Quotulatiousness

May 16, 2017

QotD: Politics as an auto-immune condition

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

From living with eczema, which is a chronic auto-immune disorder, I can tell you that it much resembles the way we stumbled through from the forties (perhaps earlier. But in the forties, Heinlein described the communists taking over the Democratic party. And considering it took him till the eighties to vote Republican for the first time, I don’t think he can be considered a biased source.) through to 2001 like I live – most of the time – with my eczema: it flares up in a specific part of my body, and it itches like heck, which of course means that I don’t give my full attention to anything much, but because I’ve lived like this since I was one, it doesn’t really bother me or I should say – I don’t know what it’s like when it’s not bothering me.

[…]

For those who’ve been following our politics in puzzled wonder, it might help if you think of our issues as an autoimmune disorder. Let’s for the moment forget where it came from. Most autoimmune disorders are a bit of a mystery. Yes, part of it was the same bad philosophy that affected Europe at the time, and some of it might have been Soviet agitprop leaking over the ocean (as someone who grew up in Europe and in a fractured country, I know most Americans ignore the chances of that.) Part of it was a predisposition to it. The US and the ancient Israelites are the only people I know of formed on a set of principles and engage in detailed criticism of themselves over their principles. (Most other nations engaged in a criticism of OTHER countries over their own principles and blame OTHER countries for their own failures. For further study, I recommend Europe.)

Anyway, mostly we’ve been living with it and ignoring it, like I do with eczema. The areas where it was chronic: college campuses, “intellectual” areas were relatively minor. Even when it affected Hollywood, as long as it wasn’t flaring up too badly, most people rolled their eyes and ignored it.

[…]

The problem is this – the flare up continued growing. All through the sixties and the seventies, and the eighties, and yes, of course, the nineties, the flare up of self-hatred grew. And just like the eczema in my hands, it started affecting areas we can’t live without: K-12 schools, business, news.

And it’s not just a little. The news have been biased left for a long time (yes, I know the left thinks they’re biased right, but that’s because the left is to the left of Stalin, while the media are basically propping up a state-capitalism system much like China’s.) If you consider Fascism right, then you’re darn tooting the media is biased right. Since I consider it a misnomer, well…

But more importantly, unlike the manifestations of totalitarian impulse in other countries – Russia, Cuba, China – the autoimmune problems are NOT affecting just our governance or our industry. It’s not a matter of destroying our industry so we’ll all be poor. That would be bad enough. The problem is far worse, though: the problem is that the statist ideology now in control of our government, our media, our education and what passes for “high culture” doesn’t just hate this or that part of us. No, they’ve been told/convinced/brainwashed that what’s wrong with the world is US – that the country and its existence ARE the enemy.

It might be the first time in history where in a non-occupied country flying the flag is an act of daring that in certain neighborhoods can get you shunned by all your neighbors. It might be the first time in history where teaching the good parts of your history in school is considered an act of defiance, and where the higher-class and all the bien-pensants push distorted histories and documentaries that run down the country that hosts them.

Autoimmune. Systemic.

Sara A. Hoyt, “Auto-Immune — A blast from the past post from February 2013”, According to Hoyt, 2015-07-01.

May 8, 2017

“… it’s inconceivable that a book called Fascism for Kids would ever be printed by a reputable publisher”

Filed under: Books, Education, History, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Jarrett Stepman reviews a new MIT translation of Communism for Kids:

In order to make the deadliest ideology of the 20th century palatable to young Americans, Communism for Kids is coming to a bookstore near you.

This newly released book from MIT Press “proposes a different kind of communism, one that is true to its ideals and free from authoritarianism.”

The death toll from communist regimes in the 20th century is well-documented. One study found that more people were killed under communism than homicide and genocide combined, and only 9 million more people were killed in World War I and World War II combined than under governments of this ideology.

Another study showed how the mass killings of civilians by their own governments took an immediate nosedive after the collapse of the Soviet Union and international communism.

According to the Amazon synopsis, the book weaves a fairy tale of “jealous princesses, fancy swords, displaced peasants, mean bosses, and tired workers.”

It is bewildering why MIT Press would publish a book that cutesies up the political creed that gave the world Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and many more of the world’s most prolific mass murderers. None of these brutal dictators are mentioned in the book, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Communism seemingly gets a pass to be reimagined as a sweet fable while it’s inconceivable that a book called Fascism for Kids would ever be printed by a reputable publisher.

