Monday, June 25, 2012

French socialists trying to have it both ways

The new French socialist government is apparently committed to raising the highest income tax level to 75%. That led the British PM, David Cameron, to offer the UK as a home to wealthy French tax refugees:
"When France sets a 75 percent top income tax rate we will roll out the red carpet, and we will welcome more French businesses which will pay their taxes in Britain," he said.

What was the response of the French socialists? It was to rely on the patriotism of French businessmen to stay put in high taxing France:
France's Socialist government said Tuesday it was confident that patriotic business leaders would not flee the country over tax hikes, after Britain's prime minister offered to "roll out the red carpet".

"What I can answer to this statement from the British prime minister is that there are French bosses who are patriots, and there is a range of measures we will take in favour of business, measures that will support investment and encourage business to stay in France," European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Canal Plus television.

The French socialists are committed to dissolving France through open borders and an EU superstate, but then they make an appeal to patriotism to keep people paying a 75% tax rate.

You really have to wonder at what goes through the minds of these people. They want to erase national loyalties whilst still relying on people staying loyal to the nation.

Fierce women

The Gatorade company has an interesting take on female athletes, presenting them in strikingly mannish imagery in its advertising.

Maybe the message is that if women can become this mannish by drinking Gatorade imagine what it would do for men.

Or maybe that kind of ruthless competitiveness is just the logical end point of competitive professional sport. If so, it doesn't seem to sit well with the aim of developing the lovelier qualities of womanhood.

Pay gap is now running the other way?

The latest news on the "pay gap" is this:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single women between 22 and 30 years old earn an average of $27,000 a year.

That's 8% more than comparable men.

What was the media response to the existence of this pay gap? Was it condemned? Was there a gnashing of the teeth at the inequity and social injustice of it all?

No, it was presented as being an inevitable result of young women's efforts and ambitions:
Genesis Hernandez is studying English and culinary arts at Miami-Dade College.

She isn't surprised to hear single women in their 20s are earning more than young men.

"A woman has more motivation to study, to get a degree, to be somebody," Hernandez said. "For me it's really important to get a degree."

Education is key. Both Time Magazine and USA Today say more women go to college than men. Once there, women are more likely to graduate or earn advanced degrees.

"I do believe that," 28-year-old Jorge Oquendo said. "I have two sisters. Both of them are going to college. A lot of girls actually go to college and stay in college."

Model Amber Lawson wasn't expecting to hear women are starting to make more.

"That's good to hear women are getting their head on their shoulders," Lawson said. "I would think it would be about the same, but I guess men kind of go with the flow."

But what happens when men don't just "go with the flow" but get more motivated? What happens when men start to take on family responsibilities and settle into a stronger work ethic? At that point in time, men start to earn more than women, many of whom are downscaling their work commitments.

But when men in their 30s and 40s start to earn more, do we get the media cheering them on for their strong work ethic? No, it gets presented as a great social injustice that has to be rectified by state intervention.

Once again, it's that problem that men are targeted as an oppressor group in liberal society and so their achievements are always pinned down to some kind of unfair advantage, to "sexism" or to "discrimination", whereas the achievements of women are always their own.

We shouldn't accept it or get defensive about it. If men end up working harder for longer, and therefore earning more money, we should present it as a positive aspect of what men do. If men end up earning a dollar for every 80 cents earned by women, then that should be thought of as a credit to the male work ethic.

Finally, it's a little sad that Genesis Hernandez believes that you have to get a degree "to be somebody". The human person is a lot more than a career.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Does the white privilege theory fit the facts?

The University of Minnesota-Duluth is sponsoring an ad campaign claiming that white people are successful because they are unfairly privileged.

It's no surprise that the ad campaign is running - the message is widely believed on the liberal left which dominates the universities both in America and elsewhere. But before I get into the theory, here is the ad:

There are also posters in which a white person's face is scribbled over with the message that:
You give me better jobs, better pay, better treatment, and a better chance - all because of the color of my skin.

Why would left-liberals push this message? Liberals in general think of individual autonomy as an overriding good. This means that people are supposed to be self-determining, which then means that our race, which is predetermined, must be made not to matter. In particular, race is not supposed to affect our life choices or our life outcomes.

But it does. Statistically, on a range of social indicators, blacks in the U.S. come out worst and Hispanics come out next worst. So liberals have to account for why race still matters.

Right-liberals usually opt for the idea that society is gradually progressing toward the desired liberal outcomes. Society is becoming ever more enlightened and continuing education and prosperity will eventually do the trick and create a truly race blind society.

Left-liberals have their own explanation. They believe that inequality arises when one group of people create a false category (e.g. "whiteness") in order to "other" and then oppress and exploit everyone else. In this view, whiteness is a social construct in which one group of people gain an unearned privilege at the expense of everyone else.

This left-liberal theory makes whites exceptional. Whites become the one group who need to be deconstructed and whose success can be put down to unearned privilege rather than to effort and talent.

The argument against whiteness studies

One argument against whiteness studies is simply this: that it is generated by a political ideology rather than by a disinterested examination of the facts.

