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41Ybrs+5FTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ On a Bloggingheads conversation Freddie deBoer where is talking about the Jon Chait’s recent article on political correctness gone wild, he notes that points are given to those who are first to highlight the “problematic” aspect of something. Over time this leads to a constriction and strangulation of all open conversation, as the bounds of acceptability become progressively narrower. What I found fascinating is that it reminded me of something I read years ago in The Essential Talmud, where the author explains that rabbinical genius was discovered by means of further extending Jewish law into domains where it had not previously gone. The problem, which was left implicit, is that it often meant that the regulated behavior of observant Jews become more and more constricted. Much of the same applies to those who live by Islamic law, as well as Christian sects which begin to deviate into an orthopraxic direction. Once greater emphasis and reward is given to those who would make a case for the forbidding of a practice or belief, then the cultural ratchet is inevitable. And because of the dire theological consequences of transgressing what is forbidden the communal sanctions can be quite intense.

I am not particularly interested in exploring all the details of this line of thought. Rather, ruminating upon the fixation with identity and language discourse on the cultural Left, and the energy it draws, I have become convinced that the Koch brothers and their fellow travelling plutocrats have nothing to worry about. Though the Left talks a big game about economic inequality, dollars are not witches, and the rich are not numerous enough to build a witch-hunting academic career upon. This an age where Deng’s exhortation to get rich is glorious is applicable to the United States, the populist Right is inchoate and ineffectual, and the populist Left truly doesn’t exist.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Political Correctness 
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  1. Maybe they got discouraged by the failure of the Occupy movement and so they moved on.org to something that can have an effect. although, the minimum wage movement did make some gains.
    I don’t hear a lot of talk about unions which does not make sense to me. I don’t understand why you would be a democrat and not push for unions but the Right has done a good job at making “union” an uncool word.
    Obviously, the left sees education as the equalizer so they do focus on that but I don’t think they’ve yet fully realized you’ll get diminishing returns on that.
    Otoh, France did recently attempt the “wealthy tax” but it failed. I’m just thinking out loud so far on this….I do notice quite a bit of contempt for the rich on the blue collar right wing sites I frequent so maybe it’s not as cool any more since it’s not so polarizing. Quite a few lefty billionaires as well…

  2. Razib writes: The problem, which was left implicit, is that it often meant that the regulated behavior of observant Jews become more and more constricted.

    Joe Q. comments: In this case it’s not necessarily that their behaviour became more constricted, but that it became constricted by central authorities rather than a local ones. This is a broad trend in orthodox Judaism, one that traces over milennia but has accelerated in the last 80-odd years — the idea that authoritative decisions handed down in law codes become more valid than the body of decisions made by local community rabbis.

    In practice, though, the level of practice ascends to the most rigid common denominator, as Razib points out.

    As an aside, I found “The Essential Talmud” a frustrating book. It tells the reader what the Talmud is about, without ever demonstrating what it is.

  3. This an age where Deng’s exhortation to get rich is glorious is applicable to the United States, the populist Right is inchoate and ineffectual, and the populist Left truly doesn’t exist.

    Definitely true on the first one, although it has local push-back and left successes (much like the old Gilded Age). The closest anyone comes to anti-inequality policies is Hillary Clinton’s maybe-platform for increasing unionization rights.

    I would definitely not call the populist Right ineffectual. They’re extraordinarily powerful right now, both at the national level and in probably about half of the states. The few areas of social policy where they’re losing ground (like gay rights) are only happening because of court action – it’s pretty much unthinkable that Alabama, for example, would vote to legalize gay marriage any time soon. And of course, they’ve completely taken over the Republican Party outside of a handful of moderate Republicans in “blue” states.

    The populist Left is more or less a local phenomena at this point. That’s where their few successes happen, outside of broadly popular policies like higher minimum wages. The “fight for 15” campaign didn’t lead to much changes with fast food restaurants, but areas like making Los Angeles more union-friendly have.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see much changing in the case of the latter. They’ve been close to some legal changes that might have helped a lot (the Employee Free Choice Act in 2009), but otherwise not so much. And Rich Yeselson made a pretty convincing case over at Democracy Journal that unionization and left-populism tend to come in waves, like the 1930s and (for public sector officials) the 1960s. If the ground-level activism isn’t there, then nothing moves.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    I would definitely not call the populist Right ineffectual. They’re extraordinarily powerful right now, both at the national level and in probably about half of the states.

    1) i was talking more about anti-corporate libertarianism which came up in the wake of 2008. that was a mirage.

