What if most of the major intellectual paradigms of our age began with a lie? What then?

Freudianism, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson argued convincingly, began with a lie, when Freud abandoned the “seduction” (rape) theory of neurosis for his cockamamie Oedipus Complex. The professional world of 19th century academics and doctors could not accept his reports that rape and sexual molestation and incest were quite common in their beloved Austro-Hungarian Empire. So Freud cooked up the fantasy theory of repressed lust on the part of children for their parents. It was a hit!

Keynesianism, W.H. Hutt insisted, was a lie at base. The young Bloomsbury Group economist confronted a fairly easy economic problem, the post-war depression caused by (a) going back to the gold standard at parity while (b) following union demands to prop up nominal wage rates artificially. Was any economist confused? Really? This was elementary stuff. But there was a political impasse: the politicians could not afford (they thought) union backlash if wage rates were allowed to collapse to equilibrating levels. So Keynes cooked up a bald-faced lie: naturally occuring market-based “sticky wages.” Economics and politics since then have been warped by this one evasion, the inability to confront union “pigs” (as the Fabian pol Sidney Webb called them — privately).

Charles Darwin even accepted something as bedrock to his point of view, and it was obviously incorrect even then: uniformitarianism. I do not think this was as deadly for his theory, but it is worth acknowledging.

In my opinion, Marxian thought also rested on a set of Grand Evasions. Karl Marx based everything he did on a denial of the productivity of exchange, the Condillac-de Tracy notion of mutual benefit in trades. Marx compounded this by taking Adam Smith’s labor theory of cost, and a simplistic reading of Ricardo’s Labor Theory of Value, and concocted a defense of communism — and the attendant destruction of private property and cooperation via trade — based on a glaring evasion and an idiotically dunderheaded mistake that he ended up unable to “close,” as Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk put it.

So what other major paradigms are based on actual lies, or whopping evasions?

twv

What should we do about Washington?

I am not talking about the state I live in, the Evergreen State. I’ll talk about that by-and-by (al-ki). I refer, of course, to the hapless buffoons who live in the federal government’s District of Columbia.

They say they want a bigger vote in federal elections.

OK. They can. Right now. No legislation; no constitutional amendment required.

They could move.

One of the costs of choosing to live in the imperial central district is not having complete representation by the means designed for the states.

This still being a nominally free country: pick up stakes and head across the border. Why, it might take you a few miles — or mere blocks — away.

Many people move from Illinois to escape the poisonous Chicago politics; hordes exit New York State to escape the politics of the Big Apple; scads leave the failed state of California for Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and elsewhere.

Paul Jacob, with whom I usually agree, suggests something a little more political:

“I was born without representation, but I swear,” Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser vowed last week, “I will not die without representation.”
She has a point: 700,000 D.C. residents lack a voting representative in Congress. 
On Friday, the U.S. House passed legislation — 232 to 180 with 19 members hiding in the cloakroom and refusing to vote — to make the nation’s capital city the 51st state. Not merely garnering a U.S. Representative, but also a lifetime guarantee of two U.S. Senators. 
“D.C. will never be a state,” counters President Trump, explaining that Senate Republicans would be “very, very stupid” to allow two new U.S. Senators who are nearly certain to be Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly announced the Senate would not take up the bill.
But Republicans are not the only ones blocking representation. 
As Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) pointed out, Maryland had originally ceded some of the land to create the federal District of Columbia, and could now take back the residential areas. Those citizens would add their own House rep for Maryland and be represented by Maryland’s two U.S. Senators.
Democrats refuse. Why? Because it is not about representation. The city must be turned into a state so that two new Democratic U.S. Senators can be pulled out of a hat.
There is yet another path to representation. Make a bi-partisan deal to add two states. In addition to the State of Columbia (51), add the State of Jefferson (52) — comprised of 21 northern counties trying to secede from the rest of California. 
Better representation. No partisan advantage. Problem solved.
If anyone were interested in that.

Paul Jacob, “The State of X and Y,” June 29, 2020.

While I think it important to break up California — into several pieces, not just splitting off Jefferson — this plan sounds too complicated for the idiots Americans have become.

But my alternate plan is . . . less complicated?

