The Infinite Regress of the Victim Mentality

I recently watched a rather painful video from Stefan Molyneux entitled “But It Wasn’t Real Communism!” In it, a caller tried to (rather pitifully) make the claim that property isn’t a real thing, and that his example of injustice illustrates this fact. The claim was “If I stole a painting from you (Stefan Molyneux), and when I died, I passed it on to my son, who does the painting belong to? You, or my son?” For communists, or general proponents of the idea that property doesn’t exist, this is a slam dunk argument…I guess? The answer is quite simple, and it is “No. If Stefan is still alive, he can claim his property back. But if Stefan is dead, then we might have a different story. If generations have passed, and none have tried to reclaim it, then ultimately it is not Stefan’s anymore. But while Stefan was claiming it, and you aggressed against him, and he is still alive, the painting still belongs to him.” Simple. Just a few sentences, and even that can be condensed. I just wanted to be clear. But the caller’s “point” was that land “taken” by “whites” doesn’t actually belong to them; it belongs to the people they stole it from, and they should give it back. Of course, this all presupposes the whole concept of property in the first place, but let’s continue with the primary point for now.

We’ve all likely heard the claim before. White people owe black people reparations – usually in the form of money – for the injustice of slavery. Men owe women for the injustices of sexism and patriarchy. When conservatives make claims regarding borders, national security, and illegal aliens, some leftist, predictably, brings up the idea that Native Americans were here first, so “white” Americans should leave, or go back to Europe, or something.

Now aside from the fact that nobody living today has gone through the injustices of their ancestors, nor has anybody alive today perpetrated those injustices on any living or deceased person today, and therefore, they do not owe any so called “victim” anything, there is another problem with this line of victim based ideology. Namely, there is always another victim further back, to which a claim can be made for “justice.”

This isn’t to say, of course, that great injustices have been wrought against various peoples the world over for one reason or another. In fact, it is to say precisely that. Human beings, throughout history, if nothing else, have shown within themselves the capacity to enact great harm on each other. And for little reason, no less. Whether it’s something as small as “personal offense” or “dishonor,” or for want of power, humans beings, as seems to be our collective history, has been to perpetrate amazing amounts of injustice on other people. And so to claim that because one injustice in the distant pass occurred, future and completely innocent people should pay for it is absurd.

For instance, take the argument that modern “white” Americans have no claim to the land on which they reside, because it was “stolen” from so-called “native” Americans. As it turns out, Native Americans aren’t so “native” at all. In fact, there are two theories that argue that a Proto-European group first came to the Americas 25 thousand years ago (one theory says it was by boat off the coast of Spain, and another says it was by the Bering Strait land-bridge and its associated islands), a good 10 thousand years before the Bering Strait land-bridge migration of the ancestors of the native Americans. That group is believed to be an ancient Asian group, perhaps Chinese, which would later evolve into the Native Americans we know today. But what happened to those Proto-Europeans, those people that claimed these lands first? According to one theory, they either assimilated, or were “physically obliterated.” They may have also died out due to stiff competition for natural resources, from these newcomers.

In other words, the so-called “native” Americans massacred them, stole their resources, and bred with the true native’s women, and bred them out of existence. In fact, there are some genetic markers left in modern Native Americans that support this, as well.

So what’s the point of this brief bio-archeological lesson? No, it isn’t to create some new race debates of who did what first, or anything stupid and pointless like that. But it serves to illustrate one very simple thing – This is what humans do, historically. We fight over resources, land, or whatever is needed for survival. And then property itself falls into new hands. And if we want to claim that modern people need some sort of reparation for the sins of the fathers, then we can always go back to even more distant victims of injustice, and just claim “Well, I’ll pay you once you pay me for the injustices my ancestors went through from your further ancestors!” There’s always a more distant victim that we, as humanity, can claim.

At some point, we have to the bigger person, and only charge that true injustice happens on the individual level. Did I attack, beat, and lynch you? No? Then I don’t owe you anything. Were you the victim of something that I actively inflicted upon you? No? Then you aren’t a victim of mine. I am not going to sit here and tell you that you owe me something because something happened to my ancestor by some ancestor of yours. That’s preposterous. You are an individual, and so am I. You did me no harm, and therefore, I am not your victim. If you yourself tried to steal my property, then we have an issue. But if your ancestor stole something from my ancestor, you don’t owe me a thing. Victimhood isn’t inheritable. Neither is sin.

