September 2007

There are some people I used to regularly B.S with in an isolated, inbred corner of the internet hostile to outsiders before I was pulled away by the wide-open world of intelligent discussion that is blogging. I decided to notify them that I had a site of my own now where no one could tell me I was packing too many links into a post. Here was a response:

You know, it always makes me sad when I see the people who say they’re going to leave end up coming back to this morbid cesspool of despair and madness. My advice to those whose consciences and last vestiges of sanity are compelling them to turn their attention to less sordid pastimes is: don’t announce that you’re leaving – just go. Just say “Fuck it” and disengage, and go off and try to do whatever it is you think will improve your crappy waste of a life. People aren’t going to look down on you for leaving without a trace, they’re going to assume that you’ve actually found something meaningful to do with your time and look at you as a shining example to the dirty, downtrodden, anti-social masses of the Internet. And when you finally come crawling back, bloodied and battered from your failed attempts to integrate into a world not comprised of anonymous handles and inane avatars, you’ll be looked at, at the very least, as a brave explorer of regions dangerous and unknown, who has returned to tell the wondrous tales of his adventures into lands untamed and nigh-unimaginable, rather than “that guy who swore he was going to go and do something not dorky, and failed.” Don’t set yourself up for failure and humiliation – just do what you’re going to do, don’t think you owe a damn thing to anyone, and just consider: if you leave here tomorrow, how many people will really remember you anyway? Fly free, bitches – fly free.

That’s the stuff nostalgia is made of.

UPDATE: Sailer has responded in the comments. It seems cut’n’paste though, so I give him 0.5 points for it.

First off, let me admit that the only reason I’ve heard of Steve Sailer (and through him, everyone else on my blogroll, by one or two degrees) is because I read Freakonomics (in-store without paying, natch) and decided to read a bit more online about it, and came across Sailer’s disputation of Levitt’s abortion-cut-crime hypothesis. I have to say, I found much of Sailer’s “reality-check” analysis of crime-rates by time and age-cohort to be rather persuasive. His simple graph on rising illegitimacy seemed to put the lie to Levitt’s “unwantedness” explanation for why abortion would be effective.

Steve hasn’t forgiven Levitt and continually makes digs at him, at his own blog and others. At first I was glad that he was pointing out the holes in the theories of widely disseminated thinkers. I joined in the fracas at Malcolm Gladwell’s now defunct blog when he and Steve were feuding (I believe Steve though when he says he actually likes Gladwell). After a while it got tiring. He seemed to just be beating a dead horse because he had a beef with Levitt and no real progress was being made. True, other economists published critiques of Levitt’s theory and Steve highlighted these, but I don’t think us laymen are really competent to say if those critiques are any more valid than Levitt’s original paper or his replies. After his most recent post on the subject, I called him petty for his behavior.

If you haven’t seen the comments section at Steve’s blog, I should tell you that it is, as they say, “a wretched hive of scum and villainy” . I was initially happy during Le Affaire Gladwell that the comments got opened, but it quickly became flooded by cretins. (I’m glad that “Jupiter” guy who couldn’t figure out how not to post as anonymous even after we told him is gone; he was seriously deranged) It might just be my confirmation bias, but I didn’t consider the matter settled when most of them backed up Steve. What might me think twice was FuturePundit, who said many of his readers aren’t aware of stuff he regularly writes about, so it is helpful to harp on old topics repeatedly.

In case Steve shows up, I’d also like to ask him how he thinks his views as a conservative Catholic impact his perspective on this. I recognize that they aren’t in a morality dispute, as Levitt admits that even if we assign a very small moral weight to fetuses they outweigh the drop in crime from their aborting, but I can’t recall Steve really discussing that much. He usually tries to seem amenable to both godless scientific and traditional religious viewpoints, and I wouldn’t have become a regular reader if he wasn’t.

If you aren’t aware of the crazy hijinks involving David Ruttenberg’s Rack’n Roll and the city of Manassas Park, then you haven’t been visiting the Agitator enough. Radley Balko’s got a big post up on recent developments, but if you’re new to this you can find all his posts on the topic here. It is seriously bizarre stuff of the sort you would expect to find in a Kafka laughing-gas dream rather than in good ol’ Uhmurrica. Why are the officials there sinking to such outrageous lows over some billiards bar? I don’t know, but as P.J O’Rourke said when he saw the pyramids of Egypt “People have always been crazy”.

If there’s one person who doesn’t have their own blog but should, it’s Greg Cochran. The man is an intellectual giant among dwarves. There is an interview with him at 2Blowhards which I almost neglected to mention here, figuring it was old news by now. Now I see that the second part is up. Do yourself a favor and read them.

