I’ve spilled a lot of ink trying to figure out why people hold the political opinions they do–Genetics? Neurology? Game theory?–but maybe it’s just the fact that we’re tribal creatures stuck in a two-party system.
The US is legally set up as a two-party system. Doen’t matter how much you like a third party: our system of counting votes makes it nearly impossible for it to win.
A two-party system means that whatever one party supports, the other party–if it wants to win–opposes. It doesn’t matter what you support. You could be the Cute Puppies and Kittens Party, and your opponents would start writing diatribes about how “cute” puppies and kittens are a serious menace to society. “Millions of babies have been smothered by puppies and kittens!” the headlines would scream. “Why won’t the Cute Puppies and Kittens Party acknowledge the dangers of flea-borne BUBONIC PLAGUE?”
And we, being tribal creatures, believe that it is absolutely critical to support their own tribe against that other, awful evil tribe that is clearly evil because of its obviously EVIL stance on puppies and kittens.
If you don’t want to play this game, then guess what? You aren’t going to win votes.
The Democrats have increasingly focused on race and other identity-politics issues for the past 8 years or so, (culminating in the BLM protests.) The initial Republican strategy (embodied in Hispanic-friendly candidates like Jeb, Cruz, and Rubio) was to try to win by attracting Hispanic voters. But Cubans aside, being the “slightly welcoming to immigrants” party isn’t good enough to woo immigrants away from the “Open borders now” party, and it’s going to alienate all of the voters who are concerned that immigration is too high.
By not opposing the Democrats, Republicans left themselves open to internal sniping: hence Trump’s takeover.
A lot of people blame Trump for the Alt-Right, but the AR existed long before Trump. The AR emerged as a response to the left’s SJW-Identity politics, politics mainstream conservatism had no credible answers to. Trump is simply a product of the same forces.
It’s bad enough when tribal lines are being drawn over puppies and kittens. Throw in actual ethnic and group identities and you are asking for trouble.
Now add to this the fact that democracy is essentially how we are trying to run our country. “Want to get something done? Want to improve your pet issue? Vote!”
We are incentivising people to OPPOSE GOOD IDEAS because if they don’t, someone else who DOES will GET ELECTED INSTEAD.
EvX: Today we have an Anonymous Guest Post on the History of the Russia Conspiracy Hysteria. (Your normally scheduled anthropology will resume next Friday):
2011: Liberals get excited about Arab Spring. They love the idea of overthrowing dictators and replacing governments across the Middle East with democracies. They largely don’t realize that these democracies will be fundamentalist Islamic states.
Note that ISIS is also fighting against Assad, putting the US effectively on the ISIS side here. US support flowed to Syrian rebel forces, which may have included ISIS. ISIS is on the side of democracy and multiculturalism, after all.
Russia, meanwhile, is becoming more of a problem for the US Middle East agenda because of its support for Assad. In 2013, this comes to a head with the alleged Assad chemical weapons attack. Everyone gets very upset about chemical weapons and mad at the Russians for supporting Assad. Many calls for regime change in Syria were made. ISIS is also gaining power, and Russia is intervening directly against them. We can’t have Russia bombing ISIS, can we?
As a result, around 2013 Russia started to gain much more prominence as “our” enemy. This is about when I started to see the “Wikileaks is a Russian operation” and “ZeroHedge is Russian propaganda” memes, although there are archives of this theory from as early as 2011–Streetwise Professor: Peas in a PoD: Occupy, RT, and Zero Hedge.
There is, of course, negligible evidence for either of these theories, but that didn’t stop them from spreading. Many hackers have come from Russia over the years, and Russia was surely happy about many of Wikileaks’ releases, but that does not mean that they’re receiving money or orders from Russia.
In 2014, Russia held the Olympics, and around that time there was a lot of publicity about how Russia does not allow gay marriage. Surely only an evil country could prohibit it. Needless to say, I saw little said about Saudi Arabia’s position on gay marriage.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and sanctions were introduced against Russia. Most likely the annexation was opposed because this would mean that Crimean gays would not be able to get married any time soon.
[EvX: I think Anon is being sarcastic here and does actually understand geostrategy.]
The combination of Russian interference in opposition to ISIS plus the annexation of Crimea was just too much for liberals and cuckservatives still opposed to “Soviet” influence, and various aggressive statements toward Russia began to come from Hillary and members of Congress.
Trump enters the presidential race in 2015, and he wonders why we’re opposing Russian actions against ISIS. Why are we taking agressive stands that could lead to war with Russia? What’s in it for Americans?
Obviously could only mean that Trump was a Russian agent. And who would a Russian agent work with but Russian hackers and the Russian Wikileaks agency?
Wikileaks released the DNC emails in July 2016, and they released the Podesta emails shortly before the election. Since Americans were known to not have any access to any of the leaked information, it could only have come from Russian government hackers.
Liberals have assumed that any contacts between the Trump team and Russian diplomats prior to the election were related to illegal coordination to influence or “hack” the election. Never mind that communication between presidential campaigns and foreign diplomats is not uncommon–CNN Politics: Obama Takes Campaign Trail Overseas.
Following the election, Trump associate Flynn might have said to the Russians that the sanctions could possibly be reexamined at some point, thus obviously severely interfering with US diplomatic relations. Of course this statement has been worthy of an extensive FBI investigation.
Most recently we have the “leak” of classified information from Trump to Russia, in which Trump told the Russians to be on the lookout for ISIS bombs smuggled onto planes in laptops. Apparently this is very bad because it’s important for ISIS to successfully bomb Russian civilian planes if they feel like it.
