Government

Tangent Online on: “Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2”

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

New review in Tangent Online.

Running through all of the machinations and maneuverings, personal stories of love and loss, sacrifice and heroism—and of course treachery—is the ages-old story of a band of rebels fighting for freedom against almost insurmountable odds. Kinnison handles all of this with aplomb and a sure hand, making for an engaging, page-turning read.

Nemo’s World is the second book in the Substrate Wars series, which starts with Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1.

Men of Honor vs Victim Culture

Calvin on Victimhood

Calvin on Victimhood

The widely-noticed blog post by Jonathan Haidt, “Where microaggressions really come from: A sociological account,” starts out this way:

I just read the most extraordinary paper by two sociologists — Bradley Campbell andJason Manning — explaining why concerns about microaggressions have erupted on many American college campuses in just the past few years. In brief: We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.

Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim. This is why we have seen the recent explosion of concerns about microaggressions, combined with demands for trigger warnings and safe spaces, that Greg Lukianoff and I wrote about in The Coddling of the American Mind…. The key idea is that the new moral culture of victimhood fosters “moral dependence” and an atrophying of the ability to handle small interpersonal matters on one’s own. At the same time that it weakens individuals, it creates a society of constant and intense moral conflict as people compete for status as victims or as defenders of victims.

This is very obvious to anyone paying attention to college campuses these days. And as he and the authors of the paper he discusses point out, this new culture of victimhood thrives only where there is very little actual victimization or inequality — under the umbrella of a micromanaging government or university administration who can be called on to recognize your victim status.

As we dissect this phenomenon, then, we first address how it fits into a larger class of conflict tactics in which the aggrieved seek to attract and mobilize the support of third parties. We note that these tactics sometimes involve building a case for action by documenting, exaggerating, or even falsifying offenses.

And an epidemic of falsification has occurred, with many of the most publicized cases of rape or hate crimes on campus having been revealed to be hoaxes or fabrications. In a world where young people are encouraged to think of themselves as members of oppressed minorities, some of the most privileged — affluent students on university campuses — demand more subsidies and more recognition for their special snowflake natures, and agitate for more grants and more programs to allow them to avoid repaying student loans and to work after they graduate at activist nonprofits.

In the settings such as those that generate microaggression catalogs [ed. note: I call these settings grievance bubbles in my writings], though, where offenders are oppressors and victims are the oppressed, it also raises the moral status of the victims. This only increases the incentive to publicize grievances, and it means aggrieved parties are especially likely to highlight their identity as victims, emphasizing their own suffering and innocence. Their adversaries are privileged and blameworthy, but they themselves are pitiable and blameless. [p.707-708] [This is the great tragedy: the culture of victimization rewards people for taking on a personal identity as one who is damaged, weak, and aggrieved. This is a recipe for failure — and constant litigation — after students graduate from college and attempt to enter the workforce]

One issue which is going to be more and more obvious with time: these students are leaving permanent records of their entitled and litigious attitudes in social media and online; I would not blame employers for looking these up and not employing those who have lied or exaggerated their grievances to demand special action.

But let’s return to the cultures of individual morality identified in the paper. Honor culture makes every person responsible for maintaining their boundaries with others and acting as necessary to punish aggression against them or their reputation; it is the prevailing system when interpersonal aggression is the dominant form of social control. In societies with hierarchical organizations as in feudal Europe or Japan, persons much above you in status were deferred to while persons much below you were deferential toward you, or else.

A) A Culture of Honor
Honor is a kind of status attached to physical bravery and the unwillingness to be dominated by anyone. Honor in this sense is a status that depends on the evaluations of others, and members of honor societies are expected to display their bravery by engaging in violent retaliation against those who offend them (Cooney 1998:108–109; Leung and Cohen 2011). Accordingly, those who engage in such violence often say that the opinions of others left them no choice at all…. In honor cultures, it is one’s reputation that makes one honorable or not, and one must respond aggressively to insults, aggressions, and challenges or lose honor. Not to fight back is itself a kind of moral failing, such that “in honor cultures, people are shunned or criticized not for exacting vengeance but for failing to do so” (Cooney 1998:110). Honorable people must guard their reputations, so they are highly sensitive to insult, often responding aggressively to what might seem to outsiders as minor slights (Cohen et al. 1996; Cooney 1998:115–119; Leung and Cohen 2011)… Cultures of honor tend to arise in places where legal authority is weak or nonexistent and where a reputation for toughness is perhaps the only effective deterrent against predation or attack (Cooney 1998:122; Leung and Cohen 2011:510). Because of their belief in the value of personal bravery and capability, people socialized into a culture of honor will often shun reliance on law or any other authority even when it is available, refusing to lower their standing by depending on another to handle their affairs (Cooney 1998:122–129). But historically, as state authority has expanded and reliance on the law has increased, honor culture has given way to something else: a culture of dignity. [p. 712-713]

