Archives for category: Blogosphere

Is it true that girls tend to be attracted to the guys
that give them the least amount of attention?

…as answered on Quora….

No. But women (and girls) are often attracted to men (and boys) who show enough strength and confidence not to fall all over themselves in a mad rush to fawn over the objects of their affection and lust.

Women tend to admire strength, confidence. Men who attend to women too earnestly often turn women off.

There is an antimony here. It may seem schizoid. But we humans have more than one need we aim to fill when we seek to mate, and those distinct needs drive us to behaviors that can seem paradoxical. Some of our desires and standards are buried deep on one level, while others burst out, unmissable, into the open. Though it is dangerous to cite studies that only back up one’s favored point of view, I merely note here that some studies have shown that women tend to prefer different types of men at different times in their hormonal cycles. It might be helpful to learn this lore, which is developing in evolutionary psychology. (I’d avoid “women’s studies” because these “disciplines” — wholly the creatures of feminism and state subsidy — appear relentlessly ideological and unscientific.)

And men, too, have seemingly contradictory and transitory impulses. The lore on this is commonplace. Men are said to “only want sex” (sexual gratification) and yet they move heaven and earth to please women and take care of children.

How the welfare state, feminism and sexual (“gender”) egalitarianism have affected the playing out in individual men and in society of these two quite distinct urges is the subject of ongoing ideological conflict. The current trend of outing creepy, rapey men in politics and in the performing arts (but I repeat myself) for their abusive behaviors is not unrelated.

“The least amount of attention” in the question references, I gather, the “cool stance,” a sexual strategy very common in developed capitalist society. This stance is liken unto “peacock feathers” and other extravagant plumage among birds, and massive antlers in ungulates — aesthetic excesses that subtly signal strength. The idea being that “I am so strong I can afford to ‘waste’ resources on ‘useless’ beauty.” Women are programmed to admire strength. The species would not have survived had they not found mates strong enough to protect them and their babies. The cool stance, as well as drug use (tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, heroin — the more dangerous the stronger the signal) attracts those attracted to power, seeking natural signs of power.

But coolness is just one strategy that can signal male power. Another is behaving like a criminal, like “an asshole.” You know, as in “bad boys.” It is a staple of narrative fiction and feminist dispute to note just how common this is. More obvious signals of male power are wealth (“like my shiny new car?”), athletic prowess, and uniformed military and police service.

Intelligence, of all things, has even been known to serve to attract women. Whodathunk?

So, there are a variety of strategies available, for both men and women, to attract mates.

There is no one dimension, and certainly no single strategy, upon which sexual selection and the mating market play.


See, among many possible references, The Origins of Cool in Postwar America (2017), by Joel Dinerstein (I purchased a copy but have not found time to read it yet; it looks great), and The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature (2001), by Geoffrey Miller.

“The big lie about capitalism is that everyone can be rich but capitalism works only if the majority are kept poor enough to never quit working and accept distasteful jobs society cannot function without. If everyone were a millionaire, who would empty the trash or repair the sewers?”
Do you agree or disagree? Why?

…as answered on Quora….

Many distasteful jobs are well paid. Do you want to be a proctologist? I do not. And yet people who probe around in others’ anuses for medical purposes are not kept artificially poor.

Many, many high-paying jobs are jobs our society cannot function without. And not a few are distasteful to many, if not most. One reason many smart people do not go into politics, despite this profession’s long history of high spoils rates, is because it is disgusting work. Tedious. Morally ugly. Dehumanizing. And most people say politics is absolutely essential to modern society.

I would rather drive a garbage truck or sling cowshit in a dairy farm than serve in the Oval Office.

Or probe around in the above-mentioned orifices.

And let us say, arguendo, that more and more people found garbage collection and sewerage repair just too disgusting to hire themselves out for. If these jobs’ products remain demanded by people, the customers would indeed pay higher prices — and with a tight supply and higher demand, we can expect wages to rise in those fields.

It is worth noting that many dirty jobs actually pay pretty well. See Mike Rowe’s once-popular show, Dirty Jobs. Consider “the trades.”

