Kanye West at Coachella. Myra Breckenridge comments.

Is the eventual metamorphosis of Mr. West to be a combination of Gore Vidal’s ‘Kalki’ , script writer Bud Schulberg and director Elia Kazan’s ‘A Face in the Crowd’, with a just a bit of Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’?
Mr. West’s fascination with Trump might originate with Mr. West’s own particular self-conception as a Hip-Hop Messiah, in the early stages of his coming to be?
For the details see Jon Caramanica revelatory essay at The New York Times :

At Coachella, the Gospel According to Kanye West

Myra Breckenridge

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Andy Divine & The Mueller Report. Political Observer comments

Here are some selected parts of Mr. Divine’s  latest essay, on the Mueller Report, as he retells it, in a carefully, what’s the current expression ‘curated’ reiteration of some of the most notorious personages, events etc.

First of all, it lays out a foreign government’s extraordinary attempt to corrupt our democratic system — in very close and damning detail. At the same time, the report comes very close to destroying the notion that Donald J. Trump was and is a Russian agent, that his campaign was actively conspiring with a foreign government to hack and defeat his opponent in 2016, that Putin had (and still has) something that could be used to blackmail Trump, and that his foreign policy since has been dictated by the Kremlin.

The Trump campaign had no problem with foreign interference if it could help them, were eager and hopeful it would occur, publicly encouraged it … but never initiated this or followed through. The scale of Moscow’s operation is as remarkable as the lack of evidence that the Trump campaign was actively in on it.

At this point Andy seems to follow the Party Line on Trump/Russia, but then he adds this to prove that he isn’t quite as gullible, nor as ideologically fixated, as other interpreters of the unfolding melodrama: Rachel Maddow, Malcolm Nance and John Brennan,  on the redacted text of the Mueller Report:

As for Putin’s deep enmeshment with Trump, I found the following anecdote from the report rather apposite: “As soon as news broke that Trump had been elected President, Russian government officials and prominent Russian businessmen began trying to make inroads into the new Administration. They appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect.” More: “Putin spoke of the difficulty faced by the Russian government in getting in touch with the incoming Trump Administration. According to Aven, Putin indicated that he did not know with whom formally to speak and generally did not know the people around the President-Elect.”

I’m afraid this makes speculation that Trump has been a Soviet and Russian asset for decades or those who still insist on a conspiracy … well, not exactly in touch with reality. It renders several thousand hours of Rachel Maddow moot, if not shameful. MSNBC’s Malcolm Nance recently reiterated that the president is “an agent of the enemy of the United States,” making this “the single most serious scandal in the history of the United States.” Nope. More disturbingly, a former CIA director, John Brennan, was predicting new indictments as recently as last month.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/04/andrew-sullivan-impeach-trump-now.html

In stark contrast to Mr. Divine’s recitation on the Party Line on ‘Russian Interference’ read this letter to President Trump from ‘Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)’ 

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: The Fly in the Mueller Ointment

April 16, 2019

Mr. President:

The song has ended but the melody lingers on. The release Thursday of the redacted text of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election” nudged the American people a tad closer to the truth on so-called “Russiagate.”

But the Mueller report left unscathed the central-but-unproven allegation that the Russian government hacked into the DNC and Podesta emails, gave them to WikiLeaks to publish, and helped you win the election. The thrust will be the same; namely, even if there is a lack of evidence that you colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin, you have him to thank for becoming president. And that melody will linger on for the rest of your presidency, unless you seize the moment.

Mueller has accepted that central-but-unproven allegation as gospel truth, apparently in the lack of any disinterested, independent forensic work. Following the odd example of his erstwhile colleague, former FBI Director James Comey, Mueller apparently has relied for forensics on a discredited, DNC-hired firm named CrowdStrike, whose credibility is on a par with “pee-tape dossier” compiler Christopher Steele. Like Steele, CrowdStrike was hired and paid by the DNC (through a cutout).

We brought the lack of independent forensics to the attention of Attorney General William Barr on March 13 in a Memorandum entitled “Mueller’s Forensic-Free Findings”, but received no reply or acknowledgement. In that Memorandum we described the results of our own independent, agenda-free forensic investigation led by two former Technical Directors of the NSA, who avoid squishy “assessments,” preferring to base their findings on fundamental principles of science and the scientific method. Our findings remain unchallenged; they reveal gaping holes in CrowdStrike’s conclusions.