The Enlightenment and the end of feudalism brought in a new kind of moral order, based on law and individual rights, which the authors call a “culture of dignity.” Most developed countries have adopted this model, where each person is deemed to be equal under the law and enjoys individual rights that law and state forces will enforce against others. The honor culture continues as an element of many subcultures, notably in the military, law enforcement, and areas where order has broken down, but the boundaries of allowable violence and retaliation are constrained; duelling and violence for retribution is now illegal. Offenses are now to be brought to authorities for resolution and punishment, and grievances below a minimal standard are to be dealt with socially.

B) A Culture of Dignity
The prevailing culture in the modern West is one whose moral code is nearly the exact opposite of that of an honor culture. Rather than honor, a status based primarily on public opinion, people are said to have dignity, a kind of inherent worth that cannot be alienated by others (Berger 1970; see also Leung and Cohen 2011). Dignity exists independently of what others think, so a culture of dignity is one in which public reputation is less important. Insults might provoke offense, but they no longer have the same importance as a way of establishing or destroying a reputation for bravery. It is even commendable to have “thick skin” that allows one to shrug off slights and even serious insults, and in a dignity-based society parents might teach children some version of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” – an idea that would be alien in a culture of honor (Leung and Cohen 2011:509). People are to avoid insulting others, too, whether intentionally or not, and in general an ethic of self-restraint prevails.

When intolerable conflicts do arise, dignity cultures prescribe direct but non-violent actions, such as negotiated compromise geared toward solving the problem (Aslani et al. 2012). Failing this, or if the offense is sufficiently severe, people are to go to the police or appeal to the courts. Unlike the honorable, the dignified approve of appeals to third parties and condemn those who “take the law into their own hands.” For offenses like theft, assault, or breach of contract, people in a dignity culture will use law without shame. But in keeping with their ethic of restraint and toleration, it is not necessarily their first resort, and they might condemn many uses of the authorities as frivolous. People might even be expected to tolerate serious but accidental personal injuries…. The ideal in dignity cultures is thus to use the courts as quickly, quietly, and rarely as possible. The growth of law, order, and commerce in the modern world facilitated the rise of the culture of dignity, which largely supplanted the culture of honor among the middle and upper classes of the West…. But the rise of microaggression complaints suggests a new direction in the evolution of moral culture.

Highly “evolved” settings are encouraging the culture of victimhood, where one maintains one’s status and reputation by competing to be recognized as a victim — the victim Olympics, it is sometimes rudely called.

C) A Culture of Victimhood
Microaggression complaints have characteristics that put them at odds with both honor and dignity cultures. Honorable people are sensitive to insult, and so they would understand that microaggressions, even if unintentional, are severe offenses that demand a serious response. But honor cultures value unilateral aggression and disparage appeals for help. Public complaints that advertise or even exaggerate one’s own victimization and need for sympathy would be anathema to a person of honor – tantamount to showing that one had no honor at all. Members of a dignity culture, on the other hand, would see no shame in appealing to third parties, but they would not approve of such appeals for minor and merely verbal offenses. Instead they would likely counsel either confronting the offender directly to discuss the issue, or better yet, ignoring the remarks altogether.[p.714-715]

A culture of victimhood is one characterized by concern with status and sensitivity to slight combined with a heavy reliance on third parties. People are intolerant of insults, even if unintentional, and react by bringing them to the attention of authorities or to the public at large. Domination is the main form of deviance, and victimization a way of attracting sympathy, so rather than emphasize either their strength or inner worth, the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and social marginalization. … Under such conditions complaint to third parties has supplanted both toleration and negotiation. People increasingly demand help from others, and advertise their oppression as evidence that they deserve respect and assistance. Thus we might call this moral culture a culture of victimhood because the moral status of the victim, at its nadir in honor cultures, has risen to new heights.[p.715]