Take the residential/commercial area of Washington. Split it into two, north and south. Give back the north half to Maryland and the bottom half to Virginia (I know, it would bulge out the border: deal with it). Call the two new cities North Washington, Maryland, and South Washington, Virginia. The remaining area of federal government parks and buildings would still be the District of Columbia. It would NOT be called Washington. Just the District of Columbia. It would be run completely by Congress and the President.

As Pat writes in a comment to Paul Jacob’s piece, this would require a bit of finagling, constitutionally:

[T]he Constitution would need to be amended to repeal the 23rd Amendment, which gives DC three electoral votes, since they would get their representation from Maryland. One benefit is the Electoral College would be reduced to 535 and so you would never have a tie in the presidential race. Given that only Delaware has a smaller population than DC, it’s likely that the DC residents will find themselves part of a much larger district and might even be split up when new district maps are drawn.
Even if DC became a state, the EC would go down to 537 after reapportionment, since Congress has limited the House to 435 members. Columbia’s House representative (only Delaware has a smaller population than DC) would be taken away from one of the other states, unless Congress also modified the reapportionment act that was passed early in the last century. The additional representative would be a temporary measure.

I am with commenter 2WarAbnVet on Paul’s page: I really do not want the District to become a state, no matter how named. Statehood for the imperial capitol city seems a horrendous idea.

Why?

For the same reason as allowing federal government workers the vote in federal elections is a bad idea: corruption. Bad incentives. And, considering the small size of the district, too much voting power. The federal government does not need more influence by insiders. Though most of the people there are not exactly influential, they live in and around the federal government.

Corruption, like paranoia, strikes deep, and into your tent it will creep.

I’m no barn-burner. But I am a tent-burner!

twv

Posted earlier, my notice of the new episode of the podcast. Now it is time to share the video version — is it called merely a vlog or a vlogcast?

LocoFoco Netcast #16, vlog-version, June 29, 2020.

With the kicking of Stefan Molyneux off of YouTube, I have to admit, putting anything up on YouTube bothers me. But we shall survive?

twv

Anthony Comegna returns to the LocoFoco Netcast. The latest episode is up on SoundCloud right now, and is probably wending its way out to the podcatchers as I type these words.

LocoFoco Netcast #16, June 29, 2020.

I disagree with Dr. Comegna on very little, though I don’t use his conception of left and right, and I do not see the divisions in the libertarian movement quite the way he does. I will obviously have to talk more about this, and perhaps I can cajole @DrLocoFoco to come back on the podcast again!

Obviously, on the history he knows quite a bit more than I do. His notion of a research program to trace out what Herbert Spencer called “the filiation of ideas” is heartily seconded by me.

twv

The Law of Nemesis holds that you conjure up your own destruction — at least when hubris is your modus.

And sometimes your nemesis is your very dear self.

In war, the obvious problem is: to fight your enemy you become more like your enemy. The United States, in fighting two empires in World War II, became more imperial; in fighting the Soviets in the Cold War, the U.S. became more tyrannical and deceitful — even setting up disinformation bureaus.

In fighting racism, Americans are becoming more racist. Admittedly, it is a new kind of racism. Which makes the putative anti-racists look . . . ridiculous.

The turning point is when enough people see that white anti-white racism is utterly stupid, and its willing victims risible.

The “resistance” to Donald J. Trump is similar, but not just by an invisible hand process: it is by design. Sure, the center-left and the center-right conjured up their nemesis in the form of Trump. But Trump is savvy enough to know how to play his opponents. He makes his opponents oppose him in ways that make them look ridiculous.

That seems to have recently changed, in the context of the pandemic panic and the race riots. But I expect Trump to get his game back.

Because, I think, he instinctively — and perhaps consciously — understands the Law of Nemesis. And his enemies do not. They think he is ridiculous and that they look better for pointing it out.

That is part of their hubris.

Pride goeth before a fall.

twv

Selfism & Woodford Tough

…as posted first on Goodreads….

Maid Unafraid (Godwin, 1937), is the second novel of Louella Woolfolk, which she wrote under the pen name Louella Woodford, at age 18.

Ms. Woolfolk was the only daughter of Josiah Pitts Woolfolk, who wrote risqué “sex novels,” so-called, under the pen name Jack Woodford. Though Woodford is best known, today, for his still invaluable if brusque and cynical writing advice books — most famously Trial and Error — it was as a writer of pulp romance targeted at men that he made his claim to fame, and which still captures the spirit of his age, perhaps more accurately than many literary novels of his time.

