Sunday, August 09, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"The wheel of misfortune


Most societies have faced the problem of how to dispose of surplus unskilled labor without succumbing to self destruction by internalized violence. Note that the internal violence to be avoided can come from either the bottom, that is by civil unrest or from the top, by massive repression. The second eventually fails as the repressive apparatus impinges on the creativity of the productive members of society. The former can become a cancer that eventually can threaten the larger society.

Historically there have been two ways of disposing of the surplus unskilled labor.
1) Through externalized violence, that is war. This is the Islamic solution. Declare the outside world Dar al Harb and send your young men off to be killed.

2) Through emigration. The record shows that this can work although the provider by doing so transfers away the potential creativity of the most risk accepting, and therefor most desirable, members of the marginally productive classes that are willing to make the journey. Mexico is commonly believed to be able to avoid explosion only by using the United States as a safety valve for ambitious but unskilled labor it cannot provide opportunities for.

Unfortunately there is not another empty Australia out there for the US to colonize with the 30% of our population who are net consumers. We can reverse the flow of new immigrants and deport the 12 million current illegals but they include some of our most potentially productive future citizens.

One question that needs to be settled first is who is a productive member of society? If whiskey is right then the straight white male creates massive wealth that everyone else eats from but the unproductive groups are seeking to destroy that wealth producing group. If he is exaggerating or Clark is correct then the knowledge workers are creating real wealth and the struggle between NASCAR proletarian whites and other groups is only over the spoils, with the descendants of Europeans and their judeo-christian culture having no superior claim. The one answer that is sure not to work is Marxism because it destroys the wealth creating potential of the society that will be needed under any circumstance.

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JMH,
(who pointed out the beneficial effects of the bubonic plague)
Your point is taken but I will quibble for pedantry”s sake. The Black Death was an event but not an emulatable methodology. That is unless you believe the Emmanuel brothers really do have a plan for reducing the surplus population.

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wretchard,
That’s why the object of every modern totalitarianism is to alienate man from transcendence.

My lessons on Maoist Totalism were taught by a wonderful gentleman named Tang Tsou, who is best remembered (if he is known at all) for America's Failure in China, 1941-1950. The key is the extinction of the sense of the self before the omnipotence of the State. It does not limit itself to breaking links to other possible moral guides and does not necessarily begin there. The elimination of all human bonds, even to the denigration of the most basic and physical such as sex, is basic to the totalitarian project. Remember in The Killing Fields when the child destroyed the link on the chalk drawing between the child stick figure and the parent stick figures? The elimination of God may be seen as a prerequisite that allows that to happen or it may be that the dissolution of the family and human bands is a precondition that prepares the atomized individual to surrender to a jealous Leader that will tolerate no other gods. The first text that I would recommend to anyone interested in the theory of totalitarianism would be William Kornhauser's The Politics of Mass Society.

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907ie,
You Work You Eat. You Don’t Work You Don’t Eat.

That is pure Leninism. There is nothing wrong with charity if it is done as an expression of human empathy to protect the helpless or right an injustice. Charity however should never be confused with an intervention by the State.

Ever since the Treaty of Westphalia it has been a bedrock principle in our civilization that the government should have a monopoly on the use of violence. In America the 2nd Amendment exists to remind the government that soveriegnty, which is the right to use force to achieve a goal, rests with the citizenry. That does not mean that a resort to violence for private reasons is considered legitimate.

Since the State has this monopoly power it cannot also replace the private impulse to charity without trapping the citizenry into the dependant status of subjects.

Originally in early modern Europe what we considered charity was organized and undertaken by the Church which acted in this matter at the behest of the secular authority. Sometimes the balance of power shifted towards the more overtly theocratic and it appeared that the temporal powers were acting within their sphere of physical security as agents of the spiritual authority but the division of labor was clear.

When after the Reformation Christendom fractured and political structures found themselves hosting multiple spiritual communities it became impossible for one Established Church to perform all the social functions expected on behalf of the national authority. For example in England the bulk of the population became divided between three confessional communities, the Established Church of England, the proscribed Catholics and the Nonconformists of varying sects. The pressure for the State to assume responsibility for functions, such as education, hospitals and poor relief, that had been historically the responsibility of the Parish Councils came first from the Nonconformists who were represented by the Whigs, and then they were joined by the Catholics. Jews and other minority communities have gravitated to this model of the State as a neutral and secular bulwark against intervention by established faith.

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Mad Fiddler,
(who proposed dividing California into 5 or more parts)
When I was younger I read a science fiction story that took place on a planet that was supposed to be an enormous mental hospital. The gimmick was that after some catastrophe the inmates were running the asylum and they had declared their wards to be independent communities. However they still had to interact and get along, with each community displaying defects and assets peculiar to their signature affliction. For example all the Paranoids lived in Adolphville (named after A. Hitler) where they proved to be hard to get along with but capable of being decisive in a crisis. The schizophrenics were in another location. Maybe they were better at looking at both sides of a problem. Wish I could remember the author but your plan for California reminded me of it. You have a big idea there. We could even call it Epic.

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