Friday, January 3, 2014


There’s an embarras de richesses on the Web this fine morning, and inasmuch as I'll seize upon any excuse not to run outside and fire up Snidely the Snowblower until matters become truly life-threatening, you, Gentle Reader, will be the, ah, beneficiary.

1. The Ages Of Man.

First, via our beloved InstaPundit comes this frustrating article by David Brin:

Consider the world of 1913, when regular middle-class folks in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and so on were acquiring unexpected wonders: clothes-washing machines, gas stoves, gas and then electric lighting, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, vaccinations, telephones, radios, motor cars. Stepping outside you would see and hear human beings flying through the sky -- with a looming confidence that soon you would get a chance to join them.

Science was pouring forth what seemed unalloyed goodness. New dyes and industrial textile methods doubled a working family’s access to fresh and beautiful clothes. Cheap iron bedsteads kept cheap spring mattresses clean, making sleep both healthier and far more comfortable. Nations were banning child labor and providing free schooling. Astronomers discovered what galaxies were. Physicists were pushing their pure and harmless science to fantastic frontiers. And the Haber-Bosch process brought cheap fertilizers that tripled crops, as chemistry proved itself to be everybody’s friend.

Think our era is similarly fast-changing? Just compare the kitchen of today with a kitchen of 1950. Sure, everything nowadays is shinier, smarter. Still, a person from 1950 could use our apparatus with fluid familiarity. But the drudgery-saddled housewife of 1880 would blink in bedazzlement at what her daughter used in 1913. Life itself was changing at a pace never-before seen, and mostly for the better.

It's puzzling that Dr. Brin, an intelligent and accomplished man, should fall into the very same trap that has reaped so many other thinkers. One's gauge of "progress," regardless of the points in time that bound one's measurement, is invariably an expression of what one values. Dr. Brin deems the changes of 1814 to 1914 as swifter and more pronounced because they strike him as more dramatic -- the word qualitative comes to mind -- than those of the century that followed. The business about "a person from 1950," which also appeared in a similarly irritating article on the same subject by the late Robert A. Heinlein, is the giveaway: "They figured it out without a manual or a guide, so how much 'progress' could it really be?"

By contrast, we have the prediction by Herbert Spencer -- and in case you're in any doubt about it, Gentle Reader, I'd bet the rent on Spencer against any contemporary thinker -- that, from the trends he had observed over his lifetime (1820 - 1903), Mankind would have to endure "a century of socialism and war." Spencer was demonstrably correct. Given that, just how much "progress" of a moral, ethical, social, political, or philosophical sort can we reasonably attribute to the century that ended with the start of World War I?

2. The Lessons of 2013.

Simon Black, the "Sovereign Man," recaps four lessons the year just behind us has taught us...those of us who were watching, anyway:

  1. Politicians believe there are no consequences for destroying our liberty…
  2. Central bankers and economists believe there are no consequences to printing money…
  3. Investors think there are no consequences to deficits, or debasement...
  4. But Joe Six-Pack knows this is all crap.

The opinions of Mr. Black, a successful international investor and entrepreneur, deserve respect...but not infinite respect. The four statements above are predicated on his observations of the behavior of the relevant communities: politicians, government money manipulators, investors, and common citizens. He has inferred the convictions of those persons from their responses to developments. Were context utterly unimportant, his inferences would be unquestionably correct.

But context does matter. For example, a year is politically a relatively short time. The consequences for the political elite consequent to their incursions on individual freedom might yet arrive -- and some politicians, at least, can see the storm clouds on the horizon. Of those, some merely hope to escape unharmed before the axe falls, while (a few) others struggle to reverse the tide. Black's overgeneralization does not capture these variations.

Similarly, not all investors are blind to the consequences of governmental profligacy and currency debasement. However, even those who are sensitive to those things might well believe that they have nowhere to run -- that the traditional "safe harbors" for endangered wealth are as thoroughly compromised as the dollar. In my view, that assessment is more correct than not.

There are perils in the unwillingness to disaggregate when disaggregation is appropriate.

3. Illumination Strikes.

Possibly the most neglected of all mental cleavages, and beyond all dispute one of the most important for social amity, is the ability to oppose, even condemn, a phenomenon without demanding that the law take a hand in it. This is at the heart of religious tolerance; without it, the various sects represented in these United States would be perpetually at war.

But the importance of the matter goes well beyond religious belief:

I've completely flipped on this.

I still react with hostility to the pot subculture -- these people are so psyched about a mild hallucinogen it's just sad, really; they wear pot-leaf necklaces, for crying out loud -- but my distaste for someone's lifestyle and preferences is no justification for a law presuming to squelch those choices.

Whether I approve of this or not, these people are happy. Why should that bother me?

I mean, Let's Be Honest, it does bother me. It's a very deeply human thing to resent someone enjoying something one doesn't enjoy oneself.

I think pot laws and most drug laws are paternalistic. They are a vehicle for the majority of society expressing their distaste for a certain lifestyle, in the guise of helping the wayward find a better way of living.

