Tag Archives: centrism

The Intellectual Solvent, Part 2

In Solvent, I posit that intellectual similarities are more important than ideological ones. A democrat and republican of equal IQ are more compatible than a conservative of a high IQ and another conservative of a low IQ. Unfortunately, I have no case studies to go by, so it’s mostly a hunch based on some empirical evidence.

Doesn’t the rise of Trump contradict the rise of centrism, a major theme of solvent? No, because centrism also includes the shift of some of the far-left to the middle, as part of the post-2013 SJW backlash.

For example, going through the medium article Trump Supporters Aren’t Stupid, I’m pleasantly surprised by the number of intellectuals on the ‘left’ that are repudiating the immature generalizations and groupthink pandering, even by their ideological cohorts, against Trump. Its intellectually lazy to dismiss your opponents as ‘stupid’, without looking at the big picture. I discuss the rise of Trump, as well as these repudiations, in more detail in In Search of Reset. It pretty much boils down to the fact the people are tired of ‘politics as usual’, and Trump and Sanders, who are opposite sides of the political spectrum, are answering to a shared frustration. And then throw in some populist issues such as immigration and the plight of the ‘working class’.

Notice the phrase ‘shared frustrations’. Free Northerner’s article The High-IQ Homo Economicus about how the ‘cognitive elite’ have created a rigged system against the ‘working poor’, and how ‘high’ and ‘low’ IQ people have different value systems, went viral not just on the ‘alt right’ but was also featured on Slate Star Codex, with commenters who are presumably on the ‘left’ agreeing or empathizing. This is similar to Scott’s How Bad Are Things article going viral and being shared on ‘alt right’ sites and forums. It’s a symbiosis powered by shared narratives. But it’s more than politics: it’s also intellectualism. ‘Free Northerner’ is perceived, rightfully, as being smart, and that allows him to be ingratiated by the opposite ‘tribe’, that also values intellect. The same is also observed with Moldbug, who is has also been ‘ingratiated’ by the ‘rational left’ despite not being a leftist. The common threads are intellect, in rejection of ‘low information’. As an addendum, Moldbug’s Reddit AMA went very well, with all his answers generating a lot of up-votes. People respect Moldbug not because they agree with him, but because he exudes intellectual honesty and authenticity, bridging ideological disagreement.

Rationalism is more empirical or theoretical than ideological, the latter which tends sometimes to be ‘low information’ and emotive. Paul Krugman, despite being a liberal, may be seen as being too beholden to ideology to appeal to the ‘rational left’. This is similar to how the ‘rational right’ tends to reject the ‘low information’ of mainstream conservatism. The ‘rational right’ and the ‘rational left’ agree in rejecting ‘low information’.

‘Low information’ can include things like preaching to the choir, excessive logical fallacies, failure to anticipate the views of your opponent, gross factual inaccuracies, emotiveness, excessive use of anecdotal evidence instead of literature, wishful thinking, pandering, inauthenticity, politically correct and or oversimplified/superficial explanations for complicated problems (reductionism), regurgitation of talking points, pablum, etc. That’s a lot and we’re probably all guilty of it at some point.

Scott, Utilitarians, The Rational Middle, Scientism, and Liberals

But he has no enemies to the left, and no friends to the right, which means that all his friends are his enemies, and all his enemies are his friends.

It would seem like there’s a mutual respect and camaraderie between Scott Alexander (and also Scott Adams), who represents the ‘rational middle’ or ‘rational left‘, and those on the ‘rational right’, which includes elements of NRx an the ‘alt right’. The ‘mainstream right’, on the other hand, probably doesn’t know who he is.

Scott does an adequate job entertaining opposing views, or at least more so than most or all ‘mainstream’ leftists. He at least discusses topics that we (HBD-enthusiasts,alt-righters, etc) may find interesting, and even though we may disagree with the conclusions he arrives at, many leftists wont even consider these topics, pretending they don’t exist and completely shutting-out debate.

In Solvent, the rise of centrism and the likes of Scott is about a ‘return’ of the pendulum to the middle after swinging too far to the left in 2012, now with the post-2013 SWJ backlash and gamergate, moving to the middle again, online at least. The ‘rational left’, unlike the welfare left, is generally opposed to Communism, collectivism and other elements of the ‘welfare left‘.

As an example of how the ‘rational middle’ differs from the ‘welfare left’ , consider the recent leftist, pro-Sanders outrage over Hillary not tipping at a visit to Chipotle. To the Sanders’ supporter, what immediately comes to mind (just by the headline, without actually reading the story) is, ‘what a stingy, mean person!’ The rationalist, however, considers the possibility that maybe Hillary paid with a credit card, making it impossible to leave a tip in a jar, or that Hillary didn’t have any spare change, or that she was in a hurry and tipping didn’t come to mind, or that Hillary doesn’t carry pocket change with her, or that someone else paid for it. The point is, there are other, more plausible explanations for why she didn’t tip besides being her being a bad person. As it turns out, Hillary paid $21 for a $20 meal and didn’t dip. So what. It’s not a big deal, but the radical left is looking for any excuse to portray Hillary in a negative light, understandably. Rationalism isn’t about excusing reprobate behavior, but rather considering the most plausible or likely explanation for something.

