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?

Philosophy and English

Long ago, I started at the University of Michigan with declared dual majors of Philosophy and English. The goal was teaching.

Fortunately, I achieved neither a degree nor the vocation. I escaped after my Freshman year. I have no degreed credentials.

My naive intention may, however, explain why I found this thought provoking:
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.
—Ludwig Wittgenstein

Juxtapose Wittgenstein’s thought with the currently popular attacks on freedom of speech. Subversion and suppression of speech are WMDs used to confound debate: The evolutionary foundation of intelligent thought.

Debate on meaning is subverted by redefinition of common terms. Discussion of context is verboten. Ad hominemism becomes the handmaid of “cancel culture.”

It’s why the Left is so full of clever people inventing euphemisms. Like “Gender Affirming Care” for mutilating surgery and castrating drugs as a human right for 12 year olds. Like “Cisgender” as a dismissal of someone who identifies as their biological sex. Like “undocumented immigrant” for illegal alien. Like “Our Democracy,” for single party authoritarianism.

Which woodwind would win?

This session, SCOTUS is trying to figure out Sandra Day O’Connor’s best before date for ending affirmative action in college admissions.

In her Grutter v. Bollinger 2003 majority opinion O’Connor wrote:

“…race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time. This requirement reflects that racial classifications, however compelling their goals, are potentially so dangerous that they may be employed no more broadly than the interest demands. Enshrining a permanent justification for racial preferences would offend this fundamental equal protection principle.

It has been 25 years since Justice Powell first approved the use of race to further an interest in student body diversity in the context of public higher education. Since that time, the number of minority applicants with high grades and test scores has indeed increased. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 43. We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.

By next year, when the Court’s decisions in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina are rendered, it will have been 20 years. Close enough for government work.

Plaintiff – Students for Fair Admissions – accurately (according to the NYT) contends in its opening brief:

Harvard’s demerits of Asian-American applicant’s personalities are particularly scandalous and inexcusable. Harvard penalizes them because, according to its admissions office, they lack leadership and confidence and are less likable and kind.

Harvard, of course, does not exist to provide remediation, intellectual skepticism. or training in any of those personality categories. Harvard exists to make sure its endowments persevere. It’s easier for Harvard when everyone thinks the same way.

Here’s a slice from oral arguments on the Students for Fair Admissions’ suits. SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts presses Seth Waxman, the primary attorney defending Harvard.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: — put aside the hypothetical about the African American applicant who’s a legacy. Take two African American applicants in the same category, however you want to take it. They both get or both can get a tip, right, based on their race.

And yet they may have entirely different views. Some of their views may contribute to diversity from the perspective of Asians or whites. Some of them may not. And yet it’s true that they’re eligible for the same increase in the opportunities for admission based solely on their skin color?

MR. WAXMAN: So the — the point is —

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: That was a question.

MR. WAXMAN: No, I know. I’m –I’m attempting to answer your question.

There is no doubt that for –as the testimony showed, that for applicants who are essentially so strong on multiple dimensions, so extraordinarily strong on multiple dimensions that they are sort of on the bubble, that they might –they have a real candidate for admission, African American –being African American or being Hispanic or in some instances being Asian American can provide one of many, many tips that will put you in.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, people say that, yes, but you will have to concede, if it provides one of many, that in some cases it will be determinative.

MR. WAXMAN: I do. I do concede that.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Okay. So we’re talking about race as a determining factor in admission to Harvard.

MR. WAXMAN: Race in some –for some highly qualified applicants can be the determinative factor, just as being the –you know, an oboe player in a year in which the Harvard-Radcliffe orchestra needs an oboe player will be the tip.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Yeah. We did not fight a Civil War about oboe players.

A friend to whom I sent that bit was amused. He commented:
…at least bassoonists were not used as the example!

This got me to thinking how Harvard admissions commissars would evaluate woodwind players. Assume equally qualified candidates of the same skin color, sexual orientation, and leftist political views… Only one can be admitted: Bassoonist or oboist? Which woodwind would win?

And what of other woodwinds? I had some thoughts:

First, let’s acknowledge that bassoon or oboe… Roberts is still an anti-woodwindist.

But, a more interesting question arises: Do you get more Harvard admission equity points for a bassoon or for an oboe?

How this could be decided might be partially based on whether the instrument could be used in a marching band – a musical ensemble associated with the military and inextricably bound up with the works of John Philip Sousa.

Sousa is a well known white male and suspected heterosexual, whose patriotism and contribution to martial music remains a threat to our democracy. ‘He’ never declared his preferred pronouns.

So. Oboes in a marching band? Apparently it is a thing.

But a bassoon in a marching band is practically unheard of.

Conclusion: Bassoonists get into Harvard. Oboists do not. But what about… Piccolos, for example? Guidance is needed.

We might take other lessons from this. Trombones, apparently up to 76 of them, seem the most obvious objectionable instruments for their domination of the marching band. Bass drums suffer from oppressive decibels, making them unsuitable for drum circles. These are excluded in this analysis because the Chief Justice has not commented on brasses or percussion.

I’ll suggest the most damaging admissions related woodwind is a piccolo, because they are featured in Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, the National March of the jingoist (etc., etc.) United States.

Piccolos are not up to the 76 trombone pinnacle, but more than one piccolo is not unheard of.

Piccolos have been known to identify as flutes, and in some delusional cases, as bassoons. But, unlike Harvard’s Elizabeth Warren, they have neither high cheekbones nor a family mythology. Nor the compleat disingenuity.

Overall, while I think bassoonist applicants would get more points than piccoloists – for admission to Harvard the better choices might be harp or grand piano.

The broader question applies to all musical instruments, and there is surely a 6 figure diversity department salary for the person who can figure out how to score them on the diversity/inclusion/equity scale. The whole western canon of musical instruments must be analyzed.

Let’s start with this question: To what extent does the instrument feature in white supremacy? And “Are you triggered?” by Bach?

We need to have a “Which musical instrument are you?” quiz. Fortunately, they are all over the intertubes, we just need the Harvard Psych Department to “scientize” them.