Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

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Heuristics to understand Leftist claims / Follow-up: Various

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More than eleven years ago, I wrote about the common tactic of some groups, notably Feminists, of reversing the accusation—to accuse their opponents of exactly the errors and scumbaggery that they are themselves committing and of which the opponents are usually (!) innocent. (With observations in the same extended family made on many other occasions, e.g. in [1] and [2]).

Right now, we have the U.S. situation that:

On the one hand, Biden was elected under extremely dubious circumstances, the Democrats are pushing anti-democratic* election reforms,** the Democrats are trying to circumvent the democratic processes by e.g. executive orders beyond Biden’s legal authority and judicial activism***, etc. Indeed, a year ago tomorrow, I wrote of the end of the world as we know it with regard to Biden’s election and the overall situation.

*I.e. opposed to democracy. Generally, at least in this text, I will use “D” for the party, “d” for the general political term.

**And are absurdly describing the pro-democratic, election-integrity reforms attempted by the Republicans as anti-democratic, in another excellent example of “reversing the accusation”.

***Although, they are currently failing in the SCOTUS, which is exactly why anti-democratic “court packing” is on the table. I note that there are established guidelines for how to amend the constitution. If you want to change it, suggest a bloody amendment. Ditto laws: if you do not like the laws, suggest a change of the law. Do not abuse the courts to push your own will through in violation of democratic processes and the division of power.

On the one other, Hillary is making loud claims about how a Trump (!!!) re-election in 2024 would somehow be the end of democracy …

For FUCK’s sake!

Or consider the stubborn claims that the Democrat party would be the “party of science”, while it ignores any science that is inconvenient (notably, biology and IQ) and distorts or misrepresents what science it uses (e.g. concerning COVID and, likely, the environment). This alleged “party of science” has an approach to science similar to that of Nazi-Germany (e.g. Welteislehre) and the Soviet Union (e.g. Lysenkoism).

Constant situations like these over more than three decades and in several countries have led me to some informal heuristics:

  1. If the Left (a Leftist party, someone on the Left, whatnot) raises an accusation against someone else, he is considerably more likely to be innocent than guilty. Consider e.g. the wild accusations of racism (or, more currently, “White Supremacy”) thrown around by various Leftist groups, usually without the slightest shred of proof—and usually based on the skin color of the persons involved.
  2. Leftist characterizations of their opponents and their opinions can and should be ignored, as they are almost invariably grossly incorrect, including e.g. factual misrepresentations and unfounded attribution of hidden agendas and motivations. (And characterizations by others, in general and not restricted to the Left, should be taken with a grain of salt.)

    For instance, it is not uncommon that the Left ascribes an intent of “keeping Blacks down” or “keeping women down” for suggestions that have a very different motivation and might (or might not!) have side-effects on various groups. Consider e.g. the U.S. abortion debate (currently flaring up again), where a Republican wish to protect unborn lives* is painted as a vicious attack on women’s rights …

    *I stress that I do not, myself, have a strong opinion on abortion. However, the issue must be approached with an eye on the body of the fetus—not the woman. When is this fetus a human being with human rights? Barring rape, which is behind only a small fraction of unwanted pregnancies, the woman had the opportunity both to not have sex and to have sex with sufficient safety measures. The fetus had no say in the matter.

    Wild and baseless escalations are a particular problem, e.g. in that someone who is anti-Islamism is painted as anti-Islam* or, more likely, anti-Muslim.

    *Which for some reason is considered far worse than being anti-Christianity or, if by someone on the Left, anti-Judaism. (While anyone on the “Right” would immediately be condemned as a Nazi in the latter case.) The odder, as the objective anti-Islam case is stronger in today’s world than either of the other. (Note that “stronger” does not imply “strong”.)

  3. The accusations made by the Left are far more likely to apply to the Left, and the more so for the specific person or organization that raises the accusations. For instance, those who make noise about racism are themselves often blatantly racist and almost always worse than those accused.

    In particular, to find out what the Left is currently doing, or is about to do, it might pay to study their current accusations. (Which makes Hillary’s claims all the more chilling.)

  4. If the Left makes any claim that is not supported by their opponents and/or strong independent sources, the claim is more likely to be false than true.* Even when a claim does happen to be based in truth, it is extremely likely to have been phrased in a misleading manner or to be missing critical information that would shed a different light on the issue at hand.

    *Which is not to say that claims so supported are necessarily and automatically true.

    It is only slight hyperbole to say that I would not trust the time of day given by a Leftist politician/debater/activist.

  5. Claims by the Left about e.g. “for your own good”, “for the good of the people”, “for the greater good” either should be understood as “for the good of the Left” or as referring to some idea of “good” that many or most others will not share. (And I, personally, almost never share.)
  6. That the Left makes more noise on a topic often implies that there is less to be concerned about, because the noise serves to overcome voter resistance based on the facts of the matter, which, usually, are that the problem or “problem” either never was a big deal or has ceased to be a big deal.

    A particular problem is issues that have a long history of giving the Left votes, e.g. women’s rights, but where next to nothing is left to do or where the allegedly favored (privileged, whatnot) are now disfavored, and vice versa. Consider (definitely) women and men in Sweden and Germany, and (likely) women and men in the U.S.

  7. More noise from the Left often implies merely that the Left is in a stronger position to make noise, often even that few dare protest/voice an alternate opinion or that those opinions are suppressed before they reach the broad masses (note e.g. the current situations with both mainstream media and services like Twitter and Facebook).