To answer the original question in the affirmative is to take a conspiratorial view of wages. Those who believe such things should study economics, learn about “marginal productivity,” and put away silly hunches and prejudices.

But let us return to the first phrase: “The big lie of capitalism is that everyone can be rich. . . .” If by this one means “equally rich” (which probably is what is meant) I have to say: I’ve never heard anyone assert that this is what a market economy offers us. Equality of wealth is not possible — unless you flip that around: equality of dire poverty is possible.

And in societies geared to be extremely anti-capitalist — that is, in socialist societies — caste divisions and great disparities of wealth become quite large. Just think of Venezuela’s richest woman, the former president’s daughter, and contrast her with the masses of that beleaguered-yet-resource-rich country. Now starving, they no longer line up for food, they line up at the border, trying to exit the country.

Equality is not a function of nature. No society but the simplest and poorest sports material equality. Even in hunter-gatherer tribes there tends to be some startling inequalities. Markets reward performance on merit through that amazing filter, supply and demand. It is not equality that markets produce, but quality in general. And, as others have stated, we are a lot wealthier now than we used to be. There has been awesome material progress.

It is a pity that a progress in wisdom has not been nearly as marked. But, to some extent this is to be expected: education has been monopolized in public schooling as well as in limited-accreditation higher ed, to an amazing degree for well over a century — monopolized in the non-capitalist sector of society.

twv

So, if slavery is bad because liberty is good, and if the American conception of liberty is bad because of slavery, why is slavery bad?

At issue, you will immediately recognize, is the Project1619-adjacent notion that the existence of slavery in American history discredits the government and general political complexion of the United States of America. I have argued against/around this poison pill [meme] before, chiefly on Quora:

The leftist idea is to use the mere existence of past slavery as a rationale to set up a completely different kind of socio-political order. Since most of these ninnies are promoting some form of socialism, those of us who identify socialism with slavery must express some alarm.

The idea is bizarre when you break it down. But most young people seem not to move beyond statement and restatement of the core notion:

The temerity of the Left! One of today’s leftists’ characteristic charges is that capitalism and slavery are a package deal, somehow, and that American capitalism depended upon the institution of chattel slavery for its success, and that the wealth Americans now revel in is tainted by the institution of slavery that was abolished over a century and a half ago.

An astounding assertion, and utterly without merit.

As I stated in the piece quoted directly above, it is an extraordinarily loopy notion even to pretend “to redress past harms caused by slavery” by working “to oppose freedom generally.”

Americans have promoted the idea of freedom while not successfully living up to the idea. Sure. And slavery was the most obvious failing of freedom-loving Americans. But to say we should give up liberty and embrace socialism — servility to the coercive horde or the maximum state — because of this, is . . . witless.

Or, maybe, the wit of the Devil taking the hindmost brains. He loves a good laugh, and to urge his minions to abandon freedom “because slavery” is too droll even for a mere human archon.

twv

I know worrying about “foreign interference in our elections” is so Last Year, but as I was reading a missive from Gab.com entitled “Who Is Gab For?,” I realized something: Big Tech de-platforming and censorship is foreign interference in “our” elections:

American values are foreign to Silicon Valley because three-quarters of Silicon Valley workers are from foreign countries with foreign values. Would American workers unilaterally censor fellow Americans at the behest of a corporation? Perhaps, but there would undoubtably be a few more dissenters and whistleblowers.

I know that when I get crunched for a post on Quora or Facebook, it does not feel like Americans doing the crunching.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The letter from Torba:

Gab is an anti-establishment company.

The establishment is our enemy because the establishment is the enemy of Truth.

This includes establishment “conservatives.”

Gab is not being built for the establishment.

It’s being built to dismantle it.

Our terms of service have always been unapologetically American and place the First Amendment above all else as a guiding principle when it comes to content moderation. This is something most “woke” American companies won’t do. This is something the vast majority of politicians would never endorse. This is something Silicon Valley will never do.

American values are foreign to Silicon Valley because three-quarters of Silicon Valley workers are from foreign countries with foreign values. Would American workers unilaterally censor fellow Americans at the behest of a corporation? Perhaps, but there would undoubtably be a few more dissenters and whistleblowers.

