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July 25, 2014



"Very many free marketeers are optimistic about the potential for technical progress and growth, whilst secular stagnationists tend to be leftists."

Do they? A lot of austerity fans have morphed straight into stagnationism.

Roy Lonergan

Under "free market egalitarians" I think you meant to say "oppose...inequality"? Or I've misunderstood.

Dave Timoney

Re "there are also, I fear, fewer highly intelligent working class autodidacts". But (to employ a favourite question of your own) what would be the mechanism for that? Are they being bred out? Is there something in the water?

By definition, autodidacts have avoided (willingly or not) the conventional academic routes, so the increased managerialism and homogenisation of modern education cannot be to blame. Not every public library has closed, and the Internet is surely a boon in this regard.

Your suggestion that there may be a specific quantum of diversity, and that this budget has been used up by "women, blacks and gays", is probably true, but the implication that this allowance was previously monopolised by working-class autodidacts probably isn't.

I suspect the likes of Bob Crow and Bob Hoskins are still out there, despite the battering of organised labour and the reduction in social mobility. You're getting nostalgic.

Churm Rincewind

Chris - I'm genuinely surprised that you should (seemingly) endorse Nick Cohen's argument. Does it genuinely reflect your views?


@ Roy - thanks. That was another ruddy typo. It's fixed now
@ FATE - I suspect one mechanism is simply the expansion of universities (& perhaps better schooling) which has allowed more to get to university.


I don't know how Tolkien's wife, Edith, or Lewis' wife, Joy, would take to having their husbands referred to as bachelors.

I think there still is plenty of diversity out there - but the minority viewpoints and the eccentrics don't have the prominence they once may have been able to garner.


*would have taken, rather. Their wives being now deceased.


"Whilst this is to be welcomed in one sense - "minorities" could hardly do a worse job than middle-aged white men"

Replace 'middle aged white men' with any other racial/gender/sexual orientation combo, and is it acceptable?


@ Churm; Cohen's piece is very clear, well argued and reasonably evidenced. What's wrong with it?


«consider some of the types of character and belief which I think are not as common as they should be: [ ... ] pro- and anti-fiscalists map quite closely onto pro- and anti-big government.»

The argument that right wingers have framed astutely as "size of government" is almost never about the size of government, but about minimizing redistribution from the "productive" rich and powerful (but few) to the "exploitative" poor and weak (but many).

Because right wingers think that in a democratic state the few rich and powerful will always be outvoted by downward redistributionists among the many poor and weak, they want to minimize the size of what they see as the inevitable redistribution by the state by minimizing the size of the state.

The freedoms that right wingers think a democratic state curtails are those of the rich and powerful to use their leverage to drive as hard a bargain as possible with the poor and weak in unregulated markets, and the freedom of the rich and powerful to tax the poor and weak to provide state welfare for the rich and powerful.

When the state protects the rights of the rich and powerful then nearly all right wingers are enthusiastic about big government.

«One is a form of groupthink - perhaps accelerated by social media and asymmetric Bayesianism - which divides politics along narrow left-right lines.»

This seems an amazingly optimistic view, to me it is a division of opposing *interests*, where the dividing line is that between the interests of incumbents and those of non-incumbents, where the incumbency that matters is usually that of property.

«The other is the rise of managerialist ideology. This has reduced diversity partly simply because it has become so ubiquitous as a mindset; note that all the above beliefs which I believe to be under-heard are varieties of anti-managerialism.»

That is stretching a bit too far, those seem to be more variants of the "small is beautiful" approach.

Managerialism is not about "big is better", it is the delusion that *even* big organization can be managed flawlessly by philosopher-kings who just know better.

If anti-managerialism reduces to "small is beautiful" it is a grave mistake, because in many cases big organization are exceptionally useful, regrettably even when they are mismanaged by managerialists.

Anti-managerialism properly constructed is founded on the skepticism that *any* size organization can be managed by "know better" philosopher-kings, that change is particularly hard to manage, and that large organization in rapid change are particularly hard to manage at all, so while they should be minimized, they are sometimes inevitable and very useful despite the difficulty of managing them.

Socialism In One Bedroom

It always amazes me that the only people who ever really moan about too much tax are people are are really really well off. You would think they would keep their traps shut and be thankful, but know they think they are hard done too!

And then an economic theory then builds upon around their plight, which says if we tax these rich bastards anymore we will all be worse off as a result!

Such is the nature of 'economic theory'. It's reactive rather than proactive.

