Identity Politics Versus Independent Thinking

Anthony Kronman, former Dean of the Yale Law school, writes in the WSJ:

The politically motivated and group-based form of diversity that dominates campus life today discourages students from breaking away, in thought or action, from the groups to which they belong. It invites them to think of themselves as representatives first and free agents second. And it makes heroes of those who put their individual interests aside for the sake of a larger cause. That is admirable in politics. It is antithetical to one of the signal goods of higher education.

…Grievance is the stuff of political life…Academic disagreements are different. Important ones are often inflamed by passion too. But the goal of those involved is to persuade their adversaries with better facts and arguments—not to bludgeon them into submission with complaints of abuse, injustice and disrespect to increase their share of power. Today, the spirit of grievance has been imported into the academy, where it undermines the common search for truth by permeating it with a sense of hurt and wrong on the part of minority students, and guilt on the part of those who are blamed for their suffering.

…For college students, the search for truth is important not because reaching it is guaranteed—there are no such guarantees—but as a discipline of character. It instills habits of self-criticism, modesty and objectivity. It strengthens their ability to subject their own opinions and feelings to higher and more durable measures of worth. It increases their self-reliance and their respect for the values and ideas of those far removed in time and circumstance. In all these ways, the search for truth promotes the habit of independent-mindedness that is a vital antidote to what Tocqueville called the “tyranny of majority opinion.”

…Tocqueville was an enthusiastic admirer of America’s democracy. He thought it the most just system of government the world had ever known. But he was also sensitive to its pathologies. Among these he identified the instinct to believe what others do in order to avoid the labor and risk of thinking for oneself. He worried that such conformism would itself become a breeding ground for despots.

As a partial antidote, Tocqueville stressed the importance of preserving, within the larger democratic order, islands of culture devoted to the undemocratic values of excellence and truth. These could be, he thought, enclaves for protecting the independence of mind that a democracy like ours especially needs.

Today our colleges and universities are doing a poor job of meeting this need, and the idea of diversity is at least partly to blame. It has become the basis of an illiberal and antirational academic cult—one that undermines the spirit of self-reliance and the commitment to truth on which not only higher education, but the whole of our democracy, depends.


It Is More No Thinking vs. Independent Thinking.

This is not a "University problem" but a humanities problem.

You dont see STEM majors protesting social issues. They don't suffer from these pathologies.

See Bloom on the fecklessness of the natural science departments at Cornell. Per Bloom, it was in the social research faculties that you saw actual resistance to the injuries to academic standards and campus culture which were the ineluctable result of James Perkins' regime. The natural scientists figured the other faculties would get stuck with the problem students, so it wasn't their problem and they voted for capitulation. Humanities, social sciences (bar economics), and corrupted occupational faculties (teacher-training, social work, &c) support the regime in the central administration and student affairs apparat. The other faculties, are, like the scientists at Cornell, feckless.

Bloom left Cornell 49 years ago. Today, diversity requirements are imposed top-down on STEM by granting agencies, most notably the NSF. Most non-diverse professors make a show of going along; diverse STEM faculty candidates of even marginal competence have a huge edge in the hiring process.

Not only of they imposed top down, at least from what I've witnessed, they always get around them.

but my original point is that a STEM major would have too much to do to even care about this conversation while a SJW would merely respond with "check your priveldge."

A simple way to correct that problem is to abolish the National Science Foundation and end the permission given to other federal agencies to make grants to researchers in higher education. The feckless faculty won't like that, of course.

You could, but there is research of real import being done there that cannot be done elsewhere. It's no simple matter to reconstitute a place on the cutting edge of quantum computing or nanotechnology or CRISPR.

They do very little research in-house. I'm not sure any outside the Office of Polar Programs. They spread cash around. Blow it up.

That is a laughable claim.

STEM classes and textbooks at the big "public ivy" universities that I know are entirely non-political. I imagine the research is too. The Dean of Engineering and the Administrative branch of the engineering and STEM departments at big public universities are the opposite and are fully involved in grievance and diversity racial politics.

Can you give an example of " engineering and STEM departments at big public universities are the opposite and are fully involved in grievance and diversity racial politics."

