Populism and Elitism

Back in 2016, when the world woke up to the realities of Brexit and President Trump, I was quite surprised at the depth, the intensity, the hostility and the limbic irrationality of the reaction of the policy and media establishment to both of those events. From memory, their interpretation of these events was of terror at an impending apocalypse. Brexit was the equivalent of a military disaster. Trump was the worst thing that could have possibly happened to the United States and, by extension, to the world.

The greatest surprise I experienced was as a result of reading the Financial Times. Many years before, the FT‘s pink pages had been my oracle, telling truths and helping me to interpret the world. When in early 2017 I started a job which required me once again to read the FT every morning, I was surprised at how far my new experience of it was from my memories of it. Rather than informing me of what was happening in the world, with regard to Britain, Europe and the United States, the FT simply repeated, in all of its articles, the trope that Brexit was a disaster, Trump was an incompetent and dangerous fool who was possibly also a criminal and a traitor, and populism would be the end of western civilisation. This wasn’t the facts and interpretation that I wanted and expected from a newspaper, this was like having to listen to a monomaniac working through her shock at realising that the world doesn’t work as she had expected.

For the past couple of years I had been working this through in my mind, trying to find an explanation for it. I think recently I’ve discovered why, and it came through as a result of reflecting on what populism is and why these institutions might consider it such a threat to civilisation.

My hypothesis is:

  • In western democracies, while the power of selecting leaders according to their policies belongs to the electorate, the voters mostly leave the business of government to what we can describe as a policy elite. After so many years of peace, the policy elite has become established in social and government institutions, and have accepted the permanence of their position. ‘Leave it to us, we know what we’re doing. Trust us.’
  • The current governance system in western democracies can thus broadly be described as democratic elitism: in elections, the electorate usually selects between different groups of elite members to design and implement policies for the governance of the polity, and the winners of elections do so with the assistance of an unelected bureaucratic elite.
  • Brexit and the Trump Presidency represent a rejection of democratic elitism, in that they represent, respectively 1. a rejection of elite policy, and 2. a rejection of elite candidates for office.
  • This is what the FT and other members of the elite call populism: a rejection of the policy consensus and candidates of the elite.

Seen in this light, the FT‘s limbic overreaction to Brexit and the Trump Presidency becomes understandable. The FT, sadly, doesn’t exist to present to readers the facts of the world, and to provide intelligent interpretations of those facts: it is an elite institution, which has the role of promoting and safeguarding the interests of the elite. As a result, it couldn’t present a clear and straight picture of Brexit and the Trump Presidency – both had to be dumped on and laughed at scornfully at every opportunity.

It also explains the FT’s reticence in covering the gilets jaunes protests in France, which represent yet another rejection of failed elite policies, and which I think are much larger and more consequential than the elite wish to acknowledge.

Probably none of this is new for political scientists, but it has solved a conundrum for me, and it may do so for others as well.

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Two articles from Zerohedge: Grand Strategy; Social Belief Preservation

Two articles in Zerohedge that caught my attention:

First: Kyle Bass Warns Trump: Don’t Take The Easy Way Out With China

When it comes to the trade talks with China, President Donald Trymp and his negotiators have more leverage than any U.S. administration has ever had. Chinese policy makers are desperate for a trade truce with the U.S. in order to avoid more damage to China’s economy by further pressuring its trade surplus and export industries.

There is speculation that Trump has told his negotiators to “get a deal done” in order to put an end to recent market volatility, but that would mean foregoing a historic opportunity to come to a major restructuring of America’s relationship with China at a moment when China is most inclined to agree to concessions. We have come too far for Trump to take the easy way out …

U.S. negotiators are focused on asking China to make two changes:

  1. but more U.S. goods, and
  2. abandon an industrial policy that grants unique advantages, namely widespread government subsidies, protected domestic markets and regulatory preferences, to Chinese government-affiliated national champions.

Primarily focusing on the first objective is a mistake because it will ultimately erode the advanced parts of the U.S. economy which support the most valuable jobs in the U.S. This does not advance America’s long-term interest and is only a short-term fix for a very complex problem.

OK, this is acceptable as far as it goes.

