Draft Reply on Antiversity

I’m posting in bullet form before my thoughts are presentable to stimulate further discussion with Vincent and other interested parties.  This may be irrelevant to the point of indecipherability to many readers, caveat lector.  (I already spent rather more than “lunch” typing this – didn’t realize how many points would end up in the outline – and I doubt I will finish expanding these points or even start working on this draft for several months, but I hope it is somewhat intelligible.)

A. Preliminaries –

A1. Final point of “Part 3” is 1st in many ways: what resources of $ and manpower do we think an Antiversity would have to work with? Correct solution to any problem totally dependent on what resources you plan to invest in the solution.

A2. My basic instinct is, copy the Left!  Long march through institutions. So we need to evaluate any specific plan for Antiversity against the “option value” of pursuing a tried (but possibly multi-decade) strategy

A3. Regardless, Long March/Antiversity are clearly natural complements. (Even if you think recruiting an army and laying siege is easier than persuading a city to join you, if you could persuade just one sentry that surrender is a good idea and get him to let down the drawbridge, suddenly the siege becomes a lot easier.)

A4. More broadly: how much should we copy leftist tactics/strategies, or avoid? Beyond copying and domesticating tactics, what about harnessing the same trends (i.e. trends that invariably lead to disorder; finding a microbe to infect the infectious microbe)

A5. Even more broadly: is the plan to build up an arsenal of informal power to resist Cathedral and then “hand it over” after formalization? Or do we need to be leery of acquiring informal power and make the Antiversity self-formalizing?

B. Signal-jamming –

B1. Big picture: we don’t want to whine about the fact that we’re considered kooks and worse.  It’s not a question of moral dessert or victimology.  We want to win, and we think we can win because we’re right (and will get righter and righter because we don’t engage in amyl-nitrate-fueled epistemological barebacking).

B2. Vincent’s précis: challenge is to fight system of signals which recognizes Cathedral as authoritative and stigmatizes any opposition as kooky/eccentric

B3. First step is Batesian mimicry.

3a. We need to find the authority-signals that are most weakly associated with ex cathedra knowledge-generation capacities and start mimicking them ruthlessly. Don’t mock the fact that academia is a cargo cult, put up a plywood radar tower to convince the choirboys you’re the priest. (Result: choirboys stop trusting lower ranks of Cathedral. Cathedral needs to retrench to its most expensive signals.)

3b. Go full “Nasreddin Hoca”(sp?); start circulating dissident research/articles formatted as though it came from sanctified sources.  N.b., information and analysis in such articles must be immaculate, only the publication (and maybe even the author!) are changed. Counterfeiting of frippery of prestige on massive scale. — This can even extend to hosting them where academic papers would typically be shared, e.g. personal university webpages and so on.

B4. University degrees, affiliations, chairs etc. confer prestige due to selectivity. Okay (we say), this is mostly a filter for neurocognitive traits; I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours? Antiversity cadres should have recent, rigorously administered Wechslers, Ravens, maybe others; maybe other validated instruments like HEXACO; also useful to have them take GRE, maybe LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, or other tests which we know Cathedral priors and deacons must have taken (and so could conceivably publicize); in other words, use same quantitative filter for credential-granting, but just use the filter as the credential and challenge the Cathedralkin to publish theirs.

B5.  All this has the effect of weeding out weaker Cathedralkin from stronger.  Now, stop treating any arguments as about conclusions, treat them as arguments about dueling claims to authority.  That means we are the wolves and they are the deer.  Don’t go after the bounding stag, always attack the herd by culling its cripples and misfits.  Antiversitarians will have to train to switch to attacking an opponent’s brand as soon as he authority-signals: find the weakest departments in his field, the weakest PhD’s awarded at his alma mater, the weakest research by his colleagues, and mock them and force him to disavow them before anyone can return to first-order debates.  (Disruption tactics!)

B7.  This forces Cathedral to fall back on its real resources (expensive signals) and its real strengths (accurate signals).  What are the most valuable parts of the R1-university package? (And likewise for the lower rungs of the Cathedral: most valuable parts of better magazines, etc.) Can we rip them off wholesale? (What are the best ideas for reforming the Cathedral that are impractical due to institutional inertia? Can we rip those off?)

