Politics Discussion Thread December 2012

post by OrphanWilde · 2012-12-04T20:19:47.625Z · score: 5 (18 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 137 comments

I skipped October and November owing to election season, but opening back up:

  1. Top-level comments should introduce arguments; responses should be responses to those arguments. 
  2. Upvote and downvote based on whether or not you find an argument convincing in the context in which it was raised.  This means if it's a good argument against the argument it is responding to, not whether or not there's a good/obvious counterargument to it; if you have a good counterargument, raise it.  If it's a convincing argument, and the counterargument is also convincing, upvote both.  If both arguments are unconvincing, downvote both. 
  3. A single argument per comment would be ideal; as MixedNuts points out here, it's otherwise hard to distinguish between one good and one bad argument, which makes the upvoting/downvoting difficult to evaluate. 
  4. In general try to avoid color politics; try to discuss political issues, rather than political parties, wherever possible.

As Multiheaded added, "Personal is Political" stuff like gender relations, etc also may belong here.

137 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-04T20:33:41.593Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

I skipped October and November owing to election season.

I commend you on this! Up voted.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-12-09T03:23:28.444Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I support it in principle, but does it exhibit an excessive US bias?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-09T09:07:31.738Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not really, considering that according to polls about half of our readers are from the US and their presidential elections there are the stuff of global debate, interest and even tribal feelings.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-04T21:21:19.200Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Hypothesis: Academic philosophy (and the humanities in general) is useful as a means of gainfully employing people who otherwise would be predisposed to starting radical social movements.

(Limited) Evidence:

Counter-evidence:

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2012-12-05T12:42:46.759Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

If it did serve that purpose, it would do so with high volatility. Social unrest is dependent on macroeconomic factors such as unemployment and recession. Assuming humanities degrees are commercially less desirable than the alternatives, you'd be handing a lot of free time to a bunch of revolutionaries at the worst possible moment.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-12-04T23:42:02.175Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There seems to be a pretty heavy correlation v. causation problem here because your two primary examples are situations where the shut downs occurred in part because everything else was already falling apart a fair bit.

comment by Randy_M · 2012-12-04T23:39:56.854Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That seems to presuppose that such people are (only) born, not persuaded into such a mindset by other radicals in, i.e., teaching positions in academia.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-12-05T13:57:38.273Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, maybe "this is the stuff we learn at school" makes it boring, and less attractive to rebels. You could make as popularly hated as math.

comment by Randy_M · 2012-12-05T17:02:06.046Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I find that that mindset it way more prevelant in high school than college/university.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-12-05T00:39:21.489Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Or gainfully employing people who were political radicals, e.g. Bill Ayers.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-08T17:50:29.618Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

May 1968 protests, which exploded once the university was shut down by the government.

Steve Sailer has been interested in the 1960s and has done some research and speculation, you might want to check out his articles on the matter. Also there was recently some discussion of 1968 on iSteve.

Another theory of the Sixties: Vatican II

A commenter wrote:

I enjoyed your post on Takimag today, as I have appreciated so much of your writing online over the years. What prompts me to write just now is that I too have pondered “the Sixties” for quite some time. I do not have an answer to the mystery of why the 1960s happened as they did, but one thing I do know is that the mystery is larger than your column indicates.

As you know, in France “the Sixties” are “’68,” and their “‘68ers” are our “Boomers,” more or less. Since so much of what we associate with “the Sixties” in the U.S. really refers to the period of 1968-74, I more often contemplate the question of why “1968” happened. And the big problem, or mystery, is that 1968 happened most everywhere. There was a ’68 in France, in Germany, in the U.S., in Mexico City, in Japan, and even---one could say---in Prague. There were smaller eruptions in England, in Canada, in Italy, etc. In each of these countries, the political narrative focuses on pretty much local concerns: In the U.S., it is a matter of racial justice and the Vietnam War. In Germany, it is a matter of the sons coming to realize the sins of the fathers during WWII. In France, it is a combination of Algerian decolonization and sexual freedom for students. And so on. The problem is that there are so many discreetly local “causes,” and yet there is a single, global “effect”---revolution by the young. For there to be so global an effect, there must be a global cause, I should think. What can it be? It cannot be racial justice, surely, for that had next to nothing to do with France or Germany, or hardly anywhere else than the U.S.

For some in Europe, the global narrative concerns a generational coming to terms with the sins of the fathers during WWII. That makes some sense ---after all, the World War was a global experience, and no one on the continent was spared a great deal of sordidness in 1939-45. But in the U.S., WWII remains the Good War, so it cannot possibly be the case that 1968 represents our coming-to-terms with the sins of the fathers. Some American writers suggest that it is oral contraceptives, a technological development, that did it. But could that really explain Mexico City? And how could that revolution in the intimate sphere be related to the quite political nature of the agitation we associate with 1968/the Sixties anyway?

The only original speculation I could offer is that it might have had something to do with Vatican II. The thought would be that, ever since 1789, the West, broadly, had sought a happy medium between the poles of Revolution and Reaction, and the Catholic Church represented the latter pole. In Vatican II, the Church seemed suddenly to leave the field, or indeed, seemed to throw itself on to the other pole. This created a disorientation of the entire political spectrum---for where is the golden mean between the French Revolution and a no-less Revolutionary Church? I am drawn to this sort of speculation because it is a cause no less extensive than its effect---though of course Japan represents the hard case even there.

In any event, it remains a great mystery---much more mysterious than 1848, for example. I’m glad to find someone else who finds it all equally puzzling, rather than something to be taken for granted.

...

This sudden announcement, which caught the Curia by surprise, caused little initial official comment from Church insiders. Reaction to the announcement was widespread and largely positive from both religious and secular leaders outside the Catholic Church,[7] and the council was formally summoned by the apostolic constitutionHumanae Salutis on 25 December 1961.[8][9] In various discussions before the Council actually convened, Pope John often said that it was time to open the windows of the Church to let in some fresh air.[10]

My inner metacontrarian can't help but speculate about the stupidity of opening the windows in facilities containing biohazards.

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-08T14:10:51.968Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think academic philosophy is good in preventing it's members from starting radical social movements.

People like Noam Chomsky do quite a lot of social activism while they hold tenure.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-04T20:37:56.788Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

As Multiheaded added, "Personal is Political" stuff like gender relations, etc also may belong here.

I am in a polygamous implicitly patriarchal relationships with two girlfriends with whom I'd like to start families. I consider dominance play an important part of my sexuality. Ask me anything.

My position may change in the future without notice. I'm sharing this because I think most people's political positions on related matters are strongly governed by self-validating rationalizations and such information is relevant to trying to gauge when someone is engaged in motivated cognition.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-12-04T20:43:36.070Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Do you manage your time with particularly elaborate Excel macros?

(I know someone with similar tastes who is in a similar situation - one loved one pregnant by planning, the other at around the same time by accident. I think he spends his entire life [edit: apart from working the day job] just being dad.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-04T20:51:22.614Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Do you manage your time with particularly elaborate Excel macros?

I actually do use spreadsheets and Evernote hacks to manage my time and medium term plans for the future most of the time, especially when I have a very productive period. I have in the past occasionally had week long periods where I am generally not motivated to do anything and profoundly displeased with my life and the world. In those I don't do much of anything and let alone use the mentioned tools.

I know someone with similar tastes who is in a similar situation - one loved one pregnant by planning, the other at around the same time by accident. I think he spends his entire life just being dad.

While I know this is a hard lifestyle "just being a dad" actually sounds very appealing to me.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-12-05T03:38:40.827Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Chastity comes with time to spare, lechery has never a moment.

-Lucius Annaeus Seneca

comment by Randy_M · 2012-12-04T20:55:50.855Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, it's a nice gig if you are otherwise provided for, I'd wager.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-06T11:18:44.310Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think that, without the larger social and cultural structures that people call "patriarchy", it's incorrect - mostly connotatively, but it's a denotative inaccuracy too - to call any given private relationship "implicitly patriarchal". It would be like calling the relations between an officer and soldiers in a modern army "implicitly fascist".

