Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Black recruit percentage down 41 percent since 2000

http://montages.blogspot.com/2005/03/black-army-recruits-down-41-since-2000.html

Update: here's a quote and rather denunciatory comment:

Yoshie:> The volunteer military in the United States depends on the working-> poor draft. Rather than drafting the poorest of the poor (whose> physical health is too poor, whose education too neglected, whose> criminal record too extensive, whose attitudes too badass, etc.), the> Pentagon preys on the sons and daughters of the working poor (those> whose parents are relatively regularly employed, earn too much [the> household income of $25,000-40,000 heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/loader.cfm?url..85094>] to qualify for most or all forms of means-> tested public assistance and need-based grants [cf. "Department of> Education to Tighten Pell Grant Eligibility," 2004/EDUCATION/12/23/pell.grants/>], etc., and yet too poor not to> worry about paying bills, especially big-ticket items like health> care and children's' college tuitions).

I think this statement perfectly exemplifies what is wrong with the US Left- its fundamentalist religious belief in a myth, and its inability to thinkcritically beyond that myth. If empirical evidence contradicts that myththe effort is taken to neutralize the evidence rather than revise the myth.Just like the countless dupes all over the world who live miserableexistence and wait for Jesus Christ, Allah, or some other mythicalfather-like figure in the sky to deliver them from their misery if they onlysay the right magic word. I was always curious what makes the human mind fall into the trap of suchreality-defying mythology. People are naturally endowed with intellectualability to think rationally and critically, and many of them, such as Yoshieand others on this list, seem to be otherwise intelligent, thoughtful andcritically thinking people, yet they succumb to reality-defying mythologyfrom time to time. The philosopher of science Imre Lakatos observed a similar tendency amongscientists. Contrary to the conventional view of scientific inquiry whichholds that theories hold as long as they are not refuted by evidence,Lakatos proposed that theories are often preserved in the face ofcontradicting evidence, and efforts are made to insulate the theory fromcontradicting evidence. He called it "problemshifting," which involved twostrategies, progressive and regressive. Progressive problmeshifting isdevising some conceptual contraption that explains the contradictingevidence without undermining the core assumptions of the theory to beprotected (e.g. implied non-rational motivation of human actors to explainthe poor predictive power of the rational-choice model). Regressiveproblemshift is reducing the empirical scope of the theory to be protected,usually by recourse to abstract speculation (e.g. mathematical modeling ineconomics, or linguistic contrivances in "post-modern" theory), or byregression to the founding "principles" (e.g. in certain strains ofCatholic thought in Europe that reduces modernity to philosophicaldiscourses of the antiquity and the medieval times, or in certain strains ofMarxism that reduces modernity to the fundamentals of the Marxist canon). With that in mind, the "working poor draft" and other populist leftistdogmas, such as that the poor have no responsibility for their own actions,and that responsibility rests solely with the elites, or that the existinginstitutional order is nothing but a conspiracy of the elite, are examplesof the regressive problemshift by regression to the founding "principles" ormyths in this particular case.While the mechanisms of "problemshifting" seem to be relatively clear tounderstand, the motives behind it are not. Why do people stick to theirbeliefs or delusions in face of contradicting evidence? Possible explanations range from vested interests in maintaining the statusquo to an affective disorder that makes people fearful of change,uncertainty and ambiguity. The latter obviously requires a psychologicalanalysis of the affected individuals on the pain of becoming a merespeculation and imputation of motives. I will thus leave it as apossibility.On the other hand, vested interest in maintaining the status quo seems tooffer some interesting explanations. Market niche for leftist mythologiesis rather narrow, and that may explain why the producers of such mythologieshave high stakes in maintaining the conventional left myths. Changing theconventional story may reduce the appeal of the myth maker to the alreadysmall market, and put him or her out of business altogether if the marketniches for the new genre is not found - which is a big if. So it is saferto stick to the old trite myths than try new ones. Looking at this form a broader perspective, I think I can understand whywhat passes for the US left tends to be (with exceptions, of course) sogoofy and out of touch. Unlike the European left which maintains itsdistinct institutional power and identity - which also secures aconsiderable market for its intellectual product - the US opposition andprotest movements tend to follow a different trajectory - that of theassimilation to the mainstream. That was suggested, inter alia, by WilliamGamson (_Strategy of the social protest_) who studied various socialmovements throughout hundred fifty or so years of the US history, or ThedaSkocpol (e.g. _Protecting Soldiers and Mothers_ and _Social policy in theUnited States_) who argued that the unusual openness and inclusiveness ofthe US political system was a key factor preventing the crystallization oflabor as a political and institutional force. Stated differently, because of the relatively open and poorly delineatednature of the US party system, the protest movements - or at least itsrational elements - tend to be absorbed into the amorphous mainstream ratherthan crystallizing as a major and separate institutional force. What isleft are more uncompromising, wacky, goofy or simply irrational elementsthat resist "being assimilated" and prefer to live marginal politicalexistence on the periphery. This is why what is distinctively labeled as"left" in this country - as opposed to "liberal or social-democraticmainstream" - seems to be so wacky, irrational, and goofy. The fact of thematter is, however, that these are the fringe elements that would remain onthe periphery of any political system, not just the one with a conservativeleaning, such as the US. I can also understand why European-born lefties, such as Hitchens or forthat matter this writer, become so disillusioned with the US left (point ofclarification, unlike Hitchens I do NOT contemplate defecting to theopposing camp.) They seem to mis-apply the European political categories,which have ample room for the left as being aseparate-yet-part-of-the-mainstream force, to the US, where the mainstreamleft is difficult to distinguish from the Democratic Party, and what islabeled left is mainly fringe cults. As a result they treat these fringeleftish cults as if they were mainstream left and become progressivelyannoyed with their fundamentalism and irrationality. I certainly understand why folks like Hitchens got finally fed up with thisunreasonable attachment of what passes for the "left" to reality-defyingmythologies - albeit I am less clear why he de facto joined the rightinstead of simply embracing the left elements of the Democratic Party. Thelatter is what I would rather do.

Wojtek

next in thread

ps: here's a sharp crit of the Heritage crowd (see earlier exchanges between Lacny and Henwood for context):

Doug asks:> Why the fuck are you so angry all the time, anyway?

Because I am full of hatred and envy, as all leftists are. I read that in a Heritage Foundation pamphlet, too. johnlacny.com

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