Archives for category: Ideological currents

The Left has captured the Democratic Party . . . and leftist resentment at having even to answer challenges is fueling their mad lust to engage in full-on mob- and state-based attacks against all major competing ideas, personalities and platforms.

And libertarians who yammer on about how awful Trump is, and how he should, in January 2021, be impeached, place themselves on the side of these new totalitarians. Sure Trump was what he was: no savior. But he was also wasn’t what he wasn’t: an Antichrist. But what the Democrats now yearn for is an Antichrist, their own false savior in The State. And they are gearing up to stamp and contract-trace every citizen they can.

twv

What do libertarians think about the statement, ‘Individualism is a stupid idea because humans are social animals’?

…as answered on Quora….

There are many definitions of “individualism” — what Alexis de Tocqueville meant by it is radically different from what Wordsworth Donisthorpe meant by it. I have written about Tocqueville’s word choice elsewhere. Here I will discuss something very much like Donisthorpe’s usage in Individualism: A System of Politics (1889), H. L. Mencken’s in Men versus The Man (1911) and F. A. Hayek’s in Individualism and Economic Order (1948).

This libertarian judges the queried statement [“individualism is a stupid idea because humans are social animals”] to be silly and unlearned.

Why?

Because individualism is a doctrine of sociality.

Individualists make the fairly obvious point that it is only by protecting individual personsalong with their justly acquired property that robust sociality can evolve. Individualists look upon our social natures as best maturing when as many relations are voluntary as possible, and when people are judged according to the same standard applied up and down the institutional, class, and tribal order. Persons are not to be given special license because of some specific social connection, but, instead, defended according to basic rights that all may have so long as they reciprocate.

Individualism is a doctrine of free association and voluntary community.

Sure, we are social animals. But from this it does not follow that a “socialism” that coerces compliance and corrals people into groups and regulates them by means of “the public ownership of the means of production” is in any way an expression of humane sociability. This sort of collectivism is a deeply anti-social doctrine. And if you doubt, study the mores of Soviet subjects, or read Orwell’s 1984 — no great society there, no triumph of “social man.”

It is individualism that defends our social natures from the con artistry of any number of collectivisms. To buy the idea that individualism (understood as a rule-of-law standard based on a division of responsibility) is corrosive (by its very name?) of society is to misunderstand society itself. And perhaps to have a very, very low opinion of humanity.

Folks who hold to this notion are easily taken in by simplistic word association. This individualist sees the queried statement as a typical example of ideological trickery, as sophistry, as base rhetoric, as ugly propaganda. It is the kind of thing unscrupulous people say to fool the distracted, the inattentive and the not very bright.

Don’t be conned.

twv

The rains came to my valley, this week, and left a freshet.

Do libertarians think that progressives are good people with policy differences or immoral people who express their immorality through their politics?

… as answered on Quora….

Both.

That is, some libertarians believe that progressives are merely misinformed and misguided; others believe that progressives have a deep evil streak; and some hold to both positions at the same time.

How is that latter possible? Well, a bad idea can be adopted for good reasons, but then the idea’s own entelechy guides its holder into evil. (Ideology is an awful lot like a Ring of Power, and power corrupts.) One may start out just wanting to help the poor and downtrodden, but then, later on, come to revel in hurting those who disagree with you, even those who contribute a lot to society, merely because they are successful while remaining uninterested in one’s own projects.

What can begin in compassion often progresses into envy, resentment and deep, abiding hatred.

I believe this happens to a lot of people, all across the political spectrum.

With progressives it can happen like this: one enthusiastically supports a policy, say, the minimum wage. Then one encounters reasoning and evidence that indicates the policy does not do what its proponents say they want, that is, to help “the poor” and low-skilled workers generally. Most progressives I have met immediately reject the idea that their favored policy prescription can have negative effects, and, especially, that it can have net negative effects. Not only do they not research the challenge to their policy in an honest way, but, instead, grasp at straws, looking for excuses for their “side,” and even press on to engage in cultic social control methods (scorn, shunning, and worse) to attack their chosen policy’s critics.