    A particular telling example is the current Germany, which has slipped further and further Leftwards during my years here—and where the panic-mongering about Right(!)wing extremism has increased in lockstep. Note e.g. an earlier discussion on far Left gains in the state of Thüringen, where the old-but-rebranded DDR communist party is the main and ruling party. The result was a political panic about … gains by a “far Right” party. With the latest elections and the fall of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, they have a share of the power in no less than four (4!) of the sixteen German states. This is a party that built the Berlin wall to prevent the people from leaving, had no qualms about killing its own citizens, spent enormous resource to spy on the citizens, wrecked the economy, etc.*

    *Does this sound disturbingly like the allegedly free and democratic West in 2021? It does indeed. Let us hope that the emergency breaks are pulled before it is too late.

  8. More noise from the Left usually points to an unusually weak set of arguments (even by Leftist standards), for which the loudness of the claims, or the many repetitions of the claims, compensates. Repeat a lie often enough …
  9. If the Left suppresses someone’s right to speech, he is almost always correct and the Left simply lacks the arguments to beat him in a fair debate.

    This ranges from global politics to e.g. individual Feminists blogs. (The latter, and the enormous censorship of reasoned arguments and links to statistics, formed a very large portion of my early experiences in the Blogosphere.)

(With reservations for completeness, as I have never put them down in writing before. Note that some items are overlapping.)

Exercise for the reader: Follow closely the political debate in your local country for just one week, while applying these heuristics. Chances are that you will have a far more accurate image of who is or does what afterwards than you did before.

More generally, the Left, even by the already low standards of politics, appears to follow a principle of “it does not matter if we lie to the voters/the public, as long as we get what we want” (as a special case of their strong belief in “the end justifies the means”). I also suspect that there are quite a few on the Left who are so driven by hate (racism, whatnot) that they cannot comprehend that their opponents are less hateful (racist, whatnot) and/or that they project their own attitudes onto others. (In some cases, notably Hillary, Pelosi, and a few “squad” members, I cannot shake the suspicion of genuine mental-health issues—but “not a psychiatrist” applies.)

I repeat my observation in [2] that:

[…] there has been common trends virtually everywhere and “everywhen”, that an the-end-justifies-the-means mentality tends be a Leftist issue more often than “Rightist” issue, that political violence tends to come from the Left, that propaganda lies, defamation, personal attacks, etc., tends to come from the Left, disregard for democratic processes tends to come from the Left, and so on.

Excursion on last year’s end of the world:
The current U.S. situation under Biden is an absolute disaster (and it is not good in the rest of the world either), but still not quite as bad as I had anticipated. The reason is that (a) I had not predicted that some Democrat senators would fall out of line (most notably Manchin) and block or delay various disastrous measures, and (b) I had underestimated the remaining powers of the individual states (de Santis!).

For the long term, there are positive signs reflected in opinion polls and intra-Leftist behavior, indicating that my hopes might be coming true that more and more, even among traditionally solidly Democrat groups (notably, the Hispanics), realize the insanity of the current Left, and that the Leftist factions increasingly turn against each other, as their interests are more and more in conflict and as their time as fellow travelers is coming to an end.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 13, 2021 at 7:46 am

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The odd claim about the intelligent Leftist / Follow-up: Vaccines, myself, and defamatory politicians

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Last week, I wrote (concerning e.g. COVID-vaccine skeptics):

Politicians seem to have an image of mouth-breathers who have never made it further than the cartoons or the sports section in the news-paper, […]

This naturally leads me to one of my main suspicions about the paradox of allegedly educated and intelligent people voting Left—that (too) many believe that you are sufficiently politically educated and aware when you read the daily paper.

This, however, is unlikely to have been the case even in the days before journalism collapsed and even in those days when papers were the main or only source of information available on “current events”. Today? When journalists tend to be uninformed, unintelligent, and more driven by ideology than an investigative spirit? To be frank, chances are that those who bet on the papers are worse off than even those who do not pay attention at all. Compared to those who actually dig down in various matters, consult* non-MSM viewpoints, etc., they will trail horribly. BILD: Dir deine Meinung.**

*An interesting issue is that many on the Left seem to assume that anyone who reads source X also agrees with source X, whether it be because only someone who agrees would read it or because anyone who reads it would be bound to be uncritically adopt the same opinions. The latter could be a telling sign of weak critical thinking among the Leftists and forms an interesting parallel to the naive reader above.

**One of the two possible readings of the slogan of the German Bild-Zeitung: BILD: Gives you your opinion.

Certainly, looking at COVID, the original context of the quote, I have a very strong impression that the better informed someone is, the more likely he is to be skeptical of this-and-that “official truth” on COVID. These are the people who read up and think critically—not the “I have a bachelor in gender studies and read the paper!” crowd.

More generally, I find the whole “Left = intelligent and educated, Right = dumb and uneducated” narrative puzzling, as it does not at all match what I have seen in real life—and was indisputably incorrect in Sweden during the early days of my political awareness. The Leftist parties were for those easily manipulated or driven mostly by their own special interests,* while the intelligent and educated went for non-Left parties.