But why aren’t the Trumpkins pushing for demilitarisation of the South China Sea and a non-aggression pact with Taiwan? If the Chinese really are on the back foot and desperate for a deal, why restrict one’s demands to trade and economics – especially when the Chinese have made their military and strategic intentions clear and when their entire industrial and trade policy is about advancing China’s military and strategic interests. Even more so, when China is starting to demonstrate a technological edge over the United States military, depleted after having faffed around in the desert chasing jihadis for what is approaching twenty years.

The time for pushing China back is going to come eventually. Might as well get started now, while conditions are most favourable.

Second: Over 1000 ‘Scientists’ Sign “Dissent From Darwinism” Statement

Earlier this month, a long kept list of Ph.D. scientists who “dissent from Darwinism” reached a milestone – it crossed the threshold of 1,000 signers.

“There are 1,043 scientists on the ‘A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism’ list. It passed the 1,000 mark this month,” said Sarah Chaffee, a program officer for the Discovery Institute, which maintains the list.

“A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism” is a simple, 32-word statement that reads:

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account fo the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

So far, so good. There isn’t anything to object to in the statement, I don’t think. Skepticism is an admirable intellectual approach to claims of knowledge and truth, especially in science. And ‘careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory’ should most certainly be encouraged, as it should be for all hypotheses and theories.

OK, here’s the Belief Preservation:

Regarding how his colleagues view the list, Behe said, “Most of my peers are unaware of it, but those who are aware of it don’t like it one bit. They think that anybody who would sign such a list has to have a dishonourable motive for doing so.”

Taking a stand comes with a risk. Scott Minnich, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Idaho, said he has many times been accused of being “anti-science.”

One thing that interests me about Third-Form Belief Preservation is that it so often manifests itself in people’s questioning the motives of the people whose beliefs differ from their own. It apparently never occurs to them that a person genuinely sees the world in a different way, or has access to a different set of facts: there always has to be either something wrong with them, or something suspect about their motives. I would love to investigate this more deeply, one day.

 

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Bioleninism: action and reaction

An informative interview with the founder of the insightful concept of Bioleninism.

One corollary of this discovery is, I think:

  • if one of the important things that people want in life is status, and Bioleninism is all about exploiting the energies and loyalty of misfits, who boil with Nietzschean ressentiment, by lifting their status; and
  • the mechanism by which this elevation occurs is the degradation of status of white Europeans, particularly white European Christians and even more so of white European men; then
  • what happens when the status-degraded white Europeans, equally interested in maintaining or lifting their status, seek a similar elevation?

I fear that we already know the ominous answer to that question. Yet another power-obsessed psychopath will come along to exploit these poor bastards’ need for status.

And, if you care to look, you can see that the process is already starting.

Thinking back thirty years, I had a history teacher who said something about the Nazi programme and its popularity which has stuck in my mind. The guy was quite the nitwit, and I quickly lost respect for him, but whether or not this was his idea this one thing that he said made an impact. He said that what the Nazis offered the Germans in the early 1930s – when they were still living under the Versailles Treaty, with its heavy reparations and its War Guilt clause, and were being ground into the dirt by the miseries of the Great Depression – was ‘work, bread, and pride’. This always seemed a sound explanation of what appealed to the German electorate – although having read more about it in the years since I think their opposition to Communism, which terrified the German middle classes, was equally if not more important – but in the light of the Bioleninism concept, the word ‘pride’ in that trinity becomes much more significant.

As I tell a good friend of mine: in the West, we have had the savage beast of right-wing extremism chained tightly and locked in a steel vault with a stake through its heart for the last 75 years, not able even to move a muscle; and now these leftard nitwits, drunk on self-righteousness and a hatred of ordinary people based solely on their skin colour, are bringing that beast back to life. Once it is up, the chains and the steel won’t be enough, we’ll have to drive a stake through its heart once again. And that ain’t fun.

The next 20-30 years are going to be interesting, in a Chinese proverb kind of way.

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‘Voting with your feet’

While we’re talking about the Augmented Hirschman Model, while listening to this tubecast by Diana Davison I made the connection between Exit and the MGTOW movement’s philosophy of ‘voting with your feet’.