But even if we disregard the ideological origins of the theory, there are still some compelling arguments against it.

The first I have made several times before. Whilst it is true that blacks and Hispanics do worst on a range of social indicators, it's not true that whites do best. It is Asian Americans, not white Americans, who on average have higher incomes, better access to the professions, and better educational and family outcomes.

This is not what the theory predicts. If society is set up to benefit whites at the expense of everyone else, then why would Asian Americans so rapidly rise to the top?

Here is some of the data:
a) Asians are the most highly educated group of Americans, with more than half with a bachelor’s degrees or higher.

b) Asian Americans, though only 4 percent of the nation's population, account for nearly 20 percent of all medical students. Forty-five percent of Berkeley's freshman class, but only 12 percent of California's populace, consists of Asian-Americans. And at UT-Austin, 18 percent of the freshman class is Asian American, compared to 3 percent for the state.

c) An Asian American male with the same level of experience and education as a white American male receives a 4% bonus in earnings - for women the gap rises to 17%. If mean earnings remain unadjusted for education and experience, then the discrepancy is even more pronounced: in 2000, native-born Asian American men recorded a 14% bonus in mean earnings compared to white American men, and the gap for women was 32%.

But here's something else to consider. If the theory of white privilege were correct then it ought to be evident in data showing economic growth across past centuries. In short, Europe, Africa and Asia ought to have had a similar standard of living until European colonisation began in earnest in about the 1550s. From that time onward, the data should show a gradual rise in the economic fortunes of the white colonial powers and a gradual fall in the economies of the Asian and African nations.

But that doesn't seem to be the case. Here is a chart showing GDP from the year 1 AD to 1800 AD:

The chart shows that African GDP hardly changed over the centuries; China's rose a little until the year 1500 and then stagnated, as did India's; Japan's rose very gradually; whilst Western Europe's GDP took off from about the year 1100 AD and kept rising.

That doesn't fit with what whiteness theory would predict. The Western economies began to rise a long time, in fact about 400 years, prior to any colonial contact with other races. So the economic success of the Western nations has to be attributed to something else. Nor did the rise of the West cause other parts of the world to decrease in GDP. Africa's GDP hardly budged from the $400 per capita over the entire period, regardless of what the European powers were doing.

It's true that China and India's economies stagnated from about the year 1500, but it's difficult to link this to European colonialism as most areas of China and India weren't subject to colonisation until a long time after the year 1500 as these maps indicate:

A) Colonisation 1550

B) Colonisation 1660

C) Colonisation 1754

D) Colonisation 1822

Here are some conclusions that can be drawn from these maps:

a) China wasn't subject to colonisation prior to 1822. To my knowledge, China kept out the West up to this time, apart from a guarded compound of merchants in the city of Canton. So the stagnation of the Chinese economy doesn't seem to be due to what white people were doing.

b) There were some Portuguese trading posts established in India by the 1550s, but they are so small they're difficult to see on the map. By the 1660s the European powers were active in the coastal areas, but even so this doesn't really match the fact that Indian economic stagnation began much earlier, by the year 1500.

c) You can see too that two of the main colonial powers were not even Western European. Russia expanded greatly to the east during this time, whilst the Turks had large colonial possessions both in Europe and Africa.

d) Even in 1822 the British colonies weren't as extensive as might be thought. Yes, parts of Australia are coloured red but in 1822 Australia was barely settled by Europeans and was not well developed economically. The same would be true of New Zealand. It's not really until very late in the 1800s that the expansion of a territorial empire starts to look more impressive on a map - and that was after the real take-off of the British economy, not before it.

What happened after 1800? Instead of a gradual rise in the economies of the colonial powers and a gradual fall in those of Asia and Africa, as the whiteness studies theory would predict, we get something very different:

What you're looking at is the effect of the Industrial Revolution. That is what really shot up GDP per capita in Western Europe and the U.S. - rather than some sort of white colonial "othering".

So let me summarise: Western European GDP per capita did rise gradually for a long time - but this rise predates any contact with non-Europeans by a period of 400 years. So it can't be attributed to the "invention of whiteness". Second, a big increase in GDP happened quite suddenly at the very time the Industrial Revolution was taking place. So this was a matter of industrial organisation and technique taking place in England and elsewhere, rather than a transfer of wealth from non-whites to whites.

Finally, I'd like to give some publicity to a group called Campus Reform which has criticised the University of Minnesota-Duluth campaign against white students. It's refreshing that there is some kind of organised opposition to what is happening.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Stand up to Sutherland

I think we all know that there has been a deliberate attempt to undermine the ethnic homogeneity of Western countries. Now a United Nations official has come out and openly advocated this as a policy:
The EU should "do its best to undermine" the "homogeneity" of its member states, the UN's special representative for migration has said.

Peter Sutherland told peers the future prosperity of many EU states depended on them becoming multicultural.

He also suggested the UK government's immigration policy had no basis in international law.

He was being quizzed by the Lords EU home affairs sub-committee which is investigating global migration.

Who is Peter Sutherland? He is an Irishman linked to big business:
Mr Sutherland, who is non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a former chairman of oil giant BP, heads the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which brings together representatives of 160 nations to share policy ideas.

He told the House of Lords committee migration was a "crucial dynamic for economic growth" in some EU nations "however difficult it may be to explain this to the citizens of those states".

Peter Sutherland puts forward two arguments for breaking down homogeneity in Western nations. The first is that it's necessary for prosperity, but the second is that it's a matter of individual freedom:
"at the most basic level individuals should have a freedom of choice" about whether to come and study or work in another country.

What are we to make of all this? First, I think the argument that you have to have open borders to do well economically isn't really what's behind the push to break down ethnic homogeneity.

A clue that Peter Sutherland isn't really motivated by "prosperity" arguments is that he advocates that Europe accept anyone who wants to work or study there rather than targeting those with skills. If I expand the quote I gave above it reads:
Mr Sutherland ... called on EU states to stop targeting "highly skilled" migrants, arguing that "at the most basic level individuals should have a freedom of choice" about whether to come and study or work in another country.

If that were put into effect then the European taxpayer would just end up footing a much larger welfare bill. One of the wikileaks revelations, for instance, was that 24% of Muslim men and 21% of Muslim women in the UK are living off disability pensions. Imagine if the Sutherland policy were put into effect and anyone could move to the UK. How would the massive pensions bill be paid for?

What Mr Sutherland also ignores is that if there is no longer an ethnic loyalty and identity in a nation, then there is less to keep the best and brightest of the native population there. In other words, let's say Mr Sutherland got his way and in 50 years' time there was no longer a sense of ethnic English solidarity in England. Why then would a productive Englishman choose to remain in England? He might instead go to wherever the weather was nicest, or the pay was highest, or the cost of living lowest.

So if radically open borders make no sense in terms of prosperity, then why push for them? Perhaps it's a case of multinational big business chafing against any types of restrictions on its operations. Perhaps those who see themselves as international movers and shakers see the more closed loyalties of the nation state as limiting the control of a globalist bureaucracy. Perhaps too it's the enduring influence of a right liberal ideology in which what is thought to matter is a self-determining life and so it's thought to be immoral for something predetermined, like ethnicity, to influence where we might choose as individuals to live or to work.

The Peter Sutherlands of the world need to be resisted. Imagine if he got his way and everyone in the world had the right to move to England. It would, over time, drive down the quality of life in England until the point was reached that it was no longer such an attractive place to live in, and it would make those living in England rootless - disconnected from a particular culture and tradition.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Shakespeare's lutenist

Here's a simple performance of a song written in 1616 which showcases the beauty of the female voice wonderfully well.

It's by Robert Johnson, who composed the original music for Shakespeare's plays (this song was written for a play by Ben Jonson). The lyrics (it's a love song) run as follows:
Have you seen but a white lily grow
Before rude hands have touched it?
Have you marked but the fall of snow
Before the earth hath smutched it?
Have you felt the wool of beaver,
Or swan's down ever?
Or have smelt o' the bud o' the brier,
Or the nard in the fire?
Or have tasted the bag of the bee?
O so white, O so soft, O so sweet is she!
O so white, O so soft, O so sweet is she!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Here is a banner from the 2009 Pride parade in Stockholm. It was part of a float organised by Swedish anarchist feminists. The banner reads "We hate white rich straight men".

There's reason to take note of the slogan. It expresses openly a political idea that is widely held on the left. The idea is that the reason there is injustice in the world is that white, rich, straight men created society to be unjust in order to enjoy an unearned privilege over those that they "othered".

Most on the left don't conclude from the theory that white men should be hated. But many do conclude that the great moral cause is to oppose the white racism and the sexism which is thought to maintain white privilege and patriarchy. To be against white racism, in particular, is thought to be the great moral crusade of our times.

That has a number of negative consequences for ordinary whites. It means that any success that white people have is attributed to an unearned privilege rather than to hard work, or to family stability, or to stable community life. That's in contrast to the success that people of other races have, which is, in ordinary fashion, held to be a result of their efforts and talents.

It means too that it's difficult for whites to identify positively as whites. Most young white people are subjected at school and at university to a barrage of messages about white racism, and those who do attempt to identify positively as whites will often be assumed to be motivated by a desire to uphold "white supremacy". Again, whites are treated exceptionally in this regard - there is no similar pressure on, say, Australian Aborigines, to identify negatively as a people.

Finally, the theory that whites are to blame for social injustice means that few on the left are concerned about the future fate of historically white nations and peoples. First, the theory portrays whites as all powerful, so it's difficult for many on the left to recognise that whites might be vulnerable. Second, the aim of the theory is to bring whites down, so the focus is on how to disempower whites, rather than how to help them survive into the future.

Will the world enter into an era of social justice - of perfected freedom and equality - when there are no more rich, white, straight men around? That is what the leftist theory predicts - but given human nature it seems highly unlikely. Already it's the case in the U.S. that Asian Americans are on average wealthier, better educated and are over-represented in the professions compared to whites. As whites decline, it's likely that Asians in both the U.S. and Australia will come to dominate in these areas. So what, then, was the point of the decades long assault on the white majority?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Feminist wants to teach girls how to choose the right husband

If a feminist were to teach girls as part of the school curriculum how to choose the right husband, what qualities would they be advised to look for in a man?

Would it be character? Shared values? A commitment to marriage? A good role model for any future sons?

Well, now we know the answer. A reader sent me a link to a story about Helen Fraser who runs the Girls' Day School Trust in the UK:

Helen Fraser, 63, the chief executive of the Girls' Day School Trust, told its annual conference that girls should learn to be just as "ambitious" in their relationships as they are in their careers.

She said that female pupils must learn to find a man that not only helps around the home but would also be a "cheerleader" for their career.

The former managing director of Penguin Books said that girls can have it all - career, marriage and motherhood - but they must learn to pick the right partner to accomplish it.

She said that failure to do so could mean women not so much hitting the "glass ceiling" as being blocked by a "nappy wall" caused by having to make a decision between children and career.

"Just as I believe we should always encourage our girls to aspire to the best universities, I believe we should encourage our girls to be ambitious in their relationships," she said.

She said that she had been intrigued by comments made by the Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg’s that “The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry”.

"Is this what we should be making space for our girls to learn?" she suggested.

 Speaking at the GDST's 140th annual conference in London, she said: "It's not just about finding a husband who does the Hoovering and makes the dinner.

"It's about finding one who really understands it is important for you to thrive and do well in whatever you choose to do.

"They should be cheerleaders and take pride in their wife's career as they do in their own."

Here are some of the things that struck me about Helen Fraser's advice to girls:

1. We still have the attitude, one that was expressed so frequently back in the 1990s, that the role of men in life is to enable the autonomy of women. Men are there to prop up women doing well in "whatever you choose to do".

Not only is that a dubious proposition in itself, there is no mention of any reciprocal arrangement. There is nothing about a wife being a cheerleader for a man doing whatever he chooses to do.

It's not surprising that many of the comments following the story in the Telegraph complained of a culture of female entitlement.

2. Clearly for feminists like Helen Fraser the one big good in life is career. A woman's life is to be organised around career goals. Children are to be looked on as a possible threat to career - as a potential "nappy wall". Husbands are to be chosen on the basis of how they enhance a woman's career.

It strikes me as mercenary, though I have to recognise that there is a social class (the more ambitious professionals, e.g. lawyers, business majors etc) for whom career ambition is a central focus in life.

3. Can it work? Only in a haphazard way, in my opinion. Some men might be willing to marry a career ambitious woman because they want the social prestige brought by the income. And some ambitious men might like to see the same career ambition in their wives.

But a lot of men and women are influenced by hypergamy: the man wants to be the masculine provider and protector and the woman wants a man who she can, in some way, look up to. There are men, too, who would find a "career at all costs" attitude in a woman unappealing; other men will be looking for a woman with the kind of qualities and values which would make her prioritise being a good mother for their children.

And there will be men, faced with female peers they can't keep up with in the workplace, who will downscale their own work commitments. They might start thinking of working in more fun, creative fields rather than in steady, well-paid jobs. They might keep studying longer than they would otherwise have done. They might not stick at jobs for long periods of time.

So it's unlikely that Helen Fraser's view of the ideal family life - of two highly motivated careerists, with the husband playing the additional role of career helpmeet to his wife by taking over parts of the mothering role - will ever become the generally applicable one in society.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Children of the welfare state

There's a story in the Daily Mail about three black men in Tennessee who between them have fathered 78 children with 46 different women. The men do not financially support these children - the state steps in to do that job.

The state is propping up a culture of low investment fatherhood and single motherhood. Three men were able to find 46 women willing to bear their children without any commitment or expectation of involved fatherhood - that's a really significant change from the norms of the past.

And society will bear the burden not only financially, but when these fatherless children hit their teens and can no longer be controlled by their mothers. A fair proportion of these children will join the ranks of an underclass.

This response to the situation isn't exactly encouraging:
Attorney Warren Campbell told Action News 5 if a person does not pay child support, the state ends up paying and there is no legal way to stop people from having children.

There might not be ways to stop people from having children, but there are ways to remove incentives to out of wedlock births.

What if the parents of those 46 women were expected to contribute to the welfare bill? Wouldn't that encourage a culture which respected marriage a bit more? What if the women received a payment, but only on the condition of a certain number of work hours in return? Wouldn't that then increase the value to these young women of men who actually had a job?

It's not looking good when it's so easy for these men to find so many women to make into single mothers. Something has to change.

Why overstay?

The Immigration Department in Australia has done a study into those who remain in the country illegally:
Most respondents displayed a 'dig in and resist to the end' mentality (and) they had a strong sense of their personal entitlement to stay in Australia," the report said. "They believed the system was there to be exploited and no decision was seen to be final.

Bear in mind that the following quote comes from an official source:
The report said many of the surveyed asylum seekers were drug addicts and had mental health problems. They had a general attitude that the department lacked credibility and was "just trying to get rid of people". 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Liberal Rational Man versus Liberal Good Man

Here's another of those contradictions within liberalism.