Nick Cohen is what I would call an apologist of the worst kind, and every single article he ever pens is part of his apology.

I guess the true opposition to 'diversity' was best articulated by the Nazi's in the 1930's and 1940's.

Igor Belanov

Re "there are also, I fear, fewer highly intelligent working class autodidacts".

One interesting factor in the future will be the steady increase in 'downwardly mobile' university graduates, many of whom will be from working class backgrounds but earning less and living in poorer accommodation than their parents. They might well lack some of the motivation and thirst for knowledge of genuinely self-taught people, but they will have academic skills and often a great deal of dissatisfaction with the system.

Churm Rincewind

@AllanW; It would take too long to deconstruct Nick Cohen's piece in detail. But here's two arbitrary examples of his sloppy thinking.

He says that "it is a novel view of freedom of speech that a speaker has the right to impose his views on his audience". But this is of course exactly what happens within mosques and synagogues, which he seems to think is OK.

He also seems to think that Sharia teachings on inheritance, and the Law Society's acceptance of the fact that devout Muslims may wish their wills to be Sharia-compliant, evidences "white-skinned bureaucrats" discriminating against "brown and black-skinned women". The racial slur is entirely his own invention.

And so on.

But this is merely a sideshow. What did surprise me about the original post is that Mr Dillow has generally been in favour of immigration but has tended to pass over the cultural, social, and religious implications. His apparent acceptance of Nick Cohen's point that immigrants should not be allowed wholeheartedly to import or observe their own beliefs and traditions struck me as inconsistent with his previous enthusiasms.


Dear Churm. Many thanks for your reply.

If you consider it merely a sideshow I'll assume all points you make about Cohen's piece can be ignored then. Thanks.

As far as Mr Dillows' apparent acceptance of the thrust of Cohens article goes, perhaps he falls into that growing category of reasonable, enlightened, left-leaning people who have only recently become 'aware' of the conflict-points that exist between our legal rights framework in this country and some aspects of the cultural practices various people have been encouraged to continue with while being citizens of this country.

As such I'm happy to applaud his growing awareness of these facts rather than wish he had remained under his previous doctrinal delusion. Aren't you?

Luis Enrique


just FYI, economic theory does not say taxing the rich makes us worse off, but it does say that forms of taxation that cause people to either reduce investment or labour effort might do. The point is that not all forms of taxation have such incentive effects. Land tax or a progressive consumption taxes (a yacht tax) being examples.

Churm Rincewind

AllanW: "If you consider it merely a sideshow I'll assume all points you make about Cohen's piece can be ignored then. Thanks."

This is, frankly, a cheap shot. So, for the record, I don't consider that just because in my post I set aside Nick Cohen's points in order primarily to address Chris's original OP, that my objections to Nick Cohen's post are in some way invalidated.

I notice that you do not choose to address them.


Dear Churm,

CR; "This is, frankly, a cheap shot."

It was, wasn't it?

CR; "I notice that you do not choose to address [the objections to Nick Cohen's post contained in your previous comment posting]."

Well done. Good 'noticing' that man ...

Mary Fountain

It's possible to argue that social mobility is a rigged market. If greatest wealth is achieved from investment and entrepreneurial/business skills, all those taking a degree (often just to open job doors), will having taken on enormous personal debt with dubious outcome (60% of graduates in the US unable to find work in their subject, similar in Germany), yet to find out at some point way down the road they're missing skills which were available to a lesser degree from the 'business and secretarial' streaming back at school, which they skipped to become an academic.
'Rich dad - Poor dad' Book by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter

It's unfortunate that business economics and investment is not thought to be as important as either history or geography as main-stream curriculum subjects, but along with entrepreneurial skills, could be what is lacking to support greater financial success of adults, and less dependency. 9/10 new British businesses fail during the first year - could it be turned around with a 4-5 month concentrated course for all at school, in collaboration with external consultants/retiree business people? I think it could, and maybe it will - eventually be an absolute necessity


'Whilst this is to be welcomed in one sense - "minorities" could hardly do a worse job than middle-aged white men - it is a very partial form of "diversity".'

Was with you up until that tiresome, trite statement.

Could 'middle-aged white men' have made a better job of Detroit, Camden NJ, Gary IN? Of course they could. We all know it.

The vast, vast, vast majority of what you actually enjoy in the world is there by the grace of middle-aged white men.


Maybe, after John Maynard Smith, those positions you outline are not evolutionarily stable strategies:


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