No Minister

Archive for the ‘General Politics’ Category

Every PM’s nightmare question time

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The one where you dismiss a question with snideness – especially because you think the MP questioning you is a young twit who can be swatted away – only for your answer to bite you in the backside, powered by that MP’s knowledge.

Such happened the other day in the Dutch Parliament when a newly elected MP, Gideon van Meijeren, asked the PM, Mark Rutte, a relatively simple question: what did he think of a book called Covid-19: The Great Reset, written by one Klaus Schwab, Chairman and Founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Apparently the book’s basic thrust is that democracy is fairly useless, what’s needed is a planet run by a highly educated technocracy, and that we’re already seeing this in practice with the Covid-19 pandemic, thus making it the ideal opportunity to start it working in practice.

The PM chose the standard approach in response, which was to snark about conspiracy theories while saying that he knew nothing of the book.

Unfortunately for him, young Mr van Meijeren was ready for this. He had a letter written to Mr Schwab, congratulating him on its, “hopeful analysis for a better future”. The letter being from Mr Rutte.

Now that is truly Speaking Truth To Power, especially since Rutte, like every other Western leader, has gloried in using the pandemic to seize and wield ever more power in the name of Public Health.

You can watch the link on Rumble here. Pay particular attention to the reactions of the young lady behind van Meijeren as he dices up the PM. It’ll make your day.

(Grrr – it seems some people can’t see the Rumble link so… here’s the frigging YouTube link to the same video. YouTube are definitely NOT speaking Truth To Power nowadays but instead acting as State enforcers with their censorship. Assholes.)

Written by Tom Hunter

January 18, 2022 at 8:48 am

A second answer to Why?

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Why? was the title of a post by Nick K, my co-blogger here at NM, as he grappled with the “reasoning” behind the vaccine and mask mandates here in NZ and similar approaches taken in most corners of the globe.

I came across one possible answer to that question covered in the post, One answer to Why?, which looked at the control of popular thinking via language control in the modern context of Tech companies in the Webosphere.

Here’s some background to those companies and their leaders in this article from City-Journal in 2017, The Disrupters, which is all about the new Lords of Silicon Valley:

In just ten years, Facebook built a global empire that surpassed General Electric in market value—and did it with just 4 percent of the Old Economy giant’s workforce: 12,000, compared with 300,000. Whatsapp, a recent Facebook acquisition, managed an even more impressive wealth-to-labor ratio, with a $19 billion value and just 55 employees. Combined, both companies reach roughly one-sixth of humanity. Facebook’s entertainment colleague just to the south, Netflix, crushed Blockbuster’s mammoth national network of 9,000 stores and 60,000 employees with its more nimble workforce of just 3,700 employees.

Capitalism in action. Many firms have been so destroyed in the past by new competitors. The article goes on to explore what might happen next with AI, robotics and so forth, providing examples along the way involving brilliant young people, like Michael Sayman. In doing so the writer interviewed a number of the leading lights of this IT revolution and even got an opinion poll done of them to assess where they thought it was all going.

That’s where it gets sad – and scary. For a start these founders (147 were polled) don’t like talking about inequality, probably because of this:

As far as the future of innovation and its impact on ordinary people, the most common answer I received in Silicon Valley was this: over the (very) long run, an increasingly greater share of economic wealth will be generated by a smaller slice of very talented or original people. Everyone else will increasingly subsist on some combination of part-time entrepreneurial “gig work” and government aid.

Now I’ve done pretty well out of capitalism, but to me that future sounds like it sucks ass, even with a theoretical Universal Beneficiary Income (UBI). Fully Automated Luxury Communism it is not. It’s actually Marx’s “disguised form of alms”. It’s quite clear that these “thought leaders” are very leary of what may happen when they’ve built robots that can do most things better than a human.

And what of the political and philosophical attitudes that go with all this? Well it’s not actually as obvious as you might think. First with the political:

Contrary to popular opinion, most of Silicon Valley is not a libertarian ATM. The tech industry is overwhelmingly Democratic. In 2008, 83 percent of donations from the top Internet firms went to Obama, not John McCain. Many of the Valley’s household names, including Google’s then-chairman Eric Schmidt, personally helped Obama in both presidential campaigns. Republicans rarely get much money or talent from the Valley.

Yet they’re against unions and regulations (of their industry) and big on free trade of course, which is why Bernie Sanders gets no love from these people, nor would any Democrat of the pre-1990’s. Nor Donald Trump. Bill Clinton sniffed the winds well.

Then there’s the philosophical ideas that drive their politics:

What I discovered through my survey was that Silicon Valley represents an entirely new political category: not quite liberal and not quite libertarian. They make a fascinating mix of collectivists and avid capitalists…But Silicon Valley philosophically diverges with libertarians and conservatives in a key way: they aren’t individualists. 