We do not know if Barr shared our March 13 Memorandum with you. As for taking a public position on the forensics issue, we suspect he is being circumspect in choosing his battles carefully, perhaps deferring until later a rigorous examination of the dubious technical work upon which Mueller seems to have relied.

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/16/vips-fault-mueller-probe-criticize-refusal-to-interview-assange/

Or this revelatory essay by Mike Whitney:

Headline: Will Junta-Mastermind, John Brennan, ever face the Music?  

The Great Russia Deception all began with John Brennan. It was Brennan who reported “contacts… between Russian officials and persons in the Trump campaign”, just as it was Brennan who first referred the case to former FBI Director James Comey. It was also Brennan who “hand-picked” the analysts who stitched together the dodgy Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) (which said that “Putin and the Russian government aspired to help…Trump’s election chances.”) And it was Brennan who persuaded Harry Reid to petition Comey to open an investigation. At every turn, Brennan was there. He got the ball rolling, he pulled all the right strings, he whipped up a mood of public hysteria, and he excoriated the president at every opportunity. For those who want to know where Russiagate began, look no further than John Brennan.

Here’s a bit of what Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee during his testimony in 2017:

“We were uncovering information and intelligence about interactions and contacts between U.S. persons and the Russians. And as we came upon that, we would share it with the bureau.”

Brennan’s statement clarifies his role in the operation, he was providing the raw intelligence to Comey and Comey was reluctantly following up with surveillance, wiretaps, leaks to the media, and the placing of confidential informants in the Trump campaign. It was a tag-team combo, but Brennan was the primary instigator, there’s no doubt about that.

And let’s not forget that Comey didn’t really want to participate in Brennan’s hairbrain scheme to smear candidate Trump. At first he balked, which is why Brennan leaned on Senate Majority leader Harry Reid to twist Comey’s arm. Here’s a little background from Tom Fitton at artvoice.com:

“Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid reportedly believed then-Obama CIA Director Brennan was feeding him information about alleged links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in order to make public accusations:

According to ‘Russian Roulette,’ by Yahoo! News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff and David Corn… Brennan contacted Reid on Aug. 25, 2016, to brief him on the state of Russia’s interference in the presidential campaign. Brennan briefed other members of the so-called Gang of Eight, but Reid is the only who took direct action.

Two days after the briefing, Reid wrote a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey asserting that ‘evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount.’ Reid called on Comey to investigate the links ‘thoroughly and in a timely fashion.’

Reid saw Brennan’s outreach as ‘a sign of urgency,’ Isikoff and Corn wrote in the book. ‘Reid also had the impression that Brennan had an ulterior motive. He concluded the CIA chief believed the public needed to know about the Russian operation, including the information about the possible links to the Trump campaign.’

According to the book, Brennan told Reid that the intelligence community had determined that the Russian government was behind the hack and leak of Democratic emails and that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind it. Brennan also told Reid that there was evidence that Russian operatives were attempting to tamper with election results. Indeed, on August 27, 2016, Reid wrote a letter to Comey accusing President Trump’s campaign of colluding with the Russian government.” (“The John Brennan-Harry Reid Collusion to ‘Get Trump’”, artvoice.com)

So Brennan fed Reid a load of malarkey and the credulous senator swallowed it hook, line and sinker. It may sound incredible now, given the results of the Mueller report, but that’s what happened. Here’s more of Brennan’s testimony to Congress:

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals and it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

Okay, so Brennan says he gathered “information and intelligence that revealed contacts between Russian officials and persons in the Trump campaign.”

What information? What intelligence? What officials? Brennan has never identified anyone and never produced a lick of evidence to back up any of his claims, and yet, his testimony was taken as gospel truth. Why? Why would anyone in their right mind trust anything Brennan has to say? Hasn’t Brennan lied to Congress in the past? Didn’t the CIA’s inspector general find that Brennan’s agents “improperly” spied on US Senate staffers”? Hasn’t Brennan defended the use of torture and promoted Obama’s homicidal drone program? Hasn’t Brennan revealed his personal animus and vitriolic hatred for Donald Trump many, many times before. So why would anyone trust what he has to say? It makes no sense. The man has a major credibility problem which is a polite way of saying he’s a serial liar. Here’s more from Brennan:

“I don’t know whether or not such collusion — and that’s your term, such collusion existed. I don’t know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

Got that? So Brennan had zero hard evidence of anything, but he thought that a few scratchy phone intercepts were sufficient for the FBI to hector, harass and spy on the GOP nominee for president of the United States. Can you see how ridiculous this is? No one elected John Brennan to anything, and yet, he arbitrarily decided that he had the right to sex up the intelligence so Comey and Clapper would do his bidding and try to bring down Trump. This is the type of thing you’d expect to see in a police state not America.

