The Flight from Truth by Jean-François Revel

A fine review of a book published in 1991 that is astonishing in its ability to see into the future and exactly captures the ideological world we are in right now. I will do my own review of it in the next week or so, but this will give you some sense of what there is. I will only say there is much much more and is the most insightful work on our present dilemma I have come across, but no one would write it today – well maybe Thomas Sowell – but I fear even more that no one would publish it. Here’s the review.

BOOK REVIEW: THE FLIGHT FROM TRUTH

by 

The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information by Jean-Francois Revel (New York: Random House, 1991); 408 pages; $25.When Jean-Francois Revel published How Democracies Perish in the early 1980s, he wanted to deliver a warning to the nations of the West that the Soviet Union was being allowed to win the Cold War. This threatened victory of communism, he argued, was not due to any inherent superiority in the Soviet model. Rather, it was coming about due to weakness in the democratic West. As a conservative, Mr. Revel was worried about a failure of will by the Western nations to stand up militarily to the perceived Soviet threat. But the core of his argument was an ideological one: the West had surrendered its vision and its understanding of why a free, open, market-oriented society was both moral and prosperous. Western intellectuals had accepted the premises of socialism and welfare statism. And as a consequence, the war of ideas and ideology around the world was being won by the Soviet Union.

Now, in the early 1990s, socialism in the form of the Soviet threat is gone. Communism has collapsed in the country in which it was first implemented because of its own internal weaknesses and contradictions. But the West, unfortunately, still suffers from the same ideological problems that Mr. Revel wrote about ten years ago. And this is the theme of his new book, The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information.

Every one of the premises of the Left has been refuted by the failure of the socialist experiment. Socialism brought neither freedom, justice nor prosperity. Rather, socialism produced cruel despotisms, privilege and corruption, and economic distortion and poverty. But this is a reality that is too disturbing for many on the Left to accept. To admit the truth would shatter their beliefs, dreams and desires.

So, instead of accepting the truth, the Left has continued to construct deceptions and distortions of reality to protect and guard their most cherished premises. Mr. Revel explains that the heart of these deceptions has revolved around the attempt to prevent discussions of human-rights abuses and economic stagnation in socialist states and to limit all such discussions to “right-wing” dictatorships or Western nations. The standard reply to criticisms of socialism has not been a straight answer to meet the charges. Instead, the critic has been accused of ignoring equal or even greater abuses in capitalist countries and being so paranoid about communism that he is blind to the ever-threatening resurgence of fascism. Hence, the critic has been sidetracked into a debate over the possible revival of fascist dictatorships and away from the reality of the socialist experiment.

The second line of defense, Mr. Revel argues, is the use by the Left of the charge of racism. Insisting that there is no greater evil and danger in the world than racism and racial discrimination, the Left reduces all social and cultural tensions between people to one dimension: race. In discussions about the Third World, the only human-rights abuses of significance to the Left are those in South Africa under apartheid — and for the Left, apartheid is nothing more than a degenerate form of capitalism. That millions have died from socialist-produced famines in black-ruled African countries — that Marxist regimes in black Africa have tortured and murdered tens of thousands of their own people — does not even go down an Orwellian memory-hole; for to be erased from the record would imply that these events in Africa were reported in the press, when, in fact, they occurred in an informational void, ignored by most of the press in the West.

When the Left has been challenged about socialist tyranny in Africa, the response has often been that freedom without development is meaningless. As @&. Revel says, “I was under the impression that freedom was good in itself, independent of the standard of living of the population…. In reality, if democracy without development was meaningless, then neither the French or the American revolution nor the British reform movement should have been undertaken.” And he asks, “[Wlho would be qualified to fix the degree of development above which a democracy ceases to be ‘nothing’ and becomes ‘something’?”

All of dim tendencies in evading the truth of the socialist experience and fabricating smoke screens in reality’s place, Mr. Revel argues, have been bolstered by a journalistic community that views itself as an advocate of “good causes,” rather than as reporters of events; by an academic community that views its task as one to remold the minds of the youth in their charge; by an intellectual community that has nothing but ridicule and hate for their own society.
The perspective from which most of the members of these communities approach their duties is moderate to extreme Leftism.

And even now in a post-communist era, the lies and flights from truth will continue to persist. Why? Because what many of these people really want is not so much the success of socialism as the destruction of capitalism. Their hatred, fear and contempt of human freedom and the market economy will survive the demise of a thousand socialist experiments. And that is the real face of the enemy.

