‘Screaming into the camera’

Recently, in a video interview which I can’t exactly identify, Jim Rickards mentioned that, in the video releases that he gave prior to Brexit, advising his subscribers and clients to ‘short sterling and buy gold’, he was doing everything short of ‘screaming into the camera’ in order to get his message across.

I was reminded of this phrase, and of an earlier, significant warning, when I saw this recently-released clip of Jim talking to Egon von Greyerz in a gold vault in Switzerland. While the whole video is important and worth watching, note the statement about refiners’ access to gold dore from about 2 mins 47 seconds.

If this isn’t ‘screaming into the camera’, I don’t know what is.

The earlier, significant warning? From July 27, 2007, posted on the magnificent Going Private blog:  Continue reading

Posted in Flotsam and Jetsam, Insights | Leave a comment

The Great Inversion: United States becomes the ‘Evil Empire’

Raimondo’s essay brought to mind an idea that has been rolling around in my mind for a while now, but which I haven’t until now committed to paper (bytes, whatever):

The United States is becoming the Evil Empire that it fought against in the Cold War. 

My (admittedly loose) reasoning is:

  • whereas the elite of the Soviet Union was motivated by an ideology of marxism, the elite of the United States is motivated by an ideology of cultural marxism;
  • whereas the Soviet Union was openly hostile to, and sought to destroy, western societies, the elite of the United States are openly hostile to, and seek to destroy, Russia;
  • whereas the elite of the Soviet Union used their ideology of proletarian dictatorship to justify their aggression against those they deemed to be ‘enemies of the working class’, the elite of the United States use their ideology of ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’ to justify their aggression against those they deem to be ‘oppressive’;
  • whereas the elite of the Soviet Union controlled social narratives through official news agencies, and sought to suppress alternative narratives which can only circulate through what was known as samizdat press, the elite of the United states control social narratives through mainstream media agencies, and seek to suppress alternative narratives which can only circulate through unofficial channels on the internet (blogs, message boards, podcasts – all of which are currently under threat of censorship);
  • whereas the elite of the Soviet Union sought to promote their ideology of proletarian dictatorship to other countries through conquest, proxy wars and ideological subversion, the elite of the United States seek to promote their ideology of ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’ to other countries through conquest, proxy wars and ideological subversion;
  • etc., etc.

and so on and so forth. For every action of the elites of the Soviet Union, I think I can find an analogue in the beliefs and actions of the elites of the United States.

Here is just the latest analogue, outlined by the anonymous author at The Daily Bell and re-printed at David Stockman’s site:

In bluntest terms, the FBI performs a function similar to that of the 20th century KGB. It creates high-profile “criminal cases” to reinforce elite memes. For instance, banking elites are currently fixated on creating a “war on terror.” The FBI is charged with finding and arresting terrorists to buttress this narrative.

I’ll look for further examples, to share with you. This is not really a Popperian approach to generating knowledge – I should be looking for evidence that invalidates my hypothesis. The reason for my questionable approach is that I think there’s a preponderance of evidence that western countries are not, fully, modern analogues of the old Soviet Union – my being able to write this blog is evidence of this – but that it is important to monitor these developments because they represent a threat to essential, fundamental, ancient liberties which have allowed western societies to thrive for so long.

I’ll post examples under the category Cult-Marx Inversion.

Lastly: a discussion of cultural marxism with Andrew Breitbart, plus some other resources discussing cultural marxism.

Plus, as a treat, Yuri Bezmenov discussing the mechanics of ideological subversion, and a Zerohedge article quoting Oliver Stone and his use of C Wright Mills’ accurate term ‘crackpot realists’.

Posted in Cult-Marx Inversion, Freedom of speech, The Suicide of the West | Leave a comment

Narrative as the fabric of modern reality

Quotation from Tim Price, writing at the Mises Institute blog:

Yuval Harari, in his excellent history of mankind, Sapiens, points out that just about everything in the infrastructure of the modern economy is either some kind of narrative or myth. The buildings on Wall Street and in the Square Mile may be solid enough, but the rest of the fabric of our financial system is dependent on trust or collective belief rather than the material and the “real”.

Posted in Narrative and Taboo, The Mind & Society | Leave a comment

‘This is the essence of what it means to be crazy’: Justin Raimondo seeks to explain the inexplicable

An excellent and laconic, and honed essay by Justin Raimondo at Anti-War, describing and seeking to explain a phenomenon which I have trouble getting my head around: the self-defeating and self-deluding behaviour of the elites in western countries.

