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16
3DHS / Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement
« on: February 11, 2017, 08:34:22 PM »
Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is reportedly a reader of neoreactionary political theory. A tour through the pro-authoritarian philosophy gaining visibility on the right.

Rosie GrayFeb 10, 2017
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been in contact via intermediaries with Curtis Yarvin, Politico Magazine reported this week. Yarvin, a software engineer and blogger, writes under the name Mencius Moldbug. His anti-egalitarian arguments have formed the basis for a movement called ?neoreaction.?

The main thrust of Yarvin?s thinking is that democracy is a bust; rule by the people doesn?t work, and doesn?t lead to good governance. He has described it as an ?ineffective and destructive? form of government, which he associates with ?war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.? Yarvin?s ideas, along with those of the English philosopher Nick Land, have provided a structure of political theory for parts of the white-nationalist movement calling itself the alt-right. The alt-right can be seen as a political movement; neoreaction, which adherents refer to as NRx, is a philosophy. At the core of that philosophy is a rejection of democracy and an embrace of autocratic rule.

The fact that Bannon reportedly reads and has been in contact with Yarvin is another sign of the extent to which the Trump era has brought previously fringe right-wing ideologies into the spotlight. It has brought new energy into a right that is questioning and actively trying to dismantle existing orthodoxies?even ones as foundational as democracy. The alt-right, at this point, is well-known, while NRx has remained obscure. But with one of the top people in the White House paying attention, it seems unlikely to remain obscure for long.

Yarvin?s posts on history, race, and governance are written in a style that is detached and edgy, to say the least. ?What's so bad about the Nazis?? he asked in a blog post in 2008, writing, ?we are taught that the Nazis were bad because they committed mass murder, to wit, the Holocaust. On the other hand... (a): none of the parties fighting against the Nazis, including us, seems to have given much of a damn about the Jews or the Holocaust. (b): one of the parties on our side was the Soviet Union, whose record of mass murder was known at the time and was at least as awful as the Nazis'.?

?It should be obvious that, although I am not a white nationalist, I am not exactly allergic to the stuff,? Yarvin wrote in 2007. In a 2009 post about the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle?s defense of slavery, he argued that some races are more suited to slavery than others.

Yarvin?s blog has been mostly inactive since 2014. He now is focusing on a startup, Urbit, whose investors reportedly include Paypal co-founder and Trump backer Peter Thiel. (Thiel has himself questioned some of the fundamentals of American politics, writing in 2009, ?I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.?) 

For a group of people whose writings tend towards the verbose, neoreactionaries don?t show much interest in talking to reporters. Yarvin declined to cooperate when I reached out to ask about his alleged contact with Bannon, instead choosing to try to troll me into believing a Twitter user called @BronzeAgePerv is his contact with the White House.

?Think you should speak directly to my WH cutout / cell leader,? Yarvin said in an email. ?I've never met him and don't know his identity, we just DM on Twitter.  He's said to be ?very close? to Bannon. There are several levels, but most people just start out with his public persona.? @BronzeAgePerv?s avatar is of a muscular, shirtless man and his account?s biography reads: ?Steppe barbarian. Nationalist, Fascist, Nudist Bodybuilder! Purification of world. Revolt of the damned. Destruction of the cities!?

?I know nothing about BAP personally, except that he lifts.  DM him. He may not give you any info but he always responds,? Yarvin said. ?Apparently there's a big underground movement of right-wing bodybuilders -- thousands.  Their plan is to surface spectacularly this April, in a choreographed flash demo on the Mall.  They'll be totally nude, but wearing MAGA hats.  Goal is to intimidate Congress with pure masculine show of youth, energy.  Trump is said to know, will coordinate with powerful EOs?? Yarvin denied to Vox that he has been in any contact with Bannon.

?Appreciate the message,? came the response from the Hestia Society, which is one of the newer NRx hubs. ?Unfortunately, we prefer not to do interviews. Neoreaction.net might have more of what you're looking for.?

?Thanks for the email,? wrote Hadley Bishop, the editor of Social Matter, another node of NRx online thinking. ?Social Matter does not give interviews. We?ve said everything we would like to say at neoreaction.net.?

?No,? said Nick Steves, the pseudonym used by one NRxer well-known within the movement. ?It will only lend false credence to the misleading facts and outright errors you will inevitably print irrespective of my involvement.?

Asked what he thought I would print, Steves explained that ?115 IQ people are not generally well equipped to summarize 160 IQ people? and that only one journalist, Vox?s Dylan Matthews, had ?come close to permitting NRx to speak for itself.?

?You DO understand that, by the NRx view, journos occupy a major seat of power, viz. manufacturers of consent, in the current structure,? Steves said. ?Thus you see why you are the enemy. No hard feelings of course. I'm sure you're a very nice person. But politics is war by other means, and war is, by definition, existential.? (Steves has written a ?code of conduct? for neoreactionaries that includes the rule, ?Don?t talk to the press about Neoreaction.?)

So, on to neoreaction.net, which states up front that ?Neoreaction is a political worldview and intellectual movement based largely on the ideas of Mencius Moldbug.?

The worldview espouses an explicitly authoritarian idea, a rejection of the post-Enlightenment vision of a world that is continually improving as it becomes more democratic. Per the website?s authors:

The core of our problem is that there is no one with the secure authority to fix things. The core of our solution is to find a man, and put him in charge, with a real chain of command, and a clear ownership structure.

Real leadership would undertake a proper corporate restructuring of USG: Pardon and retire all employees of the old regime; formalize obligations as simple financial instruments; nationalize and restructure the banks, media, and universities; and begin the long slow process of organic cultural recovery from centuries of dysfunction.

Who will be the leaders? Well:

The only viable path to restoration of competent government is the simple and hard way:

Become worthy.

Accept power.

Rule.

Neoreaction?s touchstones include the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, a key progenitor of the ?Great Man? theory of history; the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, a central influence on the American libertarian movement; and Bertrand de Jouvenel, a 1930s-era French political theorist.

Neoreaction is an ideology obsessed with both the mechanics of power and autocratic governance, and with aesthetics. Some neoreactionaries have a Tumblr devoted to their aesthetic vision, called Post-Anathema. The images tend to be futurist and hyper-masculine; soldiers with guns, tanks, spaceships, Greek gods. Cathedrals, too, a seeming reference to the Catholic traditionalist strain of the movement (?CRx?) and which, intentionally or not, calls to mind Moldbug?s use of ?the Cathedral? to denote the elite academic and media establishment.

If it?s a little in the weeds compared to the by-now-familiar alt-right aesthetic?Pepe the frog, fashy haircuts, and the like?that?s on purpose. Neoreaction is explicitly and purposefully opaque, and has no interest in appealing to a wider audience. This puts it at odds with some of the alt-right or ?new right? leaders who seek to take their ideas mainstream.

?NRx was a prophetic warning about the rise of the Alt-Right,? said Nick Land, the English philosopher whose Dark Enlightenment series is considered a foundational neoreactionary text. ?As a populist, and in significant ways anti-capitalist movement, the Alt-Right is a very different beast to NRx.?