*Indeed, the Left pushed a very strong Marxist “us vs. them” angle and had an attitude that “if you are a worker, you have to vote for us, because only we look out for you” (or even “[…] the other parties just want to exploit us workers”). Interestingly, the current U.S. Democrats do the same, except that they replace “worker” with e.g. “Black”, “woman”, “homosexual”, …

Some speculation on the why follows below, but let it firstly be said that someone who votes Left today will, in almost all cases, show a horrifying lack of judgment. Indeed, as noted, I have much greater sympathies for the Left of, say, 1921 than of 2021. A Leftist today basically has to be ignorant of:

  1. History, especially 20th-century history and economic history. (No wonder that the Left tries to destroy history education.)
  2. Economics. (A near-absent topic in high school; even the 101-level is not attempted by most college students.)
  3. Human nature, including psychology, biology, evolutionary influences. Indeed, a belief in a strict “nurture only” view of humans, which was outdated even in the 1970s, still seems to be very common. (And large swaths of the social sciences teach the opposite of what the harder sciences say on the topic.)
  4. At least in the case of the U.S.,* the background of and ideas behind the U.S. constitution, checks and balances, division of power, etc. (And fields like civics are also often attacked by the Left.)

    *This ignorance is naturally even greater in most other countries, but is less damaging there, because corresponding whatnots tend to be far less developed to begin with. For instance, if there is less constitutional protection of the citizens, the damage that can be done by judicial-activist judges to such protections is smaller, and the understanding that such judicial activists are almost always a bad thing is of less practical relevance.

To this can be added a weak ability to see through Leftist rhetoric and pseudo-argumentation, which often has very little to do with reality, even by the standards of politicians, and very often fall into categories like “lies” and “defamation”. (Cf. e.g. any number of earlier posts on Feminism.)

As to potential reasons:*

*Note that some of these point to an incorrect perception, i.e. that “Left = intelligent [etc.]” is faulty, while others could be a partial explanation if and when the perception is correct. The discussion is partially U.S. centric. The list is likely incomplete.

  1. Being above average in intelligence does not make someone intelligent in absolute terms. The vast majority of all humans are too stupid to vote, and a majority support from e.g. those with an I.Q. of 110 resp. 90 tells us very little.
  2. There might be a critical span of intelligence, where someone is, e.g., intelligent and interested enough to read the papers, but not sufficiently so to move beyond the papers or to properly apply critical thinking to claims made in the papers. (To continue the earlier theme. The same idea can apply elsewhere, e.g. when it comes to going to college below.) The effect, then, is that someone with an I.Q. of a 110 is more likely to be exposed to a certain type of deliberate propaganda and/or set of unconscious biases and prejudices than someone with an I.Q. of 90—and, unlike someone with an I.Q. of a 130, will lack the intelligence to see through the propaganda.
  3. Having a college education, be it as a measure per se or as a proxy for intelligence, tells us comparatively little today, with the great intake of students who are not true college material and the corresponding drop in academic standards. The non-STEM fields are extremely weak filters for intelligence, and fields like “gender studies” might actually be negative filters. Moreover, many intelligent men, who could have earned a college degree, chose another road to a career, in light of the extreme costs (in the U.S.) and the great prevalence of anti-scientific Leftist ideologies in the college environment—often including anti-man and anti-White propaganda.
  4. A divide can in part be caused by women, who, at any range of intelligence and education, on average, appear to be weaker critical thinkers and more guided by emotions than men in the same range, but who currently tend to seek a college education at higher rates than men.
  5. Women are also, I suspect, more likely to fall into the brav sein trap, e.g. through having (or merely professing to have) the opinions that they are “supposed” to have in order to be enlightened (intelligent, upstanding citizens, whatnot). Of course, here we can have a vicious circle of the type “intelligent people belong to the Left; I wish to be brav; ergo, I must belong to the Left”. Similarly, the common use of “Liberal” to describe Democrats might play in: “Liberal” once held a justifiable position as a term of enlightenment, but the U.S. Liberals have very little to do with the word’s original intent—in fact, they are often outright anti-Liberal, while “true” Liberals go by terms like “Libertarian” in the U.S.

    In current colleges, and some other settings, not conforming to the right set of opinions might result in visible disapproval or, even, harassment and violence, giving additional incentives to be brav.

  6. What is considered the political Left/Center/Right varies from country to country and from time to time. If we look e.g. at Sweden and the U.S. in the 1980s,* the U.S. Democrats might have had more in common with the Swedish Right than with the Left; and certainly more with the Center than the Left. Correspondingly, a comparison (of e.g. intelligence) that might have held in the 1980s might not hold today or might have had very different implications. (To this, note e.g. factors like the previous item combined with a possible stereotype of the Democrats as the “smart party”; and note that there might be many who still consider themselves Democrats out of habit or who are unable to realize that the Democrat party has left them and fail to draw the conclusion that it is time for them to return the favor.**)

    *The U.S. Democrats have shifted in a truly extreme manner since then.

    **Note Reagan’s claim “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic Party left me.”. (Also an indication that a tendency to change is very old and/or unusually strong with said party.)

