Sunday, July 31, 2011

What is Cultural Conservatism?

"What is Cultural Conservatism?" is the title of an article by William S. Lind published in 1986 in Essays in Our Times. That's about all I can say about the article because I can't find another trace of the magazine. In answer to the generic question, though, there is this perceptive comment from a sympathizer, William F. Campbell, in a Heritage Foundation speech reviewing a subsequent pamphlet, Cultural Conservatism: Toward A New National Agenda by Lind and William Marshner:
But as first and second generation conservatives have always known, and had to live with as an unpleasant skeleton in the family closet, there is sharp tension, if not contradiction, between the traditionalist and the libertarian wings of the conservative movement. They have been held together primarily because of their common enemies, modern egalitarianism and totalitarian collectivism, which they both abhor.

To sum up, unity on the right requires defining (or inventing) a common enemy/scapegoat. That was easy when the Soviet Union still existed. With the demise of the East Bloc and the end of the Cold War, the culture war against "political correctness" presented itself as common ground.

It would be facile to take the word "war" too metaphorically. Lind, after all, is a theorist -- perhaps the leading theorist -- of "fourth generation warfare" or 4WG, as he calls it. This "theory" has been severely criticized as faulty in both its logic and it historical assumptions by Antulio Echevarria of the U.S. Army's Institute for Strategic Studies but it evidently appealed to the Oslo "culture warrior," Anders Breivik. Breivik pasted a 1,000 word Wikipedia summary of Lind's 4GW concept into his manifesto, adding a few parenthetical references to his own pet projects.

Anyone who desires to peek under the rock of cultural conservatism and fourth generation warfare is welcome to do their own Google searches. But there is one concept that incongruously links the two strands of Lind's thought: what Lind calls the legitimacy crisis of the state.
Here we must remind ourselves that the root and origin of Fourth Generation war is a crisis of legitimacy of the state. One of the functions the state is now expected to perform, in free market as well as socialist countries, is to ensure that the economy functions as well. A world-wide financial panic followed by a world recession or depression would mean the state was failing in one of its core functions. That in turn would further diminish the legitimacy of the state.
If Lind's legitimacy crisis of the state sounds suspiciously like Jürgen Habermas's legitimation crisis, that's because it is a transparent appropriation of the term. I have not been able to find any acknowledgement or attribution by Lind of his source. Lind is clearly "a scavenger, who picks up ill-digested ideas and uses them for his own purposes." But, of course, Lind is also a staunch critic of the ideas of the Frankfurt School and cultural Marxism. Habermas was a former student of Frankfurt School critical theorists, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who in 1964 took over Horkheimer's former chair at the Institute for Social Research and eventually became director.

Perhaps "critic" is too mild a term. Lind demonized the Frankfurt School as little more than a cynical conspiracy to undermine Western Civilization. Intellectual consistency would have required Lind to view Habermas's legitimation crisis not as a diagnosis but as a diabolical scheme to de-legitimize state by undermining the culture. Instead, Lind simply replicates a disjointed morsel of Habermas's analysis. In other words, Lind is not above scavenging and plagiarizing from schools of thought that elsewhere he disparages and demonizes.

So what IS cultural conservatism? It is bottom-feeding propaganda that aims to capitalize on the persecution of scapegoats to achieve unity of the inherently contradictory right.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Martin Jay Spills Some Beans!

In his recent post, Updated: Breivik's Core Thesis is White Christian Nationalism v. Multiculturalism, Chip Berlet cited a recent Salmagundi article by Martin Jay, "Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe." This is a truly astonishing, important and very timely document, which unfortunately is not yet available online. In fact, there is very little information about the article online. I have sent a request to Salmagundi to make the text available.

Of particular interest is Jay's account of getting sandbagged (Berlet's term) by a film crew for a television network called National Empowerment Television, sponsored by Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation (FCF). William S. Lind, who narrated the video and presumably produced it, was proud of his coup of including interview clips with Jay in the television program, boasting, "The video is especially valuable because we interviewed the principal American expert on the Frankfurt School, Martin Jay, who was then the chairman of the History Department at Berkeley (and obviously no conservative). He spills the beans."

