Woketianity

Scott’s recent post, Gay Rites are Civil Rites, helped a lot of different threads I’ve had bouncing around cohere into a manageable whole:

  1. Civil religion is religion, it just doesn’t have the god part
  2. Our civil religion is Woketianity
  3. Civil religion exists to justify the rule of the upper class
  4. It does so by claiming to care about the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, etc
  5. But of course never in a way that would challenge the rule of the upper class

This explains a few things, like

  1. why SJW pile-ons and their approach to social relations look like cult behavior (because they literally are),
  2. why the entire society has suddenly come out in support of Pride Month (because this is the new chief rite of the civil religion),
  3. why companies like Goldman Sachs are making an effort to be publicly associated with Pride Month (to justify their egregious money piles via Woketianity),
  4. Why so many Woke pile-ons actually target poor and powerless people, like shop keepers and janitors (because they did not serve the Elite Wokeist with sufficient defference)
  5. and why so little of this Woketianity involves things that actually improve the lives of poor people (because that’s not the point).

If some poor people do better because of Woke policies, Wokeists won’t be disturbed, but the primary purpose of their beliefs is to justify their position in the ruling class.

Woketianity can be seen as a heretical co-option of whatever ideas people originally had about helping the poor and downtrodden.

Memes can be roughly divided into two forms–those that spread horizontally, (ie, across society) like viruses, and those that are transmitted vertically (ie, from your ancestors), like mitochondria. Mitochondrial memes tend to promote your health and well-being, because if they didn’t, your ancestors’ children would have died and never made you. Brushing your teeth is a mitochondrial meme, most likely taught by you to your parents in order to improve your chances of not dying of tooth decay. Viral memes do not need to improve your health to spread; in the short term, at least, they only need to spread faster than people die from them.

Woketianity is a viral meme, and in the minds of anyone not in the elite, it is functionally a parasite, convincing them to accept elite rule on the grounds that it is “good for the oppressed.”

There are three responses to the Woke argument for supporting the elites to help the oppressed:

  1. “I don’t care about the oppressed.”
  2. “Your proposal doesn’t actually help the oppressed.”
  3. “Fuck you, you hypocritical grifter.”

Option two has the most potential for turning into quicksand, since even if you happen to be correct on some particular issue, you are arguing against people who are trying to raise their social status by holding the Right Sort of Views, not actually deal with icky poor people.

If you actually want to help the poor and/or oppressed, the Woke are good targets for funds, but don’t expect them to come up with good ideas. They have no idea what it’s like to be a teenage runaway, homeless, ugly, crippled, or hopeless, so if anything, you will have to prevent them from instituting bad ideas that actually harm the people they want to think they are helping.

You’d like an example? Okay, here’s one:

IQ tests are actually the only reliable way we have right now of identifying bright kids who come from underprivileged backgrounds. Anyone trying to do away with IQ tests is not interested in helping poor students.

If you want to actually do good:

  1. Be sincere.
  2. Be realistic.
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Guest Post: Ethnography of the SWPL, pt. 2

Note: today we have a guest post, courtesy of Monsieur le Baron. I hope you enjoy it.

Welcome back. I’m happy to be here with another guest post.

Last time, we discussed the strange creature known as the Bobo. But not all SWPLs are rich. Many are, in fact, quite poor. What of these… SWProles? Today, we’ll be covering the Theory of the Aspirational Class, walking through some musings, and making some conclusions.

First, to explain terms. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the author’s analysis. They have a tendency to lump both Bobo and SWProle together into one homogeneous SWPL group, which they call “elite” or the Aspirational Class. I don’t think this is necessarily a valid leap – while it does capture some essential cultural similarities, the defining aspect of the SWProle WITH RELATION TO their more affluent brethren is their total lack of power or money – their lack of eliteness. Nor is “Aspirational Class” really totally valid for the whole class. I am the most aspirational of my cohort, but this is not held up as a virtue – I’m a dirty “striver” (although I must fall upon a phrase oft shared with my Russian friends: “A shark swims or it suffocates.”). And even this striving is not nearly at the scale of the SWProles. I want for very little, mostly some more money so I can sustain a lifestyle of truly excessive and vulgar spending, and obviously power and a spot in the upper class. I dream of one day exclusively shopping at Whole Foods while beginning every morning with avocado toast.

From the Theory of the Aspirational Class:

Today’s aspirational class lacks such self-consciousness, and many members lack bobos’ financial means. The aspirational class is motivated by self-confident values and is actively choosing its way of life through an extensive process of information gathering and forming opinions and values, some of which involve money but many of which rest on cultural capital instead.”

Yes, money! A lot of goddamn money. A friend of mine trawls Dave Ramsay and other finance story places, and one couple, who made only about $150,000 a year, managed to get half a million dollars in debt financing their dissolute Whole Foods eating crunchy lifestyle. Unbelievable. An asparagus water here, a sushi roll there, and now you’re talking about real money. We live in a society obsessed with luxury and flash.

Which brings me to my second disagreement. The good doctor divides spending into conspicuous, inconspicuous, and other. But what she calls “inconspicuous” spending is not meant to be inconspicuous at all, but is merely a new form of status signaling. Instead, they could be called “Traditional” and “Modern”, or, even more aptly, “Tasteless” and “Stuff White People Like”.

But I still find it admirable for an academic to gather so much data. Most analyses are equally flawed and rely wholly on anecdote. This one has data. Lots of data. And the gathering of data is an inherently worthy goal. Without further ado, let’s begin.

To my chagrin, I often encounter the belief that rich people love to buy what one might call “expensive bullshit”. I call this a sort of “reality TV” or “Wolf of Wall Street” syndrome. It’s like Instagram reality, but for money. Many people spread this bullshit while few have an interest in debunking it. It allows buyers of dumb branded clothing to think they’re impressing others with a genuine status symbol. Makers of said dumb branded clothing obviously benefit. And the real upper castes benefit by obfuscating true class markers. But still, people should be able to figure this out. And especially those who keep abreast of these things.