Let’s sum up this logic:
Russia is bad because they oppose US efforts to install Islamic fundamentalist governments in the Middle East, because they oppose gay marriage, and because taking Crimea is basically the same as Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
Russia is full of hackers. Assange is a Russian agent since he publishes information leaked from the US. Trump is a Russian agent since he opposes war with Russia.
Russians hacked the DNC and Podesta at Trump’s request and gave the information to Wikileaks. Flynn interfered with US diplomacy. Trump is giving US secrets to Russia.
Note the strength of this narrative despite its very flimsy evidence. Investigations into Trump’s “Russian connections” can continue endlessly so long as people believe in them.
As I mentioned yesterday, among many important things, Scott’s post on Cost Disease explains (IMO) the rise of the Alt-Right (VERY broadly defined) and Trump’s victory in a way that I don’t think any mainstream publication can. (Not explicitly, mind.)
“Cost disease” is Scott’s (and others’) term for “things getting more expensive without any increase in quality or quantity.”
Over the past 40 years or so, some of the most expensive–and important–things in life like housing, education, health care, and infrastructure have doubled, tripled, or dectupled in price with very little improvement to show for it (except maybe in healthcare, where we are in fact living longer.)
Getting less bang for your buck is downright frustrating.
Now let’s suppose you’re an American conservative of some stripe. Maybe you think abortion is immoral. It’s been about 40 years since Roe V. Wade, and abortion is still legal. Maybe you’re opposed to gay marriage. Sorry, that horse has left the closet. Did you hope to bring democracy and freedom to the people of Iraq? Yeah… Good luck with that.
Maybe you’d just like to live in a community full of people who share your religious beliefs and cultural norms, like the average person actually did back in 1950 and before. Well, demographics have not been on your side for a long time–not only have whites gone from about 88% of the country to <50% of babies and thus soon a minority overall, but the whole country is becoming increasingly atheistic.
Or perhaps you’d just like to get an entry-level job without going 100k into debt and having your entire paycheck cleaned out by health insurance and rent, in which case you and Scott are on the same page.
So what, exactly, have Republicans been “conserving” all this time? Tax cuts for the wealthy? Hell, they didn’t even succeed at building a democracy in Iraq, and they spent trillions of dollars on it! And that’s our money, not theirs! They killed a bunch of people in the process, too.
Looking back, the two biggest Republican victories (that I can see) in my life time have been “getting tough on crime” and overseeing the Fall of the Soviet Union. That one was basically a coincidence, rather than the results of any specific Reagan/Bush I policies, but they do generally get credit for the Tough on Crime business. Note that this is all stuff that happened in the 80s and early 90s; for the past 20 years
And come this election (2016,) who were they running? JEB BUSH. Yes, little brother of the last Bush. You might as well make his campaign slogan “Just like last time, but with more Mexicans!”
Disclaimer: I understand wanting the Mexican vote. I understand wanting to appeal to Hispanics. They live here, they’re a huge voting block, (most of them are great people,) and I hear they’re not really down with the whole SJW agenda thingie.
But do you know the problem with Bush II?
It was pouring our money into a black hole in Iraq, inflating housing prices, and then crashing the economy. It was the general progression of every single thing outlined above that has made life harder for everyday Americans.
Maybe I’m missing some finer details here, but “not enough Mexicans” was not even remotely on the list of complaints.
The folk running the Republican Party had their heads so far up their asses they thought they could just play demographic games (“It works for the Democrats!”) without offering a plan to actually CONSERVE anything.
Okay, I am pissed that these incompetents have any role in our politics.
I’ve noticed that people tend to be liberal when they’re young and become more conservative as they age, essentially locking in the liberalism of their college years but then erecting barriers against the liberalism of college students a decade younger than themselves. While this is natural and probably sensible in many ways, it leads to certain inconsistencies, like people who champion “women’s lib” but criticize “feminism.” Um. So many of the older conservatives I know basically just want to return to sometime in the late 70s/early 80s–you know, the cusp of the AIDs epidemic, the crack wars, rising crime turning America’s cities into burnt-out shells, etc. Great times!
Some people try to correct for this by invoking their grandarents’ or great-grandparents’ time–as though anyone were actually eager to re-live WW2 and the Great Depression. I don’t know about you, but I hear those times were pretty awful. And if we go back further than that, we start hitting things like “Massive epidemics kill millions of people.”
Simply trying to rewind the clock to some earlier year doesn’t solve today’s problems, but I understand the urge to conserve the things you value and love about your own society, childhood, culture, etc.–and the Neocons/Mainstream Republicans have failed miserably at that.
Trump’s message–and the “alt-right,” broadly–has focused on Law and Order; safety (from Terrorism;) jobs (“it’s the economy, stupid;) Cost Disease (“repeal two regulations for every new one” and “repeal Obamacare;”) and the general preservation of Americans as a people/culture (by limiting immigration, especially from groups that didn’t contribute to America’s founding stock.)
Meanwhile, mainstream Republicans are still kicking and screaming that what the country really needs is more Bush II policies.
This post was inspired primarily by a liberal acquaintance–we’ll call her Juliet.
Since the election, Juliet has been suicidal. I don’t mean she’s actually tried to commit suicide; (suicidal women very rarely actually commit suicide, unlike suicidal men.) I just mean she’s posted a lot of angst-ridden things on the internet about how she wants to die because Trump is going to destroy everything in a giant fireball, and literally the only thing she has left to live for are her 3 dogs and 10 cats.
Juliet is one of those people who thinks that we are one heavy bootstep away from Holocaust 2.0 (despite such a thing never having happened in all of American history,) and that the US was an oppressive, horrible, quasi-genocidal place up until 4-8 years ago. (She’s the same age as me, so she has no youth excuse for not knowing what life was like 10 years ago.)