What is interesting is the reaction from the people from whom the walking is done. ‘You can’t do this!’ They thought they had a voiceless slave shackled to them. They didn’t realise that the shackles were simply mind-forged manacles, which could be thrown off with a change in perspective.

So, I have a new (and perfectly obvious, I really am slow sometimes) definition of Exit – voting with one’s feet. Thanks Diana.

And, personally, having been yelled at and shamed by indignant women in most of my relationships with them: I’m beyond ready for the screaming. These days when I get it, I just laugh.

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Gilets Jaunes: Macron tacks to ‘Voice’

Latest development in the ongoing arm-wrestle between Jupiter and the Gilets Jaunes, which we can interpret through our Augmented Hirschman Model. Macron, possibly after advice from the sort of highly-intelligent people alone with whom he is able to have a conversation, has deigned to start having conversations with the massa damnata, to try to take the heat out of the Gilets Jaunes situation. From the Financial Times of February 15:

French vent their anger in Macron’s national debate

Everyone wants to have their say immediately.

Annie Vidal, member of parliament for Emmanual Macron’s La Republique en Marche party, is trying to launch a session of the French president’s “great national debate” – two months of public meetings organised to defuse nationwide protests over the cost of living.

But in a meeting hall in a depressed suburb of Rouen, she is quickly interrupted by an angry Olivier Demiselle, a Communist municipal councillor.

He loudly reads a speech about “citizens’ anger and rebellion”, and the failings of a debate for which Mr Macron has chosen the questions, when he is interrupted in turns by an even angrier man whose father died in hospital. “They did nothing for my father,” he screams at Ms Vidal, Mr Demiselle and the bemused debaters. “They don’t give a damn for us. The debate is pointless.”

The old mill town of Darnetal – where the discussion finally began after the protester was escorted by police from the hall – is typical of the post-industrial communities fomenting the anti-establishment “gilets jaunts” (yellow vest) demonstrations. More than 20 per cent of the workforce in this corner of Normandy are unemployed and others struggle to eke out their earnings until the end of the month.

But despite the occasional rowdiness, even Mr Macron’s opponents see his choice of a public consultation to quell the unrest as a politically canny move. It has allowed him to recapture the initiative – and television airtime – from the protesters by challenging them to explain exactly what they want and taking the arguments to a wider audience.

The uprising began as a motorists’ rebellion against a rise in green fuel taxes – which Mr Macron reversed [ed. TEMPORARILY!!!!] – but grew into a wider protest against the president and government.

“It’s his last chance to reconcile with the French people,” says Karl Olive, the centre-right mayor of Poissy near Paris and a former television sports producer at the start of the debate in January. “The French want to express themselves.”

Halfway through the two-month debate, which ends on March 15, the government has declared it “an undoubted success”. More than 6,000 public meetings have been arranged (2,500 have already happened), and more than 850,000 contributions have been posted online about tax and public spending, environmental policies, public services and the future of democracy.

For Mr Macron, the results are clear: he has regained the ebullient confidence that won him the presidency, and his standing in the opinion polls has risen sharply from a low at the end of last year.

“He has really regained the initiative,” says Jean Pisano-Ferry, the former Macron adviser and author of the president’s original economic programme.

The looming question now is what happens next and whether the result will satisfy the diverse views of those who have taken part – or trigger a new round of disillusion with Mr Macron and his reform programme. It does not help that the active debaters are overwhelmingly white and elderly and thus not representative of France as a whole.

The nationwide debate is a good “emergency measure that makes it more difficult for the giletsĀ jaunts“, says Dominique Reynie of the Findapol think-tank in Paris. “But what is there at the exit? … I fear we forget the primary reason [for the protests], which is extremely important, namely the demands for the French state to change the way it governs.”

Mr Macron’s advisers have floated the idea of a multi-question French referendum to coincide with the European elections in May, but the suggestion is proving to be constitutionally and politically awkward. Like Donald Trump’s US and Brexit Britain, France remains deeply divided between a liberal metropolitan elite and a resentful hinterland of people in small towns who feel scorned by their rulers.

