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Pendulums swing. That is what they do

For years, those of us who have supported mass migration, and believed in the social and economic benefits its brings, deluded ourselves. We conned ourselves into thinking we represented the majority viewpoint, and reacted with visceral anger towards anyone who dared challenge our cosy world view. And it was a disaster. We did shut down debate, which in turn created a political vacuum. One that was filled initially by the BNP, and is currently being filled by Ukip. But now the pendulum has swung back. With a vengeance. Where once everything was decried as racist, suddenly nothing is racist. Where every legitimate question about immigration was ritualistically dismissed as base prejudice, now every overt and coded racial, homophobic or misogynistic slur is deconstructed, and rationalised and legitimised.

Dan Hodges.

He deserves credit for recognising that at one stage, a lot of supposedly right-thinking people wanted to regard anyone who challenged unfettered immigration as bigots, when they emphatically weren’t. And he’s also right that when genuinely vile sentiments are expressed, there is a sort of knee-jerk reaction from those who think of themselves as anti-Politically Correct to make excuses for such remarks.  (We forget that there is a sort of right-wing version of PC group-think).

As a libertarian, I think it is always good to point out the following: Bigotry that is not backed up by state coercion (as in the apartheid regime in South Africa, Jim Crow in the US etc) is a cost to the bigot; the racist employer who refuses to hire those from certain groups imposes a cost on that business, and in a vigorous free market economy, bigotry gets weeded out over time as a result. Capitalism, and a widely dispersed system of private property, is arguably the greatest force against such attitudes that has ever existed. But I also don’t – unlike some libertarians perhaps – think it is enough to just follow the non-initiation of force principle and leave it at that. I do think that a healthy society, of the sort I want to be a part of, needs to have a critical mass of its population to be rational, tolerant and civilised. If, on the other hand, you have a society in which, say, the majority are none of those things, then even if such a society observes some of the forms of a liberal order, in practice it will be a pretty shitty place in which to live. In other words, culture, or call it what you will, does matter. A lot.

(Health warning: my quoting Hodges, who is a man of the Left, does not imply I agree with all of his views in the article I linked to.)

 

 

56 comments to Pendulums swing. That is what they do

  • Lee Moore

    I think you’re alluding to the two quite distinct meanings of “liberal” – one strictly to do with politics and the objection to the use of coercion – ie how one is permitted to behave, and the other to do with social conduct – how one ought to behave (voluntarily) towards others, ie be tolerant, forgiving, reasonable, open, philanthropical etc.

    It was when the commies realised they could steal the second meaning and pervert it as an advertisement for compulsory philanthropy, compulsory tolerance (ha ha) that it all started to go pear shaped.

    I agree that a world of sharp elbowed Nozickians insisting on their liberties, but never feeling charitable towards their fellows, wouldn’t stay “liberal” (sense 1) very long, but it’s a bit dangerous given the history to use the second sense of liberal without a clear health warning that the second sense is a subset of the first. Sweetness of nature and a sympathetic attitude are supplements to, not substitutes for, liberty in the political sense.

  • PeterT

    I do not recognise this anti-PC knee-jerking that Hodges refers to.

    Quickly skimming through the Evening Standard’s profiles on the latest crop of UKIP ‘racists’ it was pretty clear that the allegations were totally baseless in at least 3 of the 4 cases. There was one chap who had ‘liked’ the EDL or BNP on facebook, which I did find a bit fishy his excuses notwithstanding.

    That said, I think UKIP has made an error in focusing on immigration to the extent it is doing, rather than on a broader classical liberal platform albeit with a slightly more conservative approach to immigration. It might benefit them in the next elections but will limit their wider appeal over the long term.

    Farage hits a lot of libertarian buttons but the same cannot be said for their policy platform or what little I have heard from or know about their other candidates.

    Even so, I think I will vote for UKIP later this month to help undermine the legitimacy of LibLabCon.

