Say, Uncle

Wow, this is great: the Democratic National Committee has put out a list of officially approved talking points for denouncing thoughtcrime at Thanksgiving dinner. The site is called “Your Republican Uncle“.

Leaving aside what fun this will make Thanksgiving for everyone, and the DNC’s presumption that Democrats young enough to have living uncles can’t defend the party line with their own store of knowledge (in other words, they are expected to defend the party and its propaganda without knowing, in fact, why they ought to), it’s interesting to me that it isn’t parents this thing singles out, but uncles (and not aunts!). (Perhaps they’re counting on heritability of political dispositions, although one would think uncles would share a lot of the relevant sections of the parental genome…)

I notice also that they are counting on some awfully dumb uncles here. (Note to my nephews: try any of this on me and see how you do.) For example, the model Climate Change discussion goes like this:

Uncle Running-Dog Lickspittle Jackal: “Climate change is just a liberal scare tactic.”

Young Hero Comrade Making Glorious Struggle for Elimination of Injustice and Creation of Heavenly Kingdom on Earth: “Why are conservatives more likely to believe that climate change is a conspiracy than to acknowledge what 97% of climate scientists — and the majority of Americans — believe? Climate change is real, and it’s man made. The Republican presidential field is living in denial.”

That’s all for this topic, apparently; surely that’s enough to settle all debate. Oh, wait! Just below this devastating riposte is a link that says:

“See more (your Republican uncle is still talking)”.

The treasonous old bastard is even more of a sucker for punishment than we had imagined. So, we click the link, and the beating continues:

U.R-D.L.J: “The United States can’t stay economically competitive if we address climate change.”

Y.H.C.M.G.S.f.E.o.I.a.C.o.H.K.o.E: “Climate change itself is already taking a toll on our economy. In 2012 alone, climate and weather disasters cost the United States more than $100 billion, but despite that fact, not one GOP presidential candidate has a serious plan to stop it. Right now, other countries are making huge investments in research and development to confront this crisis with new technologies — which means new industries and new jobs. We can’t afford to fall behind them.”

And that’s that. Call the coroner, and pass the yams.

I should mention also that the passages I’ve bolded above were underlined in the original. I thought this meant they were links to informative sources, but no — they link directly to Twitter! Clicking them will send the Party message directly to your followers. (Your superiors are watching too, so get Tweeting, comrades.)

Go and have a look. In all seriousness, people: this is what we are up against. This is the modern American Left. Think for a minute about the kind of mind that would produce something like this. Think — and this should give you all a frisson of horror — about the kind of “mind” that would consume this without gagging, and deploy it as instructed.

Then go and buy emergency food supplies, bottled water, and ammo.

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Quite the firestorm of liberal outrage over that mass shooting in New Orleans, eh? (At a playground, no less.) We’ve hardly heard about anything else since it happened.

We Grope Together And Avoid Speech

Making the rounds yesterday was a stern item from Patrick Buchanan on terrorism and the modern West. An excerpt:

What has happened to a West that once ruled the world?

By any measure — military, economic, scientific — the Islamic State, compared to the West, is a joke.

What the Islamists do have, however, is this: If they can reach the West and are willing to give up their lives, and can learn how to fire an AK-47 or construct a suicide vest, they can terrify the peoples of the West by slaughtering dozens or scores of them.

For 10 days, ISIS killers have dominated world news, television, print and social media. So doing, they have engendered a real fear in the heart of Western man.

The strength of ISIS, of the Islamist militants, of those willing to die driving the “Crusaders” out of their lands, beheading infidels, imposing sharia, attacking the West, lies in an emptiness in the soul of Western Man.

Many Europeans are the “hollow men” of T. S. Eliot’s depiction.

They have repudiated their cradle faith Christianity, apologized for the sins of their fathers and sought to make reparations, embraced La Dolce Vita, materialism and hedonism, freeloaded off U.S. defense for 70 years, ceased to have children, thrown open their borders to former colonial peoples to come and repopulate the continent, and turned their back on patriotism to celebrate diversity and globalism.

They invited the world in. And the world is coming to enjoy the lavish fruits of their welfare states and, one day, will be using the West’s concept of one-man, one-vote to rule the countries that ruled their ancestors.

The colonized are slowly becoming the conquerors.

The challenge of ISIS is not entirely unhealthy. It will tell us whether Europe has the will to survive.

What will it be, then? Bang or whimper?

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Islam Takes The Lead

I note that Brussels, Belgium, is “locked down” for the third consecutive day in response to a threat of assault by Muslim fighters. Think of that! This great and gracious Western city, the capital of united Europe, is closed for business. Shops are shuttered, cafes and restaurants closed, public transportation suspended, and the streets, until recently so alive with the purpose and bustle of a modern Occidental metropolis, are nearly deserted, but for armed men. The “free” people of Brussels shelter in their homes, waiting out the siege, hoping for the best.

I suppose it would be fair to say that this, among other things, is “what ISIS wants”.

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More On “Universal” Values

The Maverick Philosopher, William Vallicella, has responded to my own reply to his thoughts on the universality of Western values.

I’ve just posted a longish comment over at his place. Read Bill’s post here.

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What ISIS Wants

I’m beginning to find it a little tiresome being told what “ISIS wants”. My irritation is in large part because people keep telling me that “what ISIS wants” is for us to do those reasonable things that any sane polity would do to eliminate a problem that is at best a serious and continuous source of trouble and grief, and at worst an existential threat.

For example, I understand that if we were to take ISIS at their word, i.e. that they are an Islamic entity that seeks to do what Islam has always said it intends to do, and in fact has always done, we would be “doing what ISIS wants”.

Well, perhaps. (I mean, if I tell someone what I’m all about for 1,400 years, and back it up with action, too, I suppose I’d “want” them to believe me, yes. Otherwise, it does get annoying, I imagine, after a few centuries go by.)

On the other hand, I have it on good authority (OK, not good authority at all; I actually heard it from Barack Obama) that if we were actually to start looking askance at, for example, mass Muslim immigration, we’d be doing “what ISIS wants”. This I find unpersuasive. I would imagine that much of what they have in mind involves disrupting our home-life, inconveniencing us in a thousand ways , and killing us en masse where they can — and try as I might, I just can’t see how all of that wouldn’t be a lot more difficult if there weren’t any of them here.

If you will forgive me, readers, I’ve actually been studying Islam pretty carefully for ten or fifteen years now, and I’ve come to understand a thing or two about it. My own understanding also coincides rather satisfyingly with what ISIS (that first ‘I’, by the way, stands for ‘Islamic’, just in case nobody’s mentioned that to you), actually says about itself, so I’m feeling pretty confident when I offer my own brief list of what I think ISIS Actually Wants.

So, here it is:

1) ISIS wants us all to be Muslims.

2) Failing that, they want… ¿cómo se dice?… ah, yes: to “fight against us until we pay the Jizya, and feel ourselves subdued.”

3) Failing that, they want us all dead.

The rest is just commentary, I’m afraid.

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The “Refugee” Question: Further Thoughts

In the discussion thread under our previous post, a commenter directed our readers’ attention to an article by Megan McArdle on the question of settling “Syrian” “refugees” in the United States. Further discussion ensued.

Ms. McArdle’s essay is helpful in that it identifies six low tactics that proponents of Syrian refugee resettlement have been using: Bible-beating, mockery, falsehood, mawkish incomprehension, straw-manning, and Western self-flagellation.

She then presses her case for U.S. resettlement with familiar arguments: we’ve assimilated all sorts of others before now; previous waves of immigrants were also regarded with a wary eye, but look how well it all worked out; most Muslims aren’t terrorists; etc.

She then says this sensible thing:

As long as you believe that it’s a good thing to help strangers at some sufficiently small cost to yourself, then we can have a reasonable discussion about whether the costs outweigh potential benefits.

That’s fair enough, I think. I’ll be happy to reply on her terms.

Ms. McArdle’s argument overlooks many important points. Here are some of them.