I think this is a side effect of really buying into the BLM narrative that the police have just been slaughtering black children in the streets and we are finally doing something about it, and the perception that gay people are a much larger % of the population than they actually are and assumption that forbidding gay marriage inconvenienced people far more than it actually did. (Buying the BLM narrative is understandable, I guess, if you aren’t familiar with crime stats.)
Now, I have lived through elections that didn’t go my way. My side has lost, and I have felt quite unhappy. But I have never rioted, set things on fire, or decided that my life is meaningless and begun envying the dead.
So I got thinking: What gives people meaning? Why do many people feel like their lives are meaningless?
Meaning can come from many sources, but (I suspect) we derive it from three main sources:
1. Worthwhile work
1. Worthwhile work is work that is valuable and inherently satisfying. Farmers, for example, do worthwhile work. Worthwhile work creates a direct relationship between a person’s efforts and the food on their table and their physical well-being, where working harder results in a better life for oneself and potentially one’s friends, family, and community.
Marx (who was not entirely wrong about everything) wrote about how modern industrial factories disassociate the worker from the product of his labor. No individual worker creates a single product, and the individual working harder than expected creates no appreciable effect on the end results. Workers have no control over factories, cannot (typically) implement creative ideas that would improve products or production methods, and basically live at the whims of the factory owners and broad economic trends rather than their own efforts.
(There’s a great irony that Marxism, as actually implemented, just scaled all of the problems of the factory up to the level of the whole society, making entire nations miserable.)
From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense that people desire to do things that result in eating and don’t really want to obey others in huge, impersonal systems where their actions don’t have any obvious impact on their personal well-being.
Due to technological changes, most of us have far nicer, healthier, well-fed lives than our ancestors, while simultaneously our jobs have become far less instinctually fulfilling, because we simply don’t need that many people producing food or hand-making clothes and furniture anymore. So few of us–my acquaintance included–are likely to have actually fulfilling work.
2. People live–literally–for their families. Throughout the entirety of human history, almost 100% of people who survived infancy and lived long enough to reproduce and continue the human line were people whose families cared about them and took care of them.
Yes, women post inordinately about their children and grandparents babble on about their “grandbabies,” but this is exactly as it should be; from an evolutionary perspective, your descendents are the most important thing in the world to you. All of our efforts are ultimately aimed at the well-being and survival of our children; indeed, many people would sacrifice their own lives to save their kids.
To give a personal example: having kids (well, one at a time, so kid) was probably the single most significant event in my life. Not just because of the predictable changes (less sleep, more diaper changes,) but also because of the not-subtle at all but somewhat difficult to describe complete and utter re-orienting of my entire “self.”
In real life, I am a very shy, retiring person. A few weeks into kiddo’s life, I became concerned that something was wrong, and at that moment, I knew that nothing and nobody would stop me from getting my child to the doctor. My normally shy, fearful personality was dust before the needs of my child.
People talk about “female empowerment.” This was empowerment.
(Luckily, everything turned out fine–colic is a very common problem and in many cases can be treated, btw.)
Perhaps not surprising, all of the people I know who are distressed because their lives lack meaning also do not have children. Indeed, the person I know who went the furthest down this road was a father whose wife left him and whose small child died, leaving him utterly alone. Without any purpose in his life, he stopped working, stopped interacting with the world, and became homeless: a kind of living death.
The devastation of loneliness is horrible.
And yet, despite living in the richest society in pretty much all of human history, we’ve decided en masse to cut the number of children we have. Gone are the days when children had 7 siblings and 40 cousins who all lived nearby and played together. Gone are the neighborhoods full of happy children who can just walk outside and find a playmate. We moderns are far more likely than our ancestors to have no children, no siblings, no spouse, and to live 3,000 miles away from our own parents.
Juliet, as you may have guessed, does not have any children. (Hence the cats.)
3. The power of religion to bring meaning to people’s lives almost needs no explanation. Religious people are happier, more fulfilled, and live longer, on average, than atheists, despite atheists’ strong concentration among society’s richest and smartest. I’ve even heard that priests/ministers have some of the highest work satisfaction levels–their work is meaningful and pleasant.
In times of suffering, religion provides comfort and soothes distress. It provides the promise that even horrible things are actually part of some grand plan that we don’t understand and that everything will be all right in the end. The idea that death is not permanent, your sins can be forgiven, or that you can influence divine powers to make the world a better place all make people happier.
Now, I am not saying this because I am a religious person who wants you to follow my religion. Like Juliet, I don’t believe in God (though I do believe, metaphorically, in GNON, which does let me attribute some “purpose” to the grand variety I see around me. Things do not always go my way, but unlike Juliet, I live in a world that at least makes sense.)
Work, scaled up, is the business of taming the land, building homes and cities and ultimately a country. Family, scaled up, is the tribe, the clan, and the nation. And religion itself is highly grounded in both land and family.
Juliet, being a very smart, sensible person, (who does not believe in sexist nonsense like evolutionary psychology,) looks at all of the things that give meaning to people’s lives and dismisses them as absurd. Religion is obviously delusional; having children is an inconvenience; and while she’d love a meaningful job if she could get one, these are hard to come by. Having rejected or been denied all of the things that normally give people meaning, she finds that life is meaningless.
We do have one source of meaning left: politics. As Moldbug famously noted, liberalism is neo-Puritanism is the religion of America, simply shorn of that Constitutionally inconvenient “God” business.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
With nothing else to provide meaning to their lives, not even the mild nationalism of thinking their own country/society a generally nice place, lonely atheists with empty jobs have turned to politics to fill the void. If they can save the whales, or the refugees, or the gay people, then they will have achieved meaning. In reality, this dedication is often quite shallow, a fly-by-night concern with the lives of strangers that lasts until the next pressing hashtag pops up.