We are told by the Guardian that: “GCHQ (British Government Communications Headquarters) played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016. One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower”. (Guardian)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51417.htm

Mr. Divine  repeats the Party Line, constructed by Brennan and his confederates, while he issues caveats regarding Nance’s, Maddow’s and Brennan’s post Mueller Report declarations. The ‘as if’ here is that Divine has some special access to the truth, The Mueller Report?, while carefully following the Party Line as constructed by Brennan. The fact that Mueller never questioned the Brennan confected Party Line of ‘Russian Interference’ never enters the ‘thought processes’ of our self-appointed expert. Which happens the coincide with the Brennan, New Democrat, Corporate Media Party Line,  that Andy Divine places his rhetorical stamp upon! The bumptious Mr. Divine relies on two things, his incurious readership and the political conformity of his editors !

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Old Socialist comments on Felipe Fernandez-Armesto’s review of ‘Memoria Del Communismo : De Lenin a Podemos’ by Federico Jiménez Losantos

Headline: Seeing red

Sub-headline: A Spanish journalist’s bafflement at the resurgence of communism

To say that Mr. Fernandez-Armesto is a Posh Boy is to utter a cliche , with the proviso that he is of an earlier iteration of this class of men. But read his review of Federico Jiménez Losantos’  Memoria Del Communismo: De Lenin a Podemos to see that Fernandez-Armesto is afflicted by a myopia of this privileged class. The opening paragraph demonstrates the political territory:

Marx’s grave, according to recent reports from Highgate, still attracts vandals – a measure of the abiding power of the dead. Federico Jiménez Losantos, one of Spain’s most conspicuous and influential journalists, puzzles over communism’s continuing threat and promise after a century of disappointments, defeats and betrayals of optimism. A bigger problem, however, escapes him: why is the radical Left resurgent now? Bernie Sanders rehabilitates “socialism” as a positive term in America’s political lexicon. Jeremy Corbyn can dream of electoral victory. Left-wing populism rivals that of the Right. In Spain, Jiménez Losantos’s particular bogey, Pablo Iglesias (leader of Podemos), whom he denounces as a “total Leninist”, plays political kingmaker.

The cast of Left-Wing political bad actors, the characters in this Bourgeois Political Melodrama, remains the same: Bernie Sanders , Jeremy Corbyn and Pablo Iglesias. It is utterly predictable!

British readers who want a sense of the author of Memoria del Comunismo, who represents himself as the voice of the “liberal Right”, might think of the erudition of a Charles Moore or a Niall Ferguson, allied to the wit and venom of other, brasher, columnists.

It can’t even be a surprise that Fernandez-Armesto ( refereed to as F-A in the interests of space) points to two of his brethren as representatives of the ‘Liberal Right’ Charles Moore , author of a biography of Mrs. Thatcher, and Neo-Conservative Niall Ferguson ?

But F-A gives the game away with this:

 Like all great journalists, Jiménez is ruthless in provocation and fearless in saying what he thinks

To read the rest of this paragraph where Jiménez is painted in glowing terms as representative of … F-A lapses into vulgar pastiche of hagiography. That Losantos was a Maoist, the most violent manifestation of ‘Communism’, and its practice of permanent revolution, in the Cultural Revolution: as a member of a cadre that perpetrated violence- the Biblical framing of  ‘Damascene moment’ can’t rescue the hero of F-A’s political melodrama, from complicity in crimes against others!

Jiménez Losantos is a convert from communism, a former fellow traveller who long ago abandoned his hard-left luggage. His Damascene moment, by his own account, happened in China in the early 70s, when he was part of a Maoist cadre.

To engage in a bit of California Mysticism this incidence from 1981 looks like  ‘karma’ :

In 1981 he was kidnapped and shot by terrorists after protesting in defence of persecuted Castilian-speakers in Catalonia

F-A  then describes  what Losantos polemic is about , with the caveat about his ‘He sprays his buckshot over targets…’ It is breathtakingly capacious in its reach, to say the least!

