Grand Unified Theory, Or “Rising Sun” Redux?

Before you can reach the TOE, you have to satisfy the GUT. This is not a Pervert’s Guide To Dating, but rather the current state of science. We’d like to have a Theory Of Everything that would explain the creation and operation of the Universe in detail, but such a TOE is reliant on a working Grand Unified Theory that explains the quantum-level interactions of various forces. The purpose of the various atom-smashing colliders around the world is to observe those interactions at very high energy levels. Apparently there’s a merging of the electromagnetic and weak forces into an “electroweak”; that’s a clue.

Don’t ask me to explain any further, I majored in 18thC Brit Lit. As far as I know, the real purpose of a “Loop” is to put the soul of your big brother into a depressed-looking robot.

The American Left has a Grand Unified Theory to explain everything that happens in America, and that theory is Racism In All Its Forms. Everything you don’t like about America, or indeed about life, is probably somehow due to racism. It is the original sin from which all others flow, as documented in its holy text, The 1619 Project. When non-whites commit an offence against this ideology, as was the case with Enrique Tarrio of the Proud Boys, we are told it is due to “multiracial whiteness”, in which the Person-of-Color is, ah, possessed by the dybbuk of an evil white person.

Don’t ask me to explain any further, I majored in 18thC Brit Lit. As far as I know, the dybbuk is primarily a science fiction phenomenon.

There’s no GUT for the American Right, which makes sense because nowadays the Right contains the nonconformist side of things. A hundred years ago, the Right was a unified whole with a functioning GUT — it was called “The Bible” — and the Left was the nonconformist side that couldn’t decide if it was a labor movement, an art movement, or a sexual-liberation movement. Still, in order to provide any alternative to the Uniparty, the Right needs a way to explain why things are the way they are, one that doesn’t involve racism, because that’s like trying to create an electric vehicle infrastructure where you burn gas in a turbine to create electricity, if that makes any sense.

The nice people at Tablet have just published a paper that does a pretty good job of explaining America’s current state in a single word. That word is: China. The individual facts of the paper are not in dispute. Only the conclusion is open to debate. It’s scary — but we’ve seen this movie before. Or have we?

The Thirty Tyrants is the name of the Tablet piece. As is usually the case here, I’ll excerpt some of the big hits for those of you who don’t want to read it right now.

For decades, American policymakers and the corporate class said they saw China as a rival, but the elite that Friedman described saw enlightened Chinese autocracy as a friend and even as a model—which was not surprising, given that the Chinese Communist Party became their source of power, wealth, and prestige. Why did they trade with an authoritarian regime and by sending millions of American manufacturing jobs off to China thereby impoverish working Americans? Because it made them rich. They salved their consciences by telling themselves they had no choice but to deal with China: It was big, productive, and efficient and its rise was inevitable. And besides, the American workers hurt by the deal deserved to be punished—who could defend a class of reactionary and racist ideological naysayers standing in the way of what was best for progress?
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Trump’s incessant attacks on that elite gave them collective self-awareness as well as a powerful motive for solidarity. Together, they saw that they represented a nexus of public and private sector interests that shared not only the same prejudices and hatreds, cultural tastes and consumer habits but also the same center of gravity—the U.S.-China relationship. And so, the China Class was born.
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A decade ago, no one would’ve put NBA superstar LeBron James and Apple CEO Tim Cook in the same family album, but here they are now, linked by their fantastic wealth owing to cheap Chinese manufacturing (Nike sneakers, iPhones, etc.) and a growing Chinese consumer market. The NBA’s $1.5 billion contract with digital service provider Tencent made the Chinese firm the league’s biggest partner outside America. In gratitude, these two-way ambassadors shared the wisdom of the Chinese Communist Party with their ignorant countrymen. After an an NBA executive tweeted in defense of Hong Kong dissidents, social justice activist King LeBron told Americans to watch their tongues. “Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech,” said James, “it can be a lot of negative that comes with it.”
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And because it was true that China was the source of the China Class’ power, the novel coronavirus coming out of Wuhan became the platform for its coup de grace. So Americans became prey to an anti-democratic elite that used the coronavirus to demoralize them; lay waste to small businesses; leave them vulnerable to rioters who are free to steal, burn, and kill; keep their children from school and the dying from the last embrace of their loved ones; and desecrate American history, culture, and society; and defame the country as systemically racist in order to furnish the predicate for why ordinary Americans in fact deserved the hell that the elite’s private and public sector proxies had already prepared for them.
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Nearly every major American industry has a stake in China. From Wall Street—Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley— to hospitality. A Marriott Hotel employee was fired when Chinese officials objected to his liking a tweet about Tibet. They all learned to play by CCP rules.
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“It’s so pervasive, it’s better to ask who’s not tied into China,” says former Trump administration official Gen. (Ret.) Robert Spalding.

