food growers and makes it hard to build a real economy.

            Why doesn’t the same reasoning apply to the Chinese “giving” us steel?

            I like Bastiat’s quote: “Treat all economic questions from the viewpoint of the consumer, for the interests of the consumer are the interests of the human race.”

            I have no desire to support the interests of the human race at the cost of the interests of Americans.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Aapje:

            both Trump and consistent libertarians oppose the Chinese subsidies

            I oppose the Chinese subsidies in the sense that I think they make Chinese people worse off. Since I care about Chinese people too, I wish they wouldn’t hurt themselves like that. But if I only cared about American people I would be in favor of the Chinese subsidies.

            @Jiro:

            It is well known that giving food to poor African countries can sometimes be harmful, because if you give them food, it destroys the livelihood of local food growers and makes it hard to build a real economy.

            We already have a “real economy”, so our problems are different than theirs. But let me lob that one back at you – how do you feel about this:

            “It is well known that giving trade subsidies to inefficient American companies can sometimes be harmful, because if you give them subsidies, it destroys their ability to compete and makes it hard to build a competitive business.”

            Protecting the US steel and car businesses from competition didn’t make them competitive, it made them weak.

            @skef on DRAM:
            Micron and Texas Instruments were still nominally selling DRAM in that market, but they weren’t making nearly enough to meet demand or making them at a price/quality level that was remotely competitive on the world market. Reason magazine gives more context:

            Having failed in the marketplace, the big U.S. chipmakers turned to Washington for help. They prevailed upon the U.S. government to bring antidumping cases against Japanese producers, accusing the Japanese of selling below cost. (Since both American and Japanese chipmakers were losing money in the mid-1980s, they were all selling below cost in a sense. This is all that’s required to trigger antidumping tariffs.) The antidumping cases threatened Japanese chip imports with punitive duties as high as 108 percent. To avoid this outcome, the government of Japan struck a deal with the U.S. trade representative in July 1986.

            This deal included that Japanese companies would “voluntarily” raise their prices to avoid more punitive duties. Which could in theory drive more demand to US suppliers, but…new chip plants take many years to build and debug, and in the meantime given a fast-growing industry in desperate need of expensive chips, this happens:

            The result was an acute worldwide shortage of DRAMs during 1988 that raised prices, bestowing windfall profits on Japanese chip companies and inflicting serious harm on U.S. computer makers, computer buyers, and anyone else who needed DRAM

          • IrishDude says:

            @Jiro

            I don’t feel more affinity for a random American stranger in Idaho than a random stranger in Bangladesh, as I’m not a nationalist. But I understand others feel differently, where the 320 million Americans are in their tribe that they must protect and care for and everyone else isn’t.

            Anyways, if you care about the American consumer, which all Americans are, you should also support free trade.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @IrishDude – ” We gain from trade, whether it’s with our neighbors, outside our town, outside our state, or outside our nation”

            Who’s “we”, kemosabe?

            Chart 1
            Chart 2

            Maybe those charts don’t mean what I think they mean. Maybe free trade is super awesome for everyone and the public needs to stop believing their lying eyes. Unfortunately, convincing people to believe that appears to have decisively failed.

            The arguments being presented in this thread would be effective if people trusted theory and authority. But people don’t trust theory and authority because the true measure of both is the ability to make predictions, and authorities and all their theories have consistently sucked at that, over and over and over again. What’s the point in listening to economists if they can’t warn you about the crash in advance, or tell you how to fix the European financial crisis, or accurately predict the results of the Brexit or Trump votes?

          • Matt M says:

            “Are you denying that one can sometimes create monopolies by running others out of business with ultra-low prices and then increasing the price again when they are gone?”

            I’ll deny that, sure. But I don’t think you can just brush aside Standard Oil so easily…

            What we have here is a group of people saying that position X is proven true by example Y. The people who hold positions X are the ones who, themselves, of their own volition, consistently point to example Y as the best possible example of a case that proves position X.

            But not only does example Y not prove position X, to whatever extent it is a valid example at all, it disproves position X. As in: Not only did prices not rise under Standard Oil – they consistently and significantly fell. Standard Oil, by all accounts, should be the go-to position for free market libertarians when arguing that anti-trust regulations are not necessary.

