Religion and Civilizations

Every civilization is centered around some kind of religion. It is the glue that produces social and cultural cohesion. The Roman empire was based around Roman paganism. The Arab caliphates and the Ottoman empire were based around Islam. Western civilization is based around Christianity. An ideology can also work, as in the case of the USSR, but it tends not to last as long, since ideologies are less comprehensive and persuasive than religions.

When the Romans gave up Paganism and took up Christianity, the empire was already in decline. The Christian monks preserved and maintained the scientific and cultural knowledge of the Roman empire.

Now the Christian west is in decline, and we see social justice being compared to a religion. The “monks”of social justice live in universities. Social justice has pervaded every level of academia, even the hard sciences. However, the hard sciences are beginning to view the humanities, arts, and softer sciences as bullshit. If you’ve seen people ranking college majors, you’ve already seen this in action. STEM, medicine, and law are seen as admirable goals. Women’s studies and racial grievance studies are seen as a waste of time. I’ve heard biologists refer to sociology as “not science”. We already have people studying “blackness” under the guise of anthropology and sociology. Soon enough, even the harder sciences will be under duress with scientists trying to prove that ancestry DNA tests are racist, and that there are more than two genders. When even hard science is politicized, people will either lose faith in science or create a pseudo-religion around the ideology that politicizes it. Conservatives have already lost faith in science. The replication crisis and publication bias are only additional nails in the coffin.

While the ideology that is coming to replace Christianity, social justice, has an admirable end goal of a world without prejudice and bigotry, I believe that such a goal is naive and will be overcome by Islam or even simple tribalism. We already see liberals embracing Islam, despite its contrary positions on womens’ rights and gay rights.

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Religion and Civilizations

Government Waste

Returning home for Thanksgiving has made me consider where government corruption and waste comes from. While I live in a rich, coastal state that benefits from international trade and finance, I grew up in a landlocked state with little industry.

In my hometown, people don’t buy the newest technology, they make do with what they have. They don’t throw away the things they have, they fix and reuse old junk. My mom keeps piles of old junk, which ends up being useful once every few years, if at all. When I have clothes that rip, I take them to my mom to fix. Our town had one day every year where people could toss their junk on the curb, and anybody who wanted it could take it. My highschool friend would take that day off from school to peruse the junk.

The technological difference is also noticeable. In my hometown, the only places where vending machines take credit cards are the mall and the airport. No rest stop vending machines take them. For comparison, on the coast, every vending machine takes credit cards. On the coast, there are solar panels on the lightposts, and above parking lots. People buy new cars, something virtually unthinkable to my mom.

Much of the difference is money. My mom was a penny pincher. Warren Buffett, known for being a penny pincher, still lives in Omaha in a house he bought for $30,000 in the late ’50s. In contrast, Donald Trump, known for living lavishly, lives in New York in a gold tower with his name on it. These are anecdotes, but it illustrates the difference. The coast is rich off of international finance and trade, while the interior is necessarily thrifty.

When there is so much money to be thrown around, the government can afford to fulfill all basic services, and then some unnecessary services. When the US was still growing in the early 20th century, we could afford social security. When the US was peaking in the 60’s, we could afford the great society.

No longer though. Nations decline. Economic growth declines. Tax revenues decline. And, governments with declining tax revenues find it harder to eliminate waste than to create it, resulting in deficits. This is how California, Illinois, and New York ended up deeply in debt, while the interior states largely avoided it. Liberal governments take their tax revenue for granted. Governments that throw money around trying to buy votes usually end up going broke.

Government Waste

The Alt Right and the Creativity Boom

The rise of Donald Trump and the alt-right has been accompanied by a creative boom. Just as the beatniks embraced jazz and literature, the hippies embraced rock, and the punks created their own music, the alt-right has produced its own music and culture.

In the same way that the forebears of punk and grunge were bubbling under the surface before being accepted by major labels, the ideological framework for the alt-right has existed for over a decade at VDare, TakiMag, AmRen, and others. The alt-right (or something like it) has existed for years in the manosphere, 4chan’s /n/, /new/, and finally /pol/, and to a lesser degree in places like Stormfront. These are corners of the internet rarely mentioned in public, usually negatively.

Parenthetically, in the top 40 for this week, I see forgettable newcomers and washed up has-beens. Pop music is formulaic and repetitive. Rock has been on the downslope for two decadesRap and hip-hop have reached rock bottom. Classical and Jazz aren’t popular anymore. Even if the new music is a retro homage, it’s infinitely more original than any of the shit on the radio.

I appreciate that my sentiments on music are elitist and hipsterish. Hence the picture:

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The Alt Right and the Creativity Boom

Liberals Alienating Whites

Akinokure has an interesting post on Democrats alienating their white base with social justice. Social justice, especially feminism, is so cancerous that it pushed Richard Dawkins, the face of atheism, away from atheism. Moreover,  SJWs are just plain annoying. Hating on SJWs is easy to do, and won’t threaten your career, so it’s an obvious first step many people take to the alt-right.