1) Previous waves of immigration had several distinctive differences. In particular, these were:

•   The immigrants were, almost without exception, white Europeans — and with the exception of a relatively small number of European Jews, they were all white European Christians. While there was of course some cultural distance between many of these immigrants and the nation’s founding British and Dutch stock, it was nothing like the cultural, linguistic, religious, and yes, genetic distance between that founding stock and the immigrants now pouring across our borders from the Third World. As recently as my own boyhood, the population of the United States was, to within a rounding error, 90% white people of European Christian stock, and just under 10% black. We are now in hitherto uncharted waters, and citing the history of assimilation from that very different epoch of American immigration is not nearly as relevant as refugee-settlement enthusiasts would like to imagine it is.

•   These prior waves of American immigration happened at a time when America’s population was much smaller, and when there was much greater opportunity for low-skilled labor.

•   When the last wave of mass immigration ended in 1924, America was a very different place. There was as yet no welfare state; immigrants were expected to fend for themselves, and to join the American monoculture. Moreover, it was followed by a four-decade moratorium that made it possible for the nation to digest and and assimilate the great waves of migrants it had just admitted. Now we have had, without respite, a half-century of mass immigration that has caused the foreign-born population of the nation to increase more than fourfold, while the sources of this immigration have completely changed, with Britain and Europe now contributing a negligible share. At the same time, unsurprisingly, we have gone from cultivating pride in America’s traditional culture to denouncing and rejecting it in favor of chaotic multiculturalism. It has always been difficult to assimilate new arrivals, but now not only do immigrants tend to be from radically alien cultures, but we have almost completely dismantled the social structure that once encouraged them to assimilate. (Indeed, we have reached the point where expecting them to do so is tantamount to “xenophobia”.) By providing education and other public services in foreign languages, we reduce the incentive to learn English; by providing lavish social programs and public assistance we reduce the incentive to assimilate through the workplace; and by celebrating “diversity” while denigrating the traditional American nation we encourage separateness and even resentment.

2) Most of the migrants we are proposing to settle are Muslims, and Islam is unique. Unlike the Christian faith to which nearly all pre-1965 immigrants belonged, Islam is much more than just a religion; it is also a totalizing, all-encompassing and ruthlessly expansionist political and ideological system. Here are some of its special qualities:

•   Unlike Christianity, Islam is, in its very essence, a literalist religion. Its most basic tenet, its doxastic bedrock, is that its holy Scripture, the Koran, is the literal word of Allah, as dictated to Muhammad. Because the Koran is holy as an extension of God Himself into the mortal world, its literal text is therefore holy to Muslims in exactly the same way that Jesus is to Christians. To deny this is, simply put, to reject Islam.

•   Islam makes no distinction between the temporal and the sacred. The teachings of Islam are all-encompassing, and address every aspect of life. Muhammad not only brought God’s law to the world, but as God’s Messenger and the most perfect interpreter of God’s will, during the Prophet’s lifetime he was also the temporal, political, and military leader of the faithful — and so gave Muslims, for all time, an infallible example for all of public and private life. The Shari’a, being God’s law, is and must be supreme; to place the laws of Man above the laws of God is therefore a supreme heresy. The very idea of “separation of Church and State” — or, in Christ’s words, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” — is in Islam an arch-absurdity: everything is God’s.

•   Jihad and expansionism are central to Islam; to fight unbelievers “until there is no more Fitnah [unbelief] and worship is for Allah alone” is the highest calling. This is why the term for all those parts of the world that have not submitted to Allah is “Dar-al-Harb”, or “House of War”.

•   What all of this means is that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Western norms, and that no pious Muslim can ever truly assimilate into Western secular societies. As I have written elsewhere:

The problem for the West, and for “moderate” Muslims living here, is that Islam has a perpetual, self-renewing wellspring of fundamentalism at its core. That there may always be some more liberal and secular Muslims at the fringes of the Ummah, and rifts within Islam itself over who is an apostate and who isn’t, is irrelevant.

What matters is that due to the unique nature and origins of Islam there has always been, and will always be, a powerful and persistent gravitational pull away from modernizing reforms, and toward fundamentalism — and this will always be a source of tension and conflict wherever there are large communities of Muslims living in the West.

We must keep in mind the certainty that whenever we settle any sizable number of Muslims in the West, we are also introducing a sympathetic “fifth column”, partial to the central Islamic mission of conversion, subjugation, or destruction, that will include a significant percentage of the numbers we admit. Think of the partisanship and fervor with which great numbers of Westerners now embrace the mission and the tenets of their secular religion: egalitarianism, universalism, wealth redistribution, global warming, non-discrimination, and so on — and remember that Muslims have a religion too.

3) We need not theorize about the effect of establishing large and expanding Muslim populations in Western societies; we have instructive and concrete examples before our eyes. In every European nation that has permitted substantial Islamic immigration, the results have been the same. Look at France, England, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Greece, and Italy, to name a few, and ask yourself if they are better off now — happier, more cohesive, safer, better able to operate as well-functioning social-welfare states — than they were before this madness began, when they had their ancestral homelands to themselves.

4) Immigration is the most difficult of all social policies to undo. Laws can be repealed, and agencies defunded, but demographic changes — especially those that introduce new populations with much higher birthrates than the natives — are, barring mass deportation, or worse, wars of “ethnic cleansing”, irreversible, and it is often impossible for a nation to know that it has passed a critical demographic “tipping point” until it is already too late. This alone makes an extremely powerful argument for supreme caution regarding refugee and immigration policy, especially at a time of increasing racial, ethnic and political tension.

5) As Mark Krikorian points out, it is economically inefficient to succor Mideastern refugees by bringing them here. In a recent article on this subject, he wrote the following:

The Center for Immigration Studies, which I head, recently calculated that it costs twelve times as much to resettle a refugee in the United States as it does to care for the same refugee in a neighboring country in the Middle East. The five-year cost to American taxpayers of resettling a single Middle Eastern refugee in the United States is conservatively estimated to be more than $64,000, compared with U.N. figures that indicate it costs about $5,300 to provide for that same refugee for five years in his native region.

We can help more people for less money, and at the same time avoid all the serious problems noted above, by helping them “over there”.

6) We have no way of “vetting” these “refugees”, or even of knowing who or what they are or where they really come from. Syrian passports are easily available on the black market, and various Islamist groups have made no secret of their intention to move as many jihadis as possible into the West under cover of this mass migration. Unless we can positively identify applicants as already known to us, we have almost nothing to rely on when “certifying” them; they come from ungoverned places, and any documents they might carry can easily be fraudulent. (And as I asked in my previous post: how can you “vet” beliefs, allegiances, sympathies, hatreds, and intentions?)

7) The overwhelming majority of the “Syrian” “refugees” now inundating Europe are young, military-age males, which is a very unusual composition for refugee flows. Why, we might ask, have they abandoned their homelands, their women, and their children, to flee to safety and relative comfort in the West? If the United States were to face an internal enemy like ISIS, don’t you think young American males — at least those worthy of our respect and our assistance — would stay home and fight? Why don’t these young men?

8) Even the settlement in the West of Muslim women and children bears a hidden cost, in that it is often the children and grandchildren of Muslim immigrants — those who are poorly assimilated, yet have no memory of the hell their parents fled to come to the safety and prosperity of the West — who are most easily radicalized, and become the “home-grown” threat we now face all over Europe, and here at home.

Given all of this, then, I think that the balance of the arguments falls strongly against the resettlement of Muslim refugees in the United States, and that the governors and legislators who have opposed the idea, along with a large majority of Americans, are right to do so. To denounce and rebuke such prudence as mere bigotry or xeno-“phobia” is as foolish as it is morally obtuse.

Postscript, November 22nd: As I write, the ancient city of Brussels — the capital city of united Europe — has been under lockdown since yesterday in response to a threat of “imminent” terrorist assault, while New York City, though separated from the heart of Islam by thousands of miles and a vast ocean, is mounting major anti-terror exercises.

