Archives for category: Ethics

Craven Corporate CEOs Kowtow to BLM and the Woke-Left Mob

The long list of letters we receive from the heads of major corporations, genuflecting in the general region of the woke mob, is disheartening or hilarious or both. But Airstream’s missive is especially idiotic:

The Road Ahead: A Letter from Airstream’s CEO

Jun 11, 2020

As I’ve watched the events of the last two weeks unfold, I’ve wrestled with how to respond. I resisted the urge to simply react, to post about our horror and outrage at the killing of George Floyd, choosing rather to take the time to figure out what concrete actions we can take to catalyze real change. 
The killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black people has rightfully brought an intense focus to the issues of social injustice and racial inequity, and also much-needed clarity about how Airstream can be part of the solution. Though Airstream is a small company, we’re a big brand, and I feel both the undeniable responsibility to continue to use our voice for good, and optimistic that we can actually make a difference. 
Airstream was founded to inspire people to connect with each other and enjoy the outdoors. We know that, all too often, the prejudices and inequities that pervade society as a whole also keep people of color from feeling at ease in these natural spaces. So what can we do? 
* First, we can support those organizations whose aim is to combat inequities in our criminal justice system. To that end, we are making a multi-year financial commitment to the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative, whose work is at the front lines of challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
* Second, we are listening to people of color in the outdoor and camping space through feedback sessions. This is the next step in our important work to learn how Airstream can positively impact change and better understand how we can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment in the outdoors. 
* And finally, in addition to conducting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion training for our employees, we are listening to and learning from all Airstream associates who may have experienced discrimination so that we can better understand how those forces manifest themselves in our local community and our ability to counter them. 
As calls for real, systemic reform grow louder around the nation and the world, we are hopeful that this is the time for meaningful, positive, and lasting change so that all people can enjoy a life free from injustice and inequality. We know we have work to do.
Be well, be safe, and be compassionate.


Bob Wheeler
President & CEO
Airstream, Inc.

The idea that a travel trailer company has any business being “part of the solution” to a problem of which it is not plausibly the cause, is not “woke,” it’s dopey.

Why is it happening?

Perhaps because of the ‘race hustle,’ the shake-down process perfected by charlatans like Al Sharpton, on-the-make provocateurs who approach corporations, tell them they are racist and warn them that their status as racists can be publicized, and then accept hush money in the form of grants or programs to conduct “justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion training.”

On the Other Hand…

I am open to the “systemic racism” notion.

But what could it be? Individual and in-group racism is fairly easy to understand; organizational racism is not difficult to understand.

But what would “systemic racism” be?

Well, it would be patterns of discrimination resulting from human interaction within institutional frameworks but not of direct human intention or design. Perhaps it would be racist effects without racist intent.

The trick is not to be confused or hoodwinked by the words we like to use.

Relative prices in a market could be called “systemic.” The whole “invisible hand” process element could be called systemic. Economists have investigated the “spontaneous order” of the price system for centuries now. It is a fascinating social science paradigm.

The “systemic racism” notion would be parallel.

But merely to assert “systemic racism” and then pretend that it is “just the same” or even worse than standard forms of racism — or, at the very least, worth getting really, really exercised about — while not explaining the processes by which systems of subconscious or non-conscious adaptation might skew in a seemingly racist manner, well that’s sub-intellectual and makes you look like a hectoring idiot.

While I am open to such discussions, I don’t see them as showing a great deal of promise. Why? It’s not because there is nothing to them. It is because the chief use, these days, for the idea is as a hectoring tool, and this suggests to me that people leap to word ”systemic” because they’ve run out of really bad forms of racism, and they still want to get worked up.

Besides, it is a word that makes them look smart — to dumb people.

And the main reason to focus on racism? Because most of the left’s ideas are such nonsense and dangerous poppycock that they have to find something with a little meat on it. Something to throw into the dog pit and get the contestants snarling.

Ah, politics!

Its usual effect is to lower displayed intelligence.

And I remind Americans that racism was selected by Soviet propagandists as the most efficient angle to undermine American values and society and thereby government. Anti-racism was, among other things, a Soviet psy-op. (Keyword: Bezmenov.) Today’s anti-racist racism — as in castigating a white man for holding a non-white child on his lap — might best be explained as a propagandist-designed meme to infect and destroy a people, preparing the way for . . . communism? Maybe. But since communism doesn’t work, what you get is totalitarian tyranny over the people by the elites and for the elites.

