The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
 iSteve Blog
/
BooksTeasers

From What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton:

Okay …

“This is what happens in George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered. The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust toward exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves.”

Why didn’t I ever notice before that the theme of 1984 is that we should “rely on: our leaders” more, that we must not mistrust the press?

Big Sister says: “Rely on our leaders!”

This could make a good SNL skit if they were still in the market for funny stuff about politicians: as part of the healing process, Hillary joins a Chappaqua ladies reading circle, but every single book turns out to be, in her intensely felt interpretations, about herself:

What Heinlein is showing us in Starship Troopers is that if military veterans were the only people allowed to vote, then terrible, trashy, white developers wouldn’t get elected, just selfless, competent women.

 

Inspired by Gregory Cochran’s recent review of Jared Diamond’s 20-year-old Pulitzer Prize winning tome Guns, Germs, and Steel The Fate of Human Societies, here’s my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Rough Diamond
by Steve Sailer
September 06, 2017

… Why are some races of humans so much more economically and scientifically productive than other races?

Diamond charmingly phrased this as Yali’s Question, after a Melanesian cargo cultist the UCLA physiologist had met on a bird-watching trip to New Guinea:

“Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?”

It’s not that New Guineans don’t care about cargo. In fact, after observing American and Australian military men deposit upon jungle airfields vast quantities of delightful goods, they formed cargo cults to replicate the white man’s magic. As William Manchester recounted in Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War:

The native is no dummy. He can imitate any rite. He puts together a facsimile of a telephone with tin cans and string. He shuffles papers and speaks into the can; then he searches the sky, predicting, “Moni i kam baimbai.” (“Money he come by and by”)…

Frustrated, a New Hanover tribe formed a “Lyndon B. Johnson cult” in the 1960s. Even in New Guinea people knew that nobody was more effective with gadgets and telephones than Lyndon Johnson…. Somehow they amassed sixteen hundred dollars for a one-way ticket from Washington to Moresby and sent the ticket to the White House. Johnson didn’t arrive…. It seems a pity. LBJ would have made a marvelous king of the blackfellows, and he would have enjoyed the job immensely.

Read the whole thing there.

 

U.C. Berkeley professor of history Yuri Slezkine is the author of the important 2004 book The Jewish Century, which offered an illuminating perspective on the ethnic Jewish role in the Soviet state. I was recently wondering whatever happened to him since I hadn’t heard of him having a new book out since then.

But now he has a War and Peace length new book from Princeton University Press:

The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution
Yuri Slezkine
Hardcover | 2017 | $39.95 | £29.95 | ISBN: 9780691176949
1128 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 416 b/w illus., 2 maps

It’s about the residents of the luxury apartment building kitty-corner across the river from the Kremlin (a.k.a. the House on the Embankment) that was reserved for the Bolshevist Inner Party, such as Slezkine’s ancestors.

 
• Tags: Books 

English novelist Anthony Burgess, 1917-1993, was born 100 years ago last month. He exploded onto the literary scene around 1960 as a middle-aged prodigy, publishing his first five novels in about a year. Supposedly, he had been misdiagnosed with terminal brain cancer so he wrote all these books to leave his widow an inheritance. (This story is too good for me to fact-check.)

His most famous book, A Clockwork Orange, was published in 1962 when he was in his mid-40s. Kubrick’s colossally entertaining film adaptation in 1971 elevated Burgess to international celebrityhood. Despite now being interviewed on TV a lot, he remained extraordinarily productive, putting out dazzling books on a shorter schedule than any other famous author, while writing endless amounts of literary journalism.

But then high end public boredom started to set in as his skills and ambitions somewhat waned with age. Mostly people got used to Burgess the way NBA fans got used to Kareem: Yeah, sure, everybody knows there is this super-agile 7′-2″ guy with an unstoppable shot. Ho-hum.

 
• Tags: Books 

From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Tribal Counsel
by Steve Sailer
January 25, 2017

Vanity Fair war correspondent Sebastian Junger, codirector of the documentary Restrepo about American soldiers in Afghanistan, points out in his recent book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging that American soldiers currently suffer from the highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in human history.

This short book tries to sum up the political lessons Junger has learned from a quarter century of going to and coming home from dangerous places. It’s a work of swashbuckling anthropological theory that tries to answer the question raised by Restrepo: Why do the guys defending a fort in Afghanistan find living in a tiny bunker to be a blast, while coming home to America is so discombobulating for them? …

Junger’s focus in Tribe, however, lies less with what’s wrong with our ex-soldiers than with what’s wrong with the 21st-century American society they return to.

Read the whole thing there.

 
• Tags: Books, War 

From The Atlantic, an essay by Robert D. Kaplan that would make a good appendix to Houellebecq’s Submission:

How Islam Created Europe
In late antiquity, the religion split the Mediterranean world in two. Now it is remaking the Continent.

ROBERT D. KAPLAN MAY 2016 ISSUE GLOBAL

Europe was essentially defined by Islam. And Islam is redefining it now.

For centuries in early and middle antiquity, Europe meant the world surrounding the Mediterranean, or Mare Nostrum (“Our Sea”), as the Romans famously called it.

In Michel Houellebecq’s 2015 novel Submission, the new Muslim president of France moves the capital of the E.U. from northerly Brussels to Rome to be closer to the center of a new/old unified realm in which the votes of the demographically vibrant Islamic world can outweigh those of infertile Europeans.

A daring aspect of Submission is Houellebecq’s unexpected intuition that the crucial betrayal of Christendom might not come simply from the brainless left (who in Houellebecq’s near future are recognized to be running on intellectual fumes), but from the conservative souls of the center-right.

