Nov 192009

I’ve discovered Mencius Moldbug, thanks to a comment left here by sconzey.*

I shall not even bother linking to particular posts I like, because I like them all (so far). Tearing myself away to do such necessary self-maintenance as eating has become difficult.

However. There is one bit of Moldbuggery I’d like to share with you. He’s articulated, quite tangentially and by accident, exactly why I enjoy British politics and find American politics so depressing. I used to think it was because the spectacle was better (it’s not), or because I could observe with equanimity since it doesn’t affect me (it does). But here’s really why:

If you’ve ever lived in a foreign country, you know exactly what life is like without the nanoslice [of power conferred by the franchise]: pretty much what life is like with it. Except for the Zen of abandoning the constant, unrequited longing for control that is the cruel karma of the democratic citizen, and the breath of honest fresh air in exchanging a first-person government for a third-person one, not “we” but “they.”

*Why don’t my comments have permalinks? Argh, must fix.

Nov 182009

I’m glad I never exerted myself to write that exegesis of libertarian theology I’ve been promising arch-doubter Don Paskini, because somebody called James Redford has already done it at, and done a fantastic job.

Socialists, no more will I demur when you claim that, as a Christian, I really ought to be a socialist. You’re wrong, and I’ve got proof.

I’m aware, of course, that many on the left do not subscribe to Christianity; demonstrating its libertarian character will simply bolster their existing belief that Christianity is nonsense: ‘Made-up sky fairy and icky libertarian? How right I have been to view it with contempt!’

Many libertarians also do not subscribe to Christianity; but they can have no real objection if more people, Christians though they be, join the libertarian cause.

So. Libertarian Jesus FTW on all counts.

H/T Wh00ps and the anonymous commenter at Samizdata.

Teaching Roman roads

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May 112009

An aside by Leg-Iron sparked off the frothing spite this morning:

Ordinary people who, as any wander along any street will demonstrate, are mostly idiots who will believe any damn thing they’re told. I have convinced several people that the Romans built straight roads because they hadn’t invented steering. There are people out there now who believe it and who are probably spreading it. When it ends up on your child’s history curriculum, that was me. Sorry about that.

He’s talking about the evidence for ‘third hand smoke,’ which apparently consists of a public survey of idiots; but my immediate reaction was: ‘Ha! They don’t teach the Romans in the history curriculum.’

I’m wrong, of course; the Roman influence in Britain is there, bold as brass, in the national curriculum (provided the teacher chooses to teach the Romans rather than the possible alternatives of Anglo-Saxons or Vikings):

9. An overview study of how British society was shaped by the movement and settlement of different peoples in the period before the Norman Conquest and an in-depth study of how British society was affected by Roman or Anglo-Saxon or Viking settlement.

This is at Key Stage 2 (primary school), fertile ground in which to introduce the ‘Romans hadn’t invented steering’ theory pioneered by Leg-Iron. The tinies won’t know geometry, of course, so this’ll make perfect sense.

Perhaps the curriculum can also include such facts as ‘the Romans counted backward’ and ‘everyone before Columbus thought the Earth was flat.’

When LPUK take over the nation, as surely they must do and soon, I’m putting in my bid to be Ed Balls…

May 092009

Further to my previous post about the Sun’s campaign against the M&S ‘boob tax,’ i have discovered a new website:

For a moment, I was delighted – until I discovered that the reason ‘Harriet Harman sucks’ is because she ‘hates men.’

Oh, the poor men! They live (on average) shorter lives, are more likely (on average) to commit suicide, get conscripted into the trenches, and have to suffer under the hideous cultural burden of being providers and caretakers of the family!

Allow me to offer up this (unfortunately untenable) bargain to the gents at, and to any other men out there who think it’s all beer and skittles being a woman: switch places with one of us for a day. I’ll even be generous and let you switch with a Western woman, instead of one of the many down-trodden of the Third World. Then you’ll discover just how lovely it is (what with our living longer and not topping ourselves and not providing for the family) to do things like menstruate, give birth, endure the menopause, have every bad mood or irritable moment ascribed to PMT, be deliberately wound up and then called ‘shrill,’ represent irrationality personified, and suffer the indignity of losing one’s husband in middle age to a younger model.

kthx. Nobody has it that great – men or women – so let’s not whinge on and on about how unfair things are. Life is what it is. Harman goes overboard: at this stage, women are not merchant bankers not because of sexism generally, but because most of them don’t want to be. But men: your shorter life span is a result of the cultural role you assume. If you want to live longer, quit the stressful job of, largely, running the world.

