Category Archives: current events

Fooled Again After All: The Mind Numbing Ideological Homogeneity in Rock Music

Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I was smitten by a number of rock music’s many virtues.  I loved the iron studded defiance and operatic individualism in Judas Priest. I could relate to the dreamy eyed idealism and romantic yearning in Journey.  I was amused by the tongue in cheek irony and theatrical absurdity of Devo. I was captivated by the pissed off mechanized malevolence of Metallica. I was swept away by the fantastical imagery and instrumental virtuosity of Led Zeppelin. I was enthralled by the decadent spectacle and the militant rebellion of The Who. I was hypnotized by the melancholy ruminations and brooding sonics of Pink Floyd. Most importantly, I was moved by the message of unity and human universalism in Sly and the Family Stone. Even though I found the music cheesy and maudlin, I could also appreciate the good intentions behind supergroups like Artists United Against Apartheid and USA for Africa.  I figured if rock megastars could help bring about positive change in world, then perhaps this art form holds the potential for something more than fame and money. 

Rock and pop music with social and political commentary is certainly not new. It definitely didn’t start out that way, but by the time you get to the 1960’s, rock moved further away from escapism and non-conformity and increasingly towards raising social and political awareness. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, of course. Art and music can be vessels for humanity’s highest aspirations and ideals, so it follows that artists would attempt to recreate the spiritual role that infused the gospel and R&B roots of rock in the secular sphere. Not only did rock stake a permanent claim on being the kingdom of freaks, weirdos, decadents and contrarians, it also positioned itself as the de facto moral conscience for a global secular congregation.

But rock is no longer a scrappy upstart art form chafing at the edges of social acceptance. It’s the establishment. What began as music designed to piss off your parents is now the music of your parents. Or maybe even your grandparents. It has ensconced itself into every corner of consumer culture but has carefully tended to its outsider mythology. Needless to say, the overwhelming majority of the political editorial in pop, rock and folk throughout the 20th century belongs to the radical Left. From Pete Seeger’s odes to Stalin to the pro-Sandinista raveups of the Clash, the soundtrack to the struggle of the underdog has been monopolized by the Left. The upheavals of the 60’s and 70’s that gave rock its sense of urgency and purpose have since been absorbed into the social, political, commercial and academic bloodstream. To the degree that the rock of yesteryear had a sense of moral purpose, today’s rock has devolved into a zombified corpse feasting from the carcass of its bygone glories. Desperately seeking the conscience which ignited the Flower Power generation, today’s artists try to maintain a pretense of youthful rebellion and relevance. Devoid of the sweeping narrative of intergenerational change that animated the Boomers, the idealism of all subsequent generations of rockers and pop artists has increasingly metastasized into rote nostrums of the progressive political and academic intelligentsia. 

Sly Stone wanted to take you higher, but Macklemore wants to telegraph the tortured solipsism of his alleged “white privilege”. The Dead Kennedys righteously lampooned the pampered collegiate class while Green Day seem content to confirm their biases. The Sex Pistols snarled out anthems for anarchy, but Rage Against the Machine would have you believe that recycled Marxist angst is an edgy and fresh perspective. Whether it’s Beyonce’s excruciating feminist infomercials or the psychic trauma of Le Tigre’s shrieking Hillary Clinton propaganda, these would-be progressive ministrations sound less like the organic rallying cries of a voiceless underclass and more like the hackneyed script of lazy, entitled royalists. 

We’ll be fighting in the streets

With our children at our feet

And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on

Sit in judgement of all wrong

They decide and the shotgun sings the song

The spirit of contrarianism that once defined rock has given way to an insufferable smug preachiness and an unhinged militancy in the wake of the Trump election. Pete Townsend may have been cheering the dissolution of the moral order of his parents’ generation in his anthems of rebellion, but he may not have anticipated that the children at his feet would construct a new moral order that would happily see him censored. The examples are numerous, but there are a few worth highlighting.

