December 2008


Like it or not, we’ve been living in the era of Huntington, though he will no longer be living it with us. I’m a bit late in making a post, but I have a bit more material to make one out of now.

Many people misinterpreted his Clash of Civilizations thesis, most likely because they didn’t read the book. I rather rudely insulted Reza Aslan for doing so in this old post of mine. A commenter going by Steve recently showed up there to express his agreement. He has his own post on Huntington’s passing explaining how surprised he was when he actually read the book. It appears that Steve is (relative to Huntington, at least) a liberal and so finds some other stuff Huntington was associated with distasteful, but I encourage both righties and folks like Keith Preston who viewed Crisis of Democracy as a positive development to check it out.

Richard Spencer of TakiMag repeated some of the anti-Clash lines I have attacked in his first post on Huntington’s death. I sent him an email which he has graciously posted suggesting that Huntington, despite some of his earlier intellectual history, is better lumped in with the paleoconservatives than the LGF-type jihad-obsessed right. Steve Sailer, Scott McConnell and Thomas E. Woods all considered themselves neocons (or fellow travellers) at some point, so this shouldn’t be completely implausible. The difference would be that Huntington went through the trouble of being a Cold War liberal (and I think he kept his Democratic registration) before he was known as a neoconservative.

UPDATE: Harvard has an overview of his life and work here. Political scientist and sometime Huntington-critic Daniel Drezner has a post on his passing here. Both remind me that I should check out The Soldier and The State.
UPDATE 2: Stephen Walt, whose “realist” view was rejected in Clash but dedicated his Israel Lobby book to Huntington, has pays tribute to Sam and the late Rabbi Arnold Wolf. I hadn’t heard of Wolf before Drezner’s post, did he specialize in international relations professors?
UPDATE 2.5: Walt again, at FP.
UPDATE 3: Reihan Salaam, who had courses and seminars with Huntington, has an informed tribute here. Does the bit about righties admiring authoritarian Singapore remind you of anyone?

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He explains why  he’s moving here. His new blog is here. He may claim that blogger temporarily shutting him down and putting up the content warning is the reason, but I suspect he just regrets signing up on the wrong platform while all the cool people chose WordPress.

I had a good Christmas and hope you did as well (even if you’re Jewish). I should receiving Background to Betrayal later, and I’ll write a review/comparison to Triumph Forsaken. I’ll have to finish Triumph of Conservatism before then though.

I don’t normally make posts at this time of day, but thanks to some very icy roads I got rear-ended at a stop-light on my way to work, and I decided just not to go today. The estimated damage is more than my car is worth. I’d much rather just fix the busted tail-light and get the trunk to open than get a new car.

I’ve been having some extended back-and-forth recently with Hopefully Anonymous, which he at least feels is of high quality, and that’s saying something as he’s willing to slam people to their face. You can find those posts here and here.

I wouldn’t be so misleading as to only call attention to more positive ones. So head on over to Omniorthogonal (mtraven’s blog) to see what he has to say.

Thanks to an unreliable internet connection, I’ve finally gotten around to finishing Count Ernst zu Reventlow’s Vampire of the Continent, which I started on September 9. Watch for the conservative German nationalist being put in the odd (though perhaps not too unprecendented) position of lionizing Napoleon against traditional Prussian enmity. Also chuckle at the Irish translator complaining that the German Count fails to put enough focus on the all-important Emerald Isle. I’ve long thought of myself as an Anglophile in the dissenting/Puritan Calvinist tradition, about as proud of being Irish as this girl is of being black. Admitting to myself I had ceased believing in God and reading paleo versions of history in contrast to Whiggish ones has eroded some of my prior prejudices (which I use the non-derogatory sense as Burke did). I’m still enough of a Whig that Reventlow’s unthinking mercantilism (though there certainly is room for revisionism on English trade) gives me very little confidence in the accuracy of his view of the world (along with the lack of support for claims he knows are controversial, though perhaps some of the “documents” he occasionally mentions were well-known at the time), but I think it’s worthwhile to hear the other side on the Great War, a topic that was very important historically but we don’t care much about today.

The discussion of Russia’s expansion into the Far East during the late 19th century (which Reventlow claims was a great headache to perfidious Albion) reminded me of a passage I recently read in Anthony de Jasay’s The State. Jasay portrays this expansion as the work of entrepreneurial proto-capitalist serfs, though they live under a pre-capitalist regime. I have an earlier post on de Tocqueville’s view of Russian expansion. He contrasts the westward expansion in America (which he portrays as the work of individualist settlers with axes) to the eastward expansion in Russia (which the work of the military of an authoritarian regime). As mentioned in that post, I know pretty much nothing about the subject. Those who know of any are invited to recommend a good history in the comments.

Steve Sailer once mused that Kevin MacDonald was secretly writing news stories to confirm his worldview. Sometimes I have a similar stunned reaction to some completely un-self-conscious writing.
Exhibit A: Michael Lind (via Balko).
Exhibit B: Ron Rosenbaum.
UPDATE: Though he agrees with Lind on the main policy issue, Ed Kilgore rebuts him on southern politics here.

