Sunday, March 08, 2015
Leftists don't understand much
Leftists are people who know and understand a lot less than they think they do. The classical example of that is of course in economics. Even when they gained unfettered control of such vast countries as Russia and China, they made a hash of it.
At the time of the 1917 revolution, Russia was a rapidly modernizing country with railways snaking out across the land and a flourishing agricultural sector that made it a major wheat exporter. After the revolution agricultural production dropped by about one third and right through the Soviet era Russia never managed to feed itself. Europe's subsidized food surpluses were a Godsend to it. A lot of those food surpluses went East.
And in China, Mao's Great Leap Forward was an unmitigated disaster that achieved nothing but millions of deaths from starvation. An understanding of economics as poor as Communist economics could hardly be a better proof that Leftists are people who know and understand a lot less than they think they do.
And what libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was V.I. Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but was quite incapable of solving it.
And Leftists understand people so badly that they judge everyone by themselves (projection) -- leading to the generalization that to understand what is true of Leftists you just have to see what they say about conservatives. That is even true of Leftist psychologists (i.e. around 95% of psychologists).
For example, a book by Leftist psychologists called "The Authoritarian personality" (under the lead authorship of a prominent Marxist theoretician) was a huge hit among psychologists in the '50s and '60s and is still well-spoken of among them to this day. The basic theme of the book was that conservatives are authoritarian. What a towering example of projection! It was written while the vastly authoritarian regimes in Russia and China were still extant and just after another hugely authoritarian socialist regime had collapsed, Hitler's. Yet it was conservatives who were supposed to be authoritarian?
The fact of the matter is that Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?
And remember Obama's 2008 diagnosis of the Midwest:
"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
That Midwesterners could be sincere Christians who need guns for self defence and hunting clearly did not figure in Obama's understanding of the Midwest -- and the remarks have become a byword for Leftist incomprehension. To this day conservatives often sarcastically refer to themselves as "bitter clingers". As all the surveys show, conservatives tend to be happy people, not "bitter". The uproar caused by his uncomprehending remarks led Obama himself to backpedal.
And the stock Leftist explanation for all social ills -- It's due to poverty -- got really hilarious in the aftermath of the 9/11/2001 attacks on America by Osama bin Laden and his followers. Leftists insisted that bin Laden's hatred was also due to poverty. It took some months before they could get it into their brains that bin Laden was actually a billionaire
Leftism is the politics of rage. They see things about them that seem wrong to them but rather than seek to understand why that state of affairs prevails, they simply condemn it and propose the first simplistic solution to the problem that comes into their heads -- usually some version of "MAKE people behave better". They are incurious and impatient people and the destruction they can cause as a result is huge.
German philosopher Leibniz proposed many years ago that we live in "the best of all possible worlds" as a way of drawing attention to the fact that some good things necessarily have bad effects as well. So stomping on the bad things will also destroy good things. The whole of Leftism is an example of that in action. To improve the world you first have to understand it. Leftists don't.
Boris Nemtsov and the rise and rise of Russia-bashing
Putin as a boogeyman
Aside from the culprits and maybe the investigators, nobody really knows much about the death of 55-year-old Boris Nemtsov. We do know that he was shot four times. And we do know that it happened on the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge, in the shadow of Saint Basil’s cathedral, just metres from the Kremlin wall and Red Square. But beyond that, nothing, nada, nyet.
Not that the absence of knowledge has stopped Western media and politicians from indulging in dark, conspiratorial speculation. In fact, ignorance seems to have been indispensable for those wanting to suggest that, in some as-yet obscure, nefarious way, Russian president Vladimir Putin was responsible for Nemtsov’s death. That just makes sense, right? Nemtsov was a vocal, liberal critic of Putin. Therefore Putin, as a more ruthless, blu-ray version of Uncle Joe, must have killed him. Because that’s what Putin the Impaler does: he destroys enemies; he knocks off opponents; and he assassinates critics. ‘It has become a cliché to compare Putin’s Russia with Nazi Germany’, writes columnist Simon Heffer mid-cliché, ‘but the murder of political opponents with impunity was one tactic of that regime that it has in common with the one now prevailing in Russia’.
