Anti-semitism debate, part one

Louise Mensch and I debate anti-semitism on Heat Street:

Louise Mensch:     This may surprise the people that have been following our debate thus far, but, I feel like those were all small, little, light-hearted warm up debates, because now we’re going to get into it. Because we’re going to debate anti-Semitism. I want to get a bit granular, because I was surprised and disappointed to see you flaming a very good friend of mine, Cathy Young – who is an equity-based feminist, for those of you that don’t know her, reading this debate – and a long time ally of Gamergate and has worked extremely hard to separate genuine feminism from the kind of “fauxminism” that bullies men for no good reason.

I can’t remember the exact tweet so you can correct me if I’ve got this wrong, but: “…as she would know if she were a real American,” as though she were not an American, or she were less American that you are, which I think is a) racist; b) completely ridiculous; c) unbecoming of an alpha-male who ought to show some loyalty to a tried and tested ally. What I don’t like about this, apart from racism in general, and I say it with reverence, because you of all people know that I’ve been #notyourshield forever, is that it seems to give quite a lot of comfort to those fauxminist harridans, who’ve always said that Gamergate is just about abuse etc … This is a woman who stood strongly with movement forever, and the first sign of disagreement on anti-Semitism and you guys throw her under the bus. So I’ll let you come back, what do you have to say?

Vox Day:     Well, I’m perfectly prepared for things to get hardcore, I’ve been listening to Ministry all afternoon in preparation for this. By the way, I did not know Cathy’s work on Gamergate. We are loyal; until now I did not know.

Louise Mensch:     (Laughs) OK, now I’m scared. Go on.

Vox Day:     First of all, let me point out that, in terms of feminism, Cathy Young committed something that is, in the eyes of the alt-right a … A significant error of the sort that removes any right to avoid criticism. She, very very publicly, and very very vehemently, attacked Ann Coulter. The response that she got was a direct result of that, from me and from others. You can even, if you wish to, portray it as the alt-right white knighting for Ann Coulter. I don’t think that would be accurate but you certainly could do that if you wanted to.

Louise Mensch:     Well Ann Coulter’s been … I mean, you know, please, she attacks herself. She’s been attacked by me and others. She’s said some rabidly anti-Semitic things, about the Jews etc. So …

Vox Day:     I don’t think Ann Coulter’s reasonably said anything that can be considered anti-Semitic. 

Louise Mensch:     How many goddamn Jews do they think there are in America, that kind of thing.

Vox Day:     There’s a difference between … Anti-Semitism, in its historic form, means hatred of Jews.

Louise Mensch:     Yes.

Vox Day:     And there’s a huge difference between hating Jews and wondering why the hell everyone is babbling about them, again, when the subject really has nothing to do with them.

Louise Mensch:     Well in this case Ann Coulter used the words “Jews.” “How many goddamn Jews does he think there are in America,” quote unquote.

Vox Day:     Well yeah, because ..polls show Americans think that 33% of Americans are gay, and certainly there … I don’t know what the exact figure is, I don’t recall a similar study being performed with regards to what percentage of Americans other Americans believe are Jews. I don’t know. But I would guess that the perceived percentage is seriously overestimated, due to the constant discussion of Jews, by American Jews, in the media, because American Jews in the media are prone to navel-gazing.

Louise Mensch:     Vox, Vox, this was Ann Coulter who brought it up herself, who made the remark, herself. Really, as an “Ayn Randian radical,” don’t you recognize this is entirely Ann Coulter’s own fault? She brought it up, nobody else did, she ranted on about the Jews. She outed herself! Nobody else was talking to her about the Jews. On the left it’s people like Ken Livingston in London. He doesn’t seem to be able to go into any interview in London without mentioning the word ‘Hitler’ five times a second. And it was Coulter’s own fault. No one was talking to her about the Jews in Israel. She was commenting on the first Republican debate, and she brought it up, herself, entirely herself, unprompted.

Vox Day:     Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t she discussing the fact that the candidates were discussing Israel, or Jews or something like that?

Read the whole thing there, and discuss it here.


