The Two Sources Of Belonging

We all want to belong to a group. Some of us less or more than others. But few of us want to be ostracized from it.

We can obtain that sense of belonging through empathy if we are similar, and duty if we are not. Empathy through shared interpretation. Duty through shared action in pursuit of mutually beneficial ends.

Women vary less. They sense more. At least, on average, they tend to belong through empathy. Men vary more. They sense less. They are action rather than perception oriented.

Dominance is the corollary of empathy. We must learn to use our dominance against the physical world, and in defense of life and property, and not as a means of self expression or control of others.

Misused empathy is just as dangerous as misused dominance. The damage we have done to the world by our supposedly charitable activities is as great as the damage we have done by war.

We have lost the ancient understanding of our dual natures.

To cohabitate and to cooperate politically we must master both empathy and dominance in relation to how we possess them.

And in doing so create belonging by both empathy and duty.


Riffing On Scott Sumner: German Membership In The Euro Is Preventing The Advancement Of The Poorer Countries

The eurozone excludes Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Britain and Switzerland.

…Germany is one of the few northern countries that’s actually in the eurozone…

And it seems to me that here you have a massive adverse selection problem. Because of Abraham Lincoln, affluent states like Massachusetts can’t suddenly decide they want no part of our fiscal union, and would rather just reap the benefits of our large single market. But Switzerland, Norway can and did make that choice. Britain almost certainly would, and both Sweden and Denmark might as well. In contrast, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia would like nothing more than to join such a union. And all the likely future expansion of the EU is into areas further east, and much poorer than even Greece and Portugal. Places like Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine (a country nearly the size of France) Belarus, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Moldova (the saddest place on Earth—even the name is depressing.) And did I mention Turkey? Indeed why not Russia at some distant point in the future?

People often compare Europe to the US. That’s wrong; the eurozone is sort of like the US, although a bit poorer. But Europe as a whole is far poorer than the US, far more corrupt, backward, inefficient, whatever other pejoratives you want to apply. Even America at its worst (say the treatment of ethnic minorities) isn’t as bad as the treatment of gypsies in Eastern Europe.

My point was not to predict the future, but rather to provide a warning. Once you start down that road [to creating a united states of europe], there will be constant pressure to go further. Quite likely at some point the northern European taxpayers will rebel, and we won’t end up with a United States of Europe. The policy will collapse.

The eurozone really only has two options; a more expansionary monetary policy or a breakup. There’s no point in looking for alternative solutions.

The argument I consistently make, is that of course Germanic Protestant northern tax payers will rebel. And likewise, so will germanic northern european americans rebel. Which is what they’re doing today. We call it polarization.

Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, should leave the eurozone and germany should reissue the Mark. (Belgium is already divided between french and german cultures, and they despise each other as much as the french and english canadians do.)

The success of the euro then, will be as a vehicle for poor countries to unite, and possibly (I say with uncharacteristic hope) focus on group improvement, rather than transfers from the north to the south.

In fact, the most important and valuable strategy that the United States could adopt for the world today, is to dismantle the empire both domestically and internationally. The anglo people have succeeded in spreading consumer capitalism. We’ve modernized the planet. But it’s one thing to invent and evangelize a technology. It’s another to try to control it.

Europe doesn’t need one federation. It needs two or three. Because germanic, latin, and byzantine europe are different cultures if not different civilizations. They always have been. They always will be.

And multiculturalism is impossible.


2000 Years Of Economic History In A Chart? What Would That Chart Tell Us?

I don’t know what we’re supposed to learn from this chart from The Atlantic, but as others have already stated with passion, it’s pretty bad information design. And even without that criticism, almost every conclusion that one would draw from it certainly appears to be simply meaningless or false – at least without some sort of prevarication.

It reminds me of the biggest statistical sin in current economics: using ‘families’ rather than individuals. If someone uses that measure, then everything that follows is false. Families have changed too much. More so than the economy itself. The economy is noise by comparison. Likewise, for such gross categorization as this chart seeks to make use of, economic activity is meaningless without the sizes of the geography and the population. Boundaries are meaningless unless what happens within them is substantially different per person per square mile/km. Perhaps even, limited to per person per acre of arable land.

Otherwise all the chart tells you is that big arbitrary geographic areas produce more income than small arbitrary geographic areas. Which tells us precisely nothing that isn’t absurdly obvious.


What any such chart would allow us to draw the conclusion that:

    i) navigable rivers or seas made a very big difference, and
    ii) a hostile winter environment is beneficially eugenic for an agrarian population, but not for non-agrarians,
    iii) An east-west geography transports knowledge and goods more easily than a north south geography,
    iv) as of the industrial revolution, rivers are slightly less important, and populations with property rights and literacy matter increasingly instead.