To give the Western media coverage of Nemtsov’s death its due, it has tended to be a little more subtle than Hitler analogies and puce-faced condemnation. The preferred approach of many pundits has been to imply guilt by association. Putin may not have ordered the hit himself, so the story runs, but he has created a climate in which the murder of political opponents, by, for example, some super-nationalist, Russian bear-hugging biker gang, has effectively become state-approved.
The Western media, complemented by the many Western politicians keen to weep over the death of this ‘dogged fighter against corruption’, as François ‘le incorruptible’ Mitterrand described Nemtsov, seem incapable of seeing anything other than a manifestation of what they’re certain they already know: that is, Russia is a nation in the grip of Putin’s macho-nationalist mania, a society willing to stick the jackboot into liberals’ soft, treacherous bellies.
Putin and his henchmen may not be pulling the triggers themselves, but they’re licensing those who are. This Russia, this aggressive, backward beast, pursuing imperial dreams without and persecuting gays and liberals within, is Putin’s Russia. He is a bad man, ‘a psychopath’, as one columnist described him, and today’s Russia is very much in his image.
So unquestioned is the narrative of Putin’s evil-doing that thought is no longer necessary. Ironies abound here. Russia’s state-controlled media are frequently criticised by the Western commentators for telling a one-sided story. But the Western media are no better; their conformist, no-deviation-allowed, Red Menace redux is voluntary, their anti-Putin myopia is willing. Unlike their Russian counterparts, their Pravda-like reiteration of the one and only truth is by choice.
It shouldn’t be a surprise. Beyond the grotesquely wilful misunderstanding of the Ukraine crisis, the Western media have long proved themselves all too willing to believe the worst of Russia and Putin. Think, for example, of Surrey-based Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who was found dead in his bathroom in March 2013. Newspapers described Berezovsky rather fancifully as ‘a latter-day Trotsky figure for the Russian authorities’, a figure whose ‘feud with Putin… would lead ultimately to his death at the age of 67 in exile’.
There was no evidence to suggest he had been executed by the motherland. But that didn’t stop the speculation. Incredibly, even now, after a coroner said there was ‘compelling evidence’ of suicide; even now, after Berezovsky’s financial problems became apparent; even now, after news of his depression emerged; even now, after friends revealed he had talked about killing himself, some still cling to the idea that Putin probably ordered his death. Because that makes more sense to them than the idea that an ageing, depressed and financially ruined man with suicidal thoughts might just have killed himself.
This narrative, in which the evil hand of Putin is behind everything, from the innocuous to the tragic, makes a certain sense for Western pundits and politicians groping around for the moral highground. In Russia and Putin, they find their useful antithesis. Russia is posited as an aggressive, evil empire adventuring abroad, and an aggressive evil state at home, intent on picking off political opponents, anarcho-feminist punk bands, and Guardian journalists. The West… well, we’re the good guys – gay-friendly and all for press freedom.
There is one big problem with such juvenile, see evil, speak evil, hear evil posturing: it’s simply not true. Russia, surrounded by hostile groups – its Islamist problem, as Beslan and other recent events provided awful testament to, dwarfs that of Western Europe – and, increasingly, nations, is more beleaguered than belligerent. And Putin is not the revamped, rainbow-flag trashing Hitler or Stalin of liberals’ wet nightmares. He is simply an authoritarian, populist, and, yes, popular leader, looking to shore up support, ironically enough, by counterposing his own affected traditionalism to that of his Western caricaturists’ permissiveness.
But there is another big problem with the relentless anti-Russian posturing, in which the tragic murder of a politician is just another chance to damn Putin and invoke the 1930s: it makes mature diplomacy, in which opposing interests are calibrated, and compromises struck, increasingly impossible. What prevails instead is a far more volatile, unpredictable situation, a situation in which both sides increasingly confront each other as mortal enemies – moral antagonists in a war to the death. The easy demonisation of Putin’s Russia may make Westerners feel good, but it makes for potentially calamitous foreign policy.
