Blockchain property deeds and wealth liberation

In his under-appreciated classic “The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else“, Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the legal structure of property and property rights is a major determinant of the economic success of a country. “Every developed nation in the world at one time went through the transformation from predominantly informal, extralegal ownership to a formal, unified legal property system [and this] allowed people everywhere to leverage property into wealth.”

Trillions of dollars of economic value are trapped in informal assets that cannot, for example, be leveraged to secure loans or otherwise bootstrap wealth creation.

Imagine if you had an inexpensive, fraud-proof way to register and regulate these assets? Could this finally be the breakthrough use of blockchain?

Police Kanban

Why don’t the police use a public Kanban board to show the progress of criminal cases through the system?

Their workrate and priorities could be assessed openly. It would be great for transparency. Victims and journalists and other interested parties could track cases without needing to call the police.

This occurred to me after reading about some dreadful case in Sweden where a child rape victim’s case had not been processed after a year, and her attackers were still roaming about in the community as they all waited for the police to investigate. Journalists were calling the police for updates. The lack of transparency combined with public ignorance about both the scale of certain crimes and polices under resourcing all contributed to the situation.

Making the police workload publicly visible could really help focus resourcing discussions.

Pussy Struck

Afrikaners have a wonderful but very rude word: poesbefok, meaning “Pussy struck” or  mentally deranged by sexual desire or romantic love. Looks like the entire USA was poesbefok on October 7, 2016.

Dave Pell points out that the media’s over focus on the Trump pussy grab story allowed the bigger and potentially more damaging Russian hacker angle to go mostly unnoticed until too late:

Let’s go back in time to that fateful day, October 7, 2016 when we heard the instantly infamous “grab her by the pussy” tapes. It’s like the moon landing, Michael Jackson’s death, or the first time you saw Rick Perry try to look smart by wearing glasses. You’ll never forget where you were when it happened.

But it turns out that you are remembering that day for all the wrong reasons. As Clinton Campaign Comm director Jennifer Palmieri reminded us on MSNBC, October 7, 2016 was also the day that the NYT’s David Sanger and Charlie Savage broke a massive story with this headline: U.S. Says Russia Directed Hacks to Influence Elections.

Without the pussy story, that headline would have owned the day’s news cycle (or about 3 tweets) and put intense pressure on the Obama administration to release more details — which would have meant more stories.

Instead we fixated on Donald’s dirty talk.

My take on the Russian hacking this is this: Of course they tried to influence the election in their favor. This is an ancient realpolitik practice. Nothing new there.  What is new is that they may have used hacked data released as leaks to these ends – and that was effective. Did it lead to a Trump victory?  I am waiting for more evidence before I make a judgment.

See also:

https://medium.com/pell-on-media/how-pussy-won-262b6a4b7364#.ajc6ayyy0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_South_African_slang_words

Victimhood Culture

wolz5co - Imgur

I think this concept of Victimhood Culture is the key that explains so much of the lunacy we see in modern academia.

Rather than reinterpret and possibly misrepresent, I have collected some excerpts and extended quotes on the topic to get you caught up:

http://righteousmind.com/where-microaggressions-really-come-from/

I just read the most extraordinary paper by two sociologists — Bradley Campbell and Jason 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.

[Read the rest of the post for a superb examination of this pathology.]

From: https://reason.com/blog/2015/09/11/victimhood-culture-in-america-beyond-dig

In “Microaggression and Moral Cultures,” the California State University, Los Angeles sociologist Bradley Campbell and the West Virginia University sociologist Jason Manning identify a “culture of victimhood” that they distinguish from the “honor cultures” and “dignity cultures” of the past. In a victimhood culture, they write, “individuals and groups display high sensitivity to slight, have a tendency to handle conflicts through complaints to third parties, and seek to cultivate an image of being victims who deserve assistance.”

Insightfully complementing their analysis is a new study by the St. Lawrence University economist Steven Horwitz, titled “Cooperation Over Coercion: The Importance of Unsupervised Childhood Play for Democracy and Liberalism.” Horwitz makes the case that overprotective childrearing is undermining the “ability to engage in group problem solving and settle disputes without the intervention of outsiders,” a capacity he calls “a key part of the liberal order.” In other words, both studies find that Americans increasingly want and expect adult supervision.

The authors argue that people seek the moral status of victim in situations where social stratification is low, cultural diversity is high, and authorities are referees. These three conditions pervade the modern American university, so it not surprising that the microaggression victimhood phenomenon is most intense in academia.