Can we please agree that attempting to treat women as human beings does not discriminate against men, whilst also agreeing that Harriet Harman sucks? I’m sure such an accord would mark the tentative beginnings of a pleasant human experience.

Apr 222009

Opposition to the death penalty is discriminatory, when there are differential benefits from its application, between different groups in society. The obvious example is the possible introduction of the death penalty for discrimination. Discrimination by ethnic origin is well-evidenced on the labour and housing market in western societies, for instance. Existing anti-discrimination laws have made no impact: enforcement is minimal and limited to extreme cases. Introduction of the death penalty would, through its strong deterrent effect, reduce discrimination – and therefore benefit minorities.

If there is a case of discrimination, and if the death penalty can be applied, then there is a conflict of interest between the victim and opponents of the death penalty, including Amnesty. Some victims may also reject the death penalty, and some may even prefer to suffer discrimination, rather than see someone executed as a result of their complaint. But suppose the victim is a Somali woman refugee in a western European state, discriminated by a racist employer. What if she does approve the death penalty? What if she did complain, and what if she wants the perpetrator to be executed, in order to deter similar discrimination in future?

Can a successful white middle-class lawyer (a typical supporter of Amnesty International) legitimately deny the woman the implementation of her preferences? Isn’t that simply another discrimination – “white middle-class lawyers count for more than Somali women”? Amnesty’s answer would presumably be, that they are not appealing to individual preference, but to universal rights. However, that’s simply another way of saying “Our views are superior”. The rights can’t be shown to exist, they are simply claimed to be universal and binding. The value preference of the privileged group (non-immigrant ethnic majority) is imposed on the weaker minority, using this appeal to universality.*

Now, as any fule kno, there is a very good argument for limiting capital sentences, if you are going to have them at all, only to the most destructive and physically damaging of crimes. There are very good reasons, as chappie claims elsewhere in the post, for believing the death penalty to be a deterrent to crime, but a simple thought experiment flags up his error:

You are a bigot who lives in a country where discriminators, rapists, murderers, etc., can be executed. One day, a dark-skinned lady applies for a job you have advertised. So incensed are you at her presumption that, momentarily unable to control yourself, you call her a filthy name and assure her that you would die before you gave a job to a pathetic dark-skinned specimen like her. As she stares at you, affronted, you realise that you have now opened yourself up to prosecution for discrimination with a possibility of capital sentence. In your panic, an idea blossoms: you can silence her! After all, the state can only kill you once; and if she’s not around to inform on you, maybe you’ll never get caught at all. What have you got to lose? So you throttle her and bury the remains in a landfill. Problem solved.

The moral of the story is: the death penalty, if applied to minor crimes, will deter neither those nor the more serious ones. It is only an effective deterrent when applied to the most serious of crimes, and then only because they can’t be covered up using worse ones.

I leave you with the words of a far greater mind than mine:

One day when I was dining with him there happened to be at the table one of the English lawyers, who took occasion to run out in a high commendation of the severe execution of justice upon thieves, who, as he said, were then hanged so fast, that there were sometimes twenty on one gibbet; and upon that he said he could not wonder enough how it came to pass, that since so few escaped, there were yet so many thieves left who were still robbing in all places. Upon this, I who took the boldness to speak freely before the Cardinal, said, there was no reason to wonder at the matter, since this way of punishing thieves was neither just in itself nor good for the public; for as the severity was too great, so the remedy was not effectual…

St Thomas More, Utopia.

*[For further context, this is the same chappie who petitioned the Dutch government to censor the websites of LPUK and the Adam Smith Institute on the grounds that both groups seek to subject others, against their will, to freedom – as well as to exclude Drs. Madsen Pirie and Eamonn Butler from the country (ha! not possible under EU law) because ‘they obstruct the work of the financial regulatory authorities.’ In the case of, at least, he was unsuccessful.]