As the far-seeing Lawrence Auster wrote long ago:

This is our future, FOREVER, unless we stop Muslim immigration and initiate a steady out-migration of Muslims from the West until their remaining numbers are a small fraction of what they are now and there are no true believers among the ones that remain. Travelers from Muslim countries must be tightly restricted as well. Muslims must be essentially locked up inside the Muslim lands, with only carefully screened individuals allowed into the non-Muslim world.

The enemy are among us, in America, in Britain, in the West, and will remain so until we remove them from the West and indeed from the entire non-Muslim world. As extreme as this sounds, it is a no-brainer. There is no other solution. All other responses to this problem add up to meaningless hand-wringing. The hand-wringing will go on FOREVER, along with the terrorist attacks and the threat of terrorist attacks, until we take the ONLY STEPS that can actually and permanently end the threat.

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Katy, Bar The Door

The idea of settling myriads of Syrian “refugees” here in the U.S. is, I’m glad to see, meeting some heavy headwinds. Dozens of governors have refused to comply, and now the House has passed a bill that seeks to make the “vetting” process more rigorous. (That latter, though, is really just a gesture; “vetting” Muslim asylum-seekers based on Mideastern record-keeping and our own anti-terrorism databases is nothing more than a comforting illusion. How do you “vet” beliefs, allegiances, sympathies, hatreds, and intentions?)

One thing I’ve been hearing a lot is that to refuse mass admission of this wave of migrants is no different from our turning away of Jewish refugees in the 1930s. This is hogwash, as an excellent piece by Ian Tuttle, writing at NRO, explains:

This is prima facie nonsense, which should be obvious from the terms being compared: Jews, an ethnic group, with Syrians, a national one. An honest, apples-to-apples comparison would line up German Jews and Syrian Muslims — the relevant ethnic group within the relevant political entity. But do this, and the failure of the analogy becomes clear. The first, and most obvious, difference: There was no international conspiracy of German Jews in the 1930s attempting to carry out daily attacks on civilians on several continents. No self-identifying Jews in the early 20th century were randomly massacring European citizens in magazine offices and concert halls, and there was no “Jewish State” establishing sovereignty over tens of thousands of square miles of territory, and publicly slaughtering anyone who opposed its advance. Among Syrian Muslims, there is. The vast majority of Syrian Muslims are not party to these strains of radicalism and violence, but it would be dangerous to suggest that they do not exist, or that our refugee-resettlement program need not take account of them.

There’s much more. Read it here. (And read the other linked items once you get there, in particular this one.)

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When I was a young man (and dinosaurs trod the earth), if a person found himself accidentally obstructing someone’s way, he said: “Excuse me.”

This is no longer so. Now, everyone says: “Sorry”.

Why is this? When I first noticed this change, a year or two a ago, I thought nothing much of it. Now I’m not so sure; I think it must be diagnostic, somehow.

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From James Taranto’s Best of the Web, today:

“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of—not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, OK, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people.”

Those words were spoken yesterday by Secretary of State John Kerry. The reference to “legitimacy” calls to mind the remark that ended the political career of Todd Akin. But although Kerry’s statement was every bit as stupid as Akin’s, it was far more evil. Not only does he rationalize the mass murder of journalists; that rationalization is a fallback from his initial, impulsive though impolitic position that those murders had “legitimacy.”

The most charitable way to sum up Kerry’s view is that he believes discrimination is a mitigating factor when it comes to terrorist attacks—that murder isn’t as bad when the victim is someone who has publicly espoused views the killer finds abhorrent. The word for a murder carried out with this sort of extreme prejudice is assassination, and it is ordinarily considered even worse than murdering at random.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo, no less than the attacks last week, were intended “to terrorize people.” But the Charlie Hebdo attacks were also intended to terrorize people into silence. It was an attack on free speech as well as on freedom and Western civilization more generally. Kerry’s rationalizing of it is arguably the most un-American thing he has ever said in public—and that’s saying a lot, given that he made a name for himself slandering American military servicemen.

Kerry’s insouciance about the Charlie Hebdo assassinations also runs counter to one of the administration’s central talking points. We are given to understand that the source of the terrorists’ grievance against Charlie Hebdo was its practice of caricaturing Muhammad, the prophet of Islam; such representations are contrary to Shariah, or Islamic law. But Kerry himself went on to say “it has nothing to do with Islam.” So why would terrorists murder people over Shariah violations? What are they, compassionate progressives trying to create safe spaces?

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Ursa Major

Today’s NightWatch newsletter consisted mostly of a detailed report on Russian actions in the Middle East. I don’t do this often, as I do not want to violate fair use of their content, but I will reproduce this section of the newsletter in its entirety below the fold. (If you have an interest in international security and strategy, NightWatch is an indispensable resource, and I urge you to subscribe.)

In brief, Russia has unleashed hell, as they are occasionally wont to do, and do well. They have also made it clear to all that they are now the “big dog” in the region.

Key excerpt (my emphasis):

General Comment: A Wall Street Journal expert commented that Russia has become the indispensable nation in the war against terrorism. Russia clearly has filled the leadership position. That will continue at least as long as it takes to find and kill the terrorists who destroyed the Russian airliner.

Militarily, Russian operations today are the third time that Russian forces have practiced weapons deliveries that demonstrate new or rebuilt capabilities. The first demonstration was the sustained air operations from Humaymim in Latakia. The second was the long range cruise missile strikes from the Caspian Sea.

The third demonstration has included the surge air attack capability using Long Range Aviation assets; the use of bombers for delivering air-launched cruise missiles in the highest number of air strikes to date in a single day; and the submarine-launched cruise missile strike.

The Russians are using the Syrian civil war for live fire training on systems, tactics and operations. This is reminiscent of German military practice in the Spanish Civil War. In the meantime, they also are defending the Ba’athist government in Damascus.

Read More »

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Are Values Universal?

Writing at his blog The Maverick Philosopher, our friend Bill Vallicella gave our “What Now?” post a commendatory link. I thank him for that. Bill is a serious thinker — a highly trained expert in thinking itself, with a professional philosopher’s expertise in detecting and clearing away rubbish — and I’m always glad to have him “sign off” on something I’ve written. (It doesn’t always happen; he and I have had sharp disagreements on other topics over the years, particularly regarding what’s called “philosophy of mind”. But when it comes to political matters, we almost always agree.)

In his prior post, Bill reviews, with approval, Mark Steyn’s published comments on the Paris attacks. Again, he and I (or all three of us, I should say) are in broad agreement, except for one thing: Bill takes exception to Mr. Steyn’s understanding of the phrase “universal values”.

Mr. Steyn had said:

Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight’s events as “an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”.

But that’s not true, is it? He’s right that it’s an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity”. And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.

In response, Bill said this:

This is very good and needs to be said and endlessly repeated for the sake of self-enstupidated liberals, but I think Mr Steyn stumbles on one important point, and in a way that may give aid and comfort to relativism. The values of the West are universal values. They are not Western values or Caucasian values except per accidens. They are universal, not in that they are recognized by all, but in that they are valid for all. If a proposition is true, it is true for all including those who are unwilling or unable to recognize its truth. If a value is valid or binding or normative it is these things for all including those who are unwilling or unable to recognize its validity.

This is very important. There is no such thing as Western physics; there is just physics. There is no such distinction as that between German physics and Jewish physics any more than there is a distinction between Protestant and Catholic mathematics. There are Muslim mathematicians, but no Islamic mathematics. There are Arabic numerals but no Arabic numbers. If a mathematically competent Arab and a mathematically competent Roman do a sum they will get the same result despite the difference in their notations. When a Palestinian terrorist makes a bomb he relies on the same underlying science as does the Israeli surgeon who re-attaches a severed limb. There is no such thing as Soviet philology or Soviet biology. If Judeo-Christian values are valid and life-enhancing then they are Judeo-Christian only per accidens.

There is no contradiction in saying that salvation came from the Jews and that this salvation is salvation for all. “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” Odd, but possible.

The fact that the science of nature and the discernment of universal values “sprang from a relatively narrow segment of humanity” does not make them any less universal.

(Bill then gives Mr. Steyn some wiggle room: “In fairness to Steyn, however, he may be using using ‘universal values’ to mean ‘universally recognized values.'”)

It seems to me that Bill here does not distinguish sufficiently between truths and values. Truths, if true, are indeed universal, just as they are objective. Even if a truth is only a fact about a particular person or object — even if it is, for example, a truth about a person’s subjective experience — its truth is not subjective. (I may see green where you see red, but “Malcolm sees green” is just as true for you as it is for me.)

Values are different. They are inseparably bound to the entity whose values they are. Values manifest themselves as preferences, dispositions, affinities, and aversions.

Where do values come from? In general values represent some interest of their owner, and such interests range from such hard-wired preferences as biological survival and the survival of our offspring, to whether one roots for the Yankees or the Red Sox. In particular, many of the most important valuations humans make have a social context; in addition to valuing such obvious things as food, pleasure, comfort, sex, and shelter, humans tend to value those things that elevate their status in their group, and that help their group compete with other groups. Indeed, for creatures like us, social values can often trump more personal interests — because if your group is wiped out, you are too. Humans will make tremendous personal sacrifices both for the well-being of the group, and to attain and signal high status in whatever way it is acquired and displayed.

What this means is that different populations, isolated from one another over long periods and subject to different environmental pressures, may develop different strategies for improving their overall fitness, and different forms of social order. This will in turn manifest itself as variation in the valuations different groups assign to different rules and behaviors. According to their different traits and qualities, for example, some human groups may find strength in individual freedom, others in disciplined conformity. Some may fare better under democracy, while others need “strong-man” leadership. Some may value doubt, others belief. And so on.

(What’s the higher value? Liberty, or equality? Each comes, after all, at the expense of the other. You probably have an opinion. Is it universal?)

Let me put this another way: for a fish, a pre-eminent “value” is to be, at all times, fully immersed in water. This is not the case for a cat. Human groups may not differ from each other as much as fishes and cats do — but they differ enough, I think, that one group’s cherished value can be another’s damnable sin.

It is possible, of course, that in some objective sense there is one “optimal” set of human valuations, and that this world is a battle-royal in which all value-systems are to be tested, with the outcome yet to be determined. But is survival our only criterion? The Shakers placed high value on celibacy, and so became extinct. Does that mean their values are less “true” than those of fecund Taliban fundamentalists?

Different values, then, are simply a manifestation of the spectrum of human differences, of their different styles and interests. I prefer traditional Western values, but I think it is an unwarranted generalization — and a dangerous conceit — to imagine that they are universal. (They aren’t even universal any more over here, it seems.) They are simply the way that my people, my civilization, expresses itself and pursues its interests.

I should emphasize in the strongest possible terms that this is no brief for relativism, or multiculturalism: if values are not universal, and there is no absolute criterion by which to rank them (as the choice of such a criterion is itself a matter of valuations that will vary from population to population), then there is no reason that I should not choose the survival and well-being of my own civilization, on its own terms, to be among my highest values — and no reason I shouldn’t keep its values as my own, to cherish, preserve, and defend.

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Eppur, Si Muove!

Commenting on a recent post, our reader “John” writes:

…the urge to speak truth to leftist insanity is immense.

But by doing so you expose yourself to tremendous risk…

Yes, I’ve thought about that a lot. Most bloggers who write from a contrarian position about these things seem to use noms de plume. In fact, I do have another blog I’ve set up for this purpose, but I almost never post anything to it. I prefer to speak under my own name — not because I’m trying to be “brave”, which this really isn’t at all, but just because it feels more honest, and because I have a right to, and because I’m ornery. (Running into that theater in Paris to try to save the people inside, knowing you are overwhelmingly likely to be killed: that’s brave. Writing grumpy blog-posts from the comfort and safety of my home is not.)

I’ll be 60 in the spring, and I am mostly retired now (I still work a couple of days a week writing code, and have the occasional recording project). I’m really not daunted, at this point, by the prospect of losing my job, which is what keeps a lot of younger reactionaries running for cover. I suppose that I might run into trouble while traveling, if things really go south, but I am hardly famous, and I doubt this blog even appears on any government’s radar. (Or, for that matter, any jihadi’s.) And so far, here in America we still have Constitutional protections for the free expression of heterodox opinions, even if you might lose a friend or two, or some customers, or your job. Any “risk”, then, is for me mostly social, and at this point I really don’t care. I know who my friends are.

So for now, I’ll just keep speaking my mind under my own name. I’m really only trying to do my civilization a favor, after all.

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Le Meta-Petard

In an essay about the Paris attacks, Richard Fernandez writes:

The dilemma the West now faces is that it cannot survive on the basis of the platform which its elites have carefully constructed since WW2. They are being beaten to death with their own lofty statements. They must either continue to uphold the vision of open borders, multiculturalism, declining birthrates, unilateral disarmament and a growing state sector at all costs — in other words continue on the road to suicide — or retreat. As recent events at American campuses have shown, when faced with the choice of saving the Left and saving the actual world, the odds are that “the world” goes over the side first.

In attempting to survive on its own terms, the Left will tear itself apart. In its agony it will destroy much else. It may be that Europe will rediscover its culture; it is possible it will develop the will to defend itself; it is conceivable it will hold off extreme fascist movements; it could even plausibly reconstruct its demography. But it cannot do this without an upheaval that will leave nothing unscathed.

Does this ring a bell? Here’s a quote:

“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

That’s right! It’s item #4 from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

I suppose there is some sweet irony to be savored here — indeed, a “meta-irony”, in that a rule about turning an enemy’s own rules against him has itself become the very rule that the enemy retaliates with — but the context is rather too depressing.

Paging Douglas Hosfstadter…

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What Now?

I have said this before, and I will say it again: allowing mass Muslim immigration is the stupidest and most irreversibly self-destructive thing that any Western nation can do. So in the wake of the Paris attacks, is it reasonable to imagine that Western nations, reeling from yet another inevitable and predictable act of jihad, will do, at last, what they obviously must do: namely, to declare an immediate moratorium on Muslim immigration?

There are already many in the West who understand this obvious necessity, and there are many who will now reluctantly awaken to it. But there are also many — and their numbers are legion — for whom it is a moral imperative to deny, despite the evidence of both the centuries and of recent hours, that Islam is what it is, what it always has been, and what it always will be. They must deny also the plainly evident truth that in any population of Muslims there will always be many who see things exactly as their Prophet, by holy word and holy deed, taught them to, and for whom the Ummah must never rest until all of humankind bends its knee to the will of Allah. These good and kindly people will continue to believe that, if we open our hearts and borders to them, Muslims who come to live in the bosom of the Dar al-Harb will somehow become completely indistinguishable from, and smoothly fungible with, the various Brits, Swedes, Germans, Austrians, Frenchmen, etc., among whom they have been allowed to settle in the millions, and whom they will swiftly outbreed and displace. And they will still believe — somehow they must believe this, although I cannot for the life of me understand how any sane person can continue to do so — that as a result, the aforementioned indigenes will be happier than they would have been had they kept their nations to themselves.

Millions of Europeans are now awakening, with horror, from this decades-long seizure of madness. They are rising, and they are arming themselves. (After mocking America’s gun culture for generations, suddenly Europeans are beginning to understand their peril, and long guns — particularly shotguns, which in some places are less severely restricted than handguns and rifles — are in great demand.)

What next? How will the struggle between these three forces — the awakening native peoples of Europe, their ruling classes still deep in the grip of universalist madness even as their nations groan in extremis, and the millions of Muslims already within their borders — proceed?

Last week John Derbyshire, in a thoughtful essay, listed five possibilities:

Scenario One: Absorption. All will be well. The migrants, in whatever numbers choose to come, will enrich and energize our tired, aging societies. They will take on our liberal values and become good Europeans, Americans, and Canadians.

Scenario Two: Restriction. Political pressure from their native populations will force receiving nations to stem the flow. Fences will go up, coastal patrols will commence; but those illegals who are in, will be allowed to stay in.

