Category Archives: Ruling Class

Bret Weinstein: whatever happens, the system is broken – Unherd

Bret Weinstein: whatever happens, the system is broken

Very good thinking on what is happening in political culture. Couple excerpts… (let me know if you cannot get the interview or article)

On tech censorship:

I have a model in which many of the things that feel conspiratorial are actually a combination of phenomena: one part is emergent and one part is conscious, and the two of them work together to create something quite Soviet and bureaucratic. There’s also another possibility, which is that if one wants to do arbitrary things, if one wants to silence certain kinds of speech, and amplify other kinds of speech because they are advancing a political agenda, then they can build a system in which your antagonists are in a position to trigger algorithms.

…Until we have at least a process where we all understand what the rules are and when we are told that we have violated them after seeing what the evidence is — as well as the right to challenge it — we are in danger of being ruled by the whims of the people who run these platforms.

On Big Tech’s handling of the pandemic:

To have tech platforms with no scientific guidance deciding what is the conventional wisdom in a certain quadrant of the academy — it’s mind blowing. The fact that we know many of the things that we were told were so right — that you couldn’t challenge them — turned out to be wrong, tells you everything that you need to know about this system.

…Pretending that tech platforms are in a position to render scientific judgement about really important questions like ‘How exactly did this virus end up spreading through the world?’ They shut down perfectly reasonable lines of inquiry because they found them inconvenient. It has done everything to amplify the sense that they are teams playing with the details of other people’s lives, as if it were sport.

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Scotland is leading the way to totalitarianism – UnHerd

Scotland is leading the way to totalitarianism

I fear we have one foot over the precipice already. Most in the west are not willing to sacrifice time and more (money?) for the general good of a nation. If it happens at all its due to leadership that can galvanize, inspire, etc. Churchhill may have been the last such leader… mrossol

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10/22/2020. UNHERD.

In the Soviet Union, not even the home was a refuge from the ears of the totalitarian state. Historian Orlando Figes, in his 2007 book The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia, quotes one Soviet woman’s memory of her childhood:

“We were brought up to keep our mouths shut. ‘You’ll get into trouble for your tongue’ — that’s what people said to us children all the time. We went through life afraid to talk. Mama used to say that every other person was an informer. We were afraid of our neighbours, and especially of the police … Even today, if I see a policeman, I begin to shake with fear.”

Decades from now, will a Scotsman brought up in Edinburgh or Glasgow offer a similar testimony to historians documenting our era? The question is by no means absurd, not in light of the Hate Crimes and Public Order Bill brought forth by the ruling Scottish National Party. In testimony before a parliamentary committee this week, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said that he believes the reach of the proposed law should cover words spoken in the privacy of people’s homes.

If this were to become law, parents would learn to fear their children, trained in schools in the rigid catechism of “social justice” orthodoxies. And not only reading the Bible or the Koran to one’s children, but simply owning one could land a Scotsman in the dock on charges of “possessing inflammatory materials”. J.K. Rowling would in principle stand to be imprisoned simply for having stood up for biological women in the face of transgender militants — and her Left-wing political convictions would not spare her.

The proposed bill has drawn harsh criticism from across the Scots political spectrum, such that it is all but unthinkable that it would become law. A poll this past summer found that over two-thirds of Scots voters oppose the law  — yet the Scots Parliament last month voted down a Conservative attempt to table the legislation entirely. Clearly this legislation matters to the government, and those who oppose it risk being tarred as bigots.

Even if the hate crimes bill does not become law, the fact that legislation so shockingly illiberal has come this far is a very dark sign of the times. The bill is yet another instance of “soft totalitarianism” marching through the institutions of Western liberal democracies, rewriting  laws, regulations and social codes according to a therapeutic rationale: to make life “safer” for racial, sexual and religious minorities.

What is soft totalitarianism? Five years ago, émigrés from the Soviet bloc began telling me that they were seeing emerge in the West the same kinds of things they once fled from in the communist East. This initially struck me as alarmist, but the more I talked with them, the more I came to understand they were right.

What are they seeing? Broadly speaking, the rise of ideological Left-wing hegemony within institutions — especially academia, where many of them work — and the stifling of free speech and free thought by a punitive regime of censorship.

For example, a Cambridge don told me that the eagerness by many on the political and cultural Left to police expression, and to stop at nothing — even telling lies — to ruin the reputations of those they identify as enemies of the people is one primary manifestation. The 2019 scandal in which a journalist from the New Statesman twisted quotes from Sir Roger Scruton in a briefly successful effort to ruin him is but one example.

They also see the Left’s categorisation of people according to the standards of identity politics, and judging them based on those categories, as a replay of Marxist totalitarianism. In the Soviet bloc, your social class determined your status and your fate. You were not judged on the basis of your individual character and actions, but rather as a representative of your class. In our time, social class has given way to racial, sexual and other forms of identity.