Rather than a memoir, however, Jiménez Losantos presents a selective history of the Left, from Lenin onwards, in an attempt to show that today’s communists and quasi-communists must be deluded or dishonest. He never defines communism and at times his remit seems too broad to be useful. He sprays his buckshot over targets as various as a “historiographical Cheka” that includes the historians Paul Preston and Santos Juliá, such supposed “gurus of anti-globalization” as Michael Moore and Thomas Piketty, and a long list of “populists united against free trade”, among whom Donald Trump and Jean-Marie Le Pen appear alongside Angela Merkel and Theresa May.

But F-A admonishes his reader to apply their focus to Losantos’ ‘selective history of the Left’ that merits their attention rather than  ‘his buckshot‘.

Skipping forward just a bit F-A writes  about the amount of space Losantos devotes to the crimes of the Bolsheviks, 300 pages, and 130 pages to Stalin.

 The author devotes vast space to catalogues of crimes and samples of the violence, cruelty and apparent insanity of revolutionary language – about 300 pages to the Bolsheviks and 130 to Stalin – before switching (save for a chapter of excursion on Che Guevara) to the problem that really vexes him: the strength of the radical Left in Spain.

F-A synopsis of Losantos’ ‘entertaining and chillingly minatory’ book while he offers the most cursory observations about the now failed truce between ‘workers’ and ‘bosses’ . And a ideologically necessary attack on Left Wing Social Democrat Piketty, as the reincarnation of the execrable Marx.

The book is entertaining and chillingly minatory, but remains an avowal of bafflement: Jiménez Losantos constantly returns to the paradox that haunts him – “the survival of communism” despite the immolation of “100 million victims”. Yet in at least one respect Marx was right: capitalism is doomed if capitalists’ behaviour matches communists’ expectations of greed and exploitation. For most of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, predictions of world revolution remained unfulfilled because incomes in industrial economies tended to converge; workers and bosses were able to work in mutual interest. Those of us who grew up before that golden age was over commonly thought that bosses realized that they had to pay workers fairly, partly to avoid the tumbrils and partly to enlarge the market. We were too sanguine. It now looks – thanks in part to Piketty’s work – as though neither benevolence nor enlightened self-interest played much part in securing civil peace. Rather, recurrent international wars drove up the price of labour and constrained capitalists’ temptations to behave badly.

In the final paragraph of his review F-A offers this set of observations on the rise in inequality, defined as ‘Wealth Gaps’, in a near pastiche of  the Neo-Liberal parlance.

Now Marx’s future looks imminent again. Wealth gaps have widened to levels unseen since the Edwardian era. The rich, from the perspective of the poor, look undeserving and irresponsible. Jiménez Losantos is so concerned to justify disparities of wealth that he does not perceive the dangers. Gross inequality is worse than a crime: it is a mistake. If Jiménez cannot bear to go back to Marx, he might turn to an author generally more favoured on the Right: Plato warned that strife will ensue “when some grieve exceedingly and others rejoice”. Between envy and greed today’s populists have all too much terrain to occupy. Federico Jiménez Losantos thinks voters supporting the Left have been duped by propaganda, dazzled by false promises and misled by dodgy teachers who have cloaked the massacres and mistakes. He explains why capitalism is always likely to command more allegiance than communism: better a system in which “all can be owners” than one in which most can’t. But, as he also points out, “the theoretical problem of communism is that communism is practical”. The theory – or at least the benign bits of it – hardly seems exemplified in the monstrous regimes of the past or in the repellent realities of North Korea, China, or Venezuela today. But hope, it seems, can triumph even over the experience of 100 million dead.

Instead of shame, repentance and humility, in confronting his misdeeds, even crimes, as part of a Maoist cadre, Losantos chooses his path as Inquisitor , whose reason d’etre is the  continual search for Apostates to the Capitalist Orthodoxy: in sum the rise of Left Wing Social Democrats like Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, Pablo Iglesias and economist Thomas Piketty. But note even with F-A’s last paragraph about the rise of Wealth Gaps, both of these writers fail, and or excise, from their respective iterations of ‘History’ , the rise and utter failure of the Neo-Liberal Orthodoxy.  That manifested itself in the rise of politicians in the ‘West’ Thatcher and Reagan and the World Wide economic collapse of 2008. The ‘why’ of the re-invigorated ‘Left’ doesn’t just elude Francoist Losantos and F-A , but is a function of their deeply held ideologies, not to speak of their membership in a class of privileged Public Intellectuals.