Some excerpts:  Continue reading

Posted in Epistemic Rationality, Mind-sets and Logic-Bubbles, Motivated Reasoning, The Suicide of the West | Leave a comment

‘Gertrude, do not drink’: White House overrides Congress re. Saudi involvement in September 11

More high-relevance news from the magnificent insurgent finance blog Zerohedge:

It has been a day of Friday afternoon surprises: just one hour after Ted Cruz pretended to endorse Donald Trump when he really meant don’t vote for Hillary, president Obama denied what all American citizens demanded – and got – after both chambers unanimously passed the Sept 11 law several weeks ago, when he decided to veto the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act bill.

Well, it shouldn’t be a surprise to dedicated readers of Stebbing-Heuer. Our hypothesis regarding September 11, following that of Richard Clarke, is that the result of a joint operation between the Saudis and the Americans, to infiltrate al-Qaeda by recruiting some of bin Laden’s men, which (somehow, and for some reason) went horribly wrong.

This hypothesis explains why:  Continue reading

Posted in Flotsam and Jetsam, Hypotheses, Nullius in verba, Sound Reasoning, The Suicide of the West | Leave a comment

Zerohedge ‘base rates’ Black Lives Matter

Base rates! Base rates!

You can’t understand a phenomenon until you look at the base rates!

You’re a slave to your impulses unless you look at the base rates!

Which Zerohedge gets:

20160922_charlotte1

By the way, in all the time since ‘Black Lives Matter’ has been a ‘thing’, I have never seen this fact pointed out in the legacy press. It took an insurgent finance blog to point it out. The legacy media is hopelessly compromised by its my-side bias. It can’t die fast enough.

Kudos to Zerohedge.

Posted in Base Rates, Epistemic Rationality, Good Thinking, Narrative and Taboo, The Suicide of the West | Leave a comment

Slothful induction and islamic terrorism, part CXXVI

The lair behind what appears to be a fake ‘Anthony Weiner’ account puts it as bluntly as is possible: 

Muslims could literally invade @CNN studios and behead a dozen people on live TV and we’d still be lectured about jumping to conclusions.

Update:

Moments ago, the NYPD announced that it seeking 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami of New Jersey in connection to the pressure-cooker bomb, assistant commissioner J. Peter Donald said.

Well, bugger me.

Who’da thunk it??

 

Posted in Informal fallacies in reasoning, Narrative and Taboo, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Peter Baldwin on the Regressive Left

In the Oz (beware the paywall):

What does it mean, these days, when someone says their politics are “left-wing” or “progressive”?

This has always been debatable, but in recent times these terms have taken on meanings that earlier generations of leftists would scarcely recognise. Ideas that used to be thought cons­titutive of left-wing thinking have been turned on their head.

To see what I am getting at, ponder the following thought experiment. Try to imagine how a moderate leftist in the social-democratic tradition (my own position) or a liberal in the American sense might react on awakening today from suspended animation after a half-century.

Say they had just listened to Martin Luther King’s great civil rights speech of 1963 in which he yearned for the day when his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin. Back then, King’s sentiments were seen around the world as the quintessence of liberal progressivism.

Suppose further that the cryogenic experiment were conducted on one of the campuses of the University of California, Los Angeles. Imagine that the subject of our experiment is a member of staff and, needing to be brought up to speed on university policies, is sent on a course on how to avoid “micro­aggressions”, words or phrases that are deemed subtly racist. Such training recently was made mandatory at the behest of University of California president Janet Napolitano.

Our Rip Van Winkle would be amazed to learn that the dreaded microaggressions included statements such as “When I look at you, I don’t see colour”, or “There is only one race, the human race”. Such sentiments are not even to be uttered, let alone debated, in what would seem to our reawakened liberal like some Bizarro World ­alternative reality.

So what has happened? In a nutshell, there has been a comprehensive rejection by progressive academe of the intellectual inheritance from the Enlightenment, the “revolution of the mind” that transformed Europe and North America in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Enlightenment stressed argumentative rationality and the scientific method. It ­favoured open debate of contentious issues, including the ability to freely critique religious doctrines. It is a universalist vision in which people are seen as members of a common humanity, each pos­sessing rationality and agency, and not just creatures of the particular cultural or religious milieu into which they are born.

Distinguished historian of the Enlightenment Jonathan Israel identifies a subcurrent that he termed the Radical Enlightenment that added a strong commitment to equality of people irrespective of race, gender or class to the intellectual freedoms demanded by the mainstream Enlightenment. Until recently, leftist intellect­uals across the board happily would trace their lineage back to this movement. Even advocates of communist totalitarianism honoured Enlightenment principles by claiming that their “scientific socialism” provided the fullest realisation of Enlightenment ideals.

