Thursday, December 31, 2009

"It" Which Shall Not be Named

Many people on the right say "we are Capitalists". Either they don't know that the word Capitalism is a pejorative invented by Karl Marx or else they know this but use the word anyway as an appropriate badge, whatever its source. In fact they may see it as a badge of honour: The epithet given by an enemy.

The problem is, "Capitalism" is not even an appropriate word for describing what we on the right support. In this, as in most things, Marx got it wrong.

What is the appropriate word, then? What word should we on the right use?

There isn't one.

And that's the way it should be.

There isn't a word, and we don't have a system to apply a word to, anyway.

The only theoretically appropriate word would be something uselessly generic, such as "reality". "We support reality"? meh

The left needs a word and a system because they are creating an alternate reality; an invented system with an invented type of people ("Soviet Man") populating it, and so it is meaningful and useful to give their system a label and a definition. We call their system Socialism and we can get a functioning definition of it from any good dictionary.

However, we on the right are not opposing "our" system to their system. It's not a "Battle of the Brands", or "Coke versus Pepsi". We don't have a system to oppose to the left's. The left are battling reality all by their selves. We are on the sidelines; we're dad watching junior trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. The main thing is to keep junior away from sharp objects, until he learns better.

PS. The titles of two of the most important books by the great Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, illustrate the point: One is called Human Action and is descriptive of natural economic activity, the other is called Socialism and defines, describes and draws out the implications of that invented system.

Von Mises was the economist who, in the beginning of the 20th century, proved mathematically that socialism would not and could not work (because there is no way for a socialist system to determine efficient prices). Many prominent economists spent fruitless years trying to find a flaw in von Mises' argument, while at the same time ignoring the devastating reality in the new Soviet states that was playing out in front of their noses, and incidentally proving von Mises correct. But then, ignoring/replacing reality is the point of inventing a system.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fight the Injustice!

The core component of politics is: Forcing people to contribute. Without the force there is no politics.

From North Korean despotism to Swiss (or Californian) direct democracy this core remains. Although they are very different systems the central injustice stays intact: Some people are forced to contribute against their will.

This injustice does not suddenly go away when 50%+1 of the people agree on an action. In this case 50%-1 of the people are being force to contribute to something they don't agree with. That is a plain injustice. It doesn't even go away when 100%-1 agree on an action. Injustice against one person is still an injustice.

So, to all our friends on the left whose almost daily mantra is a railing against injustice? To be consistent you must also do what we on the right seek to do: Limit politics to the smallest sphere possible. Fight the Injustice!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Don't Cry for Me, Am-er-I-ca

Great post here by Doug Ross on the warning afforded by what was the wealthiest country (GDP per head) a century ago: Argentina, now a veritable basket case.

Government entitlement programs are (compulsory) Ponzi schemes - Bernie Madoff on steroids; early adopters get the benefits (hence Peron's populatiry) and later arrivals/generations get the bills.

It takes very little cultural/economic sophistication on the part of a population to enable the market to work; yet to guard against such things as government run Ponzi schemes it requires the majority of a population to be very sophisticated - a depth of character that can be easily lost in a generation, as Ronald Reagan warned.

A lesson of history we either learn or repeat.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Why Support Israel?

Another note derived from The Israel Test by George Gilder.

Although The Holocaust against the Jews is the most well known example of genocide, it is a tactical mistake for American Jews – the richest people on Earth – to try to trump the depredations that many, much poorer ethnic groups have suffered in the tale of woe that is the history of the world. The Holocaust is not a useful reason for supporting Israel.

The useful reason for supporting Israel is the same reason we, who live in free market economies, support 'middleman minorities' with our custom: 'Middleman minorities' generate wealth for the rest of society; Israel generates wealth for the rest of humanity. “In a dangerous world, faced with an array of perils, the Israel test asks whether the world can suppress envy and recognize its dependence on the outstanding performance of relatively few men and women.” We need Israel. That's a useful reason for supporting it.

