Lysenko comes to Providence

For the annals of academic freedom. A physician by the name of Lisa Littman, who is an assistant professor at the Brown University School of Public Health published a paper in PLOS ONE (a highly regarded journal) on “rapid onset gender dysphoria”. You can read the paper yourself, but to summarize quickly, what the article finds is that social pressure can cause teens and young adults to self-identify as transgender. Not exactly a surprise, but interesting. What is, perhaps, more interesting is Brown’s reaction to the paper: it pulled the paper from its own news feed, giving the Orwellian reason that: It may “invalidate perspectives of the transgender community,” and the uni is committed to “diversity & inclusion”. In other words, Brown is repudiating the research of one of its faculty members because it does not suit its agenda. This is Lysenkoism, pure and simple. Brown’s statement babbles about PLOS ONE evaluating the study further, but the paper was and remains published (I just got it a few minutes ago from the PLOS ONE site). 

To be completely clear: Brown is explicit about changing the mission of a university from opening the minds of its students (as an educational institution) and search for truth (as a research institution) to indoctrination and propaganda for its political agenda (which is the usual Cultural Marxism).

Populism and Nomenklatura

This meditation was prompted by the recent arson epidemic in Sweden and the Swedish government’s completely lame response to it. The question I asked myself was: who is the Swedish government? To put the study in context, I decided to compare it with the “populist” Hungarian government, especially as the two governments could not be more different when it comes to their views on (im)migration, while the populations of the two countries are roughly similar (around five million each).  The standard liberal view is that the Swedish policies are “enlightened”, whilst the Hungarian policies are backward-looking and obviously promoted by benighted thugs. Here is what I found (note: I do not list experience in politics).

 

Prime Minister

Sweden: Stefan Löfven

Trained as a welder, dropped out of university, where he majored in Social Work for a year. Quickly became a trade union operative, advancing to be the head of the Metalworkers’ Union.

Hungary: Viktor Orbán

Has a law degree from Eotvos-Lorand University (the premier university  in Hungary). From 1987-89, he lived in Szolnok but
commuted to Budapest, where he worked as a sociologist at the Agriculture and Food Industry”s Director
Training Institute from November 1987 – March 1988. From April 1988, he was a research fellow at the Central
European Research Group sponsored by the Soros Foundation. In 1989, he received a scholarship through the
same foundation to study at Pembroke College, Oxford about the history of English liberal political philosophy.
In 1983, Viktor Orbán was one of the founding members of the Juridical Sociological Collegium (which was
renamed István Bibó Collegium in 1988). With several members of this collegium, Orbán helped establish a
journal of sociology entitled „Századvég“ and was one of the editors.

Justice Minister

Sweden: Morgan Johansson

BA in Political Science, worked as a journalist for three years.

Hungary: László Trócsányi

Undergraduate degree and a doctorate in Law, practiced as a lawyer for a many years, worked as a professor of Law, did research at the Hungarian Academy.

Minister for Home Affairs (Ministry of the Interior)

Sweden: Morgan Johansson  (see above). The previous Minister for Home Affairs was

Anders Ygeman

Ygeman has no higher education, except for a semester in criminology, and was excused from military service after a few days (for incompetence.)

Hungary: Sándor Pintér

Pinter is a career police officer. Graduated from the Police Academy,  and also has a law degree. He served in the police force for 25 years, the last 5 as National Police Commissioner (top law enforcement officer in Hungary).  He also operated a private security company.

Minister of Defence

Sweden: Peter Hultqvist

No higher education (seems to have a one year degree in social sciences). Worked as a journalist for 12 years.

Hungary: Tibor Benkő 

Career  (forty years) military officer, rising to Chief of Defence Staff, studied in the USSR AND the USA (Army War College), has a doctorate in Military Studies.

Foreign Affairs

Sweden: Margot Wallström No higher education. Worked as a bank teller for three years.

