Guatemala Doesn’t Need Bernie Sanders

Central America has already tried his style of social justice and found it wanting.

In a Democratic debate last week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders argued that to deal with the migration crisis at the U.S. southern border, “we’ve got to ask ourselves, ‘Why are people walking 2,000 miles to a strange country where they don’t know the language?’ ”

It’s a sad day when a septuagenarian U.S. senator can’t grasp the reason for Central American poverty.

The migrants were born in countries that lack rule of law, respect for private property, and economic freedom. The nations of the Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—instead have pursued Sanders-style social justice as a path to prosperity. It’s hardly a surprise their citizens enjoy neither.

Environmental mobs close down mining projects and chase away investors. Activists block roads to shake down the government; they invade farms and steal electricity with impunity. Well aware that upward economic mobility is nearly impossible, Central Americans vote with their feet.

The prospects for change aren’t promising. Ideas matter, and for generations the global left—mostly from Europe and the U.S.—has treated the region as its sandbox, where it goes to play with policies that don’t sell at home. Central America is macerated in the collectivist bunk of this elite, who promise utopia and deliver special-interest mercantilism and corrupt statism.

This is one reason Guatemalans were freaked out Friday when their Prensa Libre newspaper reported that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would lead a congressional delegation to Guatemala City this week “to meet with civil society, businessmen and other sectors.” Her office declined to comment for security reasons. But if she is going, it is worth asking why she would visit in the week before the Aug. 11 presidential runoff election.

The election is an important milestone in Guatemalan politics, and the deciding factor may be urban turnout. Despite a solid lead in a recent poll, center-right Vamos Party candidate Alejandro Giammattei isn’t a shoo-in. If voters in the big cities stay home, social democrat Sandra Torres of the National Unity of Hope Party could prevail.

Ms. Torres was first lady during the presidency of Alvaro Colom (2008-12) but divorced him in 2011 in an attempt to circumvent a constitutional prohibition on consecutively following a spouse into the executive office. The high court didn’t buy it, but she did make an unsuccessful run in 2015.

Ms. Torres is a left-wing populist. Her party, which is known as UNE, dominates rural and small-town Guatemala. Pocketbook issues are a priority in these parts and machine politics are the name of the game. By promising things like child and elder subsidies and tin roofs, UNE maintains a solid base.

Mr. Giammattei is by no means the first choice of Guatemalan conservatives. That designation goes to Zury Ríos, daughter of the late Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, who held the presidency for less than 17 months after a 1982 coup. Ms. Ríos is a popular politician and made her own run for the presidency in 2015. This time around, the constitutional court blocked her candidacy because of her father’s role as a military dictator.

Yet Mr. Giammattei ran the prison system and pledges a tough-on-crime agenda. He says he will bring investment to the country. With UNE controlling Congress and much of the judicial branch, voters may prefer an executive check on social-democrat power.

Both candidates oppose the immigration-cooperation framework agreement that President Jimmy Morales signed with President Trump in July. The accord is short on detail, but as protocols are added, the expectation is that it will oblige Salvadorans and Hondurans who try to move north to the U.S. to apply for asylum in Guatemala. Speculation was running wild last week that Mrs. Pelosi’s visit was partly aimed at derailing the agreement for domestic American political reasons.

Both candidates promise to fight corruption, but voter apathy implies a high degree of public skepticism. The United Nations International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala—a k a CICIG—was supposed to bring about the rule of law. But somewhere along the way the left realized it could use CICIG, accountable to no one, to grab power without the fuss of elections. A judicial reign of terror, designed to silence opposition, ended only in January, when President Morales kicked CICIG out of the country.

The media ran news stories for nearly a decade that read like CICIG press releases. But in March the Guatemalan attorney general petitioned the court to arrest CICIG’s closet Guatemalan collaborator, former Attorney General Thelma Aldana, on corruption charges. As the country’s top prosecutor, she ought to have protected civil liberties. Instead she permitted the commission’s abuses while it refused calls to investigate her. Guatemalans are still trying to recover confidence in their justice system.

Ms. Aldana, who had presidential aspirations, says she is being politically persecuted. But she has fled the country rather than face trial. If voters are uninspired by their political class, and afraid of help from Democrats, who could blame them?

Blue State Blues: America’s Divisions are Not Political — They’re Religious

Broadly, the Republican Party is concerned about governance. That is why, for example, repealing and replacing Obamacare is taking so long. The Republican leadership in Washington seems genuinely concerned about passing something that works.

