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Nazis VIII: Thoughts on choice of criteria

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A problem for the core matter of this text series is what characteristics might be considered more defining and what more coincidental. For instance, in an earlier entry, I raise the (largely unanswered) question of which characteristics associated with the Nazis are best viewed as central to the Nazis and which as a “fashion” of the times. For instance, looking at the Left (in general) or some sub-group of the Left (e.g. Social-Democrats), there are some characteristics that seem to be very recurring over time, geography, and label, but which are not logical necessities. Consider e.g. the common trend towards a “nanny state”. This might be rooted in e.g. a conviction that the broad masses are too stupid to decide for themselves, a naive belief in the competence of the government (elected politicians, civil servants, whatnot), or some other factor that can hardly be considered defining; or maybe it is partially, not necessarily restricted to the Left, caused by being in power for too long; or maybe it is a natural extension of a more “core” idea of central planning or government-over-free-markets. (And note that even those ideas might not be universal for the Left.) However, a nanny-state mentality or, given enough time in power, an implemented nanny state appears to be much more common on the Left than the non-Left.* To many on the non-Left, it is even one of the greatest reasons to object against the Left—as it was against the Swedish Social-Democrats during my early days** of political awareness and membership in Moderaterna***. Or consider prominent use of the color red, which cannot reasonably be taken as defining, yet is used by a great many major Leftist groups and parties—but also by the U.S. Republicans.

*The matter is complicated by an independent (?) drift towards “nanny mentality”, big government, etc., among politicians in general. Particularly annoying during the COVID-lockdowns was that many allegedly non-Leftist governments cracked down in a manner very similar to the Leftist governments. Indeed, Sweden’s Social-Democrats were among the least intrusive ruling parties, despite a well-earned historical reputation as the nanny-state party of all nanny-state parties.

**And quite possibly today, too.

***More correctly, its more Libertarian youth/student organization (organizations?). Moderaterna has for decades been the largest non-Left party, and used to support a broadly Conservative and Libertarian position, with a voice-of-reason approach. When I checked a few years back, the party program now included e.g. a profession of some Gender-Feminist quackery.

How then should a pro-/anti-attitude regarding the nanny state and use/non-use of the color red be viewed when comparing ideologies, parties, whatnot? The nanny state will often be a useful criterion,* because it is more connected in terms of opinion, while the color red is, at best, a rough and incidental proxy, which should be avoided. (By all means, if you spot a large group waving red flags, it might be a good idea to gain some distance, just in case they are far-Left activists. However, if you intend to vote for or against a candidate/party, ignore the colors and look at stated opinions and prior behavior.)

*With some reservations for a difference between the historical situation and the current situation. Cf. an earlier footnote.

Looking at the question of individual criteria more generally, it becomes very tricky and I have no conclusive answer. However, factoring in both how hard (see excursion) it is to define an ideology, party position, whatnot, and how important manifested behaviors and attitudes often are,* I will include many characteristics that might seem less defining together with those that might seem more defining. (Not all, however. The color red, e.g., will not be relevant, even though it featured prominently on the Nazi-German flag.)

*Also note my repeated claims that actions count for more than words.

Looking at the overall situation, the solution is to not look at just individual criteria, but to look at a wide range of criteria in order to get a general idea. The use of a wide range also gives the reader who disagrees with some criterion the option of forming his own opinion by simply omitting it. (As to the exact criteria to use, exactly how to compare and with what, whether to include some numeric sum, etc., I have not yet made a final decision.)

Excursion on how to define ideologies, etc.:
Finding out even what characteristics should be viewed as defining is virtually impossible and only doable to some very rough approximation or within very limited contexts. Among the complications:

  1. Some groups make inclusive claims that many of the included do not agree with. For instance, the (highly misleading) Feminist claims that Feminism is about equality between the sexes (resp. “genders”), and that those who believe in equality are Feminists, are outright offensive to most Anti-Feminists, who are usually Anti-Feminists exactly because they do believe in equality.

    (Whether claims of exclusion are a problem might depend on the circumstances, but I suspect that cases will be more obvious and less distorting. For instance, a party chair who says that “You are not one of us, if you X” might be both perfectly entitled to do so and factually correct. However, a self-appointed speaker for an ideology will only rarely be entitled and might often be incorrect. A self-appointed speaker for a more automatic group, e.g. Swedes, Blacks, or speakers of English, will be on thin ice indeed—Biden’s “you ain’t Black” gaffe would have been inexcusable, even had he been Black himself. Ditto someone who connects topics that should be disconnected, e.g. “you cannot be a fan of Bob Dylan, if you vote Republican” or “you are not a scientist unless you believe in DIE”.)

  2. Outside the previous item, even otherwise opposing groups can agree on some issues, and a limited similarity of opinion does not necessarily mean anything. (In fact, chances are that they agree on a great many issues; however, issues of widespread agreement are less likely to enter the political debate.)

    Also note an older text on the fellow-traveler fallacy.

  3. Even believers in the same ideology and members of the same party might disagree about what truly matters.
  4. A criterion which was legitimately defining at one point in time need not even be a characteristic at a later time. Indeed, some might be entirely irrelevant due to changing circumstances (say, an overthrow-the-monarchy position after the monarchy has already been overthrown).*

    *With the interesting complication that some groups, including e.g. Feminists and U.S. pro-Black activists, might continue the fight, or even intensify it, long after the officially communicated goal has been reached. This often through a failure to realize that equality of opportunity does not automatically imply equality of outcome; often through a refusal to give up a profitable cause; often, I suspect, because that goal was not honest.

  5. Apparently equivalent groups in different countries, e.g. Social-Democrats in Sweden and Germany, or Conservatives in the U.S. and the U.K., might disagree on important points. Trying to equate e.g. the largest Left/Right parties or the Left-/Right-most mainstream parties of different countries can be particularly misleading. (And is yet another reason why the Left–Right spectrum is best avoided.)
  6. Using too few defining characteristics might make it impossible to separate two genuinely different groups, while using too many might force an unnatural split of a single group.

    (With the added complication that the appropriate level of splitting might depend on the current circumstances. To boot, different individuals might have inherently different preferences, as with “lumpers” and “splitters”.)

  7. Different groups might see different characteristics as important, e.g. in that a “Green” party might have strong opinions on the environment and accept members regardless of their attitude to small vs. big government, while a Libertarian party might see small vs. big government as central and accept members regardless of their opinions on the environment.

    In particular, it might be that some opinion is useful in separating some set of related groups but not some other set of related groups. (For instance, “Marxist yes/no” might be relevant to separate two Leftist groups, but not two non-Left groups, because virtually no-one outside the Left is a Marxist.)

  8. The official claims of opinion do not always match the actual behavior. (As I have noted repeatedly about various Leftist groups.)
  9. Most nominal supporters might have little idea of what the ideological ideas of a party are, instead being focussed on pragmatic issues; or they might be largely ignorant of the overall party program, while focussing on one or two issues close to their own hearts.

    (For instance, in all likelihood, more Social-Democrat supporters care about seeing their votes rewarded with transfer payments than about the fine points of Marxist ideology—and I am not even certain that leading Social-Democrats care about Marxism today. Similarly, most Church members might be unable to give a theological explanation for why they are, e.g., Lutheran instead of Catholic.)

Looking at the above examples using Feminism and “Green” parties, I am tempted to add a “they claim to support X, but are actually bad for X through incompetence”, as “Green” politics very often does more harm than good to the environment (notably, through an absurd and scientifically unsound attitude towards nuclear power), while Feminists, beyond a certain point, might well do more harm than good to women (and definitely both men and society). Chances are that this principle could be extended to very large parts of the Left,* e.g. in that a worker’s party might hamper economic growth to the degree that it causes worsened long-term outcomes for the workers. However, incompetence, unlike hypocrisy, does not alter the degree to which someone, so to speak, walks-the-walk or just talks-the-talk.

*To some degree, the non-Left too. Sometimes, I have trouble suppressing the suspicion that German politicians know what is good/will work and deliberately do the exact opposite for some perverse reason.

Excursion on “false flags”:
Another complication is false flags, in that a party might make faulty claims in order to create a certain impression or, in an extended sense, make claims based on a significantly different understanding. (An earlier entry has already mentioned cases like “democratic” Communist dictatorships.) Similarly, a once correct claim might well have become outdated over time. Looking at literal flags, the Soviets, the Nazis, and the Salvation Army all used/uses a lot of red, but hardly to indicate an agreement in ideology.*/**

*The Nazis used red, white, and black as the established (pre-Nazi) national colors. The Soviets likely followed a tradition of the revolutionary Left. The Salvation Army uses red to symbolize the blood of Christ.

**After first writing the above, I began to see flags with prominent red components everywhere, including the massively red Canadian, the Red-White-and-Blue U.S., and the Schwarz-Rot-Gold German flag. Red simply appears to have been one of the most popular flag, national, heraldic, whatnot colors before the strong association with the Left arose. (I have not looked into the history of the Canadian flag, but the strong Socialist streak is likely pure coincidence. As to the U.S. Republicans, I would speculate that they and the Democrats picked party colors from the U.S. flag in an arbitrary and interchangeable manner.)

This brings me to the point of the “National Socialist” part of the NSDAP. This self-identification is a strong indication, and not one that should be swept under the carpet. However, members of the non-Left often see this self-identification as conclusive proof that the Nazis belong on the Left—which it is not: a mere claim of being something does not necessarily make it so. It could have been (but was not) a false-flag operation, it could possibly, conceivably* have referred to some type of non-Leftist Socialism, it could have been a misunderstanding/disagreement about meaning,** or possibly some other invalidating reason.

*I am not certain how such Socialism would look without having too much in common with regular Leftist groups to avoid the identification as Left; however, I cannot categorically rule the possibility out.

**Note e.g. the many young actresses in Hollywood who proclaim themselves Feminists without understanding Feminist positions or how much of the Feminist worldview is provably false. I have myself, in my early days of English writing, fallen into the trap of translating the Swedish “Nyliberal” with “Neo-Liberal”, while “Libertarian” matched my intents better. (The translation is not so much faulty as ambiguous, as Swedish Libertarian positions are (were?) subsumed under “Nyliberal” together with the Neo-Liberal ones, but I usually had my mind on the “Libertarian” aspects. To boot, it seems that the current U.S. use of “Neo-Liberal” is drifting to form a parallel with “Neo-Conservative” and match the current Democrat positions rather than traditional Neo-Liberal positions. As a consequence, I usually avoid the word entirely today, even when it might otherwise be called for, as with e.g. the above footnote on Moderaterna.)