Kaplan is a relatively hardheaded analyst, who has been everywhere, so this article of his is striking. (The possibility that Kaplan is trolling readers with self-parody can’t be dismissed.)

It included North Africa.

That might have come as a surprise to Herodotus, not to mention the Sons of Noah.

Look, the ancient world recognized geographic and cultural differences among Europe, Asia, and Africa. Herodotus’ seminal history of the Persian wars is built, of course, around a (no doubt biased and tendentious, yet highly relevant) distinction between Asian despotism and European liberty.

Rome ruled over parts of all three continents not because they were culturally identical, but because it could.

Indeed, early in the fifth century a.d., when Saint Augustine lived in what is today Algeria, North Africa was as much a center of Christianity as Italy or Greece.

There’s long been a theory that the 5th Century theological rivalry between Augustine of Hippo and Pelagius of the British Isles reflects enduring ideological differences between the Middle East versus Western Europe. It popped up in the Clive Owen movie King Arthur.

But the swift advance of Islam across North Africa in the seventh and eighth centuries virtually extinguished Christianity there

In truth, extinguishing Christianity seems to be more of a 21st Century phenomenon.

, thus severing the Mediterranean region into two civilizational halves, with the “Middle Sea” a hard border between them rather than a unifying force.

Islam instituted a long era of conquest, piracy, and slaveraiding on the Mediterranean. Italian fishing villages are built on top of mountains to slow Islamic slavers from kidnapping them.

… In sum, “the West” emerged in northern Europe (albeit in a very slow and tortuous manner) mainly after Islam had divided the Mediterranean world.

Islam did much more than geographically define Europe, however. Denys Hay, a British historian, explained in a brilliant though obscure book published in 1957, Europe: The Emergence of an Idea, that European unity began with the concept (exemplified by the Song of Roland) of a Christendom in “inevitable opposition” to Islam—a concept that culminated in the Crusades.

The Song of Roland (and its descendant Orlando Furioso), along with El Cid, fancifully describe battles against invading Muslims in Dark Age Europe.

The scholar Edward Said took this point further, writing in his book Orientalism in 1978 that Islam had defined Europe culturally, by showing Europe what it was against. Europe’s very identity, in other words, was built in significant measure on a sense of superiority to the Muslim Arab world on its periphery. Imperialism proved the ultimate expression of this evolution: Early modern Europe, starting with Napoleon, conquered the Middle East, then dispatched scholars and diplomats to study Islamic civilization, classifying it as something beautiful, fascinating, and—most crucial—inferior.

But since Said’s time, we have learned that Islamic civilization is not inferior, and may be superior — see the latest ISIS video for proof.

A classical geography is reasserting itself, as terrorism and migration reunite North Africa and the Levant with Europe.

In the postcolonial era, Europe’s sense of cultural preeminence was buttressed by the new police states of North Africa and the Levant. With these dictatorships holding their peoples prisoner inside secure borders—borders artificially drawn by European colonial agents—

Uhm … I can think of two examples of Arab dictators not allowing transit of their countries by foreigners — Egypt under Mubarak and the latest dictator didn’t allow black Africans to walk into Israel, but the Muslim Brotherhood did, causing Israel to build fences; and Berlusconi bribed Kaddafi to not let black Africans set sail from Libya. But, in general, Arab dictators had few objections to their own citizens migrating to Europe and earning hard currency.

Another way to look at this is that the anarchy encouraged by the West in the name of the Arab Spring broke down Syria and Libya, encouraging Syrians to head for Europe. But even that is overstated in that there has been little flow of Libyans rather than sub-Saharans coming through Libya; and the “Syrian” refugee crisis is overstated with large fractions of the “Syrians” making hegira to Europe actually being economic migrant impostors from other countries.

Europeans could lecture Arabs about human rights without worrying about the possibility of messy democratic experiments that could lead to significant migration.

Some Europeans did worry about significant migration.

Significant migration is inevitable as long as other parts of the world are crappier and faster growing than Europe and Europe unilaterally ideologically disarms itself of having any concept of the right of collective self-defense. Yet, the experience of Israel, which is geographically much more vulnerable to migration flows than is Europe, shows that all it takes for a modern state to defend itself against hegira is self-confidence.

Precisely because the Arabs lacked human rights, the Europeans felt at once superior to and secure from them.

Islam is now helping to undo what it once helped to create. A classical geography is organically reasserting itself, as the forces of terrorism and human migration reunite the Mediterranean Basin, including North Africa and the Levant, with Europe.

Except for Israel. Funny how that works …

Today, hundreds of thousands of Muslims who have no desire to be Christian are filtering into economically stagnant European states, threatening to undermine the fragile social peace. Though Europe’s elites have for decades used idealistic rhetoric to deny the forces of religion and ethnicity, those were the very forces that provided European states with their own internal cohesion.

Meanwhile, the new migration, driven by war and state collapse, is erasing the distinction between the imperial centers and their former colonies. Orientalism, through which one culture appropriated and dominated another, is slowly evaporating in a world of cosmopolitan interactions and comparative studies, as Said intuited it might.

Or, perhaps, to know the cabdrivers of Rotherham and Malmo is to become disillusioned with the pleasant Orientalist fantasies of Delacroix, Kipling, Mozart, Verdi, and Byron?

Europe has responded by artificially reconstructing national-cultural identities on the extreme right and left, to counter the threat from the civilization it once dominated.

Or, more accurately, European elites have scored a massive own goal on their own peoples.

Although the idea of an end to history—with all its ethnic and territorial disputes—turns out to have been a fantasy, this realization is no excuse for a retreat into nationalism. The cultural purity that Europe craves in the face of the Muslim-refugee influx is simply impossible in a world of increasing human interactions.