Scenario Three: Rejection. There will be a real uprising of native peoples. Illegals will be deported en masse to their countries of origin.

Scenario Four: Surrender. The native European and European-descended populations, enervated by soft living and psychologically disarmed by globalist propaganda, will yield up their societies to the invaders.

Scenario Five: Fragmentation. Some part or parts of the First World will opt for one of the foregoing scenarios, some other part or parts for a different one.

At the time, he assigned them the following zero-sum probabilities, respectively: 0%, 50-60%, 5%, 10%, and 25-35%. But this was before Paris. (That shouldn’t have mattered, in my opinion, because Paris or something like it was already inevitable, just as future such atrocities are. But I think Derb might assign different values today.)

Above all, I think fragmentation is almost certain. I simply do not think the EU will stand much longer. Already, nations are acting on their own, in ways that would have been very unlikely indeed just a year ago. This means that restriction, at least, will be widespread. But in addition to the fragmentation of the EU itself into its several nations, there is going to be, in many of those nations, severe internal fragmentation as well, as a surging tide of nationalist sentiment collides with the blithe and dreamy universalism that has so ensorcelled much of Europe over the past half-century of peace and comfort. This will accelerate sharply as further attacks and social decay occur — which they almost certainly will, especially given the sudden infiltration of great hordes of angry young Muslim men into the heart of the Continent. Europe is now, for the third time in a hundred years, a great, oil-soaked pyre, waiting to be lit.

As always, many of our news outlets are calling yesterday’s assault a “tragedy”. It was nothing of the sort. It was an act of Islamic jihad upon the House of War, the latest salvo in a great struggle that has lasted almost fourteen centuries. The real “tragedy” is that it did not have to be this way. The West, towering over the Ummah in both economic and military power for centuries now, could easily have avoided all of this had it not fallen prey to a lethal memetic infection I have named the “cultural immunodeficiency virus” (see here and here, and also here). It could have had its pacifism, and its socialism, and its peace, and its prosperity, for decades to come, had it spared only its pathological universalism. That we are still deeply in the grip of this mortiferous delusion was once again made frighteningly clear in Barack Obama’s remarks upon hearing of yesterday’s attacks:

“This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

Or, as another man said on a similar occasion:

“As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

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In a comment to a recent post, I expressed a dark sentiment that is as close as any sympathetic and historically literate observer of this late stage of Western civilization can realistically come to “hope”: namely that when the pathogen now ravaging our culture has assaulted enough of its tissues and vital organs, it will at last provoke a powerful immune reaction.

Surveying the news tonight, I think that moment may now be approaching.

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The Fall

I’ve always loved this season. Here are a few of the snapshots that have piled up on my smart-phone this autumn.

Turkeys in my front yard the other day (they should be more careful this time of year, especially keeping in mind that we grow a lot of cranberries out here):

Cape Cod Bay from Bound Brook Island:

Clouds above Duck Harbor at sunset:

The crown of a maple tree in Prospect Park:

Sun through leaves in Prospect Park:

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Phase 2: ?

In what I think is called “must-see TV”, Neil Cavuto interviews one Keely Mullen, of the Million Student March, on the details of her plan. Here.

It Is Balloon

Here’s an excerpt from a post I wrote five years ago. It still seems current, so I thought I’d repost it here today.

The expanded modern liberal Western mind, stripped of reverence for its cultural heritage — and having shed, as a snake sheds an outgrown skin, the scaffolding and buttresses of traditional standards and valuations with whose support it was originally constructed — now floats, weightless, somewhere above the ground, inflated and unmoored, with no point of leverage from which to engage the massive objects moving all around it. It can only push against its internal parts, standing on one piece of itself to grapple with another; it has no longer any place to stand from which it can seize and take the measure of anything outside itself. It occupies a seductively agreeable vantage; from above the hills and valleys one can see a long way. But as it drifts away, it leaves behind on the ground below some very attractive real-estate — our ancient home and birthright — that will not lie vacant for long.

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Amoebic Dissent

Commenting on the chaos on college campuses in recent weeks, our reader ‘Whitewall’ asks:

“…may [there] be cracks forming in one of the supports of The Cathedral?”

I don’t see it that way. Keep in mind that what we call the “Cathedral” is a large complex of distinct components: thousands of academic, media and political institutions. Even though, as Moldbug puts it, “Cthulhu only swims left”, it is difficult to maintain perfect Gleischaltung between the myriad moving parts of this great organism, and some of them will occasionally get out in front of the others.

In fact, there is an even better analogy, I think, for the locomotion of the Left through our institutions than the swimming Cthulhu (in which metaphor the institutions themselves are mere remoras attached to a great and unseen Leviathan that swims relentlessly left). Think of the way an amoeba moves: it extends a part of itself as a bulging “bleb”, and then once this salient has established itself in the new position, the amoeba pours the rest of itself into it. Already we see this happening with regard to the Mizzou pseudopod.

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Beyond Time, Beyond Strife

From the ridiculous — see yesterday’s posts — to the sublime: The Lark Ascending, by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

On The Hustings

Just watched some of the GOP debate. Best moment of the evening: George Will quoted on Twitter as calling John Kasich “a Roman candle of undiagrammable sentences.”

Carly Fiorina did well tonight, except I think she wants to start World War III. (Rand Paul noticed that too.) Jeb Bush, who really should, at this point, be thinking about what else he might do with his autumn years, praised “moderate Islamists” and an “explosion of natural gas”. Marco Rubio sweats a lot, and seems to make nothing but prepared statements. (Is he really going to be 35 by November 2016?)

Donald Trump and Ben Carson are still whatever it is they are. (Donald Trump even more so, if that was possible.)

The moderators were pretty good, I thought.

Only a year of this to go!

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A Monumental Precedent

Heather Mac Donald — whom, I am happy to say, I had the pleasure of meeting last night — weighs in here on the Left’s newest weapon in its “long march” through the institutions of our civilization. It’s a doozie, too: college athletics.

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More Is Less

Here’s a headline from today’s Washington Post:

A decade into a project to digitize U.S. immigration forms, just 1 is online

The cost? So far, a billion dollars, of your money and mine. By the time the project is completed, in oh, three more years, we’re told, it should be over three billion. (Unless, of course, it ends up taking longer and costing more.)

One imagines that if this were being done by, say, Amazon, it might proceed more efficiently — and, more to the point, that if something like this had ended up being unfinished after a decade, that there would be unpleasant consequences (that word again!) for whoever had been responsible for getting the job done.

This is not Amazon, though; it is our vast and opaque, unelected and completely unaccountable fourth branch of government, the Federal bureaucracy. This is the swollen, necrotic organism that seeks to administer every aspect of our lives, and for which even the great rivers of our money that pour from our wallets into its bottomless coffers — here the ‘Amazon’ comparison is more apposite — are never enough.

Regarding that, here’s another item from the news: our national debt is not the paltry $18 trillion you’ve been hearing about, but is, rather, at least three-and-a-half times that amount.

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The other day I spotted a few headlines that I thought bore some connection to one another. They were:

Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds


Small Towns Face Rising Suicide Rates.


Americans becoming less religious, especially young adults.

There was also this:

Illinois District Violated Transgender Student’s Rights, U.S. Says.

The theme that linked them was, to me, quite obvious; it is the same thing that makes caged lions waste away in zoos, or Indians on their reservations. I was reminded also of Brian W. Aldiss’s haunting short story The Failed Men (also titled Ahead), about time-travelers who go far into the human future, to find a race of men that have lost all purpose and are gradually, morosely, lying down to die. I had a fine, dismal post taking shape in my mind when I went out for an hour-long walk today, and had planned to write it up when I got back.

As I walked, however, I listened to John Derbyshire’s latest podcast, in which, after a fine first half devoted to Europe’s existential crisis, he picked up exactly the same stories, and commented on them exactly as I was about to. So I’ll save myself the trouble and send you off to have a listen. (That’s two links to Derb in almost as many days, but what can I say? The man’s on a roll.)

