The cause of the crisis

One of a series of posts titled “the cause of the crisis”, each discussing a different cause, but each of these causes caused or was caused by each of the other causes:

When the universal franchise was introduced a hundred years ago, people said the system would go to hell.  Now it is going to hell.

Obviously a government cannot go on forever spending much more than it collects.  For a while printing money and borrowing money will work, but eventually, it is bound to lead to trouble, and big trouble is approaching fast.

Government inexorably and rapidly gets more expensive and more intrusive.  No doubt more taxes could be collected if they went after the politically well connected, but overall taxes are close to the Laffer maximum – if they raise taxes on those whom it is easy to raise taxes on, for example a tax on luxury yachts, they will get less money, not more money.

A tax on gas, beer, and cigarettes would work, but be unpopular with the electorate.  A tax on bankers, educationists, and lawyers would work, but would be unpopular with the well connected – and even such taxes would merely postpone the day of reckoning.  Government’s existing commitments are unsustainable with any politically realistic, or even politically unrealistic, tax rise.

The welfare state is simply running out of money.

There are two related problems:  Theocracy and democracy.  The masses are stupid, the elite is theocratic.

Because the elite is theocratic, they compete for power by each being holier than the other, that is to say, more politically correct than the other – but because their religion is this-worldly, they are required to have religious beliefs about this word rather than the next, thus each member of the elite competes to be further out of contact with reality than the other.

Because the masses are stupid, they succumb to politicians promising that the voters can vote themselves rich.

A hundred years ago, progressivism was a sect of Christianity with ambitions for theocracy and world conquest.  To better pursue these goals, it discarded theism, becoming theologically indistinguishable from universalist Unitarianism, thus evading the restraints imposed by the first amendment.

Consider, for example, the doctrine that men and women are equal – therefore the same and interchangeable:  Women, supposedly, can be firemen and soldiers.  Men, supposedly, can marry other men.

The modern progressive theory of equality is in fact a variant of Christianity.

Equality of men and women, and of the races, makes no common sense or biological sense. Men and women, for example, are biologically so different, that pretty much however you decide to measure them, chances are slim that they will prove to be equal.

When I discuss the matter with leftists, the main argument is some kind of skepticism with regard to efforts to measure people (which always end up demonstrating sexual and racial differences). For example, Gould is skeptical about IQ and race.

Roissy wonders why the elites are so stuck on the obviously false idea of literal equality.  Understood as a species of Christian belief, it makes sense, because the Christians believe that the most important part of the self is immaterial. If it’s immaterial, then material differences have nothing to do with it. So Christians are free to believe pretty much anything they want about this most important part of the self, unconstrained by material evidence of any sort. They are free to believe that deep inside everyone, there is a core, an essence, that is not the slightest diminished by bodily infirmity etc. etc. I.e., the soul.

The progressives jettison God, replacing God with, presumably, Nature. So “equality before God” becomes “equality before Nature”. That is, natural equality (of some unspecified sort). And this could be how the progressives manage to believe in some unspecified “natural” (biological or whatever) equality even though no evidence backs them up. Their belief is derived, not from evidence, but from the Christian heritage of progressivism. Their belief looks superficially like a scientific hypothesis because all the terms in it could be interpreted as referring to natural things, but it doesn’t really have any empirical content, because “equality”, while it could refer to something measurable, does not actually refer to anything measurable. Any attempt to measure something to test the claim of “equality” is attacked by progressives.

Progressives are using naturalistic-sounding words to talk about equality, but they are behaving as though it didn’t make any sense to try to measure it, which is how Christians would behave with respect to attempts to rigorously test equality before God. Their reaction would range from skepticism that it could be done, to the sense that it doesn’t even make sense to try, and finally to the certainty that it is heresy to even suggest such a thing and the person suggesting it is evil and possibly a sorcerer and should be burnt at the stake.

The progressive reaction to naturalistic attempts to assess equality is exactly the same as the Christian reaction would be.

The Christian view of equality is entirely impervious to empirical evidence, and so is the progressive view. It makes sense, then, to interpret progressives, when they talk about male and female equality, and about black and white equality, as really talking about the Christian soul, even though they themselves do not realize this is what they are doing because they have forgotten why they are going through these mental motions.

Tags: , ,

11 Responses to “The cause of the crisis”

  1. Bill says:

    The modern progressive theory of equality is in fact a variant of Christianity.