…As social status becomes more equal, they argue, people become more sensitive to any slights perceived as aiming to increase the level of inequality in a relationship. In addition, as cultural diversity increases, any attempts seen as trying to reduce it or diminish its importance are deemed as a morally deviant form of domination. As the New York University moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt has astutely observed, “As progress is made toward a more equal and humane society, it takes a smaller and smaller offense to trigger a high level of outrage. The goalposts shift, allowing participants to maintain a constant level of anger and constant level of perceived victimization.”

Those experiencing what they think are microaggressions seek third-party redress of their grievances by assuming the pose of victim. “People portray themselves as oppressed by the powerful—as damaged, disadvantaged, and needy,” write Campbell and Manning. The process heralds the emergence of a culture of victimhood that is distinct from earlier honor and dignity cultures. This is nothing less than demoralizing and polarizing.

In honor cultures, men maintain their honor by responding to insults, slights, and violations of rights by self-help violence. “Cultures of honor tend to arise in places where legal authority is weak or non-existent, and where a reputation for toughness is perhaps the only effective deterrent against predation or attack,” write Campbell and Manning. They note that honor cultures still exist in the Arab world and among street gangs in Western societies.

During the 19th century, most Western societies began the moral transition toward dignity cultures in which all citizens are legally endowed with equal rights. Dignity does not depend upon reputation but exists as unalienable rights that do not depend on what other people think of one’s bravery. Having a thick skin and shrugging off slights become virtues because they help maintain social peace. The aphorism that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is practically the motto of dignity cultures.

Of course, serious conflicts cannot always be resolved privately. In dignity cultures persons, property, and rights are then defended as a last resort by recourse to third parties, such as courts and police, that if necessary wield violence on their behalf. Still, dignity cultures practice tolerance and are much more peaceful than honor cultures.

Horwitz is all about defending the culture of dignity. He points out that daily social interaction is full annoying or obnoxious small-scale behavior such as failing to refill the copier, taking some else’s parking space, or hearing a tasteless joke. “When one seriously considers all the moments in a typical day that have potential for conflict that get resolved through conversation and negotiation, or just plain tolerance, it is actually somewhat astounding how smooth social life is,” Horwitz observes. In fact, the vast majority of conflicts in modern Western societies are resolved without recourse to external authorities or direct coercion.

Horwitz makes a strong case that unsupervised and unstructured play among children teaches them private, noncoercive ways to resolve conflicts and generate cooperation, lessons that are very important to how they conduct themselves when they become adults. Supervised play, by contrast, trains children to expect adults to step in to adjudicate disputes and apply coercion. Horwitz fears this is flipping the social default setting from “figure out how to solve this conflict on your own” to “invoke force and/or third parties whenever conflict arises.”

Americans are turning increasingly to third-party coercion to resolve what would in earlier days have been considered minor conflicts. He worries that without “the skills necessary to solve conflicts cooperatively, it is not hard to imagine that people will quickly turn either to external authorities like the state to resolve them, or would demand an exhaustive list of explicit rules” as to what constitutes permissible conduct. His concern mirrors that of Alexis de Tocqueville who in Democracy in America (1835) prophesied that democracy would generate an “immense and tutelary power” whose authority is “absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood.” Ultimately, Horwitz fears that the result of ceding ever more power to state authorities to resolve conflicts “will be the destruction of liberalism and democracy.”

A victimhood culture combines an honor culture’s quickness to take offense with an overdependence on the coercive institutions that serve as a dignity culture’s last resort. …A victimhood culture will spawn social conflict, which in turn will produce an ever larger and more coercive government tasked with trying to suppress it.

From http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/the-rise-of-victimhood-culture/404794/

…a new, increasingly common approach to handling conflict.

It isn’t honor culture.

“Honorable people are sensitive to insult, and so they would understand that microaggressions, even if unintentional, are severe offenses that demand a serious response,” they write. “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.”

But neither is it dignity culture:

“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.”

The culture on display on many college and university campuses, by way of contrast, is “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.”

It is, they say, “a victimhood culture.”

Victimhood cultures emerge in settings, like today’s college campuses, “that increasingly lack the intimacy and cultural homogeneity that once characterized towns and suburbs, but in which organized authority and public opinion remain as powerful sanctions,” they argue. “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 … the moral status of the victim, at its nadir in honor cultures, has risen to new heights.”