The "beans" Jay spilled were innocuous. "They had," Jay explained, "already been on the plate for a very long time and it would have taken no effort at all to confirm that, yes, they were Marxists, and yes, they thought cultural problems were important, and yes, they -- or at least Marcus -- worried about the effects of 'repressive tolerance.'"

Of course, it wasn't the beans that Lind was interested in but in editing and packaging those beans in such a way as to insinuate that Jay was "confirming" the rest of the video's narrative, which of course he wasn't. Jay regrets having fallen for Lind's ruse and having assumed that his opinions would be presented with some fidelity. But having viewed Lind's video and now having read Martin Jay's account, I have to wonder if maybe Lind didn't step into a trap of his own making. Given the context, it is the film makers, not the Frankfurt School, who come across as the devious schemers with a secret agenda. As Martin Jay explained,
There is a transparent subtext in the original FCF program, which is not hard to discern and has become more explicit with each telling of the narrative. Although there is scarcely any direct reference to the ethnic origins of the School’s members, subtle hints allow the listener to draw his own conclusions about the provenance of foreigners who tried to combine Marx and Freud, those giants of critical Jewish intelligence. At one point, William Lind asserts that “once in America they shifted the focus of their work from destroying German society to attacking the society and culture of its new place of refuge,” as if the very people who had to flee the Nazis had been responsible for what they were fleeing! Airtime is also given to another of Weyrich’s colleagues at the FCF, Lazlo Pasztor, who is innocently identified as a “leader of the Hungarian resistance against Communism,” but had already been discredited a decade earlier as a former member of the pro-Nazi “Arrow Cross,” who had to leave the Bush campaign in l988 when he was outed.

And now, without further ado, Ecological Headstand presents The History of Political Correctness:

A double bill! The British National Party's Nick Griffin recites the script with a twist, greedy Big Business and the Frankfurt School are in cahoots!:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chip Berlet: Author Cited by Anders Behring Breivik Regrets Original Essay

Chip Berlet:

An article titled "The New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and `Political Correctness'" ended up being mentioned once by Anders Behring Breivik in his 1,500 page manifesto.
After dozens of hours of research and thousands of pages of reading I am confident that William S. Lind pamphlet from the Free Congress Foundation is a major conceptual influence on the core thesis of the Breivik Manifesto.

How major? Below are the first three paragraphs of Breivik's manifesto and Lind' pamphlet:

Breivik: One of conservatism’s most important insights is that all ideologies are wrong. Ideology takes an intellectual system, a product of one or more philosophers, and says, “This system must be true.” Inevitably, reality ends up contradicting the system, usually on a growing number of points. But the ideology, by its nature, cannot adjust to reality; to do so would be to abandon the system.

Lind: As Russell Kirk wrote, one of conservatism’s most important insights is that all ideologies are wrong. Ideology takes an intellectual system, a product of one or more philosophers, and says, “This system must be true.” Inevitably, reality ends up contradicting the system, usually on a growing number of points. But the ideology, by its nature, cannot adjust to reality; to do so would be to abandon the system.

Breivik: Therefore, reality must be suppressed. If the ideology has power, it uses its power to undertake this suppression. It forbids writing or speaking certain facts. Its goal is to prevent not only expression of thoughts that contradict what “must be true,” but thinking such thoughts. In the end, the result is inevitably the concentration camp, the gulag and the grave.

Lind: Therefore, reality must be suppressed. If the ideology has power, it uses its power to undertake this suppression. It forbids writing or speaking certain facts. Its goal is to prevent not only expression of thoughts that contradict what “must be true,” but thinking such thoughts. In the end, the result is inevitably the concentration camp, the gulag and the grave.

Breivik: But what happens today to Europeans who suggest that there are differences among ethnic groups, or that the traditional social roles of men and women reflect their different natures, or that homosexuality is morally wrong? If they are public figures, they must grovel in the dirt in endless, canting apologies. If they are university students, they face star chamber courts and possible expulsion. If they are employees of private corporations, they may face loss of their jobs. What was their crime? Contradicting the new EUSSR ideology of “Political Correctness.”

