The U.S. conservative movement is a failed eugenics project. Here’s why it could never have worked.

At the heart of the U.S. conservative movement, and most religious conservative movements, is a reproductive agenda. Old-style religious meddling in reproduction had a strong “make more of us” character to it– resulting in blanket policies designed to encourage reproduction across a society– but the later incarnations of right-wing authoritarianism, especially as they have mostly divorced themselves from religion, have been oriented more strongly toward goals judged to be eugenic, or to favor the reproduction of desirable individuals and genes; instead of a broad-based “make more of us” tribalism, it becomes an attempt to control the selection process.

The term eugenics has an ugly reputation, much earned through history, but let me offer a neutral definition of the term. Eugenics (“good genes”) is the idea that we should consciously control the genetic component of what humans are born into the world. It is not a science, since the definition of eu- is intensely subjective. As “eugenics” has been used throughout history to justify blatant racism and murder, the very concept has a negative reputation. That said, strong arguments can be made in favor of certain mild, elective forms of eugenics. For example, subsidized or free higher education is (although there are other intents behind it) a socially acceptable positive eugenic program: removal of one of a dysgenic economic force (education costs, usually borne by parents) that, empirically speaking, massively reduces fertility among the most capable people while having no effect on the least capable. 

The eugenic impulse is, in truth, fairly common and rather mundane. The moral mainstream seems to agree that eugenics (if not given that stigmatized name) is morally acceptable when participation is voluntary (i.e. no one is forced to reproduce, or not to do so) and positive (i.e. focused on encouraging desirable reproduction, rather than discouraging those deemed “unwanted”) but unacceptable when involuntary (coercive or prohibitive) and negative. The only socially accepted (and often legislated) case of negative and often prohibitive eugenics is the universal taboo against incest. That one has millennia of evolution behind it, and is also fair (i.e. it doesn’t single out people as unwanted, but prohibits intrafamilial couplings, known to produce unhealthy offspring, in general) so it’s somewhat of special case.

Let’s talk about the specific eugenics of the American right wing. The obsessions over who has sex with whom, the inconsistency between hard-line, literal Christianity and the un-Christ-like rightist economics, and all of the myriad mean-spirited weirdnesses (such as U.S. private health insurance, a monster that even most conservatives loathe at this point) that make up the U.S. right-wing movement; all are tied to a certain eugenic agenda, even if the definition of “eu-” is left intentionally vague. In addition to lingering racism, the American right wing unifies two varieties (one secular, one religious) of the same idea: Social Darwinism and predestination-centric Calvinism. This amalgam I would call Social Calvinism. The problem with it is that it doesn’t make any sense. It fails on its own terms, and the religious color it allowed itself to gain has only deepened its self-contradiction, especially now that sexuality and reproduction have been largely separated by birth control.

In the West, religion has always held strong opinions on reproduction, because the dominant religious forces are those that were able to out-populate the others. “Be fruitful and multiply.” This “us versus them” dynamic had a certain positive (in the sense of “positive eugenics”; I don’t mean to call it “good”) but coercive flair to it. The religious society sought much more strongly to increase its numbers within the world than to differentially or absolutely discourage reproduction by individuals judged as undesirable within its numbers. That said, it still had some ugly manifestations. One prominent one is the traditional Abrahamic religions’ intolerance of homosexuality and non-reproductive sex in general. In modern times, homophobia is pure ignorant bigotry, but its original (if subconscious) intention was to make a religious society populate quickly, which put it at odds with nonre7uiproductive sexuality of all forms.

Predestination (for which Calvinism is known) is a concept that emerged , much later, when people did something very dangerous to literalist religion: they thought about it. If you take religious literalism– born in the illogical chaos of antiquity– and bring it to its logical conclusions, funny things happen. An all-knowing and all-powerful God would, one can reason, have full knowledge and authority over every soul’s final destiny (heaven or hell). This meant that some people were pre-selected to be spiritual winners (the Elect) and the rest were refuse, born only to live through about seven decades of sin, followed by an eternity of unimaginable torture.

Perhaps surprisingly, predestination seemed to have more motivational capacity than the older, behavior-driven morality of Catholicism. Why would this be? People are loathe to believe in something as horrible as eternal damnation for themselves (even if some enjoy the thought for others) and so they will assume themselves to be Elect. But since they’re never quite sure, bad behavior will unsettle them with a creepy cognitive dissonance that is far more effective than ratiocination about punishments and rewards. The behavior-driven framework of the Catholic Church (donations in the form of indulgences often came with specific numbers of years by which time in purgatory was reduced) allows that a bad action can be cancelled out with future good actions, making the afterlife merely an extension of the “if I do this, then I get that” hedonic calculus. Calvinism introduced a fear of shame. Bad actions might be a sign of being one of those incorrigibly bad, damned people.

Calvinist predestination was not a successful meme (and even many of those who identify themselves in modern times as Calvinists have largely rejected it). “Our God is a sadistic asshole; he tortures people eternally for being born the wrong way” is not a selling point for any religion. That said, the idea of natural (as opposed to spiritual) predestination, as well as the Calvinist evolution from guilt-based (Catholicism) to shame-based (Calvinist) Christian morality, have lived on in American society.

Fundamental to the morality of capitalism is that some actors make better uses of resources than others (which is not controversial) and deserve to have more (likewise, not controversial). Applied to humans, this is generally if uneasily accepted; applied to organizations, it’s an obvious truth (no one wants to see the subsistence of inefficient, pointless institutions). Calvinism argued that one’s pre-determined status (as Elect or damned) could be ascertained from one’s actions; conservative capitalism argues that an actor’s (largely innate and naturally pre-determined) value can be ascertained by its success on the market.

Social Darwinism (which Charles Darwin vehemently rejected) gave a fully secular and scientific-sounding basis for these threads of thought, which were losing religious steam by the end of the 19th century. The idea that market mechanics and “creative destruction” ought to apply to institutions, patterns of behavior, and especially business organizations is controversial to almost no one. Incapable and obsolete organizations, whose upkeep costs have exceeded their social value, should die in order to free up room for newer ones. Where there is immense controversy is what should happen to people when they fail, economically. Should they starve to death in the streets? Should they be fed and clothed, but denied health care, as in the U.S.? Or should they be permitted a lower-middle-class existence by a welfare state, allowing them to recover and perhaps have another shot at economic success? The Social Darwinist seeks not to kill failed individuals per se, but to minimize their effect on society. It might be better to feed them than have them rebel, but allowing their medical treatment (on the public dime) is a bridge too far (if they’re sick, they can’t take up arms). It’s not about sadism per se, but effect minimization: to end their cultural and economic (and possibly physical) reproduction. It is a cold and fundamentally statist worldview. Where it dovetails with predestination is in the idea that certain innately undesirable people, damned early on if not from birth, deserve to be met with full effect minimization (e.g. long prison sentences since there is no hope of rehabilitation; persistent poverty because any resources given to them, they will waste) because any effect they have on the world will be negative. Whether they are killed, imprisoned, enslaved, or merely marginalized generally comes down to what is most convenient– and, therefore, effect-minimizing– and that is an artifact of what a society considers socially acceptable.

