Agency And Its Enemies

The more problems they made for themselves, the more they were rewarded [by the welfare state]. We had a peculiar demoralisation… I mean, an actual removal of morality from all human consideration.

I remember, I had a patient with multiple sclerosis, and her husband worked, but he didn’t earn a lot of money, and they needed some adjustments to their house so that she could get out of the house more easily and so on. It seemed to me this was a place where the welfare state could actually help. So, I phoned a social worker… and I made a grave mistake. I said, “I have a particularly deserving case…” And there was a stony silence on the other end. And then the social worker said that all cases were deserving. In other words, you couldn’t distinguish between this case of need, which was nobody’s fault, and someone who took drugs and set fire to his house in a state of intoxication. There was no difference.

And since, of course, people who behave badly become more needy, they actually gain more attention and more sympathy. If you remove desert from all considerations, this means that one source of meaning in life is completely removed. 

Jordan Peterson interviews Theodore Dalrymple.

Plenty to chew on and at times darkly funny. Regarding the quote above, this isn’t entirely unrelated.

Update, via the comments, another snippet: 

I was trying to persuade intellectuals that a lot of their world outlook was bad and was doing harm rather than good. So that the destruction of the family, which rich people can perhaps survive, is devastating for people who need social solidarity more than anybody else.

At which point, this came to mind

Yes, But Which Group Do You Belong To?

“On your interest in young men, particularly on the young male in Western societies… I think that’s your focus – I think it’s fair to say that your focus is on how men feel in society…”

“No, I don’t think that that is my focus…. I think the fact that what I’m doing is being construed in that manner is a consequence of the overwhelming influence of identity politics on our political and philosophical discourse. What I’m doing is constantly being viewed as a manifestation of identity politics, and so people talk about my particular attraction for ‘young white men.’ The audiences that come to see me – and I hate to even categorise them in this manner because it’s part of playing the same game – are very diverse ethnically and with regards to gender. The problem is that the way that our discourse is framed right now, it’s impossible to avoid being shunted into an identity politics box. And I think there’s nothing about that that isn’t reprehensible.”  

“You sound quite angry.”

The Economist’s Anne McElvoy interviews Jordan Peterson.  

The interview is by no means a Cathy Newman-level car crash, and is at times quite interesting; but it does, I think, tell us more about the assumptions of the interviewer, and by extension her peers, than those of the person being interviewed. For instance, about 43 minutes in, Peterson mentions sex differences in antisocial behaviour, and the types of bullying that tend to be favoured by women more than men. This is met with disbelief and indignation, as if this rather obvious and unremarkable phenomenon – the differing ways in which men and women tend to express aggression - were some kind of scandalous affront to womanhood, something one shouldn’t acknowledge, and indeed should lie about.

At All Costs, Paraphrase

Or, A Demonstration Of Patience.

“You’re saying we should organise our societies along the lines of the lobsters…”

In this largely unedited video, Channel 4’s Cathy Newman interviews Jordan Peterson

I use the word interview quite loosely. In fact, I propose a drinking game, in which you take a shot of tequila every time Ms Newman somehow misses the point entirely and interrupts with the words, “You’re saying…” 

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And Lo, There Came A Great Bunching Of The Panties

“Everyone is allowed to share their opinion. I just hope he gets fired for it.”

Regarding the ongoing ‘Google memo’ saga, I thought I’d lift the following from yesterday’s comments:

To recap. A Google software developer with a PhD in biology writes a polite, conciliatory and politically centrist memo suggesting that there’s a leftist groupthink problem in the company that inhibits open discussion; that men and women on average have differing preferences and abilities, albeit with a large overlap, and so “diversity” policies might benefit from bearing that in mind; and that perhaps people should be treated as individuals rather than as mascots of allegedly oppressed identity groups.

