The Wages Of Parasites

According to this story in the Wall Street Journal, Sears is on the verge of finally going out of business. For people under the age of forty, this is a meaningless event, as Sears has not been a part of the public consciousness for decades. For those old enough to remember, the early 1990’s was the last time Sears was an anchor store at malls and shopping centers. I think the last time I had a reason to shop at Sears was at the old Natick Mall in the 1990’s. I think I bought a kitchen item, but I no longer recall exactly.

The conventional telling of these stories says that the big retail stores were killed by some combination of Amazon and the internet. That’s mostly just myth-making as companies like Sears were struggling when Amazon was still just a river in Brazil. The big box store, as they came to be called, was always a bad idea that started to show signs of weakness in the 80’s. The logic of this type of retail is a race to the bottom, where margins are maintained by stripping out the value that is implicit in the local retail store concept.

Think of it this way. The local retailer does more than sell stuff. In practice, he stocks the things popular with his community and offers customer service to help his neighbors get the best product for their needs. He’s also going to sponsor the local little league teams and participate in the community. Big retail takes the social capital and the customer service and turns that into a quick profit for the chain store, by cutting prices at the retail side and purchasing power on the supply side. It’s a form of economic piracy.

This model works fine until all of the local competition is gone. At that point it is a battle of soulless wholesalers operating out of warehouse style facilities. The only competition between a Sears and a K-Mart, another defunct chain, was price and location. One thing that is certain about a race to the bottom is that everyone eventually reaches the finish line and for big retail that has meant bankruptcy. You see this with Amazon. Their retailing arm is the marketing expense for their media and technology services now.

This is why conservatives used to be skeptical of capitalism. They correctly saw the reality of large scale retail. It was not that the big retailer was better at selling product or provided a better service. In fact, it has always been the obvious. If you go to your local Home Depot, for example, you are unlikely to get any help from the staff, unless you tackle one of them in the aisle. Even then, the quality of service is so poor, you are better off not asking for help. Big retail turns customer service into a net negative.

Big retail operates as a parasite through false economy. It’s a form of cost shifting, where the loss of social capital and customer service is pushed into the distance, while the cheap prices are in the present. The Old Right understood the corrosive nature of this form of retail and opposed it. Today, everyone laments the loss of local retail and the town shopping district. We’re told it is the result of Amazon being a better choice, but in reality the cause is the willingness of our leaders to auction off our social capital.

Another example of this is the local industrial supply store. Electrical wholesale, welding supplies, HVAC wholesalers and other business that served the trades used to be locally owned family businesses. They were never wildly profitable, but they provided a nice living as a family business. Fred’s Welding Supply would sponsor a little league team, while Fred participated in the community and sent his kids to the local schools. Sometimes one guy would own a couple of stores if his town or city was big enough to support it.

Today, these businesses have been bought up by investment firms powered by credit money from investors. An investment firm gets set up and they bankroll one bigger player as he buys up all of the competitors. The “economies of scale” are that the owners are removed, the accounting and sales staff is centralized and the social capital is carted off to the investors as profit. The customers may get a small break in price, but usually the only thing they notice is the staff now treat them like strangers, rather than neighbors.

Libertarians and “conservatives” will read this and reflexively start chirping about free markets and invisible hands, but there is a reason they are now a punchline. That’s because these are ideologies, if you want to be generous and elevate them to ideologies, that make all the same assumptions about humanity as the Marxists. That is, they see man as the ultimate consumer, a beast that devours his environment, in the same way a plague of locusts wipes out a field. Whittaker Chambers explained this 60 years ago.

