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Political Philosophy

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In my new column in Taki’s Magazine, I briefly look at what we can learn about the origins of political order from our own experiences with being sports fans. This may seem like a weird topic, but it’s this kind of analogy to your own life that helps revivify sclerotic thinking about big topics.

In both politics and sports fandom, the fundamental question is: “Whose side are you on?” Exploring who roots for whom affords perspective on the big questions of who is politically loyal to what, and why. … 

A central question in ethnography is whether a polity is organized by ancestry or territory. For a decade, the US military has used bombs and bribes trying to convince Pashtun tribesmen that because they live in Afghanistan, they should be loyal to the Afghan government, which the American government has gone to great expense to buy and build. 

The Pashtuns find this American assumption of territorialism naive. Rather than trust a government in Kabul or Islamabad—depending upon which side of the Khyber Pass they happen to be on—they team up (and fall out) with each other along patriarchal bloodlines. 

Like modern governments, American professional sports teams, in tandem with local media, strive to demand territorial loyalty. Chicago is the extreme example of geographical rule, with the Cubs dominating the North Side and the White Sox the South Side. (The yuppie newcomer Barack Obama would seem a Cubs fan by class, but his Hyde Park residence made him a White Sox fan.)| 

Like tribal societies, however, college rooting patterns have relatively stronger links to family trees. 

Read the whole thing there

• Tags: Political Philosophy 
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From my new column:
The continuing success of the German high wage economy relative to the Anglo-American low wage / high finance system is raising worries among the global great and good that a newly confident German public might start thinking for itself on immigration.
Particularly agitating to transnational elites is that Social Democratic central banker Thilo Sarrazin published an immigration restrictionist book, Germany Abolishes Itself. (Here’s Rafael Koski’s informative review of Sarrazin’s book in Since August, it has sold a million copies. (Trust me when I tell you that’s an astonishing total for a statistics-heavy social science work.)

Germany’s economic model requires, on average, a highly productive population with strong human capital. Germans deeply value extensive technical education or demanding apprenticeships in the skilled crafts. But high investment parenting means that, especially in a crowded country like Germany, children are expensive. Thus, the main long-term threat to Germany’s high investment / high wage model is the below-replacement birthrate among Germans.

Sarrazin advocates policies to boost the birthrate so that Germany won’t abolish itself. Yet there’s an obvious problem: incentives to reproduce would tend to appeal more to parents who don’t invest as much in their children’s human capital, especially Germany’s Muslim immigrants.

Germany is now into its third generation of Muslims.  As Sarrazin documents, they tend to lag behind in achievement, much as Mexicans do on average here in the U.S., even after four generations

What are the causes of these gaps? Genes? Culture? Or whatever?

We’ll eventually find out for sure. But meanwhile, this is the pragmatic take-home message: these disparities have been long enduring. Therefore, they can’t just be assumed away when discussing future immigration policy.

Conclusion: immigration restriction is a logical necessity.

This is especially true in welfare state Germany. There, immigration from the Muslim world since the abolition of guest worker programs in the 1970s has been more or less an elaborate form of welfare fraud carried out through marriages arranged to obtain “family reunification” visas. As Christopher Caldwell pointed out in Reflections upon the Revolution in Europe, from 1971 to 2000, the number of foreign-born people in Germany rose by 150 percent—but the number of foreign-born workers didn’t go up at all.

Neighboring Denmark, the epitome of a civilized country, has had an immigration-restrictionist party in the ruling coalition since 2001.The Danish government has actually cracked down to some extent on arranged marriage immigration scams by not accepting foreign spouses under 24.

Like American scientist James Watson in 2007, Sarrazin was quickly forced to resign his post. Here, when somebody gets fired for political incorrectness, the general assumption is that he must have had it coming. Yet the German people have responded by assuming that if the ruling elite is desperate to silence Sarrazin, he must have something important to say.

Elite efforts to dissuade anyone from listening to Sarrazin’s analysis have now spread to America.

Read the whole thing there and comment upon it here.
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A friend emails:

The discussion of Left and Right always assumes underlying agreement on liberalism. Left-liberal social democrats and Right-liberal free-marketeers define the acceptable boundaries of “ideological discourse”.

But liberalism is the thing that is causing ideological confusion and conflict. Liberalism, the philosophy of untrammelled individual autonomy, is not compatible with cohesive institutional authorities such as families, churches or states. (And maybe even companies, going by the self-destructive tendencies in financial markets.)

Liberalism also tends to lead to natural dysfunction, at the micro-level with obesity and macro-level with global warming.

But its sacred tenets are never questioned.

I think that liberalism has a narcotic effect on its victims, inducing a life-long intellectual stupour when it comes to examining its own assumptions.

