If there were no borders between nations, that kept them from bleeding into each other, they would tend to assimilate. In the limit, and except for variations arising from climate and geology, they’d all be just the same. At that point, they’d have nothing of value to exchange with each other. Nor then would they, any of them, do anything better than any of the others. There would be then no such thing as comparative advantage. There would be no trade, properly speaking. Nor would there be tourism. There would be only transportation.
It would be cheap, perhaps, and perhaps efficient. But it would not be valuable. It would not, that is, be much good.
Eric L. Gans
Eric L. Gans has written about the Left’s total submission to its own unacknowledged resentment in his latest Chronicle of Love and Resentment (No. 514) at the Anthropoetics website. Here are the first three paragraphs of “The Triumph of Resentment”:
Some decades ago when I was still naïve enough to think I could win a competitive grant I proposed a study of resentment, beginning with Achilles’ “rage” and running through Hamlet down to Nietzsche’s “discovery” of le ressentiment. When I received the comments of those who had turned down my application, I was struck by their tone of irritation. In effect, they were saying “we resent your interest in resentment,” which proved both the validity of my project and its impossibility of attracting either funding or readership. This is pretty much how the subject is viewed today.
The reader of the new New Republic or similar publications—and sometimes even conservative ones—is struck on the one hand by the extraordinary level of gender, racial, and miscellaneous resentment in almost every article, and on the other by the exclusive insistence on the resentment of Trump’s alt-right supporters, and that, slightly less virulent, of Republicans in general. The “hate the haters” line is applied without the least admission of the symmetrical and, recalling the origin of the left-right dichotomy in the French Revolution, originary political resentment—on the Left. Refusal to assume its own resentment has always been a defining feature of the Left, the source of its moral strength in denouncing inequities, but also of its arrogance and its crimes, and never before has it attained this degree of power in a functioning democracy.
The nineteenth century maintained considerable social stability despite its frequent political turmoil because the power base of society remained in traditional hands, meaning both that radical governments were of limited duration and that radical movements had a prima facie claim of speaking for the “oppressed.” The twentieth century was quite different. It’s no secret that Stalin and then Mao killed many more people than Hitler, that Pol Pot massacred a larger portion of his population than any of them, yet Mao still appears on Chinese currency, Fidel Castro and his henchman Che remain heroic figures to many (and our president does not fear association with their images), and even Stalin seems to be making a comeback under Putin, who sees the demise of the USSR as “the greatest tragedy” of the previous century. And we had a “socialist” running almost neck and neck for the presidential nomination with the former representative of the New Democrat faction of the Democratic Party.
The rest, which I strongly recommend, is accessible here. Gans wrote the item before the “Brexit” returns were in, but his discussion, which involves Donald Trump, is relevant to the “Brexit” phenomenon, which is, itself, relevant to San Bernardino and Orlando.
First Thought: I remark with some astonishment that this is the first time since Ronald Reagan’s 1980 victory that an electoral majority has roundly repudiated the liberal establishment. Astonishment is not a thought; it’s an emotional reaction. My generally grim view of democracy predisposes me to assume the worst of voting majorities. When a majority votes rationally, the obvious must be – to them, at last – hyper-obvious. Thus my astonishment. The two hyper-obvious stimuli of Brexit’s passage are (1) loss of sovereignty, the obverse of which is the rise of a remote bureaucratic dictatorship; and (2) Muslim immigration. (Whenever “immigration” is mentioned in current British political discourse, it means, of course, Muslim immigration.)
I’ve been writing the last year or two about tariffs, transaction taxes, tolls and tonlieux as just and fitting ways – and, indeed, economically efficient ways, Pareto optimal ways, ways that should gladden the hearts of Austrians and Chicago Scholars – for a sovereign to farm revenue from the domains under his sway. Implicit in all that talk of justice, fitness, optimality, and so forth, is the presupposition that the sovereign has the right to collect such revenues – that, i.e., it is not wrong per se for him to collect them, but rather, possibly, quite correct and proper, and true to the ontological and moral facts of the matter.
