The Great Realignment by Nitay Arbel

*Nitay had sent me this post before I did yesterday’s, and he thought it had been rendered obsolete by yesterday’s post.  I think rather, it is a good complementary post, showing I’m not air-dreaming. The symptoms are there.*

The Great Realignment  by Nitay Arbel

“Masgramondou” shared a most interesting article: about Theresa May in the UK, about whom he is about to post on his blog


In its very opening sentence, the article strikes a chord that resonates much more broadly than the UK:

Forget left and right — the new divide in politics is between nationalists and globalists. Donald Trump’s[..] nationalist rhetoric on everything from trade to global security enabled him to flip traditionally Democratic, blue-collar states and so to defeat that personification of the post-war global order, Hillary Clinton.

The presidential election in France is being fought on these lines, too. Marine Le Pen is the nationalist candidate, a hybrid of the hard right and the far left. She talks of quitting the European single currency and of bringing immigration down to 10,000 a year, while cursing international capitalism with an almost socialist fervour. Her likely second round opponent, the ex-finance minister Emmanuel Macron […] is the globalist candidate: a former […] banker who believes in a eurozone budget, the Schengen borderless area and the need for France to deregulate.

Yes, we are seeing this across the Western world. A “Great Realignment” of politics is taking place: the dividing line runs no longer between liberals and conservatives in the narrow sense, but between transnational elitism and what I would call patriotic populism. Between the Davoisie and the rest of the ‘credentialed gentry’  on the one hand, and the “barely making do”

members of the middle and working classes on the other hand. [in Theresa May’s words, the “Just About Managing”, or Jams] Between the “Brahmandarin caste”  and the rest of us.

We can indeed see this “Great Realignment” create unexpected bedfellows. Thus the cri de coeur of our Beautiful but Evil Space Mistress was applauded by outspoken social conservatives whom you would not expect to have any common cause with a flamboyantly homosexual “grandmaster troll” like Milo Yioannopoulos. (In fact, I personally have never seen Milo as a conservative at all — rather as a cultural libertarian who is as sick and tired of PC and SJW insanity.) It is a sight to see fundamentalist Christians, semi-Orthodox Jews, conservative Catholics, agnostics, and neo-pagans united in his support. What all these supporters have in common is that, wherever else they may differ, they are firmly on the populist side of the map.

Is that because we’re all dumb hicks? Nope. Several of us, for instance, have multiple advanced degrees, IQs deep in Mensa territory, or both.

Is it because we’re all provincial American chauvinists? I hate to break it to you, but some of us have lived in several countries and are fluent in multiple foreign languages.

Is it because we’re all mindless Trump admirers? Heck no. Our contingent runs the entire gamut from NeverTrumpers to MAGA hat wearers, with many of us highly ambivalent about Trump, or having been driven from NeverTrumper to reluctant Trump supporter by spiraling descent into insanity of his opponents. I could quit my day job if I got a dollar for every variation on this meme I’ve seen:

In fact, the irresponsible hyperbole and blatant intellectual dishonesty are worrisome to anyone who believes the POTUS should be kept honest, because they discredit any measured criticism if/when he will engage in overreach.

Of course, it is no surprise that the sexually libertine wing of the tranzi Left would be all too happy to take down a renegade who dares step off the plantation — these are, after all, the people who think nothing of calling a black conservative an Uncle Tom, to accuse a Jew of being a white nationalist, to attribute homophobia to an openly homosexual author, or to describe a libertarian Latina as a misogynist white Mormon male. Or, for that matter, to blame a shooting massacre at a gay nightclub, perpetrated by an ISIS supporter, on Christian homophobia. (Some “reality-based community”.) More interesting is how, in the case of a character like Milo, they find themselves strange bedfellow of some establishment conservatives. (The case of “crunchy cons” like Rod Dreher is different again, in that they have declaredly given up all hope of reforming the culture and are looking inward, seeking shelter in isolated communities of the like-minded.)

What these strange bedfellows of the “Ctrl-Left” and the “Ctrl-Right” have in common is that they are on the same side of the new divide: the one separating transnationalist elitists from patriotic populists. As much as the tranzi left may disagree with, say, a Bret Stephens (an editor I have generally admired in the past), or the National Review crowd, they have certain commonalities with them. (Mind you, this goes only so far. I was pleasantly surprised to read this thoughtful article by David French ) This has nothing to do with education or ethnic background: for instance, I’m a coreligionist of Stephens and actually have more academic credentials than he does, but a working-class childhood followed by decades of immersion in the Brahmandarin class appear to have awakened me to the self-centeredness and bubble vision of the latter.

I grew up in Europe, seeing (Euro-style) liberalism as a haven for freedom of thought. I have meanwhile gotten inured to the US group calling itself “liberal” being less tolerant of diversity of opinion (which is much more fundamental than skin-deep “fauxversity”) than most conservatives and especially libertarians. Now we’re being treated to the spectacle that dyed-in-the-wool social conservatives are in some ways more tolerant of actual people with lifestyles they consider sinful, than the Left and the establishment Right.

Somehow I find this spectacle unexpectedly… bracing.

Postscript: it is hard not to see parallels with the slain Dutch journalist and academic turned politician, Pim Fortuyn. He too was flamboyantly homosexual, deliberately spoke in provocative and at times shocking tones, fiercely criticized multiculturalism, and appealed to patriotism and the preservation of Dutch freedoms. And while his left-wing enemies tried to paint him as an extreme rightist (and actual far-rightists unsuccessfully tried to coopt him), his actual views were an amalgam of ideas from the traditional left-wing and right-wing, with a libertarian streak mixed in. Sounds familiar?




178 thoughts on “The Great Realignment by Nitay Arbel

  1. On the Media and Trump.

    Elsewhere somebody took the position that Trump would do what the Media was falsely claiming Trump said so the Media’s lies “didn’t matter”.