This is a small part of the essay, which is remarkably well-organized and forceful. There are two other rather damming assertions made in said essay. The first is that the majority of overseas American troop deployments are in the furtherance of Chinese, not American interests; the second is that the COVID-19 crisis was a direct result of Chinese attempts to crack down on internal dissent.

While referring to America’s elite as “The China Class” seems provocative, it’s hard to argue with the fact that most of those elites rely to one degree or another on China’s cooperation, whether it is Amazon’s status as the number-one cloaca for Chinese junk, Stanford’s reliance on China’s grant money, or the fact that so-called “Mad Dog” Mattis earns his living as a consultant for a Chinese advocacy group. LeBron James lectures us about racism in the United States but is professionally silent about whatever’s happening to people in Hong Kong.

This Grand Unified Theory — namely, that the American elite has become a vassal class to the Chinese elite, and operates accordingly — is pretty hard to disprove. The logical outcome of this theory is the eventual Brazil-ification of the United States. The Chinese-connected will live in gated communities and reap the rewards of their vassal state, while the rest of the country will descend into poverty-stricken polyglot chaos that is periodically suppressed by mercenary troops. But it’s worth noting that we’ve seen this movie before.

Thirty years ago, Japan’s influence on the United States was pervasive and terrifying. The Japanese took our cash for their imported cars, televisions, and consumer goods — then used that cash to buy capital assets in this country. The iconic deal was Mitsubishi’s purchase of Rockefeller Center. Michael Crichton wrote a fascinating book, Rising Sun, in which only a Japanese-aware warrior-savant could protect the country from the horrifying power of people who were smarter, harder-working, and richer than we were.

China’s power over America today is exponentially greater than whatever Japan could do at its apex, but it is similarly dependent on maintaining domestic growth and tranquility back home. It’s worth noting that while the primary Japanese purchases of real estate were commercial, the Chinese real estate purchases are overwhelmingly residential, with tens of thousands of wealthy Chinese nationals buying homes on the West Coast all the way up to Vancouver, known informally as “Van Kong” since around the Clinton era.

These people aren’t buying vacation homes; they’re buying boltholes for some unspecified upheaval to come. What will happen if China enters a Lost Decade, the way Japan did? Or will the system so admired by our own elites, that pernicious hybrid of capitalist greed and communist autocracy, prove to be the most durable way to govern an increasingly rowdy and ignorant proletariat, both there and here?

Either way, one half of America is going to get a punch… right in the GUT.

56 Replies to “Grand Unified Theory, Or “Rising Sun” Redux?”

  1. AvatarDepressed Clutch

    I got this sense a while ago: that our politicians saw China not as a horror to be avoided but as a roadmap: a way to have both absolute power and economic growth.

    The difference seems to be that Japan in the 1980s was not a totalitarian state with Orwellian systems of surveillance and control, did not have a potential slave labor class in the billions, and was not colonizing Africa.

    Japan played our economic game to win, with similar (sometimes higher) standards of environmental protection, workplace safety, and even work culture (yes, kairoshi was a thing, but factory work seems to be more egalitarian in a Deming-inspired way). And as they won, their standard of living improved, and being an island nation with strict immigration policies, their labor cost advantage evaporated, and they settled into an era of non-threatening stability.

    I can’t see a similar outcome for China.

    Reply
  2. AvatarCJinSD

    Various Chinese interests are buying up ranchland everywhere in the US that there is ranchland. It was considered newsworthy the last time they had the White House. Between that and various vile technocrats buying up farmland, normal Americans will be weened off of food. I also don’t recall the Japanese ever having military bases in the Caribbean or Long Beach. Did Japan conduct military exercises in Canada? Was the dollar under threat during Japan’s heyday?

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      We are approaching the day when a deed for farmland assigned to some far-away potentate in Shenzen or Redmond will be primarily useful as an ass-wiping device, methinks.

      Reply
      • AvatarCJinSD

        Communists are better at ending the productivity of farmland than they are at pretty much anything else. The UN is also duplicitous in efforts to starve Americans. What do you think will keep people farming land that they can’t legally own? Agriculture takes time, work, and resources. Destroying yields takes…almost no effort whatsoever.

        Reply
      • AvatarJMcG

        Exactly, look at all the White Russians who spent the 1920s in Paris plotting to get their estates back.
        After having read my fill on the Spanish Civil War and the Ukrainian Holodomor, I’ve moved on to the Wars in Chechnya. I know, I know- I must be a blast at parties, but God almighty, how awful the world often is.
        Jack, I know you were going to read “Mine Were of Trouble” by Peter Kemp. If you found that worthwhile, you might want to have a look at a book called “One Soldier’s War” by Arkady Babchenko. He fought in both Chechen Wars, the first as a conscript, the second as a volunteer. Absolutely harrowing.
        I really don’t want to see anything like a hot civil war happen here. Please God we are spared it.

