Discover more from In My Tribe
Links to Consider, 6/6
N.S. Lyons on authoritarianism; Richard Hanania writes a queer essay; Alex Gutentag on teachers' unions; Infovores on Caplan on education
the emerging Gulf State model is a liberal system that is authoritarian but not totalitarian (that is, the state is not interested in intruding into and micromanaging absolutely every aspect of private life or trying to manipulate thought and collective reality by enforcing wholesale vocal conformity to an ideology or other shifting edifice of lies). You can’t oppose the government, but otherwise you can pretty much do what you want.
He refers to Armin Rosen’s article, which has been getting a lot of notice.
In the United States, democracy seems to be evolving in the direction of decentralized totalitarianism, with wrongthink punished by the mob. Lyons writes,
Western liberalism’s civilizational breakdown run much deeper than bad policy and incompetent or even malevolent elites. Rather, as many, including myself, have by now concluded, over a couple of centuries Western liberalism essentially cannibalized the prior substructure of Christian values, moral assumptions, and social norms that it inherited and unknowingly relied on to function; now that those foundations have been sufficiently destroyed, it has no solid ground to stand on and is collapsing into the weird transitional stew of dysfunctional post-modern totalitarianism we now enjoy.
Centralized authoritarianism may allow more of some kinds of freedom. The Singapore model?
on what basis can we hide from kids the fact that some adults are gay or trans? You can only rationally do so if you think the cis-hetero individual should be thought of as the default, idealized form of a human being. We only protect children from models that are bad, which means that conservatives seek to put LGBT issues in the same category as drug use or violence. Otherwise, the “groomer” slur doesn’t make any sense.
But conservatives don’t want to say that there’s anything wrong with being gay or trans, so they’re stuck making nonsensical arguments
I prefer the top comments on his post to the essay itself. One comment says,
I'm more liberal, and I'd guess that I have a more positive view of the LGBs than most of this comment section will. Every LGB I've known has been pretty vanilla and normal.
But the T issue is completely difference [sic]. There's no LGB surgeries, no mental-illness issues for LGBs, no weird metaphysics about the concept of gender, and no elimination of single sex spaces.
I put LGBTQ in the same mental category as deafness. Deaf people deserve equal respect as those with hearing. The rest of us should make every reasonable* attempt to accommodate deaf people. We should not hate deaf people.
But deafness should not become an aspiration. No one should encouraging children to cut off their ears in order to become deaf.
*What would be an unreasonable accommodation for deaf people? Requiring everyone to switch to sign language when a deaf person enters the room? In the case of T’s, allowing males who identify as female to compete in women’s sports and go to women’s bathrooms is not a reasonable accommodation, in my view.
Alex Gutentag writes,
Although it still has the veneer of a labor organization, the teachers’ union is an activist arm of the Democratic party. Since 2016, progressive leaders of the AFT and the NEA have increasingly prioritized political causes like Black Lives Matter and their opposition to Donald Trump. What’s more, external elements have also parasitized the union for their own objectives. For several years, left-wing publications and organizations pressured the teachers’ union to embrace social justice goals unrelated to those of traditional organized labor.
The piece meets my definition of outrage porn. It triggers my anger, and it does not propose any constructive steps to take. But if anything deserves outrage, it is teachers’ unions. And not just for what they did relative to the pandemic.
Economists place a lot of emphasis on testing the distinct predictions of competing models to determine which theories hold up and which can be falsified. But as Huntington-Klein establishes in his published paper on the topic, signaling and human capital are extremely tricky to disentangle empirically.
I should cite my father’s First Iron Law of Social Science: sometimes it’s this way, and sometimes it’s that way. For some students, what they learn makes the most difference in their lives. For some students, the signal that the diploma provides makes the most difference in their lives.
Substacks referenced above: