Jun 232015
 

Occasionally I sit and mourn blogging of the old style—you know, before every journalist and his dog started doing it, before entire startups were founded on the idea that what people really need these days is MOAR CONTENT (yeah, looking at you, Buzzfeed)—but then some Johnny-come-lately to the party pings my radar and I remember that, oh! it’s just my own blog that has wheezed itself into its deathbed.

Sorry about that, youse guys.

So first a tribute to those who have persevered beyond what my meagre capacities have been able to sustain: Tim Worstall, Anna Raccoon, Longrider, Leg-iron, Ambush Predator, Counting Cats, Dick Puddlecote, Samizdata, and many, many others too numerous to list here but whose insights, contempt, and swearing have brightened up my days even as I’ve failed to return the favour.

But who would have imagined how many noobs might also be coming onto the scene, arriving at blogging a decade after it was new and fresh, and yet bringing something old and much-missed with them? Namely, the return of that well-reasoned, open, and non-partisan (dare I say it) dialogue that obtained between right and left online before the politicos realised the series of tubes and self-publishing were ways to rock the vote.

Many of the few of you who still check this blog for updates will have sat stunned and full of schadenfreude at the reaction from the left after the recent general election. You will have marvelled at practical ethicists who purged Tories from their timeline. You will have nodded and smiled alongside Squander Two. You will have wondered what all the weeping and wailing was about when Dan Hodges had it right all along.

But how many of you will have read a 5-part, multi-kiloword series on where, exactly, it all went wrong for the left, written by a leftist?

Allow me to introduce you to Wild and Whirling Words.

Decline of the modern left, part 1:

Modern left-wing arguments are all too often bad: they are weak, and they are bad-tempered. Why is this? Why are so many left-wing people making such poor, self-defeating arguments despite being overwhelmingly intelligent and well educated? And why, furthermore, with such rancour that the once reliable notion of the ‘nice’ left and ‘nasty’ right is increasingly obsolete?

First off, two premises that will apply to everything that follows.

No good cause can be well served by a bad argument. Why not? Because any cause requires common purpose between oneself and others. To pursue common cause arbitrarily (‘it’s a good cause, and that’s all you need to know’) or coercively (‘pursue this good cause or I hurt you’) would offend our dignity as reasoning human beings acting according to our individual consciences. So any cause pursued by arbitrary say-so or coercion would cease to be a good cause. A truly good cause must therefore be communicable and shareable, and for this we need arguments that demonstrate the goodness of the cause clearly, rationally, and convincingly; that way, other reasonable people could agree that the cause is indeed a good one.

No society can call itself decent that makes difference of identity alone, or group belonging alone, the grounds for legal, political, cultural, social, or economic inequalities. If we can assume that we all feel ourselves to be as human as everyone else, and that we are (with the exception of those who are unwell or impaired) reasoning human beings acting according to individual conscience, then any laws, policies, social conventions etc. that make us less than that, by reducing us to a group label, must be an affront to our basic dignity, and must therefore be bad.

Decline of the left, part 2: Timidity

Having clung far too long to the rule of thumb that Tories are nasty and lefties are nice, niceness and nastiness have become integral to the modern leftist’s definitions of left and right-wing politics respectively: to be right-wing is to be by definition nasty, to be left-wing by definition nice. They have made an ontological error – a whopping big one.

What do I mean by this? Consider – the modern leftie might entertain misgivings that his name-calling, love of denunciation, prejudice etc. are actually a bit nasty, but if they are then he is in contradiction, because as a leftie he is by definition nice and not nasty. Now he knows he is a leftie because he calls himself one – that hasn’t changed – and he knows too that if he is a leftie then he is nice. So how can the nasty behaviour fit in to this without contradiction? A solution to the contradiction follows irresistibly: by a process of elimination, it must be the case that his actions are in fact not nasty after all, and that therefore it is acceptable to name-call, to denounce, and to entertain prejudices. Not just acceptable, in fact – nice. Hence, I suggest, the perceived justness of all this increasingly rancid behaviour.

Decline of the left, part 3: Moral hazards

Consider: to fight discrimination we must believe that fighting discrimination is the right thing to do, because it alleviates inequality – we must aspire to do it, and we must actually do it. If, however, we must prejudge every remaining instance of inequality as being the result of our society’s badness, of its racism and sexism, then we must also have an automatic belief in our badness, our biasedness, in our failure. Not just the failure of our well-meant attempt to do right, but our moral failure. We end up condemned to a cynically contradictory double-think: let’s do good by fighting discrimination while all the time being prepared, as a matter of principle, to believe automatically in the failure of our attempts to do good. A sense of moral worth, of doing the good thing by fighting discrimination, must motivate us, but we must also believe as a matter of principle that this moral worth is instantly negatable. How can something so negligible serve as the motivation for our actions?

Decline of the left, part 4: Ferguson, Baltimore, and race

If the exclusion of black Americans is bad, how could we possibly remedy that exclusion by creating, as the left do, another exclusion in which black Americans are accorded a separate moral and legal and political status? How could this ‘gift’ of a double standard, by which black America is cut some slack, be anything but a poisoned chalice?

We know, surely, that this is a bad idea. This whole problem was caused by segregation and double standards, and it is clear that nothing has changed such that, this time around, it would be a good idea to have a legal and political system determined by double-standards based on racial difference. Moreover ethnic minorities would almost certainly end up being the victims of such a system. Isn’t the modern leftist making race as dangerously determinative as the racist ever did – making Ferguson’s citizens black first and citizens second?

Decline of the left, part 5: Guilt by resemblance

The inky thumbprint of crit[ical] theory can be found all over the arguments of the modern left, particularly theorists’ insistence on the politicization of everything: once you adopt the licence to insinuate political ‘assumptions’ to any and all forms of thought, there ceases to be much point in actually asking people what they think and what the premises of their arguments are. Why bother, when assumption does just as well? Imputation is one of the main analytical tools of critical theory.

And why bother with reasoning, with uncovering premises, with testing arguments, when reason, truth, logic, ‘rational argument’ are nothing but political constructs? With my background and my education I am exactly the sort of person likely to use these constructs, which can be seen as nothing but tools for denying the plurality of truths, with the ultimate socio-economic goal of excluding from discourse the textual subjectivities of those whom I consider ‘other’.

There you go: a small illustration of how easy it is to come up with this rubbish.

If you’ve been bored to tears with what passes for discourse amongst our lefty counterparts, I urge you to read the whole series. Not everybody on the left is satisfied with nodding and smiling.

Check out these bonuses as well: Why there has to be an EU referendum, and if like me you’re an ASOIAF nerd in withdrawal, also these: Winter still has not come – pt. I  and Winter still has not come – pt. II (if you look at the URLs, apparently the original title was “Winter is Coming – TBC”, lol).

Feb 022010
 

Note: This is not bella gerens.

Since my sister has been kind enough to give me privileged access to her blawg, and since I’m her brother and enjoy teasing her, I’m going to hijack her soap box in order to differ on the matter of redefining the American states. Thus, what she posted previously as an oddity from the bowels of the series of tubes to muse upon, I am now using to let slip the war of siblings.

Bella, bella, I would have expected you to esteem more highly the history of our fine union, being yourself an historian. These states–yes, states just like France, Germany, Zimbabwe, India, etc.–have their own distinct histories and cultures. Where one finds barbecue, one is not likely to find pirogi. Where one finds caucuses, one is not going to find primaries. Where one finds cowboys, one is not likely to find trees named after Blackbeard. The American states have existed as they do, independently of one another, for centuries. They are not, nor have they ever been a single unit. This is often ignored by pompous federal politicians because it is in their interests to belittle the significance of these states. But states they remain. Independent they remain. Sovereign, at least in principle, they remain.1

The close friendship among these states and their common language2 have obscured their differences and have led many in the world to believe that the United States is when, in fact, the United States are.3 It is insulting that this person, whoever he is, believes that the mere representatives of these states (in congress assembled and so forth) have the capacity to redraw the map of our continent–a feat which on other continents (e.g. Europe) has only been accomplished at the cost of much blood and abiding enmities. This man has grossly misunderstood the nature of the American union. The states have bound themselves to one another for their common defense and prosperity but have not surrendered so much of their sovereignty as to become administrative districts.

Britons, I’m sure, can identify with my indignation at such a suggestion. Heritage and independence is held equally dear to any people whether British, Carolinian, or Alaskan. Abolition of our sovereign states would be like asking the British people to submit to a central continental authority of some kind…. The mind boggles at the very idea.

1 Sadly, our federal overlords seem insatiable in their appetite for power.
2 Excepting of course that French was once widely spoken west of the Mississippi River and Spanish was, and still is, common in the west.
3 I mean this grammatically as well as ontologically. It really irritate me when verbs and nouns fails to agrees.

Jan 262010
 

By Contributor TBoneH, Blg. D., F. R. B. S., F. S. Sweet F. A., Esq.

A Translator’s Guide to Boatang & Demetriou

I. Common Greetings

Key:
Boatang & Demetriou
English

***

Fuck you
I disagree with your contention

Fuck off
I disagree with your contention

How dare you
I disagree with your contention

WRONG DICKHEAD
I disagree with your contention

Come on
You have not recognised that my view is obviously the correct one

II. Standard Usages

Key:
Boatang & Demetriou
English

***

Other bloggers are a country club of mutual back-scratchers
Other bloggers don’t link to us

Other bloggers do it for the money and attention
Other bloggers have a higher readership than we do

We write original content
We are insular and consider others’ views to be beneath our notice

We would rather be honest than popular
We are unpopular

We upset the cosy world-view
We consider ourselves controversial

F. A. Hayek/Friedman/Mill agrees with us
We have read some F. A. Hayek/Friedman/Mill

We don’t have a ‘you’re not a libertarian’ thing going on
We have a ‘you’re not a libertarian’ thing going on

We do things differently and much better
Everyone except us is wrong

S/he does not tolerate dissent
S/he disagrees with me

S/he would end democracy
I am deliberately exaggerating someone’s view

S/he is an anarchist
I am deliberately exaggerating someone’s view

S/he is a racist
I am deliberately exaggerating someone’s view

S/he called me a liar
I am deliberately exaggerating someone’s view OR
S/he said I was wrong

If we offend or upset someone, it is because they don’t agree with us
We egregiously insult people and call it ‘plain speaking’

You need to grow up
You should appreciate being egregiously insulted

I don’t hate you
I am about to egregiously insult you

You have attempted spin
You have presented a point of view that differs from mine

You are a hypocrite
You have exposed my hypocrisy

You talk shite
You disagree with me

Grow a pair
Accept my view as gospel

This thread isn’t about that topic
Discussing that topic makes me uncomfortable

People slag us off behind our backs
We spy on people behind their backs

I don’t need to be civil
I resort to abuse when someone disagrees with me

When I’m annoyed I resort to abuse
I resort to abuse when someone disagrees with me

I don’t give a fuck
I am a lone-wolf hero-martyr

I never said that
I am backtracking quickly

You took what I said out of context
I am backtracking quickly

Where’s the proof of that?
I am unable to distinguish between statements of opinion and statements of fact

This is me pointing out fact
This is my opinion

Please use facts and logic
Please stop disagreeing with my opinion

I am not immature
I have completely forgotten that I once wrote: “Oh just fuck off and suck X’s dick, you sad stooge. You, X and Y need to hook up for a 3 way gangbang, you’d have a right old hoot shoveling copies of Rothbard’s finest down eachother’s jap’s eye.”

III. Parsing the Commentary

Key:
Commenter
English

***

Bollocks
I disagree with your contention

You have a good point
I do not wish to receive abuse

You are a pair of social democrats
Your version of libertarianism is inconsistent with my own

Who made you the arbiters of libertarianism?
Your version of libertarianism is inconsistent with my own

Your posts are too long
Your posts do not fit comfortably on the screen of my iPhone

You are an ass
This is the first time I have read your blog

I assumed you were reasonable
This is the first time I have read your blog

Why all the fuss?
This is the first time I have read your blog

You are immature/You are childish/Grow up
Your robust style of debate leaves me intellectually cold

You attack others to increase your blog’s traffic
Um… it works

What is the purpose of this blog?
I am mystified by the fact that you attack your own side

Old Holborn is right
I only read your blog because you attack Old Holborn

Old Holborn is wrong
By agreeing with you, I hope to avert another flame war OR
I naively assume this thread is actually about topic X

I will not take part in this flame war
My peace-making attempts have been in vain

This is all very People’s-Front-of-Judea
I have seen Monty Python’s Life of Brian

I don’t give a flying fuck about F. A. Hayek/Friedman/Mill
I have never read any F. A. Hayek/Friedman/Mill

I don’t care what you say, I do what I want
At least I am consistent in my disregard for others’ views

[Any remark replete with weariness and/or sarcasm]
I am Obnoxio the Clown, and I am tired, tired, tired of this shit

Jan 122010
 

(That’s ‘thicker’ in the American blues sense, meaning amply proportioned but shapely.)

Scientists say: big bottoms and thighs protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Big bellies… don’t.

Lead researcher Dr Konstantinos Manolopoulos, of Oxford University, said: “It is shape that matters and where the fat gathers.

“Fat around the hips and thighs is good for you but around the tummy is bad.”

He said in an ideal world, the more fat around the thighs the better – as long as the tummy stays slim.

