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January 15, 2013

Comments

Peter

They and particular programmes within them, increasingly think of themselves as responsible for reforming American society and curing it of prejudice and bigotry.

That may justly have been said about the old left, but it has become a self-justifying shibboleth that doesn't bear close scrutiny. The academic left today doesn't do much in the way of advocating or working for reform. It prefers to dwell in the ethereal world of abstract deconstuction and sweeping shotgun recriminations. They are more into theatre than reform.

The Occupy protests were the perfect symbol of this. Almost to a man and woman our sages insisted these misfits were courageous souls leading the charge for transformative change. Details to follow. It didn't seem to matter that they were spouting drivel for the most part and behaving in alienating and even silly, almost Monty Pythonesque, ways. When it collapsed predictably in chaos, they lost interest and just moved on to a different theatre.

rjmadden

From the Dalrymple article (he's quoting leftwing journalist Marcela Iacub):

A rational and just society must prevent the accumulation of capital by individuals above a certain level.

A rational and just society wouldn't give people like Marcela Iacub the power to decide who can earn what.

David

A rational and just society wouldn’t give people like Marcela Iacub the power to decide who can earn what.

Ms Iacub does seem rather presumptuous. She claims that “the accumulation of money” - i.e., earned by people she regards as having no need, or right, to earn more - “is a sort of madness” and “a kind of injustice towards those who do not have enough even to meet the most basic needs of existence.” But she doesn’t explain how Depardieu’s lawful earnings harm anyone else. If she’s accusing a rich actor of impoverishing the poor by earning lots of money, which is what she seems to be doing, she might at least explain how this is so. If indeed it is.

Peter

Of course, in order to prevent anyone from unjustly and irrationally accumulating too much capital in a just and rational society, said society would have to impose just and rational emigration and capital transfer restrictions. Then it would have to find just and rational ways to make sure no-one unjustly or irrationally reduced their income and wealth. Hopefully a just and rational public education programme would do the trick, but if not, it would have to consider just and rational expropriation or even criminal sanctions. Nobody wants to talk about going further, so let's just say there can be no theoretical limits to the measures a just and rational society must be allowed to take to p-rotect itself from unjust, irrational people.

Watcher

Ah yes, those educators "for whom the classroom is a place “to transcend the negative effects of the dominant culture” and where “education is a political act.”

I think it's called having a captive audience.

David

From the Dalrymple piece, again paraphrasing Ms Iacub:

The argument in the article is as follows. Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself; beyond a certain level, long ago reached by Depardieu, more brings no greater happiness. He would not, after all, be twice as happy in a Parisian house worth $132 million as in one worth only $66 million.

I don’t know how one might credibly measure the ratio of extra happiness to extra wealth and I’m not even sure that’s a point to lean on. Why should a person’s happiness, guessed at in this way, be the key consideration? Broadly speaking, money equates to freedom, including freedom from confiscatory socialists who think they know how much money and freedom you should be allowed to have, regardless of your own efforts, ambitions, commitments and priorities. With enough of it, you can minimise their impositions on your life, and on the lives of your loved ones, or even escape their clutches by relocating elsewhere. As a reason to want that extra million, that’s not altogether whimsical.

Anna

She claims that “the accumulation of money” - i.e., earned by people she regards as having no need, or right, to earn more - “is a sort of madness”

What does she think people do with their 'accumulated capital'? It's a safe bet Depardieu's millions are invested –starting new businesses and creating jobs for other people. How wicked! Only the state should be able to do that!

David

What does she think people do with their ‘accumulated capital’?

Well, quite. As a commenter over at the Liberty Law blog points out, Ms Iacub seems to imagine a Scrooge McDuck scenario, in which Mr Depardieu laughs at poor people as he rolls about on a mountain of gold coins and jewellery. And she conjures this scenario while having us believe that she’s genuinely concerned for Mr Depardieu’s happiness and mental wellbeing. Which, all things considered, seems rather improbable.

pst314

"A rational and just society must prevent the accumulation of capital by individuals above a certain level."

A rational and just society must prevent the accumulation of power by leftist individuals. Doesn't that sound infinitely better? :-)

David

“When politicians say, ‘spread the wealth,’ translate that as ‘concentrate the power,’ because that is the only way they can spread the wealth.” Thomas Sowell.

David

What does she think people do with their ‘accumulated capital’?

Incidentally, it seems the French government thinks along similar lines to Ms Iacub. As Dalrymple notes here,

The press has focused most of its attention on Hollande’s desire to raise the income tax — as justified by the Orwellian term “contribution exceptionelle de solidarité,” as if the feeling of solidarity were something that tax inspectors could wring from the human heart. But France already endures a much more harmful tax: the ISF, or L’Impôt sur la fortune, a tax on capital assets irrespective of whether they bring the owner any income. It is this tax that induced the French actor, Gérard Depardieu, to announce initially that he was moving to Belgium (before becoming a Russian citizen). In fact, income taxes have always been higher in Belgium than in France; but Belgium has no ISF.

Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, imposed a “bouclier fiscal,” a fiscal shield, according to which no one would have to pay more than 50 percent of his income in taxes, however great his assets. But now the shield is no more, and so it will be theoretically possible, even likely, for many people to pay more in taxes than they receive in income. The ISF tax thus amounts to outright confiscation; whether the Constitutional Council will allow it to stand remains to be seen, but the government has sent a clear message that it regards possession of capital as inherently selfish, antisocial, and in need of moral rectification. This does not mean, of course, that individual members of the government have any interest in lowering themselves to the average or even median standard of living.

He also notes that “hatred of the rich is not quite the same as love of the poor.” But hey, socialism. It’s what the Good People™ should want.

WTP

What does she think people do with their ‘accumulated capital’?

Well, this is the problem, isn't it. I'm not sure if y'all understand how deep this problem is in academia. I have engaged serveral professors in discussion on these matters and I find that many do not understand the very basics of economics, nor even the concept that wealth can be created. They see economics as a steady-state system in which the only way one person can get richer is for another to get poorer. There are a considerable number of "experts" who back this ignorance up with convoluted nonsense.

TDK

In lighter news, the SWP is imploding.

here, here, here, etc.

Splitters!

TDK

I messed up the html there David - sorry

David

Fixed.

Anna

Matt Yglesias. What a guy.

Bart

Anna

I do like the way this idiot has just unwittingly admitted that guns do a far better job of protecting children than gun bans.

An American at the end of his patience.

Suppose you were the Thought Police. And suppose you were a Professor. But I repeat myself. (pace Mark Twain)

GP

“a rational and just society must prevent the accumulation of capital by individuals above a certain level.”

If you would kindly indulge, I shall make a back-of-an-envelope calculation on what Ms Iacub regards as a 'certain level'. One Euro/Dollar/Pound more than she has.

David

But I repeat myself.

Related, Heather Mac Donald on the shaping of young minds:

Only an academic diversity-monger would think that the most salient feature of Oedipus Rex and Huckleberry Finn is the skin colour and gonads of their authors and thus that they both belong in the same category of “fungible dead-white-guy literature.” Left on his own, a student is likely to encounter such works as sui generis, possessed of a unique sensibility that cannot be reduced to the trivial totems of identity politics. Thus the compelling need for the academic-victimology complex to get to students early and to teach them to look first to the race and gender of an author before deciding whether he might have anything to offer them.

You see, they’re “transcending the negative effects of the dominant culture.” Your children should be thanking them, obviously.

I'm Living In A Kafka Novel

And we’ve seen what happens when these “change agents” are challenged by students and peers on points of fact, probity and rudimentary logic.

Seriously how creepy does it have to get before someone stops these fuckers?

David

Seriously how creepy does it have to get before someone stops these fuckers?

Issues of probity and logic don’t seem likely to inhibit such people and so, left unopposed, I’m sure it can get creepier. The words that come to mind are brazen and demented. Or indeed fuckers. If such people feel they have a mission to remake the world while indulging their own egos and vindictiveness, then the children in their care are reduced to something like furniture or stage props. Test subjects at best.

GP

It is tediously consistent that social justice pimps, sorry, warriors frame issues of income in terms of those who earn more than them. This gives their game away. They couldn't care less that many earn far less than them; but are acutely concerned that some earn far more.

David

but are acutely concerned that some earn far more.

Some, like Professor Jere Surber, make that particular grievance remarkably explicit. Doctors, engineers and people who run successful businesses can earn more than he does – and, goddammit, he’s a leftwing professor of philosophy, a master of complex and nuanced thinking who has fathomed all of history! It’s an outrage, obviously.

WTP

Seriously how creepy does it have to get before someone stops these fuckers?
Posted by: I'm Living In A Kafka Novel | January 17, 2013 at 09:09

I've been working at it for quite some time and believe me it's a lonely battle. It's much easier to bitch about the bastards than to try to do anything about them.

John D

"He [Dalrymple] reports that, under a threat of violence (50% of doctors have been assaulted in the last 12 months) most general practitioners in Britain are routinely filling out fraudulent certificates enabling fit individuals to go "on the sick" where benefits are 60% higher than for unemployment and there is no need to pretend to seek work. More than 2.5 million people have such certificates and he claims that "the great majority of them are fraudulent or at least untruthful." More than a million people have them for "depression and anxiety" alone. He comments wrily that it is an achievement of the British welfare state that it has "created more invalids than the First World War"."

http://www.thelastditch.org/2013/01/everything-that-is-common-knowledge-about-heroin-addiction-is-wrong.html

Nicola T.

If they were really transcending the "dominant culture" they would be teaching Western values and extolling the virtues of capitalism.

Depardieu is a wonderful actor (see him in L'Homme Qui Rit based on the Victor Hugo novel) and started out as a troubled youth from a working class background.

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