  7. The use of a two-party system might make one or both parties the home of groups that are not necessarily that close to each other, are only temporary fellow travelers, or see each other as a lesser evil compared to what is found in the other party. For instance, Libertarians and Conservatives are not truly natural bed-mates, but they are better off with each other than with the pseudo-Liberals of the Democrat party, let alone the increasingly more extremist Leftist factions that have lately grown strong. I have not kept book, but I have the subjective impression that the truly intelligent are Libertarians disproportionately often and that Libertarians tend to be intelligent disproportionately often. If so, this fact could be hidden by e.g. a survey of X among those who vote for party A and party B, without a more fine-grained grouping.
  8. The U.S. is far more religious than e.g. Sweden. We might then have a situation where weak critical thinkers tend to go Left in Sweden, but tend to be split between the Left and various religious groups in the U.S. In a second step, if the strongly Christian tend to vote Republican, this could distort the “natural” distribution of weak critical thinkers.

    (Of course, Leftist parties have long been keen on exterminating religion—likely, because they know that they compete for similar groups.)

  9. In at least the U.S., issues like LGBT-rights can distort impressions. (Also note the previous item and the often Bible-rooted resistance.) For instance, maybe it is more enlightened, and a position more likely to be held by the intelligent and educated, that a gay couple should be allowed to marry.* However, if we look at the big picture, how important an issue is that? It affects comparatively few people and to a comparatively small degree, while, in contrast and for example, an overlarge government, too high taxes, large scale illegal immigration, and similar affect virtually everyone and to a very high degree. It is easy to make a noble cause out of a small issue with a sob angle, especially when it can be narrated (whether fairly or not) as an unfairness or as unequal treatment, but that does not make it the most important issue of the day, nor even a top-10 issue.

    *See an earlier text for a different take, with the implicit conclusion that the question is largely misposed.

    (Somewhat similarly, “civic rights” issues that are more important, e.g. the preservation of free speech, often carry very little weight on the Left. Indeed, the Left is often the reason that there is a problem, e.g. through an attitude that free speech only applies to those who say the right (i.e. Left) thing, which is fundamentally contradictory to the point of free speech.)

In the overlap between the last few items, note that the overall party politics in a two-party system might contain items that do not reflect the majority (let alone consensus) opinion, but which have been added to keep this-or-that sub-group happy. Vice versa, some items might be absent to prevent a sub-group from being upset. Judging the individual or the overall group based on such items is dangerous.

As an aside, some of the mentioned issues might be affected by Leftist distortions and propaganda. Consider e.g. someone who opposes “gay marriage” based on the opinion that the point of marriage is procreation. Will his opinion be respected and discussed on its merits—or will he be condemned for “hating gays”, “wanting to oppress gays”, or similar? (And how will those who only encounter the Leftist distortion think of this someone? As someone with a valid perspective or as a hateful, prejudiced, and ignorant redneck?)

Written by michaeleriksson

December 10, 2021 at 12:04 am

The U.S. election and the destructive Left

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That politicians lie, cheat, and steal to get power is nothing new. Often, I find myself thinking in terms of “to what degree” instead of “whether”—and, with the current U.S. election, it is “to a very high degree”.* There is another aspect, however—why? What is the purpose of getting power?

*I have seen enough by now to consider massive Democrat cheating indisputably present (but I re-raise the questions from [1]), to which massive (conventional and social) media distortions have to be added. As for the Republicans, I do suspect that there is a deliberate exaggeration of the cheating and/or the available proof, which would then be an example in the other direction, even be it a more understandable one of trying to make a right out of a hostile wrong through an own wrong.

Historically, many have done if for personal gain, many have done it to change society for what they consider the better, many have done it in the genuine conviction that they would be better leaders than the competition, etc.

Looking at the modern Left in the U.S., I am often puzzled, however. Yes, many fall into the above categories, e.g. through misguided* attempts to improve the world, but some appear to be bent on nothing but destruction, the tearing down of the existing society, culture, whatnot—for no obvious reason and with no obvious replacement. This ranges from the anti-intellectual destruction of colleges, to the tearing down of statues and disparagement of anyone previously revered,** to destruction or distortion of fiction (see excursion), to looting of stores.

*Higher minimum wages, “single-payer” (i.e. “we all pay but have no say”) medicine, and similar are likely to do more harm than good in the long term, often mid- or short term, but I can at least see the wish to improve the world behind them.

**If this had stopped with “X was a proponent of slavery—off with his head”, it might have had some degree of legitimacy, but the bar is ever changing, to the point that even e.g. Lincoln is increasingly considered an evil, old racist who must be stomped out. Indeed, some three years ago, I spoke of how Robert E. Lee might have been seen as worse than George Washington merely because Lee lost his war and Washington won his—today, this example would no longer work, because the bar has moved to almost universally make Washington one of the bad guys in Leftist propaganda.

What is to follow in the wake of this destruction? A brand new world re-born as after the mythological Ragnarök? How? Tear down the economy, destroy science and education, abolish free speech, remove democratic processes in favor of automatic Democratic rule, whatnot, and what do they actually expect? If there is a new world other than anarchy or a Mao-style, Cultural Revolution China-clone, even Huxley’s “Brave New World” might look positively beneficial in comparison. It would certainly be a worse world than the one that we have now. (And, yes, that includes for Blacks, women, and whatnot—the claims of e.g. systemic racism are not even remotely born out by actual facts.)