If that is the claim, then we must admit an infinite regress in the logic, as there is always another distant victim, whose injustices must be addressed. And at that point, then we are just trading one injustice and set of reparations for another, ad infinitum. And it is utterly pointless, and just a waste of time.

Tl:dr – Did it happen to YOU? No? Then you are not a victim. You are not owed anything.

Are YOU the perpetrator? No? Then you are not an oppressor. You own nobody anything.

It’s that simple. And to suggest otherwise is to indicate that you are terrible at forming a coherent thought, and should be ignored.

A Brief Response to the Critique that Capitalism is a “Zero-Sum Game”

I was recently reading a post by Adrian Iliopoulos over at “The Quintessential Man” blog entitled “The Game Theory Mindset – How to Make Better Decisions”. It was a great blog post, and it got me thinking on the concept of zero-sum games, capitalism, and capitalism’s critiques. And while there are some more valid, or well-thought out critiques of this economic system, the claim that capitalism is a zero sum game is not one of them. In fact, it is intellectually lazy, and the claim is based off of a very basic misunderstanding of capitalism, often conflating it with some kind of mix of corporatism, nepotism, or just all-around corruption. This response will be brief, as that is all that is warranted.

So firstly, what is a zero-sum game? In his book, “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior,” Hungarian-American mathematician John von Neuman and Oskar Morgenstern defined it like this:

A zero-sum game is a game where if the total gains of the participants are added up and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero. Poker and gambling are popular examples of zero-sum games since the sum of amounts won by some players equals the combined losses of the others.”

So does capitalism fit this definition? Is capitalism little more than poker, or general gambling? The answer, which should be immediately evident, is no. In the capitalist system, people trade something of value, for something else they see as having more value. In a way, it’s bartering, 2.0. In basic bartering, if I want John’s milk, I go to him, and ask what he wants for his milk. John is cold, and would like to make a new sweater, so he asks for my cotton and threading. If I value having some milk to drink more than I value my cotton and threading, I will give it to him, in exchange. Capitalism makes this process more efficient by introducing another a 3rd element into the equation that allows me to purchase his milk, and keep my cotton and threading. This 3rd element is money. And I receive that money via the very same bartering technique – a job worked, a product produced, or services rendered, for money. Then I use that money to go to John, and I give him the money to buy his milk. I get the milk, and John goes to my employer and buys the sweater I knitted. The employer gets paid, and Johns gets the sweater. So not only has everyone gotten what they wanted, we’ve actually grown our sphere of influence and participation. More people benefited. Basic bartering, at the end of the day, is a simple trade between two people. But capitalism streamlined the process, allowed more than just the original two to gain, and all of us ended up with exactly what we wanted. Does that sound like a game of poker? Sure, more than 2 people can play. But with poker, there is a pot. And there is only one winner. The end result isn’t someone gets the money, while the other players get something of more value after having lost. At its core, capitalism is so far removed from the concept of a zero-sum game as to be a laughable as a critique. It is ignorance of the highest caliber. Capitalism allowed all involved to get exactly what they wanted. None were in a state of loss, at the end. And not only that, it involved more people, and all of those involved profited. That is how an economy grows.

And that’s why the critique that capitalism is a zero-sum game is fruitless, immature, and intellectually lazy.

I hope you enjoyed it, and got something from that.

The Pendulum of American Extremes

 

This isn’t supposed to be a detailed analysis of historical events, situations, or circumstances. I am one 29 year old guy experiencing some of these things, learning about others, and just touching on them to make a general point. Your likely criticism of “well, here’s the full context of [insert any thing I’m talking about here], you moron!” is probably valid, and reasonable. It’s just not the main point of this. So chill – thanks. 

 

The American Political sport is a unique beast. Something wholly original on the world stage. No, I’m not talking about “The American Experiment” in constitutional republics. That experiment has failed to produce lasting results, although it was a worthy try. No, what I mean is that unlike the rest of the western world, American politics grows more and more extreme at an increasing rate – a rate that should be alarming to most rational and peaceful people.