Gab is the only technology company in the world brave enough to authentically stand against Big Tech tyranny and offer people a real choice.

Gab gave birth to the free speech software movement in 2016 and is the de facto market leader when it comes to alternative technology. Not only did we build an open source social network, but also a web browser, a news aggregator, hosting infrastructure, email infrastructure, our own ecommerce platform, and much more.

While our terms of service are crucial and the technology we’ve built is impressive, Gab is nothing without our community of people. Gabbers are not just “users.” They are our shareholders, customers, donors, volunteers, and warriors.

Many Gabbers have been with us since August of 2016 when we launched. They’ve seen our story unfold and have stood by us through attacks from every mainstream media outlet in the world, every far-left activist organization in the world, every major tech company, foreign governments, and worse.

Gab stood boldly in front of the entire establishment machine and dared to say: NO.

Gabbers are smart people.

They aren’t easily led astray by talking heads or “influencers.” They aren’t fooled or persuaded by gimmicky marketing slogans or smooth-talking politicians. Gabbers are thinkers and Truth seekers. Above all else: they are good, honest, hard working people who love their freedom, country, and God.

Gab has earned their trust through trial by fire.

Not one person in the political establishment–including the Conservative Inc crowd that loves talking about free speech and Big Tech bias–embraced Gab. Not one of them defended Gab. Many of them even attacked Gab and cheered as we were attacked by the media and Big Tech. These people are hypocrites, liars, frauds, and enemies of truth.

The mainstream media has never covered Gab in any objective way or with any form of journalistic integrity (with the one exception being Tucker Carlson.) From the moment Gab launched we were smeared, defamed, and attacked by the marxist propagandists who call themselves as “journalists.”

None of this mattered to our community.

What mattered is that we stood our ground and most importantly: we refused to ever give up and kept fighting back.

So who is Gab for?

Gab is not designed to prop up narcissistic “influencers” who already have a big microphone courtesy of their oligarch masters.

Gab is not being built for politicians to whisper sweet nothings full of lies and deception to the masses.

Gab is for everyday people who feel that they no longer have a voice—both online and off.

We invite them, and you, to speak freely.

Andrew Torba / CEO, Gab.com / July 9th, 2020

Did any Greek political philosophy (500 BC – 500 AD) align with American libertarianism?

…as answered on Quora….

Elements of liberal-libertarian individualism can be found in most schools of ancient philosophy.

Plato’s admonition to favor persuasion over force — seeing civilization as the triumph of persuasion over force* — could ably serve as a libertarian motto.

The idea of natural law, especially as developed by the Stoics, provided an important perspective for the growth of the rule-of-law idea so vital to classical liberalism, and, more narrowly, the tool that is “rights,” from which libertarianism grounds its limited and limiting conception of justice.

But it is in Epicureanism we might see the greatest libertarian foreshadowing among the Greeks. Epicurus, I think, offered a number of important concepts that spurred the growth of the libertarian idea.** Chief among these is a stripped-down conception of justice as the rules that allow people to form compacts for mutual protection. Both utilitarianism and contractarianism find early formulations in Epicurean writings — most of which are, alas, lost.***

And there is something in Epicureanism that is not to be found in Platonism, Aristotelianism, or Stoicism: absolutely no aggrandizement of the State, no conception, even, of its moral legitimacy. The State of Epicurus’ day, and all the associated politics surrounding its warfare and plunder and busybodyism, was something Epicurus advised his followers to avoid. He imagined a better system, in his simpler, non-lofty idea of mutual protection compacts. But they could not be put in place generally in ancient times, so Epicurus advised avoidance of the State. He was a social schismatic, if not a utopian.

In his attitude towards the State Epicurus was, in effect, applying the same approach that he applied to religion: debunking.