    2) i disagree on social policy. even on the issue you highlight the public polls are tilting in favor of gay marriage. some conservative states would lag with a purely legislative strategy, but they wouldn't remain there (in particular because multinational corps would probably start to avoid placing employees in these states). an example of the ineffectualism of the social right is the abortion restriction which couldn't pass in congress. OTOH, there are local victories on the state level, but these are on the whole winning battles losing the war....
  4. @Brett

    This an age where Deng’s exhortation to get rich is glorious is applicable to the United States, the populist Right is inchoate and ineffectual, and the populist Left truly doesn’t exist.
     
    Definitely true on the first one, although it has local push-back and left successes (much like the old Gilded Age). The closest anyone comes to anti-inequality policies is Hillary Clinton's maybe-platform for increasing unionization rights.

    I would definitely not call the populist Right ineffectual. They're extraordinarily powerful right now, both at the national level and in probably about half of the states. The few areas of social policy where they're losing ground (like gay rights) are only happening because of court action - it's pretty much unthinkable that Alabama, for example, would vote to legalize gay marriage any time soon. And of course, they've completely taken over the Republican Party outside of a handful of moderate Republicans in "blue" states.

    The populist Left is more or less a local phenomena at this point. That's where their few successes happen, outside of broadly popular policies like higher minimum wages. The "fight for 15" campaign didn't lead to much changes with fast food restaurants, but areas like making Los Angeles more union-friendly have.

    Unfortunately, I don't see much changing in the case of the latter. They've been close to some legal changes that might have helped a lot (the Employee Free Choice Act in 2009), but otherwise not so much. And Rich Yeselson made a pretty convincing case over at Democracy Journal that unionization and left-populism tend to come in waves, like the 1930s and (for public sector officials) the 1960s. If the ground-level activism isn't there, then nothing moves.

    I would definitely not call the populist Right ineffectual. They’re extraordinarily powerful right now, both at the national level and in probably about half of the states.

    1) i was talking more about anti-corporate libertarianism which came up in the wake of 2008. that was a mirage.

    2) i disagree on social policy. even on the issue you highlight the public polls are tilting in favor of gay marriage. some conservative states would lag with a purely legislative strategy, but they wouldn’t remain there (in particular because multinational corps would probably start to avoid placing employees in these states). an example of the ineffectualism of the social right is the abortion restriction which couldn’t pass in congress. OTOH, there are local victories on the state level, but these are on the whole winning battles losing the war….

  5. The failure of the populist left is certainly being noticed by the left itself. This Marxist laments that the journal Jacobin, whose aim was to shore up support for a universalist working class leftism, has descended into the same identity politics idiosyncrasy currently so fashionable: http://thecharnelhouse.org/2015/02/05/decolonial-dead-end-houria-bouteldja-and-the-new-indigenism-beyond-left-and-right/

    Fascinating reading.

  6. Populism (both right and left wing) is inherently tribal, and in a country as diverse (both demographically and geographically) as the US it’s hard to agglomerate different peoples into a single populist cause at the national level. It’s too easy to manipulate them, especially blue-collar whites, who oppose almost any government action which might help them so long as it also helps minorities.

    • Replies: @Jason Lee
    You know, "blue collar whites" aren't completely illiterate. And I'm quite sure that this group doesn't like being characterized as irrational, gullible and dangerous. But comments such as yours are ubiquitous.
  7. Majoritarianism dominates one age, minoritarianism the next. The spirit of the age is to find ever smaller oppressed minorities to champion, such as Bruce/Belinda Jenner. The Forbes 400 isn’t exactly shaking with fear over this trend.

    • Replies: @Lucrece
    Why the / in there? She identifies as Belinda, so why belittle it.
  8. If the title of the post is original to you, you should be very proud. I have been smiling about it all day. If it is not original to you, thank you for sharing it with this sinner.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    well, i'm paraphrasing edwards obviously.
  9. @marcel proust
    If the title of the post is original to you, you should be very proud. I have been smiling about it all day. If it is not original to you, thank you for sharing it with this sinner.

    well, i’m paraphrasing edwards obviously.

    • Replies: @marcel proust
    Of course, though I don't think "paraphrasing" correctly describes what you have done: "playing off of", more like, which is what makes it so amusing.

    In my head I keep think of something along the lines of "Sinners in the hands of an angry dog" (which of course is meaningless in this context). Your phrase is reminiscent of a spoonerism or Freudian slip or something that Mrs. Malaprop would have said, with all the humor that those carry, but your phrase is deliberate, and not a mistake on your part, unlike the constructions that I mention.

  10. @Alex M
    Populism (both right and left wing) is inherently tribal, and in a country as diverse (both demographically and geographically) as the US it's hard to agglomerate different peoples into a single populist cause at the national level. It's too easy to manipulate them, especially blue-collar whites, who oppose almost any government action which might help them so long as it also helps minorities.

