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Culture War Roundup for the week of March 18, 2024

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The causes of inflation

Having recently finished Cochrane's Fiscal Theory of the Price Level, I was primarily struck by how contrived all modern macro-economic models are, whether Monetarist, New Keynesian, or Fiscal. New Keynesian models, for example, imply bizarre outcomes such as spiraling deflation when interest rates are at or near zero, yet rather than discarding the model economists instead warn of spiraling deflation at the zero bound. From a methodological standpoint, there appears to be a tradition of "fixing" a model by declaring a variable to be stochastic or subject to regime-change; yet without going back and re-deriving the model with these additional assumptions. Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) models jointly estimate macro-economic variables and policy parameters, despite policies being a choice; rendering predictions of potential policy impact on relevant economic variables futile.

Indeed, I posit that all three frameworks are missing a key element that drives inflation: the fact that the representative inter-temporal discount factor is non-constant, and that the discount factor is directly impacted by fiscal policy.

Background

First, some background. The representative agent (let's say me) prefers consumption now than consumption in the future. There are many philosophical reasons that this may be so, but the existence of debt appears to be ample empirical evidence for this assumption. The amount by which I prefer current consumption to future consumption is called the "discount factor", and can be modeled in a variety of ways. In discrete time, it is often symbolized using the Greek letter "beta" (not to be confused with the CAPM beta) and is typically somewhat less than 1 (perhaps in the .85-.99 range). Micro-economic models call the rate at which I prefer current consumption to future consumption the "elasticity of inter-temporal substitution", and typically model the impact of interest rates on this inter-temporal substitution effect. In equilibrium, the interest rate is directional proportional the negative log of the discount factor: r = a - log(beta), or if beta is modeled as exp(-delta), r = a + delta.

In a simple economic model with no government spending, no Federal Reserve, and no banks (frictionless financial markets) (and oh, to live in such a world!), the discount factor is directly related to the savings rate and amount of investment in "physical" (though intangible in the case of software and innovation) capital. Having a long term view implies a high savings rate. Savings are invested in capital. Capital is the primary driver of long-term economic growth, as it allows economies to produce more goods with greater efficiency. If the aggregate discount factor is at .95, then any capital investment with a (risk-adjusted) return greater than 5% would be financed, leading to more economic growth than if only capital investments with returns greater than 10% were financed.

Government spending, a central bank, and retail banks throw this simple model into flux. Unlike mutual funds, which act as a true intermediary by taking investors money and directly putting the money into portfolios of stocks and bonds, retail banks lend "safe" and thus cheap deposits. This cash has to go somewhere, and eventually makes its way back to a bank as a deposit...which is then lent out again. This cheap borrowing, and subsequent rise in the broad deposit base, artificially lowers the lending rate. Austrian economics correctly states that this leads to over-investment: investment is unbacked by corresponding saving, causing a bubble and mis-allocation of economic resources. A much more economically straightforward approach (and one also suggested by Cochrane) is for banks to be financed entirely by equity: investors can buy stocks in a bank, who then uses the money raised by an equity issuance to fund lending. This approach would let retail banks truly act as intermediaries, being rewarded for expertise in credit risk management and identification of wise investments, without introducing investment distortions.

Government spending is also a distortion. The government has to spend on something: either they hire private companies (a form of consumption or investment, depending on the nature of the spending) or directly create consumer or investment goods. Since this investment is also not tied to savings, distortion is introduced (Ricardian equivalence not-withstanding).

Finally, central banks control the interest rate either via the rate at which they allow retail banks to borrow or by directly creating money and purchasing government bonds on the open market. Purchasing government bonds increases the demand for bonds directly, giving the government more capacity to borrow and spend and facilitating more distortion.

Mainstream theories

Monetarists, New Keynesians, and Fiscal theories are aware of all the above, yet don't directly introduce these facts into their canonical models. Loosely speaking, Monetarists consider inflation to be driven in the long run by changes in the money supply: "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon" according to Friedman. Mathematically, MV = PY, where Y is economic output, P is the price level, M is the money supply, and V is the velocity of money (how frequently it changes hands). Under the assumption that V is a stationary process (conceptually, mean reverting) and that Y is long-run exogenous, the only impact on P comes from M. Unfortunately, M is not well defined, especially, as Cochrane correctly points out, in the presence of increasing financial innovation and removal of financial frictions. If I can purchase a television by an immediate transfer from my investment portfolio with no conversion to cash, then M is not only all cash and deposits, but also all bonds and stocks. Central bank open market operations, where money is created to purchase bonds, then has no impact on the money supply. Cash is created, but bonds are removed from the market, which is net-neutral for the money supply.

New Keynesians, in the tradition of the original Keynesians, consider inflation to be caused by excess demand. This is explicit in their canonical models, where the inflation rate is a function of the output gap and expected future inflation. New Keynesian theories struggle to explain the lack of inflation from 2009 to 2020, where fiscal and monetary policy were both accommodating, but in which inflation stayed stubbornly low.

Finally, Fiscal Theorists consider inflation to be the result of government deficits that are not backed by corresponding future surpluses. In this theory, government debt is valued by the present value of future primary surpluses (cash flows excluding interest expenditure). Government can either credibly promise to pay back new debt (in which case the current value of debt remains constant), or the price level will increase to deflate the current level of debt. This theory is relatively simple and has many advantages that Cochrane articulates in detail. My biggest issue with the theory is that the mechanism for inflation is opaque. The government can issue debt and promise future surpluses, leading to Ricardian equivalence. But if the government doesn't promise future surpluses, people are free to spend the money, driving up the price level. This theory does not, to my knowledge, tie consumer behavior back to the representative agent's utility function.

What about the discount factor?

And now I can finally get back to my own theory. Each of the three theories posited above assumes that the discount factor is constant. I believe that the discount factor is dynamic and that this dynamism directly leads to inflation. Fiscal policy can directly impact the discount factor, while monetary policies can stimulate inflation by decoupling interest rates from the discount factor.

An immediate shift to higher discount rates (lower discount factor) will cause immediate price level increases. As I now prefer current consumption even more over future consumption, I will spend more today and save less for tomorrow. Since higher discount rates lead to less economic growth, there is less room for supply side easing of inflationary pressure. Populations that have higher discount rates will also tend to vote in myopic governments who focus on short-term benefits while ignoring long-term structural and financial concerns.

Expansionary fiscal policy puts additional cash in consumers or investors hands. The presence and continued growth of additional cash will have an impact on savings rates: why should I bother to save if I will simply receive more government cash in the future? The discount rate will rise as a result. Cochrane does have a point: debt that is backed by future surpluses will not have the same impact on the discount rate, since eventually the gravy train will stop. However, Cochrane does not allow discount rates to change, robbing the model of a key mechanism for inducing inflation.

Expansionary monetary policy does not necessarily impact the discount rate. While in a frictionless society with no government, an interest rate decline can only happen when discount rates also decline, in an expansionary monetary episode lower interest rates can lead to higher “real” discount rates. The availability of cheap money relative to discount rates leads to increases in borrowing and current consumption which leads to demand-side inflation. This is a standard Keynesian argument, but I go one step further: long periods of low interest rates can lead to a lethargic population that assumes that money will always be free. How this manifests in a utility function is ambiguous: it could be that this actually lowers the discount rate in the long run (raises the discount factor). If this is the case, then a sudden interest and fiscal shock to the system can causes an even larger increase in the discount rate.

2021 was a time of fiscal excess, supply shortages, and post-pandemic YOLOing. Discount rates shot through the roof, as evidenced by both heightened consumption and declines in workforce participation, hitting both the demand and supply side of the economy, funded by accommodating fiscal policy. It is a testament to the American people that we seem to a large extent to have come back to our senses. Despite continued deficits, inflation has come down as the discount rate has dropped to near previous levels. However, it is clear how easy it would be to devolve into a South American-style economy, characterized by short-termism and fiscal irresponsibility at both the individual and government levels.

Why is this culture war material?

To what degree are low discount rates driven by culture? Americans were originally positively selected for long-termism. By definition, they had an unusually high capacity for adventure, exploration, hard work, and desire to create a better world for their descendants. Most of the immigrants to the United States since have had similar positive selection. Even the Irish and African populations, who may have been negatively selected on certain attributes (by the potato famine and by defeat/capture by rival tribes respectively), there isn't anything to suggest that their discount rate was negatively selected for. When America was a melting pot, they were assimilated into a culture that favored long-termism.

When considering modern immigrants in light of discount rates, I come to a surprising conclusion. Whatever issues illegal immigrants have (and I have many concerns!), they may well be positively selected on discount rate. They risk danger and uncertainty for a better and brighter long-term future. On the other hand, while seemingly the most successful immigrants, Indians could very well be negatively selected on discount rate. Rather than stay in India and help transform it into a fully developed nation, they come to the United States to enjoy immediate success. Indians (Brahmins) have administrative and managerial talents that often far outpace the mean American and they enjoy great success navigating the PMC (the growth of which could also be a consequence of higher discount rates). Yet in my experience, these high-capacity Brahmins do not actually drive innovation or change. If I'm correct about this, the current surfeit of Indian executive talent could contribute to American economic stagnation.

I want to congratulate you on writing one of the greatest motteposts of all time. 2000 word summary of different economic schools of thought, mostly correct (econ major, can confirm, though your notion that discount factors are assumed constant is not necessarily so in the schools you ascribe it to), followed by 500 words of "Actually, Scientific Racism would explain this better".

Truly an quintessential example of a mottepost. Showcasing that you've done the work to at least try to understand modern scholarship, but discarding it in favor of whatever flavour of phrenology is in this week.

I can't imagine a better example of a mottepost.

  • -10

I can't imagine a better example of a mottepost.

Then read some of the better ones. I could as easily say your post is a classic sneerclub post: full of sneering condescension that exhibits a surface-level appreciation of someone's point but then reduces it to an uncharitable straw man.

It's been 11 months since you caught your last ban. Maybe you've been on vacation since then, but if you haven't mellowed after all, then just to let you know, if you decide you're going to flame out in one last hurrah, I will not only ban you permanently, as I promised, but I will take the rare step of deleting your post to deny you the satisfaction of getting your last digs in.

Or, you know, you could try participating in good faith. Just a suggestion.

I don't think that it's fair to describe the whole post as racism. There is more of general conservative vibe to it(the past was better and you should invest in your country). And also obviously Austrian school signs all over it.

See, to me this feels odd because it leaves out one crucial point. People being primarily motivated by social status. It's not, why should I bother to save if government money is coming in the future? It's why should I bother to save if I'm going to take a significant hit to my social status and image today? Lockdown and stimulus basically served as a sort of supercharger for this competition. People are not going to like the solution however, which is essentially that the middle class/upper middle class has too much discernable income, and probably should be taxed significantly more.

That was Robert H. Frank's argument for a steeply progressive consumption tax. It would reduce zero sum status competition while keeping savings/investment high.

I was primarily struck by how contrived all modern macro-economic models are

1000 times yes. I have a BS in economics. Macro still seems like voodoo magic to me. The only model I sort of like is the "sustainable patterns of specialization and trade" kind of model.