Meaning that even if superficially there's a lot of similarity (e.g. if you provide financial support and it is understood to "entitle" you to companionship, you engage in d/s play on an emotional/intimate level, you're counted upon to make decisions, etc), it's still a perfectly voluntary, healthy relationship, absent some latent psychological issues or hidden manipulation. After all, your girlfriends wouldn't be shamed, coerced or economically pressured if they decided to break things up or reevaluate the power balance - so there's no "-archy" at work.

I'm only saying this because I also think that power play is a healthy and important part of most people's sexuality, so it would be good to define it correctly, not letting... anyone frame it as immoral/pathological/inherently abusive.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-08T17:13:23.344Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are ignoring the much of classical New Left thought in this response. As an exercise put on your Gramschian glasses and consider how in a personal relationship based on informed consent, mutual satisfaction and without much support from the rest of society patriarchy exists in a meaningful sense. Bonus points if you see how even with the first two conditions in place this might be something feminism and regular Joe would strongly object to.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-09T01:21:59.600Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I did say:

latent psychological issues or hidden manipulation

-but I see where you're coming from with this elaboration, yes.

I do indeed think that the seeming presense of informed consent and mutual satisfaction can become a cynical, ethically meaningless fake when society and culture have a chokehold on your awareness, your sense of self, your very epistemology. In regards to patriarchy and gender oppression we can see those structures in the Arab world today.
I should've specified that in this comment I was only talking about 1st world liberal capitalism, which for all its potential insidious tendencies is contradictory enough that we can assume a degree of individual autonomy and meaningful free choice in private life.
I'm not sure if you're just playing the devil's advocate or genuinely trying to share my views on sex and autonomy, but I must say I'm delighted :) As a further example, have you considered that matrial rape has been so pervasive and accepted in the West that first-wave feminism made very little headway against it by the turn of the century? That no patriarchal society even bothered to account for it? That it was first criminalized in 1965, after female suffrage has been achieved in every Western democracy?

Edit: spelling

comment by Aharon · 2012-12-05T21:13:40.438Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean when you say that your position may change in the future without notice? I would have thought this to be something one has a relatively stable position on. Isn't it rather unikely that you suddenly become a monogamous person and lose your interest in dominance play?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-05T21:44:38.913Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't it rather unikely that you suddenly become a monogamous person and lose your interest in dominance play?

People do break up no?

comment by Aharon · 2012-12-05T22:04:00.387Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Of course they do. I interpreted the word "position" in that context to mean your values, not the way they are reflected by reality. It was a misunderstanding on my part.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2012-12-04T23:01:29.614Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How are you going to pay for this?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-08T17:17:26.643Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm currently in the process founding a company I hope will be very profitable or at least profitable enough to support a large family. Barring this I shall try to find a regular job in STEM, but in that case the wives will have to go to work as well and private tutors instead of home-schooling will likely be required.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-09T01:41:14.694Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How important is economic dominance to you? Would you wish to keep full ownership of your property and finances, so that you have an implicit instrument of control and economic leverage that would give you a sense of power over your wives? If the wives were to work, would you be unnerved if together they earned more than you and you had no leverage over them? Or do you think that emotional control and force of habit would better secure your dominance?

(I'm sorry if any of this is shocking or insulting and I'm considering you in a wrong light. I'm just generally trying to see what power and control mean to you.)

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-12-09T05:18:52.969Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm currently in the process f finding a company

Did you mean "founding"?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-09T09:03:18.616Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, apologies for the typos it was written on my phone.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-12-09T04:57:25.945Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What is the attitude towards these kinds of relationships in Ljubljana? In particular what do your girlfriends' families think?

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-08T14:07:19.938Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Are your girlfriends free to have sex with other men?

Do you value having sex with girls with whom you don't want to start families?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-08T17:32:34.594Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are your girlfriends free to have sex with other men?

It isn't the case for my regular current girlfriends.

I have had friendship with benefits relationships where this is the case. I certainly considered the women involved my friends, not really girlfriends however. Also in those I didn't experiment with traditionalist patriarchal mindsets.

Do you value having sex with girls with whom you don't want to start families?

Not really. I elaborated on how I view it a few years ago.

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-08T18:37:00.027Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Also in those I didn't experiment with traditionalist patriarchal mindsets.

What do those experiements mean specifically?

comment by Athrelon · 2012-12-13T18:40:44.862Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do those experiments mean specifically?

Seconded. Does this mean PUA or does it have a more long-term element?

comment by Oligopsony · 2012-12-06T14:22:55.965Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Inasmuch as you relate your sexuality to your politics, do you think your framework would be good for - or is at least undervalued as a personal option by - the wider population, (and/)or are you more concerned that feminism will seek to make your lifestyle choices untenable?

(Also, whenever I need to raise my subjective status relative to yours I'm going to think of you as a Gorean. Fair warning.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-08T17:23:37.705Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

nasmuch as you relate your sexuality to your politics, do you think your framework would be good for - or is at least undervalued as a personal option by - the wider population

Yes.

(and/)or are you more concerned that feminism will seek to make your lifestyle choices untenable?

Not really. Far too few men are pursuing it for it to be a viable source of power once broken down. And my social circle has an anarchist bent already. It may become endangered by families in general being outlawed but that is decades away even in the worst case scenarios.

(Also, whenever I need to raise my subjective status relative to yours I'm going to think of you as a Gorean. Fair warning.)

Read up on them. So far Goreans are an interesting subculture but seem to be bad at political theory. Not that it much matters since politics is not how they prosper.

comment by Oligopsony · 2012-12-08T21:18:11.427Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, don't worry; our timetable's not nearly that rapid.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-12-06T13:45:44.902Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am in a polygamous implicitly patriarchal relationships with two girlfriends with whom I'd like to start families. I consider dominance play an important part of my sexuality. Ask me anything.

I have seen in various places strong connections, although never to my knowledge explicitly drawn, between the espousal of (1) MDFS BDSM, (2) PUA, and (3) political positions such as your own. Are these things, in your view, three branches of one tree, the praxis of the same fundamental theory of who we are, in the domestic, social, and political spheres respectively?

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-08T14:03:31.213Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Konkvistador political position is Moldbuggian if I understand it right. According to the LessWrong survey 61% of the 18 Moldbuggian's prefer monogamous relationships while only 53% of all LessWrong people prefer them. I didn't calculate whether the difference is statistically signifcant but if Moldbuggians would be more into PUA I would expect their preference for monogamous relationships to be less than the overall LessWrong population.

The Moldbuggian in the survey are all male.

Code:

mold<- subset(survey, survey$AlternativeAlternativePolitics=="Moldbuggian")

length(subset(mold, mold$Relationshipstyle=="Prefermonogamous")$Relationshipstyle) /length(mold$Relationshipstyle))

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-12-09T15:36:38.612Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

According to the LessWrong survey 61% of the 18 Moldbuggian's prefer monogamous relationships while only 53% of all LessWrong people prefer them. I didn't calculate whether the difference is statistically signifcant

It isn't, at all. Back of envelope calculation:

Standard deviation of binomial distribution not too far from 50-50 is sqrt(N)/2 = sqrt(18)/2 or about 2 out of 18 = 11%. The Moldbuggians are 8% different from all of LW answering the poll, clearly an insignificant difference.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-12-05T04:50:41.240Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Are your girlfriends willing to talk to us about this subject too?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-05T14:50:28.621Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'll ask them. I've mentioned the site before but neither showed interest in spending time here so far.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-12-05T14:05:13.432Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Are they even allowed to? (I ask because of the "patriarchal" part. It could mean many things.) :D

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-05T14:49:20.141Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Ok that made me laugh.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-12-04T23:16:00.731Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused. What does this have to do with politics?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-12-05T21:49:40.787Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused. What does this have to do with politics?

Of all the subjects discussed on lesswrong, the subjects related to sex are the most political in style and motivation. If I recall, this applies even to your own contributions on that subject.