?The Alt-Right, I guess, is a 'movement'??NRx isn't,? Land said in an email when asked about how influential NRx is at this point. ?As far as influence is concerned, it's still probably a little early to tell. I think it's fair to say that early signs are surprisingly NRx-positive. That's to say, the libertarian themes of the administration (de-regulation, appointments that "question the very existence of their own departments ...) are far stronger than might have been expected from the Trump election platform. Also, Steven [sic] Bannon is looking far less of an Alt-Right sympathizer than had been suggested (?Judeao-Christian? is a term that gives them the hives, even if his defense of Capitalism is far more hedged than NRx ex-libertarian types would see as ideal).?

Land says Bannon has never reached out to him. ?I have no reason to think he is familiar with my work.?

Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News, a site which under his tenure wrote indignantly about Yarvin being barred from a programming conference, didn?t respond to requests for comment. Of course, his reported contact with Moldbug isn?t the only sign of his radical vision; in public statements over the years, he has described a view of a world undergoing nothing less than a clash of civilizations, featuring a struggle between globalism and a downtrodden working class as well as between the Islamic and Western worlds.

The hiring of Michael Anton, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, to serve on the National Security Council staff is another indicator of this White House?s openness to decidedly non-traditional ideas on the right. Anton was recently revealed by The Weekly Standard as the writer behind Publius Decius Mus, the pseudonym Anton used for a widely circulated essay in September titled ?The Flight 93 Election.?

In ?The Flight 93 Election,? Anton compared the American voter?s choice in November 2016 to that of the passengers on Flight 93 on September 11. ?2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die,? Anton began. ?You may die anyway. You?or the leader of your party?may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.? The essay is a bracing middle finger to conservatism, written with verve, and it inspired a critique on the NRx site Social Matter by the pseudonymous writer PT Carlo, who liked the essay except for one thing. ?The only problem with Decius? radical and brilliant analysis isn?t that its assessment of the situation is incorrect, but that its prescriptions aren?t nearly radical enough,? Carlo wrote. (The reaction among movement conservatives was much less enthusiastic. ?Grotesquely irresponsible,? wrote National Review?s Jonah Goldberg. ?A shoddy straw man,? offered Ben Shapiro.)

Anton, before his unmasking, was identified by The New Yorker as one of the intellectual architects of Trumpism; The Huffington Post on Wednesday highlighted some of his more controversial writings, such as a defense of Charles Lindbergh?s America First Committee as ?unfairly maligned? and an assertion that ?Islam and the modern West are incompatible.? Anton has also argued that diversity is ?a source of weakness, tension and disunion.?

In a way, it is Moldbug who presaged Trump more than anyone else, in his writings defining his ?neo-cameralist? philosophy based on Frederick the Great of Prussia?s ?cameralist? administrative model. In 2007, Moldbug outlined a kind of corporation-state being run as a business: ?To a neocameralist, a state is a business which owns a country. A state should be managed, like any other large business, by dividing logical ownership into negotiable shares, each of which yields a precise fraction of the state's profit. (A well-run state is very profitable.) Each share has one vote, and the shareholders elect a board, which hires and fires managers.? Moldbug even envisioned a kind of CEO at the top: ?The personality cult of dictatorship is quite misleading - a totalitarian dictator has little in common with a neocameralist CEO, or even a cameralist monarch.?

In Moldbug?s absence, new NRx nodes have sprung up: Hestia, Social Matter, and Thermidor. The post-Moldbug neoreactionaries still draw on his foundational writings, but the movement is morphing and splintering, and characterized by a conflict between nationalists and ?techno-commercialists.? There is, as well, a history of mutual distrust between some alt-right and NRx figures.

?NRx doesn't think the Alt-Right (in America) is very serious. It's an essentially Anti-Anglo-American philosophy, in its (Duginist) core, which puts a firm ceiling on its potential,? Land said. ?But then, the NRx analysis is that the age of the masses is virtually over. Riled-up populist movements are part of what is passing, rather than of what is slouching toward Bethlehem to be born.? (By ?Duginist,? Land was referring to the ideas of the controversial Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin.)

Through a friend, I connected with @kantbot2000, a NRx-connected tweeter who was willing to talk over Twitter direct message. (Kant as in Immanuel.)

Kantbot complained that NRx is dead. ?Visit the social matter forums, its an inactive scene,? he said.

?The European New Right stuff that [Alt-Right leader Richard] Spencer peddles is secondary to the impulse given to the altright by Moldbug and the other [techno-commercialists],? Kantbot wrote. ?That impulse stresses good governance over ideological consideration. Good governance perhaps consisting of the dismantling of progressive institutions.?

?Moldbug is still very active,? Kantbot said. ?More so than he lets on.? Kantbot said Moldbug is ?reading comments, lurking.?

Under his real name, Yarvin did a Reddit AMA last year about his start-up Urbit, and addressed his Moldbug writings.

?It's actually quite possible to recognize that human population genetics has a lot of impact on politics and history, and also recognize that human population genetics has nothing at all to do with your individual, personal and professional human relationships. Nor does politics,? Yarvin wrote. He added that he has lots of progressive friends.

?Would anyone care about the 2016 election if Trump weren't running?? Yarvin wrote. ?And Trump is a throwback from the past, not an omen of the future. The future is grey anonymous bureaucrats, more Brezhnev every year.?

Kantbot began as an atheist Democrat, he said, but grew disillusioned.

?The only thing outside of that space is conservatism and right-wing movements,? he said. ?People like moldbug are going beyond that though, opening up possibilities of new cultural spaces that break out of that stagnant pattern, that can synthesize both progressive and conservative views in new ways.?

Kantbot warned that I might also be tempted by ?the forbidden fruit? of these ideas. ?Be careful or you too may be tempted to walk down the dark path of the altright,? he wrote. ?This is what thousands of people are taking to the streets to protest. This is the dark intellectual center.?

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/behind-the-internets-dark-anti-democracy-movement/516243/

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Europe will still be cursing Angela Merkel long after Adolf Hitler is a forgotten man. Hitler only fucked up Europe for a generation. Merkel has guaranteed centuries of strife.

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3DHS / Re: Trump....how and why
« on: November 13, 2016, 04:09:22 PM »

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3DHS / Re: I hope XO is OK
« on: October 24, 2016, 02:24:44 AM »
I don't trust Trump. And i question his judgment. I dislike Hillary more. Of the two i'll take Trump and hope the Congress tempers him some. And he needs to get off twitter.

It's not a matter of trusting Trump. Trump is a Hail Mary pass. He's your last chance to say "No!".

http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-flight-93-election/

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3DHS / Re: I hope XO is OK
« on: October 19, 2016, 08:30:28 PM »
I'm voting for Trump for revenge. At this point I'm too damn old to give a fuck what the future holds, I just want to look out of my window and see an Enlightened(TM) corpse swinging from every lamppost. And I'll merrily jump on any bandwagon headed in that general direction. Any questions?

23
3DHS / Re: Round 1 to Clinton
« on: September 29, 2016, 09:40:48 PM »
I didn't think he did very well. But I'm voting for a president, not a debate champion. Although it would be great if he could work a killshot in there next time.

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3DHS / What America Lost as Women Entered the Workforce
« on: September 19, 2016, 10:38:08 PM »
What America Lost as Women Entered the Workforce

It?s a shame that Phyllis Schlafly had a corner on skepticism about women?s liberation. ?Why should we trade in our special privileges and honored status for the alleged advantage of working in an office or assembly line?? the conservative crusader, perhaps best known for her successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment, asked in 1972. ?Most women would rather cuddle a baby than a typewriter or a factory machine.?