It's really a subset of a larger question: Do we support a system (the free market) which allows unequal results but generates wealth for all, or do we allow envy to rule us and return to barbarism?

Why the Jews?

Some notes on The Israel Test by George Gilder. My copy finally arrived from Amazon...

Gilder rejects the idea that religion is the basis of discrimination against Jews [after all, it was the Romans who killed Jesus, not the Jews...]. Instead, he notes the similarly unpopular position of overseas Chinese in South-east Asia [we could add the example of Indians in Fiji] and compares it to that of the Jews in Europe. Although the overseas Chinese constitute just 5 percent of the population (in Indonesia, as an example), they control 70 percent of private domestic capital. They attract a lot of hostility from the remainder of the population. In fact, as Thomas Sowell says "Although the overseas Chinese have long been known as the 'Jews of South-east Asia', perhaps Jews might more aptly be called the overseas Chinese of Europe."

This resentment of wealthy 'middleman minorities' is founded on zero-sum economics; someone's gain is necessarily someone else's loss; the merchant's wealth has been bled from the general population. Yet the free market is absolutely founded on the reality of positive sum economics: If a trade does not benefit both parties it typically won't occur; the classic 'win-win situation' literally happens every minute of the trading day. Thus, the obvious wealth of the 'middleman minorities' is only the 'tip of the iceberg' of the total wealth they bring to the whole of society, through their industry. In free market economies 'middleman minorities' generate wealth for the society they live in. In this way anti-Semitism whithers in free market (positive-sum economics) countries and, conversely, it grows in socialist (zero-sum economics) countries.

In free market countries it is only in outposts of zero-sum economics, such as academia, where anti-Semitism flourishes; where one man's government research grant is another's year of having to keep teaching full time. And the man with the grant is quite likely a Neumann or a Goldstein.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What is "Left" and "Right" in politics?

Maggie Thatcher was right wing but shook up the established order. In the true sense she could not therefore be called conservative. She was the proponent of change in her time. (see also Hayek, who wrote an essay "Why I am not a conservative"). A contemporary, Leonid Breshnev, was left wing but also determined to prevent change in his country. He could not therefore be called a progressive. He was against those calling for change.

Regimes of the Right and Left have been variously militaristic or pacifistic, nationalistic or internationist, expansionist or isolationist. So what is the difference between left and right, and what is extreme left and extreme right?

The difference is essentially one of economics: The right believes in the free market, the left believes in central planning. The right believes in planning by individuals for themselves and the left believes in planning by the State for everyone.

So what is extreme left? The answer is fairly obvious: Communism. The State owns (or directs) all the means of production.

So what is extreme right? The answer is not quite as obvious: Anarchy (used in the secondary sense of "self government"). There is no central authority.

That stupid "wheel of politics" which shows left and right extremes eventually meeting at the same point was invented by the Communists and, stupidly, taken up by Loser -er- Libertarians. It's not a wheel; it's a straight line from total government control to no government at all.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Is Anti-Semitism at core Anti-Intellectualism?

(No, it's not a JR post - but apologies to Dr John if I am repeating one of his points)

Dennis Prager (US conservative talk show host) notes that those societies which treat their Jewish population well prosper, and that those who don't do badly. It's an historical fact with many illustrative examples from Ancient Egypt on down to the present day. Prager, who is Jewish, sees The Hand of God in this, reasonably enough; the Old Testament certainly does make the same point.

There is clearly something real going on here, even apart from The Hand of God.

From this article in the LA Times we see that though Jews represent less than 3% of the US population they have won more than 25% of the Nobel Prizes awarded to American scientists since 1950, account for 20% of this country's chief executives and make up 22% of Ivy League students.