If we understand Calvinist predestination, and Social Darwinism as well, we can start to see a eugenic plan forming. Throughout almost all of our evolutionary history, prosperity and fecundity were correlated. Animals that won and controlled resources passed along their genes; those that couldn’t do so, died out. Social Darwinism, at the heart of the American conservative movement, believes that this process should continue in human society. More specifically, it holds to a few core tenets. First is that individual success in the market is a sign of innate personal merit. Second is that such merit is, at least partly, genetic and predetermined. Few would hold this correlation to be absolute, but the Social Darwinist considers it strong enough to act on. Third is that prosperity and fertility will, as they have over the billion years before modern civilization, necessarily correlate. The aspects of Social Darwinist policy that seem mean-spirited are justified by this third tenet: the main threat that a welfare state poses is that these poor (and, according to this theory, undesirable) people will take that money and breed. South Carolina’s Republican Lieutenant Governor, Andre Bauer, made this attitude explicit:

My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.

The hydra of the American right wing has many heads. It’s got the religious Bible-thumping ones, the overtly racist ones, and the pseudoscientific and generally atheistic ones now coming out of Silicon Valley’s neckbeard right-libertarianism and the worse half of the “mens’ rights” movement. What unites them is a commitment to the idea that some people are innately inferior and should be punished by society, with that punishment ranging from the outright sadistic to the much more common effect-minimizing (marginalization) levels.

How it falls down

Social Calvinism is a repugnant ideology. Calvinistic predestination is an idea so bad that even conservative religion, for the most part, discarded it. The same scientists who discovered Darwinian evolution (as a truth of what is in nature, not of what should be in the human world) rejected Social Darwinism outright. It has also made a mockery of itself. It fails on its own terms. The most politically visible, mean-spirited, but also criminally inefficient manifestation of this psychotic ideology is in our health insurance system. Upper-middle-class, highly-educated people suffer– just as much as the poor do– from crappy health coverage. If the prescriptive intent behind a mean-spirited health policy is Social Calvinist in nature, the greed and inefficiency and mind-blowing stupidity of it affect the “undesirable” and “desirable” alike (unless one believes that only the 0.005% of the world population who can afford to self-insure are “desirable”). The healthcare fiasco is showing that a society as firmly committed to Social Calvinism as the U.S.– so committed to it that even Obama couldn’t make public-option (much less single-payer) healthcare a reality– can’t even succeed on its own terms. The economic malaise of the 2000s “lost decade” and the various morale crises erupting in the nation (Tea Party, #Occupy) only support the idea that the American social model fails both on libertarian and humanitarian terms.

Why do I argue that Social Calvinism could never work, in a civilized society? To put it plainly, it misunderstands evolution and, more to the point, reproduction (both biological and cultural). Nature’s correlation between prosperity and fecundity ended in the human world a long time ago, and economic stresses have undesirable side effects (which I’ll cover) on how people reproduce.

Let’s talk about biology; most of the ideas here also apply (and more strongly, due to the faster rate of memetic proliferation) to cultural reproduction. After the horrors justified in the name “eugenics” in the mid-20th century, no civilized society is going to start prohibiting reproduction. It’s not quite a “universal right”, but depriving people of the biological equipment necessary to reproduce is considered inhumane, and murdering children after the fact is (quite rightly) completely unacceptable. So people can reproduce, effectively, as much as they want. With birth control in the mix, most people can also reproduce as little as they want. So they have nearly total control over how much they reproduce, whether they are poor or rich. The Social Calvinist believes that the “undesirables” will react to socioeconomic punishment by curtailing reproduction. But do we see that happening? No, not really.

I mentioned Social Calvinism’s 3 core tenets above: (1) that socioeconomic prosperity correlates to personal merit, (2) that merit is at least significantly genetic in nature, and (3) that people will respond to prosperity by increasing reproduction (as if children were a “normal” consumer good) and to punishment by decreasing it. The first of these is highly debatable: desirable traits like intelligence, creativity and empathy may lead to personal success, but so does a lack of moral restraint. The people at the very top of society seem to be, for the most part, objectively undesirable– at least, in terms of their behavior (whether those negative traits are biological is less clear). The second is perhaps unpleasant as a fact (no humanitarian likes the idea that what makes a “good” or “bad” person is partially genetic) but almost certainly true. The third seems to fail us. Or, let me take a more nuanced view of it. Do people respond to economic impulses by controlling reproduction? Of course, they do; but not in the way that one might think.

First, let’s talk about economic stress. Stress can be good (“eustress”) or bad (“distress”) but in large doses, even the good kind can be focus-narrowing, if not hypomanic or even outright toxic. Rather than focusing on objective hardship or plenty, I want to examine the subjective sense of unhappiness with one’s socioeconomic position, which will determine how much stress a person experiences and which kind it is.  Likewise, economic inequality (by providing incentive for productive activity) can be for the social good– it’s clearly a motivator– but it is a source of (without directional judgment to the word) stress. The more socioeconomic inequality there is, the more of this stress society will generate. Proponents of high levels of economic inequality will argue that it serves eustress to the desirable people and institutions and distress to the less effective ones. Yet, if we focus on the subjective matter of whether an individual feels happy or distressed, I’d expect this to be untrue. People, in my observation, tend to feel rich or poor not based on where they are, economically, but by how they measure up to the expectations derived from their natural ability. A person with a 140 IQ who ends up as a subordinate, making a merely average-plus living doing uninteresting work, is judged (and will judge himself) as a failure. Even if that person has the gross resources necessary to reproduce (the baseline level required is quite low) he will be disinclined to do so, believing his economic situation to be poor and the prospects for any progeny to be dismal. On the other hand, a person with a 100 IQ who ends up with the average-plus income (as a leader, not a subordinate; but with the same income and wealth as the person with 140 above) will face life with confidence and, if having children is naturally something he wants, be inclined to start a family early, and possibly to have a large one.