Schlafly masterfully sold the narrative that women?s rights, including those which would enable their greater participation in the workforce, would hurt women. In the process, she polarized the debate, making conservatives loath to recognize women?s gains, and liberals equally reluctant to acknowledge that progress might entail trade-offs. As more women have joined the workforce and become leaders in traditionally male spheres, gender roles have shifted, and women have lost their exclusive hold over traditionally female spheres. One of these is the home, as Schlafly argued. But women?s dominion over another part of public life has also declined: civil society.

 'Who Run The World'

Triumphs and trials of women in leadership
Read more
Women have long formed collective organizations intended to improve American society. They volunteered their time, waged political campaigns, and advocated for the poor and elderly. They organized voters, patronized the arts, and protested the government. In the years since women?s liberation, this kind of civic engagement has dropped precipitously. The kind of community involvement that has replaced it, where it has been replaced at all, is a weak substitute: When women advocate, it?s often on behalf of their own kids or families. And when they get involved in causes, they tend to cut checks rather than gather in protest. The most vulnerable members of society have lost their best allies?women?partly because those women are too busy working.

That?s not to indulge in nostalgia for a period of American history when women primarily led clubs rather than companies. Women frequently organized to fight for rights they had been denied by men, and they often aspired to lead charitable organizations because they were prevented from pursuing other paths. But ironically, in winning fuller equality with men, some women lost a share of the meaning and purpose that comes from life outside of productive labor. This is not a story about women?s failures, or a polemic against their advancement. It?s a cautionary tale for men and women alike. The corner office isn?t always the pinnacle of leadership. Often, the most important leadership happens in local communities.

* * *

Women?s groups haven?t just existed since America?s founding?they were instrumental in creating the nation. In her book, Natural Allies: Women?s Associations in American History, Anne Firor Scott writes that during the Revolutionary War, women ?banded together to raise money, provide amenities to the soldiers, and support the movement for independence.? During the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century, ?voluntary associations of all kinds proliferated, to supplement the old institutional structures of family, church, and local government.? Women often took up the causes of the ?worthy? poor, especially women and children, forming organizations with elaborate names like the Female Association for Relief of the Sick Poor, and for the Education of Such Female Children as Do Not Belong To, or Are Not Provided for, by Any Religious Society.

Men formed associations, too, but they were different from those led by women. Men often did good works individually, rather than as groups, Scott wrote, and when they gave money, ?they tended to make large gifts to institutions, particularly those that might bear their names.? Most of all, their civic activity was largely a form of self-advancement, Scott argued: ?Benevolence figured in the building of a man?s career, both as a means of forming associations with other men and as a means of promoting a favorable public image.? But for women, participating in these organizations was their career??an accepted extension of their defined roles as wives and mothers.?

Most importantly, these associations helped women develop a nascent sense of class and political consciousness, Scott argued. Charitable work exposed well-off white women to people of lesser means, and it offered women the chance to see themselves as independent of their husbands. As time went on, these organizations took up political causes such as suffrage, citizenship rights, and, later, equal-pay legislation, wrote the Duke University professor Kristin Goss.

As empowering as civil society was for American women, it was also constraining. ?For centuries ? we had this very distinct public and private realm in America,? said Melissa Deckman, a professor at Washington College. ?Women were not allowed to participate in business or industry or politics. So women who had skills and time on their hands went into more civic activity.? Although groups such as the gender-integrated Independent Order of St. Luke were founded and sometimes led by black women, many of these organizations were led by white women, and ?volunteering used to be in the arena of women with wealthy husbands,? said Thomas Rotolo, a professor at Washington State University. While men went off to be captains of industry, ?women would stay home to deal with philanthropic activities.?

As women?s organizations got more politically oriented, they also started proliferating. In the second half of the 20th century, a number of new women?s rights groups formed, like the National Organization for Women, in 1966, and the Women?s Equity Action League, in 1968. But elsewhere in America, a shift was happening in traditional associational life.

In 1955, at least two dozen ?membership? groups?made up of local chapters that held national meetings?could claim at least 1 percent of American adults on their rolls, according to the Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol. These were not just groups for women; they included mixed-gender organizations like the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, along with single-gender groups such as the Women?s International Bowling Congress. These kinds of organizations enjoyed success into the mid-1960s, Skocpol wrote. But as national-level, advocacy-oriented groups proliferated?almost all of them in New York City or Washington, D.C.?local, membership-oriented groups started seeing major declines. By the end of the 20th century, Skocpol wrote, this had led to a ?top-down civic world?: When Americans get involved in public life, it?s usually to ?send checks to a dizzying plethora of public affairs and social-service groups run by professionals.?

There are a number of pitfalls to outsourced communal involvement. The focus on national-level advocacy takes away from local groups; the vibrancy of grassroots-driven community organizations can?t be recreated by staffers in offices hundreds of miles away. People also lose the chance to mix with people outside of their wealth and class context: ?Pre-1960s membership associations were much more likely to involve less privileged participants along with the privileged,? Skocpol wrote. ?Privileged men and women who climbed the ladders of vast membership associations had to interact in the process with citizens of humble or middling means and prospects.?

?The moms do everything for the kids, and it spills over into school.?

In many communities, associational life is still going strong, but it can come with struggles. At the fall kick-off meeting of the Parent Teacher Organization at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., three women greeted newcomers and ushered parents toward trays of tube-shaped pasta and salad. Mia Pettus, one of the co-presidents who has a junior at the school, said ?it mostly is moms? who do the volunteer work for the group, even though nearly ?all of us are working parents ? [with] full-time jobs.? Another woman, Rhonda Davis Smith, said dads often get more involved with PTO at the high-school level, when they can coach or lead other activities for their adolescent kids. Over the course of an hour, roughly 40 parents showed up?three times as many women as men.

?The moms do everything for the kids, and it spills over into school,? said Angela Anderson, another of the co-presidents, whose daughter is also a junior at Banneker. Anderson is one of the few parents at Banneker who doesn?t work outside the home, at least while each of her four children has been young; but her husband jokes that she?s ?the only stay-at-home mom with 10 jobs,? she said. Besides volunteering in her kids? schools, she has been a Girl Scout leader for a decade and serves on nursing boards that lobby on Capitol Hill; she?s trained as an RN. But ?I?m very sympathetic to other moms,? she said. ?A lot of moms are obligated to work and don?t have the opportunity to stay at home with their children or go on field trips.?

In general, parenthood is a huge determinant of how women volunteer. In one study, researchers found that childless women are less likely to volunteer than their peers who are moms, although working mothers of young kids also had a hard time volunteering. Having a kid in school, however, makes women more likely to volunteer. ?School-age children link their mothers to their community, often through the medium of social institutions organized around children?s needs, such as schools, churches, sports teams, [and] youth-development organizations,? the authors wrote. ?[Far] from being an impediment to volunteering, children turn into an incentive; they become a strong tie to the community. Volunteer work becomes an extension of the mother role.?

American society desperately needs volunteers in order to function. For many families, kids make this need most clear: As the scholars Heather E. Price and Patricia Herzog Snell, the authors of American Generosity, wrote in an email, ?Schools, activity clubs, carpools, and parent organizations commonly rely on volunteers to do work that has no budget, but needs to be performed to provide the children with a quality education, sports training, club interactions, schedule coordinating, and parent leadership.? Overwhelmingly, said Price and Herzog Snell, the people who do this work are stay-at-home moms. As Anderson put it at Banneker, ?What we want to do is fill those gaps that the administration is not providing.?