The four-fold cure serves, I think, as a good summary of Epicureanism:

  1. Do not fear death;
  2. do not fear the gods;
  3. good things are easy to get;
  4. suffering is easy to endure.

Epicureans argued that much of our phobias about life derive from superstitious myth and religious hectoring about afterlife punishment by vengeful and mercurial deities. Epicurus himself developed a scientific viewpoint to show that there is no afterlife, and thus nothing to fear in that regard, and that the gods, if any there be, would be uninterested in human affairs, so they were no threat. He saw the cosmos as complex but not conspiratorial. The social world, on the other hand, did have malign conspiracies everywhere, and, though one could fear them, the best recourse is pain- and threat-avoidance, for the thing most needful for a happy life was a baseline cheerfulness and a resistance to fear.

A friend of mine told me, recently, that he sees Epicureanism as being all about fear — fear of pain. I think this is exactly backwards. Fear exacerbates pains. One should try to avoid complex habits of life that conjure up more pain than they are worth, that is the Epicurean strategy. But with what pains one is inevitably delivered in life, we had best use philosophy and the therapies of desire to deal with them. I beseech thee: do not get caught up in fear.

Indeed, decades ago I reformulated the four-fold cure as an anti-phobic discipline:

  1. Do not fear death;
  2. do not fear the gods;
  3. do not fear boredom;
  4. do not fear suffering.

And once you have mastered these attitudes, apply them against politics, which is filled with what Max Stirner called “wheels in the head” — made-up and reified notions of State Sovereignty, moral authority, and Divine Justice as imposed via the State. All that is just nonsense that some people use to get you to conform to their outrageous demands. These notions are carried over from religious superstition. They mask what is really going on in the political realm.

De-mystify all that.

There is a pipeline from Epicureanism to libertarianism. It is not for nothing that one perceptive Christian author quoted nearly five full pages from the Data of Ethics by the great libertarian theorist of the 19th century, Herbert Spencer, as exemplary of Epicureanism in modern times.**** The affinity is quite striking.

What is even more striking, though, is how little explored it is.


* “From Force to Persuasion,” in Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures in Ideas (The MacMillan Company, 1954), pp. 87–109.

** See Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (W. W. Norton and Company, 2011), for a discussion of the historical importance for the Renaissance and the Enlightenment of the unearthing of the great Epicurean poem by Titus Lucretius Carus.

*** But see James H. Nichols, Jr., Epicurean Political Philosophy: The De rerum natura of Lucretius (Cornell University Press, 1976).

**** William DeWitt Hyde, From Epicurus to Christ (The MacMillan Company, 1904), pp. 10–15.


About the image, above: Harry Browne and a statue of Epicurus. Harry Browne’s How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World was reviewed by philosopher John Hospers in Reason magazine, under the title “The New Epicureans” (March 1974).

Is being a Republican all about maintaining the established hierarchy?

…as answered on Quora….

No.

America’s Republican Party is a coalition of a number of anti-leftist interest groups, or, if you will, “tribes.” Though Republicans lean conservative, and conservatives tend to extol traditional hierarchies more than do progressives, it is worth remembering that almost all elements of American government were transformed in the first half of the 20th century by Progressives, and our institutions, today, are in the main both Progressive and hierarchical.

And it is Democrats (and those on the left in general) who urgently — and with increasing alarm — defend established hierarchies.

Consider a few of these:

  • the supremacy of the federal government over the states
  • the bureaucratic hierarchies of the Administrative State
  • the government of the people by the (now-armed) regulatory bureaucracies
  • the cultural hegemony of major media and Hollywood elites over “rednecks” and “fly-over country”
  • the power of major population centers over more sparsely populated rural areas

Take that last one, for a moment. Since the election of Donald Trump, Democrats have been spinning rationales for getting rid of not only the Electoral College but also the Senate, two hold-overs from the original decentralized federal system. There are not many remnants left of the original constitutional order. The whole of the Administrative state has metastasized far beyond constitutional balance, with the Executive Branch now quite dominant not only in the Imperial Presidency but also in the huge leeway the Legislative Branch has ceded to Executive Branch bureaucracies, to create and enforce and even criminalize its regulatory tasks. And the Democrats, apparently jealous of any non-technocratic hierarchy, increasingly want to rid the system of even the last vestiges of the Founders’ system. It is really quite breathtaking.

At this point, many readers will no doubt be wondering if I am a crazy man. Why, it is the left that is against hierarchies and it is the right that defends them! What kind of nonsense is this?

