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Open Thread 124.5

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.

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966 Responses to Open Thread 124.5

  1. AnonYemous2 says:

    oh look a new thread

    though with the new commenting rules that’s not that important, but anyways: I was going to make a big effortpost to subtly advance my argument that the big problem in the current political climate is that no one is willing to take a loss, probably the biggest and most recent example being with the letting-off of Jussie Smollett, who is now claiming innocence. Of course, maybe he is innocent and I’m totally wrong, but then it should be the police admitting their own fault; the failure of the wrong party, whoever it is, to admit a loss, creates a split reality where everyone argues over the facts instead of the morals behind them. Kind of like a lesser version of a scissor statement. Maybe this happened in the past too, but I feel like it’s getting worse and worse because no one has any incentive to bow out gracefully.

    • Aapje says:

      One of the issues with modern society seems to be that forgiveness is becoming more rare (even after punishment). So it increasingly becomes beneficial to keep denying even if you are (partially or fully) guilty, to keep support from those who are biased to believe the denial, rather than admit guilt, take the punishment and then have the mistake stop being used against you.

      • Murphy says:

        Ya, in modern society there doesn’t seem to ever be any advantage to owning up to anything.

        If a celebrity admits to something and apologizes that just becomes another stick to beat them with.

        Never admitting anything or apologizing for anything seems to be the current winning strategy.

      • Tenacious D says:

        In That Hideous Strength, one of the minor characters is a thief, caught and confessed. In the “bad old days”, he would have been sent to prison as punishment. However, the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments is too modern and sophisticated to believe in punishment, so they are running a sort of re-education/rehabilition pilot program that the thief gets sentenced to. Lewis has someone point out that in some ways this is worse than punishment because it is open-ended: convicts remain locked up until whoever is running the program deems them rehabilitated (and in the book there was an incentive not to because the Institute wanted subjects for psychological experiments).

      • Baeraad says:

        One of the issues with modern society seems to be that forgiveness is becoming more rare (even after punishment).

        You know, I keep hearing that claim, but I’m not sure I believe it. Did people in fact used to forgive each other a lot? Because it seems more probable to me that we just didn’t used to find out about each other’s crap as often.

        I could maybe believe that we’re slower to forget than we used to be, because everything’s online now and there’s more communication that enables people to remind each other of their grudges.

      • Ketil says:

        Related: does apologizing work at all? ISTM that when people apologize, their opponents just take it as a confirmation that they were right all along, and that there’s probably more we don’t know about.

        • Enkidum says:

          Seems to me that James Gunn’s apologies are generally accepted, at least on the left. This may be because he is part of the same tribe, however.

          • quanta413 says:

            “May be” is really underselling it. People on the right wing were the ones angry in the first place.

            Being part of the same tribe is necessary for the mob to calm down but not sufficient.

            Otherwise you just have to wait it out. But then it may get stirred up again at any future point.

          • Enkidum says:

            Well, there are people in the blue tribe whose apologies (to the blue tribe) didn’t work, even when not accepting them created a material disadvantage for the blue tribe. E.g. Al Franken, whose sins were arguably far lesser than Gunn’s, and who had shown himself to be a very powerful political operator. So I’d say there’s at least some genuineness about apology acceptance.

          • quanta413 says:

            That’s why I said necessary but not sufficient. The question is how often you are forgiven without the needed tribal affiliation, not how often having the tribal affiliation is not enough.

            Intertribal fighting may mean you have to take your ball and go home anyways.

            Full-blown conversion may lead to forgiveness as well, but partly because that lets tribe 1 claim its superiority over tribe 2.

          • John Schilling says:

            e. E.g. Al Franken, […] who had shown himself to be a very powerful political operator.

            Could you elaborate on that part? He was a Senator, which is nominally a powerful office, but his committee assignments and legislative accomplishments don’t seem terribly impressive and of course he was promptly replaced by someone who will be just as reliable in casting one vote for the Democratic Party in every relevant matter. His extracurricular activities mostly seem limited to “Hi, I’m a Celebrity who Matters, please donate to the Democratic Party so that a Celebrity who Matters will like you!”, which was probably damaged by the scandal and which can to some extent be done without a senate seat.

            What am I missing?

          • Enkidum says:

            @John – hmmm, maybe I’m wrong then. I honestly don’t know that much about the details (not being American means I get a lot of this at a much more surface level than I probably should in order to talk about it). But I had thought, based on the discussion at the time, that he was a relatively important member (given the number of years he’d been active) of the Democratic senate.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @enkidum:
            John’s underselling it, slightly.

            Franken was very skilled at the “public face” part of politics. People who are good at this are quite valuable to a party. He was also tended towards “policy wonk”, so he was good from the perspective of providing support for legislation that was more likely to achieve desired ends, although the polarization of congress makes that currently somewhat less important.

            Based on the available evidence, he wasn’t all that good at “The Game of Thrones”, but I guess you only really need to die one time.

            It just so happens that asset of his most valuable to the party is also is the thing most hurt by the particular scandal. So your perception of him pre-scandal isn’t necessarily wrong, just incomplete.

    • nadbor says:

      I always thought that admissions of guilt, recants happened way too rarely in public life. It feels to me that you would be so much better off admitting you were wrong about something factual or even admitting some kind of moral trespass than having it hang over you for the rest of your career. Just cleanly apologize with no ‘buts’ and you knock the weapons out of your opponent’s hands. People who hate you were going to think you did it anyway and the rest will respect your courage.

      But this almost never happens. Basically the only time it happens is when hard physical evidence emerges in a sex scandal and only after a series of embarrassing denials.

      The fact that so few people play the ‘admit early and apologize’ gambit makes me think that my intuition is wrong and that it wouldn’t go so well for them after all.

      • albatross11 says:

        How does an angry mob decide when *enough* contrition has been shown?

        • JPNunez says:

          Which celebrities actually show contrition?

          Martha Stewart went to jail and managed to come back.

          But a bunch of sexual abusers spent decades on screen and may never even be punished, so what kind of contrition would we be talking here? Maybe when Cosby comes out of jail we can talk about contrition?

          On the other hand, I could see that some people won’t want to see former sexual abusers on screen even after jailtime/contrition acts. And that’s fine too; people have a right to work, but they don’t have a right to be famous and on TV. If you were a victim of sexual abuse, you wouldn’t want to see a sexual abuser on screen being famous and well paid just cause he donated to some charity. There are certain things right now you cannot come back from; sexual abuse in gral, pedophilia. Somehow domestic violence seems ok to sports fan, without even contrition acts.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think it’s common to see people being social- and traditional-media dragged express contrition, and it never works because of the way the incentives are aligned.

      • baconbits9 says:

        There are multiple issues here. First is that it rarely is a neat truth/lie divide where one person is 100% guilty of everything accused and that none of the charges are exaggerated even a little or that no mitigating circumstances exist, and secondly you are basically admitting to things that probably can be attached to criminal or civil charges. What are you going to do if you end up in a courtroom faced with your public declarations of guilt, culpability and remorse?

        The only way you are disarming them is if the accusations are fairly minor.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        People forgive their ingroup but not their outgroup.

        I never hated Bill Clinton, but I was very annoyed by the “I did not inhale” thing because it was so insulting to my intelligence. Bill, the correct answer is “Oh hell yeah I inhaled. Drank the bong water after. It was the 60s, man. But you know what, kids? All I felt after was dumb. Marijuana just made me feel stupid. Don’t make the mistake I did. Don’t use drugs.” That would have been much better than lying about “trying but not inhaling.”

        When running for President in 2012 Newt Gingrich was asked about leaving his cancer-stricken wife for his new wife. He said it was wrong, and he asked God for forgiveness. Good enough for me. That’s what I do when I do stuff that’s wrong.

        I think the only thing Trump ever sort of apologized for was the “grab ’em by the pussy” comment. Said he was “not a perfect person.” No shit, Donald. But I’m not electing a Pope, I’ve already got one of those.

        I think we’d get more apologies if people on the other side actually accepted them. But since they don’t, what’s the point in apologizing? It’s just an admission of guilt that will be used to beat you over the head forever.

        • Nick says:

          I think we’d get more apologies if people on the other side actually accepted them.

          Just to be clear, in line with how you begin the post, you’re saying the problem goes both ways?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Did the Clintons ever apologize for anything? My problem with them was that instead of saying “yeah I screwed up I’m sorry” they made up elaborate dodges about “trying but not inhaling” or “that depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.”*

            Epistemic status: my completely biased opinion.

            From my point of view the republicans/right/religious side is more prone to both admit fault and offer forgiveness. The other side doubles down on denials because they see themselves as “good people” and government as the way to enact their morality. Since they’re the good guys, they couldn’t possibly be doing anything wrong that would require confession and forgiveness.

            * Sort-of related question about forgiveness, mainly for the SSC Catholic Crew: Is it possible to “forgive” someone who doesn’t apologize? My former best friend lied to me, stabbed in the back and caused a great deal of hardship in my life several years ago. He has since tried to talk to me as if he wants to be friends again, but never offers an apology. I’d forgive him if he apologized, but he seems to want to pretend nothing ever happened, with no contrition on his part.

          • sandoratthezoo says:

            What’s an apology on the part of the right that would compare in importance to the Clintons’ actions?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m just saying when I try to think of politicians doing something wrong and then either apologizing for it or doubling down, the apologies are on the right and the double-downs are on the left. For instance, rather than admit she exaggerated her heritage and apologizing for it Elizabeth Warren gets a DNA test and says how proud she is of her incredibly tiny amount of Indian ancestry.

            These people do not admit to doing something wrong. I think it has something to do with the neo-puritan political morality thing but that’s just my biased opinion.

          • cassander says:

            @Conrad Honcho says:

            I can think of plenty of lefties apologizing for some thing that they did. Beto just had his wife-gate apology, for example. And trump has had several double downs.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Now that is a conundrum, an apology for doing nothing wrong. How does that fit in the world view?

          • Nick says:

            * Sort-of related question about forgiveness, mainly for the SSC Catholic Crew: Is it possible to “forgive” someone who doesn’t apologize? My former best friend lied to me, stabbed in the back and caused a great deal of hardship in my life several years ago. He has since tried to talk to me as if he wants to be friends again, but never offers an apology. I’d forgive him if he apologized, but he seems to want to pretend nothing ever happened, with no contrition on his part.

            It’s possible in a loose sense, but better not to do it; and we are certainly under no obligation to forgive the unrepentant. Talk to him about it instead. I’m saying this from experience, Conrad.

          • Deiseach says:

            Is it possible to “forgive” someone who doesn’t apologize?

            There’s two elements here: one, the forgiveness/absolution of sins. If the person does not repent and feel contrition, then there is no forgiveness. Not because the forgiveness is not freely available, but there has to be the recognition on their part that they did wrong, they must regret or feel sorrow for it, and they must make atonement in whatever way they can. Maybe the only atonement they can make is a sincere apology, but they have to do that much.

            Second, there is forgiveness on your part which you can extend or withhold as you choose. You may choose to release your anger and pain and forgive them, even if they don’t apologise, but you are also in the right to say you don’t ever want to have anything to do with them again or that you can’t trust them. If they don’t apologise, then they don’t acknowledge their wrongdoing. It may be that they don’t think they did anything wrong or that they had sufficient excuse, but that’s not your business. You can choose to forgive or not as you feel best for you. If there’s no contrition and you can’t forgive without that acknowledgement, then you don’t have to. Even if you choose to forgive, forgiveness does not obligate you to pretend it never happened or to put up with an asshole.

            (The effects of that hurt and anger on yourself are a separate matter; it may be for your own good to make the psychic effort to forgive and put an end to the matter that way, but I’m neither your therapist nor your spiritual advisor and can’t tell you what to do one way or the other).

          • Deiseach says:

            Beto just had his wife-gate apology, for example

            Oh for flip’s sake. I hadn’t heard of this particular example of thin-skinned snowflakeness, and I’m sorry now that I did. I’d like O’Rourke better if he said it was a joke (you humourless scolds) and didn’t pay a straw’s worth of attention to them, but if he feels he really needs to pander to the “It’s Tuesday, I need to find something to be offended about on Twitter” crowd then he can grovel about his “white privilege” as much as he likes.

            Isn’t there anybody out there on the Democratic list with a backbone?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Conrad:

            * Sort-of related question about forgiveness, mainly for the SSC Catholic Crew: Is it possible to “forgive” someone who doesn’t apologize? … I’d forgive [person] if he apologized, but he seems to want to pretend nothing ever happened, with no contrition on his part.

            I don’t think so. I think you have to love them without forgiving them, because extending the same forgiveness as to a contrite person would make them think they did nothing wrong, harming their soul.

          • sandoratthezoo says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I notice that you didn’t bring up a high profile apology on the right, just a non-apology on the left. Newt Gingrich was close to 20 years after his political prime when he apologized for ditching his wife before her cancer operation, I don’t know that he counts.

            Al Franken apologized for the accusations of inappropriate groping and kissing, as an example. Didn’t do him any good, clearly.

          • edmundgennings says:

            To a fair extent yes forgiveness is possible and doable.
            If someone is in that situation they may have considerable contrition and feel that what they did was deeply shameful and because of that feel very uncomfortable bringing it up out of cowardice. I was in this situation for a good while and only succeeded in finally apologizing do to a combination of social pressure I intentionally created for myself to get me to do the right thing and dutch courage. It was wrong of me to delay for so long but human weakness is ubiquitous. There is a good chance your friend is at least to some extent in this camp.
            Also he almost certainly has a different perspective on the issue.
            In terms of practical actions, letting sleeping dogs lie and interpretive charity may be called for. Alternatively, taking the gamble where you talk about what happened in a confidential environment over drinks looking to resolve this tension may resolve this tension or it may cause the relationship to entirely fail.Wether this gamble is worth taking is something that requires a lot of knowledge of your particular situation and probably something to ask a spiritual director

          • albatross11 says:

            I think Deiseach has it right here: There’s a difference between the state of your soul and the state of your ex-friend’s soul. It’s probably good for your soul to forgive your ex-friend to the extent you can; it would probably be good for his soul if he realized he’d done wrong and asked for forgiveness. But personally I think that has to come from him–he needs to realize he’s done wrong.

            FWIW, I’ve had painful experience with this. I’ve done my best to forgive the people involved, but it’s not like I’m ever going to be trusting them again.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Al Franken is a good counter example, thank you.

            Also thanks everyone for your advice about what to do about my (former) friend. I guess I’ll try to talk to him about it if he ever contacts me again.

        • Randy M says:

          When running for President in 2012 Newt Gingrich was asked about leaving his cancer-stricken wife for his new wife. He said it was wrong, and he asked God for forgiveness. Good enough for me. That’s what I do when I do stuff that’s wrong.

          I think you give short shrift to restitution and repentance. I don’t know anything about Gingrich’s personal life, so I don’t know if this quite applies here. But generally, God can judge the heart, but we need to judge behavior, and if someone does try to also mitigate any harm caused, that does not seem genuine. I’m not sure how you can mitigate leaving a wife to die alone, though in seems someone convicted it was a wicked action would be trying to find some way beyond a “whoops, my bad.”

          • Douglas Knight says:

            She didn’t die until 2013.

          • J Mann says:

            I’m not sure how you can mitigate leaving a wife to die alone

            Sounds like most of that story was misinformation from a game of telephone among Gingrich critics. Apparently, Newt asked Jackie for a divorce in the summer of 1980, a few months before she had surgery for the removal of a benign tumor. She said it was a surprise, he said they had been discussing their problems for more than ten years.

            She died thirty-three years later. According to her family, she had been given a clean bill of health from cancer, but died of other health complications.

          • Randy M says:

            Thanks for the correction; like I said, I’m going on just what Conrad posted–and possibly misreading of that, too.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yeah, I said “cancer-stricken,” not “dying.” It was a dick move. Also in my description I probably gave short shrift to Newt’s contrition. I still remember the interview and feeling moved by it.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Didn’t he also leave his 2nd wife after an MS diagnosis?

          • J Mann says:

            Q: Do you, Newt, swear to honor this woman, for richer and and for poorer, in sickness and in health?

            A: Not exaaaactly…

      • Enkidum says:

        I think most people don’t play the gambit because most people don’t actually view themselves as having done that much wrong. Cf. Louis C.K., who is basically dead to the hard left after decades of having been one of their heroes (I speak as one of the hard-ish left wingers who was a huge fan and can’t deal with him any longer). It’s been very explicitly said that the reason for his now being persona non grata is that his “apology” was such a clusterfuck, and his behaviour since has shown a complete lack of actual appreciation of why what he did was considered a sin.

    • J Mann says:

      Why should Smollett take a loss if he has the money, legal team, and connections not to?

      As to people more generally, IMHO, if you think that hate crimes are under-responded to, then you probably suspect Smollett is guilty but think it’s an irrelevant distraction. Plus it’s not impossible that he was a victim of some bizarre scheme by his friends, and the CPD is not know for its incorruptibility …

      • albatross11 says:

        There’s probably no reason Smollet should volunteer to take such a loss, but the prosecutor in Chicago should probably have imposed some nontrivial loss on him, to discourage others from doing their own hate hoax.

        • Garrett says:

          I can understand why Smollet would lawyer up. I can understand the idea that the DA thinks that the punishment would be no different from the volunteer work he’s already doing. But that’s separate from a formal conviction.
          Likewise, I can understand why the DA might think that the case is sufficiently circumstantial so as to be unwinnable and thus not just or worth the cost to prosecute. But that doesn’t justify sealing the records.

    • Maybe this happened in the past too

      The Alger Hiss case would be a striking example. Long after Hiss was convicted of perjury for denying that he had been a communist agent, even after the fall of the Soviet Union released Soviet records that seemed to confirm his guilt, people continued to insist that he was innocent, that the evidence against him was an FBI plot.

  2. johan_larson says:

    Your client, the new head of Hogwarts, is determined to stop dividing students into the brave, the smart, the evil, and the whatever. He wants you to provide a better way of sorting them into a small number of groups, ideally using objective criteria rather than relying on the advice of a magic hat. How should the students of Hogwarts be sorted?

    • Thomas Jorgensen says:

      Four side die.. Except, magic school, so people would hex the die? Four side anti-magic dice? They must have ways to stop people hexxing objects, or every qudditch match would turn into a context of who has the supporters best at hexxing the balls.. (.. that would probably be a better sport than quidditch-as-written..)

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I think the question is “what should the four categories be?” not “what method should be used?”.

        • Joseph Greenwood says:

          I think Thomas is on to something though. Sorting students in a way that doesn’t directly correspond to their values, but also isn’t anticorrelated with them, might foster friendships and virtues that students might not otherwise be prone to, without precluding friendships built on shared passion and saving the world.

          • JPNunez says:

            Is that old social experiment about dividing people into groups and have them instantly fight between them and adopt random codes of conduct, you know, replicated?

            Cause if so just replacing the sorting hat with dice, but keeping the Griffindor, etc etc labels will be counterproductive. If anything, putting all the evil people in one house will mean that some of them will regress to the mean and become less evil. If that social experiment has been replicated.

    • Deiseach says:

      As a member of the whatever, I would advise your client to stop underestimating us. You don’t want a badger biting your leg.

      (Honestly, why do people think Hufflepuffs are cuddly? If the cardinal virtue associated with them is Justice*, Batman is a Hufflepuff. Judge Dread is a Hufflepuff. Or think of the Terry Pratchett quote from “Men at Arms”: So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.

      WE ARE NOT CUDDLY, PEOPLE!)

      *Slytherins are obviously Prudence, they’ve got the snake and all!
      Gryffindors are Fortitude. Justice for Hufflepuffs, because we are concerned with fairness, and that leaves Temperance for Ravenclaws.

      • johan_larson says:

        I don’t know. Whenever I think of Hufflepuff, the character that comes to mind is Samwise Gamgee. Sam is a good man. He is loyal and tenacious. He makes a real contribution in the story he is in. But I have a hard time thinking of him as formidable.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          That’s a failure of your imagination. Sam killed Shelob.

          Tolkien does a weird thing– his narrator patronizes hobbits a fair amount of the time, but they’re pretty capable.

          • Joseph Greenwood says:

            +1

          • EchoChaos says:

            Sam killed Shelob.

            He just wounded her, not killed her. But yes, they are pretty valiant characters.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Only with an elven blade and only when Shelob uses her full weight to try to crush him. He was brave, but without the strength to do mortal damage on his own.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Sidetrack about hobbits: They are counted as Men (what we would now call humans), but no hobbit has ever killed another hobbit. This strikes me as making them very different from humans.

          • woah77 says:

            No hobbit has ever killed another hobbit except Smeagol.

          • achenx says:

            The line is “no hobbit has ever killed another on purpose in the Shire”, so Smeagol doesn’t count.

          • The Nybbler says:

            So either hobbits in the Shire are quite peaceful, non-peaceful hobbits are detected and driven out before committing murder, or the murderous hobbits are really good at making it look like an accident?

          • LHN says:

            I’m now imagining some sort of mirror universe cozy mystery genre in the Shire where an apparent murder takes place, and it’s the detective’s job to uncover the evidence that it was really something else after all.

            (Or in the noir version, to make actual murders look like something else, but that wouldn’t sell in the Shire. Bill Ferny and his ilk in Bree might go for them, assuming they were literate.)

        • Deiseach says:

          Well, others have mentioned Sam’s contribution. Look at Merry and Pippin as well, and the Hobbits at the end in the Scouring of the Shire.

          But that’s not the point – Gryffindors are the ones running around waving swords and being big flashy heroes. Hufflepuffs are the ones where, if we decide you deserve it, you are going down and no recourse. You’ll get the benefit of the doubt and second chances with Hufflepuffs, but eventually there comes a reckoning if you don’t change your tune.

        • Basil Elton says:

          One of the key features of Hufflepuff seem to be relying on collectivism and cooperation rather than individual heroes. In this sense, pretty much every world’s army since at least 18 century is totally Hufflepuff. Including those which fought in the two world wars, and I can’t think of many (real-world, human-made) things that are more formidable.

      • Joseph Greenwood says:

        I could see Hufflepuffs as fortitude (or courage, if you prefer) and Gryffindors as justic—ah, never mind, you are right.

        The real question is, what are the humors of the four houses?

        • Deiseach says:

          The real question is, what are the humors of the four houses?

          Riffing off this site, here we go:

          Ravenclaw – Melancholic (associations with scholarship)
          Hufflepuff – Phlegmatic
          Slytherin – Sanguine (associated with Jupiter, which is kingship, and Slytherin is the House of Ambition – not Evil – they’re just pragmatic about how they achieve that power, status and influence so they stand in opposition to Hufflepuff*)
          Gryffindor – Choleric (Mars and running off half-cocked at the drop of a hat)

          *Yes, Hufflepuff, not Gryffindor despite how it’s set up in the books. Ravenclaw as Temperates are the opposite to the ‘leap before you look’ Gryffindors. Slytherin are “Do whatever it takes to get you where you want to go, and if that means being good and virtuous okay, but if it means string-pulling and relying on connections also okay” and Hufflepuff are “The end does not justify the means”.

          Slytherin and Gryffindor will naturally clash because they’re both competitive and striving for leadership, as seen in the Quidditch matches and competition for the end of year Cup. Gryffindor tend to think they have a right to be leaders because they’re the heroic types (though they don’t really phrase it like that to themselves; they operate instinctually rather than planning it out like Slytherin), Slytherins think they have the right to be leaders because they work for it. Naturally they’re going to butt heads since there can’t be two kings on one throne.

      • emiliobumachar says:

        Your points are well taken. As shallow as it is, I think the main problem is the name.

        • J Mann says:

          The Hufflepuffs, like Sam, are designed to be underestimated. In the world of Survivor, Gryffindors are challenge monsters, Ravenclaws are puzzle masters, Slytherins are social gamers, and Hufflepuffs are reliable.

      • JPNunez says:

        I like how even JK doesn’t think highly of the Huffles, and just introduced a notable Hufflepuff in book 4, only to have him killed in the same book.

        House Hufflepuff only must have existed to make Quidditch quadrangular tournaments possible.

      • baconbits9 says:

        Batman is not a HufflePuff, he sets his own morality and then goes and imposes it on the world.

        • Nick says:

          Also, Batman won’t kill you.

          Hey Deiseach, is Rorschach a Hufflepuff? 😀

          • Deiseach says:

            No, Rorschach isn’t, though ironically Ozymandias’ entire plot brings him close to being one at the end. And Batman not killing the Joker is what makes him Hufflepuff (chooses an ethical system, makes a moral choice and sticks to it) rather than Slytherin (pragmatic solution to the whole “locking him up in Arkham means he’ll only be let out/escape once more, and start up again, because he’ll never be cured or change of his own accord so his death is the only way to break this circle”) or Gryffindor (the heroic choice to engage in a fight to the death with the villain).

          • baconbits9 says:

            So Harry is a Hufflepuff because he doesn’t let Lupin and Sirius kill Wormtail? Or because he doesn’t actually kill Voldemort, he only uses a disarming spell in their duel?

          • Deiseach says:

            So Harry is a Hufflepuff because he doesn’t let Lupin and Sirius kill Wormtail?

            Oh, Harry is a Gryffindor through and through; he’d happily kill (as long as it was a fair fight and in the hot blood of the unthinking moment) but it’s only under Dumbledore’s influence that he’s guided away from these impulses. The “not letting two kill one” is more the Gryffindor Code of Chivalry than Hufflepuff Ethical Rule.

      • SamChevre says:

        I think the Hufflepuffs are reliability, not Justice; Justice is the coldest and most implacable of the virtues, and is deeply uncomfortable and unsettling. That just doesn’t seem like House Hufflepuff to me.

        “Mercy, five times mercy, we pray you. We would be utter fools to pray for justice.” (Bujold)

        • Deiseach says:

          That just doesn’t seem like House Hufflepuff to me.

          Which is why the popular “ooh so cuddly and harmless, slightly dim and easily led but eager to please” image is so damn annoying. The House symbol is a badger. Badgers are not particularly cuddly in folklore, and the reputation of the animal (from badger baiting) is of one that will fight hard when at bay and which has a dangerous, strong, bite where it will fix its teeth into an enemy till death:

          The badger is a usually quiet and docile creature in its own domain; however, when cornered or when a threat is perceived it can possess impressive courage. Weighing up to thirty-five pounds when fully grown, the badger has an extraordinarily dangerous bite, which it is willing to use when threatened. In addition, badgers have extremely powerful claws, used for digging in hard earth, which are more than capable of injuring a dog. A formidable adversary for any dog, the badger was a sought-after victim for the fighting pit.

          That’s Hufflepuff; leave us be and we’ll leave you be, but we have claws and teeth that will surprise you.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Hogwarts sorting makes a lot of sense in theory. If you have four founders with different values and personalities, sorting the students by which of the founders they most resemble seems like a good compromise. The founders get to encourage and pass on their values to like-minded students, and fewer students are required to mouth words they don’t believe in order to get an education.

      The problem with it in the books is sloppy writing. We’re told that there are four houses, but really there are only three: good guys get sorted into Griffendor, bad guys get sorted into Slytherin, and faceless Huffleclaws are used to fill out crowds. If one of the main characters was a Ravenpuff then maybe they wouldn’t seem as interchangeable and useless but the way that the books were written only Griffendor and Slytherin actually matter.

      • baconbits9 says:

        In a war between good and evil only Slytherin and Griffyndor matter.

        • J Mann says:

          Theoretically, both sides should be trying to sway the other two to their cause, but at the end, it’s really Slytherins against everyone else.

          • johan_larson says:

            You know what would have been interesting? A Slytherin who held true to the professed values of his or her house (ambition, cunning, leadership, and resourcefulness) and didn’t side with evil. I could see a kind of edgy trader/businessman type, who will not lie or cheat but certainly won’t offer you a better deal than he has to, decide that in the end he’s better off if Voldemort loses, and acts accordingly.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I believe Slughorn was True Slytherin, and those Pure Blood nitwits were totally implausible. They were sacrificing themselves for an abstract cause.

          • Nick says:

            You know what would have been interesting? A Slytherin who held true to the professed values of his or her house (ambition, cunning, leadership, and resourcefulness) and didn’t side with evil.

            Wasn’t the decision put to the students of Slytherin right before the Battle of Hogwarts? I think some of them stayed to fight for the good guys, but it’s been a while.

            The problem isn’t that these characters don’t exist but that they aren’t central characters. Nancy’s example of Slughorn is probably the best, but even he doesn’t get much screen time, especially compared to the likes of Draco and friends, Lucius, Voldemort….

          • baconbits9 says:

            A Slytherin who held true to the professed values of his or her house (ambition, cunning, leadership, and resourcefulness)

            Isn’t this most of Snape? Sure you could ding him for leadership but he definitely has the cunning, ambition and resourcefulness.

          • Nick says:

            Isn’t this most of Snape? Sure you could ding him for leadership but he definitely has the cunning, ambition and resourcefulness.

            How ambitious is it to be teaching at Hogwarts? This is something I’ve never gotten a sense of; is it an extremely high honor, or is Snape taking a dead end job when he could have gone anywhere with potions talent like his?

          • baconbits9 says:

            Hes ambitious enough to end up as head of house and eventually headmaster of Hogwarts, and early on he joins Voldemort and is willing to sacrifice an innocent to get into his inner circle.

          • Nick says:

            Ah, good points both.

          • J Mann says:

            @Nick – I’d argue Snape gets sidetracked by Lily’s death. Young Snape is a good fit for Slytherin: desperate for recognition, ambitious enough to join the Death Eaters notwithstanding having a muggle parent, and talented enough to work his way to their top ranks.

            After Lily’s death, he manages to simultaneously work for Dumbledore AND Voldemort, who as he points out are the two greatest legilimancers of their generations, and to make himself indispensable to both. That frankly shows the characteristics of all four houses in crazy amounts, to the point that it’s almost pointless to ask which house adult Snape belongs in.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “How ambitious is it to be teaching at Hogwarts?”

            I’m not sure, but Dumbledore seems to be taking whatever teachers he can get. This has humorous and dramatic possibilities, but it might also imply that there isn’t a lot of competition for the jobs.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I’m not sure, but Dumbledore seems to be taking whatever teachers he can get. This has humorous and dramatic possibilities, but it might also imply that there isn’t a lot of competition for the jobs.

            Its also the generation that would have been teachers if they weren’t wiped out in Voldemort’s first go round. If you are going to take the story seriously (not something I recommend) you have to take a lot of the quirks as being a direct result of losing almost an entire generation of highly skilled wizards and witches.

          • Nick says:

            You also also have to consider that most of the positions filled were for a cursed position that few likely wanted.

            I’m surprised Dumbledore didn’t look abroad for teachers. There have got to be a lot of talented wizards in countries unaffected by the Wizarding War.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Nick, makes you wonder what reputation Wizarding Britain has abroad.

            Alternatively, it makes you wonder how ethnically or culturally prejudiced they are. We don’t see much among the students at Hogwarts, but some of the comments about Fleur might hint at something.

          • LHN says:

            @Nick My recollection is that no Slytherin student stayed, which I found intensely disappointing.

            On one of the first “which house are you?” official online things set up, there was a kid who wrote something like “I’d be Slytherin, but I’d be Harry Potter’s friend because he always wins.” I remain mystified that no such Hogwarts student ever emerged in the book.

            (On the faculty side Slughorn was sort of like that, but even he wasn’t very clever about it.)

          • Nick says:

            @Nick My recollection is that no Slytherin student stayed, which I found intensely disappointing.

            Based on an interview, it seems Rowling intended for some of the Slytherins to have come back alongside Slughorn to fight, but there doesn’t appear to be textual evidence for this. The Voldemort quote seems to speak against it, actually. I’m not sure what to do when Word of God contradicts itself.

            On one of the first “which house are you?” official online things set up, there was a kid who wrote something like “I’d be Slytherin, but I’d be Harry Potter’s friend because he always wins.” I remain mystified that no such Hogwarts student ever emerged in the book.

            That… is brilliant, and I am so disappointed now that that never happened.

            Harry Potter has the most fanfiction of anything, right? Tell me there’s a fic in the 10% that does this.

          • albatross11 says:

            There’s a pretty good fanfic called something like “Truth and Reconciliation” that has some positive Slytherin characters, and also talks about some innocent Slytherin students being done in by angry mobs who thought all the Slytherin kids were death eaters.

            The fanfic itself is really odd–it’s partly an intelligent adult look at the wizarding world (so Hermoine is thinking about stuff like the impending demographic collapse in Wizarding England due to the large number of deaths in the Voldemort-related wars, traumatized war orphans who are also training to be wizards at Hogwarts, and PTSD in all the main characters in the years after the war.) But there’s also a fair bit of straight wish-fulfillment sex in there.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            That might be Amends, or Truth and Reconciliation

            Hermione’s first year after the end of the series?

          • Clutzy says:

            How ambitious is it to be teaching at Hogwarts? This is something I’ve never gotten a sense of; is it an extremely high honor, or is Snape taking a dead end job when he could have gone anywhere with potions talent like his?

            It seems to me that its a decently high position, akin to teaching at a university of fairly high prestige. Dumbledoor being the GOAT wizard and all. The thing about wizard society is that like 90% of wizards are basically incompetent, their skillset is that of a housecleaner, but with magic. Remember the people Harry/Ron/Hermione impersonate to get into the Ministry of Magic? Those dullards are average wizards. Ron’s brothers sell magic items to the Ministry because so many of its employees are incompetent and cant cast protective charms.

            Basically, outside of Hogwarts, elite Wizards are basically Aurors or doing something exploratory and non-traditional (Charlie and dragons, there is an article in the newspaper about some guy breaking ancient curses to get treasure, etc).

          • albatross11 says:

            Clutzy:

            Another way that real life is a reasonable approximation for HP.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          Well yeah, that’s what happens when you try to substitute a Manichean struggle between good and evil for character motivations.

          As described, Ravenclaws should chafe against not having access to the Restricted Section of the library. They’re clever, they have a thirst for knowledge, and hey after all they’re not Syltherins so it’s not like their curiosity could be dangerous right? It’s not hard to imagine a Ravenclaw becoming a dark wizard if you’re willing to think through why someone might choose to study the dark arts.

          Likewise, Griffendors are all about heroism and responsibility, fighting the good fight so that others don’t have to… why don’t more of them go the route of Mad Eye Moody? In any conflict it’s easy to see yourself as incorruptible and your enemies actions as unforgivable. So wouldn’t a true hero take the burden on himself, using unforgivable curses on the truly evil? After all, you’re not a dark wizard you’re a man with the courage to make choices that others won’t….

          You can have good and evil, I’m certainly not asking for a re-write of Harry Potter in the style of George R.R. Martin. But let people with good intentions struggle with temptation to do evil in the name of a good cause. Show people who fell short of their ideals. It’s a lot more interesting than just having all of the villains be cackling one-dimensional caricatures.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Likewise, Griffendors are all about heroism and responsibility, fighting the good fight so that others don’t have to… why don’t more of them go the route of Mad Eye Moody?

            Because Dumbledore almost goes down that track and then dedicates his life to preventing other students from doing so. Do Fred and George turn out so well if they are expelled earlier or Filtch gets to punish them as he wishes? What happens to Lupin, Hagrid or James + Sirius if Albus isn’t watching everything?

          • JPNunez says:

            I assume most of the Gryffindor do go the Mad Eye route. After all, Harry and Ron end up as cops.

            Chances are Aurors have a very bad survival rate. We know that Harry and Ron live to their forties, but Mad Eye actually dies in book 7. What happens to Lupin, James and Sirius without Dumbledore? uh, they all fucking die, that’s what happened in the books. On top of that, the wives of the dead married guys? Also dead.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Speaking of going down the Mad-eye route, doesn’t Molly use an unforgivable curse to kill Bellatrix?

          • baconbits9 says:

            After all, Harry and Ron end up as cops.

            Aurors aren’t cops, they are navy seals, or CIA assassins. Arthur Weasely is a cop.

          • Nick says:

            There’s no indication in the text that Molly used the Killing Curse, only a fatal one. In the movie, doesn’t Bellatrix turn to stone and shatter or something?

          • JPNunez says:

            AFAIK Arthur Weasley was in some Ministry department about confiscating wizard artifacts going to the muggle world disguised as muggle artifacts or something.

            He probably sent the actual cops to collect said artifacts, but he seems to me like a bureaucrat.

            Aurors are probably the closest to cops? They are in charge of guarding Azkaban, so they are at least prison guards, and they go around arresting people. I dunno that we’d see Aurors directing traffic, but I don’t think traffic is a thing for wizards.

    • ing says:

      All students must choose a school of magic in which to specialize.
      The schools are Conjuration, Evocation, Transmutation, Abjuration, Illusion, Enchantment, Divination, and Necromancy.

      Students may take classes that are not in their chosen specialty, but each student is banned from a small number of other schools to improve their focus.

      The eight schools of magic get appropriate patrons and slogans and color schemes, and become the eight houses of Hogwarts.

      • Deiseach says:

        Problem with Necromancy is that it’s going to end up as Slytherins Part Deux: the default evil house against everyone else (sure, Illusion and Evocation could go darkside, but if you’re talking about UNHOLY DARK RITES TO RAISE THE DEAD then Necromancy gets the bad rap everytime).