Except for Israel …

“The West,” if it does have a meaning beyond geography, manifests a spirit of ever more inclusive liberalism.

Or maybe not. Perhaps “liberty” and “inclusiveness” are contradictory? The Roman Empire, for example, was long on inclusiveness and short on liberty.

Just as in the 19th century there was no going back to feudalism, there is no going back now to nationalism, not without courting disaster.

One striking Dog That Does Not Bark is the word that never gets mentioned by those saying Europeans can’t go back to nationalism because that will lead to the resumption of wars among Europeans countries: continentalism. Why not encourage Europeans to unify in self-defense against hegira? Rather than the Chancellor of Germany stabbing the other nations of Europe in the back on a whim, why not encourage European states to work together to build perimeter defenses of the Continent?

But European continentalism is unthinkable because it’s tantamount to European racialism, which is the worst thing in the world. The worst fear imaginable is that Christendom rediscovers its identity.

The question is thus posed: What, in a civilizational sense, will replace Rome? For while empire, as Said documented, certainly had its evils, its very ability to govern vast multiethnic spaces around the Mediterranean provided a solution of sorts that no longer exists.

Europe must now find some other way to dynamically incorporate the world of Islam without diluting its devotion to the rule-of-law-based system that arose in Europe’s north, a system in which individual rights and agency are uppermost in a hierarchy of needs. If it cannot evolve in the direction of universal values, there will be only the dementia of ideologies and coarse nationalisms to fill the void. This would signal the end of “the West” in Europe.

Well, there is one set of universal values that would be satisfactory to the migrant masses from Asia and Africa currently making hegira into Europe: Islam. Obviously, the migrant Muslim masses don’t seem to be in any hurry to give up their version of universal values. Perhaps if Europeans are lectured hard enough that Resistance Is Racist, then universal values can rule all sides of the Mediterranean.

That’s the solution at the end of Submission: the Roman imperium is restored via the Islamification of Europe.

Like I said, there’s a good chance that Kaplan is trolling, and that resemblances to Submission are intentional.

 
• Tags: Books, Houellebecq 

Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Hamilton”

From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

A striking example of how identity politics turn in practice into the Zillionaire Liberation Front has emerged in the war over which Dead White Male to kick off the currency to make room for a woman: the $10 bill’s Alexander Hamilton or the $20’s Andrew Jackson. Bizarrely, the reactionary genius Hamilton, apostle of rule by the rich, is rapidly morphing in the conventional wisdom’s imagination into an Honorary Nonwhite.

Read the whole thing there.

 

From my new book review in Taki’s Magazine:

Deep State of the Union
by Steve Sailer
January 13, 2016

The 20th-century Turkish concept of a “deep state” first spread to other Mediterranean countries such as Italy, and is now slowly being picked up by American pundits. Ex–Republican congressional staffer Mike Lofgren’s 2016 book The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of the Shadow Government offers a snarky and intelligent tour d’horizon of some of America’s more or less perpetual ruling organs. …

Despite the origin of the phrase among conspiracy-loving Byzantines, Lofgren warns enthusiasts that the American deep state is more mundane. …

The American deep state is less Oliver Stone’s JFK than The Office. Lofgren remarks upon “the sheer weight of its boring ordinariness once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the ten thousandth time.” It’s an emergent phenomenon of a quasi-empire run out of a wealthy and not exceptionally at-risk republic.

… America is rich enough that it can more or less afford to waste vast amounts of money on F-35s and the like.

So it does.

Read the whole thing there.

 
• Tags: Books 

From my new book review in Taki’s Magazine:

Forecasting a Million Muslim Mob
by Steve Sailer
January 06, 2016

In the news and opinion business, late December and early January are the dead season as journalists go on vacation, leaving behind their canned top 10 lists for last year and forecasts for the new year.

I’m not much of a fan of either, but I do approve of the modest increase in recent years of pundits grading themselves on their predictions from the previous January. Nobody has contributed more over the decades to this salutary trend than Philip E. Tetlock, a heavyweight professor of both psychology and political science at Penn’s Wharton School. (Tetlock is part of a coterie of heterodox social scientists who have been documenting the debilitating stranglehold that political correctness has on social psychology, along with Jonathan Haidt, Lee Jussim, and a few other brave souls.)

In recent years, the highbrow spooks at the government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, an agency set up in 2006 in shame over the Iraq WMD call, have funded four years of Tetlock’s Good Judgment Project to find the best amateur foreign-policy forecasters. …

Tetlock, teaming up with journalist Dan Gardner, has now published for the Frequent Flyer market (e.g., guys who liked Michael Lewis’ Moneyball or, at the high end, Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow) a popular book on what he’s learned from his annual forecasting tournament: Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction.

Read the whole thing there.

 

From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

As a Christmas present, I received the book version of The Hard Problem, the latest play by Sir Tom Stoppard. It’s the great Tory playwright’s first new work for the stage since his Rock ’n’ Roll in 2006. …

I’ve been reading Stoppard’s plays for forty years now. Despite the new work’s seemingly forbidding highbrow subject matter—the title refers to the “hard problem of consciousness” formulated by philosopher David Chalmers—this may be the most lucid and serene of all of Stoppard’s works. It’s not as ambitious or as emotionally resonant as Stoppard’s 1993 masterpiece Arcadia, but then what play is? Nonetheless, it offers the most straightforward introduction to Stoppard’s work since his 1982 romantic dramedy The Real Thing, which preceded his turn toward science as subject matter in the late 1980s.

