Published on 31 Mar 2017
A Word To The Patronising Minority
April 1, 2017
March 18, 2017
Published on 18 Feb 2017
Catherine had great ambitions to reform Russia according to her own highest ideals, but she soon found that the reality of governance made those ideals difficult to achieve. She also found herself tangled in war, rebellion, and (scandalously) smallpox.
March 14, 2017
Published on 13 Mar 2017
India was part of the British Empire during World War 1 and it was of vital importance to the war effort. Resources, manufacturing power and over 1.3 million men that served in the Army meant a great price for India to pay during the war. But even before the conflict, the call for independence grew louder and louder.
March 13, 2017
Andrew Sullivan is still disturbed by the Middlebury College incident in Vermont, calling it “the latest in the assault on liberal democracy”:
But what grabbed me was the deeply disturbing 40-minute video of the event, posted on YouTube. It brings the incident to life in a way words cannot. At around the 19-minute mark, the students explained why they shut down the talk, and it helped clarify for me what exactly the meaning of “intersectionality” is.
“Intersectionality” is the latest academic craze sweeping the American academy. On the surface, it’s a recent neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity — such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. — but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power. At least, that’s my best attempt to define it briefly. But watching that video helps show how an otherwise challenging social theory can often operate in practice.
It is operating, in Orwell’s words, as a “smelly little orthodoxy,” and it manifests itself, it seems to me, almost as a religion. It posits a classic orthodoxy through which all of human experience is explained — and through which all speech must be filtered. Its version of original sin is the power of some identity groups over others. To overcome this sin, you need first to confess, i.e., “check your privilege,” and subsequently live your life and order your thoughts in a way that keeps this sin at bay. The sin goes so deep into your psyche, especially if you are white or male or straight, that a profound conversion is required.
Like the Puritanism once familiar in New England, intersectionality controls language and the very terms of discourse. It enforces manners. It has an idea of virtue — and is obsessed with upholding it. The saints are the most oppressed who nonetheless resist. The sinners are categorized in various ascending categories of demographic damnation, like something out of Dante. The only thing this religion lacks, of course, is salvation. Life is simply an interlocking drama of oppression and power and resistance, ending only in death. It’s Marx without the final total liberation.
It operates as a religion in one other critical dimension: If you happen to see the world in a different way, if you’re a liberal or libertarian or even, gasp, a conservative, if you believe that a university is a place where any idea, however loathsome, can be debated and refuted, you are not just wrong, you are immoral. If you think that arguments and ideas can have a life independent of “white supremacy,” you are complicit in evil. And you are not just complicit, your heresy is a direct threat to others, and therefore needs to be extinguished. You can’t reason with heresy. You have to ban it. It will contaminate others’ souls, and wound them irreparably.
March 8, 2017
Megan McArdle on the sudden willingness — even eagerness — on the part of progressive activists to move from agitation to literally beating up the objects of their hatred:
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Or so we were told by our mothers. But events on both sides of continent in recent weeks seem to belie that old adage. A new generation of protesters has come to the conclusion that words do hurt — and that therefore, extreme measures, up to and including physical force, are justified to keep them from being spoken.
At Berkeley last month, a riot broke out over a speech planned by Milo Yiannopoulos, a sort of professional conservative troll who worked for Breitbart until a scandal over some hebephilic remarks cost him his job and his book contract. This was not simply setting things on fire or breaking a few windows (though those would have been quite bad enough); multiple people seem to have been beaten by the “antifas” (anti-fascists). In the videos that have been released so far, the anti-fascists look a lot closer [to] Nazi brownshirts than the people they’re trying to stop. There was further violence this weekend in Berkeley at a pro-Trump march.
Then a few days ago, a speech by Charles Murray at Middlebury College in Vermont also turned violent, and a professor was injured as she walked with Murray after his speech. Murray has given his own personal account of what occurred, and a lengthy video of the proceedings is available on the web. They are not as frightening as what happened at Berkeley, but they are plenty horrifying enough: they shouted him down, refusing to allow him to speak, then banged on the building and pulled fire alarms when he was transferred him to a private room to do a streaming talk they were unable to disrupt. Finally, they tried to physically prevent him from leaving.
