Selfish immigrants

In the debate over whether to admit refugees and immigrants from certain countries, you’d find some immigrants being for or tacitly approving of banning them. On the face of it, it would seem like an illogical choice. These immigrants should know what it is like to want to come to the US. Why would they be for banning unless there is a good rationale? The rationale here being that the banned immigrants and refugees might be potential terrorists or that they bring with them a regressive worldview that is at odds with the values of the US. So these model immigrants are paraded as examples of why Trump’s immigration policy isn’t bigoted. You see, if immigrants themselves are afraid, Trump must have a good reason for what he is doing.

But there is another explanation for it. Immigrants from countries like India come from the wealthiest echelons of the country. And this class has a selfishness that is deeply embedded in them. In a monstrously unequal society like India, any concern for the less fortunate contradicts the desire lead a content life. You can’t enjoy your wealth while knowing that there are millions who can’t even afford basic nutrition. So we rationalize. We justify our lifestyles. Ignoring suffering becomes second nature to us, something we do unthinkingly. A system 1 response. This ingrained indifference manifests in our everyday acts – whether it be dumping garbage next door (only keeping our house clean matters) or cutting lines. The cream of the Indian society that makes up for almost all immigrants in the US is selfish by nature unless they’ve consciously deprogrammed that selfishness. And I bet same is the case for immigrants from many other countries.

It is this selfishness that drives these immigrants to be in favor or Trump’s policies. Their thinking is that they are already in. They don’t care if the gate is closed behind them. There is nothing logical about their support. So remember this whenever you see anyone parading these model immigrants as proof that the Trump administration is acting in a rational way.

During the election campaign, Trump complained about outdated immigration laws alluding to the 1965 immigration law that lifted restrictions on which nationalities can immigrate to the US. Being the ignoramus that he is, it is likely that Trump was briefed by either Steve Bannon or Jeff Sessions on how the 1965 law made America not great.

Now here is Jeff Sessions asserting that a 1924 law, which was aimed at preserving the racial makeup of the then US, lead to the growth of America.

There is a panic over increasing numbers of non-white ethnicities and a desire to preserve or roll back to earlier levels of racial makeup. The alt-reich believes that the US currently has open borders where anyone can waltz in, even though the reality is that it is pretty hard to get a US Visa. This racism is what gave us Trump. That is why his anti-immigration stance won him so many supporters.

Understand the grievances of Trump voters, we’re asked. Don’t rush to judgements, we’re implored. Look at what identity politics and political correctness have wrought, we’re warned.

Here’s a comment found on Brietbart, the alt-reich’s premier web platform. What “grievance” turned Obama into a Muslim? Which “identity politics” made the White House a “mosque”? What “political correctness” made immigrants “untraecable” when in reality we all have to be fingerprinted and DHS has broad authority on checking up on where we live and work?

An alt-reich racist whining about Obama

Trump liberals

Here’s yet another think piece on how identity politics gave us Trump. All of these think pieces ignore the inconvenient fact that Trump lost the popular vote. The difference between a Trump win and a loss was a few hundred thousand votes in a few swing states. That was all it took for some liberals to bend over backwards to understand the voters in those few states. These voters get such a huge benefit of doubt that we are asked to consider the possibility that they didn’t vote based on Trump’s explicit misogyny and racism. Fine, consider that possibility by all means. But have these liberals ever given identity politics the same benefit of doubt? Even at it’s worse, identity politics is not capable of putting the left-wing equivalent of Trump and Breitbart in the white house. So wither the understanding quest for the reasons identity politics exist?

The parsimonious explanation for the double standards is that these liberals never really believed that the reasons for the existence of identity politics have any validity. Remember how Dawkins belittled Rebecca Watson for expressing minor discomfort at being sexually objectified? I assert that all these liberals are of the same mould. They think the entirety of modern day feminism and anti-racism activism are baseless. This isn’t about activists going overboard with identity politics, but a wholesale rejection of issues surrounding gender and race. People voting for a misogynist and a racist are deserving of understanding because they have economic grievances. But people who have grievances about gender and race, but act in divisive ways, don’t deserve the slightest bit of understanding.