It’s as though the desire to care for one’s family does not dissipate simply because one is barren, but instead gets transferred to strangers (or animals) who are unlikely to return the favor.
I mean, take another look at that poem, which I’ve seen about a dozen SJWs post. How many of these women are going to have even one child, much less an army of them (mixed race or not)? How many of these women are already married and are effectively declaring that they intend to betray their own husbands? How many of them could, after having babies with a dozen different men, afford to raise and care for them by themselves, without depending on the horrible, Trump-run white-supremecist state for help? (Suing men for child support is depending on the state.)
No. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people posting the poem have no intention of acting on it. Someone else can do the actual work of making babies and raising the next generation of social warriors.
Juliet’s suicidality stems from the fact that she cannot achieve meaningful political change (or even just attach herself symbolically to it) because she lives in a democracy where the majority of people can just vote to do something else. Everything she has worked for, her entire identity as a “good person,” everything that provides meaning in her life has been destroyed just because some guys in Ohio are concerned about feeding their families.
This post is over, but I want to add a post script: Juliet is not even remotely Jewish. Her family is not Jewish; she has no Jewish ancestors; she has no connection to Israel. People blame a lot of stuff on Jews that I see Gentile women also doing, while plenty of religious Jews are perfectly sane people. The meaning deficit affects people of every religions/ethnic background.
This article was going to be about all of the college students weeping, coloring, and playing with play-doh in the wake of the election, but then I found Dean Faust basically reiterating the whole Cathedral ideology and decided that would be much more interesting.
After all, while the whole infantile thing is interesting in a train wreck kind of way, I extend students a certain leeway to be dumb. They’re barely out of highschool, enclosed in an ideological bubble, and just starting to get their bearings in this world. I, too, said (did, believed) a lot of dumb things at that stage, and I’m glad most of my friends and family just ignored it.
But I expect a lot more of fully-grown adults who’ve been out of college for many years and ought to know better.
In one such letter, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said the university would protect its undocumented immigrant students “to the maximum extent that the law allows …. For example, we do not disclose private information about our students, faculty or staff to law enforcement officers unless we are presented with a subpoena or comparably binding requirement.” …
Reed President John R. Kroger wrote, “Reed will not assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the investigation of the immigration status of our students, staff or faculty absent a direct court order,” while Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth wrote that the institution “will not voluntarily assist in any efforts by the federal government to deport our students, faculty or staff solely because of their citizenship status.”
Similarly, Portland State University President Wim Wiewel wrote that the university “will not facilitate or consent to immigration enforcement activities on our campus unless legally compelled to do so or in the event of clear exigent circumstances such as an imminent risk to the health or safety of others” and that it “will not share confidential student information, such as immigration status, with the federal government unless required by court order.” …
At Vanderbilt University, the student government on Wednesday voted 26 to one, with one abstention, in favor of a resolution calling on the university to become a sanctuary campus. The day before, Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos had issued a letter addressing the sanctuary campus call.
“We do not have the option of refusing to follow the law, but I want to emphasize that we are not a law enforcement agency. [bold mine] We are a university,” Zeppos wrote. “We are served by Vanderbilt University Police Department, and no VUPD officer is permitted to undertake an inquiry into the citizenship or immigration status of our students or others on our campus. We do not routinely release to the public or to public officials any citizenship or immigration information that may be in our possession, unless compelled to do so by law.”
I’d be more sympathetic to this position if these same universities weren’t simultaneously prosecuting criminal charges against accused students accused of rape. If universities aren’t law enforcement agencies, then young women who bring rape charges against their classmates should be politely told that they need to take the matter up with the police, not the university.
For that matter, my local HOA feels compelled to enforce city parking regulations even though they are not the police. People pick and chose the laws they want to enforce.
If a university knew one of their students had committed murder or mugged people, the university would recognize these as crimes and turn the student over to the police. But universities that know some of their students are living illegally in the US are publicly stating that they have no intention of reporting their crimes.
Meanwhile, President Faust of Harvard University has something to say:
Since we last met, the United States has chosen a new president. A number of the views articulated and policies proposed in the course of the campaign and the ensuing weeks pose significant challenges for Harvard and its most deeply held commitments.
Of course Faust does not consider the idea that some members of the Harvard community might agree with Trump, nor does she articulate what exactly Harvard’s commitments are, if not to the education and well-being of Americans?
At the same time, eruptions of frightening expressions of hatred, bias, and violence have targeted members of our own community as well as thousands more across the country.
Oh, like when a Somali “refugee” ran over people with his car and then went on a machete-chopping rampage against his classmates at Ohio State University? That kind of hatred and violence?
But Monday’s incident is just the latest in a string of incidents in which some migrants in the community went rogue and unleashed violent attacks and even planned terrorist plots.
Back in Feburary, a Middle-Eastern restaurant in Columbus was the scene of a frightening machete attack that left four people wounded and the attacker killed.
Nazareth Restaurant and Deli owner Hani Baransi told Foxnews.com in May that he thought he and his establishment were targeted by a Muslim man with a Somali background because he was from Israel and adorned his establishment with the Jewish State’s flag.
UPDATE, 10 November, 5.22pm — A Louisana college student admitted she made up reports of being attacked by two men, one she said was wearing a Donald Trump hat.
The Lafayette Police department say they are no longer investigating her claims. The University of Louisiana would not disclose whether they were taking disciplinary action against the student, citing federal law prohibition.
It’s bad enough when students lie, but small children who still use play-doh and coloring books can’t be expected to have fully developed moral compasses. Dean Faust, however, is presumably an adult, and should therefore feel some sense of shame at spreading deception.