Tragedy is bypassed by the pursuit of happiness. Tragedy is henceforth pointless. Henceforth man’s fate, without God, is up to him, and to him alone. His happiness, in strict materialist terms, lies with his own workaday hands and ingenious brain. His happiness becomes, in Miss Rand’s words, “the moral purpose of his life.” Here occurs a little rub whose effects are just as observable in a free enterprise system, which is in practice materialist (whatever else it claims or supposes itself to be), as they would be under an atheist Socialism, if one were ever to deliver that material abundance that all promise. The rub is that the pursuit of happiness, as an end in itself, tends automatically, and widely, to be replaced by the pursuit of pleasure, with a consequent general softening of the fibers of will, intelligence, spirit. No doubt, Miss Rand has brooded upon that little rub. Hence, in part, I presume, her insistence on “man as a heroic being” “with productive achievement as his noblest activity.” For, if Man’s “heroism” (some will prefer to say: “human dignity”) no longer derives from God, or is not a function of that godless integrity which was a root of Nietzsche’s anguish, then Man becomes merely the most consuming of animals, with glut as the condition of his happiness and its replenishment his foremost activity. So Randian Man, at least in his ruling caste, has to be held “heroic” in order not to be beastly. And this, of course, suits the author’s economics and the politics that must arise from them.

A life with no other purpose than to work and consume is actually lower than beastly, because the beast in the field only eats to live. It does not live to eat. Like all living things, it lives to make more copies of itself. For man, possessed of a self-awareness and the capacity to remake his environment, the purpose of life expands to the celebration of life by not only reproducing but leaving a cultural legacy for the next generation. The point of life is for old men to plant trees in whose shade they will never stand.

The auctioning off of our social capital has corresponded with the startling spike in suicide rates. Cosmopolitan globalism and the transactional consumerism that drives it, strips people of their humanity. Like drug addicts, they no longer have the capacity to experience the normal pleasures. The heroin addict is always faced with the choice. Give up the junk and became whole again or take the easy way out. That’s what faces the people of the modern West. The choice is revolt against modernity or amuse ourselves to death.

 

Never Newark Nights

I cut out of my meeting a bit early, so I could catch the train into Manhattan. I had never been inside Newark Penn Station. I was not entirely sure how to get to it, so I left some extra time to feel my way through. For some reason, I never do well in big metropolitan transit systems. It’s not a thing that comes naturally to me. Since I was expected to meet John Derbyshire on 34th Street at 6:30, I gave myself an extra forty minutes. Unless I ended up in Trenton, that would be enough time to correct for any mistakes.

I worried for nothing. Penn Station was a ten minute walk and despite the near total lack of signage inside the place, I figured out the correct track for the train into the city. For some reason no one asked me for a ticket, so I could have ridden the rails like a hobo into Manhattan, but I was happy to pay the $5.40 fare. The trains run every few minutes and it only takes 20 minutes to get into New York Penn Station. I had more trouble getting street side in New York than I did navigating the New Jersey transit system.

If one wants to understand why city dwellers have a peculiarly statist politics, spend time in a big city subway system. For the people in the city, government services are essential for living. They depend on the subway, the trash collection and the police department. The city depends upon this organic relationship between the state and the citizens. That does not exist in the suburbs or the country. There’s a comfort that comes from the daily interaction with the state. Anyone who questions that relationship is suspect.

It has been a few years since I was in Manhattan, so I needed a minute to get used to the rush of the city. In that part of the town, the sidewalks are a crush of worker bees heading home or headed to dinner, along with the summertime tourists. That makes for a carnival vibe, except no one is having a good time. I had some time to kill, so I went to Starbucks to use the bathroom, but it was locked. I went to a bar and had a beer, while listening to three very large Dominican women loudly complain about the lack of men in their lives.

I met John Derbyshire just outside the entrance to the Long Island Railroad station and he recommended we head over to a place called the Tick Tock Diner a block away. I must admit, I’ve met John several times now and socialized with him at events, but I’m still a bit intimidated by it all. I’m getting used to the reality of what I’m doing here, but there will always be a sense that I’m playing way above my league. I’m grateful that he invited me out and took the long trip in from his estates on Long Island to have dinner with me.