[discount rate]

Do you not think the discount rate stuff was sorta covered by the OG Keynesian "animal spirits"?

I get the sense that they kind of figured this out, but economists just really don't like having an unmeasurable thing in their models. Much of the modern profession is filled with math nerds who earned their PhD by doing some fancy math manipulations on theoretical and completely impractical models. The economists that prefer to actually model the real economy get paid the big bucks on wall-street.

I don’t think Wall-Street hirers those guys anymore. Maybe a Bill Gross or Gundlach but to be honest those guys spend probably more time think about small market structure edge to squeeze an extra 20 bps versus absolutely hammering the economic outlook right and getting 10 year up or down right.

The big macro funds are going to be thinking about a lot of other things too than getting the macro call right. The guys in those shops getting the economy right just isn’t that important when your levered and have risks limits on everything. Pays much better just figuring out a sentiment shift or a trigger for a price (like at etf entrance or some quant allocation that will happen).

Any macro interview is going to start with returns and Sharpe ratio stuff not whether your calls are right. Getting calls right is just too volatile.

One example I would use is when oil when -50 (and an extreme example) it only traded negative for like 90 minutes and the entire next day was positive entire day. Even if you knew the price next day and traded that you wouldn’t make money because is in between for those 90 minutes a nice security guard came to your desks and escorted you out. What happened is some Chinese banks were long some derivatives linked to that days oil close and blasted it negative (probably illegally) causing billions of losses on those banks. But if you had mapped out all the fundamentals and macro and absolutely nailed the value of a barrel of oil you would in fact not be rich.

The only place I think kind of sometimes takes a big macro swing (usually on bearish side) is Bridgewater but they overall haven’t had great performance but somehow are a marketing powerhouse.

On the mainstream theories

I don't see how the Monetarist model can be seen as contrived. It is the simplest model and the one most in line with standard economic principles without bells and whistles. All prices are relative and we can think of the "price" of money relative to other goods. Money is a (durable) good with well-defined demand and supply. (Sure, the demand and supply functions must be described in "real" rather than "nominal" terms, because dollars are valued according to what they can buy not just for themselves). Demand and supply determine the relative price of money. If supply is increasing relative to demand—a monetary expansion— the price of money will be going down and we have inflation. Granted, there are a lot of important details: what should count as money, how substitutable bank deposits and cash are, how should we aggregate them into a single composite measure of total money; but the core of the framework is just that. Just basic supply and demand analysis.

The New Keynesian model recognizes this, but it gets hidden in their "cashless limit" so that the standard textbook version has no mention of money quantities at all. But it is there in the background. The contrived parts of the New Keynesian model comes from their decision to select and rule out certain types of equilibria and not being careful with working directly with the limit version of the model rather than solving the model first and taking the limit later.

On the discount rate

The fact that the discount rate matters for saving decisions does not mean that the discount rate changes with the environment. If the government has some expansionary fiscal policy, my budget constraints will change and I might substitute consumption intertemporally even if my discount rate is the same.

In the theory of (consumption-based) asset pricing, economists generally talk about the stochastic discount factor which takes into account the marginal utility in the future (in the different possible futures, hence stochastic). For instance, changes in this stochastic discount factor are used to explain the changes in the value of the stock market. But the idea there is that my rate of time preference between 1 utility unit today and 1 utility unit tomorrow remains the same, I just have a different rate of preference between 1 unit of consumption today and 1 unit of consumption tomorrow. If this is your point, then it makes sense. But it is not a point that is missed by the mainstream theories, it is literally taught in the first-year classes of any mainstream school.

Austrian economics correctly states that this leads to over-investment: investment is unbacked by corresponding saving, causing a bubble and mis-allocation of economic resources.

I was waiting for this. The rest of the post prior has all of those usual """dog-whistles""" that it was like a twist in a movie you can see coming from miles away.

Is it 2008 again? I remember the internet being full of this kind of thing (and being one of the contributors!).

Anyway, it's important to point out that 'full reserve' theorizing is not 'Austrian' economics, it's Rothbardian Austrian economics. The original ABCT doesn't require it to avoid business cycles and Hayek's formulation can be re-cast in essentially monetarist terms as about the interplay of the supply and demand for money without much modification. The supply of loanable funds (a nominal quantity) does not necessarily represent the full production possibilities of the underlying economy (a real one). That is, there are 'real' savings that are not represented by nominal savings at a given price level/quantity of money. The demand for money will be driven, in part, by the investment possibilities created by real savings, so a full reserve banking system will under invest in production, while the fractional reserve system the Rothbardians are against would be able to invest enough for the economy to reach its production possibilities frontier without going beyond it and generating a business cycle.

As to the rest of your post: a lot of what you're talking about with population discount rates would probably be covered in post-war Keynesian literature on the propensity to save/consume. The empirical validity of a lot of it varies, I'm sure, but I can't imagine it's any more questionable than your last two paragraphs.

You are reading too much into what I wrote. I am not Austrian. 100% reserves will not resolve business cycles, nor is that prescription practicable. I think even the New Keynesians have more interesting things to say on economics than Austrians. I happen to work for a large-ish bank that practices fractional reserve banking (as all retail banks do), and I can sleep at night.

I think Cochrane is the closest to being correct of the three that I laid out. I also think his proposal for 100% equity funded banks is both practicable and better aligns savers and borrowers, and will definitively end bank runs. I think all three are closer to being "correct" than the Austrians, whose main claim to fame is thoroughly debunking Marxist economics (admittedly not a high hurdle to clear).

I would love to hear more from you on the post-war Keynesian literature and how it is relevant to the rest of my post; that is the part that actually interests me.

The supply of loanable funds (a nominal quantity) does not necessarily represent the full production possibilities of the underlying economy (a real one). That is, there are 'real' savings that are not represented by nominal savings at a given price level/quantity of money.

From within the Austrian framework, I think this claim does not hold. I think what you are saying—and please correct me if I’m wrong—is that there may exist savings held (e.g.) in the form of dollar bills in a deposit box at a bank. These bills cannot be lent out as part of the bank’s operations, and hence the real wealth which they represent can never participate in the economy as “investment”.

However, an Austrian would say that those dollar bills are not savings in the sense of forming part of the supply of loanable funds. Savings-as-loanable-funds are a subset of savings-as-deferred-consumption; the former entails the assumption of some risk, while the latter (as in the case of bills in a deposit box) need not.

If you like, holding money qua money, rather than allowing it to be lent out for investment purposes, could be called “exercising demand for money” or less charitably, “hoarding money”, as distinguished from “saving”. An Austrian would say that such hoarding is economically no different from exercising demand in any other way (e.g., through consumption of real goods/services).

The TikTok Ban, Male Role Models, the New Punk, and the Right to be Cool in American Society

TLDR: We're increasingly seeing an urge to regulate media consumption, social media moderation, and public speech along the lines of an ersatz "equal time" doctrine, in which users must both view and affirm one's viewpoints. People don't just want the right to free speech, they want the right to be cool, to speak and be heard and enjoyed and honored.

A theme running through a few different recent threads on here is an urge by different societal movements to seize the mantle of “cool,” to be hip, to be fun, to be interesting.

The people trying to ban TikTok have cited over and over the differential between Israeli and Palestinian content.

Now, critics allege that TikTok is using its influence to push content that is pro-Palestinian and contrary to U.S. foreign policy interests. The claims about TikTok’s promotion of pro-Palestinian content are anecdotal, and they have been bubbling up on the social media platform X, in statements to the media and on conservative media outlet. TikTok said the allegations of bias are baseless.

The underlying assumption by Pro-Israeli voices is that it is impossible for Pro-Israeli content to simply be unpopular. It is impossible that the Israelis are simply bad at memes. There is no actual evidence of bias produced, no evidence of suppression of Israeli creators or boosting of Hamas hashtags, the assumption is that this bias must exist in order for consumers to make the choices they made.

Meanwhile the primary effort I see in the Anti-Anti-Semitism space is the #StandUpToJewishHate campaign, which is so confusingly bad I literally think it is its opposite every time I see it. I see the ads, and I read it naturally as Stand Up to Hatred (by) Jews rather than Stand Up To Hatred (of) Jews. ADL content is lame, bad, boring. Pro-Palestinian content is simply better and put together by better creators.

Just accept not being cool! Did you know: what only number one hit in the 1960s was explicitly about the Vietnam war? Ballad of the Green Berets. Go figure. You want to compete with better memes, produce your own. While we associate the 1960s music scene with the antiwar movement, there were significant patriotic songs produced too. Fighting Side of Me, Okie from Muskogee, the patriotic hits of the era were huge. You compete with memes with better memes. Banning tiktok will not save Israel.

We see the same dynamic with astroturfed “Positive” male role models. Male role models who are nothing interesting, simply because TPTB don’t like the ones that are actually current and good. We see the same dynamic with everyone claiming to be the new punk. This poem circulated on twitter as the worst poem ever written and I tend to agree, but the sheer weirdness of the idea that being a revolutionary is congruent with following public health theater and taking antidepressants just floors me. Everyone wants to be cool and rebellious and also in power and also secretly the choice of the grill pilled normies and the proletariat and the artists and the one true source of loving families that produce children. They want to be James Dean and Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver. They want to be both the enemies in the culture war at the same time.

This comes back to the debate about freedom of speech vs freedom of reach, right? How do you create the right to equal time in a world where people are picking among free choices with their eyeballs? How far does this go? If people buy books that are on one end of a conflict, must publishers and libraries fart out books for the other side? It was possible in a more centralized era for governments to force limited broadcast stations to cover sides evenly, but in the era of consumer choice, even if you force content creators to put out pro-Israel movies Netflix and Youtube customers don’t have to click on them. You can’t force eyeballs onto content anymore. To what extent is the effort to force advertising into these platforms in part an effort to force content consumers to get exposed to these messages whether they like it or not? Once people can choose their own content, they might not pick your content, and that can’t be allowed.

I don't think this is a TikTok problem per se. I think the question is, why is the strict Oppressor/Oppressed dichotomy so hip and cool? Speaking as someone who is totally against that model. Why does opposing these models make you look so....nerdy, if not outright vile? I still maintain the reason is because the strict Oppressor/Oppressed dichotomy freezes out other facets of power, privilege and bias which actually serve to build/maintain power for influencer types. It serves the tribal in-group vs. out-group thinking. In short, it feels good and it's actually of little cost, because you're not actually expected to apply it to yourself or the people around you. It's OK to just apply it to the other.

Why does opposing these models make you look so....nerdy, if not outright vile?

Firstly, because arguing for nuance is almost always going to come across as nerdy. Secondly, because opposition frequently takes the form of apologia for vile actions and it's difficult to avoid the attendant guilt by association even if you're making good arguments. For every person arguing that the oppressor/oppressed dichotomy is reductive and harmful, there will be someone saying that actually the Kulaks/Croats/Queers/[Insert Object of Hate Here] deserved it (or at the very least that it wasn't a big deal and they should get over it).

It serves the tribal in-group vs. out-group thinking. In short, it feels good and it's actually of little cost, because you're not actually expected to apply it to yourself or the people around you. It's OK to just apply it to the other.