At this point they embrace evil, for they stick to a policy regardless of its effects. Evil can be defined, here, as causing harm with malign intent.

And yes, their intent to their ideological opponents can become quite combative, and astoundingly malign (just consider the bike-lock-in-a-sock ethician), and the heedlessness with which they marshal to “help” the alleged beneficiaries of their chosen policy becomes gross negligence. They lose sight of the end because what they come to really like is the chosen means. At this point in their ideological development, they no longer “care” about the poor and downtrodden at all. They just like to wield power.

Yes, politics can be an ugly business.

And no one knows this better than libertarians. Which is why we wish to limit the scope of the state and the politics that seeks to control it.

It is a trap that catches good people and turns them into bad people.

twv

Another random image to spruce up the page: me with two iPads in front of the TV!

Who started the libertarian movement?

…as answered on Quora….

The libertarian movement evolved. It was started by the first person to articulate the notion that initiating force is a bad idea not only when private citizens to it, but also when people in government do it.

Modern libertarianism, as understood in the sense usually discussed in America, is a revived and refined classical liberalism, with ties also to 19th century individualist anarchism, which was itself called “philosophical anarchism” in its heyday, and, most astutely, “unterrified Jeffersonianism.” The main libertarian idea can be found in a diversity of liberal writers, such as John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, but received its first clear discussions in the middle of the 19th century in writers like William Leggett, Henry David Thoreau, Herbert Spencer, Frédéric Bastiat, and Gustave de Molinari. The American brand of anarchism (which I do not regard as a form of anarchism) was invented by utopian experimenter Josiah Warren and jurist Lysander Spooner. But by the end of that century, though the obviously libertarian theory received a great deal of careful elaboration by writers who called themselves “individualists” — Auberon Herbert, J. H. Levy and Wordsworth Donisthorpe to name three — classical liberalism had collapsed as a movement, and for half a century only a few obscure figures and their favorite authors (like Albert Jay Nock) survived . . . as “a remnant.” (See Nock’s essay “Isaiah’s Job,” and his book Our Enemy, the State; see also Garet Garrett’s The People’s Pottage.)

Now, three American women novelists might be said to have “created” modernlibertarianism in the middle of the 20th century: literary critic Isabel Paterson (esp. in The God of the Machine), journalist Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and Russian expatriate Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged). The revival of classical liberalism in the writings of two Austrian economists — Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek — spurred the movement, intellectually, especially with their more overtly political books, the elder Austrian’s Socialism and Omnipotent Government, and the younger man’s Road to Serfdom. By the time Murray N. Rothbard made a name for himself in the 1960s, the intellectual movement was well underway. Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia basically sealed the deal, and, as an intellectual movement, libertarianism appeared on the American scene as quite robust by 1976, with Nobel Prizes in economics going to Hayek and the astoundingly brilliant Milton Friedman. Milton and his wife Rose Director, and their son David D. Friedman, were all important exponents of variants of modern libertarianism, with the son being the more daring and radical.

As a political movement, libertarianism erupted out of the Young Americans for Freedom organization in the 1960s and a political party forming after Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, which helped disenthrall libertarians from conservative politics.

The definitive account of libertarian history was written by Brian Doherty in Radicals for Capitalism.


N.B. The Jeffersonian reference is to a passage from Benjamin R. Tucker:

The development of the economic programme which consists in the destruction of these monopolies and the substitution for them of the freest competition led its authors to a perception of the fact that all their thought rested upon a very fundamental principle, the freedom of the individual, his right of sovereignty over himself, his products, and his affairs, and of rebellion against the dictation of external authority. Just as the idea of taking capital away from individuals and giving it to the government started Marx in a path which ends in making the government everything and the individual, nothing, so the idea of taking capital away from government-protected monopolies and putting it within easy reach of all individuals started Warren and Proudhon in a path which ends in making the individual everything and the government nothing. If the individual has a right to govern himself, all external government is tyranny. Hence the necessity of abolishing the State. This was the logical conclusion to which Warren and Proudhon were forced, and it became the fundamental article of their political philosophy. It is the doctrine which Proudhon named Anarchism, a word derived from the Greek, and meaning, not necessarily absence of order, as is generally supposed, but absence of rule. The Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats. They believe that “the best government is that which governs least,” and that that which governs least is no government at all. Even the simple police function of protecting person and property they deny to governments supported by compulsory taxation. Protection they look upon as a thing to be secured, as long as it is necessary, by voluntary association and cooperation for self-defence, or as a commodity to be purchased, like any other commodity, of those who offer the best article at the lowest price. In their view it is in itself an invasion of the individual to compel him to pay for or suffer a protection against invasion that he has not asked for and does not desire. And they further claim that protection will become a drug in the market, after poverty and consequently crime have disappeared through the realization of their economic programme. Compulsory taxation is to them the life-principle of all the monopolies, and passive, but organized, resistance to the tax-collector they contemplate, when the proper time comes, as one of the most effective methods of accomplishing their purposes.

Benjamin R. Tucker’s Instead of a Book, by a Man Too Busy to Write One (1893/1897).
Additional Reading:

Does the left or the right in the West generally have a higher and deeper sense of “spiritual maturity”?

…as answered on Quora….

One of the hallmarks of spirituality in nearly all traditions is to embrace or somehow unify a basic metaphysical duality. At first blush, one would expect neither “the left” nor “the right” — each by emphasizing one tendency in political thought and practice — to sport a deep spirituality. Both are doomed to shallow gambits and contradictions scuttling unity of wisdom and meaning.

The problem is, what do “the left” and “the right” represent?

For decades I was on the wrong track on this. I have always deeply distrusted both leftists and rightists, but, to make sense of their characteristic follies and perversities, I kept looking to their policies and their basic orientations as defining. Not a wrong-headed approach. But the world seemed too complex to reduce to a one-dimensional spectrum. I was troubled by the prevalence of the same kind of policies on the left and the right. A certain arbitrariness seemed most evident. The idea that left-right served as little more than a chaotic delusion or distraction kept on coming back to me.

In the last few years, though, I applied it to my most basic interest in social theory: in-group/out-group alignments and dynamics. And I listened to the latest metamorphosis of leftist obsession, with the focus on “inclusion.” And it struck me: leftist thought isn’t about oppression (per Arnold Kling) or egalitarianism (per Michael Malice), it is about appealing to the cause of outsiders or an outsider group as a rationale to attack and either reform or destroy (or just take over) the in-group hierarchy. Rightist thought is all about something more basic: defense of the in-group and its hierarchy from outside threats, or merely leftist ones.

Protecting self from other (self-defense) and one’s own in-group (in traditional societies this often amounts to “kin group”) is a basic, natural, and necessary tendency. A basic interest. We would not be here as a species had not our ancestors successfully accomplished this. But protecting the outsider from abuse by the in-group and its defenders is absolutely vital to the growth of civilization. Also a basic interest. For the rightist vice is overkill, treating every perception of human difference as evidence of an enemy. It needs to be counterbalanced with a willingness to defend the underdog, the loner, the misfit, or merely a wanderer or trader from another tribe, to allow civilization to grow.

So “the right” is traditional order; “the left” reaches beyond the programmed-into-us defensive instinct to protect and nurture the other. This “orientation” is at least as old as the Amenist/Atenist (right/left as in setting sun in the West versus rising sun in the East) split in Egypt, and comes to us from both our Helenistic and Hebraistic traditions. It is not an accident that “right” is both a direction and a key term in moral philosophy. It is funny to have seen leftists so despise tradition that they now see “right” as utterly evil. Ah, the comedy of partisanship.

Rightists assume that they are always in the right — denying that they can be oppressors to outsiders, denying the possibility of “right vice.” Leftists assume the opposite. But obviously there is right-virtue and right-vice just as there is left-virtue and left-vice.

