Month: March 2016

But Americans are immigrants!

Time for another tremendously controversial statement.

I’ve heard it argued that Americans should be open to immigration because many Americans are descendants of European immigrants. We’re told how we have no right to keep the land to ourselves, especially after taking it from the native Americans. In other nations, Europeans are told they should open their borders as payback for what was done during Europe’s colonial period. There are three reasons why I absolutely disagree.

  1. Whatever Europeans did during their colonial period, that was then, done by other people, not by people alive today (in most cases at least; certainly when it comes to the US). Don’t blame the descendants for what their ancestors did.
  2. In the past, wars for land were fought. Hardly anyone today lives in a country that their ancestors settled peacefully. Iceland may be the only exception. Almost every piece of land that is currently inhabited has been fought over and changed hands violently. So really, this argument would apply to every single group of people in the world. Yet nobody suggests that other cultures lack the right to keep themselves closed from multiculturalism. (This is also why giving Middle Eastern land to Jewish people to enable them to run an ethnic nation or a theocracy was ridiculous. They lost the land thousands of years ago. That doesn’t mean their descendants should get it back. That said, now that they did get it back many decades ago, it wouldn’t be right to take it away again.)
  3. Perhaps most importantly, being the descendants of immigrants who did not assimilate shows us exactly what happens to any culture that allows (or is forced to allow) people to immigrate without assimilating. The native Americans once had a many cultures thriving across North America. Then the Europeans came. They did not assimilate. As a result, there was conflict, and the Europeans won. And so, the native culture was all but destroyed. Why in the world would we, the descendants of the Europeans, make the same mistake, and let our culture wind up getting destroyed by non-assimilating immigrants?



So: be pro-immigration, anti-immigration, whatever, but do not tell me that I must be pro-immigration because my ancestors immigrated. That’s like saying I must be pro-meat eating because my ancestors ate meat.


Who Decides If You’re a Victim?

I was reading an excellent report on the latest sexual assault study regarding assault on college campuses, Found here.. But that’s not what this blog is going to be about. Instead, I want to talk about one particular line from this analysis:

‘People should be free to reach their own self-understandings when it comes their status as victims (or non-victims).’

Now, on the one hand, I agree that people’s feelings about a situation are real, and we shouldn’t tell someone how they feel. But I don’t agree that people should just be free to come to their own understanding of whether they are victims. Or perhaps I should say, the rest of us are under no obligation (ethically or socially) to agree with their conclusion.

Let me just give one example. Suppose a woman applies to a job, and there’s only one other applicant, who happens to be male. Now, maybe he has twenty years of experiences, whereas she has two, and maybe his reference letters are glowing, whereas she has been a fairly lazy employee and her references reflect this (if only in what they leave out, rather than necessarily what they put in). So she ends up not getting the job. Then she says ‘Well, I’m sure I am just the victim of sexist hiring processes. Damn the patriarchy!’

Okay, I acknowledge that she feels this way. In fact, feeling this way is encouraged by our SJW culture, which (speaking generally) encourages every woman to feel that every time something doesn’t go her way, it’s the fault of a sexist society and cannot possibly reflect a fair treatment of her. But the fact that she believes the hiring process was sexist does not make it so. HR may have even wanted to hire a woman (in other words, they may have been biased against the male applicant), but finally been forced to go with the more qualified candidate due to the huge gap in qualifications.

That’s not to say there aren’t times when hiring processes are sexist. But the fact is, just because this woman feels she was the victim of sexism, does not mean she really was. And I for one am not going to agree that she’s a victim of sexism. At most, she is a victim of her own perception, not an actual victim of sexism.

(Curiously, the same people who will say things like ‘People should be free to reach their own self-understandings when it comes their status as victims (or non-victims),’ will usually make one major exception: if a white male feels that they were victim of reverse racism, or reverse sexism, or any such thing, they will be told by SJWs that this is impossible. They won’t be told it didn’t happen because in this instance, there was no bias against them; instead they will be told this sort of thing is categorically impossible, even if the SJW admits the white male was the victim of anti-white male biased treatment, because the SJW will refuse to give biased treatment against white males the name it deserves, i.e. racism/sexism or even reverse racism/sexism. Not only that, but the white male will be told their feelings are invalid. The SJW treatment of white males is identical to the kind of gaslighting that SJWs decry when it is done to anyone else. If the SJW wants everyone to decide for themselves if they’re a victim, and of what they are a victim, then they should not be hypocritical, and apply the same rules to white males.)

Misandry among liberals

I’ve heard a lot of people say something along the lines of ‘The United States is ready for a female president.’ Enough to realize that there are a good chunk of self-described liberals or progressives who specifically want to elect a female president. Which they think sounds like a great, progressive idea. ‘We’ve never had one; it’s time to fight back against the male dominance of this area!’

Except, that’s not fighting for gender equality. It is actually a form of prejudice for women, against men. Yes, it’s true that in the past, men were favoured over women when it came to being selected as president. However, if what you want now is gender equality, then you need to select the president on the basis of personal merit, and not on the basis of gender. Instead, these so-called progressives are actually biased in favour of women and against men when it comes to choosing the president – exactly the kind of bias which they claim to abhor!

In fact, if one takes a little time, one can find exactly this kind of bias in place on almost every issue: progressives will claim to abhor bias, but in truth, many of them engage in exactly the biases they condemn (except they reverse the direction of the bias).

Use Statistics!

I’ve been criticized before for suggesting that we ought to use statistics in applying the laws to people. For example, if we’re looking for ‘undocumented’ immigrants, there’s not a lot of point in checking out white guys in Colorado.