This is true, but it's a general feature of dichotomous political thinking, whether it's oppressor/oppressed, fat cat/little guy, lowlife/upstanding citizen, or foreigner/native. It's all just a gloss on Us (people who deserve dignity and moral consideration) vs Them (people who don't). An explanation of why this in particular has cachet needs more explanation.

It's in peoples' rational self-interest to stand up for victims because being a victim could happen to anyone and the costs for the victim are often greater than the benefits for the abuser. Same reason why torture is usually outlawed the moment democracy is implemented: the benefits of torture are small, the costs great, so people outlaw it as they themselves don't think the costs of foregoing torture outweigh the benefits of never having to be a potential recipient of it.

That this reasoning sometimes errs is because the analysis of who constitutes a victim/abuser is, like all other democratic analyses, based on outward optics and scant information. It's the satellite view of a conflict and so misses all of the nitty-gritty. So only a rough approximation of the matter is made. The roles, only vaguely educed.

And there are also perverse incentives that the average human holds. There's the Harrison Bergeron impulse on the part of the mediocre multitude to hold down and discredit the talented few. Retarded, violent populations are not as maligned as they perhaps should be following utilitarian calculations, as the average citizen to some extent identifies with them or else narcissistically considers themselves to be a savior. So populations like the Palestinians earn protected status, while their haughty superiors are brought low, but it all follows from the base self-interest of the demos, those muddled idiots who wish to protect themselves...

why is the strict Oppressor/Oppressed dichotomy so hip and cool? Speaking as someone who is totally against that model. Why does opposing these models make you look so....nerdy,

I think it's the female frame. Women tend to be less aggressive and more caring. In the past men had exclusive control of politics, foreign policy and so on - and conducted things with an emphasis on aggression, violence, honour and logic. Realism/realpolitik dictates that you court the strong and use the weak as pawns. Now women are involved and try to do things their way, care for the weak and hector villains. Thus we have a huge proliferation of 'caring' diplomacy. In the past we just had realist models of international relations with an emphasis on strength and logic, now there are liberal and constructivist schools of thought focusing on institutions and vibes, respectively.

On twitter these women are getting excited about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. There's an entire parallel universe where this treaty isn't a massive joke, where these lawyers and academics are doing real and meaningful work: https://twitter.com/nytopinion/status/1770863175937708279

They have a fundamentally different mindset to realists. If you skim the wikipedia page of neorealism, all the thinkers are male. Look through constructivism and there are loads of women. Conceiving of the universe as ruled by mutable ideas and social constructs is a naturally female perspective, just as men are more interested in game theory and structural, abstract rules.

Because the female frame has taken on such influence, opposing it has become unfashionable.

I don’t think that’s it. Most of these movements are punching down in a way that looks like punching up. The out groups tend to look like the powerful, but without any actual power of their own. DEI ostensibly hurts white men. But it doesn’t really affect powerful white men. The guys graduating from elite colleges, the ones whose parents run a business and can shuffle their son into the C suites aren’t harmed by DEI. Unconnected white men, men who lack the connections, generational wealth or parents business to bypass the cattle call of the job market, they are the ones losing out. So it has two groups who benefit and only one relatively unpopular group that doesn’t. The elites love DEI as a way to kneecap their competitors. Make it difficult for a white male computer programmer to move up and you don’t have to worry about him founding the next big company. Women and minorities love DEI because they get cherry positions in big companies and get their names and faces out there.

Even Israel Palestine tends to run along these lines. Jews look white enough that they can be white when the narrative calls for it. Then you can oppose the white colonialism without having to oppose the elites doing so. America has been pretty active in imposing its will on the world. We overthrow governments all the time, and have absolutely no problem with bombing the shiitake out of anyone we consider our enemies. We have absolutely no problem with imposing draconian sanctions on countries we don’t like. Israel was at least attacked by the country it’s at war with, Iraq never attacked us and got shock and awed and then occupied.

I think that dynamic— look like the powerful but be much weaker makes any group a good target for those involved in the oppression matrix line of thinking. Attacking someone obviously not like the elites invokes racism-sneers. It’s too obviously punching down to be effective. But if you punch down on someone who looks like you not only will that not look racist, but the victim cannot really defend himself. After all, to outsiders he looks like the people punching him. And so defending himself looks like privilege. How dare this guy object to black people getting the job over him? Doesn’t he know about oppression?

Yes, this is the point. The archetypical male tyrant rules with an iron fist and emphasizes his own power. He is a major douchebag and his rule is only stable through the excessive application of force to make the opposition cower in fear.

The archetypical female tyrant rules through deception and manipulation. She rules by pitting everyone against everyone else, and then playing the "neutral" arbiter who just wants everyone to get along, you know? She sets up a moralist framework that just-so happens to benefit her (ideally with some mystical source of knowledge that only she has access to), and that is vague enough so that she can switch positions whenever it suits her. She avoids formal positions of power and rules by committee, and so on. The Oppressor/Opressed framework is basically tailor-made for this purpose. The same guy can be an oppressed black body if he is on your side, or a toxic male oppressor if he isn't.

Of course, both of these are a bit too extreme to be practical, real life stable systems seem to mostly coalesce into a small elite group of men wielding the highest explicit/formal power backed up by a moralist framework that is primarily enforced through a much larger group of women, with both of these groups worst tendencies being kept in check by the other. Without that enforced moralist framework societies tend to devolve into chaos and warlordism, while societies without the men tend to simply get conquered by foreign men. But the locus of power can move between these two groups, and currently almost nobody is disputing that women are more powerful than they've ever been - the main discussion is on whether we've not gone far enough on one side or that the pendulum has swung in the other direction on the other side.

Yeah, I think this is right, or at least it's my point. I actually think people hold on to dear life to the Oppressor/Oppressed frame so we don't break this image, lest we start questioning the connections and the generational wealth. The one thing I believe strongly, is we don't have the stomach for actual socioeconomic decline. Even the most Progressive of the Progressives will balk at this when it comes to they and theirs. It's OK when it's just "Billionaires", but when it comes down to specifics that are in the in-group? Nah. Not an option.

The big threat that comes from heterodox thinking on this, I think, is that we add connections to the DEI anti-list, I.E. things that will be counted in a negative sense. In that, it's not the unconnected white men that will lose out...it's the connected ones. You best be coming with your DEI proposal, a plan for your eventual exit. I think there's a reason why people go nuclear on heterodox thinking on these matters, things outside the Progressive vs. Reactionary binary, that all this stuff presents itself as a very real threat to not just the powers in a big sense, but your place and power in a more local sense.

I came to much the same conclusions a long time ago when I noticed that wealth, connections, and even geographical proximity to seats of power were never actually a part of any meaningful conversation on privilege. Which ultimately is nonsense — not because there’s no such things as racism and sexism, but that the oppression created by those things pales in comparison to wealth. And I think it can be pointed out quite simply by pointing to the minority or female children of rich adults. I think it’s actually easier to find success as the son of a black rich and famous person than it would be to find success as a working class white guy from Georgia.

And it really shows up in all sorts of ways. The “right” schools on your resume. The “right” sorts of clubs and experiences and volunteer opportunities. The right sorts of unpaid internships. And access to those things are almost always behind steep paywalls. Volunteering especially the kind that high end colleges seem to like (starting a charity yourself or going abroad) tend to be both time and money intensive. If you have to work as a teen for any reason, your application is not the right kind for elite schools. Likewise sports. The number of children in the pay for play college scandal who were given scholarships for obscure sports that really only the rich actually play was ridiculous. The median student has never been on a rowing team. Even after getting into school, having a good resume means study abroad programs and unpaid internships. Except those can be hard for students who cannot afford to not work while at school. So it’s like the joke about underpasses — yes it’s equally illegal for Elon Musk and a homeless guy to sleep under a bridge. But Elon musk doesn’t sleep under bridges. It’s equally important for both of us to getting into high paying jobs that we spend our time building a resume and reputation and network, but I need to work my way through school and you don’t. Well, who’s going to have an easier time making it?

Everything in America from health, to opportunities, to education and a million other things are dependent on having money. And it’s the one privilege that’s carefully rendered invisible under a deluge of talk about race, gender, and sexuality.

I came to much the same conclusions a long time ago when I noticed that wealth, connections, and even geographical proximity to seats of power were never actually a part of any meaningful conversation on privilege.

Don't they? I feel like they talk about it a lot. A lot of the people talking about privilege are also ardent socialists. At least in the sense of being a Limousine liberal, so maybe they don't do anything about it, but they certainly talk about the power of money.

Certainly people talk about "Billionaires" all the time. But below that? Not so much. And yeah, sometimes you'll see it targeted specifically at certain (usually outgroup) people...but generally this isn't something that's challenged, outside of an extreme minority of targets. I don't think this has always been the case, or is always the case, but I think there's a lack of awareness that the socialism different people envision might not be the same thing. Some people might truly envision a prioritizing of the working class, while others see shifting power and control to the managerial/professional classes.

This poem circulated on twitter as the worst poem ever written

What's the poem? Twitter stopped showing any responses/in-thread posts to users who are not logged in, and I can't find a working nitter instance anymore.

I can't find a working nitter instance anymore.

There is still at least one, though I'm not sure that I want to spread it everywhere in case extra traffic kills it.

Self-hosting is pretty easy, and it can run on a single burner account if you're just using it for yourself.

Twitter shut down the "disposable account" mechanism that Nitter instances used. Thirty days afterwards, the last Nitter account stopped working.

Some people sure have gone big on long COVID. At this point I don't think it exists in anything more than the trivial sense that being sick makes you generally weaker for a bit.

This is a poem? I thought poems at least had to have multiple lines, even if we've jettisoned rhyme and meter?

It looks like a random text. Or something. I don’t get it.

"""Poetic""" psuedo-stream-of-consiousness from a particular sort of progressive.

That's only one of the cases where it's claimed they've interfered. There are others. Hong Kong. Uyghurs. Taiwan. Tiananmen. Tibet.

Granting arguendo that this one is nonsense and/or not a concern (and you might be right), TikTok as controlled by ByteDance still has to go. Don't overfocus on this detail to the point that you miss the big picture; sort-by-controversial is a thing that happens, but it's not correct in how much it prioritises things.

Also, we could be going to war with the PRC in the next couple of years. Do you really think that ByteDance wouldn't go along if the CPC told them to fill their site and app with malware in order to break the Western Internet? Hint: ByteDance is a mainland Chinese company, and in mainland China if you defy the CPC they chop you up for your organs like that scene out of Repo.

To be clear: no one is banning tiktok. They may force ByteDance to divest from the American form of tiktok. ByteDance can then sell it to non-Chinese owners. Or take their ball and go home. Their choice.

The arguments I've heard in favor of this involve the CCP controlling Chinese companies and the American form of tiktok being a horrible antisocial negative version but the Chinese version being a prosocial positive version. Which would be the CCP messing with our youth. And the black box hand-modified algorithm promoting content is not an even-handed arbiter of memetic popularity. Neither in China nor the US.

Anecdotally my Chinese American in-laws and wife agree that the Chinese version of tiktok is superior. And they use Chinese mainland Apple accounts to load it on their phones because it is the "good" version. So when some Congressman claims that, I accept it.

