Lenin’s one-party state was based on different values. It overthrew the aristocratic order. But it did not put a competitive model in place. The Bolshevik one-party state was not merely undemocratic; it was also anticompetitive and antimeritocratic. Places in universities, civil-service jobs, and roles in government and industry did not go to the most industrious or the most capable. Instead, they went to the most loyal. People advanced because they were willing to conform to the rules of party membership. Though those rules were different at different times, they were consistent in certain ways. They usually excluded the former ruling elite and their children, as well as suspicious ethnic groups. They favored the children of the working class. Above all, they favored people who loudly professed belief in the creed, who attended party meetings, who participated in public displays of enthusiasm. Unlike an ordinary oligarchy, the one-party state allows for upward mobility: True believers can advance. As Hannah Arendt wrote back in the 1940s, the worst kind of one-party state “invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”
18 June, 2021
15 June, 2021
In certain young people today like these two from my writing workshop, I notice what I find increasingly troubling: a cold-blooded grasping, a hunger to take and take and take, but never give; a massive sense of entitlement; an inability to show gratitude; an ease with dishonesty and pretension and selfishness that is couched in the language of self-care; an expectation always to be helped and rewarded no matter whether deserving or not; language that is slick and sleek but with little emotional intelligence; an astonishing level of self-absorption; an unrealistic expectation of puritanism from others; an over-inflated sense of ability, or of talent where there is any at all; an inability to apologize, truly and fully, without justifications; a passionate performance of virtue that is well executed in the public space of Twitter but not in the intimate space of friendship.
I find it obscene.
02 June, 2021
The Top about-faced and stood at attention in front the company formation. I could see the grunts from where I was. Here and there, you’d see a soldier’s expression go from bored, to puzzled, to Holy shit!, to suppressed laughter. I was watching them pop off one by one.
And one by one, they were met by the cold, hard stare of a First Sergeant demonstrating, without a word or a motion, the finest example of military command and control I have ever seen. It was magnificent. One by one, as grunts in formation twigged on to what was happening, the Top stared them back into silence and back into military bearing. No sniggering. No laughter. Nothing.
Some things don’t change, even if you add helicopters and radios. Command and control is a personal thing. It doesn’t automatically come with rank. It isn’t always augmented by technology. A Roman Legionnaire would have recognized the First Sergeant’s look. And obeyed.
About now I should give a lecture on command and control, how it isn’t just yelling orders, how it’s a personal trait that cannot be instilled but can be trained... Nuh uh. I know it when I see it. That’s all I got.
31 May, 2021
Another difference is that the countries that refused passage to President Morales didn't lie about a bomb threat. Belarus's actions possibly violate the Convention for the suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of civil aviation. Article 1.1(e) forbids any person from communicating "information which he knows to be false, thereby endangering the safety of an aircraft in flight". Belarus is a party to this treaty. So there need to be serious consequences for what Belarus did on Sunday.
Finally, Belarus's actions wouldn't be justified, even without the false bomb threat, and even based on its authority over its own airspace, which is technically unaffected by the IASTA. Unlike the countries that refused passage to President Morales in 2013, Belarus waited until the RyanAir flight was about 30 minutes from exiting its airspace. Those countries denied passage to President Morales before his flight entered their airspace.
It would be bad enough for a country to give a flight permission to enter its airspace with the intent of revoking that permission before the flight can actually complete its journey over the country. Even if a country does revoke permission of a flight after the flight has already entered its airspace, however, that revocation only means the flight has to leave the country's airspace as quickly as possible. Revoking a flight's permission to be in a country's airspace does not mean that the flight has turn around and land an airport of that country's choosing
29 May, 2021
How Trump supporters used TheDonald.win to plan to overturn the election through violence, force, and murder.
25 May, 2021
Yet as a proud parent of an adopted black daughter (as most readers know, our beautiful youngest daughter is from Ethiopia), I agree with Bethany that it can be harmful to children for parents to walk into adoption with a purely colorblind philosophy. As much as we might want to live in a world where race doesn’t matter, and we’re all one human family, it’s a simple fact that children of color face different challenges from white children as they navigate our culture and as they’re raised in white families.
And while I’m a firm supporter of transracial adoption, I also think that a true “best interests of the child” adoption standard should include an analysis of whether the family is thoughtfully approaching the unique challenges that will face their adopted kids.
A celebrated writer and professor, he challenged his students to take hold of their own narrative. But the truth came out — his life story, like his works, was a work of fiction
We cannot demand accountably in verbally abusive and humiliating ways. To confront is not to condemn. To demand is not to dehumanize or demean.
More than a decade ago, a prominent academic was exposed for having faked her Cherokee ancestry. Why has her career continued to thrive?
22 May, 2021
Status is your rank in the social hierarchy
There are fundamentally two huge games in life that people play. One is the money game. Money is not going to solve all of your problems; but it’s going to solve all of your money problems. I think people know that. They realize that, so they want to make money.
At the same time, deep down many people believe they can’t make it; so they don’t want any wealth creation to happen. They virtue signal by attacking the whole enterprise, saying, “Well, making money is evil. You shouldn’t do it.”
But they’re actually playing the other game, which is the status game. They’re trying to be high status in the eyes of others by saying, “Well, I don’t need money. We don’t want money.”
Status is your ranking in the social hierarchy.
Wealth is not a zero-sum game. Everybody in the world can have a house. Because you have a house doesn’t take away from my ability to have a house. If anything, the more houses that are built, the easier it becomes to build houses, the more we know about building houses, and the more people can have houses.
Wealth is a very positive-sum game. We create things together. We’re starting this endeavor to create a piece of art that explains what we’re doing. At the end of it, something brand new will be created. It’s a positive-sum game.
Status is a very old game
Status, on the other hand, is a zero-sum game. It’s a very old game. We’ve been playing it since monkey tribes. It’s hierarchical. Who’s number one? Who’s number two? Who’s number three? And for number three to move to number two, number two has to move out of that slot. So, status is a zero-sum game. [...]
I don’t think capitalism is evil. Capitalism is actually good. It’s just that it gets hijacked. It gets hijacked by improper pricing of externalities. It gets hijacked by improper yields, where you have corruption, or you have monopolies.