Hungary: Péter Szijjártó Degree in Foreign Affairs.

Higher Education and Research

Sweden: Helene Hellmark Knutsson Does not have a university degree. The only non-politics job is in the trade union system (as Ombudsman).

Hungary:  László Palkovics. Mechanical engineer, PhD, University professor, Full member of the Hungarian Academy. During his professional career, Palkovics held numerous managerial positions in companies like Thyssen-Krupp Presta Hungary, Knorr-Bremse Group and Bosch Budapest. Meanwhile, he has worked as editor for the International Journal of Vehicle Design, Heavy Vehicles and the Journal of Automobile Engineering.

Conclusion

The Swedish government is pure Soviet-style nomenklatura, It is run on pure patronage, and not any discernible skill. The Hungarian government is run by professionals, who have dedicated their lives to their respective areas of competence, and have achievements at the very top of their professions. The results are plain to see: Sweden is in ruins. Hungary is not -Orban and his team have done very well by their people, naysayers be damned. I hope they keep it up. I am not sure what hope I have for Sweden.

Whither Sarah Jeong?

In the last several days there has been considerable hue and cry about the vile racism of Sarah Jeong – a new hire at the New York TImes. The egregious aspect of the case has not been so much Ms Jeong’s overt racism, but the New York Times’ bizarre decision to dig in its heels, and not reverse the hire. This was loudly praised by the left, and decried by the conservatives as hypocrisy (given the recent defenestration of Roseanne Barr.)

Now, it is the opinion of this author that “racism” is an invented (and pernicious) concept. In the entire corpus of Greek and Roman history,  skin colour is never mentioned.  What is mentioned frequently (and continued to be so for two thousand years) was national identity. There was no “White Race”, there were Romans, Greeks, Medes, Lydians, Kurds, Numidians, etc, etc. (note that Plutarch [or Gibbon, for that matter]) never mentions the skin pigmentation of the Numidians, or of the Carthaginians (the former were Berber, the latter Canaanite).. Later, there was a millennium of chaos, out of which emerged the Italians, the English, the Germans, the French, the Turks, and so on. Skin colour was never even mentioned until the Democratic Party in the USA used it to disingenuously justify why slavery was compatible with the US constitution (read Dinesh D’Souza’s book). Even so, the idea never caught on elsewhere, until post-WWI Germany (when Hitler attempted to justify his theory of German exceptionality by making the Germans into a separate biological race [to which he himself visibly did not belong, but that’s another story]), and thus unleashed three quarters of identity politics upon us.

That said, are “White People” a myth? No. Just as in the twentieth century there was only one World War (despite being separated in WWI and WWII), the “White People” are the Romans, and we are living in the sequel to the Roman Empire.  In the original version, Romans conquered by the sword, but later, the instruments of conquest became quite diverse – they included the sword, but also science, art, philosophy, and so on. The Europeans (the latter-day Romans) created this civilization and dragged the rest of the world (often kicking and screaming into it. The rest of the world includes the East Asians (who  had stagnated for two millennia before the Europeans appeared on the scene), the Africans (who still live in what President Trump correctly characterized as “shitholes”), the West Asians (who stagnated for only one thousand years under Islam and the Ottoman rule), the Jews (who, while in Europe were not of it – those who see the spectacular intellectual accomplishments of the Jews, forget that the only Jews anyone had heard about in a non-religious context were Spinoza and Josephus, and the latter was a Roman general – it is the melding of Jews’ national talents with the European culture that created the explosion of intellectual accomplishments), the natives of America, and others. These various people, while benefitting greatly the new Roman Empire, are resentful – they are not driving the train, they are but passengers, and so the lack of control and the perceived lack of respect engenders not entirely positive feelings, and a desire to show that they, too, are important. The resentment is very much tinged with envy.  Like children, though, the likes of Ms Jeong (see, we were going to come around to her), as well as Black Lives Matter and other identarian organizations believe that they can do it by throwing a tantrum (or worse – destroying the dominant civilization). This does not engender respect. At least not in this author.