Part the first

Part the second

UPDATE: Robert Lindsay has responded in the comments

I have been told to read the books of the past written by those with an alien mindset to try to think beyond the boundaries of present-day conventional wisdom. I highly recommend reading Storm of Steel for the bizarre final chapters in which a (perhaps) representative nationalist/militarist German officer attempts to fulfill his death-wish in a war he knows is lost at the expense of his subordinates who would give up their lives to protect him. Although I’m what Matthew Cromer would denounce as a “reductionist materialist” and I was never spiritual even back when I was religious, I still like reading the fundamentalist Vox Day on occasion. Here is a classic in which he says he would butcher innocent children if God told him to (apparently its the moral equivalent of a videogame designer deleting some simulated characters). Although I love private property more than pizza, puppies and alliteration, I still evangelize anti-capitalist Kevin Carson. Anarcho-capitalists should do themselves a favor and look him up to see just how little difference there is between them.

Of course, both of those bloggers I just mentioned are (self-described) libertarians, so it must be an awful small box I’m reaching outside of. That brings me to the subject of this post. Via the Hoover Hog I came across a defense of The Color of Crime (which is published by racists) by Robert Lindsay. Such a thing might not be surprising from the scarier corners of the far-right, but Lindsay is a self-described revolutionary leftist and anti-racist. Some might initially suspect he is just a racist in disguise to discredit an ideology he actually opposes (neo-Nazis conspiracy theorists on the internet like to use the term “false flag” for that idea, although for them it is always DA JOOS behind it). Browse a bit more on his site and it will become apparent that he is really a fossil from the past, ill-fitting in the left of today.

Check out his post on Russian neo-Nazis and the fight between Nazis and Commies (his allegiance is to the latter). This is Old Left, red in tooth and claw, not what we have now. It’s “You’re either a Nazi or a Commie, and those not up to New Socialist Man snuff will be purged”, which is why he’s so willing to make the same digs at the lumpenproletariat underclass that white nationalists engage in. He flat out admits that Stalin massacred tons of innocent people, but that’s excusable because so many others really had to die. He seems to hate all the same things about the modern left that Mencius Moldbug does, but traces it to their turning away from Ye Olde Communiste Iron Fiste, and can’t understand why people today consider his correct Marxism to be borderline-Nazism. They say Bryan Caplan “embraces the darkness”, but he’s got nothing on Lindsay.

In case Lindsay reads this post, I apologize that my description likely sounds like a twisted bizarro version of what you actually believe. I don’t actually bear you any animosity. My way of thinking is simply so far off that reading your posts is a little like learning about a black hole by noticing the wobbling it causes in the orbit of a nearby star. I plan on reading more of your writings to gain a better understanding.

It’s almost refreshing to read this willingness to embrace the worst killers among communism and defend it as it was actually implemented. Everything we know is wrong! Joseph Stalin, while responsible for the Holodomor, was the world’s greatest humanitarian! Mencius will be pleased to note that not only does he want to kill the subhuman street thugs of urban america (Stalin wouldn’t have put up with that riffraff!), he supports the elimination of third world self-described “Marxists” (surely Arab/Muslim Nazis in actuality) thugs in Iraq. Also, despite his denouncing of Trotskyites/neoconservatives, his debunking of the Maoist (some movements of which he supports) concept of “social imperialism” as obviously nonsense because resources flowed from Russia to the sattelite states and the standard of living improved under their rule almost sounds like a Chris Hitchens extolling the benefits of U.S global hegemony.

The more I read his attacking the Big Lie that Communism and Nazism are similar, the more it seemed to me they really are. There is some thinking shared among them not seen so much in the mainstream today. Why is this? Why can he cite Steve Sailer, Gates of Vienna, American Renaissance, and Pan Aryan forums as legitimate sources of information while retaining a proper Stalinist world-view? There is a grain of truth to most ideologies that attain a large number of followers. This grain can send people far off in frightening directions. In some ways the world can be a really awful place and if you dwell on it the unthinkable can start to seem sensible in response.

After I added some widgets, all the descriptions on my blogroll disappeared. What I wrote for them is still stored in the section where I can edit the contents of my blogroll, but only the titles are shown to regular users. Curse you, WordPress! If any of you know how to get the descriptions back up, let me know.

On a slightly less distressing note, I have no idea when the second post I made here is at the bottom rather than next-to-last. Does anyone know how I can switch the bottom two posts around?

UPDATE: Thanks to potentilla, my first post is back at the bottom. Still no cure for blogroll though.

My first commenter has suggested that I repost things I post at other blogs here. One fairly lengthy post I remember making was in response to Arnold Kling pointing out the upsides of a two-tiered society. Let me say up-front that I’m not an egalitarian. I’ll support Benjamin Tucker’s “principle of equal liberty” on Stirnerite contractual grounds, but I don’t place any moral value on equality. Here is what I wrote:

“Many years ago some people thought it would be a good idea to bring in some foreigners to do jobs “Americans won’t do”. They were called “slaves”. It turned out there were some serious problems with this social policy. Haiti found this out first the very hard way, and America later did too. Eventually every country gave up on that old system, with Brazil being the last.