  • Cyclefree

    If culture matters a lot, then we necessarily have to make cultural judgments about the sort of people we want to let into the country. And we have not done that; indeed, we have been afraid of making such judgments even when the evidence is overwhelming. This loss of nerve, this refusal to say that our culture is better than this one, that some aspects of other people’s cultures are barbaric and have no place in our society nor do the people who follow them is one reason why a focus only on skills or income levels will fail. People are more than skills, more than the income they earn or bring. They come with attitudes, beliefs, world views and we have to discriminate – in the best sense of that word – between such beliefs, attitudes, world views – and make a concerted effort once people are here to inculcate them with our attitudes, beliefs and views precisely in order to build the sort of civilised society you talk about.

  • Lee Moore

    “we have been afraid of making such judgments even when the evidence is overwhelming”

    “We” who “we” ?

    The policy of mass migration into the UK has nothing to do with cultural judgements or lack of them, it’s been entirely a matter of political judgement. That millions of immigrants from the developing world who are given a lifestyle funded by welfare that far exceeds anything they could have in their home countries, would vote Labour. And they do. It’s been an outstandingly successful policy.

    These phoney mea culpas we get from the lefty-liberal commentariat on immigration are always a bit vomit inducing. Tony and his mates knew exactly what they were up to, as did the BBC which covered for them. That Migration Watch fellow, Andrew Green, who was occasionally allowed onto the BBC in the early 2000s to be scolded for alarmism and exaggeration always turned out to be a persistent undercounter of the immigration wave.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    PeterT:

    I think UKIP has made an error in focusing on immigration to the extent it is doing, rather than on a broader classical liberal platform albeit with a slightly more conservative approach to immigration. It might benefit them in the next elections but will limit their wider appeal over the long term.

    I totally agree; I think Farage in particularly could have played a far better hand in explaining the positive reasons for the UK to leave the EU, and showing how this will make UK citizens better off, in many respects. He hasn’t done enough of that. The focus on immigration is bound to come across as negative (“foreigners stealing `our’ jobs!” and all that sort of BS). There is a good, free market case for the UK quitting the EU, but there are times when I wonder whether Farage thinks it is just too much like hard work.

    Cyclefree: I would not disagree with any of this. I take it you refer to groups such as Muslims; the hard part is how is an immigration authority going to distinguish between someone who genuinely wants to start over in a more liberal country, and one who wants import his/her more authortarian views to a country? It is not always very obvious.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Lee Moore, well, I guess all those immigrants from, say, Eastern Europe who have come to the UK and typically work far harder, and for less, than the locals do, haven’t got the memo that they were supposed to be Labour Party stooges. It may well be that some on the Left thought that “flooding” the UK with lots of welfare-grabbing furriners would be a crafty way of keeping a lock on power, but it doesn’t seem quite to have worked out. This is because a, a lot of locals who are angry about this – to the extent it is actually going on – have been turned away from Labour. And b, because in most cases, immigrants who come here and work are a net gain for the UK, as in other places. Where welfare sponging is an issue, the obvious solution is to refuse welfare to any immigrant for a certain period until after said individual has a record of paying tax, etc.

  • James

    Not all are Labour voters Jonathan, but a depressingly large number are. See this section from a recent Alister Heath article (http://www.cityam.com/article/1394157023/cameron-alienating-his-core-voters-without-attracting-new-ones):

    A survey by New Europeans and the Federation of Poles in Great Britain published last month revealed that 37 per cent would back Labour at the European elections, 17 per cent the Lib Dems, 15 per cent the Tories and just under 10 per cent Ukip.

    Poor immigrants tend to vote in a similar fashion to poor natives: for socialist parties. From a partisan leftist perspective then, mass immigration makes good electoral sense.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    So, can culture be changed by the government? An argument put forward in favour of legislation and government education campaigns is that it can.

  • Kevin B

    Shorter Dan Hodges:

    “I realise that screaming ‘racist’ at anyone who disagrees with me has been counterproductive but… UKIP IS RACIST!!! RACISS!! RACISS!!!!”

