Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Megan McArdle Is The Good German

"A People that help themselves!"

I won't be around much for the next week but I will try to post if I can.

Meanwhile, let's take a quick look at McArdle's latest crime against nature. In her continuing effort to placate the masses, McArdle once again takes up arms against the elite and their dreadfully unfair treatment of the little people. McArdle begins by saying she didn't really expect it, but Britain voted to leave the EU.
It turned out my anecdata from the airport did better than the polls. And way, way better than the betting markets, which as late as 7 p.m. in the Eastern U.S. gave “Remain” a 96 percent chance of winning. Betting markets failed worse than polls, worse than a casual survey in an airport. They failed, because as the blogger Epicurean Dealmaker pointed out on Twitter, “Markets distill the biases, opinions, & convictions of elites,” which makes them “Structurally less able to predict populist movements.”
The inability of those elites to grapple with the rich world’s populist moment was in full display on social media last night. Journalists and academics seemed to feel that they had not made it sufficiently clear that people who oppose open borders are a bunch of racist rubes who couldn’t count to 20 with their shoes on, and hence will believe any daft thing they’re told. Given how badly this strategy had just failed, this seemed a strange time to be doubling down. But perhaps, like the fellow I once saw lose a packet by betting on 17 for 20 straight turns of the roulette wheel, they reasoned that the recent loss actually makes a subsequent victory more likely, since the number has to come up sometime.
Once again we see McArdle define the elite as journalists and academics, that is, liberals, the better to avoid the entire subject of the real elite, who have created a system to extract wealth for themselves and impose austerity on the poor. The elite also paid for an incredible amount of propaganda so the ire of the poor would concentrate on the powerless, not the people who stole their wealth.

It worked. Propaganda usually does. Now we have Trump and Brexit and all the other indications that inflicting unnecessary suffering on the lower classes so the upper classes can buy third homes or wives or countries is not a wise method of governance.
Or perhaps they were just unable to grasp what I noted in a column last week: that nationalism and place still matter, and that elites forget this at their peril. A lot people do not view their country the way some elites do: as though the nation were something like a rental apartment -- a nice place to live, but if there are problems, or you just fancy a change, you’ll happily swap it for a new one.
McArdle has thrown herself head first into easing the way for fascism. She is now supporting nativism and racism, the better to support the elite's repression of the poor. She is no different from a German woman writer in the 1930s, saying that one really can't blame people for hating the Jews, seeing as how the Jewish elite are victimizing the poor, oppressed German people. She is a Good German, and there is no lower creature on earth.