What am I really saying here? I think that, while people might believe that meritocracy is a desirable social ideal, most people respond emotionally not to the component of their economic outcome derived from natural (possibly genetic) merit or hard work, but from the random noise term. People have a hard time believing that randomness is just that (hence, the amount of money spent on lottery tickets) and interpret this noise term to represent how much “society” likes them. In large part, we’re biologically programmed to be this way; most of us get more of a warm feeling from windfalls coming from people liking us than from those derived from natural merit or hard work. However, modern society is so complex that this variable can be regarded as pure noise. Why? Because we, as humans, devise social strategies to make us liked by an unknown stream of people and contexts we meet in the future, but whether the people and contexts we actually encounter (“serendipity”) match those strategies is just as random as the Brownian motion of the stock market. Then, the subjective sense of socioeconomic eustress or distress that drives the desire to reproduce comes not from personal merit (genetic or otherwise) but from something so random that it will have a correlation of 0.0 with pretty much anything.

This kills any hope that socioeconomic rewards and punishments might have a eugenic effect, because the part that people respond to on an emotional level (which drives decisions of family planning) is the component uncorrelated to the desired natural traits. There is a way to change that, but it’s barbaric. If society accepted widespread death among the poor– and, in particular, among poor children (many of whom have shown no lack of individual merit; i.e. complete innocents)– then it could recreate a pre-civilized and truly Darwinian state in which absolute prosperity (rather than relative/subjective satisfaction) has a major effect on genetic proliferation.

Now, I’ll go further. I think the evidence is strong that socioeconomic inequality has a second-order but potent dysgenic effect. Even when controlling for socioeconomic status, ethnicity, geography and all the rest, IQ scores seem to be negatively correlated with fertility. Less educated and intelligent people are reproducing more, while the people that humanity should want in its future seem to be holding off, having fewer children and waiting longer (typically, into their late 20s or early 30s) to have them. Why? I have a strong suspicion as to the reason.

Let’s be blunt about it. There are a lot of willfully ignorant, uneducated, and crass people out there, and I can’t imagine them saying, “I’m not going to have a child until I have a steady job with health benefits”. This isn’t about IQ or physical health necessarily; just about thoughtfulness and the ability to show empathy for a person who does not exist yet. Whether rich or poor, desirable people tend to be more thoughtful about their effects on other people than undesirable ones. The effect of socioeconomic stress and volatility will be to reduce the reproductive impulse among the thoughtful, future-oriented sorts of people that we want to have reproducing. It also seems to me that such stresses increase reproduction among the sorts of present-oriented, thoughtless sorts of people that we don’t as much want to be highly represented in the future.

I realize that speaking so boldly about eugenics (or dysgenic threats, as I have) is a dangerous (and often socially unacceptable) thing. To make it clear: yes, I worry about dysgenic risk. Now some of the more brazen (and, in some cases, deeply racist) eugenicists freak out about higher rates of fertility in developing (esp. non-white) countries, and I really don’t. Do I care if the people of the future look like me? Absolutely not. But it would be a shame if, 100,000 years from now, they were incapable of thinking like me. I don’t consider it likely that humanity will fall into something like Idiocracy; but I certainly think it is possible. (A more credible threat is that, over a few hundred years, societies with high economic inequality drift, genetically, in an undesirable direction, producing a change that is subtle but enough to have macroscopic effects.)

Why, at a fundamental level, does a harsher and more inequitable (and more stressful) society increase dysgenic risk? Here’s my best explanation. Evolutionary ecology discusses two reproductive pressures, r- and K-selection, in species, which correspond to optimizing for quantity versus quality of offspring. The r-strategist has lots of offspring, gives minimal paternal investment, and few will survive. An example is a frog giving birth to a hundred tadpoles. The K-strategist invests heavily in a smaller number of high-quality offspring with a much higher individual shot at surviving. Whales and elephants are K-strategists with long gestation periods and few offspring, but a lot of care given to them. Neither is “better” than the other, and they each succeed in different circumstances. The r-strategist tends to repopulate quickest after a catastrophe, while the K-strategist succeeds differentially at saturation.

It is, in fact, inaccurate to characterize highly evolved, complex life forms such as mammals as strong r- or K-selectors. As humans, we’re clearly both. We have an r-selective and a K-selective sexual drive, and one could argue that much of the human story is about the arms race between the two.

The r-selective sex drive wants promiscuity, has a strong present-orientation, and exhibits a total lack of moral restraint– it will kill, rape, or cheat to get its goo out there. The K-selective sex drive supports monogamy, is future-oriented, and values a stable and just society. It wants laws and cultivation (culture) and progress. Traditional Abrahamic religions have associated the r-drive with “evil” and sin. I wouldn’t go that far. In animals it is clearly inappropriate to put any moral weight into r- or K-selection, and it’s not clear that we should be doing that to natural urges that all people have (such as calling the r-selective component of our genetic makeup “original sin”). How people act on those is another matter. The tensions between the r- and K-drives have produced much art and philosophy, but civilization demands that people mostly follow their K-drives. While age and gender do not correlate as strongly to the r/K divide as stereotypes would insist (there are r-driven older women, and K-driven young men) it is nonetheless evident that most of society’s bad actors are those prone to the strongest r-drive: uninhibited young men, typically driven by lust, arrogance and greed. In fact, we have a clinical term for people who behave in a way that is r-optimal (or, at least, was so in the state of nature) but not socially acceptable: psychopaths. From an r-selective standpoint, psychopathy conferred an evolutionary advantage, and that’s why it’s in our genome.

Both sexual drives (r- and K-) exist in all humans, but it wasn’t until the K-drive triumphed that civilization could properly begin. In pre-monogamous societies, conflicts between men over status (because, when “alpha” men have 20 mates and low-status men have none, the stakes are much greater) were so common that between a quarter and a half of men died in positional violence with other men. Religions that mandated monogamy, or at least restrained polygamy as Islam did, were able to build lasting civilizations, while societies that accepted pre-monogamous distributions of sexual access were unable to get past the chaos of constant positional violence.

There are many who argue that the contemporary acceptance of casual sex constitutes a return to pre-monogamous behaviors. I don’t care to get far into this one, if only because I find the hand-wringing about the topic (on both sides) to be rather pointless. Do we see dysgenic patterns in the most visible casual sex markets (such as the one that occurs in typical American colleges)? Absolutely, we do. Even if we reject the idea that higher-quality people are less prone to r-driven casual sex, the way people (of both sexes) select partners in that game is visibly dysgenic. But to the biological future (culture is another matter) of the human species, that stuff is pretty harmless– thanks to birth control. This is where the religious conservative movement shoots itself in the foot; it argues that the advent of birth control created uncivil sexual behavior. In truth, bad sexual behavior is as old as dirt, has always been a part of the human world and probably always will be; the best thing for humanity is for it to be rendered non-reproductive, mitigating the dysgenic agents that brought psychopathy into our genome. (On the other hand, if human sexual behavior devolved to the state of high school or college casual sex and remained reproductive, the species would devolve into H. pickupartisticus and be kaputt within 500 years. I would short-sell the human species and buy sentient-octopus futures at that point.)

