I agree with this characterization of the current impeachment mania by Scott Adams,especially his characterization of Trump’s enemies’ cases as “crazy shit.”
You have been “hypnotized” by the Deep State, you who demand Trump’s ouster based on Russiagate or the Ukraine Phone Chat or the president’s reactions to investigation.
More controversial is his thesis that “The public does not form opinions. Their opinions are assigned to them.”
I try to form my own opinions, occasionally even by looking at the facts, such as they can be determined. For this reason, my opinions seem very strange to most people.
Adamss idea that Matt Taibbi and Glen Greenwald are the only people whose opinions have not been assigned to them by the media is preposterous, of course, but I take it merely as hyperbole.
However, caution: people do choose who to listen to. If usually for irrational, tribal reasons. Which is why it has been vitally important for the CIA to envelop the media world in vast networks of influence, starting with Operation Mockingbird and continuing with placement of former interns (like Anderson Cooper) and even progeny of agents (that Morning Joe lady) in positions with star power and the imprimatur of Cultural Acceptability. The influence at this level is enormous.
The hiccough? The growth of new media. Which got out of the grasp of our Master Psy-op-eratoves. Hence the ideological crackdowns and game-rigging by what Michael Rectenwald calls “The Google Archipelago.”

I am reading this now. A review, perhaps, to come.

…as answered on Quora….

I will try to be brief.

Facts for the case for “right-wing”? Fascism is nationalist and militaristic. This is usually considered “on the right.”

Facts for the case for “left-wing”: fascism grew out of socialism and socialist agitation, and fascists regarded their economic policy as neither socialist nor free-market. It is heavily dirigiste. Mussolini himself was a man of the left, and one of his main influences for his move away from Marxist socialism was the work of Georges Sorel. Was Sorel leftist? He was deeply anti-capitalist, and desired to bring together worker solidarity. Seems to be a man of the left, to me. But others may disagree.

And if you consider Nazis fascist (and that is, actually, a stretch) then the leftist element is quite strong.

Both fascists and Nazis were famously anti-communist. Nazis made a name for themselves for street fights with communist revolutionaries, and one reason for their rise to power was that Germans in the Weimar Republic judged them the lesser of two evils — compared to the openly revolutionary stance of the bloody-minded commies.

The communists definitely tarred Nazis with the “fascist” label, a move that continues to this day and which has muddied up much thought.*

Trouble here, is: what one starts out believing is not necessarily where one ends up. So an anti-revolutionary stance early in an ideological career does not mean that one isn’t a revolutionary as the State gets captured by one’s party. Similarly, socialists and folks of the left often talk peace, peace: but they get into power, their programs immediately prove slippery and unworkable, and quickly they come to mass executions and preservation of their power by violence. Where is the “left” or the “right” in that dialectic of power? One can start out “on the left” but quickly seem “on the right” without ever giving up any of one’s professed leftist beliefs.

Adolf Hitler never gave up on the Marxist interpretation of economics, for example. He just disagreed on the “internationalist” aspect of Marxian Communism, thinking it a fine thing to keep corporations around so long as they were heavily controlled. The Third Reich also established the most egalitarian welfare and labor policy ever achieved — that seems “left-wing,” eh?

But, the “right-wing” element may lie in the wealth that Nazis used to sustain the Third Reich — it did not come solely from “the rich” as such. It came from dispossessed Jews and conquered territory. Is that “right wing”? Maybe. (See Götz Aly, Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State [2005; 2006].)

Nazi Germany was totalitarian. And Hitler admired Stalin’s efficiency in handling his enemies. Is that left-wing or right-wing? Meanwhile, in actual fascist countries, totalitarianism was not really in operation. It was a more limited affair.

Yet it was Mussolini who said “All within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” I consider this extreme statism to be a leftist thing, not rightist. The traditional distinction is made between totalitarianism and authoritarianism, but, as conceived, fascism is theoretically quite totalitarian, anti-individualist. This all strikes me as left-wing.