Let me link to one other that seem to make the point, and it is relatively recent as well, from 2011: Managed truth: The great danger to our republic which begins with a very astute comment:

French social critic Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850) once said, “The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended.”

He also discusses the arrival of Keynesian economics as part of this process.

In his General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936), Keynes advocated the planning of a nation’s economic life, political supervision of private industry, and manipulation of the currency, that is, a massive increase in the size and scope of government. The first enthusiastic review of Keynes’ General Theory by a professional economist was by G. D. H. Cole, an avowed Marxist and a founding member of the Fabian Society. Two of the strongest proponents in America were government officials in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, Lauchlin Currie and Harry Dexter White, both proven communists. Keynes himself was quoted as saying, “The Republic of my imagination lies on the extreme left of celestial space.”[24] Despite this, Keynesian economics dominated the American economy until the election of Ronald Reagan, after which it was declared dead. Unfortunately, the corpse continues to convulse and has now arisen as a zombie, more difficult to kill than ever.

The looney left has found yet another economic theory to ruin us with

From The Times reprinted in The Australian. Insane enough just as an economic principle, but to have it endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and then presented as a sensible idea by the Economics Editor of The Times [!!!!!] shows how low we have fallen. This is the entire column and if you cannot work out how insane this is, you do not have even the most preliminary grasp of how an economy works. But let me give you a hint. The aim is to open the spigot to public spending almost to an infinite extent since a government printing money in one’s own economy and then spending it apparently has no downside. And then when the price level starts to rise, you increase taxes to put things right again. I love the idea of trying to raise taxes as prices are rocketing while interest rates are held level. That this is not seen as obvious idiocy and an invitation to disaster really makes me wonder how far gone economic theory has gone. That it is even being published in respectable newspapers is more depressing than almost anything else.

Modern Monetary Theory: Who’ll be brave enough to try it?

US Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a champion of Modern Monetary Theory.
US Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a champion of Modern Monetary Theory.

In the past decade, the world has suffered two global crises: the financial disaster of 2008 and the eurozone sovereign debt crisis two years later. Policymakers responded with bailouts, cheap funding schemes, zero interest rates and quantitative easing. In one sense, the past ten years was a period of intense economic experimentation. In another, nothing has changed.

Following previous crises, macroeconomic ideas were replaced. After the Second World War, Keynesian, under which governments spend to create demand and protect jobs, was ascendant. After the inflation-induced recessions in the 1970s, the big idea was monetarism, using interest rates and the money supply to keep prices under control.

And now, after two existential crises? Nothing. The fundamental macroeconomic ideas have not changed. Labour and the Tories do battle on the scale of the deficit, like two old fools arguing who should pay for the last round long after the bar has closed. Beyond that, John McDonnell’s socialist revolution is pilfered from crumbling communist textbooks. It’s all a bit disappointing.

A new idea is slowly gaining momentum, though, particularly in the United States, where the charismatic Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been championing it. The idea is modern monetary theory and, as with many new ideas, it is not actually that new. Its origins date back to 1993 and it even featured in the 2016 US election. Bernie Sanders’ economic adviser was Stephanie Kelton, a prominent advocate of MMT.

At first glance, the theory seems barmy. As long as a government borrows in its own currency, it need never default because it can always print the money it needs. Described that way, MMT sounds like that other MMT, the magic money tree, or Jeremy Corbyn’s “People’s QE” – the kind of thing Weimar Germany and Zimbabwe tried with devastating inflationary consequences. But that’s because we’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

Warren Mosler, a former banker and hedge fund manager, went back to basics when he was developing the idea. The challenges governments face are growth, unemployment and inflation. To achieve those goals today, central banks use rates to regulate the economy while governments manage the public finances.

Mr Mosler and Ms Kelton look at the world differently. Running a budget deficit is not a sign of overspending, they say. Inflation is. Viewed though that lens, deficits look fine so long as inflation is under control. If inflation is low, unemployment high and the private sector is not picking up the slack, the government’s role is to create productive work through tax cuts or spending. The new jobs will create enough demand to drive up prices.

But who finances the deficits? That’s where money-printing comes in. It is here that convention is flipped on its head. Under MMT, tax and spending decisions are taken to regulate the economy, ignoring the impact on the public finances. If inflation picks up, rates don’t budge (Mr Mosler would have them set at zero). Instead, taxes rise to suck demand out of the system. In doing so, the budget may move into surplus. The central bank’s role is simply to finance the deficit.

Surely markets will hate this and punish governments with higher borrowing costs? Proponents reply that the government does not need to borrow from the market. When the state cuts income taxes, it creates more domestic savings. Those savings are exactly equal to the state’s additional borrowing. As a nation, one hand owes the other. The central bank only need mark the debt on the government’s ledger.