I want to say a few words today about how the University is responding to these new realities and to reaffirm our essential values and responsibilities as an academic institution in these unsettling times. I have distributed two messages—on November 15 and 28 [both appear below]—designed to begin to address some of these questions. The most recent message considered the possibility of more aggressive enforcement of federal immigration laws and detailed the heightened support and protection we are offering students, faculty and staff. I urge you to read those communications if you have not already. As an early and fervent public supporter of the DREAM Act, I feel particular concern about our undocumented students and as an update to my letter last week, I want to report that I have been in contact over the past few days with legal advisors, with members of Congress and individuals in the Executive Branch on behalf of these vulnerable members of our community. Our support for them is strong and unequivocal.
At no point does Faust mention responsibilities or concerns for students who have, you know, bothered to actually follow the laws of their host country, or actual American students who might have gotten a place at Harvard had they not accepted illegal aliens instead.
Does Harvard feel any responsibility at all toward the country it is actually located in?
Other measures and policies under discussion concern us as well. The resources provided for research through agencies like NIH [the National Institutes of Health] and NSF [the National Science Foundation] are critical to Harvard. Last year, we received $597 million in federal funding for research. We will be very focused on making the case for continuing and indeed increasing resources for research with those likely to influence policy in Washington.
Hey, Faust, maybe you should go begging for money to the countries your students are actually from, rather than the government whose laws you are openly flouting? Why should taxpayers in Kentucky send money to a school that will hand it over to citizens of a foreign nation?
Now, you might be thinking, hey, anyone who can get into Harvard is probably a smart person who can contribute to the US by curing cancer, inventing quantum computers, or something else worthwhile. This is probably true. These Harvard students are most likely upstanding folks who forgot to fill out all of their annoying immigration paperwork rather than devious criminals sneaking across the border to sell heroin.
These students, who have access to all of Harvard’s considerable clout and legal expertise, will in all likelihood get their paperwork sorted out and be allowed to stay. They are neither the primary targets of Americans’ ire against illegal immigrants nor likely suffer greatly as a result. (And if they aren’t allowed to stay, they will still likely succeed back in their home countries, because these are extremely bright, motivated, hard-working people.)
But back to Faust:
We are committed to attracting the most talented students and faculty from across the world. This means that immigration policies have a direct effect on our fundamental purposes, and we will work to ensure that Harvard remains an attractive—and available—destination for scholars near and far.
As additional policy proposals emerge relevant to Harvard’s research and teaching mission, we will be engaged in representing the interests of the University and the members of its community.
Note “from across the world,” not “from the US.” Harvard’s “fundamental purposes” have nothing to do, in Faust’s equation, with making Harvard attractive and available to Americans, the same people whose tax dollars she wants to support the university! Harvard is a global institution with global interests, but it only seems to want money from American taxpayers.
An early twentieth-century civil rights activist named Nannie Helen Burroughs once remarked that education is “democracy’s life insurance.” … I would like us to think in these times about our responsibilities as a university to serve democracy by striving to be a kind of life insurance. There is of course the sense that I think Burroughs meant—by educating students with critical minds, discerning judgment, broad understanding, and respect for their fellow citizens and for the rule of law.
But our responsibility is not just for the students we send into the world.
Ah, but Dean Faust, you must realize that “the world” is not a democracy. It is not even a country. It is many countries, some democracies, others not. Your students cannot support a system that does not exist in the place they are going.
I would say that Faust is simply confused–she does not realize that there is a difference between “America” and “the world”–except that I do not believe this at all. I think Dean Faust is being completely honest with us: Harvard’s purpose is not to educate Americans or support America, but to look out for Harvard, to grow Harvard’s brand by attracting future global elites and use them to spread Harvard’s ideology to the rest of the globe.
Veritas is our motto, yet we find ourselves in a time where truth and facts seem hardly to matter. We must uphold and make the case for the commitment to reason, truth and the power of knowledge. We must be unwavering in the rigor with which we pursue new insights and test our hypotheses, and we must be open to the kind of debate, difference and variety of viewpoints that can change and strengthen ideas.
To create a community in which individuals dare to debate and disagree we must also build an environment of belonging and mutual respect. As a time when we read about—indeed witness—escalating incidents of hatred and violence—ethnic, religious, racial and political—we need to insist on a different way of being together.
Faust shows no awareness of or sensitivities to the problems of people who aren’t privileged members of one of the world’s most elite universities. No awareness of rising death rates for white Americans, declining wages, or the ravages of the heroin epidemic. She knows nothing about communities ravaged by crime or American workers laid off en mass in favor of foreign replacements.
More now than ever, we must advance our aspiration to be a place where every member of our community, regardless of race, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation, can thrive by having the full opportunity to engage in all that Harvard offers.
(But not belief or ideology. Certainly Harvard should not be a safe place for the 50% of the country that supports Trump.)
These efforts take on a deeper significance for those members of our community who have been specially burdened by the troubling rhetoric and events of recent months—Muslims, immigrants, ethnic minorities among them. We must live our values and demonstrate what it means to be a community enriched not embattled by difference and diversity.
When I visited South Africa in 2009, I was struck by how everyone I met in that fledgling democracy felt a kind of urgency about the nation’s future trajectory as well as a sense that what each individual did had direct implications not just for its success but for its very survival. Nothing seemed assured. In contrast, I thought to myself, we Americans seemed to take our government and political order for granted. This is a time of profound change in America, a time when we are called on to abandon such complacency. I have enormous faith in all of you and in Harvard as an institution to rise to that challenge.