I haven't found that to be true. Many support heavy government involvement to support their research or special interests. Many when they get out of their areas of expertise are easily swayed by emotional or even irrational calls for less democratic solutions and more dominance by elites. To assume that the sciences are free of bias or based on an informed interdisciplinary approach is wishful thinking

Yeah, they want gov't subsidies, but that is about it. they don't really take a side in the idea that the west is built on white supremacy, men should not be afforded the assumption of innocence, gender doesn't map back to sex, etc..

they are too busy studying.

STEM majors especially at the Masters and Doctorate level tend to be immigrants so they obviously don't know or care about American social issues and would rather focus on their studies. Non-STEM majors in the grad departments have a more native student body.

Let’s see how welcome he is on the Yale campus now.

Emphasis on former. No current university administrator could write that.

Same as it ever was. Didn't some Columbia University dean get criticized back in the 1960s for caving in to demands by Black Panther students, one of which was armed with a revolver, and allowing a 'sit-in', with no prosecution afterwards? I distinctly recall this, without Googling it.

Let's face it: education is signaling. Nobody goes there to learn 'independent thinking', you either have it or you don't.

This needs one small but important revision: "Today our [elite] colleges and universities are doing a poor job of meeting this need, and the idea of diversity is at least partly to blame."

Right now, many colleges are more worried about funding cuts and declining student enrollment than they are about identity politics. I'm tired of hearing about what's going on at Yale and Harvard and a dozen other top schools. Their experiences and challenges aren't reflective of what's going on in higher ed as a whole.

The problem goes well beyond "a dozen top schools". At the very least, the one or two hundred best-ranked schools are concerned.

One other small but important revision Kronman's piece could use: "an illiberal and antirational academic cult" might with greater accuracy be rendered "an illiberal and irrational academic cult".

No (academic) philosopher moi, but I've read enough philosophy to distinguish for myself "irrational" epistemology from "antirational" epistemology, no matter the thin areas the two sometimes can overlap.

"Antirationalism" is (in spite of generous public mischaracterizations, even from academics who have been trained to know better) a corrective to positivistic rationalism that came into its own as an intellectual tradition critical of Enlightenment-era rationalism. Pascal's critiques of Cartesian rationalism, Swift's satires of "rationalism-in-action" in Gulliver's third voyage, Vico's undermining of rationalist conceits, Dostoevsky's rude takedown of conventional rationalism in "Notes from Underground", Shestov's career as a critic of rationalist epistemology, even perhaps possibly maybe (or to some degree) everyone's favorite Feyerabend. Antirationalists take rationalist excess and pomp seriously enough to rebuke its addled pretensions.

Irrationalists dismiss rational practice altogether, this view common apparently among those least well equipped to mount rational assertions or assert antirational epistemic critique. ("Affective cognition" perhaps merits incisive description from our latest cohorts of professionals dedicated to the health of mentalities.)


Thank you for that, it was enlightening.

But the terminological confusion is understandable. If fitness coach believes that it is possible to over-train at the gym, you wouldn't call her "anti-training".

"Bounded-Rationalist" seems to be more accurate, doesn't it?

Hear, hear! But sadly it is from a former Dean

“Tocqueville identified the instinct to believe what others do in order to avoid the labor and risk of thinking for oneself.”
Like believing the regulators when they announce their risk weighted bank capital requirements.

The critique of diversity had to be made, but it's kind of like all those politicians who come out in favor of drug legalization only after they have retired from politics.

+1 postmodern sandwich narrative
"“Tocqueville identified the instinct to believe what others do in order to avoid the labor and risk of thinking for oneself.”
here is why you don't want to send your kids to the university of paris
even if it is free! this is a human trait not specific to America or democracy. french socioliogists are nefarious causality pimpers

A comfortable majority of students are enrolled in tertiary institutions are there for some sort of occupational training. Others are scrounging for a signal to the labor market. Only a modest minority are avocationally intellectual and the number actually looking for some sort of Truth are rare as hen's teeth outside of a scatter of seriously religious institutions.