  • Lee Moore

    JP

    1. Mass immigration from the EU is tripartisan, it comes with EU membership.
    2. Mass immigration from the third world is Lib Lab policy. I’d be interested to see the polls for such folk.
    3.”because in most cases, immigrants who come here and work are a net gain for the UK” – this is a common claim, but I’ve never seen anything to back it up. Or rather the surveys I’ve seen that do back it up are obvious crap. The non crap analysis that I’ve seen that is most favourable to the idea that mass immigration is beneficial to the UK economically concluded that it’s beneficial, but that all the net benefits are captured by the immigrants themselves, ie the aboriginals don’t benefit at all. Or rather the net benefits to the aboriginals in toto are nil, but there are real benefits to the rich and middle class aboriginals and real costs to the poor and working class aboriginals. But even that survey was weak on the long term implications – ie it measured the beneficial effects of having lots of 20-40 year old immigrant workers, but didn’t mention the health and pension costs of the same people when they get to be 60-90.
    4. Of course “free market” (ie no welfare) immigration is immensely beneficial to immigrants and natives alike, because the immigrants pay their own way and provide valuable services. But mass immigration of low or no skilled third worlders with access to free health, education and welfare paid for by the aboriginals is not beneficial. (Except to these immigrants.)

  • Lee Moore

    I should add that I attach no blame to low skilled foreigners who come here to live off the welfare system. The blame lies with those who have decided to offer them welfare if they can manage to get here.

  • Laird

    Forgive me, but I can’t take seriously anyone who says “Where once everything was decried as racist, suddenly nothing is racist” in a country where a man was just arrested for quoting Churchill.

  • AndrewWS

    “Mass immigration from the third world is Lib Lab policy. I’d be interested to see the polls for such folk.”

    The question then arises of how quickly they acquire British nationality in order to vote, or of how many have already – rather rapidly – been given citizenship by another EU Member State.

  • Laird, I took that to mean as contrasting the positions of the media and other PTBs, and that of the regular Joe. And I think the observation that to the latter the word ‘racist’ lost most of its original meaning is correct. Same goes for ‘rape’, or at least will very soon. The Left does to negative labels what it does to currency.

  • Mr Ed

    the obvious solution is to refuse welfare to any immigrant for a certain period until after said individual has a record of paying tax, etc.

    Someone didn’t get the memo.

  • The shine has definitely come off the word ‘racist’.
    We are in my opinion suffering from racism-fatigue. It’s been overused to the point where it has lost all meaning. I humbly accept my part in this outcome: I started saying “you can’t say that, it’s racist” to every even slightly off-colour remark that didn’t involve race in any way about 18 months ago and I think it’s started to catch on.

  • Rich Rostrom

    What I don’t see is Hodges admitting that the arguments against mass immigration had any merit. All he’s saying is that the Left was wrong to suppress the debate, not that their position in the debate (or their reasons for it) was in any way mistaken.

    He is not stating that the consequences are a disaster, not even acknowledging any negative consequences of mass immigration.

    All he is admitting is that disagreement with his group’s position was much wider than they thought, and that by refusing to recognize it they ended up legitimizing what he considers racism.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Johnathan a thought for you. You said “is a cost to the bigot; the racist employer who refuses to hire those from certain groups imposes a cost on that business”. That is true, but it bigotry can also be a benefit.

    I was talking to a friend of mine recently who is the CIO of a small software company. I asked him why he doesn’t offshore all his programming work, since it is very suitable for that kind of situation. He explained to me that “Our software is created in America for Americans” was a big selling point for them.

    The fact that a business is in line with your own bigoted viewpoints might make you more inclined to patronize them. During the worst part of racism in the south, even in absence of Jim Crow laws, one might well imagine a restaurant banning black people to increase the patronage of the mostly richer white clientele that were more profitable.