The rightist vice is oppression of outsiders and other groups; slaughter; exploitation, etc. The leftist vice is treason, taking in outsiders to destroy other insiders.

Justice is when both sides’ virtues are in play, and both sides’ vices are repudiated.

Nowadays that does not seem possible, since both sides see only vice in the other. There is no possibility of achieving spirituality in such out-of-balance nature.

Instead of spirituality, there is only ideological mania.

The principles that would determine what virtue is in defense of self and kin from invasive, threatening others (and of course any group can seek destruction or exploitation of another), and virtue also in defense of others from the “no kill like overkill” extremism of the rightists, while being able to discern where both insider and outsider defenses go beyond the fit and proper — that is justice.

Spirituality would be the “feel” for that just balance, the sheer perspectival ability to create the balance and cultivated instinct to dispose the imbalancing passions.

Hint: that spirituality does not arise in politics, normally, since politics in a democracy (as well as other governmental mechanisms) is all compromise based on expedience and what-you-can-get-away-with, not principle: politics forms shotgun compromises. A spiritual, justice-oriented middle-ground balance would achieve ideal compromises, where the middle ground is virtuous.

I am pretty certain that our form of modern governance engenders and promotes left-vice and right-vice, which in turn reinforces our mixed system, and if we want peace and a vital spirituality, we are going to have to rethink our fundamentals.

I know: not likely.

twv

The New Century Dictionary, H.G. Emery and K.G. Brewster, editors, D. Appleton-Century Company (1942).

It’s the cause of much mockery and mirthful meming. The Internet erupted in hilarity. 

And Jesse Lee Peterson sees it as an attack on Christianity.

I am referring, of course, to the opening prayer of the 117th Congress, by Representative Emanuel Cleaver, from Missouri’s Fifth District, Kansas City (where everything’s up-to-date). Here is a segment or two, featuring the bizarre benediction:

Bask in this a moment: a Methodist preacher, when it came time to mumble “the name of the monotheistic god” — yes, he said those words in the prayer itself — uttered as that name not “Jesus” or “Jehovah” or “Adonai” or even “Allah,” he stumbled on “Brahma,” and concluded with not merely an “Amen” but an “and Awomen.”

A boom-chicka-THWACK.

That the ceremony yielded jokes is apt. It is itself a joke. Emanuel Cleaver claims to be a Methodist minister. But the joke is more worthy of Richard Pryor than any professed Christian. It shows an essential impiety — so to this extent maybe Jesse Lee Peterson has a point — but it also shows a piety, too: a tip of the hat or a nod in the direction of the real religion practiced in Cleaver’s party: intersectionalist feminism.

You see, “Amen” sports a distinct etymology from either “man” as in “adult male” or “Man” as in “humanity.” The Hebrew root is explained in the oldest dictionary by my side as “strengthen, confirm.” And means “Truly, verily.” Meanwhile, “man” and “woman” reach back from Germanic roots to Sanskrit’s manu. While I suppose strength is associated with men, “woman” derives from wife+man, so I’m not sure prefixing an “a” to that word assuages feminists from the horrid words “wife” and “man.”

All this is silly. Yes. But it does show how far from traditional values and habits Democrats have wandered. The Culture War continues. They simply do not care about holding to any cultural pieties of the old days. They have written off those for whom anything like a traditional Christianity means anything — those folks “cling to their God and their guns.” Democrats do not!

Verily.

twv

Kamala Harris, a ruthless political opportunist, has spouted some extraordinarily socialist memes while U.S. Senator.

Why is socialism suddenly so popular in America?

…as answered on Quora….

We live under a Damoclean sword. The dysfunction of our representative government is obvious to all. The financial system is geared towards maintaining an ever-growing federal government debt, and continued bouts of crisis-induced and politically-opportunist deficit spending ensures that we are trapped in this system. Though there are even Novel Laureate economists who pretend that “deficits don’t matter,” almost no one really believes this to be true. It is a repressed guilt, when not an acknowledged unease. We are trapped in our political habits, and those habits are leading us to . . . something, some dreaded apocalypse. And we are going a bit crazy. The thin cable holding the sword from our figurative skullcap could snap at any moment.

