Aphorisms


There's nothing so bad, that adding government can't make it worse. -- The Immigrant

Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. -- Ronald Reagan

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Read the next two together:

Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of 'Emergency'." -- Herbert Hoover

This is too good a crisis to waste. -- Rahm Emanuel

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Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. -- Fredric Bastiat, French Economist (30 June 1801 – 24 December 1850)

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to another. -- Fran├žois-Marie Arouet, a.k.a. Voltaire, (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778)

The problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people's money. -- Margaret Thatcher

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. -- Winston Churchill

Friday, September 17, 2021

 #152: American Jinos, Israelis, and the Election

November 17, 2020

Why do American Jews and Israelis have such different political inclinations?

American Jewry is absorbist (“assimilationist”), while Israeli Jewry is nationalist.

I

About 5,000 years ago, living among the Hittites, Abraham famously said to them, “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you.”

And until recently in living memory, all his descendants lived exactly as he did, as strangers and sojourners in foreign lands. The friendliness of those lands varied enormously, but even when it was there, it was never reliable. So, what were Jews to do and what are Jews to do now?

Their options have always been very limited: 1) remain unapologetically identifiable, 2) be absorbed (commonly called “assimilated”), or 3) escape to a friendlier venue. Each of these options has always had attendant costs and benefits.

All things considered, American Jews have seen option 2), absorption, as the best. Putting it in religious terms, option 1) is that of living Orthodox, which can be risky. Option 3) has involved a lot of risky relocations and only in recent times has had the shelter of Israel available. This has left only absorption, which has taken the form of being either Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist. According to PEW research, 90% of American Jews are non-Orthodox.

On the other hand, in Israel, according to Wikipedia, in a “2010 a report released by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics showed that 8% of Israel’s Jewish population defines itself as ultra-Orthodox, 12% as Orthodox, 13% as traditional-religious, 25% as traditional, and 42% as secular, on a descending scale of religiosity.”

However you parse those numbers, it’s clear that Israeli Jews are anywhere from three to five times as religious as American Jews. This alone is enough to indicate two different cultures. One is thus tempted to ask:

Why are Israeli Jews more religious?

But this question is instructively wrong. The better question is:

Why are American Jews less religious?

I say that this is the revealing question because, on the face of it, American Jews are making counter-intuitive political decisions which seem to correlate with their (lack of) religiosity. The more religious they are, the more their political stances make sense; the less religious, the less they make sense. This has been the case since the Russian Revolution, but has never been seen in such stark clarity as in the current presidential U.S. election. The Democrat Party has never been as explicitly anti-Semitic as it is now, and Jews have never seen an administration as explicitly pro-Israel as that of President Trump. Yet, American Jews voted 70% for the Democrat, Joe Biden. On the other hand, 83% of the Orthodox voters voted pro Trump. In addition, most Israelis love not only President Trump, but Evangelicals as well. This suggests that there is something about the non-religiosity which is determining non-rational counter-intuitive political behaviour.

And the answer, I think, is that absorption is seen as the strategically most attractive option in the U.S. but not in Israel.

And absorption inevitably involves abandoning the element which has unified the Jewish people over thousands of years, specifically their religion. This movement is supported by increasing marriage outside the faith, loss of Hebrew, and the collaboration of American rabbis with the anti-Semitic Protestant churches.

Alternatively, the state of Israel is supported by a nationalism based on a common language and a common religion, a nationalism which is strategically essential to its survival.

And one of the less appealing costs of absorption, an otherwise attractive option, is that of having to vote sometimes against your own interests. It’s simple, really: if you wanna be a member of our club, then our enemies are your enemies, whether you like them or not. That’s the deal! And give up that old-timey religion! It leads to nationalism, and we don’t like nationalists here, even if, or especially when, they’re Jews!

There’s a complex relationship here between religion, absorption, and nationalism. For more on Jewish nationalism and the international Left, see my blog post #143.

Staying alive suggests different decisions and such different decisions lead to different cultures. As the Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.” So, what are the local cultural differences?

II

Jews living in the U.S. live in a sea of non-Jews containing varying degrees of anti-Semitism. But this anti-Semitism varies greatly with time, place, and, most important, the degree to which a Jew is identifiable. Being absorbed means above all else being merged into the environment. Since the road to success in recent decades in the U.S. has been through academe, assimilation has meant merging and blending with the dominant academic culture, a culture which is almost universally secular.

In other words, being blandly Jewish/Protestant secular has been incentivised by the American environment and Jews have predictably responded positively to this offer: give up your identity and enjoy the material benefits of success.

The numbers seem to suggest that Israelis are more resistant to the siren call of material success, but nothing is farther from the truth.  Israelis are easily as materialistic as any other group. The difference between the U.S. and Israel for Jews is not that one group is greedier than the other, it is rather that there does not exist in Israel the same incentive to assimilate. But there does exist an equal and opposite incentive to nationalism.

To put it another way, Jews in Israel also live in a sea of anti-Semitic non-Jews. Israel has been and is surrounded by Islamic hostiles. But while assimilation is a rational way of dealing with anti-Semitism in the American context, it is most certainly not in the Islamic context. It is quite possible to become a faux Protestant and live comfortably with that, if bad faith is your thing. It would be immeasurably more difficult to become a faux Muslim in, say, Jordan and live comfortably (or very long) with that. Though, of course, the Spanish Marranos did manage with varying success to pull it off with Christianity in the 15th C.

