Friday, 26 August 2011

Anti-elitism does not mean anti-competitiveness; Human Events wrong again

No. 232 of 365
Pick a fight with a liberal on:

Liberals believe in egalitarianism. They don't often get called on it, though, because no one bothers to defend elitism—but you should. Ask a liberal, “So you really disapprove of competition and hierarchy and achievement and want everything to be equal do you? Well, answer me this, if you were president and you needed a handful of troops to do a delicate, dangerous job, who would you turn to—a unit of racially and sexually and disability diverse troops or the elite: Special Forces, Navy Seals, Delta Force? When you watch football, assuming you're willing to watch something so violent and competitive, do you want to watch the elite, the best of the best, the professionals who made it to the NFL on the basis of their talent and training, or a United Nations coordinated rainbow coalition of teams drawn from men and women from around the world to make it a truly global unisex game? Or suppose you needed serious surgery, would you prefer the operation to be done by a surgeon with years of practice behind him, drawn from the elite of the medical profession, or by a deserving recent immigrant, selected for the task as a result of the new Obamafair™ social justice program designed to boost the self-esteem of low-skill workers while simultaneously combating society's sexist, racist, elitist hegemony?”

This is a familiar argument from the Right against the radical egalitarianism of the Left which they think so consistently undermines all incentive for achievement. The case study is problematic in an odd kind of way: whilst the Left really want equality of outcome, they equally love competition in the most aggressive manner possible.

The relationship between these goals is at first sight hard to see, since equality of outcome would rule out activities where one gender and some races (e.g. Asian-Americans and Native Americans, owing to their light bones) are at the most extreme disadvantage. However, even before the radical masculinisation of the Enriched World during the 1970s and 1980s, it is noteworthy how the most violent sports, like ice hockey and gridiron, were popular in the most socialistic and egalitarian regions like Scandinavia and the Pacific Northwest. This does suggest that aggression, even hypermasculinity could be inherent in the whole idea of socialism - and if you believe Hans Hoppe, in democracy itself.

The whole idea of showing the world that America is the best or the biggest seems to attract the attention of liberal leftists. At least showing that America can equal Europe and East Asia in environmental sustainability and income equality seems to be a goal.

The problem with this whole idea is the very notion that most people are attracted by these things. In fact, the government spending and taxation required for these things, especially in a country which is fairly well-endowed with coal and other fossil fuels does not attract migrants or investment. Russia’s restrictive government in its resource-rich Far East is a good example. Trying to encourage noncompetitiveness and harmony, which require a limited government, actually is much more conservative than the reverse.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Understanding the British riots and the decay they symbolise

Ross Douthat, a commentator I have had links to for some time but have not seriously read until now, has recently provided a devastating critique of the welfare state culture that has swamped almost all of the Enriched World over the past ninety-five years.

He argues quite strangely but not unrealistically that even those who see the riots as a logical response to government austerity programmes à la Green Left Weekly or Socialist Worker: they are not defending government programmes, but are arguing instead by rioting that they fear that the specialty goods they seem desire greatly to symbolise their individualism may not be available if the government cuts welfare spending.

The quote:
“A street of shuttered shops, locked playgrounds and closed clinics, a street patrolled by citizens armed with knives and bats, is not a place to build a life”
tells exactly the same story as Richard Nisbett does about culture of honour in the inner city. As I have emphasised before, an industrial Britain has the key pre-requisites for a culture of honour if government is absent:
  1. glaciation of most of Britain has deprived it of the essential mineral resources
    • fossil laterites in glaciated areas suggest strongly that before the ice sheets came northern Europe had essential industrial minerals but soils akin to the infertile soils of Australia and Southern Africa today
  2. mineral resources (or at least their products like cars and so many technological gadgets) tend to be portable so that theft is not difficult. This is especially true of the electronics and boutique clothing that angry masses tend to target as Victor Davis Hanson shows.
  3. without government or with the police ineffective the masses would have to regulate law themselves, and with scarcity of resources prevalent the prevailing means of doing so is by force
Both these viewpoints suggest that they key issue is that the masses of Britons really care about little more than having the most fashionable goods - a tale on instant gratification gone beserk that explains why long-term stability has been confined to the isolated suburbs of Australia and to a decreasing extent Red America where the influences of the radical individualism preached by businessmen is least.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

More than materialism: envy

In a telling post - actually from 2002 but revealed to me only today and still resonating with me - Rod Dreher has shown the troubles the demographically crippled Netherlands faces with a culture dominated by hedonistic atheism.

Dreher argues in essence that the culture of the Netherlands is living on capital from a time when Christianity was the dominant force and encouraged people to work for a living. He argues that the libertine, militantly atheistic hedonism that has overwhelmingly characterised the Boom Generation has led to the country importing migrants and weakened the work ethic that allowed the Netherlands to become a wealthy country.

Whilst I cannot deny these claims - indeed I feel that the response of the secular left should be not to deny them but to twist them to their own advantage as I have often demonstrated with environmental policy elsewhere in this blog - there is certainly more to it than just libertine hedonism. It is materialistic envy of the knowledge that so many companions are moving to a country that in the short to medium term offers them a much more comfortable and cozy existence at apparently no cost whatsoever. The result is that people in Europe - even more today as the inefficiency of using any of their land for a purpose for which it was more nearly designed than any other land in Earth's four and a half billion year history (intensive production of food) - want to have everything people in land-glutted Australia and Red America receive naturally for little effort.

For this reason most of Europe's working masses have for a century and a half campaigned constantly to be given whatever wealth they can by government, whilst at the same time they have bought inventions of dubious long-term value as far as maintaining a demographically sustainable culture.

Meanwhile, Europeans have never become as comfortable as Australia, Red America, or in some ways even the extremely poor people of sub-Saharan Africa which has the same glutted land supply. The lesson that Europeans really have to learn is that they should not desire this because they live in a land endowed with a gift immesurably rarer (in geological terms) than a glut of land or minerals.