The culture of victimhood is currently most entrenched on college campuses, where microaggression complaints are most prevalent. Other ways of campaigning for support from third parties and emphasizing one’s own oppression – from protest demonstrations to the invented victimization of hate-crime hoaxes – are prevalent in this setting as well. That victimhood culture is so evident among campus activists might lead the reader to believe this is entirely a phenomenon of the political left, and indeed, the narrative of oppression and victimization is especially congenial to the leftist worldview (Haidt 2012:296; Kling 2013; Smith 2003:82). But insofar as they share a social environment, the same conditions that lead the aggrieved to use a tactic against their adversaries encourage their adversaries to use that tactic as well. For instance, hate crime hoaxes do not all come from the left. [gives examples] … Naturally, whenever victimhood (or honor, or anything else) confers status, all sorts of people will want to claim it. As clinical psychologist David J. Ley notes, the response of those labeled as oppressors is frequently to “assert that they are a victim as well.” Thus, “men criticized as sexist for challenging radical feminism defend themselves as victims of reverse sexism, [and] people criticized as being unsympathetic proclaim their own history of victimization.”[p.715] [In this way, victimhood culture causes a downward spiral of competitive victimhood. Young people on the left and the right get sucked into its vortex of grievance. We can expect political polarization to get steadily worse in the coming decades as this moral culture of victimhood spreads]

I’ll point out that these environments tend to be artificially maintained — they are not natural outgrowths of business and commerce, where every participant has to cooperate with others to thrive and make a living. They are more like cloistered institutions of the past, supported by exterior economies, like convents and monasteries, or royal courts. When we say something is “academic,” we often mean it’s not important in the real world. And the money supporting it all is partly from parents, but mostly from government, which pays for research and subsidizes the loans that have allowed the schools to charge more than ever and hire all the administrators that make work for themselves by policing student activity.

So I suspect we’re seeing peak influence of the culture of victimhood, and natural corrections — like the refusal of businesses to degrade their competitive edge by further kowtowing to identity politicians — will push back. Part of this may be a repudiation of the Democratic party, which has co-opted much of the third-wave feminist and identity politics sentiment. Having used it through several election cycles, they are now so identified with it that any backlash will damage them. Trump’s current support is a result of decades of suppression of populist speech, and his un-PC style is actually being rewarded in polls.

Lastly, I’ll point out some similar classifications in Jane Jacobs’ Systems of Survival. She identified two syndromes — we might call them meme-complexes, systems of ideas that are internally consistent and self-supporting:

Moral Precepts
Guardian Syndrome Commerce Syndrome
  • Shun trading
  • Exert prowess
  • Be obedient and disciplined
  • Adhere to tradition
  • Respect hierarchy
  • Be loyal
  • Take vengeance
  • Deceive for the sake of the task
  • Make rich use of leisure
  • Be ostentatious
  • Dispense largesse
  • Be exclusive
  • Show fortitude
  • Be fatalistic
  • Treasure honor
  • Shun force
  • Compete
  • Be efficient
  • Be open to inventiveness and novelty
  • Use initiative and enterprise
  • Come to voluntary agreements
  • Respect contracts
  • Dissent for the sake of the task
  • Be industrious
  • Be thrifty
  • Invest for productive purposes
  • Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens
  • Promote comfort and convenience
  • Be optimistic
  • Be honest

 

The Guardian Syndrome roughly corresponds to the culture of honor, and it naturally evolved in a state where roaming bands of warriors — warlords — compete to control territory which (through agricultural populations or hunter-gatherer bands) generates food and wealth. As agriculture advanced, the warlords became a separate military and governing class, and cities began to develop. Trading and commerce flowered, and the ethos of the Commerce Syndrome developed as technology and trade overtook the produce of the land as a source of wealth. Cities grew, and classes of scribes, accountants, and religious orders became important. Law as a codification of wise rule, and then as recognition of individual rights, became a reliable way of settling grievances without taking up arms. And in the US, the idea of regulating the state itself via a Constitution allowed a free people to coexist with others who believed quite differently by enforcing a neutral code of law.

Interactions between victimhood activists and others are especially vicious because of the mutual misunderstandings of the importance of honor, dignity, and truth to the older cultures. Any disagreement with the claim of victim status is recast as another microagression, and only complete submission to their claims is accepted. When action is taken to address their concerns, it is only satisfying for a brief period before new outrages are identified — there must always be something to complain about, or they would be required to justify their existence and self-esteem via some real accomplishment. Meanwhile, lies and personal character assassination of those deemed incorrect or of the class of oppressors make people who are steeped in the honor or dignity cultures violently angry, and their angry outbursts are used as more evidence of the need to suppress them.

The culture of complaint and victimhood thrives only in those insulated bubbles where government supports institutions detached from customer demand. This includes government itself, especially those bureaucracies which have gained the power to maintain themselves regardless of party in power, but also includes public schools and all the universities which derive most of their funds from government grants and student loans — which is nearly all of them. One way of reducing this detachment from reality and accountability is to cut funding for these institutions and encourage individual and entrepreneurial solutions to the problems they were assigned to address. What we have now is sometimes called the clerisy — a quasi-religious governing structure of scribes and functionaries who act to increase their own power from some protected perch of authority, directing the lives of others with what they think is superior intellect and morality. And there are now so many of them living well on the borrowed and taxed dollars taken from the real economy that their rules and demands are strangling the economy that supports all of us.

