America’s Cultural Revolution: Six degrees of separation from insanity

[After writing this post I discovered a Scott Aaronson post with a similar theme. Needless to say his is 10 times better, and is the one to read if you only have time for one. And if you have time for both . . . well, you should reconsider how you allocate your time.]

The Chinese Cultural Revolution killed roughly 1,000,000 people. America’s version will kill approximately zero. So let’s get that off the table right away. Nonetheless, I’m beginning to understand why so many Chinese-Americans see a parallel between China’s Cultural Revolution and America’s PC insanity.  Here’s J.K. Trotter:

At the same time, most of Altman’s frustration is self-imposed. True, there is a compelling argument to be made that a person should not be fired over their support of a particular political candidate; in the most abstract terms, nobody wants to live in a world where a person’s employment is threatened by their political beliefs, so long as those beliefs do not bear on their job performance. Whether or not this argument holds water for someone of Thiel’s stature and power is open for debate.

That doesn’t sound too unreasonable.  But then it gets worse; he insists that Thiel should be removed from the board despite that high-minded rhetoric about freedom.

And then it gets even worse.  Trotter then says that Sam Altman should resign if Thiel is not removed.

So let’s see.  Not only should Trump be shunned for his appalling political views, an otherwise highly respected Silicon Valley entrepreneur who just happens to support Trump (along with 80 million other Americans) should also be shunned.  And a person who despises Trump and works against him but who defends Thiel’s right to his own political views should also resign.  Does that mean I should be shunned too?  After all, I’m a guy who hates Trump, writing a post that defends a guy who hates Trump, who wrote a post defending a guy’s freedom to support Trump, who in turn supports Trump.  And suppose my mother sticks up for me?  Should she also be shunned?

It’s almost enough to make me vote . . . no, just kidding.

Question for Trotter.  Which people on the left are beyond the pale?  Suppose Thiel had supported Hugo Chavez?  How about Castro?  Mao?  Pol Pot?  Perhaps the degrees of separation could be calibrated to the awfulness of the left-winger:

Chavez:  One degree of separation. (Corbyn, Sean Penn, etc.)

Castro:  Two degrees of separation is still toxic.

Lenin:  Three degrees of separation.

Mao:  Four degrees of separation.

Pol Pot:  Five degrees of separation.

Remember the Monty Python routine where there was a joke so funny that listeners died laughing?  Now there are jokes so toxic that the listener (Billy Bush) gets fired. And in the comment section it gets even worse:

It’s ridiculous to argue that we should all just get along—that nobody can ever choose to stop associating with certain individuals or groups—in the name of some abstract ideal of comity. We should treat each other with respect, obviously, but if our politics doesn’t affect our actual lives, then it’s just an elaborate kind of sport.

So Trotter is saying what?  That you should stop being friends with someone because you don’t like their politics?  As a libertarian, I’d basically have no friends if I followed that rule.  I certainly never dated any libertarians when I was younger.  I have good friends who are borderline Marxists—who regard Hillary as a conservative. It doesn’t make me not want to associate with them.  I recall one colleague who once defended China’s one child policy.  That’s far worse than almost anything Trump’s proposed. (OK, except stealing Iraq’s oil.) I mean seriously, if we followed Trotter’s suggestion then what would it do to our society? And why is “comity” just an abstract ideal?

I would have thought that the belief that one should break up with friends over politics was some sort of shameful secret, like a preference for child pornography. I’m 61 year sold—has our society actually changed to where politics is splitting up friendships?  Are we that immature?

At this point some silly commenter will always bring up the Nazi example. Obviously if your friend is advocating mass murder, that’s not acceptable.  But there are millions of sweet little old ladies who plan to vote for Trump because they are Republicans, and lots of them are nicer people than am.  I’m not going to shun them for having different views from me.  Most people are well intentioned, they just disagree as to the best way of achieving a good society.  Thiel seems very well intentioned, passionate in all the various political causes he engages in. I think Trump is more likely to get us into a nuclear war, but lots of his fans sincerely believe Hillary is more likely.  Opinions differ.

BTW, like politics, religion is also not “a sport”. Should people be shunned for having a different religion?  They often were 100 years ago in America. Haven’t we progressed?  What about conservative Muslims—they believe some awful things. Should they also be shunned?  And if so, how’s that different from Trump?

Liberals used to pride themselves with having more empathy for “the other”.  I think there was even some truth to that claim.  They were more likely to go to an independent film on what it’s like to be a black person in the inner city, or a Palestinian on the West Bank.  But when it comes to politics it’s just the opposite.  I find that right wingers have a much better understanding of why left wingers believe what they do, than vice versa.