The fact that two different speeches triggered violence at two different campuses within the space of a month suggests that we may be entering into a new and more dangerous phase of the anti-free-speech movement. Free-speech advocates, particularly the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, have done a great job pushing back against overweening college administrations that try to curtail the speech of students and professors. But these are actions coming from the students. Who do you sue to keep a mob of students from resorting to the heckler’s veto, or their fists, to combat ideas they don’t like?
As more than a few folks on the right have pointed out, if the “antifa” activists continue translating their distaste for certain words and concepts into actual violence, the right is significantly better armed and nobody in their right mind should want to provoke a descent into reciprocal violence when the other side has all the weapons.
March 6, 2017
The Z Man provides a thumbnail sketch of the start of the Tea Party early in Barack Obama’s first term in office:
Back in Obama’s first months on the throne, Rick Santelli, a TV personality, was “reporting” from the floor of the stock exchange. He responded to a question about Obama’s housing plan with a rant about socialism, finishing it off with a call for a new Tea Party. Whether it was spontaneous or choreographed is hard to know, but at the time people took it to be entirely spontaneous. Santelli is a carny barker prone to getting carried away on the air and his rant had the feel of an old fashioned stem winder.
Regardless of the intent or the execution, the rant went viral and the Tea Party Movement was born. Middle America was ready to be pissed off due to the terribleness of the Bush years, so Obama’s poor start put the normies in a fighting mood. Before long people were showing up at town hall meetings, dressed as Samuel Adams, giving their congressman the business about reckless government behavior that had made a hash of things. Since the Democrats were the majority, they got the brunt of the abuse.
It did not take long for the moonbats to declare the whole thing a racist conspiracy cooked up by the twelfth invisible Hitler in league with the eternal cyclops of the KKK. This was when the fake hate crime stuff got its start as a daily phenomenon. It was also when it became apparent to a lot of people that the news is mostly fake. The increasingly deranged Nancy Pelosi, slurring about “Astroturf” was so weird, it begged a challenge, but the news people carried on like it was manifestly true.
The claim that middle aged suburbanites, dressed in tricorne hats, were paid agents of a nefarious conspiracy was so nutty that the response from the press should have been laughter and then derision. After all, it has been known for decades that the Left uses rent-a-mobs. They pay people to show up and hold signs. Unions have been doing this since the days of Jimmy Hoffa. For the Democrats to clutch their pearls and call the Tea Party inauthentic should have been too much of a farce for even the very liberal press corp.
February 21, 2017
Jim Geraghty on the “Milo at CPAC” issue:
An observation for everyone bothered or worse at the thought of Yiannopoulos addressing CPAC: Fighting Yiannopoulos with protests and boycotts is like fighting a fire with gasoline. The most salient point Yiannopoulos makes in his shtick is that the Left is intolerant, filled with rage, and incapable of respecting any dissenting view … and campus leftists live down to his portrait, time after time. He has become a big show because he more or less is a walking, talking perpetual threat of a riot, and a big part of this is that he keeps going to places like Berkeley, the places most inclined to respond to provocations through violent outbursts.
It would be an enormous blunder for the Right to make the same mistake. And thankfully, the CPAC crowd is not a rioting crowd.
Perhaps the right measuring stick of Yiannopoulos is, what does he really have to offer an audience of conservative activists when he isn’t being shouted down, attacked, or besieged by riotous Leftists? We on the Right will rightfully instinctively defend anyone threatened by the pincers of a politically correct speech code and the radical mob. Once that threat to free speech is removed … then what?
Are there things Yiannopoulos can teach us to advance the conservative cause, conservative ideas, or conservative policies? Can the methods that get him what he wants be used by others, or are they non-replicable? Does the toolbox of the provocateur really have the kinds of tools useful to those of us who want to build something more lasting and create structural changes – i.e., tax reform, a stronger military, a solution to the opioid addiction crisis, a thriving economy full of innovation and consumer choice, support networks of community and family, etcetera? I’m skeptical, but willing to listen. Let’s hear it.
Yiannopoulos triggers rage in Leftists like no one else in the world today other than Donald Trump, and a lot of folks on the right will cheer that. But let’s face it, triggering rage in a leftist is not a terribly hard thing to do.
Update: Fixed broken link.
February 13, 2017
January 30, 2017
This is seriously esoteric and worth reading (and even rereading bits) til you get it.