        Reply
        • Avatargtem

          “One Soldier’s War” is about the most brutal and graphic account of war that I’ve read anywhere, the fact that it’s about a mostly little known (in the West) conflict in the Russian hinterlands makes it that much more worthy for reading by an American audience. Really highlights just how quickly the formerly-dog Soviet Army decayed once people stopped receiving their salaries and the general morale and pride of the country went down the tubes. I’ve studied the two Chechen wars in detail just out of curiosity, there’s a lot to unpack there, and especially sad to see how it all could have been avoided (and scary to consider how the Chechen syndrome could have (and started to) cascades= onto Dagestan, Tatarstan and other Russian republics)

          Reply
          • AvatarJMcG

            The Boston marathon bombers were Chechen “refugees” from that conflict. Their uncle seems to have been a CIA asset of some sort. That book was quite an eye-opener for me. It’s desperate the way young lives are thrown away in the modern world.
            All the best to you now!

  3. Avatarbluebarchetta

    While we were debating whether an American woman should have the right to terminate her unwanted pregnancy, the Chinese government was sending OB-GYNs accompanied by SWAT teams to terminate the wanted pregnancies of Chinese women through their One Child policy. And they did this for THIRTY YEARS. How many Chinese had a son or daughter or sibling murdered in this way? Is this something they will just “get over,” especially if all the wealth the ChiComs are accumulating never trickles down to the masses? Let’s not forget the millions Mao killed during his Great Leap Forward.

    I keep thinking our best hope is that the Chinese people overthrow their corrupt and murderous government. Yes, I am a wishful thinker. But I am also a believer in miracles.

    Reply
    • Avatarhank chinaski

      Ha, what rank amateurs. Subvert a culture properly and the women will march in the streets (accost Senators in the hallowed halls of Congress even!) for the right to kill their unborn children, chemically castrate their sons, and push their daughters into youporn, onlyfans and seekingarrangement.

      Reply
  4. AvatarScout_Number_4

    “…that’s like trying to create an electric vehicle infrastructure where you burn gas in a turbine to create electricity, if that makes any sense.”

    Vintage Baruth, right there ^^

    Thanks for continuing to spotlight the China problem.

    Reply
  5. AvatarTJ

    I was thinking earlier about the so-called wage stagnation, and the shrieks for an increased minimum wage. This so-called stagnation has been going on since the ’70s, give or take. Well, what happened in the ’70s? We more-or-less effectively doubled the American work force. I’m not arguing that women should stay at home, but prior to the mass introduction of women into the workforce, an American working man could support a family, because the demand for his labor was high enough. Now that there are twice as many people competing for the jobs, the going rate for labor is cheaper. If you took half the workforce away overnight, incomes would double shortly thereafter, as employers fight to fill jobs.

    But wait–there’s more! Since the ’80s, it hasn’t been a doubling of the workforce, its been a quadrupling or more, as the American working man has to compete with the double-whammy of many formerly decent jobs being offshored, manufacturing sent to China, call centers and data entry to India or the Philippines. Add in the H1-B influx, largely at the expense of well-compensated Americans, and the influx of low-skill immigrants both legal and illegal to fill the unskilled labor pool. Automation adds yet another wrinkle here.

    Overall, the law of supply and demand remains undefeated. The labor supply has rapidly increased over the last 50 years, while the demand has, if anything, decreased. Overall, its no wonder why there is “Wage Stagnation.” Yet the shriekers have seized on the exact wrong solution. They want to increase the minimum wage, and therefore incentivize more offshoring, more automation, and fewer American Jobs. Instead, something needs to happen to make it worthwhile to companies to hire American Workers, and pay them well. I don’t know the solution, but I know the problem.

    Reply
    • AvatarEric H

      I would argue you have the cause and effect reversed.
      More women entered the workforce because their families needed the income due to wage stagnation.
      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the participation of women in the workforce rose more or less linearly from the mid 1950’s through 1990 and started dropping by 2010.

      The real reason wages have stagnated is in the 1970’s the belief “Corporations exist only to maximize shareholder profit” became the dominant way to run a company. This is also when the stratospheric rise in CxO compensation started.

      Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        Wage stagnation is something of a myth. Most physical products (cars, electronics, appliances, clothes) are much cheaper today than years ago when they were mostly made in the USA, and other de-regulated products such as fossil fuels, telephone service, rail transport, and air travel are also much cheaper today than they were when they were heavily regulated, which means that even stagnant wages go much further today than earlier for much of what we buy. It is the heavily regulated and subsidized industries that have sucked up much of the income that would have gone to higher wages. Thus rather than higher wages we get “free” employer sponsored health insurance that costs far more today than 10 or 30 or 50 years ago, and we pay much higher property taxes to support public schools heavily laden with mandated administrative overhead than 10 or 30 or 50 years ago. Heavily subsidized and regulated education and medicine are two areas where costs have exploded and suck much of the gains made in other areas, plus most people pay much higher state, local, and social security/medicare taxes to pay for all those “free” government services, which takes another bite out of wages.

        I would also argue the opposite when it comes to “Corporations exist only to maximize shareholder profit”, because since the 1970s there has been the big rise in “Corporate Social Responsibility” and “Cause Related Marketing” where companies focus on supporting mostly Leftist causes with profits that would otherwise go to worker wages and shareholders (and Uncle Sam). So we have Nike and Apple making big contributions to BLM and any organization dedicated to defeating Trump, while they use sweatshop labor in Asia to make iPhones and fancy sneakers so loved by professional protesters everywhere. But why do these “American” corporations outsource production to cheap countries? Largely it is because of Leftist policies in the US that make earning profits here more difficult – high corporate tax rates (than Biden promises to raise), Green New Deals that will raise energy prices for US production, diversity and inclusion regulations that make it difficult to hire the most qualified workers for high value jobs, and crappy Social Justice focused public schools that turn out millions of unemployable “graduates” who know all about the slaves George Washington owned, but don’t know how to read or do simple math that would make them productive employees. If jobs leave the US it is because the US policies are encouraging profit seeking companies to make their profits elsewhere.

        Reply
        • Avatardanio

          This. “Wage stagnation” seems to be a misunderstood term, not that I’m particularly accusing any of the previous comments of this. What should be focused on when looking at standard of living is Real Wages, which have marginally increased. I don’t think anyone who is read on the subject could objectively argue that our general standard of living, particularly of the poor, is worse than it was in the 1970s.

          Trade issues and the centralization of powers is of constant concern, as it should be, however.

          Reply
          • AvatarTJ

            There is a very real reason I refer to it as “so-called wage stagnation” Thats the term beloved by the blue checkmarks and their ilk. The ones who are out their shrieking to the internet that its unfaaaaaaiiirrrr that someone could be paid less than $45k/year, while they have an utterly unmarketable skillset largely composed of shrieking for one cause or another

      • AvatarDaniel Sharpe

        I think both are true. The percentage of women (not the number) actually grew a little more than linear from 1950 to 1980. More women started entering into the workforce in the up until the 70s because they wanted to, and the feminists movements precipitated that.. They went into the workforce during the 80’s and beyond because they had to.

        GDP to wages were in line up until the mid 70’s where GDP grew at a much faster rate than real wages. Somewhere around the 70s it was assumed that the only way for companies to make money was for quick grown.

        Reply
  6. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    Tablet seems to have occupied a position formerly held by Commentary magazine, a place where serious things can be discussed without getting too eggheadish about things.

    Reply
  7. AvatarMatthew Horgan

    Uighur camps-not newsworthy
    Tibet-not newsworthy
    Chinese military expansion in the Pacific-nope
    Wholesale intellectual property theft-nope
    President’s son pimping introductions for $$-nope nope nope
    Complete information blackout re: virus
    Nope
    We can’t let any of these distract us from Healing the Nation

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Truth and reconciliation camps for unrepentant Trump supporters – not newsworthy.
      Democrat politicization of the DOJ, FBI, CIA, IRS – nope.
      Wholesale corporate surrender to Social Justice agenda (corporate gifts to BLM, Leftist NGOs, racial based hiring quotas, etc.) – nope.
      Leadership of Congress of both parties pimping introductions for $$$ – nope, nope, nope.

      We can’t let any of these detract from Healing the Nation.

      Reply
  8. AvatarDan

    Chinese ascendancy doesn’t work as a GUT. At least until it manifests as the imports cutting off, or the DF-21s coming down, yellow man bad is too gradual as well as too academic to build a political movement around. When it stops being gradual it’ll already be too late.

    I don’t see why our GUT won’t be race, too. Holding action reactionaryism is the conservative default and the larger part of what we’ve done for for my entire lifetime. We’ll instinctively hold them there too. They’re for erasing white people, we’re for keeping them! Or at least erasing them slower!

    And it’ll be an absolute disaster. Demographically unwinnable, awful optics, if they can run on this then we’ve already lost.

    Just like we’re supposed to. You think they stumbled on this race war party platform by accident?

    Reply
    • AvatarDan S

      Read that tablet article, I’d be shocked if you don’t find something new about exactly how far China has infiltrated things.