In “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, a destroyed and controlled world was arguably a means to keep some group of people in power. Possibly, some current Democrats are willing to pay that price in order to get power—but would they succeed? Even in “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, it seems to me, the machinery created to ensure power had gained a life of its own and enslaved even the highest ranking characters that actually appeared.* Of course, here we see an overlapping problem with the current U.S. Democrats: even those who might profess more moderate opinions have usually failed to take a stand against destruction, lies, and anarchy. Whether they have deliberately used it to gain power or merely failed to speak up for fear of losing power (or have simply been to stupid and uninformed to understand the potential consequences), the fact remains that they have not moved to stop it—and that they, too, might eventually be caught in the machinery and devoured.**

*The situation might or might not have been different among even higher ranking officials, but I doubt that the exception would have extended outside some single supreme leader of the Stalin mold—and he might have had to watch his back, lest he ultimately ended up like Robespierre.

**What will happen is yet written in the stars, but it is easy to imagine a scenario where Biden and Pelosi are booted fairly soon, Democrat icons like JFK are derided as Dead White Men, and even a transsexual Black Lesbian Feminist is thrown out for not being up-to-date with the ever changing rules of Newspeak and Thoughtcrime. (Indeed, in academia such things already happen.)

What else might be said for the past: People tried to build and create, not tear down and destroy. What was built might not always have been something seen as positive by everyone (e.g. colonial empires), might sometimes have proved a bad idea (e.g. Johnson’s “Great Society”), or otherwise been problematic (moon rockets from a cost–benefit perspective?), but it was for some constructive perception of good—and, often, it was an outright good, as with many scientific and artistic accomplishments.

Today? Today, it is seen as a greater accomplishment to “prove” that accomplishments of old were somehow “evil” than to create something (even) better.

Excursion on fiction:
For examples of destruction relating to fiction, I see at least three over-lapping problems/symptoms:

  1. Deliberate distortions of existing works, e.g. through PC censorship or re-writes. Cf. e.g. an older discussion of Blyton’s works.
  2. Re-boots, re-workings, continuations whatnot that are untrue to the originals, usually in a PC or otherwise Leftist manner. This includes e.g. replacing white male characters with black or female characters, putting words in characters mouths that break with the “spirit” of the character, and similar. A particular issue is the distortion of highly male-centric works into female-centric. Consider e.g. the entirely idiotic and redundant re-make of “Ghostbusters” (arguably, the ultimate “male buddies” movie) with a female cast. Or, very recently, consider the continuation of the “Bill and Ted” franchise:* The original premise is that Bill and Ted change the world with their music, reaching greater stardom than The Beatles and Jesus put together, and usher in era of peace and excellence (or some such nonsense). The third movie, almost thirty years after the second, re-frames this to the daughters of Bill and Ted changing the world with their music, while Bill and Ted are complete failures.**

    *In all fairness, I have never quite seen the point of this franchise, but the originals were extreme “male buddy” movies and it is a great example. To boot, the re-framing was so cringe-worthily obvious even in the early stages of the third movie that I stopped watching well before the half-way mark—it was not a twist, it was, in today’s world, a highly predictable cliche.

    (Off topic, but related, there are many new works that today are framed with e.g. a female lead, and often an unrealistic or unnatural one, where a male lead would have been picked ten or twenty years ago. A movie description that begins with “Sheriff” is almost bound to use “she” or “her” as the next personal pronoun, and so on.)

  3. Works, notably movies, that deal with destruction or other forms of upheaval. Consider e.g. the recent development of the Marvel movies, which include the destruction of Asgard, for no obvious reason, in the Marvel version of Ragnarök, the later near-extermination of the Asgardian refugees, for no obvious reason, and the destruction caused by Thanos, which, for no obvious reason, remains almost entirely in place even after the heroes “win”. Here we see a trend of impending doom and destruction that is not averted by a happy ending. Or consider the sheer amount of disaster and post-apocalyptic movies. Or consider how disproportionately many franchises (e.g. “Divergent” and “Hunger Games”) deal with the premise* of an evil government that must be over-thrown, preferably by a teenage girl.

    *Do not get me wrong, I am not entirely unsympathetic to this premise, in light of the real world.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 19, 2020 at 5:04 am

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German anti-Rightwing law is coming

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Among the many, many problems with reductions of civic rights, declining Rechtsstaatlichkeit, censorship, and Leftist dominance of public debate, one quite severe is the recently suggested German “Gesetz zur Bekämpfung des Rechtsextremismus und der Hasskriminalität”. I simply do not have the time to analyze and discuss it in detail,* but I want to clearly point to one thing—its name.

*But see e.g. an analysis in German by a data-protection company.

The name translates to “Law for combating Rightwing-extremism and hate-criminality”. (Fairly literally, with added hyphens to avoid potential misinterpretation. An official translation or a corresponding “native” English law would likely have a more idiomatically conventional name.)

Why make this anti-Right agenda so programmatic? Especially, when Germany has a very severe problem with Leftwing extremists, like Antifa*, MLPD**, Die Linke***, and others.

*Needs no explanation.

**A Marxist-Leninist party which is publicly calling for revolution and bans of all other parties that are not sufficiently compatible with their opinions.

***A direct descendant of SED, the ruling Communist party of the old East-Germany—currently established in (the German-wide) parliament and a co-ruling party in the state of Thüringen.

In addition, the combination with “hate” continues Leftist attempts to push a Right-equals-hate/hate-equals-Right agenda, despite Leftist hate being a far greater problem. (Similar to the White-equals-racist/racist-equals-White pushing that is increasingly common in the U.S., despite, as far as I can tell from abroad, racism being more prevalent among Blacks.)