            So long as the go-to argument for the necessity of state involvement in the market is an appeal to an example that shows the exact opposite of that then yeah, I’m quite comfortable assuming that an evil oppressive monopoly that consistently raises prices and gets away with it is not a thing that can ever actually happen (without government assistance)

          • IrishDude says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “We” includes, among others, consumers. I’d suggest reading the Russ Roberts piece I posted.

            On Link 1, I’d note that:
            1) Total compensation can go up while the wage portion of compensation stagnates. E.g., many people get more of their compensation in health insurance and that’s not accounted for in graphs like that, that only focus on one part of compensation. See this econtalk for more details: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2017/01/mark_warshawsky.html

            2) Even if your wages stay the same over time, the products and services you buy get better and cheaper, so stagnating wages can still result in better standards of living.

            3) I’d want to know if this chart was based on individual or household income. If it’s based on household income, I’ve seen critiques such as that household size has shrunk over time, which can result in household income decreasing even if every worker’s compensation stays the same.

            On Link 2, I’d appreciate if you state in your own words what you think the chart is saying exactly. You need to be careful about interpreting charts that focus on percentiles instead of individuals over time. Do you think from 1988 to 2008, the period covered by the chart, the vast majority of Americans don’t have increased standards of living?

            EDIT: FacelessCraven, do you trade with others? Why?

          • Jiro says:

            how do you feel about this (giving away money to US companies, by comparison to giving food to Africans, by comparison to Chinese dumping subsidized steel in the US)

            Giving food to Africans helps the specific Africans who receive the food. However, it is harmful in the long term because local farmers can’t stay in business by competing with free food. Barriers to entry then do the rest.

            The same goes for the Chinese dumping subsidized steel on the US. It’s good if you want to buy steel, but it drives steel producers out of business since they sell steel at market prices and can’t compete with steel at subsidized prices.

            Would this apply to the US subsidizing local US companies? Yes, of course it would. But there’s a question of who they’re trying to compete with. If they’re competing with other US companies that are similar but don’t receive subsidies, then yes, it’s also bad. If they’re competing with foreign companies who receive subsidies, or if they’re competing with foreign companies whose profit is partly due to the foreign government mismanaging their country, then no it isn’t bad.

          • Aapje says:

            @Glen Raphael

            I oppose the Chinese subsidies in the sense that I think they make Chinese people worse off

            They make Chinese tax payers worse off and benefit Chinese steel workers/factory owners. Why are some of you treating entire nations as a singular entity?

            @Matt M

            What we have here is a group of people saying that position X is proven true by example Y.

            The person who brought up Y (Standard Oil) was actually a opponent of position X who didn’t want to argue the actual example that I brought up (rare earth metals), but preferred to argue against a weak man. Aren’t we supposed not to do that?

            It’s also rather obvious that the economy is a multi-variable system, so you are rarely going to have a 100% causation between A and B, even if A causes B, because C might prevent B from happening (or even cause anti-C if it is more potent than the A->B effect). This is why I argued primarily based on rather elementary economic theory and didn’t in fact claim 100% causation.

            @IrishDude

            I am very much into keeping intra-national wage and wealth differences relatively low, for a bunch of reasons that I can’t be bothered to explain right now, which means that I consider it insufficient if many people can buy slightly bigger TVs and slightly faster smartphones, but have stagnating wages and wealth, while the top 1 or .1% have huge increases.

            A bigger TV and slightly faster smartphone is relatively meaningless, compared to various key services/goods that are very costly and had price increases greatly exceeding inflation.

            PS. Note that so far I’ve just been defending a basic tit-for-tat retribution against countries who fail to observe free market ideals and this extremely pro-free market argument is being treated by some as if it was protectionism. As such, I would argue that some people here suffer from near/far bias and are not capable of distinguishing real protectionism from those who seek to uphold free markets by different means.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Aapje:

            Note that so far I’ve just been defending a basic tit-for-tat retribution against countries who fail to observe free market ideals and this extremely pro-free market argument is being treated by some as if it was protectionism.