[…]

This odd attempt to get kids into communism is unlikely to spawn a new generation of true believers on its own, but it does highlight the growing problem for younger Americans who are generally clueless about even recent history.

As The Daily Signal previously reported, a study from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that millennials in particular are stunningly ignorant about what occurred under the Soviet Union and other communist regimes just a generation ago.

One-third of millennials surveyed actually believe that more people were killed under former President George W. Bush than under Soviet dictator Stalin.

As suggested, a copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm would be a far more accurate and informative gift than this piece of whitewash.

May 7, 2017

The Importance of Institutions

Filed under: Asia, Economics, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 2 Feb 2016

In today’s video, we discuss a topic critical to understanding economic growth: the power of institutions.

To better shed light on this, we’re going to look at an example that’s both tragic and extreme.

In 1945, North and South Korea were divided, ending 35 years of Japanese colonial rule over the Korean peninsula. From that point, the two Koreas took dramatically different paths. North Korea went the way of communism, and South Korea chose a relatively capitalistic, free market economy.

Now — what were the results of those choices?

In the ensuing decades after 1945, South Korea became a major car producer and exporter. The country also became a hub for music (any K-pop fans out there?), film, and consumer products. In stark contrast, North Korea’s totalitarian path resulted in episodes of famine and starvation for its people.

In the end, South Korea became a thriving market economy, with the living standards of a developed country. North Korea on the other hand, essentially became a militarized state, where people lived in fear.

Why such an extreme divergence?

It all comes down to institutions.

When economists talk about institutions, they mean things like laws and regulations, such as property rights, dependable courts and political stability. Institutions also include cultural norms, such as the ones surrounding honesty, trust, and cooperation.

To put it another way, institutions guide a country’s choices — which paths to follow, which actions to take, which signals to listen to, and which ones to ignore.

More importantly, institutions define the incentives that affect all of our lives.

Going back to our example, in the years after 1945, North and South Korea took dramatically different institutional paths.

In South Korea, the institutions of capitalism and democracy, promoted cooperation and honest commercial dealing. People were incentivized to produce goods and services to meet market demand. Businesses that did not meet demand were allowed to go bankrupt, allowing the re-allocation of capital towards more valuable uses.

Against that grain, North Korea’s institutions produced starkly different incentives. The totalitarian regime meant that the economy was centrally planned and directed. Most entrepreneurs didn’t have the freedom to keep their own profits, resulting in few incentives to do business. Farmers also didn’t have enough incentive to grow sufficient food to feed the population. This was due in part to price controls, and a lack of property rights.

As for capital, it was allocated by the state, mostly towards political and military uses. Instead of going towards science, or education, or industrial advancement, North Korea’s capital went mostly towards outfitting its army, and making sure that the ruling party remained unopposed.

And now, look at how different the two countries are as a result of those differing institutions.

When it comes to economic growth, institutions are critically important. A country’s institutions can have huge effects on long-term growth and prosperity. Good institutions can help turn a country into a growth miracle. Bad institutions can doom a country to economic disaster.

The key point remains: institutions are important.

They represent the choices that a country makes, and as the Korean peninsula shows you, choices on this scale can have staggering effects on a nation’s present, and future.

April 13, 2017

QotD: Soviet statistics

Filed under: Europe, History, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Being a correspondent in Moscow, I found, was, in itself, easy enough. The Soviet press was the only source of news; nothing happened or was said until it was reported in the newspapers. So all I had to do was go through the papers, pick out any item that might be interesting to readers of the Guardian, dish it up in a suitable form, get it passed by the censor at the Press Department, and hand it in at the telegraph office for dispatch. One might, if in a conscientious mood, embellish the item a little … sow in a little local colour, blow it up a little, or render it down a little according to the exigencies of the new situation. The original item itself was almost certainly untrue or grotesquely distorted. One’s own deviations, therefore, seemed to matter little, only amounting to further falsifying what was already false.

