To both Rufo & You:

I was pleasantly surprised when I read Foucault. He is certainly not a friend of the state & statism. There is even a strain of explicit neoliberalism in him.

Check out this hilarious interview where Leftists complain about his endorsement of Becker, Hayek & Friedman:

"I would say, more than “complementing” Hayek and Friedman, the problem with Foucault is that he implicitly embraced their representation of the market: that of a less normative, less coercive, and more tolerant space for minoritarian experiments than the welfare state, subject as it is to majority rule."


When I read a lot of Marx & Frankfurt School, and some Foucault (most other postmodernists are indeed awful), it was puzzling to me how so much at odds it was with Leftist dogma and how little they even read or knew these texts.

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Foucault was a crazy drug-addled pervert who killed G-d knows how many people having unprotected sex with AIDs and almost certainly raped numerous children. He also just writes page after page of total nonsense. If you were 'pleasantly surprised' when reading him you are either a particularly obtuse and monomaniacal lolbertarian, or you have very severe mental problems. It is true, however, that Foucault can be reconciled fairly easily with neoliberalism. Indeed, that's more or less what 'Woke' is.

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“the true, the good, and the beautiful,”

This is what we seek, but not what we can impose on others.

Does liberty consist of living in a society with the “correct” norms and institutions, or rather a society with norms and institutions that reflect persons' choices, even if those are in some sense mistaken, and that could change when people learn they've made a mistake?

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Yeah it's pretty clear that "the true, the good, and the beautiful" would vary a great deal depending on whose standards those are.

I think the general classical liberal viewpoint would be to tolerate a range of views and let people seek "the true, the good, and the beautiful," even if it might be different from what the people running the college believe.

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What is the objective evidence that DEI was worse than McCarthyism?

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Did you read Caplan's links for "both counts"?

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Who were the victims of McCarthyism? Some actors and screenwriters. Other authors? And some government officials. The actors were screwed, but the screenwriters were able to work under pseudonyms to some degree. Action against government officials seems justified, in that overthrowing the government was an explicit aim of Communism.

Who are the victims of DEI? I don’t actually know. But it seems to be aiming at a bigger target. And the targets are usually guilty of nothing more than having attitudes that were considered unobjectionable ten years ago, or reluctance to wallow in self-loathing.

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‘Seems to be aiming at a bigger target’ is not a statement that does much to address the concern over the lack of objective evidence for this claim. This sounds very much like ‘it feels like DEI is bigger and worse so it probably is’ which over privileges our own historical position. We’re currently experiencing the effects of DEI whereas Mccarthyism is no longer front of mind as they say. Our brains are wired to make current threats feel more dangerous than past ones as it is. For me this creates rhetorical whiplash where I go from ‘DEI does seem to be ineffective at its purported aims and negatively overreaching in its impacts, let’s hear more about that,’ to ‘Wait, worse than Mccarthyism? Really?’ and now instead of focusing on the arguably more salient point I’m hung up on thinking about the actual impact of the red scare without any evidence to square the comparison with DEI to what I know about Mccarthy.

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It’s hard to quantify, but at least as far as the actual communists who lost they’d jobs, they were mostly much more repugnant people than most of the people who have lost their jobs due to ‘wokeness.’ Dalton Trumbo, for example, far more deserved to get run out of Hollywood for his views than almost anyone who’s had a similar fate in our era IMO. Maybe for every Soviet sympathizer who got blacklisted there was also a misunderstood liberal who got fired, I don’t know, perhaps someone has cataloged the casualties of McCarthyism somewhere.

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This sounds dangerously similar to the kind of terrible thinking I see liberal advocates of wokeism engage in. The 'I find this person or their beliefs offensive therefore it is good that they be punished by the government, their employers, etc.' I certainly don't want the government to be the arbiter of who or what ideas are considered morally repugnant, and whether I agree with the victims or not that's what happened with Mccarthyism. I find it much more logically consistent and defensible to argue that these questions of moral repugnance are not the purview of the government and that employers should also be wary of making themselves the judges of who is an acceptable citizen or employee based on their beliefs.

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Aug 11, 2023·edited Aug 11, 2023

Notice that I never said I wanted anyone to be punished by anyone for their beliefs. I said the communists deserved it more than most people getting ‘cancelled’ today. Wherever one draws the line, publicly supporting the Soviet Union or belonging to the CPUSA - an agent of Comintern and therefore the Soviet state - has a much stronger case for being on the other side of that line than Donald McNeil saying the n word in an innocuous context.

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I see your point and admit I may be a bit pedantic here out of an over abundance of concern. The anti-DEI position has the high ground and so I'm overly cautious about presenting an exaggerated version of what is an exceedingly strong case without needing undue hyperbole. In retrospect I recognize that's not what you were doing, I just find myself inclined to try to be particularly careful when I hear the word deserved as 'well, obviously they deserved it' often tends to be the sole justification when someone is canceled these days and I think the anti-woke position rests on much stronger ground than that.

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Since the important events of McCarthyism happened in public congressional hearings, it is easier to gather evidence. We can look at the list of persons subpoenaed and check to see what happened to their careers. So far to my knowledge, DEI has avoided this tactic, so we can’t use the same approach to gather data.