You see, “left” and “right” are not easy to determine. Individualists like me have long harped on the difficulty of using the terms to map the ideological spectrum for one obvious reason: it is a directional binary that makes sense only in the context of where you are looking.

Mussolini, Giovanni Gentile, Alfredo Rocco and other paradigm-establishing fascists all strongly opposed laissez faire, any hint of laissez faire. Does that make them leftist? Is “laissez faire” rightist? Seems dubious to me. Laissez faire is a middle ground position among many competing statist programs, of both left and right variants. But your view may differ.

So, though facts can be brought to bear on this issue, it is not facts alone that can decide. The winds of doctrine blow many directions, including up and down as well as forward and back — not to mention left and right.

I advise being circumspect about using these terms. Individualists (like me) tend to regard the real issue as between unlimited state force and a rule of law limiting force. Left and right distract us on the way to confronting that issue.

And in all of this, we must remember that politicians (and this includes ideological activists in universities and on the streets and in voting booths) lie to themselves and lie to others, so mapping their “beliefs” is tricky. And all ideology has huge elements of fantasy, much of it unworkable. So, the outcome of their fantasied utopias is usually dystopian. And it would be wrong to call “utopia” leftist and “dystopia” rightist. In that gambit lies deep delusion.


* This propagandistic labeling may have prevented western liberal-ish societies from catching on to the horrors of Nazism early on, for ‘fascism’ was quite popular in America . . . until, suddenly, it wasn’t. Fascism’s affinity with Progressivism was quite clear, at the time, which Jonah Goldberg made hay of in his disastrously titled 2008 volume, Liberal Fascism.


N.B. The curious might wish to consult David Ramsay Steele’s forthcoming essay collection, The Mystery of Fascism. A simple Internet search will call forth free-to-read versions of the title essay, well worth the effort.

Paul Gottfried’s treatise, Fascism: The Career of a Concept, is a more thorough exploration, but since I have not finished reading it yet, I should perhaps only cautiously advise it.

I have always known that governments lie, that politicians are congenital liars, and that, furthermore, secrecy is something the State requires, in addition to all those fantasies necessary to obtain compliance from the masses. But recently I have greatly expanded my estimation of the scope of state prevarication.
Some of this is the result of the brazen ways in which the shallow end of the Deep State has attempted to oust a president it did not approve of. But it goes far beyond this, and much of it is related to keeping the military-industrial complex going through incessant warfare. The insanity of these wars, their sheer idiocy and lack of coherence and even hints of efficacy to the attainment of stated goals, suggests to me something far beyond my packet of previous explanations:
1. greed and corruption via Pentagon contracts
2. powerlust by media folk, ideologues, politicians, military men, and bureaucrats
3. greed
I now think that an additional secret realm of operations has been at play, and has been kept running by an elaborate if stumbled-into plan of psy-ops. Most Americans have pictures of their government utterly at variance with reality — perhaps even their view of bedrock, non-political reality is greatly shaped by a startlingly coherent state agenda.
Funny thing is, my fellow individualists have such a low opinion of state competence that they buy into most of said government psy-op, are indeed routinely controlled by Deep State psy-ops. Their error is in underestimating the State.
For this truth is long established, and libertarians should know it best: the State is not an efficient instrument of the general interest, but, instead, a hyper-efficient conduit through which private interests can gain at the exploitative expense of other private interests, and to the general detriment of the general interest. And the key to this is the ultimate in psy-ops, the confidence game of political ideologies that promote the State as a necessary entity for the promotion of that phantom, the public interest.


Women have struggled their whole lives just to have rights and to be treated equally. Now they can’t even have their own identity, as men are now walking up and claiming to “identify” as female. Is it wrong to feel this way?

…as answered on Quora….

The first part of this question seems a bit iffy to me on grounds of fact and reasoning, yet I sympathize: it must be weird to invest a lot of your conception of yourself as deriving from womanhood, and then see a few men fard up their faces and mince about in clothing not normally worn by men . . . and call themselves women and even demand others to accept their self-categorizations. 