    Frankly, I think that is perfectly legitimate, if a little scummy. For years we have had “gentleman’s clubs” which excluded women. I’m not sure that making that almost illegal was a good thing. However, my point is that bigotry also has a benefit as well as a cost, and what the net of those two is, is extremely situationally dependent.

  • Laird

    “The Left does to negative labels what it does to currency.” Nice line, Alisa. However, if I may be permitted a quibble, I think debasement of currency is a game in which both left and right happily participate.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Cyclefree said:

    and make a concerted effort once people are here to inculcate them with our attitudes, beliefs and views precisely in order to build the sort of civilised society you talk about.


    To me, ‘civilized’ means to understand that people past the hunter-gatherer stage must create wealth, ergo we live in a positive-sum world, not a zero sum world where one person’s achievements is understood to necessarily come at others expense. ‘Civilized’ means being a free trader rather than a looter or moocher. To be civilized means to understand that recognizing everyone’s individual rights come at no one else’s expense, and that no sacrifices are required before everyone can live in peace, and in a world where sacrifices ARE required, no one can live in peace. (A terrific tetris on this is The Roots of War, by Ayn Rand). It seems to me that few people are civilized.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Laird said:

    “…if I may be permitted a quibble, I think debasement of currency is a game in which both left and right happily participate.”


    I love the point Reagan made in his A Time for Choosing speech where he said it’s not about Right v Left at all, but rather about up or down; upwards towards individual freedom and liberty, or downwards toward the ant heap of totalitarianism. “And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course”. He should have added that statism is loved by politicians on the Right as well.

  • Lucis Ferre

    W00ps wrote:

    “We are in my opinion suffering from racism-fatigue. It’s been overused to the point where it has lost all meaning.”


    I remember at one point, I condemningly pointed out the Koran, 4:34 to someone where it says that a husband should beat his wife if he even suspects that she MAY disobey his (arbitrary) dictates at some time in the future. She accused me of being a “racist”. No reply was forthcoming when I asked her if I was racist because I simply know how to read, as, of course, I didn’t write the freaking Koran. When religion becomes a ‘race’, we might as well all pack up and just go home, lol.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Fraser Orr wrote:

    “The fact that a business is in line with your own bigoted viewpoints might make you more inclined to patronize them. During the worst part of racism in the south, even in absence of Jim Crow laws, one might well imagine a restaurant banning black people to increase the patronage of the mostly richer white clientele that were more profitable.”


    On that note, Chick Fil-A is inordinately successful here in middle Tennessee where they’re patronized by Christians to the point that it’s just creepy. ‘Stepford people, if you know what I mean. I know they have tasty chicken sandwiches, but the difference in clientele and the degree of patronage, comparing CF to, say, Arby’s is more than merely significant, it’s outright weird.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Jonathan Pearce wrote:

    “Where welfare sponging is an issue, the obvious solution is to refuse welfare to any immigrant for a certain period until after said individual has a record of paying tax, etc.”


    Sorry, but welfare is gov subsidizing personal, social and familial failure. What one subsidizes, one gets more of. Those wishing to be subsidized for being a complete and utter failure need only inquire as to which particular way to fail in order to qualify to receive other people’s money. Charity if fine, if the recipient is actually trying to overcome and conquer suffering rather than trying to use suffering as a claim check on my abilities. But of course gov welfare IS NOT charity in any way, form or fashion as charity is, by definition, volitional, and not collected by bureaucrats possessing guns and cages.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Lee Moore wrote:

    “I should add that I attach no blame to low skilled foreigners who come here to live off the welfare system.”


    You absolve them of any personal responsibility?

  • Lucis Ferre

    Rob Fisher said (perhaps rhetorically):

    “So, can culture be changed by the government?”


    What do you thing propaganda is for?

  • Yes Laird, I agree it’s a nice line, having sort of stolen it from someone clever:-) As to Left vs Right dichotomy, I’m sure you know how meaningless it really is.