So we might want to take caution in handling a psy-op and running with it. It’s like running with scissors. You had better be careful how you hold that tool. Do you really want to stab yourself and others?

The Key Concept the ”Systemic” Pushers Ignore

When it comes to racism, it is astounding how rarely the chief theorists of Anti-Racism mention the relevant concepts from ethology and anthropology: positive and negative ethnocentrism. Here are some passages from Edward Dutton, ”The Jolly Heretic,” to explain the basic concepts:

I was introduced to these concepts by reading Sumner (who was primarily a sociologist, not an economist) and Herbert Spencer. It is a testimony to how narrow-minded the neo-Darwinian the dominant paradigm had become to re-introduce these ideas of group-centered altruism that were a common theme in these two early evolutionists. Nowadays evolutionists talk about this all the time, but it was much less on the explanatory agenda in the first half of the 20th century. But the ideas were in those early evolutionists.

The concept that anti-racists prefer over negative ethnocentrism is xenophobia. But that has a real problem: fear is not hatred is not distrust is not, even, general antipathy. And an aesthetic distaste for another culture is quite distinct from an aesthetic distaste for another race, and both of these are distinct from moral disapproval and approval. A lot is covered up in the usual yammering about xenophobia.

There are many levels to the problems here, and my point in quoting Dutton is not to side with him, but merely to show a research program that the anti-racists don’t commonly consult.

Ethnocentrism is a natural human propensity. It may be useful to see it on a spectrum, with hatred on the extreme ends:

Racism, as I understood it in my youth, is a philosophical error, the making too much of matters of race. But in-group sympathy and cooperation are not ”making too much” of one’s own race. The evolutionists are likely correct in viewing positive ethnocentrism as a cross-cultural adaptive trait.

But negative ethnocentrism? That can lead to horrific destruction of the in-group because of excessive violence and retaliation and vendetta traps. Racism used to be associated with this. But instead of attending to principles and the rational appraisal of threats from inside as well as outside a community, today’s anti-racists seem to repeatedly and even consistently lurch to xenophilia and oikophobia (synonyms may work better, but these are in somewhat popular use). That is, they tend to reflexively over-value outsiders to compensate for the negative ethnocentrism of some insiders, and then even come to oppose fellow members of the in-group merely for their insider status.

These developments of anti-racism thus become racist by inversion, ”making too much” of race by making too much of racism, and by excessive support for those of genetic-ethnic groups unlike ourselves.

It would be helpful if people remembered the wisdom of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: virtue lies in the middle, with vice exhibited at the extreme ends of each spectrum of traits, and with vice characterized by both the lack and the excess of the beneficially adaptive trait.


Passages from this book were quoted above.
. . . in which I look back on the changing winds of doctrine, and which way I blow. . . .

Thirty or forty years ago, while grappling with the theory of rights — building off from both from the Bentham side as well as the Grotius side — I found myself contrasting rights talk (and utility of same) between various rights adults disputed pertaining solely to themselves and the alleged rights of children, infants, fetuses and non-human animals. I developed a sort of Benthamic schema of rights that Bentham himself would have hated, since mine explained and did not dismiss natural rights.

I went into my inquiry as an advocate for abortion rights, since my basic social attitude was liberal. And was a young man with no intention of starting a family. But the immediate result of my inquiries surprised me a bit: I ended up with a rather complicated excuse for legal abortions. It was based, in part, on phenomenology, specifically the approach to the social world of Alfred Schütz.

But by the end, I realized that there was something creepy about my excuse for abortion, and I acknowledged that, on level of personal morals, I was against abortion — it was, I decided, a horrific practice that my contemporaries took too lightly, with all the self-deceptions that Sartre saw in the peculiar mental stratagems of anti-Semites. I knew that many past societies had engaged in infanticide and the abandonment of children, and my rights theory had come out squarely against those practices, as it did many other age-old institutions, like chattel slavery and imperialist warfare. But abortion: I had found an excuse for its legality — what of that?

Well, I pick at this constantly, because it is, I hazard, one of the things de-humanizing contemporary society and driving our civilization mad. We have several of these madness-inducing memes ongoing. One is deficit spending and debt accumulation by the federal government of these United States. This has uncorked a stopper on the culture, and is sending society reeling out of control. As evidence for this madness I give you ‘gender theory’ and the current trans-mania. What I see in society are people being driven by uncorked egregori of memes, with scant discipline to regulate them: tradition is broken; philosophy — which might do the job — remains remotely academic, a kind of cultural eunuch, and deeply unpopular.

