Cowen’s issues with illiberalism

..are outlined in this bizarre post. Apparently, anything outside mainstream economistic liberalism is “neo-reaction”, which he says can be summed up in these six points:

1. “Culturism” is in general correct, namely that some cultures are better than others.  You want to make sure you are ruled by one of the better cultures.  In any case, one is operating with a matrix of rule.

2. The historical ruling cultures for America and Western Europe — two very successful regions — have largely consisted of white men and have reflected the perspectives of white men.  This rule and influence continues to work, however, because it is not based on either whiteness or maleness per se.  There is a nominal openness to the current version of the system, which fosters competitive balance, yet at the end of the day it is still mostly about the perspectives of white men and one hopes this will continue.  By the way, groups which “become white” in their outlooks can be allowed into the ruling circle.

3. Today there is a growing coalition against the power and influence of (some) white men, designed in part to lower their status and also to redistribute their wealth.  This movement may not be directed against whiteness or maleness per se (in fact some of it can be interpreted as an internal coup d’etat within the world of white men), but still it is based on a kind of puking on what made the West successful.  And part and parcel of this process is an ongoing increase in immigration to further build up and cement in the new coalition.  Furthermore a cult of political correctness makes it very difficult to defend the nature of the old coalition without fear of being called racist; in today’s world the actual underlying principles of that coalition cannot be articulated too explicitly.  Most of all, if this war against the previous ruling coalition is not stopped, it will do us in.

4. It is necessary to deconstruct and break down the current dialogue on these issues, and to defeat the cult of political correctness, so that a) traditional rule can be restored, and/or b) a new and more successful form of that rule can be introduced and extended.  Along the way, we must realize that calls for egalitarianism, or for that matter democracy, are typically a power play of one potential ruling coalition against another.

5. Neo-reaction is not in love with Christianity in the abstract, and in fact it fears its radical, redistributive, and egalitarian elements.  Neo-reaction is often Darwinian at heart.  Nonetheless Christianity-as-we-find-it-in-the-world often has been an important part of traditional ruling coalitions, and thus the thinkers of neo-reaction are often suspicious of the move toward a more secular America, which they view as a kind of phony tolerance.

6. If you are analyzing political discourse, ask the simple question: is this person puking on the West, the history of the West, and those groups — productive white males — who did so much to make the West successful?  The answer to that question is very often more important than anything else which might be said about the contributions under consideration.

These six points, apparently, form “a (the?) significant ideology in China, India, Russia, and Japan”, and are represented by Donald Trump. Cowen continues:

Already I can see (at least) four problems with this point of view.  First, white men in percentage terms have become a weaker influence in America over time, yet America still is becoming a better nation overall.

This is clearly and obviously false, at least to anyone who can take the obvious step of distinguishing between the technological and the sociopolitical, and between goodness and adherence to the pseudo-religious dogma of the day. Unfortunately, this claim is often loudly made and quietly retracted (see: Scott Alexander’s anti-neoreaction FAQ and the resulting debate), so the bizarre idea that an atomized, depressed, directionless, and childless America that for the past few decades has been burned over by drug epidemics is “becoming a better nation overall” continues to spread.

Second, some of America’s worst traits, such as the obsession with guns, the excess militarism, or the tendency toward drunkenness, not to mention rape and the history of slavery, seem to come largely from white men.

This is about as reasonable as flat-earthism. Slavery is historically and cross-culturally normal and drew an unusual amount of opposition from European civilization, which eventually abolished slavery (and human sacrifice) worldwide; it’s ridiculous to claim that rape “seems to come largely from white men”; and the “obsession with guns” and “excess militarism” are perfectly ordinary traits of a culture that people like Cowen despise. Maybe Cowen would prefer to live in a country with a strong culture of pacifism, like France right before the Second World War. Oops.

Third, it seems highly unlikely that “white men” is in fact the best way of disambiguating the dominant interest groups that have helped make the West so successful.

This is reasonably accurate, since there are countries with lots of white men that haven’t done as well, and a few non-white countries that have used outside influence to become successful, such as Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. These countries, of course, have nothing in common with each other.

Fourth, America is global policeman and also the center of world innovation, so it cannot afford the luxury of a declining population, and thus we must find a way to make immigration work.

If immigration is so important, Cowen ought to push for a bipartisan solution to it: a plan that, for example, relies mostly on immigration from Eastern European countries (especially our geopolitical enemy, Russia, which we could potentially hurt via brain drain) and refugee status for white South Africans, who tend to be religious and would therefore probably have a higher fertility rate. There’s also the possibility of using the large institutions that can influence our popular culture to push ideas that would raise the American fertility rate, instead of pushing ideas that lower it, as most of them do now. Can you imagine the Ford Foundation agitating for a religious revival?


5 responses to “Cowen’s issues with illiberalism

  1. Alraune June 8, 2016 at 7:57 am

    “White men” is the disambiguator because “the Anglo-Franco-Germanic Cultural Nexus” doesn’t abbreviate well. Any better term you invented would, however, immediately come under the same attacks as “White men” does, so why bother refining your language?

  2. Texas June 8, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    I looked up the White fertility rate and I found a long paper on it, the latest date it had was 1996 and in 1996 the white fertility rate was about 1.8-1.9, 20 years ago. It most likely has gotten worse since then, and it shows in the fact that in a country that is growing even the absolute population of white people is going down, and Elon Musk. But I approve of your immigration idea.

  3. izvirk June 10, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Hey thank you for demolishing that piece of garbage.

  4. Pingback: Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Chaos Patch (#118)

  5. John June 15, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Excellent job refuting that terrible piece.

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