Scott Alexander and the Nexus of Wrong

The SSC commentariat read the wrong article again.  Shouldn’t be reading Rauch and Wittes on how Trump and the GOP are dangerous to the Rule of Law– they aren’t.  Trump/GOP loves laws, and is working diligently to make many more pro-redtribe laws– on restricting immigration, restricting voter rights, gimme tax cuts for the 1%, etc.  No, what Trump and the GOP are doing is destroying democratic norms in the pursuit of Constitutional Hardball.

Here is a game theoretic analysis of what is happening– Constitutional Hardball and the Calculus of Selfishness.   Like the article suggests, the only way to fight our way back to normative behavior is to model forebearance and tolerance.   But given that the liberals will probably be more inclined to retaliation I doubt that will happen.  Refusal to consider Garland, killing blue slips, evidence of the destruction of normative behavior, and when liberals get control of the house, retaliation strategies will rule– the rise of TFT on the blue side of the isle.

Rauch and Wittes are actually implementing the strategy Tushnet suggests here:

Not surprisingly I was pleased to see that my idea of constitutional hardball plays a role in Levitsky and Ziblatt’s book on How Democracies Die (op ed here). Here I want to reflect on strategies once the game has started and you want to get it to stop. Levitsky and Ziblatt’s book has the obvious prescription for Republicans — the remnants of the “establishment” should do what they can to change the players on their side. For Democrats, though, their strategies involve policy prescriptions, not “moves” in the immediate game. What can Democrats do on a day-by-day basis in the game of constitutional hardball when their ultimate goal is to reinstitute the norms that Levitsky and Ziblatt treat as essential to sustaining a democracy?

Tushnet has been developing his theory of constitutional hardball for quite a while– since at least 2003.  Politics, history, philosophy, humanities– all things I was spectacularly uninterested in and should have paid more attention to– I only ever chose coursework in science and math.  I expect I’m not alone in this.  Now I have to pay attention.   We all have to pay attention.   That is what Trump is good for, really.  A call to attention for the slow frog-boiling death of democratic norms.

I do however, adore game theory– especially complex adaptive games and the Cooperation/Competition Paradigm.  Its my hypothesis that constitutional hardball evolved as a strategy on the Right because of cultural and demographic evolution.  How exactly is the Right supposed to respond to cultural and demographic disenfranchisement?  We aren’t going to see the invasion of cooperative strategies like Pavlov or Snowdrift IMHO.  John McClain, much like John the Baptist, is a lone voice crying in the wildneress.  The conservative public intellectuals that could have tried to lead that movement have left the party.  I think we are going to see a collapse.  Whether the collapse emerges as a civil war or a putsch, or in some even more exotic form, remains to be determined.  It seems somewhat unfair that the liberals are now expected to rescue the system by modelling forebearance and tolerance, those stellar virtues– indeed the Left’s base may revolt.  But if liberals embrace an AllD strategy like the GOP has, its Game Over isnt it?

I was so completely mistaken about the purpose and content of SSC– I initially thought it would be a good place to develop empathy for the Right, à la Arlie Hoschild.  But its not a place for discourse or discussion.  Its more like a game preserve or a zoo with Scott’s niceness/kindness protocols allowing for the perpetuation of Rightwing eumemes and doomed archaic conservative ideology.  I really failed…I came away wholly despising the SSC commentariat.

Eventually white people will be a minority…and if the US is still a democracy, they absolutely will lose power.

But then again…maybe the US will be something else.

 

Schadenfreude Post

 

Having just spent a wearying month observing and interacting with the “rationalist” community of SSC, I was somewhat surprised to see Scott Alexander indirectly link this NYT article.  I read through literally hundreds of comments fervently supporting Charles Murray Racial IQ Theory and fuming about no-platforming and “Social Justice Warriors”.  Here’s a part of the article Scott Alexander didn’t RT–

Pinker contends that “an acknowledgment of the possibility of genetic differences is a game-changer for countless specific issues. If people differ genetically in conscientiousness, intelligence, and other psychological traits, then not all differences among people in social and economic outcomes are automatically consequences of a rigged system.”