This bizarre fantasy was very costly and elaborate and earnestly promoted. Something gets published in Pravda; say, that the Soviet Union has a bumper wheat harvest – so many poods per hectare. There is no means of checking; the Press Department men don’t know, and anyone who does is far, far removed from the attentions of foreign journalists. Soviet statistics have always been almost entirely fanciful, though not the less seriously regarded fro that. When the Germans occupied Kiev in the 1939-45 war they got hold of a master Five Year Plan, showing what had really been produced and where. Needless to say, it was quite different from the published figures. This in no way affected credulity about such figures subsequently, as put out in Russia, or even in China.

Malcolm Muggeridge, Chronicles of Wasted Time, 2006.

April 10, 2017

QotD: Noblesse Oblige, pre-teens, and teenagers

Filed under: Europe, Liberty, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

This – ah – female privilege of course established “the way girls fight” usually underhanded, and without the adult noticing. Pinches, kicks to the ankle (my poor male friends in middle school) and also gossip and character destruction and other, less physical means of retaliation.

Because women are still human and will still fight.

But by middle school, we had it well established. A boy understood he would take whatever the girl dished out physically, if a girl were so uncouth as to hit him, and treat it as a joke. (And by that time they were that much stronger – thanks to testosterone – that they could do that, in most cases.) The girl in turn knew if she’d hit a boy, short of self-defense in a dark classroom, where he ambushed her, thereby putting himself beyond the protection of social rules, she’d committed a social sin and broken a major unspoken rule.

This kept fist fights between the sexes from happening. And most girls, though they might character assassinate one another, had learned to keep the boys out of it, because they weren’t adroit in the art and therefore were as vulnerable to that type of war as women to punches.

Or to put it another way, as the good professor says, “Chivalry imposed obligations upon both sexes.” And it can’t continue when one breaks the compact. The same way that other imbalances of power in society can’t continue unless both parts play by the rules.

When one part forgets the rules, they don’t leave the peasants enough to live on, and the peasants chop their necks off.

Look, I’m a libertarian and in the US. I believe all men and women should be equal under the law. But you can’t eliminate imbalances of power unless you stop being human. Communism fails, in large measure, because it wants to eliminate imbalances of power completely by making humans into something different. They believe they can shape a social ape into something more like ants or bees (don’t argue. Yeah, they do want to have rulers. One ruler over faceless millions. Because someone has to enforce equality. Yes, I know about the myth of the vanishing state.) Hence the myth of the homo Sovieticus, the selfless, perfectly acting man who would emerge once the distortions of capitalism were removed from the “natural” man who was of course a Rousseaunian noble savage. No, I don’t believe it. No one should believe it. The rejects of that culling program have filled a hundred million graves and bid fair to fill more. Because Rousseau was wrong and the mythology of communism is a hot and sticky repulsive mess.

Some people will always be taller, larger, stronger. Some will be smarter. Some will, for whatever reason like “my ancestors got here earlier” have the advantage of a better adaption to the society they live in.

I, for instance, got both sides of the noblesse oblige speech because I was taller than most of my male teachers by 13, and probably stronger too. It took. Sort of. I knew how to subdue a badly acting male without hitting him by the time I was 20, and only psychopaths did not respond. (And for those there was hitting, hence the weaponized umbrella.)

Because I WAS a walking imbalance of power, frankly.

Noblesse oblige is needed to keep things from coming to extremes.

Sarah Hoyt, “Noblesse Oblige and Mare’s Nests”, According to Hoyt, 2015-05-05.

April 3, 2017

Ici Londres: Karl Marx didn’t get a single thing right

Filed under: Economics, History, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 22 Mar 2017

March 21, 2017

QotD: Society’s unspoken rules and modern iconoclasts

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Unfortunately for us, starting with Rousseau, someone mistook those rules for “arbitrary and unnecessary.” Now, a lot of them were, of course. Human societies acquire unspoken rules, a lot of them dross, like a dog acquires fleas. And yep, if you follow all the unspoken rules, you’ll reinforce the power of the elites because that’s what the rules are designed to do. […]

But the Rousseau attempt to change those rules started from the idea that all unspoken societal rules were wrong. ALL of them. And that absent them, humans would live in a sort of paradise. I wish he’d been acquainted with some savages, not the least because then he probably wouldn’t have lived to pen his awfully misguided ideas. His ideas have been bouncing around society for a while, aided by Marxism (Marx MUST have been Asperger’s. No, I mean that. He looked at society and had no clue why things functioned, and couldn’t see people as people but as widgets belonging to particular groups which MUST of course be opposed to other groups they interacted with) in its feminist and racialist versions, cut the threads of things that were actually important, functional, and so early-set-in that they were never spoken of.