There are other facets, but the core of it is the total politicisation of all aspects of life — even, as we now see in the Scots case, life inside the home. This is the essence of totalitarianism. Authoritarianism is a condition in which political life is controlled by a single leader or party, but people are more or less free otherwise. Totalitarianism is an extreme form of authoritarianism, in which all of life is considered to be political. The authoritarian only wants your political obedience — but the totalitarian wants your soul.

A society in which family members have to fear each other, and in which people are not free to say what they think even inside their own homes, is totalitarian, even if it does not have secret police and gulags. I have called this new totalitarianism “soft” primarily because it presents itself in therapeutic terms — as motivated by caring for victims of society’s prejudices. The cultural critic James Poulos predicts the coming of the “Pink Police State”: a polity in which people will willingly trade political liberties for guarantees of personal pleasure and security.SUGGESTED READING

First, unlike the hard totalitarianism of the Cold War, and of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, this new threat to liberty does not depend on inflicting pain and terror, but rather, as in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the managing of comfort, pleasure and entertainment. The fact that this soft totalitarianism doesn’t look like Orwell’s dystopia makes it hard for us to see it for what it is. In fact, a college literature professor told me that when he teaches Brave New World, few of his students recognise it as a dystopia at all.

Second, in the United States, soft totalitarianism is not chiefly manifesting through actions of the state, but through policies of civil society institutions: universities, corporations, news and entertainment media, and others. This is another reason to think of it as soft, though after I posted something about the Scots hate crimes bill on my blog, a Czech émigré friend emailed to ask, “Would you still define this — prosecuting people for private speech — as ‘soft,’ or is it firming up a bit?”

True, the velvet glove over the iron fist is bound to wear thin, especially in Britain, which does not have the constitutional protections afforded by the American First Amendment. But the ethos of soft totalitarianism is growing ever more powerful within the private sector. If a society internalises the ruling ideology, whether out of fear of prosecution or persecution, or because people come to understand that dissenters will remain economically and socially marginalised, the controllers have less need to criminalise dissent.

Those who lived under Soviet-bloc communism are convinced that we in the West are going to surrender to soft totalitarianism, because we lack natural defences against it. The Scots hate crimes bill is a bright red line. When I was in the former Soviet bloc interviewing ex-dissidents about how we in the West should prepare to resist, Kamila Bendova, who worked with her late husband Vaclav Benda in the Charter 77 leadership, strongly warned against surrendering privacy, especially inside one’s home.

In her Prague apartment, where she and her husband held dissident meetings, and counseled people on their way to the secret police headquarters down the street for questioning, Bendova said she could not understand why so many people today are willing to surrender their privacy for consumer convenience (via smartphones, Alexa smart speakers and the like). She pointed to the scars on the walls where, after communism’s fall, she and her husband had ripped out the wires the secret police had installed to bug their flat.

To stay free to speak the truth, she said, you have to create for yourself a zone of privacy that is inviolate. “Information means power,” Bendova told me. “We know from our life under the totalitarian regime that if you know something about someone, you can manipulate him or her. You can use it against them. The secret police have evidence of everything like that. They could use it all against you. Anything!”

The Scots Parliament has the power to prevent Hamza Yousaf from becoming a commissar whose Pink Police State writ extends even into the intimacy of homes and families. Will it? One could not have imagined that such a question would ever be asked in Britain. But then, 2020 has revealed much about who and what we have become.

Rod Dreher’s Live Not By Lies is published by Penguin Random House

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truth and reconciliation?

Really?  Is this was Democrats are really thinking? Sounds like reeducation camps that happened in China, Viet Nam, and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.  A really “American” way of doing things.   mrossol

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Robert Reich, the former Clinton Labor Secretary wrote the following on Twitter, Oct. 17:

When this nightmare is over, we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It would erase Trump’s lies, comfort those who have been harmed by his hatefulness, and name every official, politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe.”

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Maybe Only One Sane Person in Washington?

WSJ 10/18/2020 by Peggy Noonan

Everyone’s insane now. I mean everyone in Washington. The great challenge of the era is to maintain your intellectual poise under pressure. Washington this week looked like a vast system fail.

Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on CNN, let it be known she won’t countenance pushback. At issue was the stalled stimulus deal. Anchor Wolf Blitzer noted that millions have lost their jobs, can’t pay the rent. Members of the speaker’s own caucus want a deal—why not accept the president’s $1.8 trillion offer?

Mrs. Pelosi went from zero to 60 in a nanosecond: “What I say to you is I don’t know why you’re always an apologist, and many of your colleagues, apologists for the Republican position.” “Do you realize” the GOP bill is inadequate, she demanded. “Do you have any idea . . .?”

