Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Update re: Murray

If you want to know why I don't feel bad for Charles Murray, only expressed in more brutally trenchant fashion from someone at least one standard deviation higher than me in IQ, read Z Man's takedown:
Anyway, Murray went off to Middleburry to give his speech and the campus lunatics shut down the event. They even managed to assault one of the professors, who sponsored the thing. Murray wrote up his reflections on the event, as if it was a seminal moment in the history of the republic. Normies have been getting the business from the lunatics for a long time, but no one cares about them. When Ann Coulter gets screamed at on campus, guys like Murray just shrug, because after all, Coulter deserves it. She’s a bad thinker.

That’s the thing with these guys. They don’t care about free speech or the open exchange of ideas. They care about their free speech and their access to the marketplace of ideas, which means staying in good with the Left. When a John Derbyshire is shut down by the campus lunatics, Conservative Inc is silent. To defend Derb or anyone else the Left has ruled out of bounds would risk their standing and that can never happen. The only core principle of these so-called conservatives is to remain on the good side of the Left.

This is not supposed to happen to good thinkers like Charles Murray, so it is a big deal to the people who pretend to be on our side. It also offers another opportunity for Conservative Inc. to pretend they are on the front lines fighting the Left. As I pointed out the other day, these guys are looking for a way to insert themselves at the front of the movement they claim to lead, at least until things get serious. You just know that one of them will be declaring himself the “respectable” version of the Dissident Right.

The incident is a good reminder of Official Right’s worthlessness. Murray’s piece reads like an apology. That’s because it is an apology. The boys and girls of Conservative Inc have always worked to position themselves at the edge of what the Left considers the respectable Right. Twenty years ago, the Bell Curve was right at the edge. Now, the Left considers it heresy and Murray knows it. It’s why he invested so much effort into advertising his opposition to Trump. It’s part of the long apology for his past heresy.

I stand on the toes of giants.

Aaand ... Porter weighs in:
And who should expect otherwise? Only conservatives attack their friends rather than their enemies. The left views Murray as its enemy because The Bell Curve refutes its doctrine and lends credence to our lying eyes. His attempts to counter this perception with bouts of frenetic Twitter cuckoldry go completely unnoticed because the bombs are long out the bay doors. Only explicit disavowals of his own work accompanied by strenuous groveling would gain him neutrality at this point. Absent that, he remains their enemy.

As a result, his scholarship is irrelevant; enemies don’t get free speech. Those who attack traditional America are allies, and so they do. It’s not confusing. And it’s not an illogical contradiction. After all, what idiots would grant enemies the same accommodations they do their friends? You don’t have to answer that.
This is why I don't subscribe to the New York Times or National Review. If I want elegant writing and cogent analysis, I can get it for free in any number of places from that left sidebar.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Why I don't feel bad for Charles Murray

Charles Murray attempted to give a talk at a place called Middlebury College, and got chased out by a mob. Murray, as this corner of the Internet knows, was the co-author of "The Bell Curve", in which the authors point out that there are different IQ distributions for different racial and ethnic groups, and that high IQ is correlated with better life outcomes. This is an appalling hatefact, because it leads to the conclusion that all men are not, in fact, created equal and government efforts to make them so are unjust and uneconomic.

Why do conservatives do this? They go to a riot and expect a debate to break out. Murray was also particularly venomous in denouncing Donald Trump, who was the only candidate promoting policies to protect the American prole class, a group whom Murray purports to champion.

Murray has forgotten an ancient formula: every political regime requires Ideas and the Muscle to immanentize it.

Ideological conservatives have spent the past several decades pretending they didn’t need Muscle. That’s how I used to think: the cogency, the elegance of my Ideas will carry the day! Not true. No amount of argumentation or even data will convince a liberal that all children are not equally educable. No parade of historical, real world-failures will convince a Marxist that the labor theory of value does not describe reality. So if you want a country where you can politely debate Enlightenment concepts like inalienable rights, then you need (1) a territory, (2) a people with the IQ and time preference necessary for abstract ideas and a temperamental aversion to violence, and (3) lots of razor wire and machine gun emplacements to keep out all the people who can out-thug, out-breed and out-vote you. Sometimes you are going to lose this fight, which is what the former Byzantine Christians in the Middle East found out.

Murray has the typical ideologue’s conceit: he thinks his lofty ideas built America and sustain it. That is only partially true. America was built by ornery Anglo-Celts and defended by two oceans and weak neighbors north and south. Since the 1980's Murray, George Will, and all the other polite conservatives who grew up in 88% white America soothingly told everyone that inside every immigrant was a Republican-voting WASP just waiting to get out. Donald Trump has a much more realistic view of human nature and he is in effect asking the conservative elite just what the hell they’ve been doing for the past twenty years.