On the contrary, there exists in Israel an important and opposite incentive to retain the Jewish identity since the very existence of Israel is precisely as a Jewish State. And a Jewish State is one with Jewish citizens. Recognizably Jewish citizens. Nationalism is absolutely essential to Israel’s survival within its geographical context. Only nationalism gives the Israeli citizenry the will to persist against overwhelming surrounding hatred and enmity.

III

There are a number of factors which reinforce the impulse to be absorbed, just as there are factors in Israel reinforcing the impulse to retain cultural/religious difference.

For example, it is not surprising that the Episcopalian church has been wrestling with inside forces intent on using the Church in support of the anti-Israel BDS (divestment) movement. Are these forces motivated by moral concerns over the Palestinian issue? Perhaps. But since these same voices never speak out against Palestinian terrorism, the idea is suspect. Is it rather simple old fashioned anti-Semitism? Possibly for some, but perhaps underlying it is this: assimilate or die! The good news on this is that it would mean that the Episcopalian anti Semites are not racial anti Semites; the bad news is that they’re still religious anti-Semites.

Here’s the bottom line: Protestants are happy to accept Jews as long as they don’t insist on being “Jewish.”

But the Episcopalians and other Protestants pushing absorption are not preaching to a hostile audience. American Jews look down their noses at the Evangelicals who love them as they are, but they suck up embarrassingly to the “elitist” Protestants. I guess, if you’re going to sell your birthright, you may as well make it worthwhile by selling it to the “upper class.”

In addition, American non-Orthodox synagogues are all-in with the Protestants on pushing the Leftist “social justice” agenda. Their excuse is that the Torah is all about “living the moral life.”

IV

I’ll end with mentioning that religiosity has been under assault since the European 18th C Enlightenment when the burgeoning science identified the church as its competitor and enemy. This was not the birth of merely a branch of knowledge, it was the birth of an all encompassing new faith which was mandated to resolve all human problems including the moral and political. It is no coincidence that Marxism represented itself as a “scientific” solution to humanity’s problems. Marxism was the lineal descendant of the Enlightenment.

Russian intellectuals and aristocracy thought of themselves as the pupils of Europe, primarily of France. Many of them could speak and read Western European languages and consumed the post-Enlightenment literatures which were increasingly socialistic, even well before the “Communist Manifesto.” More and more, these European doctrines filtered into the Russian downtrodden masses which included more and more Jews.

Those Jews tended to reject their ancestral religion as primitive superstition and took on the new European anarchist socialist doctrines as their new religion. They thought they were abandoning the superstitious religious past and committing themselves to the new modern non religious scientific doctrines of the advanced Europeans. They didn’t see that they were simply redirecting their religious needs and passions to a new narrative which didn’t include the word “God.” The transition was easy since traditional Judaism contained a strong moral component which resembled the messages of socialism. These Jews in effect retained their ancestral religion, gave it another name, shifted from the bible to Das Capital, and became its fanatic acolytes. It was a religion, nonetheless, and they gave it all the mindless uncritical passion and loyalty that is the hall mark of the religious devotee.

Many, many of these anarchist socialist devotee were among the Jewish masses who found their way to the United States from around 1880 to around 1910. Their children and their children’s children find assimilating to the American Protestant culture an effortless transition, they have become Jinos: Jews in Name Only.

This does not augur well for the future.

 #151: Originalist vs Living Document Justices

October 13, 2020

This is a follow-up on my last post which dealt with RBG.

Over the last hundred years or so, a meme has gradually taken root in public consciousness that there are two legitimate “philosophies” of jurisprudence which members of the SCOTUS may have, an “Originalist” or a “Living Document” philosophy.

The Constitution of the U.S. is its fundamental governing document which over-rides all legislation, federal or local. The Supreme Court of the U.S. is the institution charged with adjudicating potential conflicts between legislation and the Constitution.

“Originalists” believe that the document should be read literally for the meaning intended by the writers; “Living Document” types believe that what was written then must be “interpreted” in terms of current social and political “realities.” The first believe that what is written means what it says, the second that what is written means whatever we want it to.

Getting the lay public to accept this concept was the first victory in a war to nullify the Constitution.

The second victory was getting the lay public to accept the idea that the two “philosophies” should be “balanced” on the court.

As in my prior post, my central point here is that a commitment to the “Living Document” view of the Constitution must be a disqualification for serving on the SCOTUS. The reason is that a Living Document candidate for membership on the court is nothing other than a “Manchurian” Candidate, an attempt at a hostile insertion into the Court intent on the Court’s nullification.

How do we know this?

We must ask ourselves what it is precisely that makes liberals fight so ferociously and vulgarly for Living Document justices?

The answer is so very simple, yet it reveals all.

They want Living Document justices because their initiatives fail the constitutional test in an originalist court.

That is, their initiatives are unconstitutional when the Constitution is read literally.

It follows that what liberals need and want are justices who are willing to IGNORE the constitution.

Some may argue that this is unfair, since they do not intend to “ignore,” they just want to “read the text within the modern context.” But this argument, if it is one, is either naive or disingenuous. Once the literal is left behind, the door is open to whatever the imagination can conjure, and sometimes the imagination is servant to a political agenda.

In the view of liberals, the Constitution is no more than an inconvenient, quaint, antiquated legacy which cannot be removed, and thus must be “worked around.”

Living Document justices are constitutional “work arounds.”

