Category Archive 'Egalitarianism'
08 Aug 2020
The Daily Beast reports on academic activists rallying to the defense of the latest recognized marginalized minority.
Michael Eisen, editor of eLifeâ€”a well-regarded open access scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciencesâ€”made a joke about a humble roundworm, thereby cracking open the seventh seal and ushering forth… wormageddon. …
Most people took the joke in stride, or used it as an opportunity to spread the good word about nematodes. But the worm gang runs deep. Multiple researchers were not amused by Dr. Eisenâ€™s joke, and their responses spiraled off in increasingly disproportionate directions. Some of these were scoldings about the propriety of using the word â€œfuckâ€ in a public context, and whether â€œAcademic Twitterâ€ upholds appropriate levels of professionalism by accepting â€œfrat boyâ€ humor. One team went so far as to publicly reconsider submitting a paper to eLife. Others complained that the editor of a journal was publicly disparaging a study species. …
[A] day after Eisen had opened the can of titular worms, and amid the flood of C. elegans jokes washing around Twitterâ€”things had escalated in a bizarre direction. As mystified observers raised the question over whether C. elegans researchers were taking the whole thing a bit seriously, a small handful of researchers responded by arguing that jokes about worms were in some way equivalent to jokes about women and people of color. …
By far the most prolific poster in this vein was Ahna Skop, associate professor of genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and previous recipient of a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion-based award in 2018. Dr. Skopâ€”who did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Beastâ€”argued extensively that making jokes about worms was merely the tip of the iceberg when it came to making jokes about marginalized identities, or an example of a â€˜bystander effectâ€™, a psychological theory arguing that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim in a crowd. (For is it not said: First they came for the worm people, and I said nothing, as I was not a worm person?)
In the resulting threads, Dr. Skopâ€”who identifies as â€œpart Eastern Band Cherokeeâ€ and â€œdisabled with EDSâ€â€”and others consistently failed to publicly respond to Black scientists like herpetologist Chelsea Connor, who tried to point out that this was a ridiculous conflation. In a private communication Connor shared with The Daily Beast, Skop doubled down, arguing that as she had previously been harmed by entrenched sexism, her concerns regarding the worm joke were justified.
29 Jan 2020
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1833-1836, New York Historical Society.
James Panero tells us that Yale imported a Cambridge bolshie to “decolonize” the History of Art Department.
Are we in our own revolutionary moment? Many of our leading institutions clearly believe so. Yale University has been working overtime to prove it is on the right side of history. â€˜Problematicâ€™ colleges have been renamed. â€˜Offensiveâ€™ stained-glass windows have been knocked out. Only the leadership of an Ivy League school could spread such a poisonous rash. Heading the charge against the Dead White Male has been a progressive Yale bureaucracy that is, for the most part, pale and stale.
Now the task of dismantling Yaleâ€™s famous art history survey course has fallen to a scholar I respect, Tim Barringer. British-born, Barringer is the Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University and has been a leading curator at the Metropolitan Museum. He even mounted the Metâ€™s exceptional 2018 exhibition on Thomas Cole.
Following a 2017 mandate to â€˜decolonizeâ€™ Yaleâ€™s Department of English, Barringer is giving over the keys of Yaleâ€™s famous art survey course to the identity vandals. According to the Yale Daily News, instead of one class that will tell the story of art from â€˜Renaissance to the Presentâ€™, new courses will, Barringer says, be devised to consider art in relation to a five-step history lesson, â€˜questions of gender, class and raceâ€™, with further discussion of artâ€™s â€˜involvement with Western capitalismâ€™. Of course, â€˜climate changeâ€™ will also be a â€˜key themeâ€™.
Art doesnâ€™t fare well in revolutionary times. Likewise, revolutionary sentiments are often revealed in the treatment of art. If only Professor Barringer had looked more carefully at another five-step history lesson, Thomas Coleâ€™s â€˜Course of Empireâ€™ tableau (1833-36), he might have seen how civilizations burn down from decadence as well as assault.