In contrast, members of the Left often condemn it as exactly a false flag, e.g. as an evil scheme by a Right-wing party to dishonestly lure Leftist voters away from the “true” Left. (I am not certain whether I have ever seen a similar argument regarding the “Workers’ Party” part, but I suspect that the reaction would be the same if someone brought it up—the Nazis were never truly a workers’ anything, they just pretended in order to fool the workers away from us Communists [Social-Democrats, whatnot], the true workers’ party.) They, too, are wrong, because a closer inspection of the Nazis (as the one I am performing) does result in the verdict of “Left” and because the NSDAP certainly seems to have originated as a bona fide Socialist* (and workers’) movement. (Whether the more specific label of “Socialist”, as opposed to the more general “Left”, applies even to the mature NSDAP is beyond the scope of this text series, but I suspect that the answer is “yes”.)

*If with some disagreement about what “Socialist” would imply in detail, and whether the Socialism of one country needed to be the same as that of another. The disagreement might be beyond the to-mah-to vs. to-may-to level, but not beyond the cherry tomato vs. beefsteak tomato level.

Excursion on definitions in general:
Similar problems of definition are not uncommon in other areas; and even when reasonably clear definitions are possible, there is a parallel in characteristics that are denotational and connotational.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 9, 2022 at 8:12 pm

Nazis VII: Left, Right, and the use of irrelevant criteria

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A recurring problem with anything relating to the word “Right” (in a political context; including variations and translations) is the application of criteria* to determine what/who should be considered Right (Right-wing, far Right, etc.) that are at best (much) too narrow, more often irrelevant. In at least Germany,** the word is well on its way to become an insult and derogatory label on par with “Nazi” and “Fascist”, as it is applied to almost anything that “the establishment” does not like: Object to COVID-policies or question the usefulness of COVID-vaccines and you are Right-wing or even far Right. Question that the government knows best and you are Right-wing or even far Right. Question the integrity or competence of journalists and you are Right-wing or even far Right. Question the use of “gender-neutral language” and you are Right-wing or even far Right. Stand up for men’s rights and you are Right-wing or even far Right. Demand the right to think for yourself and you are Right-wing or even far Right. Etc.***

*As to relevant and more full criteria, we are closing in on the main text or texts (depending on how much space I need) of this series, in which I will go through various such. Among the most important, I have takes on the individual vs. the collective and free markets vs. state planning.

**The problem is likely to be far wider, but I know the German situation better than that of most other countries, and the problem appears to be worse in Germany than in other countries that I have some knowledge of. This German situation is likely driven by a combination of the disturbingly strong Left (damn fool Germans never learn), the flawed categorization of the Nazis as Right-wing, and an apparent common fear of being perceived as anything but a rabid anti-Nazi. (Just like a U.S. college professor might fear missing the latest PC fad and being cancelled.)

***A similar problem can be noted in the U.S. with regard to “White Supremacy”, if with a different set of examples: Be in favor of merit-based appointments/admissions and you engage in White Supremacy. Be in favor of proofs and correctness in math and you engage in White Supremacy. Etc. As occurs to me during writing, “Right”, in Germany, might be partially used to fill the same niche as “conspiracy theorist” in the U.S., e.g. along the lines of “Only an X would believe such nonsense as Y. Because he is an X, anything he said should be ignored. How do we know that Y is nonsense? Because Xs believe it!” (where X is e.g. “Right-winger” resp. “conspiracy theorist” and Y some unpopular-with-the-Left opinion).

There also appears to be a growing tendency to consider everything relating to violence as Right-wing, unless the situation makes the use of political labels absurd. For instance, I have seen references to e.g. soccer hooligans as “Right”-this-or-that, without any justification in actual political opinions. While I do not rule out that there is a weak political connection (also see excursion on Neo-Nazism) in some cases, the main drive behind hooliganism appears to be more violence-for-the-sake-of-violence or some other X-for-the-sake-of-X, with more in common with Alex DeLarge than with Adolf der Führer.

(More generally, we have a paradoxical situation of societies with a strong Leftist dominance, a Left that threatens civic rights, notably freedom of speech, a growing threat from the far and/or violent Left, etc.—all while the Left makes more and more noise about “Right-wing this.” and “Far Right that.”, giving the unobservant an entirely incorrect view of the world, as if the threat actually came from the Right… Consider e.g. the current U.S. situation.)

In the past, the problem was, at least, limited to areas like nationalism, (real or alleged) racism, criticism of immigration policies, and similar topics. However, even those were unwarranted: there is nothing about nationalism, racism, or criticism of immigration policies that is inherently Rightist* or non-Leftist. This, as with the newer cases, is a fiction that the Left has built, and in which the “the Nazis are Right-wing” narrative is of central importance.** But now opponents can be condemned as this-or-that based on being, e.g., nationalist—no matter what their opinions in other areas and their overall policies are. (And no matter what form of nationalism is practiced, with an eye at both ideals/methods/goals and have far-going it is.) As I have observed in the past, these alleged Right-wing parties often have more in common with the Left than with the Right, once we look past nationalism. Here a far more holistic classification is needed. Moreover, the connection between “Right-wing” and “nationalist” is so thin that the house of card collapses as soon as we begin to consider the Nazis Left-wing. (Also note an earlier text in this series on the difference between opinions that are Nazi and that are merely old.)

*At least not within any reasonable time frame. It might or might not be different, if we go back far enough. The original French division might have been mainly between proponents of monarchy resp. republic, but applying the original standards would be laughable today. (And problems with a drift in meaning over time is yet another reason why the Left–Right spectrum is dangerously misleading and should be avoided.)

**In some cases with collaboration from members of the officially non-Left. Non-Leftist German and Swedish parties, e.g., increasingly cling to the label of “Center” and condemn anything Right-seeming, even when they were traditionally themselves seen as Right-wing. An interesting special case is the CDU take on AfD—two parties that should at least be semi-allies or work together on a “my enemy’s enemy” basis. However, a very sizable portion of AfD voters are former CDU voters who have had enough of Merkel et al., and I suspect that short-sighted CDU leaders have tried to delegitimize the AfD as hard as the Left has, in the hope that many of these voters would be shamed back into the fold. This has not worked and now we have a Social-Democrat dominated government instead of a non-Left alliance—and this at a time when it was critical for Germany to get away from further Leftist politics.

Worse, nationalism (and many of the other above items) is often considered explicitly far Right by the Left. However, as I have also noted repeatedly in the past,* these alleged far Rightists have very little to do with Rightists in general and are not a farther-going or more extreme version of the “regular” Right—much unlike the far Left relative the Left. The result, should we apply this idiotic abuse of the already hopeless Left–Right spectrum, is that we do not have a spectrum at all. Instead we have four vaguely labeled groups, where the labels (“far Right”, “Right”, “Center”, “Left”) have little to do with the opinions of the groups, and where we could equally apply the labels “Banana”, “Orange”, “Pear”, “Apple”—or where the only trace of spectrum that remains is how much the Left likes or dislikes the respective group.**

*Although, possibly, with regard to “extreme” rather than “far”. This to some degree because both my native Swedish and adopted German tends to speak in terms of “extreme” where English tends to use “far”. (Consider e.g. the German “Rechtsextrem” vs. “far Right”, “Linksextrem” vs. “far Left”.) However, some difference in meaning might be argued, in that the Swedish and German versions can have connotations of extremism in methods, not just opinions, much like the English “far Right/Left extremist”. The difference in meaning seems too slight to be of relevance here, except in as far as it makes the Left-wing rhetoric more effective, and I will gloss over it.

**Indeed, the German multi-party system is so filled with color labels that it is hard even for those who live here to keep track. The U.S. makes do with “Red” and “Blue”, if with an unexpected party–color association, while Germany has “Red”, “Blue”, “Black”, “Green”, “Yellow”, … Coalitions like “Rainbow” (“Regenbogen”), “Traffic light” (“Ampel”), or “Red-Green-Red” (“Rot-Grün-Rot”) are increasingly common (one “Red” for the Social-Democrats, another for the reincarnation of the SED—and, yes, the position of the color occasionally matters).

If we look at e.g. racism and sexism, they are by no means unheard of even in the Old Left, while the New Left is one of the most racist and sexist movements that the world has ever seen, once we look through the highly misleading self-portrayal. Indeed, many of those condemned as e.g “racist” or “far Right” have moderate, thought-through, and individualistic opinions, while many alleged “anti-racists” are filled with hate, void of reason, and focused on the group. (My opinions on Feminists, and the similar problems around them, are well documented in my older writings.) For instance, a typical opinion among e.g. HBD-ers and the likes of Murray/Herrnstein (and, indeed, my own opinion), is that there are significant and persistent group differences, which we should beware and consider in contexts relating to group outcomes, but that the individual should be judged as an individual—not as a group member. The “New Left”, in contrast, puts group membership first, be it with regard to a single group or some “intersectionality”—if you are a Black lesbian woman, then that is your identity, that should decide whom you vote for, that should decide who your allies are, that decides what hairstyles and earrings you are allowed to wear,* etc. Meanwhile, I have regularly heard reports, for several years, of CRT-fanatics in authority positions (including school teachers and various administrators) telling Whites, even children, that they are evil for being White or of them forcing Whites to “apologize” for being White or to “confront their privileges” as Whites. Yet, somehow, the HBD-ers are evil, far-Right racists, while the CRT-fanatics are heroes and the spiritual successors of Martin Luther King…

*Barring the possibility of an exemption for being Black. Note, however, very real attempts to condemn Whites for e.g. wearing hoop earrings or dreadlocks.

