Arkiv for ‘Politik’

Trump og Postmodernisme II

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Deadline om postmodernisme og Trump tog fat på en interessant problemstilling, men tilrettelæggelsen kunne have været bedre. Vinklen var, at postmodernisme har undergravet sandheden og dermed banet vejen for løgnagtige kandidater som Trump. Men det giver ingen mening. På trods af megen snak om det postfaktuelle samfund, lever vi i en tid besat af facts og fact-checking. Det er ikke så meget videnskabskritikken i pomo, der har sat sit aftryk på det politiske domæne, men snarere angrebet på den liberale humanismes opfattelse af subjektet som en universel størrelse, der er ens på tværs af køn, race, klasse, osv. Kort sagt kan man sige, at både højre- og venstrefløjen i store træk var enige om at anskue subjektet på denne måde før pomo, og at et væld af franske tænkere forsøgte at nedbryde dette subjektsyn med forskellige filosofiske metoder. Foucault, Derrida og Lacan er de tydeligste eksempler.

Nedbrydelsen af det universelle subjekt spredte sig i første omgang til universitetsmiljøer, hvor det antog et markant lavere filosofisk niveau, der utvivlsomt ville have fået Foucault m.fl. til at snerpe sig sammen som en indremissionsk mor, der opdager kondomer i sin datters håndtaske, og senere igen til diverse grupperinger på venstrefløjen. Fællesnævneren var, at en persons partikulære karakteristika – race, køn, klasse, etc. – havde mere at sige end tilstræbt objektivitet og rationel argumentation. Et åbenlyst eksempel på denne slags tænkning er intersektionel feminisme. Her er rationalitet ikke bare rationalitet; nej, dit ords vægt bestemmes i høj grad af, om du er mand, kvinde, hvid, sort, rask, handicappet, osv. Jo højere oppe du opfattes i magthierarkiet, jo mindre har dit ord at sige. F.eks. mener nogle intersektionelle feminister, at mænd ikke bør argumentere over for kvinder; at hvide ikke bør argumentere over for sorte, osv. Som hvid vil du nemlig aldrig kunne forstå de sortes perspektiver; som mand vil du aldrig kunne forstå, hvordan det er at være kvinde, osv. Så hvis du som hvid mand tvinger diskussionen ind på rationalitetens præmisser, forklejner du sårbare gruppers unikke erfaringer og perspektiver. Ja, du undertrykker faktisk den sandhed, de føler, gennem brug af rationaliteten. Ifølge pomo er rationalitet nemlig ikke blot rationalitet, men i høj grad skabt i samspil med vestlig selvforherligelse, magtinteresser og vante tænkemåder, som kun postmodernister formår at bryde ud af. Konsekvensen bliver, at man lige så godt kan opgive at stræbe efter rationalitet og objektivitet, da den subjektive sandhed om dine partikulære forhold som kvinde, sort, etc. altid vil stå over rationaliteten, ikke kan reduceres til rationalitet og dermed ikke kan tilbagevises, uanset hvor mange modargumenter og facts der kommer på bordet.

Trump har formået at vende denne besættelse af det partikulære på hovedet. Men snarere end minoriteter, bøsser og lesbiske er det heteroseksuelle hvide mænd, der forstås som den marginaliserede gruppe. Hos både Trump og pomo favoriseres et bestemt segment på grund af dets identitet, ikke dets argumenter, og hos både Trump og pomo opfattes det udvalgte segment som heroiske anti-establishment underdogs, der tør tale magten midt imod. I pomos tilfælde er det strukturel racisme, mandschauvinisme og homofobi, man ser sig selv som noble for at turde imødegå. Med Trump er det politisk korrekthed, kulturel feminisme og en misforstået leflen for islam. De to er i denne forstand et spejlbillede af hinanden. Tricks fra den postmodernistiske playbook er uforvaret sivet videre ud i den politiske fødekæde.

Så postmodernismens bidrag til Trump er ikke, som Deadline lagde op til, at alle render rundt og tror på deres personlige ”alternative fakta” – de fleste Trump-støtter ved f.eks. godt, at der var flere fremmødte ved Obamas indsættelsesceremoni end til Trumps. Nej, postmodernismens største bidrag er den identitetspolitiske vending, hvor køn, race, etc. opfattes som nærmest mytologiske størrelser, der går forud for enhver politisk og rationel analyse.