Seeing red

 

Old Socialist

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Barbara J. King’s indispensable review of ‘The Goodness Paradox’ at the T.L.S. Political Observer comments

In the first two paragraphs, the reader of Ms. King’s review of The Goodness Paradox,  confronts the quite shocking theory presented by anthropologist Richard Wrangham:

What was the driving force that made us human, akin to but separate from other apes and our evolutionary cousins such as the Neanderthals? In The Goodness Paradox, the anthropologist Richard Wrangham approvingly quotes Frederick the Great in pointing to “the wild beast” within each man: our nature, he argues, is rooted in an animal violence that morphed over time to become uniquely human. When male human ancestors began to plot together to execute aggressive men in their communities, indeed to carry out such killings through what Wrangham calls “coalitionary proactive aggression”, they were launched towards full humanity.

Proactive aggression is premeditated, a feature that sets it apart from reactive aggression, which is impulsive, a response to some immediate threat. Hot emotion drives reactive aggression: someone insults you and you respond with a swing at their jaw. Proactive aggression, by contrast, is “coolly planned”: you are cuckolded, and for weeks you plan a revenge murder. When the plotting inherent in proactive aggression unfolds in a group context, it becomes coalitionary proactive aggression. This practice depends on language, and thus remains beyond the capacities of the chimpanzees Wrangham has studied for decades in Tanzania and Uganda. When chimpanzee males brutally kill males of other communities during tense patrols, they gang up as a band of friends, following a simple rule: “side with your friends against the enemy”. What they do not do (because they lack a way of doing so, in Wrangham’s view) is confer and decide to target a specific rival within their own community.

https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/wild-beast-within-goodness-paradox/

 

The difference between ‘proactive aggression’ and ‘reactive aggression’ is that the first is premeditated and the latter is impulsive. Ms. King presents Wrangham’s argument here:

At some point after the evolutionary split from the non-human ape lineage – probably around 300,000 years ago, Wrangham thinks – our male ancestors began to do what the chimpanzees could not: plot together to execute aggressive males in their own social groups. How do we know this? Because we see evidence of “the domestication syndrome” under way in our ancestors at this time, indicating that they were becoming less in thrall to reactive aggression. Wrangham unpacks the domestication syndrome by reviewing the famous experiments of the Soviet geneticist Dmitri Belyaev with silver foxes, intentionally bred for docility beginning in 1959. Over the generations, as these foxes evolved from snappish animals into puppy-like tail-waggers who approached and licked the researchers, they also developed a suite of characteristics that had no adaptive significance – such as floppy ears and certain coat-colour patterns. For Wrangham, this and other evidence from animal domestication points to a key conclusion: when a species has recently undergone a reduction in reactive aggression, embodied clues are left behind.

During human evolution, of course, no other more dominant species controlled the process: instead, we domesticated ourselves by eliminating the most aggressive males in our social groups. Our bodies did signal what was happening. Around 315,000 years ago, for example, “the first glimmerings of the smaller face and reduced brow ridge [compared to earlier human ancestors] that signal the evolution of Homo sapiens” began to show up. Sex differences in the skeleton soon began to diminish. Our species was set apart from all other human-like ones, including the Neanderthals, who did not self-domesticate. An animal analogy works, says Wrangham: if we turned out to be the more docile dogs, the Neanderthals remained the wilder wolves.

Mr. Wrangham resorts to a contemporary murder as an example of his hypothesis:

Wrangham admits that “it can be difficult to decide whether a physical attack is proactive or reactive”, a problem that is boosted by his own examples. The killing, in 2008, of Matthew Pyke by David Heiss was, Wrangham says, a classic example of proactive aggression. Heiss stalked Pyke’s girlfriend, and when she announced her intention to marry Pyke, Heiss travelled from Germany to England to the couple’s apartment. As Pyke answered the door, Heiss stabbed him eighty-six times. Premeditation was obviously involved in this long-distance mission. Yet was this act devoid of reactive aggression? If reactive aggression is “a response to provocation such as a perceived insult, embarrassment, physical danger, or mere frustration” with the goal of “getting rid of the provoking stimulus”, doesn’t Wrangham gesture in its direction when he writes that Heiss’s murderous act “removed his rival”?

The proof of his hypothesis about our ancestors of hundreds of thousands of years in the past – his theory is not Science but pure speculation. The laboratory in which detached observation might have existed, is now reduced to various experiments conducted on animals in the present. And one murder executed by a jealous lover.

