The Confluence

Everyone likes to think they live in interesting times, but it is really hard to know as you can only really know your age. You can read about the past, but you really can’t know what it was like to be alive in a prior age. What we come to think of us great eras or important periods are usually when one period ends and another begins. That means the violent end of some portion of the established order and the noisy birth of its replacement. The French Revolution is an obvious example.

A decade ago, no one would have thought the West was entering an important moment. Most experts were still talking about the end of history and how the whole world was headed for that central collection point of democratic capitalism. No one talks like that now for obvious reasons. What we call capitalism is just global feudalism and democracy seems to be on the run, in one fashion or another, just about everywhere. Maybe it is temporary and unimportant, but it does feel like something important is happening.

In America, one thing that does appear to be true is the old ruling order is beginning to crumble. After the Civil War, the established order was that the nation would be ruled by the Yankee north or at least by people who accepted that world view. This made sense as the South was in ruins and the industrializing North was not only victorious, but prosperous. At the founding, the South and Tidewater dominated the new country. After the Civil War, it was the North that dominated the nation.

This arrangement probably should have faded away by the early 20th century, but the Industrial Revolution kept the South relatively backward. Instead, the two great industrial wars and then the Cold War locked things in place. The South slowly modernized, but the political culture of the country remained as it had been for a century. It is not an accident that the only Southerners to have success in national politics have been liberals or people who embraced Progressive causes.

That appears to be changing. Progressivism, the civic religion of the North, has degraded into a lunatic cult and marginalized itself. The leaders still control the high ground, but they are under assault. Buckley conservatism, which has served as the ideological enforcers for the Left, is imploding. These people may not be packing their bags, preparing for exile, but the 2016 election map makes clear that the old Yankee hegemony is coming to an end. The sensibilities of the rest of the country will have to be included in the political culture.

Now, it is possible that Progressivism is on its death bed. Unlike Europe, the American Left has never been about economic equality. It was always about spiritual equality. The radicals on the Continent were always obsessed with busting up the class structure. The radicals in American have always been focused on saving the immortal soul of the nation. Economic equality was never anything more than a a political tool for the reformers to use as a way to get control of the culture in order to impose their moral vision on the nation.

In order for this to work, the Left has always needed victims and oppressors, saints and sinners. In the 20th century, they could champion black civil rights and women’s issues. Then it was onto gays and now foreigners. The trouble is, they are running out of victims to champion. Black guys getting pushed around by rednecks at the polling booth make for sympathetic victims. Mentally unstable men in sundresses wanting access to the girl’s toilet are not good victims. They are ridiculous and championing them makes the champions look ridiculous.

There’s also a noticeable lack of villains. Donald Trump is supposed to be the 12th invisible Hitler, returning to impose a dictatorship on America. The trouble is, Trump sounds like a Jewish guy from Queens and his kids converted to Judaism when they got married. So far, his most enthusiastic supporter among world leaders is the Prime Minister of Israel. They ain’t making Hitlers like they used to. This comes after the nation twice elected a black guy president. The unhinged hatred of white people that has carried the Left for generations has descended into madness.

Something else that is working against the Yankee hegemony is the collapse of the blank slate. Progressivism rests on the assertion that people come into the world as an amorphous blob that can be shaped and trained to be anything. That means a just society has virtuous people at the top to make sure the citizens are properly shaped and trained. This imperative has always been the source of authority for the American Left and now it is unraveling as science unlocks the human genome.

It is impossible to overestimate the impact of genetics on moral philosophy as everything about Western culture depends on free will. Democracy assumes that all people are equally capable of participating in the civic life of a people. While most people have always sensed that this is not true, scientific proof that it is not true changes everything. You cannot have egalitarianism and multiculturalism without assuming humans come into the world as a blank slate. If people are not endlessly malleable, there’s no point in trying to mold them.

Long term trends like these do not change overnight so this great confluence of events may play out over generations. It could turn out that the natural order is for the North to dominate the political life of the nation. Genetics could find the “free will” gene and validate everything Progressives have claimed for generations. It is impossible to know, but it is not the way things are heading. Right now it feels like three great trends in American cultural life are coming to a conclusion at roughly the same point.

68 thoughts on “The Confluence

  1. I admit I’m loathe to give up free will myself. I grew up with that version of conservatism that stressed personal accountability and resisted progressive attempts to always blame other factors.

    I realize they mainly meant environmental factors, but digging in on personal responsibility to resist that leaves me a bit unable to yield ground to genetics. I’d like to think there’s a couple of levels of analysis. We may all be wired in certain ways and to operate within certain limits, but most of us certainly seem to have some capacity to use executive function to weigh costs and benefits and to obey externally imposed laws and norms. Those that can’t, well perhaps a wiring-based analysis should lead us to some compassion as we lock them away or put them down.

