There is no such thing as left-wing dissent

If we grant that the definition of dissent in the political context is the holding of a belief that is contrary to the prevailing ideology, then it’s not particularly difficult to categorize instances of such dissent.

A good metric to measure it by is the magnitude of social penalties paid for by expressing potentially dissident beliefs. Can you lose your position at a company that you yourself started over the beliefs that you express? You are probably engaging in genuine dissent. This happened to Brendan Eich at Mozilla when he donated $1,000 to an advocacy organization that had Barack Obama’s 2008 opinion on traditional marriage. Something similar happened to Pax Dickinson for making crude and heterodox tweets about women in tech.

However crude the boundaries are, it should be easy to see what cannot belong in the category. It’s hard to think of a situation where holding left-wing beliefs, no matter how left wing they are, would get someone removed from an an organization that is not itself expressly right-wing.

I can, however, think of examples where lefties didn’t get shitcanned. In 2001, Ward Churchill, a UC Boulder professor, literally argued that financial killed in the 9/11 attacks had it coming. Adam Kotsko, another academic, had similar sentiments about the Charlie Hebdo attacks: the people at the newspaper were insensitive to Muslims and therefore deserved to die.

“Can it get you fired?” is by no means a necessary element when looking to categorize something as dissent, but it’s a pretty good barometer for the climate of official ideology; that is, the underpinnings of polite culture that we’re expected believe. Both of these men, of course, made waves. There was a lot of outcry, and Kotsko eventually deleted his Twitter account, but neither of them suffered real material setbacks.

Indeed, the official ideology is not really democratic: right-wingers get fired for expressing even mainstream opinions, left-wingers do no get fired for expressing universally revolting opinions. Most American’s probably do not want gay marriage, but that belief system doesn’t use the ideological assumptions that it is supposed to. Churchill’s 9/11 apologia was underpinned by the belief that there is Wall Street imperialism in the third world and that it is bad. This is firmly in line with with the ideological assumptions of powerful cultural institutions. So is Kotsko’s belief that racism is an insurmountable evil.

The pseudo-dissent that leftists engage in is merely a demand to extend official ideology and praxis. If we’re sitting somewhere around 6 on the Official Ideology Scale, the supposed dissent of the left is just a petition to crank it up to 11.

The FBI officially makes it its business to infiltrate and disrupt white supremacist organizations, and fashionable Black Lives Matter types like Ta-Nehisi Coates are also in the business of trying to dismantle white supremacy. There’s a difference, of course, of where exactly they think borders of white supremacist ideology starts and ends, but this is a question of magnitude, not a question of principles.

Black Lives Matter is a particularly pertinent example because such activists are supposedly fighting against “systemic racism” that is working around the clock to destroy them. The veiled is pulled back when we actually look at the casualness of these protests. There are no long-term legal consequences for anyone hunting for the white supremacist witch, much less social penalties. If anything, you can gain social credit by bragging to your middle-class friends about being on, like, the Right Side of History.

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No, women aren’t paid less than men

The following is a guest post by Daisy Belden

The gender pay gap has received a decent amount of attention recently, and, in response, has also been refuted over and over again. Knowing this, I thought that writing a piece explaining why the “gender wage gap” doesn’t exist would be beating a dead horse, so I never did. But, the Washington Post just released a poll in conjunction with the Kaiser Family Foundation that delves into contemporary opinions on feminism, and, according to this poll, 75 percent of respondents said that their top priority for improving women’s lives is “equal pay for equal work.” Apparently, this myth just won’t die, and I can’t sleep at night knowing that people still believe it. Everyone will be happy to know that women are, in fact, paid equally for equal work.

The so-called “gender wage gap,” also known as the “gender pay gap,” relies on the confusion of simple economic concepts: the difference between wage and earnings. Wage is the amount of money you are paid per unit of work, i.e., dollars/hour, dollars/project, percent commission, and so on. Earnings, in this case, is the total amount of money a person makes over a lifetime (or a given period of time, i.e., earnings over 20 years).

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The problem with this myth lies in feminists taking the average lifetime earnings between men and women, and then spinning the difference between those earnings as a wage gap. This is a critical distinction, because a wage gap would be immoral, and people instinctively know that. Paying some people less per unit of work is wrong. But this isn’t a wage gap, it’s an earnings gap. If there really were a wage gap, those profit-hungry corporations (that leftists love to hate) would only hire women, since paying people lower wages for the same work would help their bottom line.  