To be clear, the bills that are supposed to 'ban tiktok' would also enable regulation of any other media simply by claiming that managers or owners of said media are 'rival influenced'. So you could go after Twitter e.g. because Musk posted unflattering claims about Ukrainian war and the only reason for that is that he's Russian influenced. The bill said "owned or controlled, directly or indirectly". That seems incredibly broad to be honest.

You'd only be able to challenge this law in a specific D.C. Court. Good luck!

So you could go after Twitter e.g. because Musk posted unflattering claims about Ukrainian war and the only reason for that is that he's Russian influenced.

I really doubt that is what 'rival influenced' means. "We sold it to one of our other subsidiaries or partners, so it isn't us technically doing it" has to be banned for this to be sensible.

Not to mention going after Twitter for foreign policy views is a glaring 1st Ammendment issue. I think this is a fantasy.

Not to mention going after Twitter for foreign policy views is a glaring 1st Ammendment issue. I think this is a fantasy.

Haven't you been paying attention, at all, to what the state is doing? E.g. the Biden laptop suppressed using national security excuse, which turned out to be a lie.

The end run over 1st amendment by making their proxies in Brussels pass a law that'd require censorship of global networks and set the default. etc.

The bill said "owned or controlled, directly or indirectly". That seems incredibly broad to be honest.

Here's the whole of the relevant section of the law, so people can judge for themselves how broad it is:

(g) Definitions

In this section:

(1) Controlled by a foreign adversary

The term controlled by a foreign adversary means, with respect to a covered company or other entity, that such company or other entity is—

(A) a foreign person that is domiciled in, is headquartered in, has its principal place of business in, or is organized under the laws of a foreign adversary country;

(B) an entity with respect to which a foreign person or combination of foreign persons described in subparagraph (A) directly or indirectly own at least a 20 percent stake; or

(C) a person subject to the direction or control of a foreign person or entity described in subparagraph (A) or (B).

(2) Covered company

(A) In general

The term covered company means an entity that operates, directly or indirectly (including through a parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate), a website, desktop application, mobile application, or augmented or immersive technology application that—

 (i) permits a user to create an account or profile to generate, share, and view text, images, videos, real-time communications, or similar content;
 (ii) has more than 1,000,000 monthly active users with respect to at least 2 of the 3 months preceding the date on which a relevant determination of the President is made pursuant to paragraph (3)(B);
 (iii) enables 1 or more users to generate or distribute content that can be viewed by other users of the website, desktop application, mobile application, or augmented or immersive technology application; and
 (iv) enables 1 or more users to view content generated by other users of the website, desktop application, mobile application, or augmented or immersive technology application.

(B) Exclusion

The term covered company does not include an entity that operates a website, desktop application, mobile application, or augmented or immersive technology application whose primary purpose is to allow users to post product reviews, business reviews, or travel information and reviews.

(3) Foreign adversary controlled application

The term foreign adversary controlled application means a website, desktop application, mobile application, or augmented or immersive technology application that is operated, directly or indirectly (including through a parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate), by—

(A) any of—

 (i) ByteDance, Ltd.;
 (ii) TikTok;
 (iii) a subsidiary of or a successor to an entity identified in clause (i) or (ii) that is controlled by a foreign adversary; or
 (iv) an entity owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by an entity identified in clause (i), (ii), or (iii); or

(B) a covered company that—

 (i) is controlled by a foreign adversary; and
 (ii) that is determined by the President to present a significant threat to the national security of the United States following the issuance of—
   (I) a public notice proposing such determination; and
   (II) a public report to Congress, submitted not less than 30 days before such determination, describing the specific national security concern involved and containing a classified annex and a description of what assets would need to be divested to execute a qualified divestiture.

(4) Foreign adversary country

The term foreign adversary country means a country specified in section 4872(d)(2) of title 10, United States Code.

And here's the relevant, referenced section from subsection 4 above:

section 4872(d)(2):

(2) Covered nation.—The term “covered nation” means—

(A) the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea;

(B) the People’s Republic of China;

(C) the Russian Federation; and

(D) the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It's all honestly really quite narrow. It could not be applied to Twitter because Elon isn't 'domiciled in, is headquartered in, has its principal place of business in, or is organized under the laws of' 'the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea...the People's Republic of China...the Russian Federation...[or] the Islamic Republic of Iran', nor is Twitter 'directly or indirectly own[ed]' by someone with 'at least a 20 percent stake' who is domiciled, headquartered, doing business in, or organized under the laws of the preceding four countries.

If, someday, we added Saudi Arabia to that list (not something I would put past the left of the Democratic party, a portion of which will never get over Khashoggi), Twitter might be in trouble. Until then, this law would not apply.

The law is quite short. It's also pretty free of the kind of cross-references and surgical edits that make reading many other bills so confusing. Just make sure to understand that most things in the law are defined somewhere.

The concerning part is that the president can make a private classified notice that someone is a foreign adversary that only congress gets to see and then FBI/CIA/Secret Service action can be taken against the corporation without anyone know that its 'legalized' by this bill and by the private notice to congress.

a person subject to the direction or control of a foreign person or entity described in subparagraph (A) or (B).

Reminder that they stole $500 million from Trump for the crime of possibly exaggerating the value of his Florida club, which they valued at $18 million dubiously and then turned around and declared that the club if seized is suddenly worth hundreds of millions for the purpose of paying off the fine.

Direction and control seems extremely broad statements, so unless you can provide some legal definition for that, it's rather sinister..

It looks like 'direction or control' usually means some sort of formal relationship. So, a contract that gives voting power over a company or something like that.

Why does this remind me of a completely other unrelated bill during 9/11 that allows for student loan forgiveness basically referring to 9/11 related stuff but 20+ years later was used for student loan forgiveness on things not like 9/11.

I don’t even want to blame congress for this because I think writing laws is hard when you want them to do one thing specifically but have some flexibility so congress doesn’t need to write a new law every time $5k is spent.

The law is much less over-reaching than no_one (and most of the bill's critics) is making it out to be.

Interesting to hear your family's experience. Isn't it the case that Chinese tiktok is superior because the government leans heavily on them to remove dopamine sinks and encourage prosocial behaviour? If anything, perhaps we should be outsourcing moderation to China across the board.

More seriously, there is an inherent tension between wanting a "prosocial positive" tiktok, and an "even-handed arbiter of memetic popularity". That's the case for all social media whether American or Chinese-owned. Either (1) you prevent people from seeing antisocial content that they might enjoy or (2) you allow people to view that content and risk wireheading them or (3) we live in the best of all possible worlds and people naturally choose prosocial content where possible.

To be clear: no one is banning tiktok. They may force ByteDance to divest from the American form of tiktok. ByteDance can then sell it to non-Chinese owners. Or take their ball and go home. Their choice.

I generally agree with people that describe "Do X, or else we'll do Y" as "plans/threats to do Y". In this case, I have zero problem describing "divest from the app, or else it will be banned" as "...planning to ban tiktok".

It would be like arguing "the mobster isn't threatening to break your kneecaps. You can pay back your debts, or else... It's entirely your choice."

Argument by analogy is always flawed. So of course your analogy is not relevant to the matter at hand.

No Chinese company has a right to own anything in the US. They have previously been forced to divest or blocked from purchasing things in the US. I do not accept TicTok refusing to sell a subsidiary to non-Chinese owners as a ban. If they'd rather shut it down than divest, that is entirely on them. In every way unlike a mobster giving me the choice to pay him or to have him cripple me.

Tiktok is getting pushback because the parent company is controlled by China. That is all you need to know, and that's the only bit that matters. Anti-semitism and Gaza are excuses. 'Think of the kids' is an excuse and so are accusations of 'Tiktok killing attention'.

Don't get me wrong, Tiktok performs badly on all of those accusations. But, it is just the latest in a long line of social media companies that all transformed the youth along similar lines.

The US will go to any length to control the global narrative of 'freedom'. Tiktok is the greatest deepest invasion on American soil since communisms capture of academia, and the US is woefully underequipped to push it back. The US uses Israel to complain about Tiktok, because if they revealed the real reason, then it would correctly show the US for the paper tiger it has now become. The US is still the most powerful country in the world. But Pax-Americana is over.

the sheer weirdness of the idea that being a revolutionary is congruent with following public health theater

Freddie deBoer referred to the strange phenomenon of self-professed anarchists protesting in favour of mask mandates as "definitional collapse". See also all the stick that Rage Against the Machine got for requiring proof of vaccination to attend their shows. "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" indeed.

That’s because anarchism is a collectivist economic system. If the anarchist commune votes to make masks mandatory, that isn’t really a contradiction of anarchism.

These were self-identified anarchists protesting in favour of a public mask mandate enforced by the state, not a commune.

True, but as long as they believe the people would vote for it it’s no more of a contradiction than any policy by the bourgeois capitalist state is. For example they probably support gender self-ID or trans bathroom laws because they believe firmly that these would be policy in the revolutionary anarchist commune, even if the laws are implemented and enforced by the hated bourgeois neoliberal capitalist state.

Anarchism seems to have about as consistently applied of a definition as old-school fascism did. Whatever is deemed "good for the people" can be anarchism according to anarchists, with that whim changing on a dime. There are many fewer principled, anti-authoritarian anarchists than there are leftist fantasists with oppositional defiant disorder a la Zack de la Rocha.

Isn't deboer a "Marxist of an old-school variety"?" https://freddiedeboer.substack.com/about He is sort of right about the anarchists but doesn't the same apply to him?

My view is that the claimed utopian intentions of anarchocommunists is less relevant than their behavior while in power, or what they support politically. It is still ironic for an old school marxist to be a critic of anarchists for supporting state repression, when the same contradiction exists in old school marxism.

DeBoer is a strange bird. Yes, he calls himself a Marxist, and has become rather defensive when people ask him to explain the contradictions (in fairness, because he's probably sick of hearing the same questions over and over). But his role as "anti-woke leftist who's a bonafide Marxist but has a ton of right-wing readers" puts him in a weird niche.

My take on him has always been that he's an anarcho-socialist who understands the dangers of the managerial state. There is a theoretical model to thread that needle. I've always said I like anarcho-socialists, but I don't see how you actually thread that needle, how you bring that into practice. How do you defang the managerial state, and how you deal with people who are simply not "wired" for living with the necessary personal aesthetics for anarcho-socialism? (I.E. very concerned with relative status and power games)

He describes himself as such. Other people have referred to him as "post-Marxist" or similar. I don't know enough about Marxism or socialism to know which characterisation is accurate.

I do remember people in the ratsphere saying during the Trump years that a realignment in both political parties was underway, so perhaps the definitional collapse is a necessary ingredient of that.

The underlying assumption by Pro-Israeli voices is that it is impossible for Pro-Israeli content to simply be unpopular. It is impossible that the Israelis are simply bad at memes. There is no actual evidence of bias produced, no evidence of suppression of Israeli creators or boosting of Hamas hashtags, the assumption is that this bias must exist in order for consumers to make the choices they made.