But we really ought to respect other citizens as adult, free human beings. And freedom means the freedom to make mistakes, or, if not mistakes, to make choices the mainstream of society doesn't approve of.

We don't all have to be mainstream.

I've long admired Ace as one of the very best writers in the DextroSphere. With the above, he demonstrates a degree of mature judgment that 95% of Americans who style themselves conservatives could benefit immensely by emulating.


4. Modern Racism.

How long has it been since you heard the "NAACP" acronym expanded to its full meaning: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? And how long has it been since anyone muttered "advancement at whose expense?" within your earshot?

Ponder this article and think it over.

I'm put in mind of a snippet from Atlas Shrugged:

The National Alliance of Railroads was an organization formed, it was claimed, to protect the welfare of the railroad industry. This was to be achieved by developing methods of co-operation for a common purpose; this was to be achieved by the pledge by every member to subordinate his own interests to those of the industry as a whole; the interests of the industry as a whole were to be determined by a majority vote, and every member was committed to abide by any decision the majority chose to make.

"Members of the same profession or of the same industry should stick together," the organizers of the alliance had said. "We all have the same problems, the same interests, the same enemies. We waste our energy fighting one another, instead of presenting a common front to the world. We can all grow and prosper together, if we pool our efforts." "Against whom is this alliance being organized?" a skeptic had asked. The answer had been, "Why, it's not 'against' anybody. But if you want to put it that way, it's against shippers or supply manufacturers or anyone who might try to take advantage of us. Against whom is any union organized?" "That's what I wonder about," the skeptic had said.

Time was, the NAACP could represent itself as a force for equality of the races. Today it's merely a union organized, as all unions are, against the public interest:

The regular blackmail of the public, of which some American trade unions are guilty, and which cannot in any sense be ascribed to their members' real needs, is an obvious example of the way in which even economic extortion gradually comes to be seen as normal. -- Helmut Schoeck, Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour.

The truly ironic thing about the NAACP is that its machinations bring harm, rather than gain, to its supposed beneficiary group. Its intent, judged by its actions and their consequences, is the advancement of the "colored persons" who run it: as agitators of racial strife, as speakers to similar black-racialist groups, and as promoters of "economic extortion." Anyone familiar with the career of the odious Jesse Jackson will immediately recognize the pattern.

Today, racism in America is a tool used solely by American "colored persons," against the rest of us, via the mechanism of unearned guilt. But the race-card has been played too often. All the ink has worn off it. The racialist-extortionist groups have sown the wind; presently, they will reap the whirlwind.

5. Some Reflexive Reflections.

It isn't often that I indulge in comment about an Esteemed Co-Conspirator's article here at Liberty's Torch. My Co-Conspirators have their own opinions. We don't agree on everything, which is as it should be. But some subjects strike me as too important for such artificial reserve.

The forced intermingling of the races that arose from the collaboration of white and black slavers of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries has proved to be a disaster for all concerned. Slavery was more than a moral disaster; it also created enduring loci of interracial hostility. That hostility might have been avoided had the white race been morally sufficiently advanced not to marry political and technological superiority to the enslavement of those of other races. Fortunately, the white race has learned better. However, as I noted in the segment above, those hostilities are being sustained and stoked by those who profit from them, which suggests that our black brethren still have a few faults to outgrow.

Nevertheless, here we are. How we deal with the matter will be one of the keys to the century before us.

Colonel Bunny's lead sentence suggests that our past errors have put us on the brink of irreversible collapse:

Third-world immigration is a formula for inundation and destruction of white civilization. Yet, today, Western nations lie down like a beat cur dog in the face of demands of would be immigrants who presume a right to enter, settle in, feed off, and take over the finest civilization ever to be built on the planet.

I could not agree more. The root of the thing is the unearned guilt rampant over slavery -- a practice 150 years dead -- extended to persons of other climes who haven't even got that much of a claim on our sympathies. Our de facto open-borders policy would never have come to pass were American whites not beaten down "like a beat cur dog" by racialist groups eager to exploit our conscience pangs over the sins of persons long dead.

The extinction of those conscience pangs requires the resurrection of the moral-ethical principle of individual responsibility. This is the most important of all social campaigns. The effort must start with our youngest children, and must be as determined and unflinching as the racialists have been relentless.

Teach your young ones to say I don't owe you squat when it's the objectively proper attitude. All else is socially suicidal folly.


Spartacusz said...

I find your posts illuminating and challenging. Keep up the good work. As for racism, I would add that todays politicians have seized on the issue like a pit bull on a bone and use it asa tool towards their own ends versus seeking a healthier path. I live in the South and see alot of what you describe as far as white guilt and the effect of the feminization of the culture in America. Individual responsibility needs to be ramped up across the board. Kudos

KG said...

"Teach your young ones to say I don't owe you squat when it's the objectively proper attitude. All else is socially suicidal folly."