Here’s a chart.

Screenshot_20181208-161200_Amazon Kindle

The short answer to the question of traditional (aka garish) status signaling and elites is “no”. The long answer is “nooooooooo”.

Screenshot_20181208-161247_Amazon Kindle

The more educated you are, the more you buy SWPL things. Also, the more you have to status signal in general. This is significant and we’ll return to it later.

Screenshot_20181208-161307_Amazon Kindle

The bigger the metro, the showier people get. People are least showy in that old stronghold of status, the Northeast. This means something too.

Screenshot_20181208-161217_Amazon Kindle

The older people get, the less they signal.

We’re getting there.

Let’s draw a graph.

In one corner, you have your classic prole. They have no culture and they have no elite competence or power. You know them! You love them! They’re classic proles. On the other end, we have people with lots of sociocultural status and power. They’re Bobos. They’re the reigning heavyweights of USG and the FEDGOV empire. They’ve got the aristocratic traditions, the power, the money, the institutions, the everything that matters.

But wait, this leaves two empty sectors. Ah, exactly. This is the explanation for Schrodinger’s SWPL, the fine fellow on stuffwhitepeoplelike which flips between self-confident, affluent elite, and nervous, anxious faker who only pretends to like classical music and can only speak English by the entry. Viewed solely through culture, as stuffwhitepeoplelike does and as Theory of the Aspirational Class does, one cannot properly distinguish the two. That’s because the difference between a mere aspirant and a true blue aristocrat is actual power.

So what is the SWProle doing then? The act of performing elite class culture is an act of self-affirmation, of belonging. By performing elite culture, they are making a symbolic claim to being elite. Of course, this claim is frequently challenged by a hostile society – I call this challenge of reality. In reality, they are not elite in any real sense of the word, and, indeed, can barely afford coffee without spiraling into debt. Only through constant and continuous signaling can they distinguish themselves from the proles they basically are. And how does one signal? Luxuries. Lots and lots of luxuries. Why do millennials spend so much of their income on luxury goods? Because so many millennials are educated, education is participation in a literal surviving organ of the Ancien Regime, and therefore it invites the young graduate to buy lots of luxuries to assert their new elite status (and, as seen in a previous chart, many take this invitation).

What happens when something threatens to pop this comfortable delusion bubble?

The rage of the almost elite

Who rages the most against the proles?

“Orwell goes on to point out that it is the anxious lower-upper-middle-class who have the most venom towards those below them–precisely because to preserve their status, they have to keep themselves sharply apart from the workers and tradesmen.  And I think that that does apply here as well, at least to some extent. One of the interesting things about going back to my business school reunion earlier in the month was simply the absence of the sort of cutting remarks about flyover country that I have grown used to hearing in any large gathering of people.   I didn’t notice it until after the events were over, because it was a slow accumulation of all the jokes and rants I hadn’t heard about NASCAR, McMansions, megachurches, reality television, and all the other cultural signifiers that make up a small but steady undercurrent of my current social milieu, the way Polish jokes did when I was in sixth grade.”

Familiarity breeds contempt. This is why I have so much of it against my fellow aristocrats.

The lot of the SWProle is a cold and miserable one.

And, I think, a fundamental error in approach.

Let’s discuss the right way to become elite, then. Let’s discuss our final sector.

I divide the upper middle class into a few different kinds. You have the noblesse de robe, the noblesse d’epee, the haute bourgeois, socialites, and the clergy. Let’s narrow our focus to a peacetime society midway through its development. This means our primary drivers of elite formation will be the haute bourgeois and the noblesse de robe.

Some neoreactionaries identify the aristocracy with top tier businessmen, and while I don’t think that’s totally true, I think there are grains of truth to it. They sense, rightly, there is something reactionary about the corporate structure. Similarly, I usually identify the aristocracy nigh totally with the noblesse de robe, which is a distortion on my part. To state things more accurately, I would say that different institutions inherited different segments of the aristocratic idea after the shattering of the Ancien Regime. The customs and practices of the royal court were carried away and eventually planted in fertile soil, and this little seed grew up into the idea of Big Business. And the universities and academies of the Ancien Regime which trained so many generations of bluebloods dissociated from the idea of aristocracy, at least explicitly, and so became today’s Ivory Towers.

What SWProles are essentially trying to do is to get into the elite via socialization. But this is flawed. First of all, it’s flawed because their act is too perfect. I discuss this in my post about sartorial correctness , but it’s basically like the differences between an educated foreigner and a native speaker. The latter makes certain classes of mistakes that make the language more fluid and natural. Second of all, it’s flawed because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the character of upper caste socialization. Proles like to imagine upper caste socialization as extremely smooth and elegant. And it is, in a sense. But it’s only elegant because the upper castes define what “elegant” is. It’s not true grace in the normie sense, it’s self-assuredness. An aristocrat is a creature that thinks hugging their kids is weird, but keeping a ferret in your breasts to eat lamb shanks is perfectly normal. They’re weird. Wealthier people have a higher incidence of autistic children.

It’s not normie social interaction but smoother. What are aristocrats actually doing? Who are the residents of our missing quadrant?

They’re doing nerdtalk and powertalk.

Boom.

The chart is complete.

SWProles are almost certainly doomed to failure because they’re trying to socialize normally with people who are doing nerdtalk and powertalk. They just don’t get it. Even if they memorize all the quirks, their failure is the failure to grok the category of conversation.

By contrast, the main difference between nerds/boors and true Bobos is self-assuredness or the lack thereof.