Real vs imaginary democracy

Another selection from my suffrage debate with Louise Mensch at Heat Street that I think is worth discussing:

Louise: Let’s start with the fact your argument is,  if women vote, it will have a given outcome that will move society to the left. On those grounds, you should surely object to voting of any description, including by men, because your argument appears to be that if the people vote a way that you don’t think that they should vote, this shouldn’t be allowed.

Your argument in fact, as logically stated just then, is not against women voting. It’s against democracy itself. You think that if people vote, in this case you think women should be banned because they’re more likely to vote left-wing. That is an argument saying that if somebody votes the wrong way, they should be banned from voting, which is of course itself an argument against democracy at all. What do you say to that?

Vox: I say that you are mis-applying it, because as I said, I support everyone voting in a direct democracy, because there everyone is directly expressing their own will, and whatever they get, they deserve. If we all vote to burn down our houses, and then we burn down our houses, yeah, there was no deception there. We all knew what we were getting in for, and we got it. What we’re talking about is representative democracy, which is by definition not democracy. We’ve already decided that we’re going to limit the will of the people.

Louise: No, we haven’t. The will of the people in a representative democracy, for example the United States, is that they choose, they have realized en bloc that it is too much to vote on every single decision directly. You’d have a referendum for everything from your local dog catcher to gun control, abortion, et cetera, and you’d presumably have as many referenda as people wanted to make motions. It doesn’t work.

In a representative democracy, the decision that the people are taking is we are going to elect you to exercise judgment for us in this way, right?

 Vox: No, but that was never made. This structure was imposed on us, and so no one has ever, there’s never been a referendum supporting this. There’s never been any votes for that, but the rules of the representative democracy are such that they are intentionally designed to limit and even eliminate democracy. For example, in California, when you saw Section 8 pass, and then it was overturned by the will of a single judge.

The whole system of representative democracy is to a certain extent a misnomer because it is actually entirely anti-democratic. The whole reason these structures, both on the parliamentary side and on the judicial side, is specifically designed to prevent democracy. Once you’ve accepted that principle of, “Okay, we’re going to limit democracy,” then it’s really a question of where you’re drawing the line. I’m just suggesting that a line should be drawn in a different place than it happens to be drawn today.

 Louise: But you are suggesting, you just said, which I don’t agree with, but you just said that representative democracy doesn’t equal to the will of the people, period, so you’re not really arguing against women having the vote. You’re arguing against anybody having the vote in representative democracy. You’re arguing for an anarchic … On the one hand you say you’d like to conserve things. On the other, you wish to tear down representative democracy, which would mean dismantling the entire United States’ constitution and system of government, because what you have just to women applies to everybody and everything.

If representative democracy is so bad, it can’t be okay, even if only men have the franchise.

Vox: But we’re talking about two different issues here. We’re talking about on the one hand a discussion within the context of representative democracy, and obviously it’s much more conceivable at this point in time to modify the rules of the existing system, and then we’re talking about completely trashing the system in favor of something else….

I would like to see the transition from representative democracy to a techno direct democracy simply because it’s possible now. Not only that, it’s actually entirely viable considering, at least in the United States, most of the so-called representative don’t even read the legislation that they vote on.

Louise: I can tell you, the fact is, again, just like I can speak to this, having been an elected representative. Those are incredibly complicated. It would in fact, while commentators often make this point, you rely on summations, as we all do, in order to understand what the bill is arguing. Otherwise, you would have to be a lawyer in order to be an effective politician, which I think it’s one of these canards.

“Oh, they didn’t read the bill.” The fact is that bills are written in highly legal language, and as a elected representative, the responsible thing to do is to read, understand, and familiarize yourself with a summary of a given bill, because only a lawyer can understand the ins and outs of the clauses in which legislation, and that’s why it’s called legislation, is written.

Now, before you comment on this, read this article about the Montana Supreme Court striking down legislation that was a) passed by the Montana State legislature, then b) passed by 80 percent of the Montana electorate.

The Montana Supreme Court has barred state officials from reporting the immigration status of people seeking state services, striking down the last piece of a voter-approved law meant to deter people who are in the U.S. illegally from living and working in Montana.