Well, in defense of my interpretation, I ask you to consider the difference between ideological fantasy and knee-jerk institutional practice. By their socialist-tinged fantasies, progressives (and Democrats) are indeed “egalitarian.” They talk up a good equality game, that’s for sure. But when push comes to shove, the pushers of equality shove hard, and quickly establish and defend the hierarchies that do the shoving. That is why socialism turns so quickly to hierarchical and class-based totalitarianism: because equality does not work in a unitary state, but hierarchies and class do. So allegedly “egalitarian and inclusive” leftists swiftly become tyrants.

And we see this even among our compromising progressives, who are on the whole at least not communists — they still balk at full-blown state socialism. (Though in recent years they have come out of the closet on their emotional allegiances, their commitment to the term itself.) They are now quite defensive and even hysterical about Republican attacks upon their beloved governmental hierarchies.

Another example? Public education advocates. Government k12 schooling has become less local and more state- and federal-controlled in the last half-century. And with it, the hierarchies of bureaucracy and unions and politics have usurped more and more local prerogatives. And just look how Democrats react to decentralizing notions like school vouchers, and to hierarchy-busting alternatives like charter schools!

It is not the Republicans who defend hierarchy in these cases. They seem to be leaning to decentralism.

Democrats, like technocrats, socialists and fascists everywhere, are big proponents of centralization.

And the centralism of a unitary state is of necessity hierarchical.

But is this traditional?

No. Well, not exactly.

Like I asserted above, the Republican Party is not a singular movement. It is a coalition of several major groups. And the different groups are differently conservative, if conservative at all. And though we have come to understand conservatism as being “about,” somehow, the defense of traditional hierarchies, which hierarchies are being defended in which group is open to debate.

Further, please note that the traditional American order is liberal, not traditional — Whig and not Tory, in British terms. That is, the original states of the union were sovereign in their original conception, and the union was federal, not national. Decentralist, in modern terminology — almost a distributed order.

Today’s conservatives, to the extent they hark back to the Founding period, are not talking up hierarchy, they are talking up a decentralized order of competing and balancing hierarchies.

But it gets more complicated, for the Republican Party basically overthrew the constitutional order that had failed before it reached the century mark, failed regarding slavery and the tariff. The new order delivered by Abraham Lincoln was nationalist. The Republican Party’s push for the supremacy of an imperialistic national government was far more hierarchical than the Founders’ order, and that order was not American-traditional, but European-traditional. And then came Teddy Roosevelt and a frankly imperialist Progressivism, which, in the course of both Republican and Democratic governments (the Democratic Party abandoning decentralism and constitutionalism with Woodrow Wilson), proceeded to restructure American government along centralist and hierarchical grounds.

So, while some Republicans may hold the constitutional order up as a sort of liberal/libertarian fantasy, in practice they are thoroughly nationalist rather than federalist, imperialist rather than nationalist, and wholly submerged in the trappings of the patriotic mumbo-jumbo of allegiance to the hierarchies established last century, not by the Founders. (Can there be any greater betrayal of the constitutional order than Republicans’ beloved “one nation indivisible” — written by a socialist?) Most Republicans are “conservative” by being Progressives of a hundred years ago. And Democrats are progressives of the flavor they got addicted to in the Sixties.

A more pathetic pair of bumbling parties could hardly be found. And of course, like most Americans, they were “educated” in America’s propaganda mills, the public schools. Which means, much of what they know ain’t so. Our national faith comes in two disgusting flavors.

Now, I admit: there is still something to the “traditional hierarchy” biz.

The kind of progressive that Republicans tend to be is the kind that pushed for Prohibition, way back when. You know, to “save the family.” Not the overtly technocratic kind, of John Dewey and The New Republic. The fact that their “conservative” variety of Progressivism was perpetrated in the name of the family might seem to indicate the defense of the trad hierarchy of domestic life — but that is illusion as well. Not only did Prohibition subordinate individual liberty to state and federal usurpation and totalitarian control, it was also a de facto rebellion of women against men, for the Dry ranks were largely made up of women and a few ambitious, moralistic male busybodies. The women were rebelling against a culture of male drunkenness. (More than understandable.) So modern social conservatism began with the overthrowal of the central element of a patriarchal hierarchy — quite anti-traditional — and then was roundly rebuked by the complete failure of said “experiment.” But did social conservatives learn? No. As alcohol Prohibition ended, new federal programs prohibiting other drugs grew and grew, and were used with startling cruelty against non-white, non-bourgeois out-groups.