That whirring sound you hear in the background is grand old Yale Art History professors, men like Sumner Crosby who taught the Gothic Cathedral course and Charles Seymour who taught the Italian Renaissance Art course, who fished for salmon together every summer on the Upsalquitch, spinning in their graves at 78 RPM.
17 Sep 2019
Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio announce the abolition of the NYC elite high school entrance exam.
George Packer (Y ’82)‘s poignant essay, in the Atlantic, on haute bourgeois parenting Manhattan-style is simply chock-full of information on the parental aspirations, obsessions, and the heads full of liberal nonsense of the new Upper Class.
The oblivious Packer delivers an appalling look at the world the douchebag elite left of my own generation has made. The characteristic combination of status-hunger, sanctimony, and stupidity of the new Woke Elite leads directly to the totalitarian egalitarian denouement that leaves Packer depressed, conflicted, and confused. What is a pious bourgeois bohemian to do when his children’s future status and the fanatical egalitarianism of the radical left come into conflict?
People of Packer’s ilk inhabit a very insular thought world, entirely molded by fashion, the elite media, and elite Academia. They are intensely competitive and ambitious, driven by their need to have, and to be, the best. They have to attend the best schools, have the best careers, raise the most successful children, eat the best dinner at the best restaurant, all the while having the best values and faithfully taking the most politically correct positions. They have no clue concerning their own provinciality and their own spectacular combination of naÃ¯vetÃ© and arrogance.
They lead lives of constant struggle and desperation, but they think there could be nothing worse than not being members in good standing of their own type and class.
When parents on the fortunate ledge of this chasm gaze down, vertigo stuns them. Far below they see a dim world of processed food, obesity, divorce, addiction, online-education scams, stagnant wages, outsourcing, rising morbidity ratesâ€”and they pledge to do whatever they can to keep their children from falling. Theyâ€™ll stay married, cook organic family meals, read aloud at bedtime every night, take out a crushing mortgage on a house in a highly rated school district, pay for music teachers and test-prep tutors, and donate repeatedly to overendowed alumni funds. The battle to get their children a place near the front of the line begins before conception and continues well into their kidsâ€™ adult lives. At the root of all this is inequalityâ€”and inequality produces a host of morbid symptoms, including a frantic scramble for status among members of a professional class whose most prized acquisition is not a Mercedes plug-in hybrid SUV or a family safari to Maasai Mara but an acceptance letter from a university with a topâ€‘10 U.S. News & World Report ranking. …
â€œIf you fail a math test you fail seventh grade,â€ our daughter said one night at dinner, looking years ahead. â€œIf you fail seventh grade you fail middle school, if you fail middle school you fail high school, if you fail high school you fail college, if you fail college you fail life.â€
Personally, I’d rather be a free American living in the worst shit-hole in Appalachia with normal ordinary American Trump-voters for neighbors than be a brainwashed zombie living among the kind of nincompoops that would elect Bill de Blasio.
21 May 2019
We have given in to mundane, socially acceptable evil that we now accept as good, and that starts with individualism/equality, which is the backdoor into the human psyche. All of the stuff that the far-Right detests â€” diversity, decay in behavior, shattering of the family, international finance, Idiocracy, mass/pop culture, ethnic crime â€” has its origins in equality or being used to justify equality as a workable program. We target the root, where everyone else is swatting at flies and missing the big point. …
The core of politics for me is realizing that most people mean well, but do not understand how their actions translate to reality. They see a thing, want that thing, and desire that some all-powerful force will make it so, but that is religious thinking, not leadership. Democracy means that whoever sells the most pleasurable lie wins, and as a result society has drifted Leftward. At the close of the twentieth century, however, it had become clear that the liberal West was dying just as the Communist East had done.”
