Keeping up with the FITs, 12/13
Noah Smith is optimistic; Scott Newman on Princeton lying; Martinez and Ferguson also bemoan higher ed; N.S. Lyons on lost liberalism; Steven Pinker on Wokism vs. facts.
Cheap solar, cheap wind, and cheap storage mean that we could see the first large sustained decrease in electricity costs in over half a century. People are finally starting to realize this, and are speculating about what could be done with cheap abundant electricity.
Scott Newman writes about Princeton,
What I’m describing is a kind of liar’s club. Hopeful high school students lie about their commitment to social justice in a bid to gain admission, while the universities themselves lie about all the risk-taking, world-changing mavericks they’re looking to nurture. Neither side dares to speak the grubby truth, which is that the undergraduate experience will be a pro forma exercise in leftist indoctrination that precedes a march into the hallowed halls of investment banks and management consultancies.
Similarly, Antonio Garcia Martinez interviews Niall Ferguson. Ferguson says,
If they've spent four years being subjected to woke indoctrination, there are two possibilities. One, they'll believe some of this profoundly illiberal stuff. More likely they'll learn to pretend to believe it and live the kind of lying life that was such a central pathology of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in the period after the war. And I hate the fact, I really hate the fact that people are behaving on major campuses like they live under an authoritarian regime.
Earlier, he says
I think that we are evolved to learn in relatively close proximity to one another. That's why campuses work as places. We need a campus that has real freedom of thought and speech. They don't seem to exist.
You know what else doesn’t exist any more? Liberal democracy—at least that is what N.S. Lyons writes.
That old era of liberty, the Age of Liberalism, is over. The real reason Biden’s summit for liberal democracies will fail, why it will not accomplish anything in turning back the likes of authoritarian China, is because there no longer is any liberal West. Everywhere upon the face of the earth, Actually Existing Liberalism is now just oligarch technocratic progressivism wearing liberal principles as a skin suit and flirting with authoritarianism.
But could you have written something similar in 1936? And would that not have turned out to be wrong?
On the FAIR substack, Melissa Chen interviews Steven Pinker. Pinker says,
I've shown with Seth Stephens-Davidowitz looking at Google search data that search for racist jokes has gone down over the last 20 years. And when it comes to attitudes towards interracial marriage, we don't have to look at attitudes. We can look at quite literally skin in the game. Quite literally, how many people do marry people of other races? And the answer is a lot, and that has been increasing steadily for 50 years. So by a lot of measures, racism really has declined no matter how you measure it, and the United States is not the worst. Again, it shouldn't be such a feat of mental gymnastics to both believe that and to believe that racism still exists in the United States, but I find that it's surprisingly difficult to get people to acknowledge those two ideas.
if you follow the heuristic “Always be a little bit less racist than the people around you,” well, if the people around you have abandoned white supremacy, and they have no problem with interracial marriage, and they really believe that that we're all equal, and you're trying to be even less racist than them, well, now you're going to start to object to Halloween costumes and-
Melissa Chen: Cultural appropriation.
Steven Pinker: Cultural appropriation, exactly. And so there could be a kind of escalator, a virtue signaling escalator if the rule is “Whatever the level is, always try to be less racist than that.”
The elites in our society are increasingly becoming liars to themselves. Not "stupidity" - dishonesty.
"Hopeful high school students lie about their commitment to social justice in a bid to gain admission, while the universities themselves lie about all the risk-taking, world-changing mavericks they’re looking to nurture. "
FBI agents lie to FISA court knowing the FISA court will pretend to believe the lies so as to illegally spy on the Trump campaign (2016)
FBI director lies about HR Clinton, her illegal email server, and her many illegal lies to the FBI (from 2008-2012).
Pres. W. Clinton lies, committing perjury under oath, about having (legal but immoral) sexual relations with Monica L. Is impeached by Congress but not convicted due to the votes of Democrats supporting perjury (1998).
Elisabeth Warren lies to Harvard about her "Native American" ancestry, is hired in 1993 and counted by Harvard in its diversity statistics.
Elite liars, not all Democrats, have been allowed to benefit from their lies.
Accepting lies and living a life of lies has been growing for decades since the 60s.
Tho the reality might be less actual dishonesty and more internal self-censorship:
"The sort of student who gets into Princeton has probably spent his or her teenage years in constant fear of slipping up in any way that might threaten his or her picture-perfect college application...
progressive ideals are mostly for show—as evidenced by the fact that the actual career paths of typical Princeton graduates are guided by a hunger for status and security, not social justice. "
This essay seems emblematic of Tyler Cowen’s Strivers/Enthusiasts dichotomy in the complacent class. The strivers are suffering under the weight of increasingly intense competition and a more vivid awareness of how many people are better than them. The pressure to excel in this environment makes them increasingly willing to lie and the end result is a hyper-conforming elite class.
Ed West explored just how far this behavior can go in a recent essay on the phenomenon of lying about your racial identity, which is apparently very common when the incentives are there.
“One study of 14 African states showed that, when a member of one ethnic group becomes president, it leads to an increase in people identifying with that group, since ‘citizens [who] perceive more ethnic favoritism see higher levels of ethnic switching.’”