In a comment to my previous post Dain linked to an argument he got in at the Independent Institute’s blog about the attitude of minorities toward the war on drugs. The GSS has a variable amusingly named GRASS which asks:
95. Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not?
I have broken down the results by race. Whites seem to be slightly more in favor of legalization, with “other” the most prone to harshing your buzz, maaaaaaannn. I wish the question had considered other drugs, as I told IOZ, I personally give a whole lot less of a shit about marijuana (and it’s the sale I’m interested in, not the use) than crack, meth and heroin.
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Keith Preston stated that minorities have a less liberal attitude toward interracial marriage than whites in a response to one of my posts. That reminded me of a commenter at GNXP making a similar claim with regard to black women. I’m finally moving away from LAW2 and PARTNERS as variables, so here’s what RACMAR indicates in the GSS:
FAVOR LAW AGAINST RACIAL INTERMARRIAGE – 125a. Do you think there should be laws against marriages between (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) and whites? 0 NAP 1 YES 2 NO 8 DK 9 NA
I ran with with RACE as the independent variable and SEX as a control. The rank-ordering is the same in all cases, with whites more in favor of such a law than blacks and “other” in between. In keeping with results from studies on internet dating, females of all races are less friendly toward race-mixing in this area. I’ll give all the tables but I only feel like displaying the graph with the result both both genders together.
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Chip stated in the comments to my previous post that the higher rates of assault on bisexuals may be due to their greater promiscuity/number of partners. The variable PARTNERS in the GSS measures that, so I entered it as a control. Unfortunately, rather than simply giving me a simple one-shot dealie like Bryan Caplan’s “Enlightened Public“, I just got separate results for each number of partners and I don’t feel like reproducing it. Instead I’ll just give number of partners by gender of partners over 5 years (that second variable is SEXSEX5) and rates of assault (LAW2 again) by number of partners. All results are filtered for women (SEX(2)).
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Sister Y rightly objected in the comments (and even provided some data) to an old post regarding the variables I used in the GSS to find the rates of violence used against celibate or lesbian women. I wasn’t very proficient at use of the GSS web-tool at the time. Fortunately Jason Malloy explained how to find just what I was looking for in comments to a somewhat recent GNXP post. Razib has been encouraging bloggers to make more use of the GSS, so I’ve given it another shot.
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When it comes to cheap digs, Razib has Finland and I have sociology. The sociologists of Orgtheory take note of a a sad commentary on the profession regarding how the sociology field turned on James Coleman because they didn’t like his results, which are now generally accepted as correct. I agree with the first commenter that judging by his Volokh posts James Lindgren does not inspire a reader with much confidence in his neutrality, but there is supporting evidence in the comments as well.

In other sociology-bashing, Robin Hanson refers to “sociologists of norms” along with literary critics and Freudian psychotherapists as professions whose abstractions are distrusted. It’s tangential to the main topic of why he disagrees with Eliezer about an AI-explosion, but I thought I’d throw it out there. I didn’t know that sub-field was distrusted more than sociology in general, which I guess just shows what I know. It should also be pointed out that this is not necessarily reflective of Hanson’s own opinion, as he made clear with regard to his Austrian economist colleagues.

Closer to home and in the more respectable discipline of political science, Lee Sigelman has rankings (UPDATE: now in graph form) of the most corrupt heavily populated states. My state (surprising to some) fails to take the gold and actually winds up in 6th, while Louisiana lives up to its reputation.

I would have expected him to leave a comment at my post. He explains what happened here. You have to click through a warning saying that some people have claimed it has offensive content. In case I forgot to tell you that, you should know that’s not a fringe opinion.

http://teageegeepea.tripod.com/coupdetat.xls
I’ve turned Table II of Appendix C in Edwart Luttwak’s Coup Detat into an Excel file. It’s titled “Basic Lists of Coups and Attempted Coups, 1945-1978, Revised and updated by George Schott, August 8 1978”. I don’t actually have Excel, but Open Office, so for all I know it didn’t come out right. Let me know if that’s the case.

Some notes:

  • I entered 1 in a column for “yes” and left it blank for “no”.
  • When a coup was listed as taking place over a range of days, I just entered the first day.
  • The term “faction” was so common I didn’t include it.
  • If it said “elements from three services” or “three forces” (I didn’t distinguish between them) I interpreted that as army, navy and air-force.
  • A lot of coup-factions only appear for a few coups, so you might want to use a logical OR to do data analysis.
  • I included Generals when the appendix explicitly stated “general’s faction” (I wrote it as plural to include such bases but mostly because I wanted it to read like a noun rather than adjective, but it could be a singular general) was a main party behind the coup, leaving them blank during a military coup does not indicate their opposition or indifference (nor of course would Niger’s navy, since they don’t have one, see below). I listed the branch of the military the general’s faction was in, even though they may not have had the support of the entire branch (the same issue arises for any faction, but as noted it’s so common I ignored it). As in that case and others (especially when political factions are involved) I did not distinguish between adjectives applied to a faction and the listing of multiple factions. For example “troop mutiny” is listed as both troop and mutiny and the one example of “armed political faction” is listed as both armed and political faction.
  • There is no way in the table to distinguish between “army and left-wing political faction” and “left-wing army and political faction”, not that different versions of that appear in the original.
  • Some may disagree on the ideological categorizations, there are lots of coups with political factions whose ideology is not listed.
  • The category “military” is confusing, but there are several coups with that listed rather than specifying any branches or saying there were multiple ones.
  • I’d like to add in GDPs, but the appendix that lists GDPs only has one entry per country rather than one for each year.
  • Some countries I would prefer to list as Middle-Eastern or North African were listed as African, and I just copied the table.
  • I ignored any asterisk in creating the table, so if you want to take them into account then note the following:
  1. The coup in Gabon was briefly successful but overturned the next day by the intervention of French troops in accordance with a defense agreement.
  2. The 1977 coup in Benin was widely believed to have been simulated by the President for internal political reasons.
  3. The 1971 coup in Turkey involved military leaders threatening to take over unless a strong governing coalition replaced the Prime Minister and this was resolved by political compliance rather than actual violence (the same logic would make Charles De Gaulle’s ascension a coup, but despite Luttwak’s referring to it as one it is not listed in the table, nor is the attempted coup against De Gaulle that Luttwak also examines).
  • I expected Suharto’s coming to power to be listed as a successful right-wing general’s faction in army coup, but instead it’s recorded as a failed coup by the Communist Party (which is what our ally, Suharto, proclaimed it). The table lists an attempted coup in April 26 1950 for Indonesia by “elements from two services”, but I just assumed the army was involved and only listed them. I am suspicious about this because it is listed after an attempted coup in December that it should precede, and when I tried to look it up I couldn’t find anything about it but did hear about an attempted coup in October 1956 that the table doesn’t list.
  • I know from reading Mark Moyar that were a number of unsuccessful coups in Vietnam, but none of them are listed.
  • One of the coups for Niger said “all forces”, so I had to look up what that meant. It turned out they only had an army and air-force (they’re landlocked, so no navy), but the police were also part of the military so I included them as well.
  • The Military Council of Ethiopia was already ruling during their attempted coups, but I left out the fact that they were ruling and just referred to them as military council.
  • Tanzania is also Tanganyika and Zanzibar, I listed them as Tanzania.

UPDATE: I emailed Caplan about Schleicher’s theory. Caplan says his explanation is better.
Via Volokh, I came across David Schleicher’s Why is There No Partisan Competition in City Council Elections? The Role of Election Law. As a promoter of decentralization to roughly the city-state level, I had been interested in this issue and attributed it to the great salience of identification with national parties (one of which small districts will tend to overwhelmingly support with) and some unpleasantness of cognitive dissonance in voting for a party you’d normally hate, whereas if one country were split into smaller ones, new competitive parties would form around different median voters. Schleicher blames uncompetitive city council on Progressive Era “unitary party rules”. His paper brings up the competitive nature of mayoral elections in big cities, which I had underestimated (I guess I dismissed Giuliani as a fluke) perhaps because I live near Chicago. Oddly enough, Bryan Caplan recently pondered how the People’s Action Party in Singapore has so long held unquestioned monopoly of power (something Mencius Moldbug considers exemplary) and reflected that it’s just like San Francisco, and peculiar only due to its small size. As Singapore is not part of any larger state, the rules Schleicher focuses on shouldn’t be an issue. On the other hand, Japan has had basically one-party rule for a long time as well and is not a city-state. Elsewhere at EconLog, Arnold Kling grouses about his county of Maryland, which he compares to communist Eastern Europe in its prolonged one-party dominance. He blames that on those hypocritical liberals being able to accuse the right of hypocrisy while their powerless opponents can’t hit back.

I’ve never voted (for any election/referendum) or even paid much attention to local politics. I suppose my vote would be more likely to make a difference at the local level, but I still can’t be bothered.

Radley Balko’s post on an attention-hungry ex-narc reverse stinging drug agents brought me to the Supreme Court decision Kyllo v. United States. It declared use of a thermal imaging device to constitute a “search”, requiring a warrant. I think that’s wrong, for the reasons Stevens gives in the wikipedia summary. Why should cops not be allowed to do something any member of the general public could do without a warrant? If the house is emitting something (heat, smoke, noise, flashing lights) are they obligated to ignore it? If the Fourth Amendment were viewed simply as a property right (which I would prefer), this would be a no-brainer. Cops busting into your house without a warrant would constitute breaking & entering, just as it would for any criminal, and there would be repercussions if they didn’t find any evidence to use against you in court (the only time when the Fourth Amendment through the exclusionary rule goes into effect in our current system).

UPDATE: He’s back.
He just notified me that Blogger has shut him down for violating the content policy in their terms of service. Judging by recent precedent, legal prosecution is an unlikely but actual possibility. I hadn’t been following Robert’s blog as closely as I used to (so much internet and so little time), but I’ll miss it. Recently I’ve been commenting a lot at Matthew Mueller’s Post Austrian Economics, along with Dain/Mupetblast, Jeffrey Friedman and the Post Keynesian economist Paul Davidson. I strongly encourage all internet Austrian assholes to quit wasting their time at Brad De Long’s and head on over there.UPDATE:

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