Successful civilizations lead to weak populations. Weak populations know they are inferior. They know this instinctively. They have no purpose for existing. They donâ€™t articulate this directly. They act it out indirectly by throwing themselves into acts of symbolic importance because they are not capable of acts of importance.
10 Mar 2019
Kierkegaard Monument, Copenhagen
Jacob Howland informs us that Kierkegaard long ago foresaw the damage to civilization and the human destruction that would be caused by ideologies of tyrannical equality.
SÃ¸ren Kierkegaard considered the primary human good to be individual freedom: the freedom to judge for oneself, to speak and act for oneself, and to come to be oneself in the fullness of oneâ€™s concrete particularity. â€œThe good cannot be defined at all,â€ he wrote in The Concept of Anxiety (1844). â€œThe good is freedom. The difference between good and evil is only for freedom and in freedom, and this difference is never in abstracto but only in concreto.â€ The goodness of the natural world resides in the harmonious abundance of existing beingsâ€”this improbable lily, that joyful birdâ€”each of which earnestly inhabits no more or less than its allotted place and time, spontaneously expressing, within these limits, its own rich particularity. The goodness and meaning of human life similarly consists in the irreducible particularity of individuals and communitiesâ€”families, congregations, nationsâ€”that arise in freedom and are sustained by freedom.
As early as the 1840s, however, Kierkegaard warned that late modernity is animated by a crushing spirit of abstraction that poses the gravest threat to the human good. The Hegelian philosophy that dominated the ageâ€™s intellectual culture, he observed in Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1846), was of no use to actually existing human beings; it spoke absurdly â€œof speculation as if this were a man or as if a man were speculation,â€ and would perhaps someday find its â€œtrue readersâ€ among â€œinhabitants of the moon.â€ But such philosophical lunacy was the least of the matter. Long before the revolutionary followers of Marx and Engels brought Hegelâ€™s systematic science down from the heavens and settled it in the cities of men in a malignantly inhuman formâ€”the reductive ideology of dialectical materialismâ€”Kierkegaard prophesied the inevitable destruction of individual character and passion through an inherently reflective social process of â€œleveling.â€ The present age, he wrote in Two Ages (1846), is democratically â€œoriented to equalityâ€ and marked not by â€œthe happy infatuation of admiration but the unhappy infatuation of envy,â€ a â€œcensoriousâ€ passion that wants to â€œstifleâ€ and â€œdegradeâ€ individual excellence rather than to emulate it. A constant bane of human existence, envy is particularly destructive in the present age because â€œthe abstraction of leveling is related to a higher negativity: pure humanity.â€ Late-modern leveling, Kierkegaard predicted, would destroy all organic structures that mediate between living individuals and the bloodless abstraction of humanity as such. Nothingâ€”no person, institution, or even â€œnational individualityâ€â€”will be able to halt what he calls the â€œspontaneous combustion of the human race.â€
15 Jul 2018
In Hedgehog Review, Matthew B. Crawford explains precisely why “Diversity” is essential to the contemporary meritocratic Haute Bourgeois community of fashion.
[B]ourgeois society is fundamentally competitive. One has to enact oneâ€™s social value anew each day. …
The competition inherent in bourgeois society is responsible for its unprecedented ability to create wealth. But there is a problem. Furet writes that â€œthe idea of the universality and equality of man, which [bourgeois society] claims as its foundation and is its primary innovation, is constantly negated by the inequality of property and wealth produced by the competition of its members. Its development belies its principle, and its dynamic undercuts its legitimacy. The bourgeoisie did not invent the division of society into classes, but by cloaking that division in an ideology that renders it illegitimate, they tinged it with suffering.â€
The suffering is not confined to those who find themselves on the bottom. Furet is especially perceptive on the psychological effect of this contradiction on those who rise to the top: a kind of bourgeois self-hatred. He suggests that this sentiment is the secret source of the revolutionary passion (and in milder form, we might add, of liberal guilt).