Hello, everyone! Today we have a guest post, How the Winds Change, about social signaling, the Federal Government, the Cathedral, and Title IX–and how these things may change:
After the election we’ve seen a lot of liberals express the fear that LGBTQ people and Muslims and other minorities will be rounded up and become victim to horrible things, as this blog has noted. It’s kind of a weird paranoia. Even if Trump was as evil as they say, liberals still have a solid 47% of the populace opposed to him – even up to 90% in their cities. How would you get the people on board with stigmatizing minorities when so, so many people oppose it? In order to enact this sort of draconian social change, you’d really need the masses to buy into it.
I think this fear comes from social justice advocates realizing, somewhere deep down, that their hold on the Cathedral is in some ways quite tenuous. There are a lot of true believers, but there are even more people just along for the ride, who see the best way to get status is to play along with progressive orthodoxy. If the best way to get status and to protect your position becomes “follow the Trump party line,” then those activists currently in the vanguard could find themselves losing a lot of their influence.
The government can do that. Usually in the culture wars the government is a passive beast, something to be fought over and not really a driver of people’s opinions. This is particularly true in liberal democracy, which used to be one of the best things about the US democracy. But, the government has a lot of money, and a lot of power, and if it wants to start really, seriously swaying the elites, status-seeking people will follow it.
Here’s an example. How many of you have heard of the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights? Not many of you probably, as it’s a fairly small office. It’s headed by the Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. No one famous, not someone you see in endless clickbait articles or cable news debates. She doesn’t even have her own Wikipedia page! She’s just in charge of making sure that schools that receive federal funds (mostly universities) are in compliance with civil rights laws.
But with this administration, the Assistant Secretary of this office cares a lot about progressive social change. And she believes very strongly that sexual assault in our culture is a major problem, and she wants to raise awareness of it (backed by a White House Task Force) . This is no grand conspiracy, this is one person caring about a cause a lot, with only a little bit of federal power behind them, all out in the open.
Now, if found in violation of their civil rights requirements, a university could lose Title IX funding, which is a lot of money. But that sort of hammer can only be used so much, and it’s not even clear how you could prove harassment on campus was the fault of the university in such an investigation.
There is no way that the federal government could pull Title IX funding from 55 major institutions. As a whole the threat was entirely a paper tiger. But whooo boy, no university wants to be on that List. No admissions counselor wants to explain to student’s parents what that List means. No fundraising officer wants to explain to alumni why they are on this List of schools under investigation, before asking them for five figure donations.
So the school does everything they can to comply with the OCR, and make clear they are on the right side of history. In practice, this means putting the rights of the accused last, the rights of the victim second, and the interests of the OCR first. It also means a lot of campus publicity that isn’t shown to reduce sexual assault, but looks like they are doing something.
You may have noticed that within feminism, the problem of “sexual assault on college campuses” has received a ton of attention. Part of the reason for that is universities falling over themselves to appease this office with its vague requirements. As the old saying goes “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
That’s the system. The government vaguely threatens people who get a lot of money from them. Those people with a lot of money jump in line. Other elites look to the people with money as sources of moral authority and take their cues from them. And the masses worry about what the elites are chattering about so much. This is pretty much the definition of the Cathedral after all.
Ordinarily the US government isn’t very involved in the culture wars, so the cultural opinions of the elite are unlikely to turn on a dime. But as we’ve seen, with some issues the federal government does get involved. And I think a lot of the social justice fear is that a Trump administration will get much more actively involved in trying to sway opinion on his issues.
First of all, they’ll stop doing what the current OCR is doing. They may even do the reverse, and starting making a list of schools who they think have been too hard on defendants. Then other bureaucrats in their various niches can begin pursuing investigations designed to “raise awareness” of their pet issue. And before you know it, all the high status intellectuals in your society are apologizing for their past stances and trying to sound like they agreed with Donald Trump all along.
It’s a pretty frightening image, and a good wake up call to just how much power the government has to bend the course of our moral culture when it wants to. No political group on either side should be comfortable with this.
I am still trying to process the election, so thinking out loud. I wrote some stuff last night, then deleted it on the grounds that my 3 AM ramblings maybe aren’t the best. So trying again…
Most of the liberals I know fall into one of two categories: The SJW True Believers, and the Principled Pragmatists.
The SJWs are basically everything you expect out of SJWs–annying, self-righteous, and they blame everything on the cis-heter0-white-patriarchy. They call everything “problematic” or “racist” and basically sound like Tim Wise all the time. Most of them strike me as aggressive assholes who’ve found a new way to show their superiority, but a few are quite sincere and really do make sacrifices to help others.
The Principled Pragmatists are more like your old school liberals from 1995. They hold to values like freedom of speech and equality of opportunity, favored free trade, and if they thought about Muslims, their primary concern wasn’t Islamaphobia but female oppression. Most of the PPs share the SJWs’ concern for helping others, but are a lot less annoying about it (and thus come across as more sincere.) Many admit that the SJWs are unpleasant, if not actually nuts, but they also recite a lot of SJW talking points, because these days, SJWs dominate the left’s memetic constructions (and I’m not talking about funny pictures people share on the internet.)
Slate Star Codex is a good example of a Principled Pragmatist. He is pro-trans, pro-gay, polyamorous, votes Democrat, and as far as I can tell, donates lots of money to African charities, but he gets a lot of flak for saying that he thinks SJWs are mean to people. (Somehow people mistake “Please be nicer to people” for “Right-wing zealot!”)
It’s no brain surgery, but the media have long failed to provide a clear credible answer. They are unable to come up with an answer or don’t like the answer that’s staring them in the face. The main reason behind successful immigration should be painfully obvious to even the most dimwitted of observers: Some groups of people are almost always highly successful given only half a chance (Jews*, Hindus/Sikhs and Chinese people, for example), while others (Muslims, blacks** and Roma***, for instance) fare badly almost irrespective of circumstances.”