        • Murphy says:

          Nah, you elder-scrolls it where restoration/healing and necromancy are actually the same school of magic, based on the same expertise and principles just… focusing on different stages.

          Necromancers typically end up working as Aurors where the where the souls of murder victims are routinely summoned to identify their murderers or have a last-goodbye with their loved ones.

          Meanwhile some people who meet an untimely end and their loved ones campaign for the right to be summoned back to the world of the living and undead rights are a hot-button political issue.

        • cassander says:

          Only if you write it that way. If you’re clever you make necromancy about bringing things back to life, not killing them. That makes it the natural discipline for healing and restoration, so it’s what all the bleeding hearts and hippies take up, while emo slytherins who join eventually get bored and switch to lighting things on fire with the evokers. That leaves the necromancers as the nicest, friendliest people on campus. They keep up the goth aesthetic as a joke, of course.

        • johan_larson says:

          Alternately, good necromancers protect the living from the restless dead.

          • Matt says:

            The Dresden Files has a name for that kind of wizard: An Ectomancer. Basically a medium.

            Necromancers are bad news, and the only time we see one healing someone from the almost dead, it’s described as a pretty horrific experience for all involved.

            Though the main character does know how to perform and even does perform some necromancy (not on a human which is not technically against the rules / not black magic) in one of the books.

          • johan_larson says:

            The Dresden Files has a name for that kind of wizard: An Ectomancer. Basically a medium.

            That’s one way to go, I suppose. Alternately, they could be specialized combat mages putting the undead down for good.

          • Deiseach says:

            Alternately, good necromancers protect the living from the restless dead.

            Those are exorcists, different speciality. If you’re going to raise Grandma’s ghost so the family can have a last goodbye, that’s a medium. And if you’re going the hippy route, you have got to change the name because “necromancy” has too bad an association.

          • Lambert says:

            ‘Department of Post-Mortem Communications’

          • Murphy says:

            @johan_larson

            Abhorsen?

            Though in the Old Kingdom series necromancy and “free magic”(unstructured and revolving around binding spirits to your will) in general is implied to be corrupting.

          • Nornagest says:

            ‘Department of Post-Mortem Communications’

            I liked “Department of Residual Human Resources”, myself.

        • Nick says:

          Why not go the etymological route and make necromancy a specialization of divination? Oneiromancy could be another one. With the eighth slot free, you could have a proper healing school or something.

        • JPNunez says:

          Um, Jesus is a necromancer, and he seems to be well regarded in general.

          e: @Nick yeah, but Necrokinesis lost the opportunity to coin the name for the field.

    • Murphy says:

      Boring ravenclaw answer: ability streaming.

      Assess all the kids coming in for general knowledge and speed learning and understanding things.

      Sort into streams who have classes together so that the ones who learn easily don’t end up bored out their their tree or with their potential wasted while and the struggling kids don’t end up hopelessly lost and struggling to keep up.

      Not doing that is hideously cruel.

      Less boring hufflepuff answer:

      group students like above then throughout their entire time have constant group-projects with along with constant feedback from teammates on how easy each person is to work with, because the ability to cooperate and work with others is important:

      https://youtu.be/ji5_MqicxSo?t=3075

      Fun gryffindor answer:

      Put each student through a staged trial by adversity where they’re convinced it’s real and group by how they respond.

      Slytherin answer: keep the hat but hack it to group my friends with particularly gullible kids of wealthy people so that they can forge connections ,network or con them out of their fortunes…. this may have already happened in the HP universe…..

      • Nornagest says:

        Is Hogwarts big enough to get anything out of ability streaming? If we go by named characters, there are only something like forty students in each grade*. Any more complicated streaming than “regular/remedial” is going to give you some impractically small classes.

        I guess you could do something like an apprenticeship system for advanced students — pick the brightest half-dozen kids in each year and give them the option of hanging out with their favorite teacher. But that doesn’t really fit into the house system.

        (*)This doesn’t really make sense given the size and complexity of British wizarding as it’s presented to us, but it’s probably one of those things we shouldn’t think about too hard.

        • Murphy says:

          I’d say so, they have enough that they don’t simply have all 4 houses in each class. Many classes are 1 house at a time and some are 2 house at a time.

          Ya, Rowling didn’t deal well with scale. if there’s that few then most of the population works for the ministry.

          • Murphy says:

            Thinking more on this, it makes a lot of the “greatest mage of his generation” stuff a lot less impressive. It’s basically being top of your highschool class.

            Also it puts the war casualties into a different light when the 80ish dead in the final battle is something like 2% of the entire population making it about twice as devastating to the magical population of the UK as WW2 was to the the real UK.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Hogwarts is highly selective, drawing from all the talent in Britain, so top of your high school class, but at the most exclusive high school in the country is quite a bit more impressive.

          • Murphy says:

            The impression given is that the students there aren’t exactly the cream of the academic crop.

            Every weasely gets in, including the one who doesn’t like that whole work concept and various characters are shown to be not terribly bright.

            So if it’s exclusive it’s mostly politically exclusive (where do muggleborns fall in this given there’s no apparently entrance exam) rather than capability-exclusive

            which brings us right back to it just being a not-terribly impressive highschool class.

          • Nick says:

            Hogwarts is highly selective, drawing from all the talent in Britain, so top of your high school class, but at the most exclusive high school in the country is quite a bit more impressive.

            But is there any indication in the series that there are other magical schools in Britain?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            To tack on to what Nornagest already said, Harry Porter isn’t really aiming to give you a truly workable model of wizarding society. On the one hand, wizards seem to be a very tiny fraction of the general muggle population. On the other hand, portrayals of things like Quidditch World Cup or the Ministry Magic suggest a much larger population.

            Everything in the books is about how they feel, not about how they are real.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ Murphy

            No, its selective for magical ability, this is like looking at a school that selects for athletic ability and criticizing its college completion rate, academics aren’t its primary objective.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            But is there any indication in the series that there are other magical schools in Britain?

            No. The only other magical schools mentioned are Beauxbatons (France), Durmstrang (Russia) and The Salem Witches’ Institute (America).

          • The Nybbler says:

            And the impression the books give about Durmstrang is it’s basically “Herr Karkaroff’s school of Dark Wizardry”.

            (Durmstrang is in Northern Europe, but what country is not mentioned.)

        • baconbits9 says:

          Again you have to assume that the classes would have been larger if there hadn’t been a war. Only the Weasley’s participated in the post war baby boom with everyone else appearing to have 1 or 2 kids, other than redheads I can’t recall any three+ child families with almost the entire Harry Potter circle being only children (or never having another sibling mentioned). Luna, Neville, Hermoine, Cho, Seamus, Draco, Crabbe, Goyle, etc. Only the Pavarti twins and the Creaveys can I recall having 2 kids.

          On the other end there are multiple families almost wiped out, as far as we know the Blacks have one surviving child at the end of the series, as does the Malfoy line.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Objective? We’ll sort them according to sex and whether or not their biological mother was a muggle. Four groups, objective criteria. (anyone gets all culture-warry about sex and we’ll bring out the magic hat as a tiebreaker). This will make Quiddich games terrible, but they were terrible anyway.

      We could use hair color. House Ginger, House Blonde, House Raven, House Grouse (for the leftovers). Magic will be used to check for dyes and other tricks, of course.

      We could go geographically, by home location.

      Or, we could simply use sortition. This is the most reliable at avoiding correlation with the old categories.

    • Nick says:

      qudditch

      Griffendor

      Griffyndor

      Syltherins

      Filtch

      This thread pains me. 🙁

    • honoredb says:

      Goals: Strong sense of house identity, but without the house identities imposing limiting senses of self on the students.

      Four houses to take advantage of existing infrastructure, but change the names. Start off with it being random for a generation, then giving students the option of joining their older relatives’ house (I bet this is how British schools do it IRL).

      If house identities start emerging in a way the head doesn’t like, one interesting way to fix it would be use the house point system–track which virtues and vices are responsible for house point changes, and then re-sort the first years at the end of the year into the house they match the least based on the points they gained and lost.

      Or heck, just wait a year before sorting the first-years, have them spend equal time in each house during the year, then let them pick.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        Four houses to take advantage of existing infrastructure, but change the names. Start off with it being random for a generation, then giving students the option of joining their older relatives’ house (I bet this is how British schools do it IRL).

        The interesting difference is that typically four houses is the number at day schools which have imported the House system purely to make intramural competition work. The boarding schools where it actually developed tend to have a much larger number of houses- Eton has 25, Winchester has 11, and Harrow has 13, for example- as it’s generally agreed that a boarding house should have about 10-15 pupils in a year.

        In terms of how pupils are selected for their houses, in my experience many schools have one house (often referred to as “College”) which was the nucleus that the rest of the school developed around and is reserved for pupils with academic scholarships. AFAIK other pupils will usually be put in the same house as an older sibling if they have one (even if the sibling in question has left the school before they start), it is possible to express a preference, and otherwise it’s random (with a few school-specific weirdnesses- for instance, Clifton College, the school featured in the poem Vitai Lampada, used to have a house specifically for Jews).

        I don’t know if anywhere has an automatic policy of putting pupils in the same houses as their parents were- the only one of my school friends whose father had also attended the school was not in the same house as him.

    • Walter says:

      What are the goals for these groups? Like, what is this sort in service of? Presumably ‘random, lol’ doesn’t work, but can my client explain which test it would fail?

      • cassander says:

        Stoking tribal identity to make students more likely to donate money to hogwarts once they graduate. They’re desperate to build up its endowment, you have no idea how much it costs in legal fees every time someone gets mauled by a hippogriff or turned to stone by a basilisk.

      • johan_larson says:

        As is often the case, your client isn’t quite sure. He definitely likes inter-house competition; he remembers it fondly from his own youth. And he is open to the idea of slightly different courses of instruction for the different houses, with students being sorted by interest, talent, or maybe temperament.

        But since the current system led (or enabled?) one house to turn distinctly evil, something has to change.

        You have quite a bit of latitude here. Your client is open to suggestions and only sort of knows what he wants.

        • Nick says:

          But since the current system led (or enabled?) one house to turn distinctly evil, something has to change.

          It’s interesting to ask what happened here. Is the Sorting Hat just sorting inclined-to-be-evil people into one house? But come on, we all sin. What does an evil Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, or (yes, Deiseach) Hufflepuff house look like?

          Nabil ad Dajjal suggests a Gryffindor would be tempted to do evil for the sake of good. Ravenclaw is the pursuit of knowledge (and thereby power) above all else. And Hufflepuff? I’m guessing bureaucrats, the ultimate expression of fairness.

          • Nornagest says:

            An evil Gryffindor would look like a radical of some stripe. They’d have their cause, and they’d be brave enough to commit atrocities to prop it up, or at least to be callous and hostile to perceived threats. (I actually think this is a more realistic path to serious evil, as opposed to selfishness and petty corruption, than the Slytherin schtick, but I disagree with J.K. Rowling about a lot of things.)

            Ravenclaw would be evil through apathy or through subscribing to a bad system. Either some people have to get hurt along the way to understanding whatever they’re interested in, or their model of people is broken in some way that incidentally hurts them. The mad scientist thing is the easiest way to play this, but any brand of evil that treats people as passive objects rather than tools (Slytherin) or opponents (Gryffindor) could belong in the house.

            Hufflepuff’s the least likely to be actively and independently evil, because it’s so focused on prosociality, but social systems aren’t perfect, which makes it the most likely house to go along with and amplify evil in their friends or their society. And wizarding society’s pretty messed up, so you wouldn’t have to stretch very far.

          • beleester says:

            Seeing as Salazar Slytherin apparently left a giant monster sealed away in the castle just in case one of his heirs needed to go murder their fellow students, I suspect the problem isn’t with the house’s stated virtue, but with the guy who set it up.

            @Johan_larson joked about not relying on the advice of a magic hat, but that might actually be the exact problem – if it was enchanted by the founders, maybe Salazar added some “undocumented features” in it for recruiting fellow evil wizards. Replace the hat with one of those “Which Harry Potter house are you?” personality quizzes and see if Slytherin still has the problem in a few years.

          • Deiseach says:

            Evil Hufflepuff? Easy.

            Knights Templar. (Warning: TV Tropes link).

            If people won’t be good of their own accord, we’ll make them be good.

            Though Dolores Umbridge as the evil bureaucrat type of Hufflepuff is good, too: think of all the pink and fluffy pussy cats, was that cute’n’cuddly’n’harmless enough for ya? 😉

    • rlms says:

      The ten natural categories: “ancap, boring, prude, CAPS LOCK, hufflepuff, jock, way too into Myers-Briggs, nationalist, LessWronger and landlord”.

    • Eric Rall says:

      Maybe the Brakebills method (from “The Magicians”): younger students are grouped together in single undifferentiated “house”. Once they’re far enough into their education to specialize, sort them into houses by specialty.

      Hogwarts seems to have a much less specialized curriculum than Brakebills, so the implementation would be a bit different. E.g. a Transfigurations-speciality student would still have Potions classes, but they’d get a different potions track (less intensive, and probably more focused on practical potions at the expense of esoteric and theoretical potions work) than a Potions-specialty student.

      • J Mann says:

        I thought the Brakebills method was to sort most people into houses by their magical affinity, and to put people who don’t have an early detectable affinity in the available house based on which one has space. (So everyone in the “Physical Kids” house has either a material affinity or no detectable affinity).

        Was the show different, and if so, where does the house name come from?

        • Eric Rall says:

          In the show, it mostly worked as you describe, but I think the sorting didn’t happen until after the first year, or at least late in the first year. So Alice and Quentin, as first-years, were unsorted at the beginning of the series (and if they got sorted at all before everything went to hell, I missed it). Margo and Elliot, as upper-division students, had already been sorted into the Physical Kids house. Penny, whose affinity was both rare and obvious, seems to have been sorted early in his first year as a special case. I don’t remember if Kady ever got assigned a house in the series.

          Come to think of it, you might be right about the unaffiliated being assigned temporarily to a house until their affinity becomes apparent: I think Alice’s and Quentin’s rooms might be in the Physical Kids House, but if so the narrative didn’t really call a lot of attention to it (and there was one time that they tried to get into the Physical Kids house after hours for an emergency and didn’t know how to open the door, which seems to imply they weren’t living there at the time).

          If my mention of “Transfigurations” and “Potions” is what’s confusing you, I’d intended that as an adaptation of the Brakebills affinity system to Potterverse (where wizards seem less specialized, and start their formal training much younger), not as a description of how things work at Brakebills.

    • Basil Elton says:

      I’m surprised nobody suggested the good old two-house system which gets so much mentioning here. Just make them House Experimental and House Control.

    • beleester says:

      Pick four evocative-sounding names – you can use the original house names if you want, or if you think there’s too much baggage then just pick random D&D monsters or something to use as mascots. Assign students to these houses randomly. Name a couple of virtues for each, being sure to assign at least two conflicting ones to each, such as Ambition and Self-Sacrifice, or Justice and Mercy.

      Basically, this is the horoscope writer’s approach – rather than pick four values and declare them the be-all end-all of good wizardry, just set up a mirror and let the students see themselves in it. Sit back and enjoy students explaining to each other why it makes perfect sense that they’d be sorted into House Beholder and why they’d never fit in with House Storm Giant.

      (If necessary, hire Wizard Scott Alexander to find kabbalistic connections for you between animals and virtues, and Wizard GK Chesterton to explain how everything that’s an example of one virtue is actually an example of its opposite.)

      • Tarpitz says:

        If you pick five names instead of four, you can get Mark Rosewater in to explain the enemy colour pairs. He’s even already a Wizard.

      • Deiseach says:

        Name a couple of virtues for each, being sure to assign at least two conflicting ones to each, such as Ambition and Self-Sacrifice, or Justice and Mercy.

        Justice and Mercy? That one’s easy: Charity! Mercy springs from justice and charity (I wrote a post for a religious site on this a while back) so the house where justice and mercy are reconciled is the House of Charity, its sigil the pierced, bleeding and flaming heart 🙂

        EDIT: Oh, and I think I can reconcile Ambition and Self-Sacrifice, too! That is the House of Humility. Humility is not the Uriah Heep-style “I’m ever so humble”, it is knowing your proper worth without inflating or denigrating it. It is where if you learn to love your neighbour as yourself, you also learn to love yourself in the proper way. It is the House whose feast day is Maundy Thursday and whose trait is that of service because of the rite of foot-washing:

        You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

        Two down, two more to go! Give me another set of contradictory virtues and I’ll see if I can reconcile them (all this religion must be because it’s Lent) 😀

  3. Levantine says:

    I’m something of a socialist and I found this anti-socialist argument deeply compelling: https://web.archive.org/web/20071027120226/http://www.hamvasbela.org/en/crime.html (1)

    2) Point (1) suggests that some might benefit from forwarding the link to various communist types, persons. … I doubt that it would typically have an effect. As a leftist, I’m an unusually emotional, romantic and generous type.

    3) The linked argument strikes me as valuable, and incomplete.
    A. The author states “community is not an actor,” but apparently argues that “a union of all nations” should be, and quite a strong one. He presumably had a way of thinking that doesn’t make it so, but I can’t think what it might be, and he’s dead so I can’t ask him.
    B. “Poverty and starvation are still preferable to fleecing an innocent”… yet there is silence about whether, for example,
    B(1) a child starving to death is preferable to fleecing an innocent,
    B(2) poverty and starvation are preferable to fleecing a scoundrel, a criminal,
    B(3) a child starving to death is preferable to fleecing a scoundrel,…

    4) Despite (3), I feel there is something deeply truthful about …
    “communities never do anything; everything is done by pairs of hands”
    and about this description:
    “Communities guilty of the existential corruption of socialism all suffer from the same disease; that of morbid hatred and envy, of the fury of voracious ambition, and that of treachery, bootlicking, gossip and strife.under socialism, society gets even worse. …. the community feels like everybody were under constant pressure: evil, weasel-faced people squinting at one another from the dark corners of their eyes; as if everyone was somehow tainted”
    It fits impressively my childhood observations of Eastern European ‘socialism,’ a term that may or may not deserve to be put in quotation marks.

    • nadbor says:

      I’m not a fan of socialism but I don’t find this text a convincing argument against it.

      Reading this made me realize how much the internet and especially the the Grey Tribe writings have accustomed me to a different way of making an argument.

      Back in the days when a political essay I was reading was more likely to be on paper than on a screen and in my native language rather than in English, this article would probably rank in my top 10%. I can still enjoying reading it today but as a compelling political argument it just doesn’t work.

      There is not much of an argument there in the first place. There is a repeated assertion of opinion and a lot of examples but there is no “we know that A, here’s why A implies B and B implies C so C must be true”. Consequentialist case is completely absent, it’s all a discussion of values in the abstract. And even for the values no effort is made to convince someone who doesn’t already share the same values. It’s all just “this is right, this is wrong I know this, you know this, thinking otherwise is Corruption”.

      I don’t want to complain about it too much because it’s interesting and eloquent and a great example of a certain genre. I’m just personally not as impressed by that genre anymore.

      I can’t help thinking about this kind of text on a meta instead of object level as piece of sociological evidence to tell us something about the attitudes towards socialism rather than about socialism itself. Like “here’s a painting by an early 20th century socrealist painter and here’s an essay be a conservative intellectual and here we see a vintage 2019 socialist meme”.

      • AlexanderTheGrand says:

        I know what you mean about being accustomed to a specific argument style, and this definitely isn’t it. But, borrowing a term, I think peices like this require steel-manning on your own to read. There are lots of examples, and it’s up to you to fill in the logical structure on your own. It can be dismissed for not having it, but it also includes lots of the pieces to construct your own argument supporting the well-formed conclusion

        In other words, it makes an outline, and then you have to put in a bit of work to connect the dots.

        The type of arguments often presented here are almost proof-like, but if the big ideas are laid down, its then asking you to fill in the remainder.

        If you think that there are flaws in the un-filled-in argument, that’s a whole other story.

    • Jiro says:

      If you accept that it’s okay to fleece innocents for the sake of avoiding poverty, you create incentives that may make it worse for a lot of people (including causing an overall increase in poverty).

    • Plumber says:

      @Levantine

      “I’m something of a socialist and I found this anti-socialist argument deeply compelling: https://web.archive.org/web/20071027120226/http://www.hamvasbela.org/en/crime.html [….]”

      I think my reading comprehension must be stunted as all I could glean from that very long essay in the link was “Two wrongs don’t make a right”.

      But I’m not a complete socialist as I think that removes too many incentives, but I’m definitely not laissez-faire as I think that leaves too many destitute, and creates too strong of head winds for those who grow up poor.

      In places with strong senses of charity and solidarity with one’s neighbors (Utah?) redistribution by the State isn’t needed, but such places are more devout and homogenous than usual and are rare. More secular and diverse places were most flourish have some but not complete redistribution – modern Canada is a good example. 

      Too much – Cuba, or even worse North Korea.

      Too little – 19th century Britain and Ireland.

      Also, it’s best if the re-distributist regime is established by majority vote (1932 U.S.A., 1945 U.K.), regimes established by violence (1917 Russia) sustain themselves by more violence (all States do to some extent, that’s what States are for – a “big brother” to be a shield and club, but there’s degrees of violence).

      Where are people happiest and live longest? 

      Do that.

      • Where are people happiest and live longest?

        Do that.

        One problem with that criterion is that it doesn’t allow for changes over time. Suppose laissez-faire results in lots of economic progress, but a not very egalitarian distribution of income. A country has a relatively laissez-faire system for fifty years or so, goes from being poor to being rich as a result, then converts to a welfare state with a lot of redistribution. Roughly the history of Sweden.

        You look at it and say “people are happy and live long there, so redistribution is better.”

        Another poor country, acting on your advice, institutes a welfare state. And stays poor.

        • Plumber says:

          @DavidFriedman,

          That’s a very good point as China and India certainly prospered as they became more laissez-faire, on the other hand classic “banana republics” in which wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few families don’t tend to develop (that may have changed in the last 30 years), the ability to get rich, and pass that on to your children is certainly an incentive, but it’s difficult to “start a business in a garage” if you don’t have a garage!
          It seems to me that with enough of a safety net (basic education, health-care, and housing) it’s easier to start “climbing the ladder”.
          A problem with our current welfare state is that in many instances earning say 10,000 more a year cuts benefits (heath care especially) so that the recipient loses benefits and is worse off, making getting up the next rung less likely.
          If I were King of California I’d eliminate means testing for benefits to citizens, have “basic income”, and “basic jobs” (mostly for training purposes and dignity), unfortunately that may just increase the baseline prices for rents, food, et cetera, my gut instinct is for more public housing (like my father lived in last decade), but the track record on “central planning” building housing is pretty bad, U.C. Berkeley’s “University Village” is pretty nice, the old “Acorn projects” in Oakland decidedly less so.
          A church and guild based “neighbors helping neighbors” social welfare system (as much to encourage positive behavior as anything else) seems to work better, but with social ties absent that doesn’t seem possible, or something that can be forced.

          • on the other hand classic “banana republics” in which wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few families don’t tend to develop

            They also don’t tend to be all that laissez-faire.

            England might be a more relevant case. My impression is that wealth was quite concentrated in the 18th century. The system was relatively laissez-faire through most of the 19th c., and real incomes, including those of the working class, went up by quite a lot.

            One thing I noticed about The Wealth of Nations is that Smith is making a serious effort to persuade the 18th c. land owning upper class that the things he thinks are in the interest of the population as a whole, which mostly means the working class, are also in their interest–presumably because they have the political power to block laissez-faire if they want to.

          • Plumber says:

            @DavidFriedman,

            Speaking of development, most are aware that Havana, Cuba still uses pre-embargo 1950’s American cars, and back in the 1990’s the landlord of the motorcycle shop I worked for (who used to own the business and kept a collection inside part of the building) ordered a new Russian motorcycle that was in most ways a duplicate of a 1930’s German design that the Soviets had been making for decades, similiarly the Czech Tatra was a air-cooled rear-engine V8 based on a 1930’s design, so at least in motor vehicles socialism seems to make technology “locked in amber”.
            There’s some things like that elsewhere, Britain has the Morgan car company and India still made some 1950’s British motorcycles and cars, but mostly (as far as bikes and cars go) in the West the story is of relentless change.

  4. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I’m not sure I’m going to read HPMOR again to look for details, but it occurs to me that there’s a parallel between Harry converting Draco to a more ethical and empathic point of view (which looked good to me), and Quirrell’s trying to convince Harry of whatever Quirrell was promoting* (which seemed pretty creepy). Who knows, there might be a third narrative about Hermione’s influence on Harry.

    Also, is there a version available which includes Eliezer’s revisions?

    *It’s been a while since I’ve read the book– what *was^ Quirrell promoting?

    • albertborrow says:

      It was my impression that Quirrell was putting Harry through a series of psychologically challenging situations in order to shape him as his foil. See: Quirrell attempting to hone Hermione to be more like Bellatrix. Hermione’s influence on Harry is more interesting, I think. A lot of critics of the story are under the impression that when Harry explains something to the listener, Eliezer meant for him to be right, in both the moral and epistemic sense. But it makes more sense to say that Hermione is the moral center of the story – she has a really strong comprehension of what is right and wrong, and it keeps her from making many of the mistakes that Harry does, even if her worldview comes with some flaws.

    • JohnWittle says:

      I believe that the WoG is that Quirrell is sort of a mish mash of 80⅝ Michael Vassar’s opinions that every fucking thing under the sun is signaling, and ‘authenticity’ isn’t just nonexistent but incoherent, plus like 20% nietzchean nihilism

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Maybe I should reread. After a few other Large Reading Projects: to wit, Roz Kaveny’s Rhapsody of Blood tetrology. The Pleasant Profession of Robert Heinlein (examining how his political ideas changed through his career), Zimiamvia (the Eddison novels except for Ouroboros), and The Books of Earthsea. And I’ve signed up for the Hugo Nominations Panel for my local science fiction club, so that’s all the fiction and video.

        Speaking vaguely of, I’ve become sensitized to an annoying thing, so I’m telling you about it so you can be annoyed, too– the first person narrator who keeps telling you what sort of person they are. Seannan McGuire has a bad case of it, which doesn’t keep me from enjoying a lot of her work. I like the InCrypted books and the October Daye series.

        However, I went straight from That Ain’t Magic (McGuire) to Rituals: Rhapsody of Blood (Kaveny). Kaveny’s prose is a *lot* better, and her imagination is wilder…. but Mara (a demi-goddess or somesuch, she has powers but dislikes gods for the most part) actually has a fairly bad case of talking about what sort of person she is. At least Emma (a human whose good sense is useful in dealing with the magical world) is in third person.

        So, which other first person characters have this habit? More importantly, which ones don’t?

        • sfoil says:

          Having recently come off of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the Short Sun and Wizard Knight, his narrators occasionally tell the reader what they think they’re like (Wizard Knight, Short Sun) or maybe what they want the reader to think they’re like (New Sun) but importantly this is the character, not the author speaking.

          The problem of authors either self-identifying with first-person narrators, or turning them into cutouts who might as well be third-person, is pretty pervasive. If “Mara” from your own example is self-centered, then it makes sense for her to talk about herself constantly. But that’s different from the author wanting to talk about Mara constantly.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Part of the question is how often does the character tell you what sort of person they are? Constantly, as in McGuire? Now and then (every few pages, I think, but I should check) as in Kaveney?

            In Wolfe, was it a few times in a book, or frequently?

            Also, I think there’s a difference between being self-centered and being self-fascinated. As is typical in urban fantasy, these characters are generous and heroic.

          • sfoil says:

            Only a few times a book. And if the complaint is sheer volume of space spent navel-gazing — at the risk of sounding condescending, you might just want to read better authors. I’ve never heard of Kaveny; I have heard of McGuire, and what I’ve heard has led me to stay away.

  5. Paul Brinkley says:

    What’s the cleverest internet troll post you’ve run across in the last 365 days?

  6. bean says:

    Naval Gazing has a special post on the recent revelations regarding the so-called Philadelphia Experiment.

  7. EchoChaos says:

    “A ____ terrorist has engaged in a cowardly attack on innocents. We need to retaliate by destroying his ideology and any related ideologies that he may radicalize due to their similarity down to the roots.”

    1. A red tribe person talking about “Islamic”

    2. A blue tribe person talking about “white supremacist”

    I can completely understand the sentiment, given how tempting it is to yell for 1 as a Red Tribe guy. But given the Blue Tribe dominance of the media, you hear a lot more of 2. And it’s just as radicalizing to people who are close.

    I’m certainly never going to become a terrorist, but there is a reason the NZ shooter’s manifesto was the way it was. Similarly to an Islamic terrorist’s call to arms which is meant to radicalize people who are already devout Muslims but haven’t taken the step to terrorism, the NZ manifesto is aimed at people who are already “pro-white”, but don’t believe terrorism is the right way.

    The message that gets sent by the Blue Tribe media because of this is “we are firmly on the side of Islam and against whites”. That only makes it easier for monsters like the NZ shooter to recruit. I realize it may sound self-serving to say “don’t attack my ideology, which is adjacent to a bad guy”, but more moderate Muslims say the exact same thing and most of the Blue Tribe understands it’s not because they’re at risk of becoming terrorists.

    A small request here on SSC probably won’t change the way Blue Tribe thinks (y’all are mostly from the Gray side of Blue), but I hope it makes an impression.

    • albatross11 says:

      Also, just as a matter of justice, if you see why demonizing all _____ in one case is wrong, you ought to be able to see why it’s also wrong in the other case. However, this pulls massively against human nature, so it’s hard to get people to do it.

      • Kindly says:

        As a matter of justice, it’s reasonable to consider the possibility that both cases are wrong or that both are right, but fairness alone can’t distinguish between these two options.

    • DinoNerd says:

      First of all, this is a bad argument. There are plenty of things I can put in the blank that would be acceptable to all, because the category is in fact defined by its dedication to doing bad things. Others work because the category is defined by dedication to violent enmity to some particular group.

      The real question here is:

      (1) whether Islam is primarily a religion, with the usual mixed history and mixed motives of any religion, and a sideline of people using it as justification for violence, just like Christianity
      (2) exactly what “white supremacist” means.

      [edit: removed large amount of text I wasn’t satisfied with]

      • EchoChaos says:

        First of all, this is a bad argument. There are plenty of things I can put in the blank that would be acceptable to all, because the category is in fact defined by its dedication to doing bad things.

        I suspect that is because you’re motte and bailey-ing, which is the exact temptation I’m talking about.

        If I define ____ as “radical Islam”, but I keep attacking all Muslims, (the Red Tribe version of this), you would rightly point out what I was doing.

        I am not talking about active neo-Nazis, which I hope we all agree are horrible people, I’m talking about the adjascent nationalists of various stripes who get pulled along.

        The Blue Tribe motte and baileys the exact same way “People like the NZ shooter are horrible” (agreed), therefore anyone in the same ZIP code ideologically should be eradicated.

        • Well... says:

          Is “radical Islam” still too vague? Aren’t there no doubt a lot of super-devout Muslims who still would never condone terrorist acts? Aren’t there nearly-secular Muslims who would condone them?

    • episcience says:

      Help me understand who you are talking about here.

      Islamic terrorists are to Muslims as white supremacist terrorists are to [BLANK].

      What is the white-supremacist-adjacent belief system which shouldn’t be attacked?

      • EchoChaos says:

        White nationalists, white identitarians.

        People who say things like “The United States should remain majority white”.

        • doubleunplussed says:

          Specifically, the NZ terrorist called himself an ethno-nationalist.

          It’s the belief that national borders should be drawn along ethnic lines and that people of a given ethnicity should stay in “their own” countries and only ever visit countries of other ethnicities as guests, not to stay. It’s officially neutral on whether ethnicities are superior to each other, and you can imagine categorising adherents further based on that, in which case white supremacy could be considered an extremist subset of white nationalism or ethno-nationalim more generally.

          It’s certainly an idea with a bad rap, but seems much more innocuous than actually saying your race is superior, which the shooter at least did not claim to believe in his manifesto. He said (you don’t have to believe him obviously) that he’s cool with all races/ethnicities (he treats the two as synonyms) so long as they don’t come to the countries ‘belonging to’ his race/ethnicity.

          I feel dirty as if even talking about this is defending the shooter, but the crucial difference is he isn’t above murdering innocent people for his beliefs, which I suppose is the crucial difference that makes it similar to comparing jihadists with those muslims who still believe fairly extreme things but don’t advocate violence.

          • DinoNerd says:

            Does this imply that all non-Maori should leave New Zealand? If not, why not?

            [Oops – you aren’t defending this, so asking *you* here was inappropriate. Maybe EchoChaos would like to take this on, though I think he’s explicitly about whiteness, not about ethno-nationalism.]

          • EchoChaos says:

            @DinoNerd

            I’m not a New Zealander, so I would leave that to them to decide, but generally I’m not in favor of refighting things that are 200 years in the past. Or even 50. I wouldn’t advocate Poland returning the Eastern parts of Germany, for example.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Does this imply that all non-Maori should leave New Zealand? If not, why not?

            No, because it is not an universalist ideology, or at best it is universalist only in the “might makes right” sense.

            The idea is that whites won New Zealand by right of conquest: they were strong while the Maori were weak. Therefore, it is in the interest of whites to remain strong and repel potential invaders, in order not to end up like the Maori, the Aboriginals, the Native Americans or the Palestinians.

            It’s a view of the world as a the theater of fundamentally irreconcilable conflict between groups of humans defined along ethno-national-religious lines. It’s definitely out of the Overton window of modern mainstream Western values but this view used to be quite common in the past, and still is in large parts of the world (e.g. Asia).

          • doubleunplussed says:

            @DinoNerd, correct that I’m not an ethno-nationalist.

            I think ethno-nationalists would say that yes, Maori and European kiwis should have their own countries.

            I was surprised not to see something in the NZ shooter’s manifesto addressing indigenous Australians. I thought he would say something like they should get a part of Australia, or even that ethnically European Australians should all go to Europe in the long run (a kind of European Zionism – he did say that Jews should go to Israel). But he just didn’t mention it at all.

          • Does this imply that all non-Maori should leave New Zealand?

            I think the implication is that it would be better for the Maori if the non-Maori had never entered New Zealand.

            That would make an interesting alternate history, if one could manage a semi-plausible way of doing it.

          • Lambert says:

            The thing about the relationship between the Maori and British is that it was ostensibly codified by a legal document.
            Of course, interpretation was hardy fair, and the Maori translation was deliberately obfuscated in terms of what it said about sovereignty and chieftainship.

            And yes, the Maori did Have a Flag.

      • Murphy says:

        You can probably find plenty of non-violent groups linked to most violent groups.

        IRA as to Sinn Fein

        UDA as to the DUP

        Most of the time trying to burn the peaceful group to the ground ends badly.

      • Clutzy says:

        I’m not echo, but to be honest, the way the media portrays it:

        Islamic terrorists are to Muslims as white supremacist terrorists are to any right of center white person.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I realize it may sound self-serving to say “don’t attack my ideology, which is adjacent to a bad guy”,

      OK, I’ll bite, but not in the same response. What is your ideology, that’s adjacent to a “white supremacist” who chooses to kill random strangers in a place of worship? It presumably uses the same name (“white supremacist”), so what I’m looking for are descriptive terms, beliefs etc.

      • EchoChaos says:

        I’m a white nationalist. I believe that white nations should, as a matter of policy, remain majority white.

        • DinoNerd says:

          How do you propose to accomplish this?

          • EchoChaos says:

            Decreasing non-white immigration, increasing white immigration, increasing native birthrates.

          • DinoNerd says:

            increasing native birthrates

            Not really responding to EC here (see Scott’s post below) just have to share.

            The first time I encountered any kind of white supremacist/ethnic nationalist, it was a group of male losers running a zine associated with the Germanic strain of neo-Paganism.

            They were very upset about white women choosing black men, rather than choosing them. My reaction was basically “what a batch of losers; I imagine any halfway self respecting woman would stay celibate for life, if you were her only potential partners”.

        • JPNunez says:

          So you agree with the terrorist but just disapprove of actually shooting people.

          uh

          • baconbits9 says:

            That isn’t what he said.

          • J Mann says:

            I don’t agree with that terrorist,* but I’m sure there are examples terrorists with whose broad aims I do agree, and I suspect the same goes for you. We could start with John Brown.

          • J Mann says:

            PS – sorry, I had an addendum, but it didn’t add much of value, so I cut it but forgot to cut the *.

          • Randy M says:

            uh

            Explain?
            The thing we dislike about terrorists is primarily the actually shooting people (and materially supporting other people actually shooting people).
            A terrorists views may still be wrong, may still be disgusting–but arguing that requires more than guilt by association. Hitler, vegetarianism, etc.

          • rlms says:

            @J Mann
            I’m actually not so sure that’s true, if you restrict it to terrorists who indiscriminately massacred people outside the context of a (even low-level) war. You might say that this is an unnatural category, but I think it’s pretty reasonable; it includes most Islamist terrorism which is the most salient example of modern terrorism.

          • J Mann says:

            @rmls – it probably depends on how aggressively or generously you define “agree with the terrorist.”

            Certainly there have been mass civilian killings on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict, so if you have some pro-Zionist or pro-Palestinian leanings (I have both), you arguably agree with Baruch Goldstein or his Palestinian equivalents about some of their grievances.