So there is an absence of evidence. Is there also evidence of absence? Or is the result just unclear?

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Fair point, I’m just wary of big claims without evidence, as that seems to be the modus operandi of the liberals engaged in wokeism. Without more objective evidence on this point I'm much more sympathetic to a statement like 'DEI mirrors the dangerous logic of Mccarthyism and if we aren't vigilant it has the potential to have an even worse impact.'

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Im also confused by this

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"If you could succeed in racist America, why can’t everyone?"

There's such an obvious answer to this that is compatible with a view that society is racist. Any normal curve will have outliers on both sides, his view is that the center of the curve is pushed down by the racist society. A question that focus on one datapoint is meaningless and I'm surprised you'd even ask it.

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That is the "luck + tokenism" response that I suggested Bell would have made.

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Glad to see you respond to a comment, Bryan! Would love to see you engage in the comments more.

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Luck + tokenism + being in the extreme tail of the distribution.

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Wokeists typically think that in a racist society a black person has to be extremely talented and productive to be successful

And that white people have much lower requirements on talent and hard work to be similarly successful

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Someone has to decide what public institutions can teach.

If that isn’t the public then it’s the beuracracy.

Does Caplan believe the beuracracy will do a better job than the public?

If not, then I think he has to accept that the public will have different opinions than him on some things and live with it.

This applies to school choice as well. The arguement against school choice basically boils down to the belief that bureaucracies know better then parents.

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I think BC thinks there shouldnt be any bureaucracy or goverment, and that the solution is to keep shrinking its budgets and powers

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BC seems to acknowledge that the odds of public education going away soon are virtually zero. Given its existence, who should decide these things?

Rufo accepts that the public might make different choices than him sometimes, but that on net it will still be better than education officials. Since he is interested in the real world rather then purity he accepts that trade off.

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It seems that a central theme running through all of these people is that they're arrogant idealogues. Broadly speaking they believe in rule by scientific elites over the ignorant masses. They see the failures of communism and socialism but don't recognize that the problem is the central planning itself. They think "if only the right people were in charge" then it would work. Or "if only the people could vote for the central planners", rather than recognizing that the central planning and rule by elites is an inherent issue.

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From what i can tell these people genuinely think they are representing the public, and that the public parts that disagree with them have been bribed/lied to so much by corporate influences that they essentially need to “show them the truths”

Im swedish so i cant know exactly how the us system or people work but.

I used to be significantly more woke and leftist. I were for a while very sympathetic to socialism. Im now libertarian, very sympathetic to capitalism and to charity, but skeptical of governments ability to actually improve things. And coercive politics and actions are generally a terrible idea.

i cant really remember why and what made me believe certain things and change my mind, but ill try

I think i saw the world, and could see a ton of suffering, both in my country, in the usa, and globally. The chief obvious cause was that they were poor. I also saw that there were prominent rich people, that spent their money on things that seemed frivilous, all while people were dying. When i asked the question why they wernt donating their money, i got responses like “its their money, economic freedom, etc”

At that time i didnt have the best jnderstanding of how they WERE contributing to the world by producing goods, services and systems. And i didnt have a sense of how things were in the past, and i think i assumed that the goods and services that were around were a constant thing, that were robust as long as people didnt take too much of them.

I think i saw wealth and progress as kinda renewable resources, like a waterfall.

And in that context, it made no sense why some people would get to hog all of the bananas for themself.

I additionally were increadibly skeptical of arguments around lowering taxes: i cant remember my exact reasoning but i think it was something like “but people are already working for far less money then you are, why do you get to decide policies that gives you more money? We can spend it on the poor!”

The idea that people majorly changed their behaviour in responses both striked me as:

Odd because people seemed to work all the time without those incentives (my perspective was skewed because i had artistic interests and there people basically PAY to be able to work there, and because i was and am unusually altruistic)

And like saying that these people were special and needed a bribe to do what they should intrinsically want to do anyway.

Uh crap, i need to go sorry for this sudden end

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Aug 10, 2023·edited Aug 10, 2023

I appreciate your response, it's really insightful as to why people think a certain way. The part I found most interesting was that you thought all of the things we enjoy, the goods and services, just kind of existed. I have long suspected that people thought this way and kind of took everything for granted. Like our standard of living we enjoy will just always be high no matter what they do and they can just siphon off as much from the private sector for whatever political purpose they want to attain with no impacts at all. In fact a socialist once told me that we live in a "post scarcity world".

I think lots of people in the general public think this way, but the thought leaders at the top of the chain I believe are arrogant, even if it's an implicit arrogance rather than being disdainful. The fingerprints of this can be found throughout all of the paternalistic regulations and laws that we live under. Either explicitly or tacitly they believe that they can make better decisions for everyone and that people are too naive to take care of themselves.

I have made some really radical changes in my thinking as well. I was previously on the opposite end of the spectrum though as a typical American conservative. I was always pretty pro-free market, anti-government and somewhat liberal on some social issues though so I was really open to the conclusions drawn from economics and libertarianism in general.