He gives a great example of the latter:

When the libertarian icon Rand Paul began his early run for president in 2015, in San Francisco, he expected to be greeted like a hero. During the rally that I attended, Paul got rousing applause for railing against mass government spying. But when Paul asked, “Who is a part of the leave-me-alone coalition?” expecting to hear cheers, the room went silent. “Not that many, huh?” he nervously asked.

He’s not the only one who is nervous on hearing that, and it leads straight into this:

In my survey, founders displayed a strong orientation toward collectivism. Fifty-nine percent believed in a health-care mandate, compared with just 21 percent of self-identified libertarians. They also believed that the government should coerce people into making wise personal decisions, such as whether to eat healthier foods. Sixty-two percent said that individual decisions had an impact on many other people, justifying government intervention.

That is, tech founders reject the core premise of individualism – that citizens can do whatever they want, so long as they don’t harm others.

And consider that several of these fantastically wealthy men control companies that very much can aid (or oppose) a government via their extraordinary reach into influencing the lives of hundreds of millions, probably billions, of people. This is the world of “Nudge Theory”, and it’s very applicable to the last two years of the C-19 pandemic – a period that has seen their fortunes skyrocket beyond what was even thought possible in 2017, in several cases almost doubling to $150 billion or $200 billion plus.

Hold that thought.

What has all this done to the US state that is home to almost all of this wealth and genius, California?Well, as this National Review article describes, it’s not good, The Crumbling California Model. Again it’s lengthy with a lot of links to prove its points, but basically it comes down to this:

Yet it’s time now to see what California’s “success” is all about. It reflects a new kind of economy — dominated by a few large companies, with an elite workforce, a large service class, and a population increasingly dependent on wealth redistribution. This emerging oligarchic regime, however progressive it likes to label itself, is more feudal than egalitarian, more hierarchical than competitive, financed largely by the same tech giants who help fund Newsom’s successful defeat of the recall.

Exactly what was described by that 2017 poll of those Californian tech leaders. That state was once a remarkably diverse, job-rich economy, with vibrant aerospace, oil, trade, manufacturing, business services, and agriculture sectors, as well as software and media. But aside from the IT industry those sectors have fallen away, taking with them the well-paid jobs for people who can’t program a computer. If living on wealth redistribution sounds great to you, consider this:

For most, the reality on the ground is increasingly challenging. The state is now the second-most unaffordable state for home-buyers, a particular challenge for Millennials, and it suffers the highest rate of “doubling up” — only our friend Hawaii does worse. California has the largest gap between middle and upper wage quartiles in the nation, and it has a level of inequality greater than that of Mexico and closer to that of Central American countries such as Guatemala and Honduras than to such “progressive” developed counties as Canada and Norway.

The paradox is that California Democrats, the voters as well as the politicians, adore those welfare states and wish to be more like them without recognising that there is more to “welfare” than government money.

Back to that article I linked to the other day, looking at the control of language and ideas in our modern world. It finishes with this:

During the last three decades and possibly more, Western governments working hand in glove with large corporate interests have spent enormous energy and resources on perception management techniques designed to effectively undermine citizens’ ability to oppose the policies that these same elites, in their incandescent wisdom, have decided are best for the people. 

The attacks of September 11th gave these corporate and government leaders both the additional funds and the political latitude they needed to greatly accelerate work on these culture-planning processes. The Covid crisis has put the whole game on steroids. 

We have many ways of ignoring these frightening developments, most common and intellectually lazy of these being to dismiss them without examination under the rubric of “conspiracy theories.”

One answer to Why?

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When an individual enters the regressed mental space [of “learned helpness], the stature of all those presented to him as authority figures—no matter their actual level of competence or coherence—rises dramatically. 

Why? was the title of a post by Nick K, my co-blogger here at NM, as he grappled with the “reasoning” behind the vaccine and mask mandates here in NZ and similar approaches taken in most corners of the globe.

I have two possible answers to that question, they’re rather disturbing, they’re connected, and I’ll deal with the second in a follow-up post.

This article from The Brownstone Institute in the USA is a bit of an intellectual wank:

When we write as humanists, we select from the inventory of verbal metaphors we have acquired in the course of our lives to tell a story that we believe will enlighten and will capture the attention of our readers. In providing them with this carefully arranged series of “charged” anecdotes we trust that we are, in some way, facilitating ….

Blah, blah, blah. Yuck.

But it does contain two nuggets as it compares the culture, the use and control of language and thinking surrounding the 9/11 attacks and the C-19 pandemic:

Once this “mini-course” in fear-tinged mental disjunction was offered to the public and accepted by it with little visible pushback in the first weeks and months of the crisis, Fauci, Birx and Redfield, along with their chosen spokespeople at the CDC and in the media, were in effect, “off to the races.”

With the basic template we rely on to make reasoned risk assessments about our lives effectively shattered, millions lapsed into the mental state that has always been the programmatic end goal of those, like Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, who design torture programs for the US government: “Learned helplessness.” 