The media is largely to blame for this, but it goes without saying that American Presidents (as well as any matching houses of congress) get more extreme as time goes on. If I were a better historian, I could likely trace this back from George Washington to now, but I’m not. So I’ll start with JFK. JFK wasn’t extreme, mind you. At least not by today’s standards. Although, to the modern American left, he would be closer to a “Reagan Conservative.” I suppose that kind of makes him extreme. But to some, he was an adamant classical liberal, and that may very well be what got him assassinated. His replacement, Johnson, was a serious racist – not an unheard of quality in the democratic party. Especially for that time. They do a much better job of hiding it, and pretending they’re not these days. Aside from that, his presidency was pretty mild. But then we get Nixon. Of course, by today’s standards, Nixon wouldn’t be really extreme. The Water-Gate scandal, notwithstanding. Again, that’s the point. But after evidence surfaced of illegal election activities aimed at helping him win his 2nd election, Nixon became the first president in history to resign. Nixon’s vice president Gerald Ford took over, and once again, things return to a semblance of normalcy. Then we get Carter, and this is where things begin to pick up steam. Combine his far-left (for the time) creation “The Department of Energy,” sky rocketing gas prices, the Iranian hostage crises, and we see a weak-kneed liberal in way over his head.

The pendulum swung hard back to the right.

Ronald Regan is elected in a landslide, the Iranian hostage crises comes to an end, Communism is defeated once and for all and the cold war ends, and taxes are substantially lowered. At least, that’s official policy. (The reality is that Reagan raised a whole bunch of taxes…) Reagan’s presidency was replete with far right (again, for that time – not by today’s standards) ideas – strong military spending, significant military involvements, overthrowing governments in South American and elsewhere. The presidency of Ronald Reagan is a neo-con’s utopia. In the end, the growth of government, in scope and power, made this presidency a disappointment for Anarchists and libertarians. George H.W. Bush ran on largely the same ideals. His campaign slogan “No New Taxes” was followed by exactly what we should be coming to expect from statists (but still haven’t)…more taxes. Plus, a new, overt, and unpopular war in the gulf. But after 16 years of a hard shift to the right in America, the pendulum would swing back hard left.

Enter Bill Clinton. The savvy, energetic, young governor from Arkansas enjoyed a massive win over GHWB, and became the first democratic governor since FDR to serve for a full two terms. And, as was common to the historical leftist ideology of the time in America, America saw itself engaged in more overseas wars and military engagements. Also common to leftist politics, taxes were raised. Friendly economists will be quick to point out that the deficit fell, employment was high, yadda yadda. I like economics, but most Keynesian economists are not well known for principles, but whatever they can do to artificially inflate numbers. Paul Krugman immediately comes to mind. But with the Monica Lewinsky scandal of the late 90’s, and Clinton’s subsequent impeachment by Congress, his popularity by the end of his presidency lessened. With the Republican Revolution led by Newt Gingrich, much of Bill’s leftist policies had to be curtailed. Dick Morris coined the political phrase “triangulation,” a strategy of encouraging a more extreme point of view, with the intent to bargain your way back towards a more desired policy, while looking like you were willing to negotiate. A solid strategy, but a mix of republican and democratic ideals only leads to watered down versions of either, and nobody wants that.

George W. Bush easily defeats – via the only voting mechanism that matters, anyway (The Electoral College) – Al Gore, Clinton’s Vice President. Which shouldn’t be surprising for anybody at this time, right? Is the pattern beginning to emerge? And it is with this election that the media begins to actively fight a president in a way America has yet to see. Yes, the media could be antagonistic towards a President before Bush. But it was nothing like this. With the constant personal attacks, the media began to influence culture. Saturday Night Live saw a revival in ratings thanks to Will Ferrell’s portrayal of an idiotic Bush. It didn’t help that Bush couldn’t pronounce more complex words like “nuclear,” very well *Snicker* But here was a president who actually wanted education reform and policy to be the primary focus of his administration see the attack on 9/11 become what he was known for, instead. America now at war, and with Bush now a war-time president, we see many favored neocon ideas become policy. Strong Military presence (again) in the Middle East, the passing of the patriot act, a renewed interest and distrust of the NDAA, NAFTA, and the coming housing crises, all fed into the media’s portrayal of a President not only wildly unfit for the job, but possibly doing a worse job than his predecessors in a myriad of areas. But it isn’t just an objective worse. There is a political worse, too. The media hates this man. No President in history (up to that point) had been as vilified, ridiculed, mocked, and attacked on a personal level from everyone from the mainstream media, popular culture, and news outlets from overseas as George W. Bush was. Songs were written about him, or extending his “cowboy policies” to all of America in general. Senators and Congressmen were vitriolic in their criticisms, as were people like Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, or notorious race pimp provocateur, Al Sharpton.