52 Responses to “America’s Cultural Revolution: Six degrees of separation from insanity”

  1. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    20. October 2016 at 16:55

    How about when Liberals boycotted Rush and his sponsors ?
    PC tyranny..? Democratic consumerism..?

    why shouldn’t we consumers be allowed to get the complete utility out of our money by making our purchases count politically ?

    why should that portion the value of our earnings be denied us ?

    Could one be for Unlimited political spending for the 1%…yet be against consumers considering the political impacts of their purchase ?

    That’d be pretty elitist…right ?

  2. Gravatar of John Hall John Hall
    20. October 2016 at 17:05

    Works over. I had time to read both (and they both were great!) Would you rather I watch TV?

  3. Gravatar of Kevin Kevin
    20. October 2016 at 18:05

    The illiberal left might be OK with running Maoist witch-hunts right now, but imagine this:

    With probability one, someday the right will seize all three branches of government. And given the current trends, it probably won’t be the cuddly sort of conservatism rooted in classical liberalism that Scott discusses on his blog. It’s going to be the nasty cultural conservatism of Trump. When that day comes, over 50% of Americans will have given a clear mandate to a nationalist right-wing philosophy.

    On that day, do you really want a precedent where it’s ok to fire someone from their job for supporting the wrong candidate? Or to hunt down everyone who doesn’t agree 100% and shame them? Because we have plenty of historical precedents where the nationalist right did exactly that. The Red Scare, discrimination against gays, post-civil war discrimination against blacks, etc. And most of this was carried out through voluntary, non-government means (boycotts, shaming).

  4. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    20. October 2016 at 18:18

    “I think Trump is more likely to get us into a nuclear war,”

    -On the basis of…??? The leadership of Israel (nuclear state), Russia (nuclear state), and North Korea (nuclear state) have all expressed implicit support for Trump. That’s a strong indicator he, unlike Hillary Clinton, is a sane man the world can trust.

    “but lots of his fans sincerely believe Hillary is more likely.”

    -On the basis of Trump’s and Clinton’s very clear policy statements and actions:

    See, in this debate, one side has all the evidence. The other side has tiny pieces of trash.

    BTW, I would not have voted for Mitt Romney and Ben Carson partially on the basis of their religions.

    “OK, except stealing Iraq’s oil”

    -One of Trump’s best ideas.

    I would really, really despise a Hillary Clinton presidency. Under Her, expect government-held West Aleppo to be fully conquered by al-Qaeda within a year. Expect chaos in Sudan. She is unhinged on Russia. Under Her, America would be at serious risk of another Cuban missile crisis-type situation. And I just don’t trust Her to get out of it the way Kennedy did and Trump would almost certainly do. Again, she seems too unhinged.

  5. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    20. October 2016 at 18:21

    “I discovered a Scott Aaronson post with a similar theme.”

    -Scott Aaronson is really one of the most pathetic people I’ve ever read. His endorsement of Hillary Clinton is one of the worst pieces I’ve ever read by any person with an IQ of over 150. Dark Arts par excellence.

  6. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    20. October 2016 at 19:42

    You find extremists that love their policies more than they love freedom everywhere, and the left is no exception. I currently work for a SV company with economic ties both Altman and Thiel, where the mood is extremely anti-trump. Some people seriously suggested that we should take anti-trump measures, as a company! Fortunately they were a small minority, and there are cooler heads in charge.

    Cultural isolation, like you can get in San Francisco or in a Midwest Suburb, is not great at promoting freedom. We are self sorting in ways that we never get to meet people that are very different from us.

  7. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    20. October 2016 at 20:02

    There has to be a price paid for supporting someone like Trump. I never held support of Romney against anyone, but Trump is completely different. This is not even a liberal or conservative issue, as Trump doesn’t fit neatly into either category. Even Republicans, such as strategist Mike Murphy, are calling for intra-party show trials after the election.

    That being said, I think the punishment for supporting Trump should be political. Democrats have to up their game when it comes to political character assassination. FDR was merciless in his attacks on Hoover, though Hoover was a good man. How much worse should it be for Trump and his supporters, those who supported a man without character? Trump is clearly not a good man.

    Some of us think the lack of appropriate shame and political consequences, or in other words, largely Democratic weakness, allowed this to build up to this over decades. In that sense, I blame Democrats.

  8. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    20. October 2016 at 20:20

    As a libertarian, I’d basically have no friends if I followed that rule

    You are not a libertarian.