When wearing his technocratic hat, liberal man likes to view the human person as being motivated by rational self-interest. And most frequently, especially among right-liberals, rational self-interest means the pursuit of money or career advancement in the market.

We saw this attitude in two of my recent articles, in which liberals envisaged their nations as being multicultural workplaces. The view of man that this assumes is the one I described above - that we are motivated as individuals to pursue a rational self-interest by seeking our best economic advantage at work.

But is this assumption justified? I don't think it is. I don't think that our work commitments are justified by rational self-interest. If I were following my own individual self-interest, then it would be irrational for me to spend 40 years working in an office from early morning to evening.

If men do commit to work it's mostly not out of self-interest, but from their larger commitments to family or country. They are motivated by particular loves which overrule individual self-interest.

That's one reason why I don't think the "nation as multicultural workplace" will succeed in the longer term - it is too dissolving of the particular commitments that motivate people to make sacrifices at work.

But if liberalism only offered the technocratic "rational self-interest" view of man, then its appeal would be more limited than it is. Liberalism also generates a different kind of view, one that commands us to identify with the other.

It seems to go like this. Liberals are pessimistic that there are objective moral standards that can be recognised by a society and they are fearful that a society which does recognise such moral standards will be authoritarian.

So liberals prefer not to recognise objective moral standards. But humans always have an idea of a moral good and of what represents a good person. So if the starting point is that there are no objective moral standards, and that we can only have our own personal, subjective moral views, then what matters is "non-interference" and "non-assertiveness". So the liberal moral goods become qualities like non-discrimination, respect, tolerance and accepting the other (which sets up a problem for liberals that over time there is a trend toward an intolerant enforcement of tolerance and a non-accepting enforcement of acceptance and an interfering enforcement of non-interference).

So if you want to prove you are a good person in a liberal society you do so by proving how much you identify with the other rather than with your own.

So there are two conflicting strands within liberalism: one strand assumes that we are Economic Man, motivated by a rational self-interest to pursue our profit in the market; the other strand assumes that the good person is the one who puts all self-identity aside to identify with the other.

What the two strands have in common is that both dissolve our particular loves and attachments - one wants us to transcend such particular attachments in favour of identifying with what is "other" to us; the other denies them in favour of a view of people as self-interested, individual actors in the market.

While we're on the topic of Sweden...

The Left Party in Sörmland in Sweden wants the County Council to provide only unisex toilets and, eventually, to forbid men from urinating while standing up (here and here).

It's being presented to the public as a health and hygiene issue, but in the past these kinds of policies have been justified as an attempt to break down the "gender binary" - the traditional notion that a person is born either man or woman.

I'm not going to dwell on this, but I do think it shows just where the Swedish left is at. They are so keen to break down sex distinctions that they want not only unisex toilets but androgynous bathroom habits as well.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sweden: the nation as a multicultural workplace

Here's some synchronicity for you. Yesterday I wrote a post in which I criticised Australian writer David Penberthy for viewing the nation as a multicultural workplace.

Today I looked at the Swedish news and a Swedish minister was setting forth his own view of the nation as a multicultural workplace.

Tobias Billström is quoted as saying that 'Every global citizen should work in Sweden'. The Local website then gives his speech as follows:
Sweden's efforts to liberalize rules governing labour migration are meant to ensure that working in Sweden becomes an obvious choice for every global citizen, argues migration minister Tobias Billström.

Continued openness to the outside world is critical to our future development. Mobility, both migration and international trade, promotes our economic growth.

It must also be noted that Sweden is a small country on the edge of Europe with a climate that isn't altogether welcoming for part of the year. Sweden has therefore taken a leading role in international migration. When others lower the barriers, we open more roads. In the global competition for labor, Sweden should be able to attract the people who move across borders.

Sweden didn't seem to do too badly economically when the Swedes took responsibility for their own development rather than outsourcing it to others. But that traditional way of doing things doesn't fit the liberal concept of what a nation is - that it's a kind of multicultural workplace.

And so the Swedes have gone to an extreme of open borders - they are allowing employers to set their immigration policy. Here is Billström again:
Following reforms enacted in 2008, the prerequisites are in place for meeting the needs of the Swedish labour market by now allowing employers to decide what skills are needed at the company.

There's no public authority as well suited as the employers themselves for assessing those needs and therefore there are no restrictive quotas or no requirements for a specific skill or education level.

No quotas. No requirements for skills or education. What Sweden looks like in the future will be decided by employers, not by the Swedish parliament.

Liberals are making life a very small thing. What is thought to matter is labour force participation - above and beyond that doesn't seem to register much in the minds of liberal technocrats. And the only community we are thought to belong to is a global one of wandering labour resources.

Can this really last? Are people really going to be satisfied with such a trivialised material view of what life is about? And can a society really hold together when there is no sense of a loyalty to nation that transcends economics?