"Politics" doesn't mean "Obama et al".

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-12-06T04:59:57.036Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

the subjects related to sex are the most political in style

Ok. I think I can see how you'd get that. But a more careful classification would see that at LW the political issues have been far more closely connected to gender than sex. But it is possible that this is splitting hairs. In any event, since the edit to include the apparent thread starting comment about personal and political, this seems more clearly political in some form. (I don't like the idea of the personal and political being that connected, but it is a commonly accepted notion.)

comment by wedrifid · 2012-12-06T06:51:58.511Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But a more careful classification would see that at LW the political issues have been far more closely connected to gender than sex.

On the contrary, I started with 'gender' but replaced it with sex because the former was simply inaccurate. Gender is discussed politically (unfortunately) but sex has been too. Including much (ridiculous) back and forth about what constitutes 'consent'. Saying 'gender and sex' would have been more general and the most accurate but I went with sex because it seemed relevant to the context.

(I don't like the idea of the personal and political being that connected, but it is a commonly accepted notion.)

I don't like politics getting mixed up with the personal either but unfortunately that seems to be how (most) of our species work. Nearly all actions and expressions, even of personal preference or practice tend to be made as and interpreted as social-political positioning.

But taking a step back I can't complain. It is this kind of nosy, interfering, mind-killed application of social force that allowed our selfish aggressive instincts to be channeled in a way that ultimately allowed a somewhat worthwhile civilization. (ie. Politics controlling the personal forced behavioral changes that were beneficial.)

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-12-09T04:56:26.002Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Gender seems to have been discussed much more than sex, although I agree that sex has been discussed but to a much smaller extent.

Including much (ridiculous) back and forth about what constitutes 'consent'

So I haven't seen such discussions here that I recall, but I'm curious what they were and what makes you think such issues are ridiculous.

Politics controlling the personal forced behavioral changes that were beneficial

Can you expand on this? This isn't obvious to me.

comment by shminux · 2012-12-04T23:05:58.941Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean by "implicitly patriarchal"?

I consider dominance play an important part of my sexuality.

When a dom/sub relationship is non-abusive, it's the sub who has the real power, which seems to contradict your "patriarchal" assertion.

comment by falenas108 · 2012-12-05T00:04:11.429Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Depends on the relationship. In some relationships, the sub gives out a set of limits, and other than that the dom has free reign. In more extreme ones, there's even a master-slave relationship, where the master definitely has power over the slave.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-08T17:27:50.333Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

When a dom/sub relationship is non-abusive, it's the sub who has the real power, which seems to contradict your "patriarchal" assertion.

When a employer and employee relationships is non-abusive, it is the employee that has the real power.

Does this sentence make sense to you? I mean it may seem plausible but when asserted if it isn't standard economics theory we will probably want to hear an argument and some related evidence. Where is the difference between the epistemic status of this statement and yours?

I'm pretty sure the quoted sentence is popular meme in the wider BDSM community because it is compatible with the status games wider Western society plays with regards to sexual ethics and practice not because it is true (it may be). People in other words approve when something like that is said regardless if it is true or not. Not that I have much experience with their community or subculture beyond reading a few blogs.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-12-09T15:56:19.410Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure the quoted sentence is popular meme in the wider BDSM community because it is compatible with the status games wider Western society plays with regards to sexual ethics and practice not because it is true (it may be).

The meme as both principle and practice was developed as a way of defending BDSM from the vanilla public. Employer-employee relationships are a standard part of society and need no such defence.

One might suppose that tautologically, the sentence is true of those relationships which are so conducted, and not in those that are not. But this oversimplifies things. Without the meme in the air, who would think to ask the question, "where does the real power lie?", let alone answer it with "the sub"? But with the idea available, it becomes an option, whether taken or not, for conceptualising and structuring relationships.

comment by Jabberslythe · 2012-12-05T05:22:27.390Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It's the sub who has the final say, that's not exactly the "real power". By most ways of calling something patriarchy, most lifestyle dom/sub relationships are patriarchal, they are just a form of patriarchy that is consensual and not immoral by my sentiments at least.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2012-12-04T22:37:44.697Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have any LW sockpuppets?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-08T17:09:13.045Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see the relevance to the topic at hand but I see no harm in answering your question. Yes I do.

comment by drethelin · 2012-12-11T07:38:04.826Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd just like to deny here and now all rumors that I am a Konkvistador sockpuppet

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-11T07:41:15.053Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why would anyone assume you are?

comment by Salemicus · 2012-12-04T21:32:26.187Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In Britain, the government has just introduced Police and Crime Commissioners, who are elected to provide civilian oversight of the local police force - like an American sheriff. Turnout for these elections was very low - just 15%, which has led to the media describing the PCCs as a failure.

I am not so sure. Voter ignorance has been repeatedly demonstrated, but it has also been shown that voters in low-turnout elections are much higher information. This is intuitively plausible - the person who can be bothered to vote in the local council election is much more politically engaged than the person who only votes in the general election. I'm not aware of any study about voter ignorance in the PCC elections, but I don't doubt that (1) the electorate is much better-informed than members of the general public and (2) much more likely to be civically virtuous - i.e. hard-working, homeowners, not divorced, not on benefits, etc. Therefore it seems to me that a low turnout is a good thing, and at first I thought that Britain should have other unglamorous elected positions which would also take advantage of this better electorate to improve standards of governance.

However, I am also aware that something like this exists in America, and my understanding is that these municipal posts are often quite corrupt and elections frequently uncontested, so my naive theory is wrong. Possible explanations:

  1. The better electorate is more than cancelled out by the obscurity of the election - i.e. the typical clueless moderate nevertheless knows much more about Barack Obama than the high-information voter does about his local sanitation commissioner.

  2. Lack of a proper demos (i.e. people vote for their preferred party's candidate for a local election to send a national message).

  3. The stories I hear are limited to the big cities, and things are much better in suburbs and the countryside.

  4. The UK would get a good short-term effect from this move, but in the long-term it would move to a new equilibrium where corrupt voters would see how much sense it made for them to vote for sanitation commissioner.

  5. Other?

Your thoughts would be particularly appreciated if there are unglamorous low-level elections where you live.

comment by Emily · 2012-12-04T22:52:56.374Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This may be too far off topic (sorry), but I'm curious what you mean by this:

civically virtuous - i.e. hard-working, homeowners, not divorced, not on benefits, etc

To me those are an odd set of traits to put together, and I think you imply that people with such traits are somehow more entitled to their vote. Is this what you meant? Would you mind explaining why if so?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-04T23:18:17.378Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I think you imply that people with such traits are somehow more entitled to their vote. Is this what you meant?

I can't speak for OP, but I can give my reason to think such a thing.

First off, democracy isn't a terminal good. People having a say in how the government is run is supposed to produce better goverment, not be an end in itself. As such, words like "entitled" are the wrong ones to use here I think. Better to ask what is the value, from a consequentialist perspective, of certain people having or not having the vote. The vote is a trust that you place in people to select good government on your behalf, not a right that they deserve.

If you can agree with that (which I'll admit is rather radical), then the interesting question becomes whether civic-minded responsible homeowners would make a better decision than the population at large. It some sense, it seems likely. In another sense, the sanity waterline is so low that even the political opinions of most responsible 10% of the population are unlikely to be correllated with what would actually be good.

For various reasons I no longer believe in democracy.

comment by Emily · 2012-12-04T23:38:00.201Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I somewhat agree with you. Actually my view used to be quite similar, but I changed some of my opinions to become much more in favour of democracy, if not as a terminal good then as a best choice out of a bad set of choices, mainly because the potential for abuse by any system that disenfranchises any minority group (under a broad definition of minority) is just too great. That's the reasoning behind my admittedly loaded use of "entitled" here: I believe we have a responsibility to make sure everyone gets a say, because otherwise we end up abusing the ones who don't. That's just how people seem to work.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-05T00:06:44.621Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

So your position is that the least harmful government we know of is democracy with no one left out of the process. That's reasonable. My history and poli-sci knowledge isn't good enough to say what might be lurking in "that we know of". However, there seems to be rather strong mechanisms by which especially democracy becomes disfunctional and corrupt.