This is immediately met with ludicrous and wilful mischaracterisation by “social justice” Twitter and the ‘progressive’ media, including deliberately deleting the memo’s links to supporting data; a general refusal to engage honestly with the author’s points, or in many cases even to read them; baseless accusations of every ‘ism’ going; personal doxxing; boasts of blacklisting; and demands that the author of the memo be fired for his heresy and never employed again. On grounds that his arguments are “violently offensive” and in need of being “silenced.” He is, you see, “committing violence” with his statistics. All of which rather proves the author’s point about leftist groupthink and its reliance on distortion, intimidation and outright hysteria.

The employee in question has of course now been fired. Readers who wish to be violently offended can read the memo here.


Jordan Peterson interviews James Damore, author of the supposedly scandalous and “fascist” memo. Skip forward to 5’10:

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Ordinary people are perfectly comfortable with the idea that some people are smarter than others. They’re perfectly comfortable [with the idea] that what we call smart gets you kinds of jobs that you can’t get otherwise, all that kind of stuff. It’s the elites who are under the impression that “Oh, IQ tests only measure what IQ tests measure, and nobody is really able to define intelligence,” and this and that, “it’s culturally biased,” and on and on. And all of these things are the equivalent of saying the Earth is flat. These are not opinions that you can hold in contest with the scientific literature.

Sam Harris has a long and wide-ranging discussion with Charles Murray, spanning the taboos of IQ, social stratification, the poisonous effects of identity politics, the pros and cons of a universal basic income, and how Donald Trump became a weapon against a disdainful establishment.

Dr Murray’s adventures among the campus Mao-lings have been noted here previously

Those Brown-People Ideas

In this push for ethnic, sexual and racial diversity - which I think is just a mask to enforce ideological homogeneity - there’s no understanding that ideational diversity is the only relevant value for a university. The rest of it is all predicated on the assumption that if you select people because of their ethnicity or racial background or gender, that will, in and of itself, produce diversity of ideas - which is really pernicious… The idea that you’re going to get a diversity of ideas because you have a diversity of classes of people assumes that ideas and identity are the same thing. And that’s an absurd proposition. In fact that’s an essentially racial – and racist – proposition.

Joe Rogan chats, at length, with psychologist Dr Jordan Peterson

Valuable Knowledge

Human capital is the ability to create the material things that constitute wealth… A classic example: In the 1970s, Uganda decided that the Gujarati population, from India, were just too wealthy and controlled too much of the economy. The Ugandans expelled them and wouldn’t let them take their wealth with them. And so the Gujaratis arrived, mostly in England, destitute. Meanwhile, the Ugandan government had taken over all of this material stuff. A few years later, the Gujaratis were prosperous in England, and the Ugandan economy collapsed. Because they didn’t have people who knew how to do what the Gujaratis were doing. It’s also one of the problems of trying to finance things by confiscating the wealth of the wealthy. All you can confiscate is the material wealth. You cannot confiscate human capital.

Thomas Sowell on wealth, poverty and Flat Earth economics:  

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The State Doesn’t Love You

The classic concern that marriage was a patriarchal institution that held women back needs to be revised, maybe even dramatically revised in 2016… What we see, basically, is that daughters are more likely to flourish educationally and even later on in life professionally, across class lines, when they’ve had an involved dad who’s engaged with them in their lives. And so there’s a way in which both fatherhood and marriage, done right, are, I think, acting in service of women’s progress.

As a riposte of sorts to Laurie Penny’s recent blathering on the evils of monogamy and family stability and the alleged thrills of single motherhood and “uncoupled women,” here’s Christina Hoff Sommers interviewing Brad Wilcox of the Institute for Family Studies, in which the advantages of marriage are discussed, with data and correlations, along with the consequences of its abandonment.  

Part 1

Part 2

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Avoiding Squalor

Isolation almost invariably means poverty and backwardness. You’re not aware of how the basic things of life are done differently in other parts of the world, and so people who are isolated will keep doing things the same way for centuries or thousands of years. For example, when the British landed in Australia, they found the Australian aborigines living at a Stone Age level. The aborigines had no idea of iron. Australia is one of the great sources of iron ore in the world.

Thomas Sowell discusses retrogressive culture, the importance of geography, and leftism versus success: 

Previously. And before that. And Sowell’s book The Vision of the Anointed is pretty much a must-have.