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Culture War Roundup for the week of January 15, 2024

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I'm not sure how else to start this so I'm just going to dive straight in.

A long time bug-bear of mine is something I've come to refer to as the "Leviathan-shaped Hole in the discourse". It's something that has come up multiple times in the last couple weeks and while I've written about it at length back when this community was on reddit and in the comment section of SSC proper back in the day it's been pointed out to me that I haven't really written about it in a while and that I should probably revisit the subject for those who are just joining us. Aknoldewdgment to @Fruck, @hydroacetylene, Et Al.

The short version is that I believe that there are multiple basic human intuitions that are simply missing from the modern secular liberal mindset/worldview.

The long version might require a bit of background to explain.

I get the impression that I'm something of an odd man out here in that I did not go to college after high-shool and in that I never really thought of myself as being particularly intelligent. If anything it was the inverse. I'll be the first to tell you that I am not that fucking bright. I had dreams of being a professional fighter and/or skate-border, but as I moved up the food-chain it became increasinly clear that natural talent was no match for natural talent coupled with the time and money to train full-time. If I were smart I may have figured that out a head of time. In anycase 9/11 Happened and I enlisted. I spent 10 years as a Combat Medic and another 18 months as a feild operative for a Prominant Humanitarian NGO in East Africa before deciding to return to the states and go to college on the GI bill.

As one might imagine, going from being a "Muzunga" in Nairobi to being undergrad at the University of California was a bit of a culture shock. And it is that sense of culture shock that has stuck with me and signifigantly shaped my worldview since. It's one thing to stick out visually, to be visibly older than all the other freshmen, or to be one of half-a-dozen white guys in an otherwise black neighborhood. But it is another to realize that you genuinely walk different, talk different, and think different from your obstensible peers. I was first introduced to rationalism through one of my professors and a fellow-student, and the desire to make sense of whatever the fuck was going on was major part of the initial apeal. I was actually at one of the first SSC reader meet-ups hosted by Cariadoc where I got to meet Scott, and bunch of the other movers and shakers, face to face but as much as I was a fan of the general ideas (systemitized wining Yay!) it was painfully obvious to me that we had fundementally different conceptions of how how the world actually worked. Which in turn brings us to the real topic of this post.

One of the things about having existed in a world outside liberal society is that you cant help but recognize that there is a world outside liberal society. Accordingly it becomes difficult to ignore just how much of liberal society (or what Scott would call "the Universal Culture") is predicated on assumptions that do not necccesarily hold. Yes, If A & B then C, but that's a mightily Laconic "If". This is where the hole comes in. My position is that the secular liberal dominiation of academia has effectively castrated our society's ablility to discuss certain topics in a reasonable manner by baking liberal assumptions about how the world ought to work (rather than how it actually does work) into the vocabulary of the discussion. As such, in order to argue against a liberal in a manner the the liberal will regard as valid one is forced to go through a whole rigirmarole of defining terms that nobody's got time for. Thus the liberal inevitably wins every argument by default. However, winning the argument does not neccesarily equate to being "correct" as one can make a dumb argument for a smart position and vice versa.

The "Leviathan shaped hole" is named for the book Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes. I find Hobbes signifigant in that he was one of the first guys in the enlightenment/modern era to approach political science as an actual science with theories that could be either proven or falsfied. However these days he's mostly regarded as a joke, a cartoon characterchure of an absolute authoritarian drawn by people who've never really bothered to read or engage with any of his arguments and I believe that this does our society a disservice. It seems to me that we are at a point where the sort of culture/worldview that produces a guy like Greg Abbott or the median Trump voter is as alien to the typyical liberal as that of an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon and I can't help but expect this to end badly.

Thing is that for all the talk of "fighting the power" one gets the impression that a liberal does not really understand the implications of those words because the've never been in a position to to actually do so. I'm reminded of an argument I got into with another user regarding the killing of Jordan Neely. The Argument has been made that Daniel Penny acted unlawfully by interposing himself between Neely and his intended victim and subsiquently killing Neely. To call Penny a "murderer" and a "vigilante" implies the pressance of a sovriegn authority that penny was obliged to defer to. Hovever if that's the case why did it not act? The simple answer is that it was not pressant and thus the accusations against Penny ring hollow.

One of those fundamental Hobbesian bits of insight that liberals see to lack is the understanding that violent schizophrenics attacking people on the subways is not some aberation, it's the default, and if you aren't going to do anything about it someone else just might.

You're not wrong in the general sense that each Tribe had cultural perspectives that are invisible to the other, and probably that the Blue Tribe's limitations there are smaller given the overwhelming cultural dominance of the Blue Tribe. ((That said, I'm not sure these gaps are as complete as people think: go to weird places and you'll find people who touch both spheres. It's just that the movers and shakers aren't.))

But your example seems weird:

One of those fundamental Hobbesian bits of insight that liberals see to lack is the understanding that violent schizophrenics attacking people on the subways is not some aberation, it's the default, and if you aren't going to do anything about it someone else just might.

This is absolutely something liberals and the Blue Tribe have as a perspective, and indeed even the most ivory-towered of them will fairly consistently blame conservatives for 'not grappling' with it in a genuine way rather than just shoving it out-of-sight. They just believe that the Correct solutions are near-completely opposite from the Red Tribe ones: favoring Therapy and voluntary treatment for the literal-schizophrenics and improved material support for the non-clinically insane. I think these things are wrong, but they're not really a gap in awareness, just evaluation of information.

This is absolutely something liberals and the Blue Tribe have as a perspective, and indeed even the most ivory-towered of them will fairly consistently blame conservatives for 'not grappling' with it in a genuine way rather than just shoving it out-of-sight. They just believe that the Correct solutions are near-completely opposite from the Red Tribe ones: favoring Therapy and voluntary treatment for the literal-schizophrenics and improved material support for the non-clinically insane.

I actually think this proves Hlynka's point. Liberals don't believe violent schizophrenics on the train are an underlying state of nature we'll always have to deal with, they believe its caused by a lack of therapy or support, and with enough support, we can live in a world where there are zero violent schizophrenics on the trains.

I think quite a few Hobbesian social conservatives think that violent schizophrenics should be institutionalized well before they're at the points we see them as violent or schizophrenics in the modern sense, and with enough throwing them into loony bins, we can live in a world where the are zero or near-zero. Like, I interacted with Clayton Cramer on this topic back when he was writing My Brother Ron (albeit more in regards to Bellesiades), and while that wasn't all of his position, it was a pretty sizable portion of it.

There are more narrow versions of this claim that are meaningful -- only Red Tribers believe this can only be resolved by armed police, or realize that some portion likes to hurt not because of the deserving-target's pain but for the feel of blood on their fingers -- but their narrowness turns them into policy matters.

I do not believe that I have ever encountered even one violent schizophrenic on the train, in my life, almost 40 years. There are a handful of cases where I've encountered some sort of an obviously insane ranter - cannot diagnose them further than that, of course - in some form of public transport, usually the bus, but as said, these have been only a handful of cases, and they haven't been violent. I can't even recall any of my friends talking about such cases, apart from Americans, of course. That might indicate there's, indeed, some way to make violent schizophrenics on the train something other than a state of nature we'll always have to deal with, whatever it is.

I actually think this proves Hlynka's point. Liberals don't believe violent schizophrenics on the train are an underlying state of nature we'll always have to deal with, they believe its caused by a lack of therapy or support, and with enough support, we can live in a world where there are zero violent schizophrenics on the trains.

They're both wrong. Violent schizophrenics on the train are a result of the sovereign's policies -- including policies of providing support.

The standard Blue Tribe perspective is not that this is the default, but that this is somehow the fault of society/capitalism/racism or something else. That these people are victims of their environment, and therefore are owed welfare as compensation. That if they're causing problems it's our fault and therefore our duty to fix their problems.

Not that they are inherently violent schizos by default and welfare is a useful way to suppress their violent tendencies, that's a utilitarian center-right position, and a fairly uncommon one (though one I partly hold, though I'd like to see more emphasis on mental health treatment and less on enabling.)

I think Red Tribers believing that some people are inherent violent schizos is a stronger claim, but it's a different one from "violent schizophrenics attacking people on the subways".

((And even that runs into framing problems. There are people that think capitalism causes literally every case of schizophrenia, but the more common take among liberals and even some leftist is more the Ozy mealy-mouthed 'they're bad unless 'supported''.))

The standard Blue Tribe perspective is not that this is the default, but that this is somehow the fault of society/capitalism/racism or something else.

That's kind of my point.

They just believe that the Correct solutions are near-completely opposite from the Red Tribe ones: favoring Therapy and voluntary treatment for the literal-schizophrenics and improved material support for the non-clinically insane. I think these things are wrong, but they're not really a gap in awareness, just evaluation of information.

This is not a point in their favor. Believing this at the start of the project is one thing. But that particular project has been going on for decades now, and anyone still believing it works is operating from profound willful ignorance of the actual results (both in general, and in the specific case of Jordan Neely), or a faith unshakeable by evidence.

With a few quibbles (cfe "immigration" here), I'd probably agree with you.

But it still means that talking about how we absolutely must handle and solve the problem of schizophrenics will get them to happily nod, think you agree with them, and then turn right back to Housing First arguments.

This is absolutely something liberals and the Blue Tribe have as a perspective

Is it though?

Yes. You don't see it as often from your perspective, but if you go into progressive spaces taking your own libertarian bent, you'd absolutely encounter a ton of Blue Tribers certain that the smallest change to welfare or building regulations will result in an endless violent mob that can't be reasoned with nor danegelded with some small payoff, or the country turning into a clone of Somalia, respectively.