Economic history is not complicated. People need:

    a) an environment that is not overly hostile (such as subsaharan africa or siberia),
    b) a means of transportation of goods (rivers),

They need institutional technologies which do not so much require the state as require the state not abuse:

    c) a monopoly of control over that territory within which they feel able to allocate property, take risks, establish norms, and where necessary laws and from which they can prohibit others from establishing different allocations of property, different norms and laws.
    d) property rights (law, contracts, courts), and
    e) tools that allow them to calculate the future and to cooperate in increasing numbers (numbers, money, accounting, banking, credit).

And, they need those institutions that *are* complicated: social aspects we too often ignore, and which appear to require intervention on the part of the state:

    f) the change in mating patterns (outlawing inbreeding) and property rights that allow us to transform human relations from that of tribal familialism to that of commercial universalism; thereby allowing us to trust, risk, produce and trade in increasing complexity. And
    g) the consequential prohibition on rent seeking and corruption that plagues humanity everywhere in the world except among the germanic protestants above the Hanjal line. And
    h) the need for aristotelian reasoning (objective reasoning, debate, and science) as a compliment and competitor to the emotionally and socially binding mysticism that seems to be a required property of all social orders.

A chart that is useful, will be the chart that illustrates that the only value of a state is in creating these institutions (a) thru (h).


Is Islam A Political Ideology? (And Are Progressivism, Scientism, Democratic Secular Humanism Religions?)

From The Global Secular Humanism Group:
“Should ‘Islam’ be considered as a political ideology and a religion at the same time?”

The question should be restated in this fashion in order to illustrate Islam’s political content:

A) Should Islam be considered a Religion? (Yes/No)
YES: Religions consist of Myths and rituals. It does appear that religions require some form of magian reasoning. However, scientism, secular humanism, progressivism, all require ‘faith’ (in methodology, reason, or technology) that is expressly counter to the historical evidence. So, it is quite possible to create a personal philosophy that is the premise for a religion (scientism, secular humanism, progressivism) on faith. Scientism has myths, rituals and institutions. Progressivism has them too. Secular humanism is getting close, but I tend to treat secular humanists as simply anti-christian atheists and progressives as Democratic Secular Humanists. That means Secular Humanism is a minor ideology, and Democratic Secular Humanism as a major ideology. Both of which rely upon faith. But Democratic (Socialist) Secular Humanism, like islam, has both laws (human rights), institutions (academia, the press, the party structure, and it’s developed expressly for use in majority rule under parliamentarianism). So it appears to be both an ideology, a religion and a political system.

B) Should Islam be considered a political Ideology? (Yes/No)
YES: The purpose of an ideology is to obtain political power through excitation of the masses. Islam was invented to obtain political power. Islam was used as a means of conquest, and succeeded in obtaining political power. Islam is used to obtain, justify and use political power. Political power is the power to enforce the primacy of a set of laws. Islam contains a code of laws with explicit commandment to their primacy. Therefore islam is a political ideology.

C) Should Islam be considered a political system? (Yes/No)
YES: While a primitive political system only requires the ability to resolve disputes, A political system capable of coordinating investments (taxes and expenditures on infrastructure) requires at a minimum, laws, and an organization that mandates the exclusivity of those laws above all other laws, rules and norms. Islam has both a set of laws (Sharia) and a system of producing judges for those laws (Mullahs) and a system of intergenerational teaching for the purpose of propagating those laws (Religious Schools). In effect islam is a legal system with magian origins (instead of natural rights). That islam does not include other formal institutions (a parliament) is simply a function of it’s antiquity and tribal authoritarianism. Islam conquered a roman state (Byzantium) and assimilated it’s administrative structure. But did not include it on it’s own. In fact, much of islamic administration relied upon slaves and eunuchs because the byzantine administration could not adapt to Arab tribalism. (See Fukuyama’s recent book.)

Islam is a religion, a political ideology, and a political system. If one argues that it is not, then one must define the terms religion, political ideology, and political system. And that exercise would lead to either confirmation of that it is a religion, ideology and political system, or one would define those terms using selection bias by sampling normative rather than structural rules.


A Note To Jonathan Haidt: An Explanation Of Elite Conservative Strategy Since Reagan

Jonathan Haidt first attacks republicans then rescinds it. I try to put conservative strategy in context. And in that context it’s quite simple. It’s an extension of the tactic used against world communism: “Resist until they go bankrupt.” If you understand this strategy everything the conservatives and Republicans do makes complete sense. Everything.


Very interesting post, and equally interesting comments.

One commenter above writes that you (Jonathan) should perhaps seek to understand conservative elite theory. (People like me.)

The conservative intellectuals succeeded in defeating world communism and socialism through a variety of military, political, economic, and intellectual tactics. But conservatives failed to come up with a strategy for defeating democratic redistributive socialism and the secular progressive attack on the meritocratic hierarchical conservative society. Due to this failure, the libertarians, who are explicitly economic in their strategy, took over leadership of the anti-collectivism, and whenever possible, the conservatives adopted the libertarian economic and political program.