[update]

Vox just ran a piece by Oliver Lee, who’s quitting his job as a professor to find more meaningful work:

All of these issues lead to one, difficult-to-escape conclusion. Despite all the finger-pointing directed at students (“They’re lazy! They’re oversensitive! They’re entitled!”), and the blame heaped on professors (“Out of touch and irrelevant to a man”), the real culprit is systemic. Our federally backed approach to subsidizing higher education through low-interest loans has created perverse incentives with disastrous consequences. This system must be reformed.

He suggests a smaller, more accountable higher education system, stripped of the excess federal loan funding.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


Review: “Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2”

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

I missed this review of Nemo’s World when it came out on Goodreads, which I don’t pay a lot of attention to:

Kjirstin’s review Apr 08, 15
5 of 5 stars

After having escaped the immediate dangers of the last novel, the intrepid explorers and students turn their minds to how to use their new discovery — instantaneous travel to anywhere in the universe — to benefit the rest of mankind. But in order to make this possible, they need to defang the governments and ruling classes of the nations of Earth. So most of this story is about how they manage to maneuver politicians into realizing that their time is over. It was actually quite enjoyable having the recalcitrant US government being one of the last holdouts, absolutely SURE that they could somehow avoid the consequences and do things that would bring back the status quo ante.

I loved the idea of setting up colony planets and the gates to allow people to head there. (I have a soft spot for colonization and pioneering in my sci-fi in general.) It was such a hopeful vision — a way to move past the stagnant and ossified way of doing things and into something new with all sorts of potential. (As well as some musing over how to avoid the mistakes of the past, which we see as the first group of explorers have to set up a government for themselves.)

Great fun and a good addition to the series. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next one when it comes out!

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1, it’s best to start there.

Sad Puppies Fallout: Vox Day and John C. Wright

sad_puppies_3_patch
[Pulled out of comments on Sarah Hoyt’s blog]

[Edit: further comments on Vox Day added after reading more of his blog]

And this is where I get to talk about Vox Day and John C. Wright, respectively the evil genius and the epitome of Badthink.

Vox is an example of an agent provocateur; he dances right up to the line to outrage stupid people who can’t parse what he says, then carefully avoids crossing it. Outraged progressives attack, his fans are engaged, and off he goes to huge traffic and increasing notoriety, which converts to more attention and sales. Using his name is now like invoking Voldemort. It’s not something I would do, but every ecological niche is filled in a complex society…

When I came out with my first book “Bad Boyfriends,” which was a sincere effort to help the clueless with useful information about attachment types and how they can determine relationship satisfaction, I had some reviewers mentioning that it was a “red pill” book, which I thought referred to the Matrix, where swallowing the red pill meant accepting the truth instead of living a comforting lie.

Then I discovered the huge number of (mostly but not entirely) men in the red pill / MRA movement. Looking through their writings, I found much that was useful mixed with some pseudoscience that was confirming their beliefs. So while sympathetic, I couldn’t agree with everything, but thought their point of view was important and a useful counterpoint to the feminist-dominated discourse increasingly taking over. I wrote a lot of pieces supporting some of their better points, and the guys at A Voice for Men asked me to do a piece or two. So I did. The commenters were an interesting mix of thoughtful and rabid, but I didn’t have any trouble soothing them when it was clear I sympathized even when I could not fully agree.

Those posts went up on Reddit and I had 4000 page views a day. Vox has this game down cold; he is serving red meat to starving men who need to hear alternative viewpoints.

I stopped writing for AVfM when one of my posts (which said some kind things about Emma Watson’s UN-based effort, which included a concession to male issues — see http://jebkinnison.com/2014/09/24/emma-watsons-message-intelligence-trumps-sex/) was seen as insufficiently rabid by many commenters. AVfM disowned it (must not upset base!) and then was set upon by one of their old opponents, David Futrelle at We Hunted the Mammoth, and his commenters.

Yikes! So much hate on both sides. So I stopped trying to mediate that war.

I don’t know Vox Day, and I haven’t read much of his work, so I am unable to disavow him or apologize for him. As someone remarked, if he didn’t exist, they would have to invent him, or some other Emmanuel Goldstein. [Edit: Having read quite a bit more of his writings, I can see where the widespread revulsion comes from. He often promotes pseudoscience which confirms the biases of his fans — I don’t have a problem with beliefs unsupported by evidence unless they are aimed at harming groups of people, but he promotes some that are intended to justify hatred against whole classes of people. In that, he’s just another quack, profiting by feeding fears with pseudoscientific justifications.]

