Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Signs and Portents

We all prefer the idea of a principle to its application.

I think that explains somewhat the actions of white (is there any other kind?) ethno-masochists and their "leapfrogging loyalties"--abjuring white identity and responsibility for their co-ethnics in favor of a romanticized Other, usually conveniently remote (less and less so as a result of the policies the pose enables). The ferocity of their attacks now, the open hatred, affected or genuine, of whites as whites by whites is a bizarre new reality that defies explanation. After Orlando went into the Narrate-o-Matic and came out a "homophobic" slaughter--to the comic dismay of ISIS, whose violence the American progressive left had co-opted--one can only conclude the American left is conditionally allied with foreign terrorists.

 "Virtue signalling" relates to this, and provides a textbook example of Saussurean theory's "signifier/signified" distinction. Adopting a ready-made sign--which can be as little as a logo on a tee shirt or name-check in conversation--now often provided by commerce ("Whole Foods", "Apple", etc.) the bearer/referrer broadcasts a suite of the signified: good taste, liberal beliefs, sound health, etc. Professing the right views works the same way. Problems arise only to the extent the views have noticeable consequence.

Obviously this applies for social and political opposites: a Trump hat signifies a whole different set. But there's a good reason "virtue signalling" became a term of derision for the familiar forms of leftist signalling. I think it's less that they're worse about it, and more that they are, for the moment, still holding the cultural and social whip hand. Convention, right now, is progressive; reaction is transgressive. Carrying a Whole Foods bag won't get your ass kicked (actually it can, but by the same urban thugs who might kick your ass for wearing a Trump hat).

The reaction to Trump and Brexit unmasked the complete contempt with which the Western elite views working and middle class white Westerners. Basically, they aren't just swearing off their poor cousins, they've declared an alliance with their cool new diverse friends against them. I hate to say it, but it's all so white.

But we don't talk about it; we are unable to tell this story because it's a sequel to another story never told. America never debated, in all the earnestness, corruption and stupidity of our civil rights "journey", the justice or wisdom of destroying the concept of noblesse oblige within the white American community. Indeed, civil rights necessitated--and still does, more than ever, only now it's taken on the form of a rout--the pathologization of it, as "white privilege". From here it appears if anything it's worse in Europe. This venerable and humane institution was routed and destroyed globally without a shot fired in its defense. Whether by design or not, noblesse oblige was replaced by civil rights; by a liberalism so vague and corrupted it's been driven--with all of us along for the ride--to the bizarre present, where such as the Orlando attacks now prompt half the country to blame Islam and the other half to blame the half that blames Islam.

Now we're on to the next stage, where elites are no longer merely indifferent to us (how brief this period was), they are now hostile; working class white losers are making the good white peoples' life difficult. They lead lives not worth noting in communities not worth saving, and their absence will be a blessing.
"Money is being lost!" elites wail like angry mafiosi, when they've expended every other line.

Ethnic diversity doesn't just increase inter-ethnic conflict by its very nature, it creates and maintains intra-ethnic division for the majority population. And that division is largely caused by an imperious elite allying with ethnic foreigners against ethnic kin and fellow citizens.

Globalization is largely about shucking off noblesse oblige.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Breaking Political Winds

Well, how did [we] get here?
--Talking Heads

After Orlando President Obama's position is clear and, as he and supporters (including the Republican establishment) see it, non-controversial: we've decided to create a larger Muslim population in America as part of a process of ethnic diversification for its own sake as well as economic growth; attacks such as Orlando will have to be endured to achieve that goal, but we'll lessen their severity through greater surveillance, stricter gun laws and early suppression of any right wing reaction to this policy or its effects.

(There's another version of this that holds the increasing Muslim population not a deliberate undertaking but an inevitability contingent on economic necessity or due to the impossibility of restricting migration; this you often meet with in person-to-person encounters, expressed with a shrug and shift of subject)

The president and House Speaker Paul Ryan did what politicians must do after tragic events of political consequence (if often lost in or deliberately disguised by all the conspicuous sorrow): they identified the political and social battle lines created or reinforced by the event, declared where they stand in relation and offered policy solutions.

Remarkably, the political and media elite are nearly unanimous in taking the occasion to denounce Trump and his "Muslim ban" and in dictating that our energy shall be put to addressing a proximate cause of the massacre (guns) while opposing, as bigotry, the identification of Islam as the ultimate cause. It isn't wild-eyed to suggest they are allied against us with the Muslim world. And they do this without a hint of doubt. Is there a historical precedent for such people as these?