Blue Tribers in progressive spaces can make that argument seriously because they've tabooed the harsh-but-obvious answer: "Well if they riot from lack of welfare, can't we just shoot them?" They believe the fact that they won't consider any punitive solution against the "less fortunate" makes them "the good people", and the the purpose of police and such (if they have any at all) is to enforce the taxes and regulations which keep the "less fortunate" fed and safe.

I often think of liberalism as a bell jar: since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is essentially no competing world view that people in the west are exposed to. Everyone they meet are some kind of liberal. Liberals call each other "liberals" as an insult. The "communists" are really liberals, the "alt-right" are really liberals, when you scratch beneath whatever surface label they've applied to themselves all you find is a liberal. On the one hand this is a reflection of the blinding success of liberalism but also has resulted in a significant weakening of liberalism as an effective mode of governance.

To treat liberalism as an inevitable endpoint, or a universal truth, or some manifestation of the underlying laws of the universe; it undermines what made liberalism triumphant and successful.

The connections of liberalism and communism is a more real phenomenon than the altright being liberal. Although it is true that some dissident rightists are in part of a certain kind of liberal.

But of a different type than modern liberalism which is part of the new left and has stronger cultural marxist dna.

here is a thoughtful discussion about liberalism that raises the issue of how it relates to communism.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=j2AFw6EW1bw

In regards to the success of liberalism it does have to do with a heavy dose of authoritarianism, and dogmatic adherence.

And authoritarianism for progressivism of what is the current trend. Just as USSR was considered the dictatorship of progressivism, modern liberal democracy fits within that paradigm increasingly but of what is the current version of progressivism.

People like Fukuyama have been defending all sorts of authoritarian moves. Modern liberal tribe is not the tribe of Greenwald.

To the extend that liberalism is about neutrality of institutions, a free marketplace of ideas, respect of rule of law, equal and consistent application of rule of law or even liberal nationalism and national self determination, or respecting freedom of assocation/speech in the fundamental degree, seeing oppositional politics where the right wing opposition is allowed to exist, all that has been eroded.

To the extend that it is about opposing corruption and capture of power by ethnic lobbies, or big weapon manufacturers (some of the biggest donors of thinktanks), or intelligence agencies, or neocon families as permanent bureocrat aristocracy, again we see a failure.

To the extend it is about disempowring warmongers whose actions are against international law, again we see that modern liberals as a tribe are failing.

Of course the reality is that from the very existence of the French revolution there have always been a significant element of extremism. And the problem of the dominant ideology of a society leading to fundamentalist extremism and theocratic totalitarian society is also at play, and involves more than just liberalism.

My conclusion is the ideological fanaticism for progress and liberalism leads to an ideology that is destructive and even erodes some of the possible virtues associated with liberalism. But this association like any religion that promises utopia and associates itself with goodness is something that true believers promote. But the whole concept is motte and bailey at its substance, for part of the success have been discrimination against non liberals, and also associating with liberalism the warmongering imperialists, the racist supremacist ethnic lobbies, the authoritarian Saul Alinsky fans (such as Hilary Clinton), or those who collaborate with people like Bill Ayers.

The mixture of some restrained liberalism with conservatism and nationalism works better but has failed to gatekeep and stop the more far left faction.

While liberalism as an ideology is flawed but some part of it in combination of non liberal tradition, can create something that works better in combination than any other element in isolation, the tribe of liberals is different. They fit within what I criticize more so than ever before. While in the past in addition to more new left types, some people who called themselves liberal, might have fitted more in line with a more moderate syncretic tradition, this is hardly the case with today mainstream liberalism. Ironically, the marginalization of liberal tribe in favor of those of a more syncretic tradition would also lead to a society that does succeed more (but never absolutely as they are utopian and flawed) in some of the promises of liberalism I mentioned that modern liberalism completely fails at.

But this was also the case historically. The counter revolutionaries promoted better functioning and freer societies than the radicals of French revolution. East European countries that blacklisted communists and had an ideology that combined conservative, traditional, liberal elements worked better than the current cultural marxist new left paradigm or the communist one.

While there is some value to aspects of liberalism and the correct response to throw the dirty bathwater without the baby, the ideology of what happens as liberalism purity spirals and is called liberalism still or "liberal democracy" or "peoples democracy" deserves no preservation but to be thrown to the dustbin. While many of the people who became aligned with modern liberalism due to the reasons I mentioned in the first part of the post will join the new reigning ideology if the new left/cultural marxist/modern liberalism starts losing influence. Even with all the institutional capture there is still sizable backlash, precisely because it doesn't work well. Where people of the tradition I favor, appoint likeminded people in positions of power this works to promote an ideology more in line with that. For example Orban and Hungary. The issue now is that the new left/modern liberal types are acting more aggressively worldwide and have captured significant power in the USA.

But it isn't a done deal and there is nothing inevitable or unique here that is different to any historical examples people who are loyal to X or Y ideology/religious sect being possible for them to either capture power, or fail to do so, based on the circumstances. It does seem that messianic thinking helps movements to capture power. Specifically the part that is about the movement bringing the world at the stage of utopian end of history and bringing forth the messianic age where people are saved. Although liberalism seems to have multiple figures and the ideology in general as the messiah, and also larger groups as the bringer of salvation, rather than one central figure. With the liberals themselves and various intersectional groups as the Messiahs and redeemers.

To treat liberalism as an inevitable endpoint, or a universal truth, or some manifestation of the underlying laws of the universe; it undermines what made liberalism triumphant and successful.

What does this mean?

Essentially what it says on the tin.

They take the current power and prosperity of liberal societies such as the US and EU for granted. Treating it as though it were somehow inevitable, rather than something that has to be actively cultivated and maintained.

Gotcha - on first reading, I misinterpreted it as

To treat liberalism as an inevitable endpoint, or a universal truth, or some manifestation of the underlying laws of the universe; it undermines [the principles and values that] made liberalism triumphant and successful.

which triggered my confusion. Based on what you said, the intention is more along the lines of

To treat liberalism as an inevitable endpoint, or a universal truth, or some manifestation of the underlying laws of the universe; it undermines [the courage, actions, and habits that] made liberalism triumphant and successful.

I would also agree with the first version. Lockean/Millian liberalism is a meta-ideology built to maintain a balance between order and chaos, the left and the right, the conservative and the progressive. In doing so it ensures that the conservative doesn't make society stagnate and the progressive doesn't push so far ahead people can't keep up. It is not meant to be the dominant ideology, and as we have seen it has been coopted as a result of its rise to prominence.

This is projecting back onto Locke and Mill something very much more modern. Neither would recognize this description.

I used Lockean/Millian liberalism to keep it separate from liberal as progressive and Liberal as conservative, not to suggest Locke or Mill considered it a meta-ideology. As far as I'm aware that's all me baby. But I do believe they'd both be on board with it once I explained it to them, I arrived at it after reading On Liberty and the Letters of Toleration back to back.

I imagine there were more than a few Germans who were born and remembered life under monarchy in the German Empire. Then they witnessed the fall of the monarchy and transformation to a Republic after the abdication in 1918. They lived in the Weimar Republic and witnessed the fall of the Republic to a fascist government under Hitler. Then the fall of National Socialism to a Communist government. And then the fall of Communism to a liberal Democracy. You have to wonder the cynicism that ideological thrashing would build into a person, and the gullibility of the people who truly believe "finally, we have reached the Truthful Solution."

Liberalism is only successful because its adherents truly believe in it and cannot imagine anything else. The second it's regarded as anything other than an inevitable endpoint, or universal truth, is when it is going to fail.

Liberalism is only successful because its adherents truly believe in it and cannot imagine anything else. The second it's regarded as anything other than an inevitable endpoint, or universal truth, is when it is going to fail.

I think you underestimate the strength of liberalism. In the darkest days of 1940-41 when it was Britain alone against Germany, many were happy to write it off as an annoyingly obstinate but ultimately dead ideology. Yet the liberal democracies ended up thrashing the autocracies; not only crushing them under the weight of the combined outputs of the arsenals of democracy but ultimately converting them as well.

Perhaps liberalism will wither and decay. Perhaps some other, superior, more evolutionarily fit ideology will take its place. But I'm not betting against it just yet.

Liberalism made an alliance with Communism to make that happen. Something which both liberals and communists like to gloss over.

Liberalism made an alliance with Communism to make that happen.

Remind me, Who were the Nazis allied with when they invaded Poland again?

Am I allowed to suggest that debating the finer points of WWII with that particular user might not be the best use of your time or is that against TOS?

The communists needed the liberals much more than the other way around. If the western allies had refused to help the Soviets at all and the Germans beat them, Berlin and Hamburg and Frankfurt are still piles of radioactive ash come September 1945.

If the Western Allies had refused to ally with the Soviet Union, there would have been no war between Germany and Western Europe. Instead, Europe was destroyed and Great Britain lost its empire. Liberalism's greatest victory entailed the destruction of Europe, the collapse of the British Empire, and the Communist conquest of half of Europe. All to "save Poland" by the way.

You are aware that war broke out between Britain and Germany before the USSR’s formal alliance with Germany was broken?

"War broke out", you mean Great Britain declared war on Germany right?

The second in command of Germany, Rudolf Hess, actually boarded a plane, flew to Great Britain, strapped on a parachute for the first time in his life and bailed out of the plane to try to go around Churchill and make contact with Britain's peace factions:

... Hess was tasked to "use all means at his disposal to achieve, if not a German military alliance with England against Russia, at least the neutralization of England."