Excursion on Neo-Nazism:
I have stayed clear of Neo-Nazism until now (when context increased the need), and will likely leave it out in the continuation too. The reasons include that my understanding of the “scene” might be too superficial and that I fear that the inclusion would do more to cloud than clarify the overall issue. However, I strongly suspect that most self-identifying Neo-Nazis (as opposed to those, usually unfairly, accused of being Neo-Nazis by their opponents) have very little understanding of the Nazi ideology. They are usually not big thinkers and readers, but are driven by e.g. a wish for violence or belonging* that might match a soccer hooligan’s, a feeling that Nazis were, in some twisted sense, “cool”, a wish to seem more fearsome through use of Nazi paraphernalia**, or maybe indeed an aversion to some other group (e.g. Jews or colored immigrants)—but an aversion standing separate*** from a systematic Nazi ideology. This applies the more when e.g. someone uses Nazi paraphernalia without actively identifying as Neo-Nazi; and it would be a fallacy to conclude that anyone who does use such paraphernalia is a Nazi.****

*This is a factor that is largely alien to me, but it has often been referenced in contexts like recruitment to gangs, sects, whatnot. Somewhat recently, I read an article about a young woman who had been pushed to become transgender in part because she found a sense of belonging in an online community dealing with transgender issues, and later with IRL transgenders. After a few years of identifying as male, she came to the conclusion that she was not male/transgender, after all, stopped her hormone treatments, and returned to her estranged family.

**With some reservations for what exact word applies.

***And one of the central points of this text is that focusing on a single criterion even when determining what is “Right-wing”, let alone “Nazi”, is misplaced. Indeed and specifically, a modern aversion to Jews is quite common on the Left, maybe because the Jews destroy argumentation based on poor mistreated minorities not having a reasonable chance or on mistreatment generations ago holding the current generation back—or maybe because they try to fit Israel as an oppressor and, by extension, consider Jews just as “evil” as Whites (the upper class, Capitalists, or whatever the local foe image is).

****Note that the implications might vary from country to country. For instance, in Germany, it is illegal to display a swastika (to the point that computer games have been censored over its in-game use). Casual “to look cool” use in public is unlikely outside of those highly ignorant of the law—and bound to remain short before the police arrives or the user is jumped by a mob.

Similarly: Many who wear a “Che T-shirt” have no idea what he actually did and what he actually stood for—they merely find the picture “cool”. Wearers of pagan symbols rarely have any true connection to original paganism (“Wicca” and other neopaganisms are mostly a modern fantasy/distortion) and many are not even neopagan. Some wear glasses with purely decorative lenses to “look smart”. Indeed, as a young teen, needing a new belt, I picked a “cool” one with a Harley-Davidson logo imprinted in the leather—I have, even today, in my entire life never ridden on a motorcycle, be it a Harley or a Yamaha, be it as driver or as passenger.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 6, 2022 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Nazis V: Leftist self-perception/-portrayal vs. reality

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One of the most disturbing aspects of the Left is the great difference between self-image/-portrayal* and reality—with the difference between their image/portrayal of their opponents and reality not far behind.**

*Chances are that most Leftists genuinely believe in this-and-that, that they have been mislead by others and are only thinking and repeating the opinions of others. Correspondingly, it is important to keep the difference between self-image and -portrayal in mind when we look at individual Leftists (as opposed to the Left as an abstract).

**This includes issues around Nazis and Nazism, like an inability to see similarities with an own position and the Nazis’ or an identification of opponents with Nazis based on too superficial criteria and/or misrepresentation. However, it is by no means limited to issues around Nazis. Indeed, while this text is important to the overall Nazi series (especially, to counter “We on the Left are pro-X and the Nazis are anti-X! The Nazis must be Right-wing!” thinking), it will not contain much on Nazis.

There appears to be a radical disconnect between what the Left claims to believe, support, want to do, etc. and what it actually believes, supports, does, etc. While often allegedly being in favor of e.g. freedom of speech, the rights of the individual, justice for all and opposed to e.g. oppression and unwarranted special treatment* based on group, their actual beliefs, as revealed by actions** or a closer inspection of claims and statements***, very often show the opposite. I have seen far more intolerance,**** sexism, racism, disregard for civic rights, the-end-justify-the-means thinking, and other unhealthy attitudes on the Left than on the non-Left over the years.

*I deliberately use a vague and generic term, as a wide range of special treatments can be relevant. I am tempted to simply say “discrimination”, but in the Leftist abuse of the word, it might have too specific connotations, while the correct use might include cases that actually are warranted. (For instance, requiring that the attendant of the women’s locker room be a woman is a case of sexual discrimination—but, until the last few years, not one that would have raised objections even on the Left.)

**Consider someone who claims to be in favor of equality—and who pushes a law for a minimum proportion of specifically women among e.g. board members . Someone actually in favor of equality would have demanded minimum proportions for both sexes. (This assuming that quotas worked well and were legitimate per se, which I very much doubt. A true equalist would have focused on equal opportunity. That is a question on another dimension, however.)

***Consider an alleged supporter of free speech who condemns everything that does not conform to a certain worldview or ideology as “hate speech”, “racism”, “sexism”, “fake news”, whatnot, and considers the censorship of such crimethink outright positive. (This often in a manner that requires bad faith and/or ignorance of the facts at hand.)

****I have intended to write a text on intolerance, Leftist hypocrisy, and the world-turned-upside-down take of Marcuse for years. I hope to get around to it shortly after the Nazi series.

A particularly common example is the claim that “we” (i.e. the Left) are in favor of civic rights, while “we” actually engage in opposition to them. Even groups that do not claim support for civic rights, e.g. Soviet-style Communists, show a similar disconnect. For instance, many Communist dictatorships have been lavish in rhetoric on their own goodness and the evil of their opponents—and have often applied words like “democracy” in a sense incompatible with the established and/or “Western” meaning.*

*Consider the German Democratic Republic (i.e. GDR/DDR). I have seen motivations for such uses, e.g. in the direction that it would matter less that the people had a say and more that decisions were made in the interest of the people—true democracy would be serving the interest of the people (even if the people had no say; after all, the people does not understand what is in its best interest), and that the Western countries would be the ones abusing the term. Such motivations have never convinced me. That the interest of the people seemed to coincide surprisingly well with the private interests of the rulers, the party, and/or the ideology did not help. It must, however and in all fairness, be said that Western democracies are often and increasingly walking down the same road, even while nominally adhering to some variation of the principle of “the people is in charge”.

Of course, the mere existence of Soviet-style Communists (and similar groups) is enough to allow a compatibility comparison with the Nazis over e.g. civic rights; however, much of the Left, especially among e.g. Pseudo-Liberals, Social-Democrats, and the New Left, appears to contain a genuine belief that “we fight for freedom; the others for oppression”, “we fight for civic rights; the others want to crush them”, “we fight for democracy; the others want to kill it”, and similar, which goes far beyond the standard “we are the good guys” that applies to virtually all groups—including Nazis and Communists. This is the odder, as the opposite is usually far closer to the truth. (Some specific examples follow below.) Indeed, I have repeatedly seen individuals claim “I belong to the Left*, because X, Y, Z”, where X, Y, and Z are attitudes quite often found among non-Leftists (notably, Libertarians) and non-Left parties, but not or much more rarely among Leftists, let alone Leftist parties. They might even be among the reasons why I distance myself from the Left! In these cases, the very reasons why these useful idiots consider themselves Left are what should make them non-Left.

*Or e.g. a specific party on the Left. With parties, it is noteworthy that such claims might have been less wrong in the past, and that a lack of awareness of a changing situation might play in. I doubt that the U.S. Democrat party has ever been the shining beacon for civic rights that is seen in its self-portrayal, but chances are that the current incarnation is worse than e.g. the 1960s incarnation.

In many ways and very often, Leftist “argumentation” can be likened to someone who climbs a high building, brings out a megaphone, and shouts at the top of her lungs that “WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS! THE OTHERS ARE EVIL!”,* “WE ARE RIGHT! THEY ARE WRONG!”, with no actual argumentation to support these claims. Should someone try to argue the points, the Left brings a bigger megaphone and drowns out whatever the opponent tries to say. And, no, this is only partially a metaphor: I have seen a great many Leftist protests/meetings/whatnot in Germany that basically consisted of an angry someone angrily shouting into a megaphone to the masses, apparently hoping to make them equally angry. This usually with a very simplistic and angry message (e.g. “CAPITALISM IS OPPRESSION!”) and a complete lack of angrym… arguments. I have never seen something similar from non-Left groupings.** Similarly, note the behavior of many far-Left freaks in U.S. colleges: when an opponent has been invited to hold a lecture or participate in a debate, he is met not with counter-arguments and tricky questions but with noise aimed at making his words inaudible or, even, attempts to physically prevent his entry—as if a U.S. college was nothing more than a Kindergarten.

*Note that this differs from the mere belief, not specific to the Left, that “we are the good guys” in at least three regards: (a) The same type of shouting does not take place. (b) The belief that “the others are evil” is not automatic. The chances that someone non-Left considers someone on the Left merely factually wrong or as having weird priorities appears to be larger than vice versa—while the chances that the Leftist consider the non-Left outright evil or morally deficient are larger than vice versa. (Note that I deliberately went with “evil” over a mere “the bad guys”, despite the lack of symmetry—a mere “the bad guys” would too often fall short of the sheer strength of Leftist sentiment.) (c) The non-Left is far more likely to actually back up their claims with facts and reasoning.

**There is a difference between “I have not seen it” and “it does not happen”. However, chances are that it is far rarer, even should it happen.

This shouting of “WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS!” is particularly dangerous, as there are many who fall victim to this claim without a proper amount of critical thinking, actual insight, and knowledge of the “other side”. Indeed, there is great reason to believe that many or most supporters of the Left fall into the category of “useful idiots”, including those who believe that the U.S. Democrats actually represent (true, non-pseudo-, non-“social”) Liberal* values. They do not: The current Democrat ideology is antithetical to the Liberalism that once was and which once gained Liberals the reputation for being enlightened. True, or classical, Liberals are now found under replacement labels like “Libertarian”.

*A similar case likely applies to “Progressive”; however, as this term is not in much use in Sweden and Germany, I have not paid enough attention to it. Still, I doubt that old Progressives, like Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower, would be enthusiastic about the current crop of Democrats. (In a twist, these were Republican presidents, but great care should be taken when comparing the parties over such long time frames.)

Notably, most members of the Left appear to be largely ignorant of what their (real or perceived) opponents actually believe, going, as they do, only by the Leftist claims about what the opponents believe (e.g. that they are racist). They have never bothered to look into e.g. a party program or to read the type of literature that is the basis for much of their opponents thoughts—say, something by Hayek. (Interestingly, I have repeatedly heard anecdotes along the lines “I used to believe that [e.g. Libertarians] were this-and-that; then I read [e.g. Hayek] and now I find them much more sensible than the Left.”) How many typical U.S. Democrats have ever bothered to gain even a casual acquaintance with the thoughts that underlie the early U.S. and which still is important for much of Republican thought? How many have actually read literature that challenges existing paradigms, often very successfully, say, “The Bell-Curve”? Instead, “The Bell-Curve” is condemned as “racist”* by great masses who have never read it, do not understand what it is about, and are not willing to open their minds to anything but a preconceived opinion of “racist” or otherwise “evil”.