  9. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    20. October 2016 at 20:38

    Trump will purge Trotter.
    Trotter will purge 80 million Trump supporters.

    Now you see why some people think the Left is more dangerous than Trump?

  10. Gravatar of Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » May reason trump the Trump in all of us Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » May reason trump the Trump in all of us
    20. October 2016 at 20:41

    […] (Nov. 20): See also this post from a blog called TheMoneyIllusion. My favorite […]

  11. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    20. October 2016 at 22:40

    Great post.

    PC’ism has run rampant.

    Trump has many supporters, many highly intelligent like Peter Thiel. Get over it. Trump is a lulu.

    Hillary has many supporters, many highly intelligent. Get over it. She makes Nixon look reliable and level-headed.

  12. Gravatar of Left Outsid Left Outsid
    20. October 2016 at 23:03

    It was the Goodies that killed a man, not Python, the widow sent them a thank you letter.

    Probably also not a PC video

  13. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    20. October 2016 at 23:20

    Neologisms like “political correctness” and “hate speech” are recurrent attempts by the Left to bring down the First Amendment through the backdoor. And they are quite successful.

  14. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    20. October 2016 at 23:35

    Yawn. Pathetic post, where is Greg Ransom when we need him? Cultural Revolution killed between 0.4M to 3M says Wikipedia. E. Harding is right, Aaronson is pathetic IMO because he’s a terrible writer, verbose and rambling; I left a comment to that effect, see if he publishes it. Verbal diarrhea. Sumner’s musings is something like Rodney King’s ‘why can’t we all just get along’ which is fine but verbose. Christian List is right, the Left is like the Right in that they are dual opposites of the same coin, liking order and authority in their own way, not unlike Fascism (Right) and Communism (Left), read Allan Bullock’s book “Parallel Lives” for a hint.

  15. Gravatar of Saturos Saturos
    21. October 2016 at 02:59

    I think a lot of people are directly beyond the pale according to the Sumner rank, since they support Noam Chomsky, who famously defended Pol Pot back in the day. And the number who have been influenced indirectly would inflate the next class to a sizeable swathe of the American population.

  16. Gravatar of Anand Anand
    21. October 2016 at 03:08

    Several comments.

    Zerothly, I of course agree with the sentiments in the blog post.

    Firstly, what did you expect from a Gawker media article? Gawker hates Thiel. Any argument they give is just window dressing over their raw hate.

    As for the rest, it’s good that you’re not on Twitter. As far as I can see, this is mostly a social media shaming campaign.

    I don’t know if you know anything about “Gamergate”, but it was somewhat similar (Aaronson links to it in his post). My guess is that what will happen eventually is some of the people who are virtue-signalling about “diversity” will be given some money to shut up. Intel, for instance, allocated $300 million for a “diversity in tech” program due to flap over Gamergate. Perhaps someone will donate more money to Hillary Clinton to assuage their conscience.

    This is not about left and right; it is about money.

    Everything else will go on as usual. Thiel isn’t in much danger. The Buzzfeed piece says as much.

    “He’s unlikely to get one, either way. Thiel is beloved by the men who run Silicon Valley, revered since his days at PayPal, where he was a co-founder and CEO. A central member of the “PayPal mafia” of men who left the company to found or run startups including Tesla, YouTube, and LinkedIn, he is closely connected to many of tech’s most successful CEOs.

    He co-founded the data analysis firm Palantir and was the first outside investor in Facebook — bringing him enormous wealth — and he remains a major investor and director at some of the Valley’s most valuable companies. The chiefs of those businesses are steering clear of condemning him, even as they make clear that their politics veer far from Trump’s.

    Palantir CEO Alex Karp is one such leader. He has long been close to Thiel, the chairman of Palantir’s board. Karp rarely speaks to the press, but when asked about Thiel’s support for Trump, he said in a statement: “I’m supporting Hillary and have donated to her campaign.”

    David Sacks, the CEO of Zenefits, the human resources startup where Thiel is a board member, has avoided public commentary on politics this cycle. Sacks and Thiel go way back, co-authoring 1998’s The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus. In a statement through a spokesperson on Monday, Sacks said, “Peter is a great friend and board member. We respect his right to his own political opinions.””

  17. Gravatar of Saturos Saturos
    21. October 2016 at 03:10

    Oh hey if you double check the Aaronson post there’s a shout-out to this blog appended now!