Der er farcepotentiale i, at pomo starter som et venstreorienteret projekt, der skal undergrave autoriteter og den hvide mands forstenede rationalitetsformer, men mest af alt ender med at skaffe venstrefløjen en masse hovedpiner i form af infighting mellem centrum-venstre og den identitetspolitiske venstrefløj. Så tilegner Trump sig et par af deres tricks, og for højrefløjen viser den identitetspolitiske besættelse sig som et nyttigt realpolitisk værktøj og bliver en medvirkende faktor i at vinde et valg, Trump nok burde have tabt. Skal man endelig analysere debatten på postmodernisternes præmisser, er der en pikant ironi i, at Trump rent identitetsmæssigt er alt, hvad postmodernisterne elsker at hade: Hvid, mand, privilegeret, kapitalist. Man havde i sin arrogance bildt sig ind, at kun ens egen fraktion kunne spille det antiuniversalistiske spil. Men nu er ånden ude af lampen. Fact-checking og rationalitet kan nok lukke munden på Trump-vælgere, når de efterprøveligt er forkert på den. Men det politiske grundsyn, hvor identitet kommer før alt andet, kan ikke manes i jorden. Rent politisk havde det nok været bedre for venstrefløjen, om man aldrig havde ladet pomo sive ind i sine rækker, men blot koncentreret sig om at bygge pragmatiske brede koalitioner mellem forskellige samfundsgrupper – grupper, der på trods af deres forskelligheder kunne nå hinanden gennem et universalistisk syn på subjektet og en fælles forpligtigelse på rationalitet.

Postmodernisme og Trump

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Efter min mening kommer man ingen vegne ved at opsætte en snæver kausalitet fra Foucault et al. til Trump. Men det er vel rigtigt, at PM var med til at bane vejen fra det universalistiske subjekt til det partikulære, som forstår ikke kun private tanker og følelser, men også samfundet og sandheden i samspil med sine partikulære forhold (køn, race, etc.). Og det er vel rigtigt, at Trumps vælgere til dels får deres momentum ved at forstå sig selv identitetspolitisk: Som partikulære subjekter, hvis oplevelser ikke kan tilbagevises af den traditionelt herskende ræson — hvilket oprindeligt var et venstreorienteret projekt og et facet af megen poststrukturalistisk tænkning.

Jeg synes godt man kan sige, at der var signifikante fællestræk i temaer og filosofi på trods af de forskelligartede konklusioner m.m. Men jeg har heller ikke noget problem med at sætte meget forskelligartede malere i bås sammen som renæssancemalere etc. – så længe ingen tror, at denne overordnede betegnelse udtømmer sandheden om den enkeltes virke og bidrag.

Foucault havde en lang periode mod slutningen af sit forfatterskab hvor både han selv og hans kritikere så ham som optaget af at overskride vante rationalitetsformer, herunder det kantianske subjekt. Men igen er det ikke enkeltstående tænkere, der skal bebrejdes. Det var en tendens i den slags tænkning, der bredte sig først til venstrefløjen, med dens evige anklager om at hvide mænd ikke kunne forstå kvinder og minoriteters perspektiver, og nu kommer så højrefløjens dialektiske modtræk i form af hvid nativisme, anti-PC, nationalisme før internationale forpligtigelser osv. – kort sagt, Trump.

At sige at de franske tænkere er 100% ansvarlige for denne udvikling er absurd. Men at sige, at de ingen anpart har haft i at sætte denne dialektiske bevægelse i gang, er ønsketænkning.

Ungdomsteknologien er fremtidens kvindesag

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Man taler ikke om en kvindes alder. Eller gør man? Allerede grækerene (Aristofanes) og romerne (Terents) fortalte om det uretfærdige i, at mænd kunne være tiltrækkende igennem det meste af livet, mens kvindens seksuelle tiltrækningskraft brænder ud i starten af 30’erne.

Og mønsteret er stort set det samme i dag: Eksempelvis kunne det amerikanske dating-site ’OK Cupid’ i 2010 afsløre, at mens de kvindelige brugere på sitet mest skriver til mænd på deres egen alder, så bruger mænd i alle aldre hovedparten af deres tid på at skrive til kvinder i alderen 18-29 år.