    My response was “When the Media lies and is known to lie, then the Media won’t be believed if Trump does something shitty and the Media truthfully reports it”. 😦

    Oh, it was “interesting” that the individual apparently couldn’t say Trump’s name but only referred to him as “45”. 😦 😦

    1. Prior to the Debacle of 2016 Instapundit and elsewhere were noting that a vote for Trump was a vote for MSM accountability. Surprisingly, the MSM has so little regard for credibility that they’ve gone the other extreme: where Obama could do no wrong, Trump is guilty of causing them to imagine he’s doing Bad Things™ — unlike a stopped clock they aren’t even right twice a day, they simply sit blinking 12:00 at us whatever happens.

      They no longer even know the meaning of credibility, instead believing “Credibility, C’est Moi.”

      1. I have a clock that I used to reset constantly. Until I realized that, no matter what I did, it was going to fall behind until it hit ten minutes slow – and stop there. I keep it, because it is consistent, and I can adjust.

        That, to me, is a much better analogy for the MSM. They are consistently wrong – so I can (usually) determine reality by assuming the opposite of what they “report.”

          1. Worked elsewhere, as well, apparently. The Soviets realized that the US was seriously working on atomic weapons when a Soviet scientist noticed that articles on certain subjects related to atomic research had suddenly disappeared from American science journals.

        1. When I lived in Atlanta, I had a similar relation with the Creative Loafing weekly and its movie reviews. If they raved over a movie, I marked it down as “maybe interesting”, but if they hated it I bought tickets immediately.

        2. We have a car clock that migrates to about 30 minutes fast and then stops. We do not understand this behavior, but I am oddly relieved to find somebody else has a related one.

    2. In the case of Bush, it made a small amount of sense to refer to him as “the 43rd President” or “Bush 43” (as opposed to his father, “Bush 41”), though “W” was a more… humanizing, I guess I’ll call it, way of disambiguating the possible confusion.

      But in the case of Trump, there’s no disambiguation needed, so there are only two reasons I can think of: 1) to appear “clever”, or 2) to dehumanize him in the speaker’s mind.

              1. Wouldn’t that be 216?

                As long as the end of his administration makes more sense than the last episode of the show.

      1. I used “Bush the Younger” when necessary to clarify. Like “Pliny the Younger” but with less volcanology.

        1. There is a tradition to the designation. William Pitt the Younger can be cited as well.

          1. And Cato. With Trump calling for the destruction of radical Islamic terrorism, much as Cato called for the destruction of Carthage, a comparison could be made.

      2. iirc “W” was akin to “Shrub” as an appellation, and part and parcel with BJ’s folks stealing all the W keys from the keyboards, but GWB and his folk took it and ran, so attempts to dehumanize with it fell flat.

      3. 2. Absolutely and explicitly 2. Have seen tons of this on social media.

      4. 3) Both 1 and 2. they are rather impressed with themselves so I think they could reasonably believe it a ‘clever’ way to dehumanize their enemy. They miss most of us rolling our eyes a them.

    3. The “45” thing was part of some leftist’s plan for “dealing” with Trump, much of which involved basically refusing to recognize reality that he was legitimately elected POTUS. At the moment I can’t find a link to the article, though.

      (But then again I can’t imagine many here would be surprised at regressives refusing to acknowledge reality because they don’t like it… 😛 )

      1. I have sometimes wondered if it would be a good idea to refuse to name the President, regardless of who the President was.

        Indeed, I think this would be a useful exercise for anyone. For a given action, ask yourself “Is it ok for the President to do this?” If the answer is “yes”, then even if it’s a President you don’t like, you could support the President in their action. If the answer is “no”, then you should oppose the action, even if you like the President.

        This should similarly be done when you consider whether it should be ok for a President to do something, only you should think of the President you hate the most doing that thing when you ask “Should the President have the power to do this?”.

        Of course, I’m not going to hold my breath expecting anyone in Media to do this….

        1. I got into a discussion concerning “Banning Hate Speech” with one individual months back.

          He was so such that the definition of “Hate Speech” could be so tightly worded that his Free Speech couldn’t be considered Hate Speech.

          He was also so convinced that the “Political System” would allow people to “vote out” anybody who abused “anti-Hate Speech” laws.

          So IMO it appears that our Lefty “friends” can’t imagine their “Laws” being abused. 😦

          1. It’s easy to define Hate Speech such that his speech wouldn’t be affected:

            “Hate Speech is things others say that I don’t like!”

            Wait, you mean some objective definition that would apply to everyone’s speech? Who’d want that? The left wouldn’t, as they want to be able to slime their opponents whenever they want. The right wouldn’t, as we don’t think Hate Speech exists at all.

            1. Oh hate speech exists. The issue is some want it punished while others prefer knowing how people really think. Here in Canada it’s part of our Criminal Code. With that being the case those actual haters have figured out how to get their hate across without violating the C.C. and making themselves sound reasonable and well balanced.

              1. Hate Speech is a nebulous term that means whatever the user of the term wants it to mean. It has no objective definition, at least none that’s generally accepted. Here, traditionally, speech of any sort wasn’t punishable, only actions. You could say the nastiest things, but if you didn’t put them into action or they didn’t incite others to do so, they weren’t punishable. Changing that hasn’t been to the betterment of our society.

                1. I think there is a generally recognized, if unacknowledged, objective definition of “Hate Speech.” It is an attempt to restore the “Fightin’ Words” doctrine: Hate Speech is that speech which risks provoking unstable members of a group to violently excessive over-reaction.

                  What we in the United States do not and have not had is Prior Restraint.” You could indeed say (or publish) what you wanted, however hateful, provided you were willing to suffer the consequences.

                  1. But by that definition: “Hate Speech is that speech which risks provoking unstable members of a group to violently excessive over-reaction,” anything said to an SJW is automatically Hate Speech, including “and” and “the.” Not that that surprises anyone. We already knew that everything we say is Hate Speech in their minds.

                    1. Yes – Hate Speech is the dominant polity’s license to crack heads of rabble rousers, now as it ever was. The Brits condemned it in the American colonies 240 years ago, King Charles I despised it in Cromwell and his roundheads 130 years before that, and the Roman Caesars were none to fond of it a millennium prior to that.

                      Socrates’ Hate Speech did not exactly enhance his popularity among the Elders of Athens, either, even though he was a war hero.

                      Have I somehow missed your point? The purpose of Hate Speech law is to justify oppression, nicht wahr?