The key here is to think of the state as a monopolist, not a household. A government that borrows in its own currency has a monopoly on the money supply so cannot run out and go bust. Foreign investors might lose money on their dollar assets, but the debt can always be paid. The model does not work for countries without their own currency, such as eurozone members. As they do not control their currency, they must live within their means and ultimately balance their books. They are not monetary monopolists, just households for the purposes of budget management.

Although MMT has been jumped on by deficit-spending left-wingers, the theory is not intrinsically fiscally irresponsible. Mr Mosler claims to have developed the idea after a steam room session with arch-hawk Donald Rumsfeld, the former US defence secretary. JW Mason, an economist at the City University of New York, reckons it would lead to smaller budget deficits over the long term, provided politicians are bold enough to combat inflation with higher taxes.

Ultimately, the theory reframes and simplifies our conception of the economy, drawing the focus on to the core priorities of employment and inflation. The deficit would no longer be an obstacle. There would be no tension between fiscal and monetary policy, just a single lever. Responsibility for economic management would fall to politicians, ending the outsourcing to technocrats that has provided legislators cover for so long. And there would no place for an independent central bank.

In a way, MMT is nothing new. Japan’s national debt is 2.4 times the size of its economy, three times UK levels, but most is owed to Japanese pension funds and its money-printing central bank. In Britain, the 527 billion pounds of debt raised by the state between 2009 and 2012 was largely matched by the Bank of England’s 375 billion pounds of QE. Today, Donald Trump is blowing up the US deficit and driving up inflation in what looks like a practical demonstration of MMT.

There, in a nutshell, is the problem. The theory states that President Trump should be raising taxes, not cutting them. But would politicians ever have the courage to raise taxes if domestic inflation is climbing, despite high unemployment? The whole reason central banks were given independence was because politicians cannot be trusted to make unpopular decisions.

What MMT does prove, however , is that we will not run out of new ideas as long as we can describe the world in different ways. That, at least, is encouraging.

Philip Aldrick is Economics Editor of The Times

He thinks it’s great that we have new ideas to consider. We will certainly never run out of stupid ideas. One more post-modernist crank. This was the most acute comment at The Oz which exactly states what needs to be said, written by “Tony”.

This is seriously dangerous stuff. Fundamentally, money is not wealth, i.e. income producing assets, goods and services etc, but rather just a system for exchanging such. One can argue about Keynesian and Monetarist policy till the cows come home but ignoring the fundamentals of wealth creation through favorable investment (not speculative) conditions and rising productivity always produces rising living standards for workers and good margins for capital. The State can then appropriate (Tax) a portion of that generated wealth. Fundamentally, increasing the money supply by Gov does not produce more wealth- that is impossible- but at the margins it is useful for ironing out the natural cycles of investment but that is it.

It is bananas to think that printing money actually creates real wealth and is safe to do so as long as we borrow from ourselves or foreigners in our own dollars. If this fallacy were true, why would anyone invest or work at all? Lets just print money and borrow in AU$ and sit at home relaxing on a “universal income” paid by Gov. Wow, that sounds great. Where do I sign up? OK, vote Greens or ALP, no probs.

Back in the USA

TRUMP SHUTDOWN OFFER
‘DREAMERS’ FOR WALL CASH

DEMS SIGNAL WILL REJECT

The Pences: Defenders of Christian values in White House… 
CNN King questions taxpayers funding Second Lady’s security while teaching…
March for Life 2019: Abortion ‘greatest injustice in nation’…
FACEBOOK Refuses ‘ROE V. WADE’ Film Ads…

The left exists only because they are parasitical on the productive. They would turn the US into Venezuela, and might yet do it.

 

Toxic femininity

 

Not quite at random, not random at all. Each from Instapundit.

First

NEW CIVILITY WATCH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: We Progressives Are Going to ‘Run Train.’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) used a vulgar sexual term in an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday, threatening conservatives that Democrats would “run train on the progressive agenda.”

The term “run train” refers to a gang rape. According to UrbanDictionary.com, the “top definition” for the term “run train” is “to ‘gangbang’ a girl with several friends.”

The last time such a phrase was mentioned in regards to DC was via Creepy Porn Lawyer™ Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick during the Kavanaugh hearings, as this typo-filled article from September at Heavy.com notes:

Swetncik [sic] signed a sworn affidavit that Kavanaugh and Judge were part of a groups [sic] of teenagers who, in the early 1980s, perpetrated gang rapes by drugging girls with grain alcohol spiked with Quaaludes and the[n] “ran trains.” And Swetnick said she herself was raped. She does not say Kavanaugh raped her but was present.

