Just because someone is pro-life doesn’t mean they reject a robust social structure to provide assistance to these women. But that has to be balanced with the fact that the state shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing out-of-wedlock births, and so when speaking about addressing these matters, a lot of other instruments have to come into play. The death penalty for any man who seduces a woman might be a good start. [emphasis mine, and no surprise there, as our enlightened one seems to have been struggling with Oedipal tensions for some time. Revolutionary violent rhetoric = dangerous; kill absentee father rhetoric = OK.]then goes on to assert:
...for those who are participating [in the Occupy movement] in the name of some “revolution” or, worse, using website and blogs to revel in the carnage they have created — as if being a blogging blowhard who decorates their site with “revolutionary imagery” and issues forth morally idiotic rhetoric contributes to “the movement” — there is a pathology infecting their worldview which is not only detestable, but disturbing.and from the thread of the same post:
I find that a lot of the blog coverage of the “Occupy” movement, particularly by so-called “Marxists,” “anarchists,” and other “revolutionaries,” are packed to the brim with moral idiocy.Well, of course. No doubt he reads a great many Marxist, anarchist, and "revolutionary" blogs.
Any rhetorical exchange with our reactionary gnat, whether actual or monologued (as is increasingly the case with him), results in his opponents getting Strauss'd. Take for instance this diatribe from the same thread as above:
To the best of my knowledge (which, I confess, is incomplete), most of the “Occupy” crowd or even its self-apointed “spokespersons,” haven’t offered up a credible critique of “the 1%” beyond restating, over and over, the empirical fact that they control a supermajority of the wealth in the United States. Serious analysis of why there are massive wealth disparities (along with other imagined and real problems) isn’t necessarily beyond the “Occupy” movement, but it hasn’t taken center stage either. Maybe it doesn’t have to. Perhaps empirical facts which carry with them an intuitive sense of being “unfair” is enough to motivate those with either: A) Nothing better to do; B) Concrete economic problems of their own; or some combination/nuance of either (or both) to rally together for some ill-defined cause. But beyond engaging in public fornication, littering some parks, and dabbling in a bit of property damage here n’ there, I’m not sure the “Occupy” movement has done much of anything. I suspect most people are aware that there are massive wealth disparities in the U.S. and that this disparity has only increased over the last several decades. However, few people understand “why” (or are on board with enough of the literature to come up with some plausible hypotheses as to “why”). Too much of the Leftist “critique” hinges on the childish notion that there is some cabal out there which holds all of the chips and isn’t letting go. When you present them with evidence that the top 1-2% of wealth holders in this country do not constitute a static lot, they throw fits and, after a great deal of rhetoric, basically claim that the data is fudged (without offering up contrary data). Such is the way of ideologists.
I still tend to hold, with some serious caveats, to the view that state intervention and regulation is a stronger contributing force to the current composition of wealth distribution and corporatism in this country than the (semi-mytic) “free market.” An unregulated market is not going to solve all of the country’s woes, but the libertarians — whether the sort you see hanging around the Cato Institute or on the fringes of “localist” movements — have at least offered a plausible academic argument why rolling back state intervention in the market will reduce the power “big business” (loosely defined) wields in the country while opening up new opportunities for entrepreneurs (including “small businesses”). Unfortunately, when it comes to breaking up “state monopolies” and “regulated cartels,” too much emphasis is placed on labor unions and agriculture (both of which function that way today). It takes the eye off of other balls, ranging from, say, the international airline industry (which today functions as a massive cartel that cuts across borders) to energy production to finance. However, the unions don’t do themselves any favors, particularly when they use their concentrated lobbying power in concert with private industry to rig the game in their favor (e.g., automotive bailouts).It's interesting to read the elitism here at the same time as I am reading Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind. I think our reactionary gnat may be the perfect expression of Robin's thesis, right down to his being a non-Spanish speaking Hispanic who prides himself for his enlightened conservative views held in an academic environment that he finds hostile to them. There is something downright conradian about it all, and Robin handles competently this sort of phenomenon.
Confessions of incomplete knowledge have never been an impediment to this guy. Why even bother confessing?
O my! The average protester in a movement which has now involved hundreds of thousands in the U.S. and millions worldwide does not employ a sophisticated critique of economic and political realities sufficient to be deemed "credible" by our libertarian young lawyer who likes to quote Epstein and whose canon includes Strauss, Voegelin, and Schmitt! Say it ain't so! I suppose there should never be any mass protest in the mind of our reactionary gnat. But then I wonder what he thinks of the fairly large pro-life protests in Washington, DC each January 23rd. Most protesters there say very simplistic things about conception, life, babies in the womb, etc. Few have ever looked at the arguments made in Roe vs. Wade, few could articulate the differences in approach between U.S. and most European abortion policies, few have ever touched let alone read a copy of Human Life Review, few are aware of the leftist pro-choice arguments against Roe vs. Wade, and I wonder how many of them know that Margaret Sanger was against abortion, as was Planned Parenthood when Sanger was in charge of it?
