Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Behold a dancing Russian bear

David Seaton's News Links
A long time reader of this blog, RC of Puerto Rico, kindly sent me a link to a blog I had never heard of:
"ClubOrlov", which is the work of a Leningrad born, Russian-American Engineer named Dimitri Orlov.

Thank you RC, because Orlov is very, very good.


Some of what he writes is so good that I found myself muttering, "Gee I wish I'd said that", while the ghost of Oscar Wilde whispered softly in my ear, "You probably will, David".

Without further adoo I'll clip some juicy bits from a post called "That Bastion of American Socialism" which prints out at seven A4 pages of Times Roman 12point in MS Word. However quite a few authors (Zakaria, Friedman, for example) say much less in books that run to hundreds of pages
Over the past few months the American mainstream chatter has experienced a sudden spike in the gratuitous use of the term "Socialist." It was prompted by the attempts of the federal government to resuscitate insolvent financial institutions.(...) there is nothing remotely socialist to Henry Paulson's "no banker left behind" bail-out strategy, or to Ben Bernanke's "buy one – get one free" deal on the US Dollar (offered only to well-connected friends) or to any of the other measures, either attempted or considered, to slow the collapse of the US economy. A nationalization of the private sector can indeed be called socialist, but only when it is carried out by a socialist government. In absence of this key ingredient, a perfect melding of government and private business is, in fact, the gold standard of fascism. But nobody is crying "Fascism!" over what has been happening in the US. (...) As a practical matter, failing at capitalism does not automatically make you socialist, no more than failing at marriage automatically make you gay. Even if desperation makes you randy for anything that is warm-blooded and doesn't bite, the happily gay lifestyle is not automatically there for the taking. There are the matters of grooming, and manners, and interior decoration to consider, and these take work, just like anything else.
Then there is a delicious paragraph where Orlov talks about Socialism in education:
Let us start with the observation that intelligence, and the ability to benefit from higher education, occur more or less randomly within a human population. The genetic and environmental variation is such that it is not even conceivable to breed people for high intellectual abilities, although, as a look at any number of aristocratic lineages will tell you, it is most certainly possible to breed blue-blooded imbeciles. Thus, offering higher education to those whose parents can afford it is a way to squander resources on a great lot of pampered nincompoops while denying education to working class minds that might actually soak it up and benefit from it. A case in point: why exactly was it a good idea to send George W. Bush to Yale, and then to Harvard Business School? A wanton misallocation of resources, wouldn't you agree? At this point, I doubt that I would get an argument even from his own parents. Perhaps in retrospect they would have been happier to let someone more qualified decide whether young George should have grown up to incompetently send men into battle or to competently polish hub caps down on the corner.
That is about the best short description of the failure of the US educational system that I have ever seen.

Then in one paragraph of
blazing economy he positively eviscerates and disposes of every conservative argument that has been around for the last thirty years.
You might also think that it is unfettered free enterprise that has made mainstream American society the economically stratified, downwardly mobile and economically insecure place that it is, which is just as it should be. Alas, that argument is no longer plausible: the flip side of a socialist defeat is a capitalist defeat. No matter what your political persuasion might be, there is simply no way that an economically insecure, badly educated, badly treated population can be made to thrive, and this sets the stage for some very bad economic performance. As the economy collapses and economic losses mount, social and political instability become inevitable.
Then he lets some air out of the Obama balloon:
Currently, a great many people are filled with hope that the incoming Obama administration will bring much-needed change. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama inherits an office much tainted by his predecessor, whose attempt at securing his legacy included a clandestine trip to Baghdad where, when he attempted to speak of victory, someone threw shoes at him and called him a filthy dog, all on international television. The US presidency is now a carnival side show(...) Due to a certain quirk of the national character, most Americans have trouble understanding that honor is something you lose exactly once.(...) There are countries, in the Muslim part of the world especially, where honor is of paramount importance, and having the highest office in the land turned into a laughing-stock is not conducive to securing their support.
After that Orlov dispatches Obama's stimulus plans and then, in a grand finale worthy of Jonathan Swift he makes a "Modest Proposal" on how to bring socialism to America.

But that you are going to have to go and read for yourselves.

Have fun! DS

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The notion that a good portion of a person's intelligence is not genetically determined is pure nonsense; the inevitable exceptions do not disprove the rule.

oldfatherwilliam said...

Thanks to RC and to you for this. An extended piece of truth is a marvelous thing, and the ability to recognise one is another.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Anon,
I think you've got it wrong, what Orlov is saying is:
______________________
"Let us start with the observation that intelligence, and the ability to benefit from higher education, occur more or less randomly within a human population. The genetic and environmental variation is such that it is not even conceivable to breed people for high intellectual abilities, although, as a look at any number of aristocratic lineages will tell you, it is most certainly possible to breed blue-blooded imbeciles."
_____________________
The example of Dubya going to Yale and Harvard is a perfect example of what Orlov means, in my humble opinion.

RC said...

Thanks for letting more people know about Orlov. I wish I could get more involved with his outlook, but so much of it now is about having a sailboat and I am not seaworthy, at least by sail. I do agree with his seagoing solutions, I just can't deal with the motion sickness.
On the other hand, primarily because of his influence over the past two years, I do grow a lot of food and I do encourage everyone in the neighborhood to do the same.
The gentleman {Orlov} is funny in a Samuel Clemens sort of way, and close to the Clemens level of writing talent.