When an individual enters this regressed mental space, the stature of all those presented to him as authority figures—no matter their actual level of competence or coherence—rises dramatically. 

Indeed, considerable research suggests that a lack of coherence or predictability in such authority figures only enhances the now psychically helpless person or group of persons’ estimation of the “authority figure’s” irreplaceability and excellence. This suggests that there may have been more than a little “method” in the apparent “madness” of Fauci’s notorious flip-flops on key policy issues. 

For a certain part of the population, perhaps bereft of rituals and practices designed to help them transcend the crude, cruel and ambiguity-generating rhythms of our now largely transactional culture, the surrendering the self to authority can take on an almost religious allure. 

They give an example of a conversation that is…

“… quite representative of dozens I have had in real life during the last 22 months, maintained often with “well-educated” people who, in no small percentage, can rightfully place MAs and PhDs after their names on resumes”.

Person A: I am really scared about Covid. 
Person B: Do you know what the chances of dying for someone your age who happens to catch Covid? 
Person A: No.
Person B: Well, according to the latest CDC statistics your chances of survival if you get it are 99.987%. 
Person A: But I know of the cousin of a friend who was my age and healthy and who died. I also read a news report about a healthy young person dying in New York the other day. 
Person B: Yes, the reports you speak of may be true. But they point to very particular instances that might not be representative of general trends, and thus are not really helpful in helping you determine your actual risk. The only useful way to do that is by looking at broadly-constituted statistics. 
Person A: I knew it. I just knew it. You really are one of those conspiracy-loving Covid deniers who is happy to just let lots of people die. 

That’s also quite representative of conversations I’ve had over the last two years, including with commentators on this blog.

Written by Tom Hunter

January 15, 2022 at 4:00 pm

Political Science

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No, not the “scientific” study of politics.

We’re going to have to add another category:

There have been some extraordinary flip-flops in the USA over the last couple of weeks on the Chinese Xi Snot disease.

Cloth masks don’t work – CNN

“Cloth masks are not appropriate for this pandemic,” CNN’s Dr. Leana Wen said on Monday night. “It’s not appropriate for omicron,” she continued. “It was not appropriate for delta, alpha, or any of the previous variants, either, because we’re dealing with something that’s airborne.”

On the other hand, back in July of 2020, Wen was actually touting cloth masks on Twitter. “It’s a lot less uncomfortable than ventilators, dialysis lines, all of those things that have had to happen to my father,” she warned.

PCR tests are unreliable – CDC director:

The newly updated CDC guidelines don’t require testing at the end of isolation because PCR tests can stay positive for up to 12 weeks, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told “Good Morning America” Wednesday. “So we would have people in isolation for a very long time if we were relying on PCRs,” Walensky explained.

I can think of other problems raised by such sensitive tests that can produce a bucketload of false positives – like huge numbers of cases that could scare the shit out of ordinary people when publicised by unscrupulous or moronic MSM sources and government healthcare bureaucrats – and politicians of course.

Ten day quarantines can be cut to five days – CDC

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just dropped adjusted quarantine guidelines for COVID-19 and vaccinated individuals. This is after an outcry from the airline industry that the guidelines and the surge in Omicron variant cases were causing staffing shortages.

Wait! What? You mean to say they took other factors into consideration rather than just “YOU WANT TO KILL GWANDMA.

The reason for the change then was not “SCIENCE” but complaints from industry. This was promptly backed up by none other than Dr Fauci. The decision is based on keeping things open because the sheer number of people testing positive with Omicron would crash things if they were all told to follow the previous CDC rules.

As a result the Left hit the roof, as you can see from the responses on that Twitter thread. My fave so far (H/T Spongebob Squarepants):

sAcRiFiCe YoUr LiFe FoR tHe GlOrY oF mAmMoN

Although it’s a tough competition since they’ve thrown their idol as far under the bus as they could (from that link):

The Left “embraces the science” only when the science embraces the left’s narrative. When it does not, science is to be ignored, manipulated, dismissed out of hand, or bald-faced lied about it. BTW, one of the nutters there, Rashida Tlaib, is a member of Congress; part of “The Squad” actually, those fearsome new Women of Colour taking the baton of socialism from Bernie Sander’s dying hands.

Yet the same Left is aghast that Fauci admitted that “The Science” is really The Politics. But barely anything in the past two years of the pandemic has been done because of science. It’s all politics. And dirty, crude, base-stroking politics at that.

In fact this is the CDC doing science, although they’re just catching up – to the point where they’re obviously now going to start treating C-19 like every other respiratory virus. Cold and flu contagions are generally within the first 2-5 days of onset of symptoms. If a person has no symptoms, then it is a waste of time, money, manpower, and critical resources forcing them to isolate. They had been warned a few days earlier:

A trade group representing major U.S. airlines urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to halve its recommended quarantine time for individuals with breakthrough cases of Covid-19, warning the current 10 days could lead to labor shortages and flight disruptions.