  18. Gravatar of Thiago Ribeiro Thiago Ribeiro
    21. October 2016 at 03:38

    “I would have thought that the belief that one should break up with friends over politics was some sort of shameful secret, like a preference for child pornography. I’m 61 year sold—has our society actually changed to where politics is splitting up friendships? Are we that immature?”

    If they don’t share your moral code– and this is what politics should be about, not about spoils or who gets the big house and the servants at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC– they are not really your friends, they are just pretending to be.

  19. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    21. October 2016 at 03:58

    ‘I’m 61 year sold—has our society actually changed to where politics is splitting up friendships?’

    Nothing has changed, it’s always been thus. Consider;

    But it’s usually left-wingers shunning their friends who won’t go along with them, not the other way around.

  20. Gravatar of bill bill
    21. October 2016 at 05:47

    In more ways than not, things are better than ever before.

  21. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    21. October 2016 at 06:14

    This is more than political to me, as I think about it. It is a moral issue and one of personal disgust. I want nothing to do with the relatives I blocked on Facebook for supporting Trump. It doesn’t feel like they’re members of the same species to me. They’re animals.

    I wouldn’t want to know Peter Thiel. I wouldn’t want to work on a board with him. I wouldn’t blame anyone else on the board for resigning or trying to force him out. I’m going to send an email or write a letter supporting his removal.

  22. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    21. October 2016 at 06:23


    There’s something to be said for morality and moral compatibility. Perhaps you could be friends with a Trump supporter, but upon reflection, I cannot and have no desire to be.

    I couldn’t long stomach a Chomskyite either. Too little in common, and a disgusting combination of naivete and ignorant cynicism. I couldn’t be friends with an outright communist either.

    Nor could I be friends with an extremist libertarian, or anyone of extremist faith. My friends are somewhere in the middle with me.

  23. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    21. October 2016 at 06:56

    OT- Rex Winship, Wall Street trader and principal, 1988: “The reason for the thirties Depression was the government was not allowing the free market to work its way out. The Depression wouldn’t have lasted that long.” (Winship correctly predicted, in Oct 1987, that Black Monday would be over in a few years with no long term harm, and it was caused by greed and high-volatility). As reported by Studs Terkel. Our host also thinks FDR prolonged the Great Depression.

    PS–after typing this, I Googled “Rex Winship” and found he’s a real character (the implication is that Studs Terkel sometimes made up plausible characters) and at least one other person agrees with me that Rex Winship was far-sighted, see:

  24. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    21. October 2016 at 07:02

    One’s religion has little effect on one’s practical activity, so it’s easy to be friends with someone of a different religion. And this is even more the case with politics: for most of us, our political views have no effect whatever on our behavior, except in discussions of politics, which are just idle gab. And since I prefer not to talk politics, I know little about the political views of many of my friendly acquaintances; I suspect some of them are on one or another fringe, but so what?

  25. Gravatar of ChacoKevy ChacoKevy
    21. October 2016 at 08:35

    I don’t contend the overall point, but I don’t think the subjects you’ve chosen in the post are strong examples. As Anand stated above, Thiel is a personal target for the Gawker staff. Also, Trotter is an asshole.
    Secondly, Thiel isn’t someone just supporting a candidate. He has his own baggage such as when he publicly lamented women’s suffrage. I absolutely would get fired if I told my women co-workers that their voting was a bummer for my worldview.
    Finally, a point on tone. At the risk of mounting the reprehensible “I know you are but what am I?” defense, it feels as if you are writing this that only liberals are the ones seeking to ostracize for publicly held positions. You weren’t blogging in ’06, so I don’t know your thoughts on the purge at the Justice Department under Bush. Not as bad? Worse? Irrelevant?

  26. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    21. October 2016 at 09:38

    This election has been unlike anything I’ve ever seen in tearing people apart. We have a regular dinner party comprised of five couples that gets together every six weeks. Two weeks ago, it ended in recrimination and tears. Not an isolated example.

    And it’s not just the PC left, either. Trump defenders savage Clinton as bad as The Establishment savages Trump.

    I don’t really care who wins even, but at this point, the whole topic is verboten IRL.

  27. Gravatar of Danyzn Danyzn
    21. October 2016 at 09:57

    Your hypothetical calibration of the degree-of-separation scale sounds broadly reasonable to me. Are you really saying you would associate as freely (or not) with a cheerleader for Chavez as one for Pol Pot?

  28. Gravatar of Randomize Randomize
    21. October 2016 at 10:03

    I’ve noticed this same shameful trend popping up in social media in the wake of the last couple days. A few examples of popular memes:

    “Why should I listen to an opinion on guns from a person who supports killing babies?”