            It is a popular political position that we should do that, but the reasoning behind that position is not pro-free-market. Rather, it’s based on mercantilist premises – the idea is “by selling us stuff we want they are hurting us, so we should hurt them back by making them buy OUR stuff”. Which is exactly backwards. When other countries are protectionist, they primarily hurt themselves. When we engage in “basic tit-for-tat retribution” our retaliatory trade restrictions primarily hurt us. Which is a reason not to do them.

            It’s as if you were punching yourself in the face and I wanted you to stop so I started punching myself in the face as a “tit-for-tat retribution”.

            I mean, it might work! You might see me punching myself, get upset by that and be inclined to sign a “trade agreement” in which we both promise to stop self-punching! But a policy of unilateral not-punching-ourselves (aka unilateral free trade) also has something to recommend it.

            (If you don’t already have the basic economic intuition that protectionism mainly harms the country that engages in it, much of what you hear from libertarians and economists on the subject will probably sound like nonsense, alas…)

            UPDATE: I’ll take a stab at unpacking more of that:

            Mercantilism was based on the idea that MONEY is valuable to nations. Back when money was gold coins, if you sold me stuff I’d have to give up some of my gold coins. The more stuff you sell me, the less gold I have…and if I were somehow to run out of gold coins I wouldn’t be able to hire a mercenary army to put down the next rebellion! So obviously I should follow trade policies such that I get lots of gold coins from you (and you get mere goods and services) rather than you getting lots of gold coins from me – this is called a “trade surplus” and should be encouraged via protectionism.

            This argument was already a bit silly at the time, but it’s much more CLEARLY silly now that money is little slips of paper unbacked by anything. We can’t really “run out” of green pieces of paper the way we could run out of gold. No, what is valuable isn’t the money, it’s the STUFF money buys. Selling me stuff that I want at a REALLY GOOD PRICE is the nicest thing you can do for me, short of giving the stuff away for free or paying me to take it.

            Does that make sense?

          • Philosophisticat says:

            The reasoning that says giving food to poor countries hurts them also implies that burning the food in poor countries actually helps them. This should be a sanity check. There’s a reverse broken window fallacy at work.

          • Nornagest says:

            The reasoning that says giving food to poor countries hurts them also implies that burning the food in poor countries actually helps them. This should be a sanity check. There’s a reverse broken window fallacy at work.

            I’m not sure this makes sense. The argument is that ongoing food aid disrupts the agricultural base of the target countries; if free food is available and you reasonably expect it to be available in the future, the returns to farming go down because of higher supply, so marginal farmers choose not to farm or to farm less. Net result, bar exceptional circumstances, is the same amount of food in circulation but less wealth owned by people in country: you’re basically causing artificial inflation.

            But if you went in and burned a bunch of food, you’d be destroying goods already owned by someone in the country. This would cause food prices to go up in the short term, but that increase would effectively be paid for by its ostensible beneficiaries, plus transactional costs. Even if you’re careful only to destroy food belonging to townspeople, government workers, etc. it’s effectively just a lossy wealth transfer from them to the farmers.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I feel like Jiro has hit on a strong argument in favor of protectionism that I haven’t really considered. Here’s a story I have heard before which hits on exactly the kind of situation he’s talking about:

            After the Rwandan genocide, a church from Atlanta started sending over eggs, and ended up just distributing eggs in a small community outside of Kigali. And this seems like a great thing to do, right? The church wanted to help after the genocide, but Jean, a few years before, had started a small egg business himself. His business was starting to grow, was starting to take off. And then, all of a sudden, in one summer, there become this surplus of eggs that were flooding the market in his area. So, Jeano described that he couldn’t compete with a free good. And so, this desire that the church had, to really take care of a need, it did take care of a need, but the problem is that it put Jeano out of business. And then the next year the church decided to focus its attention to somewhere else in the world.

            If I tried to abstract out the objection a bit, I think it boils down to “when others dump items into your market (through their own subsidies, for example), it prevents you from forming capital. This can have a long-term detrimental effect which overrules the short-term material gains.”