    Fraser: indeed. We all discriminate on the basis of seemingly meaningless attributes all the time – because to us they are anything but meaningless. Gentlemen clubs? How about sexual preferences? What about mere friendships? What is so wrong about disliking people for the way they look, including the color of their skin? It may well be unwise (I think it is, in more cases than not), but wrong? If someone does not like me and does not want to associate with me because of my sex, or ethnicity, or IQ, or race – why is it any of my business, as long as they don’t forcefully prevent others from doing the opposite?

  • Lucis Ferre

    Alica, you do indeed have rights of association, whether the right or left dislike it, or whether it hare-lips the pope. This is one thing I dislike about the ’64 civil rights act, is how it railroads over this right.

  • Lee Moore

    Alisa : “What is so wrong about disliking people for the way they look, including the color of their skin? It may well be unwise (I think it is, in more cases than not), but wrong? If someone does not like me and does not want to associate with me because of my sex, or ethnicity, or IQ, or race – why is it any of my business, as long as they don’t forcefully prevent others from doing the opposite?”

    It’s wrong if it’s unkind, ungenerous, mean-spirited, heartless, intolerant and all that swaddling that JP was alluding to in his opening post. Sure, some people look disagreeable because they eat too much, or don’t wash, have a perpetual scowl because of bad temper, or have other personal habits which contribute to their ill looks. In such cases disliking them because of their looks is not unkind etc because it involves dislike derived from faults that are reasonably open to criticism. Though in the spirit of JP’s opening posts, tolerant people will usually try to cut others a bit of slack even for faults that are open to criticism.

    But black skin, white skin, yellow skin (if you happen to dislike any of these) or a hare lip, or old age, or just being ugly – these don’t betoken any behavioural failing. So it would be ungenerous to dislike someone just for their looks in such cases.

    Of course, dislike is not a purely rational thing. Rational thought can influence it certainly, but it’s also emotional. But if one finds oneself disliking someone purely because they have an ugly birthmark on the face, it’s possible to make the dislike vanish with a bit of effort.

    None of this has anything to do with the law, obviously. Laws insisting that you like everybody equally and don’t discriminate between A, B and C unless you can produce a rational justification to the committee are a horrible idea.

    In the same vein I say nothing about whether it is ever wise or useful to dislike or avoid people because of how they look. It may sometimes be, and if it is wise or useful in some case, the question of whether it is wrong or unkind may be affected, according to the circumstance.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Lee Moore
    > None of this has anything to do with the law

    I just wanted to reiterate my original point which was nothing to do with whether it is right to be mean or egalitarian. I think judging people on the content of their character not on the color or blemishedness of their skin is the most moral and ethical way to go. However, the original contention wasn’t about ethics, it was about economics.

    There is a meme within the libertarian world (and I am a card carrying member of that world) that racism would not happen in a libertarian world because there are economic costs associated with it, but that is an oversimplification of the economic calculation. There are lots of cases where deliberate discrimination is used in markets to make the net profit higher.

    Here is another commonly known example — why are airplane tickets cheaper if you have a Saturday between outbound and inbound? The answer is simply discrimination. Business travelers don’t want to loose their weekend, and business travelers are much less price sensitive. So this arbitrary restriction allows the airlines to charge higher average prices.

    Here in the libertarian echo chamber it is easy to put forward the “discrimination wouldn’t happen because of the associated costs” meme and have everyone nod along with a conclusion they already agree with. But we libertarians should be red pill kind of people and recognize the reality of what would actually happen. We’d all be richer without all this burden of regulation, however we would not all be equally richer.

    And fundamentally that is where the argument falls apart for many people. For some people relative wealth is more important than absolute wealth. I think if we can get it down to that axiom, the argument is rather easier to have, since it robs the statists of their putative moral high ground.

  • I agree with the general thrust of your comment Lee, but I would like to pick a nit that may be small, but important: I think it at best pointless, and at worst presumptuous and intrusive to judge how people feel and to try and place their feelings, likes and dislikes, on the right vs wrong scale. It is none of my business – literally, none at all – how you feel or what you think about this or that. The only thing that may be my business is what you do about these things – and even that only under certain circumstances. There is absolutely nothing wrong, in the moral sense, about feeling anything at all, although translating certain feelings into action can be very wrong indeed.