If humans have two sexual drives, it stands to reason that those drives would react differently to various circumstances. This brings to mind the relationship of each to socioeconomic stress. The r-drive is enhanced by socioeconomic stress– both eustress and distress. Eustress-driven r-sexuality is seen in the immensely powerful businessman or politician who frequents prostitutes, not because he is interested in having well-adjusted children (or even in having children at all) but to see if he can get away with it; the distress-driven r-sexuality has more of an escapist, “sex as drug”, flavor to it. In an evolutionary context, it makes sense that the r-drive should be activated by stress, since the r-drive is what enables a species to populate rapidly after an ecological catastrophe. On the other hand, the K-drive is weakened by socioeconomic stress and volatility. It doesn’t want to bring children into a future that might be miserable or dangerously unpredictable. The K-drive’s reaction to socioeconomic eustress is busyness (“I can’t have kids right now; my career’s taking off) and its reaction to distress is to reduce libido as part of a symptomatic profile very similar to depression.

The result of all of this is that, should society fall into a damaged state where socioeconomic inequality and stress are rampant, the r-drive will be more successful at pushing its way to reproduction, while the K-drive is muted. The result is that the people who will come into the future will disproportionately be the offspring of r-driven parents and couplings. Even if we reject the idea that undesirable people have stronger r-drives relative to their K-drives (although I believe that to be true) the enhanced power of the r-strategic sexual drive will influence partner selection and produce worse couplings. Over time, this presents a serious risk to the genetic health of the society.

Just as Mike Judge’s Idiocracy is more true of culture than of biology, we see the overgrown r-drive in the U.S.’s hypersexualized (but deeply unsexy) popular culture, and the degradation is happening much faster to the culture than it possibly could to our gene pool, given the relatively slow rate of biological evolution. Some wouldn’t see any correlation whatsoever between the return of the Gilded Age post-1980 and Miley Cyrus’s “twerking”, but I think that there’s a direct connection.

Conclusion

The Social Calvinism of the American right wing believes that severe socioeconomic inequality is necessary to flush the “undesirables” to the bottom, deprive them of resources, and prevent them from reproducing. Inherent to this strategy is the presumption (and a false one) that people are future-oriented and directed by the K-selective sexual drive, which is reduced by socioeconomic adversity. In reality, the more primitive (and more harmful, if it results in reproduction) r-selective sexual drive is enhanced by socioeconomic stresses.

In reality, socioeconomic volatility reduces the K-selective drive of most people, rich and poor. The reason for this is that a person’s subjective sense of satisfaction with socioeconomic status is not based on whether he or she is naturally “desirable” to society but his or her performance relative to natural ability and industry, which is a noise variable. It enhances the r-selective drive. Even if we do not accept that desirable people are more likely to have strong K-drives and weak r-drives, it is empirically true (seen in millennia of human sexual behavior) that people operating under the K-drive choose better partners than those operating under the r-drive.

The American conservative movement argues, fundamentally, that a mean-spirited society is the only way to prevent dysgenic risk. It argues, for example, that a welfare state will encourage the reproductive proliferation of undesirable people. The reality is otherwise. Thoughtful people, who look at the horrors of American healthcare and the rapid escalation of education costs, curtail reproduction even if they are objectively “genetically desirable” and their children are likely to perform well, in absolute terms. Thoughtless people, pushed by powerful r-selective sex drives, will not be reproductively discouraged, and might (in fact) be encouraged, by the stresses and volatility (but, also, by undeserved rewards) of the harsher society. Therefore, American Social Calvinism actually aggravates the very dysgenic risk that it exists to address.

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32 thoughts on “The U.S. conservative movement is a failed eugenics project. Here’s why it could never have worked.

  1. Wow. This post is complete drivel. I understand you’re a committed progressive, but this is just a crappy projection of what you believe conservatives to be. Most modern progressives make almost no effort to truly understand conservatives, or even libertarians for that matter.

    To state that conservatives want to try to push people to the bottom is just disingenuous. You’re assuming that progressive government policies actually work to improve the poors lot, when the data shows that they don’t, yet the poor stay committed to voting for progressives anyway. I’m sure you could refute that all day long of course. Well now you know how conservatives reading your diatribe here feel.

    Hell if you knew more about the true roots of progressivism you’d know that it was the original source of eugenics. Now I’ll admit that the progressive movement of the 20th century poisoned both the left and the right somewhat. But eugenics isn’t what the conservatives are getting at, not at all.

    Your posts are usually quite a bit better than this.

    • Actually, research has found that (self-declared) conservativism correlates very highly with a number of similar statements, including “some groups of people are just better than others” and “some people are more deserving and should be treated better.”

      That is, agreeing with a statement like that greatly increases the likelihood, statistically, that you’d declare yourself a conservative rather than a liberal.

      Speaking as a liberal that would like to understand conservatives, we’re hindered by the fact that we listen to your arguments and then try to match them with your actions. What you’re declaring doesn’t seem to match what you *do*. Which means we’re misunderstanding pretty hard somewhere along the line, but it’s not clear (certainly not to me) where.

      I *do* put effort into understanding conservatives, which is different from that effort coming to anything.

      • Republican politicians are mostly self interested opportunists (like all politicians) and republic think tank wonks/journalists are mostly autistic libertarians. Not a whole lot of conservatives who are largely unrepresented.

        I think understanding across ideological lines is almost impossible. One of the things you learn from Haidt’s work is that progressives simply lack moral instincts that they should have. Even Haidt seems to grasp there is this thing out there that he knows is important that he lacks (and you can tell from some of his experiments). So when you talk about a concept they may not be capable of understanding it. It’s not a deficiency with your argument, its a deficiency with their minds. Likely a mix of genetics and environment. I think some change is possible, my own views have changed some over time, but it usually has to come from direct life experiences and other heavy factors and not argument alone.

        The best analogy I can think of is that an argument is like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. You can hand someone the piece (the argument) and tell them it goes somewhere over there. However, if the person hasn’t placed the surrounding pieces yet they won’t know where the argument goes. It doesn’t make sense to them, they don’t even see how it fits in. To understand conservatism requires a level of moral, social, emotional, and cultural capital that some people simply don’t have.