                    2. No, we’re completely in agreement. I just wanted to be sure it was made plain that Hate Speech laws have nothing to do with protecting anyone, and are just tools of oppression against those the Ruling Class wishes to marginalize.

          2. I remember that one… Grant’s actually not a bad person, just ignorant. Partially because he’s Canadian, of course – which like the rest of the Commonwealth, never really accepted actually free speech. People do not recognize just how different we became from even our closest cousins thanks to the First Amendment (and the Second, for that matter).

        2. Sounds good, but… if I’m talking W, and I say “is it alright for the president to help clean up a ranch,” what they’d actually be DOING, and who’d be paying, is different than if Obama did it.

        3. See recent Progressive complaints about “Executive Orders” for examples?

          I sometimes think the difference is best exemplified at the Supreme Court. Progressives want Justices who reach the “right” decisions, conservatives want Justices who follow the Law. Thus Justice nominee Gorsuch’s* statement “If you’re going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.”

          To Progressives such a standard is incomprehensible, to conservatives it is plain as can be.

          *Quoting Scalia, apparently

    4. I was rather annoyed that Obama was President #44. I wanted someone better to share the designation 44, having been amused by Twain’s character Number 44, New Series 864 962. And I’ve long wondered if he chose the digits rather randomly, or for tone, or if there was some other reason for the lot in the order they are.

  2. The take-away from this column is that those of us who oppose the tranzi dogma aren’t easily classifiable. We don’t all fit into a single, nice pigeonhole. Many (most?) of us would (I think) be quite happy with my three political precepts:

    1) I’m not bothering anybody.
    2) It’s none of your business.
    3) Leave me alone!

    But beyond that we probably take a great many differing (perhaps only slightly, but still) positions on any question presented to us.

    1. Precisely. I may disagree with your private behavior (if you flaunt it in my face) but that’s between you and your deity (as long as all involved are consenting). But if you are tired of the regulatory state, want better accountability of local (and other) officials, and support an age limit on federal judges (85-90 comes to mind)? You’re on my team.

    2. I am starting to believe if a body politic has reached the point of being two to five easily classifiable sides then the politics has reached complete divorce from reality.

      Trump is one of my best pieces of evidence.

      As for your principles I would add one which I suspect you would say is a subset of #3 but given the current times needs to be made explicit:

      4) I don’t have to pay for your things.

      1. Yeah, probably a subset, but worth making explicit. How about this wording:

        4) If you want my help ask, don’t demand.

    3. 1) You are not being properly supervised. This greatly concerns your elite betters.
      2) Of course it’s their business. They must exert complete control. It’s their destiny.
      3) Leaving you alone demonstrates that you do not need their guidance. Such a philosophy must not be allowed.

      1. “What we have here is a failure to communicate…”

        Or in other words, your inability to understand what I said makes it neither wrong nor inaccurate.

          1. Understood. I was confident that you would see that I had put my progressive socialist propeller beanie on to provide the proper perspective on your very cogent points.

    4. Unfortunately, too many people in the world disagree with point #1 (and by inference #2, since if it bothers them, they think it’s their business).

      HOAs: Your grass is too long/your house is painted the wrong color, this bothers me.
      Metaphorical Gladys Kravitz peeking through her blinds: Weird things are happening across the street! This bothers me.

      I actually know someone who is afraid to wander around in his own home nude for fear that some neighbor will report him to the authorities for indecent exposure. This same person has had the city called on him because he put gravel on the side of his house for his RV instead of concrete, and because his cats were allowed to roam outside his yard. In both cases he was fined. In the former case he was also given a deadline to put in either concrete or grass, and in the second he had to give up his pets. That was particularly hard on his kids.

      1. I know that stuff happens some places. Here in east Tennessee, we’d just tell the nosey neighbors to pound sand. And the city government would likely do the same. We don’t tend to care for (or pay attention to) niggling interferences with our rights. Example: my wife and I recently put up a two-car carport beside the house. I checked with the city about permits and they said, is it under 400 square feet and not within 10 feet of your property line? If so, we don’t care, do what you want. Well, it’s under 400 ft*2, but only about 4 feet from the property line, but my neighbors don’t care either so it’s all good. We spread a truckload of gravel under it and out to the street, and nobody seems to even have noticed, much less complained.

        1. Several years ago, I was parking my car beside (partly on) my parents driveway.

          This was so my parents didn’t have to move my car when they pulled their car out of the garage.

          Well, parking there caused problems in that grassy area as in killing grass and causing “ruts”.

          We decided to fill the area between the driveway and the fence with gravel.

          Nobody had any problems with that.

          Of course, this wasn’t an area of Danville with HOAs. 😉

        2. What town do you live in? When I was working at Watts Bar 2 back in 2011-2013 I lived in Athens. Nice little city.

          That whole area is nice. I’m trying to figure out a way to transfer to our Chattanooga office but so far no luck.

          1. We’re in Maryville, a stone’s throw (almost literally) from Alcoa. Foothills of the Smoky’s, man!

            1. I spent two years in a Quaker boarding school in Friendsville (founded in 1881, now defunct) down the road from Maryville and Alcoa. I considered Maryville College, but instead went to a Quaker college in NC.

              Blount County is a beautiful area of Tennessee. It was there I developed by love of the southern mountains.

      2. Some (no idea of percent) HOAs are abusive and violate the ‘freely entered contract’ notion; on the other hand, some people want the benefits of the HOA, but without the restrictions being on themselves.

        Real funny is when you track down some of the claimed abuses, and find out that the supposed ‘victims’ were not upset with the situation at all, once they were told that they were in violation and how to fix it. The outrage was on the part of either busy-bodies deciding what they SHOULD be upset about, or activists twisting the story to support what they wanted.

      3. I had some neighbors clear with me if it were okay that a trailer were parked in a driveway for a week. For use by another neighbor’s family who were there for a funeral. I replied that a) I didn’t even know that was a code violation, and b) didn’t bother me. (The c) Why would you think I was that sort of person? had already been brought up by another neighbor; they were just making doubly sure that nothing was wrong.)