Now is the time for me to try to make some sense of “left vs. right” in modern ideology. The rightward motion is not, I think, to defend “traditional hierarchies.” It is for the defense of some in-group against perceived or real out-group threat. And the left is the Cult of the Other, defending some out-group from exploitation or oppression by an in-group — some in-group “of the right.” Of course.

None of these are stable positions. Both sides defend and attack hierarchies, “depending.” Why? Because the in-group/out-group dimension maps orthogonally to the power/freedom dimension.

So, what to make of all this? Well, hierarchies of competence are good, while hierachies of “power” (if by this word you mean oppression or unjust exploitation) are indeed bad. Individuals and in-groups must be defended from criminals and oppressive powers, and individuals and out-groups must not be oppressed in service to the cause of the aforementioned defense.

What is good about “traditional hierarchies” is that they often defend groups that deserve to thrive or dissipate based on free association. What is bad about them is what is bad about new hierarchies: when they aid in centralizing agendas, oppression, and exploitation by class or by individuals . . . that is when they are evil.

So, to answer the original question — “Is being a Republican all about maintaining the established hierarchy?” — better here at the end than in the beginning: sometimes; depends upon which group and which hierarchy.

As for me, I think it is clear: the Republican Party is an ideological mess, conservatives are confused, and their opponents, the progressives, are even worse.

A pox on both their in-groups.

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

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.

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.

Could the US founding fathers be guilty of creating a nation based on slavery?

…as answered on Quora….

Seems a funny way of putting it.

  1. America’s founders weren’t creating a “nation.” They created a federal union, with each state as a separate sovereign governing in a republican fashion its nation of free people. That is a better description.
  2. Some of those free people in those states owned slaves, in most states. Thomas Jefferson had written anti-slavery passages in his Declaration of Independence, but they were removed by the Continental Congress for fear of alienating states dominated by slaveowners. But most founders recognized that slavery was the opposite of freedom.
  3. The state of Vermont, independent at the time of the Revolution and through the Philadelphia Convention, formally abolished slavery in 1777. It entered the union in 1791. For the next seven decades, northern states, one by one, legislated against the institution of slavery. In the aftermath of the Civil War, slavery was abolished in all states by the 13th Amendment. (Arguably, the federal union ceased to be at that time, and a nation-state was then created — not because of the abolition of slavery, but because of the manner in which it was accomplished . . . but that is another and quite thorny issue.)
  4. At the time of the founding of the United State in the late 18th century, few countries had abolished slavery, though it was not widely practiced in Europe any longer. But it had been practiced from time immemorial. So in that context, did the founders create a political union “based on slavery”? All of civilization was in part “based on slavery.” That is, slavery was a worldwide phenomena. And it is still practiced in Africa and Asia, especially in Muslim-majority countries.
  5. What the founders did do was proclaim freedom as central to their cause. And that proclamation (declaration) along with their expressed desire to “secure the blessings of liberty” leavened the culture and allowed the states of the union, and then the federal government (after a horrific war in no small part the result of this issue), to repudiate slavery. Over time. Which is how social change happens.

The idea of blaming the founders for slavery while not crediting them with the principles that were corrosive to the ancient institution, seems tendentious and . . . twisted . . . to me. Could it serve as part of an agenda on the totalitarian left to discredit individual liberty by means of its opposite — the better to institutionalize not chattel slavery but mass political slavery, the slavery of socialism?


Not Irrelevant:

Did white people oppose slavery?

What did Austrian economists think of slavery?

Why is capitalism not the root cause of slavery?

How different would the U.S. be if it didn’t have slave labor in its beginning stages?

Who thinks slavery was avoidable?

Who was the first U.S. President whose immediate family owned slaves?

Where do human rights come from?