Maid Unafraid is a very Woodfordian title, and the novel itself bears evidence of her father’s influence. But Louella sports a more humanistic outlook on the relationship between the sexes than had her father, “Jack.” But then, she was young, and hadn’t been married to her mother. And there are not a few passages reminiscent of her father’s tough-minded “selfism,” especially of his view of most people’s romantic economizing. And yet the main character in this book, though Woodford Tough, doesn’t seem so granitic as Jack’s female characters. The motivations of her novel’s heroine are far more noble and sympathetic. Yet in many ways, this follows the Woodford method, setting two members of the opposite sexes together and letting them “gnaw at each other” until there is “nothing left to do but get married” (quoting from memory Jack’s explanation of his technique in The Autobiography of Jack Woodford). But Louella has a more feminine take on the whole business, since the mission of the woman changing the man is set closer to the center of the plot than in her father’s fiction.

Indeed, I think this could be read as a fairly decent romance. I’d be less hesitant had I read more in this genre outside of the literary classics.

It has been fascinating reading this book, comparing it to the work of the author’s father. In terms of style, the young author can boast of a simpler but less literary style. (On the whole, I much prefer her father’s prose.) And her philosophical interests are not as well developed. As I have argued elsewhere, at least some of Jack’s “sex novels” are actually novels of ideas. Maid Unafraid is definitely not.

While her father’s characterizations are better developed, her use of plot is clearer and makes for a more normal melodrama. There is a sense of contrivance, but remember, this is very much a popular novel, not an attempt ape Anna Karenina. I judge this to be a successful novel, and her father’s books more problematic. But they hold more literary interest, as well as sport greater historical and sociological — and, yes, philosophical — value.

The father and daughter were extremely close. He dedicated all his books to her — they undoubtedly constituted a major part of her education — and she dedicated this book to him.

A decade after this novel’s publication, Louella Woolfolk developed schizophrenia (or some madness, however diagnosed), and her father tormented himself until his death trying to help her, liquidating his fortune in her cause. He himself died after having been institutionalized in the same sanitarium she was confined to. I suspect that he had feigned his madness just to be near to her.

Alas, Jack Woodford does not discuss her malady in his otherwise terrific autobiography. And of course he could not relate the final, sad decade of his life.

Louella Woolfolk remains one of the more interesting female prodigy-authors on the margins of American respectability. Still, she probably offers little gristle for feminist tearing and mastication, so we can expect no future study about her from the dark academic mills. Which is a pity, since Ms Woolfolk had a few great quips, which her father later memorialized. “I prefer the cliterati to the literati,” she once admitted.

Her readership, were it ever to re-emerge, would most likely be found among members of her preferred class.


See also my review of Unmoral, by Jack Woodford.

America — along with much of the western world — generally seems more racist than it did just a decade ago.

But it is not the old-fashioned racism. Now the asymmetry runs like this: blacks are allowed to be racist against whites, and whites are expected to be racist against themselves.

It is easy to see how the latter would encourage the former, but normally one would expect the former to discourage the latter.

So the missing element here is the factor that suppresses the latter natural reaction.

Surely it is ideology. Left-woke anti-racist ideology. Which is a kind of racism. It is white anti-white racism: “woke” is WAWR.

Photo: Ralf, Flickr, some rights reserved
Why do most Americans consider Marxism evil?
…as answered on Quora.

Is that true?

If it isn’t true, it should be. Hundreds of millions of people died because of attempts to create socialist utopias by men who were inspired by Karl Marx, and who identified themselves as Marxists. Karl Marx, in his day, cooked up an alternative to liberalism and the rule of law. He ridiculed the very idea of “bourgeois freedom.” Hating the idea of private property, he believed that “society” should own the means of production. Though he said the ideal, end product of the revolution he promoted was a “stateless society,” he believed that there would first have to be a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” He advocated slaughter as well as expropriation to carry through on his “revolution.”

Power corrupts, you know: once power becomes concentrated in a dictatorship, of all things, it is really hard to dissolve it. The socialist tyranny quickly proved a palpable reality, in the case of its first instantiation, the USSR, while the promised stateless utopia has been shown up to be a mere fantasy. It never happened.