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To be more specific:

I think i thought of things and the world as a shared envirement (the commons) that had a certain amount of things, and that people could make new ideas and products and such, but mostly in small ways. And that doing it too much would exploit the world or someone else. So the main way to make the world better and to make us better off was to be enviremental, to know how to do the same things with less resources. Or by learning how to live personally with less things, to not have an extravagant lifestyle.

This seems to be the main idea behind degrowth movement as well, a movement i severely disagree with now.

as for the paternalism:

I think i looked at myself and saw that as a consumer there was tons of things i couldnt know, that were extremely stressful to decide and think about. And that when i read up on those things, i saw that other people didnt know all of these things.

I think my rationale for heavy regulation and such was a sort of "its mean and unrealistic to expect everyone to keep track of all of this, and its much more efficient to just decide that bad actions and things cant happen"

It wasnt so much that i thought people were stupid, it was more a desire to be caring and not overwhelm people with decisions.

Im not sure exactly what made me change my mind here: I think it was mostly a lot of small positive experiences and lots of reading about unintended consequences of regulations that backfired. (i loved freakanomics, and i love the "great moments in unintend consequences" series by reason.tv)

And also seeing how new innovations got delayed by the regulations, because they didnt fit.

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As long as Republican legislators continue to allow colleges to illegally discriminate against hiring Republican professors, there's no chance of any Republican monoculture, nor even majority culture among the college educated.

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Bryan in your initial review you wrote a rather scathing rebuke against the "continental" philosophers. Could you expand on your criticisms of them or have you perhaps written about them elsewhere?

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"So while its reasonable to wonder if Chris would like a mirror-image monoculture, it’s not reasonable to wonder if he’ll get it."

I think the issue here is the backlash that things like making bold Twitter declarations celebrating running off various professors at New College are likely to have on the entire project. This kind of direct attack on a pretty hapless institution also just seems like a bad tactical decision; I would have hoped that Rufo would have learned from studying the Long March Through the Institutions of the importance of organizing and taking the long view.

There needs to be more persuasion and winning hearts and minds here, especially considering how stacked the personnel tally is against the right (as Caplan notes). You could magically force every staffer from AEI and Heritage into full-time academic jobs and barely make a tiny dent. Conservatives will have to work with the still-significant (for now; the newer generations seem even more radicalized and gatekept by the DEI-ocracy) moderates to make inroads on most campuses. Rhetoric that plays well online instead seems likely to alienate persuadables in academia, including moderates and conservatives (see the Whittington-Rufo debate).

Just look at Texas A&M's recent missteps and the absolute ham-handed incompetence of the A&M Board of Regents. The left has mastered the art of baking their ideology into every aspect of the campus bureaucracies to the point where mass discrimination and widespread chilling of speech is normalized while the right comes off like a bunch of incompetent bullies on occasions like this.

More long-term organizing and more documenting of what's actually going on--I actually think Rufo's best work has been journalistic in nature and hope for much more of that--is more likely to lead to sustained, long-term success.

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On point one, about the “if you X black person succedded in this supposedly terrible system, why cant other black people succeed by their own merits?”

I dont know my own exact opinion on it, but from what i can recall of the leftists and wokeists ive read:

I think their answer is that the only black people who can manage to succeed under a racist unfair system is people who are exceptionally talented and hardworking, and that if they were being white then the talent and work requirements would have been far lower on them

And also that they have struggled every day and in countless situations against systemic racism and people with a preference for whiteness, men, and heteronormativity.

I dont remember the exact context, but there was an article i read once that responded to the “why cant the poor just get a good work ethic and get well off?” Idea.

The articles response was that capitalism and wealth inequality meant that the true comparison would be like if you put 10 homeless people in a room and gave them knifes, and told them to fight to the death and the winner would become a millionare.

Ie, “looking at the success story is missing the system and systemic struggle. Any one of them could have become a millionarie, but not more then one. The only true way to win is to divide the million and avoid the conflict of wealth inequality”

I dont buy that story and article at all, for a variety of reasons, the biggest being that it assumes that the whole economy is a zero sum game where no one gets better, and competition is a waste of energy and resources. In that model, redistribution is the only systemic solution.

i do think that a majority of humans implicitly believes this, and thats the biggest reason they are an to competition and anti market.

Anyhow, i suspect that Heavy wokeists believe this kind of story, with some edits

The main edit being

“In this capitalist/racist society, only a certain % of X group can suceed. Our society used to be even more racist and unregulated, and then a lower % of X group could succeed.

Now our society is better, but if we get even less racism and unbridled greed, the we can have a larger % of X being able to succeed”

And i assume they would say

“If we had a socialist society then everyone could succeed and have good lifes, not just a small percentage of achievers”

From the videos ive seen, leftists and wokeists generally scoff at the original question that brian said, cause to them its obvious and common sense that many black people cant succeed because of the current world.

If brian or other right people want to convince them otherwise, they would likely need to give them emotional real life experiences that made their worldview shift into it being common sense that the main obstacle for success is your own actions.

I dunno. Im swedish and barely know much about american black history, so i dont want to put too much empathis on myself here

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