So how does war between Britain and Germany "break out" if Britain and France don't declare war on Germany, or if they make peace with Germany and remain neutral during the Soviet war?

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If the Western Allies had refused to ally with the Soviet Union, there would have been no war between Germany and Western Europe.

I get that this is difficult for you as a Liberal who has named himself after the SS to comprehend but history says otherwise

I'm really curious as to how you think this happens. All evidence points to the fact that Hitler regarded the Anglos as natural racial allies. There were no plans at all for war against Western Europe. Hitler was genuinely surprised that Great Britain and France declared war over Poland.

So please explain to me why history suggests a war between Germany and Western Europe if Western Europe had remained neutral in the Polish and Soviet war (or joined the Soviet war on the German side as Hitler had hoped)?

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If the Western Allies had refused to ally with the Soviet Union, there would have been no war between Germany and Western Europe.

I cannot fathom what you mean by this. Like I cannot tell if you are being deliberately dishonest or if you have a perplexing, gigantic gap of knowledge. Who was the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact signed by? Who made a deal split Poland, and all Eastern Europe? Who was allied right up until the point tanks began crossing the border on June 22 1941? Because it sure as shit wasn't the western allies and the Soviets.

Hitler genuinely lobbied for the Western Allies to join him in his war against the Soviet Union, or at least to remain neutral. If they had remained neutral then Germany would not have gone to war against Western Europe.

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To treat liberalism as an inevitable endpoint, or a universal truth, or some manifestation of the underlying laws of the universe; it undermines what made liberalism triumphant and successful.

Well said, and agreed.

Edit: Meant this as a direct reply to @HlynkaCG.

I think the bit you are missing is that the liberal western order is itself a solution to the Hobbes position. Rather than an authoritarian regime, it turns out, if you convince everyone that everyone else is actually a good person, and create a whole strata of social pressures and reinforcements, if you create that illusion so convincing so that you treat people that way...then you can have a bunch of red in tooth and claw apes crammed into close proximity...and almost all of them end up not trying to murder each other.

Far from looking at the weakness of the liberal order, consider its triumph. There is a reason people want to move to the liberal world, because the illusion actually creates a better place.

If you think that Hobbes was right about fundamental human nature then the liberal world order is an astonishing accomplishment. It has successfully pushed the violent to the fringes. Millions upon millions of animals are packed like sardines into tiny metal boxes every day and DO NOT kill each other!

Now yes, it does then struggle to deal with those fringes, because the whole illusion hinges on people essentially believing everyone is decent. But that is a much smaller problem than much less successful places. I've been to Nairobi and Pakistan and China and the liberal order is significantly better.

You're focussing on the Leviathan shaped hole, without noticing how tiny it is compared to what Hobbes would predict. Significantly more freedom than the authoritarian feudal sovereigns he envisaged would be needed to control humanities base impulses.A place where most people act as if a sovereign has presence even when it doesn't. Where large numbers of them obey traffic lights even when no-one else is around! Human nature tamed by human socialization.

The Liberal civilizational illusion is a triumph of order over chaos. An order created primarily by social behaviors and a great lie. A lie that becomes truth when we believe it to be true. An emergent system that has outcompeted every rival. Communism? Wrecked. Feudalism? Imploded. Libertarianism? Can't even get a foothold.

And you are quibbling over how it has not been 100% successful in controlling human nature? Thats like complaining your football team won 42-7, because they let a single touchdown in. Sure its not perfect, but it is very close!

To restate in your example, the whole reason you can have hundreds of people in tight proximity in a tiny metal tube and that only a random schizophrenic causes trouble is because of how utterly brilliant the liberal order is. You don't notice all the things it prevents, because they didn't happen in the first place.

Correct me at will, but it doesn't look to me like liberalism outcompeted other forms of social organization because of its ability to discourage violence. Would write more but phoneposting.

Its ability to encourage cooperative behaviors and discourage violence, without the near omnipresent sovereign authoritarian presence Hobbes thought would be necessary. As per OP's point the sovereign did not act to stop the schizophrenic because they had no presence on the train.

But if Hobbes is correct the real miracle then is that trains are not full of mayhem every day.

Liberalism can harness that power with less crushing oversight and state violence. Which empowers its nations to excel.

I think the bit you are missing is that the liberal western order is itself a solution to the Hobbes position.

If we're talking about the classical constitutional order, this is arguably the case. But I also think this something modern liberals have lost sight of. Much like the Mechanicum in 40k they're pushing buttons and pulling levers without really understanding the principles of the system they are trying to manipulate and messing with critical components without recognizing the implications/danger.

"That you don't notice all the things it prevents, because they didn't happen in the first place." is the blindspot.

As I've argued down thread, they take our current peace and prosperity for granted, and are thus unable to imagine see how their choices might lead to negative outcomes. That the typical liberal can look around himself and not see any violent schizophrenics causing trouble, is what allows them to delude themselves into believing that "Defund the Police" is a rational policy rather than societal suicide.

I think my point is those blindspots are necessary to the illusion. If you notice it, the illusion is broken for all of it.

The whole point is things are only better when they don't know the truth.

Taking peace and prosperity for granted is what allows the peace and prosperity.

Its not a bug in other words, its a fundamental feature. And it still gives better results than the converse.

Those in charge (though perhaps not their more numerous supporters) are well aware of the unreality of the liberal world-view. But they have one thing going for them, which is power. Enough power to make it so those below them are required to either usually behave as if the liberal world-view is true, or drop to the margins of society. And this is enforced by any means required up to and including the use of the US military.

To use your example of Daniel Penny, Penny saw the reality of a situation; he saw a dangerous man acting in threatening ways, and acted to stop him. The rule (set by the sovereign) in New York is that you pretend the homeless are annoying but harmless and deserving of nothing but help, right up until they put a knife in your kidneys or shove you onto the tracks. Penny broke that rule, and thus committed treason against the sovereign. It is here you miss the utter horror of the Hobbesian view. It is true but irrelevant that sovereign authority was not actually present on the train; sovereigns cannot be omnipresent now and they could only be less so in Hobbes's time. When the sovereign authority arrived, they determined that the laws of the sovereign were broken and held Penny to account. In the Hobbesian view, is the sovereign's absolute right to act or refrain from acting in any given situation; that the sovereign did not act did not give Penny any authority. He was supposed to, by the rules of the sovereign, allow Neely to act as he did. He did not, and so committed treason against the sovereign.

The rule (set by the sovereign) in New York is that you pretend the homeless are annoying but harmless and deserving of nothing but help, right up until they put a knife in your kidneys or shove you onto the tracks.

How many times does that actually happen a year, how many times would some 'hero' kill out of fear that it might be about to happen if we glorified and legally exonerated such vigilantism?

There's no moral calculus which concludes 'yay for more preventative lethal vigilantism against the homeless' that doesn't innately rely on valuing those lives less than the lives of everyone else.

How many times does that actually happen a year

At least 15 shovings onto the tracks in 2023 (as of October; I don't know the final number). At least 22 in 2022. 554 total felonious assaults, excluding robberies.

how many times would some 'hero' kill out of fear that it might be about to happen if we glorified and legally exonerated such vigilantism?

Fewer.

I get the impression that I'm something of an odd man out here in that I did not go to college after high-shool

I failed/dropped out of community college and switched to a trade, does that count? Granted lots of that was due to idiotic decisions advisors pushed me towards(who thinks taking calculus with no precal was a good idea) and some of it was personal issues. I probably would have gone to college on a wordcel liberal arts degree otherwise.

It seems to me that we are at a point where the sort of culture/worldview that produces a guy like Greg Abbott or the median Trump voter is as alien to the typyical liberal as that of an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon and I can't help but expect this to end badly.

I think it’s not just that liberals don’t stop and consider that people are inherently bad and someone has to impose order. I think a lot of them don’t consider that someone has to do that in meatspace, in real life, go and physically take and action which has a real world effect according to the laws of Newton.

I get this all the time talking to motteizeans about automation. But chatgpt will do it! Ok, how’s chatgpt supposed to mop floors and pick peaches and build fences? America is a high-labor cost economy, and so is Germany and Canada and all the rest. A machine which can acceptably replace a human worker is already back ordered and guess what, we still need blue collar workers doing things other than fixing robots.

And with the current border situation that’s the disconnect; Greg Abbott knows the mandarins in Washington can say whatever they want, but privates and captains(and sergeants etc) on the border have to listen to them for it to take any effect. My bafflement was less ‘what does he think he’s doing and how does he think he’ll get away with it’ and more ‘why now, when he’ll gain control of the house in November and the post-election shenanigans give him a lot of political cover’.

The short version is that I believe that there are multiple basic human intuitions that are simply missing from the modern secular liberal mindset/worldview.

This is the topic of The Righteous Mind and Moral Foundations Theory, which suggests that people have Care, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority and Sanctity values. Liberals are more sensitive to Care and Fairness, whereas conservatives equally mix all five. Thus Haidt suggests a blind spot where liberals can struggle to understand conservatives when they make a judgement on the basis of Loyalty, Authority or Sanctity, but conservatives are still able to understand liberals when they make a judgement on Care or Fairness.

On the other hand I disagree with that. Liberals do still have those values in there, and can express them just as strongly if not stronger than Conservatives. They just need an unusual nudge to do so. Covid was one of those moments where Loyalty, Authority and Sanctity values dominated Liberal moral decisionmaking.

On the other hand I disagree with that. Liberals do still have those values in there, and can express them just as strongly if not stronger than Conservatives. They just need an unusual nudge to do so. Covid was one of those moments where Loyalty, Authority and Sanctity values dominated Liberal moral decisionmaking.