I have never much liked the terms of the debate. I deem “pro-life” and “pro-choice” as witless terms to characterize the actual positions held. Reliance upon these terms tempts their users into irresponsible, thoughtless ideology and propagandizing. So I’ve been alienated, until fairly recently, from both sides. In more recent days, though, my alienation from the ”left” generally has led me, with gallows humor, to the “right-wing“ culture, somewhat, because I take no stand with any group that allies itself with socialism, biological fabulism, and the Deep State (which is not fictitious, but all-too-real).

Like most left-right divides, the abortion issue has many dimensions. It deserves to be looked at in more than one way. I have tried to do so. For in addition to the ways mentioned above, treating it as a social-world problem, from the perspective of rights theory, I also consider it as a matter of ceremony, of rite. This is where anthropology veers into the occult, for there is a reason that many opponents of abortion look at the legally sanctioned and culturally promoted practice of abortion as ritual mass slaughter — and that extreme interpretation is indeed “creepy.” But like I suggest above, killing little humans in the womb is indeed a creepy, de-humanizing practice. I am not shocked to discover multiple dimensions of the creepiness.


Rhetorical Question: “How did abortion get banned faster than assault weapons? Asking for all the victims of mass shootings.”

A. It didn’t. Abortion is not banned in these United States, and Dobbs did not make any abortion practice illegal.

B. “Assault rifles” are not easily definable — because the term is arbitrarily used as a synonym for “scary looking guns” — and even the ones that are “banned” are available.

C. Abortion, like mass shootings, are forms of homicide. The latter is illegal in every state, and some forms of abortion are illegal in some states — and all over Europe and elsewhere, too. But making a form of homicide illegal is not the same as making a specific instrument of lethality illegal. For an exact parallel between these issues, opponents of abortion would not be content to make abortion illegal, but would also make illegal drugs such as mifepristone and misoprostol, as well as speculums, suction catheters and suction machines, laminaria, and curettes. And other devices and drugs and instruments. “Suction catheters” and “suction machines” are probably the most “assault weapony” of these, but all of these are used — and more. I have never heard an anti-abortion advocate call for the prohibition of any of these, though back in the RU-486 days, this was on the table for a few minutes.

D. The comparison is witless.

E. Oh, and more people are killed by abortionists each year than by murderers using “assault weapons.” But we don’t see the bodies of the dead, and their stories do not get any play on the news, so we forget them. We never knew them. They are, to us, forever dead.


How do self-described ancaps (who say they are anti-abortion) intend to enforce that principle as a matter of law?
…as asked by a libertarian historian on Facebook….

…but answered here:

How do we enforce the law against murder in a foreign country? We don’t. Someone else does.

The difficulty regarding abortion is that it is private, within the womb. This makes the issue become a micro-political jurisdictional problem. Most anti-abortion libertarians I talk to are not interested in a police state to track every pregnancy or period. That’s absurd and they know it. Only one lunkhead in a hundred suggests it seriously.

We all know that prosecution of murder usually depends upon a corpse. Most murders go unsolved and unprosecuted — that’s my take-away from 600,000 people going missing each year in the United States (some unknown number of whom are murdered) compared to the relatively minuscule official murder count and a falling rate of solutions to police-designated homicides. Abortionists in a pro-life society would no doubt go to great length to dispose of corpses. Right now, however, the corpses are incinerated, put in dumpsters, used in industry for cosmetics, medical experimentation and drug development, and much more — all legal. In a legal environment where that goes away because occasionally prosecuted in the courts — abortionists would likely become quite clever in disposing of bodies.

In the hypothesized anarcho-capitalist (ancap) society, certain crimes would be rarely prosecuted. Just as today. There’s always a selection bias in any system. My guess — and this is gleaned not merely from my own speculation also from talking to ancaps who are against abortion — is that they don’t expect it to be often enforced — just as Ron Paul, a minarchist, doesn’t expect laws against abortion to be enforced often against individuals. But ancap anti-abortionists as a matter of principle aren’t going to pretend that poisoning and grinding up fetuses in or out of the womb is anything but murdering a human being, because they see themselves as the opposite of callous nazi-like progressives, who sacrifice offspring for their own pleasure and convenience, and perhaps (this is something I’ve encountered in discussion, left and right) as a mass sacrifice to their pagan deities.