The properly skeptical Ms. King  offers some telling counter examples, I’ll quote just one here:

The Canadian primatologist Bernard Chapais, in the 1995 Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, recounted an elegant example of this brainy rather than brawny strategizing. A male named 415 lived in a group of a hundred free-ranging rhesus macaques as the son of the highest-ranking female; he had achieved alpha status, but then lost it when he became disabled as the result of a fight with another group.

From that time on, 415 initiated frequent grooming interactions with adult females, in marked contrast with his past behavior. At the same time and although he was physically severely impaired, 415 undertook to threaten systematically several high-ranking males that had come to outrank him since his disability, provoking them when they were passing by. In these situations he was systematically supported by his relatives (mother, sister, nieces, cousin and younger brother, who formed the most dominant matriline) and by other high-ranking females. These animals vigorously chased and could even bite 415’s targets. In a matter of weeks, 415 regained his position at the top of the male hierarchy.

Such methods of enlisting allies are widely observed in apes and monkeys. Something similar was demonstrated by the chimpanzee David in a recent episode of the BBC’s nature programme Dynasties, set among the chimpanzees in Fongoli, Senegal. David regained his alpha status after serious injury (inflicted by a male from within the group) by working hard to bolster alliances. He won several older males as supporters by attentively grooming them, choosing individuals still at fighting strength but no longer capable of challenging his alpha status. That Wrangham so emphasizes the physical and the bloody in males’ striving for dominance over the strategic is misleading. (After the BBC filming ended, David was killed by a second attack from within the group. This was indeed brutal and raises a question in my mind about whether male chimpanzees might after all communicate and conspire in targeting individual rivals.)

And just to satisfy my utter detestation of  Steven Pinker ( America’s Dr. Pangloss) I’ll quote from Ms. King’s revelatory essay: she demonstrates that her criticism is an indispensable starting point for the consideration of Wrangham’s speculations.

In making his points, Wrangham buys into the thesis developed by Steven Pinker in his Better Angels of our Nature that human violence has steadily declined from a brutal past. This claim has been criticized by anthropologists. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2017, Rahul Oka and his colleagues (including Kissel and Kim) acknowledge that modern state societies do in fact lose smaller percentages of their population to war compared to past societies. They go on, however, to look at “scaling relationships” between population and war group size, and between war group size and conflict casualties. The conclusion of their data analysis directly challenges Pinker’s: “When scaling is accounted for, we find no difference in conflict investment or lethality between small-scale and state societies”.

Kudos to Ms. King for her putting Wrangham’s view of ‘males’, as the only viable actors in his Neo-Social Darwinian Melodrama, into proper perspective:

It is also noticeable that females are mostly absent in this account of coalitionary proactive aggression. Historically, theorists of our evolutionary past often have put males in the driver’s seat – males as co-operative hunters, or as providers of food, prominent theories that reified the nuclear family – in ways that vastly simplified complex human dynamics and nearly erased any active contributions to the social group by women and children. Is Wrangham’s theory any different? When Wrangham writes sentences such as “Some three hundred thousand years ago, males discovered absolute power”, he blithely ignores the fact that the contribution of all people to human evolution deserves consideration. As Kissel, when asked, told me, “it is more relevant to think about how humans used social networks to affect peace. Why does it have to be capital punishment that made us human? Why not the angle that people formed interest groups to prevent violence from occurring?”

From my point of view, I can only imagine the political uses that Wrangham’s theory offers. It will be employed, as his theory gains popular intellectual currency, by the Imperialist Scribblers of the popular press, not to speak of Think Tank hacks looking to add intellectual weight to their propaganda: to rationalize their murderous political adventurism, using the construct of  ‘proactive aggression’ , as intellectual ballast.  E. g. a NATO attack on a revanchist Russia, or an American attack on an ‘expansionist’ China in the South China Sea?

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Andy Divine places his wager on the ignorance of his readership! Old Socialist comments

Headline: The Opportunity of White Anxiety

Sub-headline: A new answer to the disturbing rise of far-right politics

Are the audience, the readership of Mr. Divine’s essays not aware of his advocacy, indeed his enthusiasm for The Bell Curve, when he was editor of the New Republic, in the time of publisher Martin Peretz.  A link to the essay:

Headline:Race, Genes and I.Q. — An Apologia3

Sub-headline:The case for conservative multiculturalism

(This article was originally published in the October 31, 1994, issue of The New Republic. Since many staffers at the time objected to its publication, this excerpt of The Bell Curve was published alongside a raft of articles condemning it.)

https://newrepublic.com/article/120887/race-genes-and-iq-new-republics-bell-curve-excerpt

Links from Charles Lane’s devastating review in December 01, 1994 of the New York Review of Books (Behind a pay wall) I’ll post the beginning paragraphs of the review available to the non-subscriber :

For all the shock value of its assertion that blacks are intractably, and probably biologically, inferior in intelligence to whites and Asians, The Bell Curve is not quite an original piece of research. It is, in spite of all the controversy that is attending its publication, only a review of the literature—an elaborate interpretation of data culled from the work of other social scientists. For this reason, the credibility of its authors, Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein, rests significantly on the credibility of their sources.