I'm inclined to agree with this. I actually see a lot of Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity in progressive politics, but it tends to come out in strange and indirect ways. These moral foundations often manifest like Freudian neuroses; they are seemingly repressed but then force their way through in ways that are often unconscious, perverted and vicarious.

I think Haidt is onto something, but his error is that modern progressives are psychologically more like old conservatives, except they have been raised in a tradition of progressivism. Older progressives were a self-selecting group of outliers, but modern progressives are just normies who grew up with that stuff. In any case, the upshot is that old fashioned expressions of Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity have been tabooed. Essentially, the tenets of the progressive faith are all couched in the principles of Care and Fairness, and so when the Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity foundations bubble up to the surface, they do so dressed up in a guise of Care and Fairness. This is why modern progressivism seems to be taking on more a religious flavor, and it's often reinventing old customs but using new language to legitimize them.

They certainly have Authority ("It's not my job to educate you" and the whole attitude of acting like there's already a huge consensus behind them that they can't believe you aren't aware of, what's wrong with you) and Sanctity (observe the frequent use of "Gross" as a term of moral criticism, often meaning nothing more than that someone disagreed with some prog shibboleth).

Loyalty is a weird one. There is an intense loyalty to the movement, and an expectation of same (e.g. exhorting people to be "good allies"), paired with a near-total lack thereof toward any of the individuals that make it up. I was particularly struck by this in their treatment of Germaine Greer. This attitude seems weird and almost incoherent to me - what is the movement besides a useful shorthand for the people who make it up? - but apparently they have no difficulty squaring that circle. Their whole shtick is reifying/anthropomorphizing abstract group identities in ways that seem weird and unhealthy to me, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was.

I get the impression that I'm something of an odd man out here in that I did not go to college after high-shool and in that I never really thought of myself as being particularly intelligent.

raises hand for also being non-college, not particularly smart or capable, and firmly stuck in lower middle-class pink collar jobs - no, I do not have a 'career' or any sniff of one, so you're not the sole instance at least

The short version is that I believe that there are multiple basic human intuitions that are simply missing from the modern secular liberal mindset/worldview.

There's a guy over on ACX with whom I am having a (courteous! but frank!) exchange of views on "atheists need ecstasy" (and no he doesn't mean this but rather mysticism in a secular dress).

It's an interesting post on his own blog and I vehemently disagree with the thrust of it - that you can tidily snip away the religious nonsense and have a Gosh Wow Cosmic Sensawunda I Effin' LOVE Science secular remainder, but he's at least trying to address the dry and sterile atheist (of some sections of the project) viewpoint towards what you instance here.

As for the rest of it, I'm not a Hobbesian but yeah. Original Sin, there's a reason this was a winning concept. We're not lovely kind-hearted bonobos (has the bononbo ideal society thing been busted yet? I vaguely remember a while back there was some re-assessment that not everything in their society was as rosy as presented), we're flawed and fallen beings, and violence, greed, illness, and general "ugh someone should do something about all this" are part of that. I don't know the ins and outs of the Neely case, but someone in the throes of a schizophrenic breakdown can't be reasoned with or talked down from their delusions. I am not saying 'strangle the homeless to death' but again, I agree that this is the strawman that is leapt to as a misrepresentation of one's views if there is any deviation once the narrative has been set about the powerless, the privileged, and 'social workers not cops'.

Accordingly it becomes difficult to ignore just how much of liberal society (or what Scott would call "the Universal Culture") is predicated on assumptions that do not necessarily hold.

If I'm being bitchy about it (surely not you, FarNearEverywhere!), then there's a ton that they assume and don't recognise comes from being brought up in circumstances where there weren't worries about paying bills, sorry we can't afford a new pair of shoes this week so keep wearing the ones with the hole in the sole, and the rest of it; where college and a professional career were the natural path in life; where everyone was nice and you talked things out and nobody you knew ever got into a fistfight or had been attacked in the streets. It's that saying about fish and water. If they fall into the right age range and get the lectures about White Privilege, they may repeat such things, but deep down they don't really understand it, their notion is "well I'm white which means I benefit from systemic racism at large in society" and think about their privilege vis-à-vis the BIPOC and LGBT+ minorities, but they don't think about their privilege vis-à-vis "when I was a kid, I never even had to be aware of the cost of the grocery bills and certainly the store owner never came to our house to warn us about running up a tab and we needed to pay it off or else".

I think you’ve kind of elaborated on the wrong things (although I’m interested to hear more about the skateboarding and if we know any of the same spots).

The short version is that I believe that there are multiple basic human intuitions that are simply missing from the modern secular liberal mindset/worldview

But what are they? I do too though. I believe that there is a human instinct for retribution that has been delegitimized in academic penal theory regarding deterrence, and that a victim is actually owed this retributive justice because it instinctively feels good and its omission is a harm. Additionally I think that there are some things humans naturally find disgusting, and that disgust is also a harm (in a lesser but similar way that assault is a harm), and I found the class I took on Rawls laughable because the professor a priori denied that a person has a right to not feel disgust while possessing a right to not be slapped.

castrated our society's ability to discuss certain topics

But what topics?

Penny / Neely

I definitely agree here. Once a civil authority can no longer predictably keep you safe from crime or make satisfaction after the event, you should have the right to inflict corrective corporal punishment on the criminal provided you have sufficient evidence of the crime occurring (video recording). This is doubly true if the crime will not be investigated or if the response time is greater than half an hour. Our idea of withholding personal justice is predicated on the faith that our victimhood will be satisfied by a higher civil power. It’s also truly insane from a psychological position of (ironically) deterrence theory. Imagine if you withheld administering a slap on your dog after biting a child, and instead waited months before assigning a verdict. Such a process is only effective for rational intellectual creatures and criminals who reason about there actions longterm, not for your average violent or antisocial criminal. We could be deterring so much more crime by simply beating criminals immediately if sufficient evidence is obvious, or at the very least throwing them in a cell without food for 30 hours (the walls decorated with the psychological cues of their crime). This is actually vastly better for the criminal who hopefully develops a minor trauma response when considering criminality in the future.

But what are they?

The big one, I would argue, is what exactly constitutes "the default". I get the impression that the majority of liberals today have effectively forgotten or are otherwise unaware that there is a world outside liberal society. This leads them to take the assumptions (and current prosperity) of liberal societies like the US and EU for granted. Accordingly they are unable to perceive the relationship between decriminalizing shoplifting and retails stores closing, between unregulated immigration and falling wages, between de criminalizing drug use and the prevalence violent schizophrenics on the subway.

It's the Glenn Reynolds bit fisking the Washington Post headline about "Despite Shorter Prison Sentences Crime Continues to Rise". emphasis on the "despite".

I think you are right that "the default" is a big divide. In fact, I feel like it's been a scissor statement I've witnessed directly in my life.

I think Scott has written before something like "if you want to understand conservatives, pretend that there's going to be a zombie apocalypse tomorrow. If you want to understand leftists, pretend everything is going to be stable for the rest of time". I've spoken with both leftists and people I know who have anti-leftist leanings about this notion of the default, and it really scissors right between them, with each group being unable to fathom that anyone can disagree with them. The leftists generally come at it from a perspective of "well, everything would be stable forever, and we would always have enough resources for everyone to have everything they need, if only the billionaires shared their wealth (that incidentally they only got through exploiting the poor)". And the conservatives come at it with "there is barely anything holding keeping us from a risk societal collapse already". Which one of them is more right? I really can't say, and I don't really know how to argue with either of them. Perhaps it's simply an axiomatic belief.

I think Scott has written before something like "if you want to understand conservatives, pretend that there's going to be a zombie apocalypse tomorrow. If you want to understand leftists, pretend everything is going to be stable for the rest of time".

A Thrive/Survive Theory Of The Political Spectrum

I think Scott has written before something like "if you want to understand conservatives, pretend that there's going to be a zombie apocalypse tomorrow. If you want to understand leftists, pretend everything is going to be stable for the rest of time".

The reaction to Covid doesn't fit this pattern.

That's been covered before on this forum. I think people have said it ended up being a toxoplasmosis thing where people reacted to other people's reactions, resulting in a bit of a flip flop.

For example, we saw a lot of leftists covering covid from the angle of "we need to do something because this illness will hit the most needy of our population the worst, like black people". And for what it's worth, conservatives might have felt that covid wasn't close enough to zombie apocalypse level, because it is such a minor illness compared to even other things like polio. They might have felt it was annoying that the left was overreacting.

We could be deterring so much more crime by simply beating criminals immediately if sufficient evidence is obvious, or at the very least throwing them in a cell without food for 30 hours (the walls decorated with the psychological cues of their crime). This is actually vastly better for the criminal who hopefully develops a minor trauma response when considering criminality in the future.

this already happens. if there is probable cause the criminal is arrested and detained until arraigned

I do believe that we feed them and do not yet adorn their walls with the the signs of their crime.

Additionally I think that there are some things humans naturally find disgusting, and that disgust is also a harm (in a lesser but similar way that assault is a harm), and I found the class I took on Rawls laughable because the professor a priori denied that a person has a right to not feel disgust while possessing a right to not be slapped.

Seems like a fully general argument against, for instance, freedom of speech? I can certainly find plenty of people who would honestly say that they find whatever you want to talk about to be disgusting, you could do the same for me.

But, more generally: I think there's a higher-level game-theoretic value to discouraging utility monsters.