There are some Swedes who don't accept Billström's trivialising, dissolving concept of nation. I don't know much about the Sweden Democrats, so I can't endorse everything about them, but they have a more traditional concept of the nation and their support is growing: recent opinion polls put them as the third most popular party in Sweden.

A picture of the leader of the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Åkesson:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Penberthy too far gone

David Penberthy has a column in today's Melbourne Herald Sun with the provocative title "What a sad lot the Brits have become".

It's 90% delusional. Penberthy wants us to believe that Britain has declined because it retains an Anglo identity whilst Australia has forged ahead because it dropped its Anglo identity in favour of a multicultural one.
Generally speaking we are proud of and recognise the contribution successive waves of migration have made to Australia.

The concerns which Pauline Hanson voiced only 16 years ago in her maiden speech - "I believe we are being swamped by Asians" - seem kind of hilarious given that through the good fortune of our geography we have an Asian enterprise culture at home, huge export markets and a rapidly growing middle class right on our doorstep.

As Britain continues to define itself desperately and defiantly through its Anglo monoculture, Australia has spent the past three decades becoming prouder of its diversity and more comfortable with its place in the world.

We are in the engine room of the world economy, with China and India to the north, Brazil and Chile to the east. Great Britain is stuck in once-great Europe, where bloated, incompetent governments threaten the world economic order.

Where to begin? First, Penberthy is clearly pushing here one of the liberal versions of national identity. He is claiming that Australia is superior in its national identity because it has embraced diversity and multiculturalism, unlike other Western nations. But that version of national identity is based on a falsehood. The truth is that all Western nations are doing the multicultural thing. So none can claim to have a unique identity on this basis.

To take the UK as an example, here is a photo of a class of students in the English city of Birmingham:

As you can see, there are no pupils whose background is entirely English - the closest is one girl who has a mixed English/Irish ethnicity. Just how much more diverse is this classroom supposed to get to satisfy David Penberthy?

Penberthy then talks about the London riots as further evidence of British decline. He suggests that the British welfare system is at fault for allowing the creation of an underclass of people who pretend to be incapacitated whilst living off the state.

But there are two problems with this attitude. First, although the riots did draw in some of the ethnically English underclass, it was sparked within an immigrant underclass. In Nottingham 9% of the local population is black, but 62% of those arrested in the riots were black. In Birmingham, the figures are 9% and 46%. So if Penberthy believes that embracing multiculturalism is going to prevent rioting he is wrong (the riots in Paris are further evidence of this).

Second, Australia is catching up to the U.K. when it comes to welfare issues. Here is a chart showing the steady rise in the number of Australians on the Disability Support Pension:

There are now 800,000 people on the DSP. About 1 in 20 working age people are on it now, compared to 1 in 40 in the 1980s.

Penberthy is right, of course, that a poorly designed welfare system can destroy the incentive to work. But so can other things. If people don't feel that they have a national tradition of their own to uphold, then they are less likely to embark on family and work responsibilities. It's possible that multicultural societies are living on the social capital built up in the past, when the motivation to work for a larger communal entity was stronger. It's reasonable to assume that the loss of motivation will hit the less skilled classes first, as they are less likely to have the incentive to work for reasons of status or money.

Here's another reason for Australians not to be too cocky when it comes to the economy. Up to the 1970s the male wage grew steadily, whilst leisure time increased. That is now reversing, just as it is in the UK and the US. In Australia, for instance, the retirement age is increasing from 65 to 67 and there are already calls for it to be raised further to age 70.

Another problem with Penberthy's triumphalism is that Australia's economy is doing well not because of an entrepreneurial culture unleashed by a new multicultural identity, but because we're in a mining resources boom. In short, our economy is more than ever reliant on selling minerals, particularly to China. Manufacturing in Australia has fallen from 27% to 9% of GDP.

So multiculturalism isn't the economic and social boon that Penberthy is making it out to be. Before multiculturalism Australia had a strong manufacturing sector; rising male wages; and rising leisure hours. Now we are reliant on the mining sector and men are working longer hours for stagnant wages. More Australians than ever are welfare dependent.

But more than all of this, Penberthy is wrong because his view of what makes for national success is wrong. A country is not just its economy. It is a people who recognise a commonality based on a shared tradition, with that tradition involving some combination of shared ancestry, culture, language, religion, history, manners and mores.

Perhaps that's what set Penberthy off in the first place. Perhaps on watching the Jubilee celebrations he discerned something of the older and deeper kind of national belonging, something that challenges his commitment to the more open-ended "nation as a multicultural workplace". So he decided to sink the boot into the Brits.

Anyway, we're not going to get anywhere with the likes of Penberthy - he is way too far gone.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Apparently I'm a pocket of resistance

Laura Wood has an interesting post up at The Thinking Housewife about an American study into men with stay-at-home wives.

The study has the ominous title "Marriage Structure and Resistance to the Gender Revolution in the Workplace." The three authors of the study summarise their research as follows:
In this article, we examine a heretofore neglected pocket of resistance to the gender revolution in the workplace: married male employees who have stay-at-home wives. We develop and empirically test the theoretical argument suggesting that such organizational members, compared to male employees in modern marriages, are more likely to exhibit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are harmful to women in the workplace.

