Richard T. Ely, Alt-Right Founder of the American Economic Association

by on December 8, 2016 at 7:25 am in Economics, History, Political Science | Permalink

In When Economics was Radical Marshall Steinbaum and Bernard Weisberger lament that the American Economic Association is no longer a radical, progressive force.

The AEA had been conceived as an upstart challenge to classical economic orthodoxy. Its founding platform stated, “We regard the state as an educational and ethical agency whose positive aid is an indispensable condition of human progress”

..But the AEA’s radicalism would be smothered soon after its birth…[and it] retreated to the safer ground of nonpartisan neutrality as the hallmark of professionalism. That move away from radicalism ensured that some of the most controversial questions in the field would never be answered convincingly, at least not by economists.

Steinbaum and Weisberger are correct about the AEA’s founding but they do the readers of the Chronicle of Higher Education a disservice* by not revealing that Ely’s “radicalism” consisted of socialism with a capitalist veneer, racism, and eugenics. Ely, of course, wanted more government ownership of the commanding heights, more regulation of economic life and more militarism and service to the state. Ely didn’t just reject laissez-faire in economics he rejected laissez-faire in all areas of social life.

For example, after explaining why the benevolence of modern society might lead to a decline in the fitness of the race, he argued, don’t worry, we have a solution:

….the regulation of marriage, which is proposed, and which is being pushed forward by physicians and thoughtful people, — by people who are the farthest removed from any possible designation as cranks, — looks beyond the prevention of the marriage of paupers and feeble-minded.

He then approvingly quotes an Indiana state Senator describing proposed eugenics legislation:

“The Commission should provide for physical examination of all desiring to marry. This would include their racial tendencies, moral, mental, and physical condition, whether they are of sound mind, free from chronic deadly diseases, and not moral degenerates. If the several governments would devote a little attention to this subject for a few years, two generations would see a different people on this earth. It is a radical but sound idea.”

Radical indeed.

Summarizing Ely says:

The problem is to keep the most unfit from reproduction, and to encourage the reproduction of those who are really the superior members of society.

You won’t be surprised to learn that Ely had clear ideas of who was fit and who unfit:

…there are classes in every modern community composed of those who are virtually children, and who require paternal and fostering care, the aim of which should be the highest development of which they are capable. We may instance the negroes, who are for the most part grownup children, and should be treated as such.

racetraitsMoreover, this was not a side issue to the founding of the AEA; this was exactly the radicalism that Ely’s AEA promoted. One early and influential publication of the AEA, for example, was Frederick Hoffman’s Race Traits of the American Negro which after presenting reams of statistics (Hoffman was later a president of the American Statistical Society) concluded with these recommendations:

…Intercourse with the white race must absolutely cease and race purity must be insisted upon in marriage as well as outside of it. Together with a higher morality will come a greater degree of economic efficiency, and the predominating trait of the white race, the virtue of thrift, will follow as a natural consequence of the mastery by the colored race of its own conditions of life.

…All the facts brought together in this work prove that the colored population is gradually parting with the virtues and the moderate degree of economic efficiency developed under the regime of slavery. All the facts prove that a low standard of sexual morality is the main and underlying cause of the low and anti-social condition of the race at the present time. All the facts prove that education, philanthropy and religion have failed to develop a higher appreciation of the stern and uncompromising virtues of the Aryan race. The conclusion is warranted that it is merely a question of time when the actual downward course, that is, a decrease in the population, will take place. In the meantime, however, the presence of the colored population is a serious hindrance to the economic progress of the white race.

It wasn’t just blacks, of course, who were hindering the white race but also immigrants. Here, quoting Thomas Leonard’s excellent book Illiberal Reformers:

The fullest unfolding of our national faculties, Ely asserted, required “the exclusion of discordant elements–like, for example, the Chinese.” Ely assumed that a unified American nation required racial homogeneity. As for South Asians, Ely proposed that famine-relief efforts in India should be suspended. Why not, Ely ventured, “let the famine continue for the sake of race improvement?”

(You can find more quotes of this kind in a paper by Thies and Daza in Econ Journal Watch and here is Russ Roberts interviewing Thomas Leonard about Illiberal Reformers and here is Tyler on Illiberal Reformers.)

If Ely was a progressive fascist and I said “but he beat his wife” that would not discredit progressive fascism. The point, however, is that the very factors that Steinbaum and Weisberger praise, the radicalism of the early AEA and Ely’s reject of laissez-faire, are precisely the factors that led Ely to support industrial policy, racism and eugenics. To Ely property was a bundle of rights and no stick in that bundle was inherently more valuable than the others. If it’s ok to take a person’s property then it’s ok to take a person’s property full stop whether that be physical goods, the right to procreate, the right to associate, the right to speak and so forth.

Ely was clear that industrial policy is human capital policy (perhaps even truer today than in Ely’s time) and he stated the connection between the two types of regulation, writing:

We have our census of farm animals, we have our soils surveys. Is it not of the highest importance that we should have constantly going on a survey of our human resources ? We then shall learn to know what kind of human beings we have as citizens and potential citizens. We shall then know where defects exist and we shall learn how to apply suitable remedies.

…heredity is a force which sets limits to all our activities, and which, if entirely neglected, leads to decay and ruin in the nation. We have got far enough to recognize that there are certain human beings who are absolutely unfit and who should be prevented from a continuation of their kind. We do know it is important that a superior stock should not be swallowed up and lost by a more rapid increase of the inferior stock.

Ely’s views are perhaps most closely aligned today with the so-called alt-right. It’s not a connection that the AEA should be pleased to acknowledge, let alone repeat.

* Steinbaum and Weisberger do discuss some of Ely’s “exclusionary and retrograde views” in another article.

1 Thiago Ribeiro December 8, 2016 at 7:31 am

So what if the Holocaust will be seen is a mere bump in Eugenics’ road?

2 Gabe Harris December 8, 2016 at 9:35 am

I am thankful to learn of this today. I hope others will look in Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger…very similar views….they almost seem like a married couple.

3 Jacob December 8, 2016 at 10:07 am

Do recognize that just like the American Economic Association today is not an endorsement of Ely’s views, neither is Planned Parenthood an endorsement of Sanger.

4 Thiago Ribeiro December 8, 2016 at 10:11 am

Yep, she even opposed throwing people at jail for teaching about counterconception, this seems to be her great sin. I doubt the rest bother Americans if we take in account America’s Mainstream Right affair with racism and now the guys who heil Mr. Trump.

5 JC December 9, 2016 at 2:58 am

I’m sure present day PP does not mimics its original path but their genesis was extremely troubling. When I see the list of “smart” people who supported the Euginics cause in the past I feel a mix of amazement and disgust, from Galton to Keynes.

6 prior_test2 December 8, 2016 at 9:48 am

Come now, let’s have Prof. Cowen’s version – ‘Eugenics was a very popular idea with Progressives earlier in the twentieth century, and also with economists (in particular, pdf), and ultimately the Nazi connection will be seen as a bump in the road.’

Though Prof. Cowen’s version does sound like he would appreciate a return to the virtues of that era, when things like the actual planned extermination of millions had yet to occur, and seemingly expects, in the fullness of time, that eugenics will again take its intellectual place among all those ideas clamoring to finally get their chance to take their own steps to make the world a much better place.

7 Cliff December 8, 2016 at 9:55 am

So your point is that designer babies are as bad as the Holocaust?

8 msgkings December 8, 2016 at 12:31 pm

No, his point is the same as in all his other posts. He is madly in love with Tyler Cowen, and eternally strives to get his attention.

9 Curt Doolittle December 9, 2016 at 7:21 am

The cosmopolitan movement was in no small part an anti- Darwinian pseudoscience. (Boaz/Marx/Freud).

Whatever civilisation advances eugenics will force the rest. Right now the technological leader is China, and the social leader is Japan ( maybe the Finns ).

As a suggestion for reflection: isn’t eugenics a good? Perhaps the highest good? But it’s an uncomfortable good. Conversely isn’t mainstream econ dysgenic?

In other words doesn’t the academy practice pseudoscience in pursuit of markets ?

Either we state the truth and by doing so force compromise, or we continue social pseudoscience and justify authoritarian decisions one way or the other.

10 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 8:04 am

The American Progressive, Ely, is describing a managerial, fascist State that few people alive believe in, other than those who think the secular State can legislate equality of outcomes into existence.

If you’re looking for someone who was Alt-Right before there was the Alt-Right, I would say Lee Kuan Yew.

11 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 9:17 am

You mean the guy who mandated that all communities must have exposure to all other elements of society by managing living slots of ethnic identity at the city block level?

The fact of preferring social integration rather than racial segregation is not trivial.

12 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 9:35 am

Lee Kuan Yew understood that multiculturalism can work, with an authoritarian government that keeps one tribe on top of the pyramid; in Singapore’s case, the Han. He also famously told Charlie Rose that America’s strength did not come from importing fruit pickers.

13 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:07 am

Canada’s one of the least authoritarian places in the world, and problems with multiculturalism, if any, do not tend to originate with the newcomers (refugees from war zones excluded – it is true, some tiny minority of this groups brings anger with them from the war they fled and get into some fights).

14 John December 8, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Yeah, we all know about the great Canada of Nathan the cucked scum.
Incidentally, I hoped that you would kill itself, thus supporting the goals of eugenics, after Trump won, but to my regret you are still alive.

15 msgkings December 8, 2016 at 12:33 pm

John, why wait for him to do that, don’t you have a 2nd Amendment solution you can implement yourself?

16 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:31 pm

I’m pretty sure the second amendment is for opposing tyranny and not for committing murder in the normal course of things. Nor does it serve as cover for issuing death threats, regardless of how specific the innuendo is, people aren’t dumb.

17 Careless December 8, 2016 at 11:37 pm

don’t you have a 2nd Amendment solution you can implement yourself?

Not in Canada, he doesn’t

18 Anon. December 8, 2016 at 11:11 am

It should also be noted that the difference between the Han and the Malays/Indians is not _that_ big. The gap between the Han and African-Americans on the other hand is enormous.

19 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:39 am

You would know, based on all zero conversations you’ve had with any such people which extended beyond more than a few seconds or enough to order some Chinese takeout.

20 Ricardo December 8, 2016 at 11:43 am

Can you explain what you mean? The standard of living gap between Singapore and Malaysia is about the same as that between the U.S. and Mexico. If you mean to say that some people around here overemphasize “IQ” and genetics in seeking to explain differences in GDP per capita between countries, I would agree.