.. The Democratic Party is often called the “party of government.” But aside from representing public sector unions, Democrats do not care about governing — at least, not anymore. To them, power is the means to achieve a kind of secular salvation: a placid world where all are equal, all needs are met, and all are validated — something like John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Many Democrats accept that the methods they use to achieve their utopia may be harsh, even violent. The ends justify the means.

.. The two parties are not clashing: they are talking past each other, and only seem to be arguing.

.. In extremis, that means taking up arms. For most Democrats, “resistance” means denying Trump’s legitimacy and denouncing the heresy of his supporters.

.. Democrats think Republicans are the religious nuts, because of the party’s stance on social issues. But even the Bible prescribes family values for reasons that are, at least in part, practical. “Honor your father and your mother,” the Bible says (Exodus 20:12), “in order that your days be lengthened on the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you” (emphasis added, obviously).

.. Republicans believe that faith and traditional values help individuals live more fulfilling lives in an orderly society. Democrats substitute the government for God

.. They have their own internal divisions, between

  1. leftists who want the state to do everything and
  2. those who simply want to tear it down along with every other institution.

But both reject America’s founding idea of God-given individual liberty.

 

How Hungary Became a Haven for the Alt-Right

The increasingly illiberal European country offers shelter to a growing number of international nationalists.

.. Orbán’s “refugees” have been moving to Hungary, and Budapest in particular, for years. A small clique of Identitarians, or aggrieved nationalists from Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, and elsewhere, all motivated by their disdain for their home countries’ commitment to liberal values, have found an ideological match in his Hungary, where two extreme far-right parties, the governing Fidesz and Jobbik, the largest opposition party, make up most of the National Assembly.

Jobbik is the first European political party to champion a border wall. Its members frequently express open anti-Semitic and anti-Roma sentiments, and prioritize the preservation of “Hungary for the Hungarians.

.. they have created a structured propaganda circuit, in the hopes of spreading their ideas far and wide.

.. At the center of the scene is a publishing house called Arktos Media. It is routinely referred to as the preeminent publisher of the alt-right

.. Dugin’s “ethnonationalism,” a belief in the creation of ethnically homogenous nation states, has been championed by white nationalists, who argue that Europe and America are innately white nations.

.. Arktos titles largely promote a viewpoint it characterizes as “alternatives to modernity” that are critical of liberalism, human rights, and modern democracy.

 .. he argues that multiculturalism and liberal human rights—what he calls “cultural Marxism”—have been the dominant culture since the fall of Nazism, and outlines how transforming this culture space is necessary for political and social change.
.. In 2014, Jobbik’s popularity surged, thanks to a platform that pledged to preserve Hungarian ethnic purity.
.. These are people with an almost medieval view on the world and they find a safe haven in Hungary,” Kréko told me.
.. multiculturalism is the supreme enemy
.. Both believe in draconian immigration laws based on ethnic and racial preservation.
.. 20th-century intellectual fascist Julius Evola’s A Handbook For Right-Wing Youth
.. Evola, who White House chief strategist Steve Bannon quoted in a 2014 speech at the Vatican, is considered by academics as “possibly the most important intellectual figure for the Radical Right in contemporary Europe.”
.. Marton Gyöngyösi, another key politician in Jobbik credited with calling for all Jews in Hungary to be registered on a list.
.. Jobbik’s resistance to immigration, he said, is limited to people from “Africa or the Middle East,” because they do not share the same “cultural values” as Hungarians, as opposed to the “Austrians or Polish or American people who come to our country and who share the same civilization, the same religion, or the same values or way of life.”
.. Friberg has sought to obscure his violent transgressions under a cover of intellectual legitimacy.
.. He has spent his far-right career repackaging eugenicist ideology by rebranding the same or similar material with words such as “identitarian,” “traditionalist,” or “archeofuturist.”
.. Michael Polignano, co-founder of Counter-Currents, moved to Budapest in 2016, and joined the nationalist scene. After moving to Hungary in January 2017, men’s rights activist Matt Forney wrote:
“Imagine there’s no leftists. It’s easy if you try. No protests in the streets, and in front of us, only cute white girls. That world exists, and it’s called Hungary.”
.. YouTube and Twitter personality RamZPaul, who has lived in the Hungarian capital off and on since 2013, tweeted in February to nearly 35,000 followers: “Budapest is like Paris of the 1920s. #Hungary.”
.. British Nationalist Party leader Nick Griffin .. has been deeply involved with a radical Christian organization called “The Knights Templar International,”
.. a resettlement campaign called “Operation Ark” for “refugee” South African Boers to relocate to rural Hungary
.. Breitbart is now rumored to be opening a Hungarian office in the near future
.. these nationalist internationals are creating a sanctuary from which to broadcast anti-globalism across the globe.