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In the comment-thread to a recent post on hoplophobes, our reader ‘libertybelle’ put up a link to an excellent essay defining three human types. It deserves promotion to the front page.

We read:

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath — a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog…

Having been bullied by “wolves” as a soft and bookish schoolboy, I began to study southern-Chinese martial arts in my teens — in other words, to develop my “capacity for violence”. (For this I owe a debt of gratitude to my father, who was a judo master, and who started me on this path; and to grandmaster William Chung, my sifu for the first decade of my training, whose harsh discipline made a man of me.) I have practiced this difficult system of scientific violence ever since, and have been teaching it for the past thirty-five years.

This is the attitude that has been drilled into my head from the beginning: that violence is to be avoided whenever possible, but applied without hesitation or remorse when necessary. Those who can master this have a duty, to the people around them and the civilization they love, to be what the author of this article calls “sheepdogs”.

Read the whole thing here.

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Switch Off The Future

I don’t write about music much these days (though it’s starting to seem so pointless to write about the things I have been writing about that I should probably do so more often). But if any of you are fans of the musical genre known as “progressive rock”, I have something for you, something that I think you probably haven’t heard. It’s from the album Fear of a Blank Planet, by the musical polymath Steven Wilson’s band Porcupine Tree.

The album is a darkly themed vision of rootlessness and anomie; the atomized modern world seen through the eyes of a young and disaffected adolescent boy. It’s a strong record throughout — one of the best of the genre ever made, in my opinion — but what I want you to hear is the last song, Sleep Together. (Whether the title is about sex or something more final, I’ll leave up to you.)

Much of the strength of this track is due to the thunderous drumming of the Gavin Harrison, but the climactic ending of the song — featuring a hair-raising orchestral arrangement by the enormously gifted Dave Stewart — is something else altogether.

Make sure you won’t be interrupted. And play it loud.


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Odd Couple

I grew up in rural western New Jersey, where guns, and hunting, were ubiquitous. There was no mystique about them, and no agenda; they were just another thing. I learned to shoot as a little boy, and used to love plinking with a .22 at the farm down the road where my best friend lived. I am still a gun owner, and consider our Second Amendment rights to be fundamental, and a priori — an extension of a “natural” right to self-preservation and the defense of liberty that is not “granted” by the Constitution, but pre-exists it, and is only acknowledged and protected by it. (I realize that the idea of “natural rights” is philosophically controversial, but the right to survival, and therefore self-defense, is one that a rational actor will “naturally” claim whether it is acknowledged or not, and it is in that sense that I use the term.)

My lovely wife Nina, on the other hand, grew up in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Her father (who was in many ways a very remarkable man indeed) was a committed pacifist (in fact, he won a landmark case in which he claimed conscientious-objector status on non-religious grounds during World War II). His aversion to firearms was so absolute that when Nina and her brother were little they were not even allowed to watch TV shows with guns in them. All of this rubbed off on my Nina, who finds guns horrifying, and has never touched one in her life.

While my wife’s upbringing was more hoplophobic than most, this sort of divergence is not uncommon in American marriages — and as you’d expect, far more often than not the differences fall out along predictable male-female lines. Here, then, is a thoughtful and understanding piece by a progressive woman, no lover of guns, who is married to a man who sees things otherwise. It’s a brief article, and well worth your time. (It also makes a nice companion piece to the item we linked to here.)

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Sol Invictus

NASA has just released a painstakingly crafted, half-hour high-resolution video of the Sun. It is fantastic. See it here, and make sure to watch it full-screen.

Sex As Quantum Observation

Conception collapses the biological Eigenfunktion: from an infinite probability-cloud of sperm and ova is instantiated a particular actuality.

Hold That Thought!

“Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.”

— Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

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Living Doll

Where we’ve got to with humanoid robots, here.

Society As Viscoelastic Liquid

There was a lot of push-back in yesterday’s elections: a new, conservative governor in Kentucky, a “gun-control” defeat in Virginia, a restroom reaction in Houston, a “sanctuary sheriff” defeated in San Francisco, and a pot-legalization defeat in Ohio, to name a few.

Longtime readers will know that “I never metaphor I didn’t like”, so here’s today’s:

When I was a kid, we had a toy called Silly Putty (for all I know, it’s still out there). It was a blob of pink goo sold in a little plastic egg. It was funny stuff: if you rolled it up into a ball, it would bounce, but if you just let it dangle from your fingers, it would sloooowly drip, like a liquid. In other words, it had a curious property known as “deformation-rate-dependent viscosity”.

Well, that’s what we saw yesterday: it appears that even now, there’s a limit to how quickly you can deform the American culture. It remains to be seen, though, if there are any limits on how far you can go if you take your time.

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Corruption In Eastern Europe: Tail Or Dog?

From a review, by Roger Scruton, of Russell Kirk’s America’s British Culture (1993):

Kirk identifies a culture in anthropological fashion, as a set of “folkways”—inherited forms, procedures, expectations, and customs, which together define a communal way of life. Four principal folkways define America’s British inheritance: the English language and its literature, the rule of law, representative government, and the moral habits and beliefs which Tocqueville identified as the moeurs of the American people. Kirk gives a characteristic account of each of these, and shows how, between them, they have formed modern America as a society that is tolerant, free, welcoming towards newcomers while also proud of its traditions, and conscious of its past.

Of course, there are comparable phenomena in other parts of the globe. Latin America has a common language, and (albeit short-lived) spells of lawful and representative government. The mores of the British are shared, in part, by the Norwegians and the Danes; while the rule of law is common to European countries outside the former Communist empire, and north of the line of corruption that extends from Lisbon to Athens, via Madrid and Rome. The interest of Dr. Kirk’s analysis lies in two facts: first, the attempt to describe what is distinctive in our moral and political heritage; second, in the unashamed defense of these things as the foundation of America’s freedom and stability.

“The mores of the British are shared, in part, by the Norwegians and the Danes; while the rule of law is common to European countries outside the former Communist empire, and north of the line of corruption that extends from Lisbon to Athens, via Madrid and Rome.” Why is this? What is this “line of corruption”, and why does it exist?

The line, it turns out, is the one that keeps appearing whenever we peer closely at European societies. Does the culture corrupt the people, or do the people corrupt the culture? At her always-fascinating blog, “hbd chick” — to whom I really must link more often, as she is one of the keenest and most inquisitive writers anywhere to be found on the subject of human diversity — takes a look.

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Magic Dirt

In a completely off-topic comment to a recent post, our resident Leftist gadfly mentioned the Higgs boson.

By a strange coincidence, John Derbyshire just mentioned it too!


Mutatis Mutandis

A central theme of “neoreaction”, which draws a direct line from 17th-century New England to post-modern liberalism, is that modern Leftism, and therefore the cultural, ideological, academic and political framework of the 21st-century West, is a religion in search of a God. (As someone once said, the easiest way to understand the state of affairs today is to assume that “Massachusetts conquered the world”.) I’ve been banging on this point myself for years now.

Among the foremost candidates for the God-role have been equality, “social justice”, and Nature; among the religion’s many Crusades (or, as Anne Hutchinson or Cotton Mather might have put it, “missions into the wilderness”) have been abolitionism, women’s suffrage, Prohibition, civil rights, the “sexual revolution”, feminism, pacifism, abortion, environmentalism, and, lately, multiculturalism, gun control, “white privilege”, and “climate change”.

(If you would like to learn more about this unbroken chain of ideological heritage, I urge you to read The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism, by George McKenna, and Paul Gottfried’s Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy. You should also, of course, read Curtis Yarvin, a.k.a ‘Mencius Moldbug’; a good place to begin is his Gentle Introduction series, which you can find links to here.)

It seems now that this realization is beginning to seep into the mainstream. Here’s Brett Stephens, pointing it out in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

In human affairs the religious impulse does not die; it just takes new forms.

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You Can Never Be Too Virtuous

Following on our previous post, I”d be remiss not to bring to your attention a white-paper from the French-based Société de Calcul Mathématique, which specializes in complex mathematical modeling, on the “climate change” cryptoreligion.