          • rlms says:

            I’d say that falls under low-level war.

        • nkurz says:

          Can you explain what you mean by “white”?

          Is it the physical appearance of future Americans that you care about? Does your definition of white literally depend on melanin levels?

          Is it racial? If so, do you feel that there are multiple white races, or only one? Do you subscribe to a “one drop” philosophy?

          Does national origin matter? Are there any nations who are considered white despite not otherwise meeting the requirements? Or who are excluded despite appearing to meet them?

          Or is it something cultural? Is white synonymous with democratic? Or is something religious? Are atheists white? Does modern day Israel fit under your definition of white nationalism?

          I feel like I can understand the impulse for a culturally defined “white nationalism”, but if culture is the focus, the movement seems misnamed.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            It’s possible that people who want countries to stay white or white majority are mostly uncomfortable with change. They have a delusion that if the country stays white, it won’t become much different from what they grew up with.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @nkurz

            Can you explain what you mean by “white”?

            Sure. I mean mainly or entirely descended from mainland European stock. The boundary tends to be somewhere around the Caucasus, but there are others. Turks are not white, Jews and Poles are white.

            Is it the physical appearance of future Americans that you care about? Does your definition of white literally depend on melanin levels?

            Yes and not entirely. An Albino African would not be white, an Italian would be.

            Is it racial? If so, do you feel that there are multiple white races, or only one? Do you subscribe to a “one drop” philosophy?

            Yes. Multiple. No.

            Does national origin matter? Are there any nations who are considered white despite not otherwise meeting the requirements? Or who are excluded despite appearing to meet them?

            Only insofar as it is predictive of ancestry. I don’t parse the two question.

            Or is it something cultural? Is white synonymous with democratic? Or is something religious? Are atheists white? Does modern day Israel fit under your definition of white nationalism?

            Only insofar as culture is a proxy. No. No. Some of them are, certainly. Yes.

          • Well... says:

            Turks are not white, Jews and Poles are white.

            Does modern day Israel fit under your definition of white nationalism?

            […]
            Yes.

            I don’t think a lot of white nationalists consider Jews white. They tend to consider Israel a Jewish ethno-nationalist country that is allowed to be such only because Jews have tricked white people into not noticing (or something).

          • Machine Interface says:

            Turks are not white, Jews and Poles are white.

            That doesn’t seem to make sense. Jews are made of multiple distinct ethnicities. If Beta Israel are white, then “white” doesn’t mean anything. The average middle-eastern Turk is whiter than the average non-Ashkenazim Jew. And some southern Italians look less white than most people in Anatolia and the Levant.

            Are you sure your definition doesn’t have unexamined cultural criteria in addition to the racial ones?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            What does the up-to-date genetics research say about how much Turks are Turkic vs. Roman (i.e. Greek-speaking Christians) whose ancestors converted to Islam?

          • albatross11 says:

            The turks I know cover a range–are unambiguously white by American racial categories, others look like they might be hispanic or Middle-Eastern–but might well be assumed to be white in the same way that Italians are usually thought of as white.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Genetics mainly reflect geography. Languages are much more arbitrary. Turks are between Greeks and Iranians.

            Here are several analyses of the question. The easiest to understand is the last, the admixture plot, which defines 5 synthetic populations, apparently 2 European, 2 East Asian, and the Central Asian. Georgians and Iranians have more Central Asian ancestry than Turks. However Turks have a little bit of East Asian ancestry, while Iranians don’t, so that’s an example where geography doesn’t work perfectly. Turkmen and Tajiks are genetically similar, having lots of Central Asian ancestry (more than Iranians) and a bit of East Asian. But Turkmen is Turkic, while Tajik is close to Persian.
            (I used the easiest plot to understand, but that probably produced overconfidence.)

        • Scott Alexander says:

          EchoChaos is banned indefinitely. I don’t want to claim this is especially fair or rule-based, but he’s been advocating white nationalism on three open threads in a row now. Although I try not to ban people for their opinion, at some point it gets distracting and puts everyone here at risk.

          • eyeballfrog says:

            I would think the first step would be to ban him specifically from talking about it for a while rather than an indefinite ban. It’s been done before.

          • albatross11 says:

            Yeah, it seems like a warning would have been in order. It’s your site and you have to do what you think is best, but that seemed kinda abrupt to me.

          • WashedOut says:

            As a point of order: After reading the current thread, nothing EC said registered to me as ‘advocacy’. He/she presented a problem, then a few people decided to “bite” and probed into EC’s beliefs. This probing lead EC to clarify the details of his/her position, which seemed to me to be pretty plainly answered.

            When I see something described as ‘advocacy’ I expect to see language along the lines of “this is why you should believe X”, with the intent to convince/persuade, or defend a position.

            Consider that it may be a greater risk to the long-term health of the board to erroneously label statements of unsavory opinion as ‘advocacy’.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Yeah, it seems like a warning would have been in order. It’s your site and you have to do what you think is best, but that seemed kinda abrupt to me.

            Yes, please make this into a suspension for 3 months or something, and ask EC never to discuss white nationalism in the future. I understand that his opinions are well outside the usual Overton window and so could give outsiders the wrong impression of this site. But EC was otherwise a model SSCer, discussing his views in a rational manner. The best part of SSC is hearing different than normal views expressed in a rational manner. Please give him a break.

          • quanta413 says:

            I don’t agree with him, and I’m mixed race so obviously his ideology is not great for me. But how far is this slide into viewpoint based rules going to go? Which viewpoints are not fair game? We still have a few honest to god communists here last time I checked, who don’t hold viewpoints any less morally wrong as far as I’m concerned.

            It’d be simpler and fairer if you laid out the rules ahead of time instead of slowly moving the right edge of the window here leftwards. And it’d feel fairer if you sliced away the left wing crazy edge as well.

          • I have now three times tried to post, pointing out that EC did not behave badly, was indeed a valuable contributor, since he civilly expressed a point of view we rarely see.

            JPNunez, on the other hand, did behave badly, although not at a bannable level. When he posted:

            But when there’s a white supremacist terrorist, you not only do not disavow him, you just accept you are a white supremacist

            he made two false, indeed slanderous, statements about EC in a single sentence.

            I am now trying again, using EC instead of the full name.

          • Well... says:

            I understand and respect concerns about distraction and risk: it would suck if SSC OTs became the place where one perpetually finds discussion of white nationalism — and not just because it would get old and annoying really fast. SSC would also become the kind of place one maybe can’t recommend to anyone or publicly admit to visiting. I’ve played that game before and I stopped for a reason.

            But another thing to consider, I think, is that the more people who comment here, of all perspectives, the more granularity we get of their neighborhood on the political sentimental cartography spectrum, and I tend to think more granularity about the ideological world around us is probably better. (At the very least, it’s interesting to learn about.)

            Unfortunately I don’t know if it works this way, where if you move the edges of your Overton window both left and right to widen it, you get increased participation from both now-included extremes. It could be that whichever extreme is more active first, the other one is repelled.

            But, another perhaps more practical argument against banning people for discussing WN is it means the banned people subsequently won’t have the non-WN commenters here to argue with and potentially erode their confidence in WN beliefs. There are very few places on the internet, as far as I can tell, where people seem so often to show up with a calm spirit and an open mind.

          • Atlas says:

            @Scott Alexander

            With all due respect, I also hope that you re-consider your decision. I feel confused/disappointed/frustrated by this on several levels:

            1. Granting for the sake of argument that EC deserves a ban and that the overall policy is good, an indefinite ban seems far too punitive. It seems like it should be a matter of weeks or months at most.

            2. Granting for the sake of argument that you’re not/shouldn’t be allowed to advocate for white nationalism at SSC, how was EC supposed to know that? Unless I’ve missed something, it doesn’t seem like you’ve made a general proclamation about this or warned him specifically. (You stated that he’s been advocating white nationalism for three threads in a row, but not that he was warned it was frowned upon to do so.) So it seems unfair, even if you maintain this overall policy, not to warn people in general/EC in particular about it first.

            3. The comment rules say:

            Slate Star Codex has lower standards than either ancient Sufis or preachy Victorians, and so we only require you to pass at least two of those three gates.

            If you make a comment here, it had better be either true and necessary, true and kind, or kind and necessary.

            I take this to usually be interpreted “negatively,” so to speak—that is, comments shouldn’t be egregiously unkind, untrue and/or unnecessary. (Because I feel like being “actively” True, Necessary and/or Kind is way too high of a bar for any discussion of any issue to take place.)

            Judging by the usual standards of applying these rules, it doesn’t seem like EC’s comments are worthy of a ban. Ethnic nationalism is a very topical issue worthy of discussion, EC doesn’t seem to have made factual/logical errors more egregious than is usually acceptable, and EC, while perhaps not exactly “kind,” does not seem to have engaged in any personal attacks or stated his positions in excessively combative ways.

            Therefore, given that the comments policy is eminently sensible, I don’t think that EC deserves a ban, since he was following it.

            4. I find EC’s comments consistently perceptive, and extra valuable because his ideological perspective/tribal affiliation differs somewhat from that of many SSCers, myself included. If other people have similar views, I think this should be a mitigating factor.

            You might be thinking about the CW Reddit thread thing, and I guess considering your experience with that I couldn’t really blame you if you decided to wash your hands of the CW entirely and just banish everyone who so much as toes the line to the SSC shadow realm. (Sorry, the more tired I am the more horrendously I mix my metaphors.) But do the OTs here get as much attention as Reddit, or even the comments on posts? I wouldn’t have thought so, but obviously you’d probably know better than I would.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I understand and respect concerns about distraction and risk: it would suck if SSC OTs became the place where one perpetually finds discussion of white nationalism — and not just because it would get old and annoying really fast. SSC would also become the kind of place one maybe can’t recommend to anyone or publicly admit to visiting. I’ve played that game before and I stopped for a reason.

            Unlike the recurrent discussions of Communism?

          • Scott Alexander says:

            Based on everyone disagreeing with this, I am grudgingly commuting the ban to three months with a gag order on talking about politics in the future. I’ll figure out how to enforce the gag order later.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nybbler:

            Unlike the recurrent discussions of Communism?

            There is definitely a moral problem with spaces where it’s OK to be a tankie but a banning offense to support a policy of the pre-1965 United States. I wasn’t going to say it, because I don’t believe in the typical racist truth claims* and didn’t want to look like a conservative sticking up for racism considering that’s the Left first, second and third favorite thing to tar us with, but now that you’ve brought it up…

            *Outside of IQ gaps, which have a huge body of scientific evidence – replicated, even! – but there I disagree with the standard racist explanation for what causes them.

          • brad says:

            Sounds like it’s too late, but for the record I agreed with the original decision.

          • JPNunez says:

            @DavidFriedman

            EC admitted he was a white supremacist. There are lots of forums in the internet where you can go read those opinions if you are so interested. I did not see him disavowing the terrorist in the post I was replying to.

            I have to defend myself here, but I am gonna assume good faith in @DavidFriedman’s attack on me, and assume he just has poor reading comprehension. No need to apologize. It’s cool.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Some things everyone needs to consider.

            Scott just told us he had a running, months long, anxiety and depression spell based around subjects like this becoming too frequent a topic of discussion on the sub-reddit. And we know the end result.

            So that means that people have been warned. More to the point, if you care about Scott as a person, and not just the creator of this blog, you might have a little more understanding here. If you only care about the blog, you still might want to have more understanding.

            As always, I encourage everyone to think about the idea that their are many ideals and, that they are in tension with each other.

          • EC admitted he was a white supremacist.

            Where?
            The only self-identification I can find by him in the thread is:

            I’m a white nationalist. I believe that white nations should, as a matter of policy, remain majority white.

            If you cannot quote him admitting that he was a white supremacist, you owe him an apology.

            I did not see him disavowing the terrorist in the post I was replying to.

            In the original post in the thread, the post you were replying to, he referred to the terrorist as a monster.

            I don’t think I am the one who has problems with reading comprehension.

            There are lots of forums in the internet where you can go read those opinions if you are so interested.

            In my experience, there are few forums on the Internet where one can engage in civil conversation across a wide range of views. That is why I spend so much time here.

          • John Schilling says:

            As a point of order: After reading the current thread, nothing EC said registered to me as ‘advocacy’.

            While I agree with the consensus and ultimate decision for a three-month rather than permanent ban, I disagree with this point. There comes a point at which “I’m just asking questions…” becomes fairly transparent advocacy via leading questions. EC has IMO crossed the line into advocating white nationalism(*), and I had already begun to share Scott’s concern about his lack of tact in doing so.

            * as opposed to white supremacy, which is not the same thing.

          • Nick says:

            There comes a point at which “I’m just asking questions…” becomes fairly transparent advocacy via leading questions.

            I think the problem is less that it’s advocacy and more that bringing it up three threads in a row is just tiresome, to say nothing of putting Scott in a bad position. It’s one thing if I defend some doctrine of Catholicism when it comes up, or even bring it up myself once in a while, but it’s another if all of my posts lately are “Have I mentioned I’m Catholic today?” Granting that the conversation here was interesting, we nonetheless can’t be having it twice a week every week.

          • JPNunez says:

            @DavidFriedman

            He says monster, but he does not disavow the ideology of the guy, nor the consequences of the attack itself. Excuse me if I am a hardass on this, but if someone is saying hey the manifesto of this terrorist has some points he agrees with, this is the level of reaction I am expecting, say, Muslims reacting to 9/11.

            57 leaders of North American Islamic organizations, 77 intellectuals, and dozens of concerned citizens:
            “As American Muslims and scholars of Islam, we wish to restate our conviction that peace and justice constitute the basic principles of the Muslim faith. We wish again to state unequivocally that neither the al-Qaeda organization nor Usama bin Laden represents Islam or reflects Muslim beliefs and practice. Rather, groups like al-Qaeda have misused and abused Islam in order to fit their own radical and indeed anti-Islamic agenda. Usama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s actions are criminal, misguided and counter to the true teachings of Islam.”
            Statement Rejecting Terrorism, September 9, 2002 (via archive.org).

            but I guess that in the ideology of a white nationalist condemning the death of muslims is a bridge too far.

            When I say “disavow” I mean this. This is the standard. Why? Because in the shooting case, the Muslims here were the victims. I judge as they judged.

            Similarly, there are a bunch of people which will say hey Trump maybe is a bad guy for (for example) saying that he grabs them by the pussy, or keeping kids in cages, but in the end still support him. This is the reality in 2019, so just saying “monster” does not cut it when followed with “I am adjacent to this idea”.

            If you cannot quote him admitting that he was a white supremacist, you owe him an apology.

            What do I get if I quote him saying he is a white supremacist? What about a little bet, say, you leave the forum for three months, same as EC ban.

          • J Mann says:

            @JPNunez and DavidFriedman:

            FWIW, I read JPN’s post at issue in the same way that DF did, but I’m very confident in JPN’s statement that he didn’t intend it that way, and appreciate the clarification.

          • He says monster, but he does not disavow the ideology of the guy, nor the consequences of the attack itself.

            Calling him a monster makes his disapproval obvious. When you asked him if he disavowed the terrorist, he said he did.

            Excuse me if I am a hardass on this, but if someone is saying hey the manifesto of this terrorist has some points he agrees with,

            It probably has some points you agree with or I do, although not having read it I can’t be sure.

            this is the level of reaction I am expecting, say, Muslims reacting to 9/11.

            They weren’t posting to a blog, they were making a public statement. You are now complaining that EC didn’t contribute to a newspaper ad or web page disavowing the terrorist, he only called him a monster in a blog post?

            but I guess that in the ideology of a white nationalist condemning the death of muslims is a bridge too far.

            You deduce this from the fact that in a blog post in which he called the killer a monster, he didn’t also have a sentence saying “I condemn the death of Muslims”? When asked to describe what he meant by “white nationalist,” he not only did not come out for killing non-whites, he limited the policy to favoring white immigrants and getting whites to have children. And he explicitly agreed with “People like the NZ shooter are horrible.”

            What do I get if I quote him saying he is a white supremacist?

            If you quote him in this thread saying it, you convince me that you are not deliberately telling lies and that I am a careless reader. No credit if you find him saying it somewhere else three years ago, since your claim was about what he did in reaction to the terrorist attack.

          • @Scott Alexander:

            but he’s been advocating white nationalism on three open threads in a row now.

            That didn’t fit my memory, so I went to the archives to check, using searches for “white nationalis” and searches for EC’s name.

            He described it as his position but didn’t really argue for it in this thread. I wouldn’t describe the claim that a particular position is not evil as advocating it.

            In 124.25, the subject of white nationalism was raised by other people, and EC responded by describing himself as a white nationalist but not white supremacist and claiming that the label applied to a variety of positions, not all of which were evil. As far as I can tell, he did not actually argue for the position.

            In OpenPentatonic I found no mention of “white nationalism” or “white nationalist” by EC. Similarly in 123.75.

            In 123.5 the topic was raised by someone else, who asserted that advocating white nationalism was immoral. EC disagreed, but again did not argue that white nationalism was correct.

            As best I can tell, he mentioned white nationalism at his own initiative in this thread, responded to someone else’s mention in the previous open thread, and did not mention it in either of the two open threads before that.

            I do not think that is consistent with your description of his behavior.

          • AlesZiegler says:

            I am opposite of a fan of a “white nationalism”, whatever that means, but from my nonAmerican perspective this seems like EC was banned for basically subscribing to a an ideology advanced by a sitting president of USA. This is kind of absurd if you want an open discussion between people from different parts of mainstream political spectrum.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            @Ales: I agree that the opinion of the current president is pretty much by definition in the Overton Window, but I don’t think Trump should be described that way.

          • JPNunez says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I did not say I’d quote him on this thread. Don’t move the goalposts. But it was in the previous open thread, and thus after the recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand. I agree that it’d be unfair to claim that you have poor reading comprehension based on this but…

            That didn’t fit my memory, so I went to the archives to check, using searches for “white nationalis” and searches for EC’s name.
            (…)
            In 124.25, the subject of white nationalism was raised by other people, and EC responded by describing himself as a white nationalist but not white supremacist and claiming that the label applied to a variety of positions, not all of which were evil. As far as I can tell, he did not actually argue for the position.

            …oh.

            https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/03/27/open-thread-124-25/#comment-735153

            here he says “I am not a white supremacist _except_ in the historical sense” which is a way of saying “I am a white supremacist on this aspect”. Which is a white supremacist.

            Which I assume it is a slow way of introducing his actual beliefs and making them palatable to SSC. One acceptable point at a time. Last open thread it was historical white supremacy, this open thread it is the fact that a terrorist manifesto may coincide with his positions should not be a data point to update our beliefs. Last few times he was replying to someone, but this time it was him who started the thread, which is odd, given how the NZ shooter has been off the news for a while. Maybe just there wasn’t a thread where to inject his views on white nationalism/supremacy.

            They weren’t posting to a blog, they were making a public statement. You are now complaining that EC didn’t contribute to a newspaper ad or web page disavowing the terrorist, he only called him a monster in a blog post?

            You won’t see many muslims going into blogs and trying to paint the Osama Bin Laden objectives as sympathetic tho.

            You deduce this from the fact that in a blog post in which he called the killer a monster, he didn’t also have a sentence saying “I condemn the death of Muslims”? When asked to describe what he meant by “white nationalist,” he not only did not come out for killing non-whites, he limited the policy to favoring white immigrants and getting whites to have children. And he explicitly agreed with “People like the NZ shooter are horrible.”

            Yeah I am sorry I take terrorist attacks seriously. I guess I don’t have a lot of experience on terrorists trying to further my positions by killing people.If it happens, I preemptively say I condemn the attacks, I disavow the killer, I lament the deaths or injuries.

            In my experience, there are few forums on the Internet where one can engage in civil conversation across a wide range of views. That is why I spend so much time here.

            I imagine that forums where the more practical aspects of white nationalism are discussed may not be entirely polite, yeah.

          • John Schilling says:

            @JPNunez: You are one of the most ungracious winners I have seen in this forum. Knock it off, accept that not everyone will agree with you, take your victory and chill.

          • Aapje says:

            @JPNunez

            1. Your conspiracy theory about his secret plans is the kind of extreme bad faith that makes debate impossible.

            2. EC has been banned for 2 days now and cannot defend himself, yet you keep attacking him. Extremely bad taste.

          • JPNunez says:

            yeah ok I think it’s time to let this go

            sorry guys

          • AlesZiegler says:

            @Scott Alexander

            I am afraid you are underestimating political power of white nativism in the US. Btw. “white nationalism” is an absurd name, since “white” isn’t a nation. Trump imho isn´t nativist himself, he is not someone commited to any ideology. I see him as a shrewd unprincipled politician willing to pander to various groups, who recognized that nativists are underrepresented constituency in the US, and that if he gives something to them – you know, restrictions on nonwhite immigration, where “nonwhite people” include among others all Latinos and muslims – they shall form his loyal power base. This of course wouldn’t work if nativists would be some insignificant minority.

            As a side note, here in EU, white nativists are politically even stronger, at least judging by our immigration policies, altough they use slightly different definition of “white people”. I think that pretending that they do not exist or that they are few crazies outside of Overton window does no good.

            I should add that I do not mind if you restrict acceptable discussion space here to opinions which are inside Overton window in San Francisco, which seems, judging by your posts, like rather weird place. But I am not sure whether this is your intention.

          • Whatever says:

            I’m pretty upset here. I can’t believe EC was banned over, in essence, an opinion. There was no advocacy, there was no “crossing the line”, there was no unkindness, there was nothing wrong that would have been considered wrong if the opinion had been further to the left.

            I feel that the ban is still too long, and I feel that the gag order is absurd.

            Yeah, yeah, it’s not my blog, etc. But I feel that I am now less likely to participate or in fact less likely to care about what I say if I participate. (I’m not a white nationalist, but this kind of unfair over-reaction makes me care less if I’m labeled as one.)

          • Randy M says:

            He didn’t initially post any advocacy, but he was pretty clearly hoping someone would bite and say “Wow, are you really a White Nationalist? Why?” and give him a chance to explain it.
            On the one hand, I know that bringing up White Nationalism is not exactly the same as bringing up Call of Cthulu.
            On the other hand, Scott just opened the last non-CW threat with a quote or comment about Marxism, so (insert shrug ascii).

          • dick says:

            I should add that I do not mind if you restrict acceptable discussion space here to opinions which are inside Overton window in San Francisco, which seems, judging by your posts, like rather weird place. But I am not sure whether this is your intention.

            By the by, I happened across an extended interview with 15 “trust and safety” (i.e. figuring out what to censor) workers from big content platforms today. The whole thing is worth a read, but one of the common threads is that they view their decisions as important, and agonize over them, and bemoan how emotionally taxing that is. Another is how often they get second-guessed by people with an over-simplified idea of their methods and goals.

            Can’t imagine why I brought that up. Anyway, the point was, I’m pretty sure Scott’s intention is for people here to discuss the kind of stuff he blogs about. Nobody wants to make rules and spend time enforcing them, they get stuck doing it, to keep their site from being a haven for witches.

          • here he says “I am not a white supremacist _except_ in the historical sense” which is a way of saying “I am a white supremacist on this aspect”. Which is a white supremacist.

            You have a serious problem with reading comprehension. Anyone who disagrees is invited to read the post in question.

            You won’t see many muslims going into blogs and trying to paint the Osama Bin Laden objectives as sympathetic tho.

            But you might see Muslims going into blogs and asking people not to blame Muslims in general for the things Osama bin Laden did, even though they have some things in common with him, which would be the equivalent of what EC did.

            I think I am wasting my time. You will only see what you want to see, and other people have probably seen enough to form their own conclusions.

          • EC has been banned for 2 days now and cannot defend himself, yet you keep attacking him.

            Unaccustomed as I am to defending JPNunez, I think that’s unfair. At this point he isn’t attacking EC–he already did that. He is trying to defend himself against my claim that his attack was dishonest.

          • but he was pretty clearly hoping someone would bite and say “Wow, are you really a White Nationalist? Why?” and give him a chance to explain it.

            I don’t know if that was his intent, but it strikes me as a legitimate, indeed desirable, objective.

            We have had some long threads with people defending Marxist views, in one case including Stalinist views. That struck me as a good thing–I don’t often get a chance to see how a reasonably intelligent person can defend a position that seems to me to be indefensible.

            I note, however, that your description of what he was doing is consistent with my description, but not consistent with Scott’s.

          • Randy M says:

            That struck me as a good thing

            I agree, that’s one of the good things about this place.
            I also think it isn’t really fair to get mad at someone for doing something repeatedly if you’ve never voiced a preference that they not do it–but also that fairness may not be terribly high on Scott’s concerns, so I’m not going to argue the point.

          • Plumber says:

            @Scott Alexander,
            Thanks for shorting the ban on E. C..
            For the record I’m not a W. N. (I’d be against my wife and sons if I were!), but I’m interested in discussions with E. C.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            At this point he isn’t attacking EC–he already did that. He is trying to defend himself against my claim that his attack was dishonest.

            I disagree. The claim that this was part of a long term plan was a new and more extreme accusation & one not required to substantiate the earlier accusations.

          • Dack says:

            @Scott

            If the goal is to avoid outside attention for having the term itself come up too much, you could add WN to the censored list. (Allowing people to figure out for themselves how to talk around it if they wish to discuss it.)

          • albatross11 says:

            Purebloods?

            Pureblood activists?

          • Nornagest says:

            “Death Eaters” is honestly a better name for WNs than it is for Moldbuggers, but that ship has sailed.

      • Jiro says:

        What is adjacent to a “white supremacist” in the same way that Muslims are adjacent to Islamic terrorists? Probably almost anything right-wing counts.

        Be careful of a motte and bailey on “adjacent”. Asking “what’s adjacent to white supremacism, by itself, implies asking what’s substantially similar to it, but that’s not what it means here.

        • DinoNerd says:

          Hmm – if you favour fiscal conservatism, which is supposed to be right wing, surely you won’t feel attacked if I excoriate white supremacists. Ditto for a whole bunch of other positions in that particular tent.

          • vV_Vv says:

            If you agree with “build the wall” or “stop the NGO ferries” then you are already being called a white supremacist all the time by the progressive establishment, then you might be concerned when the establishment moves to censor “white supremacism and adjacent ideologies”, because that means that they are going to censor you.

          • eyeballfrog says:

            What your beliefs are adjacent to is not defined by you, but by the people doing the excoriating. If, for some reason, fiscal conservatives are regularly called white supremacists, then fiscal conservatism is adjacent to white supremacism.

          • albatross11 says:

            DinoNerd:

            People do get accused of being alt-right or white supremacist or other things based on pretty distant associations. Recently, the Economist referred to Ben Shapiro (a pretty-mainstream Republican who’s also Jewish) as being alt-right. All sorts of people have accused Charles Murray of being a white supremacist. Hell, various prominent writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates spend all day every day talking about “systems of white supremacy.”

            In general, once your’e in any kind of political battle, the activists on either side are going to use whatever weapon comes to hand to bash the other side. If that means getting the right end of the Republican party banned from some social media platform by claiming they’re “white-supremacist adjacent” and doing some quote mining and painstaking excerpting to prove their claim, that’s just what will happen. (Note: The Republican / conservative activists are probably no better, but are likely to have a harder time using this particular weapon against their enemies.).

          • Jiro says:

            Hmm – if you favour fiscal conservatism, which is supposed to be right wing, surely you won’t feel attacked if I excoriate white supremacists.

            If you attack greedy, baby-eating Jews, I might feel attacked as a Jew even if I’m not greedy and haven’t eaten any babies. I know I’m not actually one, but I also know you think I’m one and am not going to be exempt from the pogrom (or in the white supremacist case, the no-platforming).

      • J Mann says:

        The incel panic of the other year might have been a better example than white supremacist, but steelmanning, I could imagine a continuum that goes something like

        – white supremacist killer
        – white supremacist committed to peaceful advocacy
        – white nationalist
        – regular nationalist/localist who thinks that excessive immigration without assimilation will change national/local culture for the worse (e.g., Quebecois preservationists, people who think too many Californians moving to mountain states will change them for the worst, etc.)
        – and on a slightly different track, the so-called “race realists”
        – people who think that racial policies such as affirmative action or reparations will do more harm than good

        It’s true you may find everyone on that continuum icky, but a hard atheist might say the same thing about Muslims – the question is whether the murderers on one end of the continuum justify wiping out the whole thing or whether you can engage with the more “moderate” ends.

        • Well... says:

          That’s a helpful comment right thar

        • salvorhardin says:

          The difference between your last two categories and the four prior ones is that the last two (“race realists” and affirmative action/reparations opponents) can credibly commit to individualist cosmopolitanism, i.e. the principle that race/ethnicity should not be a criterion for treating people differently in government policymaking. If you believe that individualist cosmopolitanism is an important moral principle, this may justify drawing a line on type of engagement between these groups.

          • albatross11 says:

            +1

            I suppose I qualify as a “race realist,” but I’m not remotely a white nationalist or white supremacist. The same is true of, say, Charles Murray.

        • Civilis says:

          It seems to me that people tend to regard the various Cultural Nationalist groups as much less threatening than the White/European Nationalists, and while I can come up with reasons why, none of them seem to me to suitably explain the discrepancy. The DUP would almost certainly find themselves in conflict with any other sizable ethnic group that developed in Northern Ireland and threatened their political power.

          The obvious philosophical difference between the two is scope. The Irish Republican Army’s ambitions seem confined to Ireland and their animosity confined primarily towards their English oppressors; an Irish nationalist isn’t going to claim historical dominion over Scotland for Ireland, nor annex Boston as an Irish enclave. If you take ‘White’ or ‘European’ as a culture, the number of groups you can cite as historical enemies and the amount of territory you can claim historical dominion over encompasses just about everyone.

          There are a number of practical differences. A sizable number of Cultural Nationalist groups are leftist (or are otherwise leftist, if you assign ‘nationalism’ as a right-wing trait), which may shield them from criticism from the left. Cultural Nationalist disputes don’t have the history that Racial Nationalist disputes do, or perhaps it should be the other way around: cultural disputes are a constant part of the general background of history, whereas race as a unifying force is new, and the biggest single example (admittedly, one that can also be taken to be an example of German cultural Nationalism) is the go-to example of the horrors that mankind can stoop to. Finally, there’s a definite connection between racial nationalism and belief in racial superiority that’s hard to get away from; as most of the Cultural Nationalist disputes are between members of the same race, this isn’t as much of an issue.

          • DinoNerd says:

            Hmm, I’m not sure what counts as a cultural nationalist.

            I’m guessing it probably includes all the various ethnic seperatist movements: e.g. Quebec, Scotland, and Catalonia, plus those that cross national boundaries, like the Kurds.

            I’m most familiar with the Parti Quebecois. A (very) few of them descended to terrorism in 1990, but other than that it’s been almost entirely political. (Lots of voting, speech making, etc. etc.) There has been some sabotage of non-French speakers, and a number of legal obstacles placed in their way. But this is mostly fairly petty – no one’s getting killed, though various children are forced into French schools. (Note that most countries push children who speak only non-standard languages into schools run in the standard/official languages; the oddity here is that some English speaking children are forced into French schools, even though there is an English school system and English is an official language of Canada.)

            These folks aren’t ogres. As an English-speaking Canadian born in Quebec, I wish them permanent failure at the ballot box, and note they succeeded in pushing me out of ‘their’ province. But that’s all. They aren’t a threat to anything except Canada’s prosperity and unity, and the convenience of a bunch of people who can fairly easily move out of the area they control.

            To the extent that ethnic seperatist movements are like that, it’s hard to get upset about them.

          • Aapje says:

            @DinoNerd

            Hmm, I’m not sure what counts as a cultural nationalist.

            Everyone who demands adoption of a certain culture and rejects those who refuse to do so.

            @Civilis

            An obvious distinction is that a cultural nationalist is not categorically excluding people for traits that they cannot control. A person who wants exclusively or majority catholic culture is going to be fine with a black Catholic, a formerly protestant Catholic, etc.

            Similarly, a white American culture supremacist is going to be fine with black people who adopt white American culture.

            In contrast, a person who demands ethnic purity cannot accept assimilation, but only segregation.

          • Civilis says:

            An obvious distinction is that a cultural nationalist is not categorically excluding people for traits that they cannot control. A person who wants exclusively or majority catholic culture is going to be fine with a black Catholic, a formerly protestant Catholic, etc.

            That’s probably true for Northern Ireland, although probably in a different way than you specified. In recounting his visit to Northern Ireland late in the Troubles (during the 80s, I think), the journalist and political commentator P. J. O’Rourke discusses meeting with representatives of the legitimate political wings of both sides. The Sinn Fein (Irish nationalist, left-wing, nominally Catholic) rep played up his party having some Protestant members, while the Loyalist (right-wing, nominally Protestant) rep played up his party having some Catholic members. As long as you agree that their side should be in power, they’re fine with you.

            Is that true for all cultural nationalists, though? I think that ‘cultural nationalist’ may have been a bad choice of terminology on my part for what J Mann described as ‘regular nationalist/localist’; it should probably be broken down into cultural nationalist (the Parti Quebecois, for example), religious nationalist (India’s BJP), and what I’ll call ‘small-scale ethno-nationalist’ (based on membership in an ethnic group smaller than a whole race). I’d like to avoid talking about conflicts involving Islam, since the line between culture / ethnicity / religion there can be blurry at times and it’s a sensitive subject; then again, these sorts of lines are almost incredibly blurry everywhere, which is why the Northern Irish conflict was frequently simplified to Catholic vs Protestant.

            For example, you have the Rwandan Civil War, where the Hutu committed mass murder against the Tutsi population specifically targeting individuals based on ethnic membership. My understanding is that this wasn’t the first ethno-nationalist conflict between the two groups. You could also cite the breakup of the former Yugoslavia as an example of ‘small-scale’ ethno-nationalist conflict that’s festered off and on for generations. The whole Serbs vs Croats might also be considered a proxy for a larger Slavic vs non-Slavic ethno-nationalist conflict that’s simmered off and on for a long time as well (and that overlaps the Orthodox Christianity vs Western Christianity conflict).

            Thinking it out, I’m generally comfortable with J Mann’s classifications with the addition of a breakdown of his ‘regular nationalist/localist’ category. In general, I suspect that if we went and tried to steelman a continuum, ‘small-scale ethno-nationalists’ are marginally less icky than racial ethno-nationalists, religious nationalists are less icky than ‘small-scale ethno-nationalists’, and cultural nationalists are the least icky of the bunch. I think the reason why is primarily as Aapje suggests.

        • Aapje says:

          @J Mann

          The continuum also includes people who reject (perceived) excesses of certain (foreign) cultures.

          At the far end, even those on the far left who are criticized for not prioritizing issues of other races (enough) are called white supremacists by some.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            A fair bit of the contamination of definitions is likely a product of the fact that the word is used to describe the way a particular person or statement makes another person feel.

            Someone without strong emotional priors is going to be frustrated when a very large idea space gets collapsed into a slur but if you’re the sort of person for whom civnat rhetoric generates the same kind of emotional frustration as ethnat rhetoric then applying the same label to both ideas has a certain salience.

            It’s not good at understanding anything but from an outcome perspective it pushes the overton window very far away from anything (deemed) dangerous.

            Also for the non-unscrupulous individual these ideas fall so far outside what a normally socialized person is accustomed to (which is aided by the taboo) that the normal person can be forgiven for not seeing a difference.

            You might also be cheeky and say that the Civnat position is more “Supremacist” in that it imposes obligations on others that Ethnat would not (assuming no one is getting militarily invaded) — I believe people have honestly called CivNat positions supremacist on these grounds, but not more supremacist.

    • JPNunez says:

      It’s funny* that whenever there’s a muslim terrorist, the rest of the muslim world will disavow him, and try to point out that their religion is not really like that and that’s it’s only certain sects and border interpretations that go to those lengths. But when there’s a white supremacist terrorist, you not only do not disavow him, you just accept you are a white supremacist, and ask that your opponents stop allying with the victims.

      *for very low values of funny.

      • J Mann says:

        whenever there’s a muslim terrorist, the rest of the muslim world will disavow him

        I disagree with that statement – certainly, individual terrorists are celebrated for killing Jewish civilians, and I wouldn’t expect members of Al Quada to disavow AQ terror, for example. My perception is that a large portion of the Islamic world does disavow a large portion of Islamic terror, and that’s great, but I don’t have data to back that up.

        when there’s a white supremacist terrorist, you not only do not disavow him, you just accept you are a white supremacist, and ask that your opponents stop allying with the victims

        Is that true – EchoChaos, have you disavowed or condemned the NZ guy? If not, IMHO that’s something you should think about.

      • Walter says:

        Who is ‘you’ in the above accusation. Like, are you talking to one particular commenter, or do you mean SSC at large, or just, like, the internet in general?

      • It’s funny* that whenever there’s a muslim terrorist, the rest of the muslim world will disavow him … But when there’s a white supremacist terrorist, you not only do not disavow him, you just accept you are a white supremacist, and ask that your opponents stop allying with the victims.

        The rest of the Muslim world doesn’t stop saying it is Muslim, which would be the equivalent of a white supremacist stopping saying he is a white supremacist. Other Muslims say they are Muslims who are opposed to terrorism, just as EchoChaos referred to the white nationalist terrorist as a monster.

