October 21, 2011

Pinker v. Buchanan and the late Col. Kazzafi

From my column in Taki's Magazine:
The two big books of the moment are Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (which I reviewed in the November issue of The American Conservative) and Pat Buchanan’s Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? (which I reviewed in VDARE). Pinker argues that the future belongs increasingly to peaceful cosmopolitan globalism, while Buchanan claims that ethnonationalism’s universal appeal can ultimately lead to national stabilization.  
How do the two books’ contrasting forecasts look following the spectacularly violent homicide of Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi?  
Pinker, the noted Harvard psychology professor, contends (among much else in his 832 pages) that there exists a civilizing process that makes people behave less violently over time. 
Granted, Kathafi’s end turned out to be not quite as Facebookish as the sort of National Defriending that promoters of the Arab Spring had implied. The whole NATO Highway of Death routine followed by militiamen (apparently) executing him point-blank seems a little pre-Twittery ...

Read the whole thing there.


Anonymous said...

This isn't a really issue of 'vs'. Why not Pinker AND Buchanan. Both can be right.

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of people here don't like the commenter Whiskey, but he's got a better handle on what's going wrong with the Republic and the West in general than all these talking heads, Buchanan included.

Reading Roissy and Whiskey really opened my eyes.

The problem is that there's an unfair distribution of sex right now. This can only end in tears. Civilization's worst enemy is a beta with nothing to lose.

The plight and self-delusions of the male virgin can be seen below:



When the beta males wake out of this slumber, there'll be hell to pay.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Pinker is he speaks of humanity as a whole. But there is no meaningful 'we' when we speak of whites, Jews, blacks, yellows, browns, etc all at once.
How is it meaningful to speak of a humanity that includes both Norwegians and Zimbaweans, both Singaporeans and Liberians. It's like confusing heaven and hell, wolves and dogs.

Anonymous said...

It's possible that Pinker sees less violence there really is because the new world order is to his liking. Buchanan has the opposite problem.

Same goes with 'economic injustice/inequality'. Those opposed to globalism see more, those supportive of it see less.

Anonymous said...

Pinker seems to emphasize culture, politics, and economics, but if Europe had been populated with subsaharan blacks, could it have achieved all it did?
It seems Europeans had both the intelligence and temperament necessary for rising civilization and greater stability.

The cold weather probably weeded out the wild and funky. One had to conserve energy than expend it by acting all funky and stuff as bongo drum Africans often do. Europeans could be violent--as Vikings were--but less funky and more purposeful about it. More utilitarian than celebratory. Vikings attacked, looted, and took. African tribes, in contrast, did the same but also danced and boogie-woogied about it. So, Europeans tended to be more sober-minded while Africans remained intoxicated in funkery.
Also, cold weather added more fat and took away muscle in the white man. It also favored stamina-muscle over power-muscle. Needing less muscle, white folks produced less badass-hormones. Thus , they became less violent(at least in a funkic way).
Then came agriculture. Food surplus allowed weaklings, wimps, wusses, gimps, and etc to survive as well. And larger societies made people safer from wild animals and hostile tribes. So, more wimps and wussies survived. Since wimps and wussies tended to be more cerebral, they eventually gained power and created laws that favored the 'wise', 'spiritual', 'elderly' and etc over the strong and brutish. Also, the new elite ruthlessly weeded out the disobedient and rebellious. This prolly happened more in Japan than elsewhere. Paradoxically, the extreme martial order of Japan made the people more wussy. People like Toshiro Mifune were weeded out as 'troublemakers without honor'. Either their heads were chopped off or they were forced to cut open their bellies. As such, even the samurai became more wussy.
If the first generation of warriors tended to be tough/gruff men, their children and grandchildren grew up in comfort and privilege. Also, they married refined dainty females which meant their kids would be even wussier. This may explain why UK ended up with so many fruiters.

But Africans had hot weather, dangerous animals all around, and not much of agriculture with surplus food; so they remained hunter-gatherer-warrior folks.

Anonymous said...

Maybe low-level warrism produces more violent people


extreme-level warrism produces more peaceful people.