Much of the oomph of the question goes to the problem of who has standing in Ancapistan. Well, that question has been explored in the literature, but a lot would probably depend upon the form anarcho-capitalism takes. Writers as different as Stephan Kinsella (not anti-abortion) and David D. Friedman (I don’t remember his position) admit that “anarchist” societies could be quite diverse, legally. This ends us in Hoppe-land, actually, where private societies differ in complexion, and every society would have issues upon which expulsion from said society would be de rigueur. A controversial position, but hard to argue against on the basis of elementary libertarian principles.

I am not a professed and committed anarchist, so I regard these questions as interesting avenues to explore. I am “against abortion” somewhat like I am “for liberty,” as a general position. Specifics often get difficult. We should explore these questions rationally, if we can.

Cultural schisms in the libertarian movement make this difficult.


Christopher Hitchens said of libertarianism that “I have always found it quaint, and rather touching, that there is a movement in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” What are your thoughts on this assessment?

…as answered on Quora….

Selfishness is the excess of consideration of (or passion for) benefits to self over benefits to others. Libertarians, under influence of Ayn Rand’s goofy logomachy, sometimes make of selfishness a virtue. So for a non-libertarian to mistake libertarian norms as a defense of selfishness, it is hardly shocking.

But just as I expect libertarians not to fall for Rand’s error, so too do I expect really smart non-libertarians. After all, error remains error, and I shake my head no matter who makes it.

To clarify: I follow Aristotle in saying that an excess of a praiseworthy passion or proclivity, like a lack of same, is a vice. The questions regarding liberty might then be:

  • Is it selfish to want to be free?
  • Is it selfless to defend others’ freedoms?
  • Is it selfless to accept responsibility for one’s actions, or selfish?
  • Is it selfish to shrug off responsibility while demanding that others’ accept theirs?

I ask these questions mostly with a rhetorical intent. Commonsense responses include:

  • It is selfish of others to seek to take away my freedoms.
  • It is selfish of me to slough off my responsibilities.
  • It may be selfless of me to give up some of my freedoms for others’ benefits, but it is not selfless to take away others’ freedoms for my or anyone else’s benefit.
  • Freedom and responsibility fit together fairly naturally. It is only vice that twists our minds to think otherwise.

Truth is, “selfish” is a term of opprobrium we marshal most often at kids. It pertains most to situations of commons, like when sharing toys or taking common meals, etc. Adults can get more specific, can’t we? Let’s drill down.

Greed is one form of selfishness. Greed is the excess of acquisitiveness. We must acquire goods to survive and thrive. A person who lacks an acquisitive drive becomes a burden to others, or withers and dies. Normal acquisitiveness is absolutely vital. Thus virtuous.

A libertarian qua libertarian would say that acquisitiveness unbound by respect for others, acquisitiveness taking the form of theft, or fraud, is indeed a vice. The harm done by the vicious acts of over-acquisitiveness are obvious, and every society has some rules against such actions. Libertarian views on property rights are distillations of such universal norms. And greedy acts of theft and fraud are indeed selfish. Libertarians are very much against these forms of selfishness. It is our basic belief. It hardly gets more basic.

Libertarians would go further: they would say (and do) that much political activity to use The State to take from some and give to others feeds greed, expresses greed, is greedy.

Libertarians thus condemn today’s politics as a politics of greed. It is the foamers-at-the-mouth for higher taxes and ever-growing social programs — or merely for special advantages for their own groups — who are greedy, not libertarians.

Further, in the realm of personal ethics, a commonsense libertarian would readily concede, as I insist they do, that one can be greedy without violating someone else’s rights. All vices of excess amount to an imbalance. If one concentrates on acquisitiveness at the personal cost of neglecting other good habits, like empathy or curiosity or x — the list goes on and on — then one harms oneself. Vices are not limited to social destruction. Personal destruction also applies.

And though as libertarians we may not make a big deal about personal greed — most libertarians mind their business, knowing that virtue is not always easy — as normal members of families and communities, we do sometimes express our concerns about others’ private greed.

Now, let us take a step back: greed is not the only vice of selfishness. Another is niggardliness.

A few paragraphs above I suggested that those who would marshal the state to take from some to give to others are greedy. But sometimes they are worse than greedy. They play games of moral blackmail and confuse people as to what vice and virtue are.