Lind: While some Americans have believed in ideologies, America itself never had an official, state ideology – up until now. But what happens today to Americans who suggest that there are differences among ethnic groups, or that the traditional social roles of men and women reflect their different natures, or that homosexuality is morally wrong? If they are public figures, they must grovel in the dirt in endless, canting apologies. If they are university students, they face star chamber courts and possible expulsion. If they are employees of private corporations, they may face loss of their jobs. What was their crime? Contradicting America’s new state ideology of “Political Correctness.”

See also Chip Berlet Updated: Breivik's Core Thesis is White Christian Nationalism v. Multiculturalism

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Confessions of a Cultural Marxist

UPDATE: Plagiarism alert Breivik's text on "Political Correctness" appears to be lifted almost entirely from a screed called "Political Correctness: a Short History of an Ideology," by William Lind, "Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation."

In the introduction to his "compendium" manifesto, 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, Anders Breivik asks "What is Political Correctness?" and "How did it all begin?" His answer dwells on the Frankfurt School, and singles out Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization as especially important (I have condensed Breivik's text here):
One work, however, is of such importance that it must be recommended despite its difficulty: Eros and Civilisation by Herbert Marcuse...

In brief, Eros and Civilisation urges total rebellion against traditional Western culture –the “Great Refusal” – and promises a Candyland utopia of free sex and no work to those who join the revolution.
The very achievements of this civilisation seemed to make the performance principle obsolete, to make the repressive utilisation of the instincts archaic. But the idea of a non-repressive civilisation on the basis of the achievements of the performance principle encountered the argument that instinctual liberation (and consequently total liberation) would explode civilisation itself, since the latter is sustained only through renunciation and work (labour) – in other words, through the repressive utilisation of instinctual energy. Freed from these constraints, man would exist without work and without order; he would fall back into nature, which would destroy culture. To meet this argument, we recalled certain archetypes of imagination which, in contrast to the culture-heroes of repressive productivity, symbolised creative receptivity.
Marcuse understood what most of the rest of his Frankfurt School colleagues did not: the way to destroy Western civilisation –the objective set forth by George Lukacs in 1919 – was not through abstruse theory, but through sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Breivik's account of Marcuse is a very strange and convoluted rendition, which, in essence, mistakes critique for advocacy and thus inadvertently comprehends a mirror image of what Marcuse was saying. Whether or not one subscribes to Marcuse's version of Freud or likes his terminology, it is crucial to distinguish between three concepts here: repressive sublimation, non-repressive sublimation and repressive de-sublimation. What Marcuse was advocating in Eros and Civilization was non-repressive sublimation. He criticized repressive de-sublimation. The two terms are opposites.

The "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" strategy for destroying Western civilization that Breivik lamented was actually something Marcuse opposed -- a sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll strategy for defending the hierarchical status quo: "The promotion of thoughtless leisure activities, the triumph of anti-intellectual ideologies, exemplify the trend. This extension of controls to formerly free regions of consciousness and leisure permit a relaxation of sexual taboos (previously more important because the over-all controls were less effective)."

Breivik's grisly "mistake" is not an innocent one. He has brought the technique of mass murder as a self-promoting publicity stunt to a new low. Perhaps the best punishment for that crime would be exposure of the gut-wrenchingly backward credulity and stupidity of his interpretation of "cultural Marxism."

The lying sack of shit that fabricated this modern-day Protocols of the Elders of Political Correctness is William S. Lind:

"William Sturgiss Lind, Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, born July 9, 1947. He graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1969 and received a Master's Degree in History from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 through 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 through 1986. He joined Free Congress Foundation in 1987."

See also "Reframing the Enemy" from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

U.S. Ambassador to Germany a Big Fan of Kurzarbeit

GlobalPost: Ambassador Philip Murphy speaks out on the European debt crisis, the importance of Berlin on the world stage, and what Germans really think of Barack Obama.

Germanyʼs economy has made quite a successful turnaround since the Great Recession. What can the German example teach America?

There are two lessons that Germany can teach. One is that it still manufactures stuff that the world wants to buy and as a big percentage of its economy. That number has gone too far down in our economy. We manufacture less in our economy than we used to. We have to get that back up. The second thing I am a big fan of is “Kurzarbeit” [a scheme where a workerʼs total number of hours each week are reduced to avoid layoffs, with the government covering part of salaries]. I think it's a great model.