21 Bob December 8, 2016 at 1:35 pm

The standard of living gap between the US and Mexico is also smaller than that between the US and Haiti or other sub-Saharan African ancestry dominant countries in general.

22 too hot for MR December 8, 2016 at 2:28 pm

What is this “IQ” Ricardo speaks of? Is there a “science” around it? Or a “comprehensive literature”? Is it even “real”?

23 Peldrigal December 9, 2016 at 11:12 am

You are aware that Lee Kuan Yew, and much of the malaysian chinese mercantile class, was not Han, right?
Do not use “Han” as a fancy way to say “Chinese”.

24 chuck martel December 8, 2016 at 8:10 am

Columbia University, Hobart, Johns Hopkins, Wisconsin, Northwestern. All places that seemed to at least tolerate if not accept Ely’s ideas.

25 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 8:24 am

Eugenics, for example.

We’re all gimlet-eyed, coolly rational economists here, right? There’s a market for human sperm. For what traits does that market select, and de-select?

26 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 9:21 am

Economics. Meet politics and the law.

27 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 9:39 am

Sperm banks aren’t illegal, and they are economically viable because when it comes to reproduction, not just any sperm will do.

Also, more women will be willing to have your babies if you’re tall, intelligent, physically fit or some varying combinations of these qualities.

28 Thiago Ribeiro December 8, 2016 at 10:13 am

Or (at least in a money-obsessed society like the USA) rich.

29 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:10 am

I’m just saying that there are limitations on this logic.

The fact that someone might think they can get ahead in some particular way does not imply that society as a whole will deem it in our best interests to allow that activity.

For example, perhaps I might get ahead by harassing colleagues, neighbours and friends into submission on some number of issues – perhaps until they just give me free stuff or go out into the neighbourhood and brainwash people in whatever way will get more people to do whatever I want – to avoid my calculated harassment.

So … that’s an example of some way that someone might think they’d get ahead, but where obviously society requires development of powerful sanctions against such activity so we can do something useful instead of wasting so much time dealing with crap.

30 msgkings December 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Thiago, rich dude pull plenty of Brazilian ass too. Giselle was never going to marry an auto mechanic.

31 msgkings December 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Thiago, rich dudes pull plenty of Brazilian ass too. Giselle was never going to marry an auto mechanic.

32 Thiago Ribeiro December 8, 2016 at 1:10 pm

This is assortative mating. Famous people usually marry famous people. The Queen of England married a Prince of the United Kingdom, Saint Mary married Saint Joseph. Mr Trump married Mrss (!) Ivana e Melania. Prince Charles married Lady Di,, the Emperor of Brazil married the daughter of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, etc.
It has nothing to do with money or beauty. My grandmother, if the old photos are anything to go by, was very beautiful, but he married my grandfather, who was very poor.

33 Thiago Ribeiro December 8, 2016 at 1:14 pm

* she
The keyboard is defective.

34 DevOps Dad December 8, 2016 at 11:03 am

Why impose eugenics from above when fruit pickers will be clamoring, cash in hand, for biologists to impose genetic modification on themselves?

Here is a funny, imaginative, colorful, and thought provoking animation by Kurzgesagt on CRISPR that is designed for the young.

Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR

35 dave December 8, 2016 at 9:36 am

please explain, Chuck. Why do you say this?

36 Cliff Asness December 8, 2016 at 8:44 am

Btw, as a separate point, if we’re supposed to honor the intent of the founders (often the founding BENEFACTORS) of all institutions consistently through time, may we please have most of them back from the left now?

37 Sam the Sham December 8, 2016 at 8:52 am

I’m not sure I see a wide a gap between the progressives and the alt-right. The progressives have been feasting off of identity politics for the past 100 years, and it seems somewhat recently (the last 20-30 years or so) they’ve denied the expression of white identity politics. The racially motivated alt-right is just re-assembling of the ideology, and in hindsight, completely unavoidable.

And… it’s absurd to claim that all alt-right is racially motivated. I feel like anyone 100 feet within a radio mike or camera should learn some basics about what they’re talking about. Any very loose-knit organization with no formal power or hierarchy is inherently hard to define. See feminism, for example. Not all feminists are man-haters, but it’s impossible to deny they exist in the ranks. I might perhaps qualify as alt-right simply because I’m not ashamed (nor proud) to be white, and I do think that western civilization is largely superior to, well, most alternatives. But then, I don’t think that believing America, the Enlightenment, and democracy to all be largely good things should be an edgy position.

38 anon December 8, 2016 at 9:00 am

The point of the alt-right is to bind skin color and culture, not to see the loose association.

39 anon December 8, 2016 at 9:06 am

In other words, if you think that nonwhite people can fully embrace and enrich western civilization, you aren’t alt-right after all.

40 Sam the Sham December 8, 2016 at 9:43 am

I do believe that skin color is largely just skin color. Some traits are hereditary, sure, but institutions and culture and incentives matter a lot more… I believe in free will, which puts me at odds with the genetic determinists.

The point I’m trying to make is that *YOU* are trying to define the alt-right to have a more rigid definition than it really can have, at least currently. There are no gatekeepers or tests that I’m aware of. The most common denominator I’ve seen, personally, is a revulsion of political correctness, which I also abhor. United behind that front are both racists, the race-conscious (not the same as racist), and champions of the first amendment. And, well, red tribers that feel rightfully betrayed by their political leaders who are jumping on any handy bandwagon.

I believe that men and women should be equal under the law. Does that make me a feminist? I hope not! This is a categorization issue, made worse by the lack of hierarchy and institutional power. It’s easy to define a Catholic or Methodist, an American or Mexican, and Republican and Democrat. Not so with amorphous movements.

41 anon December 8, 2016 at 9:53 am


What happened was there were some real alt-right types, and many others were hornswaggled. They saw the left react and said “if the left is against it, I must be for it.”

The only problem is that “it” really is genuine old time racism.

42 Sam the Sham December 8, 2016 at 10:13 am

If you are really playing this game, then feminism died about 20 years ago. There were once some real feminists, but it got dominated by female supremacists, and shamed and purged the ranks of those who believe in equality under the law.

I’m not saying your approach is necessarily wrong, but when you apply a no-true-scotsman taxonomy, you’re opening yourself up to having to address 7 billion different political movements. I would open the definitions up a little. I can believe in a 4 billion year old Earth and still be a Christian because I believe the Nicene Creed. I can believe that anti-trust government intervention is justified and still be a libertarian, because I think that the market should be the first approach, but is not the only tool in the toolkit.

As much as I applaud the left’s tactic of trying to define their opposition, the reality is that it is in its infancy, fluid, and has had a surge of members recently. The surge of membership alone is enough to shift what the ‘platform’ really is. It could morph into an anti-PC platform. It could morph into purely pro-white partisanship. It could morph into all and none of these things, but the only thing they’ve really stood for that makes a difference in the public sphere is DJT… which is also an amorphous blob.

And again, cute tactic. I could dub “left-leaning anonymous internet commenting” to be Anonism, which is “pure communist totalitarian holocaust-denial”, but that don’t make it so. Even if I get a couple of my buddies at the NYTimes and NPR to go along with it.

43 anon December 8, 2016 at 11:14 am

Who is playing? I gave you a link below. Which side are you on?

44 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:42 am

Sam – I prefer not to let extremists speak for rational people.

45 Sam the Sham December 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Nate: As do I. That’s why I’m doing this #NotAllFeminists and #NotAllAltRight. Some people – racists, most likely – are too eager to lump people into ‘baskets’ that have rigid boundaries, and they should stop it. It’s deplorable. In all seriousness, categorization is a tricky thing. I would be willing to answer a lengthy questionnaire if you wish to categorize me, because perhaps I only hold to 33% of what libertarians confess, but perhaps that is the core 33%, and the remaining 2/3 is minutia. Categories are short-hand. Stereotypes, if you wish, but must always be adjusted for the individual.

Anon, I’m still struggling to come up with a suitable example. I believe this is called begging the question – assuming that the alt-right is racist, is the alt-right racist? Yes. But while I’m surprised by the amount of racism I’ve encountered this election season (a fair amount of it on the left!), ‘racist’ has not been a predominant quality of the self-professed alt-righters I’ve met. Maybe they mis-identified, but regardless, when you have a large number of people mis-self-identify, they succeed in taking over the movement and changing what the movement actually is.

How about this? I believe in freedom and honesty. Anon, you are an opponent of mine, therefore you must be pro-slavery and pro-deception. Isn’t that ridiculous? Just because you fancy yourself anti-racists does not by definition make your opposition pro-racist.

46 anon December 8, 2016 at 9:55 am
47 Brandon Eich (nr( December 8, 2016 at 4:42 pm

C’mon, really? Bad pattern awareness

48 anon December 9, 2016 at 7:05 am

No, that is the origins.

And I note that not one of you can say you are against it.

Because you think that is for “the other side?”

49 Careless December 8, 2016 at 11:53 pm

I believe that men and women should be equal under the law. Does that make me a feminist? I hope not!

Yes, that makes you a first-wave feminist.

50 Adam December 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm

So, the alt right isnt the alt right?

51 anon December 8, 2016 at 9:12 am

Here is a bit from Breitbart to illustrate that:

“The alt-right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race. The alt-right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved. A Mosque next to an English street full of houses bearing the flag of St. George, according to alt-righters, is neither an English street nor a Muslim street — separation is necessary for distinctiveness.”

52 A Black Man December 8, 2016 at 9:30 am

“The alt-right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race. The alt-right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved.”

They sound like every African-American studies professor. Culture and race are intertwined. Probably better to say culture and ethnicity are intertwined. East Africans and West Africans are both black, but different ethnically and culturally. Very different.

53 anon December 8, 2016 at 9:34 am

If east and west Africans are very different, culture is not inseparable after all.

I suspect you would say your culture is western, but yes race is something western culture still grapples with. To become better, more inclusive, we hope.

54 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

Why is this the unique burden of Western culture? Do you think Jewish culture or the numerous Asian cultures wring their hands over this?

There is a frankly “Western” conceit, that Western culture is purely universalist ideas, and not actually a unique product of Western peoples. Hence the crazed Western obsession with reforming the whole planet to make everywhere look like Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

55 anon December 8, 2016 at 9:50 am

Prepare yourself for some culture shock ..