    OTOH, the progs will probably just define our entire worldview as a genetic abnormality and put us in asylums.

  2. Still catching up. I’ve been storing Zman posts in my head all week.

    I especially like the introductory frame of this one. even those with strong historical backgrounds and some vague sense of the scale of time, the flow of events, etc., can only see their own times in front of them and conversely these are the times we most struggle to give some kind of name, structure, or meaning to.

    For my part, I’m not sure that the old order I see crumbling is not still the last remnants of western civilization, the traditional social/sexual/moral orders, the state/nation/ethnic group complex, and the industrial economy/’labour force’/full employment/ ‘work’ model of society and economy. Are we sure that what is on the horizon still isn’t the progressive dreamworld of a multiracial, multicultural, monoideological, post modern global civilization characterized by Omni/pansexuality, global sovereignty, and universal basic income in a world in which all work is automated?

    Basically, the sort of future that makes the earth envisioned in Star Trek look like a reactionary paradise run by the Vatican.

    Are we sure we are winning? Or anything resembling beginning to win? This is even apart from my earlier voiced concerns about DJT’s unnecessarily chaotic management and pr styling.

    When my young millennial fanboy coworker speculates on being at the cusp of a new society, he does not mean the return of anything resembling older norms.

    Or, perhaps I am just terrified that in my old age the foreign careworker paid for by the WorldGov will be a hermaphrodite postfeminist who wants to force me to pee sitting down even if I can still stand up. If I can still stand up.

  3. Zman, nice job connecting the dots.

    However, I must ask, did you mean to say “invalidate” in your last paragraph?

    “Genetics could find the “free will” gene and validate everything Progressives have claimed for generations.

    Free will goes against the Liberal strain. They want to kill it.

  4. “If people are not endlessly malleable, there’s no point in trying to mold them.”

    I wish this were true. Back when I was trying to absorb all things conservative, I read Albert J. Nock’s Memoirs of a Superfluous Man and recall a point he made. The gist of it was that in discussion with a “conservative” the fellow was of the opinion that since man could never be perfected (Original Sin and all that) there was really no point in trying to change man at all. But Nock disagreed (if I recall, in a footnote), and said that even though man might never reach perfection, he has such great potential that for all intents and purposes there would never be a limit to the amount of change we might make.

    I suspect that the Left will view things similarly. In fact, I imagine that they’ll insist that we pour enough resources into certain “lagging” races to bring them up to speed. So scientific evidence will only make them clamor for more.

  5. “This arrangement probably should have faded away by the early 20th century, but the Industrial Revolution kept the South relatively backward”.

    According to Richard Kelly Hoskins in “War Cycles Peace Cycles”, Virginia did not have the debts from the costs of Reconstruction and debt that the negro legislature acquired when the Federal Government disenfranchised the White Citizenry paid off until the 1960’s. Considering that they also had Confederate War Debts, had property stolen from them (land and slaves), plus other Northern debt instruments as well, the poverty in the Southern States was deliberately induced so that the South would remain in an economically inferior position and could not ever question their own slavery again.

  6. Everyone likes to think they live in interesting times

    Interesting times are led by interesting people. Society has become so vanilla and milquetoast, and our “leaders” so devoid of personality, that opinion leaders have all the excitement (at least publicly) of elevator music. Without interesting people how can you have interesting times?

  7. Breathtaking. Nobody sees our times more broadly or explains it more clearly than the Zman.

    We are indeed most fortunate to have him.
    May his wisdom last a thousand years!

  8. The irony, of which I am loving, daily, is: Obama said and ran on fundamental change of the U.S. I think it’s fair to say he kicked some dents in here and there, but largely failed. I ponder to think what the landscape of the body politic and everything we have been forced to think as the new normal, will have been eviscerated by the end of Trump’s first term. We are on a ride, that few get to take. We are watching a country reshaped like nothing since Wilson. ( no offense to 1980 and Regan)

  9. Democratic Socialism is the natural state of a democracy, unfortunately. That is a hard pill to swallow for a “conservative”, but my mind is no longer open at both ends. What accelerates the decay in democracy is universal suffrage. But the most lethal snake in that grass is woman. That is not to disparage women, but to understand democracy. There are many styles of living that bring out the best, or the worst, in individuals and in groups. The best and most indispensable of the unique qualities of women become lethal in herds of policy.