As for John C. Wright, I’ve read and admired a lot of his work (but he owes me for the time spent to resolve the endless throne room battle scene in “Judge of Ages”!) The first book of his I read, “The Golden Age,” fixed him in my mind as someone I would happily read. But of course his Renaissance Man (from the actual Renaissance!) qualities include enough knowledge of history to disdain the current political line and its enforced forgetfulness. Like Orson Scott Card, he has some beliefs that the progressives find heretical, and he has tactlessly expressed them. But where others get a pass because their offbeat beliefs aren’t central to SJW causes, he does not. I remember reading Charles Stross’ first post on LiveJournal commenting on how Wright was now deemed too incorrect to be acceptable in civil society….

But again, I don’t know Mr. Wright other than from his works, which are usually very good. A writer who can get away with that level of digressions without causing me to toss the book has to be good.

New Reviews: “Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

the first review is from Canada, the second from the US Amazon site.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Science Fiction in Heinlein’s Tradition, March 19 2015
By Eric A Weder – See all my reviews
Verified Purchase
Good to see a modern writer taking on the SJW types. Reading the author’s end notes confirms that he has the same sci-fi upbringing that I had. Really couldn’t ask for much more. I’ll be buying more from Kinnison.

4.0 out of 5 stars
A good work of science fiction and I enjoyed the read
By Kimball O’Hara April 28, 2015
Verified Purchase

Unfortunately, the political system described in Red Queen rings far too true and far too close for comfort…but apart from the dystopian future that is really a part of the dystopian present in a few years, the novel is a good work of science fiction and I enjoyed the read. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1.

Dilbert on Quantum Computing

Dilbert on Quantum Computing

Dilbert on Quantum Computing

Like many corporate projects, if you look at some current quantum computer projects too closely, you find there’s nothing there. “Dilbert” has some great commentary on current corporate and bureaucratic foolishness, and its author, Scott Adams, has a refreshingly freedom-oriented viewpoint.

Visit this strip and others here.

Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes

Outrage Porn

Outrage Porn

What I call “outrage porn” is stories designed to stoke outrage and make you feel passionately that your group (us) is righteous and some other group (them) are not just misguided or ignorant, but actively evil and out to get the Children of Light (us.) The “porn” in the phrase means something that irresistibly attracts you by appeal to your baser needs, but is ultimately bad for you and false.

I’ve been mostly a spectator to the storm of media and blog posts about Sad Puppies (abbreviated herein as “SP”) and the Hugos. Old-line insiders resent barbarian hordes seen as uncouth, and probably evil, who have attracted a large number of science fiction readers who never realized they could nominate and vote for the Hugos by buying non-attending memberships to the Worldcons.

When you have tribes of highly-emotional partisans competing to support the side of Goodness, it should be no surprise that some of their words, taken out of context, can be used as material to discredit their fellows. The Insiders have their less-good eggs, and so do the Puppies; but *of course* these extremes do not fairly represent the views of either side. I’m not going to go over the controversy itself here, but point out one of the mechanisms that drives this kind of religious war online.

The Internet brings traffic to those who write something unusual and passionate that confirms the beliefs of (or frightens) the readers. Those passionate if less accurate writings are more noticed and more clicked on, and a whole raft of flash media sprung up the feed the attention beast through “clickbaity” headlines hinting at threat or passion if the reader clicks through (and drops a few ad cents into the site’s coffers.) Underpaid young grads are employed to read the news (both real and faked) and generate parasitic stories with no original reporting effort that can drive profitable traffic to the site.

Within that species of site you have even more specialized sites that cater to a single tribe, and offer up only stories that confirm the righteousness of that tribe and the evil of others. Partisans will subscribe to a selection of the sites that provide them with the most ego-satisfying stories that confirm their existing beliefs, and so see a world where most good news about people cooperating to do good things is blocked and the news about their enemies and activists is nearly all they see. Where once such sites filled a need to see news on topics not being covered at all in the mainstream, now they isolate and infuriate partisans, who are then easily manipulated by anger and a sense of grievance to give more power to the professional grievance mongers.

Once you recognize this syndrome, it is everywhere you look. Entrepreneurial activists like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson figured out how to fund their organizations through extortion, subtly picking corporate targets to demonize when they weren’t supportive, and ignoring those who were; eventually their faction edged into power and arranged for settlements in Justice Dept. suits against major lenders to include large grants to their affiliate organizations, which actively assist candidates of one party in elections. This is political corruption, and rarely even noticed by mainstream media.