There is a difference between men and women’s lifetime earnings, which can be explained by the choices men and women make. Women are less likely to take risks in their careers, meaning they are less likely to become entrepreneurs or go into business, and are more likely to take a more tracked path to their careers through something like graduate school.

Let’s take a hypothetical example. A woman graduates from college, takes a year off, and chooses to get a doctorate degree. The average PhD takes about eight years to complete — meaning that a young woman who starts her PhD program at 22 will likely finish when she is 30. So, she goes to graduate school, netting zero income for those eight years (graduate students usually make around enough money to pay for living expenses), and then she works for two years. By then, she’s 32, a time when lots of women have children, and takes a year off because she has a baby. By the time she is 40, if she returns to work after that year, she will have only worked a total of 10 years with a positive net-income, meaning she was only making money for 10 years of her career before age 40. Meanwhile, a man she graduated college with, who has been working for a private company since he graduated, has been working for 18 years and is reaping the benefits of the promotions and pay raises that come with being a business professional for 10+ years. Those two people are going to have very different lifetime earnings — because they made different choices.

This example depicts one scenario, but there are many more in which women choose less lucrative career paths than men. Whether you like it or not, career choices affect the amount of money you will make over a lifetime. That is not something that is unjust or outrageous. Confusing wages with earnings to mislead people, on the other hand, is unjust and outrageous. It also makes women seem economically illiterate, which I don’t appreciate very much.

Lots of people have done more in-depth statistical analyses of the gender wage gap if you want to read more. I only wanted to correct some economic misconceptions so that I can sleep at night.

Daisy Belden is a senior at the University of Michigan. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and writer, with a love for the controversial and contrarian.

Wolf in Donkey’s Clothing

Bernie Sanders showed promise but, it turns out, he doesn’t differ much from the rest of the political class. Shame.

That’s the topic of my Taki’s Mag piece published today. Excerpt:

First, I have to admit something: I wanted to like Bernie Sanders. I really did. Like Russell Arben Fox, I thought he was a “front porch socialist,” which is a fine alternative to the corporatist war-hungry sleazebags who mostly make up Congress. Socialism might be unworkable and murderous, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of communitarianism to balance out the sybaritic impulses of the marketplace. Everything in moderation, said Oscar Wilde.

Bernie Sanders also seems to have a genuine concern for the losers of our society. The guy who loses his job to outsourcing; the mom whose low-wage job goes to someone who works for pennies and can’t speak English; seniors living on fixed payments who only see prices at the grocery store go up, never down—this is the Sanders constituency. Their struggle is part of the reason for his resistance to open borders and their tendency to drive down working-class wages.

Most of all, I like Bernie’s story. He was once a single father to a son, scratching out a living doing piss-poor carpentering and writing leftist screeds for an alternative Burlington newspaper. His first home in Vermont had only dirt floors, before Bernie put in the wood himself. Most of the time he lacked electricity. You can’t get more marginal than that.

But alas, the Sanders saga was too good to be true.

Read the whole thing here, and realize that Donald Trump is our only chance to dent the DC establishment.

Auto-SPLC

About a year ago, I was having coffee with a friend, discussing the ever-expanding definition of “harassment” on social media.  I raised a question that I still think is pretty interesting: what if someone created a program to track how many “harassing” or “hateful” accounts someone was following on Twitter? If an account follows too many such accounts, it could be labeled as a second-order hate account. Accounts that follow too many of those kind of accounts could be third-order offenders, and so on and so forth. It’s an Orwellian idea that seemed entirely possible, even probable.

A company called Little Bird, which specializes in social media data analysis, has done almost exactly that. From their website:

Inspired by a new Twitter account that tweets out the bios of anyone Donald Trump retweets (because they’re often remarkable), we went and looked up those people he’s introducing to his audience of 5 million+ Twitter followers.  In order to learn more about them, we analyzed the networks of people that those people he retweeted are following on Twitter, using Little Bird’s influencer discovery and social network analysis software. 