That's the reasoning behind my admittedly loaded use of "entitled" here: I believe we have a responsibility to make sure everyone gets a say, because otherwise we end up abusing the ones who don't.

Ok, but it's confusing to mix normative and empirical/instrumental discussion together. Mixing them signals muddled thought, which makes it harder for people to interpret charitably. Try to seperate them as much as possible.

"The majority will tyrannize any minority without political clout, therefore we should make sure nobody is lacking in political power" is a much more useful statement than anything involving "responsibility" "rights" "enitled" etc. (mind you I think it's wrong, but it's at least composed of empirical predictions and instrumental suggestions that can be interrogated cleanly.)

comment by Emily · 2012-12-05T11:58:07.202Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed, that is a better way of stating what I meant.

comment by Salemicus · 2012-12-04T23:04:12.621Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It has nothing to do with being "entitled" to a vote. My post is not concerned with the moral status of voting, but rather the outputs.

My prediction (and experience) is that a population high in traits like that - basically, conscientiousness - will result in better decision-making for everyone than a population with the opposite traits.

comment by Emily · 2012-12-04T23:34:17.534Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, I see. You're probably right that there is some correlation between those traits and conscientiousness. (Not divorced is the one that would surprise me.) However, I imagine that you don't catch many more conscientious people by including any of these sets over and above the set of well-informed voters, which you already mentioned. (Plus, if someone is conscientious but poorly informed, does that help?)

comment by Randy_M · 2012-12-04T23:45:57.769Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

5-Among those informed few who vote in smaller elections, especially local ones, are those who stand to benefit materially from one outcome or another. This could be a large enough number to sway otherwise similarly matched candidates, such that whoever wins will owe favors to one group or another.

Around here, school bonds almost never lose, and school board members are often very friendly with school unions.

comment by Salemicus · 2012-12-05T00:45:08.774Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. This is basically what I meant by (4).

Is this the case with all such low-level elected officials, or just school board members?

comment by Randy_M · 2012-12-05T16:59:24.197Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, yes, I see that now. (And to answer your question, I could only guess. Or try and look it up, but no time for that.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-04T22:37:22.455Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Living in the UK, my impression (at least in my bubble) is that the low turnout wasn't due to ignorance/apathy, but due to many people being opposed to the creation of the PCC post.

comment by Salemicus · 2012-12-04T22:53:32.435Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Opposition to PCCs may have been part of it, but my understanding is that very large numbers of people weren't even aware that there was an election being held, and that many more felt they had no information about the role. Certainly that was the impression in my bubble, but you could well be right - unfortunately I haven't been able to find hard data on this. But I think the point holds regardless - local elections generally only get around mid-30s in turnout, unless they coincide with a general election, and I don't think people are opposed to having local councillors.

comment by Emily · 2012-12-04T22:51:25.236Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I think it was partly that. Personally, I put a blank ballot paper in the box because I don't see the sense in this being an elected position. They should hire someone with the requisite qualifications and experience! The candidates in my area, to the extent that I heard anything about them, seemed to be running on platforms involving "keeping politics out of policing"... from which I infer that putting politics in policing is perceived as unpopular.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-12-06T15:45:27.528Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Some thoughts on the fiscal cliff negotiations and Schelling points (I intend to keep this limited to political strategy, not taking sides on substantial policy questions):

The way Congress Republicans have been approaching the negotiations has perplexed some observers. The basic point is, the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Republicans want to extend all of them, but they are powerless to do it, controlling only the House. Democrats want to extend only those for "the middle class" and let those for "the rich" expire (cutoff is at $250K income). At the same time, there are a bunch of other negotiations going on on spending cuts, tax code reform, debt ceiling, etc.

Since all the tax cuts are going to expire automatically at the end of the year anyway, it seems to make sense for the Republicans to "concede" the increase in taxes for the rich, using this concession to bargain on other items on the agenda, before December 31st. However, most discussions I've read see it as very unlikely that they will do so.

As strategy, this seems to make little sense; after the end of the year, reducing the (automatically hiked) tax rates for the middle class is something on which both Ds and Rs agree, so neither has leverage on this, and if anything it is the Ds who will now be able offer some slight reduction in the tax rates of the rich to extract concessions from Rs on other issues. There may be some complicated strategy on which the R conduct makes sense in a direct utility-maximizing way, but one alternative plausible explanation is in terms of Schelling points and deontological rules.

Many Republicans have signed a pledge to never raise taxes, and even those who haven't or don't consider it binding see "never raising taxes" as a key item of their policy agenda. This codifies what we call here an Ethical Injunction: "Thou shalt not raise taxes". This deontological rule, agreed upon by Republicans decades ago, does not come with a qualification "unless they will rise anyway ". Violating the rule is eliminating a Schelling point on which Republicans can coordinate and agree. The situation is like the classic example of a river being a natural boundary between two countries, so that if Country A asks for a few miles of territory on B's side of the river in exchange for intrinsically more valuable concessions on other fronts, B refuses because then the Schelling point is lost and A can ask for more and more territory in the future. Republicans may fear that if they vote "Aye" on tax hikes before December 31st, regardless of how meaningless this "concession" is in substance in the current situation, this will settle a precedent that they "can" raise taxes and then in subsequent negotiations they may find themselves pressed to do it again and again.

comment by gkhanna1 · 2012-12-23T16:51:11.047Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Its interesting that you mention Schelling and the fiscal cliff negotiations. I recently wrote a detailed blog post about this you may be interested in. I would love your feedback as well:

http://options-trading-notes.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love.html

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-12-27T02:52:46.663Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting post! I agree with much of your analysis but disagree with your main conclusion that:

Far from being undesirable, we actually need more “fiscal cliff” like deadlines in the future – because in Washington today that’s the only way the parties are going to get serious, put their cards on the table, get a partial solution, and (gasp!) realize that in the end, the compromise was mutually beneficial.

I think creating more scenarios like the fiscal cliff to force "compromise or else…" is a recipe for disaster: some time is bound to arrive where no compromise will be reached despite the elaborate set-up to force one lest disaster follows... and disaster will follow.

Instead, I think that the parties should abandon the concern with long-term policies (like the size of the government, the deficit and entitlement programs, two decades from now) that require Grand Bargains, and address only short and medium-term problems where compromise might be easier, because they cannot foresee what unexpected problems and societal changes there will be over such long times, and their current decisions cannot bind the future government anyway. In addition, the US should try incremental moves (like eliminating or reducing the filibuster) that make it easier for an elected party to enact its agenda without so much veto power to the opposition, thus eliminating the need for Grand Bargains. Let the voters throw out the rulers if their policies are too extremely partisan.

comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-12-09T23:49:03.005Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are there any predictions being made on the possible outcomes of the "fiscal cliff?" I've been trying to find information, but I'm either treated to various articles that leave a distinctly alarmist taste in my mouth, versus people who seem to be saying everything will work out just fine.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-12-10T00:19:23.216Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you mean predictions as to "what will actually happen", this depends heavily on the outcome of the current negotiations, and I don't think anybody has a reliable idea at this point.

If you mean predictions as to "what would happen if absolutely no change to current law was made", then I think the standard prediction is that there would be a negative hit to the US economy from the "austerity", pushing it back into recession. But this would happen over a period of several months, not right away on January 1st, leaving quite a lot of time for a compromise changing the laws to be negotiated. So there is no immediate reason for alarmism. In addition, this prediction assumes no extra non-legislative policy measures, such as new monetary stimulus by the Fed, that could potentially soften the impact of the cliff.

I don't think there are any predictions that can be identified as very reliable a priori, to be honest; economics is hard, and economics combined with politics is super hard.

comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-12-11T00:34:10.859Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. Good to know.

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-07T14:08:59.038Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you want to have a good negotiating position you don't signal publically beforehand that you are comfortable to give up specific demands that you made in the past.