  • …oh, and that of course is long before we even get to consider any kind of laws. My point is purely in the moral sphere.

  • Also, what Fraser said.

  • Lee Moore

    I agree, Fraser. The world is how it is, not we’d like it to be. Whether unfair discrimination pays or not is a question of fact not theory. But I think there’s reason to believe that free choice is usually corrosive of unreasonable discrimination. To take an obvious example of discriminating against someone because of their looks – when I’m in Hong Kong using the subway, if I manage to grab a seat, it’s obvious and mildly amusing (if you;re not sensitive, which I’m not) that the seats to be taken last, when the train fills up, are the ones next to me. There is a mild aversion to sitting next to one of those foreign devils. But the seat next to me does go in the end. The cost of having to stand when you could avoid doing so by sitting next to the foreign devil is too high. Economics works.

  • Lucis Ferre

    So, do people have rights of association or don’t they?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, 7:07 &c:

    Nail directly on the head. :>) :)

  • Lucis Ferre

    Personally speaking, I never expected an enlightened economic viewpoint from the majority of the people, & I never “shut down”.

  • Thanks, Julie:-)

    Fraser, that is a very instructive anecdote – indeed.

  • Richard

    These people (like Hodges) amaze me. They don’t know what they’re talking about now and they didn’t know what they were talking about then. What does it matter that they have changed their minds? The damage is now done. There is no going back and future generations will curse us. But I guess Hodges and his ilk got whatever temporary benefit they thought they needed.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Lee Moore, lol, I experience much the same thing in Thailand. It increases the chance that a “Ladyboy” will sit next to me, and they’re always fascinating characters.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Lee Moore said:

    “It’s wrong if it’s unkind, ungenerous, mean-spirited, heartless, intolerant and all that swaddling that JP was alluding to in his opening post”


    One might argue that it’s “wrong” minded, but one should not be forced by law to serve someone you don’t want to, because they have no RIGHT to be served by a private citizen/private business. That would be indentured servitude. Alleged hatecrime is Orwellien thoughtcrime. What’s next, “no shirt, no shoes, no service” violates someone’s rights?

  • Lucis Ferre

    W00ps wrote:

    “The shine has definitely come off the word ‘racist’.
    We are in my opinion suffering from racism-fatigue”


    In the wake of Sterling being stripped of his “ownership” of the Clippers & fined 2.5 million dollars for having an unpopular opinion, the previous comment seems premature. He “owned” the Clippers? ‘Must be some socialist vertion of Feudalism, where the hydre-headed king strips you of your land & castle. (Or did I just inadvertently describe Communism?)
    I wonder if the penalty for not “believing” in gay marriage is also a lifetime ban & a 2.5 million $ fine?

  • Fraser Orr

    @Lucis Ferre
    > He “owned” the Clippers? ‘Must be some socialist vertion of Feudalism, where the hydre-headed king strips you of your land & castle. (Or did I just inadvertently describe Communism?)

    I don’t agree that this is a fair comparison. He was banned from NBA sponsored events, which is something the NBA has every right to do. Under the contract he has as a league member he has an obligation to pay a fine for bringing the league into disrepute, and he was not stripped of his ownership, he was merely put in a position that he had to sell his ownership (and will make a very large profit in doing so.)

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it is nonsense. What is the world coming to when a girlfriend can illegally tape a private conversation, attempt to blackmail the guy, and when he failed to pay up, he has all these terrible things happen to him. BTW, Donald Sterling is married and has a girlfriend. It seems curious to me that the usually lurid press seems to have buried that fact, perhaps to protect the reputation of the scuzzy wee naif.