        I wouldn’t go so far to call it Calvanist (a ridiculous philosophy that negates free will, and I’m not even going to touch Michael’s ridiculous commentary on theology), but I do think there understanding and living “the good” is a process that requires a lot of priors and isn’t something that can be turned on one day simply by reading an apologetic. And that its easier for some then others for a variety of reasons beyond their control. God, though, is gracious enough to grade on a curve.

        • progressives simply lack moral instincts that they should have

          Absurd. Liberals think, per Rorty, that cruelty is the worst thing we humans do, a decidedly moralist attitude. Note that this doesn’t mean it’s the worst thing we suffer (a point that Kekes evades); rather, being cruel is the worst of human degradations.

          • Haidt’s work shows that liberals have overdeveloped care/harm moral intuition but that other areas of their moral framework are entirely underdeveloped. Conservatives have balanced moral frameworks that pull on many different kinds of moral experience.

            Similarly libertarians have a fetish for liberty based morality that is even more unbalanced then liberals.

            • Haidt says that liberals stress care, fairness, and liberty at the expense of loyalty, authority, and sanctity. For the record, he’s wrong. Progressive loyalty looks like this:

              You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions, or its office holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags–this is loyalty to unreason, it is pure animal; it belongs to monarchy, was invented by monarchy; let monarchy keep it. —Mark Twain

              • You mean the progressive loyalty that doesn’t believe in the nation state.

                Progressives want to be international cosmopolitans. They seek to jetset from place to place, having no loyalty to any one nation. They would prefer a global government and are happy to see things like the UN, EU, etc. Progressives tend to be very antagonistic towards fellow countrymen often seeing them as rabble they wish they didn’t have to share a country with (flyover states). The progressive ideal is to be a world citizen who mostly hangs out with other highly successful people from all over the world going wherever they fancy and where they can enhance their standing the most. They don’t care about the fates of individual nations because they don’t see themselves as belonging to any nation (or any group really) but as individuals who form associations with whomever they want whenever they want and terminate those relationships when they are no longer useful to them.

          • It’s ironic then when liberals insist that the state use force to prevent people from being cruel. This works out well until the government structures forget why they are implementing the rules. The beuracracy enforces and enhances the rules better and better over time. As they tighten their grip and punish the people more and more for any disobedience, the force of the government eventually becomes worse than the original problem that the legislation was meant to solve. This always happens. See the IRS for a great example.

    • Hell if you knew more about the true roots of progressivism you’d know that it was the original source of eugenics.

      Certainly. And yet, occasionally people do manage to get rid of bad ideas, even if a lunatic fringe still holds them. Conservatives have a fringe that wants to restore the divine right of kings, often mixed together with some kind of libertarianism.

      • Haidt wouldn’t link up libertarians with conservatives who have vastly different moral intuitions.

        We all like when Moldbug digs up some thought crime books from the past, but he’s still a somewhat spergy ex-libertarian from Berkley with some dumb ideas on monarchy.

    • As a former conservative turned libertarian turned progressive:

      Conservative officials absolutely want to push people toward the bottom (basically anyone that isn’t them or their cohorts). The average conservative or libertarian may not want to, but will do absolutely nothing whatsoever to break the fall to the bottom. Economically rightist policies hinge on externality denial, with the view that if you don’t do absolutely everything humanly possible all the time in any given situation, regardless of physical, financial, or cognitive ability, then whatever bad that comes your way is your own problem with which to deal.

      It assumes – no, asserts – that people have absolute control in the events that unfold in their lives. If you lose your job and can’t immediately find another, it’s your fault. Even if you’re fired out of spite, even if there are no jobs available in your area, it’s your fault for not networking enough to keep options open, or for moving to an area where no jobs could be found as a fallback. The conservative view is that of the argumentative sociopath.

      As for progressive policy not working, tell that to the Scandinavians, who fared better through the recession than their neighbors (and certainly better than us) and smoke us in virtually every measure, including economic mobility, infant mortality, and overall happiness itself. Also, despite the mythos that has been perpetuated by the right for the past few years, FDR’s leftists actions in his second and third terms brought us back from the brink after attempting to use rightist policy to correct a rightist-created problem. Rightist economic policy has a proven historical track record of failure.

      As for the “original eugenics” I’m afraid it goes much further back than that. Many civilizations of centuries past have used similar policy, including the feudal lords of the middle ages and the Roman patricians of antiquity. I’m afraid it’s a little more complicated than left and right; it has more to do with how much someone wants to wield power to hurt Others. It just so happens that in modern times this mindset is shared far more among the rightists, wielding political and financial clout to abridge the rights of, and to actively and maliciously disenfranchise, Others.

      How do I know this? Because I used to be a supporter of “tough love” policy, too. “Starve the beast” seemed like a sound idea. I used to believe in the American dream. But it’s a little hard not to wake up from it when every step you take to try to rise out of poverty is hampered. Try actually being homeless twice because of things you cannot control, then try getting out of it on your own by your own merit, and see if you can maintain your delusion of rugged individualism.

      The problem with conservatism and libertarianism is you believe in “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” What you don’t realize is that it’s a phrase coined to be ironic.

  2. Maybe that is because CONservatism has always been based in scamming, looting and killing others while feigning moral and cultural superiority.

  3. The responses to my post confirm that, as I surmised, in modern political discourse we are being conditioned by both sides to treat this as a winner take all war that MUST be won because the opposing side is so evil. That is not the case. In fact either side winning completely would be disastrous. We the people are being divided purposefully because it allows both sides to aggregate their power. Why else would Obama keep or expand policies put in place by Bush, when while clamoring for office he spoke out against everything Bush did?

    We are being conditioned to hate each other for their benefit. Laissez Faire economics are not eugenics no matter how much evil you paint on your political enemies. On the other hand I could state that Central Planning has done nothing but destroy countries and human lives. Which system has actually killed more people? The one the Conservatives want or the one the progressives far left cousins the Communists insist on? Of course you will say it is not fair for me to place the failings of the Communists on the progressives, and that is true. So is it fair for you to post the failings of the Nazis on the conservatives?

    This entire post is a Godwin from the subject line.

    • Which system has actually killed more people? The one the Conservatives want or the one the progressives far left cousins the Communists insist on?

      Which conservatives? From the perspective of about two hundred years ago, liberals and conservatives alike were both wild-eyed radicals. Indeed, the current Conservative Party in the U.K. is an offshoot of the 18C Whig Party, not the Tory Party.

      Mark Twain asked, which killed more, the ancien regime in France or the revolutionary terror that put it to an end? He did not know the horrific democides of the 20th century, but he could count. Clearly the terror killed people much much faster. But looking just at body count, there’s no comparison: the monarchy (or monarchical aristocracy) was a slow-motion reign of terror that lasted centuries, not a decade, and it did most of its killing by inches, not by a short sharp shock.