    “There’s no person who’s opinion means less to me than a Clinton supporter.”

    The worst part is that its my own friends sharing and liking this filth.

  29. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. October 2016 at 12:29

    John Hall, Reread War and Peace? (Which reminds me, I still haven’t read it once.)

    Bob, Good point, although midwest suburbs are actually pretty diverse (politically).

    Steve, Both are dangerous.

    Saturos, We are all horrible, if judged by our political views.

    Thiago, I know extreme left-wingers who share my (utilitarian) moral code. Not sure why anyone would be so foolish as to let politics get in the way of a good friendship.

    Scott, You said:

    “It doesn’t feel like they’re members of the same species to me. They’re animals.”

    That reminds me of how Trumpistas think. “Those awful Mexicans and Muslims.”

    If your relatives are horrible people, then fine. But in that case I assume you already knew they were horrible. I can’t imagine why anyone would change their views of their relatives based on how they vote in 2016.

    ChacoKevy, You asked:

    “You weren’t blogging in ’06, so I don’t know your thoughts on the purge at the Justice Department under Bush. Not as bad? Worse? Irrelevant?”

    Much worse.

    Brian, Perhaps you could encourage the dinner guests to talk about a different subject, like sports or films.

    Danzyn, You said:

    “Are you really saying you would associate as freely (or not) with a cheerleader for Chavez as one for Pol Pot?”

    Just the opposite. But that’s because it’s easy to imagine a Chavez supporter sharing my utilitarian values, but not a Pol Pot supporter, (or a Nazi, for instance.) However, people forget that even the well-intentioned often hold appalling political views. Ask people about China’s one child policy—you might be surprised by how many support it.

  30. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. October 2016 at 13:36

    Scott, How about this:

    “Hillary Clinton gave a disputable description of the location of Mosul, the largest city held by the Islamic State group, during Wednesday’s final major-party presidential debate, but pundits and the press did not pounce.

    In contrast to the intense news coverage of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s moment of confusion about Aleppo, Syria, during an MSNBC interview last month, Clinton’s arguable misstatement about the major Iraqi city attracted just a handful of tweets.

    “What’s really important here is to understand all the interplay. Mosul is a Sunni city. Mosul is on the border of Syria,” the Democratic nominee told a domestic audience of about 70 million during the debate made memorable by bitter barbs and insults.”

    Now watch Scott tell me that this is different from the Aleppo flub. I’m not Secretary of State, but even I knew that Mosul was not on Syria’s border.

  31. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    21. October 2016 at 13:56

    The classical liberal tradition is that your worth as a person gave you the freedom to express your opinions.

    The underlying PC principle is that your opinions set your worth as a person, which is, of course, exactly the same principle that Mao operated under, particularly during the Cultural Revolution. So, of course working through the PC principle because to look a bit Cultural Revolutionist.

    Weaponising morality and civility (using them to target specifically rather than restrain generally) make both much less effective as restraints, precisely because it effectively pushes lots of people out of the game, which makes a figure such as The Donald much more likely.

  32. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    21. October 2016 at 14:13


    There’s a big difference between me saying Trump supporters seem like animals to me and someone who characterizes Mexican immigrants as rapists. The latter is a stereotype without basis. The former recognizes a nominee who holds positions and behaves in ways such that he degrades our politics and creates much division. I condemn Trumpistas for supporting someone who brags about sexually assaulting women and is openly bigoted against every group of people in the country, save old white men. I condemn them for supporting someone who calls for gratuitous torture of suspects and killing their relatives, stealing Iraqi oil, and building a gigantic wall on the border. Supporting Trump is crass, classless, ignorant, and extraordinarily stupid. Why would I want to spend time with people like that?

  33. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    21. October 2016 at 14:17


    On Hillary’s mistake, it is fundamentally different from Johnson’s mistake. Hillary at least knows Mosul exists.

    More fundamentally, she understands that there are many countries actively pursuing interests, some of which are in conflict with ours, around the world and understands that we play a critical role in maintaining balances of power in virtually every region. Johnson, Trump, and Stein are completely clueless about that.

    That said, do I expect a good foreign policy from Hillary Clinton? No. Her decision making hasn’t been good. But, she’s as close to a competent choice as we have.