The court’s unanimous decision on Tuesday upholds a Helena judge’s 2014 ruling in a lawsuit that the law denying unemployment benefits, university enrollment and other services to people who arrived in the country illegally was unconstitutional.

The justices went further, rejecting the one remaining provision that required state workers to report to federal immigration officials the names of applicants who are not in the U.S. legally.

“The risk of inconsistent and inaccurate judgments issuing from a multitude of state agents untrained in immigration law and unconstrained by any articulated standards is evident,” Justice Patricia Cotter wrote in the opinion.

The Montana Legislature sent the anti-immigrant measure to the 2012 ballot, where it was approved by 80 percent of voters. The new law required state officials to check the immigration status of applicants for unemployment insurance benefits, crime victim services, professional or trade licenses, university enrollment and financial aid and services for the disabled, among other things.

Now, if you are so inclined, please attempt to defend “representative democracy”, which is observably neither representative nor democratic. And recall that you will receive neither points nor credit for citing the outdated “mob rule” objection which preceded these events by more than 200 years and quite clearly did not anticipate them.

The debate between direct democracy and so-called representative democracy is more accurately described as a debate between democracy and a deceptive parody thereof.


Should women vote?

Louise Mensch and I discuss everything from conservative feminism to universal suffrage and Native American intelligence at Heat Street:

Louise:  We’re now debating feminism. Vox, you go first. Hit me with your best shot, as Pat Benatar once said.

Vox:  Okay. Louise, I know that you identify yourself as a feminist, and you also identify yourself as a conservative. Given the connection between feminism and progressive politics, I am curious to know how you rectify those two positions, those two identities.

Louise:  I don’t see that there is any reconciling to be done.  I can’t stand the social justice warrior thing of identify as. I am a feminist. I am a conservative. I said in our last debate to you that conservatism was about equal opportunity, and to me feminism is therefore a subset of conservatism. If conservatism is principally about equal opportunity, personal liberty, free trade, etc, feminism is a subset of that – because feminism argues that men and women should have equal opportunities.

Which is not to say the same opportunities, but equal opportunities. I recognize the biological differences between the sexes. To me there is no distinction between conservatism and feminism, except that feminism is a smaller version of conservatism, it’s a subset of it.

Vox:  I agree that the logic holds. That’s within the logical structure your proposing that that is consistent, but the problem I have with that is that surely an aspect of conservatism is to conserve something. It seems readily apparent to me that feminism is intrinsically incapable of conserving anything from Western civilization, to even a functional, civilized society.

There is more, considerably more, there. Read the whole thing. Then discuss it here, keeping in mind that it is a transcript of a free-flowing conversation and I frequently have absolutely no idea what she’s going to throw at me next.

It’s actually a rather interesting challenge, especially in light of the fact that I know people are going to have hissy fits over anything that is worded in an infelicitious manner.


Brainstorm: Murphy vs Day

I’m pleased to announce that on Friday, June 17th at 7 PM Eastern, Brainstorm and the Tom Woods Show will be co-hosting an all-Austrian free trade debate between the well-known Austrian School economist Robert Murphy and Austrian School heretic Vox Day. The debate will be moderated by the noted Austrian School economist Thomas Woods.

It’s too soon to open registrations, but as always, Brainstorm members will have first crack at seats to the event. A transcript will be made available to Brainstorm members and the audio will be available via the Tom Woods Show.


#Trump2016 vs #NeverTrump

A short debate on Donald Trump’s victorious campaign for the Republican nomination and the nature of conservatism between me and Louise Mensch of Heat Street:

LM: This is obviously a sad day for me and a terrific day for you as Donald Trump is crowned the presumptive nominee by the GOP establishment. Last night, while we were talking with each other, we were discussing the nature of conservatism.

To me, my duty as a conservative is to oppose Donald Trump because he’s not a conservative. I said that, to me, conservatism stands for equality of opportunity. You said in your view, it never had done. How do you define conservatism?