Something to note is that many of the actual achievements behind these statistics would not have happened if the United States did not give the Jews of Europe a safe haven in which to prosper. Intellectual achievement is not like a foot race where, no matter how slow the field of runners, someone, in the end, wins. In the intellectual world, if the runners are slow, no one wins the prize. The task doesn't get done. The scientific discovery doesn't get made. The new inventions don't appear.

(This is the Arab world today. Scientific and technical progress comes from a tiny, tiny fraction of the brightest people - and the Arabs got rid of theirs.)

People who are used to dealing with the very smart - university maths lecturers for example - know not to stress out when, occasionally, a student comes along who is obviously far smarter than they are. Intellectual ability - unlike athletic ability, which varies by only 30 or 40% in healthy people - varies by orders of magnitude between people. Even though university maths lecturers are far above the average in mathematical ability, they know there will be others who are equally as far above them, also.

The problem is that many people don't have this relaxed view toward the very bright. They harbour miss-trust and suspicion. Since most progress is made by smart people, a society which is suspicious of and shuns smart people is generally going to stagnate; the Hand of God moves against them.

Suspicion of intellect will naturally attach itself most strongly to a group which is both very bright and distinctive in some way - in the case of the Ashkenazy Jews, they are both religiously and ethnically distinct.

So, is anti-Semitism at its core a manifestation of anti-intellectualism?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Here be Dragons II

I realise I'm tresspassing on the territory of our esteemed JR somewhat, but as promised, here is a run down on what has been called Evan Sayet's Grand Unified Theory of Modern Liberalism (Liberalism in the American sense - in other words what we would call a hard core leftist).

Sayet calls himself a 9/12 Republican. It wasn't so much the attack on the WTC itself as the reaction to the attack - a day later - by his leftist friends (and fellow Democrats) that caused him to re-think his assumptions. He finally realised: They (Americans of the modern left) really do hate America. Why is that?

Looking at a whole raft of issues he saw that the Modern Left seemed always to support "Evil, failed and wrong". Evil people. Failed policies. Wrong ideas. Examples are legion.

And yet, judging from his leftist friends (and relatives), he can see that they themselves are neither evil nor stupid. So what's the deal? Why do good and smart people support "evil and stupid"? Here's why...

We look over history and see that cultures have established their own religions, philosophies and practices, and each culture in turn has believed their own religion philosophies and practices to be true and right. 'Others' are barbarians. The Modern Left targets this 'bigotry of belief' as the cause of conflict with other cultures of different religions and practises. These conflicts become the wars and injustices that have always been evident in history, up to and including the present. It is therefore the attempt by people to be right, to find 'the one true way', which is the cause of conflict with others, and hence it is this attempt to be right which is the cause of humanity's problems.

The solution presents itself: Stop attempting to be right; stop striving after the one true way; recognize that all supposed knowledge of good and evil is little more than bigotry imposed by variable cultural factors. Instead, imagine that no one believed they were right and others wrong; that no one believed that they alone held the truth and that others were mistaken. There would be no need for conflict. There would be no need for war. No need for injustice. In short, imagine nothing to fight and die for, and no religion, too. It's easy if you try.

All that is required is that we eschew the singular evil that is 'discrimination'.

Given that we cannot/must not discriminate – categorizing some (people, cultures, behaviours) as evil or wrong, and others as good or right – how do we then explain the success of some people/cultures/behaviours and the failure of others?

Given the premise of non-discrimination – there is no 'right' and no 'wrong' – there can only be one explanation: Somehow, the successful ones cheated. Maybe the successful ones stole from the unsuccessful ones; for example, they stole their oil, or their land? The big successful countries became big and successful by stealing from the poor and the unsuccessful. It is the only explanation consistent with the basic premise of non-discrimination.

So, the unsuccessful cultures are the victims of the successful cultures. Therefore, any evil done by these unsuccessful cultures is proof, not that they are evil, but that they are victimized. And the greater the evil they do, the greater must be their victimization. How victimized must the people in the Gaza strip be, that they celebrate in the streets - handing out sweets and dancing on cars - over the deliberate mass murder of Israeli school children?