So women didn’t see the two sides of the bargain and just saw the way their side of it “oppressed” them, which led them to lose the power they did have in society, and now they want it back – see the way they’re racing back to the fainting couch where men can’t touch them or look at them – but since they don’t understand its origins, they’re trying to get it back in all the wrong ways. It’s all “check your privilege” but without ever checking their own privilege, even as it causes white knights to run to their defense. I don’t know how long a society or a culture can last like this. Every time I know of in history, it ended in tears or guillotines.

Sarah Hoyt, “Noblesse Oblige and Mare’s Nests”, According to Hoyt, 2015-05-05.

March 20, 2017

QotD: The Christian church and the Communist Party

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

That people believe what they want to believe, was among the discoveries of my adolescence. Reading obituaries of Robert Conquest (1917–2015; died Monday), the shock of this discovery comes back. I was then both an Atheist and a Cold Warrior. This insight into human nature and denature appeared to buttress both of these convictions: for it seemed to me that the Communist Party and the Christian Religion were products of blind faith, perpetuated by people who “wanted to believe,” and therefore believed what they wanted.

Much was once said about the Alice-in-Wonderland parody of the Roman Church that the Communist Party offered. Immortal Christ founded the one, infallible Marx the other. Officially-recognized “apostles” followed from each (Peter, Paul, John, in one case; Lenin, Stalin, Mao, in the other). The Party like the Church is a bureaucracy, under a hierarchy to be obeyed without thought or hesitation. Each has a form of “confession,” and all the other “sacraments” can be paired. Advancement requires strict fidelity to doctrine. Both institutions hunt “heresies” and canonize “saints.” They thrive on persecution. The utopia of perfect Scientific Socialism is a destination like Heaven. And so on: I haven’t the energy to redraw the whole chart.

That the Communist faith is “materialist,” and that of the Church “spiritual,” makes the parody more amusing. One might also say that Satan is a parody of Our Lord. In logic, however, a parody does not constitute a refutation.

David Warren, “Transfiguration”, Essays in Idleness, 2015-08-06.

March 12, 2017

Is this the definitive exegesis of “woke”?

Filed under: Humour, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At Ace of Spades H.Q., OregonMuse fishes in the comment stream and finds a question that needed to be answered. Extensively.

    13 I’m not up on the current “hip kid lingo”, so what exactly does “woke” mean?

    It sounds stupid, so I am guessing it is not something achieved by hard work and discipline.

    Posted by: moki at March 09, 2017 02:22 PM

1. “Woke” is pretty much the same as what the old-time Marxists called “class consciousness”, i.e knowing that the human race is divided by economic class and that the “proletariat” class needs to overthrow the “bourgeois” class in order to establish the epitome of human perfection, the world-wide communist state.

2. The Marxists also had a term they called “false consciousness.” I think it means something like this: you know what “class consciousness” is but you reject it, because you know it’s bullcrap.

3. I once heard erg use this term to describe ace.

4. Don’t know if there is any comparable term like “false woke”. Maybe sleepwalking?

5. Anyway, the point is, “woke” is a concept that was basically lifted from rat bastard commies.

6. Eventually, as blue vs. blue conflict increases, we’re going to start seeing “woke fights.”

7. They won’t be called that, but that’s what they are.

8. At some point, the various factions of woke will start making distinctions between “woke” and “woke woke.”

9. And these woke groups will be all “woker than thou” to each other

10. To a “woke” person, the only thing worse than not being “woke” is being “woke”, but insufficiently “woke.”

11. These blue-on-blue slap fights will be hilarious to watch.

12. Even better with popcorn

March 7, 2017

Russia Before the 1917 Revolution I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 6 Mar 2017

Russia’s history in the decades leading up to World War 1 where a time of great turmoil and social changes. The Romanov tsars held a tight grip on the country which remained an autocracy even though the people requested change. And by 1917, three years into World War 1, the people demanded change again.

Senator Charles Schumer

Filed under: History, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

L. Neil Smith calls for an investigation into Senator Schumer’s “connection to this remnant Stalinist core, here in the West.”