Ligeledes gælder det ifølge en videnskabelig undersøgelse lavet af Ogi Ogas og Sai Gaddam fra Boston University, at når mænd kun kan vælge én kvalitet ved en kvindelig mage, så nævner den største gruppe af mænd altid, at de vil have en kvinde med ungdom. Balder, bryster, et kønt ansigt og en sød personlighed kommer alt sammen i anden række.

Når det forholder sig sådan, så skyldes ikke en Kvinfo’sk sammensværgelse blandt hankønnet, hvor mænd i hemmelighed har besluttet sig for kun at gå op i det ydre. Årsagen er heller ikke kultur og socialisering, selvom disse faktorer unægteligt forstærker den underliggende årsag som er, at naturen har indrettet sig sådan, at kvinders fertilitet er stærkt nedadgående efter de 30. Vi har altså at gøre med en indbygget skævhed fra naturens side, og ser man et øjeblik bort fra den politiske korrekthed så er det altså ganske ukontroversielt at kvinder på dette område er dårligere stillet end mænd.

Ligeså ukontroversielt som det er, at kvinders værdi som seksualpartner er bundet op på deres ungdom, lige så ukontroversielt er det i videnskabelige kredse, at der i disse år er en række medicinske teknologier på tegnebrættet, som vil kunne udsætte aldringsprocessen markant. (Se blot den amerikanske videnskabsformidler Michio Kakus gennemgang af disse online.) Hvad ville De f.eks. sige til det, hvis De kunne udsætte den forfaldsprocess, der normalt går i gang i starten af 30’erne til starten af Deres 50’ere?

I den danske debat hører man ofte, at snart det ene og snart det andet ”er en kvindesag.” Blandt de mest velkendte varianter af kvindesager er at ”ligeløn er en kvindesag,” eller at ”retten til abort er en kvindesag.” Men udtrykket er nu så udbredt, at alt fra western-film til vandpumper, lydbøger og lavere skat i de seneste år er blevet udråbt som værende ”en kvindesag” i den offentlige debat.

Abort og ligeløn er væsentlige rettigheder, men aborten blev fri i 1973, og ifølge Lønkommisionens rapport fra 2010 har vi ligeløn i Danmark. Så midt i denne tsunami af selvopfundne kvindesager kan man i al ydmyghed undre sig over, hvorfor der ikke er mere fokus på det, der logisk set burde være en af de helt store kvindesager: Ungdomsteknologien: De medicinske teknologier som gør, at det i fremtiden vil være muligt at udsætte sin alderdom, og bevare sin ungdom længere.

Det er svært ikke at se, at disse pseudo-sager, som western-film og vandpumper, der anråbes som ”kvindesager” i landets aviser i virkeligheden er et bevis på, at kampen mellem de to køn er overstået i Danmark, og at det ikke længere er mænd og ”patriarkatet,” som holder kvinderne tilbage herhjemme. Hvad der derimod burde stå højest på de vestlige kvinders fjendelister er ikke glaslofter og kønsstereotypi, men natur og biologi: At rette på på den indbyggede skævhed, der fra naturens hånd eksisterer imellem de to køn er – en kvindesag!

Hvis vi virkelig vil bedre ligestillingen fremadrettet, hvad så med, om staten brugte de millioner, som den hvert år giver til den politserende kvindeorganisation Kvinfo til forskning i ungdomsteknologi i stedet? Hvad tilfører mon mest værdi til den gennemsnitlige kvindes liv: At ligne en 25-årig, til hun er et sted i starten af sine 50’ere, eller at få Kvinfo’s bekræftelse af, at ”mænd er nogle svin,” når hun selv er blevet 45 og hendes velbjergede mand har forladt hende til fordel for en yngre model? De mange kvinder verden over, der lyver sig yngre end de er, giver et praj om svaret.

Why are Intellectuals so Clueless about Islamism?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

In 2016, a Danish team of journalists conducted a series of undercover visits to Danish mosques. Pretending to be a devout Muslim, and using a hidden camera, a mole asked Muslim leaders across eight Danish mosques how to respond to a series of domestic problems. Strikingly, the mole was told to commit welfare fraud, to accept domestic violence, that she would have to accept the sexual advances of her husband at any time, and that stoning to death is the proper Islamic punishment for female infidelity.