In the paper’s summary, we read:

All public policies, in France, Europe and throughout the world, find their origin and inspiration in the battle against global warming. The initial credo is simple: temperatures at the surface of the planet have been rising constantly for the past thirty years, and human beings are to blame.

This is leading to all sorts of discussions, conferences and regulations, which are having an enormous impact on our economy. Every area of activity is affected: transport, housing, energy – to name just a few. Why do we need to save energy? It is quite simple: we have to reduce human impact on the planet. This is the fundamental credo.

The impact on the entire field of scientific research is particularly clear and especially pernicious. No project can be launched, on any subject whatsoever, unless it makes direct reference to global warming. You want to look at the geology of the Garonne Basin? It is, after all, an entirely normal and socially useful subject in every respect. Well, your research will be funded, approved and published only if it mentions the potential for geological storage of CO2. It is appalling.

The crusade has invaded every area of activity and everyone‘s thinking: the battle against CO2 has become a national priority. How have we reached this point, in a country that claims to be rational?

At the root lie the declarations made by the IPPC, which have been repeated over the years and taken up by the European Commission and the Member States. France, which likes to see itself as the ‘good boy of Europe‘, adds an extra layer of virtue to every crusade. When others introduce reductions, we will on principle introduce bigger reductions, without ever questioning their appropriateness: a crusade is virtuous by its very nature. And you can never be too virtuous.

But mathematicians do not believe in crusades; they look at facts, figures, observations and arguments.

The paper is long, and painstakingly detailed. There is a lot I could excerpt, but I’ll just leave you with this:

Conclusions based on any kind of model should be disregarded. As the SCM specializes in building mathematical models, we should also be recognized as competent to criticize them. Models are useful when attempting to review our knowledge, but they should not be used as an aid to decision-making until they have been validated… validating a climate model requires thousands of years.

… and this:

In a democracy, there is an opposition, and this opposition has a right, in principle, to express its views: this is what distinguishes democracy from dictatorship. But when it comes to the questions about global warming that we are talking about here, the opposition – people who do not believe in global warming – have been told to shut up: no public debate, no contradictory discourse, no articles in scientific journals. They have simply been told that the case is proven and it is time to take action.

In law, there is a fundamental principle known as the “adversarial principle”. A case can be thrown out of court if the defense is not informed of every known element of the accusation. Even if twenty people have witnessed the abominable criminal commit his offense, if the defense has not had access to blood-sample analyses, the case will be thrown out. In the case of global warming, a number of bodies are telling us they have all the evidence, but refuse to tell us what it is. The data have been processed, but how? Time series have been altered, but why? Some phenomena have been left out of the equation, but on what grounds? We do not know, and we are simply required to keep quiet and do what we are told. No second opinion is permitted. It is on the debris of the fundamental principles of the law and of democracy that this White Paper has been written.

And that’s the point: how is it possible, in this era of universal doubt — in which every sacred thing, every founding principle and honored tradition, is dissolved in the acid of radical skepticism — that we are to be shunned, reviled, and kicked to the curb for doubting this? What more evidence do you need in order to understand that we are confronting, here, our new official religion?

Read the whole thing here.

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Ice, Ice, Baby

If you’ve been reading the news carefully, you may have noticed some stories about something that used to be called “global warming”, and is now, I think, referred to as “climate change”. The idea, if I understand it correctly, is that the Earth is getting warmer — which of course it has done often in the past, this being a relatively cool spell, in geological time-spans. From what I can gather it appears also that some people think this is due to human activity, and — I know this seems even more of a stretch, but stay with me here — that we can actually control the climate ourselves, if we are willing to stop using fossil fuels and subjugate everything we do to the supervisory control of a global panel of experts. This is also imagined to be not only “worth it”, but is somehow seen to be morally necessary as well.

The idea, simply put, is that carbon dioxide, as a “greenhouse gas”, traps heat, and we emit too much of the stuff. But, as the eminent physicist Freeman Dyson pointed out some years ago, water vapor is a far more potent greenhouse gas, and so the effect of CO2 should be evident primarily in the coldest parts of the Earth, where there is little water vapor in the air.

You’ll be relieved, then, to know that both the Arctic and Antarctic are doing just fine, ice-wise. In fact, instead of losing ice, as we were assured they would, they’re making more of the stuff.

If, by the way, you are the sort who likes to think, shall we say, “independently” about these things, and would like a good source of data for your inquiries, you might have a look here.

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Truth Or Consequences

When a society comes to believe that nothing should have consequences, it soon will face very serious consequences indeed.

House Of Pudding

In a fine rant, Fred Reed examines the national character, and finds it wanting. We read:

The United States has become a nation of weak, pampered, easily frightened, helpless milquetoasts who have never caught a fish, fired a gun, chopped a log, hitchhiked across the country, or been in a schoolyard fight. If their cat dies, they call a grief therapist. Everything frightens Americans.

Healthy masculinity. The new America.

…This ménage of middle-school delicates is not the country that fought World War II, or Vietnam. It is a jellyfish threatening to collapse under any serious stress. Corrupt, seriously divided racially, the middle-class sinking, ruled by fools and kleptocrats, a house of pudding cannot stand. Scared, fat, weak, fragile, narcissistic, herd-minded, prissy, censorious and, increasingly, ignorant. Deliberately ignorant. This is wonderful stuff.

Read the whole thing here.

Mr. Reed’s description is spot-on, but I’m glad to say it isn’t all-inclusive. Much, perhaps even most, of America still is not like this.

Here on the Outer Cape, for example, with its brief summer tourist season, those who live here year-round must be independent, creative, and resourceful in order to support themselves. During the “sheep-shearing” months of July and August, employment abounds, but the rest of the time it’s a hardscrabble life. It seems sometimes that everyone here knows how to frame a house, fix a roof, fell a tree, catch a fish, split and stack firewood, drive a truck, cultivate oysters, cook a good meal, plow a driveway, use a gun, dig a foundation, or raise a brood of healthy kids. They are not rich, mostly, but they are strong, and they are proud to rely on nobody but themselves. And once you pry them open a little bit, it turns out they see the state of the nation about the same way Fred Reed does, and are getting more than a little steamed about it.

It gives a person hope.

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Tonight, a story about another black-white “gap”. This time it’s a “sleep gap”: “an unexpected challenge in the quest for racial justice”.

We read:

In 2005, re­search­ers at the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia, San Diego, began an ex­per­i­ment that would last five years. One by one, they brought 164 study par­ti­cipants to a sleep lab at the U.C. San Diego Med­ic­al Cen­ter, a room with a sweep­ing view of the city and the sur­round­ing val­ley. There, par­ti­cipants un­der­went poly­so­m­no­graphy, the most com­pre­hens­ive sleep test known to sci­ence.

… The San Diego re­search­ers planned to use the poly­so­m­no­graphy ma­chine to doc­u­ment slow-wave sleep—the phase of sleep “when it’s really hard to wake you up,” as Tom­fohr de­scribes it. Slow-wave sleep is thought to be the most res­tor­at­ive peri­od of sleep, and it’s im­port­ant to good health: Ex­per­i­ments where people are denied slow-wave sleep on pur­pose have shown that bod­ies quickly change for the worse.

… But it wasn’t just slow-wave sleep in gen­er­al that in­ter­ested the re­search­ers; they spe­cific­ally hoped to com­pare how blacks and whites ex­per­i­enced slow-wave sleep. And what they found was dis­turb­ing. Gen­er­ally, people are thought to spend 20 per­cent of their night in slow-wave sleep, and the study’s white par­ti­cipants hit this mark. Black par­ti­cipants, however, spent only about 15 per­cent of the night in slow-wave sleep. The study was just one data point in a mount­ing pile of evid­ence that black Amer­ic­ans aren’t sleep­ing as well as whites.