VD: I define conservatism as an attitude more than a coherent ideology. If you look at the history of conservatism, which you as a British individual will be aware, it really is something different to the ideas that underlie the British Conservative Party or the Tory Party. Russell Kirk attempted to turn that inherited tradition into a more coherent ideology, and he came up with the 10 foundational points of what he terms conservatism. So it’s less an ideology than an attitude – and a relative posture.

 Equality of opportunity is merely something that fits that attitude more than it is a founding point of the ideology, in the way that the “labor theory of value” is something that underlies the ideology of socialism.

LM You think that leftism is ideological, but conservatism is only an attitude?

VD: To a certain extent. Socialism is clearly a distinctive set of ideologies. There are of course different socialisms, from Fabianism to Marxism. Progressivism – today’s liberalism – is also a coherent ideology. Conservatism is intrinsically a reaction to other ideologies rather than an ideology of its own.

LM: You don’t think Conservatism stands for anything apart from opposing Liberalism, to use that umbrella term for the left?

VD: Exactly correct. There’s a common saying that today’s conservative is yesterday’s liberal. Conservatism, if we look at the positions that it holds, is usually 20-25 years behind what yesterday’s liberals were. Today, John F. Kennedy would be regarded not only as a Republican – but one who was a little bit to the right.

LM: To me, that seems defeatist for a guy that I see, though I may differ with you on many things, at the very least as an alpha male go-getter. You’re not behind any particular set of principles. You just want to oppose somebody else! Doesn’t that put all the power in their hands?

VD: It does, but it’s not defeatist for me because, as I have repeatedly told people for well over a decade, I am not a conservative. I am an extremist and I’m a radical. That’s why I don’t identify with this conservatism that never conserves anything, that goes from one noble defeat to the next, and has completely failed to conserve anything, even the United States of America.

Read the whole thing there. It was an oral debate, not a written one, but I think I managed to avoid tripping over my convoluted sentence structures for the most part. The bet was funny; I don’t think she was quite expecting THAT!


Cargo Cult debate

One thing science fetishists can’t bear is to have their obvious ignorance of science pointed out:

Babak Golshahi ‏@bgolshahi1
I love being able to back up what I say with hard evidence, peer reviewed scientific consensus.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
50 percent of which is proven to be wrong when replication is attempted. You’re out of date.

Babak Golshahi ‏@bgolshahi1
replication of what? You got a peer reviewed piece or really any article that backs up your claim? Waiting.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
Mindlessly repeating the words “peer review” and citing “articles” shows you’re a low-IQ ignoramus.

Babak Golshahi ‏@bgolshahi1
you apologize for that or you’re blocked

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
Block away, moron. It won’t fix peer review or change the fact that you’re both stupid and ignorant.

Babak Golshahi ‏@bgolshahi1
You are blocked from following @bgolshahi1 and viewing @bgolshahi1’s Tweets.

I wish more of these morons would use Randi Harper’s anti-GG autoblocker, so I wouldn’t be subjected to their repetitive idiocy.

It is important to understand that if you’re prone to demanding “peer reviewed pieces” or shouting “logical fallacy” at people with whom you are arguing, you’re probably a midwit who doesn’t really understand what you’re talking about. In both these, and other similar cases, what we have is a person who has seen someone else win an argument successfully refuting another individual’s argument by comparing scientific evidence or identifying a specific logical fallacy being committed, and trying to imitate them without understanding what the other person was actually doing.

But if there is no genuine substance behind the demand or the identification, if you don’t have your own competing scientific evidence or you can’t point out the actual logical fallacy – and there is a massive difference between the set of flawed syllogisms and the subset of logical fallacies – then you have no business talking about such things.

The failure to cite a peer-reviewed study means nothing in the absence of competing citations. The claim of logical fallacy means nothing when the precise fallacy is not identified. If you don’t understand those things, stop embarrassing yourself by arguing with people and start reading.

Otherwise, you’re no different than the ignorant South Pacific islander building runways in the hopes that the magic sky machines will descend bearing gifts.