Instead of reasoning with Trump voters these liberals take the easy way out and blame identity politics. What is stopping them from reasoning with Republican voters who for decades have held very harmful beliefs – from creationism to climate change denial, from Ayn Randism to opposing everything Obama does? How about asking those voters to understand issues that affect a different majority of Americans? Sick and tired of these Trump liberals building arguments based on their self-interests and passing it off as genuine concern for all Americans.

Post the election result, the normalization of Trump has already begun. I get the temptation as I’ve felt it myself – surely he won’t be that bad? Even if he is, we have checks and balances right? But we’ve seen how a repulsive man like him can get his will done. The “checks and balances” of the Republican primaries failed. Even though many Republicans were horrified with Trump, they rallied behind him. Not doing so would have been the end of their political careers. When the choice is between a great personal loss vs an even greater harm to society, most people will choose avoiding that personal loss. If such a choice were before me, maybe I would too.

So the dynamic we saw in Republican party would play out in a Trump presidency too. It’s very likely that any Republican who stands against Trump would earn a tweet from him and their career ended. And meanwhile there are also a few liberals missing the elephant in the room and looking for answers elsewhere – like did SJWs or PC cause this? Should we try to understand Trump voters more? Understand them by all means, but realize that such understanding puts little dent in the choice that Trump gives to his own party members and to his voters who dislike him and yet stand to benefit from some of his policies. The need of the hour is to be wary of the process that got him here. Hold people accountable to their choices. Not rationalize the choices and explain them away.

Ilium and Olympos

Ilium and its sequel Olympos, by Dan Simmons, have their moments of brilliance. But they aren’t as good as his Hyperion series. Hyperion had novel, fresh ideas that worked towards telling a story. While Ilium and Olympos too can boast of such ideas, their relevance to the story is secondary. The primary purpose of the books is to weave literary works like Homer’s Iliad and Shakespeare’s The Tempest with science-fiction. Because of this the books seem a bit contrived as Simmons can’t really follow an idea through it’s logical conclusion and instead has to shoehorn them to fit in with the ideas from the literary works.

The other jarring problem in the books is the sexual objectification of the woman characters. I suppose in staying true to the old literary works, Simmons had to sexualize woman, but I think his choice goes deeper than that. Evidence for this comes from one of the main characters who expressed disdain for political correctness and Simmon’s dedication of the second book to Harold Bloom, someone who railed again social criticism of art.

As if to leave no room for doubt, Simmons adds an unnecessary rape scene where one character has to have sex with a women who is in suspended animation. Simmons is aware that this is rape and so actually mentions it through the thoughts of the rapist, but when the victim wakes up, she assures the rapist that it needed to be done and there was no other way. The reason being DNA transfer via the semen of a particular ancestral line to which the rapist belongs to. In the imaginative realm of sci-fi there are multitudes of other ways to transfer DNA. So this is an extremely contrived plot point which doesn’t contribute anything to the story other than to make a political point.

On communism and free markets

In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Piketty makes a passing reference on why abolishing private capital is undesirable. It prevents people from propagating alternative viewpoints as organizing and communicating ideas requires capital. The state won’t provide this capital especially if the views are subversive to the state.

Of course, this isn’t a new observation. Milton Friedman elaborated on it in his book Capitalism and Freedom. But then Friedman proceeds to conclude that since communism is wont to become totalitarian, free markets are the solution. His rationale is that that power should never be allowed to concentrate and nothing screams power concentration like a totalitarian regime.

However, free markets themselves can create massive power concentrations. Even if we achieve a minimal government which protects basic freedoms and property rights, and lets markets do their thing, it is almost guaranteed that whoever amasses enough capital through markets will group together and interfere with the functioning of the government. At that point, the government is no longer minimal. And power has become centralized.

So free markets aren’t the solution either. Markets regulated by a democratic government are. Democracies seem to allow distribution of power with the least amount of violence.