Also, the post-2013 SJW backlash has to do with a disillusionment among millennial Obama voters over the failure of liberalism. From 2008 to 2012, there was much optimism by the left over Obama, which soon faded. OWS, for example, went nowhere. And student loan debt is still higher than ever, and the job market still sucks for many millennials despite record high profits & earnings. Millennials realize that leftism isn’t working – it hasn’t lived up to its expectations.

As part of the post-2013 wealth and intellectualism synthesis, millennials want to be rich instead of being poor, and that means not attacking the rich, as leftists do, but going with the ‘flow’ and trying understand how wealth is created, learning financial independence and literacy, being rational, and understanding economics, finance, and the link between socioeconomic outcomes and biology. In light of the failure of OWS and the disappointment of Obama, many millennials realize that it’s more productive to emulate the rich and successful than waging class warfare and holding class envy. High-IQ people are also getting rich in web 2.0, while other smart people are making headlines with physics discoveries, and many millennials aspire to be like these tech and science luminaries, not poor, disgruntled, low-IQ losers who pound sand. People get rich and successful by creating value and producing merit, and despite the social and economic problems that still persist, the meritocracy is largely intact. With the left losing the economics war, now millennials realize, as part of the post-2013 centrism ‘boom’, that maybe the system, for it’s flaws, isn’t so bad, and that making money and being self-sufficient is better than fighting a futile war against the tide of civilization and progress.

‘Theory’, whether it’s economics theory or a theory in math or physics, have become the new ‘sacraments’ of post-2008 America. Empiricism is also important, too. The idea is that math and physics (theory) can fill the gaps of knowledge and explain the world. This is like Scientism 2.0, but I don’t mean this pejoratively. Science is preferable to low-information social justice and pandering. People aren’t falling behind because of institutional racism or greed, but rather because some people aren’t smart enough to be competitive in our hyper-competitive ‘results-orientated’ economy.

Pragmatism and utilitarianism need not be the exclusive domain of the left. Right-wing versions of pragmatism and utilitarianism can also exist – programs like eugenics, more funding for gifted education, high-tech funding, lower taxes, the occasional financial bailout, high-IQ basic income, etc. Euthanasia and rationed healthcare (by IQ, for example) are ways to maximize resources and reduce entitlement spending, in the spirit of utilitarianism but with a right-wing bias.

But I don’t think Scott is your typical SJW-leftist.

Exactly so. Scott will furtively acknowledge differences in IQ, but refuses to even conceive of differences in agency.

That’s better than being oblivious. Scott has a lot at stake. His blog is very popular and he’s trying to branch into fiction. Being too closely associated with the ‘alt right’ may detrimental to the ‘good will’ he has built over the years as a liberal. The ‘rational middle’ seems to be the ‘sweetspot’. It’s a formula that seems to have worked very well for him as well as Scott Adams and other bloggers. The ‘rational middle’ will criticize both sides, whereas mainstream liberals will only criticize the ‘right’. Criticizing both sides and not being beholden to either the red or blue ‘tribe’ helps build your intellectual credibility, even it makes some of people mad, as Scott showed in his ‘hate mail’ post. Detractors tend to be very visible and vocal in their feedback, which belies the popularity of centrism and the ‘rational middle’, or at least as shown by traffic figures. Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are other examples of ‘rational’ leftists who have have received more criticism from the left for going against the grain in criticizing feminism and Islam than they have ever received from the right, yet Dawkins’ star keeps rising as his credibility grows by criticizing the the more irrational elements of his ‘tribe’.

Scott takes centrism seriously, to a fault. I remember posting on his blog awhile ago and he got annoyed that I used labels like ‘left’ and liberals’ on one of my comments, and I had rack my mind to find a way to re-word the comment without those terms. As a part of the ‘rational right’, I believe in realism and rationalism should be a guiding principle, but I don’t hesitate to use labels.

Trying to ‘convert’ Scott, or having him see the error of his ways, is futile, nor should we want to. He will do his thing; we will do ours. Through his anti-reactionary FAQ and other posts, he has brought more attention to NRx than most bloggers, as his blog is immensely popular.