  3. It is worth noting that the French (LePen) and British (Farage) anti-trazi movements are several decades old now, and decidedly not fringe — in spite of MSM efforts to write them off.

  4. My roots are deep in the religious, cultural, and political American conservative camps–i.e., the “political” conservative portion is very much based upon individual liberty and responsibility. The main change I’ve seen over the past decades is that, whereas in the past, someone like Yiannopoulos would have been view as not-exactly-an-enemy-but-an-icky-fellow-to-be-avoided-and-disdained–but not attacked; nowadays he is viewed as a common-interest ally in the current main cultural battle.

    Although cliched, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” has more than a little applicability.

  5. My biggest objection to trans-nationalist/globalism is having some undeserving, self-serving elitist telling me what to do (points 1,2, and three that drloss mentions above); and confiscating the majority of the fruits of my labor to bestow mostly on himself and his cronies, with a pittance toward the have-nots-du-jour being used as the excuse for confiscation.

    1. That of course also applies to domestic underserving, self-serving elitists; who are much easier to reach out and touch than someone way across the ocean.

    2. I don’t care if it is a trans-nationalist/globalist or a nationalist/isolationist try to micromanage my life — they are still trying to micromanage my life and I don’t want it.

  6. Of course, it is no surprise that the sexually libertine wing of the tranzi Left would be all too happy to take down a renegade who dares step off the plantation — these are, after all, the people who think nothing of calling a black conservative an Uncle Tom, to accuse a Jew of being a white nationalist, to attribute homophobia to an openly homosexual author, or to describe a libertarian Latina as a misogynist white Mormon male.

    With rare exception most people find thinking hard. Few have mastered serious disciplined thought. Such is not necessarily easy to teach, and for the most part is left untaught altogether. Besides thinking can lead to very uncomfortable times.

    I have experienced major shifts in my world view. Having your world view so changed can be frightening. I found it like having the rug pulled out from under me. I had no footing. I could not go back; I knew that was not solid ground. Wasn’t sure about going forward into uncharted territory. All the while I was very aware that I had been wrong before, and I could be wrong now.

    I have no trouble understanding those who want to shut down the people who could upset their apple cart. Doesn’t mean I approve. I just understand.

    1. In reference to Milo-quiddic, and also Disney’s recent ditching of Pewdie Pie, both over jokes, I would like to present this little gem from Disney, making the rounds today.

      Yes that’s right, Disney’s first exclusively gay moment. As in, for kids, in a kid’s movie. Okay? Just so we are all on the same page before they start the show.

      Except there’s not going to be a show. The same sons of benches throwing tomatoes at Milo and Pewds are going to say -nothing- about Beauty and the Beast’s “exclusively gay moment.”

      And that is how you get more Trump. Also more Sad Puppies, seeing as this is Sad Puppy Central.

      1. I wonder if the correct approach here is to tell the LGBT community they should be incensed by this and boycott the film. The character they have made gay for their first ‘exclusively gay moment’ is the buffoon and idiot whose name literally means ‘the fool’. Clearly Disney is insensitive to gays and they should protest the film release.

  7. I f’n blame the people in the middle that walfle from one authority figure to the next thst promisses to fix things. Those idiots (as in someone who makes bad decisions) that think those in power fix shit and are the problem. Every single political problem was implimented as the solution to a previous problem.

    Useful Idiots are the problem; the ones who do not take the time think about what they believe, and because of thst can be lead from one fad politial “fix it” scheme to the next.

    1. I tend to suspect that when they promise to fix things they imagine us unaware of the multiple meanings of the word and inclined to take definition 6A when the more likely definitions are 1a or 6c — although many of us are inclined to look at the noun usages 3 and 4:

      transitive verb
      a : to make firm, stable, or stationary
      We led out more rope and fixed it in place up steeper snow. — Joe Tasker & Peter Boardman
      b : to give a permanent or final form to: such as (1) : to change into a stable compound or available form bacteria that fix nitrogen (2) : to kill, harden, and preserve for microscopic study (3) : to make the image of (a photographic film) permanent by removing unused salts
      c : affix, attach The tables on the ship were fixed to the floor.

      a : to hold or direct steadily fixes his eyes on the horizon
      b : to capture the attention of fixed her with a stare

      a : to set or place definitely : establish fixed the date of their wedding
      b : to make an accurate determination of : discover fixing our location on the chart
      c : assign fix the blame

      4 : to set in order : adjust
      fixed his spectacles and read aloud — George Meredith

      5 : to get ready : prepare fix lunch

      a : repair, mend fix the clock
      b : restore, cure the doctor fixed him up
      c : spay, castrate had his dog fixed

      a : to get even with They thought they could cheat me, but I fixed them good.
      b : to influence the actions, outcome, or effect of by improper or illegal methods the race had been fixed

      intransitive verb
      1 : to become firm, stable, or fixed

      2 : to get set : be on the verge we’re fixing to leave soon

      3 : to direct one’s attention or efforts : focus; also : decide, settle —usually used with on had fixed on the first Saturday in June All eyes fixed on her as she entered the room.

      1 : a position of difficulty or embarrassment : predicament
      a : the position (as of a ship) determined by bearings, observations, or radio; also : a determination of one’s position
      b : an accurate determination or understanding especially by observation or analysis

      3 : an act or instance of improper or illegal fixing the fix was in

      4 : a supply or dose of something strongly desired or craved a coffee fix; especially : a shot of a narcotic

      5 : fixation

      6 : something that fixes or restores : solution an easy fix

    2. I’m occasionally an idiot. Fortunately, I’m not very useful as such to anyone.

  8. “Forget left and right — the new divide in politics is between nationalists and globalists. Donald Trump’s[..] nationalist rhetoric on everything from trade to global security enabled him to flip traditionally Democratic, blue-collar states and so to defeat that personification of the post-war global order, Hillary Clinton.”

    That possibility is something I’ve been concerned about. The problem with that spit is that nationalist vs. globalist is two different arrangement of deck chairs on the same Big Government cruise ship. If the central theme remains centralized command and control of the economy and the culture, there’s nothing to choose from between them. Commies vs. Nazis, you don’t pick a side. You pray for an asteroid to strike them.