The bickering neurobiologists of The Hard Problem return to the moral philosophy questions—Does God exist? What is virtue? How can free will be reconciled with the study of nature and nurture? Can altruism exist without consciousness?—that were argued with such manic wit by rival academic philosophers in his 1972 farce Jumpers.

Read the whole thing there.

 

Here’s an academic book coming out in January by George Hawley, a professor of political science at the U. of Alabama:

Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism

Hardcover – January 25, 2016
by George Hawley (Author)
Hardcover
$34.95

The American conservative movement as we know it faces an existential crisis as the nation’s demographics shift away from its core constituents—older white middle-class Christians. It is the American conservatism that we don’t know that concerns George Hawley in this book. During its ascendancy, leaders within the conservative establishment have energetically policed the movement’s boundaries, effectively keeping alternative versions of conservatism out of view. Returning those neglected voices to the story, Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism offers a more complete, complex, and nuanced account of the American right in all its dissonance in history and in our day.

The right-wing intellectual movements considered here differ both from mainstream conservatism and from each other when it comes to fundamental premises, such as the value of equality, the proper role of the state, the importance of free markets, the place of religion in politics, and attitudes toward race. In clear and dispassionate terms, Hawley examines localists who exhibit equal skepticism toward big business and big government, paleoconservatives who look to the distant past for guidance and wish to turn back the clock, radical libertarians who are not content to be junior partners in the conservative movement, and various strains of white supremacy and the radical right in America.

In the Internet age, where access is no longer determined by the select few, the independent right has far greater opportunities to make its many voices heard. This timely work puts those voices into context and historical perspective, clarifying our understanding of the American right—past, present, and future.

 
• Tags: Books 

Screenshot 2015-11-10 15.24.23

When I saw that Melissa Click of the U. of Missouri Department of Communication Department had chaired the 2014 “Console-ing Passions” academic conference, I was reminded that the first time I ever noticed that postmodern academics think it clever to use ham-handed punctuation to make lame puns was in the title of a 1992 book edited by Toni Morrison:

Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality

You might think that would be a pretty humiliating thing to put your name on, but a year later Morrison was given the Nobel Prize in Literature.

So what do I know?

 
• Tags: Books, Feminism, Post-Modernism 

My new column in Taki’s Magazine is a review of an important new history of American education reform efforts from an HBD-aware perspective:

Getting Schooled
by Steve Sailer
November 04, 2015

My old friend Raymond Wolters, a professor of history at the U. of Delaware for 50 years, has come back from five months in the hospital waiting for his lung transplant to write the first narrative account to make sense of the fads and fashions that have roiled K–12 public schools since the failure of forced busing to prove a panacea for racial disparities in school achievement: The Long Crusade: Profiles in Education Reform, 1967–2014.

Granted, I’m biased in favor of The Long Crusade, in part because I didn’t have much hope that Professor Wolters would live through his health woes to write it, in part because I am quoted a few dozen times in it.

(By the way, seeing myself quoted alongside more respectable figures, I have to admit that I really do come across as a sarcastic bastard.)

Read the whole thing there.

 

On GoTrackTownUSA, 3 time All-American female distance runner Alexi Pappas writes:

ALEXI PAPPAS: WHAT THE PRESIDENT SAID

By Alexi Pappas / TrackTown USA

EUGENE, Ore. – My family stood together in the small waiting room just outside the Oval Office, nervously smiling like a group of kids waiting their turn at the top of a waterslide. My brother Louis stood at the front of our pack, ready to walk in first – he had spent the past few years working on President Obama’s staff, and this was his last day on the job. The Oval Office door cracked open and laughter spilled out into the waiting room. The family ahead of us walked out, and there he was: the President of the United States, standing just a few feet away.

We shook his hand one by one. Louis introduced me as a professional runner from Eugene, Oregon. The President’s attention then focused directly on me. First, he told me about his visit to Hayward Field during his 2008 campaign. A wonderful place, we agreed. At that moment, Mr. Obama looked me directly in the eye. “You have a gift,” he said. “You were born with a body that was meant to run long distances, more than the average human.”

I was taken aback. Right away I knew what I wanted to say in response … but dare I risk embarrassing my brother and disagree with Mr. Obama? I started by thanking the President, and then I couldn’t help myself – I added that my performance in the sport is actually a result of hard work, motivation and support from my community.

This was not the answer the President wanted to hear.

“No, no,” he said, “Your body is able to flush out lactic acid better than the average person – running is what you were born to do.” Mr. Obama’s energy and tone were so confident and convincing that he could have told me the moon is really made out of cheese and I would have agreed with him. I nodded and thanked him. Besides, our five-minute meeting time was up. I left the Oval Office feeling very honored, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about what the President had said.

The idea that I was meant to run, that I was born with a special ability, felt like it subtracted from my own willpower and motivation to pursue something to the fullest and at the highest level.

A couple of Christmas-shopping seasons ago, the President was seen buying Sports Illustrated reporter David Epstein’s explicitly HBD book The Sports Gene. The Los Angeles Times reported:

But most of Obama’s choices lean more toward pure escapism.

“The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance,” by Sports illustrated writer David Epstein, tries to dispel common myths about what makes athletes great.

Personally, I think that studying sports for patterns that are revealing about humanity in general, such as the roles played by nature and nurture, isn’t pure escapism.

 

Following up my review last week in Taki’s Magazine of Submission, Michel Houellebecq’s novel about a future Islamic takeover of France, here are some other reviews:

Houellebecq

- Noah Millman argues that Submission is not satire but Houellebecq’s personal fantasy of arranged polygamous marriage. But why can’t it be both at the same time? Top writers do more than one thing at once. Houellebecq has devoted many years to developing an image of himself as a distressing person. A novel explaining that he’s the kind of opportunist who would collaborate with a Muslim takeover is not exactly good PR for a Muslim takeover.

- Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld argues that Houellebecq’s hero has a point.

- Aaron MacLean in the Washington Free Beacon: “At Least It’s an Ethos.”

- In the New York Times, Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard offers a characteristically long review of Submission. Knausgaard, the author of a six-volume autobiography entitled My Struggle, is one of the leading lights, along with Houellebecq and the late David Foster Wallace, of the Hapless White Guy genre in recent literary fiction that has served as a sort of covert White Male Pride movement.

Knausgaard looks like Houellebecq being played by Brad Pitt

The late John Updike was blithely unconcerned that many of the more literary members of Official Victim Groups feel oppressed by the fact that white men continue to make up a wildly disproportionate fraction of the most talented writers. Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.

The new generation, in contrast, has been acutely aware of being hated for who they are, with varying impacts: defiance in the case of Houellebecq, conflictedness and depression in the case of poor Wallace.

Update: From The Local:

Knausgård savages the ‘Cyclops’ Swedes
Published: 20 May 2015 15:25 GMT+02:00

Norwegian literary star Karl Ove Knausgård has launched an extraordinary attack on the Swedes, damning them as a race of narrow-minded “Cyclops” who cannot tolerate ambiguity, have no understanding of literature, and are “full of hate and fear”.

The bitter 3,000 word rant, published in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, is a response to an article in the same paper by the feminist Ebba Witt-Brattström, which described Knausgård’s first novel ‘Out of the World’, just now translated into Swedish, as a type of “literary paedophilia”.

But it also mercilessly tears apart what Knausgård sees as Swedes’ black and white approach to race, immigration, gender, and sex, lampooning the nation’s tendency to repress complex or difficult ideas, and its fear of moral uncertainty.

“The reason there’s so much hate among the Cyclops and so much terror I believe is simple,” he writes. “The Cyclops don’t want to know about that part of reality which isn’t how they think it should be.”

Knausgård has now lived in Sweden for some 13 years, moving to Stockholm in 2002 when he began a relationship with the Swedish poet Linda Boström, after which they moved first to Malmö, and then to a village in the Skåne countryside.

But he does not appear to have learnt to love his adopted countrymen.

In his article, he attacks Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for describing the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats as a “neo-fascist party”.

“Everyone knows it isn’t true, but that doesn’t matter because if they think differently on such a sensitive question, they must be fascists,” he argues.

“The Cyclops believe that their picture of reality is the same for everyone, and if there’s anywhere which doesn’t agree, like for example their neighbours Denmark, they get angry with the Danes.”

Within hours of Knaugård’s article being published, Jonas Gardell, a Swedish comic novelist and high profile cultural figure, had attacked him in Expressen newspaper for “suddenly and without warning defending the Sweden Democrats”.

He complained that Knausgård had called the Sweden Democrats a ”legitimate” party, and mocked Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for calling them neo-fascists.

It’s clear that Knausgård doesn’t approve of the Swedish consensus on immigration, but he is perhaps at his most offensive when he gets onto the Swedes’ relationship with literature.

My impression is that as political correctness increasingly clamps down on free expression, more of the creative talent is showing up on the right. It’s hard to tell for sure because it can be a career killer for these guys to be too explicit, but that seems like the trend.

 

With my review currently up in Taki’s Magazine of Loren Stein’s terrific translation in English of Michel Houellebecq’s Submission, I think it’s timely to repost my version of Houellebecq’s scenario for how the the second place Muslim finisher in the French Presidential election of 2022 would form a grand coalition to defeat the first place National Front.

In Houellebecq’s telling, by offering to let the Socialists and Sarkozyites have the important ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance, while the Muslim Brotherhood contented itself merely with Education, the wise and moderate Mohammed Ben Abbes disarms French Establishment concerns about the Islamists being imprudent. On January 8, 2015, the day after the Charlie Hebdo slaughter, I posted “How Plausible Is Houellebecq’s Submission?

I don’t see Muslims getting their hands on education policy right away. White people care a lot about their children’s educations. On the other hand, Muslim politicians in France getting their hands on immigration policy would be the more likely camel’s nose in the tent, as it were. After all, immigration policy is increasingly seen in the respectable world as a subject for moral grandstanding, while education is an area for nuance. …

Houellebecq, as he pointed out to an interviewer, largely left immigration policy out of Submission.

To make this more historically plausible, however, I’d stretch this political process out into a two stage process taking place over five years across two presidential elections, and combine Submission with Jean Raspail’s 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints (and Bertolt Brecht’s 1953 poem The Solution).

In 2022, Marine Le Pen easily wins the first round with, say, 40% of the vote. The mediagenic Muslim party candidate, who finishes fourth with 9%, announces that he will advise his followers to not vote in the final election, unless the coalition of Establishment parties give him control of one area of policy — but not of education as in the author’s scenario, but of immigration and citizenship as a moral rebuke to the anti-immigrant hatefulness of the National Front.

The establishment / Islamist coalition ekes out a 51-49 win over the National Front, helped along by some mob violence and election tampering. A secular centrist Frenchman becomes president. Marine Le Pen retires as head of the National Front in favor of her even more popular and charismatic daughter, who instantly becomes the frontrunner for 2027. The Internet is full of observations that Likud lost eight straight general elections before becoming the dominant party in Israel.

In desperation to stop the next onslaught of the FN in 2027, the combined establishment parties accede to the suggestion of their most brilliant young politician, Mohammed Ben Abbes, that to prevent the people from electing a new government in 2027, the government must elect a new people.