That great Constitutional law professor, Obama, implied as much in his statement to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2014: “On issue after issue, we cannot rely on a rule-book written for a different century.” And in this view, he was merely expressing the general feeling among liberals at large.

Living Document justices are anti-constitutional, and thus should never be admitted to the Court.

 #150 Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 26, 2020

Before I start, I want to make it clear (full disclosure) that unlike Obama I am NOT a Constitutional Law Professor. However, since, like Obama, I have no published articles on any legal matters on my cv, I feel as free as he might to venture my opinions.

The adulation being heaped upon RBG is nothing less than nauseating. It appears to be a function  exclusively of the fact that she was female and “progressive.” Some would say also because she was Jewish, but given that the adulation is generated mostly by left-wing political considerations, her Jewishness is a plus only by current convenience.

What makes her canonization particularly offensive is that she was not merely an undistinguished jurist, but that she was actually a player in the Left’s program to transform the Court from its Constitutionally defined function into a supra-Congressional legislative body.

Make no mistake about this: a “progressive” member of the SCOTUS is an inside enemy of the SCOTUS.

The great victory of the post-WW II Left in the U.S. is that of transforming a revolutionary ideology into a mere “policy disagreement.” Progressivism is not a “loyal opposition” on the British parliamentary model, it is an ideology intent on, in Obama’s words, a “fundamental transformation of the society.” This means destroying what there is and building something new on the smoldering ruins. Treating Progressivism as a friendly partner in societal improvement is like assuming the Palestinians want to find a way to live together in peace with Israel. We’re watching the true face of Progressivism being revealed on a daily basis in the burning U.S. cities. In effect, the Lefties have come “out of the closet” and what we see is not pretty.

The notion that “conservatism” and “progressivism” somehow “deserve” to be, “need to be,” “balanced” on the court makes both the former and the latter political. In fact, the former should not be or be considered political, while the latter definitely is.

What I mean is that SCOTUS conservatism is nothing other than the position that the Constitution should continue to play the role defined for itself by the Constitution, that it should continue to exist in the form envisioned by the framers.

Progressivism, on the other hand, is committed to making the court an unofficial extension of the legislative process, precisely the opposite of what the Framers had in mind.

Thus, the idea that there are two “philosophies” of the SCOTUS is a convenient Leftist strategic fiction. There are not two “philosophies, there is just either governance by the Constitution or governance without one.

The SCOTUS was originally meant to perform an intentionally limited role, that of deciding whether a law is consistent with the principles enumerated in the Constitution. Yes or no.

The fact that the appointment of a new jurist is an object of violent contention shows in stark contrast that the Left has succeeded in turning the court into a political institution.

Progressives have a problem with the Constitution (Obama said that it is “outdated” and should be removed, and he was a “Constitutional law professor”). The problem for these revolutionaries is that the Constitution in its original form is an impediment to their totalitarian statist ambitions. More specifically, it is that the Constitution explicitly allocates to the federal government ONLY the powers and functions allocated to it by the Constitution. And what is not allocated to the federal government belongs to the individual states to decide. The document intentionally and explicitly places a definite limit on what the federal government can do. Even a “constitutional law professor” like Obama should be aware that the Framers were intensely aware of the states’ hostile suspicions of a central federal government and that they crafted the Constitution as a bulwark against federal power. The Constitution is intended to be for the  protection of the individual states against the federal government, not an instrument of federal power. But the goal of Progressives is specifically the incremental augmentation of federal power with themselves in charge.

Progressivism attempts to deal with this inconvenient restriction by arguing that the Constitution must be thought of as a “living document” which must take into account issues of which the founding fathers were simply unaware. Such a change would have the effect of defeating the precise intention of the framers, since it would allow (as it frequently already has) the court to address issues not given to the federal government by the Constitution. This is the neutralizing of the Framers’ intent.

They argue that the Constitution is “living” in the sense that what is written there can be “interpreted” as meaning either more or less what a literal reading of the words would support. But this is not what “interpret” means in this case. The intended role of the SCOTUS ab initio was to check whether legislation met Constitutional requirements, nothing more. The written decisions of the court accrue to the original document and become, in a sense, an extension of the document. Thus, each court must check challenged legislation against the original document as well as against all relevant subsequent decisions. This is, by intent, a purely scholarly, academic project, politically neutral.

Of course, times have indeed changed and the founding fathers knew nothing about the current state of, for example, reproductive science and its possibilities.

The key question here, however, is precisely what is the relevance of this fact to the nature of the SCOTUS and the Constitution?

The answer is: nothing.

All the changes of the modern world can be accommodated from a legal point of view exactly where the founding fathers located them: within state and federal legislatures. Of course, the Congress still retains the ability to legislate nationally on all matters explicitly granted to it.  And, really, it can rightfully pass any laws that are not rejected by supreme courts, either those of the states themselves or that of the nation.

From this point of view, RBG should not be lionized; rather she should be considered someone who should never have been appointed to the court in the first place. There should only be people on the court who are committed to the existing Constitution and its intended role.

Any fair minded observer must note that RBG is the very perfect model of an activist Judge, which is a judge who brings her personal political preferences to bear on her decisions. She made her feelings about Donald Trump public while still in office. What judge who takes the role of the Supreme Court seriously does that? It’s appalling and by itself sufficient to warrant contempt for her. And yet, while Lefties carry on about how she was afraid that President Trump would be able to fill her seat, her massive ego was such that she remained in office during the Obama years! Surely, were her Progressive objectives so important to her, she would have resigned at that time. After all, she was already in her 80s when President Trump took office. 