She would never raise a hand against anyone else. She would never quote racist phrases or words. She just tells her readers that racism and nationalism is perfectly natural and right. Any violence that might result is not her fault-her hands are clean. See, she just washed them in public!
In many ways, members of the global professional class have started to identify more with each other than they have with the fellow residents of their own countries. Witness the emotional meltdown many American journalists have been having over Brexit.
To McArdle, a journalist is a person who reports what's happening through a bias filter. Neutrality is not even a factor.
Well, here's one journalist who is not having a meltdown. I think Brexit will be somewhat costly -- if you want to understand just how complicated the separation will be, take a gander at the primer that the law firm Dechert put up for its clients -- but it’s not going to destroy the country or start a war, so if Britain wants out, then … bon voyage. I can certainly understand why my British friends who supported Remain are upset, and why people in other countries who are actually going to experience long-term effects from this decision are unhappy—if I were a Pole, I’d be worried as heck. But I don’t take it personally.
It's All About Her.
A lot of my professional colleagues seemed to, and the dominant tone framed this as a blow against the enlightened “us” and the beautiful world we are building, struck by a plague of morlocks who had crawled out of their hellish subterranean world to attack our impending utopia. You could also, I’d argue, see this sentiment in the reaction of global markets, which was grossly out of proportion to the actual economic damage that is likely to be done by Brexit. I mean, yes, the British pound took a pounding, and no surprise. But why did this so roil markets for the Mexican peso? Did traders fear that the impact on the global marmite supply was going to unsettle economies everywhere?
She will usher in fascism on a silver platter if it means striking out against her "enemies," the left. She frames everything as Good v. Evil and projects her own thoughts onto her enemies.
Well, no. This was a reflection of sudden uncertainty, not a prediction about the global economic future. But the sheer extent of the carnage made me wonder if one of the uncertainties traders were newly contemplating was when the morlocks are going to be coming for us outward-looking professional types with pitchforks.
McArdle has no idea what the results of the vote will be and can only think of losing personal power and prestige. She is also, deep down, very afraid that the poor will kill the rich; she keeps coming back to this idea. I would ease her fears but I am too busy sharpening the tines of my pitchfork.
The answer to these uncertainties, I submit, is not to simply keep doing what we’re doing. There’s a lot of appeal to the internationalist idea that building superstates will tamp down on war. But there’s a reason that the 19th century architects of superstates (now known simply as “states”) spent so much time and effort nurturing national identity in the breasts of their populace. Surrendering traditional powers and liberties to a distant state is a lot easier if you think of that state as run by “people like me,” not “strangers from another place,” and particularly if that surrender is done in the name of empowering “people who are like me” in our collective dealings with other, farther “strangers who aren’t.”
The world is divided between people who look like me and people who don't. Those who don't are my enemies. Obviously! Naturally!
The EU never did this work. When asked "Where are you from?" almost no one would answer "Europe," because after 50 years of assiduous labor by the eurocrats, Europe remains a continent, not an identity. As Matthew Yglesias points out, an EU-wide soccer team would be invincible -- but who would root for it? These sorts of tribal affiliations cause problems, obviously, which is why elites were so eager to tamp them down. Unfortunately, they are also what glues polities together, and makes people willing to sacrifice for them. Trying to build the state without the nation has led to the mess that is the current EU. And to Thursday's election results.
She's just making up shit, hoping it sounds smart. It's better for her if everyone thinks feelings, not economic reality, created all this unrest.
Elites missed this because they're the exception -- the one group that has a transnational identity. And in fact the arguments for the EU look a lot like the old arguments for national states: a project that will empower people like us against the scary people who aren’t.
Elite willfully ignore the effects of their economic exploitation because they know they have enough power to control any unrest. And McArdle is doing her best to aid those who want to whip up anti-immigrant fears, which will continue to wreak havoc and get poor people killed.
Unhappily for the elites, there is no “Transnationalprofessionalistan” to which they can move. (And who would trim the hedges, make the widgets, and staff the nursing homes if there were?) They have to live in physical places, filled with other people whose loyalties are to a particular place and way of life, not an abstract ideal, or the joys of rootless cosmopolitanism.
Bog down your reader with a discussion of the manufactured crises so that they don't see all the money disappear. Reinforce racism and nativism to protect the elite you're supposedly criticizing.
Even simple self-interest suggests that it may be time for the elites in Britain and beyond to sue for peace, rather than letting their newborn transnational identity drive them into a war they can’t win -- as happened with so many new states in the 19th and 20th centuries. Try to reforge common identities with the neighbors they have to live with, and look for treaty rules that will let them live in peace. Unfortunately, it’s not clear that transnationalism is any more capable of tempering its own excesses than the nationalism that preceded it.
Create a fake battle to cover up the real class war. Everyone will debate how the poor are suffering because the elite no longer share public spaces with them, and they'll forget all about the theft of the middle class way of life.

Meanwhile, McArdle and all the other little McArdles will go on being Good Germans, defending nationalism and racism for money, getting rich while income inequality soars, oh-so-carefully inciting violence against immigrants, and praising their own fairness and compassion the entire time.


Ellis Weiner said...

So she's defending yobbo nationalism, isolationism, and anti-immigrant bigotry, so she can sniff at "elites," which she is pleased to define as a professional class rather than an economic class. She must love Newt Gingrich.

(Also note the inevitable Anglicisms: "fancy a change," "lose a packet," "any daft thing." What a--what's the Scottish word?--cunt.)

Kathy said...

I am not-so- eagerly awaiting ArgleBargle's review of "1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Turning Points in Ancient History)". A most interesting tome.

BillCinSD said...

Katy, I am currently reading that, and enjoying it quite a bit. I can't wait to find out how it ends!

BillCinSD said...


a. Europe would not necessarily dominate soccer if it played teams of the best players from other continents, unless your going with where the player's play, not where they are from.

2. The UK may very well be destroyed by Brexit, since Scotland is constitutionally required to follow EU law and both Scotland and much of Northern Ireland want the EU more than England. Maybe if her flight had gone through Belfast or Glasgow she might have known this. Sure there are other ways to know things, but we can't expect our Megan to stoop to the level of the commoner

Andrew Johnston said...

So we need to listen to McArdle about the UK exit vote, because she was right and that obviously means that she has a full and complete understanding of the situation - far more so than those failures who were wrong.

But there was no point in listening to the people who were right about Iraq, because success is systemic and based on outside factors and luck, whereas being wrong is a learning experience. We need to listen to McArdle because she was wrong.

Just so we're all clearn on the Megan McArdle rules for life and journalism.

DocAmazing said...

She didn't really write "rootless cosmopolitanism" in a screed about elites who the common people despise, did she?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Should I hold my breath waiting for McArdle to condemn the TPP and TTIP?

Gary said...

I get the feeling that if the EU had advertised itself as "White Europe Vs. The Darkie Hordes", MEMEMEagan figures not only would Brexit have never happened, but she would have been pleased (and isn't that what it's all about, after all?)