What is powertalk? Powertalk is a concept taken from Ribbonfarm’s Gervais Principle, and it’s basically the naked discussion of gains and losses. Go read it if you haven’t, though I disagree with his characterization of the inner life of psychopaths. In powertalk, you’re always talking real shit. Successful businessmen do this really well. But, unfortunately, the normal world frowns on them. People from normal backgrounds who try to do well in business and FIRE are pulled down by their peers. People resent the wealthy. People resent early retirees. They’re surrounded by crabs in a bucket. The only choice is to hide. But when you hide, you become less self-assured. And the subject varies somewhat. Money remains a concern, but powertalk past a certain level of social status must also focus on the original burrito: Power. So they must learn a new subject matter.

Similarly, what do nerds do? Nerds talk and argue about the minutia of nerd cultural works like sci-fi and comics, and they discuss the fine technical details of various technologies. What do aristocrats do? They talk about and argue the minutia of art and music, and they discuss the fine details of various Important Ideas and Historical Events and Other Humanities. Don’t these look similar? In fact, they’re the same thing. Art criticism is just nerds geeking out about comic trivia except over something socially acceptable, and it’s socially acceptable because aristocrats decided it was. Again, the difference is not in category, but merely in subject matter. And the mildly autistic often wish socialization was more explicit and rule-based.

Good news! Aristocrats already had a highly rule-based way of socialization. They called it good manners and it involved signaling what the purpose of your conversation would be by folding a specific corner of a greeting card and many other arcane, bizarre rules. In Ancien Regime France, it was impolite to be the last to thank someone. Unfortunately, this rule has to be broken by someone. Needless to say, there were a lot of dangerously polite people, including one fellow who jumped out of a window to pounce upon someone and properly bid them farewell and thanks. It’s not that they’re not following a weird set of social rules, unlike normies who do things by instinct, it’s that nerds have the wrong rules.

ETA:

“Eccentricity was central to the aristocracy’s mystique. It was inventive, often disconcerting and entirely natural to a self-confident caste which knew that it was different. Aristocrats were free to indulge their whims.”

“…anyone who lived by his wits could call himself a gentleman and have their presumption endorsed by a herald… The aristocracy have always been an open elite.” 

This quadrant of the chart is the quadrant of eliteogenesis. Every so often, a mutant is born in Appalachia or some other backwater province. These mutants don’t fit in. Their environments abuse them and they lose their self-assuredness, being marked as abnormal. But through a creaming mechanism of the day, ambition, and their own thirst to find like-minded people, they are drawn inexorably towards the capital. And if they are able to find a mate and produce offspring, they will make people just as weird as them.

The difference is that their children will be self-assured, totally convinced that their weird little world is normal.

A noble house is born.

So if eliteogenesis is a knowable process, surely we can measure it? Yes, yes, we can. And someone did.

Enter our final idea: Secular Cycles.

Turchin has many interesting ideas, but we’re going to focus on the idea of elite overproduction.

You have two forces, creation and extinction.

If we take the measured peacetime extinction rate of noble houses and do some math, we arrive at EXACTLY the same imputed mobility rates as given by Professor Clark’s equations in The Son Also Rises. And these mathematical rates match up with historical data about the lifespans of noble families across the world. About half of the modern corporate workers in Japan are samurai descendants. 42% of European high nobility descendants have PhDs. The median lifespan of a Chinese gentry family is about 250 years. In short, everything maths out extremely nicely and cleanly. Convenient, eh?

The other half of elite numbers is production. We have the mechanism of parvenus, by which nerds and boors become founders of new noble houses. But what happens if there’s not enough room? Society can only absorb so many people in the professions. A potential elite instead goes into a pool of prospective elites. A nerd is not hired by a major tech firm, but instead sits at home and makes a nuisance of himself writing exploits.

In the early stages of the secular cycle, there is an abundance of room and resources to grow. The peasants (primary producers) flood in to exploit these resources, resulting in widespread commoner prosperity. The elites begin a secular cycle impoverished and therefore do real work. Many advances are made across all sorts of indices. However, all the excess value created by the peasants results in spectacular potential surpluses for the elites, which begin to increase in number. This causes a shift into the stagflation phase. How do elites sustain themselves? In the long run, elite professions push the societal production frontier. Engineers produce new technologies that result in long-run efficiency gains, doctors increase societal lifespan resulting in more working years, priests produce new cultural memes which structure life, scientists deepen our understanding of the universe, and bankers allocate capital more efficiently to push growth. In short run, elites must feed themselves by transferring value into their own mouths. So the commoners produce all this value, but an increasing amount of elites consumes it all, resulting in stagnant incomes for the common man. The stagflation phases of this secular cycle and the last one both saw massive flowerings of Western science and technology, as the vast number of elites accomplish all sorts of brain work. The decades since 1970 have seen all sorts of transformations in our way of life. The Information Age really is a revolution.

But all their value transference takes a toll on the average worker. Inequality begins to rapidly increase, as elite incomes surge far past commoner incomes. These decades since 1970 have also seen massive gains in the income of the 1%. This greatly increases the incentive to become elite, so more and more people aspire to it. However, more people aspiring to be elite combined with a saturation of the societally allowable professionals drives all sorts of further dynamics. Since there’s so much competition, elites become more nervous and anxious. That causes them to trust their fellow elites (now competition instead of collaborators) less, reducing societal cohesion. Leftism, the extension of a society’s principles towards their inevitable (but disastrously idealistic) conclusions, reaches a fever pitch, as elites try to shore up their social position. And their need to shore up their financial position means they demand even higher and higher incomes and hoard even more cash, further driving up inequality. Their fear, hatred, and resentment of elite aspirants drives a new class war on the middle class. Their anxieties lead them to pass all sorts of bizarre and increasingly paranoid policy. The frustrated aspirants and rejected parvenus form new counterelites ready to launch revolutions. The weight of all these excess elite aspirants and the negative dynamics associated with them eventually prove to be too much, and society begins to decline. The oversupply of potential elite labor crushes the income of service elites, which has the additional nasty side effect of making rentierism the only game in town. That means elites now have to get their value transference through pure rent-seeking and exploitation of state mechanisms, which means that political jockeying overtakes brainwork. Social cohesion collapses. Society descends into civil war as counterelites battle elites for state spoils. Revolution shakes the core of the state. Elites are culled left and right. But those elites, as corrupt as they are in the late stage, still fill a valuable role. Society sees a rapid increase in complexity in the integrative half of the secular cycle, but as we all know from our Incerto, complexity implies fragility. And this fragility becomes a dire foe in the disintegrative part of the secular cycle. If you kill half the doctors in a hospital arbitrarily, does it run half as well or less than half as well? Globalization is abruptly deglobalized and complex systems of trade and knowledge collapse. Infrastructure is lost. Land is abandoned. Factories go silent. Occasionally there is peace, but until the elite oversupply is resolved, the state remains unstable and cannot permanently reform.