An implicit lockdown then. Well duh! And it wasn’t just the CEO of Delta Airlines either.

Folks on the Left are mad at Fauci and the government for making it so plain that it isn’t just about public health – that economics and politics factored into the decision. Why were those important factors not important enough to consider before when small businesses were being shut down and people were losing their jobs? It was always true that you should consider other factors. It’s just that earlier they didn’t care and were willing to throw everything under the bus. Some of them – not just the screamers – still are:

Is it because they don’t want society to grind to a halt under Joe Biden? I’d bet that it is.

Which is why we got this from The Big Guy: “There is no Federal solution”. Plus an assist from the “conservative” journalist, Jennifer Rubin at the WaPo, whose brain was so broken by Trump that she flip-flops shamelessly on everything; here on what rising case numbers mean politically for DeSantis vs Biden a few months apart.

In this she and the rest of the MSM are just acting as stenographers for the Administration; here’s Biden COS Ron Klain repeating the same argument that saw Right wingers and other opponents of these policies cancelled from FaceTwit just months ago. It should always have been about protecting those most at risk and not locking everyone down. But the Democrats were too busy pushing fear pornography.

The FaceTwit banning shit is still going on:

But in nine months time, they’ll find out he was right the whole time, which will then add some more fun to Right Wing commentator Ben Shapiro’s selection of all these backtracks and more in this thread:

So once it became clear that covid was not in fact a pagan god visiting vengeance on the unwashed Trump voters alone, the media and Democrats are now willing to admit the following:

1. Cloth masks are ineffective against omicron (Leanna Wen, CNN);
2. The vaccinated can spread and get covid;
3. The death rate is comparable to the flu (Chris Hayes);
4. Many people are entering hospitals with covid, not from covid (Fauci);
5. Natural immunity is a reason omicron hasn’t been as virulent (Fauci);
6. We have to take into account societal needs, not just spread prevention (CDC);
7. The asymptomatic should not be tested (NFL);
8. We should focus on hospitalizations and deaths, not case rate (Biden);
9. Children are not at risk and schools should remain open;
10. Covid is predominantly an illness affecting the immunocompromised and elderly and we should not shut down society.

I wonder when anybody in New Zealand, starting with our MSM, is going to catch up with any of this?

Oh, who am I kidding, they were ideological bitches for the Left before this started and thanks to $110 million they’ve moved to be whores for Labour.

There shall be minor changes

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Upon the accession to government of the next National-led coalition in 2023 or 2026.

Such will be the case across-the-board as National grapples with failing health and education systems, as well as other government organs, by tweaking the systems and putting more capable people in charge.

But that won’t change the medium-long term trajectory of those institutions, and the following graph shows the entire strategy of National in a nutshell.

I’ve shamelessly stolen this from the Taxpayers Union via Kiwiblog, where DPF is using it to make a quite justified attack on the standard practice of Labour governments that more government means more societal good and more government translates into more bureaucrats.

But unlike DPF here’s the thing that sticks out to me. Yes, the Key government managed to plateau this ludicrous growth in the number of bureaucrats, increasing the number by a mere 2000 over nine years compared to an increase of 14,000 under the Clark governments.

But they did not shrink it, let alone shrink it back to that of the year 2000, and thus it lay ready to be exploded again by the next Labour government, as it has been.

Even from a population perspective it’s not good. In 2000 we had 28,000 ‘crats for a population of about 3.8 million, one ‘crat for every 136 subjects. In 2020 the ratio is one ‘crat for every 83 subjects of the government.

So this basically means that National could drop the numbers back to about 36,000. I can imagine the screams and the pain, and that blue section of the graph indicates that it won’t happen.

Instead I can guarantee you that this process will be repeated when a National-led government comes to power in 2023 or 2026; a plateau for a few years followed by another explosion in the number of bureaucrats with a Labour-led government circa 2032 or 2035.

As with almost everything, Labour leads and National follows.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 29, 2021 at 4:38 pm

Dead Civilisation Walking

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Confidence in the society in which one lives, belief in its philosophy, belief in its laws, and confidence in one’s own mental powers. Vigour, energy, vitality: all the great civilisations have had a weight of energy behind them. – Kenneth Clark, Civilisation, 1969

As is sometimes the case I’ve paraphrased the heading from someone who is a far better writer than me, in this case Mark Steyn.

Having written a couple of posts about the domestic situation in the USA, a potential American Civil War 2.0 or perhaps a Civil Breakup (there’s some overlap here with the post on Angelo Codevilla and his takes on America’s ruling classes) – it’s worth looking back a few months to the collapse of the great American project in Afghanistan for what deeper meanings might be drawn from the event.