Today the “Enlightenment project”, as they now style it, is typically disparaged by intellectuals of a progressive bent. The ideal of human universality is discarded in favour of the politics of culture and identity; the value of reasoned ­debate questioned as argument is seen as just a mask for the exercise of power; the quest for objective truth is replaced by an emphasis on narratives and stories; and the right to strongly critique religion abrogated, albeit selectively.

In his book The Seduction of Unreason, American political philosopher Richard Wolin gives a comprehensive intellectual genealogy of this development. He notes “one of the peculiarities of our times is that Counter-Enlightenment arguments, once the exclusive prerogative of the political Right, have attained a new lease on life among representatives of the cultural Left … As a prominent advocate of postmodern political theory contends, one need only outfit the Counter-Enlightenment standpoint with a new ‘articulation’ to make it serviceable for the ends of the postmodern Left”.

Welcome to the leftist Counter-Enlightenment. In Britain and the US some critics have coined the term “regressive leftism” for this movement. There are two aspects to the regressive Left ideology. The substantive content of the ideology is identity politics, the view that people should be seen in their essence not as members of a common humanity but as bound to a particular identity group.

There is an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy written by a sympathetic academic that expresses it thus: “… it is qua women, qua blacks, qua lesbians that groups demand recognition. The demand is not for inclusion within the fold of ‘universal humankind’ on the basis of shared human attributes; nor is it for respect ‘in spite of’ one’s differences. Rather, what is demanded is respect for oneself as different.”

Note that when members of a particular identity group demand respect for “oneself as different” they are not talking about respecting each person’s individuality and agency. On the contrary, they insist that people accept being defined by their identity and that they stick to the accepted script, the particular narrative of victimhood, that pertains to their group.

Members of each victim group are urged to claim ownership of — indeed, to be extremely proprietorial about — all aspects of their culture, including ephemera such as clothing and cuisine. We must all stick to our own cultural reservation. To violate this tenet is to commit the high crime of “cultural appropriation”.

American writer Lionel Shriver delivered a brilliant critique of this mentality and its deadening effect on fiction writing at the Brisbane Writers Festival last weekend, to the horror of organisers, who immediately disavowed her remarks.

And woe betide anyone who breaches this cardinal rule, as dissenters from within Islamic culture such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali have found. At best, they can expect condescension from bien pensant progressive intellectuals, some of whom denounced Hirsi Ali as an “Enlightenment fundamentalist”.

They will be pilloried in progressive media and will face attempts to bar them from speaking on campuses and elsewhere, as when Hirsi Ali was barred from speaking recently at Brandeis University in the US at the behest of a coalition of “progressive” student groups. Then there are the death threats from Islamist extremists intent on punishing the crime of apostasy. The Council of Ex-Muslims on Britain released a report this year detailing how extremist preachers have been given free rein to speak on British campuses while its own leader, Maryam Namazie, a leftist from an Iranian background, has been subjected to sustained efforts — including death threats — to stop her speaking.

These activities consistently have been backed by campus student organisations including, incredibly, feminist and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.

The de facto alliance that has developed between the Left and militant Islam, the most reactionary force in the world today, is the strangest and most disconcerting political development in my lifetime. If identity politics is the substantive part of this mutant ideology, the compliance and enforcement arm is the system of thought control we nowadays term political correctness.

According to the PC mindset, someone who openly or even privately challenges core tenets of identity politics is not just wrong but morally depraved. Such a person is not to be engaged with argumentatively, but must be vilified, censored and, where possible, pursued legally using instruments such as the iniquitous section 18C of our Racial Discrimination Act and equivalents in other countries.

Given their head, “progressive” politicians will introduce even more restrictive laws. Former British ­Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged before the last British election to make Islamophobia, which he never bothered to define, an aggravated criminal offence.

Regressive Left activists often claim to be fighting against “fascism” or “the extreme Right”. Ironically, they are the ones who, time and again, resort to classic 1930s fascist tactics such as wrecking the meetings of their opponents and in some cases harassing or attacking attendees.

I experienced this last year while attending a meeting at the University of Sydney that was being addressed by a speaker known to be defensive of Israel, a position now verboten on cam­puses around the world.

The meeting was disrupted by a chanting mob led by a young woman with a megaphone, the leaders making clear afterwards that they were there not to challenge or debate but to silence.