Well, their demands are ignoble and immoral, but, alas, commonly accepted and defended and even amplified amongst the lunatics that currently sit at the commanding heights of our culture. I am annoyed by all that.

As for their self-categorization? Very rarely are they convincing. And even at their best they are fake women.

But fake women have rights too, and they can certainly be given enough cultural leeway to do what they want without forcing others to “accept” them and “respect” them. In a free society, the right of free association entails the right of disassociation. You need not hang around them. Freedom of conscience and freedom of speech means that none of us should be forced to speak of them in ways they prefer. And it is a tragedy that these principles of liberty are now denied and flouted by the cultural left these days.

More importantly, I have trouble understanding how you are denied your “identity” by their shallow or deep fakes. You are you. They are whatever they are.

But then, you seem to be defining yourself (as your “identity”) not by your personhood and individuality, but by your commonality with members of your own sex. I find this bizarre. I define my identity not primarily by my commonality with other men, but by my differentiation. 

I see the whole focus of the question as buying into the presuppositions of those men who pretend to be women: as hollow, as a distraction from individuation by recourse to group membership and similarity with others.

It is a fine thing to extol one’s similarities with others, but that isn’t your identity. That is commonality. The whole postmodern movement focusing on “identity” strikes me as as fake as men pretending to be women by dress-up and mere assertion. 

For we are not talking about identity, we are talking about its opposite.

Indeed, the struggle of feminism, I would have thought — before I ditched using the term approvingly, anyway — is the struggle of individual women to be treated as individual persons despite their categorization by sex. The perversion of feminism, as I see it, has been the anti-individual promotion of the sex (modish folks’ll say “gender”) rather than the liberation of individuals from the confines of over-sexualized, constricting and collectivist expectations.

So, like the other response to this question that I noticed, I urge: “let it go.” Not because the fake women are not wholly unthreatening, but because they threaten something you should not take personally.

As for these fake women, my attitudes vary, person to person, expressing (as I have) pity, sympathy, laughter, indifference, pro forma respect and, yes, acceptance.* It all depends. On whether they allow me my freedom, or, instead, have some tyrannical agenda. And also whether they are doing themselves and their loved ones harm, even sans force.

We do live in strange, decadent** times.


* When I was young, I had a number of pre-op “tranny” friends — that is what they called themselves — and I liked them a lot, despite our lack of . . . commonality.

** Also when I was young, I extolled “decadence” even as I denied any precision to the term. Now I know what it means, and remain somewhat ambivalent — that is, I do not think decadence should be normed, even while I confess to being something of a decadent myself.


N.B. I am not at all certain that my response on Quora will be allowed to stand. And I could even be removed from the platform. Why? For merely referring to “fake women.” It will be interesting to see how it goes. Since posting I saw a number of other answers. They are uniformly bad.

…change a paradigm!

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

No.

“Extraordinary claims” are extraordinary in context of accepted dogmas. A very ordinary bit of evidence can falsify an accepted dogma, easily. And with such a falsification, or a series of them, a perspective cascade can invert our notions of ordinary and extraordinary quite fast. We are all aware of paradigm shifts. These are catastrophic/eucatastrophic in nature, and what was once extraordinary becomes ordinary in almost the blink of an eye. 

The maxim “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” may best serve not as a legitimate epistemic standard but as a conceit to preserve status quo paradigm defense, and thus allow corrupt scientists and others to rig data sets, hide evidence, and distract the attention of honest researchers and innovative thinkers.

Claims require evidence. Sure. But claims to facticity are not all we deal with in our thinking. There is conjecture, supposition, assumption, counterfactuals, what-ifs — all are legitimate in their place. 

Of course, juggling these is hard. We all make mistakes. And we need epistemic maxims, like the “extraordinary claims” warning, like (better yet, but still tricky) Occam’s Razor. Unfortunately, folks commonly adopt a lazy attitude regarding these maxims, making of them too much, and of critical thought generally too little. 