Finally, the elite numbers have been pruned. Adversity brings out the hidden strength in the remaining elites. Without extra elites to pick up the slack, and with all the wealth of the nation destroyed, the elites return to doing useful work. All the fallow land and abandoned infrastructure provides plenty of room for peasant expansion. A new secular cycle begins.

Below is the Secular Cycle chart. Our current situation matches the Stagflation phase pretty well, and we may be headed into the Crisis phase soon (or now).

Sunrise, sunset.

I would like to thank EvolutionistX for this opportunity.

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Cathedral Round-Up #7: Colonialism 2.0

The purpose of Cathedral Round-Up is to keep track of what our betters have in store for us. This month we are headed to Harvard (and for a side-excursion, Oxford,) to witness the progressive push to expand the notion of “refugees” to include virtually everyone not already living in the West; the sheer heart-breaking difficulties of being one of the world’s most privileged black people; and Cecil Rhodes‘s pro-Muslim legacy.

Jacqueline Bhabha brings us “When Water is Safer than Land,” repeating the common claim that “no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land” that was so commonly bandied about in the wake of the drowning of 3 year old Alan Kurdi. Alan’s death is a tragedy, but his family was trying to leave Turkey, a peaceful, relatively prosperous nation, not a violence-riddled war zone.

I argued back in Newton’s Third Law of Politics that the official definition of “refugee” is already broad enough to encompass almost anyone the government wants it to; Professor Bhabha wants to do away with the concept of “refugee” entirely, in favor of “distress migrant”:

… news coverage and political attention have highlighted the irrationality and inefficiency of our outdated legal and administrative system of migration management—a system now manifestly premised on incoherent dichotomies and false assumptions.

The most fundamental dichotomy lies at the very root of modern migration law, separating bona fide “refugees” with a “well-founded fear of persecution” under the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, from spontaneous “economic migrants” seeking to take advantage of greater prosperity and opportunity outside their home countries. The former are considered legitimate recipients of international protection, the latter unlawful border-crossers.

But for more than a decade, migration experts within the United Nations, in the immigration and justice ministries of many countries, and civil-society organizations such as the Women’s Refugee Commission, the International Rescue Committee, and Human Rights Watch, have acknowledged the artificiality of this dichotomy, given the reality of “mixed migration”—distress migration prompted by multiple, interconnected factors, including survival fears and economic desperation. …

Priority in these entry categories should be given to “distress migrants,” a category that should replace the now unworkable distinction between “legal” refugee and economic but “illegal” forced migrant.

In short, Bhabha thinks it’s unfair to prevent anyone who lives in a country that’s poorer than the West from migrating wherever they want to go. Migration to the West is a human right; wanting to control who enters your country is outdated and shows that you’re not a “team player”:

But such official resettlement is sustainable only if it is a joint endeavor, agreed upon by countries that are willing to host relocated refugees and share the responsibility for doing so with others in their region. The current intransigence of relatively prosperous EU member states such as France, the UK, Slovenia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic vitiates this sort of collective humanitarian endeavor and unreasonably leaves the protection “burden” only to the exemplary few (Germany and Sweden at present).

Germany broke EU rules by inviting in a few million migrants without the consent of the other member states, but Hungary is being totally meanie pants for insisting on this weird notion of “national sovereignty” instead of just lying back, spreading its borders, and thinking of Queen Victoria.

Maybe we should adopt a policy of always letting Germany do whatever it wants to its neighbors–would have saved us a lot of effort about 102 – 71 years ago.

Bhabha also notes that the current system rewards those who break the rules by migrating illegally–if you can just get to Europe, chances are you’ll be fine–while punishing those who try to obey the rules by filling out all of their paperwork and then sitting out the multi-year process just to get rejected. This is completely accurate.

Bhabha believes that “distress migration” to wealthy countries is inevitable and unstoppable, but has several recommendations for making the immigration system more humane and less likely to involve dead children:

  1. Massively overhaul the immigration bureaucracy (this I actually agree with–bureaucratic systems tend to be awful.)
  2. Let in all of the “distress migrants.”
  3. Westerners should stop the wars in foreign countries (how, exactly?)
  4. More funding for refugee camps in places like Turkey so people will stay there instead of migrating to Europe. (I don’t know what the conditions in Turkish refugee camps are like, but I bet they could be much nicer.)
  5. Westerners need to make economic development happen in the third world so people will want to stay there, (because third worlders can’t run their own economies?)

It’s funny how people who think colonialism was evil simultaneously think Africans can’t feed their own children or run their own economies without white people stepping in.

Of course, given current fertility rates, the prospects for feeding all of Africa’s children without the rest of the world stepping in do look pretty grim:

Total Fertility Rate by Country (Wikimedia file)
Total Fertility Rate by Country (Wikimedia file)

Population-1950-2100-b

Bhabha has left out the simplest, most humane solution: birth control.