That’s not all. We learn also that:

[R]e­search­ers have found evid­ence that the farther people live from a wealth­i­er area, the more likely they are to de­vel­op in­sulin res­ist­ance…

If only there were some way we could get people to live at equal distances from wealthy areas…

… but we’ll have leave that for another session of SCOTUS, I’m afraid. Anyway, getting back to sleep:

What’s more, the sleep dis­crep­ancy per­sisted even when the re­search­ers tried to con­trol for eco­nom­ic factors: As blacks got wealth­i­er, the gap in sleep nar­rowed, but did not go away en­tirely. “The race gap is de­creased if you take in­to ac­count some in­dic­at­or of eco­nom­ics,” says Laud­er­dale, “but it’s not elim­in­ated in the data that I have looked at.” In­deed, in the San Diego study, re­search­ers also con­cluded that there were ra­cial dif­fer­ences in sleep re­gard­less of in­come. (It should be noted, however, that re­search­ers con­cede their at­tempts to con­trol for eco­nom­ic in­dic­at­ors are far from per­fect. “We know our meas­ures for ad­just­ing for so­cioeco­nom­ic status are still some­what lim­ited,” says Red­line. “Some­times the vari­ation isn’t great enough.”)

So what ex­plains the gap?

What indeed?

It’s an in­triguing and still some­what open-ended sci­entif­ic mys­tery. (And one that is that gradu­ally get­ting more and more at­ten­tion: In Ju­ly, the ra­dio pro­gram Freako­nom­ics ded­ic­ated a seg­ment to doc­u­ment­ing the dis­crep­ancy and try­ing to ex­plain why it might ex­ist.) But the black-white sleep gap isn’t just a ques­tion for sci­ence; it also has im­plic­a­tions for the policy world. Sleep, after all, may be a key factor in a tra­gic spir­al: It ap­pears to be both a symp­tom of health prob­lems that dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fect black com­munit­ies and also a cause of those same prob­lems.

The question, obviously, is:

Are there policy in­ter­ven­tions that could, real­ist­ic­ally, help to im­prove how black Amer­ic­ans sleep?

The government must get to work at once! But before we can enact costly policies, though, of course we’ll need to know exactly what the real cause is, right? (Like maybe black people and white people are just, well, different in some way that manifests itself, directly or indirectly, in different sleep patterns?)

…Ha! Just kidding:

On the question of how to ex­plain the black-white sleep gap it­self, re­search­ers have a num­ber of re­lated the­or­ies. (There is a con­sensus that in­nate bio­lo­gic­al dif­fer­ences between blacks and whites are not a factor.)

Oh, OK. (No need to tell us why there is such a consensus, or give us any data, or anything.)

We’re pretty sure we’ve got our eye on the culprit, and what it is that “relates” all those theories:

The stress caused by dis­crim­in­a­tion is one strong pos­sib­il­ity. In the San Diego sleep study, Tom­fohr’s team knew, go­ing in, that slow-wave sleep is very sens­it­ive to stress—which is, in turn, our body’s sig­nal to re­main vi­gil­ant against per­ceived threats, in­clud­ing dis­crim­in­a­tion. “That was our thought: If people are feel­ing really dis­crim­in­ated against, then of course they are not go­ing to want to get in­to a really deep stage of sleep,” she says.

The envelope, please…

…Racism it is!!

Any questions? I thought not. Good.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

Under development: the pinniped space-program. Here.

Plus Ça Change

Here’s Marcus Aurelius, writing about the Clintons:

“To my mentor Fronto I owe the realization that malice, craftiness, and duplicity are the concomitants of absolute power; and that our patrician families tend for the most part to be lacking in the feelings of ordinary humanity.”

Meditations, Book 1

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In The Gloaming

Making the rounds today (hat-tips to, among others, Bill Vallicella and our commenter Whitewall) is a jeremiad by Victor Davis Hanson, who has made these lamentations his métier in recent years. In this one, he mourns in particular the lost virtues of the West: the qualities that made our civilization shine so brightly, that gave it the capacity to create the modern world, and that make it still, even in its advancing senescence, the most attractive place on Earth.

We read (my emphasis):

Tens of thousands of migrants — reminiscent of the great southward and westward treks of Germanic tribes in the late fifth century, at the end of the Roman Empire — are overwhelming the borders of Europe. Such an influx should be a reminder that the West attracts people, while the non-West drives them out, and thus should spark inquiries about why that is so. But that discussion would be not only impolite, but beyond the comprehension of most present-day Westerners, who take for granted — though they cannot define, much less defend — their own institutions

No one claims that such mass immigration into Europe is legal. No one wonders what happened to the fossilized idea of legal immigration, much less the legal immigrant who went through what has now been rendered the pretense of bureaucratic application for legal entry into Europe. Germany, which lectures others on law, is lawless…

The same is true in the United States. Millions of foreign nationals from Latin America, and Mexico in particular, simply have crossed the border without even the pretense of legality. They assume Americans not only won’t enforce their own laws, but also will find ways to demonize any who suggest that they should. If there is now no such thing as an “illegal alien,” what in theory prevents anyone from arriving from anywhere at any time and making claims on the American state?

In our previous post, we quoted Montesquieu on the the problems of scale that face republican governments. Here is something else he said:

“…in a popular government when the laws have ceased to be executed, as this can come only from the corruption of the republic, the state is already lost.”


In theory, Westerners have the power to stop the mostly young males from the Middle East from swarming their borders, but in fact they apparently lack the will. Or is it worse than that? Without confidence in their own values, much less pride in their accomplishments, are they assuaging the guilt over their privilege by symbolic acts of undermining the foundations of their own culture?

From another of our recent posts:

What vessel could contain this universal acid?

Read the rest of Professor Hanson’s article here.

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On Growth And Form


“It is in the nature of a republic to have only a small territory; otherwise, it can scarcely continue to exist… In a large republic, the common good is sacrificed to a thousand considerations; it is subordinated to exceptions, it depends upon accidents. In a small one, the public good is better felt, better known, lies nearer to each citizen; abuses are less extensive there and consequently less protected.”

The Spirit of the Laws, ch. 16

There is an increasing strain upon centralizing governments, which has two causes: the number of different problems there are to be solved, and the varying suitability of uniform laws to the range of situations in which they are to be applied. This strain scales up in modest proportion to the sheer size of the nation to be governed, but far more sharply in proportion to its diversity.

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Destroyer Of Worlds

The modern attitude places the burden of proof upon every aspect of traditional life. All is disposable unless proven necessary, including even the axioms upon which such proof depends.

What vessel could contain this universal acid?

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Memes And Species

A culture, a civilization, is a memetic ecosystem. If one species — a ritual, a tradition, a way of modeling some aspect of the world — goes extinct, the effect may reverberate through the entire habitat.

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Well, there’s plenty to talk about tonight, in particular the lurid Benghazi hearings and Barack Obama’s pugnacious veto of a military-funding bill, but I just can’t summon up the will. Pick your team and join the shouting. This has all gone so far beyond any possibility of comity or reconciliation that anything I might say off the top of my head about it would be completely superfluous. American public life is nothing more, now, than a vicious, bitter divorce. I expect the “domestic violence” stage is not far off.

So here’s a good thing instead — a treasure, in fact: the Feynman Lectures, online.

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La Difference

Back in 2007, psychologist Roy F. Baumeister gave a talk on why men and women are not the same. It’s lucid and thoughtful, and well worth your time. Read it here.

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In our recent post on neoreactionary bloggers, we noted again, as we have often done before, the applicability of the Second Law of Thermodynamics to social decay. Our reader ‘antiquarian’, in the comment thread, pointed out that the late Robert Conquest’s (p.b.u.h.) Second Law of Politics also describes an entropic rule.

For those of you who don’t know Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics, they are:

1) Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

2) Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

3) The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

Our commenter’s observation is spot-on: if we (correctly) understand political Leftism as a movement toward increasing disorder (in evidence of which we can present, for example, the Left’s relentless campaign to flatten and ‘equalize’ human societies, and to obliterate all of the social organism’s essential distinctions and discriminations), then Conquest’s Second Law is just a special case of the more general Second Law.

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