Banneker is a magnet, and one of the academically strongest high schools in the District. It makes sense that parents would be so involved, but even at a such a great school, the principal said, ?Sometimes we?ll have a meeting and there are five of us here.? Not all communities have parents who are able to spend time volunteering to support their kids? education. And in those communities where parents can provide support, there can be an element of tribalism to the way people spend their time and resources. Christine Woyshner, a professor of education at Temple University, called it ?amoral familialism.?

In the world of schools, this has been underscored by the rapidly declining membership in the once-powerful National Parent Teacher Association. Banneker is just one of the many schools whose parents have recently decided to form a PTO?a parent-teacher organization that isn?t affiliated with any national policy or advocacy group. The Banneker parents largely did it for the dues money; having to pay fees to the state and national PTA was effectively ?a tax on parents,? Anderson said. Other parents at different schools have complained that PTA dues go toward lobbying for causes they don?t agree with.

The result can be that volunteer efforts, and money, often stay concentrated in the schools of kids from well-off families. Even at a place like Banneker, which is a Title I school, the involved moms who led the PTO were eager to eliminate as many fees as possible to get more parents to participate; membership has been low in the past due to costs, Anderson said. While local involvement is no doubt good for some kids and helps build the leadership skills of moms and dads alike, it can also exacerbate inequality among children in different areas.

By far, the people who have lost the most from the decline of local associations are those who are least educated and wealthy. College-educated Americans have always been more likely to participate in civic organizations than their less educated peers; according to a 2010 study by the University of Virginia?s National Marriage Project, 77 percent of this group was part of a non-religious community group in the 2000s, compared to 86 percent in the 1970s. But the change has been much more significant for high-school drop-outs: While 51 percent of these Americans were involved in a non-religious community organization in the 1970s, only 22 percent were members in the 2000s. Another study found that highly educated Americans are roughly twice as likely to volunteer compared to those without much education. Evidence also suggests that low-income Americans are the least likely to volunteer their time, while middle-class Americans are the most likely.

?I work,? she said. ?I just don?t have that kind of time.?

Although women?s workforce participation is one potential explanation for their lower levels of communal involvement, it?s not a complete one. Robert Putnam argued in his book Bowling Alone that these changes only account for part of the overall decline of American civil society. One of his key pieces of evidence is men: They, too, have largely quit their social clubs and civic groups.

Women have arguably lost more from the change, though. For uneducated women in particular, lower levels of participation in civil society means they have fewer chances to build leadership skills. A generation ago, the Boston College professor Kay Schlozman and her co-authors found that women state legislators tended to have a background in volunteer work, rather than careers in insurance or law like their male peers. Serving on a community-service steering committee or being responsible for kids on a field trip are ways of building communication and organizational skills, she said. ?The domain of adult life in which that happens most frequently is work,? she added in an interview. ?But one of the things about work is that it?s very stratified in terms of social class, so people who work with their hands get none of these opportunities.?

In terms of skill-building, working can be great for women?s leadership, especially in politics, Schlozman said. ?Working women are more politically active than women who are out of the workforce. Even if women have traded volunteerism for jobs, that would enhance, not deter, them from political roles.? Yet, in the two decades since the mid-90s, when there was a major bump in the number of women elected to hold political office, those numbers have stagnated. In her research on young, female law-school and public-policy graduate students, Shauna Shames, an assistant professor at Rutgers University-Camden, found that these elite, Millennial women aren?t highly motivated to seek political leadership roles. They don?t think they can ?make a difference? with careers in politics.

Some of the community work women once did now happens at non-profit organizations, where women actually get paid for the labor they previously volunteered. But non-profits aren?t exactly a bastion of women?s equality and empowerment. A strong majority of non-profit workers are women, and yet they only make up 43 percent of non-profit boards?and a third of boards for organizations with large operating budgets. Labor conditions at non-profits often mean women are taking pay and benefit cuts to work on behalf of causes.

Meanwhile, working in general can crowd out women?s volunteer work. One study found that the percent of women doing weekly volunteer work decreased from 16.4 percent in 1965 to 9.3 percent in 1993, a period during which women?s participation in the labor force went up significantly. The simplest explanation is that there just aren?t enough hours in the day; even Deckman, the Washington College professor, sighed a little when she mentioned being asked to bake for her kids? school events. ?I work,? she said. ?I just don?t have that kind of time.?

It?s not that cultural infrastructure has changed so that women?s volunteer time is no longer needed.

It?s not that cultural infrastructure has changed so that women?s volunteer time is no longer needed. It?s that the infrastructure has selectively crumbled. Women with the time, education, and resources to support their communities do so, and other communities struggle. While the government can?t provide a sense of community connection, it could provide women and families more support so that they can lead their communities, including with policies that support mandatory overtime, for example.

Not all civic organizations are on an equal path of decline. A spokeswoman for the Daughters of the American Revolution, for example, reported that the organization?s membership has grown every year since 2007. With 183,000 members nationwide, the group is working to make itself more appealing to younger generations and put a greater emphasis on service work over high society. Some African American women?s organizations have also seen renewed interest, like the Links or Jack and Jill.

But in general, the organizations that were once the hallmarks of women?s leadership have much smaller memberships and less influence than they once did. While the United Methodist Women, the Woman?s Missionary Union, and the General Federation of Women?s Clubs each boasted more than 1 percent of American women as their members 70 years ago, for example, these organizations had lost 70 percent, 53 percent, and 83 percent of their memberships by 1995, respectively, according to Skocpal.

While this decline has affected the structure of society, it has also had cultural consequences. Women don?t just have more access to career opportunities?their lives are simply more. As Shames, the Rutgers professor, put it, ?I sometimes think our own success in feminism ? has done us in.? If feminism is a belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes, perhaps this is an area where both women and men should strive to change the standard to which they?re aspiring: Everyone in the United States could benefit from more communal involvement, whether that means advocating for causes, volunteering with a charitable organization, joining a church, or just showing up to that Thursday night parent-teacher-group meeting.

As women have taken greater positions of leadership in the United States, they have also left a leadership vacuum behind them. In middle-class, highly educated communities, women may be busier and more tired than their mothers and grandmothers once were, but they mostly figure out ways to advocate for their kids at school-board meetings or volunteer to chaperone a class trip to the zoo. The people who have suffered most aren?t white and well-off; they?re lower income, poorly educated, and largely disconnected from the rich network of membership-based associations that used to provide both a local sense of community and a national voice in politics. Women in these positions have lost access to one of their only means of gaining leadership skills. And while many of their educated, wealthier peers now have alternatives to the suffocating housewife?s life that so enraged Betty Friedan seven decades ago, some experience it as an opposite kind of suffocation: a never-ending, ladder-climbing work life, the height of which is making money for someone else rather than building a world in which they?re invested.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/09/what-women-lost/500537/#article-comments

25
3DHS / How do you not love this guy?
« on: September 17, 2016, 09:07:49 PM »
Donald Trump's surreal Friday, from press row

By Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Updated 12:47 PM ET, Sat September 17, 2016

Trump finally ends birther lie
Miami (CNN)A manufactured storyline. A promise of a "major statement." And an ulterior motive.