I have been to a Jewish Temple, with some Asian people in my party, this past week. It worked out fine. The culture that is The Valley.

I would consider all that part of western culture, as now conceived, in the great cities. I suspect there is a divide, along the axis of population density, and that many Americans don’t even know how we are living.

56 Cliff December 8, 2016 at 9:59 am

His point was not that you could not go to a Jewish temple or visit an Asian country

57 anon December 8, 2016 at 10:03 am

I really hope he was trying for a better point than that, Cliff.

I already live in, well both OC and LA. A lot of happy productive variations on the Western theme in a 60 mile span.

58 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 10:20 am

My point was that Asian cultures (Korean, Han, Japanese, etc.) and Jewish cultures do not wring their hands over “inclusiveness.” You’re either a member of the Jewish nation, or you’re not, just like you’re a member of the Korean, Han or Japanese nations, or you’re not.

Only Westerners, with the imperialist conceit that inside everybody is an Occidental liberal just waiting to get out, want to sweep everybody into the soft, cuddly embrace of Western culture. It’s a destructive impulse.

59 anon December 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

Does Western civilization include Rock and Roll?

60 A Black Man December 8, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Your reading skills are not very good. East Africans are different ethnically and culturally. This is plainly obvious to everyone, except you for some reason.

61 albatross December 8, 2016 at 1:47 pm

One reason why this is a Western preoccupation is the experience of the US, UK, France, and other Western countries, in which we had a lot of people from different races, religions, cultures, etc., immigrate to our countries, and wanted to figure out how to make the resulting mix work out.

62 Hazel Meade December 8, 2016 at 4:58 pm

It is amazing the lengths to which alt-right types will go to rationalize the whole “we have to keep Hispanics out to save America from the menace of cultural miscegenation” theme. I wish they would just be honest and admit that they’re afraid the Mexicans are going to take their jobs (or their friends jobs or their brother’s jobs). It would be far less racist.

63 Glottoligist December 8, 2016 at 5:02 pm

Bantu West Africans and Cushite East Africans and San and Pygmy and Berber would never consider themselves the same ethnicity, but I guess they live in Africa so they are to you.

You learn when you listen, not when you lecture.

64 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Hazel – Because Hispanics make lousy governors and ignorant citizens. Their societies lurch between crude fascism and incompetent bolshevism. Chile seems exceptional. Maybe immigrants from chaotic Central America should move there? I wonder how many Chile would let in.

65 anon December 9, 2016 at 7:24 am

Few people want to encores “To become better, more inclusive, we hope.”

Perhaps they fear they would be signalling some virtue.

66 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:43 am

As though the very fact of one’s neighbours identity is an attack on one’s own.

67 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 10:27 am

” it’s absurd to claim that all alt-right is racially motivated…”

Only if you’re brainwashed.

68 Sam the Sham December 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm

All right then, all feminists hate men. All democrats abort babies. All Muslims abstain from alcohol. This is a retarded game, Nate.

69 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Then why call it “alt right”?

If it’s just “right wing”, then just call it “right wing”. If it’s staunchly so, then call it staunchly so.

“Alt right” has much more to do with racism than anything identifiably “right wing”. If some handful of others have fallen under this label in the meantime, it does not change the underlying reality.

70 Sam the Sham December 8, 2016 at 10:57 pm

Because a substantial portion of the republican base absolutely loathes the republican leadership. As evidence, look at the election of Trump, which again is the only way the alt-right has influenced with the public. Look at how alt-righters call Mittens Romney et al ‘cuckservatives’. It’s a similar revolt you saw with the Bernie supporters. There’s no reason to insist it’s *about* racism, but there are racist elements. A lot of blue tribe people get confused and assume more than actually exists whenever someone stops using their speech codes.

71 Thomas December 8, 2016 at 11:16 am

The alt right and the Progressive Movement are both consequentialist. The fundamental difference is not beliefs about supremacy, both progressives and the alt-right believe in their members supremacy, but about the nature of that supremacy. Influential progressives may be more diverse on average then the American people but they are uniformly well-heeled and high IQ. They perceive a supremacy that ignores national, regional, and cultural boundaries. They have escaped from the doldrums of their upbringing to The Cosmopolitan dreams of their adulthood and they have nothing more than a seething hatred for those who look like them but have a lesser inheritance. They ensconced themselves behind socioeconomic moats, and invited the best and brightest from around the world to come and share the feast that exists solely due to the deplorable Americans of generations past.

The alt right is nothing more then the grandsons reclaiming the property of their grandfathers from the weak wristed, parasitic, Brooklyn set, that has, pathologically, set the legal system against their lessers who are their cousins.

Today I will go help my sister who has a broken leg, and that is the antithesis of the progressive supremacy belief system which would instead craft rules to seize her wealth in a contrived Market and offer to share it with the neighbors across town given they support my Supremacy to my sister.

72 Hazel Meade December 8, 2016 at 2:38 pm

he racially motivated alt-right is just re-assembling of the ideology, and in hindsight, completely unavoidable.

And… it’s absurd to claim that all alt-right is racially motivated.

*Ahem* Pick one.

73 Sam the Sham December 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Sorry, poorly worded. I meant that as a branch of the alt-right, not a definition thereof. As in, ‘A progressive democrat’ to distinguish from a ‘centrist democrat’. ‘Racially-motivated alt-right’ as opposed to the ‘free speech alt right’.

74 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:40 pm

What does the “free speech alt right” want other than to express racist views and never be called a spade?

Are there other matters of free speech they wish to fight for?

What about free speech and journalism, say … the right to criticize the president? Because some people in that camp do things like issue death threats to those who criticize the president, and the president himself wants to make it easier to sue people who criticize him.

Please do. Convince me that any identifiable “alt right” anything wants free speech for any purpose other than to Make America Whiter Again, primarily by virtue of concerns originating from supremacist ideology and/or brainwashing.

75 Sam The Sham December 9, 2016 at 7:29 am

Easy. I’m alt right (no gatekeeper to say I’m not), and think that comedy was better in the days that racial jokes weren’t taboo. Like people weren’t walking around with a stick up their asses and felt comfortable poking fun at each other. Now, Nate, am I a racist for thinking race relations were better then for partially that reason, or are you too hasty in your pre-judging people?

76 Hazel Meade December 9, 2016 at 11:33 am

comedy was better in the days that racial jokes weren’t taboo

Really? Why don’t you ask some black people how they feel about that?
Do any (more than 1 or 2) black people think comedy was better when racial jokes weren’t taboo?

And what exactly made it taboo other than the speech of other people?
What’s stopping comedians from making racist jokes right now? Besides the fact that they are (a)pussies who can’t take criticism or (b) have realized that racial jokes aren’t really that funny?

77 msgkings December 9, 2016 at 11:47 am

@Sam and Hazel: comedy is a great way to examine racial questions. It’s fair to say that black comedians are allowed to ‘attack’ whites in their comedy, but the reverse isn’t true. The reason a white guy making jokes about black stereotypes isn’t that funny (anymore) is because it’s “punching down”. No matter how you slice it, black people are a minority group and one with a lot of negative outcomes relative to whites. Most whites can laugh along with black comedians making jokes about them, because they are more secure in this country with their status. The better black comedians avoid this stuff though, simple “white people can’t dance” jokes and so on are nowhere to be found in the comedy of Donald Glover, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle, Key & Peele, etc. If anything they do racial humor ‘aimed’ as much at their own group as whites.

So what has changed? Blazing Saddles is an all time classic comedy, still hilarious, with a ton of racial humor. But it isn’t “punching down” or clichéd anti-white or anti-black humor. The humor comes from making fun of racists and racist views not the races themselves. It was made in 1974, Sam probably wishes movies could still be made like that. But they are today. The goal shouldn’t be to go back to when it was ok to make watermelon jokes. It’s to remember the spirit of Blazing Saddles. And I would argue that’s still very much alive in the comedy of the people listed above.

78 Sam The Sham December 9, 2016 at 11:50 am

Done. Those I’m friends with agree. I can’t believe I have to keep explaining this, but black people are not a monolithic group. Nor are feminists. Nor is the alt right. Next up you may be surprised how not all black people support BLM!

You know as well as I do why comedians are getting more cautious in terms of content and venue. Political correctness is supposed to create an environment of fear and self censorship, and it works. You don’t like Mel Brooks? Don’t watch him. I don’t care for Amy Schumer but I’m not protesting against her.

79 Sam The Sham December 9, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Msgkings: I’m not as savvy with film, I’m sure such films continue to be made. But there is a vast disconnect with what gets critically acclaimed and what people actually want… and for the film-illiterate like me, we mostly see what gets buzz. Check out Rotten Tomatoes critic vs audience reviews on, for example Arrow Season 3.

I see this culture infiltrating games, particularly with AAA titles that are risk-averse. That’s fine, but you don’t get great works by playing it safe. There’s responsibility on both ends of being offensive. The offender shouldn’t try to be cruel, but the offended need to realize the world does not cater to them.

80 Sam The Sham December 9, 2016 at 12:16 pm

As another example of the disconnect between PC and humor, look at Cards Against Humanity. It contains 6.4 Donald Trumps of racism, but was released by blue tribers and gives reds and blues a chance to laugh and relax together. I’m not a fan of the game (it tries too hard), but it shows a lot of PC is just social pretense, a glamour to don in public.

81 Hazel Meade December 9, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Ok, I’m not going to disagree on either point. I love Blazing Saddles. And PC does go to far when it attempts to prohibit even *mentioning* race, even when the intent is to mock racism, because some people are too dumb to understand satire.

I’m thinking humor is better without all the cliched racial stereotypes of chinamen with bad accents and black gangbangers. And I’m sure you could find some “alt-right” types who wish they still could tell those kinds of racial jokes.

82 Sam The Sham December 9, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Not only could you get alt-righters that want the stereotypical jokes allowable again, but you could find some who enjoy the stereotypical jokes, and also find some who believe the jokes, and those are three very different people. There’s a spectrum. Racists totally exist, especially in the altright, but I’m just not convinced yet that it is a requirement for them. Unless you make it so by decree or definition. That’s what I’m trying to point out, they still have time to show their true colors.

Anyhoo, catch you in the next thread but we’re getting closer to being on the same page.