Steyn bookends the start and end of the War On Terror:

Contrast our spokesmen with theirs: in the White House, Jen Psaki picked the weekend to take a vacation, possibly to film her scenes in another hilariously viral Mr Non-Binary Goes To Washington video; at Foggy Bottom, Buffoon McStriped Pants III issued a stern warning on the need for the firebreathing mullahs to include more female deputy-assistant-undersecretaries; 

[Meanwhile] Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid says ‘We have defeated a great power.’

He has an interesting piece on the early days after the fall of the Taliban in 2001:

Ahead of the 2002 loya jirga to select a new head of state, over eight hundred delegates announced that they wanted the old sovereign, Zahir Shah, returned to his throne as a constitutional monarch. That’s eight hundred out of 1,450 – so he would have won on the first ballot. Buffoon McStripedpants III from Foggy Bottom was not in favor of that, so the Yanks delayed the start of the loya jirga in order to lean on the King to back off. Washington wanted Karzai because he was the kind they can do business with – a corrupt grifter just like them.

One of the depressing aspects of the Swamp is that everything becomes a racket – including even your armed forces. Look at that buffoon at top right, the guy who heads the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Thoroughly Modern Milley: that’s an awful lot of chest ribbonry for a nation that hasn’t won a war in three-quarters of a century. 

America is not “too big to fail”: It’s failing by almost every metric right now. The world-record brokey-brokey-brokeness manifested by the current spending bills is only possible because the US dollar is the global currency. When that ends, we’re Weimar with smartphones. Clearly, Chairman Xi and his allies occasionally muse on the best moment to yank the dollar out from under. If you were in Beijing watching telly today, would you perhaps be considering advancing those plans?

I’d forgotten that Steyn had visited Afghanistan back in 2012, where he wrote that America’s longest war would leave no trace:

So we have a convenient label for what’s happening; what we don’t have is a strategy to stop it – other than more money, more “hearts and minds” for people who seem notably lacking in both, and more bulk orders of the bestselling book “Three Cups Of Tea,” an Oprahfied heap of drivel extensively exposed as an utter fraud but which a delusional Washington insists on sticking in the kit bag of its Afghan-bound officer class.

Don’t fancy the tea? A U.S. base in southern Afghanistan was recently stricken by food poisoning due to mysteriously high amounts of chlorine in the coffee. As Navy Capt. John Kirby explained, “We don’t know if it was deliberate or something in the cleaning process.”

Oh, dear. You could chisel that on the tombstones of any number of expeditionary forces over the centuries: “Afghanistan. It’s something in the cleaning process.”

The Rumsfeld strategy that toppled the Taliban over a decade ago was brilliant and innovative: special forces on horseback using GPS to call in unmanned drones. They will analyze it in staff colleges around the world for decades. But what we ought to be analyzing instead is the sad, aimless, bloated, arthritic, transnationalized folly of what followed

I also appreciated this comment on from the recently returned Stromata blog:

The ultimate source of feeble protection of American national interests is feeble attachment to the America that actually is, as opposed to the America that anti-Americans wish to substitute for it. If you believed that your country was founded to foster slavery, expanded its territory through genocide, imposed its will on the rest of the world in a greedy quest for profits, and today subjugates half its population under the yoke of White Supremacy, how much effort would you put into rescuing the agents of its imperialistic enterprise in a distant Asian land?

Or you could read, We are no longer a serious people:

If you fight demons, they’re entirely demons of your own creation, whether Cambridge Analytica or QAnon or the ‘insurrection’ or supposed electoral fraud or any of a host of bogeymen, and you get to tweet #resist while not dangling from the side of an airplane or risking your life on a raft to escape.

This might seem flip and ‘too soon’, but the irony highlights the real civilizational difference here: one where combat is via prissy morality and pure spectacle, and one where the battles are literal and deadly. One where elites contest power via spiraling purity and virality contests waged online, and where defeat means ‘cancelation’ or livestreamed ‘struggle sessions’ around often imaginary or minor offenses. And another place where the price of defeat is death, exile, rape, destitution, and fates so grim people die dangling from airplanes in order to escape.

In short, an unserious country mired in the most masturbatory hysterics over bullshit dramas waged war against an insurgency of religious zealots fired by a 7th-century morality, and utterly and totally lost.

Of all these essays it is this one that I think is the best examination of our post-Afghanistan world, mainly because – much as I enjoy Steyn’s foamy acidness – this guy puts in the context of a deeper, wider history of the entire Western world, Farewell to Bourgeois Kings. There are many great passages and I strongly recommend that you read it all, but I’ll pick this one:

Though it didn’t start out that way, the war in Afghanistan morphed over time into a sort of modern Verdun for the liberal world order, a Verdun in a very ideological sense. For the French in the first world war, the name Verdun was made into the symbol of the French national spirit and willingness to win. It was the battle that defined the spirit of the entire war. Afghanistan, almost a century later, came to take on a similar ideological life of its own, now as the focal point of an entire worldview and historical epoch. It was in Afghanistan more than anywhere else, that the rubber hit the road for the post-Soviet, hegemonically liberal, ”end of history” era of human flourishing that Francis Fukuyama so famously (and somewhat ambivalently) christened just as the Soviet Union was rattling its final death throes.