Among the interesting questions at hand is why, over a period of 60 years, has higher education been increasingly dominated by people unwilling and unable to stay in their lane. The 'Diversity' apparat and 'diversity' discourse is an ongoing social work project undertaken by people ill-equipped to engage in any such thing and with a client population whose deficit of preparation has been under construction for 20 years. The implications of putting an end to it are that a bloc of students at private universities, fancy private colleges, and 'Public Ivys' will be redirected to ordinary state universities; a bloc of students at ordinary state universities will be redirected to state colleges and rank and file private colleges; a bloc of students at state colleges and rank and file private colleges will be redirected to community colleges; and a bloc of students at community colleges will be told that they're not prepared for tertiary schooling. This is the social disaster institutional diversicrats insist they must avert.

Or maybe it's just an institutionalized campaign of harassment against a menu of people who aren't mascot groups of the Democratic Party. In which case you have to ask why the higher ed apparat is populated with so many malicious social partisans.

The stakes are so high, between a lifetime of a rewarding career or a lifetime of mediocrity, that members of the out-groups know they must band together in order to maintain their place in the pecking order that has become America: the divide between the affluent 1% and the rest. Great success today depends on getting into an elite college. It was not thus in my day, back when a degree from an elite college was not essential to a rewarding career. "The spirit of grievance has been imported into the academy", writes Kronman, "a sense of hurt and wrong on the part of minority students". Implicit in Kronman's essay is that they don't belong at Yale and the other elite colleges. But absent the "group-based" thinking Kronman abhors, the minority students suspect they wouldn't be there. That's the dilemma Kronman ignores.

My good friend works at an elite college. According to him, the college wants a diverse student body, and will go to great lengths (academic scholarships, etc.) to achieve diversity - because the college can afford it. What's ironic is that the minority students and other out-grouImplicit in Kronman's essay is that they don't belong at Yale and the other elite colleges: s who graduate from Yale become part of the elite. Do they maintain "group-based" thinking after graduation, or do they adopt independent thinking like the students who did belong at Yale? Is Kronman's fear that the "group-based" thinking, and the grievances underlying it, will continue after graduation and become part of the ethos of the businesses and professions they enter? Or stated another way, will they threaten while male dominance?

Ah yes, only the Yale and such types can possibly achieve eliteness, because that’s how it is and if we tell people that enough they’ll believe it and subsequently make it true.

Hogwash says I

“Great success today depends on getting into an elite college”

I suspect this is actually less true today and than it was back in your day.

My second paragraph was garbled, and should have read: My good friend works at an elite college. According to him, the college wants a diverse student body, and will go to great lengths (academic scholarships, etc.) to achieve diversity - because the college can afford it. What's ironic is that the minority students and other out-groups who graduate from Yale become part of the elite. Do they maintain "group-based" thinking after graduation, or do they adopt independent thinking like the students who did belong at Yale? Is Kronman's fear that the "group-based" thinking, and the grievances underlying it, will continue after graduation and become part of the ethos of the businesses and professions they enter? Or stated another way, will they threaten while male dominance?

As for Clay's comment about the elite colleges, I wish it weren't true that graduates of the elite colleges have an enormous advantage. But they do. Clay is likely reacting to the identification of Yale as elite (with all those liberal professors). I could have identified MIT or Stanford or Chicago or other colleges that are considered elite. Even Peter Thiel, who claims he is opposed to college even though he has two degrees from Stanford (undergraduate and law), has stated that a degree from a second-tier college is essentially useless. The price of a degree from a second-tier is enormous, not that much lower than the price of a degree from an elite, and disproportionate to the expected return. The life difference between the two is so great parents will beg, borrow, steal, and bribe to get their children into an elite.

..and yet, I can point to plenty of people who work for “elite” firms out of very ordinary colleges and even law schools, or can point to attendees of the Standford’s and Harvard’s (I’m not under any confusion as to who’s considered Elite in a general sense) graduate schools that come from comparatively lowly places like Va Tech or Abilene Christian.

Furthermore, what research I’ve read suggests that the best state university students - those that would have gotten into an Ivy had they applied - are roughly as successful as their counterparts who did get in. Perhaps there’s new research that suggests otherwise?

Either way, I’ve not seen much that I found convincing as to big deal schools being especially valuable beyond a very superficial level.

look at how this media headline about the speech police at the local university is framed
"tony frank responds to "outrage" over inclusive language guide"
the issue isn't "outrage" there are actually quite a few legitimate issues
about what they are doing to the universities. reframing it as outrage
is a postmodern sociology con

rayward, you are an old white male.

thus have you been refuted in this age.

