The selected zero-sum victims cult

Conflate the ideas in the following 3 articles, and ponder.
1) Selection effects

To take a more provocative example [of selection effects], consider the “____ studies” fields in academia. Even if they don’t explicitly require professors to have left-wing ideas, they select for such professors by making uncomfortable anyone with a different point of view. In other fields, this is less the case. But I fear that in those other fields, any lack of diversity along gender or racial lines will be used as a wedge to make them to come up with selection criteria that have the effect of pulling in people with a left-wing viewpoint. In economics, I call this the “road to sociology watch.”

2) Does the Zero-Sum Nature of Academic Success Contribute to the Left-wards Bias of Academia?

For a while now, I have had a theory that the zero-sum nature of academic success (competition for a fixed and perhaps shrinking number of tenured positions) affects the larger world-view of academia. (This article that compares academia to a harmful cult demonstrates this zero-sum thinking pretty well.)

3) The Free Speech Crisis on Campus Is Worse than People Think

We’ve heard about microaggressions, said to be small slights that over time do great harm to disadvantaged groups; trigger warnings, which some students demand before they are exposed to course material that might be disturbing; and safe spaces, where people can go to be free of ideas that challenge leftist identity politics. We’ve heard claims that speech that offends campus activists is actually violence, and we’ve seen activists use actual violence to stop it —and to defend this as self-defense—when administrators fail to do so…

[T]he new culture of victimhood combines sensitivity to slight with appeal to authority. Those who embrace it see themselves as fighting oppression, and even minor offenses can be worthy of attention and action. Slights, insults, and sometimes even arguments or evidence might further victimize an oppressed group, and authorities must deal with them. You could call this social justice culture since those who embrace it are pursuing a vision of social justice. But we call it victimhood culture because being recognized as a victim of oppression now confers a kind of moral status, in much the same way that being recognized for bravery did in honor cultures…

Victimhood culture is a new moral culture, not simply a variant of dignity culture. Its adherents and defenders still use much of the language of dignity, as when writer Regina Rini describes the goal of microaggression reporting as “a culture in which no one is denied full moral recognition.” This sounds like dignity culture, except that the implication is that even minor and unintentional slights deny people full moral recognition. The break with dignity culture is more fundamental, though. Dignity culture fights oppression by appealing to what we all have in common. Our status as human beings is what’s most important about us. But victimhood culture conceives of people as victims or oppressors, and maintains that where we fall on this dimension is what’s most important about us, even in our everyday relationships and interactions. And this means that victimhood culture is ultimately incompatible with the goals of the university. Pursuing truth in an environment of vigorous debate will always involve causing offense—and one of the shibboleths of victimhood culture is that it’s okay to offend the oppressors but not the oppressed. Many campus activists, realizing this, have attacked the ideals of free speech and academic freedom. One of these visions will have to prevail—either dignity culture and the notion of the university as a place to pursue truth, or victimhood culture and the notion of the university as a place to pursue social justice.

The first article ends with the passage I quoted, and there’s more there to think about. “Making uncomfortable anyone with a different point of view” is a very nice description of why our campuses have become so anti-free speech. RTWT. I also highly recommend perusing the comments.

The second article makes a wonderful point about capitalism. The comments there are also worth a look.

The third article is fairly long, but it does an excellent job making the case that “Victimhood culture is a moral culture, and the activists who embrace it are moral actors, not part of a “snowflake generation” that can’t cope with disagreement.” In other words, victimhood culture is much more of a threat to classical liberal values than you might think if you dismiss it as a silly, passing phase of young naifs surrounded by mentors who view 1984 as a “How to” guide.

This new culture is abetted by social media; where qualifications for oppressed tribal membership are continually redefined, identitarian scoring systems are maintained, and virtue signaling shaming rituals are fueled.

Further reading:

Rule by internet mobs.
Narrow Roads of Bozo Land: How We Came to Be Governed by Online Mobs

Crowdsourced anonymous Kafkaesque accusations.
How An Anonymous Accusation Derailed My Life

The value of victimhood.
Collision with Reality: What Depth Psychology Can Tell us About Victimhood Culture

And what should we fear?
Western Civilisation “Not Welcome Here”

Finally, see if you can connect these dots to Jordan Peterson’s popularity.
Harvard Study: 20% Of College Students Consider Suicide; 9% Attempt It

Victim culture activists truly are as afraid of words as they say they are. It’s not posturing, it’s mental illness posing as a moral code; producing fragile people whose stifling nihilism becomes their only real psychological defense.