B8.  Regulatory arbitrage.  Those resources and strengths come with strings attached; what are they?  For example, the Antiversity will not get any R1 grants, so it will not have to submit research ideas to Institutional Review Boards.  What would researchers die to be able to do, that IRBs forbid? Antiversity does that.  (Can we set up cells in foreign countries to circumvent national research restrictions?)

C. /ourguys/

C1. As the standards of the Cathedral’s authority-signaling system start to come down, the Antiversity needs to create its own.

C2.  Thales.  The best signal of intellectual superiority is to constantly make lots of predictions that others think are crazy but then come true…. over and over and over again.

2a.  The “Less Wrong” thing of calibrating your predictions over a huge range of (mostly irrelevant) beliefs is better than nothing, but still pretty pozzy: ideal is to speak softly until you’re ready to shout out a “wacky” prophecy that you are confident about, and then goad as many opponents as possible into ridiculing you for it.

2b. If you are very confident about a large number of minor predictions or think you have very good calibration of all your predictions, the correct way to demonstrate that is by using the knowledge to solve problems that flummox everyone else, or through entrepreneurialism/investments/bets.

2c.  Yes, if the Antiversity is that great, some of its cells should be self-funding.  Sort of like Bell Labs. Possibly this principle should be extended to non-predictive research as well: e.g., volume of book sales is a gauge of relevance and insight.

2d. (Minor point: also important to work on making more conditional predictions if you would plan to defend your prediction if it fails, post hoc.)

C3.  “Trap principle” (More later)

C4.  Vincent’s précis made it sound like the Antiversity would be Leninist (organized by democratic centralism), which I think is very smart.

C5.  The Cathedral is authoritative and prestigious largely not due to its prestigious branches, but due to its mediocre ones.  Positional signaling systems only work well when the system labels it’s inferior-quality products as INFERIOR QUALITY in big flashing letters, which is what creates faith that the BEST QUALITY-label really marks out something great.  So to supplant the Cathedral, the Antiversity needs to offer its own mediocrities and, generally, signal not only quality but hierarchy.

5a.  This is a change from how the Orthosphere functions now.  To some extent it’s a hugbox, right? We have a lot of camaraderie and mutual sympathy and are always encouraging one another as much as we can.  This is integral to competitions where good teamwork is mainly a function of unity, loyalty, and energy.  The Antiversity would need to neg its mediocrities harder than the Cathedral would.

5b. (To some extent right-wingers experience with this on /pol/ etc., which is one of the great benefits of our anonymous, decentralized organization.  People who participate in A+D discussions get used to severe criticism and adapt accordingly, but A+D can’t create status hierarchies.)

5c. Ideally we just want to create a lot of hierarchy, by fiat, even if it initially seems gratuitous and silly.  Whether it is researchers/cells/factions/students/papers/fields/whatever, the Antiversity can create useful hierarchical signals just by ranking the units and continually revising the rankings based on some kind of objective criterion (which could simply be the Condorcet rankings of an agreed-upon board).

5d. This can then be exploited in various ways.  Whatever the hierarchy-signals are — say they are Gold, Silver, Bronze: Gold can signal e.g. that they cannot be bothered with responding to frivolous questions/challenges from irrelevant questioners, please go ask Bronze; Bronze, meanwhile, has the job of showing outsiders that he mastered his field, so that they know Gold really means something.

5e. (However, it would be nice to enact this without attracting the type of people who desire high positions within the Cathedral to begin with, i.e. seekers after prestige/status.  The simplest way to do this would be to go full-reactionary and return to the medieval practice of identifying Antiversitykin by sigils.  Your sigil isn’t associated with your personal status in real life because no one knows it’s you; and anyway, it’s hard to identify with a letter or symbol.  Just one possible solution.  — Using letters, kanji, or some geometric mix of shapes+colors+pattern would probably be the easiest way to generate sigils, but for full intersectional epistemo-fascism the Antiversity could acquire an Urbit-star to identify each of its researchers.)

C6.  Here I’m still thinking mostly in terms of the internal organization of the Antiversity, but we need to think about the structure of the communication system for the Antiversity as well (its interface with normal people, when it isn’t challenging the Cathedral directly).  That could mean everything from cloning arxiv, ssrn, plos; to co-opting existing boards and media to function as the Antiversity’s equivalent to the bottom rung of the Cathedral; to wholly new technological solutions (take inspiration from weev’s samiz.dat project).

