Archives for category: Social Theory

Why do people think hierarchy is bad and equality is good?

. . . as answered  on Quora. . . .

This is one of those questions that one might consider conducting a poll to find out the answer. But how would we word the questions, prompt the answers? And how would we know if and when the people themselves actually know why they value abstract conditions like inequality and hierarchy as they do? Many people have beliefs and values that they cannot articulate. Arguably, many basic values and attitudes are not possible to articulate accurately, with certitude.

Which is why we theorize, and then compare theories.

So, I’ll take a stab, then read others’ answers.

Everybody knows that people are unequal in different ways. You are superior to me in one way, I’m superior to you in another. This is a fact of life. And most sane people have no problem with these forms of inequality — and one reason some hyper-egalitarian ideologies drive people nuts is that they seem to rub up against the reality of multiform inequality.

But when contemplating hierarchies, we are not really talking about the diversity of inequalities, issue by issue, capacity by capacity, outcome by outcome. Hierarchies are recognizable by being persistent in human organization.

So, “other things being equal,” why would we grant others special positions of inequality that persist? Why would we organize patrols, work gangs, sports teams, etc., with established hierarchies that continue over time and extend over space beyond the natural outcomes of different capacities and talents and efforts, etc? Hierarchies are somewhat rigid in their persistence, and . . . what is the point of that added rigidity?

But take a step back, first. As most of us see human interaction and differences, all our inequalities tend to wash into a rough parity at a general level. Why should one person be exalted above others except on a piecemeal basis, according to each endeavor?

Equality makes sense to many of us even acknowledging extensive and diverse inequalities because, as I state, the inequalities are diverse But, generally, the idea that some people are better overall than others needs to be proved. And that general case requires some extra data.

When we establish hierarchies for a social function, we are trying to match capacities to task — we are trying to make it easier to accomplish some task. So the best berry-picker might be in charge of the berry-gathering group, and the best hunter in charge of the hunting party, and the best organizer in charge of selecting the special hierarchies, and so forth.

The reason many balk at hierarchies is that the rationale for selection of special status seems arbitrary or ill-chosen, or, if not arbitrary, chosen according to standards irrelevant to the function.

Which is why general hierarchies are challenged more often than specific, small-organizational hierarchies. Do I care to challenge the hierarchy of the local fire hall? No. But I may express more concern about the head of the county commission. It is the general, over-arching positions and hierarchies that get the most push-back. Part of this is the difficulty of determining merit, and part of this is that hierarchies are more questionable and challengeable the more basic they are — for, as I stated above, our many inequalities wash out into a rough parity at the basic, general level.

To restate: hierarchies are usually accepted and even demanded on the basis of some merit. But where the merit is harder to figure — and where multiple standards might not unreasonably vie for prominence in judging merit — then equality seems to be the de facto standard.

This is why we have ideological differences regarding hierarchies: leftists generally do not understand how merit works relating to property and markets, and they do not see property-ownership hierarchies as acceptable; or, sometimes if not always, the distribution of property is so obviously orthogonal to normal rationales for (and explanations of) social function. Rightists are generally more accepting of hierarchies, in part because they are more accepting of diversity of hierarchies, realizing that family hierarchies and church hierarchies and business hierarchies are not the same, and the same person high in one may be low in another.

One problem with political hierarchies is that they are based, originally, on the use of violence, so hunters and fighters tended to be conquerors and thus kings, not necessarily on wisdom or justice and the like. Which is why monopoly governance has generally been replaced with socialized governance in modern times, but limited at first to the core services of violence: defense of law and order, for example.

So the idea of socialized/democratized equality grew into dominance of the State because the hierarchies of old-fashioned class and royal monopoly privilege became too tangential to the administration of justice.

And then the idea became to spread this manner of hierarchy revision (by recourse to a baseline equality of citizenry) to other areas where the idea seems (to many of us) less relevant and much more problematic.

Obviously, I think both equality and hierarchy are natural to man, and quite relevant to many aspects of social life. Hierarchy is inevitable in any organization, and becomes more so the more one scales up the size of the organization. The more people in the organization, the more compelling is the case for establishing hierarchy. It’s a matter of efficiency and how decision-making and leadership work. Among equals, there’s a lot of argument to come to a consensus; the more the people, the more the argument. But in a hierarchy, the many have outsourced decision-making and inspiration to a few.

Or, should I say, upsourced?