            I’m sure there are counter-arguments, but I’m not sure how they deal with the above case, and my sense that even the charity community at large is coming around to the idea that just dumping money on Africa has been net harmful to it.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @nornagest

            Like I said, this is reverse broken windows reasoning. You’re ignoring that the economic activity which would otherwise have gone to producing food will be redirected to something else. So less resources towards farming but more towards other stuff, in precisely the same way that burning food would push more resources towards farming at the cost of other stuff. But in one case, you’re starting off a potato richer and in the other you’re starting off a potato poorer.

            At the margins these effects are exactly symmetric – a free potato falling from the sky exactly offsets a potato being sucked into a black hole.

            There are more sophisticated versions of these kinds of objections to aid which are harder to refute but this one just rests on a basic economic fallacy. Getting free stuff tends to make people richer, it turns out. Crazy world we live in.

            That’s not to say that giving food is the most effective way to help those people (it would be better, for instance, to just give money, since it distorts the market less).

          • Nornagest says:

            Like I said, this is reverse broken windows reasoning. You’re ignoring that the economic activity which would otherwise have gone to producing food will be redirected to something else. So less resources towards farming but more towards other stuff, in precisely the same way that burning food would push more resources towards farming at the cost of other stuff. But in one case, you’re starting off a potato riches and in the other you’re starting off a potato poorer.

            This works in a developed economy. It doesn’t work if most of the country is doing subsistence farming (or some first-degree derivative of subsistence farming) and has no realistic prospects of retraining. You are not introducing anything into the economy that could be used to bootstrap further investment, as you might if instead of food you dropped e.g. gold or sewing machines or hydroelectric plants on the country; you’re just feeding people and devaluing agricultural land, which is the only capital asset anyone has. Theoretically the labor you’re freeing up could be used in a factory or something, but that does no good when the skills, infrastructure, and expertise in engineering and management that you’d need to make the factory aren’t there.

            An earlier version of my previous comment went into more detail on this, but I decided it was already getting too long.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @Nornagest

            If I am a poor person with a hundred potatoes, and ten of these potatoes spoil, it would be on the whole better if only nine of them spoiled instead, and worse if eleven of them spoiled instead. This is true whether or not my society is largely subsistence based. And there is no difference between ten of them spoiling and finding a free potato under the bed or having an aid worker give me a potato, and only nine of them spoiling.

            Yes, it hurts the potato farmer I bought the potatoes from if only nine of them spoil – next time I have to buy fewer potatoes. And it would help him if eleven spoiled – I would have to buy more next time. But this effect is more than offset by the benefit to me and to whoever will get the redirected resources I spend.

            Now maybe you’ll say (the equivalent of) “okay, that’s true for one potato, but if all your neighbors also have fewer potatoes spoil, that’s bad!” If that sounds silly, it is.

          • TenMinute says:

            Philosophisticat, can I just jump and say “no, that’s not correct, please let’s not have to have this discussion”? Because we can, and it would waste a lot of time.

          • Nornagest says:

            You and all your friends are potato farmers. You grow a hundred potatoes a week. Your daughter wants to go to the city to become something called an engineer. To pay for that, you will need to sell some of your land. But that’s okay, because you’re a relatively prosperous potato farmer and you and your wife can get by on fifty potatoes a week.

            One day, potatoes start raining from the sky. You think it’s a fluke for a while, but they keep coming. It’s great at first, because you don’t need to work so hard to till the potato fields and your less well-off friends stop looking gaunt and sullen every winter. But there is a problem. Your land is only good for growing potatoes, and because they’re falling from the sky, that means it is now worthless. You are rich in potatoes, but otherwise broke — and you can’t convert your potato wealth into money, because the road to the city is long and poor enough that your potatoes would spoil before they get there. So instead of going to the city to become an engineer, your daughter stays home and marries a potato collector.

            The end.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @TenMinute

            You could even have saved yourself the time of posting that.

          • You are showing some serious bias here, where you ignore those who lose out. This kind of ‘bigger GDP is better, losers of policies to achieve this should just suck it up’ is exactly why I am opposed to the currently mainstream globalism.