Any legitimate, objective, and not-outrageously partisan law* would have spoken of e.g. “political extremism”. Including a “Rightwing” discredits the law ab ovo and equally discredits anyone who votes for it.

*Whether and to what degree such a law would have been justified over regular laws against e.g. violence can be disputed (I would be skeptical); however, the current type of programmatic anti-“Right” law is inexcusable.

Excursion on problems with variations of “Right” and “Rightwing”, without or without “extremism”:
As I have repeatedly stated in the past, the concept of a political “Right” is, on the outside, definable as something not Leftist, due to a too large heterogeneity, and the “extreme Right”, in particular, does not constitute a more extreme version of the “Right”. Nevertheless, in the current Germany (and not only there) there is a very strong trend to put anything even remotely “Right” in one basket, often with an implicit stamp of “racist”, “Nazi”, or similar. What is “Right” is increasingly one-sidedly defined by the Left, and traditional “Rightwing” parties, e.g. CDU, are increasingly hiding behind a “Center” label.

Excursion on “hate”, etc.:
Implications of “hate” are often hard to prove, yet equally often assumed in a blanket manner. (Just like the blanket “racism” accusation in the George Floyd situation.) Moreover, this is another area where the Left presumes to one-sidedly dictate what is or is not hate. Cf. e.g. [1] (ten years ago—things have not improved) or my series on hate speech ([2], [3], [4]).

Excursion on other programmatically wrongful laws:
Unfortunately, this type of angle is not something unique. For instance, Swedish laws for protection of minorities explicitly includes (the majority!) women but not (the minority!) men—why not simply make a law that protects against mistreatment based on group, without any such ridiculous and arbitrary inclusions or exclusions? If in doubt, a good-faith attempt to justify this with claims about women being more exposed or mistreated more often (a highly dubious claim for several decades, in Sweden) is untenable, because there is no guarantee that what holds today holds tomorrow. It would be trivial to make a more generic law that is not vulnerable to such issues and the failure to do so reeks of anti-equality Feminism. (But, in all fairness, pure incompetence could also explain it—we are talking about politicians.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 18, 2020 at 10:34 pm

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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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The Left, the Right, and the People

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I have long seen a difference in the way the Left and the Right typically look at the mental capacities of humans: The Right (at least the libertarian and parts of the conservative Right) sees humans as reasonably rational and capable of making their own decisions; the Left (at least in its typical European incarnations and many Marxist, feminist, or PC variations) sees the average human as a sheep that needs to be led to have the right (i.e. Left, PC, whatnot) opinions, do the right things, and generally get by in the world. This is often referred to as “förmyndarsamhälle” (“legal-guardian society”; however, with a stronger implication of society being patronizing) by the Swedish Right.

As is often the case with early observations, they pale into the background. Recently, however, I have come across several posts (e.g. [1]e) that are so explicit on this issue that it has re-emerged into the foreground. To my own surprise, I find that I must give the Left at least a partial credit for being right—a very large portion of the population is simple so stupid that they would be better of led by the hand in at least some situations. This is evidenced e.g. by the politicians that manage to get elected, the credulity with which some absolutely nonsensical PC statements are believed, how unwilling people are to re-evaluate their believes in light of new evidence, etc.

Yet, all this does not matter:

  1. If 30, 50, even 90 % of the population is lacking, this does not give the government (the Left, the Know-It-All think-tank, whomever) the right to decide for the remaining 70, 50, or 10 %.

    What we arguably should do, is to increase the requirements on voters, e.g. in that a certain degree of critical thinking and general knowledge must be demonstrated before a citizen is given the right to vote. (Effectively replacing the age based limits of today with “capacity” based limits. Great care would have to be observed during implementation, however: It is vital that no test of opinion is made, but that capacity to think is the main determinant. In contrast, it is manifestly clear that many on the left equal “being worthy” with “having PC opinions” or “being ‘progressive’ ”.)

    In this manner, the damage they potentially do would be mostly limited to their own private lives, where they have a natural right to exert influence, but protect us from society-wide influence. (Interestingly, in my experience, the Left is usually keen on relaxing the conditions for who is allowed to vote even further—probably knowing that their own type of propaganda and often populist demands goes over better among those weak in critical thinking.)

  2. If the people needs a “förmyndare”, who decides his identity?

    Well, the unsatisfying answer is that it probably cannot be done in a fair and objective manner. If nothing else, there seems to be no end to the people and organisations who consider themselves called for the task, but have opinions that are incompatible with each other and/or idiotic on closer inspection. In some cases, it would even be a matter of the blind leading the one-eyed: Consider e.g. former PM-wannabe Mona Sahlinw—who regularly talks to voters as if they were little children, yet herself is uneducated, unintelligent, and of dubious morality and competence. (And, no, that is not merely a portrayal by a political enemy, but what is clear from her CV.)

  3. Similarly, who decides where to draw the border between who needs to be shepherded and who is allowed to deal for himself (or is even allowed to become a shepherd)?

    The answer is equally similar. In a nut-shell, these common Leftist attitudes are best answered with: Who are you to decide?

  4. The typical implementations tend to be such that they worsen, possibly even create, the problems they were intended to solve: The Swedish school I went to, e.g., did nothing to teach critical thinking, but was hell-bent on instilling the “right”, determined-from-above values—the UN is good, women are oppressed, nuclear power is evil, democracy is the only civilized form of government, … To actually teach the children about the limitations of the UN, or how perverted by special interests it is, was never on the table; a differentiated and more up-to-date view on the situations of men and women was absent; a compare and contrast between different energy forms (which, if fair, would have been far more favourable to nuclear power) unthinkable; and no deep discussion of the disadvantages of democracy, the least evil of the popular alternatives, ever took place.