Correct me if I am mistaken but there nothing novel in the article. Is this not in a nutshell what Allan Bloom wrote about in the 1980s? If the author was not a dean of a highly regarded institution would the piece have been published in WSJ?

The pathology he's describing wasn't nearly so virulent in 1987. I think Bloom would have endorsed what this dean has to say, but Bloom himself had his own menu of concerns and the subject under discussion was one among several. (There was an extensive discussion of how AA distorts and disfigures academic life, informed by Bloom's experiences at Cornell in 1969).

Bloom was actually a homosexual. He simply conned gullible American conservatives.

His homosexuality was irrelevant to his theses on academic and intellectual life. There was no 'con', except in the addled heads of liberal snotnoses.

"His homosexuality was irrelevant to his theses on academic and intellectual life."

I see, and Philby's communism had nothing to do with his spying on England.

you see what you did there!
you just stepped in the sophistry

No, I didn't at all.

are the tox screen results back
from johns hopkins public hospital!

Bloom was also a Joo and thus consumed the blood of Christian children.

I wouldn't say that, but I wonder where his real loyalties were. I don't think we will ever know for sure. I still remember the Pollard affair.

Good god do you have any semblance of a real life?

Do you, sheeple? I am not Mr. Ribeiro. I am Mr. Jones.

ok, so did anybody today see where the statistical concept of relative risk triggered fraught-fraught on the part of major media?

It is not that simple.

math= fraught fraught?

There’s groupthink at universities and it’s because of diversity? What’s diversity? How was there independent thought before diversity?
Truth seeking is being hindered? Who goes to college to explore the Truth, as opposed to get credentials for a job? How did students seek the Truth back when only the affluent and the racial majority got into college? Or maybe it wasn’t the goal then?

Why start the essay by pointing out that academics and politics are separate and then use Tocqueville ´s views of politics to justify the author’s view of academics?

And why start with college? Where else is truth being sought? In the media? On social media? At home? How are students prepared for this truth seeking that’s waiting for them in college?

Here’s an idea how well colleges are developing students ´s critical skills (Hint: they’re not)

c'mon claude the guy is clearly saying that in the good old days there was diversity of opinion and homogeneity of demographics, now we have diversity of demographics and homogeneity of opinion

Meanwhile, in the real world ...

Oh, so now you want to go all succinct on us? C'mon, get in the swing of things!

If college/uni (aka country clubs) haven't already ruined the country, they won't -- for 60 years the toxic fashionistas have signaled their virtue through country club Maoism but it's always been about fashion -- what's Buffy wearing to the club today - oooh, it's a red ceramic Mao star! - so who gives a fuck? As long as the rich get richer the uni endowments get bigger and what happens on campus stays on campus as it always has. The kids get four (to eight) years of drugs, sex, rock 'n roll, presided over by the loco parentis (and I mean loco) of 'professors' who 'guide' them, whilst rent-seeking and having a pretty nice, lolling lifestyle once their suckbutting tenure path is done - and we all go our merry way! Just don't mention the word 'truth' or 'seriousness' in the ivied halls -- it has never had a place, and why should it? It's an ELECTIVE, man...

Meanwhile Brazil is successfully reforming its education system, slashing expenses, prioritizing high added value courses, investing in airspatial sciences and planning to build nuclear plants. The country of the future, today. Maybe we can learn from it.

Just like you, the only thing they're capable of doing is burning it down:

Oh, I have read about it. I can assure you it is mostly anti-Brazilian leftist agitation. Brazil's government has fired the head of the space research institute for anti-Brazilian propaganda.

I haven't been on campus for a long time. I trust the observation above that most kids just want a degree and then a job. Given what I know of people, a minority are going to be truly political. A few more might have "go to a protest" consciously or unconsciously on their college bucket list.

Go to a protest, achievement unlocked.