Jordan Peterson on why university safe spaces are absurd and crippling:

The Mental Health Crisis | Jonathan Haidt:

In sum:
Strictly select your collective for matching ideology.
View every game as zero-sum.
Create hundreds of victim groups.
Convince students that rights trump responsibilities.

Then teach them they are oppressed by culture outside the ivory towers, and they will demand dignity free safe spaces from within which to plot its destruction.

Lysenko’s handmaid

Sara Giordano, mentioned in an earlier post, is a Women’s Studies professor at UC-Davis, and recent author of Those who can’t, teach: critical science literacy as a queer science of failure, in which she argues that science, as and because it is defined by Western civilization, is a tool of racism and sexism. Along the way, she displays a Women’s Studies professor’s nebulous grasp of philosophy and economics by insisting capitalism is an economic system enabled by “Western science,” as opposed to some handwavingly defined “feminist science,” which apparently would favor Marxism.

Capitalism, to Giordano, is a colonialist tool; part of a conspiracy to define some people as “non-human.” She takes a long winded path to recast the standard Marxist complaints about worker exploitation as oppression of women and minorities:

“At the root of the justification for social inequality then is Western science (together with philosophy and other modern disciplines). By producing the categories of human/nonhuman as forms of natural (yet flexible) racial difference, capitalism becomes justified as a natural (yet flexible) economic system (Melamed, 2015).”

The suggestion that colonialism was not purely evil will attract death threats. I mention this not to contend colonialism wasn’t very often rapacious and immoral, but to demonstrate its invocative power. This is why Professor Giordano feels the need to make colonialism morally equivalent to science and capitalism: Untrue.

And even if it were true, it would not justify rejection of 21st century science, nor dismissal of the precept of individual liberty inherent in Western ideals.

Professor Giordano is convinced that by encouraging scientific illiteracy (and nowhere does she qualify this call for willful blindness with the word ‘Western’) we can initiate a better world:

“…not knowing science may lead to a more just world,…” ““A transfeminist technology will value illiteracy for its improductiveness for industry, as a way of finding paths unimagined by speed and productivity.””

The fact is, we don’t have to imagine it. Stalin, Mao, Castro, Kim Jong-un, Pol Pot, Chavez, et. al. have already shown us the outcome.

Ms. Giordano’s identity politics have blinded her to what capitalism actually is. Dr. Richard M. Ebeling provides a view of capitalism she would likely embrace, if it didn’t preclude her prerogative to remake society as a feminist autarchy. What Is “Capitalism” Anyway? Read the whole thing, but here’s a salient bit.

The bedrock concept behind an explanation of “capitalism” is private property. That is, the idea that an individual has a right of ownership and exclusive use of something. For the classical liberal, the most fundamental property right possessed by an individual is his own person. In other words, an individual owns himself. He may not legally or informally be treated as the slave of another person. The individual has ownership over his mind and his body. Neither may be controlled or commanded by another through the use of force or its threat.

Now, I’m sure Professor Giordano would reply that even if that is the ideal, it isn’t how it’s worked in practice. This is true, but since she is arguing in favor of a utopian solution demonstrated to be the deadliest, most oppressive set of social experiments ever performed, it is also irrelevant. At best.

Corporatism behaving predictably

You would be disappointed if you expected a publication called MIT Technology Review would eschew half baked, agenda driven articles about economics.

The MIT School of Economics needs to give some remedial instruction to David Rotman, Editor of Technology Review. In a recent article, Capitalism Behaving Badly, he reviews Rethinking Capitalism,

A series of essays by authors including Joseph Stiglitz, an economist at Columbia University who won a Nobel Prize in 2001, and Mariana Mazzucato, a professor of the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex… Together, the essays provide a compelling argument that we need more coherent and deliberate strategic planning in tackling our economic problems, especially in finding more effective ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions…

[The book attempts] to counter the view that free markets inevitably lead to desirable outcomes and that freer markets are always better: the faith that “the ‘invisible hand’ of the market knows best.” In fact, she argues, we should admit that markets are created and shaped by government policies, including government support of innovation.

Maybe we should admit that markets are distorted by government and result in misallocation of resources. Whatever we admit, we should not pretend that the United States is a capitalist country. It is a corporatist economy where government decides for policy reasons to give money to favored industries. Mr. Rotman apparently favors ‘green’ industry as a major part of a command-and-control industrial policy.

Rotman explains the failures of Solyndra, A123, Fisker, Navistar, Evergreen Solar and others, by arguing the wrong people were in charge, and they spent the money wrongly or stopped supplying it when more was needed, as if the politics were irrelevant and “some people” are not only above such things, but have nearly perfect appreciation of all market forces.