In places with constant but low-level warfare, tough guys are prized. They may die young but not all at once. Because of their superior status, they get lots of chicks and have lots of kids who receive their tough genes. Though toughies may die young, many live long enough to leave lots of kids behind.
Tribal warfare tends to be low-level. Sure, entire tribes can get wiped out, but it's usually a constant rocking and rolling between various sides.

In contrast, extreme-level warfare, especially between two evenly matched sides may produce more peaceful people. WWII between Germany and Soviet Union was such a war. Toughest German males and toughest Soviet males destroyed each other in huge numbers in a short timespan. They could never have children and their genes are lost forever. If Germany vs Russia had been engaged in a low-level warfare lasting a 1000 yrs, prized warriors would do some fighting, go back home, have kids, and then go back to fight, and then come back with some glory, have more kids, etc.
But in WWII, toughest Germans and toughest Russians died by the millions in 4 yrs.
It's like dodgeball. Back in school, I tended to be among the final survivors in every game cuz I stood back while I let the more aggressive players on each side to slaughter one another. They were 'braver' but also deader.
After mega-wars, it's possible Europe kept shedding its toughest men--even before they had kids--while leaving behind more gimps unsuited for war.
In contrast, Africa has had low-level warrism among tribes for 100,000s of yrs.

Carol said...

I'm getting a sense of foreboding that the world is about to break out in an unprecedented cataclysm of violence, rather like the end of Pax Brittanica.

Abdul al-Hazred said...

There's a fair amount of sloppy thinking in this article.

Fittingly, his loyalists’ last redoubt was the Ouagadougou Conference Hall, named, with Gathaphee’s characteristic disdain for spellability in Western alphabets, for his ally to the south, the former Upper Volta.

In the first place, "Ouagadougou" is simply the French way of spelling "Wagadugu". The problem is with French orthography, not the name he chose to give this building. Presumably, your meaningless reference to the man's "characteristic disdain for spellability" has to do with the multiple versions of his name in English. Again, that's our problem, not his. He speaks it one way in Arabic, and spells it one way in the Arabic script. The fact that there are competing systems for representing this in Western languages is hardly his fault, much less a matter of "disdain" on his part.

And while mangling the spellings of foreign words may seem funny to teenage boys, it's annoying to adults. If you want to be taken seriously, stop this stupid game.

Also, the end of the articles conflates international organizations like the UN with the international alliances, like the ones in Europe at the start of the First and Second World Wars. Whatever opinion might have about the ability of the UN or the League of Nations to maintain the peace, they're fundamentally different in character from, say, the Triple Entente or the Axis, and it's meaningless to compare the two as if they're the same thing. Certainly, the Axis was intended specifically for the purpose of facilitating warfare.

It's nice that you can turn the Voltairean expression "pour encourager les autres" into a noun phrase, but your usage here misconstrues what it means. Voltaire coined the phrase to refer to the British hanging of Adm. Byng after a naval defeat as a way of encouraging the other British admirals to be better admirals. If one substitutes Saddam Hussein in the place of Byng, the phrase makes no sense. The hanging of Hussein wasn't meant to get Gathwacky (or however you want to spell the man's name) to do a better job of being an Arab dictator. Rather (presumably, and certainly as you mean it here), he was being encouraged to mend his ways and stop acting like an Arab dictator. The phrase doesn't apply at all to the situation envisioned here.

MQ said...

Neither of them do a good job of explaining the incredible paroxsym of violence in Europe from 1914-1945. Since that was the most important event in the last century, you'd think it would be more prominent in peoples' thinking than it is. But it contradicts Pinker's progressive Whig "everything is getting better over the course of history" take on things, and also contradicts Buchanan's contention that "stuff was cool as long as Europeans were in charge".

Baloo said...

You're fine, Steve. Even Lawrence of Arabia thought the contending systems of Arabic transcriptions were funny.

jaded said...

"Neither of them do a good job of explaining the incredible paroxsym of violence in Europe from 1914-1945."

The book on that topic along with whether or not Rights legislation really eradicates such urges is the one I want to read.

Mondragon said...