D. Diagramming

This is sort of a tangent, but I’d like to flesh out a more versatile way of diagramming what we mean by “The Cathedral” at some point, ideally one that rests on different types of relationships in networks where individuals are the nodes that can then be used to aggregate/analyze the net-relationship of different clusters in the network (i.e., networks where groups/institutions are treated as nodes).

A Little Learning II

indigo-hanks1Continuing from my opening warning

Success is time.

You don’t necessarily see the full extent of this in high school, because people are still maturing biologically. Seeing a 15 year old who is smarter or stronger than a 13 year-old, you get the idea that different levels of ability come from different stages in the development of innate capacities.  That’s especially true when you see one 13 year-old who had a growth spurt two years before another 13 year-old and so is the same age, with different abilities.  But over the long run, you should think of success in any activity as a question of time invested.

Whatever you want to be good at, you have to spend time on.  Conversely, whatever you don’t want to be good at, you can’t spend time on.  There are only so many hours in the day, and if you spend them on things you don’t care about you’ll be good at irrelevant things like channel-surfing and bad at important things.

A Little Learning I

The dye extracted from the indigo plant is bluer than its petal ~~荀子

Right-wing politics attracts far more high schoolers and undergraduates than I would have guessed.  For their benefit, I thought I’d share a list of tips I came up with to help my baby brother study better.  If you need suggestions for how to study you probably wouldn’t have the discipline (or the time!) to read the entire list in one go; instead I’ll post one item a day.  I can’t help you achieve great learning, but if you are aiming for a little learning these thoughts may be useful.

The first item on the list is a warning: human beings are biodiverse.  How people learn, their goals in learning, and the limiting factors that hold them back from learning  more are different in every case.  Most people don’t understand this at all, so they push peculiar features of their own educational success/failure as general lessons for other people.  This is particularly difficult when there is a group of students at your school who are wired in a way that makes some special technique effective; social proof is very powerful, and you may feel compelled to try their methods even though they don’t make sense to you and don’t seem to be working.

Even more insidious, the group may be wired to succeed at a goal which you don’t share.  This can be very difficult.  When you copy their techniques, it really is instrumentally effective!  The fact that you’ve succeeded at doing something can distract you from the fact that you have succeeded at (((someone else’s))) goals, but set yourself up to fail at your own goals.

(Of course, this warning goes double for my own list.)


Physical Anthropology in 1950

flores(Observations on intellectual history and ideological struggle)

I recently took a look at a book which gives a standard account of what physical anthropologists thought they knew about race immediately postwar.  If this book is any indication, “naive twentieth-century racial theories” is a bolshevik slur on excellent, careful, and appropriately modest anthropological claims which closely anticipated many findings archaeogenetics has now proven conclusively.

Races: a study of the problems of race formation in man brings together chapters originally given as lectures by the authors (Coon, Carn and Birdsell).  I picked it up for three reasons: (a) To learn how physical anthropology supplements the new DNA studies. (b) To familiarize myself with the sins of naive 20th century racial theories for which 21st century race-realists are held responsible.  (c) And, as the flip side of the same concern, to see where the old physical anthropology was accurate or misleading and precisely which physical evidence (or which interpretations of it) led them off track.

This post focuses on three topics that are interesting in light how how later anthropologists and biologists portray the work from this era: how the authors connect races to species, the sophistication of their evolutionary concepts (particularly, polygenesis and atavism), and the nature of the Nordic/Alpine/Mediterranean distinction.

I. What is race? 

Race, say Coon et al., is the first identifiable step in a process of divergence between two related populations — the same sort of divergence between isolated populations that in other cases leads to speciation.  What caught my eye was the spin they put on their explicit definition of racial divergence: “when one group has become sufficiently distinct from another group so that the majority of its member are easily identifiable, we call it a race.” They immediately contrast this easy identification to the endless acrimony among scientists about higher orders of classification: “Taxonomists argue about [species, genera, and so on] but on race they agree.”