      Reply
  9. AvatarEric H

    If there was truly the need to bring the CCP to heel, all that needs to happen is to stop selling them food. It would be hard on the world’s farmers, but there it is.

    Famine has a way of changing the population’s feelings about their government.

    Reply
      • AvatarJMcG

        You’d be amazed at how much of the food in the US comes from China, quite a bit of it trans-shipped through SÉ Asian countries to get around regulatory agencies. That crap shrimp that everyone here has gotten used to eating and the fake honey on the shelves? A lot is from China.
        I have a hard time believing that China is dependent on John Deere for its rice or millet harvest.
        I don’t know if you’ve read the subject article, but it’s pretty devastating.

        Reply
  10. AvatarShocktastic

    “All your bases belong to us.”

    Jack has written already about the sell-off of America’s industrial complex to Chinga (intenional misspelling) in the Clinton/Bush2 years. I’m surprised that so many displaced workers have meekly accepted their fate like good little mooks. Drowning in alcohol or opiates keeps all of these displaced workers from targeting the corporate overclass that inflicts the pain. The termite FIRE class is slowly eating out the core of the USA.

    Reply
  11. AvatarNewbie Jeff

    “…while the rest of the country will descend into poverty-stricken polyglot chaos that is periodically suppressed by mercenary troops”

    The militarized totalitarian state would obviously be the natural evolution of the ascension of the “China Class”… perhaps the more accurate description would be “ideologically-sympathetic partisan troops”.

    But this would be a pretty BIG step. The party of the “China Class” would have to reshape the current “cross section of America” makeup of the US military into a strictly partisan force… it would be difficult to get party loyalty from the Oklahoma farmhands, Carolina country-boys, and Georgia local-yokels in the infantry.

    First, you’d need to subtly alter the military’s broadly apolitical “We’re all Green” culture and begin injecting the identity-politics agenda under the guise of being apolitical… Then, you’d need to deliberately purge military members with right-leaning and traditional ideology sympathies from the ranks to begin building the partisan force that would eagerly suppress its own citizens.

    Oh… wait…

    Reply
  12. AvatarDaniel J

    I have a different take, but it’s not unique.

    If we look at the GOP 20 years ago, much of it was ran by the “evangelical” or “conservative” Christians. So yes, the Bible was the unifying theory. The fundamental problem was, this GUT could not co-exist with traditional secular liberalism, even though many principals and ideals overlap.

    I don’t know if “traditional secular liberalism” is really a defined ideology, but I’ve started hearing whispers of it over the internet. These are people who believe in the first amendment. Some if not many believe in the second amendment. Some if not many have libertarian views on social and fiscal issues. The reason they are called “Traditional and secular” is simply in freedom from religion while believing any matters of equity or “anti-racism” is just another form of racism.

    These middle of the road, traditional secular liberalists, so to speak, flocked to the Democratic party years ago because they were weren’t allowed into the GOP or the GOP simply refused to fight for their causes. What they didn’t realize was that their liberalism would allow for the GUT of “everything racist” or I think more broadly, “wokism”.

    I don’t know if the GOP no longer has the Bible as it’s GUT because it tamped down the extreme voices of the evangelical types, or the fact that many of the traditional secular liberalists have now flocked to the GOP, or a combination of both. These liberalists do not support cancel culture. They don’t support “anti-racism” as they think its another form of racism. Many of them voted or align with some of Trump’s ideals.

    A good discussion I saw on this was Dave Rubin’s interview from last Friday: A Rabbi, Athiest Professor, and a Christian leader.

    I believe that the GUT for the conservative right needs to simply be the constitution, plain and simple.

    Reply
  13. AvatarNoID

    Have you watched Tales from the Loop, Jack? I found it held my interest well enough to be hoping for a second season. It felt a lot like the collections of short stories that Sci-Fi is good for producing.

    Speaking of which, I wish they’d make a series out of Heinlein’s “Future Histories”. Though I’m sure they’d muck it up. I’m apprehensive for instance about the motion picture adaptation of Clancy’s “Without Remorse”, which I read as either an old teen or a young adult and it absolutely floored me…certain events had me encountering Big Feelings that hadn’t been conjured in me by a book before. I get the feeling it’s just going to be another junk food action flick with a tortured young protagonist hardened by war, which would be a shame.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Watched it with considerable interest and attention, and in some cases twice.

      I haven’t wanted to write too much about it because I hate to support Amazon, but it’s probably worth a discussion.

      Reply
  14. Avatarhank chinaski

    I finally RTFA and I’m trying to recall the key crossover point in history from:
    ‘OMG they are 1B new customers for Coke/Chevy!!’
    to
    ‘OMG they don’t have a UAW *or* EPA!!’
    to where we are now,
    ‘Elections? LMAO!’.