It’s a perniciously false dilemma between being a free agent and being a representative. It’s also false to pretend that the University has ever been a place where students went to practice the unencumbered pursuit of truth. The University has ever been a place where attendees come bearing the history they represent, and chasing dreams that make truth, at best, one goal among many. There are excesses now as there ever have been. But one good way to interpret at least some of the “identity politics” of the University, is that the pursuit of truth is beginning to recognize alternative backgrounds and objectives to those that have predominated for most of its history. Any truly universalist pursuit of truth will guide the truth-seeking character of its participants into understanding that all institutions run on somewhat arbitrary norms and styles, non-rational power relationships, etc.; that these may conflict with those of a diversifying population; are improvable; and that changing them can be rough going. Excesses, sure. Threats to foundations? No evidence for it from this rhetoric.

By that same token, those somewhat arbitrary norms you refer to, if they're improvable, they must also be degradable.

These are the same young people Alex was telling us not too long ago should have more weight put on their votes in elections?

I’m not sure how relevant de Tocqueville is here but the overall point is a fairly obvious one that critics of diversity as a dominant philosophy have had for at least 25 years in my memory and probably much further.

A classic Alex post. Zero substance, literally a simple copy paste reposting of another article. Is this the marginal revolution Tumblr?

Two visceral fictional accounts of "groupthink", one American, one Russian, both 19th century:

--Twain's Huckleberry Finn, chs. 21 and 22, the lynch mob's encounter with Col. Sherburn, and

--Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, Part I, "Underground" and the closing pages of Part II, where the Underground Man lodges his rejection of "vsemstvo"--"omnitude", "all-of-us-ism" (a theme explored in greater dramatic depth in his later novel Demons).

I don't know how long I've been writing comments on the web. But on the subject of universities I have been remarkably consistent. I always say Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Let Cardinal Ximenez and Henry VIII, amongst others, be your guides.

Read the senior thesis of Michelle Obama. She talks of a fear of assimilation into "White" culture. That the Black students' experience of going to an elite institution will damage the greater Black culture, especially poor Blacks, as the assimilated Black elites lose their Black identity. Implicit in her view is that the Black racial identity and outlook is in danger at elite institutions unless you demand that the institutions never allow "White" culture to dominate. America is not a melting pot, we are competing interest groups often on the brink of war. We are not working toward common goals, we are competing for our group to dominate. The opposition is not wrong, they are racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or whatever label helps the cause. They gained admission based on group identity is it any wonder they want to extend the power of group identity beyond the campus?


You call Black street gangs terrorist and the main claim of Mr. Bush goes out the window.

Over 1,600 people have been shot on the streets of Chicago, most gang-related, so far this year. Why is that not terrorism but a mentally ill shooter is? Huge sections of Chicago aren't a daily killing field for organized groups? But mostly Blacks killing Blacks isn't a priority for liberals these days compared to the occasional mentally ill shooter.

A mentally ill person writes that he is angry at Democratic Presidential candidates saying that they want to decriminalize illegal border crossings and want to offer free health care to illegal entrants. Why not blame Democratic rhetoric for motivating him to kill? Yet if others say that we must secure the border, they are racists encouraging mass murder. It is just a dishonest attempt to shut down debate.

And what in the hell that had to do with what I wrote about college campuses is beyond me. Unless you are trying to imply that I'm a White Supremacists because I'm against group identity policies by the government on college campuses or elsewhere.

You are rather missing the point. This is the moment when Republicans with a hyphen, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans can be Republicans in good standing. Americans in good standing.

I am missing your point. You can ask Ms. Obama why she was so afraid that Blacks had to be sure to keep their Black identity for the good of the Black community. Her views may have changed, hopefully, but that view seems to be present at many college campuses. Diversity can be a strength but not if it transforms into identity politics that reward or punish based on race the system starts to breakdown. People can be proud of their heritage, but if we start rewarding people based on their identity with some group they what are we as a country. We admit people based on some group that they belong to, race, color, sex etc then we are telling them that holding on to that group identity is the key to advancement. We encourage people to go into camps as a way to pain power and control. You see it on college campuses and you see it growing elsewhere

Some teenager wrote a thing 30 years ago, and you want to talk about that.

And while I haven't read every comment here, I don't think we've seen a full throated support for an ideas-based conservatism, all races welcome.

At best, and it's still bad, we've seen MR make this mistake:

Taking racial fears too seriously, and allowing them to supplant American values.

She was a senior at Princeton at it was an honors paper. And the views she expressed are still expressed by others. Her views might have changed but those views still seem to pop up on college campuses.