Donald Trump on Friday pulled off his latest media stunt, scoring more than 20 minutes of free live TV time to tout the endorsement of more than a dozen veterans and to talk up his new hotel in Washington after he and his campaign had promised he would address his longstanding, controversial "birther" position.

Then, he made a 67-word statement stating that he now believes President Barack Obama was born in the US, and quickly abandoned the podium -- leaving reporters bellowing questions into the ether.

None of us were surprised.

After all, Friday's circus was nothing short of standard operating procedure for the real estate mogul and his media-bashing campaign -- and just the latest example of how Trump fueled his political rise through his unparalleled mastery of the media.

Why Democrats are anxious
But this time, there weren't just a few shouted questions from reporters. Instead, Trump stepped away from the mic amid a cacophony of cheering supporters -- more than 100 of whom separated Trump from the press -- and reporters, some standing on chairs, shouting dozens of questions at the top of our lungs.

"When did you change your mind about Obama being born in the US?" I shouted.

"What took you so long to make this decision?" shouted another reporter.

"Why won't you answer our questions?"

And then, he's gone. Trump had just changed a signature position he's held for years with a few dozen words and no explanation of why he had suddenly changed his mind. And he also notched 51 days since his last news conference.

The moment was emblematic of Trump's treatment of the press throughout the campaign -- particularly in the last 24 hours.

Reporters covering this campaign -- as I have for the last 15 months -- have long grown used to Trump lobbing insults our way, shouts of "scum," "dishonest" and "disgusting" reverberating as thousands of his supporters, many of them snickering at the spectacle, turn toward the press pen, booing. Some of us have even come to expect a call from the would-be-president every so often to hear the candidate gripe about a particular article and shame us as "dishonest."

But on Thursday night, Trump took his mistreatment of the press to new lows, taking the stage at a rally in New Hampshire moments before the traveling press corps' plane touched down in the state, and proceeding to mock us.

"I have really good news for you. I just heard that the press is stuck on their airplane. They can't get there. I love it," Trump said, to his supporters' glee.

We arrived for the last three minutes of his speech -- a circumstance caused by Trump's refusal to travel on the same plane as reporters covering his campaign, defying decades of precedent in the coverage of Democratic and Republican nominees.

Having promised a "major statement," via Twitter, Trump talked up his hotel -- "under budget and ahead of schedule" -- and invited a parade of military veterans to come to the podium and tell the world why they were supporting Trump's presidential bid. The event was no longer about a Republican presidential nominee reversing his position on an issue supported by a fringe slice of America. It was about brave military men embracing this controversial figure, flaws and all.


All the while, the cameras continued to roll, the remarks carried live on cable news in anticipation that Trump would clarify his position on birtherism as he had promised that morning.

It's the kind of free, unfiltered media coverage that every politician dreams of, but few will ever grasp.

Finally, after 28 minutes, Trump lifted the suspense and got to the point. He falsely claimed that his opponent Hillary Clinton "started the birther controversy" in 2008 and stated, matter-of-factly, that "President Barack Obama was born in the United States" -- something Obama proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in 2011 when he released his long-form birth certificate.

He spent more time talking about his hotel than explaining how he was changing his position on the issue that skyrocketed him to national political prominence and earned him his earliest notes of support from the far-right.


Trump laid his media trap the night before when his campaign put out a statement hours after a Washington Post interview published in which Trump declined to disavow his birther views. The interview took place a day earlier, but the campaign waited another day, until 12 hours before the event in Washington, to blast out a statement.
It remains to be seen whether Trump's move helped him. CNN and Fox News cut away at points in the presentation. Networks spent the day talking about Trump's history as a birther.

The Trump campaign had also previously billed a March campaign event as a possible news conference, only for the candidate to not take any questions. The event, which had been scheduled earlier, came just days after his campaign manager was accused of grabbing a reporter.

Before Friday, the campaign's most recent deception came Wednesday when campaign advisers told reporters that Trump would not be releasing results of his latest medical exam on the "Dr. Oz" program. And then Trump did just that, with a reality show-style surprise.

As we filed into the event hall for his rally Friday night, we were still nowhere closer to understanding why Trump had suddenly flip-flopped on birtherism. The campaign had ignored all our requests for comment. We hadn't had an opportunity to prod Trump on the when and why of his sudden change of heart, especially when he had declined to disavow the position just days earlier.

But as we awaited the familiar sound of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," a more ominous tune played instead.

It was a song from Broadway's "Les Mis?rables," the words "Les Deplorables" flashing on the screen above the stage, harkening to Clinton's comment about his supporters from earlier this month.

I flicked at my iPhone, and powered on the video recorder.

But moments later, Trump wondered aloud what would happen if Clinton's Secret Service detail were disarmed. And that was the news.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/17/politics/donald-trump-surreal-friday-press-row/index.html

27
3DHS / The Doomed Mouse Utopia That Inspired the 'Rats of NIMH'
« on: September 15, 2016, 09:40:37 PM »
The Doomed Mouse Utopia That Inspired the 'Rats of NIMH'

Dr. John Bumpass Calhoun spent the '60s and '70s playing god to thousands of rodents.

By Cara Giaimo SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

On July 9th, 1968, eight white mice were placed into a strange box at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Maybe "box" isn't the right word for it; the space was more like a room, known as Universe 25, about the size of a small storage unit. The mice themselves were bright and healthy, hand-picked from the institute's breeding stock. They were given the run of the place, which had everything they might need: food, water, climate control, hundreds of nesting boxes to choose from, and a lush floor of shredded paper and ground corn cob.

This is a far cry from a wild mouse's life?no cats, no traps, no long winters. It's even better than your average lab mouse's, which is constantly interrupted by white-coated humans with scalpels or syringes. The residents of Universe 25 were mostly left alone, save for one man who would peer at them from above, and his team of similarly interested assistants. They must have thought they were the luckiest mice in the world. They couldn't have known the truth: that within a few years, they and their descendants would all be dead.

The man who played mouse-God and came up with this doomed universe was named John Bumpass Calhoun. As Edmund Ramsden and Jon Adams detail in a paper, "Escaping the Laboratory: The Rodent Experiments of John B. Calhoun & Their Cultural Influence," Calhoun spent his childhood traipsing around Tennessee, chasing toads, collecting turtles, and banding birds. These adventures eventually led him to a doctorate in biology, and then a job in Baltimore, where he was tasked with studying the habits of Norway rats, one of the city's chief pests.

In 1947, to keep a close eye on his charges, Calhoun constructed a quarter-acre "rat city" behind his house, and filled it with breeding pairs. He expected to be able to house 5,000 rats there but over the two years he observed the city, the population never exceeded 150. At that point, the rats became too stressed to reproduce. They started acting weirdly, rolling dirt into balls rather than digging normal tunnels. They hissed and fought.

This fascinated Calhoun?if the rats had everything they needed, what was keeping them from overrunning his little city, just as they had all of Baltimore?

Intrigued, Calhoun built another, slightly bigger rat metropolis?this time in a barn, with ramps connecting several different rooms. Then he built another and another, hopping between patrons that supported his research, and framing his work in terms of population: How many individuals could a rodent city hold without losing its collective mind? By 1954, he was working under the auspices of the National Institute of Mental Health, which gave him whole rooms to build his mousetopias. Like a rodent real estate developer, he incorporated ever-better amenities: climbable walls, food hoppers that could serve two dozen mice at once, lodging he described as "walk-up one-room apartments." Video records of his experiments show Calhoun with a pleased smile and a pipe in his mouth, color-coded mice scurrying over his boots.