83 Just Saying December 8, 2016 at 8:56 am

You know, it’s almost as if sometime around Nixon’s presidency, the Right and Left completely swapped principles, and so now the right gets to look at its own past in the rear-view mirror and say “look how racist the Left is.”

84 Slocum December 8, 2016 at 9:52 am

Except, modern Progressives have been really slow to to early progressives like Ely (Wilson, Margaret Sanger, Oliver Wendell Holmes, FDR) out of their pantheon and — to my knowledge — none of them have been adopted as heroes by the Right. Nor have the basic underlying principles really changed. Progressives still believe in the beneficent power of a strong state guided by accredited experts and distrust the ability of ordinary people left to themselves to make ‘good decisions’.

85 Thomas Taylor December 8, 2016 at 10:20 am

‘Progressives still believe in the beneficent power of a strong state guided by accredited experts and distrust the ability of ordinary people left to themselves to make ‘good decisions.”
Yet, it is not Progresives whinning about no-fault divorce or praising the Comstock Act. And, of course, you just described Lee Kuan Yew, whose legendary callousnes made him an idol among the guys of the Alt-Right who can both read and write (therefore not many).

86 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 10:21 am

How many illiterate Alt-Right people have you ever met?

87 Thomas Taylor December 8, 2016 at 11:21 am

Unle they are pretending not being able to read, most.

88 Thomas December 8, 2016 at 11:32 am

The shitty Thomas believes that most whites are nazis and that nazis deserve to be killed. Yikes, what a psycho.

89 Thomas Taylor December 8, 2016 at 1:12 pm

No, I believe Nazis are Nazis and what they deserve, well, Nuremberg settled it nicely, I think.

90 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Where did you meet them? How do you know they were illiterate?

91 msgkings December 9, 2016 at 11:49 am

Charlie Day in “Always Sunny in Philadelphia”: “They said I was illiterate. Like, what does that even mean?”

92 Art Deco December 8, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Yet, it is not Progresives whinning about no-fault divorce or praising the Comstock Act.

Why would they? Allowing people to unilaterlly break a marriage contract for no reason is one of their objectives.

93 Thomas Taylor December 8, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Really? What does the contract demand? I hope it is not “to love, cherish, and to obey” because those terms are gloriously unenforceacle by any human power if he or she decides to break it, although I guess it is possible to keep the appearances.

94 Art Deco December 9, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Really? What does the contract demand?

That you remain married and cohabiting. This isn’t that difficult.

95 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 10:33 am

Which of those groups trusts people to make their own decisions if/when they receive public support for a time?

A nanny state which refuses to tell you what to spend your welfare cheque on?

A nanny state which gives out food stamps because it does not trust “ordinary people to make good decisions”?

There are arguments on both sides, but the point is that “progressives” are not the ones who demonstrate the desire to micromanage smalltime personal decisions on the part of “ordinary people” as a function of public policy these days. Unless you’re going to try to tell us that taking public services away from the working class and middle class to pay for tax breaks for billionaires is “trusting ordinary people to make decisions”.

96 The Anti-Gnostic December 8, 2016 at 10:42 am

Yes. Under progressivism, who you bake a cake for is entirely up to you.

97 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:13 am

No one’s forcing anyone to open up business to the public if they do not want to.

I like being able to walk into the nearest cafe and obtain a coffee. I do not want to live in a world where I must find a cafe with the appropriate marking before one will serve me.

So I defend extending that to others.

Of course, if you’re an ass, gtfo. Business can do that. Because you’re an ass, not because whatever else.

98 Thomas December 8, 2016 at 11:20 am

“No one is forcing you to accept food stamps”

Great argument, Nathan.

99 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:42 pm

It would be a great argument, maybe, if a) I had ever said it or b) it had anything to do with anything.

100 Slocum December 8, 2016 at 12:05 pm

“progressives” are not the ones who demonstrate the desire to micromanage smalltime personal decisions

Well, I disagree, but I’m glad to see you accept that such micromanagement is a bad thing. And I’m not going to argue that conservatives are consistently on the side of the angels either (if they were, they’d be libertarians rather than conservatives — which would be great, but I’m not holding my breath). I think you might be missing a lot of the progressive micromanagement, though, because it’s indirect. So the state doesn’t forbid you to buy a 32 oz soda, it simply forbids businesses from selling you one. It doesn’t forbid you from using plastic bags, it forbids the grocery store from giving them to you. Although sometime indirect methods aren’t feasible and Progressive officials are ‘forced’ to resort to rummaging through your trash.

101 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:48 am

Some people are hugely in favour of all sorts of state interventionism as long as it involves kicking people down.

Some other people are of the view that kicking people down is not a highly effective means of making them less of a pain in the butt. For example, after helping them to stand up, they are unlikely to punch you in the face, and might even help YOU to stand up if one day you might fall.

So, please support the kicking of downtrodden people as a means of asserting your moral superiority. So that they may kick you down and we kick them down in turn. That we may all be stronger as a result …

102 John December 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm

You may want to familiarize yourself with group selection, cucked moron.

103 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Exhibit A

104 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:44 pm

He said “group selection”, thereby providing PhD-level mastery of genetics and ecology principles, in addition to justifying … pretty much anything. Genocide? Eugenics? WhatEVERRRR. He said “group selection” so I’m stupid and Nazis can do whatever they want. And are also right.

105 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:46 pm

John is fighting for white people.

Except for white people who disagree with him.

It’s almost like he’s fighting for his own tyrannical view of the future, and doesn’t really care at all about white people.

106 John December 9, 2016 at 6:21 am

I care for the prevalence of the European phenotype in the overall gene pool of humanity.
White people whose existence and views lead to the decreasing of that prevalence should be exterminated.

107 John December 9, 2016 at 11:51 am


108 JWatts December 8, 2016 at 9:06 am

“Richard Theodore Ely (April 13, 1854 – October 4, 1943) was an American economist, author, and leader of the Progressive movement who called for more government intervention in order to reform what they perceived as the injustices of capitalism, especially regarding factory conditions, compulsory education, child labor, and labor unions. Ely is best remembered as a founder and the first Secretary of the American Economic Association, as a founder and secretary of the Christian Social Union, and as the author of a series of widely read books on the organized labor movement, socialism, and other social questions.”

That’s hardly a portrait of someone from the Alt-Right.

109 JWatts December 8, 2016 at 9:07 am

Also, it’s noteworthy that Ely was a critic of the “marginalist revolution” theory. 😉

110 Andrew_FL December 8, 2016 at 9:32 am

Most Progressives are completely unaware of the intellectual history behind their ideas, and the Alt-“Right” are no different, not even realizing, for example, that the roots of their ideas are on the left with people like Ely.

111 anon December 8, 2016 at 9:39 am

Speaking as a moderate, independent, who believes in progress in general ..

I think yeah they know, but they also see how sad it is to go back 100 years to make your “both sides do it” work.

112 Andrew_FL December 8, 2016 at 10:05 am

1. “progress” is not Progressivism-and Progressivism is not progress

2. “Both sides” absolutely do not “do it.”

113 anon December 8, 2016 at 10:11 am

This is MR, where on Monday someone says whites have higher IQ, on Tuesday says blacks should be treated differently, and on Thursday says don’t call us racists.

But lets find something juicy from 1945.

114 Thomas December 8, 2016 at 11:23 am

This is anon, who on Monday says IQ isn’t real, on Tuesday says Blacks deserve affirmative action, and on Thursday says that anyone who thinks the shoeless white kid in Appalachia has less privilege than Sasha Obama, is a racist.

115 anon December 8, 2016 at 11:40 am

Easy to answer. IQ is real. Affirmative action should be income based. And whoops that kid just got covered by AA.

116 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:50 am

anon – get your facts straight. The only legitimate reason to talk about either IQ OR blacks is to talk about genetics without knowledge of genes, society without knowledge of society and history without … well, just don’t talk about history … for the purpose of asserting that black people are inferior.

If I were black, I’ll be damned if I’d jump through that hoop for some racist asses.

117 Thomas December 8, 2016 at 11:50 am

Well anon, it looks like we agree, and that makes you a racist. Welcome to the basket.

118 John December 8, 2016 at 12:37 pm

“The only legitimate reason to talk about either IQ …is to talk about genetics without knowledge of genes”

Certified cucked moron number 1.

119 Andrew_FL December 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm

You might find, anon, that not overly concerning yourself with the Mos Eisley Spaceport, most actual people in politics and/or who vote, are not crazy racists, just statists of different parties, and anti-statists sometimes found in one party, but mostly not.

120 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:49 pm

John. I thought we had this out before.

You really need to work on expanding your vocabulary. All this “cuck this” and “cuck that” and “cuckledoodledoo” and everything gets kind of tiresome.

Did you try being nice to a brown person for a minute or two yet? I hope you can handle the vomiting sensation, but that might be more related to all the brainwashing, and I assure you, is not at all natural.

John the uncuckable. If he’s not brainwashed no one is!

121 John December 9, 2016 at 6:22 am

I’m not in the habit of being kind to irrelevant, evolutionary dead-end subhumans.
Thae last category includes you as well.

122 albatross December 8, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Why would I care about the moral failings of the founders of some political or social movement, fifty or a hundred years later? I mean, I want the best possible policies *now*.

Suppose there are two political parties, A and B. Party A was founded more than a century ago by extremely unsavory people whose goals were frankly evil; Party B was founded around the same time by genuinely good people with only the best goals. Let’s also suppose that today, you are convinced that Party A supports policies that would make the country and the world a lot better off, and Party B supports policies that would make the country worse off.

Are there circumstances in which it would be better to vote for party B based on that history? I can’t think of any.

Indeed, as far as I can tell, this sort of reference back to the history of some organization or movement as a way to discredit its current ideas basically never leads anyone in a sensible direction, and is never convincing to anyone who wasn’t already opposed to the organization or movement in question.

123 Andrew_FL December 8, 2016 at 2:30 pm

We’re discussing the roots of the *ideas*, albatross. I never once mentioned parties, and I don’t think this discussion is meant to imply that the AEA is currently an Alt-“Right” organization.

124 Jeff December 8, 2016 at 9:34 am

You are forgetting that the welfare state originated in Germany where Ely learned most of his ideas.

125 prior_test2 December 8, 2016 at 10:07 am

With that radical leftist Bismarck being responsible.