And the Slate piece says that if you disagree with him you are a racist. You can not disagree with him for any other reason but that you are a racist. No matter what you say, I don't care, you are a racist.

The El Paso killer heard the insanity of the Democratic Presidential views and reacted as a madman might, he became violent. So everybody who rejects the insane views of the Democrats is secretly a racist yearning to kill people. Great logic.

Wonderful hate-filled rhetoric that we can expect from the left over and over again.

Half the country is racist, we must punish those who have benefited from "White Privilege" etc. You must pay reparations. If you are Black and disagree you are not really Black. You are worse than the Nazis. The only reason to want secure borders is because you are racist. Did you know that President Obama was a racist who deported 800,000 illegals?

Joe Biden is a racist. Nancy Pelosi is a racist. The list keeps growing. Starts to sound like Stalin or Mao sending people to reeducation camps.

In the meantime, the Democrats play identity politics. They and their friends in the media must find racism in everything. In school murals, in "code" words, you complain about the plight of Black people in Baltimore, you are a racist, the word infestation is now racist. George Orwell must be trembling in his grave. Colleges must have safe zones from dangerous ideas or offensive words.

And if you complain about the path Democrats are taking the country on - that's right - you are a racist.

"I don't think we've seen a full throated support for an ideas-based conservatism, all races welcome"

I don't think I've heard any workable Democratic plans but a lot of you're a racist I can do whatever I want

BTW I wonder what anonymous has to say now that the Dayton shooter is said to be a lefty who supports Democrats, antifa, hates police, etc

Democratic hate speech drove a mentally ill person into a killer?

"You can ask Ms. Obama why she was so afraid that Blacks had to be sure to keep their Black identity for the good of the Black community."

Presumably that is where she saw her future livelihood.

The El Paso shooter is a Woodrow Wilson Progressive who combined racism with left-wing economics that could have been cribbed from the Green New Deal. The guy racialized and radicalized the left-wing infatuation with population control to realize its economic and environmental agenda (his manifesto is a hate letter to big business and capitalism too). No conservative could buy into that rot.

I told you a week or two ago that "the base" was beyond reason, could not be negotiated with, only defeated.

You dudes thinking it's cute to dodge responsibility for El Paso?

Proof in point. Speaking to the people with more normal names who have had the sense to stay quiet these last couple days .. vote Democrat, the full slate. It's the only way to scare the GOP into renewal. Into sanity. Into morality.

(Technically they have a chance now. Force Pence out, put up Romney as VP, and then force Trump out, for a clean slate .. but they're not smart enough, or don't have the balls for that.)

We all know that you never fail to give us your daily two minutes of hate directed at Trump, "the base," conservatives, etc., and your bad-faith, amateur political advice.

Irony: One pervasive "groupthink" is the idea that "independent thinking" means following an ideal of independent thinking as a closed, decided-for-all-time idea. I hear much of what the writer derides here in D'Toqueville's argument: "...the instinct to believe what others do in order to avoid the labor and risk of thinking for oneself." D'Toqueville fears tyranny, yet I hear this argument for "freedom of thought" espoused prominently by 8chan and other radical right domestic terrorists. How can an entire article be written on the subject of independent thought and leave this point out? Doesn't everything ultimately end in irony or a koan as Buddhists would say? Yet I don't hear anything but repetition of time-worn ideas.

Other more modern thinkers (e.g., Franz Boas) stress the expansive experience modern society gives us with ideas and cultures and the need to, well, think for oneself (including think about how to think) in the face of new evidence, not simply assert that your opinion is "independent thought" and therefore unassailable.

So I guess in the end I agree; we need discourse to break unconscious bounds on our thoughts. But I disagree that his side of the political spectrum is immune from that affliction.

Hitler was a vegetarian. You aren't a vegetarian, too, are you?

It's the future you chose. How can multicultural democracy end up any other way?

By not rewarding people based on group identity. By encouraging the free exchange of goods and services through a market rather than using political power to reward groups based on identity politics. In other words, we are screwed

Libertarian ideologues are an odd mirror of the Marxists. Both think they can create a transcendent Homo Economicus who only cares about expanding GDP and frictionless exchange. Ideology, they think, trumps biology. It's gnosticism.