I could’ve been a leftie. There were many others who supported Trump, liked Bernie, and hated Hillary. The parallels between Trump and Bernie are obvious. Both populists, both outsiders, both nationalists (at some level). Hillary, on the other hand, relied on identity politics. Bernie was the candidate of naive white socialists and lefties. Hillary was the choice of the minorities. The Democrat party is now the party of minorities, which is how I knew, back in January, that Bernie didn’t have even a 30% chance.

For me, there is no innate appeal of limited government and low taxes. Coming from a middle class family, I wouldn’t mind a Scandinavian-style socialist paradise, but I know it could never happen in America. That’s because America is a diverse country, where a big government with big tax revenues devolves into racial rent-seeking. This is why poor southern whites are overwhelmingly Republican. They know that generous welfare helps blacks at the expense of tax-paying whites.

For decades, the best thing Republicans could offer white voters was to minimize the government, so that tax-paying whites weren’t subsidizing welfare-consuming blacks. Trump has gone beyond that to suggest that the government not only lower taxes on productive whites, but explicitly aid whites by enforcing immigration law, bringing back jobs, and rebuilding infrastructure.

Scandinavian socialism works because their countries are homogeneous, high-trust, and low-corruption. Unfortunately, these generous welfare systems also attract leeches who would abuse that system, and the Scandinavian immigration and refugee policies enable those leeches.

Social justice is used to recruit minorities and women to the left. Convincing racial minorities, women, and gays that they are under attack by straight white men, allows them to join together (in the left), even if their individual interests are contradictory. It’s no secret that Muslim culture is not only misogynistic, but extremely anti-gay. It’s an unspoken truth that blacks are extremely anti-gay. As such, the left coalition should fall apart, but it’s held together by social justice.

More importantly, as long as one political party has an interest in alienating minorities from the majority culture, they will do it. If blacks, hispanics, muslims, or gays felt like they were part of the historic white Christian nation, they’d be less likely to vote Democrat. Thus, agitating minorities with BLM, feminism, and social justice, Democrats are effectively recruiting them. This process undermines social cohesion and cultural integration. By alienating minorities, Democrats are building fissures and divisions.

The Republican response to social justice has been to make a wider appeal for integration, and to reiterate their political correctness credentials. “Democrats are the real racists!” Republicans believe that hispanics can become natural conservatives because they are religious and socially conservative. They do not understand that hispanics are linguistically and ethnically different from the America that Republicans represent. As such, they are riper fruit for Democrats than Republicans, and no amount of cucking will change that.

Liberals Alienating Whites

Elitism and Education

The dominant narrative after Trump’s win was the political importance of working class whites. With that, voting patterns by education:

Education.png

Then, there is the liberal elitist notion that the uneducated voted for Trump. Obviously this implies that more education is better. While everyone could do with a history lesson or two on the Roman Empire, a primer in economics, and a lesson on recognizing and understanding bias, much college education is garbage.

Without a historical basis for comparison, western civilization looks evil: We stole the Americas from the natives! We had slaves! We conquered Africa! We committed genocide against the Jews! We nuked the Japanese!

But again, in a historical context these are all things that have been done on a smaller scale by virtually every civilization: Every civilization has been built by conquering land and integrating the natives. Every civilization has had some kind of religious or political justification. Virtually every civilization had slavery in some form. Whether it be archery, horses, or Greek fire, every civilization has used technology in their warfare.

No civilization before has had automatic weapons, tanks, or nuclear bombs, but no civilization before has had universal literacy, electricity, internet, or a space program.

Going back to education, liberals think that only Mexicans and brown people should be doing blue collar work. They believe their children are above that stuff, and that having a college degree makes you better and smarter. We have internalized the notion that Mexicans will do the jobs that Americans don’t want to do. The logical conclusion from this notion is that any American who works with his hands is no better than a Mexican.
That’s what it boils down to. They want their children to be better off than they are, and they’re frightened at the prospect that their children might have to work with their hands. That’s why liberals are obsessed with Head Start, even though preschool doesn’t affect life outcomes in any meaningful way. That’s why liberals love (the idea of) free college.

Elitism and Education

Lessons from the Election

Hillary was a bad candidate. She focused her efforts in the wrong places, ignored her husband, and blew it on social media.

Even worse, she allowed the email scandal to fester without a satisfying conclusion, allowing conservatives to postulate on all the horrible things she was hiding. The scandal produced speculation for months, with even Bernie Sanders complaining that he’d had enough, and the summer conclusion, with Comey publicly indicting her without formally recommending charges, were enough to convince people that she was guilty but being protected by her powerful friends.

In comparison, Trump was a great campaigner, with tons of primary baggage. Trump was extremely focused in the states he won, holding upwards of five events per day. When Hillary’s email scandal put the focus on the Clinton Foundation, he cleverly marketed himself as an outside reformer against corruption.

