Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Slowly Lifting the Fog


Paul VanderKlay is continuing to pursue some understanding of Michael Malice, anarchism and libertarianism.  Based on an extensive comment from Ginger Bill, PVK decided to dedicate a conversation with Bill in order to perhaps gain some further clarity on these topics.

You will recall from my earlier post on a discussion between Jordan Peterson and Malice that I felt Malice did a poor job of explaining the inside-baseball language that libertarians throw around among and between each other – for example, say the word “anarchism” to most rational people and they will think “riots.”  This only made the topic confusing for Peterson; I lay the blame for this on Malice.

Further, neither Peterson nor Malice raised the point of natural law – although the dialogue presented several opportunities.  Libertarianism without natural law as a foundation is a dead letter.

Returning to the PVK-Ginger Bill discussion, I found it a helpful compliment to the Peterson-Malice discussion, as Bill better explained some of the inside language.  What follows are my several comments posted at PVK’s page, with some minor editing and additional clarification thrown in:

I am ten minutes in, and already can write a dozen comments.  I assure you, I understand anarcho-capitalism, Murray Rothbard, natural law, the Mises Institute, as well as Ginger Bill....

Ginger Bill may be right in everything he is saying about Malice (ten minutes in).  The problem is this.  Those of us in the know (of the Rothbardian lingo) understand all of this inside baseball talk.  Why should we expect that Peterson (or PVK) does?  Use the word anarchy, and what comes to mind in 98% of the population (and keep the Greek to yourself)? 

Ginger Bill explained the Greek etymology – without a governmental (state) leader.  But almost no one thinks this when they think of the word “anarchy.”

Anarchy: Malice thinks individualism and voluntary cooperation; most of the world thinks riots - and Malice has to know this.  Explaining this distinction would have helped the Malice-Peterson conversation.  Instead, Malice just talked as if he was speaking to Tom Woods.  We only have Malice to blame for this confusion.

Further (and not from this discussion...as I am only ten minutes in and it might come up later), Malice never clarifies anything about favoring hierarchies of any sort in a two-plus hour conversation with Peterson.  Whose fault is that?  Peterson's?  PVK's?  No....

Some discussion of intermediating institutions would have been helpful, otherwise you end up with left-anarchism – which ends in communism.

Use the words anarchy, no state, no government, etc., etc., etc., in any crowd other than a Mises Institute event and you will draw confusion unless you clearly define these terms.  Malice did not; he, therefore, wasted a great opportunity.

Let’s just say that a Jordan Peterson video gets plenty of views.  Also, the connection of anarchism (in the libertarian context) to the work Peterson is doing is necessary.

Now 25 minutes in....

PVK: "What drew this [libertarian] community to Peterson?"

I can give a longer answer, but in shorthand...NATURAL LAW!  It is where this conversation will end, if it is to have any value.

Of course, not all libertarians are fans of natural law.  While generalizations are just that, I will make one: those same libertarians are the ones who think Peterson is dangerous and who praise the libertine turnings of society.  They may or may not know this, but these libertarians are doing the work of Antonio Gramsci.

Talk to Lew Rockwell, the founder of the Mises Institute, who worked with Ludwig von Mises and also was a very close friend of Murray Rothbard, before Rothbard passed.

I and others have suggested that PVK talk with Tom Woods and others who can integrate and better explain anarchism, libertarianism and natural law.  I mentioned Lew this time, as the topic of the Mises Institute was raised by Ginger Bill.

Goodness gracious, Paul.  The anticipation is overwhelming!

I and others have been waiting a long time for Paul to give birth to this natural law baby – going to the place he must if his conversation (including others like Peterson and Pageau) is going to reach its full potential.  I can only hope that the contractions are now very painful and within a minute or two of each other.

PVK: Anarchism as a strategy vs. anarchism as a basis of morality

It is neither, which I go on to explain:

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Talking Past Each Other…


…and missing the center.

Jordan Peterson had a conversation with Michael Malice.  I take it from one of the comments from Malice that he is friends with one of Peterson’s children, and perhaps this is why / how he ended up on Peterson’s radar.  In any case…

I have heard Malice a couple of times in the past, so I cannot say that I am terribly familiar with his views.  I have written a post or two based on podcasts he has done with Tom Woods.  One of these, I believe, is relevant to revisit here.  I focus on one comment from Malice:

It’s also just bizarre that a movement that’s rooted in individualism and regards value as subjective is going to be baffled that other people have different priorities and different perspectives, and not only just baffled but insist that those priorities are wrong.

My reaction: if libertarianism is rooted in individualism, there is no movement.  I close the post with the following thought:

If libertarianism is rooted in individualism, there is no movement.  No libertarian who holds conservative values will fall on their libertarian sword for your right to have a sausage orgy. 