Still, at a certain point, each of these paradises collapsed. "There could be no escape from the behavioral consequences of rising population density," Calhoun wrote in an early paper. Even Universe 25?the biggest, best mousetopia of all, built after a quarter century of research?failed to break this pattern. In late October, the first litter of mouse pups was born. After that, the population doubled every two months?20 mice, then 40, then 80. The babies grew up and had babies of their own. Families became dynasties, carving out and holding down the best in-cage real estate. By August of 1969, the population numbered 620.

Then, as always, things took a turn. Such rapid growth put too much pressure on the mouse way of life. As new generations reached adulthood, many couldn't find mates, or places in the social order?the mouse equivalent of a spouse and a job. Spinster females retreated to high-up nesting boxes, where they lived alone, far from the family neighborhoods. Washed-up males gathered in the center of the Universe, near the food, where they fretted, languished, and attacked each other. Meanwhile, overextended mouse moms and dads began moving nests constantly to avoid their unsavory neighbors. They also took their stress out on their babies, kicking them out of the nest too early, or even losing them during moves.

Population growth slowed way down again. Most of the adolescent mice retreated even further from societal expectations, spending all their time eating, drinking, sleeping and grooming, and refusing to fight or to even attempt to mate. (These individuals were forever changed?when Calhoun's colleague attempted to transplant some of them to more normal situations, they didn't remember how to do anything.) In May of 1970, just under 2 years into the study, the last baby was born, and the population entered a swan dive of perpetual senescence. It's unclear exactly when the last resident of Universe 25 perished, but it was probably sometime in 1973.

Paradise couldn't even last half a decade.

In 1973, Calhoun published his Universe 25 research as "Death Squared: The Explosive Growth and Demise of a Mouse Population." It is, to put it lightly, an intense academic reading experience. He quotes liberally from the Book of Revelations, italicizing certain words for emphasis (e.g. "to kill with the sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts"). He gave his claimed discoveries catchy names?the mice who forgot how to mate were "the beautiful ones"' rats who crowded around water bottles were "social drinkers"; the overall societal breakdown was the "behavioral sink." In other words, it was exactly the kind of diction you'd expect from someone who spent his entire life perfecting the art of the mouse dystopia.

Most frightening are the parallels he draws between rodent and human society. "I shall largely speak of mice," he begins, "but my thoughts are on man." Both species, he explains, are vulnerable to two types of death?that of the spirit and that of the body. Even though he had removed physical threats, doing so had forced the residents of Universe 25 into a spiritually unhealthy situation, full of crowding, overstimulation, and contact with various mouse strangers. To a society experiencing the rapid growth of cities?and reacting, in various ways, quite poorly?this story seemed familiar. Senators brought it up in meetings. It showed up in science fiction and comic books. Even Tom Wolfe, never lost for description, used Calhounian terms to describe New York City, calling all of Gotham a "behavioral sink."

Convinced that he had found a real problem, Calhoun quickly began using his mouse models to try and fix it. If mice and humans weren't afforded enough physical space, he thought, perhaps they could make up for it with conceptual space?creativity, artistry, and the type of community not built around social hierarchies. His later Universes were designed to be spiritually as well as physically utopic, with rodent interactions carefully controlled to maximize happiness (he was particularly fascinated by some early rats who had created an innovative form of tunneling, where they rolled dirt into balls). He extrapolated this, too, to human concerns, becoming an early supporter of environmental design and H.G. Wells's hypothetical "World Brain," an international information network that was a clear precursor to the internet.

But the public held on hard to his earlier work?as Ramsden and Adams put it, "everyone want[ed] to hear the diagnosis, no one want[ed] to hear the cure." Gradually, Calhoun lost attention, standing, and funding. In 1986, he was forced to retired from the National Institute of Mental Health. Nine years later, he died.

But there was one person who paid attention to his more optimistic experiments, a writer named Robert C. O'Brien. In the late '60s, O'Brien allegedly visited Calhoun's lab, met the man trying to build a true and creative rat paradise, and took note of the Frisbee on the door, the scientists' own attempt "to help when things got too stressful," as Calhoun put it. Soon after, O'Brien wrote Ms. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH?a story about rats who, having escaped from a lab full of blundering humans, attempt to build their own utopia. Next time, maybe we should put the rats in charge.

Naturecultures is a weekly column that explores the changing relationships between humanity and wilder things. Have something you want covered (or uncovered)? Send tips to cara@atlasobscura.com.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-doomed-mouse-utopia-that-inspired-the-rats-of-nimh?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=atlas-page

28
3DHS / Re: Hillary declares war on Pepe the Frog
« on: September 15, 2016, 08:32:46 PM »

29
3DHS / Re: ASIA TIMES: "Deplorably, Trump is going to win"
« on: September 14, 2016, 11:50:48 PM »
I've always liked Spengler's writing, even when I disagree with him. In this case, I don't disagree. As a commenter on another site put it:

"In 72 hours Hillary has called 50% of Trump supporters ?deplorables,? had a f*cking seizure in public, announced she has pneumonia and attacked Pepe the Frog officially on her website,? reddit user Skippyilove pointed out. ?This can?t be real life.?

30
3DHS / Re: open border globalists like Obama tax on working people
« on: September 14, 2016, 11:15:24 PM »
Japan is an example of what happens when a consumer economy does not have a growing population.

What's wrong with Japan?

If we do not educate these children, then we will have an underclass of ignorant and useless people. Apparently, that is what breitbart wants. No one will deport 11 million people, no matter what Trump says.

Doubt that you'd have to. I suspect simply having a president with policies like Trump would encourage a large number to leave on their own initiative.

*****

Should We Be Turning Japanese?

The Big Idea

With economic instability and terror plaguing the open West, a case emerges for the insular approach.

Walking among the open air caf?s in Tokyo during an unseasonably warm November last year?just after the Paris terror attacks?I realized that something was different. Japanese almost never think twice about going into public places. Their streets are not filled with combat troops on wary patrol. Parents don?t fear when their children congregate at a concert or in the park. Japanese are the first to highlight their country?s problems, but when I talk with a group of young men and women at a tiny, crowded bar, their greatest fear for the future is growing old alone, not that they might not grow old at all.

Japan does face a demographic crisis?its population is actually shrinking?but there is another big positive dimension to life in modern Japan. The Japanese are not arguing (all that much, anyway) about social and economic inequality. Nor are the shops dark and the restaurants empty, at least not in Tokyo and other major cities. There is no Japanese Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders drawing on and stoking the anger of a disenfranchised middle class.

Japan has found a separate reality?a separate peace if you will?from the globalization paradigm that has dominated the West since World War II. The country?s experience over the past quarter-century raises the question: How open does a modern nation need to be in order to be ?successful?? That should prompt us to ask, in turn, whether we in the West have been overstating the benefits of openness and globalization, and underestimating the virtues of social cohesion and stability.