You rather negotiate mostly in secret.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-12-08T23:28:56.860Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The speculations referred to what smart observers following carefully the DC chatter believed would happen, not the official public statements. Or rather, it is the impression I got from reading some such observers. This more recent post implies that I was wrong and that a December deal raising taxes is looking plausible after all.

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-09T00:42:17.644Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You are making a mistake if you consider journalists to be "smart observers". Just look at science journalism.

Science is even a field where scientists don't have much to gain by deceiving journalists about the true nature of their scientific findings. Politics is on the other hand a field where a lot of actors have a lot to gain by getting journalists to write stories that don't accurately reflect the truth.

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2012-12-05T17:52:39.552Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I posted the following proposition on my Facebook, and I was surprised how much pushback I got about it. I wonder how LWers will respond.

Every adult human being should have the right to live in a (perhaps small) society that reflects his or her values.

So ardent communists should have the right to live in a communist society, libertarians should have the right to live in a lightly governed society, devout Muslims should have the right to live in a society governed by Sharia law, devout Christians should have the right to live in a society where adultery is severely punished, etc etc.

Note that there is an implied "to whatever extent possible" clause, just as there is in a proposition like "Military interventions should avoid harming civilians".

Perhaps the disagreement is merely about how high the above principle should be ranked in a precedence ordering. I feel it should be ordered very highly, certainly above principles that talk about things like reproductive rights or economic rights.

comment by Salemicus · 2012-12-05T19:21:47.603Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I sympathise with your sentiment, but I do think you should expect pushback, because such a notion is obviously problematic. I'll just pick a few of the obvious issues:

1 Incompatibility

It is generally not possible to make different values compatible in this way just by splitting off into smaller societies. Values aren't just abstract, they are moral claims about real things. For example, if my value is that I have the right to retain my inherited feudal rights as Duke of Redland, but the serfs of Redland don't agree, we have a problem. It's not just that I want to live in a generic feudal society, it's that I place moral value in the specific history and laws and inheritance rights of Redland, which I view as just and legitimate. So we need some kind of arbitration decision as to which kinds of values get implemented, and which don't. There is nothing stopping communists from setting up their own little communes, and indeed many have. But they also want possession of already existing wealth, which is always going to be contested.

2 Outsiders

I'm living in my little society, you're living in yours, each one reflecting our conflicting values. But our societies still have to interact. Trade, boundary disputes, pollution, migration, whatever else. Whose laws, customs and values should govern our interactions? What's more, external relations are often determinative of a society's success or otherwise, particularly for very small societies. If no-one wants to trade with sub-society A, perhaps they aren't viable. Should everyone else be forced to trade with them, in order to uphold your right? By saying individuals have the right to live in their own society, you are just pushing problems of contention up a level, from intra-society to inter-society.

Also, every society faces constant immigration - i.e. children. Clearly, a two-year-old cannot choose a society that reflects his values. Equally clearly, we are shaped by our experiences. If I wish to live in a closed community that constantly reinforces belief-system B, that is one thing. But if I bring my child up in that community, when he reaches adulthood his belief in B, and his desire to remain in that community, will not be based on surveying all the possible options, but just because it's all he knows.

3 Change

Suppose I want to live in society C. Then I change my mind, and I want to leave. What happens? Alternatively, suppose I want to join society D, but they don't want me. Suppose most people in society E decide that E was a mistake, and want to keep their society together, but change its ways, but the minority disagree.

Ultimately, I worry that your proposition is a way to evade the problems of politics, rather than solve them. If you aren't already aware of the literature, you might be interested in reading about anarcho-capitalism, which is similar to what you're talking about.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-12-05T20:47:56.149Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Incompatibility is an even harder problem than you say-- there's a town of 20,000 people. Times get hard, and half of them want to leave, but that will seriously disrupt the social fabric. To what extent is it possible for people to get what they want?

Okay, add a social safety net so that no one is driven away by poverty. However, different places appeal more to people of different ages. That stable small town is a good place for raising small children, but too boring for a lot of teenagers, many of whose parents don't want them to move to the big city.

The interesting question might be "How close can we get to a society where people can live under the circumstances they prefer?", and the answer is probably "Not all that close, but closer than what we've got now."

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2012-12-07T00:40:03.161Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As a general point, your counterarguments seem to be based on the idea that "value-based self-organization" of human societies is infeasible. But it can't be that infeasible, since an approximate form of it exists today. The current organization of human society runs up against all the same problems you listed - for example, many Americans feel that the current US government is illegitimate, mirroring the feelings of Redland's serfs against their Duke. Modern countries have to interact on issues of trade, pollution, boundary disputes, etc - and those negotiations often break down, with disastrous results.

In other words, I am not saying that we should radically restructure the political order. Instead, I am saying that we should take incremental steps in the direction of more smaller societies that are governed by a more diverse set of values, and which compete to attract citizens. In the resulting world, individuals could select a society to live in based on how closely a society matches his/her personal values.

It is generally not possible to make different values compatible in this way just by splitting off into smaller societies.

Human values will never be perfectly compatible - indeed, they might not even be approximately compatible. But by creating many small diverse societies, and allowing people wide liberty to move between them (this notion of "exit rights" is a key element of the idea), we can guarantee that each individual's values matches up relatively well with the society she inhabits as well as with her neighbors' values. In the case of Redland, the serfs indicate their acceptance of the Duke's hegemony by the fact of their inhabitance of Redland. If they don't like the society the Duke has established, they can always move somewhere else - again, the notion of exit rights is fundamental to the whole proposal.

I'm living in my little society, you're living in yours, each one reflecting our conflicting values. But our societies still have to interact.

This critique seems particularly out of touch with historical reality. Societies with wildly different values can and do interact to solve problems. The Saudis have been selling oil to the West for decades in spite of the vast differences between the two moral systems. The Soviets bought grain from the US during one of their state-sponsored famines. Maybe your point is that with more societies there is a greater need for extensive negotiation and interaction, but that seems like a technical point and can be solved with technical innovation (for example, we could establish central bodies like the WTO, so that each individual society negotiates with the central body instead of with every other society, resulting in a O(N) rounds of negotiation instead of O(N^2)).

Even if the "Outsiders" critique has force, it only implies that there must be global rules governing inter-society relationships; it says nothing about intra-society relationships. It is entirely possible that a society will decide to govern itself based on principles of collectivization, but still enter into capitalist trade with the outside world (the Israeli kibbutzes did this). Most ethical problems involve coordination with your immediate neighbors, so there is still a huge potential here. For exapmple, Christians who are strongly opposed to adultery could very effectively prohibit it within their own society without having to coordinate with or depend on Outsiders in any way.

Suppose I want to live in society C. Then I change my mind, and I want to leave.

Again, exit rights is the key concept here. Finding a workable solution about how to define and guarantee exit rights is not easy, but it doesn't seem unachievable. In the case of Society D, you are no worse off than you are in the modern world - all modern countries assert, more or less absolutely, the right to restrict immigration and keep out undesirables. Regarding Society E, nothing I've said requires that the small societies be undemocratic (though I hope there would some undemocratic ones, as some people have reactionary/anti-democratic values). So Society E could simply vote to change whatever rule was holding them back.

But on the issue of change, I believe that my system will be much more adaptable and dynamic than the current order. Change will be spurred by immigration - societies that lose citizens will have to adapt to make themselves more attractive. At the same time, the benefits created by the smart rules of successful societies will be delivered to an ever-larger group, as more and more people move to well-run societies. Indeed, this system will benefit even people who never choose to relocate, because governments will be under pressure to continually improve themselves.

Ultimately, I worry that your proposition is a way to evade the problems of politics, rather than solve them

Certainly - every good engineer knows that it is better to avoid a problem than to have to solve it! Seriously, though, any political system which forces people with widely differing moral systems to live together under the same set of rules is bound to run into intractable problems - as I think all Americans today are keenly aware. The principle I've described allows us to avoid having to figure out the precise set of optimal moral rules (such a thing probably doesn't even exist), and instead focus on developing a framework within which diverse societies can peacefully coexist.