I suppose the evidence would be that we have strong evidence that TikTok is willing to censor/promote/bury certain topics, as that's far more plausible than TikTokkers just not caring about Hong Kong compared to other platforms and causes. We also know that TikTokkers are more antisemitic than other platforms. Correlation does not equal causation (it's possible that anti-semites just prefer TikTok over Instagram for other reasons), hence why I said weak evidence.

To quote Nate Silver,

TikTok’s users are young, and young people are comparatively more sympathetic to Palestine than older ones — but not by the roughly 80:1 ratio that you see in the hashtag distribution. I would not treat this data as dispositive — expression on social media can be contagious and overstate the degree of consensus. But this matches a pattern in other TikTok content that is sensitive to China, such as tags critiquing its policy toward Hong Kong.

But does China care about that patch of middle eastern desert and who controls it, like at all?

Oh they do, and they care a LOT.

Here are the countries that explicitly avoided signing up for any Belt-and-road deals. That list of QUAD countries (US-Aus-Japan-India) and Israel.

Israel and Israel-Saudi relations are the center of how the next generation of trade routes to the west pan out. On one hand you have the West-Israel-Saudi-India corridor. West friendly nations with a poor endpoint in India, but all of Israelis, Saudis & Indians are economically ascendant. On the other hand, you have the Belt-and-road initiative that goes China-Pakistan-Iran-Iraq-Turkey-West.

The Iran-Iraq-Turkey corridor looks comically unrealistic, but if Israel becomes a no-go zone and Saudis pull out then the competitor wins by default. If the Houthis can keep the Suez Canal unstable, then China suddenly finds itself in control of how the next generation of trade routes pan out. If Hamas loses, then Saudi-Israel relations normalize, Houthis become irrelevant and now China is left holding the worst option with B&R.

The Iran-Iraq-Turkey corridor looks comically unrealistic, but if Israel becomes a no-go zone and Saudis pull out then the competitor wins by default. If the Houthis can keep the Suez Canal unstable, then China suddenly finds itself in control of how the next generation of trade routes pan out. If Hamas loses, then Saudi-Israel relations normalize, Houthis become irrelevant and now China is left holding the worst option with B&R.

Is Iran-Iraq-Turkey corridor having any chance to win with sea route around Africa?

The sea route around Africa is already being used because of Suez instability.....and it is already a massive pain in the ass. Shipping companies to the US are preferring to go through the Pacific and Panama rather than go through Africa. Africa is a lot bigger than the maps indicate, and re-entering the mediterrainean from the south-west for European shipping is prohibilively expensive.

To be fair, Victoria (the reddest state in Australia, and around here that still means "leftist" as a holdover from the Cold War) did actually try to get in on that sweet Chinese cash until the federal government said "WTF are you doing, you don't get to negotiate agreements with hostile foreign powers".

I'll say that I don't actually think Labour's in Beijing's pocket. Yeah, they've had a Senator get outed as being bought and paid for, and yeah they're notably soft on China because military's a RW issue, but I don't think it's a full-blown party of traitors, just a bit naïve and/or pandering to their naïve base.

I'll say that I don't actually think Labour's in Beijing's pocket.

I think that Labour is absolutely in Beijing's pocket, but the coalition is also in Beijing's pocket. Australian politics are shockingly corrupt, but the nation itself is so small that keeping our politicians bribed and compliant would be a rounding error on the Chinese diplomacy budget. The bigger restraining factor is the influence of the US - we're still effectively a US vassal state (see the blatantly forced submarine deal), so the major political parties being in the bag for Beijing doesn't mean as much as it would elsewhere.

Bribed or not, they're sure not very compliant. What, are you saying the 14 demands were a fake-out? Beijing is not very good at subtlety and WEIRD politics; people that are doing their bidding tend to act like Sam Dastyari, and most of our politicians don't.

It's not like the USA could actually force us into AUKUS without our agreement; more relevant IMO is our voting public which likes the USA and doesn't like the PRC. And yeah, sure, if the populace did like the PRC I'm sure a lot more politicians would start dancing to Beijing's tune, but that's a counterfactual.

Bribed or not, they're sure not very compliant.

I can't really think of much else that Beijing could really get from them that they aren't already. Political leaders being corrupt doesn't mean they'll do things which get them voted out of office or thrown in jail unless they're not smart enough to see that as the most likely consequence.

It's not like the USA could actually force us into AUKUS without our agreement; more relevant IMO is our voting public which likes the USA and doesn't like the PRC.

The last time the voting public wanted to have a look at our relationship with the US, they elected Gough Whitlam. The message that got sent there was pretty clear to anyone paying attention. Kevin Rudd went through the same thing when he tried to pivot to China - something that the media didn't pay much attention to was the fact that the major players in his leadership spill were all US informants, and we only know that thanks to Julian Assange.

They're mildly pro-Palestinian politically/rhetorically, China is the country that invented thirdworldism after all. But that won't stop them trading with Israel on weapons technology.

See Russia and China's veto of the recent US ceasefire proposal and the US veto of other ceasefire proposals.

The popularity of pro-Palestine content on TikTok is primarily due to the fact that Anglo media is increasingly internationalized. Previous generations of social media content saw very little overlap between culturally distinct communities; sometimes American memes would filter down, but memes from the periphery almost never flowed up to the Anglo metropole. With the third generation of social media and TikTok/Reels that has changed, core Anglo users now often see algorithmically successful content from the Spanish, continental European, Arab and South and Southeast Asian spheres if it goes very viral. Some domains like beauty and fashion (where content is primarily visual) are even more diverse.

The Muslim world is almost a quarter of the world’s population. It’s increasingly middle or upper income, increasingly online, increasingly Anglophone. Many influencers who do well in the West are partly or wholly or Arab descent. Major nations like Indonesia and Malaysia are now pretty much full on social media, and their most viral content often makes it to the West, it’s not siloed. The only thing that unites plebs across the entire Muslim world is contempt for Israel. The degree of hostility usually varies, but because many global Muslims have a simp complex around Arabs (eg replacing local dress with hijab and niqab, or thawb for scholars) there is a special race to prove just how pro-Palestinian you are for peripheral (eg. Malay, black African, Bangladeshi) Muslims groups far from the Arabian peninsula. Witness that Malaysia is for example much more anti-Zionist than Saudi Arabia or the UAE, even though Israel and Palestine are on the other side of the world and are inhabited by people ethnically and culturally very distinct from Southeast Asia(ns). But if you speak to Muslim Malays, they see it as their big and noble duty to the Muslim world to be anti-Israel, serving in this sense a function like a crusade.

Helped along by a rapidly growing and ever more powerful Muslim population in the West, plus some good memes, the Palestine complex seamlessly inserted itself into the generic DEI memeplex that already dominates on these apps. This has been a long time coming and has been obviously on its way since at least 2009, maybe earlier. 18 million Jews, as funny as they may be, can’t out-meme two billion Muslims, especially in the current DEI climate in the Anglosphere. The cultural and commercial energy is with them.

It’s interesting to look at this in the wider context of Zionism, because of course the greatest mistake the Zionists made was believing that the Holy Land could be held by the Jews easily and forever onward. But you have to understand that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many bourgeois Jews and gentiles in Europe considered the Muslim world to be a largely passive, defeated people. By the end of World War 1 pretty much every single Muslim country in the entire world was subordinate - whether under colonial rule or indirect suzerainty - to a European empire of one kind or another (the UK, France, Soviet Union) all led by non-Muslims. The young elite of the Muslim world were secularizing, Europeanizing, going to private schools run by French missionaries, urbanization seemed to see declines in religiosity. Many early Zionists, especially on the Anglo-French side, expected that Europeans would rule over the Arab world, including the Levant, forever. After all, the Ottoman Empire was over, the region was largely scarcely populated, local rulers were most fine with serving European foreign policy. Revolts were regular but mostly easily put down by modest European forces. Neither Arab nationalism nor Islamism were yet major forces to threaten Israeli dominance of Judea and Samaria. Israel had a bright future as an informal outpost of empire surrounded by the statelets of various other client peoples.

They did not predict how much the world would change, and now it seems hopelessly naive to imagine it would not. In hindsight it was very stupid to pick a fight with that many people.

Witness that Malaysia is for example much more anti-Zionist than Saudi Arabia or the UAE, even though Israel and Palestine are on the other side of the world and are inhabited by people ethnically and culturally very distinct from Southeast Asia(ns). But if you speak to Muslim Malays, they see it as their big and noble duty to the Muslim world to be anti-Israel, serving in this sense a function like a crusade.

It would not surprise me if proximity makes a huge difference here.

It's not exactly true that all Muslims coo over Arab culture and Arab states - ask some Iranians how they feel about Arabs one day - but at any rate, it also strikes me as noticeably the case that neighbouring Arab states are quite cool on the Palestinians. They tend to hate Israel (though are periodically willing to do deals with it for advantage), and in that regard are happy to use the Palestinians as a club against Israel, but they don't seem to care about the Palestinians as such. If you look at Egyptian or Jordanian or Lebanese policy towards the Palestinians, sure, none of them like Israel, but none of them like the Palestinians very much either, and they tend to be extremely opposed to letting Palestinians in to their countries or giving them aid. This is not helped by the fact that when they have let Palestinians in it has gone very badly - people still remember Black September.

If you're Malaysian, you are never going to have to deal with Palestinians yourself. Pragmatism doesn't come into it, since neither Israel nor Palestine matter much or you in material terms. So you're free to adopt this worldview where Palestinians are a nation of martyrs for Islam and Israelis are merely monsters. You can support Palestine-as-symbol in isolation from any real people.

I think that the average Egyptian is probably very strongly pro-Palestine and anti-Israel, but Egypt is a military/security forces dictatorship and the leadership views Palestinians as a threat for the same reason as why they view the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat. They don't like large groups of angry, militant people, like Palestinians, whose politics are likely to shake up the status quo and endanger the dictatorship's ability to just peacefully steal public resources and live in luxury. And anyway, Egypt is in no position to help the Palestinians even if the government wanted to. Its economy is doing poorly right now. There is also the related factor that the pro-Palestinian Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea are cutting into Egypt's Suez Canal transit revenues.

Supporting Palestine and hating Palestinians aren't mutually exclusive positions. If I was Egypt and I hated Palestinians I would very much be pro Palestine because that means the Palestinians stay the fuck away and you have somewhere to expel palestinians in your land to.

This is correct. Supporting Palestine is a separate question to that of one's affection for Palestinian people.

And I would also try to distinguish between support for Palestine as a symbol and support for Palestine in the sense of actually wanting to help Palestinian people in concrete terms. In the Arab world there is very high symbolic support for Palestine, but relatively little practical support for materially aiding them. If you ask the average Egyptian on the street whether the government should do something to help Palestinians, they will probably say yes - but I think the Egyptian people overall are unlikely to put much pressure on the government to that effect, and the government certainly doesn't want to.