It is my experience that people generally — and by this I mean normal people — really want leadership. Hierarchy is not a problem for most people. It is only when hierarchies fail to deliver on organization goals and social functions that questions of equality become over-riding. And hierarchies fail to deliver when the standards of performance and goals are diverse and when it is hard to figure the standards and the relevance of inputs to outputs.

Of course, there is another and more pernicious opposition to hierarchy that often masks as this completely legitimate preference for equality: envy and sub rosa competitiveness. One reason to oppose a hierarchy is because YOU want to be on top, and aren’t. So, to increase the likelihood of your own rise, or to punish another for holding a position you desire, you pretend to be for equality.

It is not always easy to determine whether the opposition to a hierarchy is born of desire for group achievement or passion for self-advance. But our literature gives us many clues to this. Shakespeare, especially, was good at dealing with this aspect of human nature.

twv

I like cryptocurrency (especially Bitcoin) as a hedge. Trouble is, crypto definitely does not serve as a hedge against the inevitable global electromagnetic storm. It is the opposite of a hedge.

To something inevitable but unpredictable in time.

While electromagnetic pulse warfare and even old-fashioned nuclear war could be as devastating — and similar in effect — as a coronal mass ejection such as the one that caused the 1859 Carrington Event, these conflict scenarios are limited by MAD. Solar flares are not so limited. They are not under any human control at all.

Given this, and given blockchain’s huge redundancy aspects (involving astounding energy consumption and economic costs), I’m not exactly gung ho on crypto.

But I’m completely negative about blockchain’s usage as inside money by the globalized banking system. Politicians’, bureaucrats’, bankers’, and the Davos Men’s lust for a completely digital currency must be opposed at all costs. Their much-ballyhooed move to get rid of cash is an End Times Scenario — it would spell the death knell for freedom, sure, but it would also rigidify the system and make civilization even more fragile than it is now . . . from the inevitable disaster of a major coronal mass ejection hitting the planet.

The fact that this is almost never mentioned during discussions of computerized money strikes me as insane. Our civilization revolves around electromagnetic technology. We are utterly dependent upon this, even more than on fossil fuels. And this must be factored in to our assessments of risk.

People sometimes look at me condescendingly, for my presumptuousness in taking on “the experts.” Well, call me a crank; no matter: for on this issue, I’m not wrong.

My number one policy aim is antifragility. Always has been — long before Taleb gave it its name. And post-modern politics is utterly oblivious to the notion, despite the popular buzzword ”sustainability.”

One of our political considerations must always be concern for ”external hits” to our ecosystem and socio-economic system. Right now, we have progressed our way into a predicament. Further progress must not jeopardize civilization to an even greater degree. And right now both the globalist totalitarians and the “ancap” libertarians seem hell-bent on pushing just such ”progress.”

twv

Until a recent video by Rebel Wisdom, I had never heard of Samo Burja. I just do not follow international affairs well enough, I guess. But Mr. Burja’s discussion of Putin and the Russian invasion of the Ukraine struck me as not only interesting, but very much along familiar lines:

This analyst makes three predictions:

1. China develops more financial alternatives to First World financial systems and offers them to rogue states around the world. (I’ve talked about this before, on Paul Jacob’s podcast a few weeks ago. This could help collapse the dollar, by the way.)

2. Russia successfully occupies large chunks of Ukraine that it did not control before. (Seems likely. Surely Putin’s keeping the eastern sectors, but, this man says, more than just the Donbas region.)

3. Putin remains in power for the next year.

He also says Russia will become something of a vassal state to China, which is something neither we nor the Russians should want. But it is something the Chinese quasi-commies want (why don’t we just call the CCP elite caste the warlords or oligarchs? Please advise). And it is something that the embargoes will ensure. This is also a point I’ve made before.

The Romney position that Russia is America’s most dangerous enemy — the position that Obama once mocked but now Democrats push with spittle flying — is something China needs us to believe, for I suspect (and, again, have said as much to friends) that China pushed Russia to do this as part of its plan to weaken America which would allow it to conquer Taiwan. That’s not the only end game, but it’s a huge one, and Burja identifies it as Xi Jinping’s life goal. Seems likely.

Given that China has invested so much in the Democratic Party (Biden being a paid stooge and almost certainly a traitor in technical terms, and worthy of the firing squad), that all of the media has rallied propaganda to this diversion is hardly surprising at all.

Above all I do not want WWIII, which I think is likely if Biden loses control of what remains of his senses. What I think the corrupt insider Democrats yearn for is a protracted set of brushfire wars with a weakened Russia. But pushing Russia is really, really dangerous. Past Ukrainian policy by the Dems has been as insane as their desire to regime change Assad and their “successful” regime change of Qaddafi. These people seem like fools, but I don’t know precisely what they want. But if they want a One World Government with the power center in Beijing, they appear to be doing great.