Trump was campaigning on multiple levels: He had memes and social media engagement to make the campaign fun. He had simple catch phrases and good branding to make himself memorable. He utilized surrogates to effectively defend his campaign and elaborate on his strategy, reassuring the skeptical that he wasn’t a loudmouthed buffoon, but a shrewd businessman. Knowing that the media was almost uniformly against him, Trump attacked and discredited the media as part of his campaign strategy.

Analogous to Hillary’s deleted emails, Trump never released his tax returns. The media speculated that he wasn’t as rich as he claimed to be (already known to be true, since Trump exaggerates), he wasn’t paying taxes (turned out to be true, but legal), he had Russian business dealings, or just plain illegal activity. When the New York Times finally released their summary of Trump’s tax returns, the results were underwelming. He had lost hundreds of millions, but he had said as much in The Art of the Comeback. He had evaded paying taxes, but using legal means that every company does. The speculation imploded, and Hillary lost one of her talking points.

There’s also the issue of Bernie supporters, many of whom came to view Clinton (correctly) as a corrupt Washington kleptocrat. Disaffected by their view that Hillary would say anything and change nothing, many voted third party or stayed home. The Wikileaks revelations of Hillary’s real position on TPP, the way the DNC favored Clinton, the head of the DNC stepping down and then being offered a position in Hillary’s campaign, and the reality of corporate and donor influence prevented the Hillary/Bernie divide from healing.

In addition to Bernie supporters, Hillary Clinton didn’t elicit the same support from minority voters relative to Obama, for obvious reasons. Black turnout was significantly down. While latino voters came out to vote against Trump, they largely live in safe states.

In comparison, Trump’s positions on guns and abortion, his choice of Mike Pence, and the availability of the Supreme Court allowed him to reassure hardcore conservatives. With the Supreme Court evenly split (counting Roberts and Kennedy as conservatives), one open position, and three judges in their late seventies or eighties, the court may have been permanently liberal under a Hillary Clinton administration.

In summary:

  • Don’t hide secrets and let speculation fester.
  • Don’t take states for granted.
  • Reassure the base.
  • Make the campaign fun.
  • Campaign both to the true believers and the skeptics.
  • Campaign to your strengths.
  • Secure your emails and communications

And most importantly

  • Don’t nominate a corrupt, uncharismatic kleptocrat
Lessons from the Election

The Future

The US (and Western Civilization) faces numerous challenges in the future, some avoidable, some unavoidable:

The unavoidable:

  • The rest of the world is competitive economically (and, increasingly, militarily). China in particular has tons of room for growth, if they can manage it properly. They have institutional problems, such as copying and cheating, but they are increasingly self-reliant.
  • Low-hanging economic fruit have been picked. Cheap oil is a thing of the past. Science and technology are increasingly convoluted and difficult, as evidenced by the increasing number of authors. Physics breakthroughs now require billions of dollars. The flying cars envisioned in the 50’s haven’t come.
  • Demographic trends indicate a shrinking workforce, which means entitlement programs and infinite stock dividend growth are unsustainable. The obvious solution is to increase immigration, but that creates even more problems.

The avoidable largely centers around institutional problems ripe for reform:

  • Big banks have a perverse incentive to take on risk, given that they’re such a threat to the economy that the government will bail them out. This can be fixed either by refusing to bail out banks (disastrous consequences), or by breaking up big banks (politically difficult).
  • The government’s allegiances are divided between corporate donors and everyday voters. This can be alleviated by lobbying reform, and a constitutional amendment (politically difficult).
  • The media is incentivized by ad money. They’re also influenced by their editors and owners. It’s also true that the mainstream media media is overwhelmingly left-leaning. Finally, as I’ve pointed out, success in the media is largely defined by their relationships with politicians, and the tight-lipped nature of politicians means those relationships tend to be sycophantic. This can be alleviated by establishing fairness requirements (at least for large media companies), and by breaking up big media companies. It would also be wise to increase protections for whistleblowers, increase government transparency requirements, and penalize government employees who evade those requirements.
  • Scientists have a perverse incentive to p-hack, massage data, and publish unlikely and interesting results. That means boring results that confirm existing beliefs aren’t published. This could be alleviated by increasing funding for replication studies. In addition, some journals are already fixing this problem themselves.
  • The government is trillions of dollars in debt, sustaining itself by military/cultural hegemony. While entitlement programs such as Social Security are solvent now, they will be insolvent by the end of the century. While politically unpopular and economically dangerous in the short run, ending or reducing entitlement programs is necessary for future solvency.

In my opinion, there are a few entirely partisan policies that should be reversed immediately:

  • DACA and DAPA
  • Limitations on deportations of illegal immigrants
  • Limitations on voter ID laws
  • Sanctuary cities
  • HUD expanding metro zones beyond exurbs (Chicago zone expanded out to Dubuque, Iowa, over three hours away)
  • Common core

However, the existing government has a vested interest in the opposition to these reforms, and always will. While there are many challenges we cannot overcome for demographic and economic reasons, these reforms can render our institutions morally and economically solvent. In doing so, we may mitigate our demographic and economic shortcomings for decades, if not centuries. Or, we may blow away the cloud of fumes we’re running on.

The Future