…Per their discipline, the sociologists offer structural explanations for why college students are addressing conflicts within the framework of “microaggressions.”  Victimhood culture “arose because of the rise of social conditions conducive to it,” they argue, “and if it prevails it will be because those conditions have prevailed.”
Those social conditions include the following:

  • Self-help in the form of dueling or fighting is not an option.
  • “The availability of social superiors—especially hierarchical superiors such as legal or private administrators—is conducive to reliance on third parties.”
  • Campaigns aimed at winning over the support of third parties are likeliest to occur in atomized environments, like college campuses, where one cannot rely on members of a family, tribe or clan to automatically take one’s side in a dispute.
  • Since third-parties are likeliest to intervene in disputes that they regard as relatively serious, and disputes where one group is perceived as dominating another are considered serious by virtue of their aggregate relevance to millions of people, victimhood culture is likeliest to arise in settings where there is some diversity and inequality, but whose members are almost equal, since “a morality that privileges equality and condemns oppression is most likely to arise precisely in settings that already have relatively high degrees of equality.”

…As I ponder microaggressions as “a form of social control in which the aggrieved collect and publicize accounts of intercollective offenses, making the case that relatively minor slights are part of a larger pattern of injustice and that those who suffer them are socially marginalized and deserving of sympathy,”

JH: Western society has transitioned from an honor culture to a dignity culture and now is shifting into a culture of victimhood. In the culture of honor, each person has to earn honor and, unable to tolerate a slight, takes action himself. The big advance in Western society was to let the law handle serious offenses and ignore the inevitable minor ones—what sociologists call the culture of dignity, which reigned in the 20th century. It allows diversity to flourish because different people can live near each other without killing each other. The past 20-30 years, however, has seen the rise of a victimhood culture, where you’re hypersensitive to slights as in the honor culture, but you never take care of it yourself. You always appeal to a third party to punish for you. And here’s the big concept—you become morally dependent. Young people are becoming morally dependent; they are also less able to solve problems on their own. An adult has always been there somewhere to protect them or punish for them. This attitude does not begin in college. Students have been raised to be morally dependent.”

All of us now live in fear that a single word, a single tweet, can suck us into a vortex of investigations and social media shame. Third is the sincere belief of the academic community in the culture of victimhood. Most professors are horrified by trigger warnings and microaggressions. But these things flourish in the identity studies departments, gender studies, race studies, and among any group charged with promoting diversity. These three forces are converging so that everybody’s walking on eggshells, afraid of being sued or accused.

HEM: You said that the student concerns that lead them to condemn microaggressions or ask for trigger warnings keep them in a state of constant outrage. One thing we know is that crazy-seeming behavior tends to have a purpose. What is the value of staying in a state of outrage?

JH: Moral judgment is not about finding the truth; it is more about broadcasting the kind of person you are to people that you want to like you. You might call it moral posturing. Getting angry about microaggressions shows that you are championing victims. In a victimhood subculture, the only way to achieve status is to either be a victim or defend victims. It’s enfeebling. When victimhood becomes your identity you will be weak for the rest of your life. Marty Seligman has been talking about this for decades. This is a good way to make people learn helplessness.

JH: There’s a basic tension between pursuing dynamism and decency. Societies differ on how much to focus on dynamism—encouraging innovation and creative destruction—and how much on decency, which means protecting people from the creative destruction, unemployment, and other problems of capitalism. This is the basis of the left/right divide over capitalism: The left usually focuses on decency, the right on dynamism. In talking to you, I’m suddenly realizing that we have the same issue in the college community. Focusing on decency—it’s called inclusivity—is valuable. But is that all we should do? Should we also focus on dynamism, encouraging students to think in new ways, to take risks, to say things that other people might not like?

From http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/27/opinion/sunday/the-real-victims-of-victimhood.html

BACK in 1993, the misanthropic art critic Robert Hughes published a grumpy, entertaining book called “Culture of Complaint,” in which he predicted that America was doomed to become increasingly an “infantilized culture” of victimhood. It was a rant against what he saw as a grievance industry appearing all across the political spectrum.

I enjoyed the book, but as a lifelong optimist about America, was unpersuaded by Mr. Hughes’s argument. I dismissed it as just another apocalyptic prediction about our culture.

Unfortunately, the intervening two decades have made Mr. Hughes look prophetic and me look naïve.