Some local academics actually defended this behaviour on the ground there was “no inherent right to free speech” if it contravened the progressive world view. There are even calls at Ivy League colleges in the US for the right to “free speech” to be supplanted by the insistence on “socially just speech”. Incredibly, the young woman leading the protest shouted her outrage that a speaker from the virulently anti-Semitic Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation had previously been blocked from speaking at the university.

This sort of coddling of extreme anti-Semitism, thinly masked as anti-Zionism, is one of the most revolting aspects of the regressive Left. American professor of queer theory Judith Butler, described as a “postmodern colossus” and a leading figure in the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, has in­sisted that Hamas and Hezbollah be seen as part of the “global progressive Left”. Both these groups have expressed the aspiration to exterminate all Jews; in Hamas’s case it is in its founding charter. Butler received some criticism over this, but her stellar standing in the progressive academic pan­theon was undiminished.

And it is not just academics. British Labour leader Jeremy ­Corbyn spoke warmly of his “friends” in Hamas and Hezbollah.

So it is pretty clear what the regressive Left is against. But what is it for, exactly? Its members would answer that they are fighting for “social justice”. Actually, it would be more accurate to say they are for social justice activism. Earlier incarnations of leftist ideology all had some conception of the “good society” they were working for, even if sometimes a terribly flawed one as with the communists.

Go to the websites of radical Left groups bearing names such as Socialist Alternative and you will see that there is no alternative. They do not even attempt to posit one. They are essentially nihilists who stand for nothing. Activism is a goal in itself, not some desired societal end state.

The supreme recent exemplar of social justice activism is the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. This movement is spawning imitators around the world including Australia, according to a recent ABC report.

Academic practitioners of the field known as critical race theory sprang into action to lend theoretical support. The tenor of some of this stuff would have stunned our Rip Van Winkle. There is an article on the website of the Harvard Law faculty that calls for “race-based mobilisations”, language that would not have been out of place in 30s Germany.

For the social justice activists, two kinds of questions are strictly off limits. First, narratives of victimhood must not be challenged, no matter how compelling the contrary evidence.

Hence, the shooting of a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri, was a straight-out case of murder, the victim shot with his hands raised. This version of events has been completely debunked since. But no matter, the critical race brigade sticks to this narrative in its “scholarly” articles, including one by a prominent academic at the Western Sydney University that referred to Ferguson matter-of-factly as a “racist murder” well after the facts were established.

This is not mere sloppiness. Reading this stuff, you quickly ­realise that for this kind of “scholarship” facts, evidence and the truth are strictly irrelevant.

Which brings me to the second type of unaskable question. Does the activism actually do any good? Has Black Lives Matter actually improved the lives of people trapped in impoverished inner-city ghettos? All the evidence indicates the contrary. Homicide rates in inner-urban areas have risen sharply since BLM started, reversing a decades-long declining trend. FBI director James Comey has linked this to the abandoning of proactive policing by cops fearful of vilification and prosecution.

Have the prospects for Palestinians to lead a decent life been enhanced by the international BDS campaign that urges them to stick to their rejectionist guns, thereby precluding a settlement with Israel and condemning future generations to repeated conflict?

Have young girls in Muslim communities benefited from the sentiments expressed by feminists such as Germaine Greer, who condemned efforts to outlaw female genital mutilation as “an attack on cultural identity”?

In Britain, hospitals are reporting an average 15 cases of this each day, yet there have been no successful prosecutions despite the practice being illegal since 1984. Where are the feminists on this and on forced marriages? Nowhere, it seems, with a handful of honourable exceptions. It seems that for the regressive Left there is a hierarchy of correctness in which cultural respect is trumps.

The kind of moral catastrophe this can induce is shockingly displayed by events in the northern English town of Rotherham. Across 16 years, 1400 girls, most from dysfunctional white families, were subjected to sexual abuse of organised gangs of sexual predators of Pakistani Muslim background. As two subsequent official reports disclosed, all arms of government that should have protected the girls — the police, social ser­vices, schools, the Labour-controlled local council — were paralysed by a dread of being labelled racist or Islamophobic.

I think of regressive leftism as a mind virus, a paralytic disease that is severely inhibiting the ability of Western societies to properly debate some of the most important issues they face. It is suffused with civilisational self-loathing — severely condemnatory of “white” post-Enlightenment Western societies yet prepared to overlook or apologise for the most egregious defects in other kinds of society.

To see what can result from this paralysis, look at Europe as it grapples with the consequences of its leaders’ decision to effectively dissolve its external borders with North Africa and the Middle East.