  34. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. October 2016 at 19:40

    Scott, a very good post. I did read both yours and Aaronson’s: they’re of similar quality in my view. I first became aware of Aaronson when he was briefly quoted by physicist Sean Carroll in this debate about the existence of an afterlife (starting right here (10 sec)). I love that quote! (A great debate BTW)

    A few links on vaguely related subjects you might like:

    First up, here’s a video about a left wing fruitcake who thinks all of science has to be tossed out and redone because it’s a form of Western imperialism:
    The video maker (a grad student in physics) is more terrified by her than all the RWNJs he usually responds to (on the subject of creationism, etc). I share his alarm, but I comfort myself thinking that kind of nuttery is currently contained mostly on colleges & universities. I’ve certainly never encountered that kind of monumental insanity on the left outside of that setting (other than the occasional left-wing conspiritard).

    Now switching to a related problem within the political right (of Trump critics being … ah… “socially rejected” by Trump supporters) which has been a uniquely awful experience for some anti-Trump conservatives this election. This piece is very good, posted today by David French at NR, who briefly toyed with the idea of running as an anti-Trump conservative, and how he and his family’s life has changed since he first started criticizing Trump:
    What should we call what French experienced if not RW-PCism? Do you have a more appropriate name? It’s certainly politically motivated by those who think he’s incorrect, so I don’t know what else to call it.

  35. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    21. October 2016 at 20:02

    Tom Brown.

    Very good point at the end there. I had relatives supporting Trump who’d never expressed any interest in politics at all. They started saying things to me like “How can we be members of the same family?”, because I didn’t support Trump. They became nasty and crazed, much like Trump, so I disowned them all.

    Trump supporters are not good people. I wouldn’t be surprised that if Thiel’s computers/emails were hacked, we’d find out he’s also a bigot.

  36. Gravatar of Cliff Cliff
    21. October 2016 at 20:15

    “openly bigoted against every group of people in the country, save old white men”

    I wonder if he’s bigoted against liars?

    “Trump supporters are not good people.”

    I’ll be sure to tell everyone they are bad people for wanting what is best for the country. What are millions of lives against a bad joke made 10 years ago?

    BTW I’m not voting for Trump and never would, but you disgust me more than the Trump voters I know.

  37. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. October 2016 at 20:34

    Also, you might like this 17-tweet tweet-storm by author Tom Nichols: a life-long Republican who despises Hillary but is voting for her anyway because of Trump and his supporters. It was inspired by David French’s NR piece today that I link to above:

    Tweets 1-7:

    Tweets 8-17:

    The part that relates to your post here I think is his talk of “shunning” those on Trump’s team (tweet 10):

    When this is over – as it will be – Trump and every single person on his team should be shunned in American politics by decent people. /10

    So there you have it: yet another variation on a theme: a RWer calling for social shunning of other RWers, but the other way around (#NeverTrump shunning Trumpsters).

    I notice he has an article up in the NY Times this past July:

  38. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. October 2016 at 21:03

    And for those interested, Ben Howe of RedState is finishing up his crowd funded documentary on Trump called “The Sociopath”. He told me on Monday that he’s doing a few last finishing edits:

    Michael Moore’s “Trumpland” beat him to it (released this past Wednesday), but I understand now that Trumpland isn’t actually about Trump. Anyway, he better finish quick if it’s to have much relevance.

  39. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. October 2016 at 21:49

    Scott, I think you can put this one to use immediately (e.g. against me):

    How to Argue with Assholes

    He’s one of my new favorites. Here he critiques Steven Crowder’s attempt at scientific commentary. Something about his presentation really appeals to my inner (((global elitist))).

  40. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    21. October 2016 at 23:42

    I did it! I showed up Aaronson for the fraud that he is, pointing out his reply post classification system is wrong, and in response to my blog post, which I used the harmless Yiddish epithet “smuck” (not directed to him, since he has a thin skin), he banned me. Oh, no! Another site I’m proud to be banned from; I guess Scott Sumner is right, I am the evilest villain on the internet? And you can read me right here, my little home (for now).

    Scott [Aaronson] Says:
    Comment #102 October 21st, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Ray #94: Banned from this blog, for resorting to gutter forms of disagreement (no matter what classification system you use).

  41. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    22. October 2016 at 04:59


    Even if inclined to care what a stranger thinks about me, you’ve demonstrated I shouldn’t in your case. Hitler invaded the rest of continental Europe. Does the fact that many supported it as being in the German interest make it okay? That means the Nazis and those who supported them were good people? If you read Hitler’s writings, the holocaust was also believed to be in the national interest.

    After World War 2, there was trendous regret and shame experienced by the Japanese and German people. Japan became a very pacifist country, obviously for several decades after the fact, with Germany willing to be under the thumbs of the US and NATO.