Following the inglorious collapse of the old Soviet Union back in the late 20th century, without a doubt the new capital of world collectivism has come to be centered somewhere between Washington, D.C. and New York City. (It had already been observed and lamented that, at a moment in history when communism was shriveling and dying all across its native Europe, the evil legacy of Marx and Engels was alive and well in most American universities.)

New York and Washington, D,C, are both both the familiar stomping grounds of a dangerously deluded Democratic Senator who apparently has come to believe that he is the divinely-appointed rightful Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, and is presently leading a vicious assault on what might be termed “The Peoples’ Presidency”. One can be forgiven from wondering what stone he pulled his sword from.

Judging from his unbrokenly statist legislative record, he has always believed that the “peasants” (that’s you and me) need a Leviathan to tell them what to do, where to go, how to live their lives, even how many gallons their toilet-tanks may hold. Under no circumstances, in his dementedly Draconian view, must the American electorate be permitted to choose their own leader, especially a leader pledged to lift the burden of authoritarian government from their weary shoulders. Their duty, in his view, is simply to be born, obey their masters, pay a lifetime of taxes, die and get out of the way, not to determine the course of the Ship of State (albeit, a sinking ship, aboard which he occupies the highest crow’s- nest—as it stands now, he’ll be among the last to get his feet wet).

However what needs to be investigated is not some entirely fictional collusion between the Trump Administration and Vladimir Putin’s thoroughly post-Marxist, patently anti-communist Russia, repeated over and over and over and over again by the news floozies and gentlemen-of-the-evening of the compliant news media until we’re expected to believe it, but Charles Schumer’s deep connection to this remnant Stalinist core, here in the West.

I will repeat that, because it’s important. What needs to be investigated is not some fictional—mythical—collusion between the Trump Administration and Vladimir Putin’s post- Marxist, anti-communist Russia, repeated over and over again by the round-heeled news media until we’re expected to believe it, but Charles Shumer’s own connection to this remnant Stalinist core, here in the West.

February 14, 2017

An Islamic Reformation? No, that’s not quite the way to go…

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Colby Cosh points out that the historical Christian equivalents to modern day ISIS fanatics are not the Puritans, but the so-weird-it-must-be-fiction Anabaptist Kingdom of Münster in 1534-5:

One thing about this sculpture group [the International Monument to the Reformation] is: the foursome is terrifying. The depiction would not be so accurate and meaningful if it weren’t. Knox, in particular, has the face of a killer. The four men wear clerical robes and have long beards. They wield holy books as if they were weapons, which, in their hands, they were. The Reformed Protestant faith is a faith of the book; it sought to displace traditions, hierarchies, customs, culture, and authorities, and to replace them with the Word of God.

In its extreme manifestations, the Protestant Reformation was an annihilating tidal force of literal iconoclasm—the destruction of religious images and relics. There is still a visible scar across the face of northern Europe resulting from the preaching of Calvin, Zwingli, and Knox: in a belt from Scotland to Switzerland, you can find damaged antiquities, desecrated church reliefs, physically insulted Madonnas.

The attacks on religious art are easy to date: they spread outward from Zurich in much the same manner as the epidemic European political revolutions of 1848. Holland is where the iconoclastic rioting was most intense, and it arguably still influences the Dutch aesthetic character. They have a taste for minimalism and abstraction you can detect in Mondrian or M.C. Escher or the mathematician-artist Piet Hein. (Kenneth Clark made this connection in passing in his television series Civilisation, linking Mondrian to Pieter Saenredam’s 17th-century paintings of spare, whitewashed Calvinist church interiors.)

The Protestant Reformation had many personalities. One of them, ejected from the mainstream of European history in Darwinian fashion, was “crazy as all hell.” (Read about the Kingdom of Münster and tell me that, even correcting the record implicitly for propaganda and prejudice, this wasn’t just 16th-century ISIL.) When commentators talk of an “Islamic Reformation” they are looking back at reformers of tolerant, generous spirit, scholars like Erasmus and Melanchthon who infused the word “humanist” with the positive connotations it still has.

The Kingdom of Münster was founded by fanatic Anabaptists after throwing out the existing Lutheran local council and driving away the Bishop and his troops in 1534:

So in 1534, with most non-Anabaptist men leaving and large number of Anabaptists immigrating into the city to be part of the upcoming “big show”, the city council (to this point solidly Lutheran) was taken over legally by the Anabaptists, and the ruling Bishop of the city was driven out of the town. But the Bishop and his soldiers (they had such things then) did not go far. Unhappy with the treatment they received, they laid siege to the city and blocked any supplies from entering and leaving the city.