    It is also ironic I think that basketball, a sport full of thugs and gang bangers is all up in his face about something he said in private, when the players on the field regularly bring the league into disrepute, and have far more influence on “what about the children” than any privileged white oligarch in the owner’s box. Notwithstanding that allegedly Sterling did several apparently racist things in public that have been litigated in the court. Despite all this, it seems to be his pillow talk that, if you will excuse the pun, got him screwed. It all seems very odd to me indeed.

    However, there is a huge difference between a private organization exercising their contractual rights and using their considerable influence to protect a very valuable asset — namely their reputation — and the government using the force of the state to do similar things.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Fraser Orr said:

    “…and he was not stripped of his ownership, he was merely put in a position that he had to sell his ownership…”


    LOL. That’s hilarious.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    If Sterling has to sell the Clippers below what he could have gotten them for if not for this recent kerfuffle and the disdain of the masses, it’s not too different from the state forcibly evicting you from your property and compensating you with a sum of money less than the market price, isn’t it?

    The US is slowly but surely turning into a weird mix of aristocracy, corporatism, and tyranny of the masses, if it isn’t already.

  • Lee Moore

    I agree with you in theory, Alisa, but not necessarily in practice.If you can prevent your feelings affecting your actions (or inactions) then whatever you feel, however unreasonable, doesn’t hurt anyone else and so is not open to moral criticism. If you invite the ugly gawky girl to your parties, along with the cool ones, even though you don’t like her, then you deserve lots of moral credit for successfully suppressing – for action purposes – your unkind and unfair feelings. But most people find separating their feelings from their actions extremely difficult – after all we evolved to do the opposite.

    So in practice if you have an unkind and unreasonable dislike of someone else, it will be difficult to avoid letting that dislike become apparent. And to the extent that a little thought and effort can remove the unkind and unreasonable dislike, you ought to make the effort.

    This is not a matter of what moral right the ugly gawky girl has against you, it’s simply a matter of whether your behaviour can be described as morally good or bad.

    Besides which I never feel it’s pointless or presumptuous to judge other people. It’s one of humanity’s favourite activities.

  • Lee Moore

    The Wobbly Guy : “If Sterling has to sell the Clippers below what he could have gotten them for if not for this recent kerfuffle and the disdain of the masses, it’s not too different from the state forcibly evicting you from your property and compensating you with a sum of money less than the market price, isn’t it?”

    If the reason you have to sell at below market price is that you have previously signed a voluntary contract stating that if X,Y and Z happen you must sell in these disadvantageous circumstances. it’s entirely different from when the state says you must sell at below market price because we’re the state and we say so.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Lee, if selling what one “owns” is a dictate by others, it’s questionable whether one “owned” the Clippers to begin with. That’s like saying you have a right to private property and free speech until we decide otherwise, lol. In other words, it seems that the phrase “owning the Clippers” is self contradictory in context.

  • Laird

    Lucis, it’s entirely possible to “own” something subject to conditions precedent or subsequent. You can own your land subject to easements created prior to your acquisition, or subject to defeasance upon the occurrence of stipulated events. You can “own” a leasehold even though it will terminate on a stated date (which is how ground leases work, and yet people still erect buildings on them). A McDonald’s franchisee “owns” his franchise but it can be forfeited if he fails to honor the terms of the franchise agreement. None of that is inconsistent with the concept of “ownership”. In Sterling’s case he owns an NBA franchise and is subject to the contractual obligations of that agreement. I think the whole situation there is idiotic, but it’s the terms he agreed to when he bought the team. Frankly, I think he and the league deserve each other.

    @TWG: “The US is slowly but surely turning into a weird mix of aristocracy, corporatism, and tyranny of the masses, if it isn’t already.” Well said.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Lucis Ferre
    > Lee, if selling what one “owns” is a dictate by others, it’s questionable whether one “owned”

    That isn’t true at all. Consider, for example, a call option. If I own a stock of Samizdata Corp (SAMZ) and you have a call option on it you have a right to buy that stock from me regardless of whether I want to sell it. That situation arises because we have a contract in place to give you that option to buy.