      • Twain never saw Communism’s perfection of both the revolution and the regime as a method to kill people. Communism has no equal when it comes to the execution of human suffering. That they claim to be beneficial to the proletariat adds insult to injury.

  4. This post reminds me a bit of some underlying narratives of the Zeitgeist motivation. I think there are more latent factors (read: political groupings) skewed to the conservative spectrum that, if exposed, would help align with the actions the larger conservative group as a whole claims to support. A useful thought experiment is to imagine what happens if we limit campaign spending. Would it lead to more choice and more clarity?

  5. First, there is a simple solution to this problem that you can implement tonight. Put a baby in your wife. “I can’t reproduce because I’m sad since I deserve to be rich with my IQ but I’m just upper middle class,” is probably the whiniest piece of shit outlook in the world. If there is a case to be made that progressives should die out that’s it.

    Which leads into the next point. Fertility isn’t negatively correlated with IQ. It’s negatively correlated between the combination of IQ and progressivism (liberalism, secularism, etc). High IQ conservative and religious people have fertility levels the same as the low IQ (amongst the low IQ there is very little correlation between con/prog and fertility). Simply put, poor people reproduce because they are too dumb to use birth control so philosophy/religion doesn’t matter. Smart people can choose though. Progressives choose wrong because they have deeply screwed up philosophies.

    The overwhelming concern of the progressive is status competition. This is an inherently relative and unhealthy obsession. In addition as materialists or materialists in practice they see no reason to do anything beyond what their most base instincts tell them (smart ones are better at strategizing long term, but the goal doesn’t change). In the past children were a natural result of pursuing their materialist and (for men) status needs via sex. However, today they can get sex without children. As a result they have few children because it doesn’t help them win status competitions. Promotions, nice apartments, sexual partners, fame, time to mold their physical appearance, etc are much more direct ways to increase their status.

    Occasionally a progressive will decide that marrying and siring a child would increase their status, but this usually stops with one and at most two. The reason is they want to be able to pour a ton of resources into that child so they can use them as a way of advancing their own status. “My kid got into selective private school. My kid is taking expensive music lessons. Etc.” If they have more kids is doesn’t help their status much, so they stop. Also, with more kids there is a chance one of them will be a “loser”, and progressives are very afraid of having a loser kid. A loser kid makes them a loser, and since they had children to meet their own needs, rather then to create life as a divine act of giving, this is a disastrous outcome.

    Note that this effect remains even in more robust welfare states. Progressives simply don’t have kids. American progressives like to blame things like rent in NYC, but even when that isn’t an issue they don’t breed. It’s a philosophical, not economic, problem.

    The problem of progressivism and dysgenics will solve itself in time because progressives anti-life philosophy will ensure they die off over time and are replaced. Religiousness and other moral tendencies are partly heritable at a genetic level. Eventually smart progressives won’t exist. The only short circuit is immigration. As progressives die out they are importing large numbers of low IQ third worlders because they are reliable D voters. Instead of smart progressives being replaced by smart conservatives they are being replaced by low IQ people from hostile ethnic cultures. This will continue until the country is majority non-white, at which time we can expect a realignment of political parties and a brazilification of the country complete with mass ghettos and military like gated communities. Since the majority of the country will be low IQ there will not be enough economic resources to provide a particularly robust welfare state (though mass produced consumer goods will likely be available, anything an automated machine can do). Progressives won’t care about this because true to form they will be dead and they don’t give a shit what happens after they die. Conservatives care about society though and want to conserve it.

    “There are many who argue that the contemporary acceptance of casual sex constitutes a return to pre-monogamous behaviors. I don’t care to get far into this one”

    Because the sexual revolution you progs caused has been an abject failure that caused mass misery. And I’m not talking about dysgenics here, I’m talking about broken families, families never formed, toxic dating culture, and the effects of a broken sexual culture on the culture at large. The mark of a progressive though is he assumes that if things are one way today and where one way yesterday then it must be “progress” no matter how terrible the results were and how obviously wrong they were. And whatever deficiencies there are can always be blamed on some remaining evil force of conservative white males.

    BTW, the reason we didn’t get single payer isn’t conservatives. You people had 60 votes and did nothing. Then you had 59 votes and if republicans really are the greedy opportunists you claim you could have bribed one of them. I worked on Obamacare in two different jobs working for democrats. We got what we got because thay is what they wanted. Because public/private split programs allow politicians, lobbyists, and civil servants to shuttle back and forth making money. And because the same people donate to both parties. Progressives run DC. They shop at whole foods and vote democratic. The entire civil service is progressive. These people knew what they were doing and what they wanted. You just can’t accept what it is your side wants.

    • Note throughout the use of “low IQ” and “hostile ethnic” as cover terms for “non-white” (which is only used once in this post, but is what it is really about). It is in fact white conservative women who have more children per capita than white progressive women, for example. As a white person with only non-white descendants, I look forward on the best of conservative principles to the end of white power in this country, and hope it will come peacefully. This does not mean I want the white hegemony to be replaced by a non-white hegemony, but I’m confident it will not be, because “non-white” is defined only by exclusion.

      Put a baby in your wife.

      Two hidden presumptions here: that you can do that unilaterally, and that you are justified in doing that unilaterally, independent of “your wife”‘s opinion. An even deeper hidden presumption is that “you” is male, though perhaps that was addressed to Michael specifically; as far as I know, he is not married.

      Conservatives care about society though and want to conserve it.

      “My country, right or wrong; when right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be set right.” So said Sen. Carl Schurz of Missouri, one of the “men of 1848″ who came to the U.S. when absolutism crushed the German revolution, and so say I. (Schurz fought for the Union, supported the gold standard, was strongly anti-imperialist, favored reform of the civil service and reintegration of the Southern states with full civil and political rights for blacks, and changed his mind about sending Indians to reservations. Was he a conservative or a progressive?)

      You people had 60 votes and did nothing.

      Progressives have never had 60 votes in the Senate.

      • “Progressives have never had 60 votes in the Senate.”

        Sure they do. If a progressive is someone that takes core progressive philosophical assumptions seriously then most of congress is progressive. The fact that progressivism in practice means hypocrisy and opportunism is simply its nature as a life philosophy. What could be more progressive then putting oneself first and lying about it if that helps.