…On campuses, activists interpret ordinary interactions as “microaggressions” and set up “safe spaces” to protect students from certain forms of speech. And presidential candidates on both the left and the right routinely motivate supporters by declaring that they are under attack by immigrants or wealthy people.

So who cares if we are becoming a culture of victimhood? We all should. To begin with, victimhood makes it more and more difficult for us to resolve political and social conflicts. The culture feeds a mentality that crowds out a necessary give and take — the very concept of good-faith disagreement — turning every policy difference into a pitched battle between good (us) and evil (them).

…The researchers concluded that there was a widespread political “motive attribution asymmetry,” in which both sides attributed their own group’s aggressive behavior to love, but the opposite side’s to hatred. Today, millions of Americans believe that their side is basically benevolent while the other side is evil and out to get them.

Second, victimhood culture makes for worse citizens — people who are less helpful, more entitled, and more selfish.

…Does this mean that we should reject all claims that people are victims? Of course not. Some people are indeed victims in America — of crime, discrimination or deprivation. They deserve our empathy and require justice.

The problem is that the line is fuzzy between fighting for victimized people and promoting a victimhood culture. Where does the former stop and the latter start? I offer two signposts for your consideration.

First, look at the role of free speech in the debate. Victims and their advocates always rely on free speech and open dialogue to articulate unpopular truths. They rely on free speech to assert their right to speak. Victimhood culture, by contrast, generally seeks to restrict expression in order to protect the sensibilities of its advocates. Victimhood claims the right to say who is and is not allowed to speak.

What about speech that endangers others? Fair-minded people can discriminate between expression that puts people at risk and that which merely rubs some the wrong way. Speaking up for the powerless is often “offensive” to conventional ears.

Second, look at a movement’s leadership. The fight for victims is led by aspirational leaders who challenge us to cultivate higher values. They insist that everyone is capable of — and has a right to — earned success. They articulate visions of human dignity. But the organizations and people who ascend in a victimhood culture are very different. Some set themselves up as saviors; others focus on a common enemy. In all cases, they treat people less as individuals and more as aggrieved masses.

[As an aside, The I LOVED “The Culture of Complaint” when I read it back in the 90s. It has an absolutely magnificent W.H. Auden poem at the beginning. ]

Some more resources:

http://righteousmind.com/applying-moral-psych/coddling/  (2015)

Microaggressions and Moral Cultures by Jason Manning (2015) The paper that sparked off the recent interest in this topic.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201509/crisis-u (2015)

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200411/nation-wimps (2004)

http://sultanknish.blogspot.dk/2015/11/crymobs-crybullying-and-lefts-whiny-war.html

Perp walk politics

I know I have lost

Photo by Sarah Galasko (cc)

When the most hated man in America – Martin Shkreli – was arrested on securities fraud charges, I thought to myself that I bet there is a politico-performance element to it.

What are the chances that this hate figure just happens to come to the attention of the federal authorities shortly after making himself widely “hated” for increasing the price of a drug he owns by 700%?

What are the chances that Reuters just happened to be there when he was arrested?!

Turns out I am not alone in wondering this, from Popehat:

Based on my experience with perp-walked clients1, I think the more likely scenario is that a government agent responsible for investigating and prosecuting Mr. Shkreli tipped Reuters off about the arrest — that someone told Reuters to be there to catch the perp walk.

If Reuters was there through independent investigation, then good for them. But if Reuters was there because of a tip from law enforcement, then I’d like to ask a couple of questions.

There are two subjects on which Reuters could have informed its audience, two sets of questions it could have answered:

Subject One: Who leaked the time and place of the arrest? Was it an FBI agent, a prosecutor, staff, a coordinating local cop? How high up in the government did the decision to leak the arrest go? Did the leak violate the law? Did it violate the defendant’s rights? What was the government’s purpose in leaking the time and place of the arrest? How does this instance fit into the pattern of which arrests get leaked and which don’t? Which nonviolent defendants without records get arrested, and which get summonsed in (or self-surrender through arrangement with their lawyers), and why? What impact does a front-page picture of a defendant in handcuffs have on the jury pool? Is that impact a feature, or a bug, of leaking it? Was the leak intended to inflict extra-judicial humiliation and punishment on the defendant? If the government lies about whether or not it leaked, would you still keep it secret?

Subject Two: What would Martin Shkreli look like being led away in handcuffs?

It seems Reuters chose to address the second subject.

The authorities are want to look good by going after this hate figure. I believe there probably is a case to answer, but I also think there are large dollops of “extra-judicial humiliation and punishment” being dropped on the defendant.