U.S. Embassy:

Ambassador Murphy spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs and held a variety of senior positions, including in Frankfurt, New York and Hong Kong, before becoming a Senior Director of the firm in 2003, a position he held until his retirement in 2006. After leaving Goldman Sachs, he served from 2006-2009 as the National Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

I Didn't Borrow Your Lawnmower!

Besides, it was in perfect condition when I returned it. Not to mention it was already a total wreck when you lent it to me.

Those three alibis correspond with the repressed core assumptions of classical political economy, neoclassical economics and neo-liberalism, respectively.

There was no enclosure of the commons. No primitive accumulation. Never happened. What commons? There was never any commons to enclose. Some people just worked harder than others and saved all their hard-earned money, abstaining from consuming until they had enough to invest and that's why some people are rich and a whole lot of others destitute.

Even though there was never a commons to enclose -- it's still there! If you don't like the wage bargain on offer, you can withdraw from the market and provision yourself just like in the good old days.

But of course the commons today is in ruins and that is the tragedy of it. It's your own damn fault because each individual following only his or her own private interests will abuse the commons by overusing it. See what you have done! Now you will have to pay to restore it. But, here, I have a windmill you can buy to help in the clean up.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dean Baker: "Thomas Friedman Thinks That the Greeks Have to Work Less"

Wednesday, 20 July 2011 04:29

This is what Thomas Friedman said in his column this morning, even if he didn't know it. Friedman told readers that:

"Germans are now telling Greeks: 'We’ll loan you more money, provided that you behave like Germans in how you save, how many hours a week you work, how long a vacation you take ...'"

If we look to the OECD data, we see that the average number of hours in a work year for Germans in 2008 (the most recent data avilable) was 1430. This compared 2120 hours a year for the average Greek worker. This means that if Germans want the Greeks to be more like Germans in the number of hours a week they work and the length of their vacations then they want the Greeks to work less, not more.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

...and so emerged the Atlantic working day, which entirely depended upon a prior discommoning.

First paragraph of chapter five of Peter Linebaugh's The Magna Carta Manifesto:

The enclosure movement and the slave trade ushered industrial capitalism into the modern world. By 1832 England was largely closed, its countryside privatized (some even mechanized), in contrast to a century earlier when its fields were largely open—"champion" country, to use the happy technical term—and yeoman, children, women could subsist by commoning. By 1834 slavery had been abolished in the British empire whereas a century earlier, on 11 September 1713, the asiento licensed British slavers to trade African slaves throughout the Americas. Together the expelled commoners and the captured Africans provided the labor power available for exploitation in the factories of the field (tobacco and sugar) and the factories of the towns (woolens and cottons). Whether indentured servant, West African youngster, former milkmaid, or woodsman without his woods, the lords of humankind looked upon them indifferently as laboring bodies to produce surplus value, and so emerged the Atlantic working day, which entirely depended upon a prior discommoning.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Commoning is Embedded in a Labor Process

Peter Linebaugh, The Magn Carta Manifesto:
Common rights are embedded in a particular ecology with its local husbandry. For commoners, the expression ˜law of the land’ does not refer to the will of the sovereign. Commoners think first not of title deeds, but of human deeds: how will this land be tilled? Does it require manuring? What grows there? They begin to explore. You might call it a natural attitude. Second, commoning is embedded in a labor process; it inheres in a particular praxis of field, upland, forest, marsh, coast. Common rights are entered into by labor. Third, commoning is collective. Fourth, being independent of the state, commoning is independent also of the temporality of the law and state. Magna Carta does not list rights, it grants perpetuities. It goes deep into human history.

World Turned Upside Down (Diggers)
(Leon Rosselson)

In 1649
To St George's Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people's will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed
Reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace, they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste land grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it can be
A common treasury for all.

The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Rise up at their command.

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feeds the rich
While poor men starve

We work, we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to masters
Or pay rent to the lords
We are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory

Stand up now
From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers' claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed -
Only the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
The earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The order came to cut them down

Monday, July 11, 2011

Brookings: American Families Are Working Harder than Ever

The Great Recession May Be Over, but American Families Are Working Harder than Ever by Michael Greenstone, Director, The Hamilton Project and Adam Looney, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies
This month we explore the trends in earnings and employment for America families, looking both at two-parent and single-parent families. Indeed, the question about how men or women are doing separately may not capture how the average family is doing. To help tell the full story we examined the earnings for households with children during the past thirty five years.