        Progressives embody the first three stages of nihilism. Skepticism/moral relativism, materialism, and vitalism. Your average progressive is a vitalist on holiday or free time with and increased sphere of vitalism being the goal of life. In practice, mainly work but also relationships, they are material realists trying to find the best strategy for self advancement. And when contemplating ideas of truth or morality they are wishy washy skeptics who mostly don’t believe in anything strongly unless it can advance their cause (and status) because its a part of the zietgiest (hence wanting to be on the “right side of history”, the winning team).

        Sounds like congress to me. They want money, status, power, hedonism, etc. They use real politic to get it. And their morality and even spirituality is just a sponge for the zietgiest because it helps them to advance their interests and can change on a dime if necessary because they don’t really care about it. That’s why progressive policies and coalitions change every few decades while the underlying life outlook remains the same.

        • If a progressive is someone that takes core progressive philosophical assumptions seriously then most of congress is progressive.

          In that case, what do you mean by your talk of 60 votes and 59 votes? It’s nonsense. First you want to say that all Democrats are progressive, which is obviously not true; then you want to say that all Democrats and Republicans are progressive, by which you mean they are all scoundrels, and for you progressive is just another word for ‘scoundrel’. In short, you chop logic and change your definitions just as you please, and there is no arguing with you.

          *plonk*

          • I mean that when progressives say they “couldn’t get single payer” they are lying. As a practical matter the party supporting health reform had the votes to get whatever they wanted, so this fails the really obvious test of simple math. Beyond that if the other party really is what they say they are they should be able to turn at least some of them to their side.

            Being a progressive is about a certain worldview. The means and memes change, but the underlying assumptions don’t. It’s why progressives could be pro-eugenics in one age and virulently anti-eugenics in another. Pro-white in one and anti-white in another. Pro-working class in one and anti-working class in another. Pro-local one minute and globalists the next. The means and memes aren’t important, what’s underneath is what holds it all together.

            When you look at a typical progressive and DC republican what difference is there between them? It seems to me these are people with the same basic life assumptions seeking the same goals. Namely they see a future of atomized individual consumers seeking maximum hedonic efficiency through the satisfaction of material preference. They are mostly moral relativists who are strongly skeptical of ideals and quick to latch onto memeplexes that maximize their status, power, and wealth. Some of them emphasize the market more and some emphasize victim group grievances, but do any of us really believe they have radically different goals in mind? That they live their lives all that differently?

            Progressive is not the same as scoundrel. One can be a scoundrel without being a progressive. What makes progressivism so successful is that it allows one to be a scoundrel while at the same time thinking of oneself (and selling oneself) as a good person. Nay one of the best people in all of history! That’s why its grown so much.

      • Funny who Michael used ‘low IQ’ as a label for conservatives, but yet you say its a conservative label for racism.

        I’m getting pretty tired of progressives brining out their big loud racist label when they have to defend their ideas. Far easier to label your opponent than to debate them.

        • Fundamentally the goal of progressivism, to the extent an “anti-” philosophy can have a goal, is to turn people into indistinct atomized individuals with no purpose in life beyond the distractions of striving for status and materialistic hedonism. On top of that it throws the flimsiest of harm based moral justification as lubricant, but it never actually holds up in practice because its separated from all of the things that make it work.

          It likes to break things like race, gender, religion, nation, community, etc to achieve this goal. Oppression rhetoric, economic arguments, social justice, racism accusation, etc are just means to the goal. You will note that the definition of harm will constantly change, and that new rationalizations will constantly be employed depending on the expediency of the moment.

          Probably the best embodiment of progressivism is fashion. It changes all the time, but basically shallow and pointless. It distracts, but it doesn’t ennoble. It pretends to mean something, but it means nothing.

  6. BTW, the original “eugenicists” where progressives and it was almost synonymous with progressivism (the religious being the primary opponents). Guys like John Meynard Keynes and the British Eugenics Society. This association between the left and eugenics was only later abandoned (strangely not immediately after WWII uncovering the holocaust, but in the 60s/70s when it abandoned the white working class in favor of a high/low coalition of non-white lumpenproles and wealthy leftists).

    The whole idea of the scientific perfectibility of man is an inherently secular and progressive philosophical construct.

    • The whole idea of the divine right of kings is an inherently religious and conservative philosophical construct. Fortunately, both of them are absurd, and I for one am agnostic enough to believe in neither.

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  8. I see a lot of comments on political side of this blog-post. Yet, avoiding the political color, there are good points being emphasized. I agree that there is a stress-driven sexual behavior and also that the society’s offerings relate directly to the level of that stress.
    Yet, I also believe that we’re not completely out of nature’s laws and therefore there is also a natural equilibrium that established itself sooner or later, like it or not. Humanity’s technical advances merely forced a change in this equilibrium. One can not be too stupid or the mundane dangers (like crossing the street) can be fatal and represent a new hard-limit to our genes. One can not just stay on breeding-spree with multiple partners, as the risk to venereal diseases increases (look at AIDS in African countries). As for general level of intellectual development, well… we are in what I still call wilderness. Especially in the warm climate, one can still live without a home, without much education, without many, many things that would denote an evolved individual. Unless if something happens that would render such lifestyle impossible, that is here to stay this way on our natural environment of Earth. You won’t grow up if you’re staying in your cradle, you’ll grow up if you’ll go to school and elsewhere out there that will push you to new limits. We had the required conditions for stupidity to naturally abide even before, without counting the dangers and hardships eliminated through technical evolution. What should we expect really?

  9. For those of you not already aware of the PNAC and it’s thrust, a quote from wiki:

    Future biological weapons that can “target” specific genotypes[edit]

    Main article: Ethnic bioweapon

    Critics of the Project for the New American Century, including Austin American-Statesmen book reviewer Kip Keller, highlighted the following quote from PNAC’s report “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”:

    And advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.

    In a review of a book on the history of eugenics in the United States, Keller cited the quote as an example of modern-day thinking that continues the tradition of eugenics, saying that the quote proposed “a sort of ‘gene bomb'” and accusing the authors of supporting “the targeted extermination of a specific ethnic group — i.e., genocide, the ultimate eugenic practice”.[50] The Project for a New American Century responded with a letter to the editor calling Keller’s accusations “disgusting and utterly false” and stating that the quotation was intended to describe “threats the U. S. military may confront in the future” rather than weapons that the organization advocated developing.[51]

    Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century

  10. asdf:

    First, there is a simple solution to this problem that you can implement tonight. Put a baby in your wife [...] probably the whiniest piece of shit outlook in the world. If there is a case to be made that progressives should die out that’s it. [...] Progressives choose wrong because they have deeply screwed up philosophies [...] The overwhelming concern of the progressive is status competition. [...] Occasionally a progressive will decide that marrying and siring a child would increase their status, but this usually stops with one and at most two. The reason is they want to be able to pour a ton of resources into that child so they can use them as a way of advancing their own status. [...] rather then to create life as a divine act of giving, this is a disastrous outcome. [...] The problem of progressivism and dysgenics will solve itself in time because progressives anti-life philosophy will ensure they die off over time and are replaced. [...] As progressives die out they are importing large numbers of low IQ third worlders because they are reliable D voters. Instead of smart progressives being replaced by smart conservatives they are being replaced by low IQ people from hostile ethnic cultures. [This will continue until the country is majority non-white, at which time we can expect a realignment of political parties and [...] brazilification of the country complete with mass ghettos and military like gated communities. Since the majority of the country will be low IQ there will not be enough economic resources [...] Progressives [...] don’t give a shit [...] Conservatives care about society though and want to conserve it.