Moderates

Stulti Philosophiam

Interesting article. A couple thoughts:

I think some of us are being too choosy in rejecting too many people when our ‘movement/ideology/whatever’ is already pretty small to begin with. Bloggers who create YouTube videos and posts denouncing SJWs, are our ideological allies and like NRx many oppose leftist of ideals of egalitarianism and social justice. Some of these bloggers are of the British ‘neo liberal’ tradition (think Bertrand Russell, Dawkins, Pinker, etc), so I guess I could understand the possible ideological fictions between them and, say, paleocons who tend to reject moderation.

Of course, there are indeed Marxists and theorists who are aware of this fact, but that doesn’t apply to the layperson sucked into the university machine: the useful idiots Yuri Bezmenov described at various points. The Marxists at the helm of these institutions know exactly what they’re doing.

From link to the Wikipedia page:

In Marxist philosophy, the social-class function of the intellectuals (the intelligentsia) is to be the source of progressive ideas for the transformation of society; to provide advice and counsel to the political leaders; to interpret the country’s politics to the mass of the population (urban workers and peasants); and, as required, to provide leaders.

But intellectualism is not restricted to the left. Right-wing intellectuals include Rand, Rothbard, Milton Friedman, Sowell, Burke, Kirk, Evola, and Hoppe – to name a handful. If Marxists can use intellectuals to influence their citizens, why can’t we? Milton Friedman, for example, through his numerous college speaking engagements, helped spark the youth Reagan revolution of the 80′s, turning a generation against liberalism.

The fact is that most “individualists” in our midst today confuse totally the person and the individual. The latter can only be established in relation to what it is a part of, id est the collective of which it is a component part. I hope it is clear now how individualism and atomisation in the capitalist marketplace go hand in hand: hence it is not the main answer to our problems at all.

Hmmm…The Evola quote alludes to individualism resulting in a breakdown of the larger organic structure; a tree broken into its components is not a tree, but a bunch of dead twigs and bark. But I think some individualism is needed for society to advance technologically. But the vast majority of people by virtue of the Bell Curve will conform, so too much individualism should not be a problem.

Centrism

From WEST COAST REACTIONARIES: Consequence Time

Centrists and milquetoasts, your era is over. Your question is, do you want a society of honest labor, god, and traditional European/American values? Or do you want a society of transsexual Africans forcing you to pay a white privilege tax? Embrace one of those two, or embrace actual, brutal nihilism, and all that entails. This soft core apathetic mild embrace of nothing is not long for this world.

He says that the centrists’ time is over, yet the empirical evidence suggests it’s not. A someone who reads many articles a day and is ‘plugged’ into the digital ‘Zeitgeist’, centrism is thriving as measured by social media shares and page views. The author’s understandable opposition to centrism may make him more inclined into believing centrism is dying, but it’s not.. The author may be conflating the positive/descriptive (the world as it is based on facts and empiricism) with the normative/prescriptive (how the world ought to be), assuming that the latter implies the former. ‘Centrism is bad, therefore it’s dying’.

It was really easy to be very cynical, “radically centrist” and practice a sort of softcore comfortable nihilism ten or fifteen years ago. Go to the mall, buy a house on a mortgage, and complain about how the mainstream left or the mainstream right are essentially mismanaging the end of history, because there is no point, but the beauty of this arrangement is, there didn’t have to be a point, as long as there is a suburb to run away to, and good living conditions to come home to.

I think he may be confusing nihilism with indifference, apathy, or the belief in predestination. A nihilist has no values, but someone who resigns to the fact change is impossible, may still have his own values and preferences, but doesn’t seek to impose them on others, and he may not believe that his values are superior unless otherwise suggested by the preponderance of empirical evidence to be so. A centrist who is intellectually honest may change his values, preferences, and opinions when the facts and empirical evidence changes. Inaction and or a positive/descriptive approach to understanding is not the same as being a nihilist. Centrism may be simply the path of least resistance. Why get all worked up about things if the status quo tends to prevail, but second, the status quo may be right in certain instances. Take the national debt and bank bailouts, for instance, which many predicted in 2008 & 2009 – some of these prediction motivated by emotive partisanship – that it would cause hyperinflation and a debt crisis. Instead, the opposite happened: treasury bonds yields keep falling and the dollar is stronger than ever. The ‘status quo’ not only prevailed, it was correct in terms of being the best descriptor and predictor of reality. In other instances, such as the post-2013 SJW backlash, the status quo failed, and I was correct in early 2014 in seeing that trend, and is an example of where I depart from the status quo in supporting the backlash but, furthermore, one can argue that the backlash is merely the pendulum swinging back to the middle, or a return to centrism. Also, being a centrist and or adhering to an empirical-based approach doesn’t necessarily make one a welfare liberal. Based on the empirical evidence, we have an entitlement spending problem that needs to be addressed, a view many conservatives agree with. Then I transition from the ‘positive’ in which I describe the spending problem to the ‘normative’ in which I offer solutions. In confronting reality, there is room for both the prescriptive and descriptive, and one need not summarily reject centrism.