Oregon Was Founded As a Racist Utopia

When Oregon was granted statehood in 1859, it was the only state in the Union admitted with a constitution that forbade black people from living, working, or owning property there. It was illegal for black people even to move to the state until 1926. Oregon’s founding is part of the forgotten history of racism in the American west.

 Waddles Coffee Shop in Portland, Oregon was a popular restaurant in the 1950s for both locals and travelers alike. The drive-in catered to America’s postwar obsession with car culture, allowing people to get coffee and a slice of pie without even leaving their vehicle. But if you happened to be black, the owners of Waddles implored you to keep on driving. The restaurant had a sign outside with a very clear message: “White Trade Only — Please.”
.. According to Oregon’s founding constitution, black people were not permitted to live in the state. And that held true until 1926.
.. Today, while 13 percent of Americans are black, just 2 percent of Oregon’s population is black.
.. the summer of 1844, for example, the Legislative Committee passed a provision that said any free black people who were in the state would be subject to flogging if they didn’t leave within two years. The floggings were supposed to continue every six months until they left the territory.
That provision was revised in December of 1845 to remove the flogging part. Instead, free black people who remained would be offered up “publicly for hire” to any white person who would remove them from the territory.
.. Roughly 75 percent of voters opted to reject the adoption of slavery. The second measure was whether or not to exclude black people from the state. About 89 percent of voters cast their vote in favor of excluding black and mixed race people from the state.
.. The voters who overwhelmingly embraced this exclusion rationalized it not as blind hate, but as a progressive move that was simply keeping their new land “pure.” Utopia often means starting from scratch, and just as often it means excluding undesirables.

.. It was largely an expression against any mingling of the white with any of the other races, and upon a theory that as we had yet no considerable representation of other races in our midst, we should do nothing to encourage their introduction. We were building a new state on virgin ground; it’s people believed it should encourage only the best elements to come to us, and discourage others.

This language about virgin ground and “the best elements,” burned into law in the new state, was used as a recruitment tool for other white Americans in the latter half of the 19th century — many of whom were white “refugees” from the south who were fleeing the dissolution of slavery.

.. “If you look at some of the recruiting materials, in essence they’re saying come and build the kind of white homeland, the kind of white utopia that you dream of,” Imarisha said. “Other communities of color were also controlled, not with exclusion laws, but the populations were kept purposefully small because the idea behind it was about creating explicitly a white homeland.”

.. Though Asian people were not specifically called out in Oregon’s constitutional exclusion laws, the white people of many towns large and small did their best to drive out non-white people any time they got the chance.

As just one example, the white people of La Grande burned that city’s Chinatown to the ground in 1893.

 .. In 1922 the Klan in Oregon boasted membership of over 14,000 men, with 9,000 of them living in Portland.
.. In 1923, Oregon governor, Walter M. Pierce, and Portland mayor George L. Baker, attended and spoke at a dinner in honor of Grand Dragon Frederick L. Gifford’s birthday.
.. The Telegram was one of the few newspapers in Oregon to openly oppose the Klan at the height of its power in the state.
.. People of color were naturally a target for the Klan during this period, but with so few people to irrationally hate for the color of their skin, they turned to campaigns against other groups like Catholics.

Buck to the future

He’s a forgotten hippie idol, a sage of 1960s counterculture. What can we learn from Bucky Fuller’s faith in technology?

Marshall McLuhan, that other great hippie hero, heralded Fuller as ‘the Leonardo da Vinci of our time’

.. He compiled many of his sage-like musings – as well as his laundry bills and other irrelevancies – in 4.5 tonnes’ worth of scrapbooks, known as the Dymaxion Chronofile; in this manner, he recorded his life in 15-minute chunks for more than 60 years.

.. Implicit in their concept is an acknowledgement that human nature is wasteful and unreliable, resistant to fixing itself. Instead, Fuller put his faith in technology as a means to tame the messiness of humankind. ‘I would never try to reform man – that’s much too difficult,’

.. Far wiser, Fuller thought, to build technology that circumvents the flaws in human behaviour – that is, ‘to modify the environment in such a way as to get man moving in preferred directions’. Instead of human-led design, he sought design-led humans.