126 JWatts December 8, 2016 at 10:24 am

So, prior_approval, what do you think of Doctor Merkel’s burqa ban?

I’m pretty sure you would have condemned it as the height of racism had Donald Trump proposed it. So, Merkel is a typical racist populist pandering politician, eh?

127 N.K Anton December 8, 2016 at 11:23 am

Yeah, she is absolutely pandering to populists on the far right and growing discotnent.

This is silly, Socialist France proposed a burkini ban – and everyone lambasted them for it. Merkel is not a leftist just because she is left of the far right.

128 chuck martel December 8, 2016 at 11:24 am

Bismarck wasn’t an ideologue. His interest was in power, period. If creating a welfare state was the means to maintaining power, he was happy to move it along. It’s interesting that a person as influential as Bismarck should be so little remarked in the rest of the west, which has adopted so much of his program.

129 Harun December 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Bismarck got many welfare state ideas from Krupp.

Yes, that Krupp. Who had implemented many in his factories.

130 Chip December 8, 2016 at 9:21 am

Might as well throw in Woodrow Wilson and Margaret Sanger.

Alt right and fake news sound like false narratives to justify the failure of progressivism.

Look, crime is rising for the first time in decades, and life expectancy just dropped for the first time since 1993. Americans aren’t idiots. They know the country is in trouble and they chose someone other than Hilary.

Sinister explanations aren’t necessary to understand this.

131 anon December 8, 2016 at 9:31 am

Do you believe culture is inseparable from race, Chip?

132 Chip December 8, 2016 at 10:04 am

My kids are mixed race so they would be in for a ride if it was true.

The better question is who insists that culture should be inseparable from race, in that your race should determine your beliefs and votes?

Who’s the real alt-right today.

133 anon December 8, 2016 at 10:08 am

The real alt-right are the real alt-right of course. They say it in their own words.

On the other hand “better together” means what?

Can we really twist that to mean apartheid?

134 Chip December 8, 2016 at 10:14 am

Who’s they and they say what?

Name someone significant who claims to be, and show they mean alt right to be racist.

Face it, the movement as it’s described by the media doesn’t really exist, other than as a means to debumanize some 60 million people they disagree with.

135 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 10:40 am

The alt-right is really pretty Republican, centrist basically, or centre-left if you prefer.

Centre, left, right, alt-, … pretty much whatever it takes to offer some veneer of legitimacy while spreading ignorance and hate. My preference for calling people what they want to be called ends when it amounts to helping them to provide cover to manipulate people while spreading hateful ideology.

Now if working class Americans want Republicans to do a better job of representing their interests, that’s another discussion altogether.

136 Thomas December 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

The left thinks that blacks who don’t vote for Democrats are race traitors and Uncle Tom’s. The left thinks that whites who humor the idea of voting racially are neo-nazis. The left has no principles and Nathan and anon are both scum.

137 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

The world is black and white. That is why it is impossible to brainwash me.

Black and white. White and black. Black is white. White is black.

138 Hazel Meade December 8, 2016 at 3:03 pm

You’re hardly the first person who has identified the alt-right as “white identity politics”. Correctly in my view.
Personally, I think identity politics is bad whether it is white people or black people, Democrats or Republicans doing it. And saying the other side did it first just makes you a hypocrite.

139 Lord Action December 8, 2016 at 9:51 am

“Alt right and fake news sound like false narratives to justify the failure of progressivism.”

In a world of John Stewart, John Oliver, Michael Moore, and Noam Chomsky, the idea that fake news hurt Clinton is especially funny.

140 JWatts December 8, 2016 at 10:18 am

It’s Jon Stewart.

And yes, the very premise that ‘fake news’ is predominantly a Rightwing issue is clearly flawed.

“While it’s nowhere near the top, 12% of online Americans cited The Daily Show as a place they got their news. This audience share was on par with that of USA Today (12%) and The Huffington Post (13%)

141 Chip December 8, 2016 at 10:37 am

If I had a dollar for every FB friend who shared a Jon Stewart link with “nailed it!”

These are the same people who then describe Brexit voters as stupid and blame Hilary’s loss on fake Russian news written by eugenecists.

It’s worth repeating, America today is a country where crime and life expectancy are suddenly reversing multi-decadal trends. These are seismic shifts in the country’s well being.

And yet the media professionals paid to provide information are convinced the brownshirts are on the march.

142 Decimal December 8, 2016 at 10:52 am


143 JWatts December 8, 2016 at 10:57 am

“life expectancy are suddenly reversing multi-decadal trends”

I’m waiting on the war of opposing headlines that correlates this on one side “With the election of Donald Trump.” and on the other side with “Obamacare”.


144 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:55 am

“And yet the media professionals paid to provide information are convinced the brownshirts are on the march.”

Well, rumour has it that basically anyone who criticizes racist figureheads gets lots of death threats and other harassment and stuff.

So … that might be related to media professionals thinking that the reality in front of them is the reality in front of them.

145 Lord Action December 8, 2016 at 3:32 pm

“It’s Jon Stewart.”

Yes, thank you.

146 MOFO December 8, 2016 at 11:03 am

The purveyors of mostly fake news object to being undercut by entirely fake news.

147 Jeff R. December 8, 2016 at 9:32 am

As someone with Alt-right sympathies, I find the association regrettable, too. We get enough bad things said about us as is; we don’t need to be smeared as AEA fellow travelers now, too.

148 rayward December 8, 2016 at 9:32 am

Ely was heavily influenced by colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, including Edward Alsworth Ross, a eugenicist who had been fired by Stanford for his views and found his way to the University of Wisconsin, where his views on the superiority of Nordic people were less objectionable. Attempts to associate progressivism with Ely and eugenics is no different from attempts to associate Jeffersonian republicanism with slavery. I assume Tabarrok has favorable views of Mr. Jefferson, since he received his doctorate from and now works for a university that was once part of Jefferson’s university. Of course, that wouldn’t mean that Tabarrok supports slavery.

149 dearieme December 8, 2016 at 9:58 am

Well, anyone who praises radicalism without asking in which direction that radicalism points is a chump.

As for eugenics, I gather that it is practised in some Jewish communities in NYC. That seems perfectly OK to me since coercion is reportedly not used.

150 Cliff December 8, 2016 at 10:02 am

How is eugenics practiced?

151 JWatts December 8, 2016 at 10:20 am

Selective breeding via arranged marriages.

152 Decimal December 8, 2016 at 10:53 am

Happens a lot in India too I’ve heard.

153 Thomas December 8, 2016 at 11:27 am

It happens everywhere in the world with every culture, and the left is okay with it unless…

154 albatross December 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

I think eugenics is supposed to be about improving the whole population, not just trying to marry someone with good genes for your personal offspring. You’re talking about different goals here. People who do genetic screening to avoid passing on genetic diseases to their kids may accidentally be having a eugenic effect, but their goal is primarily to make their own kids better off. (And many nasty genetic diseases have little effect on the population long-term, because the kids with the diseases almost never reproduce.)

The eugenics policies that everyone remembers with horror involved coercion–mostly people at the bottom of society being forcibly sterilized. The thing is, eugenics as a goal is still widely believed to be evil, even though the evil thing going on was the coercion. If there were a vast voluntary effort to improve the species with eugenics, it probably wouldn’t work, but it probably wouldn’t be any kind of terrible evil. By contrast, if we decided to punish political dissent with forcible sterilization, that would be horrible even if nobody spent a microsecond on any kind of eugenic reasoning and just decided to do it as an especially nasty way of punishing dissenters.

155 Art Deco December 8, 2016 at 3:12 pm

The thing is, eugenics as a goal is still widely believed to be evil, even though the evil thing going on was the coercion.

No. See C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man for an argument that any attempt to make an artifact of humanity is evil.

156 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 11:59 am

Ahhh… the freedom of “take this dick or that dick, now go make some babies quick, or else we’ll excommunicate you from everything that matters to you … or at least shuffle you off into the corner at the unmarriagable age of 22, beyond which point in time your wrinkles and generally ugly despicable oldness will prevent you from ever becoming anything. Now, dick1 or dick2? His name is Sam. He has a sweet smile, He’s so lovely. He will make lots of money. You will learn to love each other., but he will beat you when he wants and DONT ever say no to sex even if you’re tired, sick or any other thing. It has always been thus. Dick1 or dick2. Your choice, you soon-to-be-old-hag-who-will-be-excommunicated-from-everything-that-matters-if-you-don’t-choose-quick”.

157 Abber December 8, 2016 at 1:27 pm

And yet they reproduce much more than you do. I believe the main question of the 21th century will be the race question, the main question of the 22nd will be the question of what to do with those groups.

158 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Meh. Arranged marriages have been a declining share or mate pairing for a long time.

And notwithstanding the possibility that an AI-driven mind influencing technology network might try to take charge of who is to be attracted to whom, say … to optimize for face roundness rather than traits that will help to vaporize the planet with greater ease as centuries and millennia pass … I anticipate that the role of arranged marriages will continue to decline over time.

159 dearieme December 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Using DNA analysis to recommend against marriages that would result in the birth of children who would be afflicted by genetic diseases that are commoner among Ashkanazi Jews than other peoples.

160 Art Deco December 8, 2016 at 3:13 pm

That’s not a signature of Orthodox Jews. Secular Jews are tested for Tay Sachs as well.

161 albatross December 10, 2016 at 5:34 pm

The driver there is that there are several nasty genetic diseases that are common among Eastern European Jews, not some particular interest among Jews in eugenics. Nobody wants to have their kids saddled with some kind of awful disease. The other version of this you see is prenatal testing plus abortions, which are commonplace now, especially for older moms.

Are there other ethnic groups that have similar genetic issues? Maybe some Indian castes?

162 R Richard Schweitzer December 8, 2016 at 10:04 am

“Capital” is generally regarded as a means to ends.

“Human Capital” connotes the same function for humans.

What remains for all these “thinkers” and “tinkers” is the selection of ends for which the means shall be deployed and the determinations of *how* they shall be deployed.

163 GoneWithTheWind December 8, 2016 at 10:34 am

It seems a stretch to cite the views of someone who lived 100 years ago and reflected the views of society 100 years ago and crucify them based on the views of society today. It is clearly a bigger stretch of logic to use this line of thinking to label an existing organization that this person from 100 years ago was associated with.