The descendants of these people did not achieve the American dream at the same rate as Jewish, Irish, Italian and Asian immigrants to which their modern day replacements are often compared. This was true after the system of oppression their former rulers enacted when they found themselves possible minorities in a political system their conquerors pledged to make a race-blind democracy. This was true after many well-meaning political figures attempted to assist them, including in areas which had never had slavery. So they find themselves alienated in a society which has greatly wronged their kind, and nobody of importance any solutions other than platitudes.

Fortunately for their luckier neighbors, they do not have enough numbers and power to do anything about this. This was not the case in other two-tier societies that were found throughout Africa, and no sensible person would want to follow their example (especially Zimbabwe). In Latin America the elite have been better able to retain power, but a choice between Castro and Pinochet is not one I would like to be confronted with, and it is only recently that this conflict there is beginning to take on the framing of race, which is far uglier than that of class.

You might say that this is different. These people are not the victims of kidnapping and have not been explicitly oppressed by our government, although some of them resent the territory we seized from them and our interference in their political systems in a manner that generally entrenched the elite. This is true. The same was true of the Jews of Europe, the Armenians of Turkey, the Indians of East Africa and the Lebanese of West Africa and the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia (to leave aside the closer but smaller example of Korean grocers in inner cities). This does not matter. The children of these immigrants did not ask to be born into a two-tier society, and the data indicates they are not escaping into the upper tier but becoming more and more like our old underclass than their parents or grandparents did, with the advancement of technology making their unskilled contributions becoming less and less necessary to the society they find themselves in. The inhabitants of Indonesia and the Phillipines similarly did not ask to be placed below the Chinese that live among them, and every once in a while this animosity boils over into indiscriminate murder. It was the murder of Amy Chua’s aunt by her Phillipine servant that is partly responsible for the book “World on Fire”, which deals with this issue more thoroughly than I can here. I do not want to have to build walls with broken glass or spikes on the top around my house. I do not want to be murdered because the combination of my comfortable status and my skin is an affront to those in the second tier. I also do not want to live in Sparta, transformed into a garrison society due to the need to suppress the helots. I urge you to seriously consider the experience of all the other such two-tier societies we have seen before blithely endorsing the turning of our own society into another one.”

I suppose it sounds rather over-dramatic and frightening. It just appears to me that all such societies are not the kind of places I would want to live. Perhaps we won’t go as far absent some disaster making large parts of the world less than habitable, but I suspect the creation of a large underclass will make things less pleasant ceteris paribus on the margin in the short run as well.

I realize there are some typos in the quoted portion, but I don’t feel like fixing them. Tough noogies.

There’s an incredible amount of information online, but as economists say, our wants are never satisfied and always turn to something more. Mencius Moldbug is fond of dusty old tomes and their alien ways of thinking and has listed some sources that give insight into his strange mind: Murray Rothbard, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Bruno Leoni, Africa Addio, James Burnham and Bertrand de Jouvenel, as memory serves. The works of the first two are provided by that great font of free online materials, the Mises Institute, the third by the Library of Economics and Liberty and the fourth by google video (complete with racist fearmongering). It is awfully hard to find James Burnham’s stuff online, although MM once posted the disappointing first chapter of The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom. Perhaps because de Jouvenel was french, I haven’t found any of his writings online in english. A left-libertarian imitation of the Mises Institute’s wealth of material was started by Shawn Wilbur and now has all of Benjamin Tucker’s journal, Liberty, online in PDF form, and I’m interested to see what the heck Vildredo Pareto was doing with that bunch. Almost nobody uses Usenet nowadays, which is why when Sixteen Volts was up there was an archive of the Danimal’s witty commentary. Now both the Danimal and 16V are archived for us. I have of course left out Wikipedia, since if you haven’t heard of it already I don’t like you and want you to go away.

I don’t have any readers yet since I haven’t told anyone about this blog, but as soon as some get here, I’d like them to say what isn’t currently online that they’d like to be, and what they would be most upset about if it went offline (big user-contributed collaborations like Wikipedia don’t count). For my part I’ll see if I can upload here “Are Jews Generic?” by Thomas Sowell since I find myself recommending it to others all the time, but I’ll take it down if he wants me to.

Thomas Sowell: Are Jews Generic?

UPDATE: Some people don’t like the doc format, so I’ve converted it to pdf.

UPDATE 2: Something was wrong with the online PDF converter, so now I’m using PDFCreator. Here is the new version.

Thomas Sowell: Are Jews Generic? pdf

1: All the cool kids are doing it.

2: I can link to a post rather than clogging up the comments section.

3: When I have an idea not sparked by anything I can comment on, I can post it here.

Note: I probably won’t post that frequently after the first week.

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