With everything falling into place, the people of the city began to refer to themselves as “Israelites” and the city as “New Jerusalem”. Jan Matthys now introduced the idea of a community of goods and all property of all citizens who left (sorry ladies, there’s a new sheriff in town) was confiscated and all food was made public. People could keep what they had, but they were required to leave their houses unlocked at all times. The use of money was eliminated, and all resourced were now pooled for the common good. No longer was there any idea of private property, everything was owned by the public.

One day, convinced and prophesying that God would protect him, Matthys rode out to meet some of the Bishops troops who were laying siege to the city. Charging right into a group of opposing soldiers, Jan Matthys proved a poor prophet and was made quick work of by the soldiers. The soldiers placed his head on a pole for the entire town to see, and did other really, really bad things to his body.

And the story may have ended there (sound familiar), but on of the people Matthys had baptized earlier was a charismatic young man named Jan van Leyden. The story goes that after Matthys’ death, van Leyden is said to have run through the streets naked, foaming at the mouth, and speaking incoherently before collapsing and remaining unresponsive for 3 days. Van Leyden claimed that God revealed many things to him during these three days, and things in Strasberg were going to change. Oh were they ever.

After a few victories over the bishop’s armies, van Leyden had himself anointed “King of Righteousness” and the “King of Zion” – the absolute prophet and ruler of the city whose word was equivalent to God’s. Any resistance to his rule was ruthlessly suppressed.

Van Leyden then instituted polygamy in the city. He used the Old Testament to justify it (like all great nut jobs), but it was well known that van Leyden had a desire for Matthys’ young widow. But aside from lust (van Leyden had 16 wives!!!), polygamy did serve a practical purpose in the city. It helped deal with a ratio of women to men in the city being about 3 to 1, and also was seen as a way to increase the population of the city to 144,000 (required for the beginning of the end).

At this point, a few people became a little unhappy with the “direction” the city is moving. Van Leyden, a master of persuasion, had all resisters are executed (men) or imprisoned (women). One of these “unhappy” people was one of van Leyden’s 16 wives. In a “women belong it the kitchen” moment, van Leyden publicly beheaded her himself and trampled on her body.

February 1, 2017

QotD: Che Guevara and his modern fans

Filed under: Americas, History, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Denial is also a common factor among people on the left who want to believe in the failed experiment known as Communism. This is nothing new, since Walter Duranty of the New York Times was famous for denying the atrocities of Stalin and is still honored by the media elite to this day. Though some of the worst deniers are those who want to believe the romantic story of Cuba being liberated by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro from the evil grasp of the Batista regime. The Cuban revolution is by far one of the greatest stories ever sold.

People are always shocked to learn that the Cuban revolution succeeded with little resistance since Castro had bribed the top brass in Batista’s military to stand down. It also didn’t help that the Batista regime was so unpopular among the people that there weren’t too many who were willing to risk their lives to defend it. It’s also funny that Che Guevara is thought of as the George Washington of guerrilla warfare, but in reality Barney Fife was a better comparison. Actually I think that may be an insult to Barney Fife because at least he wasn’t dumb enough to shoot himself in the chin, like our “guerilla master” did. His failed revolutions in Bolivia and the Congo are a direct testament to his skills as a master in guerilla warfare.

The one thing that Che was good at was killing hundreds, if not thousands of unarmed people, including women and children. The man was such a humanitarian that he had a wall in his office knocked down so that he could have a nice view of the killing fields, when the “enemies of the state” were being purged. Hipsters who like to wear his T-Shirts as always shocked to hear that he wasn’t a selfless rebel who wanted to help the working class, except to take them to the killing fields of course.

To all the hippies, artists, musicians, and actors who like to venerate the man, you are the type of person that Che despised the most. If you had long hair, wore blue jeans and listened to Rock ‘n’ Roll or had any flare for the arts, you would likely find yourself thrown into a labor camp.

Sean Gangol, “Denial”, Libertarian Enterprise, 2015-07-19.