    On a more positive note though, aside from the rhetoric Trump hasn’t -done- anything overtly Populist/Nationalist yet. Securing the border is common sense. Deporting known criminals is common sense. Spitting in CNN’s eye is common sense. Cutting back on the global warming cargo cult, same thing.

    Positive and NON-statist things he’s already done, that business of eliminating two federal regulations for every new one. That was a bit of grandstanding, but it sets the tone rather nicely. His picks for the EPA and Education were good too. Those departments need a chainsaw taken to them.

    Therefore, I am cautiously optimistic at this point that Trump is going the right direction, toward -less- government command and control.

    Now if we can get a similar uprising going in Canada, I’ll be all set.

    1. Even the elimination of the big Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement can’t really be considered a blow to global free trade: as someone pointed out, if the document for trade is hundreds of pages long, it’s not really “free” trade — how many pages do you really need in order to establish free trade, anyway?

      I have since developed a proposal of sorts: create an automatic trade-war/free-trade policy: set our tariffs for imports to exactly the same level as the tariffs of the country wishing to import for us, effective as soon as the other country changes their tariff. If you want to protect your industry from us, well, we’ll automatically protect our industry from you. If you want to trade freely with us, then set your tariff to 0%.

      Adjustments might need to be made for reasons independent of economics (I would imagine Iran would be excluded from such a deal, for example), but I would even go so far as to say that these conditions might be automated as well: end the reason we don’t like you (chances are, it has to deal with either human rights or terrorism or war) and you’re welcome to join in with the Automatic Free Trade Agreement…

      1. Yup, that’s basically the same thing as I proposed somewhere around here, but you said it better.

  9. in Theresa May’s words, the “Just About Managing”, or Jams

    I had not heard that term from May which I find a curious historical resurrection of something that sprung from some of the same roots as May’s Jams.

    The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (yes, they got that name where you think they did), also know as The Timelords and (probably how you have heard of them) and the KLF often went by the JAMMS. Their best know works, the so called stadium house epics of the White Room album, were financed by their lone release as The Timelords, Doctorin’ the Tardis (a bizarre mashup of Gary Glitter, Sweet, and the Doctor Who theme):

    Where this crosses with May’s Jams is the cynicism behind that hit which they recorded in The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way) which started:

    Firstly, you must be skint and on the dole. Anybody with a proper job or tied up with full time education will not have the time to devote to see it through… Being on the dole gives you a clearer perspective on how much of society is run… having no money sharpens the wits. Forces you never to make the wrong decision. There is no safety net to catch you when you fall.

    Which arguably describes the attitude towards May’s Jams that got the UK Brexit to begin with.

    1. I just realized as I hit post the second sentence also echos Nancy Pelosi et al on how Obamacare and unemployment benefits, both replacing proper jobs, allow people to be artistic and seek fulfillment.

      1. Nope…I consider the JAMMS one of the great unsung musical acts of my lifetime. I suspect, if you ask enough people, they have that same Velvet Underground thing going: almost no one saw them (or at best remembers them as one hit wonders) but everyone who did started mixing beats in their bedroom.

      1. It is a weird kinda great thing but my first love from them will be Last Train to Transcentral:

        But who can’t love two guys who formed a band when one had at an early mid-life crisis four months after his 33rd birthday and laced all the music with imagery from the Illuminatous! trilogy.

        1. The other thing a lot of people of my generation know them for is 3 a.m. eternal.

  10. “(Some “reality-based community”.)”

    Which reality they’re based in has yet to be determined. I suspect Earth-1968.

      1. Given they are the intellectual (or some value of intellectual) heirs to the people who didn’t want to publish Rand’s We the Living because she had no idea of what life was like in Soviet Russia that sounds about right.

      2. I could say “Uranus”, but that would be crass and childish and we are above such things here.

          1. Some of us are, on some days of the calendar or liturgical year. Those are the days we just think it instead of typing it.

            1. Also depends on what the meaning of ‘we’ is.

              Suppose that I am significantly more crass and childish than usual for here, such that the average crassness and childishness changes if I count as a hun at a particular time.

    1. Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it. – Elwood P. Dowd.

      And yet, Mr. Dowd has a better grasp of things.
      Funny, that.

  11. I think it’s a bit more complex than that.

    On one hand, I’m strongly opposed to the centralist authoritarians who now call themselves “liberals” or “progressives,” but I’m also not any more in favor of nationalism, which is equally likely to fall into authoritarianism (though not any more so). I’m a libertarian, and as such I’m in favor of unrestricted and unilateral free trade, which would be “globalist” in terms of this discussion. But I’m, if not pro-Trump, at least increasingly opposed to the anti-Trump movement, if only as, for the moment, a lesser evil.

    On the other hand—over the weekend I visited friends in San Diego whom I mostly haven’t seen since before the election. We spent most of the day playing GURPS, but after the end, the conversation turned briefly political, and I’m afraid I rather horrified everyone else there with my sentiments. But one thing that came up left me perplexed in retrospect: They all agreed that the world economy was irreversibly globalized and that Trump’s attempt to reserve this would be a catastrophic failure; but during the campaign, Sanders was equally eager to limit international trade for the sake of American jobs, and I wondered if they were equally opposed to Sanders and equally convinced that his economic vision was unworkable.

    In this conversation, I think the converse question arises: Does Sanders, and do his supporters, count as being on the “localist” or “libertarian” side? That seems really odd, but it seems to follow. Please discuss?

    1. I’m a libertarian, and as such I’m in favor of unrestricted and unilateral free trade, which would be “globalist” in terms of this discussion.

      If what the globalists want is unrestricted and unilateral free trade why does it take 1000 page treaties and the WTO to created it. Wouldn’t a simple bill that says, “if you can get it to market you can sell it to anyone who wants to buy regardless of where you are from” do it?

      I think there is where a lot of distrust of “free trade” comes from…it seems less and less like free trade and more and more like a new mercantilism.

      1. Well, I would prefer what you describe. Most likely that makes me so extreme that most “globalists” in the present debates would be saying “Not that damned shaggy!”