But that is just our time. A long time coming, but our time. Socialism, which is the shifting of responsibility from individuals to large groups, usually the State as representative and factor of those groups, is a perennial folly. It is a mania of Wish and Hope over reality. And the young, growing out of a dependent condition, are especially prone to its allure. But the lure that is socialism can attract just about anybody. So why now? Especially?

That Damoclean sword is but one of the cyclical factors that is especially important right now. Another long-term cycle is education. Government control of schooling stacks the deck in favor statism — socialism being merely statism’s most extreme form (if we not unreasonably regard communism as merely socialism’s extreme form). Over the generations, public education attracts socialists and breeds socialists, and since socialists demand socialism, they can get it (or chunks of it) incrementally as well as in special moments of crisis.

“Government education” is, remember, a socialist institution itself, an example of sectoral socialistic practice: the universal provision of a good based on “need” and from conscript wealth, not any specific demand. So it is itself a case of a meme template that imprints on many of the students and teachers who get push through its sorting machine. And the students who tend to be most successfully imprinted are the “moderate brights” who take well to classroom instruction, who test well and then are eagerly routed to teach in such institutions, or lead in corporations. While the educations that some receive go into entrepreneurial activity, providing goods and services on the market, the real plumbs offered by the system are class-based, and generally serve to substitute the “rational” systems of pedagogy with market tests of direct service of public demand. This added layer into a market economy is a technocratic one, as well as a class one, and it feeds many socialist memes. This process has been going on for generations, and has ramped up technocratic, classist, rationalistic and generally statist solutions with each generation.

Now, let us not forget the praxis of argumentation. One of the ways socialists tend to gain an upper hand in debate is to pretend that for any present crisis the responsibility is “capitalism” and the solution always more government. Absurd and unsupported claims, sure, but they “feel” right to people who are trained to think that way, or just “want to be saved.”

Rather than accept responsibility for their lot and make incremental improvements to themselves and for their loved ones.

As such, we should acknowledge that socialism is a form of messianism, generally, and in the West has developed as a post-Christian form — a neo-christian replacement of religious worship with state activism.

And one huge element of the popularity of socialism is that it is what most secular people swap God for. Statolatry is the current dominant religion. And it grows as capitalist consumption grows, and as science supplies more answers and as technology offers up more gadgets, because the felt need for a deity or the services of a deity-referencing priestcraft diminish.

More and more answers to questions that religion used to make much of — questions like where did we come from? and what does it mean to be human? — now are supplied by scientists and intellectuals with little or no religious interest or perspective. Though religion may not be there to supply accurate answers to such questions, that has been one thing that religions provide for people.

To discover, as I discovered, decades ago, that my religion supplied bad answers to important questions, meant that I felt compelled to abandon my religion. Now “everybody” is doing what was fairly rare when I was young. Atheism is on a sharp rise. But whereas I gave a great deal of thought and spent much time researching such issues, today’s seculars seem largely of a very bent than me. They are followers, mass-men (and -women, and -divergently “gendered”), and it is because of social pressure that they wander away from religion. Or lack of social incentive.

Just so, they wander into a political philosophy without much though, either, and with many thought substitutes, like the currently popular post-modernism of the intersectionalist left. Whereas I prescribed for myself a conscious program of study before I settled on my political program. Most folks, of whatever political persuasion, sort of fall into their cause.

The history of socialism is one that should serve as a warning to the civilized. But education is such a sorry state that most folks are utterly ignorant of this development. Indeed, the blow to official socialist politics that the fall of the Soviet Union delivered was long ago, and socialist agitation culture — always popular with some — has rebounded. Other interests, such as messianism’s victim obsession and popular prophecies of “environmental” catastrophe and the like turn out to feed socialism.

So, there has been a confluence of secular factors. But the class element should not be forgotten.