Interestingly, Professor Jacqueline Bhabha is an English woman who obtained her last name via her husband, Homi K. Bhabha, son of an Indian Parsi family. The Parsis are interesting in their own right, but that is a matter for another day. Alas, I have not been able to figure out if Homi is the son of the similarly-named Indian nuclear physicist Homi J. Bhabha. (At the very least, if you meet a Bhabha, chances are he’s an exceptionally intelligent person.)

I have noticed that elites tend to be highly international people–born in one country, raised in another, married into a third. A highschool fiend hailed from four different countries; another attended an elite boarding school 15,000 miles away from her family. And they know each other–“Oh, you’re from Hong Kong? Do you know so-and-so? You do? What a coincidence!”

President Obama, son of a Kenyan and an American of mostly English extraction (who met while studying Russian in Hawaii,) lived for four years in Indonesia, and then ended up in Chicago.

Carlos Slim, largest shareholder of the New York Times and one of the richest men in the world, is a Mexican of Lebanese descent–“Slim” was “Salim” back when his father moved to Mexico.

And as Tolstoy notes, at the time of Napoleon’s invasion, the Russian ruling class spoke French, not Russian.

Homi K. Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha

According to the NY Times, getting Homi K. Bhabha, who taught in the Afro-American Studies department in 2001, was a major coup for Harvard. Sure, Indian-born Homi might not look like an expert on the experiences of African Americans, but his co-professors are enthusiastic about his work:

“”He’s manifestly one of the most distinguished cultural theorists of the postcolonial and diasporic experience in the world,’ said Lawrence Buell, the department chairman.”

Other professors point out that Homi’s “expertise” may be entirely high-falutin’ smoke and mirrors:

In 1998, Mr. Bhabha won second place (Judith Butler, a gender theorist at Berkeley, took the top prize) in the annual Bad Writing Contest sponsored by the journal Philosophy and Literature for this passage from an essay on mimicry: “If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to ‘normalize’ formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.”

"Untouchables"
“Untouchables”

A developing theme in this series is the way that elite colleges use majority-white people with a small percentage of black ancestry to pad their diversity numbers. In Homi’s case, “whiteness” is debatable, but he is clearly an elite, light-skinned Indian of Persian (aka Aryan) descent, not one of India’s dark-skinned “untouchables,” Scheduled Castes, or Dalits.

The official logic of “diversity” and Affirmative Action is that universities should correct for past oppression and reflect the racial composition of the population they serve by correcting for the negative effects of racism and poverty on test scores. The logic runs that a poor kid growing up in Detroit with one parent in jail and the other busy working two jobs just to make ends meet is going to attend fewer SAT prep classes than rich kids attending TJ, and so his SAT scores may not reflect his true potential.

In practice, places like Harvard end up with a bunch of high-class elites like Homi who can ticky-box “diversity” but are not actually part of an oppressed minority. (A bunch of white “Hispanics” get in this way, too.)

Elites love diversity–so long as “diversity” means other elites. And they can’t understand why their proles insist on icky nationalism:


“Ewww. Get it away.”

Jacqueline Bhabha on Merkel:

Germany’s Angela Merkel has emerged as the surprising heroine of the humanitarian lobby, leveraging her country’s ever-present past and robust economy to welcome more than one million refugees and to stress the potential demographic dividend of a healthy, youthful workforce for an aging continent.

Yes, I’m sure Merkel is the kind of elite who just loves spending time with the huddled masses of the third world.

And on European fears:

The notion that the magnitude of refugee arrival, on the other hand, poses any sort of threat to Europe’s future prosperity is laughable. The Syrians arriving represent less than 1 percent of the population of the European Union (EU), the world’s richest continent. In Lebanon, an incomparably poorer polity, every fourth inhabitant is now a Syrian refugee, and yet even that war-torn country is not at the brink of collapse. The current flow of refugees poses no objective threat to the future or prosperity of Europe.

Because every country wants to look like Lebanon?

Leaving aside the fact that not all of the migrants are from Syria–many of them are, ahem, “distress migrants” from Africa or Asia fleeing poverty, not ISIS–an argument that Europe can handle its current migration levels is not an argument that Europe can handle far more migrants.

Germany’s overall fertility rate is one of the lowest in the world–about 1.4 children per woman. (Slightly over 2 is necessary for population stability, neither growing nor shrinking.) This means that the population of Germany is shrinking.

As of 2014, 16.3 million of Germany’s 81.5 million people–20% of the population–were immigrants or the children of immigrants. In 2009, about 4.3 million Germans are Muslim–5.4% of the population–but due to much higher fertility rates, 9.1% of Germany’s children were Muslims.

A million migrants arrived in Germany in 2015, and more still arrive every day. Keep this up for a few years, and yes, a very large percent of the country will not be German anymore.

I know it’s unreasonable to expect Harvard professors to be able to do math, but we can:

If Germany has 81.5 million people, and about 18% of them are children, that’s 14.7 million children. Of those, 9.1%, or 1.3 million, are Muslim.

If Germany has about 4.3 million Muslims, and 1.3 million of them are children, then 3 million are adults.

Let’s suppose Germany accepts a modest 1 million refugees a year for just two more years, (for 3 million total,) and they have the same TFR as the folks already in Germany. Now 16% of German children are Muslim.

Keep it up for 9 years (10 million migrants,) and 24% of future voters are Muslim (and that’s not counting the shrinking native German population during this time.)

These are obviously extremely rough numbers, but they are not unreasonable.

If your goal is, “make Germany look more like Lebanon,” then that’s one way to do it. And perhaps the German people are perfectly happy accepting a million migrants a year. But let’s not banter about facile claims like “less than 1 percent” when advocating virtually limitless, long-term immigration policies in a world with over a billion people who would happily move to Germany (or virtually any other Western country) if they could.