If you aren't already aware of the literature, you might be interested in reading about anarcho-capitalism, which is similar to what you're talking about.

I certainly disavow any claim to originality; I am just repeating what people like Patri Friedman have been saying for years, though I think it is a good way to frame the idea in terms of a human right to live in a society that reflects one's own values.

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-07T14:47:32.225Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The current organization of human society runs up against all the same problems you listed - for example, many Americans feel that the current US government is illegitimate, mirroring the feelings of Redland's serfs against their Duke.

According to the current idea of the self determination of people it's the responsibility of those Americans who hold the US government to be illegitimate to overthrow it.

It's not the responsibility of another country like France and help with overthrowing the US government. It's also not the responsibility of France to accept those American's who hold their government illegitimiate as refugees.

If they don't like the society the Duke has established, they can always move somewhere else - again, the notion of exit rights is fundamental to the whole proposal.

Do you think that all African citizen's should have a right to move to the US?

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-07T14:28:36.623Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So ardent communists should have the right to live in a communist society, libertarians should have the right to live in a lightly governed society, devout Muslims should have the right to live in a society governed by Sharia law, devout Christians should have the right to live in a society where adultery is severely punished, etc etc.

That not exactly the same thing. Saying Muslims have the right is not the same thing as saying every Muslim has the right. There a difference between saying a group has a right and saying that every individual who's a member of the group has the right.

It's commonly accepted that every people has a right to self determination.

If I'm the only person who thinks that values having a law that requires that every person in my society can only wear red clothes, nobody else has a responsibility to help me to live in such a society.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-25T12:07:28.492Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The good old SPLC now protects us not just from pick up artists but anarcho-capitalists! I suppose I should say fight the good fight or something like that? I do wonder who is next.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-16T18:59:03.443Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I recently realized that I probably can't pass the ideological Turing test for a mainstream pro-Multiculturalism position (I think I can pass a Libertarian pro-Multiculturalism position). Thus I would very much appreciate some appropriate material to read and consider on the subject.

comment by TimS · 2012-12-17T03:06:16.673Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure that I can either - lots of mainstream multi-culturalism seems like wish-casting / motivated cognition to me. :)

That said, ChristianKI is right that any advice from us would be more helpful if you tried to outline what you think the mainstream is. For example, I can point you to court cases that explain why the law is what it is. But which cases I would highlight would depend on what legal obligations you think are least defensible.

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-17T01:45:11.557Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How about trying. Afterwards we can tell you where you might lack understanding.

1) Why shouldn't employers be able to descriminate based on sex, race, sexual orientation and religion?

2) What makes descrimiting based on sexual orientation different then prefering someone who's thinking in the Myers-Briggs test over someone who's perceiving.

3) What does it mean that everybody is equal?

Bonus Question for more than mainstream understanding: (4) Why does third wave feminism help us to understand better how to achieve equality than second wave feminism?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-13T11:36:26.022Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I’m gonna explain game as simply as possible for the skeptics and slow learners: Treat beautiful women as you would treat ugly women.

--Heartiste

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-12-15T13:48:18.718Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This kinda confuses me. Is it something like "When socially acceptable to, talk to people who seem interesting, about shared interests, if you get along well be friendly and seek more contact, but take cues to back off or leave gracefully"? Because that's... basically what the feminists chide Roissy for not doing. Also it's exactly what I do and I can't get a date. (Probably unrelated reasons tho.)

Also, he can't mean that completely literally. At some point you're going to want to proposition, or respond to advances from, beautiful people of appropriate gender, but not ugly ones.

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-17T01:11:44.409Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Roissy is not saying "Treat ugly women as you would treat beautiful women".

He's saying something along the lines of not putting beautiful woman on a pedestal and belief that you have to seek their approval.

If you want to understand Roissy in this case, you should think about how he thinks about ugly woman. He's not the kind of person who treats ugly woman friendly.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-13T13:49:30.316Z · score: -3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

As PUA advocates like pjeby or HughRistik would probably remark, by itself this (neutral, relatievly inoffensive, moderately useful) statement might tell us a little about what "Game" is - but in context, it instead says volumes about what a miserable heartless shit the author is :)

I mean, anyone who's read him has no doubt that he would treat actually physically unattractive women as... subhuman, although the statement by itself only has that connotation for those unfortunate enough to be familiar with his views.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-13T17:10:00.952Z · score: 4 (12 votes) · LW · GW

has that connotation for those unfortunate enough to be familiar with his views.

On the contrary I think many more people should be reading Roissy. People here especially. Try out his advice, experiment with it and other variants extensively. If it doesn't work no biggie try something else, but do try it in good faith. I give this advice because this is how I massively improved my own romantic life. Authors like Roissy, Mystery and Athol Kay gave me a good map to understand social and sexual dynamics that mystified me before.

Currently I say the subtitle of his blog is perfectly accurate. There are a whole lot of pretty lies out there, bad advice that is in fact anti-knowledge when it comes to sex and dating. Some of it is well meaning but obsolete, crafted to reality that no longer exists, but some is created with the full knowledge it will harm its carriers. Heartiste demolishes many of them with the sadistic glee they deserve.

I doubt the pretty lies are doing much good because we see they don't condem other things that contribute to the evils they supposedly fight. I mistrust the pretty lies as the incentives working on those who craft them are perverse. I condem the pretty lies because I see friends making stupid decisions based on them that end up wrecking their lives.

I hate the pretty lies because my belief in them was rewarded by stagnation, blindness and pain.

I wouldn't have argued this in such vivid fashion if I wasn't ticked off at how casually you dump boo lights when talking about a guy I'm pretty sure is on net doing something good.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2012-12-14T03:39:43.686Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'd like to know what you think of this (unfortunately long) piece arguing (persuasively IMO) that Mystery/Roissy-style PUA is solving the wrong problem and a memetic hazard.

The right thing for these guys to do would be to deal with these core issues of low self-worth feelings and their inferiority feelings so that they can fix them once and for all. What pickup teaches them to do however is not to fix feelings but instead to switch from their current faulty coping strategy, which is surrender, to another faulty coping strategy of overcompensation. Using overcompensation, they repress these unwanted feelings with defense mechanisms so that they end up blocking themselves from consciously accessing this self-hatred. They learn to rationalize away and deny their feelings of low self-worth. They learn to project away their feelings of inferiority and self-hatred onto others. (Ever wonder why pickup artists develop this fanatical hatred of beta males? It’s their hatred of the beta traits they fear still exist within themselves, so they try to destroy these unwanted traits by first projecting them onto other male targets and then destroying those other targets.) They also learn to use another defense mechanism of intellectualization to cope with these low self-worth feelings, which is where all the mental masturbation and books on evolutionary psychology, animal behavior, persuasion, sales, New Age thinking and success literature like Tony Robbins comes in (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with any of this literature but rather in the way they are being used in this speak instance as a way to avoid fixing core issues).

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-31T01:27:03.890Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Shevek saw that he had touched in these men an impersonal animosity that went very deep. Apparently they.. ...contained a woman, a suppressed, silenced, bestialized woman, a fury in a cage. He had no right to tease them. They knew no relation but possession. They were possessed.

Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-14T07:42:53.238Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The right thing for these guys to do would be to deal with these core issues of low self-worth feelings and their inferiority feelings so that they can fix them once and for all. What pickup teaches them to do however is not to fix feelings but instead to switch from their current faulty coping strategy, which is surrender, to another faulty coping strategy of overcompensation... It’s their hatred of the beta traits they fear still exist within themselves, so they try to destroy these unwanted traits by first projecting them onto other male targets and then destroying those other targets.

Don't know about him, but I fully agree with it; I've read a fair amount of rants about this problem. I've also had my own story of dealing with low self-worth and alienation, although it didn't end in a heterosexual relationship :)

(sorry about the troll toll, btw)

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-13T17:35:47.379Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think that people like pjeby give worse advice, then? I don't think so; I think there must be a lot of good, competent PUA teachers out there who discard shock value and over-the-top cynicism for actually helping people. With actually benevolent intentions. Is that so unrealistic?