    If a convincing defeat isn’t enough to tame these Trump animals, and there’s no reason to believe it will be, then the most serious social, financial, and political consequences must be brought to bear. They won’t be bombed out and occupied like the Axis monsters.

    Scott Sumner may be satisfied only drawing his personal limit of tolerance at those who support outright murder, but my line is meant to fight a much smaller, yet vicious battle today to avoid a much larger and more vicious one tomorrow, and one in which victory is less certain.

    So judge and reject me all you want, but it would be hypocritical, since I think my gut reaction also serves the country and the world best. Shame evolved for a reason, and since my intentions are good, you can’t be reject me and be consistent. You can only be a bystander, cheering both sides for doing what each think is right.

  42. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    22. October 2016 at 05:13

    I should also point out that Trump did call for the murder of terror suspects’ families, which means Scott isn’t even being consistent with his criteria for personally rejecting people.

    I guess I’m old fashioned in that I think fascists and communists should be shamed and shunned. My attitude is a holdover from that decades-long post-war era, which represented the longest era of relative peace on the European continent. I would argue that attitudes like mine were a large part of the reason for it.

    If logic and fairness alone were enough to govern human socieites, shame would have no social currency.

  43. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    22. October 2016 at 05:19

    How did Ray Lopez figure out he was riding a male camel in circles around the Parthenon?

    Ray: “Everybody kept pointing at me, and exclaiming, ‘Look at that schmuck on the camel!'”

  44. Gravatar of BC BC
    22. October 2016 at 07:46

    The calls to shun Peter Thiel reminds me of the firing of the Mozilla CEO a few years ago because he had earlier supported a California ballot proposal against same-sex marriage, a proposal that *actually passed*, i.e., represented the majority view at the time. As far as I know, there were never any accusations that the CEO had ever discriminated against any person for being gay.

    The pro-PC crowd seems to not understand the role of reciprocity in avoiding political persecution. Many conservatives view abortion as murder, so does that mean that, if a firm has a lot of pro-life board members, they should fire and remove pro-choice managers and board members for supporting murder? Similarly, should firms remove board members that support anti-gun Democrats on the basis that such support erodes fundamental rights of self-defense? How about firing employees that support Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders because such support erodes economic freedom and property rights?

    Now, many of the pro-PC crowd will insist that these cases aren’t the same because being pro-choice, anti-gun, and pro-Sanders are not objectionable in the same way that being pro-Trump is objectionable. But, that misses the crucial point: escaping political persecution has *nothing* to do with the righteousness of one’s own political views, especially one’s own assessment of that righteousness. Authoritarians routinely oppress the righteous. Avoiding persecution depends almost entirely on the tolerance and self-restraint of one’s political *opponents*. Persecuting those on the right for their political views is not likely to engender in them tolerance and self-restraint against political persecution of those on the left. The pro-PC crowd doesn’t seem to understand how dependent their own political freedom is on the continuation of such tolerance and self-restraint.

  45. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    22. October 2016 at 08:33


    You’re way off. General tolerance, merely for its own sake or merely to avoid public conflict in certain contexts is surrender or appeasment. Our goal, as liberals, should be to push our own agenda at the expense of all others. It’s okay to compromise on some things, but certainly not on all.

    PCism should be pushed to maintain a free, civilized society as we see it. It’s about tolerance as it matters to us, not to others. The mistake too many liberals have made is in believing opponents to our conceptions of civilization deserve tolerance. They don’t. We shoul only be concerned with defeating them.

  46. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. October 2016 at 09:08

    Lorenzo, You said:

    “The classical liberal tradition is that your worth as a person gave you the freedom to express your opinions.

    The underlying PC principle is that your opinions set your worth as a person, which is, of course, exactly the same principle that Mao operated under, particularly during the Cultural Revolution.”

    Beautiful. Very well said!

    Scott, See Lorenzo’s comment above. I’d suggest you stop, as you are just making everyone else here lower their opinion of you. It’s fine to have those views in private, but why broadcast your narrow-mindedness?

    And you don’t have any problem with Hillary not knowing where Mosul is?

    Tom, Yes, there is right-wing PCism.

  47. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    23. October 2016 at 11:20


    Lorenzo’s point is nonsense. This is a strawman argument if ever there was one. No one here, especially me, have called for anything like a cultural revolution. I’m about as far from a Maoist as one will ever find and as I pointed out above, I have nothing to do personally with communists. I have no use for them.

    The question that matters to me is whether the consequences for Trumpistas pushing intolerance, sans much bottom-up disapprobation and shunning, will be enough to cut down on their political and open rhetorical support for candidates and policies that we agree are unacceptable.