(The following month, The Hill reported, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) referred Swetnick and Avenatti to the Justice Dept. for investigation.)

Flash-forward to January, and as Peter D’Abrosca of Big League Politics writes, “Ocasio-Cortez Normalizes Rape Culture With ‘Run Train’ Comments:”

AOC mentioned nothing about whether she’ll ask for the consent of the Republican Party before she gangbangs them into submission. What if they’re just not that into her? Is she literally threatening to rape 60 million plus Republican Americans?

As James Bovard of the Mises Institute wrote in November, We Need a #MeToo Movement for Political Consent.

UPDATE: “Why attack [AOC] for using a term that means she’s going to gang rape America with progressivism? I applaud her honesty,” Andrew Klavan tweets.

Second

SHOCKER: Surprise: Genius behind man-hating Gillette ad is a radical feminist.

Carpentered by Grey Advertising for Proctor and Gamble’s razors company, it does not detail product attributes, encourage brand loyalty, instill warm feelings in buyers, or even show basic respect for consumers. Instead, the grimly lecturing spot declares masculinity itself toxic, a peril to decent society.

“Is this the best a man can get? Is it?” asks the painfully serious narrator, as a wrongdoing slideshow passes by. “We can’t hide from it. It’s been going on far too long. We can’t laugh it off, making the same old excuses.”

“I guess the guy at the ad agency missed the lesson about not taking a dump on the people you want to buy your stuff,” cracked comedian Steven Crowder.

“The guy at the ad agency” is actually philosophically unpleasant feminist Kim Gehrig. Hiring her to court the male market is like expecting to accrue impressive rainbow flag sale numbers with spiels from Farrakhan.

Harsh but fair. Plus:

Gehrig’s new Gillette effort states her bias boldly by intercutting allusions to abusive acts with images of romantic heterosexuality.

A black-and-white cartoon scene that flashes past shows men whistling at a woman. In another scant bit, a guy sees a pretty female pedestrian. He steps after her but is restrained by a companion. “Not cool,” the restrainer admonishes.

Expressions of attraction and related pursuits are natural. They lead to humans reproducing – which is how Gehrig got here, though she might be horrified to learn that.

Adweek pronounced Gehrig’s group libel the “Ad of the Week.” Gehrig’s efforts were also recognized by Best Ads on TV.

Therein lies an issue worth note. Fox News host Greg Gutfeld tweeted: “the only ones lauding the Gillette ad work in media/advertising. everyone else sees it for what it is: a smarmy, condescending virtue signal aimed at the hardworking decent men they have been price-gouging for years.”

At this writing, Gillette’s YouTube posting of “We Believe” has received 40,000 “thumbs down” votes and only 4,300 positive ratings.

As I said yesterday, this is another example of how the people running American institutions now tend to perform for an audience of their peers rather than focus on doing their jobs.

Third

PHILIP CARL SALZMAN: The Toxic Mission To Re-Engineer Men.

The communists in the USSR and Cuba tried to invent a “new man,” a “socialist man” who would give up his individuality in order to advance the interests of “the people.” But the population never bought it, and oppressive security agencies were imposed to coerce people to live according to socialist ideals. That is why the “beneficiaries” of communism were delighted when their totalitarian societies fell.

Today, with the freeing of females from traditional role constraints, it is still primarily men who do the dangerous and dirty jobs, who make up most of the first responders and the military who defend us, and who, as scientists and engineers, continue to address the natural world for understanding and to serve our needs. These are some of the ways that the characteristics and qualities of men benefit society. And it is the job of socialization to direct the traits of men into constructive channels, a more realistic and productive strategy than trying to turn males into females.

Yes, being a man is not stress-free, and sometimes we have inner struggles. But do women not also have inner struggles, and is that not in our nature as human beings? Feminists who simplistically argue that women’s psychological and other problems are all and always the fault of “toxic” men, are doing a very human thing: blaming others for their problems. That such sad naivete has been adopted by our governments, scientific organizations, and schools and universities does not reflect a very sound understanding of people or the world. Even more so for psychologists, who should know better.

True.

Fourth

PRETTY LATE TO THE #METOO PARTY: Female Economists Push Their Field Toward A #MeToo Reckoning.