'People shouldn't get slapped' is a pretty fair restriction. Slapping can cause real physical damage; direct physical pain from bodily assault is very universal negative utility that's very hard for people to ignore or overcome, and we wouldn't want them to generally lose that negative association anyway; and most importantly, a slap is specifically directed and targeted at a singular individual, giving that individual broader rights to object to it.

But if someone says 'I am disgusted by things I see in my environment, I have a right to demand they stop' then that's a pretty different thing. First of all because those are passive things not targeted at the individual, which they can avoid if they don't like them, and that have value to other people which they are trying to destroy. And second because while disgust is a universal human experience, the targets of disgust are not universal, and it's very likely the person in question could retrain away from that disgust if they wanted to (much more easily than someone could train to not feel pain when slapped).

Allowing someone's disgust at seeing something to be a moral imperative towards everyone else creates a perverse incentive for everyone to become as disgusted as possible at everything they oppose on any grounds. Not only is that a hugely dangerous weapon to hand people, it favors the creation of a society in which everyone is unhappy all the time because they have to be performatively disgusted by everything they oppose. Which also shifts all discussions and attempts to actually solve problems away from reason and towards emotional assaults.

So, basically: don't feed the utility monsters.

(and since I have some ability to predict the future: yes, this is an argument that can be deployed to validate rejecting trans people, I think that's a valid form of argument but not a strong one because of the different circumstances esp. around how targeted the request are)

The idea of freedom of speech developed in a period with strong indecency laws and “unsightly beggar ordinances”. For hundreds of years people were able to see the nuance between permissible expression and things that are disgusting. I am not saying “anything someone finds disgusting should be illegal”, and in fact no such law has ever existed, rather that what a reasonable person finds disgusting should not be done in public. This is how eg indecency laws operated. The rare case of contention over decency versus indecency does not invalidate the utility of the distinction in the 90% of applicable cases where a majority of reasonable persons concur. If we choose to ignore disgusting things you run the risk of causing serious harm (disgust) to reasonable people which in some cases can be worse than a slap.

I am not saying “anything someone finds disgusting should be illegal”, and in fact no such law has ever existed, rather that what a reasonable person finds disgusting should not be done in public. This is how eg indecency laws operated.

I think this is just wrong? Sodomy laws have certainly existed to outlaw things happening in private, for example. I'm pretty sure there have been banned books that it's not legal to own private copies of. To the extent that restrictions on pornography exist they've applied to private spaces. Etc.

At any rate: Yes, the public/private distinction is relevant, asking for things to be kept out of public spaces is being less of a utility monster than asking for them to be eradicated entirely. Although the modern world has complicated that distinction profoundly; are social media sites public or private? If you do something in a private space that gets recorded and then broadcast in public (maybe by an enemy), was the thing itself ok? Is Netflix or Cartoon Network 'public'? There's a lot of room to stretch the definition of 'in public' into every corner of our private lives, which seems to be the tact used whenever you allow 'disgust' as a policy-relevant factor for people to manipulate.

But you're also ignoring one of my central points here:

If we choose to ignore disgusting things you run the risk of causing serious harm (disgust) to reasonable people which in some cases can be worse than a slap.

You're still reifying 'disgusting things' as if that were an ontologically basic category, rather than a subjective individual judgement which is contingent on culture and upbringing and which people can train themselves into or out of or just lie about.

If you think being gay is a sin and should be illegal, I can point at separation of church and state and tell you to screw off. If you say that gay people are disgusting and you shouldn't be forced to see them holding hands in public, suddenly you've appropriated the power to take away their rights to act normally and be regular people across huge swaths of daily life, plus all the other knock-on effects of making things invisible and hidden.

And again, the point is that 'disgust at seeing gay people holding hands' is not a universal or primitive qualia the way 'pain at being slapped' is. You can train yourself into or out of it, culturally if not individually, which means that allowing it to be a factor in forming policy turns it into a weapon that you're incentivized to encourage.

Our idea of withholding personal justice is predicated on the faith that our victimhood will be satisfied by a higher civil power.

And this points to a major flaw in all social contract theories. There's no remedy within the system for breach on the part of society. Self help of the sort you describe is verboten. The sole judge of cases under the contract is society's representative (called "government").

There's no remedy within the system for breach on the part of society

Except the very obvious one which Hobbes explicitly lays before us. the sword.

@hydroacetylene is absolutely correct, someone is going to keep order even if it's not the government, and one of the reasons you don't see as much petty crime in places like Nairobi as you do in say San Fransico is that it's effectively understood by all involved that if you are dumb or unlucky enough to get caught shoplifting you probably deserve whatever it is that the shopkeeper is going to do to you. Afterall, who's going to call the cops? The Shoplifter? If the cops are called, who do you expect them to side with? Some no-good thief, or an established member of the community?

ETA: If this sounds potentially cruel, unfair, or otherwise prone to abuse, that's because it is.

Except the very obvious one which Hobbes explicitly lays before us. the sword.

That's not "within the system". That's returning to the state of nature.

If indeed it is true that there is less petty crime in Nairobi than in San Francisco, and that this is because the sovereign is too weak to prevent self-help on the part of intended victims, that's an argument AGAINST Hobbes's absolute sovereign. If there is less petty crime in Nairobi because the sovereign in Nairobi is wiser and allows self-help on the part of intended victims, it doesn't contradict Hobbes. But it is also no help for the people of San Francisco. Their choices remain to allow themselves to become victims, or to commit the much greater crime of treason against the sovereign.

The social contract is a vague or porous concept, hence the need for a large and expansive legal system to help interpret it.

That's not "within the system". That's returning to the state of nature.

Well yes, you note correctly that the alternative to having a social contract is not having a social contract.

San Francisco deciding it doesn’t want the social contract instead of being incapable of having a social contract will not stop the place from turning into Nairobi, because Nairobi is the way it is due to not having a social contract. Intent really doesn’t matter that much, elsewise Mao would have done what Deng did, to paraphrase an earlier post of mine. Yes, it sucks to live there in the anarcho-tyranny phase, but the behavior of the masses of cops, janitors, clerks, bus drivers, cooks, waitresses, and all the other people that commute in from Oakland is not that of a computer programmed by some pinkos in the DA’s office. It’s that of people, in all their self-interested and mildly retarded glory.

Well said.

Clapping "I agree" is low effort. You know this.

That's returning to the state of nature.

It's not "returning" to the state of nature because the state of nature had already been arrived at.

As @hydroacetylene says below, "someone is going to keep order even if it's not the government" and if that someone is the one keeping order, who are you to claim that they are not "the legitimate government"? Again, it is not royal blood, divine right, or even a crown that makes a man a King. It is the obedience of other men that makes a man a King.

It's not "returning" to the state of nature because the state of nature had already been arrived at.

No. Being subject to a bad sovereign who allows some of his subjects to commit crimes against others is not being in a state of nature.

Yes, it is, a big chunk of Hobbes' whole thesis is that the sovereign's primary purpose (and the reason you should obey him) is to prevent precisely this outcome, if he isn't able to do so then he is not the legitimate sovereign.

It seems like it's actually worse than being in a state of nature, since in a state of nature you could retaliate by picking up a big rock and smashing your enemy's head (and maybe his family's heads), while being a disfavored group under a bad sovereign means you'd have to successfully smash the heads of your enemy, his family, the entirety of the city, state, and federal law enforcement to achieve the same result.

More comments

The social contract is self-terminating.

If Penny and Neely had gotten into it in Mogadishu, he never would have been arrested. Because the social contract doesn't exist there. There's a DR line that goes "the police aren't there to protect you from criminals, they're there to protect criminals from you"- and that is in fact part of their job. In a state of nature when I discover someone trying to pick my pocket I maul him badly and part of the social contract is that I accept, in exchange for the police arresting him, that I don't get to put him in the hospital. And everyone knows it on some subconscious level. In a society where the police will not arrest criminals, citizens cut the hands off of thieves their damn selves and lynch mobs form at a moment's notice.

"Muh anarcho-tyranny" anarcho-tyranny is not a stable equilibrium. Lack of prosecutions result in police being less willing to do their jobs until whoops, Mr. Patel can break ribs on suspected shoplifters at his liquor store to his heart's content and the cops ain't doing shit. Eventually it doesn't get that far, of course; the bandidos show up and make Mr. Patel a deal; they take care of the ne'er do wells in very pinko-unapproved ways, and he pays them, with some forwarded to the police to file a report saying there's nothing to see there. Lack of enforcement of laws results in eroding state capacity until the state can't enforce the laws on normal people either.

That's the Leviathan shaped hole; someone is going to keep order even if it's not the government(at this point it's a failed state and usually taxes stop being paid). Establishing the Leviathan is a society-wide hock because threading the needle between pointlessly oppressive and so dysfunctional it loops back around into pointless oppression is a hard task with serious risk of grievous bodily harm.

The social contract is self-terminating.

Under what theory? Certainly not Hobbes.

and part of the social contract is that I accept, in exchange for the police arresting him, that I don't get to put him in the hospital

And if YOU breach that contract, the police arrest you and maybe put you in the hospital. But suppose the breach is on the part of the state... they don't arrest the miscreants. What's your remedy, as an individual, supposedly a party to this contract? None at all. Social contract theory is merely an elaborate moral justification for a demand to obedience to government; what differentiates Hobbes's version is it's less sugar-coated.

"Muh anarcho-tyranny" anarcho-tyranny is not a stable equilibrium.

It doesn't need to be a stable equilibrium: with enough force it can be maintained. As state capacity has risen, so has the capacity for anarcho-tyranny. When Bernie Goetz shot four men in the subway and buried the weapon upstate, he might actually have gotten away with it (he later turned himself in); there were no clear pictures of him. Had Daniel Penny tried to run, ubiquitous surveillance would have had him caught in no time.