            Your putting it this way makes me suspect that you do not understand the argument for gains from trade and think you do, but I could be mistaken. It isn’t “bigger GNP.” It’s “gains to Americans who gain from a tariff being less than losses to Americans who lose from a tariff.” Not ignoring losses to those who lose out but comparing them to gains to those who gain.

            It’s true that if all the gains go to poor people and all the losses to rich people, the net loss in economic efficiency could be a gain in utility, but is there any reason to expect that to be the case? The gainers from a steel tariff are steel workers, stockholders in steel companies, executives in steel companies. The losers are all consumers of products that use steel, all producers of products that use steel, and all producers of export goods.

          • Are you denying that one can sometimes create monopolies by running others out of business with ultra-low prices and then increasing the price again when they are gone?

            With enough effort I could fudge up a set of assumptions in which that tactic works, but under most circumstances it doesn’t. For one thing, if you are selling 95% of the market at below cost and I am selling 1%, you are losing money about 95 times as fast as I am. More than 95 times if those were the starting ratios, because when you push the price down you have to produce as much as people want to buy at that price, which is more than they were buying before.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            It isn’t “bigger GNP.” It’s “gains to Americans who gain from a tariff being less than losses to Americans who lose from a tariff.”

            Yet no one in this thread who opposes me actually made that argument before now and instead they went with a simplistic: “more trade: better.”

            And this issue is not limited to this thread, but the entire discussion of this issue in society suffers from this, where proponents of globalism tend to pretend that everyone benefits and that the people who don’t have themselves to blame and/or can trivially adapt. This is abusive behavior, in our current Western meritocracy where we harshly judge and punish people who are economically unsuccessful. It’s not just smug liberalism why Trump and Sanders supporters develop ressentiment against globalism, but (also) due to a society where large groups of people feel that their incomes and position of respect (again, strongly tied to work) can be taken away at the whim of powerful ‘elites’ who care naught about the damage they do, from their ivory towers.

            IMHO, the way you and several others argue in this thread is actively contributing to this (perceived) abusive climate to certain groups in society and as such, you are doing your part in generating anti-globalist blow back.

            It’s true that if all the gains go to poor people and all the losses to rich people, the net loss in economic efficiency could be a gain in utility, but is there any reason to expect that to be the case?

            Diminishing marginal utility of increased income seems trivially true, which means that all other things being equal, more egalitarian incomes increase overall utility. Of course, most methods to achieve more egalitarian incomes cause a decrease in average incomes, so a balance needs to be struck between the two extremes (maximal inequality or total equality of income)*.

            From this perspective, the most optimal choice may be to institute tariffs, but below the level that would compensate for the steel subsidies. And one could use the revenues to compensate the losers, by funding retraining, compensating one or more factory owners for putting their factory in mothballs (which would reduce the chance of the Chinese achieving a monopoly as you can restart the factory after Chinese subsidies end), etc.

            I would argue that this is a moderate position, in contrast to your ‘let them eat cake’ unwillingness to address the issues faced by the losers or full on protectionism.

            * Although more income is not necessarily better, as income is merely a measure of buying power, but human happiness is not 100% correlated with buying power. Introducing limits on the number of days/hours that employees are allowed to work was an example of choosing to limit incomes, to tweak society to increase happiness.

          • Aapje says:

            @Friedman

            For one thing, if you are selling 95% of the market at below cost and I am selling 1%, you are losing money about 95 times as fast as I am.

            We had this exact discussion before and I can’t be bothered to repeat myself (or look up the earlier thread), but the overall losses to the subsidizing party is greatly dependent on:
            – The level of subsidies (in an otherwise perfect/theoretical free market, minimal subsidies are sufficient to drive out competitors, as profit margins are minimal and you merely have to drive the prices so low that your competitors make a loss).
            – The cost of re-entry into the market. The higher this is, the more the subsidizing party can overcharge once some or all competitors are driven out.
            – The period that one has to subsidize to drive out competitors and the period that one can overcharge. In an otherwise perfect/theoretical free market, in a stable environment, the former is minimal and the latter is infinite.

            Of course, we don’t have perfect free markets, so in practice it is more costly to drive out the competition, but very few markets have 90% profit margins that require 95% subsidies to drive out the competition (and that is certainly not the case for the steel market).

