Keeping up with the FITs 12/16
Razib Khan's reading list; CRT teaching regulated by state; Robert Wright on national paranoia; Mike Munger on law without the state; Ben Thompson on the Metaverse
(note: FIT comes from Fantasy Intellectual Teams, a game I tried to start this summer)
I wish I could keep up with Razib Khan’s reading suggestions. These included Christian Parenti explaining how the Privilege Walk (an exercise popular in anti-racism training seminars) combined elements of Herbert Marcuse and L. Ron Hubbard.
Central to cults like Scientology and Re-evaluation Counseling is the act of confession and self-abnegation in front of a group. That is what the Privilege Walk is all about—there being no standardized set of questions, the statements that one answers with a step forward or backward can become quite intimate and potentially very embarrassing.
I should add that New Age psychological programming was used in other training programs in corporations back in the 1990s, and for all I know it still gets used.
Khan also links to Alice Evans on the origins of cultural differences in female power.
With the Neolithic Revolution three kinds of agricultural societies emerged in the world: patrilineal, bilateral and matrilineal. In Eurasia, patrilineal communities transmitted land and herds to sons. Concern for paternity and lineage purity motivated tight restrictions on women’s sexuality and mobility. By contrast, horticultural societies in Southern Africa and Southeast Asia tended to be matrilineal, tracing descent and property down the female line. With less concern for paternity, women moved freely in their communities. Native Americans were mostly bilateral and recognised the importance of women's contributions.
Eurasia itself saw another important division several thousand years ago. The Middle East and South Asia grew even more endogamous (through cousin marriage and caste). Since rumours of female promiscuity would dishonour the entire lineage, women were increasingly cloistered, especially in socially diverse towns. Meanwhile in medieval Europe emerged several latent advantages: nuclear families and participatory assemblies. These innovations would prove important later, when skill-biased technological change increased the economic returns to female employment.
I am tempted to excerpt more, but you should just read the whole essay instead.
On the FAIR substack, Grayson Slover writes,
But there is a more fundamental question, one that has profound implications for America: What type of educational philosophy can a school be based on in our country today? Should schools like MVRCS [a charter school in Massachusetts] be allowed to define themselves on the belief that America’s founding ideals represent an incomplete but significant break from the intolerance and violence that characterized most of human history? Or must all schools now commit to educating students toward “liberation from systems of oppression,” thereby accepting the ideological view that racism and oppression are intrinsic to the American system of liberal democracy?
The October 19th BESE [Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education] meeting concluded with the board members voting unanimously to deny MVRCS’s request for a waiver. The court has yet to rule on MVRCS’s claims.
My sense of it is that the BESE does not want to admit that it is telling schools that they must teach Critical Race Theory. Granting a waiver would constitute such an admission.
The asymmetry between how threatening your rivals seem to you and how threatening you think you seem to your rivals can be extreme.
He walks through the dynamics of nation A thinking that nation B is a threat, so that A builds up military capability. This makes B think that A is a threat, even though A “knows” that A would never attack B.
Implicitly, Wright is claiming that security issues are more symmetrical than we acknowledge. We err on the side of paranoia about Russia or China, for example. And then we make moves that justify their paranoia about us, which leads them to make moves that justify our paranoia about them, etc.
This seems to assume that policy makers only make one type of error. There is the opposite error—the West should have been more paranoid about Hitler. Many people today think that our policy makers should be more paranoid about China. Wright says that the key is to have real cognitive empathy—to truly understand what Chinese leaders are thinking.
Several days afterward, Andrew A. Michta, a member of what Wright would call “the blob,” indeed wrote an op-ed for the WSJ trying to truly understand what Chinese and Russian leaders are thinking.
The rising threat of high-intensity state-on-state war is driven by the growing elite conviction in Beijing and Moscow that their power disadvantage relative to the U.S. and its allies will worsen unless they move soon, making victory increasingly unattainable.
Michta does not draw conclusions, but he makes it seem as though the only thing we can do about this is prepare for war. The idea of changing China’s and Russia’s perception so that they feel less threatened does not occur to him.
It is no longer necessary to create a vast monopoly entity capable of unanswerable violence; all that is necessary is that citizens adopt a set of institutions that instantiate a presumption that we are all equal before the law.
What has changed to make this “no longer necessary.” We have better communication technology to identify people who misbehave. But it seems to me that human nature is still not ready for fully voluntary systems of governance. If you agree with Professor Munger, I’ve got some stories about shoplifting in Los Angeles to show you.
the Metaverse is the set of experiences that are completely online, and thus defined by their malleability and scalability, which is to say that the Metaverse is already here. . .
there is no reason why the Metaverse, or any web application for that matter, will be built on the blockchain. Why would you use the world’s slowest database when a centralized one is far more scalable and performant? . . .
The Metaverse, in contrast, is not about eating the world; it’s about creating an entirely new one, from entertainment to community to money to identity. If Elon Musk wants to go to the moon, Mark Zuckerberg wants to create entirely new moons in digital space. This is a place where LLCs make no sense, where regulations are an after-thought, easily circumvented even if they exist. This is a place with no need for traditional money, or traditional art; the native solution is obviously superior. To put it another way, “None of this real world stuff has any digital world value” — the critique goes both ways.