A second point. According to the Constitution, the President has complete power to nominate a person of his choice at any time within his term. The Senate can refuse to consent. But what must be emphasized is that the only legitimate ground for a refusal is that the nominee does not have the scholarly credentials to review legislation in the context of the Constitution and its written history of decisions. And even here, since every jurist has a small army of “clerks” who are expert and competent, this is a weak ground for refusal. RBG had around 150 clerks spread over her many years of obstructionism on the Court.

In effect, the very act of refusing a nomination implies that the real role of the court is being ignored and that the real issue is that of placing someone on the court who will represent a particular political point of view.

And for those, who like RBG don’t like the Constitution the way it is, they always have the legal expedient of attempting a revision or the creation of an entirely new one (the French are on their fifth one).

But it rather suits the purposes of the Left to retain the SCOTUS and the Constitution as a hollow pretense while using it to rule on whatever suits their personal moral and legal fancies.

Goodbye, RBG, RIP and may we never see your like again.

 #149: Three Thoughts on the Coronavirus

May 1, 2020

I have three reflections on covid-19, one specific to N.Y.C., one on the government mandated lock-downs, and one grim final thought.

I. N.Y.C.

Many have speculated on the very high numbers of infected and dead in N.Y.C. in comparison with other cities and most of those speculations seem plausible. As in most cases, phenomena are most likely determined by multiple causes. I want to add yet one more such speculation, as well as what seems to me would be a reasonable precaution if it is true.

Yes, N.Y.C. and more specifically Manhattan are among the most densely populated places on earth and sheer density might well make some contribution to infection and death rates. But I would suggest that the general notion of density conceals a more specific and even addressable causal factor: elevators.

We now believe that the virus is airborne as well as on surfaces; we also believe that the virus can survive for possibly days outside a host. This suggests to me that elevators are excellent contamination chambers, retaining exhaled viruses from both symptomatic and unsymptomatic passengers well after those passengers leave the elevator.

If this is correct, then we ought first to modify our notion of social distancing by extending it from space to also time. Not only ought we be cautious of spatial proximity, but also temporal proximity. While we don’t want to be immediately next to another person in an elevator, neither do we want to be immediately after a person on an elevator. Wearing a mask may well be more important when entering an elevator than it is when taking a walk outside.

The consideration of elevator based contamination is of special importance when considering hospital elevators. If elevators are contamination chambers generally, then they are even more so when located in hospitals.

Secondly, if it is true that ultraviolet light destroys covid-19 viruses, then it would be prudent to have elevators equipped with ultraviolet lights which turn on automatically whenever the elevator is empty. This could be done by linking the lights to the panel controlling the elevator motion: the lights would be programmed to turn on whenever no floor destination has been chosen.

II. Government Mandated Lock-downs

There is now considerable discussion of the reasonableness of lock-downs. Since the spread of the disease is clearly from person to person, in the absence early on of an understanding of the virus’ mode of operation, keeping people away from each other seemed the obvious if crude solution to an immediate and crushing problem and, hence, reasonable.

But what had to be kept in mind was what was understood to be the clear and present nature of the crushing problem. According to the daily reports from state and federal governments the crushing problem being attacked was not the number of deaths and/or infections per se, but rather the overwhelming of available health resources.

This is an extremely important point when considering mandated lock-downs since it gives us a measure of the justification of those lock-downs as well as a measure to be used in adjusting the lock-downs.

Hospital beds and PPE equipment are currently far more available than at any time during the crisis. This would suggest that by the government’s argument for locking down, it is time to unlock.

At the same time, many are suffering and likely dying of non-covid related conditions which really should be addressed by the health care system. And this does not take into account the health implications of the catastrophic effect the lock-downs have had on the economy.

Since we know now that the threat of death applies almost entirely to the elderly with co-morbidities, our policy should clearly be the following.

1) Focus protection on on nursing homes and on the education of the elderly. And

2) Open the economy in stages, monitoring the impact covid cases on the health care system. In other words, we should use covid hospital usage as our instrument for governing the rate and extent of lock-down release.

III. One final thought

Since it is becoming ever more clear that the virus is not only present in far more people than previously thought (and most probably is still spreading at an exponential rate), we need to ask why it would be that in many places, the death rate is either stable or dropping. Is this evidence that social distancing is working? Possibly. But perhaps more likely is the grim possibility that the virus is slowly running out of victims. 

We may wind up with an entire elderly generation dead and the remaining population infected, but not suffering.

 #148: Computer Models and Chicken Guts

April 10, 2020

During this pandemic, I, like many others, have been watching the daily corona virus update and have been not a little disturbed by the huge role that government has given to computer models in setting public policies. This is frightening.

It’s frightening because it reminds me of steering by chicken guts, among other entrails, in ancient times. Alexander, for example, represented then common practice by consulting his horuscipator before each battle.

Should I do this or should I do that? Is the timing of this battle good for us? Etc. etc etc.

Well, said the horuscipator, Just check the guts, stupid!

Of course, no horuscipator ever called Alexander “stupid,” at least not twice.

We’re rightly unimpressed by this way of making important decisions, studying steaming animal guts just doesn’t seem a very reliable way of choosing direction. Though, to be fair, Alexander did ok for quite while steering by guts. Maybe he was using other decision strategies as well.