    • The woman’s point of view is lethal when it is applied in a world dominated by Alpha men. So the plan was to eliminate the Alpha male. Trump just monkey-wrenched that strategy.

  10. JayMan has a bunch of articles about the genetics of the different American Nations, though we also need to remember that Americans move around more than any nation on Earth….In any event, we swim in the seas of our times….while the seas of the past and future are mostly unimaginable to the living.

  11. There was a great collection of stories about African big game hunting by Robert Ruark, titled “Use Enough Gun”. One of the great annoyances to guides was the novice “Great White Hunter” who wanted to demonstrate his prowess by using less than the recommended caliber. Too often the result was a wounded and now infinitely more dangerous animal. It feels like we’ve reaching this stage with the Left. Yes, they are wounded. Yes, they are on the run in most electoral districts. But what I’ve seen coming from otherwise educated and sane left leaning individuals (“you are literally HItler if you voted for Trump”–a real life FB posting from a NY Bar admitted, middle aged attorney) tells me we are in very, very dangerous territory. Akin to crawling into deep brush with a double barrel 12ga with slugs after a wounded leopard. Be very very careful

    • The problem is that you have to use enough gun to replace 80% of the Republicans in Congress. It’s already obvious that they aren’t going to make any meaningful reforms.

    • Criminal prosecutions, RICO Act. Let thee be penalties when they egregiously overstep. Give them the same mercy as they give us or anyone else.

    • I’ll take ’em wounded and dangerous vs large and in charge, any day. The left are suffering a mental breakdown as everything they just knew was true is not. A majority of them will red pill and wake up. We’ll be left with minority that thrashes and screeches but as soon as their money systems are gone after, they’ll wither. The key is the NGO’s, Foundations and Soros, who are funding the rage right now.

    • Yeah, but it’s all bluster. It really is. I understand how really nasty that stuff sounds, but when push comes to shove that NY Bar admitted, middle aged, attorney will do PRECISELY NOTHING. Yeah, he’ll vote (D), but he already did that, and it didn’t matter. He’ll blog about it, maybe say some mean things, but in terms of action? Nothing.

      • That is certainly my hope. Just a fever that eventually breaks. From a demographic view, this is simply behavior that has traditionally been confined at the college student level. But here, behind enemy lines, the demographic difference is marked. And the lawyer (female BTW–who also proudly posted a video of herself shouting “Never Trump” when she ran into Bill Clinton at a ski resort out West recently). Or another consultant with a well known firm putting profile pictures with Trump superimposed over a swastika. It goes on. At least the 60s protesters had an “ask”. Get out of the Vietnam stalemate and pony up on civil rights. What we see today is a sort of political nihilism. Curiously, Tucker Carlson keeps asking these folks “what do you want?” And they can’t answer the question. So half of me will hope that social media simply provides an outlet for every wanna be middle aged virtue signaler, but the other half will be figuratively (and literally) checking my “zeros” at the range in case things go hot.

  12. I think the normals accepted the rulers pushing the blank slate as long as they saw it tinkering around the edges and more or less well-intentioned. Then it went too far. What’s so well-intended about fining a baker for not wanting to violate his religious beliefs, or forcing girls to use the same bathroom as perverts? The Cult went wild under Obama and the result is Trump, who, though he may seem a little erratic, is normal like the rest of us. Biology and human nature are stubborn things. They are not going away any time soon.

  13. Also, at some point, the progressive left (d)evolved from the holy building a better tomorrow to holiness being an end in and of itself. The progressive left no longer cares about real world results anymore, and nobody is in charge of or responsible for anything. It’s anti-hierarchical and moral relativist, where the overall mob of believers both produce and enforce doctrine. The goal is to spread itself, not to build or create anything in the real world.

  14. If people are not endlessly malleable, there’s no point in trying to mold them.

    If people are to any degree malleable, then there is a point of molding them. (Of course, if they are only malleable a tiny amount then molding them may be prohibitively costly.) However, the scientific truth is darker than you suggest. People are not malleable at all, at least on the few things that we can characterize well enough to have scientific evidence about. In particular IQ. IQ is about 75+% genetic with the remaining <25% being non-shared environment. It is 0% shared environment: schooling, etc. That is in the long run. In the shorter run, children in particular show some shared environmental effects, but it fades to nothing as they become adults.

    • An awareness of biological reality on some level may partially explain the progs’ mania for multiculturalism, extreme individualism, and ethnic blending./race mixing of every variety. “Multiculturalism” is a code word for one-world monoculture. The prog dream ultimately requires such a monoculture, a one-world government, and a one-world blended people, a “light tan Everyman.” The mere existence of Europeans is an affront to the dream.