More: https://popehat.com/2015/12/17/an-open-letter-to-reuters-reporters-nate-raymond-and-david-ingram/

Laws as licensed political weapons

This was stuck in my drafts folder. I have published it on the date of creation. It is half-baked and unfinished, so forgive the roughness. 

Few argue with the stated objective of hate speech legislation, but it is widely abused for political means, interferes with free inquiry (needed for science and democracy) and is often counterproductive (inflames rather than reduced ethnic tension).

Countries like Australia are ditching it. We have ancient and effective laws against incitement that are enough to handle direct harms. Look at Sweden. It has the most draconian Hate Speech legislation and has an exploding problem with extreme far-right nationalism. A significant part of the problem is that honest dialogue is impossible because the laws are used a political weapon.

Here in Denmark where we have great free speech, we have no such problems. People speak freely, there is a marketplace of ideas, pragmatic and fair solutions are created where all stakeholders – including the often silenced minorities – are considered. This leads to increased social cohesion, not less.

In Europe, we waged a 1000 year fight against religious and state authorities to establish rights that you take for granted and are the underpinnings of liberal democracy. People are entitled to believe what they want, even if it is that certain groups are sub-human (Freedom of thought). They also have the rights to express those beliefs (freedom of speech). Those natural rights are, as you say, constrained by the harm principle (You should not hard others with your actions). The argument since WW2 has been what harms come from certain kinds of speech. We have gone from direct incitement (“Kill that man!”) to a situation where merely insulting people is now criminal.

In our desperate effort to contain the problems arising from mass migration and botched multiculturalism, we are destroying our rights. The second order effects are damaging to democracy and ruinous if not utterly destructive to minorities. We are like rats gnawing on the ropes that keep us from falling into the sea. In our short-sighted effort to address the symptoms of our problems (Hate speech, rising social tensions, erosion of democracy, radicalism) we damage the tools we will need to fix them (like freedom of speech).

It is impossible to explain the subtleties here, but please read the magnificent book Kindly Inquisitors by the gay rights activist Jonathan Rauch. It is one of the finest books on the subject.



http://www.forbes.com/…/jonathan-rauch-reminds-us-that…/

 
Slavoj Zizek has a revealing take on  the role of racist jokes in the former Yugoslavia:

This tells us something important. When you silence the jokes, the satire, the free speech, you know the situation is really bad. Killing free speech and humor are the death signs of a stable society liberal order. 

Another example – from the Tito era – is the perpetuation of social and political silliness because people want to avoid offending other’s beliefs or are too scared to say things out loud. This wonderful RSA animated presentation by Professor Renata Salecl on The Paradox of Choice. Check out her description of people in Yugoslavia pretending to believe in Communism despite almost no one really believing it. 