In 2016, we usually use the opposite approach to sell people on race-realism: something like, “If you believe in species – and you do believe in species, right? species are a basic biological concept – you’ll have no trouble with race, since race is just somewhere between family and species on the continuum of closely-related populations”.  However there are two ways of thinking about race: one presents species as the common ground we can agree on and race as an ambiguous extension of the concept, while the other presents race as the common ground we can agree on and species as an ambiguous extension of the concept.  These two ways offer us a trade-off between the validity of the concept and the precision with which it can be applied.  “Easy identification of the distinctive traits of two groups” does not define a precise concept, because ease itself is a fuzzy concept, so the many clear-cut cases of “an easy identification” will always be surrounded by borderline cases that are nearly as 2375702_d4a2f3d3easy (just as with “a bald man” or “a heap of stones”).  Despite this fuzziness, “easy identification of differences” is logically (and evolutionarily!) prior to whatever degree of difference marks a difference in species, so any questions about the validity or reality of racial categories are ruled out in advance.  In 2016 we have a great deal of excellent and mathematically precise data on the (genetic) traits of human populations; it’s understandable to want to disassociate race from any implications of fuzziness.  But by approaching race as the more intricate, informationally-richer classification, we give up the idea that it is the simpler, logically prior of the two.  In 1950 they couldn’t quite see/quantify the intricacies, so they automatically went for the other horn of the dilemma.

Of course, even if there is a rhetorical trade-off between the two ways to frame the relationship between race and culture, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use both.  Most people who talk about race already use a line like “What, you’re telling me you can’t tell whether someone’s black or white?” now and then, and that’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from treating race as easy-identification.  It may seem like cheating to switch back

Fine, maybe not always. Fuzzy concept, right?

and forth between framings as opportunity presents itself, but I’ll let you in on a secret: your fuzzy experience of easy identification is just peripheral awareness of a highly-trained perceptual heuristic which collects, processes and flags intercorrelations between clusters of related traits… the same intercorrelated clusters which we can now explicitly quantify with principle components analysis.

II. There was nothing naive about physical anthropology’s understanding of evolution in 1950.

When science is under siege for political reasons, the anti-science faction is endlessly bringing up older, imperfect versions of theories to bring their most recent versions into disrepute.  However, on at least two counts the common narrative appears to be false.

fourmodelsPolygenesis.  The bolshevik line on polygenesis: “Once upon a time, heapbad racist supremacists thought non-human hominid species spread all over the world, and in every region the populations started evolving, and in every region they evolved into a new species, but always the same new species (Homo sapiens).”  (Impossible, of course: every isolated population of an ancestral species that evolves into a new species must evolve into a different species.) “But,” the bolshevik continues, “Now We Know™ all Homo sapiens came Out-of-Africa, and very recently, and were fully behaviorally modern before the Africa/Eurasia split, and couldn’t possibly have evolved much in the last hundred millennia, anyway.”  — Not just wrong, wrong in every particular!  Evolution can happen very quickly, for one thing.  And most significantly, many modern populations have DNA from non-human hominids (Homo neanderthalensis and Homo denisova confirmed, others suspected), so even if polygenesis was as crazy as the bolsheviks say, monogenesis is also wrong.

When I’ve had to explain the new multi-hominid theory, I’ve leaned on a just-so story: once upon a time, there was a polygenesis-camp and a monogenesis-camp, and each focused on one part of the evidence, each developed a simple model that captured their insights, but ultimately the adherents of each were too rigid to see that the possibility-space for human origins is actually all of the possible linear combinations of these two pure models.  This parable seems to work pretty well (not great, to be honest), but its pox on both your houses attitude implies a false equivalence and reinforces a bolshevik smear against the polygenists.

Lifelike figure of a Neanderthal Man in the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann by Duesseldorf, Northrhine-Westphalia, Germany. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.
Stand proud, stand ‘thal

According to Coon et al., “polytypical theory” hypothesizes that “several primates, evolving in parallel fashion, all became men, and the living races are descended from more than one kind of subhuman primate.” (p. 85)  Note that they do not say whether or not they descend from more than one species of primate: in the 1950s at least, polygenesis took no stance on whether the parallel hominid populations were separate races, species, or what.  (Cf. the comment I quoted on the difficulty of delineating species, from the same chapter.  The footnote on Gates’ research into the “question of division into species” as a separate issue appears to emphasize this point, but I have not looked at that citation to verify.)  However, the authors do stake out a position on movement between populations: “Whichever of these theories may be true, … mixture [has] been going on from the earliest times.” (They note three different population movements into Australia, a model genetics has only recently confirmed.)  Thus some big movement out of Africa, they take take for granted; among their contemporaries, polygenesis just meant modern traits are a linear combination of traits spread by these large movements and traits that evolved locally over hundreds of thousands of years, while monogenesis denied any traits were locally evolved.  Unless the presentation in Races is atypical (yet somehow uncannily prescient!) this means the polygenetic camp’s views were always quite sophisticated and have now been vindicated.