Monty Python summarized it rather well in the famous scene from “The Life of Brian”.

From Machiavelli to Trump

In Machiavelli’s  “The Prince”, Chapter IX (Concerning a Civil Principality), Machiavelli writes:

 

But coming to the other point—where a leading citizen becomes the prince of his country, not by wickedness or any intolerable violence, but by the favour of his fellow citizens—this may be called a civil principality: nor is genius or fortune altogether necessary to attain to it, but rather a happy shrewdness. I say then that such a principality is obtained either by the favour of the people or by the favour of the nobles. Because in all cities these two distinct parties are found, and from this it arises that the people do not wish to be ruled nor oppressed by the nobles, and the nobles wish to rule and oppress the people; and from these two opposite desires there arises in cities one of three results, either a principality, self-government, or anarchy.

A principality is created either by the people or by the nobles, accordingly as one or other of them has the opportunity; for the nobles, seeing they cannot withstand the people, begin to cry up the reputation of one of themselves, and they make him a prince, so that under his shadow they can give vent to their ambitions. The people, finding they cannot resist the nobles, also cry up the reputation of one of themselves, and make him a prince so as to be defended by his authority. He who obtains sovereignty by the assistance of the nobles maintains himself with more difficulty than he who comes to it by the aid of the people, because the former finds himself with many around him who consider themselves his equals, and because of this he can neither rule nor manage them to his liking. But he who reaches sovereignty by popular favour finds himself alone, and has none around him, or few, who are not prepared to obey him.

Besides this, one cannot by fair dealing, and without injury to others, satisfy the nobles, but you can satisfy the people, for their object is more righteous than that of the nobles, the latter wishing to oppress, while the former only desire not to be oppressed. It is to be added also that a prince can never secure himself against a hostile people, because of their being too many, whilst from the nobles he can secure himself, as they are few in number. The worst that a prince may expect from a hostile people is to be abandoned by them; but from hostile nobles he has not only to fear abandonment, but also that they will rise against him; for they, being in these affairs more far-seeing and astute, always come forward in time to save themselves, and to obtain favours from him whom they expect to prevail. Further, the prince is compelled to live always with the same people, but he can do well without the same nobles, being able to make and unmake them daily, and to give or take away authority when it pleases him.

Therefore, to make this point clearer, I say that the nobles ought to be looked at mainly in two ways: that is to say, they either shape their course in such a way as binds them entirely to your fortune, or they do not. Those who so bind themselves, and are not rapacious, ought to be honoured and loved; those who do not bind themselves may be dealt with in two ways; they may fail to do this through pusillanimity and a natural want of courage, in which case you ought to make use of them, especially of those who are of good counsel; and thus, whilst in prosperity you honour them, in adversity you do not have to fear them. But when for their own ambitious ends they shun binding themselves, it is a token that they are giving more thought to themselves than to you, and a prince ought to guard against such, and to fear them as if they were open enemies, because in adversity they always help to ruin him.

Therefore, one who becomes a prince through the favour of the people ought to keep them friendly, and this he can easily do seeing they only ask not to be oppressed by him. But one who, in opposition to the people, becomes a prince by the favour of the nobles, ought, above everything, to seek to win the people over to himself, and this he may easily do if he takes them under his protection. Because men, when they receive good from him of whom they were expecting evil, are bound more closely to their benefactor; thus the people quickly become more devoted to him than if he had been raised to the principality by their favours; and the prince can win their affections in many ways, but as these vary according to the circumstances one cannot give fixed rules, so I omit them; but, I repeat, it is necessary for a prince to have the people friendly, otherwise he has no security in adversity.