    What caricatured bullshit.

    What you are not-subtly implying is that progressives don’t actually care about other people, that they don’t believe in family or loyalty, etc. Essentially, they are not fully human or are in some way robotic or unfeeling.

    How sad it must be to live in your mind, when you are thinking such thoughts!

    Your claim that progressives “had the votes” to pass single-payer or public-option health care is so bewilderingly far from reality I am not sure what country you think you live in, because it sure doesn’t sound like the USA. If there were anywhere near as many progressives in Congress as you think there are, the country would look a hell of a lot different (read: better, IMNSHO).

    The idea that progressives lack normal human decency or feeling is an unconscionable smear. It would be just as easy and just as false for me to argue that conservatives are nothing but callous, greedy villains who wish the poor to die in the streets in droves, so the all-deserving master class may buy up their meager assets for pennies. To argue as such only undermines your credibility, as it rightly would mine if I were to pass off such unsubstantiated bloviation as fact.

    Progressives have families and loved ones. They feel patriotic pride and religious (or secular!) zeal, and they love their children and want what is best for them and their compatriots. That some emotions might occur more or less frequently, or be triggered in somewhat different circumstances, than those who resemble you a little more closely hardly makes us a different moral species. We–and I identify myself only loosely with the label (as apparently is my reckless wont, inveterate life-hating relativist that I am)–don’t deserve to be caricatured any more than you do, which is something you might understand better if your “superior moral mind” had its Authority/Sanctity/Loyalty dials cranked just a little lower.

    Also, get back to me when racist dystopian delusions (the brown people are going to come to America and turn it into a hellhole like Brazil!) have stopped dominating your thought process, and I’ll start taking your moral tirades a little more seriously.

    The world today is a pretty fucking great place to live for those of us lucky enough to be born in the parts that have been under the control of modern, *progressive* states for a while. Those places tend to have prosperous economies; healthy, educated and long-lived populations; and astonishingly low rates of violent death compared to historical norms. That this wealth and security has not made us all happy as well as rich is one of the great challenges remaining before us. But it is no more an indictment of progressivism in general that it has not yet solved every human problem than it is for conservatism that gross injustices have been historically perpetuated by conservative rhetoric (slavery, women’s rights, etc.) in the name of preserving tradition. Both approaches have philosophical merit, and both serve vital roles. Either is dangerous when given free reign; each serves to curb the other’s excesses.

    • I call it like I see it. Form the actions I’ve observed and from my understanding of the underlying philosophy. I feel this is an entirely accurate account.

      I’ve been a lot closer to healthcare reform then you. I’ve worked in that industry, in that city, and for the government agencies and private companies that were a part of it. I’ve worked with the politicians. I think I know what these people wanted and what drove them. What kind of people they are. They are progressives, they are awful people, and we got exactly the system they wanted (one that advanced them).

      And I call Michael out on the things he’s actually written. Michael has a typical progressive outlook that he is a brilliant wonderful amazing person who is being held back by “the man”. In fact because “the man” has condemned him to being merely upper middle class when he clearly deserves better…well how can you bring a child into such a world! When comparing this pathetic attitude to any healthy person from the entire history of the human race, how does one not wonder how such a twisted thing can come about.

      “The world today is a pretty fucking great place to live for those of us lucky enough to be born in the parts that have been under the control of modern, *progressive* states for a while.”

      The first world stopped getting better decades ago. I don’t see how you can look at it today and say its better. If you take away technological progress (which has nothing to do with progressivism, and has started to stagnate itself) then its clearly worse on basically any metric. The reason why it got worse is because progressivism won its final victory ending in atomized individualist PC culture. The first world has been in decline since then.

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  12. This essay is a fascinating conglomeration of misunderstandings, stereotypes and caricatures, carefully woven together using the genetic fallacy. If I were to argue as you have, I would argue as follows: “Since liberals and libertarians are in favor of legalizing drugs, it follows that they want eliminate those whose genetics predispose them to addiction. It’s a eugenics program! But it won’t work…” (In fact, that sounds pretty good–and as I know people who buy into conspiracy theories, I may post this argument all over the place to see if it gains any traction. Thanks for the new meme template!)

    Most of the misconceptions employed here stem from the false belief that conservatives don’t know human nature. In fact, we know it better than most.

    Conservatives have never been under the illusion (as many others still are) that we can create a utopia by doing a few simple things. On the contrary, we only argue that our ideas are not as bad as all the rest. Human nature is simply not perfectible.

    Conservatives have no illusion that under capitalism, wealth is always distributed equitably to the most deserving—under anyone’s definition of “deserving”. We know that the more aggressive and greedy get a disproportionate share, and that status, health, crime, government and luck play a role also.

    Conservatives know that it is not trivial, or sometimes even possible to escape poverty with hard work. But we also know that people will complain and produce excuses far more readily than they will take personal responsibility for their situation. We’ve met those people and listened to them bellyache. Their only demand is that “the man” give them money and jobs until the complainers are on equal footing with him. Given that that will not happen under any system, a better course (although not a guaranteed solution) is to take responsibility and work. If not more efficacious, it’s far more satisfying than complaining.

    Conservatives are anti-eugenics. Many are even anti-abortion–which would be odd if they were eugenicists, because abortion is thought by some to have caused the United States’ recent decline in violent crime. (See Steven Levitt’s case.)

    You complain that conservatives are anti-sex, when really, they just understand the emotional and cultural implications (for women especially) of promiscuous sex. In particular, one cannot ignore the stark contrast between a typical married monogamous woman, and a typical used, bitter, but sexually “liberated” woman-turned-feminist. It’s not hard to see which course leads to the most happiness over the longest span of time.

    I can see you are a thoughtful fellow at least, and thoughtful people are hard to find. But your unusual lines of reasoning suggest that you are being “too smart by a half”, and perhaps listening to too many angry people in online forums but reading too few actual conservative thinkers.

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