All this warrants a fresh look at the long-tainted ?Japan model.? At least as viewed by the West, Japan has spent the past quarter-century under a cloud. After the Japanese asset price bubble popped in 1989, the once-and-future ?Pacific Superpower? (recall all those headlines from the 1980s, declaring things like ?Your Next Boss May be Japanese?) no longer interested investors, pundits and the media. ?Japanese? traits such as lifetime employment, so recently lauded, were quickly reinterpreted as rigidity, risk averseness, and a general inability to deal with a new era of innovation that valued the individual over the group. In particular, it became an article of faith in the West to decry Japan?s insularity, whether economic or socio-cultural. Japanese society, ethnically monolithic and anti-immigration, was derided as fatally parochial in the new, modern borderless world.

Yet the era of Western superiority proved fleeting. The West?s vacation from history in the 1990s ended with 9/11. The crash of 2008 had the West scrambling to avoid economic collapse, and neither the American nor European economies have recovered anything like their buoyant growth of the 1990s. Fifteen years after 9/11, the fear of terrorism and the intrusive steps taken to counter it are a depressing overlay to daily life, yet the scourge of the Islamic State continues to grow and has now reached into Western societies. Meanwhile, despite the advantages of globalization, its costs and the socioeconomic damage done by the massive displacement of old jobs?especially middle-class industrial jobs?have been badly understated. Government approval rates in America remain at historic lows, and a majority of Americans believe race relations have worsened in recent years. The West?s complacency of the early 1990s has been displaced by a host of troubles.

Japan?s contrasting history during approximately the same time period?since the collapse of its bubble circa 1990?forces us to consider how open borders need to be, and to judge the trade-offs societies are willing to accept between growth and opportunity. Can a country be ?globalized? and ?modern? yet not ?open?? Japan offers the example of a society that is willing to be less engaged with the world and to maintain certain socioeconomic barriers, thereby trading some growth for physical security and economic and social stability at home.

None of this should be interpreted as a call for the West actually to turn Japanese?at least not excessively so. Nor is it a rehashed version of the Japan triumphalism that was so prevalent in the 1970s and ?80s. To decry the failures of capitalism is not to desire greater state intervention or a less competitive economy. It is to want to rid Western capitalism of its distortions and injustices?or at least do a better job of ameliorating them?and to level the playing field for those who value hard work and want the chance to become part of the ownership society. Crony capitalism and the close political-financial alliance protected by Democrats and Republicans alike need to be uprooted in favor of policies that help Main Street and provide meaningful cushions for workers and families trying to be part of the economy.

Similarly, to identify the sources of Japan?s physical security is not to embrace an anti-immigrant polemic. The history of the United States and even Europe is inseparable from immigration, but to welcome legal immigration is not the same thing as to call for open borders or to deny the importance of ensuring that a common culture and civil society is maintained and passed down to future generations. To acknowledge such cultural, social and economic questions is instead to demand a politics that is responsive to reality and not to the utopias of either the left or the right. It is to question how freedom and equality must be balanced against security and opportunity in an imperfect world.

***

What has been lost in the West is the understanding that openness and globalization are only a means, not an end. Japan?s different approach to both ideas goes back to its profoundly different view of modernity. In the West, ever since the American and French revolutions, modernity has been identified with the beginning of a new world, and the discarding of tradition. Since then, Western modernity increasingly became identified with the concept of openness to the world, moving from the realm of ideas and political philosophy to the field of economic competition, and more slowly to the opening up of the country to large-scale immigration. As the belief in openness sank deep roots, it defined both national identity and government policy, particularly in America, evolving into the idea that greater diversity, achieved through ever-increasing openness, result in greater national strength.

The concept of openness soon transcended national boundaries and evolved from a concern solely with the internal workings of a society to the idea of an integrated and united globe.

In Japan, by contrast, modernity has always been restrained by a tradition of social stability that goes back to the centuries of a feudal system headed by shoguns and emperors. Thus the Japanese have always viewed modernity more warily. Japan really is different from the rest of the modern world, and while it is an almost heretical thought, perhaps it is time to consider whether Japan has made better national choices since the 1990s than we have given it credit for. It has succeeded in providing a stable and secure life for its people, despite significant economic challenges and statistical stagnation. It has done so in part by maintaining cohesion at home and certain barriers against the world. By comparison, America and Europe appear increasingly confounded by their failures to ensure sociocultural integration, keep their economies growing equally for all, and provide security in the heart of their great cities. When historians look back on global history from the 1990s into the first decades of the 21st century, how will they judge which nations were successful, and which failed to provide a good life for their people?

The metric employed by Americans in particular?how much personal freedom and economic growth one can calculate and accumulate?is not necessarily the measure favored by the Japanese. It is fair to say that in Japan, it is not the lack of individual restraint that counts, but the overall level of stability in society. Similarly, the West?s adherence to neoclassical economics has been adapted in Japan to something that may be less efficient, but also less disruptive to society.

Not that the Japanese aren?t constantly questioning the level of their involvement in the world. ?Do you think we should take in more Syrian refugees?? the head of one of Japan?s leading cultural exchange organizations asked me last November in Tokyo. ?It looks like we?re not doing our part.? I demurred, noting that Europe has yet to deal with problems the refugee flood may cause. Twenty-four hours later, the Paris massacre burst onto Japan?s television screens.

Since my trip to Japan, we?ve also had the Brussels attacks and mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. ISIS-connected terrorists struck in Jakarta, and jihadist-inspired lone wolves carried out knife attacks on the London Underground and shot an American police officer in Philadelphia. Unlike the West, consumed by the threat of terrorism for half a generation, Japan is a modernized and liberal society not directly at risk from the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and homegrown Islamist radicals. Like any nation, it offers a plethora of soft targets, but the reality is that Japan is in comparatively little danger. Its people live in a reality entirely different from that of the West, spared from a seemingly endless fight against an implacable enemy who now lives among them.

In important ways, Japan privileges order over openness, and stability over opportunity. America has had no such value system?and what Donald Trump offers is but little-disguised jingoism and an apparent preference for trade wars as a tool of statecraft. Trump is rightly derided by Democrats and establishment Republicans. But the example of Japan shows that what we might call radical openness might not be the only path for a modern society to take.

***

Since World War II, the predominance of the concepts of openness and diversity has never been seriously challenged in the West. The almost universally accepted identification of modernity with openness has prevented needed discussions of the costs associated with such an approach. More recently, arguments such as Francis Fukuyama?s ?The End of History? presented a triumphalist liberal interpretation of societal success, tied in part to Western notions of openness and diversity. Borders both physical and ideational are universally condemned as immoral, misguided and harmful to a nation and its citizenry.

The assumption that openness is a prerequisite for modernity and economic success has led observers to dismiss, or has prevented them from understanding, the logic of an approach designed to maintain social cohesion and insulate a country from foreign economic and security disturbances. The anthropologist Edward T. Hall was one of the few Western scholars to consider the benefits of a different approach in his 1976 book, Beyond Culture, when he compared "low context,? or diverse, cultures like the United States, with "high context," or more uniform cultures like Japan. Low-context cultures, which merge many disparate traditions, encourage creativity but become increasingly unwieldy the larger they grow. High-context cultures, by comparison, often impose rigidity in thinking and certainly in social interaction, but offer far greater cohesion, due largely to their monolithic ethnicity.