It turns out that Donald Trump mostly retweets white supremacists saying nice things about him.  At least so far this week’s that’s how it’s gone.  This isn’t one person, of the last 21 accounts retweeted by @RealDonaldTrump so far this week, our automated analysis of their accounts finds that:  

  • 28% of them follow at least one of the top 50 White Nationalist accounts on Twitter (6 of 21)
  • 62% of them follow at least 3 people who’ve used hashtag #WhiteGenocide lately (13 of 21)

In an attempt to call Trump even more racist than everyone else is calling him, Little Bird is painting people with an absurdly gigantic brush. You’re you follow one white nationalist account, you’re a white supremacist by the company’s standards. If you follow three people who have used the #WhiteGenocide hashtag, you’re a white supremacist.

How exactly this makes sense isn’t clear. The accounts that supposed white supremacists would have to follow are only themselves white nationalists. White nationalism is kind of a lower-intensity white supremacism.

A bigger problem with such overheated name-calling is the fact that ideology obviously doesn’t trickle down from followed to follower.  Remember how a retweet isn’t an endorsement? That pretty much goes without saying, and it should be equally obvious that following a Twitter account also isn’t an endorsement or a sign that you agree with everything or even anything that they say. Little Bird didn’t even have the statistical honesty to say what percentage of all accounts followed by these Trump supporters fit their criteria. I follow around 500 people, and I probably do more than most to keep my timeline uncluttered.

In addition to following a couple white nationalists, I follow social justice warriors, conservatives, progressives, libertarians, socialists, and even three Catholic communists.

I wonder how many Joseph Stalin apologists are followed by the SPLC types that make these kinds of accusations. I follow at least one.

Why not a Vox for the Grey tribe?

Scott Alexander, in one of the best essays I have ever read, differentiates the red and blue tribes, before acknowledging the rise of a Grey tribe.

There is a partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe typified by libertarian political beliefs, Dawkins-style atheism, vague annoyance that the question of gay rights even comes up, eating paleo, drinking Soylent, calling in rides on Uber, reading lots of blogs, calling American football “sportsball”, getting conspicuously upset about the War on Drugs and the NSA, and listening to filk – but for our current purposes this is a distraction and they can safely be considered part of the Blue Tribe most of the time

Pax Dickinson further defines the Grey tribe.

Greys are a libertarian-minded tribe of live-and-let-livers. They tend to dwell online, often adopting shifting pseudonyms and communicating with each other on forums and anonymous imageboards. Amongst the Grey Tribe one would expect to see higher levels of internet savvy, fondness for tech gadgetry, and disillusionment with traditional politics. They support privacy and anonymity, and oppose the NSA surveillance regime. Edward Snowden is a Grey Tribe hero. They revere open source, strongly support an open internet, and it is by no means exaggeration to describe them as free speech fundamentalists.

Many of the Grey Tribe self-identify as Blue, agreeing with Blues on many social issues while feeling disagreement with the Blues in areas economic and opposing Blue efforts to enforce political correctness. A few self-identify as Red, strongly agreeing with small government and 2nd amendment rights, but usually feeling strong antipathy or at best ambivalence toward Red social issues like opposition to gay marriage and abortion. Other Greys adopt the libertarian mantle, and many Greys disavow politics entirely. Despite their own failure so far to self label as such, the Grey Tribe does exists as its own independent culture, overlapping in areas but remaining distinct from the Red and Blue cultures.

So, my question, why isn’t there a news source catering to the Grey tribe? The Red tribe has Fox, the Blue tribe has MSNBC.

Vox offers a useful model of how to build a modern, semi-reputable news source catering to a tribe. However, the Grey Vox would cover different topics than traditional news sources. Economic analysis would be non-ideological, data driven and trustworthy, think Scott Alexander. Grey Vox would be strongly critical of government surveillance, thinking of Snowden as a hero. Silicon Valley and the tech industry would be heavily covered. Social issues would be approached through a live and let live philosophy, a distrust of the Red tribe for wanting to ban gay marriage and the Blue tribe for wanting to punish the Red tribe for wanting to ban gay marriage. Foreign policy would be covered less than most other sources, but would be geared toward non-interventionist realism, think Chris Preble.