I’ll add one thing. An axiom a friend of mine came up with watching the fall of Saddam Hussein.
‘Crazy regimes get crazier under stress.’
The ‘Overton Window’ and that axiom explain everything going on in US politics at the moment.
I’ll add one thing that he missed as a possible end game. One I hadn’t seen until quite recently.
As he noted (deep in the article) the elites within an Overton Bubble occasionally shift conditions of ‘proper thought’ so as to find and exclude those who should not be within the ‘elite’ faction. Thus the occasional purges evident throughout history of ‘elite’ groups.
As the faction comes under greater stress, it shifts more and more, tossing more out into the wilderness.
Thus the whole issue of a ‘woman’s march’ which would only accept women who supported a narrow series of causes but was okay with pro-Islam because: Reasons. (Notably, ‘pro-Islam’ was inside the accepted ‘good’ but ‘it’s okay to be feminine and a strong woman’ types were ‘outside’ the ‘good’.)
So one potential effect I’m starting to see is so many groups who were previously ‘okay’ to the Progressive Elites are being tossed out… their supporters are getting smaller and smaller.
Think about Jim Webb, one of the Democrats who unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic Primary.
Military veteran. Moderate economically. Pro-welfare state. Pro-big government. Believer in Global Warming.
In 2000 he’d have been a viable Democratic candidate.
In 2016, he was worse than Trump.
But he’s actually just fine with most of America.
So the ‘elites’ are making ‘acceptable’ so narrow… they’re doing what the Japanese are demographically. If the Japanese don’t start breeding, hard, soon enough Halsey will be right. Japanese will be spoken only in the afterlife.
If the ‘elites’ keep tossing every group that doesn’t match their current ‘conforming’ form to the wolves…
Pretty soon ‘Progressive’ will be spoken only in hell.
January 26, 2017
Megan McArdle says it’s quite possible for the Democrats to come back strongly, but to do it they’ll have to give up some of their recent favourite political toys:
Why are the left’s public demonstrations more impressive than its voter turnout? Because there are a whole lot of Democrats in the large population centers where such demonstrations are generally held. People can join a protest simply by getting on the subway; it’s an easy show of force.
But there are a lot of small towns in America, and as Sean Trende and David Byler recently demonstrated, those small towns are redder than ever. Effectively, the Democratic coalition has self-gerrymandered into a small number of places where they can turn out an impressive number of feet on the ground, but not enough votes to win the House. Certainly not enough to win the Senate or the Electoral College, which both favor sparsely populated states and discount the increasingly dense parts of the nation.
The Senate map in 2018 is brutal for Democrats. If Democrats want to get their mojo back, they’re going to need to do more than get a small minority of voters to turn out for a march. They’re going to need to get back some of those rural votes.
To do that, they’re probably going to have to let go of the most soul-satisfying, brain-melting political theory of the last two decades: that Democrats are inevitably the Party of the Future, guaranteed ownership of the future by an emerging Democratic majority in minority-white America. This theory underlay a lot of Obama’s presidency, and Clinton’s campaign. With President Trump’s inauguration on Friday, we saw the results.
January 15, 2017
Megan McArdle on the how the actual effect of Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump speech contrasts with her intent, and why:
Well, yes, celebrities are stupid about policy, often breathtakingly so. On the other hand, so is everyone else. You want to hear some really stupid ideas about policy? Grab a group of whip-smart financial wizards, or neurosurgeons, or nuclear physicists, and sit them down for a nice dinner to debate some policy outside their profession. You will find that they are pretty much just as stupid as anyone else, because policy is not about smart. I mean, smart helps. But policy is fundamentally about domain knowledge, and that knowledge is acquired only by spending a great deal of time thinking about a pretty small set of problems. Funnily enough, this is also how one gets good at finance, or neurosurgery, or nuclear physics.
The problem with Hollywood people making political speeches is not that their political ideas are worse than anyone else’s, or that they enjoy sharing their half-baked ideas. This is a minor and forgivable social sin, like arriving five minutes early for a party. No, the problem with Hollywood people making political speeches is that the speeches themselves are bad, at least at their presumed goal of producing political change.
Take Streep. She’s right that Trump should not have made fun of a disabled reporter. However, she surrounded that point with an extended discussion of how mean everyone was being to actors and journalists.