.. He was a keen neologist, believing in the capacity of new words and phrases to create fresh imaginative possibilities, using his terms like struts to hold up his ideas.

.. Long before Occupy Wall Street, Fuller noted that the richest 1 per cent of people grew even richer at the expense of the other 99 per cent.

.. So much was invested in the status quo that no one – designers, industrialists, financiers, scientists – worked hard enough at the fundamental task of original thinking. Meanwhile, the planet was tumbling towards a crisis, running out of energy and fouling up the environment. In other words, we’re in for ‘an absolute revolution of humanity’, as Fuller put it in Everything I Know.

.. The house, which cost $6,500 and weighed three tons, didn’t have to be hooked up to municipal lines for electricity, sewage or water. In a world without borders – an ideal world, in Fuller’s view – the Dymaxion House could be airlifted to a fresh location on a whim.

.. The house was to be mass-produced on factory floors, out of plastic and metal, each unit indistinguishable from the other as a matter of principle and to keep the cost down. But throughout the 1930s, most of the processes and materials required to build the house – light, strong plastics; high-tension alloys; bioreactors – didn’t yet exist.

.. The Dymaxion House remained perpetually imminent, a Fullerian prophecy of how people could and should live. Fuller imagined that efficient, modular construction would liberate its residents, so that they could spend their newfound free time learning and thinking. But the design made no allowance for the owner’s preferences, or for how topography and weather varied from place to place. For an avidly industrialised society, the home, and the human within it, had becomepure machine.

.. And when his inventions – the house, the car, the bathroom– proved stillborn, he became a futurist. In the 1960s, he stopped building things he thought the world required and started forecasting those requirements instead.

.. His concept of ‘Spaceship Earth’, an attempt to convey the fragility and celestial loneliness of the planet and its ecosystem, was an inspiration for the publication of the Whole Earth Catalog, the magazine that became the counterculture’s manifesto-in-progress.

.. With a nimble system of education, environmental design and efficient planning, Fuller was convinced that scientists and corporations could do more with less. His thinking was analogous, in some ways, to that of McLuhan, who celebrated the way mass media was extending the notion of the human being.

.. Fuller’s advocacy of technology as a salve for the wounds of modernity found a fierce critic in the sociologist Lewis Mumford, who longed for a more organic humanism. The two men proposed such contrasting versions of the future that Horizon magazine wondered, in 1968: ‘Which guide to the Promised Land? Fuller or Mumford?’

.. In an acid passage from 1956 that might have been aimed squarely at Fuller and his bubble-domed cities, Mumford wrote:

If the goal of human history is a uniform type of man, reproducing at a uniform rate, in a uniform environment, kept at a constant temperature, pressure and humidity, like a uniformly lifeless existence, with his uniform physical needs satisfied by uniform goods… most of the problems of human development would disappear. Only one problem would remain: why should anyone, even a computer, bother to keep this kind of creature alive?

.. This was the quintessential Fuller paradox: he doubted our ability to mend our imperfections, but he was confident in our facility to develop technologies that can outwit them.

Web Design: The First 100 Years

Unless you are an airplane nerd, you would be hard pressed to distinguish the 787 from its grandfather.

And in fact, this revolutionary new plane flies slower than the 707.

The basic configuration of an airliner has not changed in sixty years. You have a long tube, swept wings with multiple engines mounted underneath, and a top speed of around 900 kph.

So what happened to the future?

.. The Russians got in on it too, with a plane derisively called the Concordeski. This proved too loud and unreliable for passenger service, so it ended up being a transport jet. It carried fruits and vegetables from Central Asia at twice the speed of sound.

..Because the technologies we had were good enough. It turned out that very few people needed to cross an ocean in three hours instead of six hours. On my way to this conference, I flew from Switzerland to San Francisco. It took eleven hours and cost me around a thousand dollars. It was a long flight and kind of uncomfortable and boring. But I crossed the planet in half a day!

Being able to get anywhere in the world in a day is really good enough.

.. So despite appearances, despite the feeling that things are accelerating and changing faster than ever, I want to make the shocking prediction that the Internet of 2060 is going to look recognizably the same as the Internet today.

.. Intel could probably build a 20 GHz processor, just like Boeing can make a Mach 3 airliner. But they won’t. There’s a corrollary to Moore’s law, that every time you double the number of transistors, your production costs go up. Every two years, Intel has to build a completely new factory and production line for this stuff. And the industry is turning away from super high performance, because most people don’t need it.