What about Democrats who want a deal? “They have no idea of the particulars. They have no idea of what the language is here. . . . You’re the apologist for Obama. Excuse me. God forbid. Thank God for Barack Obama.”

Mr. Blitzer said he wasn’t an apologist. Why not just call the president and make a deal? “What makes me amused, if it weren’t so sad, is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them to represent them at the table.”

Is this all about keeping the president from claiming credit? No, Mrs. Pelosi said, “he’s not that important.” “You really don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Do a service to the issue and have some level of respect for the people who have worked on these issues.”

Twice Mr. Blitzer insisted, “I have only the greatest respect for you.” But, he said, Americans need the money. Mrs. Pelosi: “And you don’t care how it’s spent.” “You don’t even know how it’s spent.” “May I finish, please?” “Have a little respect for the fact that we know something about these subjects.” She said he doesn’t respect committee chairmen.

I respect all of you, Mr. Blitzer said. Mrs. Pelosi: “You’ve been on a jag defending the administration all this time with no knowledge of the difference between our two bills.”

Mr. Blitzer: “We will leave it on that note.”

Mrs. Pelosi: “No, we will leave it on the note that you are not right on this, Wolf.”

He said it’s not about him but people in food lines. Mrs. Pelosi: “And we represent them. And we represent them. And we represent them. And we represent them. We know them. We represent them and we know them. We know them. We represent them.” “Thank you for your sensitivity to our constituents’ needs.”

“I am sensitive to them because I see them on the street begging for food,” Mr. Blitzer said.

Mrs. Pelosi: “Have you fed them? We feed them.”

It was bonkers. To watch was to witness, uncomfortably, the defensive aggression of an official who goes through life each day not being challenged nearly enough.

“I feel confident about it . . . and I feel confidence in my chairs,” she said. No, she doesn’t.

And Mr. Blitzer was right: It’s wrong to hold hostage people in immediate economic crisis.

The Barrett hearings were almost as strange. They were, as usual, not really about her and her views but the senators and theirs. But it seemed to me that slightly more than usual they treated her like a piece of furniture. There were bizarre questions. From Mazie Hirono of Hawaii: “Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?” No, Judge Barrett said. Ms. Hirono says she asks this of all nominees, but it would have been nice if she’d said it with a hint of doubt.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse delivered a Rachel Maddow-style monologue on “dark money.” His data board linking “phony front groups” was wonderfully John Nash-like. The not-funny part, the sadness of it, actually, is that you could do a mirror-image chart of Democratic activism and money surrounding court nominees, and it would have been a public service if he had.

I don’t know Judge Barrett’s deeper thoughts on the Second Amendment, but by the end of the hearings I was hoping she’d pull out a gun.

As for her Republican supporters, some of them went on about her large family and motherhood in a way that seemed, subtly, to obscure the depth of her intellect and the breadth of her command of the law. I think some of them couldn’t quite grok a mother of seven who’s their intellectual superior, so they reverted to form and patronized her. And competed with her. Sen. John Kennedy seemed especially eager to save the drowning woman, not noticing she wasn’t drowning and appears, as a lawyer, to swim better than he.

They lauded her large family in a way that lacked finesse, by which I mean at times they sounded like Mussolini advancing pro-natalism as a matter of state. If Judge Barrett were single and childless like David Souter, she would still be a deeply impressive nominee. If she were married and the parent of nine like Antonin Scalia, she would be impressive. It is not irrelevant that she is bringing up seven children. “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions,” said Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and every child is a new experience. But when you focus on the personal at the expense of the public, you wind up with Mr. Kennedy asking, “Who does the laundry in your house?” I remember when a senator asked Scalia that and Scalia laughed in his face. Oh wait, no one ever asked Scalia that.

Guys, did you not notice the immediate recall with which she summoned, and the depth with which she analyzed, the history of American jurisprudence? Say thank you, God, and move on.

She will be confirmed. Having spent a long time reading of her and her decisions, what strikes me is a story she told last spring, at Notre Dame. It is personal but sheds light on her thinking. She and her husband had suddenly received a call saying a baby had come up for adoption. But she had just found out she was pregnant with her fifth child. She threw on a jacket, took a walk, and wound up on a bench in a cemetery. She thought, “If life is really hard, at least it’s short.” They adopted the baby.

There have been many men on the court who seemed deep and were celebrated for their scholarly musings but were essentially, as individuals and in their conception of life, immature. But this is not a child, a sentimentalist, an ideological warrior. This is a thinker who thinks about reality.

She’s not what you expect when you open your handy box of categories. People who understand conservatism in a particular, maybe limited way—they don’t know what they just got.

Modern, a particular kind of Catholic, a woman, with a lived emphasis on people in community—this is not a “standard conservative.” In her independence from partisan politics, in her lived faith in higher persons, spirits and principles, this is rather a dangerous woman.

And she’s sane.

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