        1. I wouldn’t say it makes you more extremist. I would say it makes you more honest.

          The reason globalists don’t want real free trade is, to quote Glenn Reynolds, it provides insufficient opportunities for graft. So they label things free trade that are actually more restricted than what they replaced but will all the restrictions and freedoms finely tuned to serve their agendas and to hell with everyone else.

          It is that final “to hell with everyone else” that is catching up with them.

      2. There is one aspect that leads me to think it might not be that simple; namely, when things go wrong, who do you sue (if the supplier exists under a legal system you have no standing under)?

        I doubt it’s near as complicated as the complications we’ve invented, but I’ll own it as an issue.

        1. Simple, anyone who sells products in the US is subject to US law concerning those products and can be sued in US courts. That might be an importer becomes legally liable for the poor manufacture of products he bought elsewhere but the “who brought it to the US to sell” standard is transparent.

          Countries where middlemen cannot hold manufactures accountable will see fewer middlemen buying the products to take to other countries and those who do show will pay less.

        2. Or when they take your money and don’t deliver anything at all.

          You need trust to have a decent economy, and no, “but nobody else will work with them!” doesn’t work. It assumes perfect knowledge.

          1. Since when? Perfect knowledge is part of the academic economic model of how an idealized competitive market operates, and they criticize markets that lack it as having “asymmetric information.” But markets in the real world have gotten along without anyone having perfect knowledge pretty much ever; they work a lot better than the various nonmarket setups that have been contrived by people who condemn them for not measuring up to some Platonistic abstraction of markets.

            I forget which economist it was who talked about the Nirvana principle, meaning that people compare real markets with idealized images of how a nonmarket system might work, rather than comparing real markets with real nonmarket systems. . . .

            1. But markets in the real world have gotten along without anyone having perfect knowledge pretty much ever; they work a lot better than the various nonmarket setups that have been contrived by people who condemn them for not measuring up to some Platonistic abstraction of markets.

              Which is a really good argument that one should not remove the real world market situation in favor of a theory, even if that theory is “free trade.”

              1. On the contrary. The argument for free trade was not premised on idealized abstract models of what a Platonic ideal market ought to work like. Rather, it exposed the arguments for protectionism as founded on errors in economic reasoning. See for example Frederic Bastiat’s classic “Economic Sophisms,” with such essays as the candlemakers’ petition for protection against the sun, or the negative railroad.

                Classical economics had its problems, but in many ways it was much more in touch with the real world than the mathematical theories of modern neoclassical and Keynesian economics are.

                1. It’s a theory whose proponents want to remove what the actual market has put in place with what their theory says will work better.

                  That it’s YOUR theory should not matter.

                  1. I don’t consider everything that a government chooses to impose by force of law to count as “what the actual market has put in place.” By that standard you could call even Stalinist central planning “what the actual market has put in place.”

                    1. Assumining your conclusion, there– but if you choose not to see any distinction between gov’ts designed by a system dedicated to controling markets, and every other form of group organization, it’s not worth discussing it.

                      The simple way to put it is this: if your market theory is so revolutionarily perfect, in contrast to all other forms, why can it not win on the market of markets?
                      Have the faith you claim in it– if it is that good, it will persuade folks on its own.

                    2. “The simple way to put it is this: if your market theory is so revolutionarily perfect, in contrast to all other forms, why can it not win on the market of markets?”

                      The answer is easy: insufficient opportunity for graft.

                      (I suspect that it’s only a matter of time before Glenn Reynolds makes cynics of us all…)

                    3. The answer is easy: insufficient opportunity for graft.

                      Which is either an admission that it can’t hack it in the market of markets, or just an ad hominem against those who don’t support it. (Especially since this was started on the issue of inability for it to deal with lying about what you’re selling, and recourse for the same, which is a route for illicit gain.)

                    4. @Foxifier. I would also add that often the free market is eroded thus: A politician will recognize a problem with the free market. Sometimes the problem is real, sometimes it’s in his own fevered imagination. But the problem is now recognized, and the politician gins up popular support for a solution to the problem.

                      More often than not, though, the solution makes things worse. Often, it doesn’t even fix the original problem. And the politician will go back and say, “Hey, the market is failing us! We need even more control!”

                      And thus, we see the beginnings of a cycle where the government gets more and more control, always blaming the “free market”, when the real problem is the very government intervention that’s supposed to fix things.

                      (That’s what I hate most about the current debate about health care. The “free market” is blamed for its shortcomings, even though we haven’t had a free market for *decades*. It’s to the point that I almost want to create a meme that says “Sure, free market health care has its problems, but it’s better than what we’ve had for the last few decades!”.)

                    5. Why doesn’t the free market win? Because people with armies at their command prefer power for themselves to the well-being of their subjects. This is the ABC of politics.

    2. Personally, I’d say free trade with any country that engages in free trade in return. If they put up tariffs on our goods, we should impose similar tariffs on theirs, to be reduced or removed exactly when they do so on our goods.

      1. As I understand the matter, David Ricardo showed that if one country has trade barriers, and the other does not, the country without trade barriers gains more from the deal. If the other country doesn’t choose to learn from this, that’s their problem.

        1. Which was part of why Great Britain dropped most of their tariffs in the early 1800s and their economy boomed until the Panic of 1873, and then continued to do very well until WWI.

    3. They all agreed that the world economy was irreversibly globalized and that Trump’s attempt to reserve this would be a catastrophic failure

      They suffered from False Premise; Trump had expressed NO desire to reverse the trend toward globalization. What he advocated was negotiating trade deals that were not grossly unfavorable toward America’s interests. There is a difference.

      I suggest reviewing Chinese currency valuation games and the reliability of the statistical data on their economy.

      1. So do you consider Bernie Sanders as being on the anti-globalist side? A coalition that includes both him and Donald Trump is likely to be unstable, if not explosive. And yet in terms of the stated ideological issue, it seems to follow. Which makes me think something different may be at stake.

        1. Frankly, I give no consideration whatsoever to the Senator from Utopia, as I do not consider him nor his followers capable of coherent economic thought.

          I’d sooner inquire of the Daughtorial Unit’s rabbit’s views on the relative price of kale to kibble.