"It's nice that you can turn the Voltairean expression "pour encourager les autres" into a noun phrase"

Is that an Upper Voltairean expression or a Lower Voltairean expression?

Pre-Paleo-Conservative said...

But it contradicts Pinker's progressive Whig "everything is getting better over the course of history" take on things, and also contradicts Buchanan's contention that "stuff was cool as long as Europeans were in charge".

A good book that offers an explanation is Lionel Tiger'sThe Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System. I would recommend it for you, as well, Steve, since you share Buchanan's untroubled view of industralization. (Tiger has co-authored a book with Robin Fox, the author of The Tribal Imagination).

Anonymous said...

Why did Gadaffy fall?
It seems strongman have two things going for them.
They maintain the loyalty of the people by promising glory and triumph under his leadership. Napoleon and Alexander the Great had this going for them. Many of their followers got killed, but as long as they were winning, it was glorious, like a sports team that wins and wins.
Gadaffy spoke much of glory, but he couldn't even defeat Chad. And for all his tough talk, he didn't do diddly squat to show Muslims/Arabs were great. So much for glory.

If not glory, the other thing that keeps a strongman respected by his people is his promise to protect them. They stick by him for security. But with rebels running loose and Nato bombing Libya, Gadaffy goes to his loyalists and says PROTECT ME. Even his diehard fans musta begun to think.... 'if he's so great and invincible, how come he can't even protect us and indeed asks US to fight to protect HIM?' From then on, it was only a matter of time.

Anonymous said...

Gadaffy got Gadappled.

anony-mouse said...

Interesting that both Buchanan and Pinker are childless.

Not so much does it matter what they way as will it matter what they say?

Whiskey said...

Steve, alliances generally over history have a poor record. Ike in Crusade in Europe noted Napoleon's stock went down in staff colleges once everyone realized he went up against Alliances.

Thanks Anon. Though due credit goes to Steve whose affordable and unaffordable family formations opened my eyes.

Generally, Pinker avoids thinking about the Muslim world. A Pakistani cleric said he had tears of joy upon hearing a Christian woman had been executed for disrespecting Mohammed. A Cabinet minister was assassinated by his own bodyguard for opposing Blasphemy laws. His son was kidnapped and murdered. Anti-Christian, Yazidi, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Christian, and Jewish violence is endemic among Muslims wherever and whenever they are found, in Oslo and in Islamabad and Cairo. The "peaceful" Egyptians used tanks to run over protesting Copts (angry at being killed by Muslims).

Whiskey said...

Let me add, that Pinker is correct with Norway, Sweden, the UK, and France and Germany becoming post 1945 under Pax Americana, more peaceful, up to the point where they imported millions of hostile Muslims who declared and enforce through violence their own mini Islamic republics inside them. Same as the defacto Republics of Mexico inside the US.

Now you have people who generate wealth by peaceful cooperation, and those who cannot generate wealth in any meaningful way ... but can TAKE IT THROUGH VIOLENCE. Against a population generally incapable of using violence in turn in its defense. This will not end well.

Look at Obama and Dems. They have to bow down to PC, Multiculti, internationalist nonsense, but punish friends/allies, reward enemies, and kill on the sly with drones and Spec Ops because open conflict is too politically costly, meanwhile so is developing US gas, oil, and coal resources, or much of anything else but Green delusions.

Anonymous said...

After Stalin died, his heirs were so relieved--though also saddened by their master's death--that they made sure another Stalin was not possible. They may have respected Stalin but they'd also feared for their lives.

Same with Mao. After he died, Chinese made sure: no more Maos. Deng was #1 man for awhile but never the ONLY man.

Anonymous said...

It could be Pinker thinks the world is safer and more peaceful because of the way he defines 'evil'. Since there is less violence directed at Jews and more violence used to further globalism(which, to Pinker, is justifiable violence), Pinker not only feels safer but sees much of violence around the world as violence-to-end-violence than volence-to-further-violence.
It's like we regard criminal violence as violence but regard police violence to kill criminals as 'justice'. And we call OUR national military 'defense' even when we fight offensively. We say 'defense spending' but US military has been attacking and occupying other countries.