In the 19th century, it was wage laborers who provided much of the focus of socialist agitation, with union organizers leaning radically socialist. Nowadays, that is passé. It was long ago discovered that the broad proletariat was largely uninterested in socialist revolution, and only interested, at most, in slow piecemeal reforms.

So socialists switched gears and emphasized educational institutions and filling the ranks of their beloved government bureaucracies. They became classist. They depended upon taxpayer subsidy and special government favors. And the people they came to hate most were actual laborers in the private sector.

The mark of a socialist is, today, someone who has gone to college, and the cultural hatred members of this ‘cognitive elite’ have for wage-earners and their interests is palpable.

And this is one of the main drivers of the sudden popularity of socialism: class hatred — that is, hatred of the proles, particularly white male proles. While socialists pretend to be for justice and love and inclusion, anyone who has honestly studied socialist movements knows the truth: out-group hatred fuels the movement. Always has. And does so now more than ever.

Now it is just doubly droll that it is the old socialist hero The Honest Workingman who is hated most, as a “Deplorable.”

Socialism has always been full of absurdities. Now it is downright hysterical in its absurdities.

twv, January 2, 2021

Yves Guyot addressed an argument that fake-news comedian Jon Stewart made popular and which fuels no small part of the socialist revival.

The left’s vice has long been known: treason, the defense of outsiders to the point of revolution — the overthrow of the in-group hierarchy and betrayal of the in-group itself.

The left’s virtues are even better known, since leftists never shut up about them. Which has always made them rather ridiculous. And nasty.

Now, the main rhetorical gambit of the left towards the right has been to characterize the right only by its besetting vices (racism, cruel oppression of outsiders) and to dismiss the right’s virtues as non-existent. This is partisan — base rhetoric — and it has provided cover for the extremity of the left’s own vice, especially in the Democratic Party’s compromises regarding China, ongoing for decades and now revealed in recent spy and corruption scandals.

Which CNN somehow downplays.

Two things seem obvious to me: the Democrats are completely compromised, morally, with the leftist vice, and my personal strategy of never identifying myself as either ‘on the left’ or ‘on the right’ is one of the very few good moves I have ever made.

I do not know where this will end up. But the perfidy of the left, along with leftist craziness in current political correctness, socialist rhetoric, and defenses for secret plutocracies, make Democrats look especially bad right now.

To my right-wing friends: your ideas are often quite wrong-headed, but your basic stance of defense of in-group is legitimate, and you now have license to mock the political left without mercy. And perhaps even build a few scaffolds. Though remember, your champions often deserve a forced march up the stairs to stare at the trap-door and rope, too.

twv

Consumerism is the tacitly accepted ideology of the modern welfare state, and entails, at bottom, a general cultural fixation on the purchase of goods without relation to the production of those goods or any other — it is an attempt to avoid thinking about production as necessary for consumption, or production as something consumers must be expected at some point personally to consider.

As such it is unrealistic. But it has very real effects. The general trend is decadence, moral degradation, and the promotion of a flabby, meaningless existence for the many while the productive classes toil, and the redistributive elites grow rich.

Commercial society makes an important first step with the rise of money, allowing the efficiency of economic calculation to dominate via trade distribution. But that is not consumerism, despite the encouragement of the growth of all kinds of consumer goods. Nevertheless, the idea of consuming without producing arises, in the capitalist context, in the family and other non-market organizations. And from there consumerism grows.

In non-market relationships and institutions we see a producer “on the market” trade wealth for other wealth, thereby growing wealth. The producer reaches outside the organization, while other members of the relationship, institution or group distribute the wealth gained from the designated producer’s market activity and distribute it in esoteric (in-group) fashion. The classic case is the family, where one spouse (usually the husband/father) goes out and produces in market activity, while the other (usually the wife) spends it for the benefit of the children. The children are thus consumers without being producers. This is the psychological basis for the mythic archetype of welfare state capitalism: classes of capitalists, entrepreneurs, and laborers produce stuff that we “the people” consume. And with the welfare state, the non-market distribution kicks in on a societal level: producers are taxed so others may consume.