In the end, a blanket treatment of people like sheep is the wrong way to go about it. Instead, we should try to give them the tools to both fend and decide for themselves.

(Note that I do not rule out that those who have failed despite having received the tools should be given further help. The first step, however, should be to give out fishing equipment and fishing lessons—not fish. Indeed, it would be presumptuous even to decide that fish should be a major part of the diet.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm

The common thread of weak thinking in leftist opinions

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Even in my teens, I noticed the seemingly odd phenomenon that the Swedish left disagreed with the right on more or less every issue—even when these issues had nothing to do with left and right in the political sense (and disregarding that the left–right scale likely does more harm than good), including e.g. issues relating to Israel or nuclear power. As time has gone by, I have noted the same phenomenon in other countries: While there are great variations (in particular with the right being far less homogeneous than the left), there is a strong correlation between e.g. being left and strongly disliking Israel or nuclear power, respectively being right and being more pro-Israel (note that, outside of the US and Israel, it self, the relative “more pro-” is usually necessary, while the absolute “anti-” can stand on its own) or being pro-nuclear power. Similarly, the left tends to be pro-feminism, pro-affirmative action, anti-globalization, pro-political correctness, whatnot—all things that are not (or very weakly) tied to the left–right scale. (If someone wants to counter e.g. that feminism is obviously left because both the feminists and the left wish for equality for everyone, or similar: You merely prove that you do not understand typical right-wing positions on equality—or, for that matter, what modern day feminism actually implies.)

Having considered these observations off-and-on for a few weeks, I see a pattern of contributing factors relating to lack of rational thought and a tendency to jump where feelings lead without investigating the facts, that explain various typically leftist opinions (including much of the original left–right divide) and why these are so often not shared by the right:

  1. A weakness to emotional arguments; in particular, a tendency to believe whoever complains the loudest and has the best “sob story”. Prime examples are the anti-Israel and pro-feminism stances: On closer inspection, various militant Palestinian organisations are the greater villains in the drama, who just happen to be very good at painting themselves as victims (cf. the “Not touching! Can’t get mad!” stunt of the Mavi Marmara); while feminists rely on a mixture of lies, misinterpreted or falsified statistics, spreading of anti-male prejudice, whatnot (cf. any number of previous entries).

  2. An inability or unwillingness to check the facts, think a few steps ahead to look at mid- and long-term consequences, etc.: Examples include believing the 77 cents on the dollar nonsense, banning child-labour (as opposed to merely condemning it) without first ensuring that the families can prevail without it, etc.

    An illustrative non-political (and semi-fictitious) example: Assume that a plane has been hi-jacked and that the hi-jackers demand a ransom of 10 million dollars. A typical leftist-style reaction would be along the lines of “Oh! Those poor people, we have to save them no matter what the cost! It would be inhuman to think of money in a situation like this!”; while a rightist reaction would be “If we pay these hi-jackers, others will see that hi-jacking pays off—and we will see an increase in hi-jackings with more innocent people at risk.” (not the “Money is more important than people! Let them fend for themselves!” that the common leftist caricatures of the right would likely claim).

  3. A view of the world based on offender–victim or oppressor–oppressee relationships. Consider pairings like Israel–Palestinians, men–women, the US–the World, Whites–non-Whites, … Of course, this is unsurprising with an eye on Marxism—and, indeed, the rich–poor pairing is fundamental to many leftist ideologists and voters. Statements even to the point of claiming that the rich would hate the poor are not unheard of in e.g. Sweden.

    In reality, these pairings usually display misunderstandings, failures as per item 1, unfair generalizations, or are otherwise faulty or, at best, quarter-truths on closer inspection. In particular, the Swedish saying “Det är inte ens fel om två träter.”–“It is not the fault of the one [party], if two [parties] are feuding.” is too often neglected.

  4. A fear of that one big, but unlikely, disaster over the certain continual and continuous destruction. Nuclear power vs. coal and oil is the paramount example, but other examples abound in the small, including politically correct language changes, where the fear of insulting someone leads to negative language changes or restrictions on freedom of speech. (See e.g. my discussion of gender-neutral language.)

    Here it is vital to look at “opportunity cost” and “expectation value”—in particular when faced with situations like the recent Japanese nuclear scare: Note how few incidents there have been over the years, that Japan did not become a radioactive wasteland, that the earth-quake and tsunami did more damage on their own than the nuclear incidents/accidents did, …

    To make matters worse, these fears are often combined with a poor understanding of the issue (as discussed above). For instance, I recently encountered a blog comment with the completely incorrect claim that this-or-that reactor had x thousand times the nuclear material of the Hiroshima bomb—and that it would explode with x thousand times the power. Well, if that was a risk, I would likely be anti-nuclear power too… In reality, it is extremely unlikely, bordering on the impossible, for a nuclear explosion to take place—and even if, by some extraordinary fluke, it did take place, the yield would not be even remotely proportional to the mass of the nuclear material. (Consider that the hypothetical explosion would throw most of the core out of reach from the chain reaction at a too early stage or that a localized sufficient criticality would not imply a core-wide criticality.)