The “Multikultistan” email is also interesting; I urge you to read it if you haven’t yet.
Many of the Principled Pragmatists I know personally admit, at least in private, to agreeing with much of this. Unlike the SJWs, they have no illusions that Muslims are pro-gay or pro-feminist. They are aware that blacks commit a disproportionate amount of crime and that Affirmative Action exists because they don’t score very well on SATs. (SJWs, by contrast, will threaten to send you to the gulag for suggesting that blacks and whites score differently.) They also know that Jews and Asians regularly out perform whites on various tests and make more money.
There’s a rather similar situation in religion (and, yes, I know liberalism functions like religious belief,) as I touched on way back in A Complicating Wrinkle of Uncomplicating Insight. Mainline and moderate Protestants tend to regard Christianity as largely metaphorical, but containing some sort of important truth. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, by contrast, tend to be very literal. They believe in a literal Hell, a literal Devil, that Jesus is actually God-son-of-God made flesh, that God took 6 days to make the world, etc. The Evangelicals are more fervent in their belief than the moderates, and the moderates think the Evangelicals are a little nuts, but they’re still both Christians, and push come to shove, they tend to support each other. (Moderates who have actually become SJWs don’t count.)
Hillary Clinton likes to talk about SJW-buzzwords like “intersectionality,” “structural racism” and the importance of “implicit bias training” for police officers. But Hillary doesn’t need to invoke pseudo-scientific balderdash to explain why so many black men are in prison: her husband put them there, a move she supported them with her famous “superpredators” speech back in 1994.
In 1994, Hillary knew that inner-city ghettos were full of drugs, crime, and violence, and supported white police officers doing something about it, but when Donald Trump said the same thing, she called him “ignorant.”
Any rational person can evaluate the data on police shootings and conclude that high rates of interaction between blacks and the police probably have more to do with high black crime rates than implicit police bias. Hillary certainly knows this, which is why she doesn’t live in a poor, black neighborhood, even though she could save a bundle on housing cost that way.
So if they don’t believe it, what is, really, all the fuss about? The biggest thing motivating Trump’s voters are 1. Opposition to mass immigration, (especially Muslim) and 2. the conviction that libs don’t like them. On point 1, I’m pretty sure libs can at least understand the argument that increasing the labor pool lowers wages. Even if they think the argument is wrong, it’s hard to fault someone for believing it. (And they know that Muslims tend to be pretty socially conservative.) On point 2., well, it’s really hard to miss the disdain Hillary shows toward her “basket of deplorables.” Conservatives are fairly regularly told that they are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamaphobic, irredeemable, “not even American,” or otherwise downright evil. It gets a little old.
Obviously democracy itself (and our specific variety of it) is to blame for the left-right split into two different tribes duking it out and trying to obliterate each other at the ballot box, but still… what’s the point of it all?
I’ll have probably sorted some of this out by the time this posts.
The anti-Trump riots/protests going on right now seem at first glance, to be highly counter-productive: most of the rioters live in highly liberal areas, so the majority of people they intimidate, assault, or rob are not Trump supporters, but actually on their own side.
Remember when a black cop shot a black criminal and blacks rioted, looting their own stores, and the criminal’s sister scolded them, telling them to “take that shit to the suburbs” because “we need our weaves!”?
Or when the citizens of Detroit rioted, burning down 2,000 buildings, thus driving out small businesses and the entire middle class base and sending the city into an economic death spiral?
Just as when watching small children run and scream on the playground, I am reminded here of Jane Goodall’s descriptions of chimpanzees, especially their dominance displays. Here is an account of one that went awry:
Just then Flint, six months older than Goblin, came bouncing up and the two children began to play, both showing their lower teeth in the chimpanzee’s playful smile. Flo was reclining nearby grooming Figan; Goblin’s mother, Melissa, was a little farther away, also grooming. It was so peaceful…. All at once a series of pant-hoots announced the arrival of more chimpanzees, and there was instant commotion in the group. Flint pulled away from the game and hurried to jump onto Flo’s back as she moved for safety halfway up a palm tree. I saw Mike with his hair on end beginning to hoot; I knew he was about to display. So did the other chimpanzees of his group–all were alert, prepared to dash out of the way or to join in the displaying. All, that is, save Goblin. He seemed totally unconcerned and, incredibly, began to totter toward Mike. Melissa, squeaking with fear, was hurrying toward her son, but she was too late. Mike began his charge, and as he passed Goblin seized him up as though he were a branch and dragged him along the ground.
Since you don’t have the benefit of having the entire book in front of you, I’ll explain what’s going on, just in case you’re confused: when two groups of chimps meet, or a male chimp enters a group of other chimps, it’s very normal for the males to engage in dominance displays (or just “display,” as Jane puts it.) These displays are aggressive and involve a lot of running around, waving and shaking branches at each other, and making noise, but don’t generally involve actual violence. By making it clear which chimp is the strongest, weaker chimps simply back down without getting into an actual fight.
When the males are about to display, all of the females, being smaller and weaker, grab their kids and get out of the way. Chimpanzee aggression is not normally aimed at chimpanzee children, who of course are helpless against a full-grown male. However, in this case, little Goblin didn’t realize what was going on, and Mike, in his all-consuming rage at the newcomers, didn’t realize that he had grabbed Goblin instead of a tree branch.
An then the normally fearful, cautious Melissa, frantic for her child, hurled herself at Mike. It was unprecedented behavior, and she got severely beaten up for her interference, but she did succeed in rescuing Goblin–the infant lay, pressed close to the ground and screaming, where the dominant male had dropped him. Even before Mike had ceased his attack on Melissa the old male Huxley had seized Goblin from the ground. I felt sure he too was going to display with the infant, but he remained quite still, holding the child and staring down at him almost, it seemed in bewilderment. Then as Melissa, screaming and bleeding, escaped from Mike, Huxley set the infant on the ground. As his mother hurried up to him Goblin leaped into her arms…
Normally, small infants are shown almost unlimited tolerance from all other members of the community; it almost seem as though the adult male may lose many of his social inhibitions during his charging display.”