    Reply
  15. Avatardejal

    “whether it is Amazon’s status as the number-one cloaca for Chinese junk,”
    Here’s the thing. I’ve used Oral B electric toothbrushes for years. The latest one broke. Had it a decent amount of time. Looked at the prices for a new one. Not bad. Did a little digging and saw this “Oral B takes pride in Manual Toothbrushes made in the USA”. Not electric.

    F them. Bought a 14 buck (after coupon) Fairywill E11 off of Amazon. Came in yesterday. The E11 is pretty new for them, and there are others that sell exact dups of their other models. If a “US” brand is able to outsource and jack the price, I demand the same rights as them. Thousands and thousands of reviews for this brand. I don’t see any that look like they were written by someone with a dial up modem in the Maldives at 2 cents per review.

    Reply
  16. AvatarCliffG

    I am watching a period costume Chinese serial from about 2009 in which the head detective investigates a conspiracy involving bats and pestilence. So…. I am continually bemused by liberals who say they are concerned about the downtrodden and the working class and supported a candidate who was backed by literally 100% of billionaires and Wall Street. But he’ll keep abortion so that is the important part. And we have a government run by that oligarchy all of whom seem to be convinced that the government can keep interest rates at zero forever. If you think climate change is potentially catastrophic to the world’s economy you might want to ponder what 4% 10 year Treasuries might mean. Good news though! Mark Cuban is scrapping the US anthem. Probably should just raise the CCP flag over the arena and be done with it.

    Reply
  17. AvatarKeaton Lamle

    To take issue with some tertiary points from the top of this piece:

    I’m currently completing a PhD in linguistics and rhetoric and I’ve noticed a persistent theme in Jack’s writing on contemporary attitudes about race. The premise of Jack’s arguments generally assume that there is this looming specter of Critical Race Theory poisoning everything (read: in reality, Critical Race Theory is not a unified field with some blanket, agreed-upon set of assumptions, but rather a publishing sub-discipline within the humanities in which thinkers with different ideological assumptions argue about the categories humans fairly arbitrarily create in order to distinguish themselves from each other [white/black etc] and how these categories then influence daily life on a social and especially legal level– I read a lot of stuff within this field as part of my professional research). In addition to kind of hazily and inaccurately defining what CRT actually is, Jack often implies that CRT posits race as an essentializing force– “white” = bad while “POC” = good. In fact, one of the only agreed upon premises in CRT is that precisely the opposite is true, that race is a sociological construct and we operate within this reductive mindset primarily because we were socialized into it. It’s the reason people can racially “pass” when it is advantageous– there’s no inherent biological “essence” of race. It’s just kind of a category that emerges when people have to mentally categorize and do so on the basis of appearance and proximity. This is the reason folks as disparate as the Irish and Nordic and Pict and Caucasian are all sociologically “coded” as white in modern US discourse, while people from all across the continent of Africa, and sometimes India and the Middle East are coded as “black.” Obviously, this kind of simplified categorization creates real social problems, especially in a country where for hundreds of years, skin color was almost universally correlated with legal personhood. In any case, I point this out because when Jack performatively lampoons a term like, “multiracial whiteness,” he is criticizing a definition that the majority of respected scholars in the CRT field (read: not “diversity seminar leaders” or “tiktok users”) would never use– this reductive notion he paints that “multiracial whiteness” implies that sometimes nativist people of color are borderline “possessed” by a spirit of “whiteness.” Instead, the CRT scholars are arguing that the white/black racial frame that came to dominate American social life (as European immigrant groups found it desirable to avoid the oppressive effects of being “othered” on their new continent–see Irish or Italians slowly shedding cultural affect in order to be coded as “white” and thereby find admission to the professions and polite society) is simply a socialization that most of us contact in the course our American lives, and that this social categorization (often denoted by the noun “whiteness”) has effects on all of us. It may even lead people to adopt traits they perceive as being more desirable to powerful groups, while disassociating from those with less cultural capital (again, see the Irish assimilating into whiteness, “colorism” within black communities, etc). I point this out, because when I see claims from my field being painted in misleading and inaccurate ways, it makes it harder for me to respect the rest of the argument in the piece. I find myself thinking, “did Jack intentionally misrepresent this concept from CRT in order to dunk on people he doesn’t like, or is he genuinely just not conversant with some of the terms he seems increasingly interested in writing about?”

    Reply
    • AvatarNoID

      Not to be a Baruth apologist, but I don’t read a serious effort to take on Critical Race Theory, what I see if a serious effort to take on how it is half-understood and implemented in practice by the gatekeepers and power brokers of the world. Similarly to how the “I believe in science” crowd doesn’t fundamentally understand science but uses it to justify their causes, or perhaps more often to dress them in the robes of their new religion.