A media campaign of white guilt over French colonialism and the Crusades is ginned up. A ship loaded with illegal immigrants founders spectacularly in the Mediterranean on television.

Looking back from the fall of 2015, I’d say that’s not a bad guess, but the reality turned out that the precipitating media moment for The Campo of the Saints was not a lot of people drowning, but one child drowning. As Stalin supposedly said, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”

A new law is rammed through offering, in effect, open borders for four years to all countries victimized by French imperialism and the Crusades (in the fine print, populous Egypt is included for having suffered the indignity of the French building the Suez Canal). A one year residency requirement for voting is introduced. A senile Pope Francis issues an encyclical denouncing immigration restriction as the great Satan of the 21st Century. A few false flag operations whip up a frenzy of hatred against the FN.

The Camp of the Saints of course proves a vast disaster for France, which only intensifies establishment anger at dissidents for pointing this out. Muslim and/or African car-be-ques appear to be headed out of control, but Ben Abbes demonstrates an impressive ability to turn them off at his command. In desperation, the Socialists and Sarkozyites turn to Ben Abbes as the one man who can permanently end the FN menace, while also calming the street violence spilling from the banlieues to the arrondissements. Of course, after Ben Abbes takes out the FN, the French insiders reason, he can easily be squeezed out himself.

And so on January 30, 2027, a few months before the scheduled election, the sitting president resigns in favor of the temporary expedient of Ben Abbes as President.

Several weeks later the Louvre burns down. A retarded white soccer hooligan is arrested nearby holding a can of gasoline.

FN leaders are rounded up. A North Korean computer hack reveals to the world the names, addresses, and license plate numbers of FN voters, some of whom suffer rough justice for their hereditary guilt stretching back to the Crusades.

NATO leaders invoke Article 5 as applying to NATO member (since 2009) France and applying to an attack from inside the country by nativists. President George P. Bush, at the suggestion of U.S. national security advisor Prince Bandar, deploys the 82nd Airborne to the NATO base at Avord in central France to back the Ben Abbes government in maintaining law and order. Secretary of State Chelsea Clinton announces, “Lafayette, we are here!” as the U.S. sets up drone patrols over rural France.

In a magnanimous gesture praised in world capitals, President Ben Abbes announces he is not delaying the scheduled election. Although in preventive detention, after the first hour of vote counting in the primary round in April 2027, Mademoiselle Le Pen appears to be headed toward a smashing majority, making her President without a runoff. But a computer outage takes vote counting off the air for the rest of the evening and when the count resumes in the wee hours, it’s found that she only won 48% and must face two weeks later Ben Abbes, who is then anointed the defender of all that is right and holy in the multicultural modern era.

And thus we can pick up again with the story line in Submission.

Having finally read Submission, however, I can now see the genius of Houellebecq’s less plausible, more quietist version in which Islamist rule is accepted by the French people as a sort of Streamlined Catholicism. Houellebecq threads the needle of not offending too badly either Islamists, of the kind that murdered the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, or of the French leftist cultural gatekeepers, while creating an insidiously subversive fable.

 

From my column in Taki’s Magazine:

Reactionary author Michel Houellebecq’s novel about an Islamic takeover of France, Submission, was published the day of the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo. In fact, the satirical publication’s cover that bloody morning was a cartoon of the notoriously decrepit-looking Houellebecq prophesying, “In 2015, I lose my teeth. In 2022, I observe Ramadan!”

Perhaps continental Europe’s most talked-about novelist this century, Houellebecq (a complicated-looking name pronounced, simply enough, “WELL-beck”) is representative of the rise of the right as a cultural force. The editor of the leftist Liberation newspaper complained that Submission “will mark the date in the history of ideas on which the ideas of the extreme right made their entrance in high literature.” Houellebecq has described himself in his usual half-joking style as “Nihilist, reactionary, cynic, racist, shameless misogynist: to lump me in with the rather unsavory family of ‘right-wing anarchists’ would be to give me too much credit; basically, I’m just a redneck.”

In reality, Houellebecq is an autodidact with an immense love of French literature. But he missed out on the usual educational and career path of French intellectuals, instead studying agronomy in college and going to work with computers, which he hated. In his 1990s novels, Whatever and The Elementary Particles, he more or less introduced to literature the now familiar character of the sexually frustrated computer programmer. Houellebecq has been a major influence on the sexual realist wing of the American blogosphere, such as Heartiste.

Read the whole thing there.

 

From the Wikipedia article on Mona Simpson:

Mona was the estranged wife of Abe Simpson and the mother of Homer Simpson. In the episode “Mother Simpson” where she was introduced, it was established that Homer believed that his mother was dead, a lie his father Abe told him when in reality she was on the run from the law after she sabotaged Mr Burns’ germ warfare laboratory. … The inspiration for the character is based upon Bernardine Dohrn of the Weather Underground.

Homer Simpson’s long-lost mother is named after novelist Mona Simpson, the long-lost biological sister of Steve Jobs. Jobs was given up for adoption by their biological parents, who later married and had Mona. The siblings first met when they were in their 20s; they became close, much closer than Jobs was to his adoptive sister with whom he grew up. (It couldn’t have been easy being Steve Jobs’ little sister: to be a normal child whose older brother always out-competed you for your adoptive parents’ limited resources because you were just an average person and your sibling rival was the Greatest Salesman of His Generation.)

Mona Simpson, the real person (not the cartoon character), was married at the time to the screenwriter of that Simpsons’ episode, Richard Appel.