Is the use of computer modeling just the modern form of chicken guts?

This question raises two other ones.

Is computer modeling a better decision maker than chicken guts? And

If neither of these methods are any good, why have we ever used either one?

Those of you who have been loyal readers of my blog already know that I am very skeptical of the use of computer models in decision making. In post #43, I introduced the adjective “scientistic” for arguments which have the trappings of science without the actual features of science which make it compelling of belief. That was in 2009. I revisited the theme three more times, the last being post #144 in 2018. I’m nothing if not consistent. The last time I brought it up was in connection with the great climate hoax in which computer models play a central role. [please remember, I am not denying that climate changes are occurring. I am also not denying that human activity has a role in that. I am denying that we know anything about that beyond what our senses tell us.]

Recently, the major player in the daily briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, downplayed the reliability of computer models because, as he ostensibly said, there are too many variables. Too many variables?? Duh, Dr. Fauci, we really needed an expert in epidemiology to tell us that?

Who has not watched the weather channel when a hurricane was being mapped for landfall and not seen the computer modeled paths diverge? Which one, the people on shore can be heard to cry, “which one of the models is the right one?”

Well, what all of this watching of computer models has taught us, I think, is this.

The models increasingly converge on the truth the closer they get to the event.

This means that the only computer model that actually gets it right is the one on the day of the fact. Sadly, that’s exactly the time we no longer have any need of an accurate prediction. Going back, the further from the day of the fact, the more the models diverge ever further and we have no way of knowing which one is closer to the eventual outcome than the others.

This means, pardon the French, that computer models are nothing more than today’s steaming chicken guts and absolutely no @#$%ing use in predicting the future!

But why computer models rather than chicken guts? The reason, I think, is not a mystery. Horuscipation by chicken guts is excluded from today’s tolerated bullshit sphere. It’s certainly not that bullshit is no longer tolerated, but that if bullshit is to be tolerated, it must be appropriately dressed. Primitive animistic religious bullshit does not market well anymore; however, modern scientistic bullshit is very popular.

Which leads me to the second question. If neither chicken guts nor computer models have any reliability in prediction making, why do we use them?

I only remember one thing from Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition; she wrote that the statesman is in the terrible situation of being forced to make far reaching plans and decisions knowing full well at the time he makes them that the conditions which prompt them will change in utterly unpredictable ways from the first moment of their implementation. And that this is true for whatever adjustments he introduces in response to the changes.

This insight on Arendt’s part seemed both true and tremendously important to me at the time and still does. It means that governmental management is at its very best a lucky groping towards the future, not a competent piloted steering towards a clearly discerned goal.

This is a terrible stress on the inner life of any leader who understands his situation and it is understandable that he would reach out for and cling to any straw, no matter how insubstantial, that gives him at least a cover story for what he did if circumstances turn in a bad direction.

Many things have changed from ancient times to the present, but human nature does not. No one wants to be the one left holding the bag, everyone wants a cover story. Computer models are today’s chicken guts.

Fauci made the ultimate political gaffe, he accidentally told the truth: there are too many variables! This means that neither he nor anyone in his cohort had the remotest idea of where the pandemic would lead and, in a panic, they chose the chicken guts with the most extreme predictions to guide their policy suggestions.

Now, countries all around the world struggle with the consequences of policies based on the colors, shapes, and distributions of the steaming guts of innocent chickens.

 #147: Modern Antisemitism and the Left

May 8, 2019

A number of my friends have expressed concern over the way in which Antisemitism is flourishing around the world, but particularly how it is becoming accepted as the “new normal” in U.S.. I must confess that while I’m saddened and upset by this, I’m not really surprised by it. For anyone with any awareness of history, this must really seem like deja vu all over again or, for a more contemporary reference, like Groundhog Day. Really, we’ve been here before, even to the use of the demeaning cartoons.

Current events remind me of Tom Lehrer’s lines in his song “National Brotherhood Week”:

“Oh the protestants hate the Catholics

and the Catholics hate the protestants

and the Hindus hate the Muslims

and everybody hates the Jews, …”

Well, yes, almost everybody does hate the Jews. The far right hates the Jews, the far Left hates the Jews, and the smarmy upper-crust Protestants in the middle hate the Jews. Even many Jews hate the Jews. Only the Evangelicals and Trump don’t hate the Jews.

What I write below is largely the body of an email I sent to a close friend who complained that identity politics just creates “boundaries between people, resentment, and anger” and that this should stop. My friend is quite right, but it won’t stop, not at all; it’s too useful.

We all know that Israel was founded by people with a strong Socialist ideology, an ideology which is now pretty much on the ropes there. But the fact that Israel began with that ideology obscures the fact that this tiny state embodies perfectly what modern Socialists most utterly hate. Israel’s reason for being, its essence, is to be precisely a Jewish state. Not just another interesting small democratic state, but a specifically Jewish state. This, the Left cannot allow.

First, creating boundaries between people, resentment, and anger is not just an accidental by-product of a political strategy: it is the political strategy. Fragmentation, frustration, rage are a central OBJECTIVE of the Left, not a regrettable collateral side-effect. Remember Rahm Emmanuel’s infamous line: “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” People laughed wryly at that, they should have thought a little further. The corollary of his thought is this: “create, celebrate, and encourage a crisis whenever you can, it is the path to internationalist, socialist victory.” The Left sees the existence of a national identity based on inherited values and myths, as its biggest challenge in gaining world hegemony. And, make no mistake about it, world hegemony is what they’re after.