The program caused a stir of controversy, far too vast for us to cover all of it here. In this video, we will merely cover a recent criticism by four ethnically white university researchers who purport to find fault with the documentary.

First, the researchers comment on an incident in which the mole asks the imam Abu Bilal what she should do about her violent husband. The imam tells her not to go to the police; that her husband taking a second wife is not a valid reason for her to file for divorce; that she will not be allowed to live alone if she does seek separation; and that, as a separated Muslim woman, her only option will be to become the second wife of a much older man.

The university faculty defend the imam by saying that a part of his counselling that was omitted in the final documentary. In their eyes, this omitted segment has the imam say what any Western couples’ counsellor would say. So what does he say? Well, the imam asks the woman why the husband is hitting her. He wants to know if the wife has been in error to provoke it. It is unknown what kind of couples’ counsellors the researchers are seeing, but they might want to ask for their money back.

Then the researchers claim that the whole premise of the interview is distorted, since the imam does not say that the mole cannot get a divorce, only that doing so wouldn’t be advisable. However, divorce in the context in which the imam is speaking does not carry the same connotations as divorce in a Western context: What the imam is speaking of is khula, which is the Islamic separation arrangement for females. For males, the appropriate variant is talaq, which refers to the man’s right to disavow his wife at any time and for whatever reason. However, women are not the equals of men in this regard. To achieve their variant of divorce, they must have the permission of their husband, or of a council of Islamic scholars, and are then obligated to pay back their dowry to the husband. Being subjected to domestic violence does not change these terms – the woman must still wait to be granted khula by her husband or by a council of Islamic scholars who are usually all men. So the imam is not saying that the mole has the option of getting divorced; he is saying that she can get khula, which is not the same thing.

Another point of contention raised by the researchers is that a clip reveals the same imam talking about stoning to death as the proper penalty for female adultery. The researchers interject that the imam is really talking about stoning as a metaphorical practice, just like how Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount talked about cutting off one’s hands if they lead one into sin.

So how metaphorically is the imam speaking here? Well, we have already seen that on the subject of khula, the imam advised the woman in accordance with mainstream sharia practice. And just like khula is practiced in the Islamic world, so stoning to death is practiced in 15 countries across the Islamic world. And if we look to Denmark, according to the newest report on what imams believe and practice, only one imam of those covered by the report agreed that Islamic punishments can be understood figuratively. That imam is from the Ahmadiyya denomination, which no other schools of Islam in Denmark accept as true Muslims, and which are persecuted as heretics by other Muslims across the Islamic world. In that same report, an Arab imam says that stoning women to death is a sad thing but that it nevertheless has to be done. Another imam, a Pakistani, says that the first rule of interpreting Islamic punishments is that one must always read passages as concretely as possible and that the prophet himself implemented stoning as a punishment. Since Muhammed himself condoned the practice and understood it literally, others cannot argue that it should be understood figuratively.

So why is all of this important? Well, as we said in our “How to Think About Minorities” video, Muslim communities are not one bloc. Within the Muslim communities, there is a minority who believe in secularism, Western values and human rights and who want to escape the stranglehold of the dominant sharia conservatives within their group. By attempting to legitimize the behavior of the radical imam and others like him, the Western university researchers are no doubt thinking that they are ‘helping’ Muslims as a whole. But in fact, they are crushing the liberal minority within Muslim communities underfoot. This is also what the author of the aforementioned report, Tina Magaard, found on the basis of hundreds of hours spent talking to Muslims in Denmark.

So how could the four university researchers be so ignorant? To answer that question we must turn to the work of another researcher, Ulla Thomsen, who in 2012 conducted a review of the academic literature that university faculty are generally expected to read on the subject of Islam.

For one thing, Thomsen found that the books and academic articles contained no mention of Islamism, terrorism, elevated Muslim crime levels compared to other minorities, support for sharia values, hostility towards non-Muslims, no-go zones, riots, or assaults on police, firefighters, social workers and paramedics. None of these things were mentioned in the academic literature on Islam in Denmark that is standard reading for university faculty and researchers.