This was a double mistake. First, it accepted Trump’s frame: it’s a handful of liberal elites against the rest of the country. That’s an argument he just won, so it’s unwise to try for an immediate rematch. And second, there is in this whole world no sight less rhetorically compelling than that of successful people with fun and rewarding jobs, and a decent income, complaining that they’re victims of the unglamorous folks who labor at all the strenuously boring work required to make their lives nice. Even I, who have one of those jobs, am rolling my eyes and saying “Good heavens, suck it up.” The only people who don’t recoil from this sort of vacuous self-pity are those similarly situated in elite liberal institutions — but since those folks already hate Trump, you haven’t actually changed anything.
December 18, 2016
Published on 17 Dec 2016
Chair of Wisdom Time!
December 16, 2016
He posted this the other day on Google+:
Reading this [link] put me in mind of a slightly different scenario. So I’m throwing this gauntlet down to anyone who has ever said the “Trump is Hitler” thing.
There are only two possibilities.
One is that you believe what you’re saying. in which case you have a moral duty to find Trump and kill him. With a scoped rifle. With a suicide vest. With hands and teeth. With anything.
The other is that you don’t actually believe Trump is Hitler, but find it advantageous to say so, posturing for demagogic political gain.
If you’re not a liar and a demagogue, why are you not strapping on weapons right now? Put the fuck up or shut the fuck up
December 9, 2016
Protest-theatre is a creation of the political left, which uses it in an attempt to endow quotidian political fights with the dignity and importance of genuine popular struggles for fundamental rights. It is designed to endow debates over teacher pensions or hydraulic fracturing with the hysterical romance of revolution. In some cases, it is meant only to show that a movement is numerous enough to make trouble for own its sake.
It is, in other words, a form of cheap stakes-raising, with just a whisper of possible mob violence thrown in. The right, organized in this instance by Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media web-channel, is now borrowing the tactic. This was one of the Copernican political discoveries of the late Trump presidential campaign: a right-wing populist, if Trump is that, can use protest-theatre too.
The “lock her up” chant in Alberta’s capital was a sort of mangled, improvised collective allusion to Trump, whose crowds had chanted this about Hillary Clinton. They did that because Hillary Clinton has done a certain amount of stuff in her long political career that she probably could have been locked up for. I am not aware that this can be said of Premier Notley. She may have done unwise things, and has definitely made some inexplicable political errors, and may even have pursued unethical policies. But she has done it in legally legitimate ways, and her ministry has yet to face a major scandal in the traditional sense — an event that would have a reasonable person asking if the cops should be called.
Colby Cosh, “After the ‘lock her up’ fiasco, it seems Canada is fresh out of grown ups”, National Post, 2016-12-07.
November 22, 2016
ESR posted this on Google+:
Mike Pence gets lectured from on stage at a Hamilton performance on Friday. This [a Trump supporter disrupting a Chicago performance of Hamilton] happens on Monday.
For decades the Left has been routinely trashing the rules of public decorum in in the name of political theater. Because “woke”, and stuff – anything goes to shatter bourgeois complacency.
Welcome to payback time. Me, I would much rather nobody was doing this kind of public disruption. But if it’s going to happen at all, I’d prefer it to be sufficiently universal and obnoxious that we are all incentivized to rediscover a good old-fashioned principle.
That is this: when you’re in a public space, at an event that isn’t explicitly about politics, keep a lid on yours. You’re not special; neither are the Hamilton cast members, or BLM protesters or any other of the Left’s myrmidons.
Until today I wouldn’t have had to say this sort of thing to conservatives, because conservatives didn’t do things like barging en masse into restaurants yelling political slogans. Now that invisible restraint has been broken. There’ll be more of this, much more, before we find a new social equilibrium.
In the meantime…excuse me, I’ll be over here, laughing my ass off at all the leftists who wax indignant at being given a taste of their own medicine.
Several of my friends on the left posted Facebook updates cheering the Hamilton cast and jeering at Pence. A few of them also posted criticism of the Trump supporter’s actions in Chicago. Once you’ve deliberately broken down the etiquette of public performance, you have no right to decry when your opponents also choose to violate decorum and drag politics into your safe spaces. I agree with ESR that both the Hamilton cast and the Trump guy were wrong to do this, and we’d all be better off if both sides agreed to avoid any further disruptions of this kind … but I don’t expect that to happen.