    The situation here isn’t much different. Sterling has a contract with the league for which he has been amply rewarded. The league has, as part of that contract, the right to force him to sell. It really isn’t much different.

    I haven’t reviewed the contract myself, however, I actually think I am over stating the case. What I think is really the case is that Sterling is given the option of either selling or being removed from the league. By removing him from the league his property is much less valuable, which means that it is in his best interest to sell.

    To me, that is a perfectly reasonable contractual set up, even if the league’s motivation for doing so may be dubious.

  • Bill Reeves

    I take issue with the notion that Apartheid and Jim Crow were private. The state and its laws and guns were necessary to sustain racism. You couldn’t go to any school or college you wanted to. You couldn’t vote. Which means you couldn’t serve as a government leader. And so on and so forth. You are right that without the state discrimination ends up being very costly. But if the state enforces it then the costs of monopoly racism are equalized because the state makes sure no one cheats.

  • Lee, as far as I can tell, you are simply reiterating my point, which was the clear separation of inner thoughts and feelings from actions. Sorry if I did not make myself clear enough.

    But most people find separating their feelings from their actions extremely difficult – after all we evolved to do the opposite.

    True, but in my experience most people do try and make an effort to the best of their limited abilities. And that effort, as you rightly pointed out, is what counts in the end.

    As to judgment, that also is reserved for actions. We can’t judge something of which we have no knowledge, and we have no knowledge of people’s feelings and thoughts until they act upon them (to remind you, speech is an action from a moral POV, albeit not always from a legal one).

  • Lucis Ferre

    Lee wrote,

    “But most people find separating their feelings from their actions extremely difficult – after all we evolved to do the opposite.”


    My definition of freewill is, between stimulus and response there is choice. Yes, it’s difficult, but this capability (note I said capability), is what separates us from most living organisms.
    Cheers.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Fraser, in regard to Sterling and the Clippers, I’m not downplaying rights of contract, I’m just saying that any scenario where the collective claims to have the “right” to force one to sell one’s property has a strange way of defining ownership of said property.

  • Lee Moore

    My definition of freewill is, between stimulus and response there is choice. Yes, it’s difficult, but this capability (note I said capability), is what separates us from most living organisms.

    Up to a point, Lord Copper. We may have big brains, and an enhanced capacity for reasoned choice, but we’re still animals with evolved instincts. And we often operate on mental autopilot. If we are unprepared, we may not actually get the chance to choose. David Beckham did not achieve all those bendy free kicks, simply by popping the ball down one day and saying to himself “I choose to slot this one in the top corner after bending it round the end of the wall.” No, he practised ahead of time. Quite a lot.

    And much the same thing applies to preparing your mind for choices ahead of time. If you’ve never seem someone with a horribly burned face, and you weren’t even aware that there are such people, and then you bump into one, your face is going to show shock and disgust. You won’t have time to choose. Only if you’ve come across this before, or you’ve seen it on the telly, or you’ve otherwise prepared your mind NOT to show this natural, but unkind, response, will you be able to avoid unnecessary hurt.

    If we truly want to be able to choose, we may not be able to leave it to the moment of truth.

    This is not too different from the reality of luck. Sure, luck can play a significant part in your success or your failure. But if you have taken previous opportunities that were offered to you, or bounced back from failure to have another go, or happen to be in the office working away at 8pm, when the boss suddenly needs someone for the big project, then you’ll probably get a larger dose of good luck than if you did nothing at university but booze and fornicate, if you give up at the slightest obstacle, or if you always like to be home by 6pm to watch the Simpsons.

  • Lucis Ferre

    Lee Moore, I suggest that, to a significant extent, we choose who we are to become, and in turn, who we become affects our future choices, even if those choices are split second decisions, because our reactions, even knee-jerk reactions, are in conscious context of our world view. So, the real challenge often isn’t in making a choice, but in understanding WHY we made that choice, and that requires a better understanding of ourselves.