It’s interesting to look at this in the wider context of Zionism, because of course the greatest mistake the Zionists made was believing that the Holy Land could be held by the Jews easily and forever onward. But you have to understand that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many bourgeois Jews and gentiles in Europe considered the Muslim world to be a largely passive, defeated people. By the end of World War 1 pretty much every single Muslim country in the entire world was subordinate - whether under colonial rule or indirect suzerainty - to a European empire of one kind or another (the UK, France, Soviet Union) all led by non-Muslims. The young elite of the Muslim world were secularizing, Europeanizing, going to private schools run by French missionaries, urbanization seemed to see declines in religiosity. Many early Zionists, especially on the Anglo-French side, expected that Europeans would rule over the Arab world, including the Levant, forever. After all, the Ottoman Empire was over, the region was largely scarcely populated, local rulers were most fine with serving European foreign policy. Revolts were regular but mostly easily put down by modest European forces. Neither Arab nationalism nor Islamism were yet major forces to threaten Israeli dominance of Judea and Samaria. Israel had a bright future as an informal outpost of empire surrounded by the statelets of various other client peoples.

To be fair, at the time nearly everywhere on earth was under the thumb of a European empire(or the USA or Japan). South Africa made the same mistake because the continued dominance of Europeans over the black and brown masses seemed as obvious as day and night to everyone at the time.

They did not predict how much the world would change, and now it seems hopelessly naive to imagine it would not. In hindsight it was very stupid to pick a fight with that many people.

Except Jews have a local majority, and, significantly, are winning. Perhaps not in the court of public opinion, but Israel is essentially getting what it wants.

South Africa made the same mistake because the continued dominance of Europeans over the black and brown masses seemed as obvious as day and night to everyone at the time.

I'm still trying to figure out what changed.

In South Africa specifically, it was a numbers game. A South Africa which banned contraception among the white population in the 70s might still be under minority rule.

Globally, that’s part of it, but part of it is also catch up growth. Europeans are generally better at things which actually matter than Africans and Indians, but not by a factor of 25 or so. Just because Britain got there before India doesn’t mean India won’t eventually get a lot closer- and there’s a lot more Indians than britons. Add to that that European countries are very, very tired.

In terms of the main empires, Britain and Russia lost theirs due to debt related structural problems(Russia’s being caused by structural issues with their economy, Britain’s by war). Germany lost a war. The US decided it preferred economic domination. That leaves France, which had some insurgencies to deal with but largely withdrew of its own accord.

A South Africa which banned contraception among the white population in the 70s might still be under minority rule.

The South Africa birthrates situation is interesting but I doubt this would be the case. Even when whites had relatively high birthrates (3+ tfr), the black population were at 6+ tfr. Today they’re converging and both white and black South Africans have pretty low birthrates, but without mass immigration from Europe the Boers would have had to have Amish-tier tfr to maintain their demographic position. I think the main issue for them was that they largely opposed non-Boer European immigration pretty much from the 1880s onward and - certainly after home rule was substantially granted in 1910 - acted consistently to block the settlement of other Europeans in South Africa to preserve the Afrikaner position. If they had allowed millions of poor Europeans to settle in SA in the early 20th century, the situation there would be very different today.

Romania managed to double it's TFR through decree 770. It's not totally implausible that white South Africans could have had a 5+ birthrate with similar policies- it was higher than Romania's in the mid 60's, which is probably high enough to make the bantustan plan work.

Of course the South African white population weren't going to undergo decree 770, Romania did it because it was a dictatorship. But sudden very large increases in TFR are what happens when you ban contraceptives. Wiki says that the white South African fertility rate was 3.1 in 1970, which if banning contraception had the same effect as decree 770 would give a fertility rate above 6. Of course contraception was probably somewhat less prevalent to begin with because of an already high fertility rate, so the effect would probably be more mild, but even a tfr of 4-5 would give a lot of breathing room for the Boers to figure out how to adjust their population to increase the white percentage.

As an aside, it's interesting how the apartheid government never even tried to adjust population. Not through white immigration, not through population control programs for blacks, not through attempts to boost the native white fertility rate. Obviously it's a hard problem, but it's interesting that they didn't even try.

As an aside, it's interesting how the apartheid government never even tried to adjust population. Not through white immigration, not through population control programs for blacks, not through attempts to boost the native white fertility rate. Obviously it's a hard problem, but it's interesting that they didn't even try.

It seems like governments mostly focus on solving acute problems rather than long-term progressive ones. The payoff for fixing birthrates wouldn't come for at least twenty years after the fact, only once the added batches of children begin reaching maturity, while the costs would begin immediately. Governments are typically run by people who only expect to be in power for short durations, so for them it's better to deal with staving off coups and electoral defeats. That means focusing on who gets the $$$ and making the right noises.

There's also a weird tendency for normies to deny all matters pertaining to biology in pretty much any context. Possibly, this due to narcisism. Or maybe it's about optimizing for personal social advancement over coordinating against civilization threats. It is as though they sit at the very precipice of oblivion maintaining attitudes of perfect nonchalance. As long as they do not fall in, they are content; and those who do fall in do not have the luxury of further action. That's essentially what happened to the white South Africans, and probably all other fallen societies.

The apartheid government did try to limit birthrates through population planning policy from 1974. But attempts were mainly messaging; my suspicion is that many Afrikaner leaders were deeply religious Protestants and would have resisted more radical methods to limit black fertility. Promoting white fertility would have also been tough, because the country had pretty porous borders and contraception would also presumably still be available to the black population, who could obviously sell it.

I’m also very skeptical of the decree 770 approach, birth rates began falling again soon after as people began circumventing restrictions and altering behavior. Also I think incentives are very different in a communist society, if the state strongly recommends you do something it’s the singular route to professional/social advancement. The threats the state can levy are typically weaker in a capitalist society.

In terms of big mistakes for the Boers, first place is not being in favor of more European immigration even if it meant diluting Afrikaner power and second place is probably not retreating to the Western Cape en masse from the late 1960s. What white South Africans needed to pursue was a two state solution on non-bantustan terms. Hand over the majority of the country, retreat to Western cape, sign single market and economic integration. This would probably have been internationally acceptable until the mid/late-1970s. I agree that by the time the serious anti-apartheid movement reached its height in the late 1980s there was pretty much no alternative course. The problem was they were an agrarian people and didn’t want to leave all that good land in the rest of the country.

Well yes, I don’t think decree 770 would have worked as well in South Africa as it did in Romania, but given that apartheid fell apart when it did due to a demographic time bomb for a regime that did, at the end of the day, have moral scruples, a rise in birthrate could have bought the Afrikaners enough time to find a third option between ‘let the kafirs in charge’ and ‘cartoonishly evil enough to make us blanch’. And banning contraception probably would raise the birthrate enough to make a difference. Ultimately communist Romania is our only datapoint for direct comparison, and that’s unfortunate because it’s apples to oranges for a variety of reasons. But the large birthrate decline over the course of the seventies among SA whites is probably due almost entirely to contraception becoming more widely available, and IIRC the example of similarly-low-state-capacity Latin America shows that legal restrictions on contraception really affect how quickly it penetrates the population, so I think at the very least a South African decree 770 for whites would have kept Afrikaner birthrates above 3 for much longer, and in a best case scenario for continued boer dominance results in a baby boom over the seventies that allows apartheid to find a third option when it becomes clear it’s not a tenable long term system in the eighties.

Some possibilities:

  1. West went through demographic transition first. Not enough warm bodies (and fewer top-tier people) to hold up the economy and preserve the West's lead.
  2. The military gap still exists, but it's smaller, or just different. It's no longer Maxim guns against spears, it's missiles against AKs and IEDs, and that makes it harder to hold large amounts of territory.
  3. Social structures and memeplexes evolved to resist white colonisation. I think that one of our Indian regulars made the point once that the Westerners who went to the third world a hundred years ago were usually from our top 25% or so. They were handpicked administrators, adventurers, traders and soldiers. Which made Westerners seem more impressive and intimidating, and harder to resist. As colonies persisted, and especially now with the internet, people from the Third World had more contact with Westerners and more opportunities to find effective methods of resistance.
  4. Two world wars sapped the West's resources (excluding America) and made most Westerners very cynical about their own right to rule; the USSR also supported anti-Western movements and ideologies.

There's a model of Biden foreign policy that's very simple and predictive. I will present it in full.

"The foreign policy of the Biden administration is whatever will make the price of gasoline go down before the election."

It's super effective!

For example, what is Biden's policy towards Venezuela, a brutal dictatorship which is responsible for a large chunk of the U.S. border crisis, and which has threatened to seize the territory of neighboring Guyana? Why, ease the sanctions, of course.

What about Biden's position on Iran, a country which funds terror throughout the world, supports the Houthis in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and is rapidly progressing on its goal to build nuclear weapons? Why, ease the sanctions, of course.

But surely Russia, the Greatest Threat to Democracy Since Hitler, will feel the wrath of U.S. sanctions. We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting them in Ukraine. We help send hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men into the meat grinder to die. Because it's worth it. With stakes this high, there's no way that Biden would let his lust for cheap gasoline affect the conflict. Right, Anakin, right?

Today, Biden has urged Ukraine to stop its strikes on Russian oil infrastructure. It was causing gasoline futures to increase.

That's it boys. We've found the red line that Ukraine musn't cross. Biden is not very bright, and he's certainly lost a step. But an old dog still knows some tricks and he knows one. If you want to get re-elected you need cheap gas. As usual, the U.S. will support pretty much any tinpot dictator as long as they have oil. Sometimes, it really is that stupid.

Feels like a rather isolated demand for rigor, no?

I’m thinking along the same lines as @Walterodim here. We attribute anything that remotely involves the executive branch to Biden’s personal action. In reality, the branch is a nebulous blob, one under pressure from every friendly and hostile interest. Sometimes you get a compromise—Bush Sr. did end up signing a tax increase. The ACA is a mess, but it still hasn’t been repealed. That border wall is still looking pretty rough. We can’t always get what we want.

Biden is not very bright, and he's certainly lost a step

Biden is not in charge of Biden's foreign policy. Biden is not in charge of much of anything anymore.

For example, what is Biden's policy towards Venezuela, a brutal dictatorship which is responsible for a large chunk of the U.S. border crisis,

When Ukraine is everything but democratic because they are in a state of war it is excused. Yet, those under threat from the US are supposed to be completely democratic despite America's long history of sponoring terrorist groups, assassinating leaders and trying to colour revolution countries. If Venezuela didn't hold a tight ship they would have ended up like Iraq, Syria, or Libya. Putting countries in a state of perpetual state of semi war in order to destabilize them increases migration. The US has sanctioned Venezuela, funded an armed coup attempt and continuously worked to undermine the country. As with most of America's foreign policy misadventures it ends up with a massive flood of migrants. The best way to stop the migrant flow is to stop the aggressive posturing. Stealing Venezuelan assets makes the situation in Venezuela worse which encourages emigration.

What about Biden's position on Iran, a country which funds terror throughout the world,

When Ukraine gets invaded we all have to help them. When Iraq gets invaded, Iran is supposedly supposed to just quietly accept it. Why would they? It is a neighbouring country with deep cultural ties to Iran. Of course they are going to help them defend themselves. Iran has given support to groups under direct military threat. Destablizing Iran would mean another giant refugee crisis. Iranians are the most similar people to westerners in that part of the world and if anything they should be our natural allies. Stealing their assets is not only immoral and absurd, it is directly damaging to Europe. When Hillary Clinton was sponsoring Jihadists in Syria which flooded Europe with migrants Iran was helping Syria stay together. We should thank Iran for their support against ISIS.