January 29, 2017

The pundits only seem to know two Orwell books…

Filed under: Books, Britain, History, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

As Colby Cosh rightly says, you can find cheap “we’re now living in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four” pieces everywhere. On the evidence, you’d have to say that the majority of editorial writers working today know of Orwell for only two of his (admittedly brilliant) novels. I’m not an Orwell scholar (I’m actually no kind of scholar at all), but I’ve read much more of Orwell’s work — spoiler: he really was a socialist — and we sell the man’s message very far short if it can only be used as a quick literary check-off that the current president of the United States is bad:

I’ll start by admitting that I have a hipster’s childish, proprietary feeling toward the works of George Orwell. It’s a common disorder. Being an admirer of the man’s work I ought, reasonably, to be delighted by anything that makes it more popular. But, dammit, all anybody ever buys are the hits.

Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency has set off such a mighty public hunger for Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four that the novel shot to the top of Amazon’s fiction charts. That, in turn, has created a land rush in Orwell-Trump thinkpieces. The Guardian even did a full workup of “Orwell experts” who all assure us that the parallels between the 1949 book and the current situation are strong and undeniable, with claims like “Trump takes doublethink to a new extreme” and “Trump is not O’Brien. He is more like a cut-price version of Big Brother himself.”

You can find “Are we living in Orwell’s 1984 (yet)?” articles printed in any year of the last 40 or so. But 2017 has already seen dozens, maybe hundreds. And the great majority of them seem to answer: “Yes, definitely. Here we are. Enjoy your Victory Gin.”

This is not a healthy or sensible reaction to the election of a bold, chauvinistic liar. That, after all, may be a good description most of the heads of government that have ever existed — the leaders under which most modern humans have lived. You’re allowed be afraid of or discouraged by Trump without losing your mind altogether. He displays a great deal of the style and technique of a classic caudillo, a Juan Peron or a Ferdinand Marcos; no sane liberal can be happy to see these things brought to the American scene. Trump has terrible power and may abuse it. He may be awful for the world, may even initiate wars.

In interests of full disclosure, this article triggered me enough to buy another couple of volumes of The Complete Works of George Orwell, these being from the post-WW2 era. I don’t yet have the full set, but I’m working on it (the full Orwell bibliography can be found here). I found A Patriot After All: 1940-1941 and Keeping Our Little Corner Clean: 1942-1943 to be absolutely fascinating, not only as informal war chronology, but also as a view into Orwell’s reasons for simultaneously fighting against totalitarianism in both Fascist and Communist forms.

January 17, 2017

QotD: The role of free markets

Filed under: Economics, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Bernie Sanders, the Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, generated a great deal of mirth on Tuesday when he wondered aloud how it is that a society with 23 kinds of deodorant and 18 kinds of sneakers has hungry children. Setting aside the fact that we must have hundreds of kinds of deodorant and thousands of choices of sneakers, Senator Sanders here communicates a double falsehood: The first falsehood is that the proliferation of choices in consumer goods is correlated with poverty, among children or anybody else, which is flatly at odds with practically all modern human experience. The reality is precisely the opposite: Poverty is worst where consumers have the fewest choices, e.g., in North Korea, the old Soviet Union, the socialist paradise that is modern Venezuela, etc. The second falsehood is that choice in consumer goods represents the loss of resources that might have gone to some other end — that if we had only one kind of sneaker, then there would be more food available for hungry children.

Lest you suspect that I am distorting the senator’s words, here they are:

    You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.

This is a very old and thoroughly discredited idea, one that dates back to Karl Marx and to the anti-capitalists who preceded him. It is a facet of the belief that free markets are irrational, and that if reason could be imposed on markets — which is to say, if reason could be imposed on free human beings — then enlightened planners could ensure that resources are directed toward their best use. This line of thinking historically has led to concentration camps, gulags, firing squads, purges, and the like, for a few reasons: The first is that free markets are not irrational; they are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence. That is the first reason that this sort of planning leads to gulags. The second is that there are no enlightened planners; men such as Senator Sanders imagine themselves to be candidates for enlightened leadership, but put a whip in his hand and the gentleman from Vermont will turn out to be another thug in the long line of thugs who have cleaved to his faith. The third reason that this sort of planning always works out poorly is that nobody knows what the best use of resources actually is; all that the would-be masters know is that they do not approve of the current deployment of resources.

Kevin D. Williamson, “Bernie Sanders’s Dark Age Economics”, National Review, 2015-05-27.

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