Longread Response to Tyler Cowen on the New Right
It has nothing to do with elites, though of course its worse to have bad elites than good ones.
It's about the fact that elites have such power and the will to use it. If you want people to be more indifferent to our elites, they can't have the kind of power they have over peoples lives.
The New Right is serious about curtailing the power of the elite, whereas the Tylers of the world have made their peace with it.
I will tackle one small portion of this essay, as COVID is definitely what drove me over the edge and Tylers performance on the issue when it was happening was discrediting.
1) COVID regulations did 10,000x more damage than COVID, with or without vaccines.
2) Most of those regulations were ineffectual, and were known of be ineffectual at the time by anyone looking into it.
3) Despite knowing this many people lied knowingly, complied willingly, and bad mouthed dissenters. Tyler himself did this quite a lot during early COVID, with his only explanation being that one should "read the room" (defer to elite hysteria regardless of the cost).
3a) Those same people endorsed the breaking of these same regulations if it was done in the name of rioting and property damage on behalf of a different hysteria over BLM (which Tyler championed in the early days).
4) After vaccines came out, this hysteria continued for an entire year! A whole year! Tyler was still telling people to mask in early 2022 (and, of course, read the room).
5) The justification for the hysteria continuing after vaccines was a crass attempt to blame the unvaxxed for spreading the virus, even though it was well known by people in the know that it did not stop the spread. Instead, authorities lied knowingly about the nature of the vaccine, claiming it was sterilizing, and using that as justification for continued COVID regulations which could be blamed on the unvaxxed for political gain.
6) In addition, both before and after the vaccine, authorities inculcated an impression in the public that the disease was far deadlier then it was, many thinking that ordinary middle aged people would have something like a 50% chance of hospitalization. It was not unlike how opinions were shaped on the rate of police killings of blacks.
7) This only ended when the Delta and especially Omicron waves made it obvious they lied about the vaccines being sterilizing, and the Democrats suffered large electoral backlash in the November 2021 election. After which they were looking for an exit.
8) Nobody who turned down the vaccine ever tried to regulate my life or prevent me from getting the vaccine. By contrast, my Democratic governor put my sick elderly father so far down the priority list that it took months more to get the vaccine than it should have. I had to wake up at five AM to get an appointment so he could drive three hours to some small town to get it, so that healthy middle aged teachers who refused to open schools could get it first.
9) It seems to me that we have a new "emergency" every ten years or less requiring new coercive powers for the elite. If there is no real emergency, a fake one can be manufactured. Hence, while the next emergency won't be exactly like COVID, I expect it to be handled just as poorly.
Brian writes "I agree that most of the vaccine skepticism and the election conspiracy theories are fairly stupid."
This is a very revealing statement, not just of Brian's bias but of the nature of the social and political challenge. There are stupid theories. There are also claims concerning Covid shots and 2020 American election procedures that are factual and raise serious concerns.
My observation is many who do not want to consider the real problems with Covid shots and with the 2020 election rely on the characterization of concerns as "conspiracies" and "stupid" to give themselves cover. Many people who go this route may simply lack confidence they can discern truth from fiction and they do not want to side with the "crazies". So they voice complaint against the Boogeyman of the "crazies" to prove they are not them.
What are those who have studied these issues and understand there are valid concerns to make of "intellectuals" who prove themselves to be ignorant or apathetic? This is why there is growing disdain for the intellectual class. This is why "centrists" find themselves under attack . The centrists want to believe the fiction that in large social disputes, the factual truth is owned by them or their institutions. But this is not the case with the vaccines or with the 2020 voting.
The hope would be "centrists" would recognize the validity of real concerns and support resolving them. What is fascinating in regards to Covid is European centrists have been much quicker to update their point of view, such as opposing universal Covid vaccinations. But US centrists do not want to get out in front of the Agenda. And so they follow the political winds. Perhaps this is good career management, but it also means America's centrists are cowards and we know it.
As world wide scientific knowledge exponentially increases, and the interactions between our social lives and the technology grow stronger, the number of individuals with critical knowledge and skills is dramatically increasing. The utilization of the economic advantages of "trade and specialization" distributes real power, as we move towards expanding specialization.
The very concept of the elite implies that they know more and are able to make better decisions in the face of complexity. However, the age of the Renaissance Man even being possible passed long ago: even the smartest person in the world doesn't know the boundaries of human knowledge. Our elite are only elite in their own minds, (or in their own narrow fields) as they struggle and fail to understand the complexity of the modern world.
Much of our elite of today spout nonsense, since they permit themselves to opine about areas in which their knowledge, if it exists at all, is absurdly limited. They are either truly ignorant of scientific reality and knowledge, or they are merely manipulators of other peoples' emotions and contribute nothing of significance to the progress of humanity.
Fundamentally, the concept of an omniscient elite is a false one. There are elites, of course, but only in very specific terms. The general state of knowledge is too complex to be limited by elites in tiny areas given megaphones to spread dubious knowledge.
Cowen knew what he was writing when he wrote that sentence about elites. At his core he understands that our leaders today are incompetent and dangerously so, but those leaders are people he has supported fully for going on the last 10 years. He is a man trying to deny culpability.
You don't understand the "New Right" because you also don't understand the right at all. It was clergyman Mather Byles who said “Which is better: to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away or by three thousand tyrants one mile away?” , and William F. Buckley, Jr. who said “I would sooner be governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand members of the faculty of Harvard.”
An oligarchy, such as we are evolving into, requires rule by angels. Our supposed elites might be more intelligent than the average member of society; but they are not more moral. Arguably the desire for power is fundamentally a selfish desire, and therefore immoral. Our "betters" may justify their rule by claiming enlightened benevolence, but they mean to rule regardless.
The fundamental difference between leftists and rightists is that the former believe in perfectability and utopias, while the latter understand entropy; that it takes unending effort to maintain functionality, whether in persons or societies.
Another distinction is most of our elites don't have "skin in the game"; they don't suffer the consequences of their actions. If the elites and their families had to make up government deficits from their own resources, and accommodate migrants in their own homes; and be replaced in university admissions and lucrative employment by diversity hires; there would be different policies in place
Perhaps we need to discuss scale - national elites, local elites, global elites?
Perhaps the NR believes in the potential of globally superior cultures populated with truly valuable local elites; but at the 'very large nation' scale, do not believe a trustworthy coherent elite can exist.
You want to see a CL elite suddenly become NR?
Senator Thune when he found out Google was "throttling" his emails for fundraising and GOTV efforts suddenly rages like he's an election denier! How dare these tech firms do this!
LOL, funny when its YOUR emails and YOUR money, suddenly you care and don't shrug your "private firms can do whatever they like" shoulders.
Tyler should talk about Russiagate Hoax. Why should I trust FBI DOJ Media Democratic Party elites again?