Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Coming Apart?" - Charles Murray's Arguments After This Last Book!

Maybe it was the venomous (and rightfully earned) backlash Charles Murray received after his ridiculous earlier book, The Bell Curve (in which he attempted to tie IQ to racial genetics, with African-Americans and Latinos at the lower end of "the Bell Curve" which prompted his new effort. Maybe he was convinced it was time to redress his earlier imbalance. Well, he succeeds, this time in recounting how working class whites are detaching from the "four founding virtues of industriousness, honesty, marriage and religion". In any case, he attributes their failure to hold up these four props as explaining why they are perhaps now embracing government "entitlements" and in the process reducing their collective IQ. Well, a bald and brash hypothesis if you can prove it!

Murray can't, any more than he could prove his earlier specious theory, but as before he goes out of his way to dredge up countless statistics to attempt to make his case that way. For example, we learn that in blue-collar America (in contrast to the white upper class in which divorce rates hav declined) divorce has soared since the 1980s, and nonmarital child-bering is skyrocketing Worse and worse, 40% of white females with just a high school diploma have children outside of marriage, compared to 5% with college degrees.

But while intriguing, none of these state make his case. Bear in mind, as I have noted before - it is a hallmark of classic Libertarians to try to invoke to blame victims of an oppressive system, int hie case one dominated by global capitalsm, as opposed to the system itself. The pervasive blame game that pervades the media then leads to the "fundamental attribution error" among the victims, making them believe they are responsible for their plight as opposed to a system stacked against them.

Thus, white lower class marriages are collapsing not because of some innate brutish carnality but because of the severe economic pressures imposed when jobs are lost by the tens of millions, sent overseas to India or China, while the Americans left behind jobless (mainly working class) are left to try to scrape through on minimum wage jobs. All this has been extensively documented by William Wolman and Anne Colamosca in their book: The Judas Economy: The Triumph of Capital and the Betrayal of Work, Addison-Wesley, 1997. They meticulously detail the global capitalist-enegendered coercive market in labor, which promotes a long term "race to the bottom" and with accompanying horrific social costs .

So, obviously, when jobs are lost en masse and new training doesn't succeed in replacing them, even as homes are foreclosed and debts mount, of course marriages will fall victim - comprised as they are of individuals who will be adversely affected from their own senses of worth to their bank accounts.

But never mind that the Libertarians, like Murrary, in their dream world insist the displaced millions can land on their feet if resourceful enough. Or, if they just had high enough IQs! And didn't depend on government "entitlements" that depress ambition and lead to mass stupidity. But let us always bear in mind this is the Libertarian trademark: to call 'foul' at any effort government might exert to support struggling citizens, even when its own tax policies have enabled the shipment of millions of jobs overseas with no penalties. And of course Murray IS a Libbie, first and foremost!

Murray writes in his tract: ‘What it means to be a Libertarian’ (p. 6):

It is wrong for me to use force against you, because it violates your right to control of your person....I may have the purest motive in the world. I may even have the best idea in the world. But even these give me no right to make you do something just because I think it's a good idea. This truth translates into the first libertarian principle of governance: In a free society individuals may not initiate the use of force against any other individual or group

Of course, this is also undoubtedly where the pet Libertarian canard that “taxes equal theft’ comes from. But looking at it objectively this is arrant twaddle and illogical to boot. I mean “libertarian principle of governance”! This is an oxymoron! Governance presumes and demands the non-passive act of governing, which means someone is actively setting standards of expected action, and also providing the means to uphold them. Else, what’s the point? It’s all an exercise in mental masturbation. In other words, unless someone (coercively) enforces governance, it will be meaningless. Now, maybe there IS a docile libertarian principle of “governing suggestion”- but this in no way is the same as “governance”!

Anti-statism is a central tenet of libertarianism, but it rests on no foundations, other than the so-called libertarian principles babbled by Murray and others. For example, Frank Chodorov, quoted by David Boaz of CATO Inst. in ‘Libertarianism: A Primer’, goes so far as to write:

Society is a collective concept and nothing else; it is a convenience for designating a number of people... The concept of Society as a metaphysical concept falls flat when we observe that Society disappears when the component parts disperse

Boaz himself joins in on what the “individual” means:

For libertarians, the basic unit of social analysis is the individual.... Individuals are, in all cases, the source and foundation of creativity, activity, and society. Only individuals can think, love, pursue projects, act. Groups don’t have plans or intentions

But, as Prof. Ernest Partridge put it in his (2007) blog piece on ‘Liberals and Libertarians’ :

Now consider the implications of this denial of the 'independent existence of the public' and "society." If there is no "public," then there are no "public goods" and there is no "public interest." If there is no "society," then there is no "social harm," or "social injustice" or "social (and public) responsibility." It then follows that government has no role in mitigating "social injustice" or promoting "the public interest," since these terms are fundamentally meaningless.

Poverty and racial discrimination, for example, are individual problems requiring individual solutions”.

And this is mainly Murray's error in a nutshell, blaming individuals for societally systemic problems that only a government can address, resolve. Indeed, if Boaz’ concept held sway and government force was not used in Alabama in September, 1963 (JFK federalizing the Alabama National Guard to enforce school integration) we’d still be a segregated nation, with blacks sitting in the back of the bus, ‘colored’ water coolers and restrooms, and the rest. Only someone totally divorced from history and reality would claim individual African-Americans at the time could have obtained their civil rights with mere individual effort and no government input.

Will Murray ever get this? Doubtful! While correlation is obviously not the same as causation, one can't help seeing it as an appropriate response to Murray's ideas and readers are suggested to check out this site:

Meanwhile, we know historically that the Right has been making a concerted effort to blame everything on the middle and lower classes as well as the government which aids them via whatever program. The latest pick-on appears to be food stamps, never mind the Right's blowhards allowed the financial system to become endemically corrupted by toxic derivatives....but it's easier to lay the blame on "lousy credit misfits" who misused Fannie and Freddie to get home loans they couldn't afford.

More on this to come, as this campaign season plays out!

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