            This thread is rather frustrating to me, since a topic with high complexity is mostly discussed at the kindergarten level and specifically to you, Mr. Friedman: you keep picking examples that seem tailored to make your position easier to defend.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Aapje:

            Yet no one in this thread who opposes me actually made that argument before now and instead they went with a simplistic: “more trade: better.”

            That might be what you heard, but it wasn’t what I said or meant.

            When I indicated that Chinese export subsidies hurt the Chinese people I didn’t mean it hurts them merely because it reduces trade or because it lowers that country’s GDP, I meant it hurts the Chinese people because we have reason to think specific Chinese people are hurt even if we don’t know their names, and we also have reason to think the amount of harm collectively done to the Chinese people who are hurt exceeds the help done to the ones helped. Hence, it’s an on-net harm.

            Believing in declining marginal utility of cash – that poor people need money more than rich people – DOES NOT HELP your argument because you have no reason to think the people who are helped by protectionism are any poorer than the people who are hurt by it. Do you?

            One of the most important concepts in applying economics is seeing what is not seen. Here is an essay about that by Bastiat which I really really recommend you read in full, but the upshot is: for any action there might be easily-spotted benefits and harder-to-see costs. Good economists learn (after thinking through the logic of many of the sort of examples given in that essay) to see those hidden costs and weigh them appropriately – that’s what you seem to not be doing here.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Aapje

            Yet no one in this thread who opposes me actually made that argument before now and instead they went with a simplistic: “more trade: better.”

            You seem to claim that no one said some people are made worse off by trade, but in my very first comment replying to you I said:
            Mechanization made many farmers worse off, but made consumers that could buy cheaper food better off. Technology, like free trade, displaces workers as things can be produced more cheaply with fewer workers. But, when all consumers have more money in their pocket, making them wealthier, they can suddenly spend this on other things creating new jobs. Russ Roberts has a really nice piece on this that I recommend: https://medium.com/@russroberts/the-human-side-of-trade-7b8e024e7536#.x4bfijcpa

            Self-sufficiency is the road to poverty. We gain from trade, whether it’s with our neighbors, outside our town, outside our state, or outside our nation. Some people do lose, at least in the short-term, but reducing trade makes pretty much everyone lose, since we’re all consumers.”

            In addition to the bolded parts, I strongly suggest reading the Russ Roberts piece I linked, as he gives an in-depth argument about trade that discusses those who lose at length. (I recommend Bastiat’s Seen and Unseen link posted by Glen as well).

            It’s just not true that ‘trade creates some losers’ wasn’t discussed prior to David’s comment.

            Arguments against trade are similar to Luddite arguments against technology. Both trade and technology are ways we use to do more with less, thus increasing our wealth. Both trade and technology displace some workers, but make consumers better off.

            The tractor displaced farmers, but I hope you don’t think tractors should have been banned. The car displaced horse and buggies and all those needed to work on them, Google displaced Lycos and Ask Jeeves and their workers, Amazon displaces a lot of brick and mortar stores and their workers, etc. It’s the process of creative destruction where better ways displace worse ways of doing things, and in the process some people do lose. However, the masses of people are made better off. So it is with technology, and so it is with trade.

          • John Schilling says:

            More than 95 times if those were the starting ratios, because when you push the price down you have to produce as much as people want to buy at that price, which is more than they were buying before.

            Or you have to engage in price discrimination, which is definitely a thing that monopolists like to do. The transaction costs involved in changing a material supply chain being rather larger than the transaction costs in changing a price, and the monopolist having deeper pockets with which to pay those transaction costs, it may be possible for the monopolist to tactically undercut whomever the competitor is trying to sell to right now while charging full price to everyone else.

          • Aapje says:

            @Glen Raphael

            Believing in declining marginal utility of cash – that poor people need money more than rich people – DOES NOT HELP your argument because you have no reason to think the people who are helped by protectionism are any poorer than the people who are hurt by it. Do you?

            If we assume that the number of steel jobs saved by the Chinese is about the same as the steel jobs lost by Americans and that other effects are similarly mirrored

            AND if we assume that economic theory is correct that free trade results in more total production (and thus societa