Coolness. I shall continue to cultivate the figure of a pre-agrarian fertility statue* secure in the knowledge that it is excellent for my health.

*Pub quiz question: What is the Greek-derived term for this type of female figure? (Archaeology buffs, sing it with me now…)

Oct 302009
 

Gangland Julius Caesar offers some advice to President Obama:

And believe me, nothing boosts an imperator’s public approval rating like turning the opposition into lion snausages. Your loyal plebes will love it, and after the games you can hand out free bread. And healthcare.

Shit, I dunno, maybe I’m being to hard on Obamacus. The big problem is that the punk don’t know how to pick a posse. Look at his Senators. Jupiter H. Cripes, I thought that crazyass Caligula was straightup psycho for appointing his horse to the Senate, but that thing had more brains than half these muthafuckers. Combined.

I know you be thinkin’ you’re some kind of stone cold Claudius, layin’ down some phat oratory at the Forum and plowing your enemies’ fields under with salt. But you still a teleprompter punk, and you gotta know what you don’t know…Lesson one: rule first, deification later.

Iowahawk has breathed new life into my Friday afternoon. Go read the whole thing; everybody knows regular blogging on a Friday snuffs out around 2 pm.

Sep 212009
 

The BBC has posted a link to part of an interview George Stephanopoulos had with Barack Obama in the wake of the Jimmy Carter ‘People oppose Obama because they’re racists’ declaration.

In the bit of the video that you can watch, Obama actually says something that surprises me, not because it’s not correct, but because it is – Obama has demonstrated in under two minutes that not only does he understand why so many people oppose his policies, he’s also willing to say so when it would be easier not to:

Obama:Now, there are some who, setting aside the issue of race, actually I think are more passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right. And I think that – that’s probably the biggest driver of some of the vitriol –

Stephanopoulos: That, are you going to raise their taxes.

Obama: It – well, it goes beyond taxes. Anytime there is a president who is proposing big changes that seem to implicate the size of government, that gets everybody’s juices flowing.

Leaving aside the indelicacy of mentioning flowing juices – whatever he means by that – it’s quite obvious that Obama understands the conservative position vastly better than his supporters, including Stephanopoulos by the way, who are busy ejaculating accusations of racism and greed all over the place rather than taking issue with the fact that many Americans simply do not agree that the federal government has any legitimate role in the provision of health care, however unfair or unworkable the current system might be. When Stephanopoulos opines that such people are only interested in the number on their tax returns, Obama rightly corrects him. It’s not all about taxes.

Every now and again, Obama says little things that like this which indicate to me that he may actually be willing to engage with the meaningful criticisms of his policies – that he may actually acknowledge that the size of the state, and the extent to which it interferes with people’s activities and behaviour, is a topic worthy of reasonable debate. And I feel a little bit of this much-vaunted ‘hope’ well within my breast, because I very rarely encounter anyone from the other side of the political divide who is willing to debate that without resorting to calling me an anarchist (‘We need government to rein in people’s baser natures! Hobbes said so!’), a hater of democracy (okay, so this one’s kind of true), or a tinfoil-hat-wearing paranoiac (‘Bitch, please – this idea that governments want to turn us all into serfs is just a crazy conspiracy theory. Run off to your log cabin in the mountains with your shotgun, why don’t you’).

Then I remember that Obama said this, too, and the tiny, fragile, puppy-dog-eyed bit of hope curls up and dies.

Obama: But I don’t want the folks who created the mess – I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking. [crowd cheers madly] Am I wrong, Virginia?

[crowd shouts ‘No!’]

Sep 072009
 

Some time ago, I was taken to task for suggesting that Christianity and libertarianism were, if not entirely compatible, at least not in opposition:

Left-leaning friends of mine have often asked how, as a Christian, I can approve of selfishness and dislike the concept of sacrifice. Did not Christ sacrifice himself? Did he not say that, if you have two coats, you should give one to the man who has none?

I could embark here upon an exegesis of how I interpret Christian philosophy, but I’m not going to, because it’s not necessary. Even Christ, whose understanding of economics was pretty meagre, never demanded sacrifice without the promise of reward. The right acts and charity he advocated are, in one way, their own reward, because performing them makes us feel good. But he also promised the reward of paradise which, if you believe in such a thing, is a pretty good incentive, no?

It appears I’m not the only person who thinks this. Taxation is in direct contravention of the 7th Commandment. An excellent piece; nowhere does it assume the reader is a Christian or proselytise. I may actually have to write the exegesis on libertarian theology I so tongue-in-cheekly promised Don.