Of course, I am the worst possible dinner guest. I think I started talking about thirty seconds after we sat down and I did not shut-up until we parted. I can and will dominate a conversation if you let me. Worse yet, I have no filter, so I will ramble on about the many eccentric ideas and interests in my head.  When I explained to John my idea of creating a new moral philosophy based on a rational understanding of human nature, a refutation of the Enlightenment, he had the look of a man suddenly finding himself with a lunatic.

Luckily, John is a very gracious dinner companion, so he was not only willing to let me ramble on for hours, he picked up the check. When I let him get a word in edgewise, he mentioned that he was recording his novel into an audiobook, He is about halfway through the process. If you can’t wait for the spoken word version, you can buy it here. For those new to all of this, his book We are Doomed is a good place to start understanding the roots of the Dissident Right. John is the man who coined the term Dissident Right.

After talking his ear off, we parted company and I headed down to Penn Station, wondering if I would get on the right train. The thing that struck me about the area around the station was just how nice it was compared to Newark and Baltimore. New York is now a middle-class city, in that the people, for the most part, are urbanites with bourgeoisie sensibilities. It is not a city of gritty neighborhoods run by ethnic coalitions. It is a place for the ruling class, the young strivers of the managerial class and their non-white servants.

The train ride back was uneventful, but it did offer one glimpse of the past. Two guys with Knicks jerseys were sitting up front, drinking tall boys out of paper bags, while talking loud about something. A black guy was walking up and down the car reciting street poetry about his love for the baby Jesus. He was panhandling, but willing to work for it. I did not give him any money, but I appreciated the effort. These were the kind of people you expected to see on trains and subways, but they are being gentrified away too.

Back in Newark, the area around the Penn Station is slated for major development, but now it is mostly abandoned. I saw signs for a condo complex and it looks like they are building several of them. The hockey arena is there, along with the Prudential building, but I saw zero people in the walk back to the hotel. The plan is to gentrify the area, but it reminded me of efforts to do the same in Hartford years ago. It’s really hard to inject a cultural life into a dead city, but maybe Newark will be different.

An Empire of Midgets

Way back in the olden thymes, conservatives in Washington would argue with liberals about the realities of Federal spending and regulation. Liberals argued that if you spent more, people had more, while conservatives would point out that the money had to come from someone, as the government had no money, other than what it taxed. Similarly, when Washington put rules on business, conservatives argued, businesses would figure out ways around them, often making things worse than if there were no regulations.

While it was all for show, there was an important truth in the critique of liberals by conservatives. Not only are there trade-offs to all government policy, every change sets off a series of reactions to those changes. Pass a regulation and the mere act of passing it, changes the conditions you’re attempting to regulate. As business people will tell you, even observing or measuring something can change people’s conduct. People act different when they are watched. Liberals have never understood this basic truth.

The “war on hate” being waged by the Left is another one of those times where their extreme simple-mindedness is undermining the alleged point of their efforts. The lawsuit against Andrew Anglin by the terrorist groups SPLC has no basis in law, but it goes forward anyway. Similarly, the lawsuit by billionaire lesbian, Roberta Kaplan, against the Unite the Right people is another effort to pervert the law. These cases are nonsense and the lawyers should be censured. They undermine the rule of law by making it arbitrary.

That’s the theme of all of the Left’s recent efforts to shut down their critics. Take a look at the women claiming to have been “sexually assaulted” by famous men. In some cases, rare cases, the facts support the charge. In most cases, the facts suggest boorish behavior common to men since the dawn of time. In other words, the very meaning of the words used to govern male-female relations are losing their meaning. Instead of appeals to reason, these cases turn on appeals to mob rule played out in the media.

You see the same thing playing out in the workplace. That poor Starbucks employee who called the cops on two troublemakers lost his job and had to worry about his safety, for following the rules. These bakery employees are also fired because they did the prudent thing and refused to open up the shop after closing. Unbeknownst to them, there was an unwritten rule regarding blacks in the store’s polices. If they had opened the store and the black had robbed the place, they would have been fired for that too.

