Saturday, January 2, 2021

Richard Nixon quotes

Some quotes from Richard Nixon.

“Never forget, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times and never forget it.”

“Politics would be a helluva good business if it weren't for the goddamned people.”

“Honesty may not be the best policy, but it is worth trying once in a while.”

“Idealism without realism is impotent. Realism without idealism is immoral.”

“The worst thing a politician can be is dull. At least I'm interesting.”

“Yet we can maintain a free society only if we recognize that in a free society no one can win all the time. No one can have his own way all the time, and no one is right all the time.”

“Let us remember that the main purpose of American aid is not to help other nations, but to help ourselves.”

“Television is to news as bumperstickers are to philosophy.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

John Maynard Keynes quotes

John Maynard Keynes quotes

“Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all.”

“If farming were to be organised like the stock market, a farmer would sell his farm in the morning when it was raining, only to buy it back in the afternoon when the sun came out.”

“I think that Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself is in many ways extremely objectionable.”

“Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind that looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.”

“The power to become habituated to his surroundings and therefore to no longer be grateful for what is good in it is a marked characteristic of mankind and needs to be fought against if a person is to be happy.”

“If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.”

“Everything is always decided for reasons other than the real merits of the case.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

culture as a class marker

I was involved in a recent discussion elsewhere in which the term Trash Culture was casually thrown about.

Now first the disclaimers. Of course there are good books and bad books. There are great paintings and there are lousy paintings. There are movies that are complex and sophisticated and there are movies that are mindless entertainment. Some cultural products really are trashy. Some really are great (although it has to be said that these judgments are essentially subjective).

But cultural judgments are not just judgments about culture. They are judgments about people. Trash culture is a term that means culture that I personally dislike, but more especially it means culture that is liked by people whom I personally dislike, or disapprove of.

There is also a very large class content. The type of culture that you like is a powerful class marker. “High culture” is popular with intellectuals and people with college degrees and people who are wealthy so it doesn’t get called trash culture. Only the stuff that ordinary people enjoy (including people without college degrees and even, horror of horrors, poor people) gets labelled as trash culture.

The term “trash culture” is a weapon that is used to denigrate anything that the wrong sort of people enjoy.

In actual fact most “high culture” of the past century (poetry, painting, “serious” music, “literary fiction”) is much more worthless, degraded, infantile, offensive and incompetently executed than most pop culture of the past century. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that “high culture” is liked by the right sort of people. Pop culture is liked by the wrong sort of people. When pop culture is liked by people who are especially reprehensible (for example working-class people) it becomes trash culture.

There’s also increasingly a political dimension. Trash culture is often culture that is liked by people with unacceptable political or social beliefs.

It’s not really acceptable even today for people to consider themselves to be better than other people because they’re richer or more educated but rich highly educated people do think of themselves as being better. Cultural judgments are a convenient way to express that belief.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

the changing nature of the elites

I’ve made the point before that the elites are not as monolithic as is often supposed. A further point that needs to be stressed is that the elites are not static.

The composition of the elites changes constantly. In the 19th century the old landed elites gave way to the new moneyed industrial elites. The 20th century saw the rise of the managerial/technocratic elites, and later the media/entertainment elites. More recently we’ve seen the meteoric rise of the IT elites.

In the mid-20th century the capitalist elites were still largely drawn from the ranks of industrial capitalism. Today they are much more likely to be drawn from the world of financial capitalism.

In the Anglosphere until the 1970s the elites were still predominantly WASP (with a large admixture of Jews in the US). Today that’s not so much the case. The elites of today are also a lot less heterosexual. The immense power of the LGBT lobby is a direct result of massive elite support. While the real capitalist elites (the people with really serious money and power) are still predominantly male the managerial/technocratic and media/entertainment elites are increasingly female.

As the nature and composition of the elite class changes the agenda of the elites changes as well. Or rather the agendas. While the main agenda (holding on to money and power) remains constant there are numerous secondary agendas (feminist, environmentalist, LGBT and Woke agendas). The secondary agendas are in many cases simply useful tools to maintain elite money and power but we should not assume that ideological agendas are not important to at least some elite factions.