In any case, to suggest libertarianism is rooted in individualism is not really correct.  It is only “rooted” in describing when the use of physical force is justified, and is best thought of as a theory of punishment or legitimate defense.  It really has nothing to do with individualism.

Returning to the Peterson-Malice discussion: the first fifty minutes or so, they had a broad general conversation – covering 4chan, memes, the mainstream or corporate media, etc.  This all flowed very nicely.  Then they move to Malice’s anarchism.  And this is where I felt they started talking past each other.

Anarchy or anarchism – such a loaded term.  One can view it as the proper extension of the non-aggression principle, which it rightly is; another can view it as riots on the street, which is how most people understand the term.  My sense, from both the conversation and knowing something of the background of each of these two individuals, is that Malice sees it as the former, while Peterson sees it as the latter.  That this was never clarified tainted the entire conversation, it seemed to me.

But, given how Malice portrayed it, I can’t blame Peterson.  When using a loaded term, it is incumbent on the one using the term to define his meaning clearly.  Further, as will be developed later in this post, Malice never discussed the necessity of properly functioning intermediating institutions (and even seemed to dismiss the necessity).  Maybe he believes these are necessary, but it didn’t come out in the discussion – which again, leaves Peterson to think “riots” every time Malice says “anarchy.”

Finally, Malice dislikes the idea of duty or responsibility beyond a market transaction (you sell me juice, I give you money).  Yet duty and responsibility in a broader sense are necessary if one is after liberty – just a question of duty and responsibility to what and to whom.  Yet, Malice will often state a duty.  And nowhere is the source of this duty explored (natural law / Christian ethics) – which would have done both of these individuals some good.  With that, some detail:

MM: I don’t think that’s true, because you are taking it as a given that cooperation is desirable.

Right off the bat, Malice is using insider talk with someone who hears “riots” when he hears “anarchism.”  And in this context, the “absence of cooperation” equals “riots” for Peterson.

Malice then elaborates in the context of the United States, and the strong divide that has been created by the media and identified with the singular litmus test: “Donald Trump: for or against?”

MM: There’s no reason, other than some kind of sense of inertia, for these two or more groups to be under the same polity; there’s no reason for you to have the president you don’t want.

I agree with Malice.  The peaceful solution in the United States is decentralization.  Yet, here again, the two are talking past each other – and I place the burden on Malice, because he is the one who uses the loaded term.  He doesn’t have to clarify these things on a Tom Woods podcast or cruise ship; he does when speaking outside the bubble. 

Malice is speaking of political force; Peterson is speaking of authority based on a community-shared hierarchy.  Again, this is never clarified or explored.

It could be seen that the disagreement is on the size of the group.  Peterson speaks of children having to cooperate in order to play a game.  But is this a game that five children are playing or 300 million or seven trillion children must all play together?  The force necessary to contain such a large group is where Malice is pointing, it seems clear – but clear to me only because I understand something (not a lot) of him and his use of the word anarchy. 

But this never was clarified or explored.  I felt it left Peterson believing that cooperation is not part of Malice’s framework – which is understandable given a) Peterson’s likely view of what anarchism means to him, and b) Malice basically said this at the beginning of this section of the discussion (noted above).

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

What to Conserve


Benjamin Boyce: “The bottom part of the left wants to destroy every order and the top part wants to centralize things.  I don’t know what the left means.”

To which I replied:

Yes, you do.  You just said it.  There is nothing consistent or coherent about the left when you dive into it (and, by the way, much of what we label the right politically is equally left).

This is why, when the left is most successful at tearing down every order, you get a Stalin, a Mao, a Hitler (National SOCIALIST, as opposed to the communist left who are international socialists), etc.

And this is why the top part supports the bottom part – the top part knows that as the bottom part tears things apart by destroying traditional intermediating institutions and hierarchies, the top part will gain ever more monopoly power over the rest of us. 

Destroy all intermediating institutions, tear down a natural law ethic, drive Christianity out (all the work of the bottom part and the desire of the top part), and the top part gets to absorb more authority.  There, in one sentence, is the democrat party in the United States.

And from here, I offered the following:

What does conservativism wish to conserve?

What does liberalism wish to liberalize?

What does progressivism wish to progress to?

Only one of these has a functional answer, yet those who label themselves as such (conservative) are ignorant of it or don't wish to aim at it.  That would be the purpose of man, which is the foundation for discovering the natural law - the foundation of which only comes to full development through Christianity.

The other two offer no target at which to aim, as there is always more to liberalize or to progress to.  So we have Bari Weiss wishing for the NY Times of three years ago, apparently ignorant of the countless Walter Duranty types that preceded her by decades or more.  And Jordan Peterson, who wishes to go back only a few years further - when [personal] pronouns actually had some definitional value.