But this is not a phenomenon limited to leftist activists. When Hillary Clinton blamed the “vast right-wing conspiracy” for the real and imagined slanders against the first Clinton administration, she was not entirely wrong. While her complaint had the flavor of a Scooby Doo villain’s speech (“We would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddlesome kids and their dog!”), a new media complex was already mining their real scandals and imagined crimes for material to satisfy readers and listeners, with ever-more-extreme allegations being rewarded by True Believer traffic and dollars. Similarly, a complex of organizations dedicated to stoking anti-gay beliefs and stopping gay rights laws mined the ample material provided by gay organizations for the most outrageous and thoughtless material, suitable for ginning up passions in social conservatives and traditionalists, and the more extreme organizations simply made things up as necessary to demonize all gay people.

After many years of being subjected to this kind of abuse, some gay people were permanently polarized to see all religion and all traditional ways of living as their enemies. Specialized sites now feed their prejudices with every possible instance of unfair or ignorant abuse any gay person anywhere receives. So programmed, many gay people are both unforgiving and happy to assume any religious person is out to get them, and happy to see the newly-Progressive state crush grandmotherly florists and cake decorators to punish any trace of badthink.

If you want to see what this filtering does to a worldview, take a look at Joe My God and especially its commenters, where you’ll find the harshest partisans of gay rights (and gay revenge.) Also worth a glance are Gay Star News, Queerty, and The Gaily Grind. For the feminist-victim complex, there’s Jezebel, Feministe, Feministing… and much of the Huffington Post.

Here’s an example of the kind of unconscious prejudice this leads to, where a friend of mine cites a deadly brawl between a religious family and the police as evidence that all religion leads to evil and should be suppressed:

Clearly, these religious nuts don’t need any help showing the world exactly who they are and what they stand for. But, we should continue to share these and other stories widely, so we can keep the pressure on. More and more Americans are becoming aware of the hideous, unconscionable actions perpetuated in the name of religion. Sharing the actions of the evil-doers are the most powerful weapons we have against religion.

Video captures chaotic brawl in Walmart parking lot

The Cottonwood, Arizona police department released a video that appears to show an officer shooting a man. Police say a chaotic brawl broke out between polic…

This assertion of guilt-by-tribal-association is invisible to a partisan. One technique to get them to see the fallacy is to replace the religion with Islam, currently protected from the harsh judgement of Progressives by its status as the religion of “victims of Western imperialism.” If the group fighting with the police had been Muslim-affiliated, you can be quite sure that no progressive would think to tar all Muslims as sharing in the blame for the crimes.

For a second example from yesterday, I’ll turn back to Sad Puppies and the Establishment reaction to their success. Author Jack Dann, who by all accounts is a decent, right-thinking fellow in Australia, picked up and promoted a post citing selected quotes from your typical testosterone-laden exchange as representative of all Sad Puppies:

I’ve been told, repeatedly by one pleasant person, and by a few others, that Brad Torgersen, and the Pups are not horrible people, and that they can be worked with and that really they want a good outcome, and I try to see that, and then they show me otherwise. Here are a few quotes from the Pups over on Brad’s blog that I glanced at this evening.

  • If you think for one nano-second that we won’t burn this mother fucker to the ground and roast marshmellows over the corpses…. you’re dead wrong… And if you think we give a tanker’s damn about your appeal for civility…. you’re also dead wrong.
  • Hell… We may nuke the Nebulas too… just because.
  • We will burn it to the ground, plow the ground, and salt it. You fuckwads don’t understand war. We do.
  • in my opinion, Theresa Hayden’s parents were both: a.) circus people; and b.) first cousins.
  • Try to come up with something better, turdnugget.
  • I really don’t care about the Hugos, qua Hugos, to any measurable degree. I don’t care if I ever get one and I don’t really care if anyone else ever gets one, either. Rather, I care about the war in which they are just another front.
  • Scuttle back underneath the kitchen sink, and rejoin the rest of your chitinous cohorts.
  • The endgame, besides using your guts to grease our tanks,
  • Heeerrrrreee pussypussypussypussypussy.
  • Vox isn’t a side show, he’s just the warm up act.

And then the following, made by a lead Pup, in response to a person, who without profanity or insult, disagreed. The comments were made while the Pup was claiming to be tracking down the home of the person who disagreed:

  • Hey, anyone know who that pussy is in real life?
  • You’re a pussy, boy. You don’t even have the guts to be an asshole
  • Pussy, you’re not worth a discussion. You’re a cockroach. Roaches are only to be stepped on.
  • Or you can come here, to Blacksburg, Virginia. Why, I’ll even loan you a decent gun. Pussy.
  • I’ll keep you posted on my progress in identifying you, pussy.
  • I cna [sic] only agree that you’re a pussy. A coward. A liar. A piece of crawling shit.

So, that’s the people we are dealing with. Key group members, chatting along with Brad. I like the trying to find someone’s home and the gun threat. It just really dots the i nicely.