Instead, the problems with Muslim migrants were explained with reference to the ruthless exploitativeness of capitalism and the racism of ethnic Danes. As opposed to the report we just mentioned, little to no actual evidence was used in the literature. Instead, the writers referred to other writers who also believe that the problems are caused by capitalism and the racism of white people. Several of the writers whose word was taken as if they were neutral authorities on the matter are avowed Marxists.

Thomsen also conducted a count of the examples used in a prominent Danish work on Muslim migration to Denmark in order to see who was cast as the victim and who was cast as the oppressor. In 100% of the cases, the Muslims were presented as victims and ethnic Danes as the oppressors.

Finally, and most damningly, Thomsen presented an evaluation of the articles and books written by these professors at the top of the academic food chain. The evaluations were given by people studying to be elementary school teachers, social workers, and teaching assistants. Among these people, who actually had to interact with Muslims on a daily basis, dissatisfaction with the academic books and articles was overwhelming. Specifically, the biggest gripe of the students was that the theory they were taught by the academic researchers did not match the reality they encountered in practice.

So while on the face of it, it can seem odd that four university researchers with fancy academic titles could be so misguided and that a few journalists and a mole with a hidden camera could uncover what they could not, the whole situation becomes a little less strange when you consider that most of the researchers probably have very little actual experience with Muslim migrants and the problems that unfold every day in day care centers, elementary schools, with social workers, with the police, and so on. Many of them are theorizing in a closed loop in which they are mostly reading and commenting on the work of other researchers who again are theorizing on the basis of more theory. When they do talk to Muslim leaders, it is usually in the form of polite intercultural dialogue, seeking consensus. Of course this approach is not going to reveal the undesirable sides of the Muslim community.

If one looks at similar instances of intercultural dialogue throughout Europe, it is actually not so surprising that intellectuals are utterly clueless while practical men are more on the money. In 2003, the soon-to-be French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the Swiss-born Muslim theologian Tariq Ramadan partook in a televised debate. Prior to the debate, Ramadan had been hailed by scores of intellectuals across Europe as a “bold reformer” and moderate Muslim by whose hands we would soon see the advert of a secular “Euro Islam.” Yet what happened in the exchange was that Sarkozy – an utterly practical man of reality – was apparently the first European interlocutor with the audacity to truly pressure Ramadan on what he really meant. Although he was repeatedly pressured to condemn stoning, Ramadan could not bring himself to do so. Instead he spoke of a “moratorium,” about the need to discuss things, about the necessity of a pedagogical posture and so on and so forth – but he could not bring himself to unevouvically renounce stoning.

Ramadan tried to obfuscate and speak around Sarkozy’s demands, but Sarkozy remained implacable: Stoning a woman is monstrous, so there is no need to have a debate. If you cannot bring yourself to renounce it, that fact is hugely telling of your moral standpoint in and of itself.

Ramadan’s standing in the eyes of mainstream European society has never quite been the same since. The extraordinary thing here isn’t really that Ramadan could not bring himself to denounce stoning, or that Sarkozy kept pressuring him until it was revealed that Ramadan could not do so. No, the really telling fact is that prior to this debate, Ramadan had spoken to scores of university intellectuals for years on end, and almost none of them had detected that something was amiss. Like the Danish university researchers who felt that imams advocating domestic violence had simply been misrepresented, intellectuals who pursue intercultural dialogue with Muslim leaders usually come away from the conversation believing what they want to believe. When one is too polite to really pressure imams on whether they truly condemn stoning, flogging, polyandry, and so on, precarious illusions about Islamists being moderate Muslims are preserved, and Muslim power figures can go on oppressing women, homosexuals, and adherents of Western, liberal values within their own communities. With the intellectuals having failed in their role as educators on Islam, the true scope of Islamism within Western Muslim communities is left for more reality-bound journalists and politicians without fancy academic titles to uncover.

Immigrant Crime in Denmark

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

A Swedish cop named Peter Springare took to Facebook, claiming that the majority of serious crimes in his precinct are committed by immigrants from Muslim countries and that the problem of Muslim crime is now so serious that the police are losing control. Since then, Springare has been reported for racist hate speech, which is a punishable offense in Sweden, and several Swedish officials have accused him of distorting the facts.