In his latest piece in the Observer, Tim Sommer lambasts Roger Waters for peddling impotent middle-aged angst without providing a mechanism for political action. He expresses his openness to “another” political viewpoint, but only in ironic scare quotes dusted off with a distinct whiff of elitist condescension. He also discusses what he regards as “four freedoms promised in January of 1941 by President Roosevelt” which include “freedom from want”. Anyone who has a rudimentary grasp of political philosophy knows this is a reference to positive rights. The US Constitution makes no reference to “freedom from want” nor does the General Welfare Clause justify the creation of a welfare state. You will never be free from want and the list of human wants is infinite. It’s fine to advocate for voluntary charity, but making this a political objective is a recipe for catastrophe.

Trent Reznor’s latest bromide against Trump in Vulture refers to him as a “fucking vulgarian”; a remarkably strange sentiment coming from the guy who immortalized “fuck you like an animal” in a song lyric. Is Reznor’s political philosophy so shallow that he’s evaluating political policy and politicians on a scale of “vulgarity”? Sure, Trump has broken some taboos and violated expectations around what a POTUS can or cannot say, but the discussion should be centered on actual policy and political philosophy. The fact that Reznor makes no attempt to discuss Trump’s policy ideas in contrast with his own political philosophy makes this an especially inane and counterproductive criticism. His comments in a recent Village Voice interview are only slightly more nuanced and reveal more explicitly the Manichean worldview that defines the progressive mindset. 

“Look, I don’t think he’s a good guy. Some people do,” he told his son. “I don’t think he believes in science and I don’t think he believes people should be treated decently and I don’t think he tells the truth. That’s why I don’t like him.”

Good people on one side and bad people on the other. It’s not about whether you like him, Trent. The question is over what, if any, role the federal government should play in science, healthcare, immigration policy or anything else. Science is not democratic nor does it require belief.  It does require testable hypotheses, transparent methodologies, and ethical data collection. When government money is funding science, the likelihood that we’ll see any results that might falsify the hypothesis and derail the political agenda behind it is greatly diminished. Furthermore, political policy never determines how people treat one another; it only delineates the sphere of action that’s subject to criminal or civil punishment. This points to the distinction between society and State to which Thomas Paine referred, but has since been collapsed by progressives. Obviously, Reznor is making a veiled reference to immigrants, minorities and transgender people, but political policy does not nor should not form the basis of how one comports oneself in the company of others. Political policy does not shape the opinions people hold about other people. Political policy is not a substitute for having a sound moral philosophy. The quest for political protection for the so-called transgender community is taking on an increasingly absurd and totalitarian aura. And very few politicians have good truth telling records. The Democrats certainly don’t have a lock on veracity. What’s perhaps most disconcerting is Reznor’s silence on the ongoing war for free speech versus political correctness. It would have been useful to hear a public position on the matter since his material is more than ripe for social justice jihad. Considering that Reznor has written a vulgar lyric or two and touched on some rather controversial subject matter, his silence as well as the dismissive crack he made about Gamergate says more than a little about his true priorities and biases. 

The walking billboard for the DNC formerly known as Katy Perry fares no better in her increasingly hamfisted proselytizing for the Church of Identity Politics and #DIVERSITY. Positioning herself as the torchbearer of mass market #WOKE pop, Perry’s pleas for “unity” in the wake of the Manchester terrorist bombing sound especially hollow and tone deaf.  For a pop star who has cashed in so handsomely on sugar coated pop confections and girly coquettishness, her recent turn towards #SocialJustice pandering is a disappointing downgrade. 

In what is thus far the most cringe inducing bit of Trump Derangement Syndrome, second generation nu metal shitstains, Stray From the Path, literally committed their autistic screeching to tape with a bit of prefab agitprop, “Goodnight Alt-Right”.  Filled to the brim with manufactured outrage and the deranged justifications for initiating violence against people who deviate from progressive orthodoxy, it reveals quite a bit about how leftists deal with people who stray from their path. Way to go, edgelords. So contrarian. 

Speech is “free” but it comes with a price
And if you’re speaking out some bullshit I’ll give you advice

Hit ’em with a left a left and a right

Got ’em dropping like flies with the stars in their eyes

So fuck them and fuck you too and appreciate

That if you preach hate, then expect hate

Needless to say, blasphemy against the Church of Progressivism has been met with the customary acts of censure, vindictiveness and retribution. None other than Johnny Rotten himself came out in favor of #Brexit and Trump to the dismay of many fans.  In what is thus far the biggest shitstorm in the ever widening culture war over political correctness, the little known band, The Dream Machine, were dropped from their label for committing blasphemy making “ugly” remarks about immigration and feminism. That’s right, folks. Shit on Christians, Trump, white people and conservatives all you want. That’s #EDGY because they’re privileged and shit. But if you say even one mean word about immigrants or feminists, brace yourself. Hell hath no fury like a social justice warrior triggered. 

