Category Archives: Morality

White Men Can’t Jump, by Robert Gore

This article will not go viral.

Professor Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. announces his mission statement to his first-year contracts class at Harvard Law School.

You teach yourselves the law, but I train your mind. You come in here with a skull full of mush; you leave thinking like a lawyer.

Kingsfield is a fictional character, from the novel, 1973 movie, and television series The Paper Chase. John Houseman, as Kingsfield, had as memorable a voice and almost as fearsome a demeanor as Darth Vader, who would appear four years after The Paper Chase movie. Houseman won an Academy Award and became the spokesman for Smith Barney, stating its tag line with aristocratic frost: “They make money the old fashioned way…they earn it.”

Teaching his charges to think like lawyers meant developing and honing their ability to think logically, to analyze, and to present arguments and conclusions with precision and clarity. More’s the pity Kingsfield was fictional; most people would benefit from such instruction. Harvard’s fictional One L’s were a bright lot. If their skulls were full of mush, then skulls today are full of the polluted runoff from TV, internet pornography, texting, and social media.

Garbage in, garbage out, as the computer programmers say. It’s far beyond the scope of this article to examine all the garbage out there that passes as thought. We’ll look at a sliver, what can be termed group attribution. Beyond the quality that defines a large group, it is generally impossible to make a categorically true statement about all of the members of that group. Yet, the fallacy is ubiquitous across the political spectrum, from social justice warriors babbling about white privilege to alt-righters claiming that members of various races are inherently incapable of living together.

White men can’t jump. Except that most of the 16 men who have cleared the 2.4 meter mark (7 ft., 10 1/4 in.) in the high jump have been white, hailing from places like Russia, Eastern Europe, and Sweden. (The world record, 2.45 meters, is held by Javier Sotomayor, a Cuban.) The problem with group generalizations is that a counterexample invalidates them.

What difference does it make? Group generalizations are usually based on an average characteristic within the group. Let’s say the average white man can’t jump 3 feet (that may be too high, given the obesity epidemic). What’s more interesting, the mass of white men who can’t jump that height, or the exceptions who can jump over twice that height? Do you wonder why the average white guy can’t jump very high? Or how men or women of any race can learn and train themselves to jump over a foot higher than their own height? Who would you study if you were trying to improve your own jumping?

Most of our social structures are geared to the average, or worse. Students on the far right side of the intelligence bell curve (yes, there is an intelligence bell curve) are stultified in schools so oriented. Escape and refuge generally involve paying large sums of money for the comparatively few schools ostensibly devoted to educating the bright and brilliant. In higher education, a significant part of the social sciences (a misnomer) are wastelands focused on groups and averages, using that dreariest branch of mathematics, statistics.

Imagine an Olympic training facility that accepted any white male, devoting its resources to raising the average high jump from 36 to 37 inches, though its trainees would win no gold medals. Isn’t that analogous to the education system? The best universities draw applicants from around the world and accept 5 to 10 percent of them, indicating a shortage of high quality institutions relative to the demand. Meanwhile, billions are spent raising average academic performance the equivalent of 36 to 37 inches.

That’s accepting the charitable assumption that our education system accomplishes its stated goals, which it does not. These days, illiterates with no mathematical skills beyond counting on their fingers graduate from high school.

Anomalous individuals, not the average ones, propel civilization. The fixation on groups and their averages is intellectually and practically counterproductive. Even the notion of identifying the exceptional is falling into disrepute, and that has something to do with the present state of the world. Overall quality of life is a reflection of overall quality of thought: garbage in, garbage out.

Muslims are violent, bent on world domination, and are guided by the Koran, which justifies their behavior and goal. One can find that generalization in various forms all over the internet. No denying that it’s true for some Muslims. However find one peace-loving Muslim who doesn’t read or follow the Koran (Do all those who call themselves Christians read and follow the Bible?) and the generalization is invalidated.

What difference does it make? Take the generalization to its logical end, and you can justify a preemptive genocide stretching from Indonesia to Morocco. If every one of 1.3 billion Muslims is bent on ruling the world and killing you, you’d better kill them first. A “Clash of Civilizations” has been invoked to justify US military interventionism in Islamic lands. Except by the warped standards of its promoters, that effort has not gone well: a never ending war on terrorism that begets more terrorism, huge refugee flows, increasing hostility towards the US, destruction, chaos, and a massive waste of blood and treasure for all concerned. Garbage in, garbage out.