American policy has been aggressively attacking countries that aren't subservient to the United States and causing continuous blowback.

It is a neighbouring country with deep cultural ties to Iran. Of course they are going to help them defend themselves.

"Funding terrorist networks to destabilize the government" is a funny way to phrase "help them defend themselves."

@Dean's takedown of your understanding of Venezuelan history is pretty thorough, but this is a truly impressive howler. Iran hates Iraq. It's not just Sunni vs. Shia (though that is a huge source of animosity.) The Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s began with Iraq's invasion of Iran.

Iranians are the most similar people to westerners in that part of the world and if anything they should be our natural allies.

... Yeah, Iran used to be a Western ally. We propped up the Shah for that reason, and you may recall, there was a revolution. Which is where we are now, with an implacably hostile religious theocracy in charge as a result of our earlier "alliance" with them.

You seem to have a thesis ("American imperialism is the root of all evil") to which you are attempting to fit every conflict in the world. Believe it or not, other countries are quite capable of starting armed conflicts, suffering coups and instability, and turning themselves into economic basket cases, without America being behind it.

Iran hates Iraq

Iran has good relations with Iraq's shia population and has offered Iraq both help with rebuilding and military aid. Iranians definitely don't get along with Baathist and the Sunnis, but there are strong ties to groups living near Iran. Parts of Iraq are ethnically similar to Iran and the current Iraqi government enjoys good relations with Iran. Regardless, when Iran's neighbour is attacked by an aggressive power that could very well invade Iran it makes sense for Iran to offer support.

there was a revolution. Which is where we are now, with an implacably hostile religious theocracy in charge as a result of our earlier "alliance" with them.

I wonder why the Iranians revolted against a corrupt foreign puppet who siphoned off natural resources to British petroleum. British petroleum was the most profitable British company in the beginning of the 1900s. Iran had been invaded in 1941 and then had a dictator installed in 1953. There was good reason for supporting revolution. Despite sanctions and despite living in a continuous state of semi war Iran has managed to create a stable state that produces few refugees.

You seem to have a thesis ("American imperialism is the root of all evil") to which you are attempting to fit every conflict in the world.

Americans have an exceptional ability to get involved in every corner of the planet. If there is a village in Afghanistan that isn't ruled by them, they will bomb it for 20+ years. The US is in a league of its own when it comes to starting wars and meddling in other countries. Not all problems are caused by the US but the US is a driving force behind instability.

Actually quite a large percentage of illegals migrants to the UK crossing on small boats are Iranians. They certainly do produce refugees.

Americans have an exceptional ability to get involved in every corner of the planet.

This is the motte, and yet not the same as an implicit claim that the Americans are exceptionally involved in every corner of the planet, let alone in every administrative decision of the planet, let alone vis-a-vis the ability of local actors.

That the Americans have more ability to project power to distant corners than others is quite different than that Americans have more ability to be involved than local powers who may not be able to project far, but are actually local.

Given that the exceptional US ability to get involved in every corner of the planet is dependent on having allies and partners in every corner of the planet able or willing to facilitate their involvement, the ability of the US to effectively influence needs to be compared to places where it lacks critical enablers- and thus who they are.

If there is a village in Afghanistan that isn't ruled by them, they will bomb it for 20+ years.

Interesting claim. Identify the villages, please, and why the bombings were on grounds of not being ruled by the Americans, as opposed to other reasons that other non-US powers wouldn't emulate if placed in equivalent contexts.

The US is in a league of its own when it comes to starting wars and meddling in other countries.

Are we conflating wars and meddling as the same category, and are we comparing to historical trends?

If it's just in terms of starting wars, the US is unexceptional in historical terms. The only interesting point in relative terms is its relative ability in the Pax Americana, which is notable for being one of the most peaceful periods in human history precisely because the US had- and exercised- unique ability to pick conflicts.

If the argument is simply in ability to meddle in non-war-instigating forms, this is a reflection of evolving technology and economic growth over time, which the American system coincided with and encouraged, but which is not a uniquely American pathology in nature. The Americans certainly conduct more cyber-espionage than the colonial empires of old ever did- this is because the colonial empires lacked computer networks to spy on, not the willingness.

If the argument is simply about the size and capability of the US, because it's big, that's neither an argument of moral inclination nor an argument that the size and capability actually have been disproportionate in starting wars and meddling relative to the size and capability of other actors.

Not all problems are caused by the US but the US is a driving force behind instability.

'Driving force' is a meaningless term bar a relative comparison of forces, which you have not and consistently do not provide comparisons to.

The Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s began with Iraq's invasion of Iran.

I feel like this is often just a footnote for Americans, particularly those of us that are millennial or younger, but it's worth noting that this wasn't some mild skirmish or even a moderately large war, it is one of the largest, deadliest wars of the past 75 years. While other civil and intrastate conflicts rival or exceed it, Iran-Iraq is probably the most deadly post-WW2 interstate conflict. The use of chemical weapons and prolonged exchanges give it a WW1 vibe, but with the addition of cruise missiles and attacks on nuclear facilities.

The post-Saddam era has thawed those old hatreds, but referring to these nations as having "deep cultural ties" is quite the turn of phrase to use.

It's also the origin point of suicide bombing as an accepted technique of islamic terrorism according to some. Curtis makes this point in Hypernormalization.

Iran's culture of martyrdom combined with war propaganda and mechanized warfare created an islamic equivalent to the kamikaze phenomenon (complete with pilots crashing their planes into targets), and its exportation to sunni radical groups has unfortunately shaped much of the XXIst century.

The post-Saddam era has thawed those old hatreds, but referring to these nations as having "deep cultural ties" is quite the turn of phrase to use.

Depends on the parts you are talking about. The shia in Iraq hated Saddam and didn't want a war with Iran. Iraq is a highly diverse country, and Iran's ties to the different groups aren't uniform. There are groups that Iran has strong ties to and there are groups that Iran has strong hatred for.

It's a pretty common thesis, but one mostly associated with the left and Noam Chomsky in particular. It's weird seeing it coming from the right.

What is weird is to see an attempt to go back to the neocon consensus when part of Trump's appeal was to criticize their failures, including their over the top hostility towards other great powers.

I don't think being a fanboy of Russia, China, Iran is the way to go, but it is healthy in general, including for the right wing in particular to be skeptical of American imperialism. Especially since modern American militarism is of a woke empire that is increasingly hostile to right wingers.

If some people on the right have a more mature take after decades of neocon failures that they have experienced, and also due to that hostility then that is a good thing.

And of course, from the time of George Washington to today, it is a legitimate and correct agenda to not want your country subordinate to foreign lobbies. This is an aspect of American involvement in foreign conflicts. Imperial overreach and war with Iran is not in the interest of the American people.

From a broader perspective than just American interest, I prefer the time Russians and other Europeans traded with each other, over the current situation and while sane protectionism, or reacting to harmful trading and other practices against you is fine, I am skeptical of what I see as the sentiment of cutting off other powers. Or plans that lead us into war.

It is better for the world to try to work with them, than escalate things into conflict and topple heir countries. This isn't just a right wing take, but it is certainly the case that right wingers in western countries should not let themselves be sacrificed for a global empire that is against them both ideologically and even as ethnic groups. Plus, pragmatically there isn't an existential threat from Russia, nor China, and certainly not from Iran and warmongering raises risks.

Deescalation and an attempt of a modus vivendi between different power blocks is the better idea. Especially in the current circumstances. Part of that does include having a capable military incidentally. Being strong while choosing a good deal over both one sided appeasement nor trying to topple other countries and their leadership is the better alternative than what American elites did, especially when looking at China. Which is to be pro China as China was growing in power, and turn against it when it had already exceeded USA in productive capacity and became the richest country when accounting for purchasing power parity.

Would you agree that Russia invading other countries is, in a vacuum, bad?

And that an invasion is less likely to happen if the invader expects an economic and human bloodbath?

Because it sounds like you’re arguing against continued U.S. support. But that’s an incredibly perverse incentive for Russia. To any would-be invader, really.

Yes for the first question.

To see things only from the perspective of dissuading Russian aggression and not American aggression against other countries is flawed and usually comes from bias.

Because it sounds like you’re arguing against continued U.S. support. But that’s an incredibly perverse incentive for Russia. To any would-be invader, really.

It doesn't sound like I am arguing about either more or less US support actually. What I am arguing is that American foreign policy is not about dissuading aggression but machiavelian and willing to both invade countries, commit coups, and also instigate proxy wars.

I do believe that supporting a negotiated peace is the better alternative than the continued meat grinder. American influence over Ukraine is such to be able to push things in that direction and in fact it seems that it was the UK (likely acting with USA support) that stopped the real possibility of a peace between Ukraine and Russia.

It is in fact a perverse incentive to focus only on Russian aggression and excuse American aggression. American behavior is going to affect the behavior of countries like Russia too.

In general, I don't see only dangers from American imperialism but also from China and Russia becoming more beligerent. My preference and advice for trying to deescalate is therefore not only directed towards the USA. Although certainly I am going to focus more about where there is more pushback and what is more relevant to the audience I am talking to. There aren't here any sizable number of Chinese imperialists arguing that China should invade Taiwan because of getting revenge over century of humiliation or by promoting only America bad narrative while pretending that Chinese imperialism would be no problem. Or arguing for China to invade multiple of its neighbors because they are in an American led coalition to destroy China. The bad behavior of each power also affect each other, just like a willingness to not push past certain red lines and having trade which is consistent with some protectionism and showing some willingness to compromise which can also incentivize more pro cooperation behavior.

Ultimately, the faction of American imperialists are not out to dissuade imperialism but themselves are a threat to world peace, and additionally to the rights of peoples under their rule. To only focus on Russia, and not acknowledge the problem of American foreign policy in terms of destructive coups, color revolutions, including what resulted in aggressive moves including shelling of more Russian areas in Ukraine and in theaters such as Iraq, Syria, Lybia, Israel, with promises of further escalation in places like Iran, is not how you avoid moral hazard but how you ensure it remains there. Both in terms of American bad behavior, and encouraging other countries. Especially when the rhetoric of escalation building towards a situation closer to WW3 is there. This isn't Iraq where the destructive incompetence of belligerent tunnel vision is important but still lower stakes. The stakes, especially when one also considers nukes, couldn't be higher.

It is better for the world to try to work with them, than escalate things into conflict and topple heir countries.

And this is all fine rhetoric if you believe in the Chomskyite "everything is the USs fault" point of view. But looking at how things actually happened instead, we note that it was not the US or the West that tried to topple Russia, but Russia which tried to topple Ukraine.

I don't believe everything is the US fault, but I do believe neocon agenda USA is a bad actor that holds zero respect for international law and doesn't even respect its own people. That the neocon faction acts in an obviously machiavelian manner and even promotes such arguments from a might is right perspective then plays a motte and bailey with moralism.

Whether in Iraq, Syria, Libya, or wanting to bomb Iran, Israel, or yes Ukraine as well, the American foreign policy has been a destructive one that shows little respect to international law.