    It’s a heresy, yes. Public, unrepentant heretics should be burnt at the stake, as you later helpfully point out.

    Roissy wonders why the elites are so stuck on the obviously false idea of literal equality. Understood as a species of Christian belief, it makes sense, because the Christians believe that the most important part of the self is immaterial. If it’s immaterial, then material differences have nothing to do with it. So Christians are free to believe pretty much anything they want about this most important part of the self, unconstrained by material evidence of any sort. They are free to believe that deep inside everyone, there is a core, an essence, that is not the slightest diminished by bodily infirmity etc. etc. I.e., the soul.

    Relatedly, Rawls argues that society should be organized in the way that a certain kind of being would organize it. Specifically, a being which is a human being, except stripped of both his genetic endowment and his experience. A secular materialist, when asked to imagine a human without genetic endowment or experience, should scream “Norman correlate,” smoke should pour out of his ears, and then he should die. For Christians, it’s no problem at all. We’re talking about souls. And the society souls would vote for when they lack the veil of flesh to muddy things up is whatever society maximizes the number of souls who will end up in Heaven. So, Rawls, if he were not a demented lunatic heretic, would agree with St Thomas.

    Leftists act weird when you point out to them that Rawls is talking about souls and that secular materialists like them should believe Rawls is talking absolute nonsense.

    • jim says:

      Locke’s original condition is real men in real places – he gives the Americas, and Rome before it had kings as examples. Rawl’s original condition is angels in heaven.

  2. Polymath says:

    Related points are made here:

    http://rebelliousvanilla.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/a-rant-i-had-with-a-friend/

    about how modern progressivism is what results when you take God out of Christianity. RV relates this to Nietzsche’s distinction between master and slave moralities. It would be better to either go all the way to Nietzsche and reject equality entirely, or to keep God in the picture, preferably via Orthodox Christianity (which is politically benign) or Catholic Christianity (which is compatible with good politics but is currently overly influenced by universalism to the point of failing to appreciate the damage mass immigration does to the non-Catholic part of cultures), but definitely not Protestant Christianity (which is incurably infected with Progressivism).

    Unfortunately these two alternatives are incompatible, and choosing one depends on issues which are not easily settled by ordinary debate. You can accept the Christian God and still be politically Nietzschean (as long as you can maintain the distinction between spiritual and political equality and avoid unjust aggression against other nations), but that requires a kind of cold realism about human nature that modern Christians have mostly lost. You can be an atheist but promote Christianity as a Noble Lie in order to recreate the kind of political order that worked OK in Europe for a while, but you will still need to deal with the non-Christian part of the world, and you won’t be able to openly debate the largest issues because you are nobly lying. Or you can try to actually settle the question of whether God exists and whether the Christian account of what God wants from us is substantially true (for applications to the political realm this does not require literally accepting Jesus, as religious non-Christians still have significant areas of agreement about social goals and public morality), but that complicates the debate greatly.

    • jim says:

      Truth, they say, will out, and I favor deducing morals from natural selection. Of course, it also follows from natural selection that some are superior, and some are inferior.

      Now it follows from natural selection that humans should endeavor to cooperate with other humans, but, as Danielle Boone found, that then leaves the question of what to do with the uncooperative.

      Xenophon, as you probably know, raped, slaughtered, and pillaged his way across Asia, and upon being criticized for it, gave this defense:

      To meet these charges Xenophon, on behalf of the soldiers, rose and said: “As to ourselves, men of Sinope, having got so far, we are well content to have saved our bodies and our arms. Indeed it was impossible at one and the same moment to keep our enemies at bay and to despoil them of their goods and chattels. And now, since we have reached Hellenic cities, how has it fared with us? At Trapezus they gave us a market, and we paid for our provisions at a fair market price. In return for the honour they did us, and the gifts of hospitality they gave the army, we requited them with honour. Where the barbarian was friendly to them, we stayed our hands from injury; or under their escort, we did damage to their enemies to the utmost of our power. Ask them, what sort of people they found us. They are here, some of them, to answer for themselves. Their fellow-citizens and the state of Trapezus, for friendship’s sake, have sent them with us to act as our guides.