Contrast the US effort in the Middle East to Russia’s, which seems to be guided by a more precise and accurate formulation: some Muslims are violent and bent on world domination. Russia identified such a group operating in Syria and Iraq. At the invitation of the Syrian government and allied with Iranian, Iraqi, and Hezbollah militias, it has reversed ISIS’s territorial gains and is in the process of exterminating those members who have not fled. In so doing, Russia has enhanced the security of ordinary people in Syria and Iraq and raised its diplomatic status throughout the Middle East. Smart in, smart out.

One problem with logic, clarity, and precision is that like Professor Kingsfield, they’re not warm, cuddly, fuzzy, and friendly. At the end of The Paper Chase movie, after months of back and forth with Kingsfield, student James T. Hart, played by Timothy Bottoms, tries to tell the professor how much he and his class have meant to him. Kingsfield doesn’t even remember Hart’s name. He‘s so deep into the fascinating nooks, crannies, and interstices of contract law (they are fascinating) that everything else has become secondary or irrelevant.

Logic, clarity, and precision are hard work and won’t get you invited to parties. They are also the foundation of the scientific method, which deals in hypotheses and theories, but never the comforting certainties of prejudice, generalization, and belief. The scientific method can lead to self-induced cognitive dissonance for those who cannot hold in their heads inconsistent hypotheses simultaneously.

If the world appears wildly chaotic, bordering on insane, check the programming. Garbage in, garbage out. The current state of affairs reflects the predominant quantity and quality of thought. What’s true at the individual level—there is no hope of improving life without improving thought—applies to groups, including the group known as humanity.

One hypothesis can be advanced with virtual certainty: among the masses hooked into the internet, exchanging pictures of cute animals and the fascinating details of their fascinating lives, this SLL post will not go viral.

You Owe It To Yourself

AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

 

Advertisements

What We Can Do…, by Eric Peters

The immoral doesn’t become moral just because the government does it. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

Until enough people’s minds are changed about coercion and collectivism, resistance is futile. The debate will continue to be about how much should be stolen from whom and for what purpose – rather than about whether anything should be stolen by anyone for any purpose.

As things are, many people believe it is ok to steal from others – provided the stealing is done on their behalf by other people (these are called “tax collectors”) and the stolen goods are called by pleasant but intellectually dishonest, morally evasive names (examples include Social Security, welfare, foreign aid, grants and so on).

Using this technique of doublethink, people are able to do things to other people – or urge they be done to other people, on their behalf – without feeling ashamed or guilty, as they would if they were to do these things themselves, personally.

This “surgical excision” of the psychologically normal human revulsion for other-than-defensive violence and for the use of violence to take things from others is the keystone of the coercive collectivist system. Dislodge it and the whole edifice collapses.

It is that simple – and that hard.

 Simple, because the moral principle is already established.

Excluding psychological defectives – the relatively small population in every society that does not feel ashamed or guilty about the use of violence (these people are called “criminals”) most people do feel ashamed and guilty when they steal or resort to violence.

And hence, most people do not steal or resort to violence.

It is a broadly accepted moral principle that theft and violence are wrong things; that those who steal and threaten to harm others in order to get what they want are not good people. This is half the battle, already won.

The problem is the disconnect which occurs once you transcend from the individual to the group.  

For some reason, most people – who are good people, basically – are able to not feel shame or guilt when the very things they understand instinctively as well as intellectually to be wrong when they do them on their own are done by people acting in some “official” capacity.