Discovering truth is a tricky business.

I have been spotty so far, not being a scientist or a professional philosopher, etc., etc. But many confident assertions made by public professionals appear increasingly iffy and wayward and even perverse.

twv

…it’s not because of my virtue or my vice….

The conservative position on freedom is, as I have always understood it (listening to actual conservatives rather than “conservative intellectuals”), that we must defend the freedoms of the virtuous. I have heard this principle brilliantly defined as “liberty is the freedom to do what’s right.”

Vice may — or even must — be suppressed!

This derails any substantive commitment to freedom, I argue, or to civil liberty.

I mention this not to rag on conservatives, whom I often agree with on many things, and whose arguments become less opprobrious to me as I grow older and grumpier — as I prepare to drop off into the Abyss.

It is to note that modern progressivism is conservative, in that today’s progressives have redefined virtue and vice for their ideology, and defend the freedoms of those they consider virtuous (or “victims,” the other v-word in this scenario, since it often stands in for virtue) and aim to suppress the freedoms of those who engage in vice.

Vice being wrongthink, from this point of view, the wrongthink centering, at present, on racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.

When it comes to a listing of vices, I do think that most items on the progressives’ list have much to be said for them, as do most items on older lists of traditional Christian culture.

But I am largely uninterested in “values” politics, and the endless wrangling over whose vice we may suppress, via the State. Why? Well, because the rationality of these projects is so gossamer-thin, dependent always on which model of morality we are promoting this week.

I think freedom itself, as embodied in liberal notions of natural and civil liberty, provide a better guide to peace and justice than does any relentless virtue-mongering program.

Which is why I am not a conservative.

Which is also why I am not a progressive — they are basically just another form of conservative.

twv

Why is your right to own a gun more important than my right to life?

as answered by TWV on Quora:

It is not, of course. Your right to life is no less important than my right to bear arms. The question is misconceived.

Now, what is going on with this question? The querist is more than implying that his/her life is threatened by my gun. Which it would only be were the querist threatening me — that is, since I foreswear aggression, and the only threat my gun poses is against criminals, I cannot help but wonder if the querist might not be contemplating aggression.

And, in a sense, the querist is threatening me! How? By implying a nonsense claim about rights and (perhaps sub rosa) by setting up some bizarre excuse for citizen disarmament.

You see, anyone demanding a general gun confiscation and ban is advocating for force to be applied against all gun owners. Including me. Drolly, this confiscation would be carried out by people with guns, so the gun ban is likely to stop at citizen disarmament. (States rarely give up their guns.)

Now, here is the real deal of justice: your right to life and my right to life both entail our identical rights to defend ourselves. My self defense with a gun does not threaten any peaceful person’s life. Only a criminal aggression does. Since I am not aggressing by merely defending myself, a person parlaying his or her “right to life” as an excuse to take away my ability to defend myself performatively implies that his or her right to life is more important than mine. And thus undermines the very “deal” that equal rights entails. It is, in fact, a hint at — a bullying technique? — to take away my rights, and is thus at the very least a plan for aggression.

So you can see where this would lead, in America. Many gun owners would simply not submit. The gun confiscation would entail outright repression. And even if the government would institute a mere buy-back and a general (if passive) ban, the ban itself would serve as a drawn-out confiscation, in cases where cached weapons are revealed.

Because what gun prohibition entails is a mass aggression against peaceful people, the querist may have set out the terms to justify a civil war, a rebellion more dangerous than the armed revolution that started these United States. By the very terms of the nation’s founding, gun ban advocates prescribe tyranny. And, in an amazing play of effrontery, they tell us they do it all for our safety.

A mad suggestion.

Any advocacy of unequal basic rights is a recipe for aggression. And, now that I think on it, the question does resemble some similar argumentative gambits we have become familiar with from the college crowd, namely, the idea that “offensive words” amount to “aggressions” that justify defensive, retaliatory, or even preëmptive force. And yes, this is precisely how the “microaggression” concept has been used by radical “social justice” advocates. What they fail to see is that a true microaggression justifies only a microdefense.