Elites think that if elite migration is good for them, then the mass migration of unskilled, illiterate poor folks will be great for proles, and then are confused when the masses do not react with universal jubilation at the results:

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The Daily Mail summarizes:
Alexandra Mezher, 22, fatally stabbed at migrant centre where she worked
Her family, who are originally from Lebanon, described her as ‘an angel’ …
A boy, 15, living at centre, arrested on suspicion of murder is from Somalia
Teenage killer was overpowered by other children living at the centre
Swedish police demand more cash to stem rising violence in the country

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Italian police have arrested a Senegalese illegal immigrant who prosecutors believe killed Ashley Olsen, a U.S. woman who was found dead in her apartment in Florence last weekend.

“We have collected very serious evidence of his guilt,” Florence chief prosecutor Giuseppe Creazzo told reporters at a news conference on Thursday after the man was arrested and questioned in the early hours of the morning. …

She was strangled in the early hours of Friday, Creazzo said, but the autopsy revealed that she had two fractures to her skull — injuries that would also have proved fatal.

 

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Mamadou Kamara, an 18-year-old from the Ivory Coast, allegedly slit the throat of Vincenzo Solano, 68, and then attacked his Spanish-born wife, Mercedes Ibanez, 70.

Ms Ibanez fell to her death from a second-floor balcony, during a robbery that turned violent. …

Mr Kamara was arrested after police searched his bag on Sunday as he returned to the migrant centre.

Inside they found a mobile telephone, a laptop computer, a video camera and a pair of trousers, allegedly belonging to Mr Solano, that were covered in blood.

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Of course, Professor Bhabha, living comfortably in Massachusetts, does not have to worry about being raped or murdered by “distress migrants” from Africa let in under the rhetoric that Turkey is not good enough for Syrian refugees.

But Professor Bhabha isn’t just advocating for increased African migration to Europe; she has also noticed that places like Mexico and Honduras have astronomically high murder rates, and therefore wants to let them into the US. Perhaps there is some magical quality to the soil in America that she thinks will make people suddenly be less murderous when they step over the border.

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Prudencio Ramirez stands accused of killing his 18 year old girlfriend and her three year old son in Washington State, the Tri-City Herald reports.

Prosecutors say the victims were shot and then stuffed inside a burning car.

The coroner says it is likely the little boy was burned alive.

Or perhaps she is just an idiot.

Either way, expect to see a lot more people talking about “distress migration.”

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Switching gears, our next article is My Harvard Education: Learning “what it means to be a walking disruption,” by Jenny Gathright, former editor of the Harvard Crimson and currently assisting Harvard Magazine’s editorial staff. She is also author of Existence as Resistance: Black Chronicles II and Hashtag #Solidarity.

Ms. Gathright starts with a quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates:

You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable…The people who must believe they are white can never be your measuring stick. I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.

I know pretty much everyone spouts vacuous “be yourself” bullshit, but it’s still annoying–everyone has “constrict” themselves to make other comfortable. Just because you feel like farting while in a crowded elevator does not mean you do it; just because you feel like yelling at your cubicle-mate every time he starts humming does not mean you do it; just because you feel comfortable wearing a bathrobe and slippers does not mean you wear them to a job interview. Living among other humans–even in hunter gatherer tribes in the arctic!–means paying attention to social norms and controlling one’s impulses in order to act appropriately.

Anyone who thinks they are special enough to avoid normal human social norms is a fucking sociopath.

Second, “must believe they are white.” ??? What does that even mean?

White person: I don’t see race.
POC: OMG how racist of you to deny my blackness and your white privilege!
White person: Oh, okay. I guess I’m white.
POC: OMG, how racist of you to insist on believing that you’re white!

Continuing on, Ms. Gathright describes a conversation between a guy handing out apples in the cafeteria and her “house tutor” (“RA” in common speak.)

He is standing in front of me, and I am standing next to Jonathan, my lovely, gentle, kind Lowell House tutor.

That sounds awfully intimate.

Ms. Gathright is disturbed because Jeremy and apple-guy are happily talking to each other instead of to her.

Maybe I am just woman enough, just brown enough, to be rendered invisible. It might all be in my head, but isn’t that sometimes just enough to make a moment uncomfortable?

Things that are “all in your head” can indeed make moments uncomfortable, like when you hallucinate spiders crawling under your skin. But that doesn’t make them real.

Apple guy talks about apples:

He is talking about seeds and grafting, about history. Did you know that hard cider was the Founding Fathers’ primary method of hydration? Did you know that they were all drunk pretty much all the time? …

I am distracted. His historical factoids about hard cider have gotten me thinking about a drunken Thomas Jefferson wandering around Monticello, and this image makes me sick and scared in a way that the two men next to me will never understand. [bold mine]

If you are genuinely “sick and scared” from simply imagining someone getting tipsy on hard cider, you need psychological help. That is not normal. If you are not genuinely “sick and scared,” then you are a liar.

There is a distance between my body and the bodies this place was built for. I feel it every day in Lowell dining hall, when I look up at portraits of white men and wonder if they expected me to be here.

Well, the folks it was built for are probably all dead, so unless Ms. Gathright is sitting in a graveyard while writing, I guess this is technically true.

Ta-Nehisi Coates uses “body” where a normal person would write “souls,” because he’s an atheist. There are times when he pulls it off, and times when the effect is horribly awkward.

This is one of those awkward times.

The Lowell House dining hall is not as fancy as Harvard’s freshman dining hall, but the chandelier is a nice touch:

Lowell House Dining Hall, Harvard University
Lowell House Dining Hall, Harvard University

According to the History of Lowell House:

In the Dining Hall are portraits of President Lowell and his wife; his sister Amy Lowell (Pulitzer prize winning poet, and a lover of scandal credited with introducing D. H. Lawrence to America); his brother Percival Lowell (the astronomer who spearheaded the search for the planet Pluto); and his grandfather John Amory Lowell (a fellow of Harvard College for forty years).