It could not happen the way Marx conceived it.

I need to repeat: the dictatorship notion — the “state socialism,” as it came to be called — was a recipe that could only end in disaster, with outrageous moral horror. And it did.

Liberalism’s rule of law establishing decentralized power structures and a distributed system of social organization is the main foundation of nearly everything good in modern life. The institution of private property that the rule of law protects allows human being to avoid tyranny as well as to advance out of poverty.

The communist idea of erasing the boundaries between people (by abolishing private property and the rule of law) and centralizing power in a unified State inevitably leads to murder and totalitarianism.

Besides, Marx’s crackpot notions — I do not think he was right about much of anything, really — are so off-base that attempts to enact his program can only lead to perverse results.

Anyone who knows the history of the Soviet Union and Red China knows enough to regard Marxism as pure poison. And if Marx’s contemporary Mikhail Bakunin could recognize the entelechy of authoritarianism in Marxian communism, we who possess the history as well as the theory to explain why have no excuse.

America was more resistant to communist ideas than most other countries in the last century. Americans, who inherit a form of government founded squarely in the liberal tradition of John Locke and Montesquieu have been immunized against the pernicious doctrine.

The only people of any significance who do not follow this line are those who have been baptized in the intellectually shallow waters of the modern university, where Marxism still thrives under taxpayer subsidy (what suckers taxpayers are). The universities do not let Nazis teach. For the same reason all the Marxists should be fired.

Yes, Americans should stop subsidizing the most murderous ideology ever cooked up by the mind of man. But though most Americans have little truck with communist ideas, they are so badly educated that they cannot see what is at stake — they do not understand how wrong it is to even pretend that Marxism is intellectually respectable in the slightest.

I define as “evil” all intentional harm done with malice aforethought. Karl Marx hated the rich and sought their destruction and expropriation; Marxists today are no better, and in one sense worse: they ignore the history that Marx himself could not know — though he should have foreseen, for it was not just Bakunin who saw it.* You have to be a fool not to see the inanity of the Marxian system. Or the evil.

Alas, fools there are aplenty — and some follies, such as socialism, turn fools into knaves, into terrorists and tyrants. Some follies are quite dangerous. And none is more dangerous than Marxism.

Most Americans have enough common sense to see through the communist buncombe. But I understand: our quasi-socialistic public schools and cult-ridden, subsidized institutions of higher learning can and have programmed many thousands of youngsters to grow up notseeing the obvious, even praising evil as though it were Goodness and Truth.

It is one reason I feel more at home among normal Americans than with the “college trained.” There is so much nonsense among the so-called “educated.”

Still, at least until recently, even most leftists could see though Marxism. But because they valorize collective action and state coercion over individual responsibility and voluntary community and free association, they have lacked the intellectual equipment to resist Marxism strongly enough.

And so that old evil doctrinal farrago seems to be coming back.

What a horror show.


* Consult Eugen Richter’s eerily prescient Pictures of the Socialistic Future (1893) for a fine example.

A spot for the LocoFoco Netcast.

I have never once heard a person blathering about “gender theory” ever mention the designators of sexual selection roles in terms of Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc.

According to standard gender theory definitions, these terms would at least have to be considered, even if discarded.

But no. Never heard anyone say this. Just me. 

Have you heard anyone consider “Alpha male” or “Beta male” as “genders”?

I am more than aware that I’ve convinced few people of my extreme skepticism of the concept of “gender.” At least, no one has admitted to being convinced. But I have given multiple reasons to abandon, even scorn, the terminology, as unscientific etc.

But considering the nature standard gender talk by gender ‘activists,’ and considering that one can (allegedly) display or define one’s own gender, rather than have it socially constructed or whatever, then at the very least Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, along with Sigma and Omega, and still other of these pack-based terms, would serve just as reasonable terms for a gender as any of those you find in these witless lists of genders.

My thesis, which you may attack at will, is that this is a tell.

This is a tell that “gender research” is bloviating ideological nincompoopery, not anything like science, and the use of it by scientists — legit or manqué — is an embarrassment to all honest thinking persons.

You may say that the “Alpha/Beta/etc. categories are not used by actual ethologists” and I am very interested in what you have to say. Now you begin to think. But that’s not my point. If you don’t see why, think some more.

twv