The ongoing ferment on campus reveals the university as the site where the paradox of bourgeois society is most acute. As gatekeeper to the upper middle class, the elite university has as its primary social function the sorting of the population. (And it seeks rents commensurate with occupying such a choice position.) It detects existing inequalities, exacerbates them, and certifies them. And whatever else it does, it serves as a finishing school where the select learn to recognize one another, forging a class consciousness that has lately hardened into a de facto caste system. But for that very reason, by the logic Furet identifies, it is also the place where the sentiment that every inequality is illegitimate must be performed most strenuously.
In times of broadly shared upward mobility, this contradiction was perhaps less keenly felt. But for reasons that are only now coming to be broadly understood, once the Cold War ended, the economy increasingly took on the shape of a winner-take-all competition. The self-applied, legitimizing balm of campus progressivism became more necessary than ever.
But simply becoming more noisy about equality wouldnâ€™t do the trick. Some conceptual innovation was needed, one that would shift the terms in such a way as to ease the contradiction. Enter â€œdiversity.â€
This concept claims descent from a lineage of shining democratic moments in the struggle for equal rights that we rightly celebrate: John Lockeâ€™s A Letter Concerning Toleration, Martin Luther Kingâ€™s â€œLetter from Birmingham Jail,â€ the statesmanship by which Nelson Mandela averted civil war in South Africa. But the family resemblance turns out to be superficial when one grasps the function â€œdiversityâ€ serves as a principle of administration in todayâ€™s political economy.
As Michael Lind has written, â€œNeoliberalismâ€”the hegemonic ideology of the transatlantic eliteâ€”pretends that class has disappeared in societies that are purely meritocratic, with the exception of barriers to individual upward mobility that still exist because of racism, misogyny, and homophobia.â€ Marking out the corresponding classes of persons for special solicitude is thus key to sustaining the democratic legitimacy of our major institutions. Or, rather, the point is to shift the basis of that legitimacy away from democratic considerations toward â€œmoralâ€ ones. These have the advantage that they can be managed through the control of language, which has become a central feature of institutional life.
The concept of diversity first germinated in the corporate world, and was quickly seized upon by academia in the 1990s. It arrived just in the nick of time. The previous two decades had seen the traditional mission of the university undermined, if not abandoned, under pressure from a highly politicized turn in the humanities that made its case in epistemic terms, essentially debunking the very idea of knowledge. The role that the upper-tier university soon discovered for itself, upon the collapse of ideals of liberal learning, was no longer that of training citizens for humane self-government, but rather that of supplying a cadre to staff the corporations, the NGOs, and the foundations. That is, the main function of elite schools is to supply the personnel required to run things in an economy that has become more managerial than entrepreneurial.
The institutional desideratumâ€”the political antipode to hated â€œprivilegeâ€â€”is no longer equality, but diversity. This greatly eases the contradiction Furet identified, shielding the system from democratic pressure. It also protects the self-conception of our meritocrats as agents of historical progress. As was the case with the Soviet nomenklatura, and the leading Jacobins as well, it is precisely our elite that searches out instances of lingering privilege, now understood as obstacles to fulfillment of the moral imperative of diversity. Under this dispensation, the figure of the â€œstraight white maleâ€ (abstracted from class distinctions) has been made to do a lot of symbolic work, the heavy lifting of legitimation (in his own hapless way, as sacrificial goat). We eventually reached a point where this was more weight than our electoral system could take, as the election of 2016 revealed. Whether one regards that event as a catastrophe or as a rupture that promises the possibility of glasnost, its immediate effect has been panic in every precinct where the new class accommodations have been functioning smoothly, and a doubling down on the moralizing that previously secured them against popular anger. Weâ€™ll see how that goes.