The social contract exists because of the legitimacy of the king’s justice, and the king’s justice is legitimate because people- cops, sailors, shopkeepers, housewives, farmers, truckers, factory workers, street sweepers, you know, the mass of the commons- believe that it is just. The underclass has no meaningful social contract because they believe the kings justice is illegitimate; so they break the law at the drop of a hat and expect no protection from it either.

If Mr. Patel believes that there is no justice from the king, he will simply beat suspected shoplifters himself, and suspected shoplifters will probably not be filing police reports(they also don’t expect justice), so he can probably get away with it for awhile. But in practice, I suspect that a local 1%er MC will happily take a retainer fee to do far worse things than he would to ne’er do wells and miscreants that chose his liquor store as the location for their delinquency, and they don’t care if a member gets arrested from time to time- he’ll be out in far less time than the judge sentenced him to, and the cops aren’t willing to come down on the hell’s angels like a ton of bricks because why risk their lives like that for the king’s justice that is not just? Better to take a modest bribe and file a report saying no sir, that motorcycle clubhouse is a perfectly ordinary members-only bar, there’s nothing fishy or illegal going on.

The outlaw is outside the law, and being outside the law goes both ways. I know you’re eeyore, but surely even you can see that- ground level decisions in the real, material world matter, and cops have no sympathy for outlaws and outlaws don’t go whining to the cops even if they don’t expect to be themselves caput lupus; they have inaccurate ideas of how police encounters go and a sense of machismo forbidding it(what, you gonna squeal to the pigs like a battered woman?). It’s not just that maintaining a functioning society involves someone beating up lumpenproles, it’s that people trying to make a nice place for themselves in an otherwise dysfunctional craphole need the lumpenproles beaten up, and if they can’t free ride off the police they’ll have to do it themselves or outsource it to other rough men.

The people who go and physically do things matter and when the social contract loses legitimacy they stop doing the things pieces of paper from mandarins tell them to do and start doing the things that benefit them, personally. Corrupt cops are not great for the citizens, but they don’t do anything to protect the outlaws either, no matter what the mandarins say(why should they, they’ve got a union to cover them for not doing their jobs).

The social contract exists because of the legitimacy of the king’s justice, and the king’s justice is legitimate because people- cops, sailors, shopkeepers, housewives, farmers, truckers, factory workers, street sweepers, you know, the mass of the commons- believe that it is just.

The king's justice's "legitimacy" rests on the cops and the soldiers; the others don't matter unless the king wants them to matter (as Justin Trudeau made clear during the trucker protests)

If Mr. Patel believes there is no justice from the king, he may beat the shoplifters himself. But the shoplifters may well go whining to the police. Or it might get out of hand and result in something the police won't ignore. And unlike the local 1%er MC clubs, the cops WILL come down like a ton of bricks on Mr. Patel. They'll send him to Rikers Island, a very rough jail where, unless there's an ethnic-Indian protection gang (which there may or may not be), he's going to be hurt. When he gets out he'll have many restrictions on him and likely lose the licenses necessary to operate his store. Which doesn't matter all that much because the fees he pays to his lawyers mean he'll lose the store anyway. He'll likely be advised by his lawyers that his best bet is to plead to a lesser felony, which not only puts him back in prison but means for the rest of his life he will be unable to obtain licenses and such, so at best he'll end up working the night shift for his cousin in the cousin's store. And according to social contract theory THIS IS JUSTICE. The king said don't hurt the shoplifters, leave that to me. Then the king didn't do anything. The king played dog-in-the-manger with the monopoly on violence... but according to Hobbes and all the rest, this was absolutely something within the king's discretion to do.

The king's justice's "legitimacy" rests on the cops and the soldiers; the others don't matter unless the king wants them to matter (as Justin Trudeau made clear during the trucker protests)

The truckers won. They took a few licks, but as Kulak convincingly argues, they won.

And it’s worth asking ourselves who the cops and soldiers are. And in every society within modernity, they’re from the mass of the common people. Sometimes they’re from the upper end(second sons of kulaks or whatever) and sometimes they’re a cross section and sometimes they’re from the bottom. But the difference between ‘the opinions of cops and soldiers’ and ‘the opinions of housewives, janitors, shopkeepers, truckers, factory workers, bus drivers and all the rest’ is very small; the king’s power comes because masses of common ordinary people follow orders and don’t just say the follow orders and pocket the money like a bunch of education bureaucrats. The clerks and bartenders and truckers who have to deal with the consequences of anarcho-tyranny are the friends, neighbors, brothers, parents, romantic partners of the cops and army sergeants that the king depends on; the anarcho-tyranny phase sucks for them, but for that reason it is just a phase.

The truckers won. They took a few licks, but as Kulak convincingly argues, they won.

The truckers were utterly defeated and their leaders are still being prosecuted.

And it’s worth asking ourselves who the cops and soldiers are.

They're those selected for both a penchant for violence and willingness to obey the regime.

But the difference between ‘the opinions of cops and soldiers’ and ‘the opinions of housewives, janitors, shopkeepers, truckers, factory workers, bus drivers and all the rest’ is very small

No, they aren't. Cops are different; you've perhaps of the "us vs. them" dynamic among police officers? To police, police are "us". Sometimes a few other groups of public service workers such as EMTs are at least us-adjacent. Those other people, the janitors and truckers and factory workers and such? Those are the people the cops consider it their job to keep in line, they're "them". Soldiers are a different "us"; the military makes them into a breed apart, and so they remain.

ETA: You said

That's the Leviathan shaped hole; someone is going to keep order even if it's not the government

Yes, someone is keeping order. The Leviathan is the cops and the soldiers who are keeping the people in line. But it is also the schizos and petty criminals who have free reign. The prison gangs who impart harsh injustice to those who fall afoul the state's rules. The bevy of lesser officers who harass shopowners and other basically-decent citizens for violations real and imagined. Your "Mr. Patel" and the truckers and the Daniel Penny's of this world are kept in line by all those powers. The sort of order where a man may run a store and not fear to be robbed is one sort, and Hobbes would approve. But the order of Gotham City, where the criminals are given wide reign and the ordinary people are kept in line through fear of them on the one hand and the state on the other, is just as valid by Hobbes's philosophy. Who said the sovereign must rule on behalf of the decent man to suppress the scum? No, if the sovereign prefers the scum... well, he's still the sovereign.

There's a DR line that goes "the police aren't there to protect you from criminals, they're there to protect criminals from you"

That's not a DR line that's a Robert Peel line though his framing was more along the lines of; It as much the police man's job to protect an accused criminal from a vengeful public as it is to protect the public from criminals. Innocent until proven guilty and all that.

Edit: Agreed on the rest though.

Depending on how you are framing the contract, I think the remedies are supposed to be things like exit rights, voting, and revolution.

None of which are perfect, to be sure.

The actual terms are irrelevant, because they're all interpreted by government.

...and that's why the Rebellion of 1775 failed, and continent of north America remains firmly under the control of the British Commonwealth to this day.

Saying that voting is irrelevant because it is interpreted by government feels like it's missing the point of democracy.

I can't tell if this is just a 'letting the perfect be the enemy of the good' thing; sure, the government could conceivably subborn democracy in a way that makes it irrelevant (at which point it's not democracy), and it certainly always does subborn it at leas at little bit (see: electoral college et al.). But those imperfections don't actually make democracy functionally identical to dictatorship, it's still actually a lot better than that in practice.

We could be deterring so much more crime by simply beating criminals immediately if sufficient evidence is obvious, or at the very least throwing them in a cell without food for 30 hours (the walls decorated with the psychological cues of their crime).

I disagree there. Excess punitiveness led to the opposite swing of the pendulum which we have now, where in some places crimes are not even prosecuted and instead reclassified as "aw shucks boys will be boys" horseplay. The insurance will pay for your cleaned-out store, why are you even complaining? If you insist on having a car parked in public, of course the window will be smashed so any items that may be inside can be stolen. So why would the police even bother, when they know nothing will come of it? To quote a story from 1909 about the same viewpoint:

"When a feller rushes up to a policeman an' ses — 'Come at once! There's a man knocking his wife about somethin' cruel,' he expects the constable to break into a run, an' is very much hurt when he only saunters along very leisurely. That's because the policeman knows a great deal about human nature. He knows that no wife really an' truly wants her husband pinched, an' if he runs he will get out of breath for no reason at all.

But you need the reform and rehabilitation as well as the punishment, otherwise you are just throwing the person back into the same environment from which they came. People starting off with petty crime will continue on the path to more serious crime, the serious criminals will just take 'doing time' as part of the package. There has to be a balance. Some small amount will be truly incorrigible and locking them up for long stretches will be the only way to deal with them, but some will also be willing to change, if they get help on to another path and support to keep them away from falling back into the same neighbourhood, same associates, same situations they were in before they were convicted.

And more convictions. Fewer slaps on the wrist. People plainly gaming the system having to face the consequences of their behaviour. Absolutely I agree with all that. But you can't just beat the crap out of them (though a timely slap round the back of the head for some of the 'youth' might do way more than all the bleeding-heart 'little Johnny can't help it, he's a victim of society' or being thrown into a cell with no food for two days) and leave it at that, for those who can be helped, then we should extend mercy. Mercy does not mean stupid or soft-hearted, though.

But you need the reform and rehabilitation as well as the punishment, otherwise you are just throwing the person back into the same environment from which they came. People starting off with petty crime will continue on the path to more serious crime, the serious criminals will just take 'doing time' as part of the package.