Liberal academics, it seems, are hunting out "pockets of resistance" to the "gender revolution". The naughty counterrevolutionaries are those men, like myself, who are willing to support a wife at home.

But they do rule out a purge of counterrevolutionary men from the workplace:
Clearly, organizations should not seek to control the marital status of their male employees, for example, by means of selection. To do so would be unjust, likely illegal, and perhaps, bad business.

Well that's nice to know, but it's interesting that the three academics even consider the idea that "organisations" might try to "control the marital status of their male employees".

It's more evidence that liberal society isn't neutral when it comes to such matters. Liberal society has a notion of the good, one that, as the authors of the study are happy to admit, requires a revolutionary transformation of society.

Just another reminder that we are not living in socially conservative societies, we are living in liberal revolutionary ones.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

There will always be a good - but what will it be?

In a recent post I argued in favour of a masculine and a feminine ideal. A sympathetic reader, Tim T, raised the following objection:
To me one problem with this idea of clearly-defined gender roles is with authority - who gets to decide what those roles are? Why do they make those decisions? I'm not convinced anyone has sufficient authority to make that decision.

That's not an uncommon view. It was raised, for instance, in the debate between Lawrence Auster and Robert Spencer. Lawrence Auster argued that the guiding principle of society should be the good rather than freedom. Spencer countered with this:
Left unexplained, however, is how a commonly accepted understanding of “the good” is to be arrived at, and particularly how such an understanding could be restored in 21st-century America without imposing an authoritarian regime of some kind.

So there seem to be two objections to the idea that a society might follow some vision of the good:

a) It's not possible to know what the good is


b) It would be authoritarian to put forward a common good

So how do traditionalists respond? At this site, J.M. Smith replied to Tim T. by arguing that an ideal of masculinity or femininity wouldn't be decided by committee but by people seeking to emulate those men and women they most admired and who lived the best kind of lives. So the ideal wouldn't arise in an authoritarian way, but through social interaction over time.

Over at View from the Right Jim Kalb made a similar point:
Man is social, so leading a good life, like doing anything else well, is something we mostly learn from other people and carry on in cooperation with them.

Jim Kalb admitted that some societies have defective understandings of the good, usually because they are obsessed by some one thing and so the good is understood too reductively - it leaves too many things out.

Ed H. also made an argument that an understanding of the good is not merely asserted in an arbitrary way but arises over time in a society that is oriented to "finer levels of genuine feeling":
Such cultural “authority” was not arbitrary. It was the result of a living and truly “free” society actively searching out the finer levels of genuine feeling and manners and refusing to be intimidated by the vulgar and shallow. By definition, Culture meant self awareness, discrimination, broad understanding. It was the opposite of “arbitrary.” 

The one argument I'd like to add for now is that there is no society, not even liberal society, that doesn't have some ideal of what it means to be a good person. Liberals might claim that there are no such goods in a liberal society, but it doesn't work out that way.

First, liberals haven't let go entirely of the idea that there are standards that can be recognised in society. I can't, for instance, sell drugs, or practise polygamy, or walk around naked at the shops, or publish defamatory comments.

Second, even if liberals push the idea that we should just as individuals make up our own subjective goods, this then generates an ideal of what it means to be good anyway. It produces the idea that the good man is the one who doesn't discriminate, who is non-judgemental, who celebrates diversity, who is tolerant, who identifies with the other and so on.

Here in Melbourne, amongst the liberal Anglo middle-class, that has all boiled down to a very specific sense of what the primary good is. The primary good is what you might call "anti white racism". You are a good person, in this culture, if you demonstrate your commitment to anti white racism (i.e. that you are against white racism).

As I've mentioned before, this version of the good is no longer held just by highly political left-wingers. It is no longer held just by those suffering from nihilism or rancour. It's more at the level of "I'm a nice person and therefore I follow this good that society tells me defines the good".

Which suggests that there will always be embedded within a culture a moral ideal - i.e. an understanding of what defines you as a good person.

And here we get to the problem. It is inevitable that a society will have a moral ideal embedded within its culture. So the big issue isn't whether or not there should be such an ideal - there is going to be one regardless. The big issue is what the quality of the ideal is - is it, in Jim Kalb's words, defective or not.

Western societies once held that it was good for men to be masculine, to uphold the best within their traditions, to be loyal to family and compatriots etc. Now the good is defined in terms of how much you demonstrate an opposition to the racism of whites - which for white societies is a paralysing kind of good.

In short, we shouldn't hold back from asserting a positive good out of concern that we are being authoritarian or that we could possibly be wrong. That effectively allows the current defective understandings of the good to linger longer than they need to. We should at least be confident that we can do considerably better than what we have now.

Monday, June 04, 2012

What Economic Man misses

I've often argued that right-liberalism ends up viewing people primarily as actors in the market. If you see society as made up of millions of atomised individuals each pursuing their own desires, then you need to explain how all these competing wills are to be harmonised. The right-liberal solution is to believe that if people rationally pursue their own self-interest in the market they end up benefiting both themselves and the larger society.