Notes on the free trade debate

First, Dr. Miller has graciously provided the audio of our debate at Future Strategist, which, among other things, once more demonstrates the astuteness of my decision to avoid pursuing a career in radio or anything that involves speaking in public. It’s as if the more clearly I am able to think through these complicated issues, the harder I find verbally articulating the path through them. At this point, I have to expect that if I ever come to correctly grok the fullness of all the myriad pros and cons of free trade, my verbal explanations will be reduced to seemingly nonsensical word bursts.

move… you know… war… people… um, mask of credit!

Second, since I didn’t have any reason to fully cite a few of the more interesting quotes I’d found, (for, as Spacebunny observes, a very particular definition of interesting) I thought some of you might find reading them to be illuminating. Since Dr. Miller didn’t put much effort into distinguishing between free trade in goods and free trade in labor, there wasn’t any point in doing more than mentioning these statements in passing. But many free traders do attempt to make the distinction, which is why I believe they are worth noting.


Milton Friedman, “What is America” lecture at Stanford:

There is no doubt that free and open immigration is the right policy in a libertarian state, but in a welfare state it is a different story: the supply of immigrants will become infinite. Your proposal that someone only be able to come for employment is a good one but it would not solve the problem completely. The real hitch is in denying social benefits to the immigrants who are here. Look, for example, at the obvious, immediate, practical example of illegal Mexican immigration. Now, that Mexican immigration, over the border, is a good thing. It’s a good thing for the illegal immigrants. It’s a good thing for the United States. It’s a good thing for the citizens of the country. But, it’s only good so long as it’s illegal.

Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism, Chapter 8. Freedom of Movement

The natural conditions of production and, concomitantly, the productivity of labor are more favorable, and, as a consequence, wage rates are higher, in the United States than in vast areas of Europe. In the absence of immigration barriers, European workers would emigrate to the United States in great numbers to look for jobs. The American immigration laws make this exceptionally difficult. Thus, the wages of labor in the United States are kept above the height that they would reach if there were full freedom of migration, whereas in Europe they are depressed below this height. On the one hand, the American worker gains; on the other hand, the European worker loses.

However, it would be a mistake to consider the consequences of immigration barriers exclusively from the point of view of their immediate effect on wages. They go further. As a result of the relative oversupply of labor in areas with comparatively unfavorable conditions of production, and the relative shortage of labor in areas in which the conditions of production are comparatively favorable, production is further expanded in the former and more restricted in the latter than would be the case if there were full freedom of migration. Thus, the effects of restricting this freedom are just the same as those of a protective tariff. In one part of the world comparatively favorable opportunities for production are not utilized, while in another part of the world less favorable opportunities for production are being exploited. Looked at from the standpoint of humanity, the result is a lowering of the productivity of human labor, a reduction in the supply of goods at the disposal of mankind. Attempts to justify on economic grounds the policy of restricting immigration are therefore doomed from the outset. There cannot be the slightest doubt that migration barriers diminish the productivity of human labor. 

Gary North, “Tariffs as Welfare-State Economics”, Mises Institute

The ethics and economics of restricted trade surely apply to the person who wants to trade on the other side of the invisible line known as a national border. If the arguments for restricted trade apply to the American economy, then surely they apply to the other nation’s economy. Logic and ethics do not change just because we cross an invisible judicial line.Any time a government sends out a man with a badge and a gun to restrict trade, this is an act of war. Nobody should favor a restriction on other people’s trade unless the results of that trade are comparable to the results of trade during wartime.

What I find interesting about these defenders of the free movement of people, or if you prefer, free trade in labor and services, is that although the greatest among them, Ludwig von Mises, clearly recognized the potential flaw in his pro-free trade position, he not only uncharacteristically chose to wave it away, but to the extent he considered it at all, he reached what is now obviously a completely wrong conclusion.

This issue is of the most momentous significance for the future of the world. Indeed, the fate of civilization depends on its satisfactory resolution. It is clear that no solution of the problem of immigration is possible if one adheres to the ideal of the interventionist state, which meddles in every field of human activity, or to that of the socialist state. Only the adoption of the liberal program could make the problem of immigration, which today seems insoluble, completely disappear. In an Australia governed according to liberal principles, what difficulties could arise from the fact that in some parts of the continent Japanese and in other parts Englishmen were in the majority?