It would seem that if you want to destroy the organization today you demonstrate facts and events that are current. If you are correct and this organization deserves to be destroyed then your task should be easy. The very fact that you need to reach back 100 years seems to belie your position.

164 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 10:59 am

Easy solution.

the AEA could somehow or another transmit the notion that “nope, that’s definitely not us any more”.

If they don’t do that, it’s probably not fair to draw strong conclusions, and instead prefer to weight what’s happened in the last 30 years as more relevant than the 30 years previous. If they DO do that, then … really not hard.

If saying that someone 100 years ago from some organization will destroy it, then its destruction was already well set up and in the making.

“Nope, that’s not us, especially not any more” is not hard. Unless it is.

165 chuck martel December 8, 2016 at 11:39 am

So liberal Minneapolitans want to change the name of their showcase lake that honors John C. Calhoun as local businesses have:
Statuary honoring southern heroes of the War Between the States must be obliterated: It doesn’t seem much different than the Soviets erasing deposed members of the nomenclatura from group photos. History must be managed just as the present is.

166 Peregrinus92 December 8, 2016 at 10:35 am

In addition to Thomas Leonard’s recent book, these accurate observations about Ely and the AEA are explored in depth in Jonah Goldberg’s 2007 book, Liberal Fascism (a title taken from the label progressive H.G. Wells gave to the political path he advocated in 1932).

167 Tom T. December 8, 2016 at 11:17 am

I just realized I was confusing him with the modern, mainstream legal theorist John Hart Ely. Oops.

168 Publius December 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

So Margaret Sanger was a member of the alt-right. Who knew.

169 Dumbass anon nathan bill millian barkley rossdurrr December 8, 2016 at 11:30 am

Aborting a million black babies a year doesn’t make you a racist, suggesting we put more police in Black communities to reduce the number of blacks murdered makes you a racist. God, don’t you even watch John Oliver?

170 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 12:04 pm

I would have thought the technical limitation has got to be somewhere in the range of a thousand a year – can you do more than 5 abortions a day, allowing for weekends, holidays and the rest?

Also, I prefer to apportion responsibility for abortions performed today upon independent decisions made by women to people who died decades ago. It really just makes a lot of sense that way.

(P.S. – maybe if America did not lock up so many black daddies on trivial drug charges, more of those women would be in a better position to think they could do a good job of raising the baby in their belly. Better or worse? Fewer people in prison because of getting rid of stupid laws?)

171 Dumbass anon nathan bill millian barkley rossdurrr December 8, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Putting less abortion clinics in black neighborhoods or putting more police officers in black neighborhoods is racist. Blacks deserve the right to kill themselves, wink wink.

172 Cliff December 8, 2016 at 4:03 pm

“if America did not lock up so many black daddies on trivial drug charges”

How many are we talking about?

173 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Some mere tens or hundreds of thousands. At any given moment.

Which tallies up to some quarter of black males having seen the inside of a prison by some absurdly young age. You can find the stats if you want to …

174 Rich Berger December 8, 2016 at 12:14 pm

I just listened to Russ Roberts’ podcast, and Tim Leonard elaborated some of the facts that I was already aware of. The facts are not really in dispute, yet the same half dozen or so commenters either try to deny them or distract from them by setting up straw men. Responding to them is futile.

175 Edmund C December 8, 2016 at 12:54 pm

“The point, however, is that the very factors that Steinbaum and Weisberger praise, the radicalism of the early AEA and Ely’s reject of laissez-faire, are precisely the factors that led Ely to support industrial policy, racism and eugenics.”

So where is the citation showing the Alt-Right supports industrial policy, a rejection of laissez-faire, and eugenics in the Wilsonian-Sanger sense? I will grant there are whiffs of racism in their movement, but the rest are more likely to be found on MSNBC or The Nation than on Breitbart.

176 Ella December 8, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Steve Bannon is very much pro industrial policy and rejection of laissez-faire.

“The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—ed over. If we deliver” — by “we” he means the Trump White House — “we’ll get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we’ll govern for 50 years. That’s what the Democrats missed. They were talking to these people with companies with a $9 billion market cap employing nine people. It’s not reality. They lost sight of what the world is about.”

In a nascent administration that seems, at best, random in its beliefs, Bannon can seem to be not just a focused voice, but almost a messianic one:

“Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement,” he says. “It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”

Or consider Pence and Trump:

When, speaking at the Carrier plant, Mike Pence said, “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing,” Trump chimed in, “Every time, every time.”

Read more at:

177 FUBAR007 December 8, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Ella: Steve Bannon is very much pro industrial policy and rejection of laissez-faire.

Which would be meaningful if he was in line to become Secretary of the Treasury or Commerce. Instead, he’s essentially getting Karl Rove’s old job.

I’m giving Trump six months from his inauguration to demonstrate his commitment to economic populism. His Cabinet picks thus far, however, aren’t giving me much reason for optimism.

178 John December 9, 2016 at 11:56 am

Yep, Trump’s looking like a typical business Republican. Only even more in it for his own taxes to be cut.

Yet another Goldman Sachs guy added to his team today (Gary Cohn), which makes 3 (Bannon, Mnuchin)

179 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Industrial policy seems rather more likely to work when you’re doing something that’s already been done than when you’re in an economy which generally strives to push the cutting edge.

Say, Satlinism was not that unlikely to achieve its industrialization goals, since it could observe exactly how others proceeded. And this happened in 20 years, not the 200 or so it took in England.

So, while in quite a lot of contexts there needs to be the voice which reminds that industrial policy is often non-retarded, it seems unlikely that an industrial policy targeting the groups who thought they would get jobs, or better jobs, due to Trump, is just not that likely to succeed. Of course, if I’m proven wrong in a non-war scenario, that would suit me just fine …

180 Donald Pretari December 8, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Yet another example of why Burke thought ideology was such a curse. I agree with you Professor Cowen, and don’t believe it’s all that hard to be fair. It’s just not all that satisfying to some people. Also, I agree with Ella that Bannon sounds like a Keynesian ( low rates ) and a supporter of industrial policy ( jacking up ). However, I’m still not sure if this is Trump’s plan, and I doubt he does either.

181 collin December 8, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Leaving aside the past pointing of the progressives with eugenics before WW2, isn’t the Western developed world sort following these ideas of slowing down births naturally? (Throwing the race stuff and trolling progressives.) It is the modern global economy that makes it so long for young people to reach careers and safe for marriage that they are having less kids in which they put enormous energy to build their resumes? At this point, even India, is reaching below replacement fertility rates!

It appears the Western world is naturally lowering the Labor supply to increase wages!

182 Abber December 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Except it’s dysgenic, not eugenic. Entirely unintentional, I am told by the liberals, it is an inevitable result of modernity. If it leads the West to be non white and more dependent on government, it is just a happy coincidence.

183 Abber December 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Should be “the people of the West. “

184 collin December 8, 2016 at 3:09 pm

But this is happening in all the developed world and the US is amongst the highest birth rates (1.9 babies/female) after France (2.0), Ireland (1.9) and Israel (3.~)! Where are the racial politics in Japan (1.4 babies/female)? Korea (1.2 babies/female)? China (1.6 babies/female)? Germany (1.6 babies/female in 2010 so before the refugees came)? So Russia (1.7 babies/female) Or Brazil (1.9)?

This is not some kind of US dysgenic plan here.

185 Barkley Rosser December 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Clearly we need to get rid of Social Security and Workmens’ Compensation as these were advocated and by and put in place with advice from eugenicists, with the latter in particular coming from the evil brain of Richard T. Ely.

186 Bill December 8, 2016 at 3:15 pm

Here, Here. And, don’t forget those follow on cancers, Medicare and Medicaid which followed from the social insurance movement.

187 TopHatWearingKoch December 8, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Hear, hear. Good show!

Your checks shall arrive shortly via non-union Avian Carrier.

188 Bob December 8, 2016 at 1:51 pm

FWIW, one of the most prominent of these progressive fascist eugenicists of the first half of the 20th century was Earnest Hooten, who not only was racist against blacks, but also believed Appalachian whites were inferior and wanted to exterminate them, and wanted to exterminate the Germans as well:

During World War II, Hooton proposed to eradicate the German people by infiltrating them slowly with masses of non-European male immigrants, thereby breed “war strains” out of them.[10]

Contemporary progressives basically hold the same views, except for the racism against blacks, and they’ve been promoting and cheering on the “Hooton Plan” recently facilitated in Germany by Merkel’s invitation of millions of largely military age, non-European male migrants from the Middle East.

Incidentally, Hooton was a Lamarckian, which is another thing he shares with contemporary progressives.

189 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Contemporary progressives basically hold the same views”– or at least it seems that way, if you take in a steady diet of fake news.

Google the title of this article to get to it: It’s on mediaite

Fox Deceptively Edits Obama Interview to Falsely Claim He Told Illegal Immigrants to Vote

190 Cliff December 8, 2016 at 4:29 pm

He did encourage them by explaining there would be no consequences to doing so, if successful

191 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Citation, please. Oh, I forgot. You don’t need facts. Right Wingers think they can just make up anything at all, and believe it, as long as it reflects negatively on Democrats.

192 AnonymousPotato December 8, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Jill changed her name again.

193 Anonymous December 9, 2016 at 12:07 am

Interesting. I had never heard about this character. No doubt if he was Jewish, the alt-Right would have told us all about him.

194 Harun December 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Alt-Right is about culture mattering.

Now, some Alt-Right also link culture to race. Others might link it to religion.

Some of these links might be wholly opportunistic.

195 Hazel Meade December 8, 2016 at 2:23 pm

The alt-right might be a cobbled together collection of various forms of soft and hard bigotry. “Culture” might be a code word for “race”, or religion, or ethnicity. Alt-right might be a recently invented word for a group of people that is neither new, nor has any particularly new or interesting ideas.

196 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 2:16 pm

What a wonderful day for Straw Men. Today everyone is required to agree with the founders of organizations they currently support– even if the organizations were founded 50 or 100 or 200 years ago. Every citizen of the U.S. now must admit that they believe that slavery should be legal, since it once was legal in the very country in which they are citizens.

Usually Americans pay little attention to history. But today we will be bound and gagged and tied to it, with no room for movement.

Although it would make no sense to allow people to constantly disavow what they said yesterday, the ancient history of some ideology or organization they currently believe in, is not particularly relevant to today.