A greedy person, they say, is stingy, is mean, is a niggard. Maybe. And it is definitely the case that generosity is a virtue. To give from a condition of strength is a special kind of excellence. But just as one can give too little, one can give too much. And, just as we do not use the word niggard much any longer (because of its similarity with a very different word), despite its key function in our ethical vocabulary as the lack of generosity, we also do not use often enough the very best word for the excess of generosity, prodigality.

prodigal is a person who spends too freely and gives too much. While a niggard is a person who robs himself of the joys of helping others, a prodigal indulges himself too much by helping others. In both cases, the indulgence chiefly hurts self. A niggard, in not helping the other, would commonly be said to be selfish, while we might say that the prodigal is indeed ‘selfless,’ but that is only a theory. The trouble here is that while acquisitiveness is a self-regarding virtue, generosity is an other-regarding virtue. Both virtues have lacks and excesses that constitute vices. But there are asymmetries here which can confuse is if we are not careful. The reader might see a key to resolving the whole confusion. But let us leave that aside for now.

Notice where we are at: Libertarians are against some vices on grounds of liberty, leaving opposition to other vices for venues other than politics and legal action (libertarianism being at core limited to a set of norms to be treated as laws), venues like manners, religion, and interpersonal persuasion.

But libertarians do have things to say about some vices, like prodigality. It may be regarded as a personal, familial, or community issue whether so-and-so is a prodigal. But just as greed can be expressed in the political realm in the clamor for special treatment for self or in-group, that same system and same sort of clamoring can serve as a platform for prodigality, too. It is extremely easy to indulge the halo of generosity in politics — all the while spending other people’s money. While it is prodigal to over-spend on generous acts from one’s stores of wealth — hoping to curry favor with others, often, in effect “buying love” — it is doubly prodigal to spend other people’s wealth in a similar binge of currying favor with others. Today’s liberals, Leonard Read ably noted, are liberal mainly in spending other people’s money. It is a fake generosity. It is stolen virtue.

It is modern politics.

The politics of prodigality.

And libertarians are most often roundly hated — not condescendingly regarded as “quaint” — for pointing out this pharisaic posturing of pseudo-generosity by “progressives” and other pseudo-liberals. And we regard this heart-on-sleeve “selflessness” as mere selfishness ill-concealed.

Savvy socialists do not see our challenge as “touching.” They see it as a threat, and seek a multitude of ways to diminish our critique.

So far, they have only been rhetorically, not dialectically successful. One way they have done so is by muddying up the waters of “selfishness.” It is usually a dumb-person’s accusation, nothing more. It is kindergarten ethics repeated by adults who should be embarrassed for themselves.

…a note from Facebook….

There is an element of fairness embedded in the idea of justice. The vice of the left is to think that fairness can be imposed upon society by correcting for nature and chance, which operate heedless of human preferences. This is such an awesome task — impossible, really — that the motto of the left could be “everything is political.”

The left’s characteristic form of righteous indignation is envy. And there is no intellectual humility in sight.

There is an element of vengeance to the idea of justice. The vice of the right is to think that this is the whole matter, and that extremity of retaliation for a wrong is usually better than moderation. The motto of the right could be “there is no kill like overkill.”

The right’s form of righteous indignation is wrath.

And intellectual rigor is rarely welcome.

Of course, the terms left and right, relating to politics, are also outmoded and flimsy, and your mileage may differ, simply because of the inherent relativity of “left and right.” It all depends upon which direction you are looking.

But it is astounding how unidirectional most folk are, hence the ability to plot politics, if clumsily, in bi-directional terms. And name the vices.

twv, November 24, 2015

I am not particularly against racism. Or greed.
I am also not much exercised to fight envy. Or spite. Or rage.
I am mainly for virtue, and for the many specific virtues. And, thereby, against the many vices. But no one vice strikes me as inarguably “worst” — or one virtue as overwhelmingly “best.”
I suspect that those who fixate against one specific vice are almost certainly riddled with vice — often the very vice they most often excoriate. It is understandable. And it is a tell. But it is not a certainty, either. There are folks who target the one vice that they do not find tempting, in order to avoid the difficult task of restraining the vices that serve as their besetting sins.

Where do human rights come from?

as . . . answered on Quora. . . .

Rights are human instruments, in law and ethics.

Where do they come from?

Well, they come from human beings’ need to control themselves and others, and from our expressions, judgments, claims, counter-claims, etc. But that isn’t the whole of the story, for just “being an instrument” of purpose and need does not mean that the instrument in question cannot be abandoned, or that all instruments are created equal.