I read the entire exchange, and in context it’s clear this schoolyard callout effort was a little over-the-top, but in response to challenge and evasions by a trolling poster. As I said in the beginning of this piece, both “sides” have their outrageous affiliates — Requires Hate and K. Tempest Bradford (with her “I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year” piece, for example, ruling out Neil Gaiman as too white-cis-male to expand her mind.) On the Puppies side, anti-Puppies cite Vox Day as representative (he’s not), and John C. Wright, who’s made a number of statements that I personally would object to, as a homophobic and racist devil (which I’m pretty sure he’s not.) None of us are responsible for every single bad thing some other person in a coalition says or does, and when you observe selective examples used to discredit others and make a comfortable establishment happy that they are deserving of their high position in a stagnant hierarchy under threat, you should immediately find a more thoughtful and independent source to help form your own opinion.

Hatred and prejudice harm real people, but the harm echoes on through the generations as the original victims teach and promote an us-vs-them worldview that harms everyone. The people who are less wrong learn to understand where the hateful emotions come from, and start to cut off the sources of funds and fury that feed the continuing conflicts. Understanding the backgrounds of the partisans and arguing toward acceptance of others’ right to be wrong is the beginning of reconciliation and cooperation.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


A Libertarian Objects to “Nemo’s World”

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World at Amazon.

I just read an interesting (if somewhat negative) review of Nemo at Amazon:

3 Stars out of 5

Wow, this book was dissonant. Jeb Kinnison hands his protagonists the ring of power on a silver platter (Steve Duong’s de facto omnipotence through “root access” to the world), and, unfortunately, these originally Libertarian minded protagonists end up becoming almost as totalitarian as their opponents.

Nevermind what these people talk about amongst themselves philosophically, nevermind their misgivings about how they end up using this unanswerable power: Look at what they do with it! Rather than spreading this knowledge and power to others, they hoard and restrict it. Rather than letting seven billion minds figure out what to do with this power, they set themselves up as Olympian gods, and play political power games with the current nations of Earth. They hold back the truth about their abilities in an attempt to control how people can use their technology, not trusting anyone but themselves with control. They even try to manipulate the uses people will put their nerfed ‘replicators’ to by playing games with what they will allow it to produce. Eventually they begin making vast sweeping decisions in the name of all of ‘civilization’, like exiling people to other planets where presumably they will be prevented from ever trying to reproduce the technology that put them there. (Not killing someone in self defense, not keeping someone away from them personally, but deciding for every human extant to imprison these personal enemies of theirs – cutting them off from everyone’s association in a stunning violation of the will of others). In the end, these protagonists control a surveillance and force apparatus infinitely more detailed and invasive than anything the authoritarian Earth governments could produce.

Maybe part of this was authorial intent. If so, this book can be read as a chilling cautionary tale. If not, it is an awe inspiring exercise in “it’s okay if our guys do it!” On one level, there are the words the characters say, the libertarian philosophy they ostensibly believe, and on the other level, there are the things they do in exercising omnipotent control over the people of Earth.

It is normally a bad idea to respond to reviews, but it’s notable that the two less-than-stellar reviews are from people disappointed because they feel the books aren’t ideologically pure enough, especially another review from an Ayn Rand admirer who trashed Red Queen for dissenting from orthodoxy. So here’s a response.

“…while the Constitution protects against invasions of individual rights, it is not a suicide pact.” This is from a court ruling discussing the conflict of basic rights and pragmatic needs under unusual circumstances like war which threaten survival. The review above very perceptively notes that our rebels act in what amounts to wartime to limit information and technology for reasons of survival and to prevent what they see as likely catastrophe if they release their technology too quickly or without restrictions.

As a thought experiment, suppose I develop a multi-kilotonne, nuclear-equivalent bomb which can be easily built out of items purchased at a hardware store and fit into a coffee can. Am I violating others’ rights by keeping that technology to myself? The consequences of release are obviously deadly for millions and perhaps the entire species. Similarly, the rebels reasonably foresee economic disaster and dislocation starving millions if instant transport and replication are uncautiously introduced into the world as it is. As the reviewer says, the rebels talk a good libertarian game but aren’t foolish enough to endanger themselves or innocents by acting according to simplistic principles when the consequences are so dire.

The point of their many discussions is how to reach what they envision as the desirable end state of freedom and universal prosperity from their current world of shortages and political controls. They are dealing with the world and the population and governments it has, not those they might wish it had, and trying to steer a dangerous course between acting for their own survival only and acting to better all of humankind, in the long run. Because they have powerful and immoral enemies, they must keep control of their technology themselves, until such time as the power of their enemies ebbs away; because they want to share the benefits with everyone, they release less dangerous and more beneficial limited versions as circumstances allow. And they try their best to limit harms to others while they remove threats to themselves.