    • I read somewhere that Project Head Start, i.e. pre-school for low income youngsters, an attempt to bring them up to speed intellectually before they start elementary school, pretty much has nothing to show for the effort with these children a few years later. Another poor use of tax dollars attempting to improve our failing multi-cultural impasse! I am beginning to think that removing children from their deplorable “homes” and putting them into boarding school-like situations with regular hours and meals, exposure to good music and religious training, and kind adults, properly supervised, might be an answer. Right now kids from ALL walks of life are suffering emotional and cultural deprivation. Society will suffer long term, big time.

      • Yeah, it seems Head Start was full of theory, but in reality, it’s just government supplied child care, and the sad thing is, even though it’s not providing the “head start”, it has turned into a better place for too many young kids who would otherwise be in a unstructured environment at many homes. Sticky situation.

    • This leads directly to a question that few people want to contemplate. If we acknowledge the biological differences in inherent capability how do you construct a nation or state of free and equal citizens unless it is mono-ethnic?

      In any multi-ethnic nation of state where the ethnicity’s have a difference in inherent capacity you will have a structural driver for one group to game the system over another group simply due to competition between the different ethnicity’s core capacities. This would suggest as a very simple level that to have a truly free and equal citizenry that is stable at the nation state level you need mono-ethic states. Of course a deeper investigation of the concept may very well produce a different answer….

  15. I don’t know that I agree with your statement on genetic biodiversity. It’s kind of an underground, disreputable thing that you only see among the redpilled. It does firm up the convictions of such, myself included.

    The biggest problem the blank slate is having isn’t biodiversity IMO, but simple observation. The world just isn’t living up to what the progressives claim it to be. Nonwhite people aren’t the same as everybody else, and white people arent the source of all evil. People look out at the world and their own eyes tell them the truth the narrative tries so desperately to subvert.

    • Nicholas Wade is bestselling author and former staff writer for the science section of the New York Times. In 2014 he published a book titled ‘A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History’ while he was still employed by the Times. They ran negative reviews of the book and published a letter that was signed by over 100 population geneticists, some of whose work was cited in the book, condemning Wade for misrepresenting their field. One of their gripes was that Wade suggested that national differences in IQ scores are a big driver of global inequality. The thing is, Wade didn’t make that argument. He even cited a Ron Unz article from The American Conservative where Unz argued that ***environment is entirely responsible*** for the Hispanic-white achievement gap.

      This stuff remains disreputable because the left holds the megaphone. Wade was reduced to responding to his critics in the Times in the Letters section.

      The science on race and IQ is solid. I will be stunned if geneticists don’t find that persistent IQ gaps are largely innate. Evolution simply didn’t stop at the neck 50,000 years ago and racial differences in brain size exist, although brain size doesn’t seem to be the primary driver of group differences in intelligence.

      The first law of behavioral genetics is that all behavioral traits are heritable. Like intelligence, it would be absolutely shocking if a trait like empathy is distributed evenly across population groups, races, goklus, or whatever you want to call them.

      • I don’t dispute the science. Quite the opposite in fact. The argument I was trying to make is that because of the left’s megaphone, it’s not the science that is undermining the left but instead people observing that reality isn’t living up to the narrative, because science. The science is right, but it’s the cognitive dissonance of the narrative that is causing the narrative to self-destruct, not the science itself.

        • Somehow I missed this sentence: “It does firm up the convictions of such, myself included.” I’d like to blame my poor reading comprehension on a cranky toddler who kept me up last night, but the truth is probably that I was born this way.

      • I think that genetics, aka DNA, determine the individual’s potential, and then environment and nurture determine how much of that potential is achieved. And almost none of us ever achieve anywhere near all of our predetermined potential. Most don’t ever get close. With no amount of training could I ever manage to run the two-minute mile. Some others can manage a five or six minute , or even that 4.5 minute mile. I suspect my capabilities would be running the nine-minute heart attack.

    • I don’t think we will ever see the day when genetic determinism is the default position. What I think is happening is the Left is increasingly at odds with science, which has been their stand-in for God as the moral authority. “Science tells as that race does not exist” is an example. When the easy counter is “23andMe” the moral authority of the Left’s claims on race evaporates. We’re not quite there, but it is close.

      That’s the thing to keep in mind about progressives. They are not making facts and reason arguments. They are making moral arguments. In order to do that, you need a transcendent moral authority to legitimize the claims. It used to be God and now it is science. If science turns on them, then they have a serious problem.