This means, according to Pinker, that “the discovery that political ideologies are partly heritable points our attention to what the common psychological threads of competing ideologies are – namely temperamental differences such as authoritarianism, conscientiousness, and openness to experience, together with intellectual differences such as intelligence. These could help pinpoint some of the common denominators beneath competing ideologies which cut across the particular hot buttons of the particular era.”

So forgive me if I’m feeling a little shadenfreude here– it will be interesting to see how well conservatives deal with between group differences between the Blue Tribe and the Red Tribe– especially if IQ is involved.

I have a feeling that this is only the beginning.

No wonder the SSC commentariat was so resistant to any discussion of social physics– social physics is empirical.

The Experiment That Failed

I’m increasingly disturbed by the ferocious polarization of America exposed by the 2016 election.  So when I read Arlie Hoschild’s book Stranger’s In Their Own Land I became all excited to scale the “empathy wall” for my own cohort (high IQ high SES high educational attainment).  The SSC commentariat is widely admired– I loved UNSONG, Scott Alexanders alternative kabbalist universe, and the two posts I was instructed to read were awesome.  I think a rationalist community is a noble goal, and the idea of a neutral space for discussion was appealing.  I could finally learn what made conservatives tick!  And scale the empathy wall.

Yet it did not go well.

This is pretty much how SSC saw me:

I was pretty much viewed as an attacker from day one– I was accused of being a troll, of being a moby, of being a sock-puppet for some banned-but-not-forgotten commenters, of being an “islamist” (apparently because I advocate islamic self-representative government instead of trying to bomb/drone muslims into secular democracy), of being a hater, of being a fake.

An SSC commenter hate-stalked my blog, made fun of my passion for social physics, chaos and complexity science, and then held a public shaming to absolve herself of all guilt and further humiliate me.

Whew.

But I persevered…I tried to change my comment style, tried to learn all the SSC jargon (muggle-realism, incels, paperclips, steelmanning, redpill etc) and learn all the SSC rules and comment-eating monster trigger-words, while weaning myself of my near-pathological addiction to domain acronym speak, and trying to obey the Steelman Protocol.

But in the end, this is how I saw the SSC commentariat– as the Zygote monster from Blomkamp’s new Oats short.  This is sadly convolved with how extremely physically repulsive Trump is to me– I guess that is the real reason I couldn’t believe Trump got elected.  In my head Trump IS the Zygote monster, all mashed together with the worst parts of the Red Tribe, a thousand grasping greedy hands beslimed with blood and fluids.  And I’m sure Red Tribers hated Obama and HRC just as much.

Yeah, I wasn’t assimilated.  I mean, I was trying to fit in when I accidentally drove my up-armored Blue Tribe tendency humvee over an IED buried in my own psyche.

I couldn’t handle the “rationalist” discussion of the utility good of killing-terrorist-families.   I should have quit right there.  To be fair, I never got brave enough to admit to the SSC commentariat that I actually am a muslim revert, whereby I might have used Augustinian circles to explain that all muslims see themselves as part of the Ummah, and that muslims are all technically one tribe.  I thought the moral universe and one tribe theory (we are all h. sapiens sapiens, so we are all one) would have prevented this kind of discussion.   But no.

And I really just couldn’t stand it, so I behaved badly.   I just can’t muster any empathy for these people.  There is a difference between empathy and sympathy.  I feel sympathy for the Red Tribe…their cultural fitness is eroding.  But that isn’t empathy.  I can’t walk in their shoes, I can’t understand them, I can’t scale the wall.

It is said that the SSC comments section is like a dinner party.  Well, I unexpectedly threw up all over the table service during the fish course.  Commenting at SSC actually pushed me way further left.  I’m more Frank Rich than Arlie Hoschild after my little jaunt into cultural tourism.

And the worst thing is, this proves Haidt’s thesis, and doesn’t help at all with mine.

My thesis is that two peer phenotypes arose in the EEA, and polarization is happening because the Red Tribe is losing fitness parity in the 21st century environment.  The CCP is breaking down…but if that’s true, we can fix it!  We can use technology to reshape the adaptive landscape.

But instead it looks like Haidt is correct. And that means there’s no technology fix.

I’m just as complicit in this as the Red Tribe–that is the depressing truth.  “I hate them.”  “They are evil.”  I want to punch-back too.  And punching-back means no more outreach, no more trying to persuade the other side, no more trying to understand them.

If they don’t want to be helped,  just leave them behind.