Back in the meeting hall in Darnatel, the proposals are coming thick and fast from the 45 participants, who include a retired teacher, an IT manager and a prison social worker: abolish income tax altogether or, alternatively, impose an obligatory charge on everyone “in the spirit of the revolution”; extend the presidential term to six years and cut the National Assembly’s to four (both are currently five); make it easier to complete the government’s fiendishly complicated online forms; introduce proportional representation for national elections; and reopen remote railway stations.

“People are happy to talk,” says Ms Vidal, the Macron MP who organised the debate. “It’s unprecedented.” Others are dismissive. “For us it’s not a debate, it’s a questionionnaire,” says Alain Havel, a 56-year-old stonemason who lost his job after the 2008 financial crisis.

It falls to one of the rapporteurs from the rebellious table at the back of the hall (they refuse to use the forms provided) to sum up the mood as people gather their coats: “We are agreed that we pretty much agreed on nothing,” he announces cheerfully.

According to the Augmented Hirschman Model through which I have been interpreting the events in France, this is Macron trying to give the people of France voice, so as to pull them back from the revolt against the system in which they are engaged.

I don’t think it will work. Talk won’t put food on the table, or jobs into the regions. And they are the main issues. Macron has already said that he wouldn’t change any of his decisions, regardless of the revolt or the discussions, which immediately makes the ‘debate’ a farce.

The situation will continue to get worse, before it gets better.

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Gilets Jaunes, Acte XII

An update from France.

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Interactions with The Simulation

Two events of happenstance which occurred in recent days.

  1. On Wednesday, I prepared a brief shopping list to take to the local supermarket that evening. On arriving at the supermarket, I found that the ‘cauliflower’ section had no cauliflowers, only cabbages. Today, on reviewing the list before going out for Saturday morning shopping, I found that I had accidentally, and without at all noticing, written ‘cabbage’ – which I never buy, nor even think of buying – instead of ‘cauliflower’ – which I routinely buy – on the list.
  2. While just now working on a section of my book discussing what is known as the Learning Zone, I heard these words being spoken on a Youtube interview to which I was listening while I work:

The biggest thing that I want to accomplish is that I want you to be uncomfortable, because that’sĀ where you’re gonna grow. Safety is the most unsafe spiritual path you can take. It leaves you frozen in fear, unable to take risks, unable to learn and grow.

Honestly: what are the chances?

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Douglas Murray in Norway – an impressive speech, but no ‘i-word’, and no hint of a plan

A blast of sweet reason from Douglas Murray, in a very good talk given recently in Norway, well worth watching.

But note how tetchy he becomes with a questioner, at the 1:07:45 mark, who pins his coyness in refusing to mention the i-word. Murray may have his own reasons for doing so, but his semi-limbic reaction, couched as it is in his trademark elegant phraseology, is telling.

One other criticism, which my conspiracy-minded approach to the world considered while viewing the speech:

Murray says that the immigration to Europe over the last sixty or so years was never seriously considered, as regards to how the migrants would assimilate and the consequences their bringing their foreign culture, beliefs and behaviours to Europe. But is that true? His not being able to find any evidence that anyone engaged in such thinking is not sufficient to prove his point. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, as someone famously said (although note he also said it is not necessarily evidence of its presence, either – only a conspiracy theorist would reason to that conclusion).

What if a group of people in circles of influence did think about the consequences, and decided to chance it anyway. Even worse, what if such a group thought about the consequences and decided that they wanted to see exactly those consequences develop …

The worrying thing to realise, is that everything might just be going exactly to plan.

 

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‘Can’t get fooled again’

Remember this egregious big head’s proclamation that the Liberal Party’s ‘so-called base voters’ didn’t matter?

Seems that, with big head having been sacked for ineptitude, they’ve worked out that, actually, the base voters do indeed matter.

And a desperate Liberal Party actually needs them.

Too late.

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IDW, Sydney, last October

Wonderful conversation among members of the intellectual dark web (Bret Weinstein, Sam Harris, Majid Nawaz, Douglas Murray, and Eric Weinstein), which took place in Sydney in October last year.

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