And the Jews have always had a national identity, even when they didn’t have a nation. They are the nationalists par excellence.

The Left, on the other hand, is in its essence internationalist; internationalism is not just one of its isolated party platform items, it is defining of it, just as nationalism is defining of the Jews. [Please note that the media (and even well-intentioned conservatives) allow the Leftists to choose the political vocabulary: thus the “internationalism” of 1930s Leftie scribblers has been lost and replaced with the anodyne “Globalism” to disconnect it from its Leninist/Stalinist past.]

Thus, fragmenting polities is essential to the dissolution of the Left’s targets. To see this, one must understand that the Left, from the time of its inception, has not ever been a “friendly competitor” on the world stage capable of “agreeing to disagree” with it its political neighbors. Au contraire.

If you want to conquer the world’s nations, you can try to do it by military means, like Hitler tried, but, even if you succeed, they’ll fight a never-ending war of attrition against you. Far better to destroy what makes them nations: their cultural identities. Dissolve their cultural boundaries.

Their idea is simplicity itself: once populations’ cultural differences are erased, the physical boundaries will fall of themselves. But Jews insist on their differences. And so do Christians. In Hussein Obama’s famous line, they “cling” to their religions. Since the Lefties’ target is the West, these Western religions must be undermined. Check. Patriotism must be undermined. Check. Sexual identity must be undermined. Check. Use of a single national language must be undermined. Check. Common national narratives and icons must be undermined. Check. And so it goes.

The modern Left has learned the lessons of imperial colonialism and the Austro-Hungarian empire well. Political governance of multi-cultural components has always proven impossible, the components simply refuse to remain governed and wage irredentist wars against the empires. This was true for hard military control of the kind in French colonial Africa, and it was true of Austro-Hungary’s relatively benevolent rule of its ethnic components. The Left has seen this and understood; its solution for this problem is simply to attempt the destruction of those cultural identities. The war, then, is between Socialist a-cultural internationalism and mercantile cultural nationalism (whether totalitarian or democratic).

The existence of Nazi Germany and its defeat made it possible for the Left to claim the moral high ground, however, not only for democracy, but for the new Internationalism as well, i.e. “Globalism.”  It’s no coincidence that the post-war Leftist intelligentsia’s postmortem identified specifically and exclusively nationalism as the source of the Nazi horror. They didn’t write about French nationalism, of course. And the British? No nationalism there either, eh? But the Leftie scribblers still found the virus in nationalism. No more nationalism for the world! they cried.

PLEASE NOTE: By abjuring nationalism, the Left is not abjuring world take-over, it is just abjuring world take-over by a particular national culture. It’s goal, apparently, is to protect us from being tyrannized by a national culture by tyrannizing us without one.

Now, Hitler learned a lot from Lenin and Stalin, especially their mistakes. He did NOT reject Socialism, he improved Socialism to avoid the commies’ mistakes. Thus, he did not take over industries, he made them partners. Today’s Western Socialists are following that part of the Hitler model. Giant Western industries and the Socialists BOTH want internationalism (“Globalism”) and the industries are in partnership with the Socialists to achieve that. Unlike Hitler, they prefer to gain their ends by eroding national boundaries rather than by obliterating them with tanks and explosives.  Modern popular liberalism is a cultural anti-national identity weapon and it is wielded by and through the social media. Bottom line: internationalism is actually imperialism and colonialism (Lefties ought to have severe cognitive dissonance over this).

After WW II, Lefties all agreed that totalitarian socialism (viz. Nazism or Communism) was not the way to go. Rather, it was what they liked to call the “third way,” or “Democratic Socialism.” In fact, what it was was an adaptation of Hitler’s model: Socialism in partnership with giant industry (like the EU). Conservatives missed the boat at that point. If the third way was Hitler’s partnership of state and industry, only lacking the nationalist element, surely (they should have noticed) that the third way was necessarily internationalist, i.e. bent on world revolution and hegemony. And surely they should have noticed that that the plan would involve the systematic attack on Western cultures to make way for a homogeneous world population of worker drones.

Returning to our starting issue, these reflections lead me to a modest conclusion on Antisemitism.

There are many converging forces leading to Antisemitism, the attack on Jews is and has always been a perfect storm. But, I think, one of the most potent of these ever present factors is that  of the Jews insistence on retaining their distinct identity. Socialists have never seen a Western democratic cultural identity they didn’t hate. It’s obviously true that people were murdering Jews just for being Jews for a very long time before the late 18th century (when arguably Socialism was spawned), but that doesn’t mean that a significant factor in anti-Jewish hatred throughout history does not figure also in a modern political theology. Jews have always been hated for insisting on their difference, yes, and people have always attacked them for their difference. What I’m saying is that this propensity in people to hate the different group among them converges perfectly with the Socialist hatred of cultures. And if supporting Antisemitism in barely disguised ways causes more fragmentation and societal dissolution, say the Socialists, all to the good!