        I don’t think anyone in the thread has self-identified as a white supermacist, as opposed to a white nationalist. In fact, judging by the comments here on the terrorist’s manifesto (which I haven’t read), he wasn’t claiming to be a white supremacist either–he didn’t say whites should rule over non-whites, just that white majority countries should remain white majority.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      For me the one that hit close to home was Elliot Rodger. I am demographically similar to the killer and was denotationally an incel at the time, and while I didn’t feel the slightest shred of sympathy for that use of violence, I couldn’t help feeling that I was in the position of a moderate Muslim after an al-Qaeda attack. I felt that the outrage evoked by Rodger’s actions could easily end up striking me if I stated something ‘pro-incel’ like “making fun of people for being virgins is bullying”.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Before Eliot Rodger there were the Columbine boys. Which led to a crackdown on bullied kids.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Yeah, I didn’t really see any direct consequences of that one and was too young to track the broader discourse much, but I do remember a moment of hearing some characterization like “sat in the back, quiet, not many friends” and thinking “oh shit, that describes me”

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Also worth noting, the media got that one wrong. Harris and Klebold were not bullied kids who snapped, they were bullies who escalated.

    • salvorhardin says:

      FWIW it is easy enough, and seems obviously the right approach to me, to take the other horn of this dilemma and insist that both 1 and 2 are basically correct. The prevalence of Islamist terrorism does in fact reflect serious moral problems with Islam generally as it is believed and practiced by a large percentage, perhaps most, of the world’s Muslims, and mutatis mutandis, white supremacist terrorism reflects serious moral problems with even “moderate” white nationalism (and indeed all forms of ethnic nationalism) generally. I would guess you’d find plenty of IDW types, for instance, who’d agree with this. Whether it is pragmatically prudent to say this loudly is a different question from whether it is true.

      If you want to draw distinctions, one way to justify prioritizing (2) over (1) would be to note that the absolute number of genuinely liberal Muslims (i.e. believing Muslims who are sincerely committed to separation of religion and state, social liberalism on the part of government policy, and full tolerance for nonbelievers) is much higher than the absolute number of genuinely liberal white nationalists, even though genuinely liberal Muslims are likely a minority of all Muslims worldwide, and moreover genuinely liberal Muslims are wildly overrepresented among Muslims in the Western countries that are having these debates.

      • believing Muslims who are sincerely committed to separation of religion and state

        As you may know, the standard Muslim position is not separation of religion and state but separation of state and law.

        and full tolerance for nonbelievers

        If “tolerance” means that Muslims and non-Muslims have the same legal status, it’s hard to see how a believing Muslim could support it. On the other hand, if “tolerance” means that non-Muslims are permitted to practice their religion, it’s a normal part of Muslim doctrine with regard to Christians and Jews and in practice, where other large non-Muslim populations were under Muslim rule (Zoroastrian and Hindus are the two cases I know of), usually for them too.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          @DavidFriedman:

          As you may know, the standard Muslim position is not separation of religion and state but separation of state and law.

          If “tolerance” means that Muslims and non-Muslims have the same legal status, it’s hard to see how a believing Muslim could support it.

          And this is a huge problem that makes it unsafe to let Muslims immigrate to non-Muslim countries.
          Note that in Sunni jurisprudence, three out of four schools say that every unbeliever must be given the choice “convert or be killed” unless they’re a Christian, Jew, or Sabean. Some of the Muslim conquerors of India boasted to conquered Hindus “if it wasn’t for the Hanafi jurisprudence we follow, you would all be exterminated!”

          • Note that in Sunni jurisprudence, three out of four schools say that every unbeliever must be given the choice “convert or be killed” unless they’re a Christian, Jew, or Sabean.

            On the other hand, I believe, although I might be mistaken, that more than one of the schools treated Zoroastrianism as a tolerated religion, although a little less tolerated than the others.

            I’ve heard the claim that the restriction to the tolerated religions only applied in Arabia, but I’m not sure how good the support for that is.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            On the other hand, I believe, although I might be mistaken, that more than one of the schools treated Zoroastrianism as a tolerated religion, although a little less tolerated than the others.

            Was that because the muftis had a hard time figuring out what the referent of “Sabean” in their holy text was and so assigned it to the most convenient non-Abrahamic religion they could?

        • salvorhardin says:

          “Tolerance” does indeed mean that Muslims and non-Muslims have the same legal status, and whatever you may think about what people “could” support, the evidence we have is that a large fraction of, though far from all, avowed Muslims *do* support it, and this is in particular true of American Muslims. One needs to avoid no-true-Scotsmanning in these discussions, and not just about Muslims: think of all the American Catholics who support much more socially liberal government policies than traditionalist Catholic doctrine would seem to permit– and who are not infrequently condemned by traditionalist Catholics for doing so. I think that those people are sincere in their belief in Catholicism and likewise liberal Muslims who support full legal equality are sincere in their belief in Islam, and as an atheist I am not worried that either Rashida Tlaib or Andrew Cuomo are going to impose their religion on me.

          • the evidence we have is that a large fraction of, though far from all, avowed Muslims *do* support it, and this is in particular true of American Muslims.

            It may be true of American Muslims, but I doubt that it is true of a large fraction of Muslims in general. Do you have evidence to support that claim?

            American Muslims make up less than two tenths of a percent of the world Muslim population.

          • Simon_Jester says:

            Very true.

            On the other hand, sometimes the views of Muslims in the United States, or of the Muslim demographics that has historically been coming to the United States as immigrants, are the subject matter at hand. Then the beliefs of that slim minority become more relevant.

            For instance, we might find upon doing surveys that the sort of Muslims interested in immigrating to America are unusually liberal Muslims. If so, then generalizations about traditionalist Muslims might not apply to the kind of Muslims immigrating to the US. In which case we might correspondingly worry less about bad interactions between traditional Islam and secular US society.

            Alternatively, it might well be that exposure to Western society under certain conditions rapidly liberalizes Muslim minorities. Which again has strong implications against arguments of the form “if we let in too many Muslims, they’ll become a permanent pro-theocracy faction in the country.”

          • Clutzy says:

            One thing that concerns me about the polling of American Muslims is that, based on elected American Muslims who are voted in where there are majority/plurality Muslims, they are lying to pollsters. And lying pretty blatantly. The difference between, for example, Ilhan Omar’s beliefs and the polled beliefs of the community are freaking huge. Ditto Talib and Ellison.

            Its obviously a small sample size, but they seem to be voting for the Muslim version of David Duke quite consistently.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Clutzy: This, so much.

          • The difference between, for example, Ilhan Omar’s beliefs and the polled beliefs of the community are freaking huge. Ditto Talib and Ellison.

            Have any of the three of those come out in favor of terrorism? Of Muslim majority countries applying different laws to non-Muslims? Of treating conversion away from Islam as a capital offense?

            What are the respects in which their stated views are inconsistent with the polling?

          • Enkidum says:

            Wait, Ilhan Omar is David Duke?

          • Clutzy says:

            Wait, Ilhan Omar is David Duke?

            He endorsed her position on Jews. Which is indistinguishable from that of Hamas.

          • albatross11 says:

            What is her position on Jews? With citations, please.

          • Enkidum says:

            Hamas wants (according to their charter) to destroy Israel. And Omar says this… where?

          • Clutzy says:

            Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel”

            2012

            Supports BDS, including calls for a state of Palestine “From the River to the Sea”. (Including many public appearances with these various people who have explicitly stated it). Talib also is very much in favor.

            Hamas are, of course, big fans of this particular phrase.

            Of course, the much undercovered David Duke endorsement.

            Lets be clear, there are many ways to critique Israel, and sometimes I think the antisemitism whistles are sounded too early. This is not so with Omar and Talib. And the tenor of their public comments is such that they appear so bathed and ensconced in this sort of thought they are genuinely confused when people think its questionable (which is a major reason for my skepticism of the polls).

            Also, please, lets dispose of the notions of things like right to return and an unified state, because Israel won’t allow that, because they look at other countries around them and see that any state that becomes majority Arab-Muslim, ends up becoming ~0% Jewish. This is a fun chart. Traditional homelands like Egypt & Syria? 300 estimated Jews. Lebanon and Iraq? Can’t even make the chart because there are none.

          • ana53294 says:

            What would be the workable territory the independent state of Palestine would get? Because it would neet to be more than Gaza and the West Bank, and it would need to include water rights, and they should obviously get the EEZ that belongs to the Gaza strip, including any potential gas there.

            Also, please, lets dispose of the notions of things like right to return and an unified state, because Israel won’t allow that

            So what? The fact that Israel won’t allow it doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate demand. The Moroccan government doesn’t want the Sahrawi refugees to return and participate in the referendum; that doesn’t mean that isn’t a legitimate demand.

            For the two-state solution, Palestine needs enough land, access to water, and the sea. For the one-state solution, they need refugees to return. Isn’t it obvious that once a war ends, refugees should return to their country?

            And current demographic trends among Haredis seem to indicate that in 10 years, Jews would outnumber Muslims in Israel, even if Palestinian exiles return.

          • Enkidum says:

            Well, kudos for trying to bring something resembling evidence to the table. The fact that it isn’t actually evidence in support of your claims is unfortunate, but not entirely surprising.

            I don’t think there’s anything further productive to be said here. Peace.

          • Clutzy says:

            So what? The fact that Israel won’t allow it doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate demand. The Moroccan government doesn’t want the Sahrawi refugees to return and participate in the referendum; that doesn’t mean that isn’t a legitimate demand.

            I explained quite clearly that Israel wouldn’t allow it because its not legitimate, because such a situation would result in a civil war and/or a genocide.

          • ana53294 says:

            The situation of civil war is already the case. And if the conflict is not solved, a genocide will happen. The situation of having a huge, armed population with many sympathetic neighbours in an open air prison is not sustainable. If a peace deal is not reached, and an equilibrium restored, genocide will happen (although which side will be destroyed is an open question).

            If Palestinians demanded something that Israel could easily agree to that didn’t turn into a bloody civil war, there wouldn’t be a Palestine-Israel conflict.

            The reason why there isn’t an agreement is that Israel is demanding stuff Palestinians aren’t willing to give up and Palestinians are demanding stuff Israel is not giving up.

            Saying something is illegitimate just because Israel is not willing to give it is saying that Palestinians don’t have the right to demand anything. And that is not how you solve a conflict. Israel has to give up something to achieve peace, and Palestinians have to give up something too. But first, they have to go to the negotiation table with all the demands, some of which will be dropped in exchange for concessions. Saying some of the demands are illegitimate is not a sign of being willing to have honest negotiations.

          • Clutzy says:

            Saying something is illegitimate just because Israel is not willing to give it is saying that Palestinians don’t have the right to demand anything.

            I mean, if this had been any other military conflict in history that would be the international consensus. So we have to suss out the mysterious reasons why this one is so special.

          • ana53294 says:

            International consensus in most such conflicts does involve refugees returning to their country, if they want to.

            It is the international consensus on Western Sahara. The right of return is a principle of international law (although it is debated for mass displacements).

            Note that displaced Palestinians are not the only people claiming the right to return.

          • Enkidum says:

            I mean, if this had been any other military conflict in history that would be the international consensus.

            Right, like after the Civil War when no attempts were made to provide concessions to the South, or after WWII when Germans were given no role in their own governance, or after the Iraq (II) and Afghanistan occupations when the international community as a whole said that the losing sides simply had to listen to whatever the US demanded of them…

            I think you may have a somewhat skewed view of history, is what I’m trying to suggest here.

          • Aapje says:

            @Clutzy

            Supports BDS, including calls for a state of Palestine “From the River to the Sea”.

            The phrase “From the River to the Sea” doesn’t seem to be in any of the links you provided.

            Also, according to the UN, the Palestinians do have the right to territory that extends from the Jordan to the sea. It’s not a particularly radical position.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Aapje: There are like 57 Muslim countries in the UN. If Muslims overwhelmingly agree that Arab Muslims have a right to 100% of the former British Mandate of Palestine and Jews 0%, the UN position only tells us which religion is more popular. If it’s a mainstream position to deny that the Jews have a right to protect themselves from political changes that would lead to ethnic cleansing at best, so much the worse for the mainstream.

          • Dan L says:

            @ Clutzy:

            So we have to suss out the mysterious reasons why this one is so special.

            Don’t be coy. If you think the argument has validity, make it. If it’s race-baiting, don’t bother intimating.

          • Aapje says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            You are engaging in revisionism.

            The votes in favor of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine were all by non-Arab, non-Muslim nations, while the Muslim nations voted against. The Plan was also accepted by the Jewish Agency for Israel. That it was strongly rejected by the Arab nations was pretty obvious, as they started the Arab–Israeli War pretty soon afterwards, as you may recall.

            This plan, that had far stronger Jewish support than Muslim support, is now often characterized as extremely biased in favor of the Palestinians.

            It seems to me that this reflects increased Israeli demands and reduced Palestinian demands, in large part due to the illegitimate creation of “facts on the ground.”

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Alternatively, it might well be that exposure to Western society under certain conditions rapidly liberalizes Muslim minorities

            And it also happens that exposure to western society under certain conditions rapidly radicalizes Muslim minorities.

            I read the Rolling Stone article about the Tsarnaev brothers (the one with the younger brother on the cover that Rolling Stone drew fire for because he looked ‘dreamy’). The goal of the article was to figure out, “how does a kid who looks like this, who you might see skateboarding in any mall parking lot in America wind up planting bombs to murder innocent people?” Well, basically he and his brother (more so the brother), adrift in the nihilism and decadence of modern western society looked for something meaningful to hold on to and found their traditional religion.

            People are complicated, have complicated motivations and change at different points in their lives. “Getting back to one’s roots” is also a thing. Modern western culture is a weak and dying culture. We can’t even reproduce at replacement levels. Muslim cultures are strong and expanding. If I were a Muslim I certainly wouldn’t want to be western. Osama bin Laden said, “put a strong horse next to a weak horse and people tend to prefer the strong horse.” Islam is a strong horse. Liberal western society not so much.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ Conrad Honcho

            This only holds if you look at things in a basic light, lots of places are becoming more Western, China has steadily pushed west for about 40 years now, perhaps they will swing back but counting only the historical west and claiming decline is narrow sighted. Population growth on its own is a weak metric as it misses the real shifts, much of the African continent is Westernizing in terms of their economic direction and growth, and its likely that some of those ‘Muslim’ countries will have Western norms in 30-40 years, so unless you are separating West and non West as specifically Christian and non Christian then you are missing a whole lot.

          • Aapje says:

            Psychiatrists seem to be dealing with an increasing number of Western people who feel purposeless, dissatisfied, etc; despite having great material wealth.

            Many people may be seeking a life of safety and ease, resulting in little overt suffering, but a lot of hidden suffering.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @baconbits9

            You seem to be talking about economics and I’m talking about culture. The things people believe or find meaningful, how they live their lives and how they interact with one another. Muslims have strong communities, standards, values. Westerners are increasingly isolated and apparently suffering from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. And the intersections between western social culture and western economics is probably “consumerism,” upon which I think the general consensus is “not healthy.”

            ETA: I agree everybody likes western money. But the material wealth is the reason for Muslim immigration to the west, not the culture. When they get here they keep their religion, their community, their culture, live together, and elect people like Ilhan Omar to express their values. The assertion that Muslim immigrants assimilate to western values seems contrary to reality.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Muslims have strong communities, standards, values. Westerners are increasingly isolated and apparently suffering from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.

            Given the number of suicidal terrorists it spits out, Islam doesn’t seem to be so good for people either.

          • Nornagest says:

            The assertion that Muslim immigrants assimilate to western values seems contrary to reality.

            Well, all the Muslim immigrants and children of Muslim immigrants that I’ve actually met have been just about as enthusiastic about beer and bacon as I am, which certainly seems to argue for rapid secularization. But I know perfectly well that I don’t hang out with the average Muslim immigrant.

            (For one thing, I think this probably plays out differently on average in the US than it does in the UK or the EU.)

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Muslim terrorists so fervently believe in their way of life they’ll kill and die for it. Western mass shooters are people so disillusioned and disconnected from society they just want to take some of it with them on their way out.

            ETA: Nornagest, come on, man. You’re not hanging out in “Little Mogadishu.”

          • Nornagest says:

            I said as much, yes. But I doubt you are either. And since neither side of this debate seems to be able to dig up any convincing hard data, I’ll take the anecdata I’ve actually seen over those I haven’t, being aware however that it’s limited in scope. It at least works as an existence proof.

            (Terms and conditions apply. Offer only valid in the United States.)

          • dndnrsn says:

            Modern Western culture, or whatever you want to call it, is the way it is because of technological change. It’s not like people woke up one day and said, “hey, you know what would be good? If we had fewer kids and more depression.” Technological change drives social change, and people given the same technology will see the same or similar social changes.

            Plus, in Europe at least, the sorts of young Muslim men who actually do terrorist stuff, tend not to be all-devout-all-the-time guys; they tend to have a history of petty (or not petty) crime, and to be disconnected in the same way as lone-wolf mass-murderers in general are. Disconnected young men will reach for whatever fits best.

          • rlms says:

            Plus, in Europe at least, the sorts of young Muslim men who actually do terrorist stuff, tend not to be all-devout-all-the-time guys; they tend to have a history of petty (or not petty) crime, and to be disconnected in the same way as lone-wolf mass-murderers in general are. Disconnected young men will reach for whatever fits best.

            Indeed, and when disconnected young Muslim men respond to their disconnection by embracing religion they are pretty likely to end up in an outlet for poisonous Saudi propaganda, which is not an issue for those from other backgrounds.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            One thing that concerns me about the polling of American Muslims is that, based on elected American Muslims who are voted in where there are majority/plurality Muslims, they are lying to pollsters. And lying pretty blatantly. The difference between, for example, Ilhan Omar’s beliefs and the polled beliefs of the community are freaking huge. Ditto Talib and Ellison.

            This thread is very long and perhaps unmanageable at this point, but I did want to respond to this. Both Omar and Ellison are from my district, which consists of Minneapolis and a few suburbs next to it. Muslims are in no way a majority or a plurality here. This is simply a very left area that considers it a sign of enlightenment to elect Muslims / Blacks to Congress. Both Omar and Ellison appeal to the hard left, and only incidentally to other Muslims.

          • I believe Ellison’s initial link was with the Nation of Islam, which is much more an American black nationalist movement than a part of Islam. He eventually pulled away from that, and now seems to be a conventional Muslim. But he isn’t a Muslim immigrant–he was raised Catholic in Detroit.

          • 10240 says:

            Right, like after the Civil War when no attempts were made to provide concessions to the South, or after WWII when Germans were given no role in their own governance, or after the Iraq (II) and Afghanistan occupations when the international community as a whole said that the losing sides simply had to listen to whatever the US demanded of them…

            Until the UN, it was generally accepted that the victors decide the terms of the peace. The victors sometimes made concessions. This changed with the foundation of the UN. UN rules allow for military occupation, but don’t allow for unilateral territorial changes by the victor in the final peace treaty, naturally creating perpetual conflicts as the loser refuses to sign a treaty where it loses territory, and the victor has little incentive to sign a treaty where it doesn’t.

            The Plan was also accepted by the Jewish Agency for Israel. That it was strongly rejected by the Arab nations was pretty obvious, as they started the Arab–Israeli War pretty soon afterwards, as you may recall.

            Jews acccepted the partition plan, Arabs didn’t because they hoped to overrun Israel. When Israel won and increased its territory, then the Arabs were willing to accept the original partition plan. Israel was willing to accept its new borders as the final borders, but Arabs weren’t, so the armistice agreements included that the armistice lines have no bearing whatsoever on the eventual final borders. Obviously Arabs once again hoped to gain strength and overrun Israel. When that didn’t work out, and Israel conquered the rest of Palestine, now some Arabs are willing to accept the original armistice lines.

            It’s like you gamble and you lose, then you demand the gamble to be annulled. (Of course you wouldn’t want it annulled if you had won.) Then when it obviously doesn’t get annulled, you gamble with the rest of your money in order to gain back what you lost. Then when you lose again, you are perhaps willing to accept the result of the first gamble (or not), but demand the second one to be annulled. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

          • brad says:

            I lived for seven years across from a mosque. I never saw any kind of a confrontation or issues between that community and the catholic Filipino or evangelical protestant Korean communities that were also in the neighborhood. Or had any kind of problem myself.

            You shouldn’t believe everything you see on fox news or right wing twitter.

          • Aapje says:

            @10240

            Jews accepted the partition plan, Arabs didn’t because they hoped to overrun Israel.

            Ben-Gurion temporarily accepted the plan because he thought that it would allow Israel to built up a strong economy and an army that could overrun Palestine. Ben-Gurion wrote this in a 1937 letter to his son, in which he defended his support for the Peel Commission:

            From our standpoint, the status quo is deadly poison. We want to change the status quo. But how can this change come about? How can this land become ours? The decisive question is: Does the establishment of a Jewish state [in only part of Palestine] advance or retard the conversion of this country into a Jewish country?

            My assumption (which is why I am a fervent proponent of a state, even though it is now linked to partition) is that a Jewish state on only part of the land is not the end but the beginning.

            When we acquire one thousand or 10,000 dunams, we feel elated. It does not hurt our feelings that by this acquisition we are not in possession of the whole land. This is because this increase in possession is of consequence not only in itself, but because through it we increase our strength, and every increase in strength helps in the possession of the land as a whole.
            […]
            We shall admit into the state all the Jews we can. We firmly believe that we can admit more than two million Jews. We shall build a multi-faceted Jewish economy– agricultural, industrial, and maritime. We shall organize an advanced defense force—a superior army which I have no doubt will be one of the best armies in the world. At that point I am confident that we would not fail in settling in the remaining parts of the country, through agreement and understanding with our Arab neighbors, or through some other means.

            So it seems to me that both the Jewish and Palestinian/Arab leaders rejected the partitioning of the area as a permanent solution. The only reason why the Zionist leadership accepted it temporarily was because it was more than they had and thus a step in the right direction, from their perspective.

            In the revisionist, pro-Israel narrative, this history is presented as if the Zionist leadership was willing to accept a permanent Palestinian state and it was the Arabs that made a peaceful solution impossible by posing a permanent threat to Israel, requiring a very strong Israeli state that can withstand Arab assaults.

            Yet his own words show that Ben-Gurion was intent on posing a permanent threat to a Palestinian state.

            Of course, you may believe in ‘might makes right’-morality where the strong gets what he wants. I can’t object to that on factual grounds (although I object on moral grounds).

            However, If you reject the rule of the strong in favor of such things as respecting existing property rights and self-determination, then I don’t see how this is consistent with a bias so strong in (Greater) Israel’s favor.

          • baconbits9 says:

            You seem to be talking about economics and I’m talking about culture. The things people believe or find meaningful, how they live their lives and how they interact with one another.

            I don’t think there is any clear distinction between economics and culture. The Western cultures moved more toward the individual and that is the basis of their economic success. What people find meaningful they pursue, both culturally and economically.

          • 10240 says:

            @Aapje If so, it appears that both sides believe in might makes right, whether I do or not.

          • 10240 says:

            Or maybe they don’t believe in “might makes right” as an ideal, but they realize that in an environment where there is no reliable enforcement of international law, not relying on might would be foolish.

          • albatross11 says:

            This makes me wonder if the most effective preventative for Islamic terrorist recruitment in the west would be effective outreach/evangelization efforts by non-terrorist Muslim groups.

          • albatross11 says:

            Conrad:

            Is there good evidence about the fraction of Muslims in the west who convert or fall away from Islam? My guess is that way, way more Muslims in the west assimilate to Western culture than end up getting sucked into joining a death cult. We only hear about the extreme outliers who try to shoot/stab/blow up some infidels, not the large number who end up drinking/dating Western girls/watching porn and only make it to Mosque for the Muslim equivalent of Easter and Christmas.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Unless one thinks that “Islamic culture” is inherently stronger than “Western culture” (of course, these are two incredibly broad, crude categories, there’s been Muslims in the west for a while already, etc etc etc) there’s no reason to believe that it is somehow more resistant to the changes that were created in Western culture by the technological-social changes of modernity.

            If, as Conrad Honcho seems to, one takes the “strong horse/weak horse” thing seriously, either one horse has always been stronger and the weaker horse couldn’t resist the blandishments of modernity, or said blandishments turn a strong horse into a weak horse. I don’t think there’s any evidence for the former. Now, more traditional Muslims moving to the west certainly will try to resist the current Western status quo – but I don’t think they’ll be able to do it. The religious-minority groups in the Western world that manage to stay isolated from society as a whole tend to be geographically isolated – Kiryas Joel, for example.

            I’d question the “strong horse/weak horse” thing entirely – people seem to want modernity. If they don’t, their kids do. If one horse is stronger, then why do people seem to want the weaker one?

          • Clutzy says:

            Isn’t more of a question of who is actually trying?

            If a Muslim comes to the West and says, “well this culture kinda sucks we need to change it” like 50% of Westerners agree (although they probably dont agree as to how it should change, but its still a temporary alliance), and among the other 50% a majority are sheepish defenders with only a small % being staunch advocates.

          • Aapje says:

            @10240

            If so, it appears that both sides believe in might makes right, whether I do or not.

            When two douchebags have unreasonable demands in our society, we have a solution for that called a judge, who then gives both sides what they deserve to have, not what they demand.

            And if either side refuses to obey the ruling, we slap that side down.

            This is also what some are trying to do with the BDS movement.

      • quanta413 says:

        I’m not sure if both 1 and 2 are basically correct, or basically wrong. But I endorse that those are the most consistent positions to take.

        I disagree with both Islam and white ethnocentrism. But I also don’t feel any need to hunt down people with some hypothetical moderate and peaceful version of either. Or tar and feather every past person with those views. I can imagine versions of each that people hold that I could live with (EDIT: To be clear, I mean I could imagine reasonably living in a society where a lot of people held some hypothetical moderate version of that view. Not that either idea becomes appealing to me. Not interested in God for one and not white enough for the other). It’s easier for Islam since there are a lot more Muslims so the space is more explored. But I can imagine a white ethnocentrism that’s basically like Japanese ethnocentrism (or really like most countries and people across history; the rhetoric and surface level expression of western cosmopolitans are incredibly freakish outliers from what I can infer from reading about almost any other culture), which I don’t find any more distasteful than any form of Islam but one so utterly divorced from its roots that its strikes me more as just boring than anything else. Like a few ultra liberal strains of Christianity, which make me think “why the fuck would you even bother at that point?” (To be clear, I’m an atheist. My complaint with these versions is that it’d be more consistent to just give up the whole thing at a certain point. But other than that they’re more palatable to me than other forms of Christianity. Ditto for a similar version of Islam. It’d be more palatable to me but at that point, why would anyone bother?)

    • Well... says:

      I agree about the media but that conversation is less interesting to me. Instead, here’s an asymmetry I see:

      The typical moderate Muslim’s MO is to carry on believing in a sort of amicable version of Islam and teach it to his kids.

      The typical moderate white supremacist’s MO by contrast is based on a complaint about the state of things: that white people are losing the battle of the cradle, that there’s too much immigration, that white people don’t have an identitarianism to match that of other groups, etc. This isn’t something where you can peacefully carry on some sort of amicable version of it and teach it to your kids and hope they do the same. It has, built into it, a drive to change things in the name of the ideology. If you aren’t doing something to drive those changes, you will feel like a coward.

      Now, that is also a common accusation made of Islam, but Islam has a long history and a lot of moderates to show that moderate Islam is sustainable. White supremacy, in the context of this discussion, is much newer and we know much less about the long-term viability of any kind of moderate version of it.

      • Randy M says:

        Now, that is also a common accusation made of Islam, but Islam has a long history and a lot of moderates to show that moderate Islam is sustainable. White supremacy, in the context of this discussion, is much newer and we know much less about the long-term viability of any kind of moderate version of it.

        This may be because you have an outsider’s view of Islam, and an insider’s view of White Privilege. The amicable view of white supremacy is making white babies, succeeding in life without being an ally or advocate for POC, etc. Basically any form of non-PC belief.

        Of course, you can find criticism of these White Privilege behaviors from some commentators, just as you can find criticism of Moderate Islam.

        • Well... says:

          To count yourself as an amicable Muslim you have to at least see yourself as Muslim. To count yourself as an amicable white supremacist, you have to at least see yourself as a white supremacist. (Which I realize we’re using incorrectly here; white nationalist is probably closer.) It isn’t just avoiding advocacy of PC beliefs.

          ETA: That said, there is sometimes a call in the newsmedia to eradicate even the non-advocacy of PC beliefs, but it is much more difficult to firmly link the set “those who avoid advocating PC beliefs” to the acts of any terrorist.

        • Simon_Jester says:

          As @Well… points out, this is a place where the analogy breaks down. Is “white supremacist” even an appropriate group to compare to “Muslim?”

          White supremacy and its cousin white nationalism are specific political ideologies that emerge within certain countries. They do not possess a distinct culture or set of historical traditions that is separate from the European-descended countries they live within.

          “Islam” is a specific religion, but it’s the dominant religion across much of the Earth’s surface and has been for over 1300 years. There are dozens of variations on the theme of “Islamic cultures,” entire languages that have grown to prominence intertwined with Islam, and a complex history and set of folkways.

          So to a large sense, “Muslim” is sort of like an ethnic group or culture, comparable to “Latin American” or “French” or “Japanese,” whereas “white supremacist” is a purely political affiliation, comparable to “communist” or “monarchist.”

          Most Muslims are by default “moderate” in that they are Muslims, but not frothing crazed fanatics about it, in the same way that most Latinos, Frenchmen, and Japanese aren’t fanatical about their own ethnic and cultural heritage.

          But a white supremacist is almost by definition fanatical about their ethnic and cultural heritage; if they weren’t, they would just be, y’know, a normal white person.

          A “moderate white supremacist” is “fanatical, but mildly so.” A “moderate Muslim” isn’t necessarily fanatical at all.

          There’s a very sharp difference here and I think it breaks the overall analogy.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I think they are highly comparable. Islam is very much a political system as it is practiced in most places in the world. In fact, most Muslims would probably be “Muslim supremacists” in the same way that EC is a “white supremacist,” in that they believe their countries should remain majority Muslim, government policy should secure this, and that Muslim values should be enshrined in law.

          • Randy M says:

            The analogous group to “white supremacist” isn’t “Muslim” but something like Wahabbi Jihadist.
            And as people against Islam say that the non-jihadist muslims give tacit support to the Jihadists, people against conservative whites says that “White privilege” works to empower white supremacists and systematically oppress people.
            The latter is dressed up in academese but the argument is similar (which isn’t to say the facts are).

      • EchoChaos says:

        White supremacy, in the context of this discussion, is much newer and we know much less about the long-term viability of any kind of moderate version of it.

        I would argue that America from 1865-1960-something was a white nationalist, verging on white supremacist state. It worked fine.

        South Africa was certainly a white supremacist state prior to the end of apartheid, and while it had civil unrest, it was good enough for minorities that it had black immigration for its entire existence under apartheid.

        • Well... says:

          I would argue that America from 1865-1960-something was a white nationalist, verging on white supremacist state. It worked fine.

          I don’t think I agree that America was a white nationalist state as a whole, but I would agree that’s when white nationalism arose here and cut its teeth as a political ideology.

          Not sure I’d agree “it worked fine” either. Seems to me it failed to raise the white birthrate, failed to prevent the rise of PC, and failed to get along peacefully with competing/opposing ideologies.

          However, I think when we talk about white nationalists today, except for maybe actual Klansmen we’re not talking about the modern continuation of the movement that began during Reconstruction. Instead we’re talking about a new thing that really took off because of the internet. That is what I’m saying does not yet have a history in which a moderate non-aggressive version has been tested and proven sustainable.

      • White supremacy, in the context of this discussion, is much newer and we know much less about the long-term viability of any kind of moderate version of it.

        White nationalism, in the form of an attempt to limit immigration by non-whites, was U.S. policy since the late 19th century (restrictions on oriental immigration), and explicitly in the form of quotas based on current population ethnicities starting in the 1920’s. That was a moderate version–no attempt to force non-whites out.

        • Well... says:

          See my above comment re. what we know as the white nationalism movement today, but also, I don’t think that’s moderate by the same standards as we would call moderate Islam moderate. For that, the white nationalism would have to be limited pretty much to the insides of people’s houses and not attempt to influence national policy.

          • albatross11 says:

            You could make the exact same argument w.r.t. modern fundamentalist Islam–it’s just a different beast than the stuff we had back before Al Qaida and ISIS and the PLO and all. I think this is an argument that proves too much.

          • Well... says:

            My argument was that moderate Muslims are considered moderate because they don’t believe, or at least don’t outwardly express, many of the more absolutist demands of their religion (calls to conquer/convert outsiders, to kill apostates, etc.) and to a certain extent don’t place Islam at the center of their identities. Presumably they tend to pass similar beliefs/expressions/identities on to their kids. From an anti-fundamentalist perspective, moderate Muslims might therefore be said to practice a kind of improved hollow faith: a not unpleasant outer layer with the nasty inner core removed.

            To be analogous, moderate white nationalists would disregard, and in most cases also not pass on to their children, the more absolutist beliefs of white nationalism. But what might these include? What would a moderate white nationalist consider white nationalism’s nasty inner core, if he can jettison it and still credibly call himself a white nationalist?

        • The Red Foliot says:

          One reason moderate white nationalism can’t exist is that the ideology as a whole is taboo in our society. That means that only extremists, who don’t care about social norms, will be identifying with it.

    • ajakaja says:

      Am I correct in parsing your post as an attempt at getting a blue-tribe-aligned person like myself to realize that condemning white supremacist ideology is comparable to a red-tribe-ish person condemning Islamic ideology? Because the only effect is making me think that your stance is even more harmful and (in my view; of course this is biased) delusional than I previously realized it was.

      The big difference of course is that “Islam” is a religion practiced by billions of people and “white supremacism” is a fringe ideology with a long track record of cause horrible real-world consequences involving terrorism and genocide, and if your reaction to that is “Islam is also a toxic ideology with a long track record of causing horrible real-world consequences involving terrorism and genocide”, you’re simply wrong, because Islam is a religion practiced by billions of people and by numbers alone it can’t be that or there would be a million times more instances of Islamic terrorism than there actually are.

      So one way you could think your two sentences are comparable is if you think Islam is an ideology closely associated with terrorism instead of a vast superset of an ideology closely associated with terrorism. In which case I would recommend just, like, thinking about that for a minute, or meeting some Muslim people.

      The other way you could think that your two sentences are comparable is if you think there exists a large contingent of white supremacists who are just not involved with and never will be involved with terrorism. I don’t believe that. Or rather: I think there are plenty of people taking white-supremacist-sounding stances these days basically as a sort of weird cultural thing where the point is entirely to prove that white-supremacist stances can be taken without being violent, which as far as I can tell is being done entirely because it infuriates liberals and not for any actual ideological reason. This is weird and disconcerting and is reminiscent of corporations hiring actors to defend them in townhall meetings, except instead it’s culture-war armies ‘hiring’ actors (they are paid in social utility and a sense of victory) to defend them in internet forums, and it’s totally toxic because it also has the side effect of doing exactly what it pretends to do, which is normalizing fringe ideologies with long track records of horrible real-world consequences involving terrorism.

      In short, you claim that these two sentences are similar and a blue-tribe person like myself should realize it. I claim that they are similar only if you ignore their fundamental difference (which of course is true when comparing any two things). In this case the fundamental difference is that “white supremacy” is evil and “Islam” is (in general) not, so a person condemning the former is morally and socially acceptable and a person condemning the latter is not (though in practice, because they are clueless, not because they are evil). Basically it is okay for two stances to have the same sentence form, yet one be right and the other wrong, if they have difference nouns substituted into them, and I would hope that this is obvious.

      • condemning white supremacist ideology

        The argument being offered is about white nationalist ideology.

        “white supremacism” is a fringe ideology with a long track record of cause horrible real-world consequences involving terrorism and genocide

        White nationalist ideology, as it’s being described here, has no such record I know of. The U.S. limited oriental immigration starting in the late 19th century, restricted immigration on the explicit basis of maintaining the ethnic distribution of the population starting in the 1920’s, and I don’t think either of those was associated with terrorism and genocide.

        Most Muslims are not terrorists, but most Muslims do approve of the acts of the Prophet Mohammed, which included killing or expelling the Jewish inhabitants of the communities near Medina.

        • ajakaja says:

          The OP specifically used the phrase ‘white supremacist’. ‘white nationalist’ is certainly milder, but is also being paraded because it sounds better; as ideologies they are not too different. But considering white America’s history of literally murdering people for not being white, I’m going to say you’re just wrong regardless of terminology. That that does not count as white nationalist terrorism or genocide to you is due to a twisted choice of where to draw some lines. ‘white nationalism’ has loads of blood on its hands.

          • eyeballfrog says:

            The vast majority of white Americans did not murder anyone even when white nationalism was the dominant ideology, and even among those who did murder people, race-based murders were a significant minority. If blood is on the hands of all those white Americans for the actions of a few, why is the same not true of Muslims?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @eyeballfrog: +1

          • albatross11 says:

            What is a good Fermi estimate on the number of nonwhites murdered by American white supremacists? It looks to me like American white supremacists’ main bit of genocide[1] was targeted at American Indians, and that their body counts were a couple orders of magnitude lower than that of European colonial powers.