*Indeed, not only is it not racist, but I would not even apply a political label like “Right” or “non-Left” to it.

(In contrast, during the early days of my own political awareness, I made a great point of acquainting myself with the writings of “the other side”, including works by some Swedish Social-Democrats and Unionists and some “proletarian literature”. Similarly, I spent a lot of time on e.g. Feminist blogs during my early blogging phase. To note, very, very often have I been put off by the great amounts of faulty reasoning, bad facts, personal attacks, and that general, unreflecting, and adamant “WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS! THE OTHERS ARE EVIL!” attitude. Non-Leftist books/blogs/etc. are by no means universally free of fault, but they do have a much higher likelihood of using argumentation ad rem in lieu of mere assertion and personal attacks.)

An interesting individual example is an old colleague of mine (who has already featured in an older text; also see excursion), who was in fury over the German Pegida protesters, went to counter-protests, and saw it as justified to throw eggs at the Pegida protesters. At some point during a discussion, he suddenly blurted out that “But I don’t like the Burqa. It should be banned! I draw the line at the Burqa!”. This, however, with regard to Islam, is an opinion that a large subset of Pegida would have shared. Some of them are more strongly anti-Islam or anti-Islamist, but some are also just after (what they and he) perceived as excesses. (Many others appear to have been motivated less by feelings about Islam and more by justified disappointment with the German politicians.) Then we have the question of religious tolerance—if a Muslim woman wants to honor her religion by wearing a Burqa, who is he to forbid her?*

*The Left, Feminists in particular, often frame the burqa, the niqab, and similar as male oppression of women. That some Muslim women actually are in favor of these garments never seems to occur to them. (I leave unstated what the proportions of voluntary and forced wearings are, but it is clear that a “Ban the burqa, because sexism!” is simplistic, disrespectful, and destructive. Moreover, based on my observations of women, I suspect that other women, in particular mothers and grand-mothers, are the most likely source of any force or pressure—not men.)

A good example of typical misrepresentation is the claim that Feminism is about “gender equality” or “equal rights”. (This is also a good example of the Left claiming the opposite of the truth.) In reality, Feminism is, and always has been, a one-sided women’s rights movement, which has rarely shown much concern for men’s rights or for equal responsibilities and equal duties. (Here, I wanted to reference a recently encountered and very informative text by someone else, which likely was https://antifeministpraxis.com/2017/03/31/feminism-was-never-not-rotten/; however, this link currently leads to a message of “This domain expired”. For a semi-replacement, see a text on Ellen Key. For issues with more modern Feminism, see any number of earlier texts.)

Or take most of the alleged anti-racism movement in the current U.S., which, it self, appears to be the largest source of racism in said country. Problems include e.g. the blanket condemnation of anyone White who kills anyone Black as “racist”, no matter the circumstance and no matter the absence of proof (while making no such claim when someone Black kills someone White or Asian); citing the rate of arrest of Blacks as proof of “racist cops” without mentioning that Blacks are, if anything, underarrested once crime rates are factored in;* claims that all Whites are racist (but Blacks never can be, because power); and the presumption to interpret** “all lives matter” as a message of hate and racism, while it merely extends and critiques*** “Black lives matter”**** in a sensible manner. Indeed, a current common tactic is to label something as “Whiteness” and see it as immediately and irrevocably discredited, without the need for any actual arguments—how is that for racism?

*For instance, recently I saw a blog post or comment that began with (paraphrased from memory) “In this country, we arrest Blacks at five times the White ratio”, after which some claims about racism followed and I skipped the rest.

**Such interpretations are another major problem with the Left. Cf. e.g. tolkningsföreträde or note how the “Confederate Flag” has unilaterally been redefined as a symbol of racism by the Left—never mind the actual intentions of the many users since the U.S. Civil War.

***From what I have seen so far, critique, like dissent, is something that the Left cannot stand, and this is likely the reason for the hateful Leftist reactions to “all lives matter”—unless it is a cheap propaganda trick.

****I have great doubts that the implied message of “Black lives are not given the same respect as other lives and this must change” was justified. Nothing that I have seen so far points to a disregard of Black lives relative other lives in the U.S. of at least the last few decades—outside misleading propaganda claims by the Black movement. This with the possible exception of the Blacks own attitude, as Black-on-Black murder takes place at a far higher rate than e.g. White-on-White and White-on-Black murder.

Or take one of my first contacts, in the 1980s’ Sweden, with weird Leftist attitudes: that the Social-Democrat supporters would be noble and altruistic, while supporters of non-Left parties would just want to egoistically lower taxes and increase “klyftor”* for their own private gains. That many of the Social-Democrat supporters, in reality, just wanted to have someone else’s money, while their opponents often just wanted to keep their own earnings, or that their opponents might consider redistributions government sanctioned theft (without necessarily earning well, themselves), or that their opponents might understand more about how to run a sound economy, whatnot, never seemed to cross their minds. As often with the Left, I suspect some form of projection—“I want higher taxes because it serves me; ergo, if someone wants lower taxes, it must be because it serves him.” or, even, “[…] because it is bad for me”.**

*I cannot come up with a good English translation of “klyfta”/“klyftor” off the top of my head. The literal meaning might be roughly “ravine”/“ravines”, while the contextual use would be similar to the “divide” in “social divide”. However, the connotations of “klyfta” are naturally stronger than “divide”. The word is very popular in Swedish Leftist populism.

**The last version might seem unlikely, but I have, for instance, seen “letters to the editor” that complained about the “rich” hating the “poor”. Such ideas are certainly compatible with a Marxist “us vs. them” framework and paralleled by some supporters of Feminism and CRT. (And might be another case of projection.)

Unfortunately, such misrepresentations are often helped by e.g. newspapers, schools, and fiction (see excursion). To take just one group of examples: When I still read German papers, I encountered repeated cases of a headline like “Violence in wake of far-Right march!”, followed by a long discussion of violence, injuries, property damage, whatnot—and then, right at the end, a single shy, pro-forma, keep-a-lawsuit-off-our-backs sentence noting that the march had been peaceful until attacked by Antifa or some other Leftist group. The true, so deeply buried lede, was then “Antifa terrorists attack peaceful march!”. How many actually read such articles to an end, how many read a portion and then move on, and how many only read the headline? How many will build an entirely incorrect image of what groups are violent?* Similar distortions appear common in the U.S. as with the gross exaggerations and defamations around the “January 6” situation vs. the cavalier treatment of the Leftist/BLM “mostly peaceful protests”, which led to billions of dollars worth of damage and cost quite a few lives.

*As I have noted in the past, political violence almost always comes from the Left, be it in Sweden, Germany, or the U.S. This is likely one of the reasons why the Left is so keen on saddling the non-Left with the Nazis, as this would put one of the groups most associated with political violence with the non-Left and thereby distort the overall impressions further. It might also be a partial explanation why e.g. a White person who beats up a Black person might be condemned as “Right-wing”, even absent a political motive.

Excursion on misrepresentations in fiction:
If we look at large portions of (at least) U.S. fiction, notably screen fiction, there is enormous misrepresentation of the behaviors and attitudes of various groups in a manner that is likely to distort the worldview of many voters. (Even when we go beyond reasonable artistic licence, attempts to be spectacular or entertaining, and similar.) This to such a degree that mere coincidence or incompetence cannot explain it, leaving us with a very likely deliberate distortion, e.g. in that Feminists do not find enough male mistreatment of women in real life and are forced to use fiction to create the distorted worldview that they want voters to have. Consider e.g. the ever occurring “abusive relationship” (much rarer in real life), domestic violence as an almost exclusively man-on-woman thing (women are slightly more common as perpetrators than men in real life), the proportion of billionaires who are Lex-Luthor evil and/or out to get the poor (likely* much rarer in real life), how common White racists and White supremacists are (rare in real life; Black-on-White/-Asian racism appears far more common), how the proportions of White and Black criminals are reversed, how genius-level scientists are women and non-Asian minorities (including Blacks) far more often than in real life, how many Republicans are stupid, cold-hearted, or prejudiced (look in the mirror, Democrats!), etc. See also an older text on topics like ethics and the portrayal of men on TV.

*I do not know any billionaires first hand and I am not aware of any official statistics on e.g. how many billionaires have tried to kill Superman or take a perverse pleasure in earning money off someone else’s suffering.

A particularly atrocious case is taking a current Leftist sin and portraying it on TV as something someone on the Right (!) is currently doing. For instance, the recent second season of the (originally very promising and entertaining) TV series “Upload” switched to a theme of “rich people are out to disenfranchise poor voters so that the Republicans can win elections”, the rich people led by the “evil capitalist robot of doom”*. (I, in turn, switched off.) This while there are massive documented** attempts by Democrats to change the rules to ensure that Democrats are elected, including attempts to allow ballot harvesting, to increase voting by illegal immigrants, and to unconstitutionally*** alter voting districts to give the Democrats more elected whatnots at the same number of votes.

*Or some such. I do not remember the actual moniker, but it was similarly silly and over-the-top.

**Not to be confused with the allegations of outright Democrat cheating during e.g. the 2020 POTUS election. Unlike the above, there are no clear official records and finding out, let alone proving, exactly what might have taken place is not trivial.

***Not to be confused with the, already disputable, tradition by both parties to do so legally, nor with redistricting for legitimate purposes.

Excursion on my old colleague:
This colleague was paradoxical. Superficially, he seemed a great guy, easy to talk to, professional, always well-dressed and groomed (without being snobby), and he seemed to do a decent* job at software development. However, the more I got to know him, the more sceptical I grew. Apart from the already mentioned, I note e.g. the “John Williams” anecdote: One day, he was raving about his favorite classical guitarist—John Williams. He was a great fan: Williams was the bee’s knees, not just a great guitarist, but also the author of dozens of great movie scores! I, of course, knew who the composer was, but I had never heard him mentioned as a notable guitarist. Puzzled, I checked with Wikipedia, and found that these two were not the same. My colleague was temporarily stunned and highly disappointed, but all seemed to have ended well. (Although, I question how large a fan he could truly have been, making a mistake of that magnitude.) A few months later, he was suddenly raving about his favorite classical guitarist—John Williams. He was a great fan: Williams was the bee’s knees, not just a great guitarist, but also the author of dozens of great movie scores. For fuck’s sake!