.. So the world of the near future is one of power constrained devices in a bandwidth-constrained environment. It’s very different from the recent past, where hardware performance went up like clockwork, with more storage and faster CPUs every year.

..But all this exponential growth has given us terrible habits. One of them is to discount the present.

When things are doubling, the only sane place to be is at the cutting edge. By definition, exponential growth means the thing that comes next will be equal in importance to everything that came before. So if you’re not working on the next big thing, you’re nothing.

This leads to a contempt for the past. Too much of what was created in the last fifty years is gone because no one took care to preserve it.

.. Since I run a bookmarking site for a living, I’ve done a little research on link rot myself. Bookmarks are different from regular URLs, because presumably anything you’ve bookmarked was once worth keeping. What I’ve learned is, about 5% of this disappears every year, at a pretty steady rate. A customer of mine just posted how 90% of what he saved in 1997 is gone. This is unfortunately typical.

.. It’s 2014, and consider one hot blogging site, Medium. On a late-model computer it takes me ten seconds for a Medium page (which is literally a formatted text file) to load and render. This experience was faster in the sixties.

The web is full of these abuses, extravagant animations and so on, forever a step ahead of the hardware, waiting for it to catch up.

.. The cult of growth has led us to a sterile, centralized web. And having burned through all the easy ideas within our industry, we’re convinced that it’s our manifest destiny to start disrupting everyone else.

Vision 1: CONNECT KNOWLEDGE, PEOPLE, AND CATS.
This is the correct vision.

.. Vision 2: FIX THE WORLD WITH SOFTWARE

This is the prevailing vision in Silicon Valley.

The world is just one big hot mess, an accident of history. Nothing is done as efficiently or cleverly as it could be if it were designed from scratch by California programmers. The world is a crufty legacy system crying out to be optimized.

.. Marc Andreessen has this arresting quote, that ‘software is eating the world.’ He is happy about it. The idea is that industry after industry is going to fall at the hands of programmers who automate and rationalize it.

We started with music and publishing. Then retailing. Now we’re apparently doing taxis. We’re going to move a succession of industries into the cloud, and figure out how to do them better. Whether we have the right to do this, or whether it’s a good idea, are academic questions that will be rendered moot by the unstoppable forces of Progress. It’s a kind of software Manifest Destiny.

.. Consider how fundamentally undemocratic this vision of the Web is. Because the Web started as a technical achievement, technical people are the ones who get to call the shots. We decide how to change the world, and the rest of you have to adapt.
There is something quite colonial, too, about collecting data from users and repackaging it to sell back to them. I think of it as the White Nerd’s Burden.

Vision 3: BECOME AS GODS, IMMORTAL CREATURES OF PURE ENERGY LIVING IN A CRYSTALLINE PARADISE OF OUR OWN CONSTRUCTION

This is the insane vision. I’m a little embarrassed to talk about it, because it’s so stupid. But circumstances compel me.

.. Here’s Ray Kurzweil, a man who honestly and sincerely believes he is never going to die. He works at Google. Presumably he stays at Google because he feels it advances his agenda.

Google works on some loopy stuff in between plastering the Internet with ads.

.. If you think your job is to FIX THE WORLD WITH SOFTWARE, then the web is just the very beginning. There’s a lot of work left to do. Really you’re going to need sensors in every house, and it will help if everyone looks through special goggles, and if every refrigerator can talk to the Internet and confess its contents.

.. And if you think that the purpose of the Internet is to BECOME AS GODS, IMMORTAL CREATURES OF PURE ENERGY LIVING IN A CRYSTALLINE PARADISE OF OUR OWN INVENTION, then your goal is total and complete revolution. Everything must go.
The future needs to get here as fast as possible, because your biological clock is ticking!

The first group wants to CONNECT THE WORLD.

The second group wants to EAT THE WORLD.

And the third group wants to END THE WORLD.

These visions are not compatible.

.. We see businesses that don’t produce anything and run at an astonishing loss valued in the billions of dollars.

We see a whole ecosystem of startups and businesses that seem to exist only to serve one other, or the needs of very busy and very rich tech workers in a tiny sliver of our world.

.. We live in a world now where not millions but billions of people work in rice fields, textile factories, where children grow up in appalling poverty. Of those billions, how many are the greatest minds of our time? How many deserve better than they get? What if instead of dreaming about changing the world with tomorrow’s technology, we used today’s technology and let the world change us? Why do we need to obsess on artificial intelligence, when we’re wasting so much natural intelligence?