The Jobs-Simpson case is an almost unique one in the annals of nature-nurture studies for the number of words published on the individuals from different perspectives. Jobs has been profiled almost as much as any individual in recent American history, while the first three novels by his sister Mona Simpson (the real person) are fictionalized versions of their biological family: Anywhere But Here (which was made into a movie with Susan Sarandon) is about their biological mother, The Lost Father is about their biological father, and the ironically-titled A Regular Guy is about Jobs and his strange relationship with his own illegitimate daughter Lisa (who, as a sensitive teenager, was displeased by her new-found aunt’s invasion of her privacy, and, in turn, has written her own memoir about her father).

By the way, Richard Appel is the son of the late Northwestern U. professor and Nabokov scholar Alfred Appel Jr., editor of The Annotated “Lolita,” a convenient way to read Nabokov’s most notorious novel. Since the Foreword to Lolita is famously credited to professorial “John Ray, Jr., Ph.D.,” a parodic character invented by Nabokov, Dr. Appel’s own introduction to The Annotated “Lolita” includes the following (not wholly reassuring) reassurance:

“Of course, the annotator and editor of a novel written by the creator of Kinbote and John Ray, Jr., runs the real risk of being mistaken for another fiction, when at most he resembles those gentlemen only figuratively. But the annotator exists; he is a veteran and a grandfather, a teacher and taxpayer, and has not been invented by Vladimir Nabokov.”

My movie review of the new film Steve Jobs is up at Taki’s Magazine.

Getting totally off topic (or is it all part of the lattice of coincidence?), Alfred Appel also wrote in his intro to The Annotated “Lolita:”

I was Nabokov’s student at Cornell in 1953-1954, at a time when most undergraduates did not know he was a writer. Drafted into the army a year later, I was sent overseas to France. On my first pass to Paris I naturally went browsing in a Left Bank bookstore. An array of Olympia Press books, daringly displayed above the counter, seemed most inviting—and there, between copies of Until She Screams and The Sexual Life of Robinson Crusoe, I found Lolita. […]

[T]his title was new to me; and its context and format were more than surprising, even if in those innocent pre-Grove Press days the semi-literate wags on fraternity row had dubbed Nabokov’s Literature 311-312 lecture course “Dirty Lit” because of such readings as Ulysses and Madame Bovary (the keenest campus wits invariably dropped the B when mentioning the latter). I brought Lolita back to my base, which was situated out in the woods. Passes were hard to get and new Olympia titles were always in demand in the barracks. The appearance of a new girl in town thus caused a minor clamor.

“Hey, lemme read your dirty book, man!” insisted “Stockade Clyde” Carr, who had justly earned his sobriquet, and to whose request I acceded at once. “Read it aloud, Stockade,” someone called, and skipping the Foreword, Stockade Clyde began to make his remedial way through the opening paragraph. “ ‘Lo… lita, light… of my life, fire of my … loins. My sin, my soul … Lo-lee-ta: The… tip of the… tongue… taking… a trip…’—Damn!” yelled Stockade, throwing the book against the wall. “It’s God-damn Litachure!!”

Thus the Instant Pornography Test, known in psychological-testing circles as the “IPT.” Although infallible, it has never to my knowledge been used in any court case.

 

Screenshot 2015-10-08 02.01.09

For Peace Prize punters, here are the latest odds fr0m NicerOdds.co.uk. For some reason, I don’t see Clock Boy’s name on the Peace Prize list, although I had him down as a sure bet for the Physics Nobel for inventing Time, so what do I know?

Dr. Mukwege sounds like he’d be a worthy winner. From Wikipedia:

Denis Mukwege (born 1 March 1955) is a Congolese gynecologist. He founded and works in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he specializes in the treatment of women who have been gang-raped by rebel forces. Mukwege has become the world’s leading expert on how to repair the internal physical damage caused by gang rape.

Mukwege has treated thousands of women who were victims of gang wartime rape since the Second Congo War, some of them more than once, performing up to 10 surgeries a day during his 18-hour working days.

Speaking of gang rape, how about Alexis Jay, who wrote the 2014 Rotherham Report that finally broke the omerta in England?

Mussie Zerai is an Eritrean priest who helps organize the Camp of the Saints, even though there’s no war in Eritrea. Speaking of the Camp of the Saints, how about Jean Raspail for giving us a 42-years to prepare? Granted, we totally frittered it away, but still …

You’ve probably heard of Angela Merkel.

Screenshot 2015-10-08 02.17.54

By the time you’ll read this, you’ll probably know who won, but it’s fun to look at old odds. How well did the prediction markets work out this time, Professor Hanson?

For some reason, I don’t see Ta-Nehisi Coates on the list, but then I had him down for Medicine/Physiology for being the world’s leading expert on Black Bodies, so what do I know?

For the Literature Prize, it looks like there’s a Year of the Woman thing going on.

“Sorry, old man. Because of the weak imagery, scanty plot, and pedestrian language in your latest, we’ve turned your table over to Joyce Carol Oates.” William Hamilton, The New Yorker, early to mid-1970s

Joyce Carol Oates is an excellent writer but she’s highly prolific, which usually counts as a detriment in winning the Nobel. And she has been publishing books since 1963. American authors usually don’t win lifetime achievement awards, since they don’t lack for opportunities for publicity. To win, they’re usually expected to sober up and write something better than their recent stuff, like The Old Man and Sea helped Hemingway garner his gong.

I haven’t heard a theory about why Oates is so highly ranked this year, but I’ll make up one: giving her the award would strike a blow against the male-biased notion that important writers should write important books that stand out. Oates would represent all the productive female novelists who write lots and lots of novels without a lot of drama about Promethean ambitions.

That’s probably not the worst theory in the world for justifying a Nobel.