To be sure, the conservative adoption of leftist methods, such as mass political protests, does seem to go against certain conservative principles, such as the rule of an elite - I think Robin does a good job of explaining the interplay between elitism and populism in the conservative movement - but I could also see how a conservative fan of Schmitt and Voegelin might detest any mass protest, so who knows in this case? Though our reactionary gnat has in the past expressed sympathies with the tea-party movement, so it seems that he is not completely hostile to mass actions, though perhaps he views the tea party mass actions as justified because they are paid for and promoted by an economic elite.
Whatever his views on mass protest, it would seem apparent that our reactionary gnat thinks that people should be content to remain within their station and do as they are told by an elite. Perhaps because if they arise in mass protest there will be the "danger" of revolutionary rhetoric, there will be disruptive actions which could lead to further disruptive actions, there will be inchoate expressions of "the cause," there will be articulations which are not credible in the light of academics, and while these protests will likely be nothing more than an annoying waste of time and resources, if they do result in anything that result will likely effect the "wrong" targets and achieve counterproductive ends. Fine and well then.
Every rhetorical turn with the gnat seems to go like this one - "When you present them with evidence that the top 1-2% of wealth holders in this country do not constitute a static lot, they throw fits and, after a great deal of rhetoric, basically claim that the data is fudged (without offering up contrary data)." Really. I wonder when gnat had this exchange and with whom. I was in an exchange with him regarding this very issue once, but that must not be the one he is talking about here. In my exchange with him on this issue, the "data" involved flat assertions made by Epstein based on a study that was of no more academic caliber than the sort of thing that Krugman and Wolff use all the time. And I didn't deny that of course people go in and out of the 1% in terms of income. People retire. People get one time inheritances. People get occasional golden parachutes. I have never heard any intellectual among the Occupiers or those in sympathy with them argue that the 1% constitute a static group. Of course the 1% is seen as an imprecise target on the part of Occupiers, hell, look at the very popular site in which 1%ers proclaim support of the 99%er movement. Look at the number of Occupiers who talk about the wealth concentration of the top 0.1% and pass around articles like this one. Further, among a growing number of Occupiers one hears rhetoric that the real divide is more accurately found somewhere around 80%. But any popular movement is going to have to find images and language that works broadly and efficiently and the 99% moniker works about as well and about as accurately as the political designations pro-life, pro-choice, less government, no new taxes, states' rights, pro-slavery, abolitionist, anti-war, and so forth. All of these terms are vague, all of them involve an oversimplification, a momentary overlooking of various contradictions and complexities for the sake of political causes and organization and brevity when discussing politics or agitating for or against something.
I've never heard anyone suggest that data which shows that people go in and out of the 1% is flawed because it suggests people go in and out of the 1%. The obvious question is where the people going in and out of the 1% are coming from. Who gets those inheritances, those golden parachutes, those stock market windfalls, those huge CEO bonuses? Is access to the 1% easier or harder for someone with an IQ of 140 coming from a lower middle class background or someone with an IQ of 140 coming from poverty or someone with an IQ of 140 coming from the top 10% (I note IQs here not because I believe any given measure of IQ represents an efficiently workable social designation but only for the sake of argument)? How many people who, any given year, get into the 1%, came from families that had previously had 1% years? How many had previously been in the top 5%, the top 10%, how many grew up in families that were in the top 5% and top 10%? The gnat's assertion here is meant to suggest that there is fluidity in the 1% and thus access to it that is relative to some egalitarian standard - at least perhaps egalitarian in the meritocratic sense or the market sense of having succeeded fairly in the market.
I have a distant relative who grew up working class and now makes shitloads of money on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He's a top 3%er and he got access to this income because he was a jock in a fraternity for athletes in college and several buddies of his from there - all good looking, tall guys used to being surrounded by women and the air of success - got brought in to a particular firm. I'd be surprised if my relative has an IQ of higher than 105 or so. He is, however, an example of somebody who went from a bottom 50% background to the top 3%. Robin in his book deals with the fact that the elite in modernity has always made use of fresh blood and fresh faces, and he notes how the occasional outsider being elevated into the elite often helps emphasize the eliteness of the elite - one of the factors in play is that it is often the new face that is the most militant about protecting the elite's interests and advancing the whole notion of the rule of the elite (think Disraeli, etc.) and the fact they they deserve to rule and their subjects deserve to be ruled. What centralized elite does is not dynamic to some degree? Hell, after Stalin took over he assassinated the former Bolshevik leaders and created an all new elite group of rulers in Russia, but no conservative I know suggests that this dynamic change in the elite in Russia meant that there was not a real elite with real power. Cabals are often transient institutions. Look at mafia organizations. Their leadership and membership often change frequently, for obvious reasons (death, imprisonment, etc.), yet the social function of the cabal and its power often remains relatively consistent over periods of time.