There was so much money sloshing around at the fingertips of these educated technocrats that it became nearly impossible to spend it all fast enough; they simply took all of those countless billions of dollars straight from the hands of ordinary Americans, because they believed they had a right to do so.

Their spectacular failure on every conceivable level now brings us to the true heart of the matter. Western society today is openly ruled by a managerial class.

Kings ruled in the epoch of monarchies, because only kings could rule, or at least so they all claimed. Technocrats rule our post-Soviet era for very much the same reason; they are, according to the legitimating narrative of our age, the only ones that can rule. 

I’ve lost track of the number of smart Lefties I’ve read (meaning not the screamers) who have pushed this argument about our modern, immensely complex societies. The problem is not just the failure to address the idea that Friedrich Hayek put forward in The Road to Serfdom, that our societies are too complex to manage centrally, but that these people who think so highly of themselves and their credentials, simply are not up to doing what they claim they can do, even in far smaller settings:

It is not just that the elite class is incompetent – even kings could be incompetent without undermining belief in monarchy as a system – it is that they are so grossly, spectacularly incompetent that they walk around among us as living rebuttals of meritocracy itself. It is that their application of managerial logic to whatever field they get their grubby mitts on – from homelessness in California to industrial policy to running a war – makes that thing ten times more expensive and a hundred times more dysfunctional. 

I guess in all of this I have increasingly been reminded of this commentary from the first episode of Kenneth Clark’s great 1969 TV documentary series, Civilisation:

Civilisation does require a modicum of material prosperity — enough to provide a little leisure. But it requires confidence far more. Confidence in the society in which one lives, belief in its philosophy, belief in its laws, and confidence in one’s own mental powers. Vigour, energy, vitality: all the great civilisations have had a weight of energy behind them. People sometimes think that civilisation consists in fine sensibilities and good conversation and all that. These may be among the agreeable results of civilisation, but they are not what make a civilisation, and a society can have these amenities and yet be dead and rigid.

I hate to say this, but I think the USA is now at that point.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 20, 2021 at 6:00 am

Kafkatrapping

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I’d used this term a number of times in the past few years but it was not until the other day that I found out its origin, which was when it was named and defined by Eric Raymond in a post on his blog Armed and Dangerous, in 2010.

The definition given by Wiktionary is concise:

A sophistical rhetorical device in which any denial by an accused person serves as evidence of guilt.

But I think this, from the original post, is required reading if you’re going to understand the term, especially since it’s become so common now.

The kafkatrap is a form of argument that is so fallacious and manipulative that those subjected to it are entitled to reject it based entirely on the form of the argument, without reference to whatever particular sin or thoughtcrime is being alleged. I will also attempt to show that kafkatrapping is so self-destructive to the causes that employ it that change activists should root it out of their own speech and thoughts.

My reference, of course, is to Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”, in which the protagonist Josef K. is accused of crimes the nature of which are never actually specified, and enmeshed in a process designed to degrade, humiliate, and destroy him whether or not he has in fact committed any crime at all. The only way out of the trap is for him to acquiesce in his own destruction; indeed, forcing him to that point of acquiescence and the collapse of his will to live as a free human being seems to be the only point of the process, if it has one at all.

This is almost exactly the way the kafkatrap operates in religious and political argument. Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.

There is much more, presented in a beautifully coherent way.

Since this essay was published we’ve seen the growth of literally an entire industry – led by racist charlatans like Ibram “X” Kendi (real name Henry Rogers) and Robin DeAngelo – that have this as the primary method used in “anti-racist” training. It’s just amazing how many standards of civilized communication they can destroy!

The latest outfit that has fallen prey to this nonsense is, of all places, The Salvation Army.

No one can ever be innocent. Well, except the leaders of course.

A warning from the recent past

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I admit that I don’t have a lot of time for Jordan Petersen, the Canadian professor of psychology who has gained quite a bit of media fame in recent years since his famous interview on BBC TV about the fight between free speech and the growing constraints on words that are “permitted” for use. In that case the interview was over his objection to being forced to use “gender-neutral” words in Canada and he rather made a fool of the interviewer and her “So what you’re saying” schtick! It’s worth watching.

But I’d read his first book, Maps of Meaning, years before and found it to be such unreadable wank that I quit just two chapters in. To me it actually seemed to have been influenced by the very obscurantist clap-trap of post-modernism that feeds so much of the Politically Correct (now “Woke”) and Identity Politics bullshit we’re being fed.

Still, this would hardly be the the first time that a person I consider wrong on some issues gets other things right, and the following is one of them. It’s actually from a few years ago and is an interview on the Joe Rogan Show where he talks about how people get slowly manipulated in the modern era with small-scale propaganda and efforts rather than the vast, revolutionary leaps used in the past.