President Obama and Paul Ryan unite to ally with Islam against their ideological and cultural domestic enemies--basically, middle-class whites. This alliance was always there, and is revealed in tragedy when their shared core goals are threatened. When it's time to fall back and defend the fort, the Republicans and Democrats find themselves in the same place. Donald Trump turned over the political rock and this is what he exposed.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Mediocrity and its Discontents

Via Ed West on Twitter, this remarkable find by Heterodox Academy garners Judge Macklin Fleming a first-ballot entry into the I-told-you-dumb-bastards Hall of Shame:
...Heterodox Academy member Amy Wax sent us the text of an astonishing letter written in 1969, at the dawn of racial preferences, from Macklin Fleming, Justice of the California Court of Appeal. Judge Fleming had written a personal letter to Louis Pollak, the dean of Yale Law School. Fleming was concerned about the plan Dean Pollak had recently announced under which Yale would essentially implement a racial quota – 10% of each entering class would be composed of black students. To achieve this goal, Yale had just admitted 43 black students, only five of whom had qualified under their normal standards. (The exchange of letters was later made public with the consent of both parties; you can read the full text of both letters here.)
Judge Fleming explained why he believed this new policy was a dangerous experiment that was likely to cause harmful stereotypes, rather than reduce them. His argument is essentially the one that Jussim and I made 47 years later. Here is what he wrote:
The immediate damage to the standards of Yale Law School needs no elaboration. But beyond this, it seems to me the admission policy adopted by the Law School faculty will serve to perpetuate the very ideas and prejudices it is designed to combat. If in a given class the great majority of the black students are at the bottom of the class, this factor is bound to instill, unconsciously at least, some sense of intellectual superiority among the white students and some sense of intellectual inferiority among the black students. Such a pairing in the same school of the brightest white students in the country with black students of mediocre academic qualifications is social experiment with loaded dice and a stacked deck. The faculty can talk around the clock about disadvantaged background, and it can excuse inferior performance because of poverty, environment, inadequate cultural tradition, lack of educational opportunity, etc. The fact remains that black and white students will be exposed to each other under circumstances in which demonstrated intellectual superiority rests with the whites.
But Judge Fleming went much further. He made specific predictions about what the new policy would do to black students over the years, and how they would react. Here is his prophecy:
No one can be expected to accept an inferior status willingly. The black students, unable to compete on even terms in the study of law, inevitably will seek other means to achieve recognition and self-expression. This is likely to take two forms. First, agitation to change the environment from one in which they are unable to compete to one in which they can. Demands will be made for elimination of competition, reduction in standards of performance, adoption of courses of study which do not require intensive legal analysis, and recognition for academic credit of sociological activities which have only an indirect relationship to legal training. Second, it seems probable that this group will seek personal satisfaction and public recognition by aggressive conduct, which, although ostensibly directed at external injustices and problems, will in fact be primarily motivated by the psychological needs of the members of the group to overcome feelings of inferiority caused by lack of success in their studies. Since the common denominator of the group of students with lower qualifications is one of race this aggressive expression will undoubtedly take the form of racial demands–the employment of faculty on the basis of race, a marking system based on race, the establishment of a black curriculum and a black law journal, an increase in black financial aid, and a rule against expulsion of black students who fail to satisfy minimum academic standards.
If you read Judge Fleming’s predictions after watching the videos of student protests, and then reading the lists of demands posted at TheDemands.org, the match is uncanny.
I'm glad the good judge isn't here to see just how effective his predicted black political agitation has been; so successful it's adopted by other groups such as Hispanics, similarly mismatched by affirmative action. Likewise feminism and transsexual activism provide natural outlets for students with nothing to draw from real study but frustration. One can be a mediocre student or noble victim.
 The judge's predicted black radicalization not only came to fruition, it spread like a contagion--because it works, and it works by taking failure to the disparate impact bank and cashing it in for victim points--the same dysfunctional dynamic keeping black civil rights--and black concerns--front and center always in American politics.

Failure and alienation are the common bonds making allies of feminists and Muslims, transsexuals and Blacks, foreigners and fat fetishists; the unstable and the unable united in an axis of mediocrity waging war on excellence in academe and beyond. Failure and alienation have become the point of progressive theory, and whether that's always been the intention is almost beside the point. It seems to be an inevitable result.

But social justice, particularly on the campus, is where blacks and other "underrepresented" groups are over-represented and hold greater influence, where the reverence and deference, particularly for blacks, with which they are treated is being elevated to ritual. For an individual so favored this must be heady stuff, and leaving this environment must come as a shock. Social justice exists in large part so people who didn't peak in high school get a second shot in college. Of course everybody sees they'e just getting a worthless participation badge, so they must distinguish themselves, within the progressive theory framework, and the way to do that is to be angry about oppression, ideally your own. The competition to stay must be brutal, and likely explains the professorship's increasing radicalism, as radicalism itself is the point.

My limited contact with second-tier institution student activists confirms the impression I (and I imagine a great many others) get watching them on YouTube and elsewhere: they're not very smart. Of course they're emotional. But's hard to tell how much is honest and how much is affectation; it's hard to tell how aware many of them are themselves of this distinction, as they work themselves into a frenzy because it's what they're expected to do. The "special snowflake" explanation only goes so far also; they may speak the language of social justice when they wring another "safe space" out of an institution, but their subsequent glorying and redoubled disdain reveal they understand what is happening, and they love it: they are wielding power. They're more scary than scared, and they know it. They delight in it.