Nabis,(*) Prince of the Spartans, sustained the attack of all Greece, and of a victorious Roman army, and against them he defended his country and his government; and for the overcoming of this peril it was only necessary for him to make himself secure against a few, but this would not have been sufficient had the people been hostile. And do not let any one impugn this statement with the trite proverb that “He who builds on the people, builds on the mud,” for this is true when a private citizen makes a foundation there, and persuades himself that the people will free him when he is oppressed by his enemies or by the magistrates; wherein he would find himself very often deceived, as happened to the Gracchi in Rome and to Messer Giorgio Scali(+) in Florence. But granted a prince who has established himself as above, who can command, and is a man of courage, undismayed in adversity, who does not fail in other qualifications, and who, by his resolution and energy, keeps the whole people encouraged—such a one will never find himself deceived in them, and it will be shown that he has laid his foundations well.

     (*) Nabis, tyrant of Sparta, conquered by the Romans under
     Flamininus in 195 B.C.; killed 192 B.C.

     (+) Messer Giorgio Scali. This event is to be found in
     Machiavelli's "Florentine History," Book III.

These principalities are liable to danger when they are passing from the civil to the absolute order of government, for such princes either rule personally or through magistrates. In the latter case their government is weaker and more insecure, because it rests entirely on the goodwill of those citizens who are raised to the magistracy, and who, especially in troubled times, can destroy the government with great ease, either by intrigue or open defiance; and the prince has not the chance amid tumults to exercise absolute authority, because the citizens and subjects, accustomed to receiving orders from magistrates, are not of a mind to obey him amid these confusions, and there will always be in doubtful times a scarcity of men whom he can trust. For such a prince cannot rely upon what he observes in quiet times, when citizens have need of the state, because then everyone agrees with him; they all promise, and when death is far distant they all wish to die for him; but in troubled times, when the state has need of its citizens, then he finds but few. And so much the more is this experiment dangerous, inasmuch as it can only be tried once. Therefore a wise prince ought to adopt such a course that his citizens will always in every sort and kind of circumstance have need of the state and of him, and then he will always find them faithful.

 Now, of course, the US being a republic and not a principality, the context is not exactly the same, but it is not entirely different, either (especially as the Founding Fathers thought of the President as a kind of a temporary monarch).
Machiavelli speaks of the “popular” and the “oligarchic” princes, but there is a subtlety that he himself was very well aware of  — the nobles (what we now call `the elites’) usually draw on the support of their client rabble. In other words, in many ancient as well as modern societies, the population would be naturally segmented into
  1. The nobles (in ancient times this would be primarily the military aristocracy, now it is the bureaucratic, military, commercial, and academic elites).
  2. The people – in ancient times the productive members of society – the highly trained blue collar workers, small merchants, professional military and so on.
  3. The rabble: the slum-dwellers, the criminals,  the slaves, the gladiators in ancient times, and the systemically unemployed, the ghetto dwellers, the criminals in modern times.

Historically, the first group employed the third group to counteract the second group (which was, and remains, much more numerous than the first, and usually more numerous than the third). The third group generally lacked the education and leadership to act on its own behalf.

Now, if we examine the modern political landscape, we see how little things have changed in two millennia.  On the one side we have the “liberals” (the quotes are there to distinguish them from traditional pro-liberty small government liberals), represented by the Democratic party, and representing the elites (notice that the left is universally backed by the Press, and the vast majority of academia, as well as the currently dominant Silicon Valley commercial aristocracy, as well as the majority of the financial aristocracy of Wall Street). The elites have co-opted the rabble (the ghetto blacks and Hispanics, the illegals, the disaffected youth) and have put themselves in opposition to “the People” (capitalized, because group number 2 is exactly who the Founding Fathers had meant by the term). The power of the elites is so great that the very word “populist” has become pejorative. And yet, here we are with a “populist” president (himself a member of the elites, just like the populists of ancient times).  The People are oppressed, and part of their oppression is the punitive taxation to keep the rabble in bread and circuses (and Obama phones). Other oppression is more ideological – the People are made to sing paeans to the latest perversions of reason by the elite.