      • That the narrative is a scientific failure when the narrative justifies itself because of science seems to be what you’re saying. What I’m saying that the science of the narrative isn’t being beaten by better science, but because of its own failures in the face of reality.

        • Also Taco, I’d posit that the left likes “settled science”. When they get an observation or paper that buttresses their aims, it’s all over. No need to look into it any further and to do so is heresy! So the progs lifted “science” above religion to a religion of it’s own… and then enjoyed trumpeting the science! as long as no one came along and did real science on their “settled science”. They are in a pickle. Red pill indeed.

      • I would say the moral arguments are a cover for the true agenda of the Left, which is the destruction of Western culture and the white race. Every single moral principle of the Left is stated as an absolute, yet in practice it always, ALWAYS, only applies to those who defend Western culture or the white race.

      • Science already has turned on them. Hence all the cute names, like “deniers”, and their insistence that The Media is unassailable and beyond criticism. If Science is their God, then The Media is their Messenger. Neither Science nor The Media carries the moral authority it once did.

        Won’t stop them from wailing away, but the more they do that, the less people are going to be inclined to listen.

      • Z,
        If I may be so bold, You can simplify it even more then that. It goes all the way back to plato and the dialectic. The progressive marxists (or neo-marxists as I personally see them) are fundamentally modern Sophists whos arguments and world views are based in emotional reasoning (the neo-cons fall in this group as well).
        The alt-right and traditional conservatives are primarily based in rational reasoning.
        Everything from the blank slate argument to God arises from these 2 fundamentally different approaches to the world, emotional vs rational.

  16. Times always get interesting. I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve pretty much for the hell of it in 1989. On my last full day of boot camp, one of my Drill Instructors guaranteed that some of us would be in combat during our first enlistments. I didn’t necessarily disagree, but I was damn sure it wouldn’t be me unless the Soviets started WWIII. The Marine Reserve had not been deployed since Korea.

    Fast forward a year-and-a-half – I’m sitting on the Saudi-Kuwaiti border with a rifle and a radio during the battle of Kafji. The whole time I was thinking “damn that guy was right”.

    • I joined the Army Reserve the summer of 1989, too. During the 8 weeks I was in Basic, the Berlin Wall came down, Tianamen square happened, and the Ayatollah died.

      They told us NOTHING about it. It was like I was in Brigadoon rather than Ft. Jackson. I went in there with one world, came out with another.

  17. It’s not only that the progs set out to save the Nation’s soul. They’ve been on a quest to save the world’s soul too. Hence all the military adventurism, nation building, and the bizarre assumption that simply moving savages into democratic nations will magically civilize them.

    I saw a report recently where one of the French candidates in the upcoming elections apologized for French colonialism, and the damage it wreaked on places like Africa. Well, if colonialism is bad, destroys the culture, and leaves the natives in ruins, why the hell are they allowing themselves to be colonized? Guilt, I suppose.

    Finally, on the “saving the soul of the nation” theme, one of the best arguments for just flat-out repealing Obamacare and going back to the laws in place on March 22nd, 2010 is that the law has torn the country in two. It has pitted neighbors against each other with one side realizing they’ve been lied to and stolen from, while the other side recoils at the prospect of returning stolen property and the idea that you really cannot just lie to get what you want and shove half the country’s face in it. A pretty good sign of a bad law is tens of millions of people showing up to scream and yell about it.

    Speaking of lies, most of the anger and angst in this country stems from the realization that we’ve been lied to for decades now. We were told globalization would make life better for Americans. It has made things better for the top 5-10%, and the bottom 50% has been devastated. We were told that refusing to enforce immigration laws is an “act of love” and represents who we are as Americans. Now we have people freaking out because they were lied to and told if they got here they could stay, laws be damned. Obamacare? Yep, one of the biggest consumer cons in the history of the world. They lied their asses off to pass it, and have continued to lie to people that their subsidies and “free” healthcare are just money raining down from heaven…not taxed away from their neighbors through sky-high premiums and hidden taxes. And it’s not just the victims of the progs who have been lied to…

    …we were supposed to have an opposition party in this country. Turns out, not so much!

    • The ObamaCare stuff is amazing to behold. I think we always knew that the GOP was not serious about repealing it. That’s not surprising. The opportunity to sell favors because of the law is massive. That said, they have had their bluff called. They have to know it. Thy have to know this will become an issue if they don’t do something.

      • Z,
        Nice essay. I love the part where suddenly “Springtime for Hitler” (0-care repeal) becomes a hit and all the shares sold to the rubes by the producer (Ryan and McConnell) suddenly come due for payment. Could not have happened to a more deserving duo.