*He did not deserve the label “good”, but the sad truth is that even a “decent” puts him well above average. This both in general, as the software industry is flooded with developers with too little brains and/or the wrong attitude for the job, and in this project in particular, as it was a government project where most of the “internals” were below the industry average. (He and I were both “externals”, lent from private companies.)

In another instance, we discussed some topic around Evolution.* He seemed about to set off on an angle demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of how Evolution works (a very, very common flaw among Leftist self-professed believers in Evolution). I tried to correct him, but he interrupted me to claim that he knew what I was going to say and that he already knew all that. He then launched into a five-minute monologue, proving that he had not understood the point that I had wanted to explain and drawing conclusions that simply did not hold water.

*I do not remember the details, unfortunately. His error might have been related to the difference between a simplistic “survival of the fittest” vs. a take based on reproductive success over generations. (Survival is not the Evolutionary prize. Reproduction is. Indeed, many life-forms have a reproduce-and-drop-dead take on affairs. Survival without reproduction might on occasion be a second prize, if it helps a close relative reproduce, but then so might death with the same help to the relative. Bees provide examples of both types of second prize.)

Written by michaeleriksson

April 30, 2022 at 12:31 am

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Nazis IV: Preliminaries on proof, subjectivity, etc.

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For natural reasons, the current area is one in which proof, in any real sense, is hard to come by. We cannot, for instance, put a Nazi on a set of scales and see whether he is more or less Leftist than a Communist. Maybe a very, very extensive and thorough scientific investigation could provide conclusive proof of this or that, but, if so, this might involve several decades of work.

Among the many complications we have that even a somewhat specific ideology, e.g. Communism, can vary considerably over time and from country to country, based on what the current intellectual fashion is, based on who the current local leader is, etc. (The same applies to Nazism, but to a lesser degree, because core Nazism was restricted to a comparatively short era, a single regime, once in power, and a single leader, Hitler, for most of that era.) Building a consistent image of the Left in its entirety is far harder or outright impossible—and it is entirely impossible for the more heterogeneous non-Left.

Then again, much of these problems go back to a stubborn insistence by most debaters (and Leftist debaters, especially) to force everything onto the extremely limited and misleading Left–Right spectrum. If it had not been for this stubborn insistence, chances are that I would never have started this text series, because it would have been utterly obvious that the Nazis cannot and should not be grouped with e.g. Conservatives and Libertarians. Ditto that we cannot and should not group various political groups together based on e.g. nationalism, while leaving every other aspect of their politics aside.

Moreover, it was the Left that began this game by trying to pawn off the Nazis on their opponents. No, dear Left, if you want to use the Left–Right spectrum, then the Nazis are yours.

I know what I know, but I cannot give a mathematical proof and I will understand the reader who sees too much “argumentation by assertion”. I can only recommend him to read up on his own and ask him to remember that the same claim of “argumentation by assertion” applies to most of what the Left ever “argues”—including the claim that the Nazis would be Right-wing. What he finds when he by-passes the Leftist propaganda and the weak efforts of journalists might surprise him.

Absent firm proof, I must to a large part simply relay my own impressions of various groupings, gathered over more than thirty years and referring to countries like Sweden, Germany,* the U.S., and the erstwhile Soviet Union. The source of my impressions varies. I have lived for more than twenty years in each of Sweden and Germany, I have read the news, known supporters of various parties in person, read party programs, read books (including on history), debated on blogs, etc. The U.S. has been a great personal interest of mine for the last six–seven years (and of some interest before that), and I have read many thousands of pages of books, Wikipedia articles, newspaper articles, opinion pieces, blog entries, … (And had, again, been involved in many blog debates before this period of interest.) As to the Soviets, my exposure has been lower, but still, I suspect, considerably above average for someone born outside the Soviet sphere of influence—and what I have to say on the matter is unlikely to be very controversial or unexpected.

*Both Nazi-Germany and the DDR were gone by the time I was, respectively, born and moved to Germany. However, the geographic proximity and the constant reminders through e.g. German media have given me a considerable interest in both, and I would put my knowledge and understanding well above the native German average among (important!) those who have no personal experiences.

I also know enough of many other countries to have a varying understanding of relevant history and complications—and the trends of the aforementioned countries appear to hold. Consider e.g. the Leftist economic disasters in Venezuela and Zimbabwe, the horrors of China under Mao, or the damage that PC/Feminist influence has done in the other Nordic countries. I am also aware of the complications around Franco and Pinochet. As to the latter, with “complications” I do not mean the evil deeds, quite contrary to my own values, that were performed by their regimes, but the issue of how to classify them and where they might fit in e.g. a discussion of Left–Right, where-do-the-Nazis-belong, or similar. Here, I might at some point have to read more deeply, but Pinochet seems more of a personal dictator than an ideological figure, and another poor match for the Left–Right spectrum, in my impression so far, and the sometime classification as Fascist might be more a matter of his methods (“Fascist” as generic slur for an authoritarian or whatnot regime) or his overthrow of a Socialist or Communist regime* (“Fascist” as a generic slur for someone the Left does not like). Franco is somewhat similar (if, maybe, more ideological and with a different ideology), but with the complication that he did not rise to power through a coup, but through a civil war (again, against Socialists/Communists)—and it must be asked what of his actions were a result of this civil war** and what might have had another background. His opponents in the war, contrary to typically one-sided portrayals in Western media, might well have been the greater evil-doers. (Have a look at e.g. Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia”. Note that Orwell, despite some of his writings, was a dedicated Socialist and actively participated on the Leftist (!) side in the war.)

*Notably, Salvador Allende was, by all appearances, “pulling a Venezuela” on Chile.

**To re-iterate from [1]: war crimes follow automatically whenever there is war.

(A counterpoint, where I also might need to do more reading, is whether the Castros’ Cuba and the Kims’ North-Korea could, similarly, be more personal dictatorships than true Communist dictatorships—and whether they have more or less in common with Pinochet/Franco than with e.g. the Soviets. Of course, unlike Pinochet/Franco with Fascism, they have openly and unmistakably claimed to be Communist and/or Socialist.)

Written by michaeleriksson

April 21, 2022 at 3:56 pm

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Nazis III: Various takes on “Law and Order”

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In many cases, Left vs. non-Left positions can be clouded by semantics (note how most parties agree that justice, fairness, equality, whatnot are good, but disagree on what the corresponding words imply).

A particularly interesting case, with an eye on the Nazis/Fascists* is “law and order” and similar ideas and formulations,** as calls for “law and order” are sometimes equated with a call for a Nazi/Fascist society.

*The explicit inclusion of “Fascist” here is warranted by this, in my impression, being the more common accusation, while carrying the same intent and implications as the “Nazi” accusation. Otherwise, cf. part I, I leave the related topic of Fascism out.

**For brevity, I will stick with just “law and order” in the continuation. This should not be seen as a restriction of my intent.

Now, law and order can, when taken too far, degenerate into something akin to a “Polizeistaat” instead of a “Rechtsstaat”.* More easily, the balance between civic rights and e.g. crime suppression can tip the wrong way. (Consider e.g. Feminist-driven reductions in due process when rape is concerned or the many calls for fewer restriction on surveillance by the police. Note that such calls quite often come from the Left.) However, we need to be clear on what the respective speaker actually intends by e.g. “law and order”.

*German expressions for, respectively, “police state” and something somewhat approximately implying “rule of law”. (The implications are, in my eyes, not identical, but there is no established exact translation of “Rechtsstaat” into English. The recurring reader will have noted my repeated uses of the German expression in the past.)

For instance, a Conservative might have his eyes on “I and my family are protected from crime”, while someone who has been robbed thrice in the last year, as can happen in a sufficiently bad neighborhood, might simply want to walk the streets without fearing for his life and limb.* These might call for more police on the street or harsher punishments for criminals, but are usually far away from a police state in their intentions (and in the likely results).

*Generally, note that the political priorities of various groups are often strongly influenced by their own experiences and the problems that they are exposed to more often. It can really pay to understand the actual motivations of a particular priority.

In contrast, many politicians* seem to mean “I and my fellow politicians are protected from disgruntled voters” or “law and order ensures that the people does what we tell them to do”.** Here we have an actual danger to the Rechtsstaat and an actual risk of achieving a police state.

*Not necessarily Leftist; although, the Left seems to be worse than the non-Left in e.g. the U.S. and Germany.

**Note e.g. the extremely disproportionate, anti-democratic, and anti-rechtsstaatliche clampdown on “January 6” protesters, while Antifa terrorists and BLM rioters, hitting mere citizens, have received slaps on the wrist. The main explanation for this might well be a matter of anti-Republican abuse of governmental power and/or an attempt to give the Democrats their “Reichstagsbrand”; however, chances are that the reaction is partially driven by how “close to home” the protests were—and this could explain why the outrage against the clampdown has not been larger among the leading Republicans.

A good example of this is the repeated claims by (then-Chancellor) Merkel and some other German politicians that the Internet must not be a “rechtsfreier Raum”*, by which a naive German citizen might happily think that he will be protected from fraudsters and be able to use the services of police and courts even on the Internet. In this, he would be doubly naive, because (a) even in the real world his ability to do so is extremely limited,** (b) what the politicians actually appear to mean, based on suggested and actual law changes, is that anonymity must be removed from the Internet, so that the government can keep tabs on him, and that the Internet must not become an escape from the too far going German restrictions on free speech.***

*Approximately, “area/space/room without law and order”.

**One of the reasons why I reject the notion that Germany would be a Rechtsstaat in the first place.

***Another reason. I note e.g. that there was a set of raids against citizens about a month ago, which included searched apartments and confiscated computers—because the targets were suspected of having insulted politicians. Note: Germany 2022—not the DDR in 1982, not the Nazi-Germany of 1942, but the “regular” Germany of 2022.

The police and other law-enforcement organizations often put their own interests first—catch the criminal and all is good. This is somewhat understandable, but ultimately too dangerous. (As it always is, when a single concern is given priority over everything else, even should it be with good intentions.) We also need to consider the effects on other parts of society, the risk of abuse, the often implied violation of the presumption of innocence, how a rise in convictions almost invariably implies more innocents being convicted (not just more guilty), etc. If things go wrong here, we can truly and rapidly land in a police state.