And it is in the consumerist society that we see the consumption of goods as what we have rights to. Not rights as individuals, or producers, but as consumers.

This feeds the general trend of social decadence where childhood extends into, first, the teenage years, and then into the 20s; and, from the other end, from death bed backwards to “retirement,” something guaranteed by Social Security (not by family, church or past wealth accumulation): old people have been made children with no responsibilities to society other than consuming . . . and voting to keep the system going.

The ridiculousness of this system is largely lost on its participants.

Remember socialism and its compromise version, progressivism?

Socialism began as a workers’ movement. But it survived in the west as a trust fund movement (college student movement) and is now all about the rights of consumers to consume medical products and services, and food, and clothing, and housing, and cell phones.

UBI is its latest advanced step.

Consumerism is capitalism infantilized by the State.

The system still depends upon production, of course. All social systems must. But whereas progressives used to know that productive people were key, they increasingly forget that. Progressives being institutionally protected, by tax-funded subsidies and institutions and all the NGOs and 501(c)3’s that feed on the grants sector, riding as parasitic upon production. Progressives these days see producers now as oppressors, not benefactors.

An amazing degradation of attitude.

Ayn Rand tried to rescue a producerist theme, but that flops because she did not make it very clear that the ideal person unites — integrates — production and consumption in his own life. The classic producerist ideology is Puritanism. And as formulated, producerism must be as lopsided as consumerism.

Consumerism presents a “contradiction” of late-stage churning-state capitalism. Proudhon did not see it coming, but the ideal take-down of the ideology might be in a form reminiscent of Proudhon’s Philosophy of Poverty. Might be worth a shot, eh?

What might one call such a treatise? The Philosophy of Greed & Mania: A System of Economic Contradictions has a ring to it.

Whatever the social complexion of consumerism turns out to be, the moral effects on the human soul generally unfits people to be free and autonomous beings. Under consumerism being free means having access to “free stuff.” Absence of coercion? Moral autonomy? Personal heroism? What do they have to do with eating, drinking, and amusements?

And of course under consumerism, “having sex” is a consumer activity by “right,” not a production activity by nature, making abortion absolutely key to carrying on the great cause of consumption.

twv

Frankly, I am tempted to be thankful that our technocratic fascisti among corporate journalists overplay their hands, since what they are dealing is decadence. Nicely, Jacob Sullum is a journalist working outside the bindings of the fasces:

Based on an analysis of news stories about COVID-19 that appeared from January 1 through July 31, Dartmouth economist Bruce Sacerdote and two other researchers found that 91 percent of the coverage by major U.S. media outlets was “negative in tone.” The rate was substantially lower in leading scientific journals (65 percent) and foreign news sources (54 percent).

Sacerdote and his co-authors, who report their results in a working paperrecently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that stories about increases in newly identified infections far outnumbered stories about decreases, “even when caseloads were falling nationally.” Coverage of school reopenings likewise was “overwhelmingly negative, while the scientific literature tells a more optimistic story,” indicating that “schools have not become the super-spreaders many feared.”

This unrelenting, indiscriminate negativity fosters suspicion and resistance. Journalists and politicians who repeatedly cry wolf should not be surprised at the lack of cooperation when the beast actually appears.

Last May, The New York Times warned that lifting state lockdowns could raise nationwide COVID-19 deaths above 3,000 a day by June 1. The actual number was about 700.

Since mid-October, the seven-day average of daily deaths has more than tripled, exceeding the record set in April. But that reality still falls short of the false prophecy embraced by the Times.

Jacob Sullum, “Are Americans Insufficiently Alarmed by COVID-19?,” Reason, December 19, 2020.
From a Fb thread on a Reason article. Going “over the top” has its amusements.

Sullum concludes by opining for “the honesty that Americans deserve,” but I hesitate to endorse this. I wish better for Americans than what they deserve. It is quite possible that Americans do deserve what they are getting.

twv