But as we detailed in our ‘The Number Sweden Doesn’t Want to Know’ video, no one – neither Springare nor the Swedish officials – knows the real numbers, since the Swedish authorities have decided not to calculate the crime rate of immigrants. Talk about wanting to have it both ways: The authorities don’t want to release statistics on immigrant crime rates, and when police officers who work with crime every day take a guess at what those rates might be, the authorities attack them for not having any statistics.

Well then – let’s try and help Sweden out. As we mentioned in the previous video, Sweden’s brother country of Denmark does publish statistics on the crime rates of immigrants from Muslim countries. Not only does Denmark have some of the best statistics in the world on this matter – the Danish authorities release figures on it every year. So let’s look at some numbers.

According to the Danish figures, immigrants and descendants of immigrants from countries like Somalia, Morocco, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as displaced Palestinians, are noticeably more criminal than ethnic Danes. They are also noticeably more criminal than immigrants from other Western countries. In fact, among the group of immigrants and their descendants from the non-Western part of the world, the crime rate is almost 2,5 times that of ethnic Danes. However, the Danish dataset groups Muslim countries with other ‘non-Western’ countries such as China, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. But the data actually shows that immigrants from East Asian countries are less criminal than even ethnic Danes! In other words, the real crime rate of immigrants from Muslim countries and their descendants is even higher than the reported figure.

The Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Phillipino immigrants prove that there is nothing about being an immigrant that predisposes you to commit crimes. When we see immigrants from Muslim countries committing so much more crime, it must be due to some other factor.

What could that factor be? One popular explanation is poverty. But as mentioned, the Danish statistics are some of the best in the world. They take care to observe best practices in social science and adjust the figures for age, wealth, and educational status. Even after adjusting for all of these things, immigrants from Muslim countries are still far more criminal than ethnic Danes or from other Western countries or non-Muslim East Asian countries.

Another purported explanation is that migrants from Muslim countries commit crimes because they’re refugees. But again, this explanation doesn’t hold up, since many of the Vietnamese people living in Denmark are also refugees.

In other words, it’s not the fact that they are immigrants or refugees that makes migrants from Muslim countries more likely to commit crimes. Nor is it poverty or the lack of education. Even when correcting for all of these things, migrants from Muslim countries still stand out as uniquely criminal and violent.

In our video ‘The Number Sweden Doesn’t Want to Know’, we mentioned that Sweden has not released data on immigrant crime since 2005. An interesting aside here is that the Danish figures place Muslim crime somewhere in the same ballpark as the last official Swedish figures did. The Swedish report found that foreign-born Swedes had a crime rate of twice that of domestically-born Swedes. The Danish stats say that the figure for non-Westerns is closer to 2,5 times that of ethnic Danes. However, both of these numbers are likely to under-report the true scope of immigrant crime. For Denmark, the figures do not distinguish between Muslim countries and other non-Western countries. For Sweden, the numbers do not even distinguish between Western and non-Western migrants to Sweden. In both cases, this means that the real crime rate of immigrants from Muslim countries is actually higher than the already elevated rates the stats are reporting.

So how elevated might the real rates be? 5 times… which is incidentally also what the Swedish figures from 2005 said

Finally, a point about correcting the figures for age, wealth, and education: Correcting figures is immensely useful when you want to find out why a given phenomenon unfolds the way as it does. For example, the way the Danish authorities have adjusted the figures through regression analysis rules out that Muslims commit more crime because of poverty or lack of education. But in a political context, it can also be misleading to correct the figures, since the raw numbers reflect the amount of crime that is actually taking place in the country

Is Bill Gates Right That Robots Should Be Taxed?

Friday, February 24th, 2017

If robots are poised to take over billions of jobs worldwide, isn’t it wise to tax robots to ensure the state’s continued survival? That is what Bill Gates recently suggested. Bill Gates is an extremely smart guy. But in this instance, he doesn’t understand economics.

His idea is that as machines replace workers, the tax burden should start to fall increasingly on machines. There are however several problems with his reasoning.

The first is the lump of labor fallacy. This is the assumption that more machines must mean fewer jobs. It’s called the lump of labor fallacy because it assumes that the number of jobs in an economy is a static lump of fixed size. The reality is that the labor market can absorb any amount of labor, as long as the salary corresponds to the productivity of that labor. Furthermore, as we also made clear in our ‘Will Robots Steal Our Jobs’-video, more machines will not necessarily mean fewer jobs. Although the number of jobs may fall in some sectors, new jobs will most likely open up in others.