What then might a Leftist voter intend? Well, firstly, he is unlikely to speak of specifically “law and order”, as it has more Conservative or other non-Leftist connotations; however, per the above, “similar ideas” apply. Going by various actions, articles, forum comments, whatnot by members of the U.S. Left, I strongly suspect that it often amounts to “the law protects the Left from the non-Left (but not vice versa)”, “all those evil White supremacists are prevented from lynching* poor Black people (but poor Black criminals must not go to jail—they are victims of society)”, “we can put Trump in jail for being Trump”, etc. More internationally, gross abuse has been quite common in various Communist dictatorships,** while even more moderate versions of the Left seem to have a strong tendency both towards hypocrisy (different rules for the Left and the non-Left) and use of governmental power for their own purposes—if rarely to the degree displayed in the current U.S. Note e.g. an (older text) on a German law that is explicitly directed towards Right-wing extremism, instead of e.g. political or ideological extremism. (The odder, as Germany has a much greater problem with Left-wing extremism than with Right-wing.) Or note that many Nazi** symbols/greetings/whatnot are illegal in Germany, while corresponding Communist ones are perfectly legal. Or note that the German Verfassungschutz is attacking the considered-Right*** AfD, while leaving Die Linke, a far Left direct descendant of the SED, alone—respectively, that they are publicly criticized when they are not hard enough on AfD and when they are not soft enough on Die Linke.

*Here and elsewhere, note that the image of both White and Black behavior (and e.g. male and female behavior) is often highly distorted in the minds of Leftists. Consider e.g. the absurd claims of “racist murderer” against Chauvin and many others—even if we follow Chauvin’s jury and call it murder (which, frankly, still seems unreasonable to me), there is not one shred of evidence of anything racist. In many other cases, the alleged racist murderer has been acquitted even of murder, as with e.g. Zimmerman, and, again, not one shred of evidence for racism has been provided.

**In conjuncture with the misguided claim that the Nazis were Right-wing.

***Unlike with the Nazis and some other parties, I do not necessarily disagree, if we allow the use of the flawed and simplistic Left–Right spectrum (but we should not). However, based on how other parties are treated, I suspect that the typical establishment/mainstream-media/whatnot estimate has not arisen from a holistic view of their overall opinions. Instead, it stems from their take on issues like immigration.

Now, as an exercise for the reader, please compare and contrast the above takes on law and order with a reasonable description of the Nazi take.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 17, 2022 at 9:07 pm

Nazis II: Preliminary remarks on comparisons over time, importance of baselines

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Looking back at the Nazis (and, m.m., a great many other groupings) from a modern point of view, there is always a danger of mistaking a more general characteristic of the day for a Nazi characteristic.

As an analogy, Hitler’s toothbrush moustache was not his invention, or historically rare/specific to him, or a Nazi symbol—it was a fashion that Hitler (and Chaplin, and Oliver Hardy, and …) adopted. That it has fallen out of popularity might be mostly a matter of the association with Hitler,* but chances are that it would have disappeared from the scene anyway, just like the 1970s’ horseshoe moustache did. Barring the current association with Hitler, it might even have made a comeback at some point in time—like fashions often do.

*Another possibility is that it is today associated with Hitler, because it fell out of fashion and he might be the most famous carrier from a modern perspective.

Similarly, popular worldviews, opinion corridors, societal standards, whatnot, all change over time and in a fashion-like way; and we cannot say, in a blanket manner, that “the 1932 Nazis thought X and the 2022 Left thinks Y’; ergo, they are incompatible”. Instead, we must consider both historical Leftist opinions and the general baseline of the respective day. In particular, if either of the 1932 and 2022 Lefts though X, it would be sufficient proof of compatibility; however, the opposite would not be proof of incompatibility. Whether Leftist support in 1932 or 2022 would be the stronger argument might be up for discussion, however: If both, say, Nazis and Communists held opinion X in 1932, it would make for a fairer and more direct comparison, but it is also conceivable that both were “fashion victims” of the 1932 baseline (as if Stalin, too, had picked a toothbrush moustache), which would make the comparison less relevant. Of course, to make matters more complicated, if both were fashion victims, it might be unfair to associate either with X.

(However, we must not overstretch the reasoning: An argument like “belief X can be Leftist, after all—witness 1932” weakens the “Nazis are Right-wing” claim further, but it does not automatically imply “the Nazis did not truly think X” or “if the Nazis had survived until today, they would long have abandoned X”. The latter two claims might or might not be true, or they might be true for one issue and not another, but there is no guarantee—and it is irrelevant for my point. What matters is what implications belief in X had at what time and who shared or rejected that belief.)

To detail exactly which opinions/methods/whatnot should be seen as more “historical” than “Nazi”, and/or where they were Nazi but must be partially seen in the light of the baseline, would involve speculation and might require considerable research, but I note that hatred of/prejudice against e.g. Jews and homosexuals was quite common (including on the Left),* that nationalism was much more common than today, and that warfare for the purpose of territorial expansion has been historically unremarkable (no matter how frowned upon it is today)—certainly, the Soviets, too, occupied large areas of land before WWII broke out respectively before the German–Soviet part of the war (including the remains of Poland, parts of Finland, and the Baltic states).** By the end of the war, they had gobbled up half of Europe. Also note that the Nazis learned a lot from the Soviets, including how to perform large scale incarcerations and exterminations.** (Read e.g. “The Black Book of Communism” and see what went on in the Soviet Union before Hitler was even in power.)

*To boot, I have always been a little uncertain to what degree the Nazis’ anti-Semitism was a true core issue, a personal fixation of Hitler’s, respectively, a way to gain popular support and/or have a convenient scape-goat or enemy in propaganda.

**And note how differently both cases have been treated with regard to Nazis and Communists by both the “West”, in general, and the Western Left in particular.

A particularly important case is eugenics: It is true that proponents of eugenics are much more likely to be found among the non-Left than the Left today. However, this has not historically been the case, and the current Leftist aversion is almost certainly caused by the Nazis, be it as an irrational overreaction or as a deliberate attempt to build distance to the Nazis. Eugenic ideas were, in fact, very popular (throughout society and the political spectrum) before the Nazis—including in educated and “progressive” circles. Active users included my native Sweden under Social-Democrat governments. And, no, eugenics and genocide are very, very different things. It just happened that the Nazis chose genocide to achieve a (likely misperceived-as-)eugenic goal. The problem with the Nazis was certainly not the idea of eugenics—but the methods used and the naive target.

Excursion on catastrophic one-off, few-off events on public opinion:
The Nazi impact on eugenics parallels the unfair deterioration of the reputation of nuclear power: The Chernobyl accident* was a once in decades event even at the time it happened. Since then, we have seen close to another four decades come and go without a similar accident. Nevertheless, it has given nuclear power an entirely undeserved reputation and hampered the development of nuclear power ever since. Attitudes seemed to be turning as time passed—and then came the Fukushima** incident. While much smaller, this set attitudes back to the prejudiced scratch. Never mind that Chernobyl and Fukushima together did far less damage and caused far fewer deaths than fossil fuels do every single year.

*Caused by a mixture of (already then) outdated technology, human errors, deliberate non-adherence to security protocols, and a lot of bad luck.

**Caused by an enormous natural disaster, which did far more damage than the nuclear incident. (Use of “incident” is deliberate. The connotations of“accident” are all wrong here.)

In both cases, eugenics and nuclear power, something highly beneficial when used correctly, has been condemned as irredeemably evil, must-be-abolished sins in large swaths of the unthinking or irrational population. On a more individual level, there are, e.g., many who have an irrational fear of flying, stemming from well-publicized major crashes, while the relative probability of death per passenger mile (or a similar metric) between different modes of transport is not considered.

I note a parallel with “not perfect; ergo, useless”, maybe as “went wrong once; ergo, too dangerous”.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 16, 2022 at 6:30 pm

Nazis I: Non-Marxist does not imply Right-wing, some preliminaries

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Pre-amble: An intended single text dealing with the Nazis and the (misguided) classification of Nazis as “Right-wing” or “far Right” is getting out of hand; notably, with regard to preliminaries. I have decided to break it up into several smaller parts (of which this is the first). Note that I still consider the result one text with regard to my “publish at most one text per week” policy. (As to the premature timing—yes, the fucking construction noise is here again.)

A core problem is that variations of Marxism and quasi-Marxism* has for many decades, maybe more than a century, dominated what is considered Left** so thoroughly that the possibility of a non-Marxist Left is not sufficiently considered and that the non-Marxist are incorrectly considered non-Left merely by dint of being non-Marxist. Note that Marxism includes Social-Democrats, many other Democratic Socialists, and the New Left—not just Communists and (non-Democratic) Socialists.***

*In the remainder, I will rarely bother with the differentiation between “true” or “classical” Marxism and the quasi-Marxism that colors e.g. much of the current U.S. Left, where a class conflict has been replaced with e.g. a race, sex, sexual preference, or “gender identity” conflict.

**Possibly, outside the “Center-Left” and earlier not-yet-so-extreme versions of Pseudo- and Social “Liberalism”, say, the earlier U.S. Democrats.

***To make matters more complicated, there have also historically been non-Marxist versions even of Communism and Socialism. Indeed, the Nazi party/the NSDAP was formally die Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. (Using a translation from Wikipedia. I might have used “Labour Party” over “Worker’s Party”.)

More sensibly, the Left should be divided into axes like democratic vs dictatorial/totalitarian/whatnot, nationalist vs internationalist, Marxist vs. non-Marxist, and maybe more, with an additional potential division, especially among Marxists, into what enemy groups are demonized, used as scarecrows, oppressor* images, or similar.** In this more sensible framework, there is no need to artificially ship of the Nazis to the wrong end of the Left–Right spectrum. Instead, they are Left, with additional sub-categorizations like dictatorial/totalitarian, nationalist, non-Marxist, with Jews, Marxists, and Capitalists as enemy groups (or, maybe, as a subset of the enemy groups). As a comparison, your typical Communist dictatorship might be/have been Left with sub-categorizations like dictatorial/totalitarian, internationalist, Marxist, with Capitalists, the U.S., and non-Marxists as commonly occurring enemy groups. (With some variations. I suspect that the “internationalist” part often did not apply or was sometimes for show.) A modern day Gender-Feminist might be considered Left with sub-categorizations like internationalist, quasi-Marxist, with men, the Patriarchy, or Western Civilization as common enemies. Said Gender-Feminist would likely be nominally pro-democracy, but show a tendency towards the dictatorial or totalitarian in practice (witness much of what goes on in e.g. the U.S. or Sweden).