197 albatross December 8, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Is there any actually meaningful definition of the alt-right, that the people so labeled would agree with? The current widespread use of the term is as a smear–a way to avoid engaging with the arguments or concerns of a big group of people by declaring them horrible people. Now, some of them surely hold awful ideas. (Many perfectly mainstream ideas also strike me as pretty awful.) But I’m a lot more interested in understanding their ideas individually than in declaring them all Worse Than Hitler and writing them off without a hearing.

198 Hazel Meade December 8, 2016 at 2:43 pm

I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of people adopting the label “alt-right” had never heard of it before 6 months to a year ago. I’d also bet that most Trump voters have never heard of it. To what extent is “alt-right” some sort of made up fiction invented by the blogosphere, and adopted by only a handful of neck-bearded internet basement dwellers?

199 HL December 8, 2016 at 5:34 pm

There is no definitive “alt-right”. It is more appropriately used as an umbrella term for being against the left, SJWish, marxists, libertarians and others. Those involved with the alternative right before trump were a mish mash of HBDers, racists, fascists, monarchists, technocrats, reactionaries, paleocons and those obsessed with SCALE which didn’t fit into the GOP establishment. They’ve been blogging and posting on various esoteric forums for 10+ years.

When Trump was able to break through many of the positions conservatives were afraid to speak out on he became a rallying point for all of these dissident conservatives and the they grew exponentially from social media exposure and normalization. Although they are still not very big, they will have growing influence. Numbers aren’t particularly important. How many neocons did it take for them to take over the ideology of the GOP?

200 Hazel Meade December 8, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Anyone find it interesting how so many white people seem just so, so, so, desperate to absolve white people of any responsibility for racial inequality, racism, or racial segregation whatsoever? It seems ludicrously defensive from an objective stand point. The hallmark of a guilty mind, some might think.

201 Cliff December 8, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Isn’t it the opposite? White people are in the vanguard in blaming white people for every problem?

202 Hazel Meade December 8, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Many white people are introspective about white culture and willing to point out it’s weaknesses. Many other white people are defensive and hysterically focused on rejecting the idea that there might be any, especially when it comes to race relations. Which one do you think is a better way to be?
Would it be better if more white people refused to acknowledge anything white society might be doing that is bad? You think all criticism of white America should come from other ethnic groups, exclusively?

203 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 8:06 pm

If I criticize someone with a similar level and type of skin pigment, this basically means I loathe myself. This is how we will make things amazing.

We could also wonder why so few people in the black community get active in criticizing what could be improved. And then you hear what comes from the alt-right … it’s like the moment someone opens their mouth about one issue, they are front and centre and personally responsible to fix every last thing that no one has addressed in the last 100 years.

So here’s one thing I’d like to criticize “about white people”. When someone from another community or ethnic group raises an issue which amounts to them taking on problems internal to “their group” – do not attack them for failing to do EVERYTHING – express appreciation of doing something and high hopes to see more, if and when that person so pleases (often, please – more even? naaa. too much to ask).

204 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 8:08 pm

For example, you get this kind of situation where a Muslim stands up in a positive expression of faith, community, various things … then maybe addresses certain challenges within the community and how they are proceeding, etc.

And then you’ll get some guy come along and be like “what’s wrong with you scum – you didn’t even stop the attack in Paris!”.

Why the hell would anyone ever do what we say we want them to do if they get the third degree the moment they start to do it? It’s so completely retarded, it’s hard to imagine that it’s (the BS third degree treatment) not intentional or orchestrated to at least some degree at least some of the time.

205 AnonymousPotato December 9, 2016 at 12:09 am

Nathan from Canada,

I agree “asking Muslims to rein in terrorists” is a broad brush that assumes whatever. That’s not the point, either. It’s about millions of dollars in funding that western Muslims send to “charities” that are obvious fronts for militancy. It’s about Al-Awlaki, and Mosques that require monitoring by federal agents. We don’t want to monitor them, but clearly they won’t monitor themselves.

That being said, Islam is the way and the truth. We will win in the end, it has been ordained. And batshit crazy jihadists are doing it wrong. We won’t convert you all with violence, we will do it with demographics, the truth, and conversion. We are the fastest growing religion in the world, and we will remain so. Sharia law will happen in the west, but not through blood or violence. We will win the argument and in our embrace of life we will inherit the earth.

We offer not only paradise but a whole system for life and law and harmony. And most importantly we offer the truth. We don’t deny science like your kuffar Christians. We embrace it as the knowledge of Allah. Liberals will side with us, because they actually believe in religious freedom. And we will gain adherents and win by the cradle, not the sword.

206 Troll me December 9, 2016 at 3:27 am

If there are concerns about money going to fund militancy overseas, I don’t think the correct way is to spy on every mosque.

1) There will be reporting at least some of the time

2) Having observed militancy somewhere and wondering where the money comes from, some dots may eventually be connected.

The world will not explode if these things do not all happen overnight. And might be less likely for not having easy capacity to do so.

So, I think the point is normally about being outspoken against extremism. Which also makes then a target. But anyways, this is obviosly a different group of people than you’re talking about, because no one funding militant fronts would be talking about it to the guy speaking publicly about moderation.

Anyways, the rest of what you say sounds pretty paranoid. A rights-based society cannot be ruled by a religion. And from the position of the status quo, I’d highlight extremism among Christianity in the West as a far greater threat to freedoms in the West at present than whatever Muslims you might be concerned about. Also … there are the folks all worked up about Muslims, who seem prepared to throw away many advances of a right-based state in order to … I don’t even really know what, but mostly it doesn’t seem to add up that sensibly a lot of the time. (Maybe just a lot of people didn’t really think things through very completely…)

207 Hazel Meade December 9, 2016 at 11:49 am

Yes, exactly. Like with #BlackLivesMatter. Every time a middle-class black people says “hey, what’s up with the police randomly harassing and killing black people”, you get 1000 people shouting about crime in black inner city ghettos. As if, before we can address the issue of police abuse, every single black people has to personally address and participate in solving the problem of gangs and crime in black communities, even if they themselves don’t live anywhere near one. Meanwhile, white people aren’t held personally responsible for crime and poverty in Appalacia. When a white person gets up to speak about eminent domain reform, you don’t see 1000 people jumping up to say “but what about poor people in rural Alabama!!!!”
Any time a black person gets unjustly shot, rich, poor, or middle-class, it’s “Sorry can’t do anything about it until there’s no crime in Chicago’s south side”.

208 TopHatWearingKoch December 8, 2016 at 5:07 pm

“Anyone find it interesting how so many white people seem just so, so, so, desperate to absolve white people of any responsibility for racial inequality, racism, or racial segregation whatsoever?”

That’s a weird comment on a blog post that’s specifically commenting on how racist the white man who founded the AEA was.

209 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 5:50 pm

Why is it weird? sound like the it describes the AEA founder.

210 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Oops. Meant to type: Sounds like it describes the AEA founder. So perhaps this is the best blog post that could be a comment on.

211 Hazel Meade December 9, 2016 at 11:59 am

Yeah, I would not count Tyler Cowen as one of those people. Some of the commenters, on the other hand …

It just seems like a lot of white people get really, really, defensive whenever anyone criticizes white culture. For some reason.
Imagine what it must be like to be black or Hispanic – having to listen to white people blathering on and on all day about everything that’s wrong with the black community, like they have any idea what they are talking about. And then the minute someone criticizes the dominant white society, they freak the fuck out.

212 too hot for MR December 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm

I love left trying to define its opponent of the day out of existence. Yesterday it was the Tea Party that was “RACIST RACIST RACIST!”; today it’s the alt-right.

For my part, I happily do business and have intimacies with folks of any ethnicity; yet somehow I’ve enthusiastically supported both of the mentioned movements. Clearly I’m a racist, though the meaning of the term now escapes me.

The amazing part of today’s thread is watching Tyler put himself on an intellectual shelf with Nathan.

213 Hazel Meade December 8, 2016 at 3:07 pm

I would say that the rush of at least 1/3 of the Tea Party to switch to supporting Donald Trump kind of validates that left’s position on that point.

214 Art Deco December 8, 2016 at 3:21 pm

I would say that the rush of at least 1/3 of the Tea Party

I’m fascinated to know out of which orifice you pulled this datum.

215 Hazel Meade December 8, 2016 at 4:47 pm
216 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Hazel, Right Wingers like Art Deco do not believe in facts. To have him understand you, you need to relate issues to his feelings of hatred and anger– all toward people who are Left of Center, of course.

217 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 8:11 pm

I think he can be convinced by some facts, so long as it does not excessively trouble the more non-negotiable aspects of 1970s-1990s programming on the right wing (e.g., on oil, Palestine or some handful of others). These leaves quite a lot of things he still has the capacity to learn about. But he’ll never admit it if/when he does.

218 AnonymousPotato December 9, 2016 at 12:17 am

This is absurd and offensive to Art Deco. He is clearly a foreign policy or some such academic from upstate New York. From his writing he also has the best interests of the republic in mind. I’m not sure what “lies” Jill thinks he is spreading.

The truth is Art Deco is a good Christian American. The problem is that he hasn’t accepted Islam, yet, as the truth. And thus is kafir. But his descendants will, Inshallah. Allah is ever merciful.

219 Troll me December 9, 2016 at 3:32 am

Those who disagree with Art tread the path of proto-jihadism deeply.

Thus spake Mr Potato.

220 Hazel Meade December 9, 2016 at 11:39 am

@Taxes, I fucking hate leftists with the fire of a thousand suns. So he shouldn’t have any problem relating to me.
I’m not going to fulfill their wet dreams by becoming exactly the sort of racist retard they accuse me of being. The “alt-right” and sadly the fraction of libertarians who have decided to support it are playing precisely into their hands. They’ve said all along that we’re just racist hypocrites who don’t actually believe in any of our libertarian philosophy and are just using it to preserve and advance white privilege. And the alt-right is proving them correct. I’m here to prove them incorrect.

221 Bill December 8, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Closer to the alt-right, in history and thought, is

The John Burch Society.

222 Bill December 8, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Re John Burch Society ties to alt right:

“The Alt-Right wants to burn American politics to the ground. The Alt-Right most immediately opposes conservatism, as Youth for Western Civilization founder Kevin Deanna explained in his Taki’s Magazine and piece titled “The Impossibility of Conservatism.” The Alt-Right contains a who’s-who of right-wing voices that have been “purged” from the conservative movement by William F. Buckley and National Review, like Peter Brimelow and John Derbyshire, and Alt-Right leaders like Vox Day described the movement in an interview as “the heirs to those like the John Birch Society who were read out of the conservative movement.”