To continue reading: What We Can Do…

Book excerpt: How I became a Kremlin troll, by The Saker

How Vladimir Putin won the support of the Saker. From the Saker at thesaker.is:

Dear friends,

Today, with the kind permission of Phil Butler, I am posting the full text of my contribution to his book “Putin’s Praetorians: Confessions of the Top Kremlin Trolls“.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  The main one is that I strongly believe that this book deserves a much bigger visibility than it has received (this is also why, exceptionally, I am placing this post in the top “analyses” category and not elsewhere).  Please read my review here to see why I feel so strongly about this book.  Frankly, I am rather shocked by the very little amount of reviews this book as generated.  I don’t even know if somebody besides Russia Insider has bothered writing a review of it or not, but even if somebody has, it is still a crying shame that this most interesting volume has been so far ignored by the alternative media including the one friendly to Russia.  So by posting my own contribution here I want to bring back this book to the “front page”, so to speak, of our community.  Second, I want to ask for your help.  Right now the Kindle version of the book has 15 reviews on Amazon and only 1 review for the printed paper version.  This is not enough.  I am therefore asking you to 1) buy the book (Amazon wants reviews by purchasers) and 2) write a review on Amazon.  Guys – that is something most of you can do to help, so please do so!  We need to show the world that there is what I call “another West” which, far from being russophobic is, in fact, capable of producing real friends and even defenders of Russia.  So, please, do your part, help Phil in his heroic struggle, get the paper version of the book and review it on Amazon!

Thanks a lot for your help, hugs and cheers,

The Saker
——-

How I became a Kremlin troll by The Saker

By birth, experience, and training, I truly had everything needed to hate Putin.  I was born in a family of “White Russians” whose anti-Communism was total and visceral.

My childhood was filled with (mostly true) stories about atrocities and massacres committed by the Bolsheviks during the revolution and subsequent civil war.  Since my father had left me, I had an exiled Russian Orthodox Archbishop as a spiritual father, and through him, I learned of all the genocidal persecutions the Bolsheviks unleashed against the Orthodox Church.

At the age of 16, I had already read the three volumes of the “Gulag Archipelago” and carefully studied the history of WWII.  By 18 I was involved in numerous anti-Soviet activities such as distributing anti-Soviet propaganda in the mailboxes of Soviet diplomats or organizing the illegal importation of banned books into the Soviet Union through the Soviet merchant marine and fishing fleet (mostly at their station in the Canary Islands).  I was also working with an undercover group of Orthodox Christians sending help, mainly in the form of money, to the families of jailed dissidents. And since I was fluent in Russian, my military career took me from a basic training in electronic warfare, to a special unit of linguists for the General Staff of the Swiss military, to becoming a military analyst for the strategic intelligence service of Switzerland.

The Soviet authorities had long listed me, and my entire family, as dangerous anti-Soviet activists and I, therefore, could not travel to Russia until the fall of Communism in 1991 when I immediately caught the first available flight and got to Moscow while the barricades built against the GKChP coup were still standing.   Truly, by this fateful month of August 1991, I was a perfect anti-Soviet activist and an anti-Communist hardliner.  I even took a photo of myself standing next to the collapsed statue of Felix Derzhinsky (the founder of the ChK – the first Soviet Secret police) with my boot pressed on his iron throat.  That day I felt that my victory was total.  It was also short-lived.

To continue reading: Book excerpt: How I became a Kremlin troll

Because We Can, by Robert Gore

Six-year-old Salem Abdullah Musabih is held by his mother in an intensive care unit in the Red Sea port of Hodaida. Photograph: Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters

Sexual predation is the tip of the abuse-of-power iceberg.

Truths are emerging from the sexual predation scandals. Put a person in a position of power and there’s an appreciable chance he or she (most of the allegations so far have been against men) will sexually impose on someone—male or female, above or below the age of consent—with less power. The scandals shine a light on the prevalence of such predation. There’s no reason to think that future revelations won’t work their way through virtually every corner of American life. Non-consensual sex and, beyond a certain point, unwanted advances are unacceptable and must lead to civil and criminal liability, especially in those situations in which the perpetrator has power over the victim.

This is as it should be, and even much of the politically driven anguish and celebration is understandable and excusable. The discomfiture of Bill Clinton’s many zero-integrity apologists as they try to reclaim at least a veneer of decency—a few even admitting that perhaps they got it wrong back in the 1990s—would be gratifying if it wasn’t so disgusting. If there were a gram of decency in any of them, they’d issue personal apologies to the women they labeled as sluts, whores, bimbos, and trailer park trash back then. Of course that won’t happen, which invalidates their opportunistic “reappraisals” of the vile ex-President.