As someone who entered the world of rock precisely because of its spirit of individualism and contrarianism, nothing disheartens me more than seeing rock musicians and rock culture breeding the worst kind of conformity; conformity of political thought.  Artists are generally an empathetic and well intentioned bunch who, like many others, want to maximize goodwill and global harmony. I suspect there’s more than a few people who set out to change the world with three chords and the truth. But what most artists fail to grasp is that government policy is not meant to be the vessel through which compassion, love, and brotherhood flow. It is a very dangerous institution whose power should not be extended to satisfy your altruistic urges. If you believe it should do something not specifically enumerated in the Constitution and for which provision can be made through voluntary means, then you bear the burden of justifying the application of its coercive powers to your fellow citizens. And if you genuinely feel justified in advocating for these policies without having to make the case to your fellow citizens, then consider the possibility that you are the one who was fooled again after all.  

Milo at UC Berkeley: The Death Knell of the Free Speech Left

​I can barely express the deep sadness and disappointment I feel watching this footage. I have family members who attended UC Berkeley and wax nostalgically about the heady days of the Vietnam War protests and the free speech movement.

What a monstrous and grotesque inversion of that movement the modern Left has become. Mindless hordes chanting their slogans of hatred all cloaked in a phony veneer of “resistance” and “protecting the marginalized”. Marxism has always been the ideological core of the Left throughout the 20th century, and now it has apparently reached its inevitable apotheosis. Full on ideological conformity paired with a naked thirst for power. All they’ve done is update the formula with a few pride flags and a pepper it with a dash of Islamophilia.

News flash, progressives. You’ve become what you profess to abhor. You are the totalitarians. You officially forfeit any claim to the term “liberal”. You are a bunch of pathetic zombies. You are hastening the destruction of everything that’s decent and civilized.

You don’t get to call speech with which you disagree “violence” only to use that idiotic reasoning as a moral rationale for ACTUAL violence in order to prevent someone from exercising his right to free speech.

And lest you believe that local politicians would hastily denounce this mayhem, banish the thought.  The first words uttered by the mayor of the #TOLERANT paradise of the People’s Republic of Berkeley considered Milo’s alleged “hate speech” the greater threat than the Antifa rioters.  That should tell you everything you need to know about the Left’s priorities when it comes to the exercise of violence in service of advancing its political goals.

To say that the celebrity Twittersphere was throwing gasoline on the fire is an understatement.


If you can’t compete honestly in the arena of debate and you justify VIOLENCE in order to silence your opponents, your ideas are terrible. 

Dear Lefty Boomers

Sorry, Lefty Boomers.

I’m sure the sex, drugs and rock and roll were fun, but the Flower Power dream was an empty charade and little more than a rainbow hued road to serfdom. You are nothing more than a sad cartoon of an overrated myth emanating from a bygone counter-culture revolution that never was and is exactly analogous to the current incarnation: pampered, entitled, college educated middle-class people who took too many bong hits and took The Communist Manifesto way too seriously.

All your anti-war agitation was nothing more than impotent bleating which was instantly pacified when a charismatic man named Barack Obama ascended to the Presidency and flattered your egos with lofty rhetoric while he reduced the Middle East to ashes. You’re incensed about the refugee crisis now, but you couldn’t be bothered to give a shit when the bombs were dropping.

Marxism was a tragic failure, but that didn’t stop you from colonizing academia and repackaging it as economics, gender studies and sociology. You’ve completely ruined the social sciences and mangled economics so badly, that people think that a partisan hack like Paul Krugman is a trustworthy intellectual.  You’ve turned the natural sciences into Manichean witch hunt which pits climate change Believers on one side against Deniers on the other. It doesn’t matter if you understand a single thing about climate modeling methodologies or that you’re completely oblivious to the Malthusian designs of the agenda, a Bill Nye the Science Guy meme is all you need to dispatch the knuckle dragging troglodytes who aren’t yet #WOKE to climate #SCYENCE. Academic awards and institutions exist only to reaffirm your cults of personality and indoctrinate the next generation. And you can take all of your insufferable Foucauldian, postmodernist wanks and shove them right up your ass.