The press and television have for the most part taken The Bell Curve’s extensive bibliography and footnotes at face value. And, to be sure, many of the book’s data are drawn from relatively reputable academic sources, or from neutral ones such as the Census Bureau. Certain of the book’s major factual contentions are not in dispute—such as the claim that blacks consistently have scored lower than whites on IQ tests, or that affirmative action generally promotes minorities who scored lower on aptitude tests than whites. And obviously intelligence is both to some degree definable and to some degree heritable.

The interpretation of those data, however, is very much in dispute. So, too, are the authors’ conclusions that little or nothing can or should be done to raise the ability of the IQ-impaired, since so much of their lower intelligence is due to heredity. Murray and Herrnstein instead write sympathetically about eugenic approaches to public policy (though they do not endorse them outright). It is therefore interesting that Charles Murray recently expressed his own sense of queasiness about the book’s sources to a reporter from The New York Times: “Here was a case of stumbling onto a subject that had all the allure of the forbidden,” he said. “Some of the things we read to do this work, we literally hide when we’re on planes and trains. We’re furtively peering at this stuff.”1

What sort of “stuff” could Murray mean? Surely the most curious of the sources he and Herrnstein consulted is Mankind Quarterly—a journal of anthropology founded in Edinburgh in 1960. Five articles from the journal are actually cited in The Bell Curve’s bibliography (pp. 775, 807, and 828).2 But the influence on the book of scholars linked to Mankind Quarterly is more significant. No fewer than seventeen researchers cited in the bibliography of The Bell Curve have contributed to Mankind Quarterly. Ten are present or former editors, or members of its editorial advisory board. This is interesting because Mankind Quarterly is a notorious journal of “racial history” founded, and funded, by men who believe in the genetic superiority of the white race.3

Mankind Quarterly was established during decolonization and the US civil rights movement. Defenders of the old order were eager to brush a patina of science on their efforts. Thus Mankind Quarterly’s avowed purpose was to counter the “Communist” and “egalitarian” influences that were allegedly causing anthropology to neglect the fact of racial differences. “The crimes of the…

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1994/12/01/the-tainted-sources-of-the-bell-curve/

And Mr. Lane’s reply to Richard Lynn’s critical letter in reply to the Lane’s review :

‘The Bell Curve’ and Its Sources

History is bunk, as Henry Ford proclaimed?  Andy’s readers think of him as the part of a trio of political pundits Jonathan Chait and Frank Rich. New York Magazine predates the salmon pink pages of the New York Observer, of another era. Where New York and its current obsessions with the politics, people, the toney neighborhoods, and events of the New York City beau monde.
Read ‘The Silver Fork Novel’ by Edward Copeland for a description of another time and place, that mirror these status obsessions .  But be aware that the Observer was equally obsessed with the Manhattan Real Estate Market:  who sold, who bought, awash in celebrity name dropping, that embraced the famous and the Broker hangers-on who were the deal makers.  Tom Wolfe could have been its editor, in the fictional world of The Bonfires.
Look at the headline and the photo illustration of Andy’s latest essay:

Andy is one of the many Midwives of Trump, and his xenophobia tinctured in racism, by way of The Bell Curve.  Not to forget Trump’s full page ad about The Central Park Five.  This historical fragment quite irrelevant to his incurious readers in the political present. Conservative Sociology  and its  Bell Curve were, in part, the offspring of Nixon’s Southern Strategy, and of Reagan’s Neshoba County Fair speech; not speak of the Dixiecrat Migration from the Democratic to the Republican Party, in 1964 and 1965. Mr. Divine did not just give credence to this Conservative Sociology, but provided a platform in a ‘Liberal’ magazine for Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein’s ersatz but academically respectable racism.  