517px-apomorphy_-_homoplasy-svgDerived/innovative.  It is one of life’s little incongruities that bolsheviks, who in the study of history and culture ruin everything they touch by projecting “progressive” and “regressive” tendencies onto wholly inappropriate objects, fling the exact same accusation back at biologists and anthropologists who study evolving species which really can be traced back to ancestral forms.  Bolshevik biologists never deny human evolution (it was always one of their pet projects to use evolution to undermine faith in revelation, and unfortunately certain fundamentalists took the bait) or denounced the concept of phylogeny, but they did accuse any and all researchers applying phylogenetic concepts to mankind of believing that evolution progressed towards some goal (!!!) and of judging whether races had “approached” or “evolved towards” this goal with inherently evaluative terms like “primitive” and “advanced”.  In other words, the bolshevik indictment of the scary nineteenth- and twentieth-century racialists was not that they cared about hominid phylogeny, but that they were hopelessly naive about it, and used naive dichotomies like primitive/advanced where any non-idiot would be thinking in terms of ancestral/derived (or conservative/innovative or homologous/apomorphic…).  This is an embarrassing accusation!  But I am even more embarrassed, because I believed the accusers long after I knew they were deeply dishonest.  The authors of Races clarify what “primitive” and “advanced” mean in evolutionary theory (on p. 87, if you’re interested), and it turns out they mean… exactly what “ancestral” and “derived” mean in 2016.  The racialists were pretty sophisticated after all.

16xPolygenesis and primitivism are only two of the alleged errors of the old science of races.  Some of these allegations, I hope, are true.  It would be pathetic if the Cathedral castrated biologists to the point that no of theory of 2016 improves over the best of evolutionary thought, pre-1950.  But in the future I will try to reserve judgments about these allegations, since the track record of the accusers is so poor. — In a loose sense Coon, Carl, and Birdsell simply fell victim to something like a euphemism treadmill (we need ever-more neoteric jargon to distinguish strict senses of words from connotations they invariably carry), which is itself a subset of changes in linguistic context which make old books opaque to us.  Those who read little find pre-war books stilted, eighteenth-century books distressingly convoluted, and everything else impossible.  But even a reader who savors an old book’s style may find the concepts opaque: or rather, he will find the substance forbidding because of the false clarity of words (“the mony of fooles”) with which he is familiar, and which he never suspects he has not understood.  The function of a significant amount of bolshevik propaganda and cultural politics is to accelerate this process, to cut potential opponents off from the arsenal of reaction.

III. Tetchy racial distinctions and the politics of early anthropology.  Whenever race realists try to assert that just maybe there might be some kind of biological differences between, say, Sub-Saharan Africans and Eurasians, bolsheviks bring up all the intra-European racial distinctions 19th and 20th century anthropologists proposed: for example, Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean.

The relevance of the objection is somewhat unclear, and several of its uses (possibly the main ones) have no special connection to Races.  Sometimes bolshies exaggerate how large the N/A/M differences were claimed to be while minimizing how large they actually are, to tar the whole business of racial categorization with a history of error.  This does not seem to be party line: among anthropologists and biologists not even the most radical leftists deny intra-European biological differences (indeed, many insist on it).  Sometimes they seem to be threatening some kind of slippery slope, a regress into ever-more minute racial categories, either as a half-baked reductio or simply to slander categorization.  It could be an attempt to appeal to an American audience’s misleading biases. Americans, after all, are mostly euro-mutts.  Our ethnic self-identifications reflect neither genealogy nor physical traits.  (They are a result of memetic competition between the maternal clan and the paternal clan, just like Americans’ recipes, heirlooms, and denominations.)

But the major thrust of bringing up these apparently tetchy racial distinctions has always been a sort of divide-and-conquer strategy.  “Nordics”, the (((critical theorists))) tell us, are sort of like the white race within the white race; evil white supremacist Anglo-Saxons and (shudder!) Germans, having first vented their fantasies of racial domination by imagining a white race that is superior to the black, now go on to imagine a Nordic race superior even to other Europeans.  Thus (the bolshevik seems to be implying) any racial theory at all that starts making distinctions between white and not-white is heading towards expelling the Sicilians and the Greeks into the not-white category; the Sicilians feel insulted and worried about where all this “race” business might be headed, the Englishman starts to second-guess himself (“Am I being a trifle unsporting to those swarthy chaps?”) and the bolshevik rubs his hands in glee.