Lowell House was built in 1930; Harvard Medical accepted its first black students way back in 1850:

1869: George Lewis Ruffin is the first black to earn a degree from Harvard Law School. In 1883 Ruffin became Massachusetts’ first African-American judge.

1869: Harvard awards its first degree in dentistry to an African American named Robert Tanner Freeman.

1870: Harvard College graduates its first black student, Richard Theodore Greener, who goes on to a career as an educator and lawyer. After graduating from Harvard, Greener becomes a faculty member at the University of South Carolina. He is the first known black to be hired to the faculty of a flagship state university.

1870: George F. Grant graduates with a degree of dentistry from Harvard. He later serves as its first black instructor at the dental school from 1878 to 1889.

1895: W.E.B. Du Bois earns his Ph.D. in history from Harvard, the first black to do so at Harvard.

1896: Booker T. Washington receives an honorary master’s degree from Harvard University.

1907: Alain LeRoy Locke of Harvard University becomes the first black Rhodes scholar.

1912: Carter G. Woodson becomes the second black in the U.S. to earn a doctorate in history. His Ph.D. is from Harvard. He goes on to found the Journal of Negro History in 1916 and inaugurates Negro History Week in 1926.

1921: Amherst College graduate Charles Hamilton Houston becomes the first black editor on the Harvard Law Review.

1933: Harvard Business School graduates its first black MBA student, H. Naylor Fitzhugh, the founder of Howard University’s marketing department.

In other words, at the time Lowell House was built, black students had been attending Harvard for decades. There is no “distance” between Ms. Gathright’s body and the bodies it was built for, because people like her were in the group it was built for. So, yes, I guarantee you that the folks in the portraits expected people like you to be there.

You’d think she’d have Googled “when did Harvard start accepting black people” to find out if the folks in the portraits had black students before writing an article about how stressed out she was by her incorrect assumptions.

For goodness’s sake, this is Massachusetts.

But getting back to the article:

I am taking an economics class on libertarianism. I don’t consider myself a libertarian at all, so I took the class to challenge my thinking. …

One day, we are talking about the consequences of drug prohibition. Libertarians believe that the negative effects outweigh the positive effects. I’m sympathetic to the viewpoint, and I’m glad this policy debate is a topic of discussion. Professor Miron briefly lists “increased racial profiling” and the resulting “racial tensions” as a negative consequence of drug prohibition laws. He moves on—he has other slides to discuss, other lines of argument to explore. But I am stuck, still thinking about what it means for him to name “increased racial profiling” and “racial tensions” without naming Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland…I want to stand up and scream about how the things he is talking about tear bodies apart. [bold mine]

Geez. Psycho, much?

Seriously, this woman can’t watch two people talk about apples without wanting to know why they aren’t talking to HER; she cant look at her posh, crystal chandeliered cafeteria without wondering what the people in the portraits would have thought of HER; she can’t listen to a lecture without wanting to scream that the professor didn’t talk about exactly the things SHE wants to talk about.

I want to be clear here: I’m not asking my professor to re-write his lecture. He is teaching a class that doesn’t center on my experience in every moment, and that’s okay. This isn’t necessarily about my professor or my classmates or my syllabus.

When you feel compelled to clarify that it’s okay if a class doesn’t center on, “MY experience in EVERY moment,” that is a sign that you are hilariously unaware of just how narcissistic you are.

I am talking to my friend. He has had a tough couple of days. He is telling me about a class on race and gender that he is taking. He is feeling the course material in his body, he says. The readings are causing him pain. … Section is causing me pain.

I think people actually do this thing where, by constantly reading/watching/thinking/talking about something horrible, they prompt their brains to release far more stress hormones than their physical situation actually warrants. This is because our brains can’t really tell the difference between “picture I saw on TV” and “thing I saw in real life,” and a person being murdered before your eyes in real life would be a very concerning thing indeed that you probably ought to do something about (fight or flight,) thus prompting a massive outpouring of hormones.

Feminists do this by reading sixteen blog posts in a row about rape; white nationalists do this by reading sixteen blog posts in a row about “white genocide”; housewives do this by reading about children who’ve been abducted and murdered; etc. I do this by researching human sacrifice in animist religions.

By the end, you feel awful.

There are was to deal with this: First, realize that your brain is producing hormones in response to a threat that is not actually physically present in the room with you. Second, calm down. I find meditation helps, or prayer if you’re religious. Third, recognize that this is not a healthy thing to do to yourself. Take breaks, don’t let yourself get sucked into reading 16 articles in a row, and most importantly, don’t do it at 4 AM, because that is a quick road to nightmaresville.

Ms. Gathright then discusses Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s Atlantic article, “The Coddling of the American Mind”:

I could critique their piece on several grounds. But one of the first things I thought when I read it was, “Where is this movement, and how did I miss it?” Because here is my truth: I don’t see a ton of liberal students trying to “scrub” Harvard’s campuses “clean” of offensive or uncomfortable ideas. Instead, I see all around me students, my friends, who are willing to be made uncomfortable by words and ideas all the time. I see students who willingly walk into classrooms that will make them, in the words of my friend, feel the course material in their bodies.

Oh, honey, don’t you understand that feeling bad is exactly how the SJWs want you to feel? You feel bad because you have already imbibed a political ideology that dictates how you react to the world. You are not “willing” to be made uncomfortable by words or ideas; you make these things make you uncomfortable.

There is a difference. Being willing to be uncomfortable means being willing to consider that someone else’s POV might be right.

When I read about cannibalism, I am uncomfortable, but I am not willing to consider that cannibalism is moral. When I speak with a friend about philosophy, I am willing to consider that they might be correct. If they question some deeply held assumption, I may be uncomfortable–but I am not going to have nightmares.