Here’s a link:

223 Art Deco December 8, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Um, no. The John Birch Society was a manifestation of political paranoia, more akin to the worst of the Kennedy assassination aficionadoes than to any latter-day political movement. Their actual manifesto was blandly stated retro-whiggery and fairly unobjectionable. Their signature was nonsense statements, such attributing all political life to a secret conspiracy run out of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderbergers.

224 Bill December 8, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Art, You prove my point with your description.

225 Art Deco December 9, 2016 at 2:16 am

Well, if it helps you feel better…

226 JWatts December 8, 2016 at 5:12 pm

“Closer to the alt-right, in history and thought, is

The John Burch Society.”

Actually, I agree with Bill on this one. The John Burch Society was closer to the Alt-Right than Richard T. Ely was.

227 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 5:57 pm

Some of the Koch family members have been Birchers. They must be thrilled with Trump’s association with the alt right.

228 Art Deco December 9, 2016 at 2:21 am

The John Burch Society was closer to the Alt-Right than Richard T. Ely was.

No clue what this is supposed to mean. The Birch Society ca. 1962 just doesn’t map to any strand of opinion today. Imagine the von Mises Institute conjoined to the 9/11 truther coterie. The one person who seems something of a Birch Society type would be Paul Craig Roberts. Roberts is actually old enough to have joined the Birch Society in its prime. Roberts isn’t nearly as outlandish as Robert Welch, however. Roberts will chatter about WTC 7 and such, not spin elaborate fantasies about the Council on Foreign Relations controlling the world.

229 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 5:58 pm

See the John Birch Society wikipedia page for additional info.

230 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 6:44 pm

Wikipedia also has an informative alt-right page.

231 static December 8, 2016 at 7:57 pm

not really. it misses the fundamental distinction. calling something alt-x (alternative to X) means just that it is not X. Some alternatives to X could be very good, some things that are alternatives to X could be very bad (and some we have not thought of yet). To simply find the the worst alternative to X and declare that all alternatives to X are as bad as the worst one is a kind of name calling that is apparently effective in stirring up tribal animosity.

232 Dain December 8, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Whew, I don’t envy this post’s Herculean mission: to not only convince the left that the early AEA and its head is actually very right-wing and not radical, but attempt to place an avowed progressive institution among the ranks of new phenomenon called the alt-right that could probably care less about the AEA.

What if the whole thing backfires, and progressives think “gee, if the alt right (apparently) likes the early AEA, maybe they’re better than the free market zealots in the establishment Republican ranks…”

233 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Yes, progressives have so much admiration for Right Winger’s views about the world that we are easily convinced of them. NOT.

Right Wingers have great influence over people who believe fake news. That’s how they won the election. But most progressives are not so easily convinced of bs.

234 static December 8, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Alex, how stupid. You should have called it the alt-left.

235 Troll me December 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm

I disagree.

The “alt centre” or maybe “alt over there” is much more accurate, considering that the “alt just please don’t call a racist a racist” is a little long of a label.

236 Marshall Steinbaum December 8, 2016 at 8:41 pm

What’s that they say about lies getting half-way around the world before the truth puts on its shoes? Tabarrok says we “[did] readers a disservice.” In fact, he did, by failing to quote or link to our own article on this subject:

237 Marshall Steinbaum December 8, 2016 at 9:08 pm

Oh and that “early and influential publication by the AEA” was published in 1896. Ely was drummed out of the organization in 1892, when it took a sharp lurch to the right, and he didn’t come back until 1900. So good scholarship there.

238 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 8, 2016 at 9:08 pm

Well, his title and subtitle are correct.

Legacy of Progressive Economics
Yes, Progressives of a century ago had backward views on race. That doesn’t discredit their economic ideas.

It certainly doesn’t discredit them. 100 years ago, almost everyone had backward ideas on plenty of topics. That doesn’t have much to do with today.

239 Justin Kelly December 8, 2016 at 10:41 pm

Their economic ideas was to use minimum wage as a eugenic tool, to disemploy minorities so they could not afford children. This came back recently too, white union in South Africa also advocated the same minimum wage to keep the labor force white.

240 Troll me December 9, 2016 at 3:34 am

I think there were other reasons for workers to want a minimum wage. Just because some people thought of it that way does not mean that anyone who wanted a minimum wage supported it for that sort of reason.

241 Justin Kelly December 9, 2016 at 7:37 am

peoples official reasons are usually a pretext. Before minimum wage minorities had lower unemployment than whites, with minimum wage their unemployment is higher. You can white wash it all you want and pretend the reasons are different, the outcomes today are in line with the original incentives of progressives who supported the policy. This makes progressives the real racists here.

242 Justin Kelly December 9, 2016 at 12:17 am

Dr. Tabarrok,

This whole rationalization is a house of cards, built on the contentious and ill defined concept of “alt right” which is more of a political talking point than something you could build a solid analysis on.

Then there the segway: Recall that Margaret Sanger gave speeches to cross burning KKK rallies (albeit the women’s chapter) and that the KKK were democrats. That fact that that you mention eugenics in a right wing context, despite abundant opportunities to address its left wing prevalence hurts your credibility, at least to those who would read you. Something I hate to see.

For a long time narratives have been set between legacy media and academics spinning cumbersome analysis such as this, this is to be expected because liberals self select as academics and journalists. But where this breaks is that the consumers are not as liberal, thus the supply is not what the readers demand. The result is a reduced marginal utility for pieces such as this, a readership that tunes you out.

New media outlets that buck this view, that produce what readers demand, are to be expected, I would expect them to grow fast, and the lack of conservative journalists and academics would cause me to expect the quality to be bad. Some struggle to label this “alt right” or “Fake news”, I think its just a market correction. Especially after the media and academics jumped the shark on left wing bias during the election.

You’ve (collectively) tried pointing and screaming racist really loud and that hasn’t worked, screaming louder won’t do much better. Maybe you could just try abandoning some of your pretenses, stop trying to craft a narrative (like smearing the american right with the eugenics movement), and just do some thoughtful middle of the road analysis.

243 Troll me December 9, 2016 at 4:06 am

Personally, I think he should associate the word “progressive” with the eugenics views associated with it 100 years ago, but not today.

And then ignore which side of the political spectrum tends to finds such views today. Most especially, if anything in the present is to be tied to eugenics views in the past, it is not to be that which houses eugenics views today.

It will be intellectually honest that way.

(screaming and hollering like a wa wa baby about racism on my way out the door … to find some unicorns and rainbows, I’m, such a genius, unicorns and rainbows ….)

Get with the times. No one believes in unicorns and everyone knows what a spade is.

244 Justin Kelly December 9, 2016 at 7:49 am

Nothing is different with progressives today. If a woman wants to abort her female fetus, they view it as a woman choice issue only from the mothers perspective, not the fetus. After arguing back and forth it inevitably comes down to “there aren’t much brain cells in a fetus/zygote”. Furthermore Progressives love animal rights (not human fetus rights) and applaud limited non-human personhood for intelligent animals such as elephants, chimps, whales etc… (not for fetuses..) Look at the revulsion to elephants at the zoo, or Shamu at sea-world.

The obvious correlation here is that rights are scale with intelligence, not with being human. Progressives also love the elite in the government making choices for the masses they view as too stupid… The identity politics of the left is a ruse, and rights scaling with intelligence is the core of the eugenics movement, still embedded in progressive policies today.

245 Ed December 9, 2016 at 12:54 am

“All the facts prove that a low standard of sexual morality is the main and underlying cause of the low and anti-social condition of the race at the present time. All the facts prove that education, philanthropy and religion have failed to develop a higher appreciation of the stern and uncompromising virtues of the Aryan race.”

One hundred and twenty years later this seems extremely prescient. About 3/4 of black children are born out of wedlock. Blacks have far higher rates of contracting HIV & other STDs. Although blacks attend church more than any other group they have very low standards of behavior and a higher tolerance for criminality than other groups. In fact black criminals are generally held in relatively high esteem. Of course there are exceptions but we are talking about groups and I don’t see anything in the blurb above that can be disproven today.

246 Art Deco December 9, 2016 at 2:26 am

I have news for you. The illegitimacy rate generally is 40%, and most first-born children are now born out of wedlock (though some are legitimated post-partum). The ratio of illegitimate to legitimate births has increased among blacks 14-fold since 1960. The thing is, among the population at large, that ratio has increased 21-fold in that time period.

247 Hazel Meade December 9, 2016 at 12:07 pm

We need a better word than “illegitimate”. It sounds so archaic. Nobody, including the law, cares if a kid was a “bastard” today. Unmarried couples have babies together all the time.

248 Art Deco December 9, 2016 at 12:27 pm

We need nothing of the kind. “Bastard” does just fine. It also gets caught in spam filters, so I generally cannot use it.

249 anon December 9, 2016 at 7:01 am

Something deeply sad has happened on this page, and perhaps wider in the Republican party.

You have ignored the genuine racist statements of the alt-right, to say no, they are just normal conservatives.

And you seem blind to the binding that creates.

250 Hazel Meade December 9, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Exactly. By saying that they are just normal conservatives, you’re actually tarring normal conservatives. Normal conservatives need to distinguish themselves from the alt-right, not to publicly announce that they don’t see any differences.

251 Dimitrios Halikias December 9, 2016 at 8:33 am

Who were the leading critics of the eugenic turn in American social science? What intellectuals led the critique of the scientism of the early progressive movement?

252 Art Deco December 9, 2016 at 12:28 pm

C.S. Lewis.

253 zbicyclist December 10, 2016 at 10:28 am

“Hoffman was later a president of the American Statistical Society”

“American Statistical Society” was the early name for the American Statistical Association, the largest professional organization of American statisticians and the publisher of numerous journals.


This information does show up on ASA’s history page, but it’s buried a bit:

254 AureliuszKleks December 10, 2016 at 1:53 pm

“there are classes in every modern community composed of those who are virtually children, and who require paternal and fostering care, the aim of which should be the highest development of which they are capable”

Women were treated like people described in this tidbit for a long time in our history, maybe racial supremacist should try procreating without women to “improve race”?

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