Caldwell’s Article

Folks, for those who don’t have time to read Caldwell’s book, here’s an article of his that brilliantly summarizes his argument.

I suggest not getting defensive on the first two sentences and instead reading as if you assumed from the start that he might have something valuable to say. Being open-minded is all about opening your mind to something different from what you already think.

Caldwell has written a very important book and closing oneself off from the argument just because it departs from the orthodoxy is a mistake.

36 thoughts on “Caldwell’s Article”

  1. A nice article on a somewhat related topic:

    The use and abuse of ethnic minorities
    Why Western elites love some minorities more than others.

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/02/21/the-use-and-abuse-of-ethnic-minorities/

    Haven’t heard this explanation before:

    “Homosexuals are fast following feminists on the road to normalisation – and political irrelevance. Gay and lesbian activists are desperately trying to hold their place in the ever-expanding LGBTQ+ alliance, but these days mere homosexuality is old hat. With gay-marriage rights widely embraced in developed democracies, and a gay prime minister in Ireland (of all places), it is becoming more and more difficult to characterise homosexuals as a socially excluded minority in countries like the UK, the US and Australia. That’s why transsexuals, despite their vanishingly small numbers, have become the sexual minority du jour. Despite their increasingly high profile, transsexuals remain profoundly socially excluded, and that makes them useful. Political elites now routinely use the threat of transgender suicides to push through their preferred education and healthcare policy agendas.”

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    1. He makes all kinds of stunning errors of fact and really bad assumptions to make grandiose claims founded in illogic. If this is supposed to be a précis of his book, it must be globally awful.

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        1. For example, he claims “There were two noteworthy things about the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965.
          The first was its unprecedented concentration of power. It gave Washington tools it had never before had in peacetime.”

          However, the Vietnam War officially ended in 1975. In a piece that mentions the Vietnam War and the draft as a major origin of partisan division, this is inexcusable. At what sense was the US “at peace” in 1965? The war is officially declared. Did he mean, “at world war?” because that’s narrowing the definition of war to absurdity. The draft he mentions didn’t cease until 1973. Wars are incredibly common in our history and so is an expansion of federal power during wartime.
          I can’t take someone seriously as a journalist if they can’t bother to get facts straight that it took me not even two minutes to find on Wikipedia. I also can’t take whining about “elites” seriously from a Harvard educated journalist that makes freshman composition level errors.

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          1. I think you are misunderstanding the sentence. He isn’t saying that the US wasn’t engaging in warfare in 1964. He’s saying that the civil rights legislation empowered the courts to an extreme degree and it’s only gotten worse since then. There have been a couple of similar precedents in wartime moments but those didn’t have the same staying power.

            To give an example, we are currently hiring two black math professors under the theory that black students are failing math because there are no professors who look like them. This is clearly insane and just as clearly not done in response to the presence of the US troops in Afghanistan.

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            1. As for the point that a degree from Harvard should prevent one from being critical of the elites, should being Ukrainian prevent one from being critical of Ukraine? To the contrary, familiarity brings understanding. If only the uneducated and the poor can criticize the educated and the well-to-do, then nobody will criticize them because the uneducated and the poor can’t get themselves heard.

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              1. If I merely wanted to criticize his elite education I would not be harping on his “freshman composition level errors” or his profession as well.

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            2. I am going off what he has written in his text. Why mention “peacetime” if it is not important to the argument, in some fashion? He is using this article as either an introduction or a summation of his entire book. Every word is there for a reason. If it is just fluff, he is being careless in the extreme. If he thinks “during the Vietnam War” is “peacetime” it is such a stunning basic error of fact, compounded by the fact he was actually alive during the Vietnam War.
              Further is anchoring his argument to specific pieces of legislation at specific moments in time — the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. He uses the phrase “the civil rights constitution of 1964” to contrast with some federalist society notion of “the Constitution of 1787.” Fuzziness with the timeline undermines his argument.

              My guess is that he threw in “peacetime” as some kind of intensifier to impress upon his audience how sweeping this change is. Which again, is careless, at best, and disingenuous, at worst.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Peacetime refers to the fact that in the past, such expansion of powers did exist during some wartime eras. To say simply “it never existed before” would be a mistake. Peacetime here refers to the past, not the 1964-65 era.

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    2. He writes that a religious man who goes to church cannot complain about his 7 yo son being taught about transgender people in elementary school. Hum… I do not know in the US, but in Canada (Toronto) legions of parents complained about the new sex ed program in elementary school, asking to opt out from it, and they were not censored. Let us say that he is not subtle and he overgeneralizes, which is sad because he complains about divisive rhetoric.

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      1. Almost everything he says is one of those carefully curated grievance myths his type has been nursing since I’ve been alive. “The rich saw themselves as having avoided service in Vietnam not because they were more privileged or—heaven forbid—less brave, but because they were more decent.” Democrats having “won” “the 60s” when, uh, look at the 1972 election and what was crafted next. It’s just stupid — oxygen thievery –. I get bored reading because it is what every Republican says at every dinner party and I’ve been having to sit through this little speech for decades now.

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        1. This is difference of opinion, not factual mistakes.

          Every side has its grievance myths. But I find these ones to be a lot more convincing than those of the opposite side.