*And what groups are considered the oppressed.

**Note that the last part likely takes care of the Old Left vs. New Left division.

Important: My own use of “Left” (and variations) will usually either gloss over this division or refer to “Left” in a mostly Marxist sense. This is a little sloppy, but saves me constant formulations like “the (quasi-)Marxist Left” and “the-Left-except-for-the-Nazis”. The alternative would be to use ad-hoc terms to overcome the semantic issues, which would likely (a) lead to a harder-to-understand text, (b) result in inconsistent use by me.

I will probably leave the topic of Fascism out of this text series.* This for several reasons, including that “Fascism”/“Fascist” is usually used in a manner entirely disconnected from the original ideology and that the Left has a long history of referring to even other parts of the Left as Fascists, as with e.g. Communists vs. “Social-Fascists” (i.e. Social-Democrats) and Stalinists vs. Trotskyists. At the same time, almost any opponent that the Left has disliked has been in danger of being called “Fascist”, based on that dislike and not ideological analysis—note e.g. the “Antifaschistischer Schutzwall” (i.e. the Berlin Wall) and the recurring condemnation of Capitalism as Fascism. Indeed, we would have to differ between at least three wildly separate and largely incompatible meanings, namely the original ideology, the general and often hyperbolic slur (especially as applied to governments, police forces, and authority figures—including “mean” teachers), and the slur for things that the Left does not like.

*Except as far as Nazism is considered a special case of Fascism, which is dubious, large similarities notwithstanding. (Social-Democracy is not a special case of Communism either, nor vice versa.)

However, if we do look at the original ideology and/or Italy under Mussolini, large parts of this text series will apply and a similar argument is likely* to hold—either the Fascists were on the Left (and a non-Marxist Socialism) or the Left–Right scale is so useless that the classification of non-Left parties as Right or Center is grossly misleading. As an aside, the Fascist movement was an offspring of the syndicalist movement, which is usually considered far Left even by large parts of the Left.

*I have not done the leg-work to say for certain.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 15, 2022 at 5:55 am

Libertarian idealism vs. Conservative pragmatism

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Even as a Libertarian, I have often been tempted by Conservatism. In light of long-term societal developments and recent U.S. events, the temptation is here again.

I am particularly troubled by two issues:

Firstly, freedom requires responsibility and the ability and discipline not to use it indiscriminately: There is a difference between “is allowed to” and “should”, as well as between “is allowed to” and “would benefit from”, even between “is allowed to” and “will not be harmed by”. For instance (not necessarily with a Conservative angle), it is a very bad idea to binge drink and gorge oneself on fast food on a daily basis—but both are perfectly legal in e.g. the U.S.

However, large swaths of the population are stupid, uninformed, short-sighted, and/or reckless, or might have other weaknesses* that make them do things that are not good for them when they have the freedom to do so. Giving the wrong persons too much freedom leads to negative consequences for them. Worse, there can be negative side-effects for others, including their children and the tax payers.**

*The list could be quite long, and much would be irrelevant to this text. For instance, more-or-less anyone can be driven to do something stupid in anger, e.g. throwing a coffee mug at a wall.

**To stick with drinking: Even someone who never drinks in the presence of the children might damage them through e.g. being unable to keep jobs or being restricted to poor jobs. Tax payers might e.g. be forced to foot the bill for various forms of government aid that would not have been necessary with a sober parent.

Libertarians usually work with the explicit or implicit premise that we are each capable and responsible enough to make good decisions for ourselves—or, failing that, that we should be free to decide as long as the negative consequences only or mostly hit ourselves. At the same time, most humans are idiots and consequences often extend to others (cf. footnote above).*

*Incidentally, almost all ideologies are naive and overly optimistic about human nature. Communism, e.g., even ethical concerns aside, would be extremely unlikely to ever work as intended. Conservatism might be a partial exception (cf. below).

Secondly, many of the norms, traditions, behaviors, whatnot that were present in the past, but are now considered antiquated, might actually have had considerable benefits to them—even when these benefits are not obvious to us. For instance, there are strong signs that the current world underlies a dysgenic pressure; for instance, it might well be that a more modern life style leads to less individual happiness. Similarly, it might be that several norms (etc.) worked when they were all present, but that removing one of them causes problems when the others are not adapted. Trial and error over many generations might have led to a set of norms that happened to work well, while our current norms are often the result of chance or thoughtlessness and might work less well. Consider by analogy an ecosystem where one species is suddenly exterminated (or a new one artificially introduced): chances are that the effects will be highly negative, even though there are functioning ecosystems elsewhere that never had this species. In due time, a new balance will be found, but it might take a long time and the damage might be considerable. Indeed, more literally, humans are likely to partially have evolved to fit into a particular set of norms, and turn out to be maladjusted when those change,* or, vice versa, some norms might have evolved to keep biology in check.

*For instance, a pet hypothesis of mine is that many parent–teen conflicts are rooted in a conflict between current norms and biology: Once it was normal to be considered an adult, build an own life, find a spouse and have children (especially, for the girls), and whatnot, as a teen. Currently, a first real job might have to wait until after college, spouse and children until after thirty, and a too independent teen might be grounded even at seventeen-and-a-half.

Similarly, it is conceivable that removing a ban* on pre-marital sex** or introducing TV*** (let along e.g. heroin) could have negative effects on society and/or the individuals involved. It might or might not be that these specific examples are problematic,*** but it is extremely likely that problems will be present somewhere among the very many changes that have taken place over comparatively short time spans.

*Or e.g. a strong societal or religious norm. To keep the discussion simple, I will mostly speak in terms of laws instead of norms, customs, whatnot. This should not be seen as more than a convenience, however, and Conservatism is not just a matter of laws and public policy.

**To deliberately take an example of something considered perfectly normal by most modern Westerners, but which has been seen very differently at other times. Note that I do not call for the re-introduction of such a ban (nor for the abolition of TV).

***TV is given as an easily understood example of something that has brought large changes but might just as easily be underestimated. I am not implying that anti-TV sentiments would be common among Conservatives. If they are, I am not aware of it.

***Both definitely have brought great changes, but whether the net effect was positive or negative would have to be investigated in more detail. My personal strong suspicion, however, is that they have both been negative for society, while, when we look at direct effects, being positive for the individuals. I am highly uncertain about the net effect on the individuals when we factor in indirect effects.

Conservatism, however, to some degree amounts to “sticking with the true-and-tested”, to assume that a society that worked* did not need fixing, and that changes should be gradual and controlled—all of which would help in avoiding such problems.

*Which is not to say that a working society was a perfect society, or necessarily a good one. I would, on the contrary, strongly caution against building an idealized image of “yore”, even changes brought by scientific and economic progress aside. By analogy, being an animal in an ecosystem is not necessarily a great life, but, by-and-large, a stable and only gradually changing ecosystem is preferable to one which is severely disrupted.

For someone with a Libertarian heart, these problems raise very unpleasant questions, for instance when and whether the idea of a “bubble of rights” needs to consider indirect negative effects on others and when and whether the damage* to the public might be large enough to warrant restrictions on individual rights on a “necessary evil” basis. Looking at the current, disastrous U.S. developments, e.g., it is clear that many simple cannot or will not handle freedom responsibly. Chances are that Conservatism is pragmatically sounder than Libertarianism, and it often seems to me that a (not very realistic) world in which legislation is Libertarian and behavior voluntarily Conservative would be the best option.**

*A word chosen to differentiate from more generic claims about “the interests of the many”, “the greater good”, and similar. Here there is a very dangerous slippery slope, which could lead past Conservatism into Leftist politics, and which makes it necessary to tread very carefully.

**E.g. in that there is a right to pre-marital sex but that few make use of it.

A potential, if imperfect, way out is to treat areas like majority* in a more discriminating** and individualized manner: Instead of having everyone reach certain rights in a blanket manner at certain ages, some set of more relevant criteria (cf. below) could be used to determine whether any specific individual should be given the corresponding rights. It might then be that someone highly intelligent, well informed, and mature is allowed to do things that the metaphorical*** high-school drop-out is not allowed to do—or is allowed to do them earlier than the high-school drop-out. (Note that most, if not all, objections that could be raised on a “personal freedom” basis apply similarly to the current age based restrictions.) We might then have a Libertarian ideal for those who can handle it and Conservative pragmatism for those who can not.

*In the sense used in “age of majority” and with the “like” intending to include all the various “age of X”, e.g. “age of drinking”, “age of driving”.

**In its correct sense.

***Any given real high-school drop-out could still be highly intelligent, well informed, and mature—rare, true, but not impossible.

As an aside, this type of discrimination should not be limited to e.g. maturity according to current standards or to resolve a Conservative–Libertarian conflict. It should also include an increased freedom from e.g. more Leftist government interventionism, say that someone who fulfills certain criteria will be allowed to make his own decisions concerning health insurance, pension savings, and similar—no matter what restricting laws do or do not apply to others.

As to what criteria should be used, this is a tricky question and might involve different answers for different rights. A first suggestion would be to use some combination of I.Q. (or a similar score) and age, e.g. (!) that most* rights currently given at eighteen are awarded when min(I.Q., 130) + 3 x min(age, 30) >= 184. This would e.g. imply that someone with an I.Q. at or above 130 would receive them at eighteen, like today; someone with an I.Q. of 94 would do so at thirty, having had another dozen years to build knowledge and maturity; those in between would do so at an age varying linearly between eighteen and thirty; and those below 94 would never** do so.

*Off topic, I suspect that staggering the flow of rights more than today would be a good idea, so that the individual can learn to handle the rights and the responsibility gradually, instead of being hit with most of it in one go and with little preparation. To keep the main text reasonably simple, I have not made attempts to bring in such a staggering in the main text or the specific example.

**The specific number 94 arose as a side-effect of using a high-I.Q. of 130, a low-age of eighteen, and a high-age of thirty; and I am very open to discuss other values. However, I do note that someone with an even lower an I.Q. is horrifyingly limited. Chances are that no amount of time will be enough to catch up with an eighteen-year-old with an I.Q. in excess of 130, let alone a thirty-year-old with such an I.Q.