In the quest for social justice, the Left is obliterating all of the rules, even the rules that govern the language. Instead of having objective standards like an employee handbook or the courts, the rules are arbitrary and in a state of flux. In the short term, this works for them because the final arbiters are people from the cult. Corporate elites and the legal system are brimming with Progressive loons. The normal people who are the victims have yet to figure it out, so they keep acting as if the rules still apply as written.

This is, of course, an inevitable result of proportionalism. This is where the costs of violating laws and principles are weighed against the perceived benefits from violating those laws and principles. For instance, legal discrimination is wrong as a principle, but quotas and set asides allegedly have benefits that are too valuable to pass up, so the elite demands active racism in hiring. It is the belief that the smart people in charge can extract all the benefits of taking shortcuts, without suffering any consequences for it.

This depends on everyone else not changing their behavior when the rules no longer have meaning. That’s obviously not happening. The rise of white identity politics is the direct result of this growing awareness. Whites are slowly figuring out that the prohibitions against identity politics only apply to them, so they are joining the party. Steve Sailer’s famous war on noticing only works if people don’t notice. Once they do, then it becomes completely counter-productive. Political correctness is now driving white identity politics.

What the Left is doing with their lurch into lawlessness is destroying the conditions that make it possible for them to dominate. The short term benefit of having angry broads rampaging through the corporate suites has the long term cost of undermining everyone’s respect for the rules. The same is true of lawfare projects. Their success undermines the public’s respect for the law. The Left has been able to dominate because they slyly played by one set of rules, while everyone was encouraged to play by a another set of rules.

It’s funny in a way. The managerial class has embraced multiculturalism as a religion, while claiming to have advanced beyond the “rule by man” sorts of governance that have been the rule since forever. Yet, in order to make multiculturalism work, the managerial class has to transform itself into the bureaucratic elite of every empire that existed on earth. That is, in order to keep all the tribes, cults and clans from killing one another, the people in charge have to administer ad hoc rules and arbitrary justice to keep the peace.

The trouble with this is the empire had the authority of the emperor and usually an aristocratic class. Even today, it is hard not to be impressed by the image of a Roman Emperor or French monarch. When the guys making stuff up as they go along live in castles and have a retinue of cool looking knights, it’s easy to go along with the arbitrariness. When the people in charge have the majesty of a postal clerk, even the lowest orders think they can do better. Ours is becoming an empire ruled by midgets.

A Honkey In Newark

The first thing you notice about the ghetto is the sound. It’s loud. The black ghettos of America are urban, so you have the traffic noises, but that’s over-layered with the ever present sound of the music. The steady thumping of hip-hop, urban and soul music coming from every car, apartment window and the retail store. Then, of course, you have the people. Black people are loud, preferring to yell across a street at a friend than walk across and have a normal conversation. They even talk loud into their cell phones.

Walking down Broad Street in Newark, I was reminded of my first trip to Mexico. Walking the streets of Nogales, I was struck by the energy. People were scurrying in all directions and music blared from the store fronts in an effort to lure in the tourists. Newark does not have tourists, but it has that same sort of frenetic, pointless energy to it. The downtown is also festooned with garish retail signs advertising the sorts of things you normally associate with a ghetto. There’s a lot of money to be made off the poor in America.

On my walk around downtown, I saw almost all blacks, but there were a few Asians and Hispanics. According to government statistics, 50% of the city is black and 36% is Hispanic, but they must be quartered elsewhere. I was the only member of the master race on the street, but no one seemed to notice. I’ve strolled through plenty of towns being the only white guy, so I probably have figured out how to make it look natural. I got some food at Haggar’s Halal Kitchen and no one seemed to think it odd that I was white.

The funny thing about retail commerce in the ghetto is that it is free of the inhibitions you see in the outer world, with regards to the habits of minorities. Walking around Newark, every other shop seemed to be a nail salon. Black women love having exotic nails, so it makes sense to have a lot of nail shops, with lots of over the top signage. They are usually next to a shop that braids hair. Black women love their weaves, as much as they love their nails. In the ghetto, no one pretends this is something other than true.

