A major part where the ideologies of far-left and the traditional right converge is in their mutual skepticism and distrust of technology and free markets, another is foreign policy. Liberals worry that technology will destroy jobs, create wealth inequality, and harm the environment. Conservatives worry that technology will disrupt the family structure and traditions, as well emasculate society. The libertarian/pragmatic right, in contrast to the palo/traditional right, is optimistic about technology and free markets. This schism in the right between these two ideological variants seems irreconcilable, as exemplified by a recent discussion on Return of Kings about the automation of jobs, in which some traditional conservatives seem to be agreeing with the paranoid Luddites on the left.
Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time should already know my stance on this issue. Conservative technologists such as George Gilder and Matt Ridley have shown that modernity and liberalism need not be mutually inclusive. I believe HBD and optimism can coexist and that America (and possibly China) is a unique HBD success story in that America’s free market system, for all its flaws, rewards talent and high-IQ better than any other nation. Look at Facebook, Snapchat, Google, Pinterest, Air BNB, Tesla, Uber..and many other American tech success stories. How many prominent tech companies came out of Europe or the Middle East in the past decade? Spotify?
This alliance by the far-right and the far-left against technology may be motivated by a changing economic environment that seems dispiriting for anyone who isn’t in the rarefied cognitive and or financial elite.
Sometimes it’s easy to feel resentment towards nerds, because whether it’s through web 2.0, stocks or real estate, they are the ones reaping most of the gains in this strong economic recovery while everyone else sits on the sidelines and watches. It’s like a revenge of the nerds in overdrive that will continue forever. Usually it’s the ‘old left’ that attacks technology, intellectualism and STEM culture, not republicans. From Star Wars to the space race to NASA and supply side economics, it has typically been the republicans as embodied by individuals such as George Gilder that have championed technology and free markets. Just like the libs like Peter Schiff and Nicolas Nassim Taleb believe that the bank bailouts didn’t work, this lib from National Review believes that the usefulness of technology has an asymptotic limit. The left lives in a world where exceptionalism – at both the individual and national level – is not only impossible, but undesirable.
Excerpted from: Liberal Attacks on ‘Nerd’ Culture
The reality of the situation is, whether it’s through coding, web 2.0, stocks, and real estate, the cognitive elite have a lot of pathways to quick, easy wealth though ‘self actualizing’ careers, whereas those of lesser intelligence tend to have fewer options, hugging the boundary of just ‘getting by’. True, not all high-IQ people become rich and some average IQ people do become very wealthy, but ignoring the anecdotal outliers the evidence shows wealth and IQ are positively corrected. That’s how you have all these college dropouts who become wealthy in the technology industry.
But back to the Return of Kings article, is technological advancement intrinsically good or bad? I argue it’s something to be desired, despite loss of jobs. Structural unemployment is a byproduct of technological innovation, the later of which results in rising living standards. So there is a short-term pain (job loss) for long-term gains (new technologies), as I explain the the example of the rock smashing industry. Second, there will always be new jobs, as the Luddite fallacy has a long track record of being a fallacy. They may not pay great or provide existential fulfillment, but they will be borne out by these new technologies.
Also some of this skepticism arises out of ignorance (willful and unintentional) of economics and empirical evidence, as the left imparts their own frustrations, fears and misconceptions unto the creation of these economic conspiracies and boogeymen that are responsible for their benighted state. Why does Justin Bieber make more money than a doctor? Supply and demand. There’s huge demand for his music but only one Justin Bieber; that’s econ 101, not a conspiracy. It’s easier to believe myths than to accept reality, especially if reality is holding a mirror. The left wants to believe America is in decline because they fail at life. They, the left, want to believe that the invisible hand of oppression, racism, corruption, the fed, favoritism, nepotism, crony capitalism, and feudalism is keeping them down, not factors like low-IQ and poor work ethic. But what if the aforementioned factors really exist, isn’t that a major impediment? It could be, but on the other hand, there there are all these instances of teen and 20-something college dropouts and immigrants who have become wildly successful in the past few years in the tech scene, all despite the left’s insistence that the US economy is in ruin/a scam/a bubble,…etc. So I can believe the left’s conspiracies or I can defer to the actual empirical evidence. The choice is obvious.