What should be the purpose of the criminal justice system? You have given punishment & reform already, and I agree with you on those. But you left off isolation, we also need to keep dangerous people out of society. This is the "leviathan shaped hole in the discourse" that OP is refering to.

I think that hole exists because we have framed the discourse around the criminal, not society. Which is stupid, why should the discourse revolve around the 1% of people who do bad things? Whats best for society is really only considered through the reform lens - i.e. society benefits from reform as we dont have to spend $x to imprison and get $y from every successful reintegrated convict. When you leave out the leviathan lens you miss out on three strikes laws. The idea that "hey the vast majority of violent crime is done by people who have already done violent crime, we can just lock them up and isolate them and cut the occurrence in half." Or whatever large amount. The idea that the state could just uphold the law, actually send people to jail for their full terms, with the enhancements, and not let them out until theyre in their 50s and mostly too old to get into much trouble. The idea that we could actually do that, and in fact we have an obligation to do that. The law is what we legitametly and democratically agreed upon, we could just enforce it. And not have to deal with violent homeless people in the subway.

We haven’t had excessive cue-response punishment in America for a long time, because what is universally important for deterring animal behavior is that the punishment occur parallel or quickly following the behavior. The association must be intuitive and salient for deterrence to occur for animals, and it’s only different among Civilized Man because he has been trained to constantly self-administer judgment of behavior so that cue-response rewards and punishments are artificially associated with the behavior in the mind. Taking a long time to arrest someone, or placing them on bail, is not sufficient punishment for animals if our intention is to change behavior. You can even ask them why they are being punished and they might say something approximately like “the government” or “racism” or “snitches”, ie they are mentally inculcating a pattern that is only going to produce more criminality in the future.

But in any case, it’s the fault of judges if they don’t follow the rules, not the fault of a given schema. Your 1909 quote is clearly about a specific category of crime that wasn’t considered serious at the time (hitting your wife).

But you need the reform and rehabilitation as well as the punishment, otherwise you are just throwing the person back into the same environment from which they came

Maybe I wasn’t clear in my post. You do not need any reform or rehab because animal behavior will 100% change provided a behavior is associated with punishment. That is the reform, that is the rehab. It’s how you learn not to touch hot things, not to be mean to others, and even to keep your King defended in Chess. Dog’s do not actually need reward-training to learn not to jump on the counter because you can just pinch their butt and shout, or quickly place them in a cage (if you are one of those progressives who mistakenly believes that isolation and boredom are less painful than brief physical pain). This is all very simple animal psychology that should be common knowledge and taught in schools. An animal can become traumatically afraid of walking on ice simply by falling into a frozen lake, no reform required (I sadly learned this from personal experience: my genetically-evolved Labrador never swam in her life because she escaped the yard and found her way on a frozen lake.)

Fewer slaps on the wrist

I say, many more physical slaps on the wrist for young criminality including poor school behavior, which progresses in adulthood to beatings (continued until morality improves).

We seem to have different notions of what a 'slap on the wrist' involves, but in my day we had corporal punishment in school and I agree that a good swipe of the báta wouldn't go amiss with some 😁

My 1909 example is not about the crime, it's about the expectation on the part of the citizen. "Look, a crime is being committed over here!" and expecting the cop to rush to the scene, while the cop knows the complaint won't be pursued (the wife won't bring a charge against her husband, Chesa Boudin when he was still there won't bring a prosecution) so he takes his time and strolls along leisurely, if he even bothers to go.

If the cops know that the wife-beater/crazy guy on the subway will be held and won't be out on bail within five minutes of being arrested, then they have an incentive to do the damn job. And that's on us, who vote in or support the guys who campaign on "I will stop the incarceration pipeline". Mind you, the "tough on crime" lot are not much better; it's no good being 'tough on crime' when the courts are backlogged and the jails are too full to hold the convicted, you need to put resources in there too.

Am I the only one that gets tired of this guy’s schtick? It’s so repetitive and egotistical

  • -18

You should've just said something like

I accept that as weak evidence against a Leviathan-shaped hole existing

,

Seeing as I find veterans insufferably obnoxious this isn't a surprise to me.

Those kinds of quips don't result in any Mod response and can net you quite a few upvotes! :D

@Amadan

I rarely agree with Hlynka but there's a wide gulf of antagonism between referring to groups and going after individual posters. Also, those responses to your post were about as low effort as your response was and not directed at the higher effort top-level post, so I'm not sure why you're complaining about this being analogous.

My response was an attempt to give OP exactly why they asked for (steelman arguments for veganism). The “low effort” rule is intended to exclude “three word shit-posts”, which mine is definitely not.

Their responses were literally just boo-out-group and therefore almost the epitome of the “three word shit-post”. Therefore, they consisted of entirely 100% rule-breaking content.

Under your odd interpretation that relies only on length, any comment consisting of a simple clarifying question would now be allowed to be responded to with shit posts.

Edit: when some members of this forum are EAs/rationalists/veterans - that distinction is pretty narrow.

Well, now you're moving the goalposts, I wasn't talking about whether they broke the rules but if they were comparable to the above post's rulebreaking.

It's not about length, you literally didn't put in enough effort for me to adequately understand what you meant by your response because it was just a vague half-answer that may as well have told him to google something. Which could have been a glib dismissal (as a sarcastic example of the responses to yours) or a genuine attempt to direct him to information but it was vague enough that I couldn't parse it.

I don't think anyone should be in trouble for their posts in that thread but if they are it should start with the OP. The OP post was literally just boo outgroup disguised as boo ingroup with some extra boo outgroup thrown in as well. The fact that you were hurt as a vegan is important but you never made mention of that in your post and kept it vague. If you hadn't been vague and said you were a vegan and effective altruists/rationalists have a good handle on explaining the rationale behind their lifestyle that isn't annoying then the responses to yours would be as bad as the one you're saying is comparable but you didn't, which is my point about being low-effort, not that you broke the rules but that you simply didn't put the full amount of effort I would expect of someone invested in the topic to give, which as a bystander makes me think you don't care all that much on the topic and the responses to yours may break the rules but don't really matter all that much because they're responding to someone that doesn't care all that much.

Maybe it's just me but I think the rules are sieved through each response made. Nearly every post three deep breaks the rules but eventually it becomes "no fun allowed", no quips, no jokes, no turn of phrases, no statement of opinions without reams of ink. If you have a problem with those posts they stem from the OP and you really have a problem with that which basically stated the exact same thing but also said "change my mind." I understand you were hurt but you really shouldn't hold onto it like this because this situation is not comparable.

I still clicked upvote because I can't wrap my mind around Hlynka's Ilyad and this explanation is satisfactory.

Not nearly as tired as I am of people who want to flash an Applause light as they tee off on someone who annoys them. No, you aren't the only one who has beef with Hlynka. However, considering that that post got three AAQC nominations, your feeling is clearly not universal. More importantly, your post contributes nothing of value and is antagonistic, personal, and an attempt to build consensus ("Hey everyone, Hylnka sure is annoying, amirite?")

Normally I'd just give you a warning, but since you've already been banned twice for this kind of low effort shit-flinging, I'm just going to go straight to another 30-day timeout, and probably a permaban the next time you do this.

I'm just going to go straight to another 30-day timeout, and probably a permaban the next time you do this.

You should probably make note in the rules that only Hlynka gets infinite temp bans. People seem to be getting confused.

Passive-aggressive snarkiness is not the most effective way to communicate a complaint about moderation.

If you think Hlynka has broken the rules in this case, report the post (though I will tell you up front I see no violations).

Yes. Tried writing a thoughtful response expressing confusion but interest. Got a quick, careless, boring reply.

It's a little hard, when he's been asked to expand on what he means, to then complain that he's being egotistical when doing so.

The laws of thermodynamics clearly state that you can never win, only break even. ;-)

No, you're not alone. I agree with him on most things and even I find his smug low-effort one-liners and condescending attitude tiring, though he's far from the most smarmy or condescending person on here.

I think this particular post of his is actually much better than his average, though. Particularly the last paragraph.

i'd say you have to have thick skin to post here. part of the problem is sometimes you cannot tell who is serious or not. (Poe's Law). I think a quarter to third of these posts are trolling or some ulterior motive.

Maybe so, though I'm not sure how it relates to my post. I'm definitely sincere here. I post here to give the normie religious-man-with-a-family opinion because a lot of users seem unfamiliar with it, and also to have my beliefs about my outgroup challenged. Special thanks to the inveterate left-wingers who post here. I'm always sad to see a left-leaning post downvoted.

At least he's not calling everyone who has a notion of political/social progress progressives. Inability of liberals to comprehend non-liberal viewpoints is much more reasonable IMO.

I've ridden a lot of subways and never seen a schizophrenic attack anyone, so I'm going to be reluctant to agree that I have some Ivory-tower blindspot in my own knowledge of the subject. Be loud and annoying and smelly, sure, but that's not the same thing, especially when we're talking about justifications for killing them.

I would agree that I have a blindspot to some type of worldview where that is a default assumption about how the world works, where there's a belief that deadly attacks on subways happen all the time and it's a huge failing that the government hasn't stopped them and every citizen needs to be armed and ready to deploy deadly force against them at all times. Or whatever your actually position here is, for being the only concrete example you give you really don't spend much time outlining it.

But I really do believe that worldview is just factually wrong, my personal experiences and those of other people I know who ride the subway seem to confirm it, I'm not aware of any stats that contradict it and if they were shockingly strong I would sort of expect to know it.