            [1] Defining “American white supremacists” *extremely* widely, like all white Americans prior to 1950.

          • The OP specifically used the phrase ‘white supremacist’.

            He used that to describe the terrorist, in the same post where he described the terrorist as a monster. He used “white nationalist” to describe his own position, which he did not think ought to be condemned by linking it to white supremacist terrorism.

            In order for murdering people because they were not white to count as white nationalist terrorism, the objective would have to be to keep the U.S. a white majority country, presumably by killing or driving out enough non-whites. I don’t think that describes any of the racial killing in the U.S.—most of which occurred at a time when whites were the overwhelming majority.

            In order to count as genocide, the purpose would have to have been to wipe out a people, presumably blacks. Nothing close to that occurred.

            Could be more specific about what historical incidents you think count as white nationalist terrorism or genocide?

          • cassander says:

            @DavidFriedman

            If you count the Indian killing and land stealing, it’s at least ethnic cleansing.

          • albatross11 says:

            cassander:

            Yeah, predominantly-white America carried out genocide and ethnic cleansing against many American Indian tribes. That’s the only example I can think of where we[1] carried out actual racially-targeted mass-murder. Slavery and discrimination were nasty, but in those cases we wanted to get cotton picked cheap or to keep blacks/Asians on the bottom socially, which is way less horrible than genocide.

            [1] “We” in a very broad sense–I think all or most of that was done before my grandparents were born, and I’m not a young man.

          • I would describe conflicts with the American Indian tribes as a combination of land stealing and international warfare. I don’t believe there was ever an attempt to wipe out all American Indians, and off hand I can’t think of attempts to wipe out all of any tribe. The usual objective was to move them off their land in order to take it.

            There was some terrorism by both sides in that conflict—killing civilians in order to persuade Indians to leave or whites not to come. But I don’t think it was a major element in the Indian wars.

            It’s odd to describe the motive as “white supremacist.” Much of it was happening after the Civil War, when there were probably more black citizens than Amerinds in territory claimed by the U.S. The Indian tribes were being treated as foreign nations, not as non-white Americans.

      • albatross11 says:

        I suspect this depends a lot on definitions. If “white nationalist” means “guy with extensive prison tattoos who likes to pick fights with blacks in bars”, you get a very different answer than if it means “guy who voted for Trump and wants the US to stay majority or at least plurality white.”

    • dick says:

      First off, let me applaud you for making your case in a thoughtful way. I know it’s extremely unpopular and we all thank you, because it’s great to have a real live white nationalist to argue against.

      That said, it seems like your specific argument here is that non-violent white nationalists are being tarred and unfairly associated with violent ones, and I don’t think that’s true. It’s not like your position was an acceptable one up until some nut with an assault rifle showed up. The Blue Tribe, and mainstream US voters, are western culture generally since the 70s or so, are staunchly against white nationalism for reasons unrelated to any particular terrorist act.

      Yes, people curse white nationalism when a white nationalist commits murder. But they curse it whenever it comes up. If y’all got in the news for something benign, like streaking a football game with “KEEP AMERICA WHITE!” written on his butt, people would still be cursing your position. It’s just a position a lot of people feel really strongly to be bad.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      There was at least a “thank you for raising the subject” here, so I’m going to throw a stone in the pond. It’s not something I have any strong feelings over one way or the other, but if you were to ask me an honest opinion: _all things being equal_, it’s probably better to have a culturally homogeneous population. I’d grade it at about 75%, with higher standards for updating evidence due to a very very noisy environment.

      Disclaimers shouldn’t be necessary, but the “all things being equal” is essential. Things like actually moving people about based on this (or actually doing anything) are not advocated.

      Why I’m writing this: there is an assumption in western culture that diversity is better. As far as I can tell, it’s taken as an article of faith. What arguments am I missing in favor of it?

      One argument I can think of is that mixing is helping at least one side: immigrants come, get good ideas, go back and use them. It’s however agnostic to immigrants that come and stay.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        One argument I can think of is that mixing is helping at least one side: immigrants come, get good ideas, go back and use them. It’s however agnostic to immigrants that come and stay.

        If our culture is superior, letting diverse foreigners come here and assimilate in small enough quantities that we don’t suffer the disadvantages of diversity (like Bowling Alone) becomes a win-neutral scenario, raising their quality of life without hurting ourselves.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          *your culture. I’m from a gray area (Romania), but with regards to cultural mixing, we’re definitely in the immigrant position.

          And it works, in many ways – huge amounts of money come back into the local economy, people learn new trades, new ideas, vote for a new class of politicians. The only fly in the ointment so far is… they’re slow to come back. They’re by and large very hesitant to stay there forever, and would much prefer to return, but… the reasons that kept them there tend to become worse and worse after they’re leaving.

          So how well this works long term depends a lot on the politics back home.

          • Aapje says:

            Many migrants also stay because of their children (because they are rooted in their new home and/or because the new home offers better education and such).

          • Radu Floricica says:

            @Aapje

            Romania is close enough and civilized enough that it makes sense to earn money in richer countries and spend it for a lot more value back home. Median apartment prices here are probably under 50k, houses under 100k. So most chose not to bring their families. Which leads to an extremely shitty state of affairs – children growing up without parents on a scale unseen outside war.

            But yeah, once you bring the children as well, you’re likely to stay.

          • ana53294 says:

            From what I have seen in Spain, older Romanians do want to go back to retire.

            One of my classmates’ parents built themselves a home in Romania, and will go back when they retire. Their Spanish is not very good, either. They needed their daughter to go do all kinds of paperwork.

            But it does seem like young emigrants are unlikely to return, and the same for second generation immigrants.

            But it doesn’t seem like anybody wants to go back, get a job and have kids in Romania.

          • Aapje says:

            @ana53294

            A lot of Moroccans and Turks in my country had the same intent and did build (and rent out) houses in their birth country, but then still decided to stay because their children didn’t want to go back & they didn’t want to leave their children.

      • Randy M says:

        Ideally both ethno-nationalists of any stripe and multi-culturalists/globalist could find places to live that satisfy their preferences; in a spherical-cow world, you’d have ethnic homelands with completely open cities/provinces in proportion to the population that desires it. With free exit, of course, similar to Voldy’s exit or Scott’s archipelago.
        The trouble is, you can go from homogeneous to heterogeneous just be opening the doors and letting nature take it’s course; but you can’t go back to homogeneous without bloody-handed measures.
        And the multi-culturalists tend to have a global goal at least in terms of ending any exclusion, which ironically tends to reduce rather than increase the number of cultures.

      • albatross11 says:

        The thing is, the US has a really amazing history of assimilating immigrant groups and turning them into Americans. I’m mostly of Irish descent, and if I hang around with friends who are of Italian, Eastern European Jewish, German, Greek, French, Scandinavian, etc. descent, I don’t feel like we’re drawn from incompatible cultures or anything. Probably our first-generation ancestors would have had a hard time getting along and would have been happier living in separate neighborhoods.

        • quanta413 says:

          Honestly, I wonder how well this will extrapolate to the future. Those groups all look kind of similar. I can’t tell the difference at all in many cases. I suspect this made past absorption easier.

          On the other hand, Asians and whites in the U.S. are intermarrying pretty fast… but elite whites are still totally happy to shaft Asians in college admissions, for certain jobs, etc. And some middle class whites flee Asian dominated areas.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          US Assimilation stories are exaggerated due to the fact that a significant portion of 1st generation immigrants returned home if they were unsatisfied or didn’t succeed in the United States. I can get the exact numbers later but IIRC it was somewhere between 1/4-1/2. This is on top of whatever selection existed naturally as a result of how the US was constituted at the time.

          intra-neighborhood comparisons take this even further since each neighborhood tends to have a certain inherent “pricing” — a person only lives in a neighborhood if they can afford it which imposes certain requirements on the kind of employment (and hence SES). This is more true now then in, say, 1900.

          Moreover, Significant income/employment gaps still exist between EU ethnic groups in the US. Some of them are quite large though the reason they might be ignored is perhaps because they are overshadowed by other things or because they are downplayed in popular media. Depending on your POV this is an argument for or against assimilation.

          We also don’t necessarily need to (purely) speculate on the outcomes of post WW2 immigrant groups in the US. I think Biorgas (sp?) looked at Longitudinal data on the amount of income mobility these groups have compared to prior immigrant cohorts and found less and less improvement through time. I don’t know without going back and finding the source whether this controlled for survivorship bias, but if it didn’t then it could be a product of less winnowing then existed in 1900-1945.

          • Randy M says:

            I wonder how much of earlier US assimilation (mostly of various European groups) was due to them being able to find an unclaimed or sparsely populated chunk of the country and create their own cultural norms? Obviously doesn’t really apply to, say, Irish settling in the middle of a densely populated NYC.
            But the US has a lot of regional variation , which, Albion’s Seed aside, might be due in part to migration and settlement patterns.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I think once we get into the latter part of the 19th century, the immigration waves are primarily an urban phenomena, as the economy industrialized.

            But even early 1800s immigration wasn’t limited to, or even primarily, rural immigration. The Irish immigration wave was viewed by the earlier German immigration wave as competition. Scorn of the Irish as lesser human beings by the masses of Germans who settled in the cities of the Northeast was common.

      • What arguments am I missing in favor of it?

        One possible argument is that better cultural elements tend to win out over worse ones. So if some people with culture A migrate to a country with culture B, you end up with culture C that contains the best elements of both.

        I’m not sure it is correct, but it isn’t an absurd claim. It fits pretty well with the common picture of history as progress–sometimes described as the Whig theory of history.

        • Clutzy says:

          I find the claim to be pretty absurd on its face. A+B = C > A or B is a pretty rare occurrence culturally. Albatross11 right above you points to the classic American example of “assimilation” but its kind of a nice story we tell ourselves that really isn’t true. Some people can say Pre-Irish/Italian culture was better, some say its worse. That is really a matter of your politics. I will say that without those two groups political machines in our big cities would never have been nearly the force they were, Woodrow Wilson would never have been elected president, the New Deal would never had existed, and the US’s involvement in WWI, doesn’t happen, or is much better managed because our president isn’t a vain idealist with a dream of global government.

          • DinoNerd says:

            I don’t know whether C is better than A and B, but because C is later, it’s closer to my time and hence I probably like it better, at least in the histories I know best, which would be those that ultimately feed into the culture I belong to.

            My guess is that it’s more like evolution – C is more effective in its environment than either A or B would be in that environment, no matter how effective they were in their own environments.

            How many Americans really think that any of the countries their ancestors came from is better than the US? Of those, how many are recent immigrants, like me?

          • quanta413 says:

            My guess is that it’s more like evolution – C is more effective in its environment than either A or B would be in that environment, no matter how effective they were in their own environments.

            It’s worse than that. Evolution doesn’t have to be adaptive whether biological or cultural. To make an analogy with genetics, the change could just be drift or draft and not natural selection.

            I don’t think whiggishness with respect to cultural mores makes much sense. What you say that we tend to like C more because it’s more recent is the obvious explanation. Once you accept that, I don’t see any reason to believe the superstructure.

            Whiggishness with respect to technology I get, but then what’s the lesson? Technological progress has been really fast under a relatively wide variety of cultural regimes (wide compared to the Overton window, maybe not wide historically)

          • Aapje says:

            @DinoNerd

            How many Americans really think that any of the countries their ancestors came from is better than the US?

            A very large percentage of Americans have German and/or Scandinavian and/or Dutch ancestors. Progressives in the US seem to want to change policies and laws to be a lot closer to what exists in these countries.

          • Clutzy says:

            How many Americans really think that any of the countries their ancestors came from is better than the US? Of those, how many are recent immigrants, like me?

            I think most Americans recognize that the World Wars fundamentally changed all of Europe, and had slightly less (but the same) impact on the US.

            Progressives in America wish it had a greater effect and we went as far as them. Conservatives and Libertarians wish it had never happened and we still had 1900ish core governance on the federal level.

  8. J Mann says:

    Another HPMOR question: Does Harry’s solution in the final confrontation use rationalist principles, and if so, how?

    It always bugged me that Draco seems to drink the rationalist Kool-Aid, then gets sidelined, and Harry solves the problem by just being fundamentally smarter and better educated than his opponents, but maybe I’m missing something.

    Also, and on a not unrelated subject, how do I mark spoilers?

    • JohnWittle says:

      I thought that was the whole point, no? The very last chapter, 115, Harry spent a bunch of time retrospecting on the fact that all of his rationalist skills were almost worse than worthless, they didn’t even really help him make better decisions, all they did was give him a framework to quantitatively describe the mistakes that he had made in retrospect. That in order to actually grow up into the kind of person who gets the right answer, rather than just being able to subsequently point at and understand what he did wrong, would require even more Herculean efforts, exploration in some new surprising conceptual direction from before. Something that nobody knows how to do. Then he reflects on the fact that, even with all of his rationalist powers at Peak Performance, even after he received such a large blow to his estimation of his own abilities and thought he’d correctly adjusted to be less arrogant etc, he still would have made a mistake that led inevitably to the destruction of the world if not for the Vow.

      I thought the ending was all about rational humility, and the understanding that mostly what 201x rationalism gives you is the ability to explore a bunch of entirely new and weird failure modes different and distinct from the failure modes of non rationalists, but that it’s still nowhere near good enough to get you to the actual correct answer

    • JPNunez says:

      Something funny about HPMOR’s final confrontation, is that yes, HP just beats Voldemort by being better prepared, due to the power the opponent did not know, the partial transfiguration.

      One of the best sections of the book is when HP along with Snape and Dumbledore and Minerva, are trying to figure out if Voldemort is still alive, and Harry verges into the aspect of how come Voldemort didn’t just kill everyone, given he seemed like a rational actor, just evil, and a powerful, intelligent evil wizard was considered an extinction event.

      But in the end, in the conversation between Voldemort and Harry, Harry asks what the hell was going on in the 70s/80s that Voldemort didn’t just kill everyone. And the answer is that Voldemort was just having a great time and didn’t really want to finally conquer everything just yet. Which marks Voldemort as not really that much of a rational actor. Which means that in the end Harry could just beat him with his regular tricks and thinking out of the box. The only rationalist aspect of his victory is that he tries to see things as they are and uses every resource to the utmost, which he had already done with the Troll.

      But the ending suggests that Harry himself is the extinction event, cause even if he is not evil, he lives in the border of setting off events that trigger the end of the world. Have to wonder if by then EY was starting to become more interested on aligning AIs.

      • Said Achmiz says:

        Have to wonder if by then EY was starting to become more interested on aligning AIs.

        … this is sarcasm, right?

      • Deiseach says:

        Yeah, but if you kill everyone, who are you going to rule over? The fun part of being a world conqueror is having your enemies groveling in the dust before you. If you zap everyone out of existence, it’s just you and nothing, so you might as well have stayed in your bedroom and indulged in revenge fantasies.

        • JPNunez says:

          Just using killing everyone as shorthand of “really evil objective”. Harry realizes that if Voldemort was really all that intelligent, everyone on the good side would be dead or enslaved, yet the world didn’t look like that, even ignoring the part where Voldemort got destroyed by the shenanigans going on with her mother protecting him. Harry imagined ways of winning easily, and while maybe they wouldn’t have worked, it was possible that Voldemort could have experimented successfully without too much cost to himself in ways of killing his opposition. Remember that he was working against the order of the phoenix for a decade without a lot of progress.

          But it is a good shorthand because after that Harry realizes that he has the power to kill everyone, regardless of him being good or evil. An intelligent wizard is an extinction event.

      • Walter says:

        “Which marks Voldemort as not really that much of a rational actor. ”

        Minor disagreement here. Voldemort had different priorities than Harry had previously believed that he had, but whether or not someone is a rational actor isn’t determined by their goals, but rather by the actions that they take in pursuit of them.

        That is, neither wanting to launch a coup, wanting to stop a coup, wanting to live as a terrorist mastermind or wanting to defeat death are inherently rationalist. Rationalism is silent on the question of what your goals should be, only nodding or sneering at how you strive for them.

        • JPNunez says:

          His stated objective was world domination tho, and achieving eternal life.

          He conquered the later, with a huge caveat, but never got around to the former.

    • Nick says:

      Also, and on a not unrelated subject, how do I mark spoilers?

      I don’t think there’s a way to mark spoilers on here. Just use rot13 to encode/decode.

    • Basil Elton says:

      How about his rationality skills were part of the reason why he was better prepared in the first place? He was able to learn partial transfiguration only because he knew and believed that quantum timeless physics is the correct interpretation, which is the direct result of his rationality as it’s undistinguishable experimentally from other hypotheses (well, in the book the successful partial transfiguration itself became such an experiment).

      To the less extent, but his knowledge how to transfigure carbon nanotubes was result of the experiments, and those are (among other things) direct application of “verify theory by practice” principle, which is at the core of rationality.

      And during the confrontation itself, the idea to incapacitate Volandemort instead of killing him, as well as to use piece of a wand for transfiguration, are clearly examples of outside the box thinking. If you want the specific rationality techniques I’d pointed at avoiding cached thoughts and “hug the query”. Plus in the first case maybe avoiding “outside the box box”, because arguably the standard non-standard solution to the task of defeating the enemy is to make friends with them.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      This reminds me of an old question of mine: is it really worth it to keep progressing intellectually? I mean, it’s not like it really helps my day job that much, and there’s only so much you can impress the ladies with smart conversation. As for feeling good with oneself… har har. I’m feeling like the village idiot just by posting here.

      I ultimately think it is, but it’s not obvious. Decreasing marginal benefits are a thing, and in addition to that you’re not always going up – it’s quite easy to go mostly sideways for a few years and not even realize it. Not to mention dead ends if you chose to follow the wrong white rabbit (*cough*replicationcrisis*cough*).

      There are two things that give me moderate optimism that it’s worth it. First, there’s something of an universal rule that when you do something new, first you get better at it, then you get worse, and only by persevering you get very good. I don’t know if there’s a name for it, but there’s a valley somewhere. Shoot-yourself-in-the foot Valley. New rationalists finding new ways to make fools of themselves, serious motorcycle accidents peaking 1 year after starting etc. So don’t lose hope.

      Second, when you persevere, you tend to win so overwhelmingly that it feels like cheating – just like Harry did. The new magic he’s using comes from being able to visualize how the universe really works, and by doing basic research. It sounds obvious, and it’s a superpower only because there is that much of a difference between being expert at something and the rest of the world.

      More generally, to win with expertise seldom feels like work. You just know something because you read it somewhere. Not your merit, really, I mean *of course* a party will become more extremist after losing an election, that’s just Evaporative Cooling. That fancy house, twice the price and 30 minutes extra commute? Didn’t even go see it, what would be the point. Steelman you in-law’s point out of habit instead of knee-jerking an argument, and now you’re his favorite.

      • J Mann says:

        Presumably, the question is “relative to what?”

        Let’s say you can spend your time: (1) reading and discussing the sequences, (2) auditing and discussing a great books course online, (3) playing videogames, (4) dancing at clubs, (5) taking your kids to the park, and (6) participating in one of your romantic partner’s interests. I’d venture there is an optimal level of each based on your goals.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          The example I love about that is how I spent 6 month each with archery and indoor climbing. Archery was wicked fun, but has zero transferable skills whatsoever. Climbing is a lifelong skill that can come up anytime, and is amazingly transferable (including to dancing, if you can believe it).

          Sure, it’s subjective, but it’s not all relative. Some hobbies are objectively better than others.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      You do spoilers by using ROT13. But everyone else has already posted in plaintext, so I’m not going to bother.

      I once saw a post on RPGnet that I found insightful:

      The thing is, Harry never had a rationality advantage over Quirrell. Quirrell is an evil rationalist, but an incredibly good one. And quite possibly the entire source for Harry being one at all. Harry winning by superior rationalism would basically have required Voldemort grabbing an idiot ball, which would have really devalued things.

      The winning play was actually an absurdly wizardly one. Harry won because he knew potent secrets Voldemort didn’t.

      I think that sums it up. Quirrellmort is a more powerful rationalist than Harry, so he was never going to win that way. Instead, Harry won by exploiting his superior scientific knowledge, including partial Transfiguration, which is the power the Dark Lord knows not (yes, I know Eliezer says it was actually something to protect, but I’m calling death of the author here, because fuck that).

  9. Douglas Knight says:

    The really audacious part of GND is rolling back executive power.

    • sandoratthezoo says:

      Maybe. We haven’t seen much in the way of an implementation plan for it. If Congress were to drive that kind of extensive change without doing it by seizing the executive branch, that would certainly be… one audacious part of the Green New Deal.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Sure there’s a plan: a select committee.
        Depends on what you mean by “seizing.”

    • Walter says:

      My impression was that the GND is a plan to make a plan, right? Does it actually state some powers it is taking away from the President and which congresspeople will take those powers?

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Yes, it’s pretty vague, but at the very least it requires eliminating EPA, USDA, Labor, and Transport.

        The select committee of congresspeople who have not received fossil fuel money.

    • redtribewarrior says:

      Hahaha! Massive increase in government intervention will somehow lead to “rolling back executive power”?!? That is laughable on its face. Q. Which branch will write, implement, and enforce the despotic level of government regulations for the control required to make the GND happen (singing in falsetto: Impossible!) If we were to do a cost/benefit: Plus side: 1. Lower emissions – net present value zero because the promised impacts will not come. 2. Guaranteed jobs at $15/hr or more: Net present value: (10 years) negative. Loss in jobs (true minimum wage = 0) and reduction of hours worked outweighs modest increase in hourly wages. Many more workers lose than win. PLUS! We get our Big Macs and fries handed to us by robot arms.

      Negative side: Energy becomes much more expensive and less reliable. Corruption runs rampant through the massive beaurocracy created for the gnd. Unsightly, expensive and unreliable windmills put a blight on our landscape and kill millions of birds, including bald eagles and some threatened species.

      Big plus: Dems lose POTUS, House & Senate in a landslide.

      Seriously, you lovable dreamers haven’t done your homework and thought this through.

  10. Tenacious D says:

    Today marks the roll-out of a federal carbon tax in Canada (for provinces that didn’t already have one). It is set at $20 per metric tonne of CO2e, which works out to around 4 cents on a litre of gasoline or cubic metre of natural gas; it will go up in $10/tonne increments for the next 3 years. To make it sort-of revenue neutral, there is a new credit applied on income tax returns (based on average household energy consumption and not means-tested).

    The government predicts that this tax will reduce annual emissions by at least 50 million tonnes by the time it has fully ramped up in 2022. What do people at SSC predict the impact will be?

    Personally, I think it will be a scenario like those discussed in https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/03/13/does-reality-drive-straight-lines-on-graphs-or-do-straight-lines-on-graphs-drive-reality/ –emissions might decrease but it will be hard to identify an inflection point corresponding to this policy change.

    • BBA says:

      What do people at SSC predict the impact will be?

      A Conservative win in the upcoming election, followed by an immediate repeal of the tax.

      • salvorhardin says:

        There are plenty of reasons the Conservatives might win the election, though. Is there any way to tease out the impact of the carbon tax on the Liberals’ polling numbers vs the impact of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, for example?

      • Tenacious D says:

        How likely do you think a Conservative majority win is? Recent provincial elections have seen lots of voters trying out new/small parties so if that translates federally I’m thinking the Greens and PPC may have strong showings, which makes the overall outcome harder to predict.

        • BBA says:

          I know little about Canadian politics and am judging mainly on new taxes being unpopular.

      • redtribewarrior says:

        agreed

    • redtribewarrior says:

      One can safely project: lower revenues collected than projected; less reduction in emissions than projected; substitution of alternative fuel sources, with unintended consequences—maybe muddying the picture vis a vis reduction of emissions; lower total paid out from revenues than promised. High chance implementation is a clusterf* and disruptions occur. Producers are harmed (but they deserve it, right?), and consumers pay more, even after promised “bonus.” Govt – Here to help. Makes it worse.

    • DinoNerd says:

      As a (long term expat) Canadian, my guess is that the tax will stick. Gasoline has traditionally been much more heavily taxed in Canada than in the US, and “sin taxes” also have a long tradition.

      The disillusionment about Trudeau (from current scandals) might cause a Conservative victory, but I think the memory of Harper is too recent for that – Liberal supporters will hold their noses and vote Liberal anyway, and/or vote for a minority party, never the conservatives. Worst case, a conservative plurality – with “partners” that won’t let them repeal the tax.

      OTOH, this will doubtless fuel Alberta’s grievances, which are already plentiful.

      [Note – low confidence – I haven’t paid attention to those news stories, and I’ve been an expat for a while.]

    • Aapje says:

      To make it sort-of revenue neutral, there is a new credit applied on income tax returns (based on average household energy consumption and not means-tested).

      This makes the carbon tax regressive and the likely outcome is that it will drive low income voters to the right.

      • The Red Foliot says:

        If everyone received an equal amount from the tax credit then it would be progressive, as the money would make up a higher percentage of a poor person’s income. I believe that is how it presently works in British Columbia — all taxpayers receive about four hundred dollars from the carbon tax credit regardless of their circumstances. In Alberta (and maybe other places) there might be some regressiveness, as the amount of the tax credit is partially adjusted to the recipient’s household income. I don’t think the carbon tax will be as significant as the French fuel tax, as it seems to be far less significant, and also the Canadian ‘welfare state’ is a lot less extensive than France’s overall, so that there is less resentment from the lower middle class.

        • Aapje says:

          The tax is presumably more regressive than the tax credit is progressive.

          For example, see this calculation where they argue that the tax credit has to be progressive to balance out the regressiveness of a carbon tax.

          PS. There seems to be a new populist party in Canada that is targeting disaffected voters, the People’s Party. However, Canada seems to have a district-based system that makes things hard for parties with non-concentrated voters.

      • Tenacious D says:

        @Aapje:

        I’ve seen at least a few supporters claim it’s a bit progressive as low income households are likely to consume less energy than average (debatable, imo, as cheaper housing often isn’t insulated as well).

        @ The Red Foliot:

        If I understand correctly, the federal version isn’t adjusted for income but it is adjusted for household size.
        Where I live the price of gas jumped from around $1.20 to $1.24/L with the new tax (which is in the range of month-to-month variability) so I think the contrast you draw with France is apt.

        • Aapje says:

          An issue is that richer people are far more likely to fly, which produces a lot of CO2, but which is untaxed or taxed less.

          It seems that the federal carbon tax will apply to flights within provinces right away, to flights between provinces in the future and not to international flights.

          This article suggests that citizens come out ahead by the policy redistributing money from companies to citizens.

          Of course, then the policy is not revenue-neutral.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It seems that the federal carbon tax will apply to flights within provinces right away, to flights between provinces in the future and not to international flights.

            Leading to flights from one side of Canada to the other having a stop in the US.

          • BBA says:

            Is the tax high enough that people will waste a couple of hours going through immigration and customs twice in order to avoid it? I mean, I’m sure a few people will just out of spite, but…

          • Is the tax high enough that people will waste a couple of hours going through immigration and customs twice in order to avoid it?

            If they are not changing planes, is that necessary? Can’t they just sit in the plane until it takes off again?

            My memory of European airports is that if you are flying from A to B to C, all in different countries, you can change planes in B without ever leaving the part of the airport that is before you go through customs. Am I mistaken?

          • BBA says:

            Most European airports are set up to allow transfers without clearing immigration. US and Canadian airports are not.

            I guess if the flight just stopped in the US for a few minutes without letting anyone on or off, it could be treated as a “domestic” flight upon arrival in Canada since nobody boarded in another country. But unless the tax law is very poorly drafted, this flight would be “domestic” for tax purposes as well.

          • Tenacious D says:

            @Aapje:

            It seems that the federal carbon tax will apply to flights within provinces right away

            Unless they’re exempted, this seems like it will hit fly-in native reserves and other remote communities hardest.

            @DavidFriedman:

            I think that’s how it is in many countries, but flights between Canada and the US are set up so that travellers clear customs (in either direction) in the Canadian airport. This allows the flight to arrive/depart in the domestic area of the US airport, enabling Canadian hub airports (the only ones with these pre-clearance zones) to offer a lot more routes to the US.

  11. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    Help me understand the Cold War:

    In what ways and to what extent did the fight to establish capitalist/communist regimes in Third World countries actually influence the outcome of US/USSR conflict?

    • cassander says:

      The net effect was limited, but you can’t just look at the net effect because a great deal of the effort on both sides was spent trying to prevent/counter/undermine/undo things the other side was doing. Had either side unilaterally stopped fighting those conflicts, the other would have been able to win more of them, much more cheaply and quickly, and that eventually would have seriously altered the strategic balance.

      • salvorhardin says:

        Arguably, though, at least some of the major efforts on the US side (and probably the USSR side as well) were own goals, e.g.

        — siding with colonial powers against independence movements that could have been persuaded to be at least nonaligned rather than Soviet-aligned (AIUI at least some historians think Vietnam is an example here)
        — overthrowing regimes that were inimical to short-term US corporate interests but were not actually likely to go Communist if not overthrown (Arbenz and Mossadegh come to mind)

        There certainly were cases where US strategic interests were actually and urgently at stake, notably Cuba, but how clear is it whether those were the rule or the exception?

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Since you bring up Cuba: How much did that actually matter?

          I realize it sounds kind of stupid to ask “Did nuclear missiles next door matter?” but in my mental model of MAD it actually isn’t that clear.

          • Simon_Jester says:

            The big issue with having Soviet missiles based in Cuba in the early 1960s is that they could be hitting US targets on a couple of minutes’ notice, in a time when the US’s command and control setup was more vulnerable to a decapitation strike than later in the Cold War.

            So if you were worried about the Soviets planning a nuclear first strike and took for granted that they’d do it if they could get away with it (a common opinion among American leaders at the time), missiles in Cuba would greatly increase the chances that they could get away with it, and thus present a major existential risk.

        • cassander says:

          Own goals are something of a specialty of the US foreign policy community.

          — siding with colonial powers against independence movements that could have been persuaded to be at least nonaligned rather than Soviet-aligned (AIUI at least some historians think Vietnam is an example here)

          Vietnam was definitely not, but more generally one also has to consider the choice the US was faced with. Weakening the relationship with France for to secure the non-alignment of weak undeveloped countries is probably not a good trade.

          — overthrowing regimes that were inimical to short-term US corporate interests but were not actually likely to go Communist if not overthrown (Arbenz and Mossadegh come to mind)

          Arbenz was definitely a fuckup, but it had more to do with the administration overreacting than united fruit’s lobbying.

          As for iran, that bought a very valuable alliance that lasted for more than two and a half decades. That a different administration fucked up policy later doesn’t mean the original policy was flawed.

          There certainly were cases where US strategic interests were actually and urgently at stake, notably Cuba, but how clear is it whether those were the rule or the exception?

          I’d actually argue that cuba wasn’t really all that urgent and the US massively overreacted.

          That said, on the broader question, it’s very rare that you have urgent interests at stake because the whole point of the day to day work of foreign policy is trying to make sure that they never are. “We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” is a cliche that can be used to justify all manner of foolishness, but there is much truth to the idea.

          • salvorhardin says:

            Re: colonial powers vs developing countries, it seems to me you can’t have it both ways. If the firmness of our alliances with the colonial powers really mattered that much more than having developing countries be friendly to the US long-term, then the long list of developing country coups and proxy wars can’t have been all that important to US security– which makes it that much harder for any other upsides to outweigh their considerable ethical downsides.

          • cassander says:

            @salvorhardin

            A BMW costs less than a Ferrari but that doesn’t make the BMW not valuable. You try keep as many balls in the air as you can, but when forced to choose, you choose. Sometimes we sided with the colonialists, sometimes we didn’t.

          • Lillian says:

            Vietnam was definitely not, but more generally one also has to consider the choice the US was faced with. Weakening the relationship with France for to secure the non-alignment of weak undeveloped countries is probably not a good trade.

            President Roosevelt’s actual stated policy was that under no circumstances was Indochina to be returned to the French. There is no particular reason why Truman could not have implemented that policy, as the French were certainly in no position to object. He just chose not to.

            Ho Chi Minh actually had a very positive opinion of the United States, to the point of modelling Vietnam’s Proclamation of Independence after America’s. It’s possible that he could have been persuaded to turn away from communism in exchange for the US’s support, but unfortunately it’s unlikely to have been tried. Most probably America would have sided with the Vietnamese Nationalist Party, who were previously being backed by the Chinese Nationalists. It’s hard to predict what would have happened after that, but it’s doubtful that it would have been any worse than what did happen.

          • cassander says:

            @lillian

            President Roosevelt’s actual stated policy was that under no circumstances was Indochina to be returned to the French. There is no particular reason why Truman could not have implemented that policy, as the French were certainly in no position to object. He just chose not to.

            Roosevelt also thought that he could charm stalin into not being stalin. He had a poor understanding of communism even before he got sick.

            Ho Chi Minh actually had a very positive opinion of the United States, to the point of modelling Vietnam’s Proclamation of Independence after America’s. It’s possible that he could have been persuaded to turn away from communism in exchange for the US’s support, but unfortunately it’s unlikely to have been tried.

            He was also a lifelong communist who literally taught communism in for Stalin at the Lenin institute. Even if it were possible to get him to renounce communism, he was the head of a violent communist revolutionary party that had absolutely no interest in doing so.

          • bean says:

            President Roosevelt’s actual stated policy was that under no circumstances was Indochina to be returned to the French. There is no particular reason why Truman could not have implemented that policy, as the French were certainly in no position to object. He just chose not to.

            First, FDR was a serious anticolonialist. He basically made the British dismantle Imperial Preference as a condition for Lend-Lease, which caused a lot of resentment, not all of which was paid off by our aid to them later. Truman wasn’t. He was mostly there to keep Wallace out of the White House.
            Second, you’re assuming that the policy would have been a good idea, and that we could have managed to make Vietnam non-aligned. Cassander has already covered that.
            Third, think of the context at the time. The French today are seen, rather unfairly, as a militarily comical nation, but that wasn’t the case back then. They got an occupation zone in Germany, a seat on the security council, and lots of favorable propaganda during the war. (More or less “they helped us during the Revolution, we need to help them now”.) Abandoning such an ally would be unthinkable, particularly to suck up to a communist guerilla when we were squaring off with Stalin in Eastern Europe, and Stalin both had and was seen to have tight control over world communism.
            I’m not sure what shape the postwar world would have had had Roosevelt lived, but I’m pretty sure that “Things would have been fine if not for Truman messing it up” is a bad assumption.

          • Lillian says:

            The assumption i’m going with if the US decides to back decolonization of Indochina, is that America will support the Nationalists against the Communists, and that there’s a few ways this could go. The thing about Ho Chi Minh is speculation, but also kind of irrelevant since even if it was possible, i said it wouldn’t have been tried. Not even if divine intervention had healed FDR and allowed him to waltz off his wheelchair.

            Now, one scenario of early decolonization is that that it goes exactly like the Chinese Civil War, where the Nationalists simply collapse in the face of the of Communist advance. This seems unlikely to me, since while South Vietnam was not particularly functional, it did hold out long enough for me to believe that there was a stronger basis for its continued survival than there was for the Kuomintang. The Nationalists would also enjoy more local support than the French did during the First Indo-China War.

            On the flip side, it’s unlikely the Nationalists would have been able to easily defeat the Communists, since the Commies were in fact pretty popular with the peasantry and controlled considerable territory out the gate. A potential outcome is the civil war between the Communists and the Nationalists goes pretty much identically to the war with the French, and in the end the country is partitioned North and South same as in our time line.

            Nonetheless, unlike the French i think with Western support, the Nationalists would have a real shot at victory here. The fact that the northern half of Vietnam had to be completely ceded to the communists was a necessary concession in the face of French defeat. One that put the anti-communists at a significant disadvantage, since it meant that while the North Vietnamese could contest the South, the South Vietnamese could not do the same for the North. If we are looking at a Nationalist versus Communist civil war, the Nationalists are able to contest the whole of the country against the Communists, and deny them access to the population and industry of the major cities. This is a much more favourable strategic picture.

            In short, i think if we want to win the Vietnam War, we would have a better shot of it by insisting on decolonization early on instead of letting the French return just so that they can screw the whole thing up even worse.

          • bean says:

            Even granting that, you’re still missing the most important point. Vietnam did not exist in isolation. I’ve already pointed out that telling the French they had to hand over Indochina wasn’t going to go over well at all, and we had no particular reason to believe they wouldn’t be able to win there, with a little help from us. And this would keep them on-side in Western Europe, which really mattered.
            For that matter, what do we do elsewhere? Do we also encourage the British to strike a deal in Malaya? What about Lebanon? Vietnam is only important in retrospect because it’s the one place the policy we had didn’t work. In a counterfactual where we go back and convince everyone to throw the French out, we get the French joining the Warsaw Pact instead or something.
            (Of course, all of this neglects the fact that our policy could have worked in Vietnam if not for idiots in the White House and someone who gives idiots a bad name in the Pentagon.)

          • Atlas says:

            @cassander

            He was also a lifelong communist who literally taught communism in for Stalin at the Lenin institute. Even if it were possible to get him to renounce communism, he was the head of a violent communist revolutionary party that had absolutely no interest in doing so.