The entertainment industry has devolved into an echo chamber of preachy egomaniacs and a stultifying regime of PC multiculturalism. Your legacy is an entire generation of hypersensitive Tumblristas weaned on a brain damaged diet of identity politics, safe spaces, and microaggressions who prattle away about “fascism”, but are absolutely oblivious to the dangers of socialism for which they mindlessly agitate.

You aren’t revolutionaries.  You’re conformists who just updated the dress code to accommodate dyed hair and piercings and redecorated the bureaucracy with pride flags and gender neutral bathrooms.

You don’t want to change things for the better.
You only crave power.

You didn’t separate church and state. 

You just made the state your church.

You had a chance and you blew it.

Deal with it.

What I Learned From the 2017 Womyn’s March

Hundreds of thousands of #STRONG womyn and their obedient m*le allies marched in several major cities on Saturday to protest President Literally Hitler. This display of #BRAVERY included some dumb pink hats, lots of selfies with besties, signs emblazoned with idiotic clichés, plenty of references to female genitalia, and lots of yoga pants that are cute but not objectifying. Of course, it was an occasion to collectively whinge about living under the bootheel of white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. Or something. 

This is the overarching message I received from all of this posturing:

1. Though it was called a Womyn’s March, it was really about feminism. Since feminism is a political agenda almost exclusively aligned with the political Left, we’re going to call it a Womyn’s March because we want people to equate women with feminism in their minds.  Since women are virtuous, wonderful and oppressed and m*n are violent PYGS, we want to advertise to everyone that we are the ones who support womyn. Not like those sexist #ReTHUGliKKKans.  

2. Since feminism presents itself as a liberation ideology which is aligned with Women’s Suffrage and we believe perfectly analogous to the Civil Rights movement and the abolition of slavery, everything for which we currently advocate is Virtuous and Good by definition and proves that we are on the Right Side of #Hxstory. Feminism is the Correct Ideological Position to take if you actually care about the entire spectrum of beleaguered groups suffering under the oppression of the Trumpocalypse and white supremacy in general. Feminism stands for all races, cultures, sexual orientations and gender identities that aren’t white, European or Christian. Everyone who opposes us is a misogynist and a Nazi.  

3. Though we carry signs which virtue signal how “kind” and “loving” we are, what this is really about is ensuring the survival of the feminist (i.e. Democrat) legislative agenda and promoting the idea that the only people fit to govern are Democrats. Womyn are only truly empowered when the taxpayer subsidies are flowing towards our preferred institutions and causes. If it doesn’t, it’s fascism. Everyone who opposes even one piece of the agenda is a racist, sexist #BIGOT.  

4. Our advocacy for this legislative agenda proves that we are Good People® who are #WOKE.  If you make even one attempt to suggest otherwise, you’re a hateful, sexist #BIGOT and a white supremacist. 

5. In feminist media and academia, we will rail against biological gender dimorphism and gender signifiers like the color pink, but in the March, we’ll jettison all of that and wear pink pussy hats, wear lots of makeup, and carry signs proudly advertising female anatomy all while insisting that we are not determined by gender and expect to be taken seriously as individuals. After the March, we will resume calling opponents of gender construction theory transphobic #BIGOTS. 

6. We will happily don an American flag hijab to show our #SOLIDARITY with Muslims, but we will actively ignore the oppression of women in Islamic countries.  Besides, it makes us look like the Shepard Fairey painting and it looks super cute with Snapchat filters and we’ll get lots of likes on Instagram.  Most importantly, we’ll completely disregard Hillary Clinton’s ties to Saudi Arabia, her active support for the invasions of Libya and Iraq and the incalculable damage each caused, as well as Linda Sarsour’s open advocacy of Sharia Law in America.  #StayWoke, SYSTERS!