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-13T17:53:16.810Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

but some is created with the full knowledge it will harm its carriers

[citation needed]

I see friends making stupid decisions based on them that end up wrecking their lives

[citation needed]

I hate the pretty lies because my belief in them was rewarded by stagnation, blindness and pain.

Ok, now we're getting closer. I sympathize with you, just as I try to sympathize with everyone who says they've been hurt or fucked over or betrayed. And I would feel wrong it I turned a friend away with some dismissive/inconsiderate talk.

However, could you please admit that while your hurtful experience might bring you closer to the situation emotionally, it certainly introduces some amount of bias and one-sidedness to your perception?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-13T18:03:55.494Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

However, could you please admit that while your hurtful experience might bring you closer to the situation emotionally, it certainly introduces some amount of bias and one-sidedness to your perception?

Yes of course, it is why I made this post recently. People should be aware of the possibility of self-serving rationalizations by people advocating changes in sexual or social norms.

comment by drethelin · 2012-12-13T22:25:37.367Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Konk, can you make a list of all the pretty lies, their consequences, the true facts, and the other things that don't get condemned? I'm sure Roissy or someone has such a list also, but I'd like to see you restate it.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-13T16:25:50.313Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

but in context, it instead says volumes about what a miserable heartless shit the author is :)

I don't see him advocating you treat ugly women badly. My model of Roissy has him ignoring ugly women or interacting with them like he would other people he doesn't want to have sex with.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-13T17:32:33.249Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Link to him saying ONE positive thing about interacting with women he doesn't find physically attractive. In a professional setting, a social one, whatever.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-13T17:59:31.617Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Does he say one positive thing about interacting with other men? Its a blog about sex.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-13T18:04:07.324Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

First, there's quite a bit about ev-psych and politics and such. Second, I'd rather read a blog about love and fail to get sex, than read a blog that offers me all the sex in the world in exchange for admitting that love is a delusion.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-13T18:05:56.979Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

He does say love exists. Just that it is temporary.

See his posts on his positive experiences with having "long term" (six months to a few years) relationships and the post on women in love.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-13T18:10:52.174Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've judged the connotations of those statements by him to be very different. Could you please link to them? I bet like half of it is "Love can exist before a woman is like 40 and she hits The Wall, at which point it's retarded for a man to care about her while he could be chasing younger girls, and all she can be is a mother."

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-13T16:26:16.328Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I mean, anyone who's read him has no doubt that he would treat actually physically unattractive women as... subhuman

I read him and I strongly disagree with this statement. You confuse his online style of writing for the actual man. He does not advocate treating fat ugly women badly, he merely advocates not giving them the illusion that they are just as desirable on the sexual marketplace as other women, thus robbing them of the incentive to improve and the ideologies such delusions empower.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-12-17T04:50:27.261Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that there are a lot of people telling fat women that they're worthless in the sexual marketplace, and rather few saying anything else.

I know a moderate number of fat women who apparently have happy marriages and (from what they tell me) active sex lives.

Possibly of interest: Fat Sex-- fat women discuss their sex lives, which cover the region of possibility pretty well, including lots of men are attracted, true love, relationships are difficult, and nobody's interested. The only way I can see that those women are different from thin women is that I don't think thin women ever attract men who don't want to be seen with them in public-- and not all fat women run into that particular problem, just some of them.

Roissy just doesn't seem to be living in the same universe I do.

comment by coffeespoons · 2013-03-06T22:56:32.017Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmmm, I'm sure I've seen Roissy arguing that unattractive women often can't do much to improve their appearance - that makeup etc is pointless, and that women without (for example) ideal bone stucture are unattractive (see the dating market value test). There is therefore not much room for improvement for many women. Athol Kay, in contrast, seems to think that many currently unattractive women can improve.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-11T10:31:08.587Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

William Bradford in “Of Plymouth Plantation”

All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop then they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advise of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to them selves ; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance, and ranged all boys & youth under some family. This had very good success ; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted then otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness, and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients, applauded by some of later times, that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a commonwealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men that were most able and fit for labour and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children, with out any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals & cloths, then he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and [97] equalized in labours, and victuals, clothes, etc, with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc, they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought them selves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course it self. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdom saw another course fit for them.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-15T17:50:21.671Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A talk by Paul Gottfried on How the Left Conquered the Right

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-12-17T01:26:02.759Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think Paul Gottfried tries to much to understand the modern political discourse with ideas from the early 20st century. Some of the ideas from that time really did loose in the public debate. Modern politics isn't about a struggle between left and right early 20st century ideas.

If you try seeing modern politics that way, you won't get very far.

He thinks that the wars that the US fights are fought to spread democracy. That's a very naive idea that doesn't really help you to understand how modern politics works.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-13T09:45:03.877Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In the comment section of a recent blog post Henry Harpending makes an argument that keeping busybodies busy with harmless stuff like trying to close the acheviment gap (and such efforts mostly have empirically been shown to be useless or at the very least vast misallocation of resources) is good for us:

I don’t see any problem at all with this. Concern with “closing the gap” sucks energy from people who would otherwise pursue causes that lead to bullying and pushing people around, like gun control or right to life or eugenics. Gap closing does cost us a lot of money, Head Start and beyond, but otherwise is a fairly harmless preoccupation.

Of course trouble follows when any of these become too popular. Eugenics at the beginning was genteel liberals urging the poor to have fewer children, i.e. harmless, but when it became mainstream it lead to massive abuses. Let us hope that we can keep the lid on the the gap closers.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2012-12-13T22:34:47.529Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe they would do more damage elsewhere, but it appears to me that the current approach to US education has a number of direct costs: (1) stress and bad incentives for the teachers; (2) incremental improvements are ignored and incremental experiments not done; (3) displacement of actually working systems, like vocational education.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-12-09T03:26:37.099Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What is the empirical evidence on how tax rates on the rich affect society? I'm finding it really hard to find unbiased sources, they seem to either say there is no issue of capital flight and decreased productivity, or that any attempt to ta the rich is evil and/or will entirely collapse the economy. Neither of which seem plausible.

comment by TimS · 2012-12-09T04:16:18.569Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know the answer, but I believe several South American countries imposed capital movement restrictions at times in the late 20th century. Perhaps there is literature on the effects of those restrictions?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-26T10:34:33.755Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Optimistic Doomsayer, a good interview with John Derbyshire

John Derbyshire famously claimed "we are doomed," but as he reveals, his rejection of utopia, wishful thinking, and pretty lies doesn't entail gloom but a sober, empirically grounded conservatism.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-12-10T01:09:11.616Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Preposition: Despite both reactionary and communist obsession with the Right-Left axis, throughout modern (post-Berlin Wall) Europe, political forces are best (most predictively) divided NOT between Left and Right, but rather between those forces that look up to Brussels, vs those forces that look up to Moscow. Independent-ist forces exist, but they're largely irrelevant as by nature they are isolated and thus weak.

Example: 2012 elections in Greece saw both the far-left and the far-right parties rise to far greater electoral heights than before. Did Greece's Overton window dramatically widen in both directions? No -- what led these political parties to such success was not widely different positions, but their common position against the European Union. Greece didn't move towards both directions, it moved towards the single direction represented by both Communists and Neonazis: the Moscow direction, the direction of hating the EU.

It sounds incoherent to argue that Greece lies politically both to the leftmost of the rest of the EU, and to its rightmost. But one could coherently argue that Greece is both the least Universalist nation in the EU (least concerned about human rights/democracy/equality) -- and also the EU nation that looks up to Russia.

The Orange Revolution in Ukraine was another case where the political forces in question were best divided between pro-European and pro-Moscow, rather than between Left and Right.

comment by Salemicus · 2012-12-10T01:30:48.826Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How well does that explain politics in Western Europe, where for the most part there are no pro-Moscow political parties? It certainly appears that Russian influence on politics is negligible in Western Europe - is this incorrect? Why is hating the EU necessarily a pro-Moscow position?