“If I encroach on you and I’m sophisticated about it, I’m going to encroach right to the point where you start to protest. Then I’m going to stop. Then I’m going to wait. Then you’re going to calm down, and I’m going to encroach again right to the point where you protest.”

“Then I’m going to stop, then I’m going to wait. I’m just going to do this forever,” explained Peterson. “Before you know it, I’m going to be back three miles from where you started, and I’ll have done this one step at a time. Then you’ll go, ‘how did I get here?’ and the answer was, well, I pushed you a little further than you should’ve gone.

The Joe Rogan Show itself is an example of pushback as the former actor has turned himself into a “radio” personality. Or more accurately I should say an Internet personality via his podcasts that have numbers of viewers and listeners that traditional MSM sources would kill for. Rogan himself appears to be getting increasingly red-pilled away from his traditional Hollywood “liberal” beliefs on various issues.

Incidentally the process described by Petersen here is merely a version of “Nudge Theory”, which got a big public push in 2008 with the book Nudge:

The book draws on research in psychology and behavioral economics to defend libertarian paternalism and active engineering of choice architecture. The book also popularised the concept of nudge theory. A nudge, according to Thaler and Sunstein is any form of choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without restricting options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must require minimal intervention and must be cheap.

Without restricting options or changing economic incentives! Hahahaahhaahah.

A “nudge unit” is already inside the current British Government, as described by Brian Easton in this Pundit article, and the head of that unit has visited New Zealand several times, so it is not a surprise to find on the website for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, a section on Behavioural insights.

As one critic noted of the whole theory:

If the “nudgee” can’t be depended on to recognize his own best interests, why stop at a nudge? Why not offer a “push,” or perhaps even a “shove”? And if people can’t be trusted to make the right choices for themselves how can they possibly be trusted to make the right decisions for the rest of us?[31]

Well if they’re credentialed enough then the assumption is that they can be. Whether credentialed equals educated, let alone wise is a larger, often unasked question.

Naturally Brian wonders if we’re “nudging enough” and I expect he’s fully in favour of many a “shove”.

How Civil Wars start – France

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There are myriad reasons that are unique to each nation, but one feature common to all is a gap that steadily opens up between at least two or more parts of society and which cannot be resolved by politics.

In this respect there are two nations that have such gaps, France and the USA.

In the case of France it can be seen most clearly in the announcement by one Éric Zemmour, conservative columnist, historian, writer and television pundit, that he is running for President in 2022. I don’t expect him to win but he will not be ignored, least of all by the ruling class of that nation, of whom he is one. In this Claremont Review article is a lengthy look at Zemmour and it starts with this rather remarkable bit of information:

Emmanuel Macron, frequent butt of Zemmour’s on-air contempt, was calling to commiserate. Zemmour had been accosted by a thug that afternoon while walking home from a fruit stand on the rue des Martyrs. The whole of political Paris was talking about it. For decades Zemmour, 63, has warned the public that France is being submerged by Muslim immigration and smothered by political correctness. In so doing, he has been acclaimed as a historian and author, and revered as a truth-teller. He has also been reviled in the press and hauled into court for inciting racial and religious hatred. Now he was being harassed in the street. That alarmed even Macron.

Macron, once the “golden boy of the Socialists” had left years ago to lead a new party, La République en Marche (“Republic on the Move,” or LREM), and had sold himself as the alternative to Marine Le Pen, who had inherited (and renamed) the National Front (F.N.), the populist and nationalist party founded by her father (the article goes into that history also). But even Macron has started to feel strange and frightening new pressures:

Faced with an increasingly anxious public, Macron has sought to strike a populist tone. His interior minister Gérald Darmanin, and his education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, are both conservatives of a sort. In the wake of the George Floyd riots and demonstrations in the United States, Macron made a forthright announcement that France “will tear down none of its statues.”

That pressure had already shown up in the the 2017 campaign which saw the collapse of France’s two establishment parties, the Socialists and the Républicains and in that now-famous phonecall with Macron:

In the course of 45 minutes of passionate back-and-forth, Macron told Zemmour that a president who spoke like that would drag the country into civil war. Zemmour cut him off. “I told him that if we continue to follow his policies we are headed for civil war in any case.”

In the case of France the pressures relate to several things. There is a growing disconnect with the EU, which basically overrides the French Constitution, thanks to none other than France’s own former President Sarkozy, who quietly committed France, by treaty, to the very EU arrangements that had just rejected at the ballot box by the French people.

Then there is the growing Islamic population:

Last summer, Causeur magazine released a set of maps that the government consulting group France Stratégie had been using. They showed a growth of immigrant populations in all French cities that was almost incredible. In vast stretches of Seine-St-Denis, burial place of France’s kings and queens, 70-80% of the children under 18 are born of immigrants from outside of Europe.