7. “Reproductive rights” means taxpayer subsidies for abortion and contraception. We’ll remind all of the #TROGLODYTES and #RePYGliKKKans that taxpayer funding doesn’t fund abortion cuz Hyde Amendment and shit and condescend to you for being an ill informed luddite who listens to Fake News. Any and all opposition to any taxpayer funding for either abortion or contraception means you are a hateful misogynist. It’s HEALTHCARE! WHY DO YOU HATE WOMYN?! And we’re talking to you, pro-life “feminists”. 

8. Disagreement with any aspect of our agenda is bigotry, hate and fascism. We’re Tolerant® people, after all.  

Consider that patriarchy SMASHED, feminists!

The Crumbling Edifice of “Settled” Climate Change Science

For those of you who like to indulge the notion that you are with the Angels and on the Right Side of #SCYENCE and #Hxstory by supporting the climate change agenda while blithely ridiculing skeptics as clueless, sub-human, knuckle dragging mouth breathers who’ve been duped by the petroleum industry, it’s time to acknowledge the climate change project for what it actually is: a political agenda. This is not a scientific endeavor and I’m not convinced it ever was one to begin with. Calling your opponents Climate Deniers© does not make you intelligent nor is it a sufficient intellectual or scientific argument. On the contrary, it makes you look like a dittohead and a stooge and nothing more than an unwitting pawn for power hungry politicians. 
You can no longer stand smugly on the sidelines and ridicule skepticism as “anti-science” pretending that this is a totally humanitarian, objective, scientific endeavor when the field is so obviously rife with political pressure and flooded by government money.

In a recent piece in Reason, Ronald Bailey discusses climatologist Judith Curry’s resignation from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the highly politicized field of climate science. 

Climate “science” asks you to accept some very far reaching predictions about atmospheric temperatures, sea water levels and sea ice levels years from now based on mathematical models.  If there is any soundness to the theoretical underpinnings of this “science”, these models should be predicting accurate outcomes.  And guess what?  They’re not.

Betsy DeVos Versus the Government Education Establishment


I have family members and close friends who currently or previously worked in public education, and I can assure you, dear reader, that the libertarian argument for free market education isn’t a position that’s held in high regard in my world. It is my sincere hope that those of you reading this who also oppose a competitive market for education services will take this post in a spirit of promoting a real diversity of political opinion. 
Betsy DeVos has been nominated for the Chair of the Department of Education, and as is the case with everything Trump says or does, the progressive establishment is having a conniption. Whether it’s her lack of Ivy League credentials, her advocacy of charter schools or her positively abhorrent donation to FIRE, Betsy DeVos has been branded Public Education Enemy Number 1 by the entire government education apparatus. In his recent piece in Reason, Robby Soave very carefully and methodically points out why all of them are wrong and it is they who are the ideologically hidebound zealots. 

Here’s the deal. 

Pretty much everyone agrees that education is important. The larger and more important question is over how best to promote real education; as in independent thought, critical thinking, a curious mind, marketable skills and a lifelong love of learning, versus just going to school.

It’s easy to view education as a “right”. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s not. If you are honest, you will easily be able to recall numerous occasions when school felt pointless and utterly without value. And the real world bears this out.  Unless you cultivate entrepreneurial skills, a high school education is basically worthless in the marketplace.  A bachelor’s degree doesn’t necessarily add much more value to your marketability either. When you treat any good or service into a “right” for which the government makes provision, you destroy the incentive to provide actual value. 

Whenever the failure of public schools is discussed, “Reform” is the default cliché deployed. Anyone who suggests a market based alternative is just someone who hates children and only wants rich people to have education. Sadly, the Left is very good at painting opposition to government education as opposition to education itself while portraying themselves as Guardians of Knowledge and Social Justice from the mindless hordes of conservatards who just want to plunge America into a regressive New Dark Age of mandatory Christianity. It should be obvious to everyone that there is no such thing as “Reform”. Once you place a giant institution like education behind the government wall, there’s little you can do to truly reform it.  

Institutional learning only reinforces deference to itself. If you want to promote real individuality and critical thinking skills, a bureaucratic, compulsory school system won’t produce that result.  