No Justice for Ferguson
As expected, the Justice Department released its report on endemic racism in the Ferguson Police Department, determining that blacks were treated unfairly in “nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system.” The DOJ’s findings were virtually a foregone conclusion. Attorney General Eric Holder and his merry band set out to find racism among white cops and, lo and behold, their witch hunt was successful.
Right up front, it’s important to reiterate that the vast majority of law enforcement officials at the local, state and federal level abide, first and foremost, by their oaths “to Support and Defend” our Constitution and the Liberty it enshrines.
But that doesn’t mean a few haven’t forgotten who they are obligated to “protect and serve.” We’ve warned previously about the over-militarization of police. It’s a problem for several reasons, and one is the tendency to amplify aggression when encountering citizens and suspects. As we said in August, a situation that was already tense thanks to the racial imbalance between the city and its police department, was made worse by the paramilitary police response to the riots after Michael Brown’s death.
Furthermore, as Mark Alexander, a police veteran himself, wrote in December, “Clearly, there are some police officers calloused by constant exposure to oppressive urban criminal cultures. Consequently, some may over-generalize racial assumptions and abuse their authority.”
But the problem in Ferguson isn’t quite, well, black and white.
According to the DOJ, “African Americans experience disparate impact in nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system. Despite making up 67% of the population, African Americans accounted for 85% of FPD’s traffic stops, 90% of FPD’s citations, and 93% of FPD’s arrests from 2012 to 2014.”
“Disparate impact” is one of Obama’s favorite phrases, but does this mean police are racist? Not necessarily. As Alexander noted, “[W]hen 90% of murders in urban centers are ‘people of color’ and 90% of perpetrators are ‘people of color,’ cops of any color are going to be more cautious with ‘people of color.’ This is not ‘racism,’ this is reality, driven by a desire to make it home safely at the end of one’s shift.”
Still, the DOJ’s accounts of police overstepping bounds are too numerous to ignore. Just to name a couple:
A black man who was sitting in his car cooling off from playing basketball was accused by an officer of being a pedophile because there were children nearby. He was ordered out of his car for a pat-down, seemingly without cause, and then arrested for “eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code,” including not wearing a seatbelt in a parked car. The man lost his job as a result.
A black woman illegally parked her car and ended up in a six-year battle, paying more than $1,000 in fines and spending six days in jail.
Were there extenuating circumstances in these cases? Prior arrests? Perhaps, but the report is careful not to elaborate on the citizens' backgrounds.
There are plenty of other anecdotes of general harassment – police seeming to escalate otherwise innocuous situations, police dogs biting blacks (and only blacks), officers arresting people based solely on verbal exchanges, and cops uttering racial epithets. We’re sure none of Ferguson’s black citizens ever hurled racial epithets at officers.
The report found that “Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs.” The city’s finance director emailed the police chief to see if the police department could raise enough revenue for a 10% budget increase. For a town of 21,000 with a median income around $36,000, that’s not hard to believe. In fact, one might ask why Ferguson has a police department of its own, rather than deploying the St. Louis County PD.
The problems in Ferguson did not, however, extend to Officer Darren Wilson’s deadly encounter with Michael Brown. He was cleared of criminal charges in November, and the DOJ went to great lengths explaining why Wilson was justified in shooting Brown. While that defense is all well and good, Obama, Holder and their race-baiting friends ended Wilson’s career in the police department and effectively endangered him for life by countenancing (until now) the false “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” meme.
It wasn’t long before two New York police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, lost their lives at the hands of a black racist.
Don’t miss the timing of the two reports. The one absolving Wilson was released alongside the political consolation prize – discrediting the entire department.
The trouble here is that the Justice Department’s report doesn’t resolve anything. Those who see police as racist, jackbooted thugs now have a lengthy report full of horrible anecdotes to back that up. Others who see the Obama administration as the racist, jackbooted thugs will summarily dismiss the report. Based on Obama’s and Holder’s untrustworthiness, this is understandable.
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Posted by JR at 1:35 AM