And it all changed once Barack Obama got into office. The pendulum, once again, swung so far back to the left, that Barack Obama, a freshman senator from Illinois, with almost no real political experience – aside from being “community organizer” and a “present” voting Senator – plowed his way to the white house on the fact that he was black, and said “hope” and “change” a lot. That was literally it. Oh, and he was pushing for as far left policies as Bush pushed for on the right. The only people standing up to Obama were labeled racists. And they were called racists for 8 years, even during the increasing number of scandals during Obama’s presidency. Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the continuing presence in the Middle East, new engagements in Syria and Libya, the creation, funding, and training of the terrorist organization that would become known as ISIS, rampant shootings all over the country from crazy leftists who were seemingly over-prescribed medications that they subsequently ignored, police brutality…and on and on. Edward Snowden, Julian Assange from Wikileaks, and Chelsea Manning would reveal even greater horrors. Rampant spying on the American people, which started under Bush II, but continued and ramped up under Obama, became a major focal point for almost 4 years. Obama, the president who ran on the idea that the Executive branch needed to be more transparent, continued to push for the extradition of Edward Snowden, with the likely intent to try (and find him guilty) Snowden for treason. All that despite claiming to support whistle-blowers. And if you criticized Obama for any of that, you were called a racist, a bigot, a xenophobe, a truther, an Alex Jones or Glenn Beck supporter…And people were called that for 8 years. Good people with legitimate claims of injustice. And so the pendulum swung again, only this time, it would go for a candidate that many had written off. Too few saw the writing on the wall. Too few recognized the patterns. This is true even now.

So Donald Trump wins – landslide win, I might add. Forget the pundits. Trump dominated. It was an easy win. And this despite the protests, the marches, the violence – all coming from the left and other Trump detractors, mind you – Trump wins. Solidly so. And within his first two weeks in office, America pulls out of the TPP, a 70 day ban on refugees entering the United States from certain countries is enacted (opposition being just as fierce as it was supportive of Obama when he did the same thing, but for longer – but again, criticism of Obama is racist), and a bill enters congress with the intent to shut down the EPA. Trump brings in a pro-school choice (the horror!) candidate to head the Education Department. He nominates a conservative judge to fill the seat by the recently deceased Antonin Scalia. And what do we see from the combined efforts of George Soros backed power brokers? The MSM suddenly grows a spine, and decides to go on constitutional watch duty, as if they ever cared about that document in the first place. Celebrities call for marshal law, or Trump’s assassination. Whichever makes their feelz more fuzzy, I suppose. The SNL mockings resume. Hell, they don’t even stop at Trump. They go after his kids, his wife…the man’s family is fair game, apparently. At least if you’re a gay Jew on an airplane, anyway.

So what’s my point with this brief American Politics recap?

Where does the pendulum go from here?

America was 2 rigged elections away (Democratic Primary, and then the General Election) from “electing” a socialist….er, sorry. A “social democrat.” A “social democrat,” I might add, who has never read an economic text in his life.

So where does the pendulum go after Trump? Protests over the right to free speech abound in this country. “Anti-fascist” fascists are attacking people with differing views. Bloodying them, punching and macing them in the face. Leaving them in the street to bleed out. These loons have even shot their own people at these events. A whole bunch of “women” decided it would be a good idea to wear pink hats and vagina masks and march around D.C. and other places, because that somehow teaches Trump what’s what or something. I don’t know. I don’t think anybody does. All I know is that a bunch of gross women got up, talked about things most people don’t talk about in polite company (it’s common – leftist women typically aren’t very classy), somehow “reasoned” that talks about blowing up the white house could be taken out of context in a negative way, or were “just joking,” or something. Again, I don’t know. Reason isn’t a common denominator with these things. But again, I ask…

Where does the pendulum go from here? Can America survive the next swing? Are we even going to survive this one?

I don’t know. But I do know it’s people we’re talking about. People are notoriously irrational, hateful, spiteful, and generally, pretty stupid. The odds aren’t good.

So I guess my last question is – Which country are you moving to? 🙂

I like Malta. What about you? Let’s talk about this in the comments section below, or on Twitter.