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          1. Today at my school serious people, professors started wailing that we need to hound Chick-fil-A off campus because its presence violates their “human rights.” This is the exact phrase that was used. Chick-Fil-A had repudiated its donations to the Salvation Army (which was its huge transgression against “human rights”) months ago. But it’s still not enough. It’s not enough to ram every minor point of orthodoxy into everybody’s throat. The opponent has to be destroyed, hounded out of public life, eviscerated. And all because some snowflake tenured professor feels that her “human rights” have been violated. How about this grievance myth?

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              1. Employment. There’s been tons of discussion of this. And not every offense means criminal conviction/jail. There’s lots written to explain that, too.

                Also, the donations. When you patronize them you know where a certain amount of their profits are going. It’s their right to donate where they want, but I don’t have to patronize them. There’s a long tradition of this

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            1. Central to Christianity is its injuction to its adherents to be humble and modest in all things – “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

              SJW’s turn this message on its head. Dripping in self-regarding virtue, they are the modern day Pharisees loudly thanking their gods that they are “not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.” etc.

              In Canada, the Salvation Army is the largest non-governmental provider of social services to the hungry, the needy, the addicted, the homeless, the mentally ill, and so on. In serving others according to their interpretation of Christian doctrine they do not discriminate against anyone including gays.

              I am in awe of their work and am happy to be able support them financially. As for the SJW’s who are trying to ‘cancel’ the Salvation Army, they can kiss my…

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              1. It boggles my mind that people can seriously claim some guy’s donation to the Salvation Army violates their “human rights.” And it’s a completely normal thing to say.

                And to pile on the Salvation Army, you’ve really got to be dotty to do that. People have lost all shame.

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              2. The Salvation Army is a conservative Protestant church first, and a “charity” second; accepting their charity and their version of alcohol rehab is contingent upon accepting their version of the Gospel, and so on. It has been controversial since the 19th century for these reasons. They step into a certain gap — they serve populations that need it and fall through the cracks for various reasons — but they are problematic in a lot of ways.

                Again, what my great-aunt Valeska, the social worker of the very early 20th century would say: effort should be put toward expansion of social security, universal healthcare, raising minimum wage, worker safety, Federal jobs programs. THIS is what can most reliably keep people off the street.

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              3. Chick-Fil-A has stopped donating to the Salvation Army and other Christian charities months ago. So what it is that the wokies are angry about now is a mystery. Well, for those who are familiar with totalitarianism it isn’t a mystery.

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              4. As for what your great-aunt said, it’s great but since the early 20th century how many people would have gone hungry without these organizations? People need to eat today. Even when those who feed them are insufficiently woke.

                The state expects us to accept its gospel even when it isn’t giving us much. And the quality of that gospel is quite inferior.

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              5. “accepting their charity… is contingent upon accepting their version of the Gospel…” @Z

                Not true.

                “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

                Oh my, what horrible monsters these Salvation Army types must be to be live by such words!

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            2. “accepting their charity… is contingent upon accepting their version of the Gospel…” @Z

              Not true.

              “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

              Oh my, what horrible monsters these Salvation Army types must be to be inspired by such words!

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              1. My church does a lot of charitable work. Not once did anybody request anything in return for help or create any religious test for access to help. The idea is frankly bizarre.

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              1. Minor smidgens of facticity do not truth make. Look, there’s tons written on this. This person really isn’t a very good historian

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          2. You’re asking what the objections are to the Salvation Army. Once again, there is a lot of straight-up research on this and about 150 years of history in the United States. You could also talk to some homeless or addict types, or regular poor, of those who refuse to deal with SA no matter what, and they can tell you about it — as can those who do deal with them.

            Yes, people need to eat today, and yes state services have been cut down. So yes, SA has a certain role. That does not make this whole situation good.

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  2. Ummm… too U.S.-centric to explain important social and political trends that have been near universal in the post-1945 west. Frankly, the author isn’t as well read as he needs to be for his subject and so makes bloopers like “seventy years ago, India produced the first modern minority-rights based constitution…” In fact, the protection of minority rights has been a concern that dates at least as far back as Westphalia and was also an important component of the many national states established under the Treaty of Versailles. And, being a (former?) Canadian, you might be familiar with the Quebec Act of 1774 that protected the political and religious rights of the Province’s french-speaking Roman Catholics.

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    1. That’s the biggest objection I have, too. The same thing has happened in Canada and the UK to an even greater degree. And he doesn’t seem to notice that.

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      1. The growth of the state in the west that began in earnest during WWI provoked scholarly commentary on how bureaucrats had been able to seize the policy initiative from elected politicians because of the increased volume and complexity of state welfare and warfare decisions. Bureaucratic self-interest was conventionally said to account for the shift in state power away from elected politicians and towards their permanent civil service. But I think that more attention needs to be paid to way that the ever more powerful bureaucrats imposed on state and society a set of opinions and values that were centred in their formal university educations and were actually quite disconnected from the polity because they stood outside of the electoral process that constrains politicians. This author seems to be describing some of the features of this century-long power and value shift by locating them in their policy effects rather than their causes.

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  3. Beyond the merits of whether Caldwell’s case is true or not, doesn’t it clash with your theory of the genesis of woke banditry? The expected direction of influence for neoliberal capital would be primarily from changes in economic structure, not social movements and legal consolidation, no?

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    1. I absolutely do believe that my explanation is better because it doesn’t present this as a uniquely US phenomenon. Caldwell can’t begin to explain why this is so prevalent as far away as Spain.

      However, if we look at his argument not as an explanation of root causes but as a demonstration of the mechanisms used to effectuate this in one locality.

      Basically, he doesn’t explain why. He explains how.

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