Forty years later, the trade-offs that Hall discussed are at the center of political conflicts throughout the West. Even America, whose national identity was built on immigration, finds itself at odds over the benefits of open borders and amnesty, forming odd alliances across socioeconomic lines. For many in the United States, openness has become an end in itself, with no reference to larger social questions. The fear of unassimilated immigrants is greatest in Europe, which is now forced to contemplate the effects of decades of largely unrestrained, largely Muslim, immigration that is rapidly changing the continent?s demographics while burdening its security and social services.

Reassessing Japan?s recent history in the light of Western failures does not mean whitewashing its current weaknesses and challenges. A third of a century of anemic economic growth, averaging 2 percent from 1981 to 2015, is a signal that the mature Japanese economy will likely never again see double-digit growth. Unbalanced investment has left Japan?s rural regions in parlous economic shape, and temporary workers now account for nearly 40 percent of the workforce. The country?s regulatory environment is too stifling, corruption nests inside corporate and political cultures, the service sector is startlingly inefficient, and the nuclear industry is a mess. The government was widely criticized for its inept handling of the March 2011 nuclear crisis after the devastating Tohoku earthquake.

Socially, Japanese youth are widely reported to be dissatisfied with their future prospects, and the scope for individualism in the workplace remains tightly constricted. Foreigners are tolerated, but not particularly welcomed, and Japanese of Korean descent still face discrimination. Immigration is all but absent. Moreover, Japan has faced its own homegrown terrorists, in the millennial Aum Shinrikyo cult, back in the 1990s. Above all, the country faces a debilitating demographic collapse, one no modern democracy has ever encountered and that poses the single greatest threat to Japan?s future.

Yet compared with the problems that both the West and many of its neighbors face, Japan?s relative strength and stability should at the least cause us to rethink our assumptions about social and economic policy. The Wall Street Journal?s Jacob Schlesinger argues that, for two decades after the popping of the bubble, Japan?s leadership consciously chose a deflationary course for the economy, seeking stability and the minimization of social risk that would accompany radical economic restructuring. Only the return of Shinzo Abe to the premiership in 2012 reversed this long trend, as he actively sought to inflate the economy, privileging economic expansion over stability. The difference might be thought of as ?value? policy versus ?growth? policy, similar to stocks or mutual funds. The careful, moderate reforms of what is called ?Abenomics? indicate that even the current government is seeking a mix of value and growth, again prioritizing social stability.

Despite decades of officially slow or stagnant macro growth, the real economic picture of Japan is better than many Westerners think. Writing in the Financial Times, Matthew C. Klein showed that, in the decade from 2005 to 2014, real GDP per person grew more in Japan than in the United States, Great Britain and the Eurozone. In the nearly quarter-century from 1990 to 2013, in other words, nearly the entire post-bubble era, real household consumption in Japan also grew more than the Eurozone, and behind only Great Britain, the United States and Sweden.

As China?s economy began openly to unravel during 2015, and the U.S. equity markets precipitously declined in early 2016, my visits to Tokyo have revealed a country neither sprinting ahead nor rocked by economic instability. The uncertainty that clouds so many of the world?s economies exacts psychic and material costs, but Japan, where GDP growth has been sluggish for decades, seems less threatened by the roller coaster that is prevalent in the West, in part because its system remains more resistant to radical restructuring and the diktats of unrestrained market forces. In fact, things simply aren?t all that bad.

Japan remains a high-income country by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) standards. Its GDP per capita at purchasing power parity rates increased from $34,300 in 2011 to $36,400 in 2014, while the cost of living in Tokyo and its other major cities declined, due in part to moderate deflationary trends. Japan?s Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, stood at .32 in 2008 (the latest year available), according to the World Bank, higher than many European nations, but lower than America?s .41 (2013 measure).

Economic data tell only part of the national story. Other measures show a picture of social strength. To give just a few examples, Americans are 16 times more likely to be murdered than their Japanese counterparts, according to the United Nations. Japan, with approximately 40 percent the population of the United States, recorded just 443 cases of intentional homicide in 2011, a rate of 0.3 per 100,000 inhabitants; while in America, 14,661 persons were murdered intentionally, a rate of 4.7 per 100,000. While gun control advocates point out that Japan has far more stringent gun laws than the United States, crimes of all kinds, especially violent crimes, occur far less frequently in Japan than in America. Japan is a more peaceful society because of factors other than regulation of guns. There are few debates over what it means to be ?Japanese,? and different segments of society rarely seem to be at one another?s throats.

Japan remains a male-dominated society, yet Japanese women are among the most highly educated in the world, and they traditionally have controlled household budgets and family decisions. Moreover, as the Financial Times? Klein notes, more than half the growth in Japanese workers since 2003 has come from women entering the labor force, even as the overall population has shrunk. Prime Minister Abe?s ?womenomics? policy seeks to increase this number even more, as well as to break the glass ceiling in executive suites.

In education, Japanese students once again scored at the top of the global math, reading, and science rankings by the OECD in 2012. Americans, by contrast, scored significantly lower, 27th in math and 17th in reading, despite spending close to 30 percent more per student than Japan. Meanwhile, Japan?s unemployment rate is below 3.5 percent, which partly represents demographic decline, but also the strong work ethic and expectation that able-bodied citizens will be in the labor force. Sixty-six percent of Japanese aged 15-74 were employed, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, while 63 percent of Americans aged 16 or older held a job, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, a number that has been dropping steadily since 2007. Japan is also far healthier than America and most European countries, ranking as the least obese developed country according to the OECD, while America is No. 1. Moreover, the number of suicides in Japan has fallen for six straight years, since 2009, and is down by a third from its peak in 2003.

Again, such statistics of social strength tell only part of a far more complex story. Yet they can be adduced to support an argument that Japan has more successfully dealt with its myriad problems over the past quarter-century than most observers have recognized. Whether Japan can continue to maintain its stability, social cohesion and basic economic strength without opening up its borders, overturning some traditional social structures and introducing an element of disruptiveness into its culture will be the great question of Japanese history over the next two generations. Yet even to ask such questions is to again presume a Western frame of reference.

Paris and Brussels have driven home a stark understanding that the West?s long war with Islamic terrorism is not only far from over, but that it is entering another, deadlier phase. We have been fighting terrorism at home and abroad since the 1970s, but in particular since 1993 and the first World Trade Center attack. Close to 25 years on, Western societies appear increasingly threatened by a radicalized minority. Meanwhile, and just as worryingly, Western leaders have failed to solve the economic problems that have dogged their nations since 2008 and all have used the crisis as an excuse to increase the role of government, adding yet another layer of unease, inefficiency and uncertainty onto society.

America and the West will debate the causes of radicalization and the steps needed to counter it for years, perhaps decades to come, just as they will the future of the capitalist system. Meanwhile, the crisis will grow. Skilled workers in the knowledge economy will continue to outpace those lacking such ability and society will become more divided between haves and have-nots, giving openings to socialists like Fran?ois Hollande and Bernie Sanders, while fueling Trumpism, Le Penism, and other extreme movements on both the right and the left of the political spectrum.

After Brussels, however, one thing seems clear: Ordinary Westerners will live another decade or longer fearing for their physical safety, waiting for the next attack, swinging between panic and numbness, and expending massive amounts of energy and treasure on war, all while they watch their economies gyrate, further dividing their societies. And the Japanese won?t. The story of whose history was better during these decades is far from written.

Michael Auslin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of The End of the Asian Century (forthcoming, Yale).

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/globalization-japan-terror-insularity-213807

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