Notice then that collections of such transaction taxes are effected by free and uncoerced exchanges by his customers of something they possess for something the sovereign possesses. To put it bluntly, such revenues are collected from sales by the sovereign of something he owns: the control over who shall participate his realms, and on what terms. It is that ownership which confers upon the sovereign the rights of ownership, such as the right to transfer title, to sell, let, give, bequeath, rent, permit, tax – and by extension to exert any sort of control, rule, command, etc.
A press-release from the Office of the President at Upstate Consolation University contains an announcement that beginning in the fall semester, a new graduate program, the first of its kind in North America, will offer a master’s degree in Studies Studies. In the announcement, UCU President Chloe Alexandra Brainepanne expresses her enthusiasm for the new Studies Studies Program, funds for which became available when the Academic Senate passed a measure eliminating all literature courses in the English Department, which will henceforth dedicate itself entirely to Freshman Remedial Writing and Advanced Internet Media Appreciation. Several former English faculty members will transfer to Studies Studies, while the rest have been indefinitely furloughed.
When you carry an improper reduction into practice, you end up destroying valuable things – you make your theory a weapon. This can end in only two ways: you drop your weapon, or you use it to hack at yourself.
Take, for example, libertarianism.
Homo economicus gets a bad rap, as being insensible of the finer things in life: love, charity, worship, beauty, and so forth. He is supposed to be interested only in profit for himself.
In fact, the notion is far more comprehensive. Included in the calculus of what is profitable to economic man is his evaluation of what is morally best, spiritually best, and so forth. We all weigh our decisions in this manner, balancing our desires to fulfill obligations, to meet duties, to care for our bodies and for those whom we love, to tend the garden, make some profitable trades, respond to customers, go to church, and so forth. Economic life is not about spending and getting money, it is about allocating time. And the question ever before each of us is always the same: what is the right thing to do now, mutatis mutandis? I.e., given my overall schedule of preferences for all the possible things that I could do – including doing nothing – what is optimal?
Homo economicus is often profane and wicked and debased and ignoble, to be sure; but only because he is Fallen, and then only insofar as he has not been baptized and converted to a new and righteous and truer mind, so that his preferences are still whacked by idolatry and falsehood and unbelief, thus queering and ruining all his evaluations. The homo economicus that people gripe about is miscalled. His true name is homo irreligiosus.
How to get students to respect the professor… Carry a hand phaser! That’s Rachel, a very good sport!
The liberal cause célèbre of the month has been transgender bathrooms. Before that it was gay marriage. I imagine as a gay man one would have felt very good about that; people coming out to big rallies and the liberal media saying all sorts of nice things about homosexuals. At a college I know of, a gay man was hired by the philosophy department and appointed chief diversity officer. It would be a tremendous scandal if he turned out not to be gay after all! If he were caught embracing a woman in a sexual manner, quelle horreur.
We have seen that feminists throw women under the bus when it comes to Islam’s treatment of women. Cultural relativism trumps any despicable thing one might do to women. Pointing to Sweden’s distinction as having the second-highest number of rapes per 100,000 in the world due to Muslim immigration makes one a racist. Being a Muslim trumps being a woman for most favored status. Being a Muslim trumps our instinct to protect women, at least for liberals/feminists. It even trumps our desire to protect children. Mohammad married a six year old and had sex with her when she was nine. This has not been renounced as far as I know. Pedophilia is to be tolerated if it is practiced by Muslims or at least by Mohammad.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, most of my students think that the greater horror they can “tolerate” the better people they are – up to and including the Holocaust. I used to tell my students that this was not the intention of their misguided teachers who taught them to be moral and cultural relativists. Now, I wonder if perhaps it was the intention of their teachers. But whether it was or not, it is now the intention of liberals to tolerate any behavior of those with most favored status.
Walking through the Financial District of San Francisco and taking in the tremendous diversity of dress and accoutrement there to be seen is a source of endless interest. After years of observation, I have developed a hypothesis about what a person’s dress indicates about his inner condition, to wit: any obvious design to appear abnormal indicates spiritual disease, a deep unhappiness of some sort – alienation, confusion, loneliness, perhaps despair – that has prompted a compensatory effort to attract attention, as it were almost a cry for help. Or, more succinctly: if you look as though you are trying to look a certain way, you feel you are failing to be what you would like to have been.