            Why then do you think that, merely 10 or so years after the triumph of Vietnamese communism, the Vietnamese government began moving away from central planning?

            The most important issue for the Vietnamese communists was Vietnam’s independence from foreign rule—an eminently fair desire that the United States, of all countries, can hardly condemn. Secondary to that—and at least initially popular with much of Vietnam’s landless rural peasantry— was implementation of a Marxist economic program of land collectivization/central planning. When that program inevitably proved unsuccessful, the Vietnamese leadership fairly quickly abandoned it, because international proletarian revolution wasn’t in fact an important concern to them. (As the 1978 invasion of Cambodia and 1979 war with China ought to further demonstrate.)

            In Hanoi’s War, Professor Nguyen claims that the post-Geneva 1950s peacetime land reform/collectivization efforts in North Vietnam were not very successful, and that discontent with them was rising, until armed struggle in the south began, which naturally became the focus of national attention. Nationalism was a winning issue for the Vietnamese communists, and so was land reform in the abstract. Continued implementation of a communist economic program, doomed to failure, was not.

            Thus, on the basis of the available evidence, I think that, had the Vietnamese communists come into power in 1945, they would have implemented land collectivization/central planning, seen dismal results from it, and, over the course of 5-10 years or so, switched to a more sensible economic system.

          • cassander says:

            @Atlas says:

            Why then do you think that, merely 10 or so years after the triumph of Vietnamese communism, the Vietnamese government began moving away from central planning?

            The people that reformed vietnam in the late 80s weren’t the people that came to power in the 50s. They weren’t even the same people who conquered the south in the 70s. It was a new generation of leaders in a world where every other communist state was at least attempting major reforms. it was not the world of stalinism and the socialist dream of the 50s.

            The most important issue for the Vietnamese communists was Vietnam’s independence from foreign rule—an eminently fair desire that the United States, of all countries, can hardly condemn.

            Easy to say, hard to prove.

            Secondary to that—and at least initially popular with much of Vietnam’s landless rural peasantry— was implementation of a Marxist economic program of land collectivization/central planning.

            Yes, rolling into town with some machine guns and telling the local peasantry that you’ll kill their landlords if they follow you is a very successful strategy for fomenting rebellion.

            Nationalism was a winning issue for the Vietnamese communists, and so was land reform in the abstract.

            Nationalism was a winning issue for communists everywhere. It never stopped them from being communists.

            Thus, on the basis of the available evidence, I think that, had the Vietnamese communists come into power in 1945, they would have implemented land collectivization/central planning, seen dismal results from it, and, over the course of 5-10 years or so, switched to a more sensible economic system.

            Why would you think that when several dozen other communist states that emerged in that time also had dismal results from land reform and didn’t switch to more sensible economics until the late 80s/early 90s?

          • Atlas says:

            @bean

            Second, you’re assuming that the policy would have been a good idea, and that we could have managed to make Vietnam non-aligned. Cassander has already covered that.

            Perhaps this is splitting hairs, but I think cassander’s comment—about Ho Chi Minh/the Vietnamese leadership’s commitment to communism philosophically—is actually a significantly different matter than Vietnam’s geopolitical alignment.

            The almost immediate post-1975 souring of relations between Vietnam and Cambodia and China, all the way to the point of war, after the common enemy of the US and its proxies/puppets had been removed, is quite strong evidence that Vietnam would not have become part of a communist monolith.

            From every point of view—moral or strategic—President Roosevelt’s preferred policy would have indeed been a good idea.

            Third, think of the context at the time. The French today are seen, rather unfairly, as a militarily comical nation, but that wasn’t the case back then. They got an occupation zone in Germany, a seat on the security council, and lots of favorable propaganda during the war. (More or less “they helped us during the Revolution, we need to help them now”.) Abandoning such an ally would be unthinkable, particularly to suck up to a communist guerilla when we were squaring off with Stalin in Eastern Europe, and Stalin both had and was seen to have tight control over world communism.

            Firstly, as Steve Sailer has often wryly noted on this exact matter, as Benjamin Franklin said, if you want someone to like you, get them to do you a favor. You doing them a favor just makes them resent that they depend on you.

            You know when America was really popular in France? After the American Revolution, when the French bankrupted themselves to the point of precipitating a fiscal crisis and a revolution, to create a state that quickly reneged on its (debatable) treaty obligations to France.

            Whereas the US has been decidedly unpopular in France since bailing it out in two world wars. How’d de Gaulle repay our “generosity” in bankrolling the post-WW2 French occupation of Vietnam in the 1960s, again?

            As Greg Cochran once mordantly observed, if the French really hated us, they would have encouraged us to invade Iraq. Likewise, if we really liked the French, we would have told them to pack it up in Vietnam.

          • Atlas says:

            The people that reformed vietnam in the late 80s weren’t the people that came to power in the 50s. They weren’t even the same people who conquered the south in the 70s. It was a new generation of leaders in a world where every other communist state was at least attempting major reforms. it was not the world of stalinism and the socialist dream of the 50s.

            Firstly, I’m not as sure about the 1950s vs. 1980s point you’re making: in 1953 in East Germany and 1956 in Hungary major changes in the local communist systems were only averted by Soviet invasions.

            Secondly, I’m not sure what the valence of the different people point is: The central event of modern Vietnamese history for Vietnamese leaders in the 1980s was fighting a war of independence under the banner of communism, with aid from communist countries. It seems possible, at least, that this experience would make one more, rather than less, committed to communism.

            Easy to say, hard to prove.

            I would reiterate that the wars with communist Cambodia and China and the post-war economic reforms, as well as Ho Chi Minh’s initial overtures to the US, are strong suggestions that the Vietnamese communists were quite willing to abandon world revolution as soon as their country, personally, had nothing to gain from it.

            Yes, rolling into town with some machine guns and telling the local peasantry that you’ll kill their landlords if they follow you is a very successful strategy for fomenting rebellion.

            So why commit yourself to defending an extremely unpopular position? It’s a lot easier to be popular than unpopular. If they have popular support, let the communists mess up the economy and become the unpopular ones.

            Nationalism was a winning issue for communists everywhere. It never stopped them from being communists.

            It certainly stopped them from fully co-operating with other communist powers, most notably in the Sino-Soviet split. The idea that there could ever be a global communist monolith has been decisively exposed as a falsehood by the actual course of historical events.

            Why would you think that when several dozen other communist states that emerged in that time also had dismal results from land reform and didn’t switch to more sensible economics until the late 80s/early 90s?

            Which countries, specifically, are you thinking of? I certainly think that Eastern European countries would not have maintained communist systems into the 1980s without the threat of Soviet invasion.

            I’d have to research more into it, but I suspect that the German invasion in 1941 greatly prolonged the life-span of Soviet communism. I also think that a more conciliatory US posture in the Cold War might have accelerated the decline of Soviet communism.

            One thing to consider is that, according to Acemoglu and Robinson in Why Nations Fail, central planning is better at achieving catch-up industrialization growth than it is achieving growth on the technological frontier.

            As a general rule, I think that fear of foreign threats to national sovereignty delays internal reform. For instance, had the United States not gotten involved with Vietnam, Korea and Taiwan, and normalized relations with China after Mao’s victory in the Chinese Civil War, I think that reforms within China might well have begun at a sooner date.

          • cassander says:

            @Atlas says:

            Firstly, I’m not as sure about the 1950s vs. 1980s point you’re making: in 1953 in East Germany and 1956 in Hungary major changes in the local communist systems were only averted by Soviet invasions.

            I don’t know much about east germany, but the Hungarian changes weren’t so much anti-communist as anti-soviet.

            I would reiterate that the wars with communist Cambodia and China and the post-war economic reforms, as well as Ho Chi Minh’s initial overtures to the US, are strong suggestions that the Vietnamese communists were quite willing to abandon world revolution as soon as their country, personally, had nothing to gain from it.

            They also tried to establish hegemony over all of southeast asia, and only stopped when the chinese invaded them.

            So why commit yourself to defending an extremely unpopular position? It’s a lot easier to be popular than unpopular. If they have popular support, let the communists mess up the economy and become the unpopular ones.

            Well, one, it involves the murder of a whole lot of innocent landlords. And two, the landlords were usually also the most efficient farmers, and killing them off usually caused a famine.

            The idea that there could ever be a global communist monolith has been decisively exposed as a falsehood by the actual course of historical events.

            Communism was pretty monolithic before the death of stalin. but more importantly, that the communist states had their own rivalries didn’t mean that communism wasn’t awful and needed to be stopped.

            Which countries, specifically, are you thinking of? I certainly think that Eastern European countries would not have maintained communist systems into the 1980s without the threat of Soviet invasion.

            Also the Chinese, the Cubans, the russians themselves, for that matter.

            I’d have to research more into it, but I suspect that the German invasion in 1941 greatly prolonged the life-span of Soviet communism.

            No question.

            I also think that a more conciliatory US posture in the Cold War might have accelerated the decline of Soviet communism.

            How?

            One thing to consider is that, according to Acemoglu and Robinson in Why Nations Fail, central planning is better at achieving catch-up industrialization growth than it is achieving growth on the technological frontier.

            I would say that it was less bad, not that it was better. Free markets are better at both unless you’re trying to build up a particular industry at the expense of overall higher prosperity, for whatever reason.

            As a general rule, I think that fear of foreign threats to national sovereignty delays internal reform. For instance, had the United States not gotten involved with Vietnam, Korea and Taiwan, and normalized relations with China after Mao’s victory in the Chinese Civil War, I think that reforms within China might well have begun at a sooner date.

            they weren’t possible until Mao was dead.

          • Atlas says:

            @bean

            Even granting that, you’re still missing the most important point. Vietnam did not exist in isolation.

            I think the historical record shows that errors in the direction of overestimating the global significance of Vietnam—both from President Eisenhower’s domino theory and Che Guevara’s “two, three, many Vietnams” theory—were much more common and egregious than errors from underestimation.

            I’ve already pointed out that telling the French they had to hand over Indochina wasn’t going to go over well at all, and we had no particular reason to believe they wouldn’t be able to win there, with a little help from us. And this would keep them on-side in Western Europe, which really mattered.

            Since France pulled out of NATO’s integrated military command structure in the 1960s, refused to support the US war in Vietnam and generally moved towards a more non-aligned position in the Cold War, it seems that this line of thinking, if it was indeed motivating US policymakers, was completely mistaken. US bankrolling of the disastrous French war in Indochina did not fundamentally alter the French geopolitical or domestic calculus.

            For that matter, what do we do elsewhere? Do we also encourage the British to strike a deal in Malaya? What about Lebanon? Vietnam is only important in retrospect because it’s the one place the policy we had didn’t work.

            What do you mean by Lebanon? French rule seems to have been terminated, in the face of international pressure, almost immediately after WW2.

            Where else, aside from Vietnam, did the US support colonial occupations after WW2, and where else was such a policy successful?

            In a counterfactual where we go back and convince everyone to throw the French out, we get the French joining the Warsaw Pact instead or something.

            Why would France have joined the Warsaw Pact in this scenario?

            (Of course, all of this neglects the fact that our policy could have worked in Vietnam if not for idiots in the White House and someone who gives idiots a bad name in the Pentagon.)

            Out of curiosity, do you think that Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Melvin Laird and Creighton Abrams were among these idiots who failed to execute our perfectly sensible, perfectly workable policy of a war of aggression to impose an astro-turf government in (southern) Vietnam?

            The idea that the US failed in achieving its goals in Vietnam over a period of almost 30 years of conflict because of individual foibles rather than structural forces seems extremely pernicious to me. The US had massive advantages, on paper, in the Vietnam War it actually fought that would have been more enough to win decisively, had the war been winnable. The only advantage the Vietnamese had was popular support, and no one AFAIK has proposed a way for the US to win popular support that it didn’t try, unsuccessfully, in the actual war. “Because we live here” motivates a lot of politics.

          • cassander says:

            @atlas

            Out of curiosity, do you think that Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Melvin Laird and Creighton Abrams were among these idiots who failed to execute our perfectly sensible, perfectly workable policy of a war of aggression to impose an astro-turf government in (southern) Vietnam?

            Nixon and those others didn’t start the war in Vietnam. And given the cards they were dealt, I think they did about as good a job as was possible getting out of it. And there was absolutely nothing aggressive about a US war fought to defend the south from an invading north.

            The idea that the US failed in achieving its goals in Vietnam over a period of almost 30 years of conflict because of individual foibles rather than structural forces seems extremely pernicious to me.

            The US didn’t fail over 30 years of conflict. the US dug itself into a massive hole between 1965 and 1968, then spent from 1969 to 1972 trying to get out of it. And more or less did. South Vietnam didn’t fall till 1975, after the US congress, in it’s infinite wisdom, decided that their army could fight the north just fine without ammunition and spare parts.

          • bean says:

            The almost immediate post-1975 souring of relations between Vietnam and Cambodia and China, all the way to the point of war, after the common enemy of the US and its proxies/puppets had been removed, is quite strong evidence that Vietnam would not have become part of a communist monolith.

            The situation in 1975 was massively different from 1945. Most notably, the Soviet Union and China were at loggerheads, and it was possible to turn to the USSR for support against China. When Stalin was in charge, communism was a monolith, except for Tito, and he was in the Balkans, which are always an outlier.

            From every point of view—moral or strategic—President Roosevelt’s preferred policy would have indeed been a good idea.

            Sorry, but I don’t really buy it. Leaving aside the other issues I’ve pointed out, most notably the fact that Vietnam is only notable because it’s where our policy didn’t work, unlike, say, Malaya, where it did, this just reeks of wishful thinking.

            You know when America was really popular in France? After the American Revolution, when the French bankrupted themselves to the point of precipitating a fiscal crisis and a revolution, to create a state that quickly reneged on its (debatable) treaty obligations to France.

            Counterpoint: America was popular because we shared a common enemy in the form of the British, and we together had managed to defeat the British for the first time since the Hundred Years War.

            Whereas the US has been decidedly unpopular in France since bailing it out in two world wars. How’d de Gaulle repay our “generosity” in bankrolling the post-WW2 French occupation of Vietnam in the 1960s, again?

            Right. It was because of that, and had nothing to do with the position that we’d reneged on NATO’s commitment to French territorial integrity when we stood by and let Algeria break away. Legally, that was part of metropolitan France, and there was a debatable interpretation of the North Atlantic Treaty that said we were obliged to help. Or our actions during the Suez Crisis. Or the bit where McNamara was obsessed with neutering their strategic independence with the MLF et al.

          • bean says:

            I’ve already addressed your claims about the French gratitude. Indochina wasn’t the sum total of the Franco-American relationship during this period.

            What do you mean by Lebanon? French rule seems to have been terminated, in the face of international pressure, almost immediately after WW2.

            The US intervention in 1958 which preserved a pro-western government.

            Where else, aside from Vietnam, did the US support colonial occupations after WW2, and where else was such a policy successful?

            I already mentioned Malaya. Also the Confrontation with Indonesia, the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya and Oman all spring to mind. I’m sure there are others, but I’m more familiar with British military history in that era than the non-Anglophone states.

            Why would France have joined the Warsaw Pact in this scenario?

            Because they think they’ll get a better deal from the Soviets than the Americans. And they might be right. Those nasty communist guerillas will clear right up. (That was slightly facetious, but there was plenty of room to be more non-aligned. Like not having occupation troops in Germany and secret protocols to rejoin NATO command in the event of a war.)

            Out of curiosity, do you think that Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Melvin Laird and Creighton Abrams were among these idiots who failed to execute our perfectly sensible, perfectly workable policy of a war of aggression to impose an astro-turf government in (southern) Vietnam?

            No. I was speaking of Kennedy/Johnson and co and particularly Robert McNamara, who managed to mismanage the war so badly that it’s frankly hard to credit. I’m sure that a search of the SSC archives for his name will turn up many colorful stories, including a lot of discussion of this exact issue.

          • Atlas says:

            I don’t know much about east germany, but the Hungarian changes weren’t so much anti-communist as anti-soviet.

            They were definitely more about national sovereignty than economics, but my understanding is that in both cases the protesters were in favor of more democratic politics, which would have been considerably more amenable to economic reform.

            They also tried to establish hegemony over all of southeast asia, and only stopped when the chinese invaded them.

            Granting the accuracy of that description for the sake of argument, I think that’s still congruent with my point, though. The leadership of the Vietnamese state wasn’t all that interested in defending communism qua communism, which is why it was willing to fight non-Vietnamese communist countries. (And, more broadly, diplomatic coalitions, including ones of communist countries, are mainly driven by common enemies and tend to fracture rather than expand when the coalition lacks them.)

            Well, one, it involves the murder of a whole lot of innocent landlords. And two, the landlords were usually also the most efficient farmers, and killing them off usually caused a famine.

            Firstly, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, particularly if the government comes to power through democratic means, as e.g. Arbenz and Allende did. Indeed, in the case of Vietnam, AFAIK there was never a famine from collectivization on the scale of the Holodomor or Great Leap Forward, although apparently it got pretty close in the 1950s before being averted by foreign aid. (There was a major famine in 1945, but this was before collectivization and largely due to wartime disruptions.)

            Secondly, even if true, famines can be at least potentially be alleviated by international food aid. (For instance, I think that towards the end of the Russian Civil War US assistance at least considerably mitigated a serious food shortage.)

            Thirdly, even if true, it has to be weighed against the massive humanitarian costs of war, if war is necessary to prevent a communist government from taking power.

            I will admit that I’m just generally skeptical of the “White Man’s Burden” (a poem that always strikes me as a powerful condemnation of imperialism) thesis that it’s a good idea to be unpopular with the people you’re theoretically helping. Either you’re not actually helping, or they should be left to their own devices to learn for themselves.

            Communism was pretty monolithic before the death of stalin. but more importantly, that the communist states had their own rivalries didn’t mean that communism wasn’t awful and needed to be stopped.

            Insofar as only one country, Russia, and its geographically contiguous imperial possessions were communist at that time, perhaps. (Though even within the USSR I think there were some notable factional divisions.)

            I certainly agree that communism is a malicious system of governance and ought to have been/be eradicated. However, I think that combating communism was most consistently successful, as in Europe, when it was done on the basis of self-defense and respect for popular will and national sovereignty—that is to say, the principles that the US publicly espouses.

            As per “Guided by the Beauty of our Weapons,” a competition over who can have the best and most popular economic/political system is a competition in which the US/small-l liberalism necessarily has an asymmetric advantage over the USSR/communism over the medium-long run. A competition over who has the most vicious and effective thugs is not; maybe sometimes the capitalists have better thugs, maybe sometimes the communists do.

            Also the Chinese, the Cubans, the russians themselves, for that matter.

            Chinese reforms began in the late 1970s, so about 30 years after the CCP’s victory in the civil war. My understanding, and people can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, is that Mao was substantially eased out of power by more pragmatic elements within the Chinese state after the failure of the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s, but then in the 1960s Mao tried to reverse this trend with the Cultural Revolution. The salience being, there were moderating forces competing for power within the CCP that were strengthened by manifest failures of communism within a decade or so of the communists coming to power.

            In Cuba, I think that the Bay of Pigs landing, the US embargo and general campaign of harassment/terrorism have significantly delayed reforms by creating a siege mentality. Had the US simply respected Cuba’s sovereignty after Castro took power, I think that the new Cuban government would have still proceeded to implement some unwise central planning/collectivization measures, but would have been a lot more willing to step back from them after the results proved disappointing.

            To some extent, our disagreement might be irreconcilable in that there aren’t enough cases to know for certain. (That is to say, I think that e.g. Vietnam and Angola stepped back from communism within 10 years or so after taking power because the governments realized that it wasn’t working and weren’t as distracted by external threats, whereas you think that it was because communism more globally began collapsing in the 1980s.)

            I definitely find your argument more persuasive now than I initially did, though. I’m willing to concede, if only for the sake of argument, that it might have taken, say, 20-30 years for reforms in Vietnam to occur, because I think that it doesn’t cardinally change my argument.

            How?

            By reducing the amount of internal political dialogue and competition devoted to foreign affairs and increasing the amount devoted to discussion of domestic policies.

            I would say that it was less bad, not that it was better. Free markets are better at both unless you’re trying to build up a particular industry at the expense of overall higher prosperity, for whatever reason.

            I agree with your re-framing, but it’s the same substantive point. (Incidentally, Professor Barry Eichengreen’s history of the European Economy since 1945 does a compelling job of documenting the relative inefficiency of the communist bloc.)

            they weren’t possible until Mao was dead.

            Perhaps, but I think if the Chinese leadership had perceived its geopolitical situation as more secure the factions within it in favor of internal reform would have been in a better position. I definitely am planning and need to learn more about modern Chinese history.

          • Atlas says:

            @cassander

            Nixon and those others didn’t start the war in Vietnam.

            They didn’t start the war, but they failed—as the Johnson administration failed— to win the war by creating a South Vietnamese government capable of standing on its own two feet without getting knocked over by a stiff breeze. To me, this suggests that it was not so much the failings of individual policymakers that led to failure in Vietnam as the fundamental nature of the US mission.

            And given the cards they were dealt, I think they did about as good a job as was possible getting out of it.

            I certainly don’t think so, given that they needlessly inflicted massive devastation on Cambodia, North and South Vietnam, and Laos to prolong a war that they should have, and to a considerable extent did, realized was a lost cause.

            They should have simply allowed/demanded free elections on the governance of South Vietnam, shrugged their shoulders and walked away when the pro-NLF/re-unification party won by a huge margin, taking as many Hmong, Montagnard, Hoa and ARVN/GVN personnel with them as possible.

            When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

            And there was absolutely nothing aggressive about a US war fought to defend the south from an invading north.

            Vietnam was partitioned at the 1954 Geneva Accords as the key condition for the withdrawal of occupying French troops from Vietnam. There was virtually zero indigenous support for the partition and Diem’s rule in Saigon, and the elections scheduled for the 1956 agreement as a condition of the 1954 treaty would almost certainly have led to re-unification under a Ho Chi Minh-led government. Note that when elections were scheduled, the Vietnamese communist leadership deliberately refrained from violent struggle, on the no doubt accurate assumption that it would win any free elections.

            However, Diem, with American blessing, reneged on the promises of the Geneva Accords. A war of reunification was a tragic, but inevitable, result of American/South Vietnamese perfidy.

            The South Vietnamese state was a creation of an occupying colonial power, and its survival was always contingent on actual or potential foreign armed intervention. A war to defend the sovereignty of such a state from the citizens it theoretically represents cannot honestly be thought of as a defensive war.

            The US didn’t fail over 30 years of conflict. the US dug itself into a massive hole between 1965 and 1968, then spent from 1969 to 1972 trying to get out of it. And more or less did. South Vietnam didn’t fall till 1975, after the US congress, in it’s infinite wisdom, decided that their army could fight the north just fine without ammunition and spare parts.

            Max Hastings’ excellent history of the Vietnam War led me to realize that this view, which I had held to some extent previously, is considerably mistaken.

            The French war in Indochina was supported by the US to such an extent—by 1953 the US was paying 80% of the costs— that it is fair to say that French forces effectively became US proxies. Quoting from Hastings:

            During 1950’s Korean winter panic, when outright defeat for UN forces seemed possible, Washington signed off on a massive Indochina aid increase. Thereafter, as France’s will to fight weakened, that of the US stiffened: the colonial army became increasingly an American proxy. Truman and Acheson, far from pressing Paris to negotiate with the Vietminh, urged it to do no such thing. Here was Washington’s first big blunder in Indochina, from which US policy making never recovered. Its military aid contribution ballooned to $150 million, delivered almost without strings—the proud French refused to confide in their paymasters about operational plans. By early 1951, they were receiving more than 7,200 tons of military equipment a month. The imperial power waged its war wearing American helmets, using many American weapons, driving American jeeps and trucks, and flying mostly American planes. Under such circumstances, it is scarcely surprising that when American soldiers a decade later arrived in Vietnam, they seemed to its people children of their earlier oppressors.

            The 1954 Geneva Accords that ended the French war, and the resulting partition, likewise cannot be understood without consideration of the key role played in the negotiations by the US.

            When the promised 1956 elections were cancelled, armed resistance within South Vietnam to the Diem government—which Hanoi’s War says initially happened at a much faster pace than Hanoi wanted—began.

            The US attempted to ensure its client state’s coercive hold on power in the face of popular opposition through a succession of measures: aid, advisers and finally bombardment/ground invasion.

            The takeaway being, from the French re-occupation of Vietnam in 1945 to the fall of Saigon in 1975, the US and its allies/proxies tried to prevent the ascension of an independent, communist government in Vietnam. That they failed to do so, in spite of massive theoretical advantages, suggests to me that the problem was not that one particular individual was mistaken, but rather that the entire enterprise was.

            The idea that ARVN, even by the end of the war, was an extremely effective fighting force capable of defeating the NVA without direct US support is belied by its dismal performance in the 1971 Laos campaign and its response to the 1972 Easter Offensive. (Consider that the NVA didn’t need massive Soviet air support to confidently launch offensive operations.) ARVN’s main deficiency was not material—it consistently received extremely generous support in that regard from the US, until perhaps the very end of the war—but the poor motivation and competence of its personnel. Arming the Montagnards was a pretty successful program, despite not costing all that many resources, because, unlike the South Vietnamese as a whole, they genuinely saw the communists as their enemies.

            The South Vietnamese definitely had enough material left in 1975 to give the NVA one Hell of a fight, given the natural martial advantages of defense, if they’d, you know, wanted to. Hastings again:

            On March 18, Giap in Hanoi informed the politburo that the critical moment had come: they must exploit the Northerners’ stunning local successes by launching a general offensive. It had become plain that the Americans would not commit air power and that many of Thieu’s soldiers had exhausted their will to fight. Despite much written later concerning South Vietnam’s shortage of munitions, there is no reason to believe that the events of early spring would have unfolded differently even if more arms had been available. South Vietnamese exile historian Nguyen Ky Phong suggests that the regime still possessed a year’s worth of war materiel, and this is evidenced by the huge quantities that later fell into the NVA’s hands—eighteen thousand tons in the Central Highlands alone. The fact that much equipment and ammunition was in the wrong places, because the South Vietnamese logistics system was crippled by inefficiency and corruption, cannot justly be blamed on the US.

        • cassander says:

          @ADifferentAnonymous

          In 1962, soviets largely lacked the ability to hit the US with nukes. The had missiles with enough range, but in practice they weren’t very useful because they took longer to fuel than it would have taken US bombers to attack them. So, in that light, it’s a huge change.

          The complication is that the soviets were already testing missiles that could be fueled rapidly, and they’d be rolling off the assembly line by about 1964. This meant that having missiles in cuba wasn’t actually buying them much from a purely military point of view, because they’d be rendered basically unnecessary barely a year before after they were operational.

          The US knew about the new missiles, and they blew up over it anyway. As I’ve read, no one in the deliberations seems to have cared that missiles in cuba weren’t really any more dangerous than the missiles already under construction, just that they felt more dangerous. I consider it a massive overreaction on behalf of the US, though it worked out well for us in the end.

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        That much makes sense. By what mechanism would the strategic balance have eventually been altered? How sure are we that a global quasi-empire would have been a source, rather than a sink, of resources?*

        Also, was it in fact the case that e.g. the Latin American socialist movements would have been Soviet victories in the strategically relevant sense if the US had declined to oppose them?

        * The ethics the different approaches is another question. “Let the USSR amass a global empire that will then collapse in a pandemic of revolutions” would let NATO claim clean hands but probably score pretty abysmally on consequentialist grounds.

        • cassander says:

          In purely military terms allies might be costly, but they aren’t useless. A US facing a warsaw pact-esque latin america would be considerably more constrained in its actions than the actual US was. it’s whole perception of the threat environment would change.

          That said, the real long run threat was probably more ideological than anything. If communism keeps spreading, it makes communism look more appealing, which helps it spread more.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            In purely military terms allies might be costly, but they aren’t useless. A US facing a warsaw pact-esque latin america would be considerably more constrained in its actions than the actual US was. it’s whole perception of the threat environment would change.

            So the mechanism is that with enough Communist allies, the USSR would either a) start and win WWIII or b) have enough of a shot at doing a. to play more aggressively at WWIII-brinksmanship and compound their advantages?

            If communism keeps spreading, it makes communism look more appealing, which helps it spread more.

            Is that actually true, though? It kind of seems like US-backed authoritarian repression to prevent communism from spreading is what makes communism look more appealing, while actually trying it has the opposite effect.

            And to consolidate from the other thread

            I’d actually argue that cuba wasn’t really all that urgent

            To approach this from another angle, would a socialist regime in Mexico have been an urgent threat to the US?

          • Eric Rall says:

            So the mechanism is that with enough Communist allies, the USSR would either a) start and win WWIII or b) have enough of a shot at doing a. to play more aggressively at WWIII-brinksmanship and compound their advantages?

            The most plausible mechanism for a “domino theory” of Communist takeovers to be true would be that each Soviet-aligned state would offer more resources for efforts to support Communist revolution in other countries. Part of this is that a Communist country offers logistical channels into nearby countries (e.g. North Vietnam’s proximity to Laos and Cambodia, allowing them to send troops and supplies to support those countries’ respective Communist revolutionaries), and part of it is actual materiel and manpower resources (e.g. Cuba’s expeditionary force in the Angolan civil war).

          • cassander says:

            So the mechanism is that with enough Communist allies, the USSR would either a) start and win WWIII or b) have enough of a shot at doing a. to play more aggressively at WWIII-brinksmanship and compound their advantages?

            More the second. But also a lot more of trying to peel off US european allies to bandwagon with soviets.

            Is that actually true, though? It kind of seems like US-backed authoritarian repression to prevent communism from spreading is what makes communism look more appealing, while actually trying it has the opposite effect.

            Nothing succeeds like success. And it’s not just communism winning hearts and minds by example, it’s that any potential rebel would know that if he calls himself a communist he’s got a good shot at getting serious support from abroad, and anti-communist forces would know they can expect no help. That gives everyone a lot of incentives to call themselves communists.

            To approach this from another angle, would a socialist regime in Mexico have been an urgent threat to the US?

            I think it’s safe to say that the US would have reacted to a soviet Mexico to much the same degree that the russians have reacted to the idea of the Ukraine joining NATO. the Ukraine is not a threat to russia, ukraine adds almost nothing to NATO’s overall military power, but it’s way, way too close to home for comfort for a superpower that is used to its enemies being far away. It would feel like a dagger pointed at the heart, even though it’s, you know, mexico.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Proxy wars (and the space race) were venues in which to show off technology. The demonstration of the value of computers in warfare (I think in guided bombs) showed that the Soviets were decisively behind. The assessment that computer design was incompatible with information control lead directly to glastnost.

    • redtribewarrior says:

      I’m no expert, but I think the biggest impact of that factor, the “aligned nations” and proxy wars, was a disproportionate destruction of capital through military spending. As a percentage of gdp, I think the soviets spent ~ 20% on their military to our 5% during that period. The arms race was using up scarce resources fast. Then Reagan cranked up the US military machine and the Soviets were forced to accept that they couldn’t keep up. Star Wars missile defence may have been the idea that drove it home. That’s how the US prevailed. A similar dynamic may be playing out at present in our China conundrum. I think China is not nearly as strong as they are trying to project.

      • Lillian says:

        Keep in mind that much of the reason the US was able to only spend 5% on the military is that capitalism is simply that much more efficient than communism at exploiting and distributing resources. A lot of Soviet analysts thought we were simply lying about our GDP expenditures, partly because they were lying themselves, and partly because they just couldn’t see how we could possibly have otherwise afforded it all. Once the technological gap started growing the problem became even worse, since our guided bombs and missiles became increasingly able to annihilate Soviet armoured columns from the air, which was a problem when the Soviet Air Forces couldn’t grantee air superiority due to their own technological shortcomings. Capitalist computer science basically invalidated the entire Soviet strategy of “drown them in tanks”. The Soviets already couldn’t keep up, Reagan might have at best simply accelerated the process a little.

        • cassander says:

          I’d agree that the idea that reagan had an explicit plan to spend the USSR into bankruptcy is nonsense. Reagan certainly thought that the cold war was winnable, and he might even have thought that the USSR would eventually collapse under its own contradictions, but as far as I can tell no one was thinking that if they raised defense spending from 5% of GDP to 6%, they’d break the USSR’s back.

          The idea was to reverse a decade’s worth of lower military spending (defense spending was about 8% of GDP in 1970), ending detente, and taking a more confrontational attitude across the board. I don’t think the size of the technological gap was really appreciated on either side until the gulf war.

    • Atlas says:

      In what ways and to what extent did the fight to establish capitalist/communist regimes in Third World countries actually influence the outcome of US/USSR conflict?

      I think it probably had almost no impact on the end result. The US could maintain a system of democracy/private enterprise indefinitely because it was popular and effective, whereas the USSR could not maintain a dictatorship of the proletariat/central planning system indefinitely because it was unpopular and ineffective. Conflicts in the Third World had little, if anything, to do with that.

  12. Gossage Vardebedian says:

    I’m not sure I have a question. I’m posting because I just finished Shadow Country by Peter Matthiesen, and it’s one of the four or five best books I’ve ever read, and I just felt the need to say that to someone. It’s amazingly successful, as a story about taming a frontier, about race, about progress and the environment, about capital and labor, and above all about one man’s character and ruin. Freaking fantastic. I’ve never read Matthiesen before, but I’ll be reading him again, and he goes right to the top of the “How the hell did he not win a Nobel?” list.

    So.

    Ok, here’s a question. What do you remember reading, and then having thought something akin to that? Not so much, “Wow, that was especially fun and entertaining and cool,” but “How could anyone write a better book than that?”

    • J Mann says:

      The Annotated Lolita, but it frankly took the annotations for me to appreciate it.

    • Spinning Silver by Novik came close.

    • rtypeinhell says:

      If we’re also including the “why isn’t this better recognized” component, Titus Groan, then Gormenghast. The next few books I read after those felt so hollow and perfunctory that I had to repeatedly remind myself that not everyone can be as painstakingly illustrative as Peake.

    • j1000000 says:

      Just as an aside, Matthiessen didn’t win a Nobel, but he did win the National Book Award for Shadow Country, and he had won it previously for The Snow Leopard. So he was certainly very widely respected.

  13. Le Maistre Chat says:

    One of the risks of film-making is that you’ll do something illegal. Depending on the exact crime, it can become illegal to distribute, buy or rent even after you’ve safely made it… like when a man was arrested for renting The Tin Drum from Blockbuster!
    Strangely, the most horrific example in that article was completely legal: when John Wayne played Genghis Khan, it literally gave him and almost 90 other people cancer.

    • CatCube says:

      This past weekend I was reading something about a fatal fire in Harlem in a brownstone that had been modified to serve as a movie set, and eventually Internet-random-walked to the events of Midnight Rider, a cancelled George Allman biopic starring William Hurt. Production was halted after the crew was denied permission to film on railroad tracks, filmed on railroad tracks anyway, and people got runned the fuck over by a freight train.

      Are these kinds of Goddamn clown shows typical of Hollywood productions?

      • rtypeinhell says:

        Midnight Rider doesn’t appear to have been a Hollywood production. Independent films operate with far less oversight than studio films (that’s rather the point). Perhaps this is a case where soul-crushing corporate bureaucracy could’ve saved lives.

        • John Schilling says:

          If soul-crushing bureaucracy had saved any lives, the only story you’d ever have heard was about how a soul-crushing bureaucracy had crushed the soul of a bunch of quirky underdog indie filmmakers for no reason, denying the world an inspirational biopic of one of America’s great R&B singers.

          But here in reality, the owners of the freight train wound up losing an $11.2 million lawsuit. So, bring on the soul-crushing bureaucrats and the cease-and-desist letters, the no-trespassing signs backed by razor wire.

        • CatCube says:

          Fair enough; I was using “Hollywood” as metonymy for motion-picture production in general, not necessarily intending to mean the big companies (and I know little enough to recognize a company and know if it’s big or fly-by-night). Either way, that’s really not quite fair of me, considering that pretty much any industry is going to have little shops that do the wrong thing because the right way is “too hard,” and sometimes even big companies do this too.

          @John Schilling

          But here in reality, the owners of the freight train wound up losing an $11.2 million lawsuit.

          That’s actually one of the more appalling parts of this to me, though I think they got it knocked down quite a bit to like $4 million. I mean, a bunch of randos are standing near the train tracks so they’re supposed to slow down all their trains? Really?!

    • John Schilling says:

      Strangely, the most horrific example in that article was completely legal: when John Wayne played Genghis Khan, it literally gave him and almost 90 other people cancer.

      Twenty-yard penalty and forfeit of goal for egregiously bad statistics.

      John Wayne spent thirteen weeks filming a movie at a former nuclear test site. John Wayne spent about forty years smoking like a chimney. John Wayne died of lung cancer. Playing Ghengis Khan, even at a nuclear test site, was probably good for his health in that Khan was not a smoker and thus for a few hours a day at least Wayne had to abstain as well.

      But let’s do the math. Lifetime incidence of cancer in the US population for most of the 20th century was about 41%, and lifetime mortality about 21%. Out of 220 cast and crew, with no particular risk factor, we would expect 90 to contract cancer and 46 to die from it. Actual numbers, 88 and 46.