      Maybe I’m just used to parsing this stuff out when I read opinions like Jack’s. It helps as well to know that you can punt the ridiculous opinions of the “thought leaders” while still recognizing that there are some core truths and realities that remain when we burn the straw TEDs away.

      Reply
      • AvatarKeaton Lamle

        Fair enough! I really appreciate the good faith reply. And I must admit that this Baruth post in particular is far less focused on taking down CRT than some of what he’s written in the past couple of months, and so probably represents a dumb place to comment on my part. That said, I can certainly appreciate the “Jack is mainly critiquing the popular bastardization of CRT, not the sophisticated thing itself,” angle you added here. Although I can’t help but feel that the onus is on the cultural critic (in this case, Jack) to confront the strongest version of each argument they want to shred. Otherwise, it’s easy to end up in “Fox News montage showing the most clueless college kids they could find” territory. Still, I guess even in the situations when there’s just no getting around the fact that you *have* to dunk on Ted Talk reductions of better arguments, it doesn’t seem that hard to go ahead and complete the critical function by actually noting how those ted talk level arguments fall short of their intended aims and ideological underpinnings, instead of simply adopting the easier posture of, “and this is why talk of systemic racism is dumb and insidious.” In any case, thanks for engaging here!

        Reply
    • Avatardejal

      “see Irish or Italians slowly shedding cultural affect in order to be coded as “white” ”

      Really? Never thought of it as “white” but more of “we take care of our own”, with “we” being the power structures at the time. So, you do what you do to fit in, not because of whiteness. I’m neither of those groups. My roots are Russia/Poland. That’s what it was called a 100+ years ago. I’m 2nd gen in the US. My father and his brother changed their last names before I was born. Mostly to keep those 2 groups off their back. I guess the Irish and Italians really took to being “white” that they dumped on others as they got dumped on.

      I will grant you a not white coded as “white” is going to be hard. And vice versa.

      Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      I’m no professional rhetorician like yourself but I detect at least a whiff of a motte and bailey argument. It’s not the true Critical Race theorists who are the problem, just because the intersectional riffraff are using it to demolish our society.

      It’s not the race pimps pushing their concept of CRT throughout society so they can gain and entrench political and cultural power, like the Biden White House saying “equity” will be their goal that’s the problem, no it’s the troglodytic Trumptards like Jack who stupidly (or worse, deliberately) misinterpet what should be left to their intellectual superiors to pontificate upon.

      If race is a social construct, what need is there for identity politics?

      Is dunking on Ted talk versions of academic subjects less worthy than dunking on a Fox News montage showing the most clueless college kids they could find? Is categorizing something as “a Fox news montage” really confronting the strongest version of an argument?

      Be honest, can an open political conservative or libertarian get an academic position in your discipline? Do you know of any open political conservatives or libertarians in your discipline? Would your academic career be safe if you publicly disavowed leftist politcal orthodoxy?

      You remind me of my know-it-all niece who’s never done a productive thing in your life but will most assuredly explain to you how you don’t have standing to discuss an academic subject.

      Can you solder? Electrical or plumbing, either will do.

      Can you frame a 2×4 wall with square corners if I only give you the wood, a saw, hammer & nails, and a tape measure?

      Can you trace an electrical circuit and understand what it does?

      Why do you think you’re smarter than the people who can do those things when you can’t?

      Reply
      • AvatarNewbie Jeff

        “I’m no professional rhetorician like yourself but I detect at least a whiff of a motte and bailey argument”

        I caught this, too. I was going to let it go, but oh well… I love that he leads off with his imminent “PhD” in rhetoric, as though the rest of us would just silently lurk in anticipation of his comet of intellectual awakening for us Fox News dullards… “A PhD in rhetoric!? Oh shit, I’m pitching a tent!”

        Reply
        • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

          You seem like an elitist asshole. It’s unfortunate that you think your shit doesn’t stink as much as anyone else’s fecal material.

          Your comment isn’t a deflection to allow you to avoid addressing any of the points I made, is it?

          Exactly what practical skills do you posess? I just got finished laser engraving a mezuzah case. Do you even know what G-code is?

          Just wondering, would an ad hominem attack like yours pass muster with the ivory tower academics entrusted with approving your PhD?

          Reply
          • AvatarKeaton Lamle

            I’m just not really interested in getting into a contest over which of our practical trade skills ‘matter’ the most. I certainly don’t think that rhetoric or linguistics are somehow more important or valuable than carpentry or coding or metal fabrication and I sincerely apologize if my explanation of how researchers understand CRT somehow implies that I did think that. I think the reason I deflected was because you seem kind of hostile towards me and I’m not sure why. I grew up in a town of 700 people in southwest Oklahoma. My family members have made their living as electricians, construction workers, retail employees, and railroad brakemen. I recently completed a research project on the various ways academic institutions devalue the literacies necessary to perform real world work (like the stuff you mentioned). All this to say, it sort of hurt to see how aggressively you were assuming the worst about me based solely on the one fact at your disposal: I study linguistics and rhetoric, and I pushed back on a blogger who mischaracterized some key terms from my field of study.