The maps sent shock waves through France when they were published, but what is most striking is that the outrage took the government consultants by surprise. They had been using the maps for two years to develop plans to fight residential segregation. It had apparently not occurred to them that, in the public’s view, the main problem was not the distribution of the immigrant population but the sheer size of it.

Furthermore, nobody apparently has much confidence that laïcité – the system of secularism imposed at the turn of the last century to topple the Catholic Church from its position of cultural and educational dominance – will also tame Islam.

But there’s also this, and it connects directly to the USA:

On one side are the “winners” of globalization—the super-rich and protected minorities. On the other are globalization’s losers—the newly precarious middle and working classes.

By 68 to 32, members of LREM and top executives believe globalization is good for France. Members of all other parties and people at all other income levels disagree. Only 26% of French people trust the media. Only 16% trust political parties.

It is this overall loss of faith in the institutions of a nation, perhaps even in the nation as it is conceived by Macron’s ruling class – a class duplicated in every nation across the Western world – where the greatest danger lies. But I can see what Macron meant about Zemmour’s talk when held in public:

“The first thing you need to understand about France,” he said in September, “is that we are the country of civil wars. We’ve always had civil wars: the wars of religion, the French Revolution, the Commune of Paris, the battles between collaborators and résistants after World War II.”

The reason France has civil wars, according to Zemmour, is that it is, like the United States, a created nation. It is a place where people dispute principles, and conflicts can end when disputes over values are settled.

This past October, Zemmour passed Le Pen in the polls. Read the whole thing.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 9, 2021 at 9:09 am

Money. Wall. Pissing against.

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You may have thought that the current NZ Labour government was a shocker when it came to spending vast sums of money to no good effect, but as is often the case now, the US state of California leads the way.

As if the high taxes, poverty, filth, crime, killer fires, water problems and energy problems were not bad enough it appears that they can’t even run a basic book keeping process.

This is Betty Yee, and she is the “State Controller” of California, which means that she is the person responsible for:

  • “Accountability and disbursement of the state’s financial resources.”
  • “Auditing all funds disbursed by the state and all claims presented for payments to [her office.]”

Given that California is the world’s fifth largest economy, that is a hell of a lot of spending responsibility. Her office issued 49 million checks in payments worth $320 billion in 2018.

Being in a public office she’s also accountable directly to the public in terms of more than just votes, being required to produce information about all this spending, subject to the usual Official Information Requests that we see across the Western world. There’s always scrapping between such offices and the people demanding the information as to timely releases and so forth – no bureaucrat is ever keen on revealing everything to the proles – but by and large the process works.

So it was no surprise when some activist group called Open the Books (OTB), requested to see the line item details of all these payments, starting in 2013. The letter they finally got in 2019 surprised the hell out of them:

“The State of California, State Controller’s Office does not maintain a centralized vendor contract database which would allow it to identify all contracts regardless of the agency awarding such contract,”

That came from Yee’s general counsel Richard Chivaro, who went further:

“In fact, many state contracts are paid for directly by the contracting agency,” Chivaro continued. “This procedure allows the contracting agency to make such payments as expeditiously as possible thereby taking advantage of an early payment discount which may be available.” 

“Moreover, the Controller’s Office receives literally thousands of claims for payment daily. Claims are batched by date received and are not segregated, logged or otherwise tracked by agency employee or payment type. Consequently, because of the way the claims are batched and processed by this office, we are unable to locate or otherwise provide you with the documents requested,”

The fuck? In other words the Controller’s Office literally cannot answer the question of where all the money went in a $302 billion spending list. They simply do not and cannot know exactly who got the money because they just don’t bother tracking that level of detail.

Incredible. Almost beyond belief.

OTB is suing the state of California but frankly I don’t know how that can succeed: if the system doesn’t track this stuff at a line item level (or even a couple of levels up) then what’s the lawsuit going to produce? They have had to sue Illinois and Wyoming in the past to get such data, but they did get it in the end, and they did not need to take such action to get spending records from the other 47 states according to the OTB Chairman:

“We even get the checkbooks from the historically, systemically corrupt Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,” he said. “We do get the second set of books from there.” 

In some respects it’s hardly surprising given an earlier story that blew out of the same state a few months ago:

California Labor Secretary Julie Su told reporters in a conference call Monday that of the $114 billion the state has paid in unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic, 10 percent, or $11.4 billion, involves fraud and another 17 percent is under investigation. 

Nearly all of the fraudulent claims were paid through the federally supported Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The program was approved by Congress to provide unemployment assistance to those who usually wouldn’t be eligible, such as independent contractors. 

The even got scammed by the usual suspects, criminal organisations from Russia and Nigeria, as well as 21,000 prisoners in the state who scored more than $400 million, including 100 prisoners on death row

I like to think the latter group really just did it for kicks, given that they’re not likely to be able to spend any of it.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 2, 2021 at 11:24 pm