Mr. Rotman specifically addresses Solyndra:

Take, for example, the failure of the solar company Solyndra. It is often held up as the kind of thing that occurs when government picks winners. But, writes Rodrik, Solyndra failed largely because competing technologies got much cheaper. Such outcomes are not necessarily an indictment of industrial policies. The real problem, Rodrik argues: the U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee program that supported the solar company had a mixed set of goals, from creating jobs to competing with China to helping fund new energy technologies. What’s more, it did not properly define procedures for evaluating the progress of potential loan recipients and, importantly, terminating support to those companies when appropriate. Instead, according to Rodrik, in the absence of such rules, money was lent to Solyndra for political reasons—President Obama and his administration used the company as a high-profile way to highlight its green-energy initiatives. Having singled out the solar company for praise, the administration was then reluctant to end its commitment…

The stimulus bill was well-­intentioned, and the instinct to use government spending for a specific social goal, supporting the development of green energy, was laudable…

1-Competing technologies got cheaper. Failure to recognize that likelihood is not external to government decisions, it is central to why the government shouldn’t be making them, and most certainly counts as a failure of industrial policy.

2-A mixed set of goals is likewise a failure of government policy. In this case, its execution of the “strategy,” if one should be so generous as to call such a mess strategic. Close enough for government work, I guess.

3-Slack control of money lent is also a clear failure of government execution of its confused and shortsighted planning.

4-Money was lent for political reasons. Duh.

This is not to be laid at the feet of capitalism, since it had no role in the matter.

Creating a rigorous industrial policy to encourage green technologies is no doubt a worthwhile objective. Economists and the lessons from efforts like the stimulus bill can teach us how to design such policies to be robust and effective…

No, they have demonstrated again and again and again that they cannot. We do not learn from experience. We do not learn from Smith, Hayek, Bastiat, Sowell and Ricardo, et. al..

Mr. Rotman’s actual agenda is clear. He wants more public/pirate partnerships for his pet cause, only better than the last ones. The pirates aren’t capitalists, they are robber barons whose victims are taxpayers.

But won’t wise industrial policies also require wise politicians?

No, there is no such thing as a “wise industrial policy” such a thing requires prescient politicians who have the ability to anticipate market changes, develop focused policies and implement them very efficiently. All while avoiding the opportunities for graft and corruption. Can you name such a politician?

Update Oct 25 11:40
How command-and-control industrial policy actually works:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman met and corresponded on multiple occasions in his capacity as a top White House adviser with a previous employer seeking energy policies that it described as a potential “gold rush,” hacked emails and public records show.

John Podesta was a top White House energy policy official before joining the Clinton campaign last year. He previously served on the board of renewable energy investment firm Equilibrium Capital. He owned stock in the firm and drew $4,000 in annual “board fees.”

White House ethics rules bar employees from working on issues affecting former clients or employers for two years after taking their jobs. However, internal emails show that Podesta was in contact with Equilibrium within months of joining the White House as the company pursued a new energy efficiency financing model that would steer it significant revenue.

Ignore the infighting

We’ve been hearing lately about Newt’s criticisms of Reagan and tendency to have too many ideas. We’ve been hearing lately about Mitt’s rapacious activities at Bain Capital and his accounts in the Caymans. We’ve been hearing this from Mitt and Newt respectively.

I’ll start with sentiments I generally agree with as stated by The POH Diaries:

Here’s the bottom line. I have no dog in this fight. My candidates either didn’t run or imploded on impact. I’m not comfortable with Romney’s apparent weaknesses, and despite his ability to articulate conservatism my gut tells me that a Gingrich nomination and subsequent Presidency would end in heartache as well. But the main point is this, neither one of these men, whether they’re really conservative or not, whether they’re a rino, liberal, progressive, or just opportunistic, is Barack Hussein Obama. And that’s enough for me. Certainly it would have been nice to have a strong, conservative candidate with populist appeal to take the fight to Obama. But who the challenger in this race ends up being may mean less than perhaps it ever has in history for the simple reason that the incumbent will be Barack Obama. That one fact in itself may be our biggest asset.

Now, two comments about the revisionist history being peddled about Newt and Reagan and one on ideas. I find the “romantic belief” attractive, especially when mostly privately funded.
One. Two. And one.

And a couple of items about Mitt’s “vulture” capitalism, AKA the economic system that built America and Obama wants to destroy.
One. Two.

It will help keep our heads clear to consider that GOP on GOP attacks shouldn’t sour us on evicting the most corrupt and least competent President we’ve ever seen. “[W]ho the challenger in this race ends up being” matters less than it has in any election you’ve ever voted in.