Secondarily I don’t want the U.S. to become any more like China. Or Russia. This element — an unintended effect of international conflict known to classical liberals for centuries — is also something that Mr. Burja makes clear.

In recent podcasts with Paul Jacob, I tried also to make this point:

First (6:50), I suggest that the COVID over-reaction police states of New Zealand and Australia maybe disqualify them from “free nation” status, and therefore as American allies. Then (9:46) I explain my concern over how disastrous American interventions have been generally — in one country after another — and most recently in Ukraine. And when I got to the subject of biolabs in Ukraine, Paul Jacob not only agreed with me but expressed a bigger worry: that these may have been established there the better to escape American law prohibiting bioweapons research (just as the American military did with torture under Bush/Cheney). And I went on (22:39) to suggest that the current war started in 2020 with the release and psy-op packaging of SARS-CoV-2 into global society, courtesy of the Wuhan biolab, and that the point of China egging on Russia was to demoralize Americans from war to allow China an easier walk-in over the Taiwan Strait. And Democrats, because they are basically crazed enviro-nuts who think that energy is bad and are willing to make Americans poor the better to virtue-signal their commitment to “the planet,” are helping China along.

This is not the first time American foreign policy has been shanghaied to subvert our own freedom. Without any pressure from Spain, the United States succumbed to liberticidal imperialism during the McKinley administration, as William Graham Sumner made so clear in “The Conquest of the United States by Spain.”

The extent to which the Democrats at large are bought off by the Chinese is probably limited. Actual, direct “Manchurian Candidate” subversion of an American political figure is probably limited to Joe Biden himself (though a subverted president is nothing to sneeze at). The rest just go along with subversion for the very reason subversion works, according to Yuri Bezmenov: you cannot subvert someone who does not want to be subverted, and Democrats have been pinko for my whole lifetime. They love big government transfer programs and all the rest, and since they themselves get involved in the government racket, they can add class-interest to their lust for subversion of the American system . . . which once upon a time was based on private property and distributed responsibility.

Which is why Democrats became such true believers in Trump’s vaccine program as well as enthusiastic pushers of lockdowns and mask mandates. They do not care about medical results, not really: they care about regimenting society, abridging the freedom of all for the sake of all (the basic idea of republican governance, but also of socialism) and, especially, of targeted victim groups. This is, after all, the basic game progressives play in psycho-politics: sacrifice by all for the benefit of a few. But the utility of the pandemic to the Chinazis and the globalists has been waning. People around the world now chafe under the lockdowns and idiotic (and obviously ineffective) mask mandates.

So: invasion to “the rescue” — the rescue of globalists’ subversion plans. The Great Reset and all.

Just how limp a noodle the COVID flail has become can be seen in how kid-gloved YouTube has been to Dr. John Campbell. In a series of videos, recently, he has explored the data that shows how destructive pandemic policy has been. And he has been allowed to continue. A half year ago he would have been de-platformed by the Deep State’s Internet service wing, Google/Alphabet.

And it is worth noting how amazing Campbell’s turn has been on the subject. Steve Kirsch, writing on Substack, explains the situation pretty well: “a former advocate of the vaccine, trusted by millions of people, has now realized he’s been deceived and he’s not happy about it at all.”

Paul Jacob wrote about Dr. Campbell’s discussion of recent Ivermectin study results, in “This Is Just Huge.” Kirsch fixes upon the doctor’s consideration of recent revelations from Pfizer about adverse effects of the mRNA treatment.

I share this not because the news seems all that new to me, but because many folks are just now realizing how wrong “the experts” were. In the wake of proof that the government has lied to us about the safety of mRNA coronavirus “vaccines,” we now get a lot of “how could people reject this information” and “how could they have suppressed information about adverse effects” sputterings.

Oh, the naivety. It is so very easy. Those on the inside had a lot of money and prestige on the line, while the masses of people are generally serviles, demanding to be saved by higher-ups. What I’ve seen over and over on this latter is incredulity that great groups of people could commit fraud and great harm, knowingly coupled with this: the belief that some must be sacrificed for the greater good — if some people must die that the majority be saved, all the better!