Proportionality is key.

In other words, bad manners are justly countered only with good manners.

Perhaps what the querist is really worrying about is this: that the mere existence of guns in peaceful citizens’ hands gives political and legal cover to criminals seeking to acquire guns for use in offense. Thus, an argument might run, there is an externality to self-defense in gun ownership that negatively impacts innocents who do not own guns, and thus “indirectly” “threatens” innocents’ lives.

This much is true: there are plenty of externalities in society. And to handle those externalities most Second Amendment folks would indeed deny a general, equal right to own, say, nuclear weapons. Interesting point. I think one could plausibly argue that mere ownership of a nuclear device entails collateral damage, and thus does constitute a threat to innocents who would not aggress against the owner.

But this latter argument against nuclear and other large bombs as legitimate self defense cannot be applied to guns generally, for guns are designed to be pointed. Their very makeup, their constitution, internalizes external damage by their limited and directed nature.

Further, the weaker argument that the widespread ownership of guns makes it easier for criminals to criminally obtain and use guns is in exact parallel with free speech, like this:

  1. a general right to freedom of speech does make it easier for criminals to use speech to engage in fraud and conspiratorial planning of crimes, and
  2. were speech constricted, strictly controlled (perhaps by limiting freedom of association as well) it would be easier for governments to suppress criminal speech. Nevertheless, the
  3. outrageous totalitarian horror of such a Nanny State would likely convince even those most cowardly and fearful of criminal aggression that the risk of freedom would be worth it.

Which is why freedom and the equal rights to it make more sense than the counsel of the fearful and overcauion of the servile. We deal with criminals on a case-by-case basis, deeming that as enough, while personally and communally encouraging peaceful living.

And besides: personal armaments in peaceful people’s hands discourage crime. Not only do armed citizens defend themselves, they directly defend others. And merely by carrying arms they disincentivize criminals from engaging in aggression. The secular trend in crime over the last two decades has been down, even while the number of guns in private hands has doubled. That is a positive externality of widespread gun ownership. The right of gun owners to bear arms protects the rights to life of those who choose to go about defenseless.

The original question thus implied an inversion of the truth, and would better have been re-conceived as

How is my right to life enhanced by your right to bear arms?

twv

Should there be straight pride?

as answered by TWV on Quora:

Probably not. But there should be no “straight shame,” either.

And, more importantly, most people should practice a bit of modesty, as part of humility and decorum, rather than “pride.”

The point of “gay pride” was, as near as I could make out, a reasonable and necessary push back against the anti-homosexual shaming that was once the norm. That the “pride” movement went overboard, as can be seen in too many of the gay pride parades I have noticed, is sad. By putting aside the question of being unashamed of one’s orientation and instead publicly glorying in indecency and immodesty, “gay pride” paraders have promoted shamelessness when shame be more apt.

You see, the original idea of not feeling shame for one’s desires is good. But the shameless public promotion of private, even lewd activities strikes me as bad, immoral, inconsiderate — what amounts to grand effrontery.

Why would straight people wish to emulate all that?

But straight people do need to defend their desires against the onslaught of anti-straight social forces.

I believe heteronormativity also needs to be defended.

Why? Because the norming of the activities that lead to procreation, to the maintenance of the species, is pro-life, humanistic, civilized. To oppose heteronormativity is to promote decadence.

Quite literally.

Of course, the reader will gather that I think heteronormativity need not be oppressive to the small population of sexual outliers. A society can norm heterosexuality without pride and overbearing condescension and exclusion. Heteronormativity can be humble, not proud.

It is a worse than a shame when it is, instead, shameless and tyrannical.

I believe it is imperative that straight people resist cultural decadence and re-learn modesty, responsibility and the blessing of human reproduction. Also, it might be helpful to relearn that sexual activity can be pleasurable within a context centered around the production of offspring and the raising of same.