I have plenty of skepticism over whether Betsy DeVos is going to make any meaningful difference, but I’m certainly willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. The public school bureaucrats are the real zealots here. It’s easy to point the finger of reproach when you enjoy the tacit protection of the government. And no, it doesn’t make one goddamn bit of difference that she doesn’t have fancy degrees.  She’ll be in charge of a gigantic bureaucracy which sets the agenda for other bureaucracies. 

If nothing else, she should do everything in her power to squelch the Title IX jihadists and the campus star chambers dispensing extrajudicial “justice”.

Don’t Vote Third Party, Proles. It’s Counter-Revolutionary

Jef Rouner doesn’t want you to vote third party.

He suggests that it’s the equivalent of thoughts and prayers, but he is projecting. He is the sanctimonious scold. Voting for either major party is the very epitome of thoughts and prayers. You have no control over what these people do once elected.  You’re voting for a collection of promises and a bunch of rhetoric. No political promises are ever kept, and even laws that get passed do not achieve what the politicians claim.

There is no “work” involved in going into a voting booth and checking a box.  He’s not writing laws, and I doubt he has the slightest inkling of what’s contained in a single federal law or regulation. Yet he’s saying he is somehow responsible for the outcomes because he checked a box in a voting booth. He is complicit in the sense that he paid mindless obedience to the system.

Mr. Rouner wants to take credit for the ACA. Does he accept responsibility for the premiums which have increased for average citizens because healthy young people aren’t singing up to subsidize the older and sicker?  Does he accept responsibility for all the money wasted on failed state level exchanges? 

Or how about his passing mention of Obama’s drone program? Doesn’t the mass murder of thousands kind of nullify any claim on a moral high ground? The invasion of Libya, anyone? The militarization of the police?  Arms sales to Middle Eastern regimes? The ongoing impenetrable mess in Syria? 

Since he seems so keen on conflating the individual with the State, how about those achievements, Mr. Rouner? 

Anyone else? 

He invokes the 12th Amendment as the source of the two party duopoly. Since this only codified the process by which the President and Vice President would be elected, this seems little more than an appeal to tradition.  

I don’t have any objections to anyone voting third party. If you find their ideas compelling, then go for it. The idea at the center of the American idea was individual liberty, and that should include freedom of political thought.

It’s true that the system doesn’t favor third party candidates at the federal level. It is possible to pull off being an open socialist or libertarian at the local level and win, and there are examples of both.

I would argue that the real work of the political process is the battle for ideas, and the current system crowds out any vigorous debate of ideas. For Mr. Rouner to suggest that “nothing Stein or Johnson says matters” completely diminishes and downplays the power of ideas.  Third party candidacies are good for the country in the sense that they are vehicles for trenchant criticism of the system and the advancement of unconventional and heretical ideas.  Between the two third party choices, there’s a little bit of both. I also find Jill Stein’s agenda utterly abhorrent, but I appreciate some of the criticisms she’s leveled at Hillary. Despite the fact that Gary Johnson is not the most inspiring champion of libertarian philosophy, it’s refreshing that at least one candidate is promoting actual liberty. 

Slavery notwithstanding, the American system of government was meant to enshrine property rights and the liberty of the individual. The idea behind federalism was to decentralize power and disperse it throughout the states. I also contend that this is why the 2nd Amendment makes reference to militias.  It was meant to be a bulwark against the greatest threat to liberty: a standing army. 

But we’re very far away from that idea, and I vigorously dispute that casting a vote for Trump or Hillary represents anything virtuous.  There is no “change from within” to be made. Even if you dedicated yourself to a single issue, it has the potential to consume your entire life if you allow it to. The federal government is an overgrown behemoth populated mostly by self-interested hacks who are more interested in preserving their fiefdoms than doing anything that serves the “Public Good”.

By portraying participation in government as the only path to affecting change, he’s contributing to an ever diminishing sphere of individual liberty. Mr. Rouner is destroying the possibility for voluntary, organic solutions between citizens and promoting a culture of servitude. He correctly claims that leadership and accountability are virtues. By promoting a vote for the system, he’s promoting the least accountable people on the planet. The American spirit was born of skepticism of government power, not obedience. 

The only sanctimonious cunt who’s trying to browbeat his readers into voting for this corrupt two party duopoly is Jef Rouner.