      Taking it from the other direction, a radiation dose of ~0.5 Sieverts over a short period of time will cause niticable acute radiation sickness in most of the exposed population. I think it would have been noted in the press at the time if Wayne, Hayward, et al had returned from the shoot looking like Yul Brynner, so that puts the maximum plausible dose somewhere below ~0.5 Sv. And “somewhere” does not in this context mean “just barely”. According to the Linear No-Threshold Model, which is almost certainly excessively conservative, the premature death rate from radiation-induced cancer is ~0.05 per Sievert. So we would expect a population of 220 people exposed to <0.5 Sv of radiation to have suffered <<5.5 excess cancer deaths.

      There was nothing horrific about filming "The Conqueror" at St. George, Utah, and it almost certainly didn't give John Wayne or anyone else cancer. Most of them did that all by themselves.

      • Nornagest says:

        That, plus “100 miles from nuclear test grounds” isn’t all that remarkable. Nuclear testing grounds tend to be pretty remote, but they’re not so remote that there aren’t some substantial populations within 100 miles of them, including for example all of Las Vegas. You used to be able to see mushroom clouds from the roof of the Sands Hotel and Casino.

        I think we would have noticed if the citizens of Las Vegas were dropping dead from cancer at unusually high rates.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          @John:

          Twenty-yard penalty and forfeit of goal for egregiously bad statistics.

          John Wayne spent thirteen weeks filming a movie at a former nuclear test site. John Wayne spent about forty years smoking like a chimney. John Wayne died of lung cancer. Playing Ghengis Khan, even at a nuclear test site, was probably good for his health in that Khan was not a smoker and thus for a few hours a day at least Wayne had to abstain as well.

          But let’s do the math. Lifetime incidence of cancer in the US population for most of the 20th century was about 41%, and lifetime mortality about 21%. Out of 220 cast and crew, with no particular risk factor, we would expect 90 to contract cancer and 46 to die from it. Actual numbers, 88 and 46.

          You’re right; people who take this story seriously are committing the Base Rate Fallacy (not a real logical fallacy, but rather invalid due to innumeracy). I was repeating the story because “Did you know John Wayne starred as Genghis Khan in a movie? It was such a bad idea it caused cancer.” is funny.

          @Nornagest: Whoa, I did not know that. So yeah, visual distance of Las Vegas was not a cancer risk.
          I wonder if an Orion spaceport 100 miles from Las Vegas would have been benign, considering that the explosions would be staggered from ground level to the stratosphere.

          • Nornagest says:

            It’d be messy. There were something like 900 tests on the Nevada Test Site between 1951 and 1992, but a large majority were underground (parts of the desert look like they went through a bad patch of acne if you poke around on Google Maps). And a lot of the atmospheric Nevada Test Site shots were air drops, which produce little fallout, but an Orion drive has the problem that you need to set it off at ground level for it to work.

            I expect you could launch a few Orion ships without causing an unacceptable amount of environmental damage, but a spaceport might be a bit much.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            And a lot of the atmospheric Nevada Test Site shots were air drops, which produce little fallout, but an Orion drive has the problem that you need to set it off at ground level for it to work.

            So you either need to launch it from the ground to an altitude of X meters by non-nuclear means, or launch as few as one Orion with very efficient mass allocation to bootstrap orbital infrastructure. Maybe use it as a tug for moving Near-Earth Objects into orbit for processing carbon, nickel-iron, nitrogen & H2O into orbital habitats?

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      On a more serious note, imagine you’re a director handed a script for a historical drama set in a time and place where people of at least some classes went naked. Your script includes scenes of at least one character of relevant background as a child. How do you film it without facing child pornography charges?

      • Kindly says:

        Just throwing this crazy suggestion out there, but you could have those people not go naked?

        Unless the nakedness of the characters is important, this seems like a distracting trivial detail. To those historical people, walking around naked would be normal; to us, it’s very unusual; the general impression of “this is a dirt-poor person like millions of others” is better conveyed by inaccuracy in the specifics of that person wearing clothes.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Your suggestion seems to be the choice filmmakers always make when depicting characters who would have been naked for ancient Egypt movies (which as far as I can tell included children in general, Old Kingdom peasants, and female entertainers).

          • albatross11 says:

            Yeah, in nearly all cases, I expect the filmmakers are going to give the kids loincloths or something to avoid trouble with the law. This is pretty silly, but also probably not all that big a problem in the grand scheme of things.

      • rtypeinhell says:

        If the nudity is THAT fundamental to the story that it can’t be dropped… you cut the scenes with the kid, and you ask the producer why the hell you were hired for a job tantamount to child pornography. And if the producer says “film it the way it’s written, and that means naked children!”, you quit and run as far from that production as you can. Probably report it too, so you aren’t later incriminated.

        Alternately just shoot the kid from the waist up. But you really ought to be asking why this is necessary; scripts aren’t spewed out of a random idea generator and mandated by God’s law. Many people have to have signed off on an idea before it reaches a director, unless the writer owns the production (incredibly rare, unless the writer is the director is the producer).

      • Auric Ulvin says:

        Well we can stop imagining and have a look at Netflix’s ‘Desire’ director and his explanation for his work:

        https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/allthemoms/2018/08/15/netflix-film-desire-accused-showing-child-porn/995953002/

        “When we see a shark eating a woman on film, no one thinks the woman really died or that the shark was real. We work in a world of fiction; and, for me, before being a director comes being a father.

        “Of course this scene was filmed using a trick, which was that the girls were copying a cowboy scene from a film by John Ford. The girls never understood what they were doing, they were just copying what they were seeing on the screen. No adult interacted with the girls, other than the child acting coach. Everything was done under the careful surveillance of the girls’ mothers. Because I knew this scene might cause some controversy at some point, there is ‘Making Of’ footage of the filming of the entire scene.

        “Everything works inside the spectators’ heads, and how you think this scene was filmed will depend on your level of depravity.”

        On the other hand, there is an ongoing child pornography investigation, so it doesn’t fully answer your question.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Yeah, it doesn’t. It seems like filmmakers can get away with borderline child pornography… besides the case you’re citing, there was the movie Kids (though there the article I linked mentions being legally required to spend a bunch of money on digital nipple removal) and Brooke Shields made two erotic Hollywood films when she was 12 and 14… but maybe it’s a felony to even film non-sexual nudity.

        • sfoil says:

          “Everything works inside the spectators’ heads, and how you think this scene was filmed will depend on your level of depravity.”

          “If you think my kiddie erotica is immoral, it’s only because of your own depraved imagination!”

          Nice. I assume he’d feel the same way about my hanging a Nazi flag out in front of my house: “Hey, it’s just a few of lines on some dyed fabric. The association with a certain despotic European government is all in your own head!”

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            “Everything works inside the spectators’ heads, except MY tribal shibboleths, which are objective!”

          • “When correctly viewed
            Everything is lewd
            I could tell you things about Peter Pan
            Or the Wizard of Oz—there’s a dirty old man.”

          • quanta413 says:

            A swastika could be a sign of a devout Hindu.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @quanta413: Or a devout Hindu flying a swastika could be taken as evidence that their religion was created by Bronze Age white supremacists. :/

      • Machine Interface says:

        I have seen a few historical-ish films that do in fact feature yound children appearing naked. They tend to be old or non-western films though, and the nudity is usally fairly in the background and non-central to the shot.

        The most mainstream example I can think of is Excalibur. I haven’t heard that it was controversial at the time (though this is really a blink it and you miss it moment).

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          The most mainstream example I can think of is Excalibur. I haven’t heard that it was controversial at the time (though this is really a blink it and you miss it moment).

          It is, because I own that movie and must have blinked during whatever you’re talking about.
          The most mainstream example I would have thought of is Shaka Zulu, which was of course made under 1980s South African law rather than US law.

          • Machine Interface says:

            It’s around the 1 hour 3 minutes and +/- 28 seconds mark, the scene where Lancelot and Percival arrive in Camelot (which Percival is seeing for the first time), they pass various groups of people in the lively vicinity of the castle — this includes a group of children doing a simple circle dance; these children are in fact naked, though as I said it’s very easy to miss it.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        I make it an animated feature instead of a live-action movie. I know for a fact that Dragon Ball has scenes of 12-year-old Goku naked, including full-frontal shots depicting his genitals, and as far as I know nobody has gone to jail for it (though it did get censored in America).

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        I wouldn’t bother with that aspect to begin with.

        Filmmaking routinely subordinates historical accuracy to audience expectations or anachronistic tropes. So the typical historian could tear to shreds a large part of most historical dramas, and this particular aspect would likely get seen as a kind of special pleading.

        A documentary on some indigenous tribe where footage was unedited might get a pass though I’m unsure.

      • The Pachyderminator says:

        In an older film, they might have simply have done it. It’s not too unusual to find naked children in older films that were obviously meant to be uncontroversial – e.g. Disney’s Pollyanna. The most recent mainstream American example that comes to mind is The Mission (1986), which has what’s been called “ethnographic nudity,” including children.

        Today, to avoid risk and controversy, you would either shoot from the waist up (most shower scenes do this) or add a loincloth or something, even if it’s historically inaccurate or illogical (an example of the latter is The Jungle Book – illustrations for the book often show Mowgli naked, but it’s not surprising that no filmmakers have bitten that bullet).

        A few people here seem confused about the difference between nudity and pornography. Neither in reality nor in law does one imply the other.

        • LHN says:

          In the 1942 Jungle Book film (on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO1gLAoEZRA ), Mowgli is naked from when he first enters the village (around the 20 minute mark) until he’s captured and covered around minute 22. But he’s shot so that he’s in shadow or with strategic camera angles and obstacles, with just enough glimpses from behind him to give the idea without violating the production code.

          (The actor, Sabu, was born in 1924 and the film was released in 1942, so presumably he was 17 or 18 at the time of filming.)

      • Randy M says:

        I saw the Ender’s Game movie but I don’t recall how they handled the shower scene.

        • The Pachyderminator says:

          Both boys wearing towels. I think the fight was considerably shortened and simplified from the book, leaving out Ender’s use of hot water, etc.

      • Lillian says:

        Ideally we would go back to the days when non-sexual nudity was not seen as pornographic. Indeed that laws with respect to child pornography are generally written in such a way as to except non-sexual nudity. It’s just that everyone has gotten so paranoid and hysteric about child pornography, that enforcement has increasingly been applied to any depiction of child nudity, without regard whether or not it’s sexual. There was one instance i seem to recall in which some parents got in trouble for taking pictures of their children bathing, something which i would consider harmless, boring, and mundane. While i believe the charges were eventually dropped, it says something about the zeitgeist that they were even brought up to begin with.

        • brmic says:

          @Lillian
          It’s not that easy. I once interviewed for a job as essentially a censor and they showed my some examples: Hundreds of pictures, well shot and professional, of children posing in ways resembling classical nude paintings, with the genital areas clearly presented and the poses suggestive. Absolutely no way this wasn’t intended as fap material for pedophiles. And the sad reality is that sometimes parents sell out their kids for this, especially if they themselves are … you know.
          So while it absolutely sucks that sometimes innocent families have to go through such an investigation, the only way you can make sure that never happens is to abandon all investigations based on ‘nude posing’, with a high probability that this sort of material becomes more common among pedophiles.
          I think ‘no nudes of children on the internet’ is a fine Schelling point in that it isn’t too onerous on parents and that they themselves have an interest in their children’s pics not ending up in a ‘collection’.

          • ana53294 says:

            Would parents get investigated if they share nude photos in private groups, such as a Facebook group for family and friends with videos of kids saying funny/adorable stuff?

            I do think that parents should stop sharing photos of their kids, especially potentially embarrassing ones, that may make it difficult to get a job. Because having a photo of yourself caught in flagrante delicto stealing from the cookie jar is not something you may want hanging around the internet.

            I am so glad that my childhood happened before the Internet.

            Don’t ever share potentially embarrassing stuff about your kids, other than in a private setting to close people, ever, seems like a good Schelling fence to me. Parents already get in trouble for sharing too much.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Would parents get investigated if they share nude photos in private groups, such as a Facebook group for family and friends with videos of kids saying funny/adorable stuff?

            This makes me wonder, did nudist families go extinct by the time we entered the social media era?

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            I do think that parents should stop sharing photos of their kids, especially potentially embarrassing ones, that may make it difficult to get a job. Because having a photo of yourself caught in flagrante delicto stealing from the cookie jar is not something you may want hanging around the internet.

            Jesus Christ. Really? Is this really where we’ve ended up? God help us all.

          • ana53294 says:

            This makes me wonder, did nudist families go extinct by the time we entered the social media era?

            Nudism is usually confined to the family sphere, to nudist beaches, or to private nudist communities. As such, nudity there is fleeting, and you are there with plenty of other nudist people. It would be very rude if you go with a camera to a nudist beach, and you’ll be asked to leave.

            Jesus Christ. Really? Is this really where we’ve ended up? God help us all.

            Yes, really. This is the age of social media; many embarrassing things stay on the internet forever.

            The potential for bullying having embarrasing stuff about you that should be private, not public, gives, is huge. Do you want your co-workers to know that you were late in potty-training and that you would suck your thumb until a late age? Do you want your spouse to publically share your sexual preferences?

            When we are children, we do many things that are embarrassing as adults. These things should be confined to the private family sphere and should not be shared online.

            Although a baby/toddler will not be embarrassed, a teenager will be when their classmates are able to learn all kinds of stuff about their childhood. Anything posted publically is very difficult to delete. Private information about kids that is potentially embarrassing should never be shared from somewhere you can’t later delete it forever from.

          • albatross11 says:

            Because this is moral-panic fuel, I think it’s hard to think clearly or gather good data on this subject, but off the top of my head, I’m pretty skeptical that arresting parents for taking not-obviously-sexual nude pictures of their kids is in any way making the world a better place. There are indeed pedophiles who will use any pictures of children for wank material, and maybe there’s some reason why the existence of even innocent nude pictures of kids in bathtubs is somehow going to cause great harms, but it’s hard for me to see how.

            I’d like policy to be made on the basis of actual data (does such a policy actually decrease sexual exploitation of children?), but I’m not sure how you’d collect meaningful data to get much of a handle on the problem. But also, since this is moral-panic fuel, I expect that it would be very hard to have data-driven policy decisions even if we had good data.

          • brmic says:

            @albatross11
            Did you not read or not process what I/we wrote? ‘Posing’ material is being found on child sex abusers PCs, is being shared among them etc. It’s illegal not because making it so is efficient, but because it violates the rights of the depicted victims.
            Before the ‘arresting parents for taking not-obviously-sexual nude pictures of their kids’ step, someone has to notice/report this and several people have to decide this warrants an arrest. As with all things human, this sometimes goes wrong, but I have yet to see any evidence that it is a widespread problem. If your position is that the law should be so it can’t happen ever, own the tradeoff. E.g. imagine pedophiles freely posting and sharing giabytes of posing pics of their kids which being legal can absolutely not trigger a police of CPS investigation because of fruit of the poisoned tree doctrine. And then explaining that to those kids if/once they escape.
            Lillian had it right legally (as far as I know), nudes of children, even publishing same is not generally illegal unless it’s sexual. Determing the later is what the police investigation is about. For those wanting to cover even the minuscle risk of a fruitless investigation, not publishing nudes is a simple solution that’s not onerous, and the extremely paranoid can even avoid sharing such pics in private.

  14. johan_larson says:

    Back in OT124, Epistemic_Ian asked for advice on what to do after high school. He got a bunch of it, mostly contradictory.

    Epistemic_Ian, what have you decided to do?

  15. WashedOut says:

    I asked this question here a few years ago, but given the influx of new users I want to ask it again:

    I write down a number between 1 and 100. You guess what number I’ve written down. If you guess correctly, you win the dollar amount of the number chosen. If incorrect, nothing happens and the game resets.

    Assume I write down a number with the goal of minimizing my expected outlay – what number should I choose?
    Assume you guess a number with the goal of maximizing expected payoff – what number should you choose?

    Will post thought process later.

    • Christophe Biocca says:

      The strategy I found gives an expected payout of $0.19277563597396005. ROT13:

      Gur jevgre fubhyq cvpx ahzoref jrvtugrq ol gurve erpvcebpny (fb bar trgf n jrvtug bs bar, gjb trgf bar-unys, naq bar-uhaqerq trgf bar-bar-uhaqerqgu).

      Gur thrffre’f orfg fgengrtl ng gung cbvag vf gb cvpx nal ahzore ng enaqbz (nffhzvat ab evfx nirefvba jungfbrire).

      • dick says:

        I’m sure this is intended to be the right answer, but it feels unsatisfying, for the way the question was phrased. It’s a reasonable strategy for the chooser because it can’t be “beaten”, but it doesn’t minimize the chooser’s losses – correctly guessing the guesser’s strategy does.

        I wish it had been phrased as something like, “The game will be iterated many times, and the guesser can change strategies but the chooser must commit to one for all iterations. What strategy can the chooser select to minimize his losses?”

        • Password says:

          I think the answer is the same under your rephrasing. Subsequent rounds will give increasingly large amounts of information to the guesser while the chooser is stuck with whatever assumptions they made before the game, so unless the chooser is much better than the guesser later rounds will give an advantage to the guesser. The best way to mitigate that is to make the information gained by the guesser irrelevant, which is achieved by the randomization strategy above.

          • dick says:

            Yes, that’s what I’m saying: that Cristophe’s solution would be unambiguously correct if the question was phrased the way I suggested, but is not with the question as phrased by WashedOut.

    • uau says:

      The same randomized strategy is optimal (in the sense of doing best against the worst strategy the opponent can pick) for both players: pick each number N with a probability proportional to 1/N (c/N for a constant c picked so that they sum up to 1).

      This gives the same expected win/loss for each number. If someone deviates from this strategy, then at least one number must have higher probability, and another lower. If the person writing the number deviates, opponent can improve by choosing the number with higher probability. If the guesser deviates, opponent can improve by choosing the number with lower probability.

    • Aapje says:

      @WashedOut

      The answer to both questions depends on the psychology of the other person/people involved.

      A strategy that is optimal for more normal people, is not going to be optimal when you are dealing with mathematicians or other people with issues.

      When dealing with more normal people, I would expect that avoiding/picking numbers that are commonly seen as lucky would decrease/increase the odds a lot.

      In my view, there is no reasonable solution where psychological considerations don’t take center stage, unless you make it into an iterative game where one or both parties can optimize their strategy over time.

      • Joseph Greenwood says:

        I want to register my amusement with the line”mathematicians or other people with issues”. If this is meant with full sincerity, then I guess I am slightly offended instead?

        • Aapje says:

          It was meant as a joke with a slice of truth (in that mathematicians and other people who see themselves as very smart and capable of solving problems, can lose themselves in ‘optimal’ solutions that utterly fail in the real world).

      • uau says:

        In my view, there is no reasonable solution where psychological considerations don’t take center stage, unless you make it into an iterative game where one or both parties can optimize their strategy over time.

        I disagree with that. Even if you intend to play against people ignorant enough that they won’t know the theoretical solution, it’s still useful to understand what the theoretical solution is and how much you’re risking by not using it yourself (how much your opponent could gain by outthinking your strategy).

        And if such games were played for higher stakes or would be more common, they would attract smarter people or the solutions would be common knowledge. Your view seems to be that if you ever end up playing a similar game, it’ll be against a completely randomly selected person from off the street.

        I think some competence from the opponent should typically be assumed by default for such questions. If someone asks about how to play in a particular chess position, you probably shouldn’t answer “just make some random legal moves, the opponent will probably not know the rules of chess and will be declared lost due to making an illegal move” even if that was true of an average person off the street.

        • dick says:

          There is no realism here; the “chooser” cannot win any money and has no reason to play. It’s a riddle, and whether it is a good or bad one comes down to whether the answer is interesting, which in this case could be much improved by tighter phrasing.

          Same thing happens every time someone reposts the Boy Born on Tuesday paradox. “This can’t be right…” -> “This is amazing!” -> “Wait, this is definitely wrong.” -> “No fair, the setup was ambiguously worded!”.

          • uau says:

            I listed reasons why you shouldn’t concentrate too much on the potential psychology of an inept opponent even if you keep some consideration for realism. If you treat it strictly as a riddle, there’s even less reason to consider psychology and suboptimal play.

        • Aapje says:

          @uau

          Your view seems to be that if you ever end up playing a similar game, it’ll be against a completely randomly selected person from off the street.

          No, my view is that before deciding on an ‘optimal’ strategy, I would want to gather as much information as possible on the opponent(s) or make an educated guess as to their traits. Then this would inform my (counter-)strategy.

          And if such games were played for higher stakes or would be more common, they would attract smarter people or the solutions would be common knowledge.

          Exactly, so in a low stakes, ad hoc game the optimal strategy is probably very different from a high stakes game where people are expected to be prepared. You’d also expect people with certain traits to refuse to play under high stakes, while people with other traits would be attracted.

          That was my point.

          If someone asks about how to play in a particular chess position, you probably shouldn’t answer “just make some random legal moves, the opponent will probably not know the rules of chess and will be declared lost due to making an illegal move” even if that was true of an average person off the street.

          Chess is itself an iterative game. In most cases, the next move you make isn’t in itself going to win or lose the game. So the goal is to enable a winning (or stalemate) move in the future.

          Writing down a number that you don’t want guessed or guessing a number, is different. It immediately wins or loses and thus isn’t iterative, unless you play the game multiple times.

          • uau says:

            Chess is itself an iterative game.

            Why would that matter? In my view, if someone asks a question about chess, you should assume that it’s a question about strategy against a skilled/knowledgeable opponent. And similarly for this game.

            Why would you think that one should assume a skilled opponent for iterative games, but a totally ignorant novice for non-iterative games?

          • Aapje says:

            Why would that matter?

            It matters because you can recognize and react to the strategy.

            A single, 1-move game against an opponent is different from repeating the game against the same opponent and is different from a game that has multiple moves. This matters for the strategy.

            In my view, if someone asks a question about chess, you should assume that it’s a question about strategy against a skilled/knowledgeable opponent.

            The assumption of great competence/knowledge is very often false in real life.

            Why would you think that one should assume a skilled opponent for iterative games, but a totally ignorant novice for non-iterative games?

            That’s not what I said.

          • uau says:

            Why would you think that one should assume a skilled opponent for iterative games, but a totally ignorant novice for non-iterative games?

            That’s not what I said.

            I have trouble seeing what else you’d be saying. Are you saying that people consistently answer chess questions wrong, and should instead be assuming a total novice opponent in that case too? What alternative interpretation is there?

            People answer chess questions with the assumption of a strong opponent (and this generally seems to be the right interpretation of what the people asking question intended). You seem to be saying that at least this question should be answered assuming a totally ignorant opponent at the level of using “lucky numbers”. So are you saying everyone talks about chess wrong? Are you not saying we should consider weak opponents for this game? Or what exactly should distinguish when to assume a weak opponent and when a strong one, if not the above?

          • Aapje says:

            I never said you should assume a total novice opponent for the ‘guess a number’ game and never said you should assume a total novice opponent for chess.

            I said to adapt the strategy to the expected strategy/level of the opponent.

            It is true that a novice player is much more likely to win in a one-off ‘guess a number’ game than in chess. In chess you need to get many steps right to win. In a one-off ‘guess a number’ game you only have to outsmart your opponent once.

            This matters.

    • I assume the second player can work out the logic of the first player’s choice, so if the first player chooses a single number with certainty, the second can figure it out, and the best the first can do is to always choose 1.

      But he can do better with a mixed strategy, p(i) of choosing number i, where the p(i)’s sum to one. Again assume the second player can work out what the first player is doing. The payoff to choosing a number i is ip(i), so the second player chooses the i for which that is highest. The best the first player can do is to make the payoff equal for all numbers, so p(i)=K/i, where K is the inverse of the sum of 1/i from 1 to 100.

      The expected payoff to the second player is then K, whatever number he chooses.

      Using Excel to calculate K, I get the same answer as Christophe. I see that Uau describes the same solution, but I think my explanation may be clearer than his.

      • nkurz says:

        > The best the first player can do is to make the payoff equal for all numbers

        Well, that depends on whether they know the strategy of the second player. If they know in advance that the second player will be choosing randomly (because player two is assuming that player one is “optimally” choosing randomly with inversely payoff weighted probabilities) then player one can do better by pretending to choose randomly but actually always choosing 1. If they can conceal their true strategy (why can’t they?), then the average payoff will be only .01 * $1.

        But is there actually any reason to assume that player two should optimally choose a random number, rather than following a hunch? Perhaps a better strategy for would be for them to also choose “1”. If player one is choosing “optimally”, this is equal to any other choice. If player one is being sly in the manner I suggest, then it’s better than random. Which means that player one should actually choose two, just to be on the safe side. Right? If player two is guessing randomly, they only win 2¢ (still almost a factor of 10 less than “optimal”), and if they guess 1 they lose. Obviously player two needs to to take this modified strategy into account…

        Like Aapje says, I don’t think a purely mathematical analysis is actually useful here, other than to provide a benchmark for other more psychological strategies. I’d go further, and say that this is the case even in an iterative game. If we can trust the setup as literally stated, “If incorrect, nothing happens and the game resets.” I would take “nothing” to mean that after an incorrect guess, the correct number is _not_ revealed to player two, and thus even in an iterative game the guesser is likely none the wiser as to the strategy player one is using.

        • Christophe Biocca says:

          If they know in advance that the second player will be choosing randomly (because player two is assuming that player one is “optimally” choosing randomly with inversely payoff weighted probabilities)

          So that’s the part I got wrong, and uau got right: The second player’s strategy, when faced with the first player’s optimal strategy, is not to pick evenly randomly, but rather to pick with weighted probabilities, so that player one would not benefit from changing their strategy.

          At that point player one cannot improve their expected outcome by any change to their own strategy (and any change is itself exploitable by player 2), and we have reached equilibrium.

          • dick says:

            The inverse-weighted strategy for player 1 is not an equilibrium. It’s neutral, in that it produces the same result no matter what his opponent does. Every other strategy for player 1 is either better or worse, depending on what player 2 does. Per the wording of the problem, that’s not a solution – it doesn’t minimize player 1’s loss or maximize player 2’s gain. That’s why I suspect the riddle was just phrased poorly by OP.

          • uau says:

            @dick:

            The inverse-weighted strategy for player 1 is not an equilibrium.

            You misread that. It’s both players using that strategy which is an equilibrium. In that state, neither has an incentive to change.

            If both players are smart enough to realize the existence of that strategy, either can choose to use it to force the ~19 cents/game payoff. The only way you’ll get anything different is if both are confident that they are smarter than their opponent and can trick them, and choose a different strategy to do that – one of them obviously being wrong…

          • dick says:

            It’s both players using that strategy which is an equilibrium. In that state, neither has an incentive to change.

            I don’t think that’s correct. If either player chooses the inverse-weighted strategy, then the other player’s strategy doesn’t matter. However, neither player can know that the other player will use it on the next iteration. Each of them reasons, “Well, he might be using the inverse-weighted strategy; but if he’s not, I can improve by trying to outguess whatever strategy he picks instead.” That’s an incentive to change. They’re trying to minimize/maximize their loss/gain, not achieve a happy medium.

  16. A Definite Beta Guy says:

    Tomorrow is a consolidated election day in Cook County (IE, Chicago and surrounding suburbs). I guess the big news is the run-off election between Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle. Lightfoot has no experience in elected office, but has a reputation for being a hard-hitting anti-corruption lawyer. You may know her for leading the investigation into the shooting of Laquan McDonald(a shooting flagrantly wrong enough to even give heartless ol’ me a pause, and enough to warrant a murder conviction for the relevant officer.
    Preckwinkle has been an elected official for quite some time, most recently as a member of the Cook County Board. She’s basically the machine incarnate at this point: she currently serves as the chair of the Cook County Democratic Party. Personally, I don’t like her soda tax idea (which was repealed very shortly after introduction), but there’s a lot of other corruption charges floating in her near vicinity, including an alderman who has been jailed after pressuring a fast food chain to make a $100k donation to her campaign.

    Lightfoot has endorsments from the Sun Times and the Tribune, but Preckwinkle has endorsements from major Congressman Bobby Rush and Carol Mosley Braun, plus other notables like Chance the Rapper and Jesse White. Plus, you know, the Chicago Teacher’s Union.

    I expect Preckwinkle by a…7 point margin, and maybe 35% turnout.

    In MY local elections…well, I don’t have much to decide. I am voting against one of my trustees because she continuously vetoes a multi-story apartment building in my neighborhood. My neighbors aren’t fans, but I’m pro-density and don’t care what they think. I am voting AGAINST one of the candidates who is running for local school board, because we used to be coworkers and fuck that company.

    The endorsements around here have been pretty crappy. Local newspapers continuously tell us it is our duty because diversity. I’m not kidding. They endorsed one village trustee because she’s biracial. That’s literally the entire argument. In the last election, they endorsed someone that ended up getting disqualified, with the line “in a nod to diversity.” They do at least point out experience, which is important to me, because otherwise you end up with someone who has no idea what the hell they are doing running the city park district or all the libraries.

    I keep on telling myself I will actually start going to these village meetings, but thus far I’ve only motivated myself to argue against the morons who wanted to ban Round-Up. Unfortunately, that means one less person to argue the NIMBY, ban everything crowd at most of these meetings.

    • Clutzy says:

      Preckwinkle is losing quite handily in the polls. I think if she wins it will clearly be a stolen election.

      • BBA says:

        It’s Chicago. I expect Bill Daley to win the runoff even though he was eliminated in the first round.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Is there a lot of polling? I did some quick searching and only found 1 poll sponsored by WTTW, which doesn’t really pass my smell test because Preckwinkle is polling worse than her 1st-round results.

        • Clutzy says:

          From being in the city, it seems to me that Preckwinkle is basically no one’s 2nd choice. She is gonna keep the people that voted for her in the primary, plus a few more (again, unless shenanigans). Particularly because she is running against another black woman. Her entire campaign was centered around consolidating the nonwhite vote (which in Chicago is mostly an anti-white vote), but Lightfoot is not as easy to attack on those grounds. So she’s mostly resorted to a sneaky homophobic campaign, which has turned off almost 100% of the white vote and hasn’t appealed much outside her core voters (despite most Chicago blacks/Hispanics being crazy homophobic).

    • Aapje says:

      Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle

      Preckwinkle has endorsements from […] other notables like Chance the Rapper

      Wait, this is real?

      I thought this was an April Fool’s joke for sure, but these people seem to actually exist and have those names.

      • woah77 says:

        Chicago is a place like that. You’ll read something about Chicago and be like “That can’t be real…” and google it to find not only is it real, but in the local vicinity it isn’t even strange. Like Mayors and Governors going to prison.

      • Deiseach says:

        Re: “you mean to tell me this is a real name?”, there was a letter sent by playwrights to the National Theatre in Britain protesting about all-male playwrights being on a recently announced programme, and amongst the two hundred signatories were the following:

        The original letter, whose signatories include Timberlake Wertenbaker, Zinnie Harris and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, highlighted other theatres as institutions that “trust” female writers, citing the West End transfer of Emilia from Shakespeare’s Globe and a dominance of women playwrights in the Royal Court’s season.

        I have no idea what Timberlake Wertenbaker’s gender may be, or even if they’re human and not a Sitka spruce 🙂

      • Don P. says:

        Alliteration in this case aside, note the existence of hugely famous Canadian Gordon Lightfoot.

      • Aapje says:

        “The page cannot be displayed because an internal server error has occurred.”

        Seems quite apropos for a Chicago election page.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Yup, not even a close race for this one. Way off on my part!

        On the plus side, at least one of the local elections went my way. On the down side, it was the less important the two competitive elections….the anti-density woman is still on the village council.

    • broblawsky says:

      Lightfoot won and it doesn’t even look close.

  17. BBA says:

    Matt Yglesias has a piece out today on the “Great Awokening,” the sharp leftward shift on social issues among white liberals in the past five or so years. He draws the comparison to the Great Awakening of the 1840s, which means if the 2020s are like the 1850s we’ll see increasing levels of political violence, and then if the 2030s are like the 1860s…well, you know.

    I read it and I can’t help but think of Yglesias’s dire predictions of the fall of democracy from 2015.

    • Clutzy says:

      Not really sure that is the main thrust of the story. It seems like he noticed a thing and put a lot of graphs. Its actually a pretty good, non-hysterical Yglesias article. A rarity for sure, but he doesn’t make many conclusions. And the comparison to the Great Awakening may be apt (I don’t know much about how it developed). Demographic changes which have solidified and will continue to solidify the Democrats as the “party of minorities” will continue to drive the remaining white Democrats to become ever more defensive of their political allies. I think this is what has largely driven the changes in Democratic white’s opinions a sort of defensiveness.

      You see this similarly on the right with the way successful Republicans talk about unsuccessful white people in Ohio and West Virginia (as examples). Its an international conspiracy in free trade that has made these people unsuccessful, not that they are stupid or lazy or both. People don’t like to think their political allies are stupid and lazy, and since white liberals’ allies increasingly are minorities that generally perform poorly, they will invent theories to avoid the more likely reasons for the failing parts of the coalition.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        You see this similarly on the right with the way successful Republicans talk about unsuccessful white people in Ohio and West Virginia (as examples). Its an international conspiracy in free trade that has made these people unsuccessful, not that they are stupid or lazy or both.

        If we’re talking about factory workers and coal miners here, these are not stupid people. And definitely not lazy. They’re average people. Are we going to start calling average people with 100 IQs “stupid” now?

        And they were doing just fine. And then the free trade rules and the WTO and the outsourcing and all that and the factories closed, and the heavy environmental regulations and the coal mines closed.

        Maybe it’s not 100% the fault of a 50-year-old out-of-work coal miner that he didn’t #LearnToCode?

        • Clutzy says:

          I’m not saying that coal miners and factory workers are stupid (although I would contend with your notion that the majority are 100 IQ people, IMO a virtue of the old US industrial economy was that it created high paying jobs for those in the 90-100 range so long as they were hard working), I am saying that people create excuses for those in their coalition that are doing poorly.

          The fact that they create excuses doesn’t mean they have to be wrong. Many conspiracy theories are correct. It is important to note, however, that most Republicans were all aboard the free trade wagon before those people switched to their coalition. White Democrats were more moderate on whiteness when their coalition was majority white (and included poorly performing whites who disprove their current narrative).

        • vV_Vv says:

          Maybe it’s not 100% the fault of a 50-year-old out-of-work coal miner that he didn’t #LearnToCode?

          One argument is that the typical IQ 100, 50-year-old coal miner did in fact #LearnToCode(or some other upper-middle class job), or at least his children did, and they moved to the coasts when the coal mines, car factories, etc. closed.

          Those who remained in the Rust Belt are disproportionately the stupid, lazy, insane or addicted ones who really don’t have any other options, and probably weren’t even doing so great when the coal mines and factories were there, but used to be a minority benefiting from various kinds of local-level redistribution (not just financial, but also of social capital), while now they are the majority and therefore their local communities are dysfunctional.

          EDIT:

          I got this argument from this discussion on the subreddit.

          • woah77 says:

            I feel like this argument is, while possibly accurate, one of the ones that wouldn’t be acceptable to make about any other group. If, for example, someone made a similar argument that Blacks who join gangs were part of the stupid, lazy, insane, and or addicted population because the blacks who were hard working and had talent moved out of such areas, it would be met with immediate resistance as a racist explanation. I don’t see a functional difference between the rust belt and the black projects from the perspective of work availability or opportunities, only from a racial narrative perspective.

            I guess I’m saying that even if that argument is correct, that doesn’t matter, because we should still be trying to fix things.

          • vV_Vv says:

            If, for example, someone made a similar argument that Blacks who join gangs were part of the stupid, lazy, insane, and or addicted population because the blacks who were hard working and had talent moved out of such areas, it would be met with immediate resistance as a racist explanation.

            Oh I know that, but it doesn’t imply that the argument is not correct.

            I guess I’m saying that even if that argument is correct, that doesn’t matter, because we should still be trying to fix things.

            But in order to fix things we must first recognize the underlying causes of the problem.

          • Clutzy says:

            @woah77

            A major component of modern discourse is saying things about white people that would be unacceptable to say about anyone else (except sometimes Jews and Asians you are sometimes allowed to talk about them that way, depending).

          • woah77 says:

            I think that’s a reasonable position if we’re willing to acknowledge the problem across multiple populations. If not, focusing on the “root cause” just seems like an excuse to be inflammatory to your favorite out group.

          • vV_Vv says:

            I mean, we can play the Oppression Olympics all the way and argue who is more unprivileged between a Redneck opioid addict, a black gangster or a Mexican drug mule, but this doesn’t solve any problem.

            I think it’s best to recognize that in the developed world there are less and less opportunities for people who have low intelligence, low conscientiousness and low conformity, and if these traits are highly heritable and correlate with race, geography, culture, etc., so be it.

          • woah77 says:

            I mean, that’s my preference for a starting place. “These things are hard to escape. They are heritable. So how can we improve life for these people given that we can’t just educate them into success.”

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            These things are hard to escape. They are heritable. So how can we improve life for these people given that we can’t just educate them into success.