    You know, “blue collar whites” aren’t completely illiterate. And I’m quite sure that this group doesn’t like being characterized as irrational, gullible and dangerous. But comments such as yours are ubiquitous.

  11. @Razib Khan
    well, i'm paraphrasing edwards obviously.

    Of course, though I don’t think “paraphrasing” correctly describes what you have done: “playing off of”, more like, which is what makes it so amusing.

    In my head I keep think of something along the lines of “Sinners in the hands of an angry dog” (which of course is meaningless in this context). Your phrase is reminiscent of a spoonerism or Freudian slip or something that Mrs. Malaprop would have said, with all the humor that those carry, but your phrase is deliberate, and not a mistake on your part, unlike the constructions that I mention.

  12. @Steve Sailer
    Majoritarianism dominates one age, minoritarianism the next. The spirit of the age is to find ever smaller oppressed minorities to champion, such as Bruce/Belinda Jenner. The Forbes 400 isn't exactly shaking with fear over this trend.

    Why the / in there? She identifies as Belinda, so why belittle it.

    • Replies: @jtgw
    As far as I know, the name change isn't legal yet, so you're basically saying we should indulge his self-delusion just to be nice. I agree with Steve that this kind of character, namely highly masculine men who get sex changes in middle age just for the kinks, does not deserve humoring and coddling, but ridicule.
  13. There’s got to be a term for Khan’s style that’s more elegant than “William F. Buckley wannabe,” but I don’t know what it is.

    Anyway, his passing mention of “orthopraxic direction,” which sent me to Google for a look-up, triggered something. In other conversations, I’ve said that it’s time for the Muslims to get a Martin Luther, who appeared in Christianity at about the 1,500-year mark. Islam is now about 1,300 years old, and is need of structural reform. (The Mormons, on the other hand, need to buy out the Elks Club and drop the religious facade.)

    But the West can’t do it, only they can. We just have to hope that the world survives until it happens.

    The “orthopraxic” nature of Islam stifles individual initiative, and the Protestant-style decentralization makes it difficult to efficiently change. Or, to put it differently, Islam combines the worst features of ultra-orthodox Judaism and evangelical Christianity. The overtly theocratic nature of Islam is a gigantic problem, because in the real world the result is economic and cultural stagnation.

    So there. And Mr. Khan, there was only one Buckley, and he was irritating enough.

    p.s.: Mr. Sailer, quit picking on Jenner, who has enough problems. I’m just as squeamish about transsexuals as you are, but I choose to be an adult about it.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    So there. And Mr. Khan, there was only one Buckley, and he was irritating enough.


    FUCK YOU ASSHOLE. is that un-buckleyesque enough for you?

    also, your knowledge base is insufficient for the level of analysis you are attempting. don't comment here again, you're too dumb to understand you aren't that bright.
  14. @Lucrece
    Why the / in there? She identifies as Belinda, so why belittle it.

    As far as I know, the name change isn’t legal yet, so you’re basically saying we should indulge his self-delusion just to be nice. I agree with Steve that this kind of character, namely highly masculine men who get sex changes in middle age just for the kinks, does not deserve humoring and coddling, but ridicule.

  15. @New Reader
    There's got to be a term for Khan's style that's more elegant than "William F. Buckley wannabe," but I don't know what it is.

    Anyway, his passing mention of "orthopraxic direction," which sent me to Google for a look-up, triggered something. In other conversations, I've said that it's time for the Muslims to get a Martin Luther, who appeared in Christianity at about the 1,500-year mark. Islam is now about 1,300 years old, and is need of structural reform. (The Mormons, on the other hand, need to buy out the Elks Club and drop the religious facade.)

    But the West can't do it, only they can. We just have to hope that the world survives until it happens.

    The "orthopraxic" nature of Islam stifles individual initiative, and the Protestant-style decentralization makes it difficult to efficiently change. Or, to put it differently, Islam combines the worst features of ultra-orthodox Judaism and evangelical Christianity. The overtly theocratic nature of Islam is a gigantic problem, because in the real world the result is economic and cultural stagnation.

    So there. And Mr. Khan, there was only one Buckley, and he was irritating enough.

    p.s.: Mr. Sailer, quit picking on Jenner, who has enough problems. I'm just as squeamish about transsexuals as you are, but I choose to be an adult about it.

    So there. And Mr. Khan, there was only one Buckley, and he was irritating enough.

    FUCK YOU ASSHOLE. is that un-buckleyesque enough for you?

    also, your knowledge base is insufficient for the level of analysis you are attempting. don’t comment here again, you’re too dumb to understand you aren’t that bright.

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