      • “They have to know this will become an issue if they don’t do something.”

        Aw, that’s cute, you still think the GOO cares if you think it’s “an issue”.

      • I’m being a little facetious about Obamacare repeal. I actually think they’re going to “repeal” it, scare quotes and all. I think they’re worried about two things:
        – pulling the rug out from under the States on the Medicaid expansion…that is a crap load of money.
        – pulling the rug out from under the uninsurable with preexisting medical conditions…although it’s been illegal to deny coverage for a long time, Obamacare made it so insurers cannot charge more for sick people which is insane.

        The devil’s bargain that comes out of this will be some sort of new, massively scaled back, entitlement program that is really a high risk pool for those who cannot realistically get insurance due to a serious medical condition. I think many (most?) states already have high risk pools, so there will be a tax and money will flow to the states to fund these. People will qualify for support if they cannot get health insurance due to their condition. A lot of times, it’s not the whole family, it’s one person IN the family, so I think the deal with the devil will be to create that high risk pool funding in exchange to dumping pretty much the entire law, particularly the anti-constitutional “individual mandate”, and enacting reforms that will put power back in individual hands (no more artificial “state line” boundaries, increased HSA incentives like raising the annual pre-tax caps, and so on).

        Price seems to know a hell of a lot about this, and I think part of the devil’s bargain will also include a pretty massive deregulation of the healthcare industry ala airlines and AT&T in the 1980’s. So, we get a modest new entitlement program which gets paid for with a bump in payroll taxes, but the mandates are gone, the onerous taxes are gone, the industry gets deregulated, and individuals have greater market freedom. Only Nixon could go to China or something…that’s the role the GOP will have to play.

        If Obama and the Democrats hadn’t gone full fascism with healthcare, and just tried to set up a modest program for high risk pools along with a couple of pretty minor tweaks (like allowing children to stay on their parents’ plan), they probably expand their ruling majorities. Instead, they went for the brass ring, set up an authoritarian nightmare of a program, and shoved it down people’s throats with heaping helpings of progressive sanctimony.

        Never go full fascism.

        • It is an interesting problem. Politically, they have to get the name “ObamaCare” out of the public vocabulary, even if it is just symbolic. Policy-wise, they have to address the stuff that is hurting their voters, but the law is probably unfixable. They may bee thinking that the right play is to wait until “ObamaCare” is so detested that repealing it becomes a default.

          The larger issue is that a good sized chunk of the GOP sees Trump as the enemy. That means the House and the Senate are basically run by a coalition of two parties, the NeverTrumpGOP and the ProTrumpGOP.

          • They’ve started already. I’m in Canada, but our “news” comes via the big American media. This morning the radio had a tearjerker story about the suffering of drug addicts. Their big worry now is that PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP would keep his promise about repealing “The Affordable Care Act” which was all that was keeping them alive, because it provided treatment for drug addiction! I spotted out at once the deliberate name change and pointed it out to my husband. They used that term 3 times: “The Affordable Care Act”. Yesterday, it was “Obamacare” but today that term is nowhere to be found in the mealy mouths of the press.

          • They are getting diminishing returns on the tear-jerker stuff. Not just with healthcare, but with illegals too. What’s the meme right now? Trump is “breaking up families”. What have become the surprisingly-common responses to that? Variations of “Nobody said they can’t take their kids with them,” and, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

            I think people have had it with the emotional blackmail. The Progs are way over-playing their hands on both these issues. They always present the cancer patient, but they never present the person paying 2-3x more with a $15,000 deductible. The people paying for the “free” healthcare are on to the scam.

            There was some female illegal they tried to make into a National Sensation a couple of weeks ago. Thugs, aka “protesters”, showed up at INS to try and bully them into letting her go. There were sad sap stories about her and her kids getting “broken up”.

            She has disappeared very quickly from the limelight. What happened to her? It turns out she had been using stolen SSAN’s to steal other people’s identities to get work. SHE WAS A CRIMINAL, and exactly the kind of person Trump has said he wants out of the country. (Also, just like voter fraud, the worst thing that could get out for the Progs is news that gaming the system like this woman did isn’t exactly rare.)

            The more the media plays these emotional blackmail angles, the less it works.

          • The play they might go with is to “repeal” ObamaCare – leaving the lion’s share intact and making a few cosmetic changes. Win win, so to speak.

          • That’s why people think the GOP is playing with fire on this one. This very much falls into the “how can we fool them today” category of Congressional action.