And so you get right-liberals who view people primarily as rational economic agents, i.e. as Economic Man. And here's a particularly crude example (I think made by an "objectivist" - a follower of Ayn Rand). The comment was made in the context of a discussion of Islamic vs Western morality:
A rational man neither sacrifices himself to others or others to himself; he produces and trades in the free market

So there you go. If you want to be moral, just get involved as a trader or producer in the market.

I don't quite know how that speaks to all the fathers out there. They're making sacrifices for others. So are the mothers. A lot of the mothers aren't even producers or traders in the market. What then does that say about them  - are we supposed to regard them as irrational?

Right liberals no doubt once saw themselves as liberating individuals from ancient ties. But their political philosophy is highly restrictive in its own way. In restricts our moral vision, for instance, to rational self-interest in the market. It denies or excludes personal character, the duties we have toward family or our larger tradition, and ideals of manhood or womanhood.

It diminishes what man is.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

New model vs old model

Alicia Geddes is an Australian woman who looked forward to motherhood ("The Sum of Us" Melbourne's Child, June 2012):
I dreamt about being home with my baby full-time ... when the two red lines appeared on the pregnancy test we were ecstatic.

But there was a major hitch. Her husband wasn't able to afford the mortgage repayments on his salary. She was going to have to go back to work not just part-time but full-time:
My dreams of full-time motherhood were shattered.

She wasn't alone in her situation:
I asked my mothers' group how they met financial demands. Some were lucky enough to have plenty of money, while others had saved up before becoming pregnant to take a year off work. None said they planned to stay at home full-time after their child turned one. Would they if they were able to financially? Surprisingly, most said yes.

Things didn't go well when the time came to leave her young child for paid work:
As I doted over my newborn son, the end of paid parental leave loomed and the prospect of missing many firsts - first crawl, first step, first word - was heart-rending. How would I be able to concentrate on work when I would be missing my son so much?

Jealousy brewed towards more affluent friends ... I found myself resenting my husband, my parents and anyone else I thought could have saved me from returning to work but didn't. I became teary, angry and anxious. I hated myself for these feelings and stopped enjoying my son.

She did eventually find a solution. She and her husband moved back in with her parents, which allowed them to rent their house and meet their mortgage repayments. She is, for the time being, happy to be able to spend time with her son.

Alicia Geddes's story illustrates the problems with the new liberal model of family life. This new model of family life is based on the following logic:

i) The highest good is to be an independent, autonomous, self-determining individual.

ii) Therefore individuals cannot be defined in terms of family; our predetermined sex must be made not to matter; and women must be made independent of men.

iii) Therefore women are oppressed in the role of motherhood and liberated in the role of careerist. A career gives women an identity outside of family; it makes her financially independent of men; and it is an androgynous role in which our sex doesn't matter.

iv) Therefore women's lives should be organised around careers and not family. If women do stay at home after having children, they should be supported to do so by the state or by their employers rather than by their families; it should be for a limited time only; and as an ultimate aim men should take just as much of the paid leave as women.

The new model assumes that motherhood is at the heart of women's oppression. Paid parental leave was established not so much to allow women to be mothers but to organise women's lives around the workplace rather than the family.

In Australia, for instance, the argument for paid parental leave was set out by Elizabeth Kath back in 2003. She held that the oppression of women:
derives from their traditional reproductive role and that the introduction of paid maternity leave should be introduced as a means to transform this traditional role.

... Feminists have long recognised that the traditional view of women's role in society is an oppressive one. Shulasmith Firestone's declaration that "the heart of women's oppression is her childbearing and childrearing roles" expresses a commonly held view amongst women's liberationist advocates.

Alicia Geddes did not find the motherhood role oppressive but fulfilling. But in the new model of family life, there is no family support for her to stay at home to look after her children. There is only the paid parental leave provided by the employer or state. And this is only intended to allow her to be at home for a limited time before she returns to her "proper" role of careerist.

If women do want to have a real choice to be full-time at home, then they need to turn toward a more traditional model in which there is family support for them to do so. This would mean, amongst other things:

a) Arguing for a living wage for men, i.e. a wage on which a family can be supported.

b) Not being triumphalist about the decline of men in education and employment. After all, the men who are declining in these spheres are no longer going to be able to support a family on their wage.

c) Not supporting an open borders policy, which excludes some men from the professions (as overseas students are able to buy their way into courses and then dominate the professions) and which tends to drive down the wages of unskilled men.

d) Encouraging men to commit to careers, as good for their future families, rather than discouraging them from doing so by suggesting that a high male wage is oppressive to women.

e) Rejecting the idea that an individualistic, self-determining lifestyle is an overriding good; instead, permitting people to accept that we are social creatures and naturally interdependent.

In Australia, too, we need to address the issue of housing costs. Our economy has been geared, in part, to speculative investment in housing. Although there were some winners from this, there's a point beyond which prices can't rise any further and in the meantime many families do find it harder to meet mortgage repayments.