Consider the enormity of the transformation Europe is undergoing and imagine how it will look in several decades if this continues. Yet Europe’s elites seem incapable of conducting an honest debate about the implications of this, since this would involve asking some tough questions about whether Islam, with its undoubted violent and supremacist aspects, is ultimately compatible with liberal societies. Some of Europe’s leaders actually seem to have become reconciled to the prospect of large parts of Europe becoming Islamised. After all, what could be worse than the existing civilisation that is nothing but a sorry litany of racism, colonialism and oppression? And the biggest losers from this will be the self-styled progressives. What prospect for gay rights under the new dispensation?

This fecklessness and intellectual paralysis would be far less serious if it were confined to the Left proper, but it is not, as exemplified by Angela Merkel’s extraordinarily naive actions in the past year. The impulse to censor and anathematise anyone who challenges the prevailing zeitgeist can be found in parties regarded as centrist or even right-wing. This has created space for the emergence of new political forces throughout the Western world including Australia, with a surge in support for Pauline Hanson at the recent elections.

I believe the time has come for a fundamental rethinking of the lines of political division. At this his­torical juncture decent leftists must drop the masochistic obsession with denigrating post-Enlightenment Western civilisation and join with liberals, conservatives and others in a concerted effort to defend it against the unprecedented threats it now faces.

It is both incomprehensible (to me, anyway) and, yes, deeply disturbing.

Posted in Democracy and freedom of mind, The Suicide of the West | Leave a comment

I wondered when this might happen …

… and what the reaction might be.

I’m talking about the US response to the news that the Chinese government has been able to purchase – for not even the cost of peanuts – the voices and votes of significant players in the Labor party. The most notable instance is Senator Sam Dastyari sending his bills to a Chinese businessman to be paid, and then occasionally saying things along the lines of ‘It’s not our business what China does in the South China Sea’.

And today, the response arrives, courtesy of the Oz:

The US has expressed its alarm about the influence of China and the Beijing government in Australia’s domestic politics and wants reforms to eliminate China’s ­ability to use financial donations to influence Australian politicians.

It signals the extent to which the US has been stung by a series of revelations about Chinese financial support of Australian parties and politicians, culminating in the forced resignation of NSW senator Sam Dastyari from the Labor frontbench.

It is obvious that US concerns extend beyond Senator Dastyari. The implication in Mr Berry’s ­remarks is concern about the widespread and systemic application of Chinese finance in our politics.

The Americans appear to have worked out that, after for so long being a good and faithful ally, the current leaders of Australia are:

  • a bunch of dills
  • who can be bought very cheaply
  • and who have no understanding of global strategy, and their part in it.

It’s so embarrassing to be writing this. We are so ill-served by our politicians. For 100 years, it has been a really, really dumb idea to upset the Americans. As in, ‘utterly destroy your country’ dumb. And yet these brain-dead morons are happy to rub dirt in America’s face for a few thousand dollars a time.

Anyway, here we are. Australia is now ‘in play’. The Chinese, in the most gauche and crude manner, have signalled that they think we can be bought, and have started the bidding. The Australian politicians, numpties one and all, are lapping up the attention and falling over themselves to deal themselves into the game.

Now – what will the Americans do?

Australia is a grand strategic asset. I expect the Americans to play hard, with both ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’. I hope they do.

Australia faces both great risks and great opportunities here. And I don’t trust any of our power elite to get it right.

Posted in Flotsam and Jetsam, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From the ‘Cutting one’s nose off …’ department

A historical episode which, if it happened this year, would quite possibly win the Zbig Brzezinski Prize for Myopia. From page 342 of an interesting but overly-long book, Operation Kronstadt, by Harry Ferguson:

But before Paul [Dukes, MI6’s operative in Bolshevik Russia just after the revolution] could put his plan into operation, disaster struck. Yudenich’s thrust towards Petrograd had failed. The advance had been so successful because it had been led by six tanks driven by British soldiers who had volunteered for the mission. The Red forces had no answer to them and it seemed as though Petrograd must fall. But when they reached Gatchina, just 20 miles south-west of Petrograd, the British Soldiers woke in the morning and found that the tanks had been sabotaged. Someone had poured sand into the gearboxes and without the proper spares the tanks had been reduced to so much scrap metal. The tanks had been sabotaged by officers of the White army. They were angry about British support for the independence of the Baltic states and Finland which they felt should remain part of the Russian empire. And they resented the idea that their former capital was about to be liberated by the British. The incident neatly summed up every reason why White resistance to the Bolsheviks failed.

There’s just no helping some people.

Posted in Esau Problem, Poor reasoning, Prize for Myopia | Leave a comment