The numbers suggest that the typical American family is earning more, but almost entirely because parents are working more—not because they are earning more per hour. This is one more indicator that, even before the recession, the labor market was presenting challenges for many American families.
Will the Brookings fellows connect the dots?

The Usual Suspects

A JobBridge to nowhere?

The second criticism levelled at internships is that companies use them to replace fully paid jobs, hence exploiting internship schemes for higher profits. This criticism arises from what economists call the ‘lump of labour fallacy’ – the misconceived notion that there is a fixed amount of work to go around and hence adding to the workforce will only take jobs away from everybody else. It is used to argue against immigration, increased productivity, technological improvements, and all sorts of other evil things. It is called a ‘fallacy’ because it is completely baseless, and is a rare example of something that most economists agree on – the reality is that extra workers increases demand, which creates extra jobs. In the short term, some firms may replace their full time employees with interns, but the amount would be minimal, and would likely be confined to companies who are living dangerously close to bankruptcy and hence need to cut costs in order to survive. Down the line, internship schemes can in fact boost the jobs market by averting long term unemployment, and helping companies find future employees.

The logic here is impeccable -- firms couldn't conceivably be exploiting internship schemes because the very idea that they might stems from an irrational belief that there is a fixed amount of work to go around! No doubt this argument would go down well in court as a defense in larceny cases.

"Your honor, my client is innocent of armed robbery because the prosecution case erroneously assumes that there is only a fixed amount of money to go around. Since it is obvious that the amount of money is not fixed, the charges against my client are completely baseless. The reality is that when the so-called "victim" handed over the demanded wallet to the accused, it set in motion a chain of events that increased demand, creating new jobs that will eventually benefit the "victim" financially far in excess of any temporary inconvenience from the surrender of his wallet."
UPDATE: "100% agree." at 7:58 p.m. posted. Criticism at 5:20 p.m. "awaiting moderation."

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Tenacity of a Textbook Truism

Listen to the Obama administration as it vainly attempts to counter bad employment news with increasingly feeble metaphors. Last month, President Obama said, "there are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery." This month, his Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goulsbee blamed the dismal BLS employment situation report on "headwinds faced in the first half of this year." The takeaway message should be that it is important not to read too much into any one monthly metaphor.

What the two images have in common is that they refer to some sort of vehicle traveling in a direction with a velocity toward some destination: recovery. Meanwhile, economists cling to more amorphous and thus, presumably, more robust figure of speech -- "growth." It goes without saying (doesn't it?) that something that gets bigger, grows. A plant grows as it metabolizes sunlight, water and nutrients into chlorophyll. A dirt pile grows as a backhoe scoops buckets out of the earth and dumps them in one place. They are the same, no?

No. In one case there is an organic transformation of matter and energy to augment an organism. In the other, there is a mechanical displacement of matter as the result of the combustion of energy. The economic growth metaphor makes no distinction between the two kinds of processes and thus implies the substitution of one for the other, as if a tree could grow by adding ornaments to it or a dirt pile, given a bit of a kick-start can continue to increase of its own accord.

The metaphor of economic growth is a mixed bag that shape shifts with no particular regard to what is growing or how. The truism that "labor-saving technology creates more jobs than it destroys" arose within an old, archaic, sense that implicitly assumed a naturally-unfolding, plant-like organic process. The neoclassical model of exogenous growth is more akin to the mechanical -- or in this case mathematical -- enduced piling up of dollar values. Yet economists speak of "growth" -- and of stimulating it -- as if there were no discernable difference or contradiction between the two types of processes. Throw in that vehicle, rambling down an uneven path at a variable speed, encountering headwinds and soft patches and you have a dog's breakfast of mixed metaphor.