    • Many “victims” of the French colonialism in North-West Africa think well of the French, and appreciate the country’s ongoing efforts to help where they can. (This from my indigenous relatives living in Mali). They do scratch their heads about the uncontrolled immigration. People everywhere have a sense of right and wrong, whether or not they choose to abide by it in their own lives.

      • That’s what makes the French candidate’s “apology” even sillier. It’s all just moral preening / virtue signalling. He probably doesn’t believe a word of it.

  18. “That means a just society has virtuous people at the top to make sure the citizens are properly shaped and trained. This imperative has always been the source of authority for the American Left and now it is unraveling as science unlocks the human genome.”


    I’m confused. Power and money cause evil to come out in the open and this has what to do with ‘science’? Everything after these two sentences makes no sense. Evil is real.

        • Let me give it a try. Been sick so forgive me if not real cogent.
          First point based on a book from the late seventies that described American politics as Yankees vs cowboys. Even though trump is from New York he’s our first cowboy president. Roosevelt liked to cowboy around. Not the same thing.
          Second point is that genetics is undermining blank slate basis for American social compact. This assumes that the blank slate, which is never mentioned in the declaration of independence, was thought by the founders to be real. One would have delve into the letters of Jefferson and others for evidence. My assumption based on what he said about blacks and slavery is that he did not believe in a blank slate. There are other problems. In order for the blank slate to be able to be superimposed on the founding requires the idea of the D of I to be the “organic law” of the nation, as some have called it, and a necessary reference in order to properly understand and interpret the constitution. I’ve heard guys argue for hours about this. Many originalist interpreters of the constitution deny this, as well as any natural law basis, because it lays open all kinds of elasticity to constitutional interpretation. When you start to think about Lincoln’s take on this issue and 600,000 dead you can understand why.
          When you get to the genetics itself there are two things. One is the evidence that there are differences in social tendencies between groups that are not attributable simply to nurture in the nature/nurture argument. Tiger moms may think that they are having a big effect on their kids with their training, but it may be if they tried the same things with other kids they would fail miserably. All they are doing is making sure genes that are already there get expressed and nothing more.
          Z here goes beyond gene expression as we know it to state that we may one day find out that there is no such thing as free will itself. My opinion on this is that if it were the case we would already know the answer, like in genetics. Despite the fact that we are getting answers from science on genetics now, it is merely confirming what we have known for thousands of years. Lack of free will has always been attractive to materialist philosophers. The funny thing is, when they discuss determinism their arguments always end up looking like they are describing everyone besides themselves as having no will of their own. One of the best regulations of this is in The Wonder of Being Human by Robinson and Eccles, 1984, an excerpt of which is in Enduring Issues in Philosophy, 1995. They criticize it on the basis of nonemergence of consciousness in complex systems. No HAL computers so far. And the lack of ability of materialism to account for the evolutionary emergence of consciousness. They go on to describe studies of twins and both natural and artificial brain defects as evidence unsupportive of determinism, as well. But it seems to me that the strongest argument is the reductio ad absurdum that the determinism must ultimately admit that deciding on determinism as a force in both the universe and the human mind are beyond his control and that they are driven by some outside force to come to that conclusion, and this not a one of them has done.

      • On the other hand, who instinctively understands the human genome better than the American Left, or, armed with a cynical understanding, manipulate it more? Science, like democracy, is only a tool to power and control. No one can ignore science like the Prog, or even make his own. If there is a crack in this dyke, root for the crack and bet on the dyke.

    • The previous sentence puts it into context (my underscore)

      “Progressivism rests on the assertion that people come into the world as an _amorphous blob_ that can be shaped and trained to be anything.”

      Science has disproven this theory of the ‘blank slate.’ Check out the Minnesota transracial adoption study. Black kids raised by white parents still have a lower IQ on average than white kids raised by black parents, for example. Google “MAOA gene”, sometimes called the warrior gene. Blacks have a much higher incidence of the variant of this gene that is highly correlated with violent behavior.

      The reason this is destroying the Left is because they have always said that as long as treatment was equal then outcomes would be equal. When that doesn’t happen, they demand unequal treatment for those “disenfranchised” groups in order to get equal outcomes. When those equal outcomes don’t come, they demand even more… This is why black kids in my home state have far more spent on them per capita than whites yet they still greatly underperform whites in all academic measures.