Thus is maintained the following world view: (1) We are virtuous because we don't discriminate, and because we side with the victims of discrimination, and (2) conservatives/Republicans/etc are evil because they engage in the only true evil (discrimination) and side with the victimizers.

To help promote this world view it is useful to muddy the distinction between the successful and the unsuccessful; to lift up and promote the unsuccessful, and to tear down and degrade the successful. We need to show that the results of discriminating thought, of the striving to be right, though they may appear to be good and successful (America) are actually failed and bad (Ameri-kkk-a). We need to show that unsuccessful groups are not unsuccessful because they adopt inappropriate behaviours (there are no "innapropriate" behaviours), but because they are the victims of discrimination. The schools, the movies, the courts, the media are used to push this line at every opportunity: (1) discriminating thought used to strive after the right and true fails, and (2) the refusal to discriminate, the refusal to judge some good and others bad, succeeds. Lift up the evil, failed and wrong and tear down the good, successful and right until it is all a wash; until there is no 'good' and no 'bad'; until there is nothing to discriminate between.

This is the core belief (non-discrimination) and the ultimate motivation (prove it works) behind all policy that can be characterised as Modern Left (note: not all (or even most) policy by those on the left, and not that of "old time" leftists). And it is why Modern Left policy is always wrong. Not usually wrong but sometimes right, like a stopped clock. Always wrong. It is designed to be wrong. It is designed to promote the wrong and to degrade the right; to prove to you that discrimination is the ultimate evil and that non-discrimination is the solution.

Here be Dragons

Most people look at refugees from a particular country who don't (or won't) assimilate and say “Let's try refugees from a different country instead.” The Modern Left looks at the same situation and says “No, let's get more refugees from the same country”. This scenario played out here in Australia recently, although fortunately some sort of common sense prevailed in the end. But the question lingers: Why was the counter-sensical approach the virtual reflexive response of the left?

I've seen a few people tackle this question. For example, the thesis of Evan Sayet (formerly of the left himself) is based on the idea that the left have made a fundamental axiom of the idea that "discrimination is evil". I'll go into that another time, but I came across another, more psychological, approach recently via the great Kathy Shaidle. This from Jamie Glazov who saw Soviet oppression first hand and through his family.

“The typical leftist,” Glazov explained, actually “wants to shed himself of his unwanted self and melt into a totalitarian blur. He wants to fit in. And he wants to create a disinfected earth where he doesn’t have to face the challenges that come with freedom. That disinfection demands destruction. It demands Ground Zero, so that the earthly paradise can be built on its ashes. Radical Muslims perpetrate the destruction against free societies that the leftist is dreaming of and supports. Both sides want to create paradise on earth and they cannot accept man for who and what he is. Because of that, every time they try to create heaven, they engender hell. And there is nothing baffling about this alliance. It makes total logical sense.”

"Objectively Desireable Ends"?

My comment on ChicagoBoyz:

It’s not in fact trivial to define “objectively desireable” ends. ‘Preserving the environment’ is not a complete description of an end. For example: one way to preserve the environment would be to release a virus that kills every human on earth. Hey presto, greenie heaven. So, to be complete, the cost must always be defined when stating a goal. Of course then we get into an argument as to how much we want to spend on ‘preserving the environment’. Thus it becomes a matter of subjective opinion again.
The key feature of the market is the way it generates prices. Prices give us an informed/rational basis for decisions about ‘preserving the environment’. That is they let us know how much a certain amount of ‘preserving of the environment’ is worth to us in terms of other things that we like.
On the other hand, politicians like to talk in terms of un-costed absolutes: they’re potential blank cheques signed by the taxpayer.
So at face value we are comparing a process where costs are unknown/irrelevant (politics) to a process where costs are known to a more or less exact degree. On its face which process is more likely to succeed in reaching a goal? (keeping in mind that a goal must be costed to be a real goal).