There are two potential problems with the current scandals. You don’t have to be a full-blown conspiracy theorist to question the timing. The establishment concocted a story of Russian influence on Trump, his campaign, and members of his administration that has backfired spectacularly. It’s obvious that there’s nothing to the establishment’s story, and it has boomeranged into two very real stories about Russia, Hillary Clinton, and the Obama administration: Uranium One and Fusion GPS (see “The Rout Is On,” SLL). If you’re implicated in the crumbling concoction or either of the two new scandals, you’d like to change the subject.

In America, there’s no better way to get people’s attention than with sex. Appeal to this prurient preoccupation and you’ve got a surefire diversion. Harvey Weinstein answered Establishment prayers: a Hollywood movie mogul, powerful, and among his alleged victims are a slew of comely actresses. He looks like a piggish thug, or a thuggish pig. Talk about a figure Americans love to hate.

Next up was Kevin Spacey, whose alleged transgressions—perhaps in a bow to sexual diversity—are homosexual in nature. There might be some resentment of Spacey in Washington. His House of Cards portrayal of President Francis Underwood as a bad apple tarnishes the .000002 percent in government who aren’t. There are people who still haven’t forgiven Frank Capra for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather, two movies that portrayed politicians in an unsympathetic light.

If someone was trying to divert attention those are two blockbusters. However, there’s a much greater danger than that sexual predation will divert the masses’ attention from Russiagate, Uranium One, and Fusion GPS. Eventually Americans will lose interest in the latest accusations, the accusers, the accused, and their alleged depredations. That point may already have been reached. Investigations, lawsuits, and judicial proceedings will grind on for years, far longer than the American attention span.

Many commentators have correctly pointed out that these scandals are not about sex, they’re about power. The leitmotif of these tawdry tales is: I’m doing what I’m doing to you because I can. Horrifying as it had to been for the victims, they’re the tip of the abuse-of-power iceberg. This must be the beginning of the beginning, we’re nowhere close to the end. The powers that be have had their way with the world for decades, and for many of their victims the price has been far higher than traumatization.

Consider the Yemeni mother holding her child, who’s dying of starvation. She has no ties to those making war in her country. She knows that rich Saudi Arabia has shut her poor country off from food and medicine, and many are dying from starvation and disease. She knows that the rich United States, a country she had thought of as a good place, with good people, is helping Saudi Arabia destroy Yemen. She knows she would bear any indignity or horror, including death itself, if it would save her child.

Dead Yemenis join the millions who have died over the past few decades in America’s senseless wars. America’s deaths are always in the thousands and are well and endlessly mourned. Its victims’ deaths are often in the millions, mostly ignored, but when noticed hypocritically justified as sacrifices to some American greater good. Eventually the survivors figure out it for themselves: the dead are “less than,” and they’ve been killed because America can.

As the cynicism deepens, they realize something else. Wars aren’t just about blood and power, they’re about treasure. America manufactures endless war, weapons, mayhem, and death the same way it manufactures autos and computers, and for the same reason—profit. The rhetoric is a smokescreen: the people who profit don’t want them to end. Is there any evil more monstrous than murdering millions for money?

It’s no consolation to the people of those lands, but most Americans are victims of the same depraved cabal. They are looked upon in the same way and for the same purpose as a starlet invited to Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room: to be used and abused. The “less than” are robbed, coerced, defrauded, swindled, herded, conscripted, patronized, propagandized, lied to, and opiated. Those who question this state of affairs are mocked, scorned, deplored, harassed, marginalized, ostracized, silenced, and eliminated.

A river flows into the heart of darkness from this wellspring of evil: the belief that other people are the involuntary means to one’s own ends. It’s the predators’ view of the world, whether that view encompasses victims of their sexual violence, honest and productive people and businesses plundered, countries conquered and subjugated, or any other “less than” they’ve exploited. They will do it because they can…until they can’t, which won’t happen if exposure and retribution are confined to sexual predation.

Anyone who claims your life, your body, your mind, your work, or your property without your consent is a predator. The predators among us must be brought to justice. “Because we can” must become an inviolate: “No, you cannot.” No one is a “less than.” Only when that becomes the consistent reality will humanity staunch the evil from which all others flow.