But about the time of Reagan, conservative thought leaders looked at the demographic data and determined that the program of expanding statism would win out over time. So, the conservatives abandoned their belief that they could gain a majority and keep control of the state, or even defend themselves against it. And instead, they increased militarism, worked to increase home ownership, and tried to rekindle entrepreneurship rather than government as the central narrative behind western success. They then allied with the capitalist class to attempt to bankrupt the state before european style nanny state could develop. This was consistent with the approach to communism: “Just resist them and wear them out. They will eventually fail because their concept of an economy is unsustainable.” The conservative battle against the state is simply the conservative tactic against world communism replayed.

It is perhaps useful to note that the conservative argument against central planning, urban planning, welfare disincentives, laxity on crime and punishment, the social and economic impact of the dissolution of the institution of marriage, as well as the problem of the ponzi financing strategy of social programs (rather than the Singapore model of forced and subsidized savings) were all correct. The conservative vision of hubristic man and economic incentives is more accurate a world view than the liberal egalitarian ideal. And while it is not that we cannot use the ideas of both sides. It is that progressive desires must be accomplished through conservative means: retaining the relationship between cause, effect and incentives.

The USA, as a set of political institutions, faces the multicultural problem that faces all empires. It currently must cope with the combination of a)”The Demands Of Empire” that give the state greater scope than just the nation + b)”Nine Nations Of North America” which represent geographic differences in culture + c)”Racial Self-Preference in Association, and Differences In Ability” + d)”Gender Biases” + e) The class exaggerating effect of the extraordinary economic advantage of having an IQ greater than 105 in the information economy. All of these biases exist within a set of political institutions designed to resolve conflicts in priority between property owning males with homogenous norms. It is not possible to resolve conflicts over ends using decision making by majority rule. In the market we cooperate on means and are ignorant of one another’s ends. In majority rule government, there are winners and losers because we argue over ends. Majority rule must (as Federalist papers 10 stated) lead to extra-political resolution of conflict between groups with such mutually exclusive goals. Liberals slant toward the female reproductive strategy (the largest number of human births with the most equal experience) and the conservatives slant toward the male reproductive strategy (the most competitive tribe with the best people in charge of it.) This level of conflict over instinctual preference will not be resolved by the liberal desire to use our instituions of majority rule to suppress the instincts of the other side any more than conservatives would succeed in encouraging liberals to adopt conservative norms.

For this reason, something has to give. Either demographics have to play out (it’s possible), or the federal government has to devolve (unlikely without catastrophic military or economic causes) or we will have to develop new institutions that allow us to federate while pursuing opposing social ends (Just as unlikely). But it’s also just as likely that we will lose our high trust society as groups seek extra-political means of status seeking (like Mediterranean’s and Eastern Europeans, and Russians.) And if we lose that we will also lose our risk taking – which is why we’re a wealthy economy. Risk taking creates innovation.

But the USA is too big and too diverse ann empire to persist as we have known it. Classical liberalism is a means of governance for a small state or a small federation. Not an empire. And the USA is an empire. The Classical mutli-house model did not work for the british empire, and it will not work for the american empire.

So while I believe you have finally supplied the social sciences with the language by which to understand political conflcits I do not believe that the conflict is resolvable. People under Russian and Chinese socialism developed ‘black markets’ for everything. People under majority rule who have opposing interests will develop extra-political ‘black markets’ for power. They will circumvent the political institutions to achieve their desired ends. The state will attempt to preserve itself by increasing control, which will only expand the black markets. The liberals circumvented the constitution, and the conservatives circumvent the state apparatus.

There is no solution here without changes to our institutions. In government, big is bad and small is good. The city state and a mobile population allow the greatest diversity and freedom. So the problem we have is finding an institutional solution to that equilibrium: allowing federation of some things but not federation of norms.


Stiglitz Joins In On Keynesian Spending In Order To Expand The Oppressive State

The Keynesian debate promoted by such writers as Krugman, Delong, Thoma, Smith, and Stiglitz is misleading. Human beings are well aware that spending can increase demand, and that demand will improve the economy. The problem is, that we’re also aware of the externalities that are caused by that spending: the increase in government interference in our lives, the expansion of government’s size, the corruption created by the use of the funds, the use of the funds to support one’s opposition, the destruction of our savings, and the near prohibition on the institution of saving.

These negative consequences all support the secondary Keynesian objectives: the strong and increasingly egalitarian state. So Keynesians promote spending as much because of it’s externalities as for its impact on the economy. Just as we oppose those externalities because we desire freedom from an oppressive state, even if we must pay a high cost for doing so.

The germans resent supporting the greeks, italians and spanish just as much as americans resent supporting their liberal leaning underclasses. And while it may be true that the scale of our economy allows us to print money, that is not to say that each of us could not be more free, more prosperous, more secure and more competitive, as smaller collections of states rather than a continental federation of states oppressed by the coasts.

The Keynesian arguments are convincing on first blush. But they are only convincing because in their simplicity they ignore the true costs of government spending – the externalities that come from empowering the state: it is not debt alone that we face. It’s the destruction of meritocracy and the submission to the state.

The germans and the americans are right to oppose it.