Our reviewer is noticing the conflict that motivates the next few books in the series — the power they have rationally reserved to the only people they can currently trust, themselves, corrupts. Some choose to keep it for themselves when the reason for such controls has passed. Those who enjoy a privileged position are tempted to rationalize as needed to justify holding onto it. This question is reflected in our current world of surveillance and the soon-to-be one of nanobots, drones, and global data collection: what does it mean to freedom when every public event is observed and recorded? Is it possible to limit access to “necessary” uses? What if it isn’t, and we realize the only way to limit the power of large organizations like governments to do harm is to open access to everyone so that governments and private organizations can themselves be watched?

The series could be viewed as a thought experiment: what would happen if you gave freedom-oriented, libertarian-ish people the ability to change the world? The specific instance of the American occupation of Iraq is mentioned as a cautionary tale: in toppling existing repressive power structures, the occupiers freed all the repressed tribal groups to use violence and terror to contend for power and graft. The global version of that would be horrific. The US founders knew their proposed system was only workable with an enlightened and independent population, and only fools would try to overthrow an existing repressive system without providing enforcement tools to assure that bullies and warlords would not immediately take over.

Indiereader Review: “Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2”

Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2

Nemo’s World at Amazon.

I go to IndieReader for formal reviews, since I’ve discovered legacy reviewers like Kirkus apply ideological prejudice to their reviews — notably for Bad Boyfriends, where the reviewer downgraded the book because I mentioned the need for children raised with expectations of entitlement to adjust to reality to find a true partnership. IndieReader does a much better job of fairly reviewing indie and small publisher works.

NEMO’S WORLD is the second installment in Jeb Kinnison’s The Substrate Wars series. The action takes place in the near future where the United States has become a one-party oligarchy opposed by a group of rebel scientists and humanity is poised to destroy itself in the name of “security.” Fortunately, a group of idealistic scientists and engineers use their intelligence to address the damage and offer a true taste of freedom to humanity.

The scientists, primarily quantum physicists, possess breakthrough technology that allows them to travel across vast distances as well as monitor others remotely through their gateway technology. The superpowers, especially the USA and China, are trying to capture the technology and the leaders of the group so they can dominate the planet. Justin Smith, a rebel leader, becomes the face of the opposition and the Americans (as well as other powers) are trying desperately to capture him. Fortunately, the rebels used their gateway technology to escape to an earthlike planet 50 light years away. The chief scientist of the rebel group, Steve Duong, used the gateways to capture every nuclear warhead on the planet to warn the superpowers to stand down and negotiate a lasting peace for their populations. The war goes on as the US and China try to duplicate the technology and end the rebellion.

The science is accurate and is footnoted so the reader can delve into the actual science behind the plot. There is conflict in the plot, especially in raids from US Seals and Islamic terrorists but the resolution is tempered with justice. NEMO’S WORLD does not have the melodrama of a space opera or of bloody fanged aliens attempting to wipe out humanity. It is a thought-provoking plot where each scientific breakthrough is analyzed for its effect on humanity and even the forces opposing the rebels rationally sort out their plans to capture the technology. The action is set against a background of intelligent discourse ranging from the effects of the technology on third-world farmers to the noosphere, the realm of human thought, and how it is affected by artificial intelligence. Even the title, NEMO’s WORLD, is a translation from Latin meaning “nobody’s world”, a reference to the loss of hegemony by the world powers. This is the level of discourse in the novel from its first pages. The book leaves several topics open, like the possibility of alien contact and the development of AI, but these seem to be hooks to be used for later in the series.

Good science fiction is usually about humanity rather than deep space or death rays. NEMO’S WORLD is well-written science fiction that harkens back to the golden age of Heinlein and Asimov.

~IndieReader.

Review here.

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1, it’s best to start there.

New Review: “Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Excerpt from a long new review by book blogger Ashley Tomlinson:

I liked Justin, there’s nothing quite like a smart guy to wrap your arms around. I liked Samantha too, having a smart female character without making her look like a stereotypical nerd girl is always great. There were so many smart characters, I don’t think there was anyone at my level of intelligence –I guess I mean average.

Sometimes it felt less like a fiction book and more like I was watching these peoples lives before my eyes. Maybe it was more film like than fiction book but it really painted a picture for me.

I don’t think this book is for everyone but it’s definitely for people that enjoy science and physics. If you like books with very intelligent characters, so smart they can debate with Stephen Hawking, then you’ll love this book. This is only book one so there is a lot more to come from this series and from Jeb Kinnison.

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars 1.