There is something about the inherent concept of a right that disallows many common conceptions. Philosophers and jurists and politicians have been working on the ideas for centuries or longer, but I am going to skip most of that. Suffice it to say that the rightness of a right, so to speak, is not its instrumentality alone.

But let us not forget what a right is, sans its utility, goodness, or justification — let us remember what even an unacceptable right would be.

right is a claim to obligatory treatment. For every right there is at least one obligation — so understanding a right requires understanding obligation, or duty.

Rights are a way of articulating duties.

In law, the obligation marshaled by a right amounts to a legally enforceable — by coercion, compulsion — performance. Or, outside of law but in ethics, legitimately required, with sanctions for non-compliance. If I have a right to liberty, you have a duty not to initiate force upon me. If you have a right to health care, then I must supply you medical aid. When someone fails or refuses to perform the specified duty, at law a case will be somehow made, in criminal or civil court, or merchant law, or the like, to compel the performance of the duty, with penalties.

Now, I wrote above that it is coercion or compulsion that is threatened in the articulation of the right. Well, the threat can be something less than force, but in political philosophy we are usually talking about force, so let’s restrict ourselves to that.

Oh, and I just wrote that word “threat.” Human social systems are dominated by two types of interaction, threats and enticements. Rights are civilized threats. Since we do not like to be threatened, there is a reason that rights that are promoted universally, that all may have, are commonly favored, and, indeed, narrow the field and winnow out many forms of posited duties. Rights that only some may have at the obligation of all are suspect.

So, we can expand our definition somewhat: a right is the positive, beneficiary focus of the articulation of a threat that has as its targeted focus an obligation.

Now we have to make some distinctions. For there are dimensions to rights and obligations: who has the right? who is obligated? what is obligated? To be brief and hastily move through an ideascape that Jeremy Bentham should have covered but did not quite, we have specific rights when the number of rights-bearers are few and the numbers of the duty-bound are few, or singular (I have a right to $1000 from a client; the phone company has a right to $200 from me) and we have rights that all have and to which all are obliged. We have several names for these kinds of rights:

  • natural rights
  • universal rights
  • basic rights
  • human rights

There is something to be said for and against each of these. If one were of a certain type of mind (as I am, on Tuesdays) we could treat each as a distinct term of art. But suffice it, here, to say that these very elementary and foundational rights are what we are most interested in political philosophy, and which deserve most of our attention.

I believe that because of the very construction of this tool, “a right,” most propounded universal rights fail to pass muster.

A human right should make sense in most human societies, and should be performable without causing social chaos and conflict rather than social stability. I have argued, and will argue again, that many of the “rights” some people most desire are mere imposition farded up with the lipstick of effrontery. A right to “healthcare” for example. Folks who talk about these types of rights demand too much of others, literally. For every obligation there is coercion, and it is not reasonable to promote universal servitude. The more rights you propound, the more coercion you thrust into our social reality.

Which is why the right to liberty strikes me as the best contender for a universal, basic, fundamental right: all of us having it at baseline personhood means that all of us have a very simple obligation set, a sort of “do no harm” duty: to not initiate force. This is an easy burden, as obligations go. It requires mainly defensive force for their maintenance in society. Not offensive. It is not imperialistic. It rests upon a tolerant, undemanding, liberal stance.

So you can see where the “imperativeness” comes from, what makes this right a right indeed: universalizability, and a reasonable enticement to all not to promote violence. To reduce the degree of threats in society.

A right to liberty works better than all other contenders because the threat element in the substance of the right is reduced to a minimum for the benefit of all.

Yes. There you have it. Rights are threats, sure, but they must also offer an enticement to reasonable, peaceful people.

I avoid a number of issues of extreme interest to me, but they are not really germane to the question at hand — though they are not utterly tangential, either. These include, especially, what is so “natural” about a “natural right”? and how do we “have” rights?


Related on this blog:

There is a distinction, current in sociobiology, that is worth noting for our understanding of racism: the difference between positive and negative ethnocentrism.

As I understand it, positive ethnocentrism is the tendency to prefer your own kind over others, to give them special consideration. This is basically family love and commonality taken beyond clan and to the tribal and even national level. Negative ethnocentrism is the tendency to disfavor, discount or even hate members not of your kith and kin and country.