In specific cases, other values/criteria in the formula and/or various exceptions might apply. For instance, the right to marry might reasonably involve some type of “success in life” measure, e.g. that a steady income has been present for some time, and might have a laxer I.Q.* criterion. If (!) a “no sex before marriage” principle was re-introduced, it might take the form that pre-marital sex is allowed for those with a high enough score, while “intra-marital” sex always is allowed.

*That no-one with an I.Q. below 94 was allowed to marry would, if nothing else, reduce the chances that this scheme gains acceptance from “small” to “zero”.

Formal tests of more specific abilities or knowledge are possible criteria, but must be applied with great caution, lest they be deliberately abused for nefarious agendas* or have accidental negative effects through oversights, subjectiveness, or incompetence**. Counting e.g. years of formal education is out: it might once have been plausible, but with the current degree inflation, the disputable value of formal (as opposed to self-) education, and the outright poor decision that higher formal education can be in e.g. the current U.S., it would do more harm than good. It might also kill the remaining credibility of the education system if too many strive for an easy degree for the specific purpose of gaining a higher score.

*E.g. to ensure that only those with the “correct” political opinions are allowed to vote in public elections.

**A good example is fiddling with various aptitude tests to remove differences in group outcomes without considering the possibility that these reflect differences in ability distributions between groups.

Excursion on practical problems:
Above, I have deliberate ignored practical problems, like when and how testing is done, how many re-rests might be allowed, how to ensure that test results are not made pointless by cheating, … They are not very interesting at the current level of abstraction, but must be very carefully investigated and considered if an implementation is ever attempted.

Excursion on culture clashes, etc.:
The complications of the “Secondly” above could apply in other situations, too, including culture clashes. There is a risk that biological adaptations to one system of norms might become maladaptations when the individual is moved to a society with a different set of norms.

Excursion on rule breaking and rules as a baseline of behavior:
A complication with any set of rules is that at least some will break them, including some who merely aim to demonstrate their disregard for the rules, “act cool”, be rebellious, whatnot. To the latter, the exact rules broken might not matter much; and even other rule-breakers might be directed more by the amount of “breakage” than the eventual behavior. For instance, if a speed-limit of 50 (in some unit) results in some traveling at a speed of 60, then raising the speed-limit to 60 will not cause everyone to now drive legally. More likely, 60 will be seen as the new baseline and some will now drive at a speed of 70. A child testing boundaries will not be content if a given boundary falls, when it can just proceed to test the next boundary. Avant-garde painters of one generation might seem like conventional bores to the next generation, who is set on pushing the envelope further. Etc. Correspondingly, pragmatically speaking, it can pay to have some amount of buffer in the rules—a point where a highly laissez-faire philosophy will fail.

Similarly, a too great laxness in one area can lead to problems in another. For instance, if school children learn that they can get away with almost anything without consequences at home, they might assume the same about school and behave accordingly. If they do get away with almost anything at school, they might take this lesson into the streets. Etc.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 27, 2020 at 12:44 pm

The odd distortion of the Left-Right spectrum

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To temporarily conclude the discussions of Left and “Right”:

A severe problem in e.g. Germany and Sweden* is that the dominance of the Leftist narrative** and/or the cowardice of traditionally “Right-wing” parties (e.g. the German CDU) has distorted the understanding of the Left–Right spectrum***: increasingly it is seen as a division into two acceptable camps (the “Center” and the “Left”) and one unacceptable, irredeemably evil (the “Right”). Because the non-extremist, non-migration centric parts of the traditional “Right” want to avoid the taint of being labeled as “Right”, they refer to themselves as “Center” and leave the “Right” to parties already condemned by the Left, creating a parallel to a self-fulfilling prophecy—the “Right” increasingly becomes what the Left claims that it is because of the Leftist claims.

*The situation is (still…) better in e.g. the U.S.

**Notably, but not exclusively, considering any e.g. migration critic movement “Right” or “extreme Right” independent of other factors, and equating “Right” with extremism, Fascism, and Nazism. Imagine, e.g., the impact on Leftist rhetoric, if the Nazis had been classified as Left instead of “Right”, which is by no means an impossibility in light of the flaws of the Left–Right scale. (Also see the next footnote.)

***Notwithstanding that this spectrum is extremely flawed and simplistic to begin with, including the use of too few dimensions and a heterogeneity of the non-Left, which makes labels like “Right” unworkable (while “Left” is at least semi-workable, hence the different treatment of the words in my texts). Consider e.g. dimensions like attitudes to the individual vs. the collective, whether ends justify the means, whether citizens should have a free will or be guided like children, whether equality of opportunity or outcome is more important, etc. Notably, the extreme Left can usually be seen as a more extreme version of the “regular” Left, but the extreme “Right” and the “regular” “Right” often have little in common.

This is the more absurd, as the historically “evil” side of the spectrum is the Left and the historically more extremist side is the Left. Indeed, for a significant portion of the 20th century, even a (relatively speaking) moderate Leftist position often entailed ideas that were at best radical*, at worst insane. For instance, the Swedish Social-Democrats (the famous “third-way” and the “moderate” alternative to the Communists) introduced Löntagarfonderna (“employee funds”)—a backdoor approach to socialize businesses through an extra tax on profits, which was used to buy shares of the companies (effectively, using their own money to buy them).

*A radical position is not automatically wrong, although the likelihood is higher. An ever-recurring problem with radicals, however, is that they seem to insist on change-as-soon-as-possible, instead of taking things slowly.

It is also absurd, because the remaining portions of the spectrum that self-identify, or allow themselves to be identified as, “Right” to a considerable part consists of the same type of people who dominate the extremer parts of the Left—just like the Nazis had more in common with the Communists than with e.g. typical conservatives, these have more in common with large parts of the current Left than the current “Center”. Especially, both now and then, there is reason to believe that there is a great implicit competition in recruitment, that e.g. many extremists do not end up one the Left or the “Right” because of some natural preference but because they happened to fall victim to the propaganda of the one group before the other.*

*This including many who are weak critical thinkers, looking for something to be angry at, alienated by society, or similar. These are also disproportionately likely to be victims of e.g. religious sects and strong “causes” outside the Left–Right spectrum, e.g. independence movements.

What has happened to the label “Right” is what in a sane world would happened to the label “Left”: Positions like those of the Social-Democrats*, Communists, and the extremer parts of the U.S. “old Left” should have gone down the historical drain, uniformly condemned where still encountered, the (often outright insane) “new Left” should never have arisen, and e.g. the more moderate “old Left” should have considered themselves “Center” to avoid the taint of being Left; while e.g. Conservative groups should have continued to consider themselves “Right”, instead of cowardly proclaiming themselves “Center”.

*At least in the traditional forms. Modern Social-Democrats, in all fairness, have often become considerably more moderate in their opinions. (Then again, this has not led to the old opinions disappearing, but being taken up by other Leftist groups, e.g., in Germany, the less extremist portions of Die Linke. To boot, this moderation is often stronger in the party leadership than in the overall party.)

Written by michaeleriksson

December 10, 2019 at 9:45 am

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Likelihood of violence from non-dominant groups

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In the overlap between the previous text ([1]) and the observation that many current societies are extremely Left-dominated, I strongly suspect that there is a tendency for political criminals, terrorists, and similar, to be found among those whose ideology/opinions/wishes/whatnot (hereafter sloppily shortened to “ideology”) are far away from the dominant ideology or ideologies.* This could be explained by those close to the dominant ideology simply not having the need for certain actions. Those far away typically differ (obviously) in that they see a larger need for change, but also (less obviously) in that their opinions are often marginalized, condemned, suppressed, whatnot, which reduces the availability of less extreme actions (especially, use of the democratic processes). A very good example of the former is independence movements: those content with or preferring non-independence really have no need to to use any methods, let alone extreme methods, to achieve a change, while those who wish for independence have to actively work for it (and some among them might be willing to use more extreme methods).** The latter is well illustrated by the treatment of immigration critical parties and persons in Sweden and Germany in recent years, often for expressing opinions that were dominant a few decades ago.*** Another example might**** be the difference in behavior between the old Irish and the new Scottish independence movements: the latter is given much more room in public debate, is allowed referendums, and whatnots—and is much less violent.

*Note the difference between “most criminals are X” and “most persons who are X are criminals”. For instance, above, the average seeker of an independent or “single Irish” Northern Ireland was likely never a builder of bombs and attacker of policemen.

**A further complication is that there might be outright asymmetries in laws. For instance, some years ago, I saw statistics on political crime in Germany where a superficial look seemed to indicate more crime on the “Right”, but this turned into a rough parity between “Right” and Left, when asymmetrical crimes were excluded, e.g. that it is illegal to wear a swastika but not a hammer-and-sickle.

***Cf. any number of earlier texts for examples; also note a somewhat similar discussion of consequences of feeling unfairly treated.

****Many of the other circumstances are different, including religion and time since integration, and these might be more important.

A particularly negative side-effect is that this can skew the public image of who is good or evil, willing to use what methods, and similar; where it, on the contrary, often is reasonable* to see signs of violence as indications of a lack of influence or as a reaction negative treatment by others. For instance, in Germany, we have the paradoxical situation that media obsess about “Right-wing” violence, while Germany has a long history of Left-wing violence (and my impression of other countries that I am familiar with is similar). Few people on the Left today have strong incentives to e.g. use violence against the “establishment”, because Leftist ideas are so common in the “establishment” and e.g. very extensive wealth-transfers take place according to Leftist ideals—and the risk that a second RAF would appear is correspondingly much smaller than in the 1970s. (Notwithstanding that the RAF was even further Left, by some distance, than e.g. the SPD, which currently co-rules Germany.)

*Which should not be taken as “the violence is reasonable”: an evil action is an evil action. However, the discussion in [1] applies in that the one faction has been tested and found wanting and the other is untested (not “tested and found sufficient”).

Of course, there are other causes of violence, like the common “we are good; ergo, our opponents are irredeemably evil” and “the end justifies the means” thinking that is so common on the Left, as with e.g. the Antifa. (I would not be surprised if the Left remains the dominant source of political violence in today’s Germany, but it is hard to tell, because Leftist violence is given far less attention in media and public debate. Indeed, there is an absurd hypocrisy among many, who consider Leftist violence justifiable and condemn “Rightist” violence where ever it occurs.) Similarly, much of the pre-WWII Leftist violence took place between Leftist factions, who deemed each other heretics, just as different Christian factions did at even earlier times: there seems to be some mechanism by which some consider those with almost the right opinions the worst enemies.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 8, 2019 at 11:19 pm