Note: I do not claim that these sins are the sole property of the left. On the contrary, they are fairly wide-spread (including both Republicans and Democrats in the US and the European, severely misnamed, “extreme right”); however, in most countries that I have insight into, the left appears to be far worse than the right—most notably in Sweden.

The reader may observe that there is a similar tendency of different thinking between men and women—and, indeed, women tend to be more leftist than men.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Unfair argumentation methods II: The Swedish left

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Something that has long annoyed me is the way leftist parties and organisations (at least in Sweden) tend to argue, with strong preferences for personal attacks, specious (or even obviously incorrect) arguments, confusing reasoning, etc. In particular, they often seem to have the attitude that an opponent who cannot be convinced must be discredited in the eyes of others—while respect for his opinions, attempts to convince him and others with ad rem argument, and (above all) openness to the possibility that he could be right, are far to rare. (The issue has to some degree already been raised e.g. in my discussion of hypocritical media.)

This is not in any way unique to the left; however, the problem seems to be unusually bad with the left and some related movements (notably feminism). Other common problem groups/individuals can be found at the fringes of non-leftist opinions, in some strongly religious areas, and similar; and even the non-leftist main stream is occasionally affected—but to a far lesser degree.

A particular annoyance is the common use of a (typically misapplied) word as an ipso facto “proof” that the opponent is wrong, e.g. “racist” or “sexist”. Effectively, one party makes a certain statement of opinion, e.g. “It is unfair to apply quotas on how many of each sex must be on the board of a public company.”, a reply of “Sexist!” follows, and the discussion is effectively closed without anyone from the feminist/PC side providing any kind of argument for their position—let alone an argument to prove their far-going claim about their opponent(s). (Real arguments could have focused on a discussion whether we actually have equality of opportunity, whether there are any justifying benefits in other areas, or similar. These, however, are the exception—and typically very flimsy when they do occur.)

Another is the use of reasoning that is obviously faulty to any reasonable thinker, but where the very flimsi- and faultiness makes it hard to attack, where there are so many holes that it is hard to know where to start, or where an analysis would take disproportional long. There is basically a series of sentences that to someone dumb enough may seem to form a chain of arguments and conclusion, but, in reality, are just loose, individual links that do not fit together. (Not to be confused with e.g. those cases where different priorities or basic ideological principles makes a line of reasoning untenable for the opponent, or those who merely suffer from the imperfection of knowledge and stringency almost all discussion underlie.) Consider something like:

I agree with your statement, “If the rich don’t throw in to help out the country out of a strong sense of patriotism and optimism for our future, I think we’re going to be hurting for a while.” However, when the economy was strong, the rich seemed to demonstrate little need to improve the conditions of their fellow citizens. Instead, the gap between the rich and the poor grew to disproportionate levels. I think we’re going to be waiting a very long time for the wealthiest segments of the population to grow a conscience.

(actual comment found in my inbox while writing this articlee)

If you read the original post (not by me), you will find that the apparent agreement in the first sentence goes together with a strong overall disagreement. The second sentence misses the point of the post; is an over-generalization; overlooks that the conditions of the poor likely improved during the strong economy; and is somewhat of a non-sequitur, because there is no reason why the rich should feel such a need (in particular considering that the poor are already benefiting from high taxes on the rich, that the actions of the rich can have positive effects on the poor even without active “philanthropy”, and that at least some part of the explanation for the poor situation can be found with the poor themselves—not to mention that a strong economy is a time when there is less reason to try to help others). The third misuses the word “disproportionate”; is disputable in its content; and is unlikely to have been connected to the willingness of the rich to help (to the degree that it was, at all, true). The fourth presupposes that the “wealthiest segments” do not have a conscience (which is disputable) and that having a conscience would make them change their behaviour (ditto)—not to mention the likely implicit assumption that they could make major changes (which need not be the case, depending on the exact circumstances).

In addition, it appears that the author has simply not understood how capitalism works. (Having capitalism is not a must, but anyone who attacks a system should have at least some basic understanding of that system.)

This (likely incomplete) analysis turns out to be almost thrice as long as the comment, even though the faultiness of the comment is obvious at a glance—and this is not even a good example, just one that happened to fall into my lap at the right time. I have from time to time seen entire articles filled with long series of non-sequiturs, this-or-that fallacy, and grossly incorrect logic.

Generally, I would conjecture that there are several contributing factors that make an individual tend to this kind of argumentation, a sub-set of which is:

  1. Great conviction of opinion.

  2. Limited intellectual development.

  3. Exposure to a (sub-)culture or history of similar methods.

Notably, these are all issues that (at least in Sweden) tend to be common with people of leftist opinions; and from my readings on gender-feminism/-theory, these are affected globally. (But, yes, the issues do occur more often than they should in the population as a whole—not just on the left.)

As an aside, I stress that the fact that many leftists debaters appear to be complete idiots does not automatically make all leftist ideas idiotic: Many of them do make some amount of sense, or can be understood when seen from the right perspective (in particular, with an eye at history, the society of yore, and similar) or assuming a particular set of priorities. The ideas should be judged on their own merit—not based on who proposes them. (Cf. e.g. an article on judging issues based on perceived intents).

(If you wish to comment, please make sure that you have read Unfair argumentation methods I: Preliminaries first.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 5, 2010 at 8:07 pm