Victor Davis Hanson/Jordan Peterson

Following you will find a couple of snippets from a difficult and foreboding conversation. I haven’t figured out how to set an end time since Google changed that API, so they’ll keep going unless you stop them. I’ve included duration info for the bits I’m highlighting.

The whole thing is highly recommended. An hour and 45 minutes.

The title is inadequate. It’s about far more than the degeneration of Ivy League trust funds masquerading as institutions of higher learning.

Higher education, momentarily led by the Ivy League, does have big problems. Admittance criteria exemplify the political attack on meritocracy, the quality of education is in steep decline, the number of administrators is an obscene waste of resources, the treatment of adjunct professors is abominable greed, and – in collusion with the General Government – student debt makes unwary credentialists into wage slaves.

It is infuriating and ironic that civilizational rot should have started in the Education Departments of universities with mottos such as “Veritas” (Truth) “Dei sub numine viget” (Under God’s Power, She Flourishes), “Lux et Veritas” (Light and Truth), “In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen” (In Thy light shall we see light), and especially “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”

VDH and JBP spend a quarter to a third of the conversation on higher ed (and there’s a commercial for Hillsdale College in there). But if it were just the Ivy League, Western Civilzation in general and the United States in particular would not be under assault by solipsistic identitarians.

One example, this clip is Peterson talking about the damage to our military from pronoun training, for example. About 2 minutes 20 seconds.

Second example. Hanson is not speaking of mere Ivy League institutions here, he’s speaking about almost all our institutions – public and private. I would quibble with his use of “the state”, because distrust of state institutions is part of everything they’d talked about. Were he editing it, I think he might substitute “cultural heritage,” or refer back to the responsibility of citizenship they touched on before. About 20 seconds.
Once you lose confidence in these institutions, and once they’re no longer meritocratic, and once people’s primary allegiance is not any longer to the state everything we’ve talked about this morning … the end result is an implosion – very quickly.

You should watch the whole thing. Just skip back to the beginning from one of those clips.

Two kinds of people

Just as I posted Social Just Us, I find Jacinda Ardern telling us about the two kinds of people Heinlein was talking about.

Social Just Us

This long and thoughtful article is highly recommended. There is an interesting introduction – a nicely condensed look at evolutionary psychology – which I think blows up Rousseau’s “state of nature/innocence of man/blank slate” argument in favor of Hobbes’ “nature red in tooth and claw” view. This is deftly applied to the implied question in its title: Social justice as social leverage.

That could have been “Utopian Scheming as a Dominance Strategy.” Utopia depends on the blank slate model of human cognition.

I’ve picked one paragraph in order to relate it to quotes from Raymond Aron, Milton Friedman, and Robert Heinlein:

But social justice as status-and-social-leverage is driven towards blank-slate claims. For the less constrained by underlying structures—such as innate human cognitive traits—the grander the imagined social justice future can be. So the more rhetorically dominant its claims can be. The more motivating its aspirations can be.

The more control must be given to a centralized arbiter of truth.

The key element here is the blank-slate Rousseauian – “humans are innately good and it is civilization that is destructive” assumption, vs the Hobbesian – “humans are innately self-centered, because in raw nature lives are nasty, brutish, and short.” Rousseau is often contrasted as an optimist with Hobbes cast as pessimist. I don’t understand why Rousseau is considered an optimist, since return to “state of nature” would be a mass extinction event for humans. Then again, that implicates mainstream Green thinking.

If Rousseau is right, the future depends entirely on how that blank slate human mind is conditioned. It is not difficult to see how proponents of Critical Race Theory and Transgender Activists insist their ideas be taught in K-12. And it is easy to see why they want this kept secret from parents.

A fundamental transformation of culture requires new language, suppression of speech, and erasure of opponents. A recent example is the attempt by the Ontario College of Psychologists to compel his attendance at a re-education camp. The threat for non-compliance is suspension of his license as a clinical psychologist.

Consequences that flow from the Rousseau/Hobbes debate over human nature underlie the following:

“The [classical] liberal believes in the permanence of humanity’s imperfection, he resigns himself to a regime in which the good will be the result of numberless actions, and never the object of a conscious choice. Finally, he subscribes to the pessimism that sees in politics the art of creating the conditions in which the vices of men will contribute to the good of society.”
-Raymond Aron

Hat tip Powerline

Aron, a PhD in the philosophy of history, was a historian, journalist, philosopher, and political scientist. A stellar example of French intellectualism for much of the twentieth century.

You can detect Adam Smith in “in which the good will be the result of numberless actions.”

Which gives us a segue to economist Milton Friedman, who echoed Aron’s sentiment:

“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”

We are not blank slates, or we would by now have only good men to elect in the goodthink utopia in which we would already live.

Granted, the Hobbes/Rousseau debate is not strictly binary. Of course we learn things from our culture and experiences, and we use those things to inform a spectrum of political opinion. Underlying that spectrum though, is a basic binary choice. Robert Heinlein:

Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”
-Robert Heinlein

In closing, I’ll give another nod to Heinlein describing the consequences of the hive mind necessary to any Utopia, where freedom of thought cannot be allowed:

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Environmental Equity

It’s not enough that everyone benefits. Everyone has to benefit by exactly the same amount.

From The Babbling Beaver, an MIT focused satire site: MIT environmental scientists despair over inability to prevent windmill racism

Unsurprisingly, these woke MIT ’scientists’ have little imagination, and less literary knowledge.

The solution is found in Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron.

Applied to this new social justice outrage, it would simply require forcing the oppressors to install pollution generators in their houses, and add small bypass valves in their cars to leak exhaust fumes into the cabin. If they have an EV, make them carry a small, lit coal burner. That coal thing is a good equity idea anyway, until we get more nukes.

On the other hand, we’ll need to have speakers placed in the homes in ‘communities of color’ to make the sound of wind turbines, and quite a few pigeons (however many it takes to be equivalent to the Bald Eagles, Condors, etc. which fly into windmills) will have to be put into blenders in the ‘disadvantaged communities.’

Then everyone will be more equal.

Implicit in the actual article is an increased cost for electricity. The pollution discrepancy might persist no matter what, but at least we can raise the price for everyone. Then we can complain about electricity affordability for the poor. The MIT gurus didn’t mention this, it’s one of those Bastiat* ‘unseens.’

*Dead, white male. Son of a successful capitalist. Member of the French National Assembly… I.e., a prominent oppressor.

Senatorial gravitas?

I hear Senate incumbent Raphael Warnock (D, GA) says challenger Herschel Walker (R, GA) will not be able to cope with the cognitive demands of being a Senator.

What is Warnock’s opinion of John Fetterman’s Senatorial capability? Was he ever asked?

Should Mehmet Oz have used this tactic against Fetterman in PA?

If not, why not?