The term shibboleth is interesting. Its definitions include â€œa peculiarity of pronunciation, behavior, mode of dress, etc., that distinguishes a particular class or set of personsâ€ and â€œa common saying or belief with little current meaning or truth.â€ It is a random Hebrew word that acquired its present meaning when it was used by the Gileadites as a test to identify members of an enemy tribe, the Ephraimites, as they attempted to flee across the Jordan River. Ephraimites could not pronounce the sound sh (Judges 12:4â€“6). I think it is fair to say that oneâ€™s ability to pronounce the word diversity with a straight face, indeed with sincerity made scrupulously evident, serves as a shibboleth in this original sense. It answers the question of whether one wants to continue as a member in good standing of those institutions that secure oneâ€™s position in the upper middle class.
22 Jun 2018
Campus Reform shares the latest breakthrough in thought from today’s Academy.
In a chapter for a new textbook, University of Exeter professor Paul Ernest warns that mathematics education can cause “collateral damage” to society by training students in “ethics-free thought.”
He even argues that since money involves mathematics, math is “implicated in the global disparities of wealth” because math students are taught to value “detached” and “calculative” reasoning.
03 May 2018
Ju/â€™hoansi Bushmen of the Kalahari, from the viewpoint of the Left: “the most successful society in human history.” Too bad for Athens, Rome, and Renaissance Italy!
Equality is the unquestionable, unexaminable Sumuum Bonum and absolute endpoint goal for the contemporary Left. James Suzman, in an essay in Aeon, lauds the “fierce egalitarianism” of the Stone Age Hunter-Gatherer Ju/â€™hoansi Bushmen, and identifies the key principle that makes their society what it is: Envy!
[R]esearch conducted among the Ju/â€™hoansi in the 1950s and â€™60s when they could still hunt and gather freely turned established views of social evolution on their head. Up until then, it was widely believed that hunter-gatherers endured a near-constant battle against starvation, and that it was only with the advent of agriculture that we began to free ourselves from the capricious tyranny of nature. When in 1964 a young Canadian anthropologist, Richard Borshay Lee, conducted a series of simple economic input/output analyses of the Ju/â€™hoansi as they went about their daily lives, he revealed that not only did they make a good living from hunting and gathering, but that they were also well-nourished and content. Most remarkably, his research revealed that the Ju/â€™hoansi managed this on the basis of little more than 15 hoursâ€™ work per week. On the strength of this finding, the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins in Stone Age Economics (1972) renamed hunter-gatherers â€˜the original affluent societyâ€™.
If a society is judged by its endurance, then this was the most successful society in human history
This research also revealed that the Ju/â€™hoansi were able to make a good living from a sparse environment because they cared little for private property and, above all, were â€˜fiercely egalitarianâ€™, as Lee put it. It showed that the Ju/â€™hoansi had no formalised leadership institutions, no formal hierarchies; men and women enjoyed equal decision-making powers; children played largely noncompetitive games in mixed age groups; and the elderly, while treated with great affection, were not afforded any special status or privileges. This research also demonstrated how the Ju/â€™hoansiâ€™s â€˜fierce egalitarianismâ€™ underwrote their affluence. For it was their egalitarianism that ensured that no-one bothered accumulating wealth and simultaneously enabled limited resources to flow organically through communities, helping to ensure that even in times of episodic scarcity everyone got more or less enough.
There is no question that this dynamic was very effective. If a society is judged by its endurance over time, then this was almost certainly the most successful society in human history â€“ and by a considerable margin. New genomic analyses suggest that the Ju/â€™hoansi and their ancestors lived continuously in southern Africa from soon after modern H sapiens settled there, most likely around 200,000 years ago. Recent archaeological finds across southern Africa also indicate that key elements of the Ju/â€™hoansiâ€™s material culture extend back at least 70,000 years and possibly long before. As importantly, genome mutation-rate analyses suggest that the broader population group from which the Ju/â€™hoansi descended, the Khoisan, were not only the largest population of H sapiens, but also did not suffer population declines to the same extent as other populations over the past 100,000 years.