I would like to expand on this, beginning with such labels in the current political scene.  For us, the term “left” is associated with political parties labeled democrat or liberal, while “right” is associated with parties carrying labels such as republican or conservative.  In this post, I will use the following terms in the following ways:

Right / conservative: those who want to support and defend something akin to a natural law ethic, with government intervention limited to defending / prosecuting acts of aggression.

I recognize that this is a much narrower definition of “right” or “conservative” than is currently employed.  This is why I suggest that much of what is labeled “right” today is actually “left.”  Without an anchor in a natural law ethic, the right has no place to stand. 

Republicans: politicians who claim to support some sort of (nebulously articulated and conveniently ignored) traditional values; some may even mouth the words “natural law,” although it seems few understand it.

What traditional values are republicans conserving (or, in reality, attempting to, but failing to, conserve) these days, beyond that which they fought against not even twelve months ago?

Left / liberal, progressive: those who want to move humanity away from something akin to a natural law ethic, with government taking an active role in the process.

They don’t put it in these terms, but this is the reality.  Every move away from a hierarchy that accepts the nature of man and the resultant natural law ethic moves human beings away from their intended purpose and, therefore, away from natural law.

Democrats: politicians who unashamedly articulate such visions and act accordingly.

The first thing, perhaps, to notice: most republicans are hypocritical on this matter – claiming to support traditional values while acting contrary to this; democrats are not at all hypocritical in their actions or words – they claim to want to drive change (progress, liberalize), and they put their words into action.  Unlike republicans, democrats are at least honest about their aims.

Therefore, it is fair to conclude that while virtually all democrats can be labeled “left,” most republicans can be labeled “left” as well. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Why Would Anyone Live in California?


Sure…you can’t beat the weather.  But isn’t that what vacations are for?

High taxes, crazy governor, a regulatory zeal that makes the federal bureaucrats look tame….

And now, this:

Porsche Can't Sell Its 2022 911 GT3 with a Manual in California

Is it because Californians are so soft that they don’t know how to drive a stick?  Well, maybe yes in most cases, but apparently not for all:

Porsche informed us that, due to the state's sound regulations, it can't sell the manual-equipped cars there, only the ones with the standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Before getting to the (il)logic about why a manual transmission car runs louder than one equipped with an automatic transmission…despite having the same engine and exhaust system…what’s the big deal, you might ask.  Most cars are sold with automatic transmissions these days, anyway.


 (Marc Urbano, Car and Driver)

The 911 GT3 is a track car that is legal to drive on the road.  A naturally-aspirated six-cylinder engine, 502 horsepower, 9000 RPM redline, lightweight with just 6.3 lbs./horsepower, 0.34 drag coefficient, 1.11 g on the skid pad, 100-0 braking at 262 feet, zero to sixty in 3.2 seconds based on Porsche’s always-conservative numbers (3.7 seconds with the manual), zero to 160 in 19.1 seconds, the quarter-mile in 10.9 seconds at 129 MPH, top speed of 198 MPH.

It is a street-legal race car.

So how does California conclude that a car with the same engine and exhaust system is not too loud with an automatic, but is too loud with a manual?  If you guessed “bureaucratic stupidity,” you would be correct:

Our Colleagues at Road & Track have found out why the manual-equipped 911 GT3 fails the SAE J1470 test. The procedure requires the manual 911 GT3 to run closer to redline in third gear, while the test hinders the automatic-equipped cars' acceleration. You can read the story here.

This SAE test measures sound decibels as the vehicle accelerates past a microphone.  For the Porsche 911 GT3, the test is to be done while beginning in third gear.  The issue is this: the car is to accelerate as hard as possible without inducing a kickdown.  The manual, obviously, will not kick down; the automatic, at full acceleration, will kick down.  So…the automatic is not pressed at full-throttle the way the manual is pressed.  No full-throttle acceleration equals not as much noise.

So, why blame California?  SAE is a private organization, and California is just following this private testing procedure.  Well, yes…and no:

See, SAE J1470 was first published in late 1984.

Well, you ask, it isn’t California’s fault that this procedure hasn’t been updated.  You could think that, but you would be wrong:

SAE International addressed this with an entirely new vehicle standard: SAE J2805, published in 2008 and updated as recently as May 2020. J2805 completely revamps the drive-by test procedure. Rather than a full-throttle (or nearly full-throttle) drive-by, J2805 lays out a hugely complex method of calculating the appropriate rate of acceleration for each individual vehicle being tested.

Since late 1984, when the previous standard was published, powertrains have gone through tremendous change – hybrids, electrics, hydrogen.  Transmissions now include CVTs – continuously-variable transmissions.  Much has changed.  But California hasn’t:

Here's the problem: California doesn't use J2805.


For those last few holdouts…if this doesn’t get you to move out of California, I am certain nothing will.