Note that Mike is not normally aggressive toward infants–at another time, when Goblin got lost, Mike actually rescued him and stayed with him until Melissa returned for him. Chimps don’t really pair bond and so they don’t have “fathers” who care for their young the way their mothers do, devotedly, for years, but all of the males in a troop are likely to be related to the young in the troop in some manner, either as brothers or uncles or cousins or fathers, and so quite sensibly they do not generally try to kill their own relatives.
Mike’s urge to display in front of these newcomers was so strong that it completely overwhelmed his normal senses. The aggressive instinct is no mere luxury–showing that he is stronger than the other chimps is how Mike keeps his own troop safe.
There is a saying that “Democracy is war by other means.” The two sides line up, count their troops, and declares the side with more soldiers the winner.
Well, Hillary Clinton’s soldiers have refused to accept the headcount. They refuse to accept their new alpha chimp, and they are out there, rioting, protesting, displaying their strength. It doesn’t matter whether they display by grabbing a branch, an infant, or a smashed window. It doesn’t matter if they loot their own neighborhoods and light their own cars on fire. The message is still the same: We are Strong. We are violent. Don’t fuck with us.
The two [groups] had previously been a single, unified community, but by 1974 researcher Jane Goodall, who was observing the community, first noticed the chimps dividing themselves into northern and southern sub-groups. …
The Kahama group, in the south, consisted of six adult males (among them the chimpanzees known to Goodall as “Hugh”, “Charlie”, and “Goliath”), three adult females and their young, and an adolescent male (known as “Sniff”). The larger Kasakela group, meanwhile, consisted of twelve adult females and their young, and eight adult males. …
The first outbreak of violence occurred on January 7, 1974, when a party of six adult Kasakela males attacked and killed “Godi”, a young Kahama male …
Over the next four years, all six of the adult male members of the Kahama were killed by the Kasakela males. Of the females from Kahama, one was killed, two went missing, and three were beaten and kidnapped by the Kasakela males. The Kasakela then succeeded in taking over the Kahama’s former territory.
I have the luxury of reading this account after already hearing, at least vaguely, that chimps wage war on each other. To Jane–despite having observed chimpanzee belligerence for years–it came as a surprise:
The outbreak of the war came as a disturbing shock to Goodall, who had previously considered chimpanzees to be, although similar to human beings, “rather ‘nicer’” in their behavior. Coupled with the observation in 1975 of cannibalistic infanticide by a high-ranking female in the community, the violence of the Gombe war first revealed to Goodall the “dark side” of chimpanzee behavior. She was profoundly disturbed by this revelation; in her memoir Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe, she wrote:
“For several years I struggled to come to terms with this new knowledge. Often when I woke in the night, horrific pictures sprang unbidden to my mind—Satan [one of the apes], cupping his hand below Sniff’s chin to drink the blood that welled from a great wound on his face; old Rodolf, usually so benign, standing upright to hurl a four-pound rock at Godi’s prostrate body; Jomeo tearing a strip of skin from Dé’s thigh; Figan, charging and hitting, again and again, the stricken, quivering body of Goliath, one of his childhood heroes. ”
It is worrying indeed that we have drifted so far apart that liberals are violently displaying against conservatives, treating them like an entirely separate tribe to be beaten, dismembered, and destroyed.
And especially foolish since conservatives have the vast majority of guns and ammunition.
Those of you who remember history may recall that the South used to vote solidly Democrat. FDR and his ilk represented an alliance of poor southern farmers and norther factory workers against rich capitalists. This was the triumph of American socialism, the proletariat united against the bourgeois.
This worked until LBJ, with the Civil Rights act and Immigration Act. After LBJ, southern whites began voting Republican. Democrats haven’t gotten a majority of the white vote since LBJ. Republicans became an alliance of rural, poor, morally-oriented Christians and rich, war-mongering assholes like George W. Bush. Dems have often questioned this coalition.
Dems have been an alliance of working-class unions, college-educated, and minorities.
Trump captured the Dem’s working-class whites, who have felt increasingly alienated in a party that has been focusing on “white privilege” to the exclusion of “poor people’s economic problems.”
Whites are a steadily decreasing % of the population, and they’ll be a minority first in the Democratic party. Traditional white union concerns, exemplified by Sanders, lost out to racial politics, exemplified by Hillary’s “If we took down the banks, it still wouldn’t end systemic racism,” speech.
Trump didn’t capture a significantly larger share of the white vote than Romney did, and Romeny lost. He did snag disaffected white-collar voters in swing states who had previously voted for Obama. He simultaneously lost well-off whites, like the entire neocon establishment.
Hillary couldn’t drive turnout the way Obama did because she isn’t black or POC, and her party’s strength is now dependent on getting out the non-white vote. The Dems are increasingly, like South Africa, a party where the leaders are an ethnic minority with little legitimacy in the eyes of their base. Dems need candidates who energize their base to get the turnout they need.
(Funny that when Christian whites vote in favor of Christianity and we end up destroying Iraq, that’s sort of okay, but when poor whites vote in favor of their economic interests, that’s suddenly “racist” and people are protesting in the streets.)
Hillary lost twice now (to Obama in ’08 and Trump in ’16,) not because Americans are sexist, but because she is white.
Trump has re-forged the old Democratic alliance of FDR, and he’s done it in the ruins of the Republican party.