Taken in tandem with the fact that other well-documented hunting and gathering societies, from the Mbendjele BaYaka of Congo to the Agta in the Philippines (whose most recent common ancestor with the Ju/â€™hoansi was around 150,000 years ago), were similarly egalitarian, this suggests that the Ju/â€™hoansiâ€™s direct ancestors were almost certainly â€˜fiercely egalitarianâ€™ too.
Ju/â€™hoansi egalitarianism was not born of the ideological dogmatism that we associate with 20th-century Marxism or the starry-eyed idealism of New Age â€˜communalismâ€™. There was no manifesto of â€˜primitive communismâ€™. Rather, it was the organic outcome of interactions between people acting explicitly in their own self-interest in a highly individualistic society. This was because, among foraging Ju/â€™hoansi, self-interest was always policed by its shadow, envy â€“ which, in turn, ensured that everyone always got a fair share, and that those with the natural charisma and authority to â€˜leadâ€™ exercised it with great circumspection. This was best exemplified in the customary â€˜insultingâ€™ of the hunterâ€™s meat.
Skilled Ju/â€™hoansi hunters needed a thick skin. For while a particularly spectacular kill was always cause for celebration, the hunter responsible was insulted rather than flattered. Regardless of the size or condition of the carcass, those due a share of the meat would complain that the kill was trifling, that it was barely worth the effort of carrying it back to camp, or that there wouldnâ€™t be enough meat to go round. For his part, the hunter was expected to be almost apologetic when he presented the carcass.
Of course, everyone knew the difference between a scrawny kill and a good one but continued to pass insults even while they were busy filling their bellies. Hunters rarely took the insults to heart, and those dishing them out often did so through broad grins. This was a performance in which everyone played well-rehearsed roles. But it was also a performance with a clear purpose, as beneath the light-hearted insults lay a sharp and potentially vicious edge.
More than any other food, meat was capable of making the Ju/â€™hoansi forget their customary good manners, so it required extra diligence in distribution. It also meant that there was a risk that particularly skilled and energetic hunters might begin to consider others to be in their debt, so fracturing the delicate egalitarian balance that sustained band (or small kin-group) life. The insults ensured that individual hunters took care not to be so successful that they stood out or, worse still, began to imagine themselves to be more important than others.
There you have the essence of what Leftism stands for and has to offer: Envy and Stone Age equality.
05 Apr 2018
Brett Stevens points out that, in an Age of Leftism, everyone wants to be a victim.
It is amazing how many people will approve of a concept that â€œsounds goodâ€ without understanding what it means. Take, for example, the term â€œequality.â€
On the surface, equality sounds like this: treat everyone the same regardless of their background, or in other words, be fair. People think that is all that it means, but forget that life does not happen in a single step, but in cycles.
Here is the equality cycle: when we declare equality, we are setting ourselves up for failure if results are unequal despite fair treatment. For that reason, we give the people who are not succeeding a little nudge, hoping it will make them rise at least to the middle.
If we do not do that, then unequal results make us question the term â€œequalityâ€ at all. When people talk about inequality in wages despite different rates of individual productivity, they are caught in this stage. Results did not match expectations, and so people seek to inject subsidies in the mix.
These subsidies can be as simple as giving the poor kid more leeway in grading his papers at school, as moderate as social services which are free but mostly used by lower-income people, or as extreme as taxing the upper half of society to subsidize the lower half. Yet they always seem to drift toward that level.
In that, we see the feedback loop: each time results do not match the theory, we tip the scales a bit, but that does not work either. We tip the scales more in consequence, and then begin the cycle again. It never ends until something like full Communism comes around the bend, and then everyone is finally equal in theory.
For those caught in the middle of these loops, only one solution presents itself: be a victim.
We know that â€œequalityâ€ invariably and inevitably becomes a pathology of taking from the strong to give to the weak, so the only safety is in finding some way to be weak. You can be a minority, gay, disabled, abused, addicted, ill or mentally ill, or even just depressed, but you need something or the mob of the weak will come for you.