UPDATE: Headwinds or hot air? Goulsbee takes the headwinds explanation to town at Marketplace: "we had some significant headwinds that slowed the growth rate down in the economy." "You know, I would add also we've added some uncertainty as where people are actually going out in public and saying well maybe the U.S. government shouldn't pay its bills. As some of the kind of headwinds that we've been facing."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cinema Cybernetica -- Making Sense of the Machine

The transition from a culture that considers leisure a "problem" to a culture that demands leisure as a prerequisite of civilized behavior is a metamorphosis of the first magnitude. And it has begun. - Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema, 1970.
The intuition that I am trying to articulate here is different than Gene Youngblood's in "Cybernetic Cinema and Computer Films," Chapter Four of his 1970 book, Expanded Cinema. Youngblood was exploring the technical possibilities for computers producing movies. Looking back, much of his conjecture has been surpassed and overwhelmed by sheer processing power. His assumptions about "the problem of leisure" also appear quaint from the standpoint of a widely-anticipated leisure society that never came to be.

What I am thinking about involves cybernetics in the generic sense of a governor or automatic regulatory mechanism, not just computers. The example that Norbert Wiener gave in his book was a centrifugal valve for regulating the speed of a Watt steam engine.

Conical Pendulum Governor

The need for some kind of automatic regulator arises particularly in machines whose speed, power, size, precision and other potentially hazardous operating characteristics -- such as heat or radioactivity -- take them beyond the unaided capabilities of human perception and response. The impulse to develop implements for the arrest, recording, analysis and playback of moving images can be viewed in this light as motivated by a regulatory imperative. To accurately see and thereby 'make sense of' machines in motion, people needed the help of a machine: the cinema.

The cinematic revolution, which took place in the 1820s and 1830s, coincides with a formative period in British trade unionism. I would suggest that it was no mere coincidence. In 1826, Joseph Nicephore Niepce captured the first photograph of a scene from nature. In 1832, Joseph Plateau invented the phenakistiscope, which was the first device to produce the illusion of motion from a series of still images. Meanwhile, the anti-combination laws were repealed in England in 1824 and by 1834 the haunting specter of trade unionism loomed ominously in the imagination of vulgar political economy.

I'm not the first to perceive some connection between the emergence of (and reaction to) trade unionism and the cinematic urge. In his 1986 movie, Comrades, Bill Douglas used the character of an itinerant magic lantern showman as a narrative device for telling the history of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. I haven't had the opportunity to see that film yet, so I can't comment on how far Douglas took the association. For my part, I would refer again to the notion of the governor or regulator.

Classical political economy was heavily invested in the notion of self-adjusting markets in which the interaction of supply and demand tended toward equilibrium. This view may have had some plausibility in the case of a slowly evolving economy but it was precisely the rapid introduction of machinery and its drastic immediate effects on employment and wages that were at issue in much of the labor strife of the early 19th century. Workers sought to regulate, not prohibit, the introduction of machinery and its effects. Ironically, Peter Ewart (whose testimony before the Royal Commission on the Employment of Children in Factories was evidently the source for Edward Tufnell's polemic against trade union motives for the Ten-hour day) was an engineer for Boulton and Watt and thus would have been intimately familiar with the principle of the governor for regulating the speed of a steam engine.

Leisure may now be described as not merely the "prerequisite for civilized behavior" but as the regulatory principle required to keep the economic machine from running amok.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Stop Yer Grousing!

"On top of it we have had mass immigration from unskilled pheasants coming from Mexico and huge numbers of H1-B workers primarily from India."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Is Heff a Lump Better than None at All?

Amity Shlaes wonders "should we blame grandpa for teen joblessness?" She posts a graph that shows labor force participation rates since the mid-1960s for 16-19 year olds and over-65s mirroring each other. Shlaes dodges her headline question with the disclaimer, "This is not to encourage the 'lump of labor' fallacy. Just pointing to an interesting correlation." Voila! Ideology trumps curiosity! One mustn't suggest that there might be a relationship between two data series that correlate. That might encourage a fallacy.

No, correlation doesn't imply causation, in the strictly logical sense. But it may indeed "imply" causation in the more casual sense of suggestion. As Edward Tufte explained, "correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint." Given such a broad hint, the cognitively responsible thing to do would be to inquire further as to the likelihood of a third variable that explains the correlation rather than to dismiss the correlation as some sort of ipso facto fallacy factory.