ALT-CLASSIC

AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Birth of American Free Enterprise, by Richard M. Ebeling

This should have run on Thanksgiving, but SLL had too much turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy and fell asleep at the switch. It’s a good article if you can take one more about Thanksgiving. From Richard M. Ebeling at mises.org:

This time of the year, whether in good economic times or bad, is when Americans gather with their families and friends and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. It marks a remembrance of those early Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the uncharted ocean from Europe to make a new start in Plymouth, Massachusetts. What is less appreciated is that Thanksgiving also is a celebration of the birth of free enterprise in America.

The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their back on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.

Plymouth Colony Planned as Collectivist Utopia

In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.

What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked the land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.

The less industrious members of the colony came late to their work in the fields, and were slow and easy in their labors. Knowing that they and their families were to receive an equal share of whatever the group produced, they saw little reason to be more diligent in their efforts. The harder working among the colonists became resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony. Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.

To continue reading: Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Birth of American Free Enterprise

 

The End of the Age of Benevolence, by Francis Marion

The money passage: “The irony in the dilemma which the West now faces is that our demise, the continual erosion of a democratic, intellectual meritocracy, is by and large spurred on by the very people that our system was created to protect.” From Francis Marion of Canadiangunblog.com, via theburningplatform.com:

The history of democracy, Marxism and feminism is the history of the snake, which, being hungry for more, stalks its own tail and consumes itself. 

Some evenings I sit on the sofa in the family room with my teenage daughter and watch a TV program with her. I leave the choice of the show to her, it matters little to me, and when she finds something she likes she sits next to me, puts her head on my shoulder, and snuggles up for the hour it takes to watch whatever it is she’s chosen.

It’s our time.

Occasionally we’ll sneak in another twenty or thirty minutes to the objection of her mother but I like my time with her so I put up with the raised eyebrows and the, “She’s got school tomorrow,” scoldings. It’s important to me that she knows I love her, that I want to spend time with her and that she feels safe when she is with me. Someday, when she is a grown woman I want her to find a man that will take care of her and protect her like I do. I expect no less from a suitor and neither should she.

There will be women who read this who will object to my stance. They will say, “She doesn’t need a man to feel safe or validated or content,” but I would disagree. When she gets older she’ll need a good man, not just any man, and that’s as true today as much as it was ten years, twenty years, fifty years, one hundred years and even one thousand years ago. And it will become even more so as time goes on.

Indeed, we have reached peak denial in our civilization and whether we like it or not reality is about to make a come back.

To continue reading: The End of the Age of Benevolence

Debt and Taxes and Perdition, by Andrew P. Napolitano

Loading up future generations with debt is immoral. Fortunately, future generations won’t pay it. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

Should the government borrow against the future? Should it guarantee higher taxes for your children and grandchildren in return for lower taxes for you?

If government’s moral legitimacy depends on the consent of the governed, as Thomas Jefferson argued in the Declaration of Independence, can the federal government morally compel those who haven’t consented to its financial profligacy — because they are not yet born — to pay higher taxes?

These questions are at the base of the debate — such as it is — in Congress these days over the so-called Republican tax reform plan. But you will not hear these questions even asked, much less answered, on Capitol Hill because the Republican leadership of the House and Senate is afraid that the answers might drive them from power. The same can be said for Democratic leaders when their party controls Congress.

In fact, with the exception of a few courageous senators, such as Rand Paul of Kentucky, and representatives, such as Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, most in Congress in both parties think the only limit on the government‘s taxing power is what it can politically get away with at any given moment.

And it gets away with a great deal because vast majorities in both major political parties recognize no moral limits to the government’s sordid pattern of tax, borrow and spend.

The numbers are chilling.

The federal government collects about $2.5 trillion in revenue and spends about $4 trillion, annually. The difference between what it collects and what it spends is made up in borrowing. But it doesn’t borrow money as you or I do or any business does — with a planned schedule to pay back the principal it owes plus interest. Rather, it goes deeper into debt to pay its debts.

To continue reading: Debt and Taxes and Perdition