• Tags: Political Philosophy 
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Free market ideology needs to grasp the distinction between commerce and finance. The basic libertarian ideology revolves around the government only preventing “acts of force or fraud.” So, we don’t need a whole Indian-style Permit Raj to tell Procter & Gamble whether or not they can bring out a new flavor of Crest. If the new flavor of Crest poisons people, well, they can sue P&G and win hefty settlements, and P&G knows that, so P&G doesn’t poison all that many people.

On the other hand, in the financial sphere, there’s a huge gray area over whether something will turn out to be fraud or not.

I take my money and deposit it in the bank, which tells me that I can take it out anytime I want. And then the bank decides that rather than lend my money to Procter & Gamble at X% interest to build a new toothpaste factory, it would be a great idea to buy a mortgage-backed security consisting of the lowest tranche of the second mortgages (i.e., the mortgages that enable the first mortgages to be, net zero money down) on a bunch of loans to roofers in Compton that they bought from Countrywide because it pays 2X% and, besides, they need the CRA credits to get regulatory approval to buy another bank.

So, one day I go to take my money out of the bank and there’s a big line of angry depositors banging on the locked doors, and then a man comes out to say the FDIC has taken over the bank and you’ll all get your money back (assuming you didn’t put too much in the bank). So, I’ve got that going for me in my role as a depositor, but that’s not so great in my role as a taxpayer.

Therefore, it’s clear that libertarians should not be seduced by free market ideology when it comes to finance. It’s a different beast than cash-on-the-barrelhead commerce. Fraud, including unwitting fraud, is always a big risk in finance.

On the other hand, non-libertarians shouldn’t expect the government to do a good job of regulating the finance industry. Take a look at what blew up the world. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all strongly wanted your bank to make zero money down loans to those roofers in Compton.

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Pierre Manent: Facing The National Question In France

By Steve Sailer

The French have so assiduously cultivated their knack for glib philosophizing that most Americans less credulous than professors of English literature have lost all interest in French intellectual life. They sense that the French are more interested in expounding novelties than truths.

This state of affairs is doubly unfortunate. That handful of contemporary French thinkers who are immune to the Parisian infatuation with fashion and fads are heirs to a grand tradition, including Montesquieu and Tocqueville. Moreover, the French language may be more conducive to lucid rationality than any other tongue.

Finally, as irritating as French arrogance can be, it’s often rooted in a genuine and admirable national pride, a patriotism seldom found in other European countries in the 21st Century.

Among the most acute and sagacious French political philosophers of our era is Pierre Manent. He began his career as the assistant to Raymond Aron, the liberal intellectual who served during the 1960s as the tribune of common sense in a France in love with insane ideologies—epitomized by Aron’s École nationale d’administration classmate and life-long rival, the pro-Communist existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

Over the last decade, Manent has turned from the study of the great thinkers of the past to grappling with new problems—above all the European grandees’ attempt to suffocate national self-rule within the bureaucratic European Union.

Manent’s forthcoming work from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute is a short (103 pp) and highly readable book entitled Democracy Without Nations: The Fate of Self-Government in Europe, translated by Paul Seaton. It’s of particular interest to readers and to anyone concerned with the National Question—whether the nation-state can survive as the political expression of a particular people.

Elite opposition to nations, and thus to self-government, is not confined merely to Europe. On September 11, 2001, the Melbourne Age reported on former President Bill Clinton’s speech to an Australian confab:

“‘[Clinton]Australia and he took a position on it,’” said Tom Hogan, president of Vignette Corporation, host of the exclusive forum. ‘The president believes the world will be a better place if all borders are eliminated—from a trade perspective, from the viewpoint of economic development and in welcoming [the free movement of]cultures and countries,’ Mr. Hogan said. Mr. Clinton … said he supported the ultimate wisdom of a borderless world for people and for trade.”["Open borders to all:" Clinton, By Garry Barker, Melbourne Age, September 11, 2001]

Manent’s reaction to 9/11 was similar to that of—we cited a once-famous poem by Rudyard Kipling:

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.”

Manent writes:

“In my view, the most deeply troubling information conveyed by the event … was this: present-day humanity is marked by much more profound, much more intractable separations than we had thought. … Before that fateful day we spoke so glibly of ‘differences’ … [which] could only be light and superficial, easy to combine, easy to welcome and accommodate in a reconciled humanity whose dazzling appearance would be enlivened by these differences. This was such an aesthetic vision—a tourist’s view of human things!”

The contrast between Manent’s French clarity and the intentionally opaque and woozy ideas rationalizing the growing dominance of the EU can be striking. He continues:

“Today, all of us—at least in Europe—are moved and even carried away by … a passion for resemblance. It is no longer simply a matter of recognizing and respecting the humanity of each human being. We are required to see the other as the same as ourselves. And if we cannot stop ourselves from perceiving what is different about him, we reproach ourselves for doing so, as if it were a sin.” [MORE]

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

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

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