Thus we create a culture of entitlement and victimhood where the victims are entitled and therefore being a victim is valuable if for nothing else in fending off the demands of others who want subsidies with what you have.
11 Mar 2018
From Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Chapter XIII:
When all the privileges of birth and fortune are abolished, when all professions are accessible to all, and a man’s own energies may place him at the top of any one of them, an easy and unbounded career seems open to his ambition and he will readily persuade himself that he is born to no common destinies. But this is an erroneous notion, which is corrected by daily experience. The same equality that allows every citizen to conceive these lofty hopes renders all the citizens less able to realize them; it circumscribes their powers on every side, while it gives freer scope to their desires. Not only are they themselves powerless, but they are met at every step by immense obstacles, which they did not at first perceive. They have swept away the privileges of some of their fellow creatures which stood in their way, but they have opened the door to universal competition; the barrier has changed its shape rather than its position. When men are nearly alike and all follow the same track, it is very difficult for any one individual to walk quickly and cleave a way through the dense throng that surrounds and presses on him. This constant strife between the inclination springing from the equality of condition and the means it supplies to satisfy them harasses and wearies the mind.
It is possible to conceive of men arrived at a degree of freedom that should completely content them; they would then enjoy their independence without anxiety and without impatience. But men will never establish any equality with which they can be contented. Whatever efforts a people may make, they will never succeed in reducing all the conditions of society to a perfect level; and even if they unhappily attained that absolute and complete equality of position, the inequality of minds would still remain, which, coming directly from the hand of God, will forever escape the laws of man. However democratic, then, the social state and the political constitution of a people may be, it is certain that every member of the community will always find out several points about him which overlook his own position; and we may foresee that his looks will be doggedly fixed in that direction. When inequality of conditions is the common law of society, the most marked inequalities do not strike the eye; when everything is nearly on the same level, the slightest are marked enough to hurt it. Hence the desire of equality always becomes more insatiable in proportion as equality is more complete.
Among democratic nations, men easily attain a certain equality of condition, but they can never attain as much as they desire. It perpetually retires from before them, yet without hiding itself from their sight, and in retiring draws them on. At every moment they think they are about to grasp it; it escapes at every moment from their hold. They are near enough to see its charms, but too far off to enjoy them; and before they have fully tasted its delights, they die.
To these causes must be attributed that strange melancholy which often haunts the inhabitants of democratic countries in the midst of their abundance, and that disgust at life which sometimes seizes upon them in the midst of calm and easy circumstances. Complaints are made in France that the number of suicides increases; in America suicide is rare, but insanity is said to be more common there than anywhere else. These are all different symptoms of the same disease. The Americans do not put an end to their lives, however disquieted they may be, because their religion forbids it; and among them materialism may be said hardly to exist, notwithstanding the general passion for physical gratification. The will resists, but reason frequently gives way.
HT: The Barrister.
30 Jan 2018
Christopher Michael Langin explains why conventional American education short changes the genuinely smart.
Owing to the shape of a bell curve, the education system is geared to the mean. Unfortunately, that kind of education is virtually calculated to bore and alienate gifted minds. But instead of making exceptions where it would do the most good, the educational bureaucracy often prefers not to be bothered.
In my case, for example, much of the schooling to which I was subjected was probably worse than nothing. It consisted not of real education, but of repetition and oppressive socialization (entirely superfluous given the dose of oppression I was getting away from school). Had I been left alone, preferably with access to a good library and a minimal amount of high-quality instruction, I would at least have been free to learn without useless distractions and gratuitous indoctrination. But alas, no such luck.
While my own background is rather exceptional, it is far from unique. Many young people are affected by one or more of the same general problems experienced by my brothers and me. A rising number of families have severe financial problems, forcing educational concerns to take a back seat to food, shelter, and clothing on the list of priorities. Even in well-off families, children can be starved of parental guidance due to stress, distraction, or irresponsibility. If a mind is truly a terrible thing to waste, then the waste is proportional to mental potential; one might therefore expect that the education system would be quick to help extremely bright youngsters who have it rough at home. But if so, one would be wrong a good part of the time.