      2. RES,

        As apposed to whom? You say the last like the rest of theworlds treasury deparments and centeral banks are bastions of honesty and integraty.


        1. Compared to the Chinese, most of them* are.

          *Offer does not include third world hellholes (an admitted redundancy) nor despotic regimes, but it is only the Chinese about whom the world pretends otherwise.

    4. “In this conversation, I think the converse question arises: Does Sanders, and do his supporters, count as being on the “localist” or “libertarian” side?”

      Sanders is free trade in the “free trade, and keep those subsidies rolling in so we can compete with the dollar-an-hour Mexicans and still keep our free health care and high wages” sense.

      I believe he’s made the case for nationalizing the oil bidness on “humanitarian” grounds. That’s the kind of free trade he’s talking about. Government seizing the means of production and cutting out the private sector middle man completely.

      Also, when most people say “free trade” they don’t mean that. They mean “cheap stuff from Asia, keep it coming!” Try to buy a Harley Davidson in China.

      1. Free in the sense of “the individual may be forced to be free, true freedom lying in obeying the General Will.”

      2. But is he? I thought he was in favor of restricting the import of goods made outside the United States, as a means of increasing the employment of Americans. That sounds like what many people are calling a “localist” or “anti-globalist” agenda. That his economic theories are illiterate nonsense (this is a man who wholeheartedly supports $15/hour minimum wage, after all) doesn’t change his ideological location with respect to that issue.

        So if you’re saying that what he believes about economics puts him on the other side, that sounds to me like saying that what defines the sides is some issue other than globalism vs. localism. And I don’t think it can be a question of economic literacy, because both the pro-Brexit people and the Trump people seem to have no shortage of economic ignorance.

        I have no specific answer to recommend. I’m just trying to remove answers that don’t fit, in the hope that eventually what remains will be an answer that saves the appearances.

        1. I think the problem you’re experiencing is that you’re trying to find some unifying concept to tie his various proposals together. There isn’t one. Yes, his various proposals are contradictory. So? Unless his supporters actually try to figure out some logical framework for them, it doesn’t matter. Cognitive dissonance can only occur when there’s cognition.

          1. No, I’m not trying to do that. I don’t care what Sanders’s detailed position is. I’m concerned more with whether your, or Nitay’s, ideological analysis is coherent or plausible.

            Nitay proposes that the new division is between “nationalists” and “globalists.” In that category, Trump counts as “nationalist,” as presumably do Le Pen, Wilders, and Farage. But on the other hand, Sanders explicitly campaigned for doing more to provide American jobs, and opposed Clinton’s continued support for international trade; and his support seems to have come in significant part from people who felt the same way. So he’s part of the same broad ideological side or movement, right? That seems to follow from making nationalism vs. globalism the defining issue; but there seems to be something wrong with that picture, and thus with the premise.

            If there is some unifying concept to tie together all the people who oppose the Clinton Archipelago and the Eurocracy, I don’t think it’s “populism” or “localism.”

            1. Well, we agree on that. If there is such a unifying concept, it’s more likely to be subservience to the government, which we often call “statism” as a sort of shorthand.

              1. Wait a minute. Did you just say that all the people who oppose the Clinton part of the establishment are statists, or subservient to the government? Is that what you meant to say? (Author: Please clarify.)

                1. He’s saying the group with a unifying theme is the one that believes people should be the unquestioning servants of the government.

                  The “everybody else” have a wider range of ideas on how one should relate to the government, from “treat it like fire” to “DESTROY THE ENEMY!!!”

                  1. That’s what I thought was the logical statement to expect there, but in the context of my preceding post, to which he was responding, it meant quite the opposite. So I thought I ought to ask.

                    Your explanation actually strikes me as a more plausible account, but it is’t consistent with the theory that all the anti-Clinton people are *either* “localist”/”anti-globalist” *or* “libertarian,” which is where we started out. Which isn’t to say you’re wrong; in fact I started out questioning whether Nitay’s analysis was convincing.

        2. “So if you’re saying that what he believes about economics puts him on the other side, that sounds to me like saying that what defines the sides is some issue other than globalism vs. localism.”

          I would venture to say that other than him believing he’s the Smartest Man Ever, and that it is his Ghu-Given Destiny to lead the peoples of the United States to Utopia, Bernie Sanders does not have beliefs.

          He, like most intellectual Leftists, has strategies. Global warming is selling this week? He’s on the band wagon. Free trade is selling? He’s a free trader. Nationalism is selling? He’s the biggest Nationalist out there. His beating heart pumps red white and blue, baby.

          But it all leads back eventually to a big government that tells me what to do and when and how, with Bernie pulling the levers.

          No one -ever- questions if a big government that sees all, knows all and controls all is a good idea. They just keep making it bigger and better and faster and newer and more awesome every day.

          So my enthusiasm for Bernie Saunders is somewhat lacking. He is not a “localist” and he is not a “free trader.” He is a Statist. Given that, the word ‘free’ becomes an amusing irony. As does ‘trade’ for that matter.

          1. Plausible enough, but I don’t think that Trump necessarily has beliefs either. In fact that doubt was my biggest reason for not supporting him. So I’m not seeing a crucial difference there either.

            But what Sanders was selling does not seem to have been free trade, but opposition to free trade in the name of the American working class. And that seems to have been part of what Trump was selling too. (What they actually “believe” is irrelevant here.) Yet the populations who went for their sales pitches were different, despite the seeming similarity. That indicates some other difference than their position on globalism vs. localism.

            1. I would suggest the difference is patriotism and I choose that word specifically instead of nationalism.

              Sanders very much represents the “America is an evil nation” mentality even if some of his solutions to that evil resemble Trump’s solutions to problems. Trump with “Make America Great Again” embraces the US as a force for good that needs to change bad choices. Their bases reflect that difference.

              That Trump agrees with Sanders on those bad choices, while differing in what he thinks they mean in a philosophical sense, is irrelevant to the current realignment. Political realignments begin as practical beasts as often as they do ideological ones. It is only after the practical issues begin to get sorted out one way or another that the less practical issues can be fought over.