To continue from my observation in last night’s debate, this is a 20th century defense of an 18th century argument that sounds utterly insane in the face of 21st century realities. Consider the application of this argument to current events:

In a Sweden governed according to liberal principles, what difficulties could arise from the fact that in some parts of the country Syrians and in other parts Swedes were in the majority?

What difficulties indeed?  Anyhow, it has become increasingly apparent to me that the lack of concern about national sovereignty shown by free traders is akin to that demonstrated by libertarians, and reflects a fundamental conflation of the concept of “the nation” with the concept of “the state”. They simply don’t understand that their positions are logically self-refuting in addition to being empirically false.

UPDATE: The paper I mentioned, Trade Wars, Trade Negotiations and Applied Game Theory, by Glenn W. Harrison and E. E. Rutström, can be found here


The Free Trade debate

At 7 PM Eastern, the free trade debate between Dr. James
Miller, PhD, JD, and Associate Professor of Economics at Smith College, and Vox Day, Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil, will begin.

There are 250 seats left, and you can register for the free event here

This is an open thread for those watching the debate to discuss it as it is happening. Please be polite to Dr. Miller regardless of whether you agree with him or think well of his arguments or not. As for me, well, feel free to identify any holes in the arguments I present… if you can.

UPDATE: Great turnout for such an esoteric matter. 278 people showed up over the course of the event. We held a show of hands before and after the debate. The numbers aren’t even because there were 170 people at the beginning and 215 at the end.

FREE TRADE PRO: 35 to 24
FREE TRADE ANTI: 80 to 110
NEUTRAL: 55 to 50

While Dr. Miller graciously conceded the actual debate, I think he nevertheless won the evening with his AI bombshell. It was spectacular.


Brainstorm debate: Free Trade

As I mentioned, tonight at 7 PM Eastern I’ll be debating Dr. James Miller, Associate Professor of Economics at Smith College, on the topic of free trade. Dr. Miller has a PhD from the University of Chicago and is the author of Game Theory at Work and Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World.

There are 440 seats left, so if you’re interested and you plan to attend, you can register for the free event here

This promises to be interesting. PhD from THE monetarist school vs BS from a econ department of Keynesians and socialists. Game Theorist vs Game Designer. Academic vs gamer.

The folks on Twitter don’t appear to like my chances of success. The worst odds that have been given against me are 68-1. On the other hand, Nate refuses to throw in the towel: Speaking as someone who’s actually debated you. I’m going to say the poor bastard has no idea what he’s in for.

So, whose chances do you like better? Looking at it objectively, I’d have to say that if I can somehow manage to win this one in a convincing fashion, I’m probably smarter than I think I am. There is only one way to find out.


Challenge accepted

A professor of economics with a PhD from the ultimate monetarist school throws down a gauntlet, albeit in a considerably more civil manner than I’ve come to expect from my critics:

I’ve recently started a podcast called Future Strategist and I would love to interview you by Skype audio.  We could discuss political correctness and debate free trade.  While I do not support open borders for people, I do support free trade in goods and while I doubt I could get you to change your opinion I hopefully wouldn’t underwhelm you as have other economists.

James Miller
Associate Professor of Economics, Smith College
Phd University of Chicago

I have accepted Dr. Miller’s challenge to debate free trade. More details to come.

By the way, he’s the author of Game Theory at Work, so he’s obviously a smart guy. We’re going to do one podcast discussion of political correctness first – he obviously won his 2003 tenure battle – and then we’ll do the debate, Game Theorist vs Game Designer.

UPDATE: Dr. Miller and I have decided to simply do the free trade debate, and we’ll do it at the Brainstorm on Wednesday. Invitations have already gone out to the Brainstorm members. Once all the members interested have taken their seats, I’ll open the remaining ones up to everyone else on a first-come, first-serve basis.

This is the sort of thing that Brainstorm makes possible, so if you want to be a part of it, consider signing up for an annual membership.