On Law as a licensed political weapon
Laws are a weapon we voluntarily license to the state to constrain our freedoms, with our consent, for our collective benefit. If those weapons are used responsibly and achieve their stated ends (the spirit of the law) they ought to be kept.  If those laws are corrosive of the commonwealth or harmful, they need to be repealed. Hate statutes have failed this test on both counts. They have been used irresponsibly to prevent open discussion, not encourage it and this has, in my opinion, caused more harm than good. Large-scale migration, and how we manage it responsibly, are arguably the most important political subject of the era. It is an existential question for European culture. With a topic of such importance, pieties and possible harms are secondary to forging a workable politico-social response to this phenomenon.
The question is not how to stop it – it is effectively unstoppable in an unequal world – nor how to reverse it, that is barbarous and impossible without genocide. The question is how we can all live together forever. For 50 years we have trusted elite paternalism. We trusted the political classes to manage the problem and act in our best interests. The Financial Crisis has reminded us forcefully the elites act in their own interests, even to the point of fomenting ethnic tension to maintain disunity between groups who should be natural allies (US blacks, Hispanics, and the white working classes).
The largest social experiment in history – mass immigration managed by official multiculturalism with hate speech and obscurantism about the effects of immigration or the behavior of immigrants being central to the strategy (“Everything is fine here, move along, asking questions is racist”). The internet threatened that. If the masses could collaborate directly, it would undermine efforts to manage the message on the effects of immigration (the chief of which is diminishing social cohesion). This threat was neutralized by what the internet actually unleashed: A cacophony of disagreement and disinformation (as David Weinberger says “a tsunami of disagreement”).
Europeans and other populations being subjected to large-scale disruptions from immigration could not organize a cohesive response to try and stop it but could not even discuss how to respond to it beyond the state-sanctioned mandates of banning racism, insults, ethnic humor and effectively forbidding the discussion of immigration in terms other than the benefits of diversity and the enrichment of society.
This towing of the official line on immigration has seriously damaged people trust in politicians. The problems with immigration and immigrants are obvious, yet acknowledging them was ruinous to carers and in some cases illegal. Almost anything could be sacrificed to maintaining “community relations”. Riots in the summer of 2001 in the UK were blamed on the tiny and politically marginal British National Party (BNP) when after 9/11 it became obvious it was internal community radicals that were stirring up the riots. Those who said so at the time were branded a racist.
In the North of England gangs of British-Pakistani men groomed and systematically raped thousands of white children. The authorities knew about the problem for 10 years and did next to nothing due to being paralyzed by fears of being branded racists (thereby ending their careers) and “inflaming community tensions”.  This is just one of countless examples where mainstream political forces and civil servants toed the line on immigration and its effects, handing the role of truth-sayers to far-right populist parties and groups who were willing to acknowledge the truth (then offer a simplistic and chauvinist interpretations) and promised these disenfranchised whites something the lacked and craved – political representation.
Now we have a perfect storm for fascism. Weak and politically paralyzed western governments. Aggrieved minorities fed a relentless narrative of racist oppression and discrimination. Provocative terror groups “representing” minorities. High crime among some immigrants and minority groups fueling majority anger. Discrimination against the majority in law to help minorities. We also have growing working class political consciousness and awareness of the elite swindle as manifested by the populist surge. This is a recipe for revolution. Will you stop them with hate speech laws designed to suppress knowledgeable of real problems? Did not work for Soviets in the pre-internet era, it will not work where everyone has a video-capable smartphone phone either.
 
So what do we do then?
  • We protect free-speech as fiercely as we can.
  • Fist we believe we can find a political solution – no more fatalism and pessimism.
  • We do not leave this to the state, it has failed to manage this and cannot be trusted. We address it at a civic level.
  • We use the ancient tools of building trust: Honest dialogue, acknowledgment, the truth
  • We make it safe for people to speak up. We establish genuine politico-cognitive diversity
  • We (Europeans) accept immigrants as 100% equals as citizens and stakeholders (like in the USA)
  • We repudiate essentialism. You are defined by what you espouse and choose to support e.g. you may be judged for supporting slavery, not because you are white. 

Does Affirmative Action Work?

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Affirmative action programs in Malaysia that set aside 70% of university places to Malays force many ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indian Malaysians to study abroad. Photo Credit: amsfrank via Compfight cc

Foreign Affairs has a very good piece on Affirmative Action. The summary:

“Across the globe, the lessons from affirmative action programs are clear: they can occasionally help in the economic sphere, produce mixed results in improving social cohesion, and are an unmitigated disaster when it comes to politics.”

Here are some excerpts:

Differences aside, however, affirmative action programs around the world have enjoyed similar successes—and fallen prey to many of the same failures. Most succeed in reducing economic inequality, although often less significantly than policymakers hope. They have a mixed record when it comes to improving social cohesion: affirmative action policies tend to underscore ethnic divisions rather than reduce them, although there is some evidence that racial unrest becomes less likely as economic inequality ebbs. And their most negative effects tend to be in the political sphere: in many countries, policies intended to assist the disadvantaged have been corrupted by political elites who manipulate the system to their own advantage and block any attempts at reform.

Balancing this less-than-impressive track record is the fact that affirmative action has often played an indispensable role in nation building in multiethnic societies. In the West, nation building is usually thought of as something that happens only in postcolonial societies or in places recovering from recent periods of intense intercommunal conflict. Today, in fact, thanks to immigration, shifting demographics, and changing beliefs about identity and ethnicity, prosperous Western countries also experience a kind of slow-motion nation building, as ideas about what it means to be “American,” or “British,” or “Dutch” evolve. As a result, the role of affirmative action in creating national identities in places such as Malaysia and India may be more relevant to places such as the United States than most Americans realize.

For the benefits of affirmative action to outweigh the harm, however, the programs must effectively target the poor. Programs that lift only a select few out of poverty or become corrupted by elites will neither reduce inequality nor bolster the nation. At best, such programs will quickly lose popular support; at worst, they will fray the social fabric they were meant to strengthen.