Some people go through this place without having to ask and answer hard questions about the spaces they occupy. I have had to constantly articulate and question my relationship with this institution: the way I fit into its history, and the way I feel in its classrooms.

Aww, it sure is hard being at Harvard. I mean, if you can’t feel insanely privileged while siting in a cafeteria with glittering chandeliers or attending classes taught by some of the most elite professors in the entire world, I don’t think anything will.

 

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Oxford, Rhodes, and Syria

Hey, did you hear about the “Rhodes Must Fall” protests at Oxford?

Student campaigners have condemned an Oxford college for deciding to keep its statue of Cecil Rhodes, claiming the college has been influenced by a “dictatorship” of donors.

Rhodes, not quite bestriding a plinth.
Rhodes, not quite bestriding a plinth.

Ella Jeffreys, a master’s student, told the Guardian: “We feel that the decision of Oriel College, due to the threat of withdrawing funding by alumni, shows that money talks over students. …

The campaign said in a statement: “Oriel has been rushed into this decision by the irresponsible threats of wealthy individuals. This is a decision for the short term. It is a decision made by authorities, not by students. It is a decision motivated by power not by principle.”

Welcome to real life. No one cares about you.

The statement said the decision lacked “legitimacy” and warned: “It is a decision that jeopardises trust between students and the institution.”

That’s okay. You’ll be gone in a few years. Oxford has been around for almost 1,000. They don’t need you:

Student activists said they would not be derailed by interventions such as those of Chris Patten, the chancellor of the university, who said in a recent interview that those involved with Rhodes Must Fall should “think about being educated elsewhere”.

At least someone has a spine.

I am personally uncomfortable with pulling down statues for the same reason that I am uncomfortable with burning books. There are times when a nation simply finds that it has an excess of statues of a former dictator, and people reasonably desire fewer of them, but England does not suffer an over-abundance of Rhodes statues.

Students called for a reckoning from the institution, and said their first demand was for Oxford to “acknowledge and confront its role in the ongoing physical and ideological violence of empire”. They want the university to apologise for its role and to offer more scholarships to black students from southern Africa.

Why? Did they help build Oxford? Did Oxford tear down their universities?

No.

Then Oxford owes them nothing.

They said they wanted to hear “the voices suffocated into silence by a Eurocentric academy”.

Then get the fuck out of Oxford. What, you can’t physically listen to people talk without a professor telling you to listen to them, first?

Simukai Chigudu, a postgraduate student in international development, said Oriel’s decision “throws into sharp relief that strong power donors have in shaping the college and underscores that it is not a free, open and democratic [process].

WHY THE HELL DID YOU THINK OXFORD WAS A DEMOCRACY? It is a college, not a country.

It turns out that the money threat was quite substantial:

Oxford University’s statue of Cecil Rhodes is to stay in place after furious donors threatened to withdraw gifts and bequests worth more than £100 million if it was taken down, The Daily Telegraph has learnt. … The governing body of Oriel College, which owns the statue, has ruled out its removal after being warned that £1.5m worth of donations have already been cancelled, and that it faces dire financial consequences if it bows to the Rhodes Must Fall student campaign.

100 million pounds is worth about 144 million dollars.

So I decided to see how Rhodes’s colonialist legacy is working out. According to Wikipedia, Cecil Rhodes created the Rhodes Scholarships, which pay for international students to come study at Oxford, in order to:

promote civic-minded leadership among “young colonists” with “moral force of character and instincts to lead,” for the purpose of ‘extending British rule throughout the world…the consolidation of the Empire, the restoration of Anglo-Saxon unity…” and the foundation of so great a Power as to render wars impossible and to promote the best interests of humanity.”

What kinds of students win such a scholarship? Luckily for us, Harvard Magazine has a helpful article on Harvard’s winners:

The Rhodes Trust has announced that five Harvard seniors have been awarded American Rhodes Scholarships this fall. Among them, one is vice president of the Harvard Islamic Society and co-founder of the Ivy League Muslim Council, a second is pursuing Islamic studies, and a third, the son of a Syrian immigrant, is studying global human-rights institutions. …

Alacha is “concentrating in Social Studies. For his senior thesis, he is studying global human rights institutions and examining their effect on local practices in Jordan. … He is the son of a Syrian immigrant and is interested in the movement for Islamic human rights.” Alacha plans to pursue an M.Phil. in modern Middle Eastern studies at Oxford.

Huckins is “concentrating in Neurobiology and Physics. …

Hyland “majors in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Islamic Studies). Her primary academic interest is the common intellectual heritage of medieval Islamic and Christian theologians. … She is a leader in community and campus work, especially addressing the problem of sexual assault. …

Lam is pursuing “a joint concentration in Neurobiology and Philosophy. He is interested in philosophical problems of free will, moral responsibility, and punishment, and has career interests in criminal justice reform. He is an active advocate of the effective altruism movement …

Shahawy “is pursuing a double major in History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He has devoted himself to working with marginalized communities to correct social injustices and improve access to opportunity, while also studying Islamic jurisprudence and global health and medicine. He worked with Los Angeles County inmates with the American Civil Liberties Union, as an intern in rural health clinics in Kenya with Vecna Technologies, and as an analyst with small-business lender Liwwa Inc. in Amman, Jordan. He has also conducted research on transplant surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and on the causes of Saudi Arabia’s private sector labor shortage at the Harvard Center for International Development. Hassaan is the Vice President of the Harvard Islamic Society and Co-Founder of the Ivy League Muslim Council. He has volunteered at the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Cairo, Egypt and mentors prison inmates in Norfolk, Massachusetts.” Shahawy will pursue an M.Phil. in Islamic studies and history.

Welcome to the new colonialism.