Trump is like the boss who storms into the shop where everybody’s sitting around smoking cigarettes and talking on the phone. “What are you doing? Get to work! Conserve!" Murray’s the grumbling shop steward fighting the new reality.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


"Scarcity (also called paucity) is the fundamental economic problem of having seemingly unlimited human wants in a world of limited resources. It states that society has insufficient productive resources to fulfill all human wants and needs."

Scarcity is the basis of all economic law. Demand is infinite, supply is finite. Economization is the process of allocating finite supply among infinite demand.

The fictional world of Star Trek has eliminated scarcity. Instead, the citizens of the Federation enjoy Satiety. Everybody has all the air, water, food, shelter, electro-magnetic energy, and medical care they need. The Federation does not issue currency because satiety eliminates the need for monetary pricing to gauge the adequacy of supply or extent of demand. The only economic decision-making left is the purely administrative task of determining where and when to divert the cornucopia of unlimited supply.

Star Trek is fiction of course. Transporters are physically impossible. The replicator is unworkable if not impossible, and accelerating massive objects to the speed of light, or any speed approaching it, is physically impossible.

But short of Star Trek, we seem to be approaching a level of saturation in goods, one of the effects of which is the growing obsolescence of manual labor and human data entry and recordkeeping. (Human auditing and project management is next.) We already divert people into way more schooling than they need, and support a lot of useless sinecures. The retail interface is slowly automating, which is why everybody you deal with as a customer is generally underpaid, overworked, and either incapable of or prohibited from any executive decision-making or creative thought. After the “name-tag jobs” disappear, what then? We will have millions of people with minimal value on the open labor market.

We already grow enough food to throw tons of it away so we aren’t going to let them starve. Productivity gains are gobbling up what would otherwise be manifesting as monetary inflation from all the transfer payments. This process, we are assured by the Austrian school, can only result in a massive crash and contraction of the economy back to the level supported by prior savings. But fiat money has weathered a long series of busts and come back each time. My father reminds me people were saying the same thing about the dollar when he was young.

So what is this undiscovered country in which we find ourselves? Nobody starves to death in the West unless they are overtaken by alcoholism or drug addiction. Even the Third World is finding the resources, either native or imported, to support an unprecedented population boom. This photograph, to me, is iconic:

More computing power than the Space Shuttle in the hands of hunter-gatherers. Please don't take this the wrong way: I do not despise these people or begrudge them a single civilizational good. But they literally evolved to fill a specific biological niche in Central and South America, and now they have iPhones.

I got in a furious debate on Twitter about the elimination of food scarcity. Liberals insist that "food insecurity" stalks the land and haunts the waking hours of millions of Americans. This is of course nonsense to anybody with regular contact with the lumpen prole class. Remember St. Michael the Brown?

Brown weighed 293 pounds when he was shot by Officer Darren Wilson. To maintain that weight, he required 3,700 calories--about seven Quarter Pounders--a day. He was apparently able to satisfy a portion of his caloric needs by vodka punch. Michael Brown, a feral human with no marketable skills, likely qualified as "food insecure." The modern poor indulge in the sins of the Biblical rich.

Has Scarcity been banished for all practical purposes? Are we now at Satiety? We seemingly can afford to pay young women to have children without the bother of selecting a reliable breadwinner. I’m not sure what the young men are doing but, being men, they generally find something.

I got a lot of feedback on this comment at iSteve and the consensus is no, we have not eliminated scarcity. Humans exist in a fallen state, as the Faith teaches. Demand is insatiable, whether you're Michael Brown or any number of real-life wealthy people accruing more money than they know what to do with.

In the hierarchy of needs, we are well beyond the physiological.

So again, what now? And the answer seemingly playing out before us is that we are in the Soft Times of an eternal cycle. We know evolution results from selection pressures of a harsh environment. Remove those pressures, and K-selected peoples indulge in pseudo-struggles like transgender rights and safe spaces and stop having children. R-selected peoples breed to the point of die-back or into squalor and savagery. Soft People make Hard Times which make Hard People who make, in their turn, Soft Times, until extinction or the energy death of the Universe.

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
3 What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.
5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down,
And hastens to the place where it arose.
6 The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.
7 All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again.
8 All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.

--Ecclesiastes 1

Memento mori, to all my good Orthodox and Catholic friends.