It isn't the only bad actor. Actually one of the problem with being maximally beligerent is that is infectious, and gives others the excuse to act likewise. In my ideal world great powers would try to constrain each other bad behavior and also due to their own interest oppose each others imperialistic tyrannical behavior against other countries. While cooperating in win win ways.

but Russia which tried to topple Ukraine.

You are forgetting the color revolution in Ukraine with American participation, and Ukrainian shelling of Russian areas and laws against Russian language. While the USA has been training Ukrainians and Ukraine have been having their Azov regiments. There is also American support for removing Assad, and toppling Gaddafi, Saddam, talking of bombing Iran and a big history of warmongering and regime change worldwide. And the rhetoric about removing Putin and supporting opposition. Then there are the coups of the CIA worldwide, of which Putin is especially aware of.

People are not going to be gullible and not take this in mind just because it would be in the interest of neocons to do so.

Also, the extreme far leftist agendas promoted by the USA that relate to their hatred of Putin for not going along, and to an extend to his opposition to them. Not to mention the fact that some of the oligarchs that looted Russia that left from Putin, fled to the USA and have been advocating for regime change.

Of course Russia and China have their own belligerence and imperialistic agendas. Russians are responsible for their invasion and previously supporting rebels. If China invades Taiwan they would be responsible for that as they have their responsibility for the bullying of their neighbors in terms of fishing rights and more.

This still doesn't make American imperialists any less bad. Nor does it make sense to support them under the guise of pro west sentiment.

Importantly, in addition to their other sins, neocon elites are people who aren't at all respecting national self determination and dislike the people they rule. They don't respect freedoms neither and are supportive of cancel culture and authoritarianism at home while pretending to be bringing liberation abroad when they bomb other countries or try to escalate conflicts. They don't value the interests of the people they rule as a group and try to enforce national self hatred and prioritization of foreign immigrants, and are following tyrannical policies that lead to the destruction of european ethnic groups.

the West

The neocon agenda sharers are fundamentally anti west. In that they and Dugin, or Chomsky are all in the same side. They only differ on the type of tyrant they want the west to be ruled by, and maybe in regards to some of the details about which groups should be on top. But neither are for the west as a civilization and western peoples. Nor do they respect their rights.

They are further from being the west, than the Communists were Russia/Ukraine and all other countries under their rule.

I see a lot of rhetoric here, but nothing about the facts on the ground that no Western country invaded Russia, but Russia invaded Ukraine.

It is quite possible to have a more nuanced position than the extremely simplistic way you paint things

Often times, "nuance" is a way to attempt to use small second, third, and fourth order effects as an excuse to ignore enormous first-order effects.

Unlike you who want an one sided perspective, I am not going to defend the Russian invasion. I am just going to condemn American imperialists for invading multiple countries and trying to engineer proxy war and overstep deliberately on the red line of countries like Russia, knowing this would cause war. And even justifying it after the fact as a worthy investment since they see the meat grinder as good if Russians are dying.

Also the rhetoric about toppling Putin and dismantling Russia, which when it comes from GAE that has done this throughout the world, it has teeth.

Although Russia has become more militarily capable and built further its industry and their alliance with China and economic ties grew, and moreover multiple other countries have started increasingly trading without using the dollar.

It is anti-neocon not Pro China invading Taiwan or Russia invading Ukraine. In fact i would rather that China avoids invading Taiwan in the future and would consider that a world destabilizing move. One that should be dissuaded.

It is your perspective that tries to create a simplistic Russia bad, GAE good here.

Often times, "nuance" is a way to attempt to use small second, third, and fourth order effects as an excuse to ignore enormous first-order effects.

You have been consistently ignoring American invasions of various countries, color revolutions, and American attempts to engineer the conflict that happened.

The reality is that neocon USA is not the defender of world peace against the evil Chinese and Russians but a menace in its own right. One that had been a bigger menace after fall of soviet union than the other two, although that is also because of the weaker position of Russia and China. And that also also encourages the elites of such countries to act in a similar manner, bringing things closer to WW3. One could also argue that further imperialism by China or Russia, also encourages more bad American behavior.

The correct take is to favor elites that see their interest in undermining each others warmongering and also see some value in cooperation. Things were closer in that direction in regards to Russian, American and Chinese relationship at one point. And it wasn't the Russian invasion that started changing this. This came after the color revolution in Ukraine and after the destruction of various countries and after rise of rhetoric about bringing the same recipe to China and Russia. Of course the rise of China has played its role too.

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If Chomsky emerged into the public sphere now with the set of views that he holds, chances are good that he would quickly be branded right-wing.

Isn't he still around?

Yeah, but he's barely active anymore and really seemed to be at death's door in his most recent appearances. I imagine he gets a pass because of that and because how much of a childhood idol he was for many elites.

I believe in the milder claim that sometimes American adventure abroad is negative sum leading to bad results in local countries but not all bad things come from American adventure (and sometimes American adventure does good things though less often).

That's a MUCH milder claim than the kind of analysis which looks at a problem, finds a way America (or some other Western power) affected one of the parties in the past, and places the blame there.

There are good reasons for leftists and rightists to share the belief that third-worlders don't have moral agency.

The US has sanctioned Venezuela, funded an armed coup attempt and continuously worked to undermine the country. As with most of America's foreign policy misadventures it ends up with a massive flood of migrants.

Venezuelans are fleeing because 25 years of catastrophic socialist policies have completely destroyed the economy. Leaving the current government in power is the single biggest cause of migrant outflows, and they will continue as long as the Chavistas are in control.

And how do you think running Venezuela into the ground by sanctioning them will impact migrant flows? Migrants flee Venezuela because it is bad, so making it worse should lead to more migrants. Clearly, the US hasn't been able to topple Venezuela's government, and the US has made it worse in Venezuela. In other words, foreign meddling once again lead to a migrant crisis.

The US has a long history of backing coups in Latin America, funding militias and creating banana republics. This has made the region less stable and created more incentives for people to leave.

I would agree that the current US approach to Venezuela isn't working, and sanctions rarely do work (see Cuba, Spain, Iran, Russia, so on). But the US is entitled to refuse to trade with anyone it feels like. Maybe if Venezuelans were actually starving and dying in large numbers, there might be an obligation to send food, but AFAIK things aren't that bad in VZ.

But the US is entitled to refuse to trade with anyone it feels like

Maybe it is, but it shouldn't be.

Why you think so?

There is an argument that, as the de facto economic hegemon, the US should let as many people as possible come to the table to deal, but at the same time, as expressed elsewhere, there are fairly valid reasons for why the US has done the economic-warfare things it has done.

The US has a long history of backing coups in Latin America, funding militias and creating banana republics. This has made the region less stable and created more incentives for people to leave.

American involvement also helped produce the two most stable, productive South American countries in Chile and Uruguay. I have plenty of negative things to say about the CIA, but backing the guys that throw communists out of helicopters is actually a good solution to communist rule. Not good for the communists, of course, but it's in everyone's long-run interest to remove communists from governance.

The most stable and productive Latin American country is Costa Rica, which has a nice business allowing upper-middle class boomers to retire in luxury. Anti-communist but not due to US coups.

American involvement also helped produce the two most stable, productive South American countries in Chile and Uruguay.

Defining "stable" and "productive" is a headache all by itself, but even if I assume you mean "political stability" and "economic prosperity", I think that thanking the USA for those in the two countries you mentioned makes little sense.

What happened in Chile was a series of quasi-fortunate events. Unlike leftists would like you to believe, Pinochet began his regime being just as much socialist as Allende; the CIA trusted him merely because he hated commies, but that's about it; he had no economic ideas for the country at all, so basically continued doing the same as his predecesor but with an CIA stamp of approval (he even met with Fidel Castro! Seriously!). The only reason why things took a free market turn was due to Milton Friedman (who at that time was advising Xiaoping's China to end communism there) meeting with Pinochet once and writing him a letter explaining what he should to turn things around. That's it. Never did the CIA or the Pentagon had anything to do with the so-called "Chilean Miracle". If it wasn't for that visit and the involvement of the Chicago Boys (José Piñera, Hernán Büchi, etc.) in Pinochet's rule, the CIA would've merrily go along with whatever crap Pinochet would've thought that made things better as long as he continued throwning tankies off helicopters.

While I myself consider the Chilean model to be a very good example of how to achieve economic well-being, there's no doubt it that caused signifcant social unrest that climaxed in the 2019 protests, and even if you consider to be the protests to be unworthy of merit (just because people dislike economic policies doesn't necesarily mean they're bad, even if legitimitate concerns like the massive unemployement in the just-out-of-college-with-student-debt demographic and the privileges the goverment continued to hand over to the military elite where there), it shows there are consequences that go beyond economics to take into consideration when a country formulates policies.

I can't comment much on the country's political stability, and it's true that there wasn't any dictatorship after Pinochet, but social unrest, justified or not, is never a sign of it, and even if we assume stopping communism justifies a strongman with an iron fist, I don't think the 3000 people killed during his regime were all a threat to the country.

Regarding Uruguay, as someone who was born and lives there...please. First of all, lumping those two countries together makes it sound that the CIA was also involved in the country's military junta rule, and it wasn't at all. It's true that they collaborated with the democratically elected National Party goverment of the sixties and the following presidency of Jorge Pacheco Areco's as part of the Condor Plan by training our military and police forces in counter-subversion techniques including torture (one of the most famous murders carried out by left-wing guerillas in that turmoil of an period was of a CIA operative named Dan Mitrone, who had also worked in Brazil with the military junta that was there at the time), but by the time the tanks rolled in 1973 and the dictatorship started, the buck had already ended for the US; the left wing guerrillas were completely defeated, and the military junta began its rule with no foreign involvement of any kind (why it happened deserves a post of it's own).

So why is Uruguay so politically stable? We...just sort of are that way, I guess? Democracy and the rule of law is in our DNA: the military junta was an anomaly, and in 200 years there were only two other dictatorships in the country, which were resolved as peacefully as the last one and which shed little blood. Our parties institutional resilience is both a cause and proof of this: of the four major political parties in the country, just one (CA) started recently; Broad Front, the main left-wing coalition, started over 50 years ago, while both the aforementioned National Party and Colorado Party have been around ever since the country's beginnings. There are cracks which are starting to show however; ever since the end of the pandemic, the tripartite coaltion led by the NP, which won in no small part due to several corruption scandals by the Broad Front, has been mired on scandals of its own which are arguably worse, one of which involves a very important Senator who has been prosectued for a long history of sexual assault of minors, while the Colorado Party, which once was pretty much the country's dominant party, has become a shell of its former self and lives off its memories, has plenty of candidates for their next primary but no leadership (their leader shockingly resigned and left politics during the pandemic due to disagremeents with the goverment, which considering the guy's reputation I suppose had much to do with its lack of care for accountability and transparency). Add the fact that we have become more polarized, and yeah, we got problems.

As for "productive", we're like the third world that everyone would like to live in if they had to live anywhere in the third word, but that's it; our economy isn't doing horribly but it isn't doing that great either. The fact that we're considered both one of the most "stable" and "productive" countries in Latin America speaks little of us and volumes of how fucked up the region is.

Thanks for this, I appreciate the corrective effort, particularly regarding Uruguay. Duly noted and internalized.