              This is actually how Trump won: he fought on the practical (jobs, the problems of the new economic revolution) over the less practical (who can pee where). If you reach the point where enough of the electorate is having problems and thus focused on the practical then if only one candidate engages the practical he wins by default.

              1. The Pee Wars were a distraction, the political equivalent the street urchin bumping you as he chases his ball while the Artful Dodger slits your purse.

                1. That was the plan, yes, but enough people had been burned by the Artful Dodger that the didn’t look at the urchin and looked at him.

                  The urchin only works against people not already on high alert which is the “concerned with practical issues” side of my analogy.

                2. No, the Pee Wars were a perfect encapsulation of the Left’s desire to impose their vision on the majority of the country, and destroy anyone who disagreed, in terms that people could understand.

                  1. Embrace the power of and.

                    Just because a maneuver is intended as a feint and distraction doesn’t mean it lacks all military purpose.

          2. “He is a Statist. Given that, the word ‘free’ becomes an amusing irony. As does ‘trade’ for that matter.”

            Traitor, however, is quite a fitting description of Sanders. He’s been seen giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies, the Left.

      3. “Free Trade” in the sense used by most WTO proponents is, much like the 19th Century Opium Wars, about forcing another state to accept your goods regardless of the harm they may cause.
        (I still think that Canada and New Zealand, when they wanted to force sales of diseased salmon and fireblighted apples respectively into Tasmanian markets, should have be told “only if we can buy and ship you a few thousand tons of British mad cow in exchange”.)

  12. Oh, on another note: I’m a lifelong atheist and have little sympathy for agnosticism; as Joseph Schumpeter said, an atheist and a Thomist likely have more in common than either has with an agnostic. But one of my oldest friends is a very conservative Episcopalian, one who believes in the literal truth of Scripture. When C and I were married last year (after 31 years of cohabitation!), she agreed to officiate—specifically because it was a civil ceremony; she said she could not have done so at a religious one, because “I am a woman under orders.” I find it much easier to talk with her, even about matters where we disagree, than I do with a lot of my mostly progressive friends.

    (Science fiction fandom in California seems to be overwhelmingly progressive, more’s the pity.)

    1. Well to be honest, to an outsider everything in CA seems to be overwhelmingly progressive…

    2. Among Christians, forgiveness is a virtue. Among progressives, it is a weakness.

      1. I’m not being a jerk btw, that’s how it is. I’m the guy who never goes to church, remember.

  13. It’s interesting…if you say, “Let’s buy local in Podunkville and support people in our own community,” most of the lefties will be with you…But if you say “Let’s buy American and support people in our own country,” you will get very little support from the Progs.

    It’s almost like they don’t believe America is a thing.

    1. They’re two sides of the same coin, though. The “let’s buy local” movement is generally against “big business,” meaning American companies. The anti-“buy American” movement is also against American companies. Check out how many lefties drive American cars. I’d venture to guess that it’s an extremely small percentage.

    2. Especially if you call yourself a “locavore” or something. Though I understand locavores are often perturbed when they find that their geographic region doesn’t grow, say, pineapples or artichokes.

      Then there is the domain of culture, where you are supposed to admire the art of people from cultures all over the world, but if you’re an artist and are inspired by it, you’re engaged in appropriation and that’s evil. As if artist hadn’t been appropriating for thousands of years. “Inferior artists borrow; great artists steal.” Or as Kipling put it,

      When ‘Omer smote ‘is bloomin’ lyre
      ‘e’d ‘eard men sing by land or sea,
      an’ what ‘e thought ‘e might require
      ‘e went an’ took—the same as me!

      (I wonder what will happen to fantasy when fantasy readers start refusing to read novels inspired by the history or mythology of another culture?)

      1. I love to point out to locavores that even here in Los Angeles you aren’t going to get fresh fruit in January… they just cant seem to compute tha ‘locavore’ is another work for ‘store it or starve’

  14. I recall catching a speech by George Gilder on CSPAN around the mid-90s in which he discussed many of the effects of the coming explosion of bandwidth (remember, back then everybody was installing extra phone lines for dial up speeds of 56K and fax machines and the Bells were afraid of running out of numbers) predicting many of the changes which have since occurred.

    I think he was touting his book

    Telecosm: The World After Bandwidth Abundance
    368 pages
    Free Press (2000)

    If you believe that computers are the global phenomenon of our time, George Gilder has made the case against you. The computer age is over and the telecosm has begun.

    Pulling from the worlds of business, science, society, and history, Gilder leads his reader through a string of predictions in his bible on the new communication age. Foreseeing the merge of handheld computers and communicators, the use of low-flying satellites, the extinction of television, and the revival of newspapers and magazines, Gilder not only examines the way that ever-developing technology affects our everyday lives, he makes the case that bandwidth, or communication power, is the greatest and most important economic and social fact of our time.

    In this revised version of Telecosm, Gilder takes technology buffs and investors on a mind-bending tour inside the worldwide webs of glass and light, explaining how fiber optics and wireless breakthroughs are pushing new technologies and new companies to the fore.

    I note this references a revised edition; I do not know when the first edition was published. It seems probable that the appearance I saw was this one,
    from January, 11, 1994.

      1. Well, this site is basically a magazine… heck, my feed reader is basically a news paper, just one where I choose who the regulars are.

        Probably not what he was thinking of, same way that publishers didn’t see Kindle coming.

  15. The following isn’t exactly on topic for today but seems to be germane to the group. I read the mailing list of the American Dialect Society and a post today follows up on an interesting quote about fascism, “Saying: Fascism will come disguised as anti-fascism. . . . Huey Long once remarked that America probably would have Fascism some day, but, he added, “when we get it we won’t call it Fascism we’ll call it anti-Fascism.” ”

    Another quote from H. L. Mencken, “Fascism is not likely to be identical with the kinds on tap in Germany, Italy and Russia; indeed, it is very apt to come in under the name of anti-Fascism. And its first Duce, whether the Hon. Mr. Roosevelt or another, will not call himself a dictator, but a scotcher of dictators.”

    Those interested in more should search for the poster of the above, Garson O’toole, in the archives of The American Dialect Society –

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