Enter Trump, the civilian prince. I now encourage you to go to the beginning of this article and read Machiavelli’s summary. While I am not certain Trump has read Machiavelli, his strategy aligns closely with what this last proposes. Notice that Trump speaks directly to the public, and not through magistrate – this is what causes the uproar about his constant tweeting – the Trump’s administration IS Trump (Louis XIV would have approved), the “magistrates”, as Machiavelli calls them, are clearly secondary, and the rather high turnover in the Administration keeps them that way. People understand that if they are not to be oppressed, then Trump is their best and only hope.

By contrast, the opposition is squabbling, just as the elites always have – it is more important for them to maintain primacy in their circle than to fight for the common cause, and in the event of the (frequent) failures of their policy they fall back on blaming each other (something Trump cannot do even if he wanted to, since he has taken all the responsibility, just as Machiavelli suggested).

All this fills me with hope (as well as with wonder).

 

 

One man’s view of the Trump doctrine

 

(this post, in a very slightly different form, was published on LinkedIn on June 12, 2018).

When I was a child in the Soviet Union, it was a generally accepted fact that the satellite state (Warsaw Pact countries) had a higher standard of living than their imperial overlords (by the way, the Russians certainly did not think of themselves that way), and that the Soviet government was supplying them with direct and indirect aid to keep it that way and to keep them in the fold (they also enjoyed greater personal freedoms, for the same reason).

Now, what is peculiar is that the USSR was not the only superpower to practice that form of bribery: the US (starting with the Marshall Plan) was doing exactly the same thing, except that, due to the strength of the US economy, the US still enjoyed a higher standard of living than its vassal states. The US aid was somewhat indirect: the US has been willing to tolerate protectionist policies of its European and Asian vassals and has been bearing the lion’s share (very close to 100%) of the defense expenditures. Instead of enjoying greater personal freedoms, the Europeans chose to use their aid to subsidize Socialist policies, and to steep their youth in anti-American sentiment (to their credit, the Japanese and South Koreans have been far more honorable).

After the end of the Cold War (over 25 years ago now), inertia kept the status quo (it was not just inertia – the American Left believed that EuroSocialism was a superior social order, and so chose to keep subsidizing it), but finally, the chickens have been brought home to roost by President Trump, who has realized that the subsidies are counterproductive – they feed our enemies, and they do too much damage to the US economy – this point (usually applied to the defense budget strictu sensu) has been realized by much of the US defense establishment (including the current Secretary of Defense) for decades (see David Stockman’s The Great Deformation), and something is now being done. This is an example of Trump keeping (yet again) his campaign promises and has no downside. Indeed, to the extent that it might lead to the collapse of the EUSSR (the European Union) it is a win on all sides.

Global warming through the ages

`While it is clear that human activity affects our environment, the recent global warming alarmism seems deeply misplaced. Global warming long predates the Industrial Revolution, and here is a quote from Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (published in the middle of the 18th century, at the very start of the Industrial Revolution:

Some ingenious writers have suspected that Europe was much colder formerly than it is at present; and the most ancient descriptions of the climate of Germany tend exceedingly to confirm their theory. The general complaints of intense frost and eternal winter are perhaps little to be regarded, since we have no method of reducing to the accurate standard of the thermometer the feelings or the expressions of an orator born in the happier regions of Greece or Asia. But I shall select two remarkable circumstances of a less equivocal nature. 1. The great rivers which covered the Roman provinces, the Rhine and the Danube, were frequently frozen over, and capable of supporting the most enormous weights. The barbarians, who often chose that severe season for their inroads, transported, without apprehension or danger, their numerous armies, their cavalry, and their heavy waggons, over a vast and solid bridge of ice.2 Modern ages have not presented an instance of a like phenomenon. 2. The reindeer, that useful animal, from whom the savage of the North derives the best comforts of his dreary life, is of a constitution that supports, and even requires, the most intense cold. He is found on the rock of Spitzberg, within ten degrees of the pole; he seems to delight in the snows of Lapland and Siberia; but at present he cannot subsist, much less multiply, in any country to the south of the Baltic. In the time of Cæsar, the reindeer, as well as the elk and the wild bull, was a native of the Hercynian forest, which then overshadowed a great part of Germany and Poland.3 The modern improvements sufficiently explain the causes of the diminution of the cold. These immense woods have been gradually cleared, which intercepted from the earth the rays of the sun. The morasses have been drained, and, in proportion as the soil has been cultivated, the air has become more temperate. Canada, at this day, is an exact picture of ancient Germany. Although situate in the same parallel with the finest provinces of France and England, that country experiences the most rigorous cold. The reindeer are very numerous, the ground is covered with deep and lasting snow, and the great river of St. Lawrence is regularly frozen, in a season when the waters of the Seine and the Thames are usually free from ice.

Note that Gibbon (just like Al Gore) attributes the warming to human activity, though, unlike Al Gore’s, his point of view is not currently accpted.

It actually gets better: Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome advances the theory that global COOLING was one of the factors responsible for Rome’s collapse, and the golden period of ”Five Good Emperors” (the end of the first and most of the second century AD) coincided with the warmest period of the time of the Roman empire.

Intersectionality II

Interestingly the Nazis and the SJWs have more in common than their loathing of the Jews – they are actually two sides of the same coin, and what they have in common is the belief that someone else is responsible for their shortcomings – be it “The Patriarchy” or the “Elders of Zion”. This is actually a well-known psychological phenomenon, known as “external locus of control“. What is particularly interesting is that as pointed out in the Wikipedia article:

Richard Kahoe has published work in the latter field, suggesting that intrinsic religious orientation correlates positively (and extrinsic religious orientation correlates negatively) with internal locus.

As we know well, leftist and totalitarian movements are very anti-religious (this goes for both Nazis and SJWs, of course), thus bearing out Kahoe’s thesis.

 

Gun and other kinds of crime

The New York Times published this screed, which compares the numbers of mass shootings in the US versus those in Russia, China, and India. The  article is cringe-worthy for a number of reasons:

  1. In the period under discussion, China had its cultural revolution (which killed 30 MILLION people)..
  2. In the same period, millions of people starved in India while the incompetent and corrupt elite enriched itself.
  3. The Soviet Union killed tens of thousands of people in the GULAG, and impoverished and deprived of basic human rights hundreds of millions of others.
  4. The article claims that race and diversity has nothing to do with gun crime. In fact, as the interested reader can see, fully half of the homicides in the US are committed by Blacks (half the victims are Black, too). That means that “White America” is one of the safest countries on the planet, despite the one of the highest legal gun ownership rates.
  5. The authors claim that “diversity” has no correlation with mass murder rates in European countries. I suppose the massacres at Bataclan, Charlie Hebdo, and Manchester (among many, many, others) have occurred in times immemorial.

A review of “The Black Edge”

A depressing book on what a giant flaming asshole Stevie Cohen is, and what a cesspool his eponymous firm was. Also depressing in that Stevie skated on all the charges, while at least some of his minions were given serious time (Cohen did not even have to go through the indignity of a trial). This is pretty much par for the course, and echoes in some ways “the Spider Network” (a better book) – comparing the two books shows that while the US system is screwed up, it is a model of efficiency and good sense compared to the cluster **** that is the UK political and legal “system”.

On the other hand, one might ask: are insider trading laws really a good idea? Many people believe they are not – all they do is muck around with the free propagation of information (which is very difficult – really impossible, since for a company like Google, literally hundreds of people know the numbers before they are out, and you can’t really blame them for trying to make a buck). Of course, this does not exonerate the perpetrators.