My wife has some friends who grew up in lower middle class homes in rural WI. In the conversation I had with them upon our first meeting, the male of the couple explained to me that he was majoring in computer science in order to make vast wealth because he believed that Christians who were able had a responsibility to make as much money as possible because we were entering a time in which something akin to slavery (his word) was going to re-assert itself as social phenomena and basically the world would be divided between a 10% of masters and a 90% of slaves and we needed to have as many Christian masters as possible. His view, and the fact that he thought he could be among the masters (which he now is, he just returned to WI after a decade and a half away, returning a multi-millionaire), suggests that a static vs. dynamic 1% or 10% is not really the issue. The question is the relationship between the elite and their, to use a gnat's terms, social subordinates. The question is what social, political, and economic power the non-elite have in public institutions and in their workplaces, schools, civic groups, families, etc.
These observations are not particular to me, I suspect most Occupiers who have ever been presented with "data" about a dynamic 1% will tell you something along these lines. But the point isn't about actual convictions or actual observations, it's just about our reactionary gnat's use of imaginary conversations to advance his repetition of a grossly populist, and trinketly elitist caricature of Occupiers (yours truly shares some of his experiences with Occupiers here). In the second paragraph above the gnat does his routine song and dance - he makes assertions about the economy which insist upon libertarian theses. He insists that these are plausible and academic without ever referencing academic studies or making an argument as to how they are actually plausible, and then he contrasts this "plausible and academic" libertarian insight with the caricature of leftist populisms. This from the guy who presents PBS interviews and papers from Epstein - all of which thus far have involved Epstein doing little to nothing more than repeating libertarian talking points - as if the points raised by Epstein have not been repeatedly responded to by Krugman, Wolff, and a number of other economists, who also have data supporting their positions. It's not that I have a problem with Epstein's third tier level of economic analysis being presented publicly, it's just that it's ridiculous posturing to poise this against more imprecise and overtly populist expressions from the other side. One might as well present Krugman against Sarah Palin and suggest - "see, our side wins." Of course this gnat has a fondness for saying that he just "has yet to encounter any serious analysis from" the perspective of x position he disagrees with. And of course he never will.
Years ago I was sitting in the office of my mentor when a guy who just graduated from Boston College came in. This BC grad had done a degree in political science under some Straussians. BC grad's dad was on the faculty of the same institution as my mentor. My mentor had just become involved in an organization that this BC grad was entering. So BC grad goes right up to my mentor, a rather accomplished anthropologist, and the first words out of his mouth were "I just want you to know that I know that your social science ideology is bullshit." In several later conversations with BC grad I came to appreciate the astounding pomposity of the young man, the unrivaled parochial nature of his many intellectual disdains, and the unmatched confidence the man had in dismissing others for making the exact same intellectual moves he did. Every time I read gnat, who of course is too good and intellectually pure to even admit that he is a Straussian, I am reminded of that first encounter I ever had with a Straussian. They are all the same prior to age 45, and of course the only interesting ones were/are gay. They like to appeal to the scholarly discipline of prior ages in a pedantic manner, they have a fetish for European intellectual standards prior to WWII which is romantic, they read just enough material from outside their accepted canons to appear to be engaging contemporary thought even though their readings are so manifestly hack jobs couched in an outline of analysis (the form of critical analysis if you will) so as to appear serious (how so much like the work of those they detest), and they get most agitated when encountering social and intellectual phenomenon which occurs outside of the realm of influence or would-be influence of themselves or their Straussian cohorts.
And this is what, I suspect, really bothers gnat with regard to the Occupy movement and the myriad of intellectual discussions it has wrought, by people from a wide array of perspectives, in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the whole world. Gnat doesn't have anything to do with it, he has no association with it at all or anything remotely close to it (his attempts at times to pull out his familiarity with leftist activism by pointing out his past as a member of a students-against-sweatshops group at a college in the middle of Michigan notwithstanding). Nor do those very few other minds in gnat's intellectual playground who he happens to trust. He has no intellectual point of entry that is viable for him. He can only bitch and whine like that audio clip of (was it?) Voegelin going after the "radical" female student at a lecture at U of Chicago, or like grumpy old Solzhenitsyn furious that the U.S. was not putting down Vietnam War protesters. All the while, as usual, gnat reveals to those who have spent serious time at Occupations and among Occupiers that he hasn't a damn clue what he is talking about. True to form.