But “straight pride” won’t do that. “Straight virtue” might.

twv, September 19, 2019

Do Libertarians encourage poor people to not tax rich people and wait for heaven in the afterlife?

as answered by TWV on Quora:

Poor people don’t tax anybody. States do, and these are usually run by fairly well-off people, and are enthusiastically supported by the bulk of middle-income and high-income folks. High levels of taxation, coupled with transfer programs, were created and are maintained by well-off people — indeed by many people who are themselves beneficiaries of taxed wealth.

The idea, implied in the question, that state aid programs are heaven on earth, is laughable.

Libertarians I know are deeply skeptical of aid programs, first for relying upon forced expropriation and second for turning the poor into dependents who will, after enrollment into “welfare,” subsequently never better themselves.

This outlook of seeing only misery in the lives of poor people were it not for transfer programs is deeply perverse, in no small part because it serves as the political version of post-sale selling technique: “like your pittances, peons, you are pathetic and hopeless and cannot do better — so appreciate the crumbs we fling your way . . . and always demand more and vote for us.”

twv, May 4, 2019

Do some gun owners really believe in the conspiracy that the government is planning to take away all the guns?

…as answered by twv on Quora….

Yes. Sure. But most believe it is not a conspiracy, exactly, but instead an open movement that wishes to accomplish civilian disarmament by incremental regulations and prohibitions.

And since that is precisely what many gun control advocates and former advocates have publicly stated as their goal and their method, these gun owners are not witless, are they? Of course they are reasonably skeptical of any further regulation.

I know that when I flirted with gun control ideas, a mass confiscation immediately popped into my head, and I discussed it with other gun control advocates.

Also, political promises of “we only wish to do this so much (and no more)” and objections on the order of “how dare you think we will go all the way!” of any new proposal are to be believed only by chumps. The income tax was promoted as something only a few of the very rich would pay, and even then not all that much. Within five years the rates on the top bracket went from 7 percent to 77 percent and people at the bottom went from paying nothing to paying 1 percent. Government “wants” to grow. So any small increase in regulation is rightly seen as merely a “first step.”

It is also a known thing that many people in government — as legislators and as functionaries — want a general civilian disarmament. It sure would make their jobs easier! They think.

But gun owners look upon all this with a growing sense of incredulity. Government functionaries cannot successfully do their jobs now, as was shown in the recent Parkland, Florida, shooting incident. And the War on Drugs failed to eradicate psychoactive drugs even from prisons, the most heavily guarded buildings in the country.

So that means that a gun confiscation — or any increased legal encumbrance upon citizen ownership — would surely do only one thing: decrease the ability of peaceful and lawfully disposed citizens to own guns, but not the violent and the criminal. It would basically leave people less safe.

Besides, Spencer’s Law applies, as increasing numbers of gun owners understand. Gun crimes have been going down in America as gun ownership has risen. And this applies to school shootings, too. If someone, conservative or progressive, is much exercised about “a rise in violence” in America, they are, for the most part, being driven by coverage and hysteria, not facts, figures, and sound risk assessment. The rise in demand for “doing something” is occurring as the need for “doing something” is diminishing.

Given this, gun owners wonder what could gun control advocates be thinking? Are they that credulous?The kids are, surely — yes. But some gun control advocates, they know, are indeed malign proponents of authoritarian government. Many gun control politicians and activists love tyrannical government as such. Just look at their methods and policies. Freedom has nothing to do with their agendas. They like robust government, vast redistributions of wealth, and massive regulation of every conceivable element of life, down to the drinking of sodas. They are illiberal. Every society has such people. Not a few of my friends and acquaintances would welcome a “benevolent” tyranny if it would get them the policies they desire.

To the extent that they advance their political program in public, gun control organizing is not conspiratorial. It is, instead, an open political assault on a free society. But some of these people are in government, and no doubt do have contingency plans in place to confiscate vast hoards of guns. So I guess even I believe in such a conspiracy.

But mainly I am politically opposed to the entreaties and counsel of fools.

twv

I, of course, am harmless.