Please explain how the political parties map onto your axis in, say, Britain.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-12-10T14:45:04.522Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It certainly appears that Russian influence on politics is negligible in Western Europe - is this incorrect?

It's not as visible in Western Europe, but I think it's incorrect to call it negligible yes -- e.g. I understand that very recently there was some noise in the UK over the Conservative Friends of Russia who used an anti-gay attack on a Labour Party politician who was criticizing Russia's human rights record.

Why is hating the EU necessarily a pro-Moscow position?

It isn't necessarily so. But hating the EU currently helps Moscow policy, so any anti-EU movement will tend to be supported from afar by Moscow, which will in turn tend to lead such movements to end up holding pro-Moscow positions.

e.g. The russian textbook Foundations of Geopolitics says "United Kingdom should be cut off from Europe."

Please explain how the political parties map onto your axis in, say, Britain.

Where I use 'universalism' to mean 'focus on equality, democracy, human rights'.

Liberal-Democrats -- very Universalist, very pro-EU, significantly anti-Russia
Labour Party - somewhat Universalist, somewhat pro-EU, somewhat anti-Russia (currently -- it used to be different)
Conservative Party - minimally Universalist, recently getting more anti-EU, and recently getting cozier with Russia
BNP - very anti-Universalist, extremely anti-EU, extremely pro-Russia.

So I think that the pattern I observe holds even in the UK. e.g. The Conservatives are the main anti-EU party in the UK, and they're also in the same parliamentary group in the Council of Europe as Putin's party...

comment by OrphanWilde · 2012-12-13T20:23:10.535Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Out of curiousity, does anybody here oppose right to work legislation?

I specifically ask in view of the fact that unions donate money to political parties (well, a political party, and its candidates; less so the other), and that agency agreements effectively force employees, as a condition of employment, to donate money to a political party.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-06T04:35:45.604Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Zizek (yet again) on revolutionary violence and why it's, like, totally cool.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-06T06:55:13.928Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That was particularly delicious.

For those who don't read Zizekian:

  1. Badiou earlier postulated that violence against the state was only legitimate when it was expressed "defensively," e.g., when Occupy Wall Street was thrown out of Central Park, the protesters were in some sense justified in using force to prevent being thrown out.
  2. Zizek counters that it's too hard to tell whether or not the state is being excessively violent.
  3. Indeed, "from the standpoint of the oppressed, the very existence of a state is a violent fact." Compare with Republican outrage in the post-election cycle -- impotent calls for secession and the like.
  4. Therefore, in the twisted sense of the parent comment, "all violence against the state is defensive."
  5. He then presents his main historical example, the Jacobin legacy. Mostly responsible for perverting the "will of the people" during the French revolution into the violence of the Reign of Terror.
  6. Obligatory Hitler/Nazi reference.

The error seems to be the slippery conflation from "the oppressed" in part 3 (for whom violence against the state is legitimate) to "everyone" in part 4.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-06T10:54:06.394Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Obligatory Hitler/Nazi reference.

You know, this ending was kinda good for your average Godwin's law bait. If we're okay with condemning all the German non-resisters and excusing outright "terrorism" against a widely popular regime (like the Maquis' actions in France), then we should also be more tolerant of insurgent/revolutionary violence against modern governments.

(By the way, I've come to think that Moldbug's post equating Breivik and Nelson Mandela was justified in this regard - only the ends of political violence really matter, as we all de facto already approve of the means.)

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-12-06T12:57:46.939Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If we're okay with condemning all the German non-resisters and excusing outright "terrorism" against a widely popular regime (like the Maquis' actions in France), then we should also be more tolerant of insurgent/revolutionary violence against modern governments.

No, it doesn't follow. Your syllogism is making one or more logical leaps somewhere.

If this was deliberate and you're back at your "trolling" phase, I wish that you quit doing that right now, and never repeat the offense.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-06T16:03:39.092Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

-- Thomas Jefferson, with more context than usual.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-06T13:33:51.765Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Nah, not trolling - at least, not if Moldbug also meant to be taken seriously with his post on Breivik. At first I was surprised and shocked by it; then, as with many far-right observations, I came around to the modus-tollens view - political terrorism is not as abhorrent to us as we profess, and under some circumstances it can be quite defensible.

(If you're also shocked now, I understand and I'm sorry for hurting your feelings. Yet biting this bullet didn't kill me and left me stronger.)

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-12-06T16:40:43.252Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's not your position that I object to, but rather your argument for it.

How does excusing the Maquis' actions against the Germans or Vichy France necessitate that we should be "more tolerant" towards violence against modern goverments?

It seems to me that the different nature and different methods of the former and latter governments means that we can treat violence against it likewise differently -- even without any discussion of the ends of this violence.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-06T04:12:21.844Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Damn, the resentment to "austerity" programs in Europe is really spilling over to internet comments. I was just reading Rock Paper Shotgun, when...

British LWers, is it like what they say? Are the would-be dismantlers of the welfare state... (EDIT) bringing in really unpleasant consequences for innocent people?

comment by Salemicus · 2012-12-06T14:57:52.243Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I will try and address this comment as neutrally as I can, although it is difficult on such a politically charged issue. There are basically two issues. One is the spending cuts. The other is the macroeconomic performance. They are separate, but linked.

The spending cuts are not dismantling the welfare state. In fact, most of the spending cuts are not cuts, they are simply increases less than the rate of inflation. They are, however, causing unpleasant consequences, because people generally like their local library or their benefits etc. And of course everyone is innocent, no-one personally caused the financial crisis. On the other hand, many of the cuts are very justified; for example, people getting paid housing benefit of more than the average salary is utterly indefensible. Not all the cuts are like that, but no-one is getting "really" unpleasant consequences.

However, there are no two ways about it, the macroeconomic performance sucks. And this is causing really unpleasant consequences - long-term unemployment, stagnant wages, etc. And not just that, but as RichardKennaway says below, the bad economic performance means that despite the "austerity," the budget deficit has not come down as much as the government had hoped. Some people say the bad economic performance is caused by the spending cuts, but it's impossible to know - there are so many possible causes. For example, our largest trading partner is the Eurozone, which has had truly terrible economic performance. Alternatively, lots of people blame the Bank of England. This is the major issue. - most of the benefit cuts are very popular. To the extent that people don't like the austerity programme, it is mostly because they think it is responsible for the bad economy.

In summary, I reject your framing - there are no would-be dismantlers of the welfare state. If the austerity measures are responsible for the bad economic performance, then they are (indirectly) bringing in really unpleasant consequences. Otherwise, not.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-12-06T14:16:05.088Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

British LWers, is it like what they say?

I can't see anyone saying anything at that link, other than that the UK games industry got a tax concession from the UK government (which got around EU rules to do it). Context (absent from the linked blog post, including its comments) is that the UK government is also implementing a long-term austerity programme, and not doing very well at it, with a threat (I heard on the radio today) of losing its AAA credit rating.

What you are really asking is:

British LWers, is it like what I say, which to anyone who has the right political views, i.e. mine (which are of course not political, but true), will be obvious without my actually saying it?

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-08T15:34:41.096Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For decision-theoretic reasons and due to meta-level concerns, I recommend this video as an introduction to Zizekian thought.
In particular, the camera work here is a brilliant metaphor for how the post-postmodern capitalism manipulates and shapes our subjective experience of the "gaze of the Other", and how it all ties into anthropic selection and MWI. A really profound piece of post-Freudo-Marxist analysis!

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-12-11T11:17:27.061Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Awww, I thought it was a fun parody; should I have placed the link in the Open Thread? Or did people just not get that it's a joke?

comment by yli · 2012-12-11T14:47:55.387Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(I lol'd.)

comment by WrongBot · 2012-12-04T22:25:16.464Z · score: -7 (25 votes) · LW · GW

Please don't do this.