    • AvatarNewbie Jeff

      “The premise of Jack’s arguments generally assume that there is this looming specter of Critical Race Theory poisoning everything…”

      …and this premise is spot on. “NoID” already addressed your missing the point, but I think it bears fleshing out further. I’m not sure how insulated you are in whatever school is offering degrees in rhetoric, but are you aware that identity politics is being systematically deployed as a political weapon, and that the real world results are pretty clearly biased in one direction? A “white supremacist” used to mean a hateful ideology… now it means anyone who disagrees with America’s progressive authoritarians. Certainly, as someone who “reads a lot of this stuff”, you can then recognize the inherent danger of muddling overtly hateful racist ideology with common people simply expressing political disagreement. That’s what Jack is trying to teach you.

      Reply
      • AvatarNoID

        Yeah. If CRT theories are flammable chemicals with proper uses, most of them unrelated to burning, then the institutions are the flame cabinets and they’ve intentionally left the damn thing unlocked so curious toddlers and malevolent arsonists can go play with fire.

        Reply
        • AvatarKeaton Lamle

          I appreciate the engagement, NoID, but I feel this is granting CRT an almost gnostic status as borderline “dangerous secret knowledge.” It’s just not. It’s a subfield of researchers who think race is mostly socially constructed, usually with the side effect of an implied subject/object relationship between majority groups and minority groups. I don’t think that’s all that dangerous or controversial. Of course there have been people who have done horrible things while flying some sort of social justice banner, but it seems difficult to blame Krista Radcliffe or Jackie Royster for that in the same way I would never blame conservative economist Milton Friedman for the goons who stormed the capital.

          Reply
  18. AvatarTAFKADG

    The good people at Tablet said, “the majority of overseas American troop deployments are in the furtherance of Chinese, not American interests.”

    .
    .
    .
    Still waiting on the punchline, brah.

    Reply
  19. AvatarJustin Styer

    There’s an unfair standard being applied here to someone trying to point out the truth behind an ideology that in and of itself is not problematic, but is being inappropriately/improperly amplified by a clearly broken media (what Eric Weinstein would call the failure of the generally accepted narrative).

    If someone was butchering a more traditionally technical concept for bogus reasons (like power vs work vs energy, torque vs hp, friction vs adhesion, lift vs drag, or any of the other concepts auto journalists regularly stumble over) I don’t think anyone here would call foul at me pedantically correcting the offender and their reductionist bull shit that kills the overall credibility of automotive writing.

    The responses after NoID/dejal added nothing to the conversation here… Just more bitching about a broken system that we all agree is broken, and throwing back the same kind of stereotypes that we all hate when people presume about our way of thinking.

    And he used his real name.

    So dissapointment in the B&B here…

    Signed, a guy who will happily enter a soldering, framing, engineering, metal fabbing, engine building, track driving, orbital rocket launching contest with anyone who thinks those are the only things that matter. But please, not a writing contest… Hard pass on that.

    Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      Signed, a guy who will happily enter a soldering, framing, engineering, metal fabbing, engine building, track driving, orbital rocket launching contest with anyone who thinks those are the only things that matter. But please, not a writing contest… Hard pass on that.

      I use my real name here too.

      Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough on my point. I apologize for that. The issue isn’t that those practical skills are the only things that matter. The point is that those practical things are at least as important and intellectually rigorous as linguistics and rhetoric.

      Perhaps you think it’s ludicrous to say that carpentry is as intellectually rigorous as linguistics and rhetoric but if a PhD candidate in linguistics and rhetoric cannot do carpentry, just how intellectually rigorous are linguistics and rhetoric?

      Reply
  20. AvatarKeaton Lamle

    P.S.

    Ronnie has me, here. I am a horrible carpenter. I worked in a furniture warehouse in rural Oklahoma during college and though I became “serviceable” over the course of five years, I broke a lot of stuff early on. In particular I remember a horrifically hot Saturday in which my boss charged me with cutting and replacing a couple of wood beams that supported the roof of the old military barracks we were repurposing as additional warehouse space. I pretty immediately miffed it and spent the day making covert trips to a hardware supply store, spending my own money on supplies while desperately trying to repair it all before he noticed what I’d done. Not my finest hour. Not a skillset I posses. Massive massive respect to anyone with the patience and effortless spatial intelligence required to work well with wood.

    Reply

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