This sacrifice ideology, absolutely central to life in a wealth-transfer state, has been endemic for a century now. It is a sign that people have tacitly embraced what they would otherwise, in moments of clarity, describe as “fascist” or “Nazi” or “communist” principles. Because of this, along with propaganda-induced fear and tribal allegiances, the masses and the elites have pushed dangerous and deadly-to-some pseudo-vaccines while suppressing less expensive yet more efficient treatment and prophylactic regimens.

I think this is a sign of a decadent civilization.

To me, a decent, life-affirming political philosophy begins with the realization that majorities and even consensus opinion can be wrong. The low-level democratic idea insists that only a few “bad people” can commit great evils. This is obviously way off, and is the wedge notion that allows for a massacre society. Which we now live in.

And is that why we can actually encounter leftist Democrats talk about nuclear first strikes?

How low our society has sunk. But it can go lower, and, I fear, will. Under pressure to fulfill the entelechies they have already nurtured — let their adopted memes take over their lives and infect others — and as subverted by Chinese psy-ops and their own fears of imperialist Russia, American Democrats and neocons could actually destroy civilization. All it takes is a few nuclear bombs. Or a real plague. Or globalist totalitarianism.

twv

A lot of people have constructed propagandistic memes to the effect that ”things would be different” had Kyle been black. Every one of these memes have failed because the memetic engineer could not engineer the precisely opposite situation to Kyle Rittenhouse’s. So let me try. I mean, it’s a worthy counterfactual, right?

What if Kyle were black?

What if the 17-year-old African-American male traveled across a state line to his father’s community after a White Lives Matter protest turned violent and burned down a huge hunk of his father’s town. The protest was over the police shooting a white guy during a domestic squabble.

Now, the trick in this example is not to make everything opposite — this white man would have to become a white woman, right, to be “completely” opposite? If “make everything opposite” were the rule in constructing such examples, we would merely engage in Bizarro World japery. (So this haploid is carrying a ray gun…) So, let’s keep it close. And let’s make initial spark for the ”protests” this: a white criminal man got shot by police while reaching for his knife after walking away from the police who had told him to stand down. Same as the Kenosha criminal. And this man survives, though most protesters think he’s dead. It’s only the races we need to flip.

So a White Live Matter group protested the shooting, and the protest turns quickly to riot, which spreads. And the cops stand down, letting it all burn: the cops are on the side of the whites, this time, after all!

Amidst this, a number of heroic black people take to the streets to help victims, put out fires, and wash away graffiti. Our black Kyle is carrying a scary-to-liberals rifle and as the evening wears on gets chased by other black people who beat him with a skate board and try to take away his weapon. Some shots are fired, and our black Kyle kills two men, black, and wounds another, also black.

For his trouble, the Republican presidential candidate calls this Kyle a black supremacist and the major media constantly calls Kyle a murderer, moments after, and all the way into his trial.

What are the most unbelievable things about this scenario, as written? To make it the most apt opposite-race example, what should I change?

twv

On Inauguration Day, fans of Q should’ve read Leon Festinger’s When Prophecy Fails. They didn’t, alas.

Democrats: if you want to outdo Republicans in savvy, I suggest you read that book right about now. The next few months are going to test your devotion.

Hey, we can read it together. Let’s form a book club!

twv

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.

twv

Why were the ideas of the Austrian School of Economics never implemented?

. . . as answered on Quora. . . . 

The “Austrian School” is a movement of social scientists sharing similar method while working out a rigorous analysis that first flowered in late 19th century Vienna. The tradition started with Carl Menger’s Grundsätse in 1871, and carried on in several major works by Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk and Friedrich Freiherr von Wieser in the 1880s, till their deaths. Böhm-Bawerk’s work quickly became world-famous, especially his writings on capital and interest, his extremely clear explanations of Menger’s price formation theory, and his understanding of subjective value in the concept of what Wieser called Grenznutzen (“marginal use” or, more commonly, marginal utility). Wieser formulated the crucial concept of opportunity cost, building on work of the French Liberal School economists Frédéric Bastiat and Courcelle-Seneuil. Menger, Böhm-Bawerk, and Wieser were all Austrians, as were a great number of the next generation of the movement — Eugen Philippovich von Philippsberg, Viktor Mataja, Richard Strigl, Hans Mayar — and, of course, the two that remain the most famous, Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek.

Menger gave up academia for tutoring the crown prince of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. He hoped to influence policy — and it is policy that is meant by “ideas” to be “implemented” in the OQ, right? — through his instruction of that one man. Who committed suicide for murky reasons, making Menger’s career bet a bad one. But both B-B and Wieser held major positions in the government. B-B was even on currency.