So I thought I would explain why I support the use of statistics using an example that is less likely to cause a conniption fit to the PC crowd: criminal sentencing between males and females.

It is well-known that males receive harsher sentences for the same crimes as females do. I’m not entirely sure of the reasons for this, but it seems to me that this is probably statistically justified. Consider the recidivism rates. I’m not sure what they are, but if sex and recidivism correlate (and no 3rd factors can be found that make better predictors for the correlation), it makes sense to use that in sentencing. In other words, if men on average are more likely to return to crime after release, and if this likelihood cannot be traced back to some 3rd factor correlating with gender, then yes, it makes sense to punish them more harshly as an added deterrence (unless that added deterrence can be shown, through statistical analysis, to not actually be beneficial).

Of course, I’m not sure that sentences are generally carried out in such a logical manner. Maybe some judges just have a soft spot for women and give them lighter sentences, or maybe some are misandrists and give harsher sentences to men. The point is that there are potentially good reasons for men to get harsher sentences than women, on average.

Another example: child custody. Many people complain about how much more frequently the woman receives custody than the man in a divorce. Given that I think women have evolved to be more likely to have relevant skills for child-rearing and to be more likely to want to keep the child, I have no problem with this. Of course, each case should be judged on an individual basis, considering the specific couple involved, but that, on average, women get custody more than men does not bother me at all.

Of course, I believe in equal opportunity regardless of one’s demographics. People should, insofar as possible, be judged on their individual characteristics. However, when we need to predict a person’s future behavior (e.g. chance of recidivism or fitness for child rearing), there may be times when going by broad averages is the best we can do.

Selfishness and Ethics

Reading through Die Fröliche Wissenschaft, I was struck again by a distinction between the drives and the ethics which can be illustrated between certain types of mores. There are certain persons in which the primary drive or the dominant drive is one which is social, and others in which the primary drive is self-directed. The former can easily be persuaded by an ethics that has, for its aim, the benefiting of ‘society’ as an whole; the latter will prefer something that gives themselves an advantage. Now, it may be noted that Plato and christianity – but before them also the Egyptians, for example, or the Indian teaching of karma – made a link between the latter and the former. In brief, the claim made by Plato or by christianity may be generally stated as: ‘What is most advantageous to society is also that which ultimately most benefits the doer: the virtuous person ultimately benefits themselves.’

By contrast, there has recently been at least one philosopher who tried to reverse this. Ayn Rand claimed that the most self-benefiting behaviors of the individual were also the most beneficial to society. This is of course easily seen to be false. In a famous case, she argued that, if two people were to apply for the same job, they should both, out of selfishness, desire that the more qualified be hired, because even the one who is rejected would personally benefit from this. Such a claim is obviously false. For me, what is most beneficial may be to exploit and squander all of society for my gain. It is better for me that I, even if I am less qualified, should get the job and its accompanying benefits, than that I should go without a job. Society as an whole may suffer from this, but although it disadvantages me indirectly to live in a society that is not quite as strong as it otherwise would be, this is more than compensated by the fact that my personal position in that society is much higher than it otherwise would have been.

Yet, the Platonic/christian/karmic claim that benefiting society selflessly is also to my own highest advantage is thereby equally false. Indeed, in all four of the cases mentioned, the claimants were forced to appeal to unproved hypotheses of metaphysics or powers in the world or in an after-life. Christianity and Egyptian religion taught that the selfish benefit of virtue would be seen in the afterlife. The teaching of karma is often connected to a teaching of reincarnation; in any case, it is an unproved hypothesis that, in some unspecified manner, ‘what goes around comes around.’ Plato seems to have played with this sort of karmic justification as well; more importantly, he, along with the cleverer christian theologians, taught also that by becoming virtuous, one simply made one’s own soul better. Thus, the very fact of being virtuous was a self-benefit – though again, not one that could be measured! Of course, there are some ways in which the performance of duty does benefit the individual (through the social remuneration and payment of honours, for instance), but since in fact there are many cases where performing one’s duty obviously disadvantages oneself, it was necessary for these teachers of morality to lie in order to teach that personal advantage is best served by virtuous social duty.

I’d already realized all this in previous readings of Nietzsche and consideration of ethics, but this time, I was particularly struck by the question of why this link between selfish advantage and society’s advantage became so important in the west, and how this relates to the Western glorification of individualism. There are two obvious hypotheses here. I will not suggest which I think held true in the West, but I think all three should be considered, and particularly contrasted to the way duty and personal advantage were treated in other, more collectivist, societies.

  1. Perhaps the development of individualism in the West necessitated a change in the teaching of social mores. That is, first, individualism sprouted up; in order to ensure that these ‘individuals’ remained useful to society, it was necessary to link up teachings of social duty with teachings of individual advantage.
  2. Perhaps the link of social duty with personal advantage led people to safely be able to feel that they were promoting their own selfish advantage when executing their duties, and this paved the way for them to begin to think of themselves in a self-centered manner without causing undue harm to society. Thus, the teaching may have come first, thus enabling the development of the glorification of the individual qua individual without risking damage to society.
  3. Perhaps these two forces (for I believe both these hypotheses are real as potential drives in society) worked in a sort of vicious circle with one another: developing individualism leads to a need to link duty to individual advantage, linking duty to individual advantage encourages people to think of their own advantage without damaging society and thus leads to an increase in the glorification of individualism, which leads to more need to link duty to personal advantage.