    You want to be open and accepting to these sorts, fine. I’m not willing to take the risk that enough will otherwise happen to somehow change the trend of their rise favorably.

    I will ask you though, are you personally friends with a Trump supporter, or a communist, for that matter? Do you consider it a good use of your time to debate whether putting a wall on the southern border is a good idea, or to discuss the labor theory of value? I would guess you would more likely engage in such conversations than I would, as your continued exchanges with Trumpistas and Austrian kooks here demonstrate. I guess I just value my time a little more.

    Now, on the irony of your claiming opinions of me here are being lowered, I must wonder if you’re trying to troll. In effect, you’re trying to use the perception of disapprobation, and perhaps shunning, to oppose my viewpoint on the utility of shunning Trump supporters.

    On the other hand, since you asked again about my opinion of Hillary’s supposed error concerning her mention of Mosul, it would seem you’re not really reading my responses, so perhaps you’re not trolling at all. In that case, I’m certainly wasting my time discussing politics with you.

    On Hillary once more, more fleshed out, Mosul is not absolutely very close to the border with Syria, but it’s not that far, relatively, from the border either. And what is worse? Getting the relative location of Mosul somewhat wrong, or not knowing what Mosul even is? Gary Johnson didn’t even know what Allepo was.

    Much more importantly though, since I hope relevance is important to you, is that Gary Johnson, like Trump and Stein, gives no hint that he understands any of the major paradigms in international relations. He gives no hint of having a integrated strategy to pursue and protect US interests overseas. Hillary Clinton seems to be a just left-of-center neo-realist, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she weren’t familiar with that term. She has a legitimate theory of IR, even if she hasn’t formalized it.

    Once again, I don’t find Hillary Clinton particularly competent. I have little doubt we have many more qualified people to run our foreign policy, but Clinton is the only legitimate choice we have.

  48. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. October 2016 at 16:25

    Many of my friends have views that I find utterly appalling. Try talking to people in a college English department about politics sometime–you might be surprised by what you hear.

    And there are several highly intelligent commenters here who I’ve met in person, had great discussions with on economics, and who plan to vote for Trump.

    I don’t judge people by their politics. If I was in the Senate, I’d vote to approve a fascist or a communist for the Supreme Court as long as they were a highly talented judge. Their political views are of no concern to me, as long as it does not impact their work.

  49. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    23. October 2016 at 17:25


    Okay,that’s very interesting and very disturbing at the same time. I hope you realize how unusual you are in that you would approve a fascist or communist for a Supreme Court spot. I certainly wouldn’t, and I doubt most would.

    I find it highly unlikely that most fascists and communists could prevent their ideologies from bleeding into their interpretations of constitution and law.

  50. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    23. October 2016 at 17:39

    I can also offer that my view, more fully revealed, will doubtlessly disgust you further. I think most people are sheep that need good shepherds. That’s the kindest way I can put it.

    Humans evolved to optimize inclusive fitness in circumstances quite different from those often found in the modern world. Our ancestors foraged and hunted in much more dangerous environments with much more scarcity, and more tribal competition. The more apparent the scarcity, the more fierce certain competition and cooperation becomes. Perceptions of genetic commonality and common interests in general grow in importance.

    Hence, I think that in slow economic growth environments like we have in most of the developed world today, there is likely to be more tribalism.

    But, it is also a fact that our species is naturally hierarchical, and the right leaders can lead most to do their bidding a rather large percentage of the time. I can refer simply to experiments such as the Milgram shock studies and related ones, or broad historical examples.

    In a country such as ours, I think that, apart from mistakes that have slowed our economic growth, Obama and other Democrats haven’t understood the need for the perception of having strong leadership at the top. That needn’t mean a stronger executive, but at least a manner of speaking and action that conveys clarity, strength, and determination. It also requires constant salesmanship, and Obama has refused to run a perpetual campaign as President.

    I think that in addition to this, again, bottom-up social pressure is an important guardrail in times like these. I think that once certain levels of indecency are tolerated, there is significant risk of further deterioration of civil life.

    I may disgust you, but I would appreciate it if at least in your disagreement you not make comments trivializing thoughts such as mine, as if there isn’t at least some thought behind them, however wrong they may be.

  51. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. October 2016 at 08:54

    Scott, You said, “Okay,that’s very interesting and very disturbing at the same time. I hope you realize how unusual you are in that you would approve a fascist or communist for a Supreme Court spot.”


  52. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    24. October 2016 at 14:03

    Scott: Thank you.

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