I think only liberal Jews are blinded to the Antisemitism on the Left. The rest of the Lefties simply are Antisemites. Antisemitism was the one thing that 1930s Nazis and Sozis (Social Democrats) agreed on. Add to that the American upper crust Protestant Antisemites. American Jews have short memories. They have come to think that America is safe for Jews, but they forget how recent Jew “acceptance” has been in the U.S.. From the 1880s to the 1950s (and beyond) Jews were NOT flavor of the month, barred from professions, clubs, neighborhoods, etc. That kind of baked-in Antisemitism does not disappear over a few decades. AND, not a small thing, when the Democrat party went to Identity Politics, it automatically bought Antisemitism with that package because the Democrat identity voting base is itself already deeply Antisemitic! So, from a political point of view, Jews in the U.S. are facing a double whammy from the Democrat party: 1) ingrained cultural Antisemitism, and 2) minority identity based Antisemitism.

A couple more points. There was some grudging American Brahmin Protestant sympathy for the Jews in the early 1880s, though the grudging gradually increased and sympathy decreased by 1914. Similarly, there was grudging sympathy after WW II, with the same gradual shift. Even in the 1960s when I was in graduate school, I noticed a certain coolness in my chairman. I was the only grad student not invited to soirees at his house and, I was told by “sources”, it was because he was worried about me being near his daughter! When job time came around, he offered me an interview at Wilberforce University. But that is an all black University, I responded, I’ll be eaten alive (this was the woke 1960s). Take what you can get, he replied, we fought WW II for you people, the least you can do is be grateful.

Right. They fought WW II for “us people.” I didn’t take the interview, and I was grateful … to be alive, that is, and in the United States (even though I was not going to be allowed to violate his daughter). Which brings me to a second personal reflection.

I was around a year old in 1942 living with my family in Marseilles when France fell, as has been its habit since Waterloo. Our lives were saved by the timely help of the American Society of Friends, the Quakers, who arranged for our escape via a harrowing trip into the relative safety of Switzerland. For years, I harbored a deep and abiding respect, admiration, and gratitude for the Quakers. Doing a bit of research recently, I discovered that the current Quakers are virulently pro-Palestinian and purveyors of the most extreme anti-Zionist propaganda in the form of video documentaries among others.  What’s this all about, I cried, bitterly disappointed.

Well, there’s the usual. You know, anti-Zionism isn’t Antisemitism, we’re not “against” Jews, just what their government does, blah, blah, blah.

But what’s offending them? Probably many things, but here’s just one.

We know that progressives like ethnic victims. There are many reasons for this. But one is that the alien ethnicity is an effective solvent of the host country’s culture. Introducing pockets of utterly different ethnic populations into the host is a way of incrementally destroying the host’s ability to preserve itself as a distinct cultural entity. The more primitive, the more alien, the more deranged, the better they serve the Leftie purpose. And Israel is the nation-state most notable for insisting on its cultural identity. Progressives hate that. So, Israel must be destroyed.

All that said, it can’t be escaped that the Jews and Israel are heir to their own historic infatuation with Leftism. Israel was born in Socialism and has lived with it since its inception. What this means is that Jews everywhere are dealing with both cognitive and emotional dissonance within themselves. How should we live? they ask. Should we assimilate, gradually relinquish our distinct identity? Should we retain our uniqueness within the host culture? Should we make aliyah and make the journey to Jerusalem?

If they assimilate, they lose their character after five thousand years. If they remain a ghettoized population within a larger one, the larger will inevitably turn on them. If they return to Israel, they face the same questions of cultural identity all over again. The Israeli Socialists will lean, as all Socialists do, towards internationalization and the inevitable blending of cultures and persons. The war between the homogenizers and the nationalists exists everywhere, from the micro environment to the macro. There is no escaping this dilemma, not even in Israel.

Right now, Trump and the U.S. Evangelicals are the only friends Jews have on the North American continent. Sadly, the vast majority of Left-wing Jews are too ideologically brain damaged to realize that.

 #146 Politics, Discourse, and Dog Whistles

April 3, 2019

What’s a dog whistle? Non-metaphorically, it’s just a whistle used for communicating with dogs. It’s only special feature is that it emits sounds above the human audible spectrum. In other words, it’s a whistle that dogs can hear, but humans can’t. However, the notion of a dog whistle has become a metaphor for words and phrases alleged to have special meanings for specific groups; such “dog whistles”, it’s alleged, make it possible to communicate “hateful” ideas with those groups (the “dogs”) without the rest of us, the “woke” and “near woke”, being aware of it. Leftist activists have made the “dog whistle” accusation an attack against any speech not consistent with their agenda. The “dog whistle” accusation is an attempt to cripple discourse, to make discussion or debate or even mere conversation impossible.

The “dog whistle” meme has a long genealogy. Words and phrases have often been used for special social or political purposes. Possibly the earliest example of such a usage that of the password, as in the well-known “shibboleth” of biblical fame. But there have also been groups who if not at war, have been clandestine. Such groups invented such membership identifiers as secret handshakes, signs, symbols, and even names. Peoples have always faced the challenge of identifying each other in public spaces. Probably best known of such are the Freemasons, but the use of such identifiers ranges across many more groups. Any group looked at with suspicion or worse has been accused of having such, so Jews were thought to have them, Knights Templar, homosexuals, witches, communists, and members of the Cosa Nostra among many, many others. People have always been hostile to “others” in their midst and those “others” have almost always found ways of keeping their “otherness” secret. Secret identifiers were a necessary way of allowing themselves to function without attracting the attention of their their hostile hosts.