Which brings us back to the point that it seems like you're making two different claims here, 1. that liberals are blind to the ways that non-liberals view and think about the world, in ways that lead to communication breakdowns and strife, and 2. that liberals are blind to portions of empirical reality that they can't/won't acknowledge.

1 is trivially true, and I would say fully bi-directional; it's just a description of what the culture war is, more or less, or even just what tribalism is more generally.

2 requires actual examples to back it up, and I don't buy it from the only one you give.

Genuine question - have you ever been in a fight or other violent situation that escalated suddenly? Not like a shoving match that turned into a sort of wrestling match with a few frat boy haymakers thrown in. A real unexpected fight. Maybe someone tried to mug you.

Because even though I haven't personally seen a schizophrenic on the subway get to the point of committing attempted murder, I routinely saw the near potential for it. As in, being fully aware that that smelly weird dude could be hammering on some passer-by within 5 seconds. Why/how? My own personal experience with violence.

As a good research exercise, go watch some videos on the "Police Activity" channel on YouTube. Choose any that involve a shooting. These showcase just how quickly a "calm scene" can turn into dozens of shots fired. This will also show the utter lunacy of ideas around "warning shots" or "deescalation" by cops.

A friend has a good metaphor about human (esp male) latent violence - it's like a garage door spring. 99% of the time, it's this utterly forgettable thing that you are completely unaware of even as you are very close to it. In the rare situation in which it makes itself known, it is incredibly fast and violent (garage door springs can fucking end you).

But that explosive lethal potential is always there. But you don't see it, do you? Isn't that exactly what @HlynkaCG said?

It seems to me that his argument is that as a matter of objective fact, whether it is always there is irrelevant, compared to the rate that it actually becomes a problem. He sees the bums as rude and smelly, you and Hlynka see them as dangerous, but he's saying his perception is born out by the actual stats, and yours is not. Therefore, he sides with something like "bums aren't actually dangerous, so people who hurt bums claiming they're dangerous should have just left them alone instead."

Presumably, pointing to cases where the bums actually were dangerous won't change his mind, unless those cases were common enough to actually constitute a serious problem in his mind, and then my guess is that his prefered solution would be housing policy or treatment or something aimed at the systemic problem, not to allow vigilante violence.

That's my guess, anyway.

Yes, I've been in situations that escalated to real violence, none where anyone was killed but a few were people were stabbed and got an ambulance.

I don't let it make me paranoid and frightened every time I ride the subway, I don't let it make me support policies that aren't supported by statistics or utilitarianism.

Of course the potential for violence is latent in any situation involving traditional-gender-norm men... feminists have been pointing that out for a very long time, I'm sympathetic to their position. The way that this makes weaker and more vulnerable people afraid and deferential even when violence is not explicitly happening in the moment is part of what they mean by 'patriarchy'; the way that this makes people suspicious of and pre-emptively violent towards men who are doing nothing wrong is part of what they mean by 'toxic masculinity' and 'the patriarchy hurts men too'.

The fact that the right thinks the left is blind to the fact that the latent potential for violence exists around all men, when this has been central to feminist theory for so long, kind of strikes me as one of those things that happens when you accept the toxoplasmic strawman version of the other side's position, instead of exploring that community and literature for yourself. I expect myself to be wrong about a lot of right-wing positions in this approximate way, and I feel like I strongly observe this happening whenever I use feminist academic terminology on non-left spaces. /shrug.

But, again, as I understand Hlynka, they're not just claiming a difference in perspective and worldview like what would happen if you're subconsciously aware of the potential for violence in non-violent situations. They're claiming an empirical failure to accurately understand and predict the world, in ways that would justify things like applauding pre-emptive vigilantism and calling for more of it.

And I'm saying, no, I don't buy that on the empirical facts and statistics, and no, I don't buy that on some experience-driven 'sense' of how 'dangerous' the world is that exists outside the data itself.

I don't let it make me support policies that aren't supported by statistics

I think you might want to take a little peek at the theory of black swan events. "Stats say this crazy man only has a 1% chance of ending my life. No need to worry!"

or utilitarianism.

You mean the philosophy that leads to eugenics and "global optimization via local genocide." Fuck outta here with that nonsense.

'toxic masculinity' and 'the patriarchy hurts men too'.

Spoke too soon. Fuck outta here with THAT nonsense.

@Mods: I'll self-penalize here with a one day self-ban for this "boo outgroup." I should've not engaged. But I failed.

@Mods: I'll self-penalize here with a one day self-ban for this "boo outgroup." I should've not engaged. But I failed.

2-day ban.

Is this going to be propped up as another example of "guesswho baiting people with bad faith" and used against him, while right-wingers say more vile shit on the regular and stay untouched just because their opponents don't flip out on them?

"Saying vile shit" is not what we mod for. "Flipping out on people" is.

"Stats say this crazy man only has a 1% chance of ending my life. No need to worry!"

There's a difference between 1% and .000000000001%

You mean the philosophy that leads to eugenics and "global optimization via local genocide."

Good steelman.

Spoke too soon. Fuck outta here with THAT nonsense.

Hey look, I was right.

The fact that the right thinks the left is blind to the fact that the latent potential for violence exists around all men, when this has been central to feminist theory for so long, kind of strikes me as one of those things that happens when you accept the toxoplasmic strawman version of the other side's position, instead of exploring that community and literature for yourself.

Schizophrenic attacks are just the worst part of a class of associated antisocial behaviors. Along with X number of actual attacks go X * *Y numbers of pools of urine on the subway, X * Z incidents of verbal harassment, etc. which are on a continuum of "how bad can people behave" that has schizophrenic attacks as one of its endpoints.

Sure, but we were talking about extrajudicial killings here.

I agree that those other things exist, but so do liberals. I and they have lots of proposals to fix those things, which conservatives have variously opposed for decades or centuries. That's not a blind spot, at most it's policy disagreement.

Hlynka was using a specific discussion he had with a specific person about a specific killing to say that liberals have a blind spot about why a private citizen might need to kill someone on the subway and why that's justified and heroic. I don't see a connection between that and public urination, unless you can explain it more clearly.

  • -11

I've ridden a lot of subways and never seen a schizophrenic attack anyone

As @SSCReader and others observe above, It's arguably a testament to strength of and prosperity the existing local order that so many people are effectively able to live their entire lives within it without ever having to interface with the ugly realities. Consider for a moment that it wasn't all that long ago (75 years or so) that having Chicken for dinner involved buying a live chicken and killing/butchering it yourself. If you wanted beef or pork you went to your local butcher where you would be able to smell the blood on the floor. But today thanks to the wide-spread availability of refrigeration, meat is now something that just auto-magically appears in styrene flat-packs on supermarket shelves completely divorced from the mechanisms of its production. Where killing and harvesting your own food used to be a practical necessity it is now a life-style choice. In theory this is progress, but it's hard for me to shake the feeling that something of value has been lost here.

As Lee Harris argues in the opening to Civilization and its Enemies, prosperity breeds forgetfulness. The more prosperous a society becomes the less connected its people are to the underlying machinery of this prosperity. People forget that there was ever a time when they had to worry about whether the crops would come in, or whether their children would be sold into slavery by a conquering army. In short, they begin to forget that there is (or ever was) a world outside their prosperous society.

I would argue that the breakdown in communication between conservatives and liberals is almost entirely downstream of this apparent blindness or disconnect from empirical reality. I would argue that the reason liberals have difficulty understanding why conservatives act the way do because they seem to view prosperity as some sort of inevitable end point rather than something that has to be actively cultivated and maintained.

There is talk elsewhere in this thread about how we as a society "failed Jordan Neely" but to the conservative mind this sort of rhetoric raises an obvious question; Is this "failure" not what everyone who voted to "Defund the Police" and "Decriminalize drug use" was voting for? How can you claim that "we failed" when this is ostensibly what you wanted?

You can see a similar dynamic in the recent controversies surrounding retail theft. Liberal Officials in places like Boston, Chicago, and San Fransisco chose to stop prosecuting shop-lifters only to be shocked when Walgreens starts shuttering locations and Target starts keeping underwear under lock-and-key.

This apparent unwillingness or inability to grasp what to me (and many others) seems like obvious cause and effect is why I say there is a massive "hole" or "blind spot" in liberal thinking. Furthermore, I believe that much of the breakdown in communications is a product of this blind spot. "Can you not see it?" the conservative asks; "See what?" the liberal replies.

Consider for a moment that it wasn't all that long ago (75 years or so) that having Chicken for dinner involved buying a live chicken and killing/butchering it yourself. If you wanted beef or pork you went to your local butcher where you would be able to smell the blood on the floor. But today thanks to the wide-spread availability of refrigeration, meat is now something that just auto-magically appears in styrene flat-packs on supermarket shelves completely divorced from the mechanisms of its production.

Practical refrigerator railcars have existed since the 1880's. If you were wealthy and lived in a major city you got your meat in, well, not a styrofoam package but neatly wrapped in butcher paper from a store with no hint of where the meat came from since before living memory.

"The Joy of Cooking" was published in the 30s; my edition is mid-50s IIRC and retains material on drawing and plucking poultry. This seems to fit well with "75 years or so ago" -- supermarkets were a thing, but it seems like a whole chicken with feathers on it would be something a home cook might reasonably expect to encounter at this time?

If "you were wealthy and lived in a major city" is the key distinction here, up through the early 1900s the primary use of refrigeration was to manufacture and transport ice for use in unpowered ice-boxes. It's not until the 30 and 40s that it really starts to transition from being an expensive luxury to standard practice, and it's not till the mid 50s that we arrive at the current status quo of freezers and refrigerators being standard equipment in every home and grocery store.