One more reason the shutdown may be unlikely to end anytime soon

The article is about Trump’s shutdown trap? – how after 30 days of “furlough” Federal employees can be reassigned or even sacked. We shall see, but what I found more interesting is the depiction of the way the public “service” operates. These are depictions from someone who has been frustrated by the actions of the public service in frustrating Trump’s agenda. The quotes are taken from this: I’M A SENIOR TRUMP OFFICIAL, AND I HOPE A LONG SHUTDOWN SMOKES OUT THE RESISTANCE.

On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.

Why would they? We can’t fire them. They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position — some do this in the same position for more than a decade.

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands — administering, refining, following and collaborating on process. “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves. Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores….

Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them. Until the shutdown….

Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce, with only select essential personnel serving national security tasks. (snip)

President Trump can end this abuse. Senior officials can reprioritize during an extended shutdown, focus on valuable results and weed out the saboteurs. We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them.

You should read the entire article at the second link above.

Environmental Venezuelanisation of the economies of the West

This is Steve Hayward at Powerline discussing THE GREEN NEW DEAL. He thinks it’s funny, and I suppose in its own way it is, but I find it both tragic and frightening. How does this ever end other than going through the Venezuelanisation of our economies first?

Environmentalists are making clear what they don’t want, and it turns out to be just about anything that might actually work as scale to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. From Grist:

Congress is currently preoccupied with a fight over Trump’s plan for a $5.7 billion border wall, but hundreds of environmental organizations are laser-focused on defining the Green New Deal. And they think it’s time Capitol Hill got on board with their plan.

On Thursday, 600-plus groups including 350.org, Greenpeace, and the Sunrise Movement sent members of the U.S. House a letter with a list of carbon-cutting steps. . .

Wait—stop the tape! Did you say “600-plus [environmental] groups”? (Actually the letter lists 626 in all.) I didn’t even know there were that many environmental groups. Isn’t that a hugely wasteful and duplicative use of scarce resources? (Swap out “recycled” for “duplicative” and problem solved—ed.)

But that’s not the most amazing part. This is, from the actual letter itself:

We will vigorously oppose any legislation that: (1) rolls back existing environmental, health, and other protections, (2) protects fossil fuel and other dirty energy polluters from liability, or (3) promotes corporate schemes that place profits over community burdens and benefits, including market-based mechanisms and technology options such as carbon and emissions trading and offsets, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, waste-to-energy and biomass energy.

As Roger Pielke Jr. comments, this is like wanting action on disease but opposing vaccines.

In fact, this and other features of the letter went too far for the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, which did not sign it.  So make that 628 environmental groups, if you’re keeping count.

By the way, if you want to get a good laugh, read the whole letter. It’s bonkers. And savor the complete list of the 626 environmental groups at the end. They’d fit in well at the Mos Eisley cantina.

Poll position

Rush Limbaugh discussed the dog that didn’t bark in the night: Rush Limbaugh notices something glaringly missing from border wall discussion.

He specifically noted that no meaningful polls were published after President Donald Trump delivered an Oval Office address Tuesday in which he explained the ongoing battles to the public and implored Democrat to end them by agreeing to secure the southern U.S. border.

“There has been no polling data that we could find anywhere following Trump’s speech,” Limbaugh said Friday. “There weren’t any Frank Luntz focus groups with any undecideds out there.”

“They didn’t gather any Trump voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and ask them if they’re still behind Trump. The media didn’t do any of the stuff they usually do. We have no idea what the valued and very wise independents thought of Trump’s speech.”

But polling has been done and the data are as you would expect: Polling Data Shows Nearly 80% Of Americans Consider Illegal Immigration A Serious Problem/Crisis

As it says at the link:

It’s the data most responsible for the sudden shift in Democrats’ tone this week as more and more in Congress give the media hints that they are willing to allocate funding for at least some of the border protection measures being pushed by President Trump. You see, it’s not that these Democrats in Congress think it’s the right thing to do but rather that the vast majority of Americans (nearly 80%) think it’s the right thing to do and so the hands of Democrats are now being forced to do something or face a serious political backlash heading into 2020.

And you know what? You’d get the same results in Australia if we did the same polling here.

The most serious problem of our time

Polling Data Shows Nearly 80% Of Americans Consider Illegal Immigration A Serious Problem/Crisis

As it says at the link:

It’s the data most responsible for the sudden shift in Democrats’ tone this week as more and more in Congress give the media hints that they are willing to allocate funding for at least some of the border protection measures being pushed by President Trump. You see, it’s not that these Democrats in Congress think it’s the right thing to do but rather that the vast majority of Americans (nearly 80%) think it’s the right thing to do and so the hands of Democrats are now being forced to do something or face a serious political backlash heading into 2020.