More and better machines usually also lead to higher wages. In every instance of world history so far, machines have made labor more productive. This is because machines are complementary to labor. A man with excavator has higher productivity than a man with a shovel, and a woman with a PC can edit and produce text faster than a woman with paper and pen.

Furthermore, labor’s overall share of income and capital’s overall share of income is almost always constant in an economy regardless of the amount of labor and capital. So as the amount of machines in an economy grows, incomes will rise at a fairly equal rate for employees and capital owners. Thus, the tax burden and tax structure of the economy will not change. But let us assume for the sake of argument that wages will somehow remain static instead of rising. Well, then capital is still taxed!

Another point is that machines are already paying tax – several times over in fact. Or rather: The owners of the machines pay taxes on their returns from capital; capital which is in fact taxed twice over in many Western countries, since capital was originally income, which was also taxed as such when it was earned in that form.

Okay, but what about the argument that robots will become so good that they can do every job a human can do cheaper and better? Then, instead of robots complimenting human labor, robots will outright replace it. Alright, let’s assume this happens.

This still won’t make the economy poorer, but will however shift income from workers to capital owners. However, in such a scenario, states can still earn money by doing the same thing capital owners do – that is, saving up. If the relative income of untaxed machines vis-à-vis taxed workers will grow, then the return on savings will rise, since savings can be used to buy new machines.

All in all, though the future is uncertain, economic theory presents a better model for thinking about what will happen than the one employed by Bill Gates or indeed that of most science fiction writers. Of course one could argue that unlike Bill Gates, the job of science fiction is not to predict realistic futures, only to create captivating and dramatic ones. Nonetheless, most people’s thinking about the economics of our robot future seem to be far more influenced by sci-fi flicks than economic theory – and perhaps that is even true of Bill Gates.

Do fourth wave sex acceptance feminists have a point?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

During the last 10 to 12 years, scholars, theorists, and feminist activists have started talking about a fourth wave feminism. However, there is not much agreement on what the content of this forth wave is or whether it has any new ideas to offer that have not already been encompassed by previous versions of feminism.

It is important to note that this critical assessment of fourth wave of feminism is not something we have cooked up, nor some anti-feminist caricature, but in fact an assessment shared by even feminists themselves. They also disagree on whether the fourth wave should be considered a thing. And as stated, they also hold contradictory views of what the fourth wave is even about, insofar as it exists.

In this video we’re going to focus on a recent statements made by self-identified fourth wave sex acceptance feminists. Their argument is that there’s a gender imbalance in the way our culture views the sexual exploits of men and women. According to them, if a man sleeps around with tons of women, he is a stud and worthy of admiration, whereas if a woman sleeps around with tons of men, she is disparaged as slutty. One is positive and the other negative. According to the feminists, this exposes a cultural sexist double standard.

Do the feminists have a point? Let’s look at the arguments of their opponents. They have generally objected that according to evolutionary psychology, men have traditionally not been able to know whether they were the fathers of children their wives gave birth to, whereas women could always be sure that they were the mothers. According to this line of thinking, it wouldn’t be a big deal if a man slept around, since the child, carrying his genes, would be raised at someone else’s expense. But if a woman slept around, her husband would end up expending resources raising a child that wasn’t his. It would therefore make sense for traditional societies to evolve a social order which placed a greater premium on female chastity than on male chastity.

In other words, the opponents do not deny that there exists a separate set of sexual norms for each gender, but they believe this evolutionary reasoning can justify the differing moralities.

Let’s assume that the evolutionary argument is correct. Would it then justify the position of the opponents? There are reasons to be sceptical.