Obama on Black Crime

It is absolutely true that the murder rate is way out of whack in the African-American community compared to the general population and both the victims and the perpetrators are black. ~ Barack Obama, 7/14/2016

Herbert Marcuse: Repressive Tolerance

If you’re paying any attention to the state of free speech on college campuses, you wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that this time honored, liberal principle is under siege.  But how did college campuses, the very institutions charged with upholding the principles of Western thought, become incubation chambers of intolerance?  Whose ideas have supplanted the propositions which have driven progress of Western civilization since the Protestant Reformation and taken root in the minds of students and faculty alike?   I contend that the current repression of free speech, embodied by the progressive social justice warrior, which conveniently silences conservative and libertarian views can certainly be traced in part or in whole to the influence of Herbert Marcuse.

German émigré, founder of the Frankfurt School of social science and former employee of the Office of Strategic Services and Office of War Information, Herbert Marcuse espoused a heady brand of warmed over Marxist socio-economic criticism whose influence reverberates to this day. The fact that he worked in the US federal government in an office which disseminated war propaganda and was sympathetic to Marxist thought yet is revered as the father of the allegedly dissident New Left movement is revealing all by itself.  Marcuse published several works, but his essay, Repressive Tolerance, which was originally featured in A Critique of Pure Tolerance opens a very clear window of insight into the mentality and behavior of campus faculty and students alike.

Marcuse starts with a classically Marxist thesis.  The traditional liberal premise of equality of liberty and equality before the law only serves to prop up a bourgeois false consciousness and perpetuate a “tolerance” of oppressive forces which perpetuate injustice and inequality.  Consequently, the attainment of objective truth is compromised because the bourgeois media desensitizes the proles to the inhumanity and injustice which surrounds him.

The toleration of the systematic moronization of children and adults alike by publicity and propaganda, the release of destructiveness in aggressive driving, the recruitment for and training of special forces, the impotent and benevolent tolerance toward outright deception in merchandizing, waste, and planned obsolescence are not distortions and aberrations, they are the essence of a system which fosters tolerance as a means for perpetuating the struggle for existence and suppressing the alternatives. The authorities in education, morals, and psychology are vociferous against the increase in juvenile delinquency; they are less vociferous against the proud presentation, in word and deed and pictures, of ever more powerful missiles, rockets, bombs–the mature delinquency of a whole civilization.

Through the reasoning of his convoluted Hegelian dialectic, he concludes that the only way to redress this systematic injustice is to actively suppress the political thought and speech of those on the Right.  Because after all, the Right not only represents the interests of the ruling, empowered class, but is the incubation chamber of every repressive regime since the emergence of the democratic nation state. All revolutionary change, has emerged “from below” (i.e. the proles). Since the repressive capitalist class is on the Right, and the champions of social justice and revolutionary change are on the Left, the best way to ensure that a true reign of justice prevails is to silence the voices of the Right and actively promote the voices of the Left.

Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.

Sound familiar?  Not only is it a repurposing of the classic Marxist dichotomy of proles versus bourgeoisie, it maps to the observable behavior of social justice warriors on campuses throughout the Western world.  This basic template of thought also translates into virtually all intersectional feminist/queer/race theory that is the bedrock of the entire plague of social justice advocacy poisoning campuses and media throughout the world.

I don’t know how much the work of Marcuse and his Frankfurt School contemporaries is actually taught in campuses, but I suspect that it has receded into the background as more contemporary “thinkers” have taken his place. Repressive Tolerance taken its proper place as a product his former employers at the OSS would have appreciated: propaganda for the Left.

The Dataist Reformation is Nigh

Any good review you read, whether it’s books or films, gives you a sense of what the artist intended as well as the reviewer thinks of the content. I don’t normally write posts that comment on reviews of others, but this was brought to my attention and I think it’s worth a brief post because it’s timely and it’s another example of the way The Guardian uses a book review to advance its ideological agenda. 

In his review for the new book by Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus, David Runciman engages in some doom laden speculations over the humanity destroying influence of the Silicon Valley Technorati he has branded with the utterly idiotic term, “Dataists”. As usual, it’s a piece that ascribes dubious intent to those develop technology and a religious zealotry to those who allegedly seek better living through Big Data.