Or maybe she’s near the top because she’s on Twitter? (Here are the Nobel candidate’s sensible tweets on Donald Sterling.)

Or maybe sozzled English punters keep hearing from America about the transcendent literary importance of Ta-Nehisi Coates and thinking, reasonably enough, that the Americans must be referring to Joyce Carole Oates? Coates, Oates, let’s call the whole thing off …

Dwight Garner of the NYT would like to see win J.P. Donleavy, who, amazingly enough, is still alive 60 years after publishing The Ginger Man, a novel that inspired everybody from Hunter S. Thompson to Colin Quinn to take up drunkenness as the key to being a Celtic bard.

Obviously, the Literature Award is a near total-crapshoot because how valid are opinions on literary merit across multiple languages? But, if the Nobel Committee wants to be relevant, the novelist who has dominated 2015 is this guy.

 

From the Wall Street Journal:

Can You See the Future? Probably Better Than Professional Forecasters

By JASON ZWEIG

Three-quarters of all U.S. stock mutual funds have failed to beat the market over the past decade. Last year, 98% of economists expected interest rates to rise; they fell instead. Most energy analysts didn’t foresee oil’s collapse from $145 a barrel in 2008 to $38 this summer — or its 15% rebound since.

A new book suggests that amateurs might well be less-hapless forecasters than the experts — so long as they go about it the right way.

I think Philip Tetlock’s “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction,” co-written with the journalist Dan Gardner, is the most important book on decision making since Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” (I helped write and edit the Kahneman book but receive no royalties from it.)

Was I the only reviewer in the world who wasn’t totally wowed by Kahneman’s laborious documentation that people can be tricked?

Prof. Kahneman agrees. “It’s a manual to systematic thinking in the real world,” he told me. “This book shows that under the right conditions regular people are capable of improving their judgment enough to beat the professionals at their own game.”

The book is so powerful because Prof. Tetlock, a psychologist and professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, has a remarkable trove of data. He has just concluded the first stage of what he calls the Good Judgment Project, which pitted some 20,000 amateur forecasters against some of the most knowledgeable experts in the world.

The amateurs won — hands down. Their forecasts were more accurate more often, and the confidence they had in their forecasts — as measured by the odds they set on being right — was more accurately tuned.

The top 2%, whom Prof. Tetlock dubs “superforecasters,” have above-average — but rarely genius-level — intelligence. Many are mathematicians, scientists or software engineers; but among the others are a pharmacist, a Pilates instructor, a caseworker for the Pennsylvania state welfare department and a Canadian underwater-hockey coach.

The forecasters competed online against four other teams and against government intelligence experts to answer nearly 500 questions over the course of four years: Will the president of Tunisia go into exile in the next month? Will the gold price exceed $1,850 on Sept. 30, 2011? Will OPEC agree to cut its oil output at or before its November 2014 meeting?

It turned out that, after rigorous statistical controls, the elite amateurs were on average about 30% more accurate than the experts with access to classified information. What’s more, the full pool of amateurs also outperformed the experts.

The most careful, curious, open-minded, persistent and self-critical — as measured by a battery of psychological tests — did the best.

“What you think is much less important than how you think,” says Prof. Tetlock; superforecasters regard their views “as hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be guarded.”

Most experts — like most people — “are too quick to make up their minds and too slow to change them,” he says. And experts are paid not just to be right, but to sound right: cocksure even when the evidence is sparse or ambiguous.

So the project was designed to force the forecasters “to be ruthlessly honest about why they think what they do,” says Prof. Tetlock.

A reader sends along a section from the last chapter of Tetlock’s new book:

THE KTO-KOGO STATUS QUO

… Like many hardball operators before and since, Vladimir Lenin insisted politics, defined broadly, was nothing more than a struggle for power, or as he memorably put it, “kto, kogo?” That literally means “who, whom” and it was Lenin’s shorthand for “Who does what to whom?” Arguments and evidence are lovely adornments but what matters is the ceaseless contest to be the kto, not the kogo. It follows that the goal of forecasting is not to see what’s coming. It is to advance the interests of the forecaster and the forecaster’s tribe. Accurate forecasts may help do that sometimes, and when they do accuracy is welcome, but it is pushed aside if that’s what the pursuit of power requires. Earlier, I discussed Jonathan Schell’s 1982 warning that a holocaust would certainly occur in the near future “unless we rid ourselves of our nuclear arsenals,” which was clearly not an accurate forecast. Schell wanted to rouse readers to join the swelling nuclear disarmament movement. He did. So his forecast was not accurate, but did it fail? Lenin would say it did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Dick Morris—a Republican pollster and former adviser to President Bill Clinton—underscored the point days after the presidential election of 2012. Shortly before the vote, Morris had forecast a Romney landslide. Afterward, he was mocked. So he defended himself. “The Romney campaign was falling apart, people were not optimistic, nobody thought there was a chance of victory and I felt that it was my duty at that point to go out and say what I said,” Morris said. Of course Morris may have lied about having lied, but the fact that Morris felt this defense was plausible says plenty about the kto-kogo world he operates in.

You don’t have to be a Marxist-Leninist to concede that Lenin had a point. Self and tribe matter. If forecasting can be co-opted to advance their interests, it will be. From this perspective, there is no need to reform and improve forecasting, and it will not change, because it is already serving its primary purpose well.

But before giving up, let’s remember that Lenin was a tad dogmatic. People want power, yes. But they value other things too. And that can make all the difference.

 
• Tags: Books, Forecasts, Who Whom 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


PastClassics
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
A simple remedy for income stagnation
Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. -- March 3, 2007
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
The evidence is clear — but often ignored