            Yes, and my solution to that is “simple jobs for simple folk,” like factory work. And “but the free market!” is not an adequate rebuttal when the market is not free. We cared or pretended to care enough about these people to enact labor and environmental regulations to protect their health and safety. This increases the cost of their labor. When we simultaneously drop trade barriers against countries that do not care about labor and environmental regulations, e.g. China, and the factories flee to those places, this is not a case of the poor stupid factory workers failing to keep up with the market. This is something the government did to them by interfering in the market, and can correct.

            I also reject the narrative that:

            most Republicans were all aboard the free trade wagon before those people switched to their coalition.

            The Republicans you see on TV were, absolutely. The people voting Republican, not so much. This was a disconnect between the leadership and the base. The base was not enamored of free trade and mass immigration. Trump did not persuade the voters that tariffs are good and mass immigration is bad. He said loudly and forcefully the things the base was already saying. This is why during the primaries his numbers kept going up while Jeb “Illegal Immigration is an Act of Love” Bush tanked.

          • Clutzy says:

            The Republicans you see on TV were, absolutely. The people voting Republican, not so much. This was a disconnect between the leadership and the base. The base was not enamored of free trade and mass immigration. Trump did not persuade the voters that tariffs are good and mass immigration is bad. He said loudly and forcefully the things the base was already saying. This is why during the primaries his numbers kept going up while Jeb “Illegal Immigration is an Act of Love” Bush tanked.

            That is certainly true. But white democrats are basically the “leadership” of the Democrat party just like Jeb and his folk were the face of the Republican party pre-Trump.

          • Plumber says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            "Yes, and my solution to that is “simple jobs for simple folk,” like factory work. And “but the free market!” is not an adequate rebuttal...."
            Looks like a worthy proposal to me that should have either bi-partisan support, or result in a new party alignment.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think there is always a “boiling off” phenomenon going on for anyplace where it looks like there’s not much future. The people who can leave mostly do; those who are left behind are disproportionately old, unable to do new kinds of work, sick, tied to local family concerns, etc. As with most discussions of group differences, that doesn’t mean everyone who leaves is smarter than everyone who stays, just that overall, the mean level of {intelligence, ambition, youth, health, freedom to move around} is noticably lower in the ones who stay than in the ones who leave.

        • Plumber says:

          @Conrad Honcho

          “…Maybe it’s not 100% the fault of a 50-year-old out-of-work coal miner that he didn’t #LearnToCode?”

          And maybe William Julius Wilson (who argued that the social ills of the black inner-city poor weren’t caused by a “culture of poverty” or “IQ” but by economics — specifically, the disappearance of good blue-collar jobs) was right, and in an AMAZING COINCIDENCE!!! when rural whites face similar losses of jobs, they experience similar social ills.

          • Lillian says:

            This reminds me of you describing how you watched good upper working and lower middle class jobs disappear for the urban black community around the time the crack epidemic hit, and it struck me that it sounded exactly like the rural and small town white communities and the opioid epidemic. From the outside it looks like drugs destroyed these communities, but no they were actually destroyed by the loss of decent jobs, the drugs are just ravaging the ruins because the survivors have nothing better.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I am also in favor of meaningful jobs for blacks, yes.

          • Enkidum says:

            There is a nice saying to the effect of black people don’t have jobs because they do drugs and have a terrible social fabric, whereas white people do drugs and have a terrible social fabric because they don’t have jobs.

          • Plumber says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            “I am also in favor of meaningful jobs for blacks, yes”

            I never thought that ypu thought otherwise, I’d wager that many efforts – infrastructure projects and jobs programs, more universal financial aid to see physicians, that would help black and white Americans would be popular with most citizens, and the media focus on those few areas where interests don’t align (admissions preferences to some elite schools) effect so very few that it’s harmful.
            The way forward seems obvious to me: Eliminate means testing, make “welfare” universal (yes that means many are effectively writing checks to themselves), and re-start the WPA.
            Free trade and immigration are more contentious, but I’d still wager that more limits than are in effect currently on both (as advocated by Sanders before 2015 and Trump in 2015 and ’16) still probably have majority support.
            Just yesterday I heard Dave Ross on CBS radio plead “How about the Republicans move left on healthcare, and the Democrats move right on immigration, deal?”, and while I don’t expect our legislators to accept that, I think most citizens would take that deal.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            When you have socialized health care, moving Right on immigration is a very rational idea, because taxes only have to pay for citizens’s health care, not foreigners coming in to use your social safety net.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I’d wager that many efforts – infrastructure projects and jobs programs, more universal financial aid to see physicians, that would help black and white Americans would be popular with most citizens

            These things are popular right up until you start talking about costs. Programs that target even 3-4% of the population immediately run into the tens of billions of dollars.

    • hiblick says:

      The latest copy of Reason Magazine had a similar comparison to the 1840s, called “The Telegraph Was America’s First Singularity”. The thesis was that better and more widespread distribution of differing views forced the slavery question, and radicalized politics, just like now. (Mostly it’s a quaint and idiosyncratic look at the Locofocos as a sort of proto-libertarians).

    • eyeballfrog says:

      A key point to understanding this is that “racial resentment,” as used by political scientists, is a term of art that largely measures political views rather than any kind of interpersonal animosity.

      Have they considered not using “terms of art” that are extremely loaded?

      One traditional factor that goes into the racial resentment mix, for example, is the General Social Survey question that asks whether you agree or disagree with the statement “Irish, Italians, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up; blacks should do the same without special favors.”
      This is, in fact, a very revealing query in terms of your understanding of the history of race and ethnicity in the United States. About a third of African Americans disagree with it, which is more than the share of the overall white public but substantially less than the 45 percent of white liberals who say they disagree.

      Alternatively, have they considered not starting from the assumption that everyone who disagrees with them is wrong?

      • The Nybbler says:

        Have they considered not using “terms of art” that are extremely loaded?

        Considered and rejected, I’m afraid.

      • Simon_Jester says:

        As someone who might vote ‘disagree’ on that question, it’s because in light of present social rhetoric and the nature of the battlelines drawn over the past few decades…

        That survey question is itself a loaded question

        Because a large fraction of the people who say “blacks should pull themselves up” are the same people who would be saying “blacks shouldn’t rise at all; they should stay down on the bottom where I’m convinced they belong” if it were socially acceptable to say that and it was an available answer choice. That chunk of respondents might not be here, but they are very real.

        The same people who opposed desegregation and the removal of legal barriers actively prohibiting blacks from advancing in society back in the 1960s became a core constituency for the same major party that decided to adapt a form of libertarianism as its economic philosophy in the 1980s.

        Thus, while libertarianism isn’t inherently racist and racists aren’t inherently libertarian, the fact that both groups live under the same political tent in America changes the landscape. Ever since the late 1970s, there has been a thriving market for rhetoric that mixes libertarian sentiments and racist sentiments. This rhetoric has to keep flowing, or one group might lose its willingness to support the other’s policies and abandons the coalition.

        Mindful of the way this has colored conservative political language in the US for the past 40-50 years, when I see the above statement I tend to look at it as a euphemism for “now that my own ancestors have safely climbed the ladder to join the ingroup, it’s time to kick it down behind us and start expelling the new outgroup, but I don’t want to say that in so many words.”

        Because it’s exactly the kind of political rhetoric that is used to mobilize that sentiment in real-world elections. If you want the Ku Klux Klan to endorse your political campaign, one good way to do it is to say in real life “blacks should work their way to the top like the Irish and Italians and Jews…”

        Because you will be signalling to them that you’re quietly on the same side of the debate as they are, and THEY are usually savvy enough to notice that.

        • Aapje says:

          Because a large fraction of the people who say “blacks should pull themselves up” are the same people who would be saying “blacks shouldn’t rise at all; they should stay down on the bottom where I’m convinced they belong” if it were socially acceptable to say that and it was an available answer choice.

          And the fairly substantial percentage of blacks who agree with this want to keep themselves down???

          This outgroup homogeneity fallacy that you apply is extremely noxious, because it is heavily dependent on a subjective point of view where it is assumed, without strong evidence, that certain interventions will help black people rise out of poverty and that this is obvious.

          Meanwhile, on the conservative side you have people who have a different view: that it is excessive welfare and coddling that is keeping people down. They could do equally biased studies and write equally biased articles, where they accuse progressives are falsely claiming that they want black to do better, but that they actually want to keep the black (wo)man down.

          If you want conservatives to not see you as evil and treat you with good faith, you might want to do the same to them.

          If you want the Ku Klux Klan to endorse your political campaign, one good way to do it is to say in real life “blacks should work their way to the top like the Irish and Italians and Jews…”

          This makes no sense because the KKK was not happy at all with Catholics doing well. They were strongly opposed to Catholicism. They would not be telling Catholics to work their way to the top, but to convert to Protestantism or GTFO.

          So from my point of view you are 0 out of 2 with your comment: misunderstanding both of the outgroups that you discuss.

          • The Nybbler says:

            They could do equally biased studies and write equally biased articles, where they accuse progressives are falsely claiming that they want black to do better, but that they actually want to keep the black (wo)man down.

            Indeed, there’s even a name for this viewpoint, the “liberal plantation”.

        • albatross11 says:

          Simon Jester:

          Can you point to some kind of evidence about what fraction of people who answer “yes” to that loaded survey question actually believe that “blacks shouldn’t rise at all; they should stay down on the bottom where I’m convinced they belong”?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Why would anyone waste time signalling to the 12 KKK members who aren’t Feds in order to win elections?

    • Aftagley says:

      I’m calling it now: don’t trust any graph that’s even remotely affiliated with politics in the Trump era, especially concerning those of us on the left. We hate Trump, we hate everything he stands for, and if we’re asked any question that can be remotely tied to Trump, we will answer affirmatively in the anti-trump side.

      I don’t actually think that the left as a whole cares as much about race/immigration/whatever as these polls claim; it’s all just an artifact of disliking Trump.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        I doubt this, although I don’t know the ‘We’ here is theoretical or actual.

        Immigration/Race and the human/civil rights issues surrounding it became more and more prominent after 2012, not 2016. Attitudes about Trump are a reflection of those values versus the fact that he made immigration enforcement the centerpiece of his campaign [albeit not his administration]

        • Aftagley says:

          The we is actual, I’m not trying to strawman anyone.

          I’m also not trying to dispute that perhaps attitudes have changed on these topics, but any polling data of democratic positions since trump became a dominant force in US politics (i’d put it at 2015) is going to be tainted. His very presence is activating democrats and hardening them into positions that I’d argue they wouldn’t have thought about were he not in the picture. I’m also not confident how strongly these positions continue to be defended in a post-trump era.

          TLDR, there’s likely an actual leftward shift, but I think it’s magnitude is being distorted but the magnitude of negative feelings around trump. The we is actual, I’m not trying to strawman anyone.

          • Simon_Jester says:

            I think part of it is that Trump is a very good advertisement for why to do the opposite of many of the things Trump wants to do.

            If you find Trump bragging about grabbing women by the pussy to be revolting, it’s a natural time to pause, reflect, and go “Shit, Bill Clinton sleeping with his interns was not okay. Nor is [Democratic Politician] getting caught groping women in the present. In fact, the whole culture of jocks of any political alignment whatsoever treating women like this is appalling. It’s 201X already, time to start getting seriously mad about this.”

            If you find yourself on the fence about illegal immigration, the spectre of detention camps for children, many of whom will realistically never be reunited with their parents, is the kind of thing that may make you reconsider your own stance on the issue.

            And by the same token, we’re seeing Republicans who reaffirm their willingness to support things that years ago they might have waffled about, because to oppose those things now is to abandon Trump, and to abandon Trump would fracture the Republican coalition.

          • Aapje says:

            @Simon_Jester

            It’s 201X already, time to start getting seriously mad about this.

            Are you aware that the “grab them by the pussy” recording is from 2005?

            I would like to see a survey done to see how many Americans think that it was a much more statement. My guess is that a majority will falsely answer that it’s from 201X.

          • albatross11 says:

            The fact that Trump is so polarizing is one reason he’s been so successful. Half the audience tunes in to cheer him, half tunes in to boo him, but they’re all watching. And whatever political views/biases the media has, they respond to their incentives–when putting Trump on TV gets you 3x the ratings as not putting Trump on TV, they’re all going to have Trump on their station as often as possible.

            He’s the Toxoplasma of Rage made flesh.

      • BBA says:

        So why didn’t it happen 10 years earlier then? The left hated Bush just as much as we hate Trump. I guess part of it is the “left” was much just smaller then, and party polarization wasn’t as thorough as it is now.

        • Nornagest says:

          The hard left hates anyone with an (R) by their name (unless they’re currently famous for annoying other Republicans), but the mainstream press isn’t hard left — it’s center-left and establishment, and Bush was a center-right establishment type of dude. He got some flak towards the end of his term, when his approval levels really started slipping, but that wasn’t true for most of it — the New York Times carried water for the Iraq invasion, for chrissakes.

          There’s a fairly large hard left contingent in the non-mainstream press, but that’s a lot bigger and more important now than it was in 2008, let alone 2000.

        • Aftagley says:

          The left hated Bush just as much as we hate Trump.

          Strongly disagree. I’m not speaking on behalf of all leftys, but he magnitude of hatred is way, way stronger against Trump than it was against Bush. Yes, we thought Bush was kind of a dummy and likely in the pocket of his advisors/special interests, but it’s nowhere near the level of distaste we have for Trump.

          guess part of it is the “left” was much just smaller then, and party polarization wasn’t as thorough as it is now.

          Maybe this is correct. Possibly there was a core of leftists who felt this strongly about Bush back in the aughts, but they were much rarer than their anti-trump equivelents.

          • cassander says:

            You guys said Bush was an idiot (when he wasn’t a machiavellian fascist schemer bent on destroying american democracy) who stole the election (twice), and was leading a cabal of extremists and warmongers who were nothing like previous conservatives, who deliberately stoked racial resentment for partisan advantage, and who destroyed america’s relationships abroad while looting the government for their own personal gain.

            In other words, exactly the same thing that are being said about trump. The difference I see is in tone, not substance. The complaints are shriller now.

          • I’m a non-leftist and agree with Aftagley on this. The left disliked various Republican presidents and generally exaggerated their faults, but Trump is a special case and much easier to hate.

          • John Schilling says:

            I think I agree with the last three posters simultaneously. The contemporary left really does hate and/or fear Donald J. Trump much more than it ever did George W. Bush, but since it doesn’t lead to any significant change in their behavior, meh, who cares?

          • Chalid says:

            Trump is less popular than Bush was (at least until Bush tanked at the end of his presidency, at which point everyone’s focus was on the next election) so “the left hates Trump more than it hated Bush” is just a special case of “everyone dislikes Trump more than they disliked Bush.”

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I think it’s telling that he cites, twice, Ferguson as the tipping/flash point for the Awokening. The Ferguson protests were predicated on lies: “hands up; don’t shoot” never happened, and the officer was vindicated in the lawful and just shooting of Michael Brown.

      Multiple times Yglesias also credits elites with causing this change:

      Obama’s 2012 observation that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” is just one small example of how elite actors have helped push a shift in whites’ perception of race.

      Democrats themselves have moved the goalposts in terms of what kind of racial views one is expected to affirm as a good liberal.

      This does not do much to shift my priors: liberal/leftist moral fervor is largely the product of media campaigns rather than an outgrowth of moral reasoning or an accurate assessment of the world. How does one get to a state where they don’t have their own sense of right, wrong, truth or fiction and need to be told how to believe by “elite actors?” This is not healthy.

      • cassander says:

        This does not do much to shift my priors: liberal/leftist moral fervor is largely the product of media campaigns rather than an outgrowth of moral reasoning or an accurate assessment of the world.

        Isn’t that true of pretty much all moral fervor?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I don’t think so. I think you can start with a set of principles, and then figure out what to get mad about yourself without needing to be told by someone else to get mad about it.

          You can also get mad about things that actually happen, instead of misrepresentations and lies.

          • cassander says:

            You can, but since when have people ever done that in substantial numbers? To quote the Sage of Baltimore, “The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”

      • mdet says:

        Did we forget that “Ferguson” as an incident, also included the same people who vindicated the officer finding multiple emails by other officers referring to black people as dogs and monkeys, as well as coordination between the police department and the city council to bring in more revenue by ramping up the amount of tickets and fines that were issued (apparently Ferguson PD issued an absurd number of tickets for jaywalking), and that many people did figure out to be mad at this from their own principles?

        And is it really fair to characterize someone feeling swayed by a personal anecdote from a black man about how he relates to incidents like Trayvon Martin’s shooting as someone who “doesn’t have their own sense of right, wrong, truth or fiction”?

        • Lillian says:

          Toxoplasma of Rage: It’s both true that Michael Brown is a criminal who died while assaulting a police officer, and that the Ferguson Police Department was racist and corrupt. Hell it’s even true that the police all over the United States regularly shoot people who shouldn’t have been shot and get away with it, because the entire system is rigged in their favour, and gives them special rights that nobody else gets. For a specific example there’s the murder of Daniel Shaver, who was crying and crawling on the floor when he was shot, and yet horrible video of his death was not allowed to be shown to the jury because it might prejudice them. As if there was something wrong with a jury ability to recognize murder with their own eyes. The fact is “hands up, don’t shoot” was plausible and believable, even if in that specific instance it was false.

          • John Schilling says:

            The corruption of the Ferguson police department was well-documented, largely ignored, and like so many other police departments consists of being moderately careful not to go around shooting innocent black men because that would make it harder to get away with the large-scale shaking down of poor mostly-black men, women, and children for private and municipal profit and non-lethally beating the crap out of them for entertainment and catharsis. And even after their getting caught shooting an innocent guilty but not murderously so black man, all that is still mostly ignored.

            The narrowly-focused rage against Police Shooting Innocent(ish) Black Men, while understandable, is not helpful and will probably make things worse for almost everyone involved regardless of race.

          • mdet says:

            Was it largely ignored? Maybe it’s just me but I recall seeing a huge amount of reporting-on and article-sharing of stories about police departments shaking down poor, usually-but-not-necessarily-black people. Obviously fatal confrontations and videos of graphic violence seize headlines, but I feel like the “police departments shake down poor people” angle played at least as big of a role in the public consciousness as “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” did.

            Edit: I think a Vox recap of a John Oliver episode about for-profit policing should qualify as decent evidence that the revenue-raising aspect of police harassment was fairly prominent in liberals takeaway from Ferguson.

          • albatross11 says:

            IMO, the headline-level reporting about Michael Brown was pretty lousy, but the in-depth reporting about the fee-farming/policing for a profit operations common in the area, as well as the general racism and nastiness of the local cops, was pretty good.

            IMO, any form of policing that brings in revenue is so horribly corrupting that we should ban it. It’s as awful an idea as having various clerks in the government effectively getting their pay from what bribes they can extract. I’m not sure why getting rid of it has never caught on as a major political push–perhaps because it’s a bipartisan form of corruption, perhaps because its boring compared to big protests and riots and all.

          • mdet says:

            Re: the original topic, I think “white liberals started changing their position on race in the mid-2010s because they uncritically accepted elite actors telling them lies like ‘Hands Up Don’t Shoot’” (part of which is Yglasias’ take, part of which is Conrad’s) is less accurate than “white liberals started changing their position on race in the mid-2010s because social media allowed young minorities who previously didn’t have much of a voice to set the topic of national conversation. And white liberals ended up to the left of the black community as a whole on racial issues because that’s what happens when all the black people you know are social-justice millennials on twitter instead of 50yo church ladies”.

          • albatross11 says:

            Also, in an earlier version of doing an end-run around traditional media to get your message across, cellphone video + Youtube led to a whole lot of videos of police brutality. When it was criminals[1] claiming the cops beat them up, and cops claiming the criminals were just trying to get out of the consequences of their actions, it was easy to believe the cops. When there was *video* of the cops beating some guy senseless and then claiming he did something to deserve it later, the cops’ credibility dropped through the floor. That set the tone for a lot of the BLM stuff.

            [1] Hey, they got arrested, didn’t they?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          First, I completely agree that policing that drives revenue is guaranteed to wind up corrupt because perverse incentives. I would very much like to see Congress do something about asset forfeiture, for instance.

          Second, the movement was called “Black Lives Matter” and not “Black Jaywalking Fines Matter.” Nobody was rioting over that stuff. It was about the shootings, and the idea that innocent black people are getting shot left and right by racist cops is a false narrative.

          Third, if you think “elite opinion” with one example being Obama’s remarks about Trayvon, is a red herring, take that up with Yglesias. He is the sort of white liberal he’s talking about in his article about the way white liberals think. Apparently it matters to people like him.

          I don’t think we have to go full NPC meme to say “propaganda works.” Apparently half the country believed Donald Trump was a Russian agent. This was always a ludicrous proposition for many obvious reasons that I’ve laid out on this blog several times before (but will do so again if anyone cares), but when the pretty man on TV says it…

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I would very much like to see Congress do something about asset forfeiture, for instance.

            In a rare instance of “good things can actually happen” SCOTUS has already taken a big step in this direction.

            Second, the movement was called “Black Lives Matter” and not “Black Jaywalking Fines Matter.” Nobody was rioting over that stuff.

            This is nonsense. The far end of the pattern is always the point at which some (seemingly arbitrary) line has been crossed. That doesn’t mean the complaint isn’t about the pattern. This is true whether the mass social movement is justified or in service to demagoguery.

            Donald Trump was a Russian agent

            Again, this stuff isn’t binary. There is a continuum, and Trump is well towards one end of it. Every one will seize on the simplistic statements to try and seal their case, but the reality is almost always more complex.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Are you suggesting that the left and the media have not spent the last two years trying to convince the American people that Trump is working with or for the Russians?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Conrad Honcho:
            There is ample evidence that Trump and the Trump Org have done plenty of work with Russians. There is also ample evidence that Trump sees national politics as an extension of personal relationships. If you scratch Trump’s personal back, he’ll happily scratch your itch.

            You want to tilt against the strawman of Trump as an agent in a Le Carré novel. That’s not how it works.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            There is ample evidence that Trump and the Trump org have done plenty of work with the Israelis, too. But we didn’t have a Special Counsel investigation to see whether or not Trump is a puppet of the Jews.

            I’m not exactly tilting at windmills here when the mainstream media and Democratic Senators and congresspeople have spent two years using the words “collusion,” “conspiracy,” “compromised,” “puppet,” and “treason.”

            I understand the Mueller report is not what you were hoping for, but you’re backpedaling so hard to you could win the Tour de France in reverse.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Conrad:

            There is ample evidence that Trump and the Trump org have done plenty of work with the Israelis, too. But we didn’t have a Special Counsel investigation to see whether or not Trump is a puppet of the Jews.

            Yyyeah… working with Russians is being held to a double standard, because apparently they’re America’s enemy in a war of ideas (i.e. they’re conservative).

          • Dan L says:

            @ Conrad:

            Are you suggesting that the left and the media have not spent the last two years trying to convince the American people that Trump is working with or for the Russians?

            If you have a rigorous definition of what exactly “the media” consists of, I’d be interested in hearing it. If you have an efficient way of determining what it is covering, I’d be very interested. If you can go a step beyond even that and quantify the underlying narratives and messaging, I’d suggest you publish immediately. Until then, your anecdotal experiences just convince me you maintain a deliberately shitty media diet.

            For what it’s worth, a more narrow focus of NBC + CNN + FOX’s coverage of the Mueller investigation in particular suggests that coverage is best predicted by raw public interest minus partisan opinion of reliable viewers. My guess is that pair of factors will prove reasonably general.

          • Dan L says:

            @ Le Maistre Chat:

            Having different standards is a good thing when dealing with different situations.

            US – Russia tensions are more than 30 years old.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Conrad Honcho:
            1) Trump’s various positions toward Israel are easily predictable in the context of running and being elected by the current iteration of the Republican party. Netanyahu already worked directly with Republicans to attempt to change US policy and that was a scandal, just not as big of a, nor the same kind of, scandal.

            2) There is not, to my knowledge, any detection of attempts to manipulate US electoral politics by Israel besides relatively minor, but unprecedented, moves done out in the open. An FBI counter-intelligence investigation was started long ago on Russia vis-a-vis the 2016 election. If Netanyahu’s current Israeli scandals lead to revelations about a relationship with Republicans or Trump, then I would expect that to become an issue.

            3) Trump has behaved in a manner contrary to the recent Republican stance on Russia. Mitt Romney as 2012 Republican standard bearer was hammering Russia as a threatening enemy.

            4) There are plenty of other countries who seem to have extracted policy preferences from Trump that seem to have coincided with Trump org receiving some sort of remuneration. These have also been reported on.

            5) There are actual guilty pleas and convictions. We have evidence of people in Trump’s orbit specifically asking for ways to turn Trump’s presidential run into personal gain with Russians connected the Russian power infrastructure. Only one example is Manafort in debt to the Russians and asking how he could use his position to get straight with them. Unlikely policy language toward Russia and Crimea was placed into the GOP platform.

            6) Trump was trying to do a very large deal in Russia during the campaign while consistently lying about doing any business in Russia.

            7) None of these things are exclusive, nor are they dependent. The idea that one scandal being over played somehow invalidates the pattern is specious. The idea that under or unreported scandals invalidates others is also specious.

          • Controls Freak says:

            4) There are plenty of other countries who seem to have extracted policy preferences from Trump that seem to have coincided with Trump org receiving some sort of remuneration.

            There has been a long history of rightists complaining about foundations of leftists on similar grounds. Basically no one knows the real extent of the problem (because much of it is legal, if incredibly skeevy), and almost no one has any clue how to write a new law that would successfully remove the skeevy bit while preserving the “ability to do charity stuff” bit.

            5) There are actual guilty pleas and convictions. We have evidence of people in Trump’s orbit specifically asking for ways to turn Trump’s presidential run into personal gain with Russians connected the Russian power infrastructure. Only one example is Manafort in debt to the Russians and asking how he could use his position to get straight with them.

            I think everyone agrees that Donald Trump was a victim of a foreign adversary’s operation to leverage a weakness of another individual.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub

            5) There are actual guilty pleas and convictions. We have evidence of people in Trump’s orbit specifically asking for ways to turn Trump’s presidential run into personal gain with Russians connected the Russian power infrastructure. Only one example is Manafort in debt to the Russians and asking how he could use his position to get straight with them. Unlikely policy language toward Russia and Crimea was placed into the GOP platform.

            This is like saying that Bill Clinton is obviously guilty of having Vince Foster killed because a bunch of people he did business with were jailed over whitewater.

            None of the people jailed in Russia-gate were jailed for any sort of collusion in with the russians, they are all in jail for tax evasion or process crimes.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:
            I see you simply ignored the rest of that paragraph. When there is evidence pointing to Vince Foster being killed by someone other than Vince Foster come back to me. Sammi Gravano plead guilty to racketeering, not murder.

            @Controls Freak:
            We have lots of evidence, much of it completely out in the open.

            The change to the GOP platform and the public asking of Russia to do theft for him (while he was being privately briefed that the Russians were attempting to actually interfere) would be a huge scandal in any other campaign. There are a litany of people trying to set up back channel communications with Russia. That doesn’t look like Trump being a “victim”. That looks like Trump trying to use it.

          • There is not, to my knowledge, any detection of attempts to manipulate US electoral politics by Israel besides relatively minor, but unprecedented, moves done out in the open.

            At a slight tangent … . Despite lots of talk about the evil of other countries trying to manipulate U.S. electoral politics, nobody seems to be bothered by Obama’s attempt to manipulate U.K. electoral politics, also out in the open. Before the Brexit vote, he went to the U.K. and gave a speech in which he said that if the U.K. left the E.U. and wanted a trade agreement with the U.S., the U.K. would be at the back of the line.

            I’m not sure which side of the Brexit vote that helped, but it was obviously intended to help the “stay” side.

            Similarly and more recently, Trump announced U.S. support for Israeli claims to the Golan Heights at a point when it would be useful to Netanyahu and the Likud party.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Give that the vast majority of the parliament, in both sides, were remainers, I don’t think this is analogous. But hey, as long as we change the subject to the evils of Democrats, amiright?

          • albatross11 says:

            I do not think we have anything like a consistent position about the acceptability of foreign governments trying to affect US policy via lobbying, media campaigns, etc. It’s pretty obvious that lots of governments to this in the US–notably, both Israel and Saudi Arabia both spend a lot of resources trying to influence US voters and legislators. It’s also obvious that we try to influence foreign elections *all the time* (and surely we’re using social media campaign tricks, too), and that we have done so for many years. I strongly suspect that many countries other than Russia were running influence campaigns including social media during the 2016 election, and far more will be running such campaigns in 2020. Russia may have been uniquely loud and may have hit on a clever tactic of trying to stir up trouble to make the US harder to govern rather than trying to push inquiries or discussions in a particular direction, but they can’t possibly be the only ones doing this sort of operation–especially when we know of private PR firms doing them, and of elections in Latin America where these tactics were used.

          • albatross11 says:

            Conrad:

            I think the underlying issue was something more like police impunity + blacks feeling like they get the brunt of a lot of police abuse[1]. But the flashpoints that work to get people out on the streets protesting involve some innocent-looking black kid[2] getting shot by the cops. As an example of the thinking here, Campaign Zero is a set of proposals associated with BLM that tried to address the broader concern of police impunity and bad policing.

            [1] As best I can tell, this is true.

            [2] Sometimes, he looks a lot less innocent once people start looking closely into the case, as with Michael Brown, but by then, the protests and media narrative have a life of their own.

          • dick says:

            If you have evidence of the US government trying to influence a foreign election with surreptitious media buys or hacking email like Russia did, I’m curious to hear about it. Foreign citizens are perfectly welcome to try to change US policy and law, as long as they do it as described in the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. I believe the Obama speech David Friedman mentioned is not so much “trying to influence a foreign election” as “announcing US policy” which is probably something presidents are legally entitled to do.

          • Controls Freak says:

            @HeelBearCub

            The public statement was pretty clear trolling in the midst of a campaign from the guy who would become the Troll in Chief. And communicating with foreign governments outside of the view of the public is common for high-level officials. We don’t always get an accidental hot mic in front of them, communicating how they’re going to work together after the election.

            In any event, you didn’t cite these before. You cited the things that looked a whole lot like Donald Trump being the victim of a foreign adversary’s operation to leverage a weakness of another individual. Honestly, I think this framing is about the only way we can possibly get through this issue. The Russians victimized everybody. They victimized Hillary; they victimized Donald; they victimized the American public. At some point, we’re going to have to stop blaming our internal political enemies for the bad acts of a foreign adversary.

          • Nornagest says:

            At some point, we’re going to have to stop blaming our internal political enemies for the bad acts of a foreign adversary.

            I expect that point to come about the time we hate our foreign adversaries more than our internal political enemies. Which historically has only happened when one of those adversaries has actually turned a big patch of American soil into a crater, or was vocally anti-American and aggressively expansionist and highly successful at it. Even Actual Actual Hitler didn’t qualify until 1941.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Controls Freak:
            If I had to list every single thing, or even every single category of thing, that Trump, his campaign and his administration has done which I find objectionable, you would accuse me of filibustering.

            As I have stated frequently, and in multiple ways, the reality of the situation is complex. There are many multiples of examples that the objective person finds disturbing about Trump’s conduct. Many of those things are aligned with the idea of corrupt influence on his official capacity.

            If I bring up an example of one of them which illustrates a certain facet of this corruption, and you object that it doesn’t illustrate a second facet, and I then illustrate it with a second example, it is, to use the vernacular, “weak sauce” to object that I didn’t bring it up before you asked about it.

          • Controls Freak says:

            Huh. I think we’re back to how leftists view rightists talking about the Clintons. But honestly, unless some significantly new information comes out of the more exhaustive Mueller report (which is possible; in fact, I’m sure something embarrassing/damaging to some extent to Trump will be in it, just not sure how bad), I’m willing to bet, “Knee jerk reaction against an opposition party which is incessantly saying that an adversarial foreign government won him an illegitimate election,” is probably more corrupting to his official duties than any actual foreign influence on him directly. And again, all of the really bad stuff has been a foreign adversary victimizing him, targeting his people for intelligence purposes. I guess it’s possible that he doesn’t see that, because he’s so attentive to the domestic news telling him that Russia loves him… but it sure would be better if people started pointing out how they actually did him wrong.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @HBC

            You’re also misleading everyone about the “change to the GOP platform” bit. Here is the real story.

            When the platform committee met before the GOP convention in Cleveland, one delegate out of the 100 on the committee — a Texas political activist named Diana Denman — proposed an amendment. Denman, who came to the convention as a Ted Cruz delegate but later switched her support to Trump, was interested because she had traveled to Ukraine as an international election observer in 1998 and has ever since “kept an eye on the emerging democracies,” she told me in a conversation last March.

            Denman’s amendment praised the Ukrainian people and said they deserved the greatest U.S. assistance.

            “We therefore support maintaining (and, if warranted, increasing) sanctions against Russia until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored,” Denman’s proposed amendment read. “We also support providing lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces and greater coordination with NATO on defense planning. Simultaneously, we call for increased financial aid for Ukraine, as well as greater assistance in the economic and humanitarian spheres, including government reform and anti-corruption.”

            Denman’s amendment also included an introductory paragraph filled with a lot of generic rhetoric. When she proposed the amendment, a Trump national security aide named J.D. Gordon, who was in the room with the platform committee, wanted to edit it. According to Denman, Gordon got on the phone, saying he was calling “New York” to discuss possible changes.

            At the behest of the Trump campaign, the platform committee took out the throat-clearing introduction and changed Denman’s reference from “lethal defensive weapons” for Ukraine to a pledge to provide “appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine.” They left intact Denman’s language on NATO, and on continued and possibly tougher sanctions on Russia.

            They didn’t change the platform from something bad for Russia to something good for Russia. They prevented a change that escalated the confrontation with Russia to include providing lethal weapons to the Ukrainians.

            You might as well say “if you don’t want to nuke Russia right now you must be Putin’s puppet!” No, it’s entirely possible to want to do things to counter Russia that stop short of killing or providing the means to kill Russians.

            Others have already pointed out how misleading your other statement was about the joking call on Russia to release the emails Hillary deleted from her server while under subpoena.

            As for: “An FBI counter-intelligence investigation was started long ago on Russia vis-a-vis the 2016 election,” yes, I would very much like a thorough investigation into how that investigation got started. It appears to have been manufactured to allow Hillary and Obama allies to spy on their political opponents. Given the dodgy origins of the Steele dossier, the misrepresentations made about it to the FISA court, and the apparent material falsehoods also submitted to the court (no one has yet explained how Carter Page went from being an FBI star witness to a knowing agent of a foreign power in six months, or why he’s still walking around free if that were the case) to obtain warrants, to the mass unmasking of Trump associates in “incidental” collections but apparently without the expected paper trail and justifications, this abuse of power makes Watergate look like shoplifting bubblegum. Lisa Page said in her texts that “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.” What did Obama know, and when did he know it? I assume the Trump DOJ has your full support in getting to the bottom of this gross abuse of power, for the sake of our democracy.

      • j1000000 says:

        In looking up the culture war battles of the late-Obama era, I was surprised to find the the thing that rhymes with Shmamershmate began in August 2014, too, the same month as Ferguson. What a month that must’ve been on Twitter, my God.

    • S_J says:

      You know, we could get something like the other big social/political outcome of the Great Awakening of the 1840s.

      That was the Temperance movement, which over the space of about three or four decades, morphed into the Prohibition movement.

      (Amusing sidenote: after seeing the move The Greatest Showman, in which P.T. Barnum regularly imbibes lots of alcohol, I looked up Barnum’s history. His career was long and varied; one of his more serious public events was a series of speeches in favor of the Temperance movement. This strongly contradicts the image shown in the movie, in which Barnum more than once drinks with his employees after-hours, and never changes his mind about the use of alcohol.)

      • Jaskologist says:

        Also, that sidekick guy played by Zac Efron didn’t even exist, meaning the entire subplot with him was made up, as well as the part where he saves the day at the end.

        I’m sure P.T. Barnum would be shocked, shocked to learn that the story of his life was embellished for sake of a more entertaining narrative.

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          I’ll never understand why, given that they’d already said to hell with timelines or any sort of historical accuracy, they didn’t call Zac Efron’s character “Mr. Bailey.” Barnum and Bailey, everyone’s heard of that!

      • Nick says:

        There’s something weird about the fact that the temperance movement died out while all the other causes of the day won—and advanced by the very same folks, no less. Helen Andrews points it out in her essay “AA Envy,” but she doesn’t seem to know why it happened.

        • Winter Shaker says:

          the temperance movement died out

          Are you sure that it did in fact die out, rather than just move on to different drugs after discovering that the USA’s most popular recreational drug was too popular to keep banned?

          • Nornagest says:

            Timing doesn’t work out. The 21st amendment was in 1933, and while there were a couple of drug scares shortly after (the first laws on marijuana came into effect in 1937), there weren’t many changes in drug policy after that until the early Sixties. Opiates were already regulated and had been for years, under 1914’s Harrison Act.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            I’m not saying that it was a perfect swing in 1933, just that I strongly suspect there to have been a large overlap between the supporters of alcohol prohibition and supporters of the prohibition of most of the other drugs.

  18. themandrake says:

    Some evidence that Scott Adams is a superforecaster : https://bit.ly/2HPw0Wa