Letâ€™s try to break the problem down a bit. The education system is subject to a psychometric paradox: on one hand, it relies by necessity on the standardized testing of intellectual achievement and potential, including general intelligence or IQ, while on the other hand, it is committed to a warm and fuzzy but scientifically counterfactual form of egalitarianism which attributes all intellectual differences to environmental factors rather than biology, implying that the so-called â€œgiftedâ€ are just pampered brats who, unless their parents can afford private schooling, should atone for their undeserved good fortune by staying behind and enriching the classroom environments of less privileged students.
HT: Vox Day.
29 Jul 2017
Marines at Khe Sanh.
Captain Katie Petronio, in the July 2012 Marine Corps Gazette, went on the record opposing the opening of the Infantry Officers Course (IOC) to women. Her comments seem particularly applicable in the aftermath of the president’s announcement of a ban on transgenders serving in the military.
I would ask everyone to step back and ask themselves, does this integration solely benefit the individual or the Marine Corps as a whole, as every leaderâ€™s focus should be on the needs of the institution and the Nation, not the individual?
Which leads one to really wonder, what is the benefit of this potential change? The Marine Corps is not in a shortage of willing and capable young male second lieutenants who would gladly take on the role of infantry officers. In fact we have men fighting to be assigned to the coveted position of 0302. In 2011, 30 percent of graduating TBS lieutenants listed infantry in their top three requested MOSs. Of those 30 percent, only 47 percent were given the MOS. On the other hand, perhaps this integration is an effort to remove the glass ceiling that some observers feel exists for women when it comes to promotions to general officer ranks. Opening combat arms MOSs, particularly the infantry, such observers argue, allows women to gain the necessary exposure of leading Marines in combat, which will then arguably increase the chances for female Marines serving in strategic leadership assignments. As stated above, I have full faith that female Marines can successfully serve in just about every MOS aside from the infantry. Even if a female can meet the short-term physical, mental, and moral leadership requirements of an infantry officer, by the time that she is eligible to serve in a strategic leadership position, at the 20-year mark or beyond, there is a miniscule probability that sheâ€™ll be physically capable of serving at all. Again, it becomes a question of longevity. …
[W]hat are the Marine Corps standards, particularly physical fitness standards, based onâ€”performance and capability or equality? We abide by numerous discriminators, such as height and weight standards. As multiple Marine Corps Gazette articles have highlighted, Marines who can run first-class physical fitness tests and who have superior MOS proficiency are separated from the Service if they do not meet the Marine Corpsâ€™ height and weight standards. Further, tall Marines are restricted from flying specific platforms, and color blind Marines are faced with similar restrictions. We recognize differences in mental capabilities of Marines when we administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and use the results to eliminate/open specific fields. These standards are designed to ensure safety, quality, and the opportunity to be placed in a field in which one can sustain and succeed.
Which once again leads me, as a ground combat-experienced female Marine Corps officer, to ask, what are we trying to accomplish by attempting to fully integrate women into the infantry? For those who dictate policy, changing the current restrictions associated with women in the infantry may not seem significant to the way the Marine Corps operates. I vehemently disagree; this potential change will rock the foundation of our Corps for the worse and will weaken what has been since 1775 the worldâ€™s most lethal fighting force. In the end, for DACOWITS and any other individual or organization looking to increase opportunities for female Marines, I applaud your efforts and say thank you. However, for the long-term health of our female Marines, the Marine Corps, and U.S. national security, steer clear of the Marine infantry community when calling for more opportunities for females. Letâ€™s embrace our differences to further hone in on the Corpsâ€™ success instead of dismantling who we are to achieve a political agenda. Regardless of the outcome, we will be â€œSemper Fidelisâ€ and remain focused on our mission to protect and defend the United States of America.
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