It has not been very successful in South Africa:

In South Africa and India, the economic effects of affirmative action have been more mixed. When apartheid ended in 1994, the South African government instituted a policy of “black economic empowerment,” which promoted the transfer of stakes in white-owned businesses to black investors. The government hoped that change at the top would trickle down to the bottom, as black-owned businesses would be more likely to hire and promote other black South Africans. In fact, the program succeeded primarily in creating a coterie of well-connected black entrepreneurs.

The problem seem to be primarily about privileged elites coopting the programs.

If the economic and social impacts of affirmative action have been mixed, 
its political impacts have been almost universally damaging. In a wide range of countries, political elites and special interests have consistently exploited affirmative action programs for their own gain.

And reform is politically damaging for the reformers:

Even when reforms are clearly necessary, politicians often have a vested interest in keeping flawed affirmative action programs the way they are, or even expanding them. The equation is simple: more benefits to more people equals more votes.

So how do you make them work? This is an important question because once you start them they are nearly impossible to stop.

The successes and failures of affirmative action in India, Malaysia, and South Africa offer important lessons for the United States, where government agencies and other institutions have often struggled to define, justify, and reform their programs. The major lesson is that affirmative action policies work best when they target the poor. The “creamy layer” problem undermines the very purpose of affirmative action and makes such programs politically unsustainable. Indeed, interethnic support for Malaysia’s affirmative action program reached its peak in the 1970s, when it primarily targeted poor and rural indigenous groups, and began to drop as 
the program became a tool of the political elite.

In designing affirmative action policies that cannot be exploited by the wealthy or the politically connected, transparency is key, both in the rules of eligibility and in the awarding of benefits.

Instead of giving politicians discretionary control over the selection process, the government should award benefits by lottery or through a merit-based point system. Similarly, in the United States, policy­makers should craft affirmative action policies with benefits that are awarded according to clear metrics.

Above all, the success of affirmative action depends on preventing programs from outliving their economic and social efficacy.

 

Source: Does Affirmative Action Work?

Anonymity

With so so few people being antifragile combined with increasing attacks on people’s livelihoods over their mere thoughts and beliefs, we have millions of prisoners of conscience, people persecuted or justifiably fearful of persecution for the non-violent expression of their conscientiously held beliefs.

If it is unsafe for you to speak freely or reveal what you think for fear of persecution, then anonymity is your shield. Learn about how to achieve it properly and use it wisely.

our method: pseudonymous speech…

anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. it thus exemplifies the purpose behind the bill of rights, and of the first amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation– and their ideas from suppression– at the hand of an intolerant society.

The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. but political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.

– mcintyre v. ohio elections commission 514 u.s. 334 (1995) justice stevens writing for the majority

though often maligned (typically by those frustrated by an inability to engage in ad hominem attacks) anonymous speech has a long and storied history in the united states. used by the likes of mark twain (aka samuel langhorne clemens) to criticize common ignorance, and perhaps most famously by alexander hamilton, james madison and john jay (aka publius) to write the federalist papers, we think ourselves in good company in using one or another nom de plume. particularly in light of an emerging trend against vocalizing public dissent in the united states, we believe in the critical importance of anonymity and its role in dissident speech. like the economist magazine, we also believe that keeping authorship anonymous moves the focus of discussion to the content of speech and away from the speaker- as it should be. we believe not only that you should be comfortable with anonymous speech in such an environment, but that you should be suspicious of any speech that isn’t.

From http://www.zerohedge.com/about via http://fabiusmaximus.com/about/authors/ 

See also:

https://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_post

Synthetic Tolerance

Pink chair

From The Guardian:

Elton John has called for a boycott of fashion brand Dolce and Gabbana after he said the designers labelled children born through IVF “synthetic”.

The singer and songwriter, 67, who has two children with his husband, David Furnish, angrily rebuked the Italian designers for criticising same-sex families and the use of fertility treatment.

Business partners Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who were once a couple, have previously voiced their rejection of same-sex marriage, but in an interview with an Italian magazine this weekend they extended their objection to include same-sex families.

In an Instagram post on Sunday morning, John said: “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’.

“And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children.

“Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana.”

In summary,  If I disagree with your opinion, I will attempt to destroy your livelihood. No dialogue, no tolerance, no debate, no attempt to persuade – just attack!

Gabbana is spot on in his response:

“I didn’t expect this, coming from someone whom I considered, and I stress ‘considered’, an intelligent person like Elton John.