      “But wherever we come, be it foreign or Hellenic soil, and find no market for provisions, we are wont to help ourselves, not out of insolence but from necessity. There have been tribes like the Carduchians, the Taochians, the Chaldaeans, which, albeit they were not subject to the great king, yet were no less formidable than independent. These we had to bring over by our arms. The necessity of getting provisions forced us; since they refused to offer us a market. Whereas some other folk, like the Macrones, in spite of their being barbarians, we regarded as our friends, simply because they did provide us with the best market in their power, and we took no single thing of theirs by force. But, to come to these Cotyorites, whom you claim to be your people, if we have taken aught from them, they have themselves to blame, for they did not deal with us as friends, but shut their gates in our faces. They would neither welcome us within nor furnish us with a market without.

      From Darwinism I deduce free trade, respect for property, inequality, peace, and that war and brigandage is just and necessary when dealing with people of societies that do not play by those rules, as Daniel Boone found. So I am pro inequality, and pro war.

  3. Jim, I like your blog post. The spending programs were unsustainable from the get go. Take retirement benefits. In order for them to be sustainable you need exponential population growth with the same productivity as the former one(which is impossible, since retirement benefits deplete savings and hence lead to lower levels of investment and future productive capacity) or exponential economic growth(which is impossible at the required rate; if you had 1 retiree for 10 workers in generation 0 and you have 2 retirees for 10 workers in generation 1, you need your economy to double in a single generation or so, with a stagnant population, which is impossible – even with a growing one is impossible in developed countries). These possibility of these two happening is actually decreased by the benefits, since people don’t have as many children anymore since they’re not dependent on them in their old age and expect to leech on other people’s children and they don’t save, so neither scenario will happen. The sole purpose was to get people to spend instead of save, which created an artificial economic stimulant(like a heroin shot), while getting more money to the politicians to blow on vote buying.

    I agree with you about the moral equality, you mentioned(the inner equality or whatever you want to call it). By this line of logic, I should care as much about the children of my neighbor as I do about my own. This extends to caring the same about black people as I do about my own people. Truth be told, nobody makes the first case due to how utterly farcical it is. Normally, people care more about their own kids, just like they do about their own people.

    I also do agree with you about secular humanism being a religion – a post-God Christianity. It is funny because it’s a transition I made myself. I used to be a Christian girl that held fast, went to church and so on, but due to science and contradictory things in the Bible(at least in my point of view) I looked for other religions and then became an atheist. But before I was asking God for forgiveness and to take care of people I can’t take care of and the world became an ugly place of inequality. I always was against socialism, but on social issues I was really left. lol. Then I gave up the purified Christian ethics and became as I am now. I had a hilarious debate about which I’m fairly ashamed now about how female breasts aren’t sexual, despite knowing that they are. It seemed unfair for men to be able to walk around topless without women being able to – and I would never walk around topless to begin with. I do agree with you and Spengler(I think, it was him) that Christianity is the grandmother of leftism. And you’re spot on related to how secular humanists debate like theist people.

    Oh, and I forgot to add, it took a single decade for the system to go to hell in my country from the introduction of the universal suffrage.

    Bill, you’re making a huge mistake. You take the equal moral worth of humans and design a system in which the happiness of humans is maximized through their voting. But humans don’t have equal moral worth – I would prefer all Africans to die over all Germans, despite Germans being fewer in number. And in the same time, the utility of certain things aren’t the same for all people. For example, if I value not having a socialist healthcare system more than you value having one, then the net happiness is going down, not up, if it is implemented.

    Polymath, I see Catholicism as infected with progressivism too, but I see it as salvageable due to its top-down nature and it could be hijacked back to protect European civilization and not threaten it. Right now, Catholicism is the third world’s lobby in the West, but it could be changed. Here it’s where me and ConSwede(http://csoverview.blogspot.com/ – you might be interested in his blog, Jim) disagree, for example. I see Christianity overall as problematic, ever since it left Europe because of its universal egalitarian nature. Since outsiders are also Christian, religion isn’t a good group mythology to separate yourself with, combined with the slave morality it has.