First off, I don’t think I’ve ever read a piece in The Guardian which praised the achievements of the market.  Predictably, Mr. Runciman doesn’t acknowledge the market as the engine of that achievement.

The evidence of our power is everywhere: we have not simply conquered nature but have also begun to defeat humanity’s own worst enemies. War is increasingly obsolete; famine is rare; disease is on the retreat around the world.

He acknowledges that humanity’s genius is most powerfully demonstrated when exercised in groups, but makes no meaningful distinction between religions, corporations or nation states. Both Harari and Runciman are presenting the individual as powerless independent of a collective and “waves of information” as some kind of sentient power to be resisted. 

Individual human beings are relatively powerless creatures, no match for lions or bears. It’s what they can do as groups that has enabled them to take over the planet. These groupings – corporations, religions, states – are now part of a vast network of interconnected information flows. Finding points of resistance, where smaller units can stand up to the waves of information washing around the globe, is becoming harder all the time.

Runciman goes on to explain that “we” are in danger of uncoupling intelligence and consciousness, and then in the very next paragraph, likens the State to an inhuman, unresponsive robot. 

Not all of this is new. The modern state, which has been around for about 400 years, is really just another data-processing machine. The philosopher Thomas Hobbes, writing in 1651, called it an “automaton” (or what we would call a robot). Its robotic quality is the source of its power and also its heartlessness: states don’t have a conscience, which is what allows them sometimes to do the most fearful things. What’s changed is that there are now processing machines that are far more efficient than states: as Harari points out, governments find it almost impossible to keep up with the pace of technological advance. It has also become much harder to sustain the belief – shared by Hobbes – that behind every state there are real flesh-and-blood human beings. The modern insistence on the autonomy of the individual goes along with a view that it should be possible to find the heart of this heartless world. Keep scratching at a faceless bureaucracy and you’ll eventually uncover a civil servant with real feelings.

He correctly asserts that the State cannot keep up with technological (market) change.  This has been the contention of free market thinkers for decades. The State is not subject to market forces. The nation state is little more than the machinery of warfare backed by a collection of bureaucrats who dictate how this fearsome power must be applied in the name of “The People.” This is precisely why it can do fearful things. It has no incentive to respond to supply, demand or to economize.  Mises argued that to destroy this capacity was to nullify humanity’s uniquely teleological contribution to the universe.

Technology companies are certainly innovating at warp speed, but the State is hastening the automation of the world through policy, too.  Every time the government mandates price controls (e.g. minimum wage) or imposes additional costs through regulation, business will seek a labor saving technological solution.

Runciman portrays this book as a sort of new Hegelianism for the Information Age. He presents this data driven technological dystopia as a historical inevitability, but tries to hedge his dire predictions by saying “the future is unknowable.” Like Hegel, ideas and individuals are absent from his analysis. The article only refers to a giant, amorphous “we”. Naturally, the belief in the individual’s power to shape his own fate is nothing more than a “leap of faith”. He posits that “Dataism” is the new religion because for progressives, the word “religion” is a dogwhistle that signals to the reader that there is mindless obedience and authoritarian rule to be resisted. After all, those who sign up for the Dataist project “will be the only ones with any real power left and it will be relatively unchallenged.” Conveniently, his analysis of what qualifies as “religion” excludes the inefficient, unresponsive, inhumane State. Because if you “keep scratching at a faceless bureaucracy and you’ll eventually uncover a civil servant with real feelings.”

True to progressive form, Harari is “insouciant” about humanity, but REALLY concerned about the fate of animals under humanity’s stewardship. Way to keep your priorities straight, guys. 

The development of AI, robotics and supercomputers is a topic that certainly warrants continued inquiry and discussion.  Perhaps this book is a meaningful step in that direction, but it comes across like another cynical, fatalistic bit of academic pomp that consigns humanity to an anonymous, technologically driven hive mind that strips away individual agency. It’s amazing that such highly educated individuals warn of the imminent uncoupling of intelligence from consciousness, but are so cavalier about the true source of humanity itself: the individual. But The Guardian wouldn’t have published this review if it wasn’t the exact ideological agenda the review was meant to serve.