I suspect that libertarians are sufficiently on the spectrum that it a libertarian state may actually work for them, if you could get enough together, and keep outsiders out (hah!).

Unfortunately, they're only about 5% of the general population, at best, and remain completely oblivious to their cognitive remoteness from most other human beings.

Let me see, we have a white male citing the opinion of a white male who makes reference to an accepted part of the white male canon, and it is members of other groups who have a problem with independent thinking.

I could say the same thing about the tenets of Islam. Or Marxism. Or Kazcinsky's manifesto. The ideology is a free-floating variable; atomized, mentally ill people can seize on any number of things.

What should be of most concern is the fact that taboos against political violence are being removed, from the margins inward. And it's frankly not so marginal any more. Rand Paul, one of the few actually decent people in Washington, ended up having necrotic tissue removed from his lung after being physically ambushed by his upper middle class neighbor.

Whaddya expect when Trump got elected? More political violence. Still less than the Nixon days but a lot for our current era of peace.

What, precisely, is Trump doing that justifies breaking Rand Paul's ribs? It's not like the country has never kept out immigrants or deported people before.


The defensive wards are going down. Collective action problem; but Dems at the margin have no incentive to rein it in. Antifa has no enemies on the left.

Smarter Dems recognise the inevitable reaction does not serve them, but can only criticise the descent in code. Dumber Dems blame "Republican rhetoric".

Surely this must be parody.

Actually the opposite, a belief in markets does not require transcendent humans. It assumes that people are deeply flawed, often make mistakes, and can even be immoral. Still, the free exchange of goods and services works much better than command and control. Your motivations can be altruistic or selfish. The market doesn't much care. The expansion of GDP is a by-product, not a required goal.

Markets are efficient. Individuals can be all over the place. Even clueless people can free-ride on the benefits of a free market.

Think of a race track. The odds that are set at the track are an accurate prediction of the outcome. Is it perfect? No, but close enough that it is hard to beat. (If you disagree, please go to the nearest track and prove me wrong) Are all the individuals perfect actors? No, but as a group, they are good at setting the odds.

But that's not what the libertarians are saying. They think such things as social atomization, or deep-seated cultural or biological differences can be overcome through the power of Free Markets! So they're ideologues, and not at all realistic about human nature.

I'm not sure where you get that idea but read Gary Becker's Nobel speech

Markets can overcome biological differences? I don't even know what that means

Your first comment suggests you think the problems inherent in multicultural democracy can be overcome by free markets and strict meritocracy. Which is really the Founding vision of the US but it's a peculiarly Anglo-European one.

I suppose markets could allow us to overcome in the sense that political boundaries need to be set by markets the same way markets shape the demographics and culture of neighborhoods when they're allowed to. Robin Hanson will admit to you that that's not a problem but he's the only libertarian I know who's willing to accept that frame.

Is he saying that Buffy should denounce her sorority because they have a common mindset

Group-think (at least a certain amount) is necessary for collective action which is on a collective level more efficacious that solitary individual independent, critical, woke thinking and action. So we can expect to see a certain amount of group-thinking in most human populations, not to mention 19 year old college students. Unfortunately what group-think, collective action is efficacious at doing is sometimes horrible and self-destructive, but that's the way it goes. The alternatives are to tend your own garden (including moving somewhere else) or to join a group and try to influence its thinking in a better direction, to the extent that circumstances allow.
Americans have much to learn from Brazil.
Also I would add that extremely responsive governemtn has some downsides (or trade-offs).

RESEARCH: Republicans are more succeptible to identity-based groupthink than are Democrats.

Excerpt: "So although the term “identity politics” is often wielded to criticize the Democrats for focusing on race and gender, Republicans are typically more susceptible to appeals based on their shared identity than Democrats,"

A bit of the pot calling the kettle black here. The biggest group engaging in identity politics are Republican, perhaps churchgoing, males. It just so happens that the white male identity is constructed by actively disallowing the identities of others, a major clue as to its tribal nature. The link is interesting in that regard.

Let’s grant that “Republican, perhaps churchgoing, males” are more likely to identify as church members, fans of a particular sports team, or citizens of America. In this sense, they are “more susceptible to appeals based on their shared identity.”  This hardly refutes the fact that Democrats are pushing identity politics, focussing on race and gender in a divisive way.

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