Underneath a giant sign of Ras J. Baraka, the Mayor of Newark, is a store calling itself the Source of Knowledge. It must have started as an Afrocentric bookshop, but figured out why there are no bookstores in the ghetto. They added on African hair braiding and picture framing. Still, the shop is full of books, all of which are the blackety-black stuff you would associate with black nationalism. The shop fits in well with the 1970’s vibe you get walking around Newark. I was disappointed to learn that Big Mustafa was no longer around.

Speaking of Ras Baraka, I knew nothing about him until I saw the sign and decided to look him up. City Hall is on Broad Street, so I went down to have a look. They had a big banner up for Ramadan and some smaller banners for an African music festival. The building itself is quite imposing. It is not far from the Old First Presbyterian Church, where some of the state founders are buried. When I look at these old buildings, created in a different age by different people, I feel a twinge of sadness. Newark is a foreign country now.

As far as Baraka, he was not in, but going by his CV, I suspect he was at a poetry slam or maybe as a local hip-hop studio. He is an example of just how terrible this age has been on the black population. His father, a talented tenth, did real things and tried to make his race proud. Ras is a ridiculous person who would rather spend his time organizing hip-hop concerts than doing something for his people. Today, the talented tenth bolt for the white suburbs or they find ways make money reinforcing their peoples’ worst habits.

Walking around the city, I could not help but notice some very nice early 20th century architecture. Even with the grime of ghettoization, you can still feel the grandeur of these old buildings. In the first half of the last century, Newark was a booming industrial town with a flourishing downtown. This is soemthing you see in Baltimore, as well. If you tour Detroit’s bombed out districts, you see the same thing. It’s like there are ghosts rising from the rubble to remind those who look, that it was not always the way it is today.

The truth is, it does not have to be this way. It would not take a whole lot of will to fix a place like Newark. It has a great location. Install a strong man with authority to clean up the bad elements and crime could be cut in half within a year or two. The morgues would be busy, but it would solve the problem. Then you could bring in urban pioneers to gentrify the downtown and make it attractive to business. But, that would mean facing up to realities about the human condition that our rulers simply cannot face.

The Faith Of The Left

An argument I have been making for a long time is that the reason the Left has gone from triumph to triumph is that they are not motivated by reason. Instead, they are powered by a quest for salvation. The social issues that they champion, regardless of any practical considerations, are always cast in moral terms. The issue itself is immaterial. It is being on the right side of the issue that matters. Politics is an endless series of tests they must pass in order to remain on the path of the righteous, leading to the promised land.

This story about Obama’s reaction to the election is a good example.

Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory.

“What if we were wrong?” he asked aides riding with him in the armored presidential limousine.

He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. “Maybe we pushed too far,” Mr. Obama said. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”

His aides reassured him that he still would have won had he been able to run for another term and that the next generation had more in common with him than with Mr. Trump. Mr. Obama, the first black man elected president, did not seem convinced. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he said.

This is a recurring theme with the American Left. It is the reason they embraced the term “Progressive” as their preferred label. They start with the unspoken belief that the story of man is written. It is the duty of the righteous to live it out in order to reach salvation. It’s why “being on the right side of history” comes up so often. They think of the struggle as between those on the side of the great historical force and those who are standing in the way of it. The righteous are always looking forward and moving forward.

It is also why they think of the past as a dark age dominated by the sinners. There is no romanticism on the American Left, because the past is by definition further away from the glorious future. Instead, the past is filled with monsters that were either slain by the righteous, or locked away, but ready to return at any moment. For example, they remain forever vigilant about the return of Nazis, as if they are a real thing that still exist. In the mind of the American progressive “Nazi” is just another name for Old Scratch.