  4. Jim, I like your blog post. The spending programs were unsustainable from the get go. Take retirement benefits. In order for them to be sustainable you need exponential population growth with the same productivity as the former one(which is impossible, since retirement benefits deplete savings and hence lead to lower levels of investment and future productive capacity) or exponential economic growth(which is impossible at the required rate; if you had 1 retiree for 10 workers in generation 0 and you have 2 retirees for 10 workers in generation 1, you need your economy to double in a single generation or so, with a stagnant population, which is impossible – even with a growing one is impossible in developed countries). The possibility of these two happening is actually decreased by the benefits, since people don’t have as many children anymore since they’re not dependent on them in their old age and expect to leech on other people’s children and they don’t save, so neither scenario will happen. The sole purpose was to get people to spend instead of save, which created an artificial economic stimulant(like a heroin shot), while getting more money to the politicians to blow on vote buying.

    I agree with you about the moral equality, you mentioned(the inner equality or whatever you want to call it). By this line of logic, I should care as much about the children of my neighbor as I do about my own. This extends to caring the same about black people as I do about my own people. Truth be told, nobody makes the first case due to how utterly farcical it is. Normally, people care more about their own kids, just like they do about their own people.

    I also do agree with you about secular humanism being a religion – a post-God Christianity. It is funny because it’s a transition I made myself. I used to be a Christian girl that held fast, went to church and so on, but due to science and contradictory things in the Bible(at least in my point of view) I looked for other religions and then became an atheist. But before I was asking God for forgiveness and to take care of people I can’t take care of and the world became an ugly place of inequality. I always was against socialism, but on social issues I was really left. lol. Then I gave up the purified Christian ethics and became as I am now. I had a hilarious debate about which I’m fairly ashamed now about how female breasts aren’t sexual, despite knowing that they are. It seemed unfair for men to be able to walk around topless without women being able to – and I would never walk around topless to begin with. I do agree with you and Spengler(I think, it was him) that Christianity is the grandmother of leftism. And you’re spot on related to how secular humanists debate like theist people.

    Oh, and I forgot to add, it took a single decade for the system to go to hell in my country from the introduction of the universal suffrage.

    Bill, you’re making a huge mistake. You take the equal moral worth of humans and design a system in which the happiness of humans is maximized through their voting. But humans don’t have equal moral worth – I would prefer all Africans to die over all Germans, despite Germans being fewer in number. And in the same time, the utility of certain things aren’t the same for all people. For example, if I value not having a socialist healthcare system more than you value having one, then the net happiness is going down, not up, if it is implemented.

    Polymath, I see Catholicism as infected with progressivism too, but I see it as salvageable due to its top-down nature and it could be hijacked back to protect European civilization and not threaten it. Right now, Catholicism is the third world’s lobby in the West, but it could be changed. Here it’s where me and ConSwede(http://csoverview.blogspot.com/ – you might be interested in his blog, Jim) disagree, for example. I see Christianity overall as problematic, ever since it left Europe because of its universal egalitarian nature. Since outsiders are also Christian, religion isn’t a good group mythology to separate yourself with, combined with the slave morality it has.

    • Bill says:

      Well, actually, I was riffing on Rawls. Rawls talks nonsense because he is an atheist Thomist which makes no sense. I personally don’t much like Rawls.

      I am a Catholic, but I don’t see how Catholicism is incompatible with me having a greater duty to my family than yours, my people than someone else’s — in fact, pretty much nobody saw any incompatibility prior to the 19th C or so. Universalism in the here-and-now is a thoroughly modern notion.

      • RebelliousVanilla says:

        I really like refutations like X talks nonsense because he is an atheist or whatever. I guess I could say that you talk nonsense because you’re Catholic. I don’t agree with Rawls either and I see his way of thinking as part of the problem, but it’s not because he is an atheist or a Thomist. lol

        Anyway, Europeans were horrible Christians. This is why we are still around. I really don’t get why its so fashionable in some circles to worship a foreign God though and be part of a non-ethnocentric religion. The sole purpose of religion is to act in group differentiation and bind people together.

        I have a question though. Do you help illegals and stuff? This is what the papacy considers one being a good Catholic. Also, by the way, as long as Muslims obey the Quran as well as they can, they go to the same heaven as you go to according to the papacy. So the more radical and the more they want to destroy us, the more likely they are to go to heaven. lol

        • Bill says:

          I really like refutations like X talks nonsense because he is an atheist or whatever. I guess I could say that you talk nonsense because you’re Catholic.

          The only thing you establish above is that you don’t understand. Try harder.

  5. RebelliousVanilla says:

    Jim, I wrote a relatively long comment and it went in your spam section. Can you check it out and approve it, please? Thanks. 🙂

Leave a Reply