Globalism might appear to be one unifying agenda of the elites but globalism means different things to different factions within the elites. Some of the ideologically driven elites might really believe in the internationalist ideals that they publicly espouse but for most of the bureaucratic and political elites in the US (and for the military-industrial complex) globalism just means global American hegemony. And for much of the media/entertainment elites globalism means global American cultural hegemony. For most of the elites (including virtually all of the industrial-financial elites) environmentalism means helping themselves to lots of taxpayers’ money, for some it means power and for some (particularly the the media/entertainment and IT elites) it’s a genuine ideological position.

The elites of today are quite different from the elites of the 1950s, or even the 1980s. And the nature and composition of the elites will continue to change, not necessarily in ways that we can easily predict. And the agendas of the elites will change as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Calvin Coolidge quotes

Quotes from Calvin Coolidge (US President 1923-1929).

“Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.”

“If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.”

“I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm.”

“Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped.”

“When people are bewildered they tend to become credulous.”

“It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

some quotes for the day

Quotes from Alec Douglas-Home (1903-1995), British Prime Minister 1963-64.

“There are two problems in my life. The political ones are insoluble and the economic ones are incomprehensible.”

“Oh God, if there be cricket in heaven, let there also be rain.”

"I'm not particularly attracted by confrontations of personality. If we aren't careful we'll get a sort of 'Top of the Pops' contest. I daresay I should win it. But at any rate, I'm not very much attracted by this because you'll then get the best actor as leader of the country, and the actor will be prompted by a scriptwriter. I'd rather have our old ways really and put our policies firmly in front of our people."

Sunday, November 1, 2020

maybe it’s not always good vs evil in politics

There has always been a tendency for ideological battles to be seen in simplistic good vs evil terms and that tendency seems to grow ever stronger. I suspect that the more saturated in mass media a society becomes the stronger this tendency grows, and that social media has kicked it into overdrive.

If you look back at political battles in the West they were not always seen in these terms. A century or so ago there were passionate and sometimes bitter arguments in British politics on the issue of Free Trade vs Protectionism but neither side actually believed their opponents were evil. Today every political disagreement gets reduced to good vs evil terms. We have lost the ability to see that sometimes our political/ideological opponents simply disagree with us.

There are of course some ideological struggles in which one side’s views are so extreme, so destructive or so driven by hatred that if put into practice those views would lead to evil results. The point I’m making is that we need to avoid seeing every single political disagreement in those terms.

We also need to realise that our political opponents are not necessarily wrong about everything. We may feel that in general their views are mistaken, wrong-headed, misguided, foolish and likely to lead to very poor outcomes but we need to consider the possibility that on some issues they may have a point.

It is neither healthy nor helpful for people on the Left to see everyone on the Right as being an evil white supremacist fascist. It is also neither healthy nor helpful for people on the Right to see everyone on the Left as being an evil commie Bolshevik. (At this stage I’m not interesting in re-opening the argument that left and right no longer mean anything, I’m just using those terms as they are generally used).

Most ideologies are partially valid and partially invalid. Whatever the ideology might be (liberalism, libertarianism, feminism, social conservatism, communism, fascism, etc etc) its adherents are very rarely right about everything, and very rarely wrong about everything. Some ideologies might be wrong about most things (I think feminism falls into this category) but they’re unlikely to be wrong about absolutely everything.

Even environmentalists (whom I generally despise) have not been wrong about everything. They were correct when they claimed that air pollution was a major problem and when they forced auto manufacturers to make car engines cleaner and less polluting. We now have cleaner air than we had half a century ago and that has been a definite benefit.

The Right may have been correct back in the 60s in claiming that unions had too much power, but the Left was correct in maintaining that destroying the unions would be a seriously bad idea.

We also need to consider the possibility that even when our opponents hold beliefs that we might consider to be catastrophically and bizarrely mistaken they might not necessarily believe those things because they’re evil people. In some cases they might actually be evil people, but not always.

I’m not suggesting that all ideologies and all beliefs are equal. I’m just suggesting that seeing one’s political opponents as evil or completely stupid is not always helpful.