They did implement Austrian ideas on policy, B-B especially. Later on, Mises, working for the Chamber of Commerce, advised the government. Some say he helped save as much of the old liberal order that could have been, by fighting inflationism. Mises developed a coherent and powerful theory of the business cycle (trade cycle) which was taken up by the younger scholar, F.A. Hayek, who predicted America’s Great Depression while the great Irving Fisher asserted it was all roses just on the eve of disaster in 1929. Hayek went to the London School of Economics, where he elaborated the Misesian theory in interesting and perhaps ungainly ways, caused quite a furor (convincing many), but was then outdone by Keynes.

Why did Keynes “win” this debate? He offered a few very enticing things, the most important being an excuse for politicians and ideologues-on-the-make to engage in governmental fiscal recklessness, spending more than revenue and increasing the levels of debt, and push monetary inflation, as well. Austrian policy is designed to restrain government and serve the greatest number of people through stability. That is, politically, no match for the Keynesian Temptation. Besides, Keynes’s General Theory, his second big book to push his favorite policy (Hayek “destroyed” the first one, which almost no one reads any more), was such a conceptual mess it gave academics whole careers trying to make sense of it and defend it. Hayek was late in the game with his behemoth failure, The Pure Theory of Capital, which could have had a similar effect, except that the Austrians never encouraged elaborate mathematical formalism, and economists hoping to become court wizards to the emerging welfare state order needed that bit of hocus pocus to advance their social position.

Mises, meanwhile, belatedly fleeing Austria from the Nazis (who hated Mises for being a liberal and a Jew), moved to Switzerland and then the States, in which he could not get a good teaching position through normal means: the crowding-out effect of the order of wizards meant that the universities had no interest in this pioneer theorist of ordinal utility, money, boom-bust and banking, and the impossibility of economic calculation in a socialist commonwealth — he was shut out. He was left to pick up just a few students who carried on this now quite fugitive and subversive work: Israel Kirzner and Murray N. Rothbard are the two great Austrians who came out of the 1960s.

Mises was considered an “intransigent,” occasionally embarrassing fellow liberal/libertarians like Milton Friedman (who was not Austrian in approach). Like in the case of business cycle theory, the Mises-Hayek critique of socialist calculation (another of Hayek’s LSE projects) was said to have been “won” by their enemies. Then, after the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, the Austrian position triumphed. Even the egregious Robert Heilbroner admitted that “Mises was right.”

Every time a socialist state dies, replaced by something more market oriented, I tip my hat to Mises’ shade and smile when I say “now that is a kind of implementation of Austrian policy; step in the right direction, anyway.”

twv

Pssst: World War III began in 2020 and the West is losing, in no small part because almost no one realizes we are at war.

Sure, it is a new kind of war — bioweapon combined with a massive psy-op campaign — and we are expected to give up without fighting. And it looks like we will.

The COVID Reset is in full swing, the old order is dead man walking, and most folks — being hyper-partisan ideologues stuck in creaky old paradigms — will only realize it after the fact. How many will never realize it, I don’t know. And I of course refer to the casualties coming. The dead are utterly incapable of changing their minds.

[the above is a confidently stated conjecture]

Derelict silo.
Photo: Ralf, Flickr, some rights reserved

For right-wing libertarians: Why should a factory owner receive more profit than the workers who constructed and maintain said factory?

. . . as answered on Quora. . . .

In classical political economy, profit is the return on capital, wages are the return on labor, and rent the return on land. That is, those who hire themselves out as laborers get wages in payment, and those who invest their savings in productive processes receive profits as their reward — if their ventures prove successful.

The wage contract is fairly simple, and laborers get their rewards whether or not the business earns a profit. When the entrepreneur can no longer pay them, they go elsewhere. Profit is something identified and recoverable after all the hired factors have been paid off. The wiser question is not whether factory owners* should receive moreprofit than workers, but that they should any receive profits while workers continue to receive wages, because anything else would be, well, stupid. Against the terms of relevant contracts.

The differences between contract labor and owning and managing a business are key to making sense of things. Economist Yves Guyot put it this way:

Wages are a speculation. The laborer who offers his labor to a trader or a contractor, argues thus with him: “I deliver to you so much labor. It is true that you run the risks of the enterprise. You are obliged to make advances of capital. You may gain or lose. That does not concern me. I do my work, I make it over to you at a certain price; you pay this to me whatever happens. Whether it redounds to your benefit or causes you loss is not my affair.”

Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism (1894).
Guyot by Gill

All who favor market cooperation over forms of coercion and expropriation — not just principled libertarians — look at claims of workers’ key contributions being the sole and overriding contributions to production as being rather witless. We shake our heads when we encounter these hoary socialist clichés.

And we imagine what a targeted entrepreneur might say:

‘You think that because you sweep a floor you should own it? Is it some Lockean “mixing of labor” that gives you this purported right to property? You were hired on specific terms for specific tasks! If the terms are invalid and the hiring amounts to a ceding of my property to you, then I will simply not hire you. Your new terms are unacceptable. You are basically saying that all my and my investors’ [the capitalists’] past savings that went into this enterprise should be yours because I have offered you a contract for a limited purpose. Don’t be absurd.’

But absurdity is precisely what all these retro socialist arguments amount to.

Libertarians often respond politely and even carefully to such arguments, in part because unraveling farragos is fun. But, in truth, we tend to regard the people who ask such things as cretins. Dumb-asses. Or else as con artists plying tricky arguments to engage in some grift. Socialism we regard as the Super Grift. We libertarians often roll our eyes at the insanity and folly.

And then some greasy grifter calls us “greedy”! For defending the rights of capitalists and entrepreneurs to their property, of all things. I am neither a capitalist nor an entrepreneur. But I know greed when I see it, and I see it when laborers hired for specific tasks rise up to demand more than specified in their contracts on the basis that, well, they “do some work.” Of course, most wage-earners of profitable American enterprises despise socialism. They aren’t greedy. They know they haven’t earned what socialists demand.

The bulk of socialists are college kids and professors and government functionaries and . . . journalists caught up in dreams of utopia. Thankfully, most nowadays don’t even ask these question in the old naive Marxoid fashion. They have moved on to the cult of “social justice” and “intersectionality.” They have their own follies. But at least they have abandoned this witless gambit.


* Or some other entrepreneur and some other business enterprise — the socialist obsession with “the factory” is so old-fashioned! I have never worked in a “factory,” the magazine I worked for being closest. Oh, and as a teen-ager I worked on a dairy farm one summer. Remember that Marx hated country life!

Why can women forgive their cheating husband, but men can’t? (or, Why, traditionally, have women more easily forgiven their cheating husbands than men forgiven their cheating wives?)

. . . as answered on Quora. . . .

A basic element, here, is that while

  • women have a rather limited number of eggs and bear the natural, biological burden of investing in progeny prenatally, as well as being better adapted to nurture young children (breast milk, for starters),
  • men have a startling amount of sperm and do not bear the natural, biological burden of prenatal investment in the production of children, and are less well suited to raising children in their very young years.

Because of this inequality, the “deals” men and women make in sexual relations have tended, across cultures, to demonatrate quite distinct supply and demand schedules. Women have tended to offer sure paternity of their children to their spouses in exchange for the man providing physical and political and “economic” security.

A woman who engages in sexual activity with a man not her spouse betrays the essential element of the deal. This is a direct abrogation of the basic agreement. A man who engages in sexual activity with a woman not his spouse is not directly violating the terms (or basic requirements) of the “deal.”

But a husband who ceases to support — or slacks off in supporting — his wife while diverting his resources to a mistress, say, that would be on the level of a cheating wife.

It has been a staple of feminist thought that there is something horrible about this double standard. The more I investigate the nature of sexual relations, the less sense this makes to me, since the very contract itself is based on a double standard — or, better yet, like almost all trades, the deal is, in essence, the satisfaction of two distinct sets of priorities. So a double standard is precisely what we would expect to see evolve.

Now, in couples who do not have, cannot have, or do not want children, the nature of the deal changes. Also the importance of the deal tends to lessen as well, which is why we would expect to see more divorce and more “cheating” in families with no children.

So, no wonder wives tend to forgive cheating husbands more often than men forgive cheating wives — at least in the past. These days, with fewer children being produced and with more households dependent upon the State (taxpayers) for the maintenance of children, we should see this double standard weaken, perhaps even to the point of reversal — in cases where other pressures are brought to bear.

In fine, we should expect distinct behaviors and value-standards along sex lines for a sexually dimorphic species.


N. B. I assume a mix of naturally selected habits and attitudes and economically-induced ones, as well as culturally variable influences. We always expect variety. But patterns of behavior can nevertheless be teased out, with causal relations introduced in multiple dimensions, honing in on a number of factors. The fact that, in complex systems (such as societies) there are outliers and divergent behaviors does not preclude the making of generalizations subject to the usual caveats and statistical distributions.

twv