None of this history is of interest to Mr. Divine’s readers, who live in a perpetual  political present, and find history boring. That is the why of Andy’s success, a  readership that lives in the zone of  near a-historicism. Andy’s is a capacious sensibility, that is the focal point of the world in all its dimensions. So the preposterous notion that Mr. Divine can discuss ‘White Anxiety’ ,with anything like objectivity, is rendered into what it is narcissism riding in on a self-serving political nihilism.

Old Socialist

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/04/andrew-sullivan-the-opportunity-of-white-anxiety.html

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Added April 13,2019 10:00 AM PDT: the opening paragraphs of Andy’s essay, framed in a geologic metaphor:

There are times when it feels as if two huge tectonic plates are colliding beneath the surface of Western politics, and, right now, neither seems to be giving ground.

The first plate is the force of demography. In most Western countries, the pace of immigration from the fast-growing and ever-younger global South, and the higher birth rates of immigrants, is shifting us to a whole new model of nationhood: culturally and ethnically far more diverse, with no single historical or traditional national narrative. At the same time, the inhabitants of those countries — still largely white — are increasingly troubled by the pace of change, panicked about the fast-shifting identity of their country and angry at the elites who created this swift ethnic transformation. You have an almost irresistible demographic force and a near-immovable psycho-political response. Hence the deadlock. “The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born,” in Gramsci’s words. “Now is the time of monsters.”

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/04/andrew-sullivan-the-opportunity-of-white-anxiety.html

Old Socialist

 

 

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@BretStephensNYT on Bernie Sanders sudden wealth, with help from George McGovern! Old Socialist

Headline: Millionaires and Billionaires and Bernie

Sub-headline: The Vermont socialist is suddenly rich. Is he any wiser?

On the top of  Bret Stephens’ political agenda are War with Iran and Russia, to be most effective for his destructive nihilism, those wars need to be waged simultaneously. In a lower position on this agenda is to wage a concerted propaganda campaign against Left Wing Social Democrats, and in particular Bernie Sanders who has become rich through the sale of his book. Here is a key paragraph from his not so carefully modulated screed:

 

With Sanders, I won’t get my hopes up. But his experience of sudden wealth ought at least to temper the hard and ugly edges of his class-war politics. Getting rich is not a form of theft. As often as not, it’s the result of a service. Being rich is not a sin. Typically, it’s the result of long labor, patient saving, prudent investment, gutsy risk-taking, and some stroke of originality.

Is Sanders the first author to become rich by means of his literary endeavors? Popular taste is hard to predict, but in the face of an utterly collapsed Neo-Liberalism a politician who offers some real hope, to an electorate weary of the ‘solutions’ presented by both Republicans and New Democrats, has been offered by one politician in literary form. In his last three sentences Stephens recites The Puritan Ethic as key to his attack on Sanders sudden wealth. In sum, that wealth compromises him, but in very particular ways.

As an object lesson about the dangers of clueless entrepreneurship Stephens quotes from a 1992 essay by George McGovern from The Wall Street Journal. In it McGovern recites the perpetual complaint, or just call it whining, of the small business person about the interference of the regulations imposed on them.

“My business associates and I,” he wrote in a memorable 1992 Wall Street Journal op-ed, “also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never have doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: ‘Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape.’ It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators.”

As Stephens employs it, this declaration by McGovern renders null his politics, Left Wing Social Democracy, aide by a quotation from Felix Frankfurter:

The op-ed began with a line from Justice Felix Frankfurter: “Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.” For McGovern, wisdom came at the price of bankruptcy. For Sanders, maybe it will come with the rewards of wealth.

One has to wonder at Stephens’ underestimation of his readerships knowledge of very famous Americans, like Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain, who attained great success but were utter failures in the business world. But that is not the point of Stephens’ attack on Sanders. It is about the public shaming of a dangerous Political Apostate, as conceived by a Neo-Conservative Theologian, steeped in the art of Staussian mendacity.

Old Socialist

 

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Nick Cohen & Edward Luce on defining ‘Leftists’. Old Socialist comments

What a happy combination,  Cohen & Luce, on defining ‘leftist’ from an utterly corrupted, but self-congratulatory, ‘Liberal’ perspective. Assange and WikiLeaks just didn’t redefine Journalism, they simply practiced Journalism in an age of Corporately owned News sources. And their hirelings, like Cohen & Luce, who manufacture the respectable bourgeois Party Line. Finley Peter Dunne describes what Journalism is:

“Th newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward”.[32]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finley_Peter_Dunne

The Ghost of I.F. Stone

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