Notice in that Times piece that the Trump voters are described as “left behind” rather than unhappy or in disagreement. In other words, the people voting for Trump did so because they were sad for having been left behind by the righteous. Voting for Trump was a cry for help. It’s tempting to see this as part of Obama’s narcissism, but in reality his narcissism is also the result of this deep belief in the flow of history. He was chosen to lead the faithful, so of course he is a narcissist. What savior would not be a bit full of himself?

You’ll notice that Progressives are forever warning about some attempt to “turn back the clock” and return us to a former state of sin. It resonates with Progressives, because for them, the eternal quest for salvation means going forward, breaking away from the degraded past. Trump’s “turning the clock back” is viewed as the wages of sin. Obama thinks he tried too hard to deliver his people to the promised land. The result was the great leap backward into Trumpism. It is a lament and call to redouble the efforts of the faithful.

American Progressives are the purest form of true believers, because they have disconnected their beliefs from practical considerations. Therefore, they are immune to facts and reason. When you examine the language they use to describe politics and the culture, you see the extreme mysticism. Obama does not even really know what “left behind” means, but he is sure it is a bad thing. For him, it is a purely a spiritual issue to be thought of in those terms. Practical considerations simply have no salience for him.

The error the Right has made for generations is to think it is possible to prove the Left wrong, and therefore force them to abandon their agenda. That’s like thinking you can disprove sections of the Koran and cause the Muslims to abandon their faith. In fact, efforts to do so will always be met with a fierce defense of the faith. Practical arguments always embolden the righteous, as it confirms their belief in themselves as moral agents in a holy cause. Your irrational resistance is proof they are on the righteous path.

It’s why the Left have been so effective since the end of the Cold War, but also why it has become so extreme and bizarre. Defending socialism meant ceding authority to objective data like the unemployment rate or GDP growth. That served as a check on the more unhinged elements. Once free of these objective measures, it became a race to come up with the most extreme and bizarre identity group to champion. Lacking a limiting principle, and untethered from practical reality, the Left got increasingly extreme.

While it looks like the left is headed for some sort of crack up or possibly a dormant phase, it is important to remember that people have to believe in something. The reason conservatism was such a flop is it never tried to appeal to this aspect of man’s nature. It was the ideology of the bookkeeper. No matter how fat, dumb and happy, people will always yearn for the eternal. If there is to be an alternative to the prevailing orthodoxy, it is going to have to offer an alternative to those who desire to be on the side of angels.

Bum Fight

Years ago, I was driving through a rural area in the early evening and as I came up on what looked like an old store, I saw a small crowd out front. The place was a broken down old gin mill and the people out front were watching two scraggly looking drunks duke it out. There was something sad about it. This was the sum total of these two lives, drunk and punching one another in the face for the amusement of the crowd. That came to mind reading David French’s critique of this column by David Brooks.

French highlights this passage of the Brooks column:

Once upon a time, white male Protestants ruled the roost. You got into a fancy school if your father had gone to the fancy school. You got a job at a white-shoe law firm or climbed the corporate ladder if you golfed at the right club.

Then we smashed all that. We replaced a system based on birth with a fairer system based on talent. We opened up the universities and the workplace to Jews, women and minorities. University attendance surged, creating the most educated generation in history. We created a new boomer ethos, which was egalitarian (bluejeans everywhere!), socially conscious (recycling!) and deeply committed to ending bigotry.

You’d think all this would have made the U.S. the best governed nation in history. Instead, inequality rose. Faith in institutions plummeted. Social trust declined. The federal government became dysfunctional and society bitterly divided.

Now, putting aside the ret-conning, you would think French highlighted this section in order to make the obvious point. That maybe smashing the old system and turning the institutions over to “Jews, women and minorities” was the reason for the collapse in social trust, plummeting faith in institutions and a bitterly divided society. For that matter, you would think the guy who wrote that passage would have noticed the obvious causal link between overthrowing the old order and the chaos of the present day.