The importance of positive ethnocentrism to the survival and progress of our species can hardly be under-estimated. Negative ethnocentrism is a much more difficult subject, and it would be worth knowing how much of it is a mere extrapolation from positive ethnocentrism and how much derives from the same or quite distinct impulses/instincts.

Of course, one value of negative ethnocentrism is fairly obvious: it bolsters positive ethnocentrism. But it presents also a danger, for negative ethnocentrism can embroil societies in warfare that advances no group’s welfare. Internecine conflict bought on hatred, loathing or mere fear is just that, internecine, unprofitable for all parties. The obvious problem with negative ethnocentrism is that it leads to negative sum interactions.

Now, it is obvious that both forms require a regulatory propensity, tradition, or law. Or something. One can be too positively ethnocentric as well as too negatively ethnocentric. I suspect the lack of any kind of ethnocentrism is also a vice.

Now, racism takes the group particularism beyond nation (shared genes and language and culture) to a larger grouping based on certain morphological markers of no small but often less definite significance — shared genes are fewer, several language groups could be involved, and the cultures can be startlingly different. Anti-racism started out as an attack on racism as a negative ethnocentrism unbounded by nationalism. But ideas don’t stay put, and hidden in each memeplex lies the seed of its own destruction . . . when the “infected” take one salient element to an unwarranted extreme. We witness just this in current woke attacks upon racism that have led to attacks upon any kind of positive ethnocentrism (at least by powerful white people). The result is a bizarre altruism: the fear and hatred not of the outsider but of one’s own kind.

There are few mind viruses more loopy than white intellectuals hating on whites . . . in general. This cultural development is ridiculous, in that it is anti-racism carried to the unwarranted extreme of an inverse (rather than reverse) racism.

It is probably worth mentioning that one impetus for the development of this inverse racism is likely quite simple: noticing that racism-as-hatred entails fallacious discriminatory treatment against individuals because of an invidious distaste or distrust of members of their race in general, it crosses one’s mind that discriminatory treatment for individuals because of a valorized love of one’s own kind is also kind of fallacy. And it can be. But a predisposition for one’s own kind is not on the same level of error, for a number of reasons. Like what? Well, one of them is our limited capacity for altruistic action, which requires us to expect limitations in fellow-feeling, and, by a small step in reasoning, we should expect it to flourish most in cases of similarity and commonality (not “identity”); it is in family, clan, community and culture where we should expect to see altruism first flourish, and if we do not see it here, we are unlikely to see it elsewhere. A moralistic duty to cultivate altruism for people furthest from us is likely to induce a pharisaic sense of love and a heightening of ugly moralism in culture.

Which we do in fact see.

Whereas positive ethnocentrism is an oikophilia, the reversal stemming from fanatical attachment to anti-racist ideas is sometimes called oikophobia; whereas negative ethnocentrism is called xenophobia, the inverse racism valorizing others over “ours” gets the moniker xenocentrism.

So far I have not taken up the philosophical account of racism. That defines racism as the taking into the realm of justice the errors of fools: namely, the errors of judging parts by wholes and wholes by parts, the misconstruing of the relationship between sets and members, the fallacies of ad hominem and guilt by association, and even the genetic fallacy.

These are obviously complex subjects, but it has to be useful to draw out the full continua on which the concepts associated with racism and anti-racism belong. While I am aware of some of the phenomenological literature on this, and have read a few relevant papers in sociobiology, I am obviously a beginner here. But I do notice something: many well-regarded experts seem laggard in this endeavor to draw out the full range of key concepts.

So, though there has to be much good work done on this subject, it remains regrettable that it is the shoddy, beginner-level work that too often stands out. This apparent fact, however, does not mean that the subject is suspect. Merely that most participants are.

Oh, and it is OK to be white. If you think otherwise, on what grounds? That some who say this are racist? That is illogical, as we say: fallacious. The fallacy is guilt by association.

For the record, I rarely think of myself as “white.” But because I am of solid Yamnaya genetics, hailing from Finland with genetic markers labeling that heritage at about 96 percent, I sometimes express commonality with my fellow Finns and Finnish-Americans. But because I am also an individualist, my particular flavor could be called Finndividualism.

There are not many of us Finndividualists, but perhaps more in America than in the woke home country.