But while the use of secret identifiers served the “others” group in question, it was quickly understood to have another deadly use as well. The others, on the one hand, used the identifiers to recognize their fellows, but the members of the host group, on the other, could use the mere idea of the existence of such identifiers as a weapon against anyone at all. The assumption of the existence of secret identifiers was actually a gift to paranoiacs and malevolent actors capitalizing on (sometimes justified) popular fears. The fact that the identifiers were necessarily secret made this use of secret identifiers a perfect weapon. In fact, it was soon clear that any group could be accused of using secret identifiers, whether or not they were; after all, the identifiers were secret, that is, invisible. Any sign, symbol, hand-motion, facial expression, etc. could be singled out by a malevolent actor and attributed to any group as evidence of their secret, malevolent conspiracies.

But up till now, I have been talking about the weaponizing of putative secret identifiers by a host against a clandestine group within it. It should be clear that the clandestine group was not characteristically using the identifiers as a weapon against the host, even when it was an enemy of the host; rather, the existence of possible identifiers was used by the host or elements within it against some sub-group in the population (real or not).

But this is not the end of the story. Once a weapon is used, it becomes accessible to everyone, even to the targets it had previously been directed against.

This has happened in a BIG way with Socialists in the United States. They were once accused of using secret words and phrases to identify one another (and probably were). They were the “other” group within a larger host. But no more.

The “love that dare not speak its name” has now become mainstream. No, I’m not talking about homosexuality, that’s been mainstream for the past twenty years. Hell, it’s not even mainstream now, it’s privileged mainstream. No, I’m talking about … Socialism!

Socialism has come out of the closet, and it’s come dressed for war. And one of its main weapons is the secret identifier accusation. But now the secret handshake has been turned around to become the “secret coded message.” Since the 1920s the West has been seriously nervous about embedded Socialist cohorts and has attacked whomever it suspected (often correctly) of being a Soviet agent. These agents were thought of as using secret methods of communication which included secret identifiers. Socialists, therefore, were the targets of the secret identifier weapon.

When a host turned on one of its groups this way using the identifier accusation, the purpose was to turn one or more people into enemies of the host. You used the secret sign X, this means you’re a Socialist; Socialists want to take our savings and give them to their supporters. In this usage of the weapon, the host remains intact, the unwanted others are “justifiably” killed, jailed, or exiled.

But with Socialism, the others worm has turned. The Socialist uses the secret identifier accusation against the host and much more, he extends the concept of the secret identifier to that of the secret coded message.The Socialist claims that people of the host are sending secret coded evil messages to their supporters, messages that the good and decent people cannot hear or see.

This is a strategy aimed at a central Socialist objective.

That objective is to wreck the nation-state in which he resides. He goes about this by breaking down any and all unifying systems of value, narrative, and myth. He attacks the dominant and formative religion of the nation-state (in this case Christianity); he attacks the values of patriotism and family; he attacks all of the state’s existing identity structures; he attacks by dividing wherever he finds unity. Men and women have unity in sex and family: turn women against men, destroy the white male identity as far as possible. Turn the poor against the rich. Turn the black against the white. Whatever common ground you find within the society, wreck it.

The objective is to reduce a society to it’s constituent particles: it’s solitary individuals.

Socialists have been at this for a long time. This is the real purpose of “identity politics.”

Using a metaphor from chemistry, Socialism can be thought of as a decomposition reaction catalyst. A catalyst is a chemical which generates a chemical reaction in other chemicals without being itself changed. A decomposition reaction is the breakdown of a chemical substance into its constituent parts.

Take any successful, prosperous, cohesive society with shared values and a shared understanding of its own history and mythologies, place it in a beaker, add Socialism, and watch the bubbling and steaming begin. The society begins as an organic whole, a form of life, and it ends as a lifeless aggregate of inorganic elements decomposed on the beaker’s floor.

Now, how does the Socialism catalyst work?

The Socialist has clearly understood that the power of the coded message accusation comes from the fact that it is secret. The accused says in vain that he was “just shaking hands! No message! Nothing!”. Since coded messages are necessarily secret, the accuser can easily respond: “Of course, you’d say that, we couldn’t see the secrets in the handshake.” It is the secrecy that is the secret essential ingredient in the coded message accusation.

Understanding this fact about coded messages, the Socialist has deployed an entirely new and far more devastating version of the weapon: the (drum roll) … Dog whistle.

An actual dog whistle emits a sound whose frequency lies above human hearing, but within canine hearing. Thus, when a dog owner blows on his whistle, the dogs in the area can hear it, but not other humans.

The Socialist now accuses anyone with whom he disagrees of using metaphoric “dog whistles” of racist, homophobic, white nationalist, anti-gay(etc), all bad stuff rhetoric aimed at his evil followers. Needless to say, we can’t hear these secret messages because he’s using secret “coded” English expressions.

But here’s the punch line.

The objective of the dog whistle weapon goes far beyond merely tagging some individual with evil communications; it goes to making people afraid to communicate at all.

This is the ultimate social decomposition reaction catalyst.

The dog whistle weapon attacks language and discourse itself. It creates a world in which words do not mean what they mean; they mean anything and everything anyone wants them to. In a world in which what one says means only what someone else insists it means, speaking itself becomes an act of courage.

The Socialist wants to make speech itself, any speech, a frightening event for a speaker. In this world, no matter what you say, it may not mean what you think it means, it may only mean what some mob on twitter insists it means, a mob led by a Political Commissar.

This has the Socialist’s desired effect of reducing the society to a non-society, a mere aggregation of solitary, frightened individual societal particles huddling in the dark avoiding all association and verbal interaction.