  19. I’m reminded of a very good essay that I read recently:

    “As a new species of religious functionary, the Left is anatomically ill-formed and physiologically unsound, and pathologically so. It is a functional equivalent to the Church that isn’t quite up to the task; at once enough like the priesthood to try to fill the latter’s shoes, and enough unlike it to fail comically. The Progressive religion-surrogate shares, with traditional religion, eschatological hope for the eventual redemption of Man and a life in which there is no longer any discrepancy between essence and existence, ought and is, right and fact. Where it departs is in thinking that this state of affairs must be brought about in this life and under Man’s own power, with the omnipotent temporal State standing in for the omnipotence of a God dead of atheism and materialism. The Utopian State, by definition, can attain to God-like singular omnipotence only if the social field is utterly leveled, everybody reduced to equality, and all rival and self-sufficient institutional powers obliterated; it follows that the religious goal of salvation cannot be realized unless religion itself is abolished first.

    “This contradiction leaves the Left in an inescapable and self-defeating paradox.”

    • The quest for the civic religion dates back to the French Revolution. In actuality, it has always been a part of human society. The religion of the people is always bound up in the ruling structure. The trouble for the Left has always been that their civic religion has no payoff.

      • Yep, the author writes, “religion is absolutely indispensable to the orderly functioning of society; where secularism is imposed, society always either successfully resists the imposition or finds some functionally-equivalent surrogate.” Then he goes on to discuss how the left has attempted to replace religion with science and humanism and why that’s failing.

        • To me, it seems even worse than that. Science and Humanism are the religion for the leftist elite, but for the proles they offer plain old food for worms. It’s “Look how rich we are!” Our system is the best because we can stuff ourselves all day long. We’ve got TV, and cars, magical medicines and electronic playthings, and mass-produced clothes from China, and it’s cheap, cheap, cheap! Plenty for all! Too much for all, in fact! How can anyone be interested in looking for something else when everything you could want is poured into a trough right in front of you?

          This has been a thread running through western thinking since the Cold War. Our leaders have tried to tame our enemies by “exposure” to our way of life. The idea was, when they see how rich we are, they’ll want the same. How could backward foreigners cling to their own ways when they see how much better our culture is – and “better” was largely defined as “richer”. It worked to some extent with some enemies. The Soviets found it too hard to resist, but then, that happened later, once the idealism of communism had faded and people could see with their own eyes how hollow it really was. Also, Communism was itself a materialistic religion; the West could attack it on its own grounds and defeat it.

          But this isn’t working so well with Islam, and the elites are growing anxious because they keep waving all the rich rewards, and the enemy is resolutely failing to be impressed. Why, in Europe they’ve even gone so far as to bring the barbarians right into the treasury chamber itself, once they found that building third-rate imitations of the West in the heart of bandit country wasn’t doing the trick. All that’s happened is that the savages stuff their pockets with loot and still refuse to convert to the Religion of Stuff, preferring a tougher faith that claims to know the truth about life.

          • I once reminded a liberal that Muslims value religion far more than they value freedom or equality. The liberal absolutely refused to even countenance such a concept. They simply could not process it.

    • A good article there, but a point perhaps overlooked is that it was Christianity itself that rendered the early impulses of the Progressive movement both sensible and serious, and that the Progressive movement has become more extreme and more absurd the further it has drifted from its grounding in American Protestantism. Progressives have cut themselves adrift deliberately, because they have come to believe in the Marxist dogma that Christianity is an instrument of global oppression, but they have done untold damage to themselves in the process without realizing what they have done. Though the Christian virtues as understood by the Progressives were always a bit idiosyncratic, a Christian veneer served fundamental purposes that undergird the movement by lending the leadership, as Z remarks, a certain moral authority (important if your goal is imposing your moral vision on society), and, perhaps more importantly, by putting moral limits on just who can and who cannot be championed as victims of oppression. Shorn of Christian morality, the post-Christian Progressives of today are in the business of celebrating the perverse, but these perversions cannot be unreservedly championed and forcibly imposed on the rest of us unbelievers without calling into question the presumptive moral authority of those doing the imposing – for the very good reason that one cannot embrace perversions without being in some real sense a pervert oneself. Progressives today smugly believe that they have liberated themselves from Christian morality, only to have adopted a nihilistic hedonism. Much of the hysterics of today’s Progressives can be traced to this lack of an ethical center, for when challenged the response of today’s Progessive is to label any opponent a “Nazi” and thus abruptly ending any need for moral suasion.

    • I for one have had enough Soaring Oratory for a lifetime. Give me a Trump, give me a Zman, but god bless save me from the windbags.

      (Even though they make some decent points, lost in the blowing gale)

      • Allow me to retract or delete my unkind comment, and I apologize to Horace Pinker.
        Good points with good intentions, I am in error.

        • No apology is necessary. The author is a neoractionary and they can be tedious to read much of the time. Your first comment is sort of how I feel about Nick Land.

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