White race in green (?!)

The problem is that (judging on the basis of Races, anyway) these insinuations about the N/A/M racial types are all wrong: in fact nearly backwards.  N/A/M were not part of some obsessive trend to chop races ever finer; if anything, they were the opposite, an attempt to make overly broad sub-categories.  They were not an attempt to fortify white supremacy by bringing a more-white/less-white hierarchy inside the white race itself; if anything, they were an attempt to gerrymander the populations of Europe and its periphery to downplay white Europeans as a distinct race.  Far from trying to push anyone out of being “truly white”, the only race-politics dynamic that might have been at work was an attempt to neuter the social implications of race science… and perhaps even to make sure (((certain ethnicities))) couldn’t possibly be excluded from a Europe-centered white race.  The scope of the “Mediterranean race” which Coon et al. assume says it all!  This concept includes not just Southern Europe, not just the Balkans, not just the residents of the entire littoral of the Mediterranean Sea, but even extends into Iran.  In fact, the plates in the chapter on racial typology use an Iranian man as the illustration of the typical Mediterranean characteristics.

I don’t want to delve too far into the N/A/M classification; I don’t have examples as glaring as the Iranian plate for the Nordic and Alpine races and I don’t have time right now to study 1950s physical anthropology in depth.  But it interests me because (if my suspicions are correct) the classification hints at a broader lesson about how progressives orchestrate their cultural offensives.  If you’ve heard of KMac at all you know (((Franz Boas))) and his (((students))) politicized research, faked findings, and hid inconvenient data to promote the Left’s egalitarian ideology.  Given the triumph of Boas’ descendants (and of their cousins in other academic disciplines) and the resulting demonization of their opponents, we could easily get the impression that these opponents were hard-nosed, reactionary, anti-democratic, truth-loving WASP racists.  What heroes!  The reality may be more nuanced.  Many of the physical anthropologists studying racial difference were probably progressive (or even Marxist, tendance hônnete).  Many of them were probably jewish, and would have brought the same Boasian anxiety to normalize their own ethnic status to their research.  Many were simply normal men swept up in the currents of the times, I assume, and tuned their way of thinking to the Cathedral choirs.  What are the consequences?  First, Cthulhu is guaranteed another meal, since he has sway over both sides; second, whatever leftist deformations have been introduced into the “conservative” side of the argument to advance leftist goals can now be exposed, ridiculed, and imputed to the density of the conservative mind; third, any subsequent dissidents who see past the demonization of the defeated faction will be saddled with subtle leftist memes whose creators’ subsequent demonization they take as a proof of integrity.

This memetic pandæmonium is a simple manifestation of a dynamic I referred to today in my reply to EB’s interesting question.  In reality no historical movement, faction, or tendency is all shitlib or all shitlord.  Avoid attribution error!  Coalitions recruit talent wherever they can, and a group which dominates one side may still be present, even overrepresented, on the other.  Different people have many different loyalties, including loyalty to the paycheck. Two people with identical goals may still end up on different sides due to disagreement about how to attain the goal; they may even agree to pursue a mixed strategy[pdf].  Inference from someone’s team to his underlying goals/principles/loyalties is risky, not because the team-to-goal correlation isn’t 1.0 (true of any inference) but because the contrast between the two teams can blind you to the complexity of the team’s structure.

335px-francisco_de_goya2c_saturno_devorando_a_su_hijo_281819-182329Even if you wouldn’t have phrased it exactly as I have, you probably already recognize that one major purpose of bolshevik agitprop has always been to encourage this fallacy wherever they can: to get the herd to see everything through the lens of left/right, progress/regress, us/them.  Not until I read Races did I grasp how well demonizing defeated opponents serves this rhetorical strategy.  Demonization encourages conflation of different types of opponents, and this conflation can include not only people who were your enemies for different reasons (fairly obvious) but also people who were not strictly speaking your enemies at all (that is to say, people on the other side with whom you shared some goals, to some degree).  “The Revolution, like Cronos, eats its own children” is easily the best-known of all reactionary dicta; maybe we should add that it vomits this meal back onto the pages of History to frustrate human understanding.

[Thanks for reading. If you’d like to indulge my curiosity about whether people read the whole post, please click on this 26kb portrait of Carleton Coon.]