“I mean, you preach understanding, tolerance and then you attack others?

“Only because someone has a different opinion? Is this a democratic or enlightened way of thinking? This is ignorance, because he ignores the fact that others might have a different opinion and that theirs is as worthy of respect as his.

“It’s an authoritiarian way of seeing the world: agree with me or, if you don’t, I’ll attack you.”

Elton John would do well to remember that human rights (including gay rights) were built on the principles Free Speech, empathy and tolerance. Elton John preaches tolerance but displays utter intolerance to anyone who disagrees with him.  This is both hypocrisy and chauvinism.

Let me give Jonathan  Rauch the last word. This is from his magnificent book Kindly Inquisitors:

Today I fear that many people on my side of the gay-equality question are forgetting our debt to the system that freed us. Some gay people—not all, not even most, but quite a few—want to expunge discriminatory views. “Discrimination is discrimination and bigotry is bigotry,” they say, “and they are intolerable whether or not they happen to be someone’s religion or moral creed. ‘ Here is not the place for an examination of the proper balance between, say, religious liberty and anti-discrimination rules. It is a place, perhaps, for a plea to those of us in the gay-rights movement—and in other minority-rights movements—who now find ourselves in the cultural ascendency, with public majorities and public morality (strange to say it!) on our side. We should be the last people on the planet to demand that anyone be silenced.

Partly the reasons are strategic. Robust intellectual exchange…serves our interest. Our greatest enemy is not irrational hate, which is pretty uncommon. It is rational hate, hate premised upon falsehood. (If you believe homosexuality poses a threat to your children, you will hate it.) The main way we eliminate hate is not to legislate or inveigh against it, but to replace it—with knowledge, empirical and ethical. That was how Frank Kameny and a few other people, without numbers or law or public sympathy on their side, turned hate on its head. They had arguments, and they had the right to make them.

And partly the reasons are moral. Gay people have lived in a world where we were forced, day in and day out, to betray our consciences and shut our mouths in the name of public morality. Not so long ago, everybody thought we were wrong. Now our duty is to protect others’ freedom to be wrong, the better to ensure society’s odds of being right. Of course, we can and should correct the falsehoods we hear and, once they are debunked, deny them the standing of knowledge in textbooks and professions; but we equally have the responsibility to defend their expression as opinion in the public  square. Finding the proper balance is not easy and isn’t supposed to be.

What I am urging is a general proposition: minorities are the point of the spear defending liberal science. We are the first to be targeted with vile words and ideas, but we are also the leading beneficiaries of a system which puts up with them. The open society is sometimes a cross we bear, but it is also a sword we wield, and we are defenseless without it. We ought to remember what Frank Kameny never forgot: for politically weak minorities, the best and often only way to effect wholesale change in World One and World Two, the worlds of things and sentiments, is by effecting change in World Three, the world of ideas. Minorities therefore have a special responsibility to Peirce’s injunction: Do not block the way of inquiry. Our position as beneficiaries of the open society requires us to serve as guardians of it. Playing that role, not seeking government protections or hauling our adversaries before star chambers, is the greater source of our dignity.

See also

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-dg-protest-direct-action-or-a-two-minute-hate/

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/dg-said-something-we-disagree-with-destroy-those-deviants/16780

http://twitchy.com/2015/03/15/hypocrite-elton-john-boycotts-designers-who-disagree-with-him/

 

Bootleggers & Baptists:

Here is a theory of regulation that was new to me – Bootleggers and Baptists:

“Here is the essence of the theory: durable social regulation evolves when it is demanded by both of two distinctly different groups. “Baptists” point to the moral high ground and give vital and vocal endorsement of laudable public benefits promised by a desired regulation. Baptists flourish when their moral message forms a visible foundation for political action. “Bootleggers” are much less visible but no less vital. Bootleggers, who expect to profit from the very regulatory restrictions desired by Baptists, grease the political machinery with some of their expected proceeds. They are simply in it for the money.” – From “Bootleggers & Baptists: How Economic Forces and Moral Persuasion Interact to Shape Regulatory Politics” by Adam Smith and Bruce Yandel (2014-09-07). (Kindle Locations 50-55). Cato Institute. Kindle Edition.

In many domains, particularly community relations, we see the unelected “community leaders” speak on behalf of entire communities, engaging in grievance mongering and exaggeration of issues so as directly profit and accrue power. These baptists preach a moral fable of oppression in order to profit as bootleggers.