Other aspects of the Grey Vox would be self-awareness, interactivity and rationalism. Grey Vox would acknowledge their biases, and try to correct them. Grey Vox would cultivate quality comments and be open to revising articles if the comments show a factual error or misleading narrative. Grey Vox would identify not with the positions it took, but by the process used to reach them

If you think this is a good idea, comment or tweet at me (@marklutter) so I can gauge the reaction to see if creating a Grey Vox is something I want to dedicate time to.

 

Conservativism and Race

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At the start of this election some think that the GOP would be re-branding itself. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio seem like the card to wing back the Latino electorate while Ben Carson was think could win a bigger portion of the black vote. However it was Donald Trump who made this election about race. First denouncing illegal immigration was seen by many liberals as code name for anti-Hispanic racism. Some neo-Nazis endorsing Trump haven’t help the Trump attempt to portray himself as a friend of minorities neither Trump retweeting them. The Muslim ban upset the Arab community and the use of the term “Anchor Baby” made Asian immigrants angry. The fact that most of his supporters are white is not necessary strange in Republican politics but his campaign has reached to unprecedented level of lack of political correctness. Michael Brendan Dougherty argue that paleoconservative writer Sam Francis predicted the rise of The Donald. Considering that Francis was an openly racialist, one has to wonder if the new kind of conservativism that Trump has to deal particularly with race or does that all the conservative tradition relation with explains the popularity of the billionaire.

Conservativism usually speaks about preserving a tradition, in most cases the western tradition. But is that western tradition has to deal with race? One could argue that at least in America conservativism had to do with a limited government. In the words of Daniel Hannan, limited government is a heritage of the Anglo-Saxon culture. However the campaign of Trump has made angry most libertarians by promising a big government that rivals in size with the socialist dreams of Bernie Sanders. Some describe these new form of conservativism as nationalism. Nationalism is still associated in America with the Nazis but nationalism is not inherently racist. During the 70s there in Latin America and Africa some governments that represent a left-wing forms of nationalism that promote the respect of the indigenous population. However after the Battle of Seattle the left had been preaching an alternative form of globalism and denouncing nationalism.

But not only Donald Trump is alienating minorities. Over The American Conservative, Musa Al-Garbhi reach to similar conclusions of my analysis about why there aren’t Black Republicans. Candidates are trying to preach to a white audience and dismiss black voters. Why this happen over and over? Republicans had forgot the legacy of the GOP on racial issues before Goldwater was in a lot of ways better than the Democrats. But that not only happen to African Americans. Arab Americans which are generally more socially conservative that other groups dismiss Republicans for their attacks that some of them consider Islamophobia. Hispanics come from Latin America where governments had proved to fail, however because preaching being against illegal immigration they had demonized an entire ethnicity. Even Asian Americans whose opposition to affirmative action and language of family values could had made them near to the GOP had prefer being part of Democrat Coalition over what they see as a narrow agenda in the Republican Party. Probably libertarians and maybe some reform conservative like Nikki Haley or Jon Hunstman had try honestly to reach out to minorities.

Pat Buchanan which a lot of people compare to Donald Trump for his insurgent campaign in the 90s had some advice for the real estate mogul. He says that Trump represents the future of the GOP and that his nationalism is his opposition to both globalism and interventionism. He believes Trump could win, I don’t. I think that despite that is probably that in 1992 or 1996, Buchanan as the Republican nominee would had beat the Democrats. Now the panorama is different. He spoke about Reagan Democrats and while they maybe still some of them, most working class Democrats are minorities who distrust the GOP and particularly Donald Trump. He may try to sound a little different but I don’t see much difference. The BlackLivesMatter movement had an important impact in the African American population equal to the movement against deportations in the Latino community. Trump against Hillary Clinton maybe a close election but against Bernie Sanders he could be defeated by landslide.

But nationalism has other problems, some of the neo-Nazis supporters of Trump are trying to infiltrate the GOP. How the party is going to deal with them when the Republican nominee says a lot of the same things. Libertarians also may feel that they are no longer part of the Republican coalition. But in the future if some libertarians stay they could try to bring a real civil war on the right of their limited government philosophy against the big government nationalism. The fact that besides the Paul family the most prominent libertarian is Justin Amash, son of immigrants from the Middle East show that maybe there is path for GOP of rejecting racialism and stood for a message of self-reliance among communities of the color. Maybe that is the only way.