Instead, Brooks goes on to list nonsense reasons like “Inability to think institutionally” as the cause of the trouble. This is pretty much the opposite of reality. The managerial class is incapable of anything other than institutional thinking. The section labeled “Misplaced idolization of diversity” is nonsensical, but no one in his business is permitted to utter anything but nonsense when it comes to race. Basically Brooks wants the managerial elite to go on a team building excursion so they can feel better about themselves.

For his part, French is even more clueless.

Combine academic ignorance with a worldview that too often unthinkingly and reflexively rejects religious traditions and traditional religious notions of morality, and you’ve got the recipe for exactly the proud, “elite” individualist Brooks describes. Or, to borrow a biblical concept, “claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

He is right that the “meritocracy is here to stay,” but he’s wrong that we “need a new ethos to reconfigure it.” An old ethos will do, one grounded in humility, true curiosity, and an openness to challenging ideas.

It’s not that America’s “educated elite” has truly failed; it’s that America’s “educated elite” no longer really exists.

 

This is a guy who races to the front of the room whenever Conservative Inc. calls for a two minutes of hate against the mortal sins of sexism, homophobism or antisemitism, racism. Conservatism is in free-fall because it has been defiantly close-minded to ideas that challenge the prevailing orthodoxy. The fact that the swelling ranks of the Dissident Right see guys like David French as part of the problem should be a clue, but that would require true curiosity about what’s going on and an openness to challenging ideas.

That said, he is not entirely wrong. The managerial state inevitably has to boil off the people who question the system. This is the iron rule of institutions. Some small portion care about the mission, but the bulk are simply their to defend the system and the perks which come from being a part of it. That’s what has happened in America. The ruling class is populated with the sorts of people gifted at repeating that they have been told, but incapable to questioning the status quo. Our elites are uniformly dull and unimaginative.

That’s why the West in general, but American in particularly is going through these populist convulsions. The people who run the institutions are incapable of questioning the logic of the institutions they serve. Both Brooks and French accept as an axiom that turning things over to “Jews, women and minorities” is a good in itself. Therefore they can’t question their role in the current troubles. They are emotionally wedded to the premise of the so-called meritocracy, so they inevitably must defend it from all challenges.

Fundamentally, no society can be run on merit. Any system that attempts to select for ability will inevitably select for that which reinforces itself. That’s what has happened in post-war America. The institution grew in size and reach, but their institution knowledge narrowed. The per capita Federal budget, for example, is three times larger today than 50 years ago, measured in constant dollars. Yet, the differences between the political parties has never been narrower. That’s why elections have had no impact on policy.

It’s also why people like French and Brooks worry about the “dysfunctional federal government and bitterly divided society. The populist revolt is a direct challenge to the very idea of a managerial elite. Trump, for good or ill, is the rejection of that concept. He is not a man of merit. He is a man of accomplishments, which is a different thing than a list of credentials. David Brooks can sneer all he likes, but no one is putting his name on the side of a big building. No one is asking David French to build their luxury golf resort.

The Eurocast

This week the podcast goes international, as we do a whole show on those strange foreign people called Europeans. I wanted to do something on Italy and while scanning the wires for updates on their situation, I found other stuff worth covering. Our mass media only reports on the world when it is on fire, so it is good to look around at foreign and alternative press to get a fuller understanding of the world. It also made for a good theme to the podcast this week. I always like it when there is a theme to the show.

One administrative note. Next week there will not be a podcast. I’m traveling all next week and possibly into the following week. I have done podcasts on the road, but it is a big hassle and I’m not going to fight it. Blogging from the road is no big deal, but recording requires a much higher level of effort. If you need your weekend fix, try out FTN, which is doing a new feature where they cover a single topic in detail. Last week they did a long analysis on China, which was very good. You can find their shows here.

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below.

This Week’s Show

Contents

Direct Download

The iTunes Page

Google Play Link

iHeart Radio

Full Show On Spreaker

Full Show On YouTube