…that Nazis saw themselves as good, and advanced their cause with moral fervor

From historian Tom Woods; my yellow mark:

I agree with Tom. The regularity with which normal people on my social media feeds express murderous wishes against people they disagree with — in this case regarding a non-vaccine that doesn’t work well, has many negative side effects that they refuse to look into and about which they eagerly suppress debate and information, and almost always excluding allowances for standard medical truths like natural immunity — portends a grave moral calamity coming.

I believe many people are giving themselves wholly unto evil. They are preparing for genocide, like Germans did with hygiene laws.

My biggest fear, though, is a bit different: that it is the vaccinated themselves who will die, in great numbers, as a result of micro-clotting, myocarditis, and other effects of under-studied and pushed-through-the-mill Big Pharma products that the president is trying to make universally mandatory.

I’ll define evil for you if you need it.

The masses of our species, even highly educated people, do not seem to see the danger here. It is almost as if they forgot the history that has had the most effect on our epoch, the history of the Third Reich. Or maybe it is the case that they never were taught the crucial lesson, that the post-Weimar Germans thought of themselves as good people, advancing their cause with moral fervor.

And this is where I find most people, of all walks of life and of every ideology, deficient. They seem not to understand that morality itself can be a source of pernicious influence. The word “moralistic” is a term of opprobrium for a reason, but it is worse than that. The word is too weak to describe what a people in moral panic can do to each other.

Maybe I am obsessed with this aspect of human nature for personal reasons. I noticed it when young. It came to loom large in my moral imagination as I encountered actual political philosophy. And my own form of moral zeal has long been governed by a distrust of zealotry.

Surtout point de zèle.

Above all, avoid zeal.

Talleyrand, translated by Hugh Percy Jones. Samuel Butler’s personal motto.

Zealotry becomes mighty peculiar when the subject is forced medical practice, however.

The bizarre nature of the propaganda gets pretty weird. This, as it appeared on my Facebook-promoted social media feed, is . . . odd.

“The mRNA cannot change your DNA, they only deliver information.”

We all know that DNA is information, right? That “mRNA” stands for “messenger RNA,” and that we still do not know how long the special protein that these new therapeutics produce, mimicking one aspect of the novel coronavirus. How will the instructions last in the body after injection, where the proteins go, what they do in organs like the brain and the uterus, what the long-term effects are? And so much more.

Further, we all realize that “immune response” can be bad? Right? That this is why some diseases kill? Too much of an immune response.

And we now learn that these ’new’ ’vaccines’ are much less effective against the so-called ’Delta variant’ than against the alpha and beta variants that started out the pandemic. That is why so many who have taken the jab are getting the disease. And . . . don’t get me started on the possibilities here. But, why do I even raise questions? Most people just want to believe in their Savior, the Therapeutic State, and in Big Pharma and Dr. Fauci and all the rest. It is the new religion. There is no place for heretics once the people become a mob and the religion has state power.

And when State and Mob unite during a panic, look out.

A therapeutic concoction, like morality itself, works according to the principle of hormesis: careful dosage is required. We know that panicked mobs take the moralism medicine to extremes. A panic is no time to shift protocols. Same, it seems to me, for a new, under-studied “vaccine”: do we really know the dosage at which it might best work? Is a pandemic the best time to deliver an experiment to . . . all of the people, and then talk of merely “booster shots” when the therapeutic ceases to work as billed?

In economics as in medicine, the rule is that everything has costs, including all good things. Every policy that you propose faces trade-offs, and all touted good medicines induce negative side-effects. In policy or therapy, when someone shills a cure but talks only about its beneficial effects, considering costs only in not using it, that shill is a con artist.

This applies to nearly every pro-“vaccination” argument during this pandemic. If you will not discuss the possible negatives openly and honestly, allowing for extended inquiry and public testing of data, you are engaging in base rhetoric, irresponsible propaganda.

Nearly everyone in government is a propagandist, these days, failing as indicated above, and has given themselves wholly to evil.



The worldwide death rate for 2020 was a little less than the death rate for 2015. The death rate for 2018 was 7.546.

It had been falling for my whole life time. It was 17.13 the year I was born.

The U.S. death rate was 8.88 last year, and 9.416 the year I was born.

The death rate is the number of deaths per 1,000 of the population per year.

To understand population, the death rate must be contrasted with the birth rate. The U.S. birth rate was 11.99 for 2020, and 23.257 the year I was born.

The effects on COVID on the population appears hardly as a blip, unless the U.N. revises figures for last year. The death rate had started its upward trend the year before, and, in the U.S., a few years earlier, in 2009.