  • One is that technology has long since caught up with the reasons for maintaining this morality. Now that we have birth-control and DNA tests, the original reasons for upholding this morality have gone. That is not to say that the dispositions that have been handed down to us through evolution are gone. There are scientific studies showing that men are on average more prone to sexual jealousy and rage at their spouse’s promiscuity than women are. And since we know from modern behavioural genetics that every human trait is heritable to some extent, it is safe to assume that this sex difference is not just brought about by culture, but also by genetics. So yes, even if we could completely change our culture overnight, men are probably going to be more uncomfortable with their lady friends sleeping around than the other way around. However being made uncomfortable by something does not give you a right to avoid it. There are also studies showing that religious people get extremely aggravated at seeing their prophet mocked or religion insulted. But that does not give religious people a free pass from having their religion satirized.
  • Another reason is that saying “evolution made it that way,” without further elaboration, is an instance of the naturalistic fallacy, that is, the tendency equate the state of nature with moral goodness or the way things are meant to be. But as scientific studies have detailed, evolution most likely also shaped us to be uncannily likely to neglect or harm our stepchildren as opposed to our own children. Rape is considered to be a natural phenomenon by the majority of evolutionary psychologists too. In other words, to simply say that “that’s how evolution arranged for things to be,” can also be used to justify every kind of atrocity that evolution primed us with during humanity’s long and violent past.

Now interestingly, the sex acceptance fourth wave feminists don’t actually engage with the evolutionary argument – at least not as far as we have seen. They just argue as if the whole of the problem were cultural, which – as we have seen – is unlikely. But nonetheless, they do have a point that the sexual morals concerning men and women amount to a kind of double standard. Their opponents will have to do better here.

How to think about groups

Monday, February 20th, 2017

In Sweden, urban-dwelling, liberal-minded ethnic Swedes opposed organizing a gay pride parade through Muslim areas. They wanted to keep the march in the ethnically white areas of town, claiming that purposefully making the pride march through Muslim areas would be insensitive to Muslims. (Oddly, the very same people also claim that there’s no basis for discriminating between Muslim migrants to Sweden and ethnic Swedes, but I digress.)

Anyway, the point here is that public discourse in Sweden held that making the gay pride march through Muslim areas was racist and insensitive to Muslims. But Muslims are not one group. And in fact, what happened in Sweden was that gay and/or liberal-minded Muslims who were being oppressed by their own community spoke out against these misguided attempts at tolerance. In their eagerness to get along with Muslim migrants, ethnic Swedes fell into the trap of thinking that all Muslims have the same interests, likes and dislikes, simply because they are Muslims. In fact, the Muslim community in Sweden has its own internal fights over acceptance of homosexuality and Western values vs. Sharia values. If you as a liberal-minded Westerner want Muslims to integrate successfully into Western society, you might think you’re doing Muslims a favour by respecting what you perceive as their beliefs, but in fact, you are not respecting the beliefs of the group, only of the dominant, Sharia-conservative forces within the group. In this way, you’re actually making things worse for the Muslims in your country who share your values and who could otherwise have been part of a coalition between liberal-minded ethnic Swedes and liberal-minded Muslims living in Sweden.

The same point could be made about Denmark and the Danish Muhammed cartoons. When the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published them, many liberal-minded ethnic Danes accused the paper of bullying Muslims. Few read the thoughtful op-ed that accompanied the cartoons. At any rate, the logic was the same – a minority of Danish Muslims welcomed the cartoons as a challenge to Sharia power within their community. And the conservative clerical powers within the Danish Muslim milieu saw the cartoons as a challenge to their status within the group. They undertook lawsuits against the free press and cried offence on behalf of all Muslims. They didn’t want to see their power base challenged like this.

So again, the liberal-minded ethnic Danes who sympathized with what they perceived to be the whole of the Muslim community were actually helping an extremely conservative and intolerant minority within that community retain its power base. It would have been better for secular Muslims if the liberal-minded Danes had supported the cartoons.

A third variation on this point can be found if we look to Switzerland. Last year the Swiss voted on legislation that would have automatically deported foreigners who committed major crimes, drug trafficking, or social security fraud. The legislation was rejected, and one argument on the no side was that it would be harsh on Muslims, since Muslims in Europe commit more crime. But would it really? If you are of the mind-set that you want to see immigration to your country succeed, letting criminal migrants stay is likely to cause your countrymen to associate migrant groups with crime. But if you deport offenders, you will – all else being equal – have more law-abiding migrants in your country to represent the group. In other words, you might think you are helping the migrants as a whole by not deporting the criminal elements within their group, but you are actually helping the criminal migrants at the expense of the migrant group as a whole.



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