“. . . and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
1963 Inaugural Address
Apparently unclear on the meaning of e pluribus unum, George Wallace infamously affirmed his support for a segregated society nine years after the Supreme Court declared institutionalized segregation a Constitutional violation. A last gasp from a dying power structure on the eve of legislation and court decisions that would reform American society into something closer to the Founders vision.
But integrating two developed and separate societies is demanding; integrating them on a timetable carries a higher degree of difficulty. After the dominant society realized that integration wasn’t going away, most folks made a good-faith effort to accommodate the new reality. The hope was that as institutional segregation receded further from living memory new generations would live the vision.
I suspect that if people had had time to come to grips with the societal framework of civil rights legislation, we’d be living in a more stable society. What we have instead is the result of a few who want everything RIGHT NOW and will hold a figurative gun to people’s heads to get it. Their concept of society hasn’t been realized, so the only possible explanation is the inherently flawed underlying society. They don’t like that society, because they feel like they can’t compete. Whether or not that perception is accurate is irrelevant: their emotional distress overwhelms any rational analysis.
Competition is one of the defining characteristics of life. Every organism on the planet competes. To deny or not understand that concept is a huge cognitive blind spot. The most successful societies recognize this and seek to harness natural human behavior for the greater good. Those that don’t either adapt or die.
Most organisms finding themselves in a competitively challenging environment have a couple of choices: get better or get out. Nature is a harsh mistress, and plays no favorites.
Some folks have hit on a third alternative: change the game to suit them.
Rather than learn to compete in the existing environment, some people would rather withdraw from competition, but still demand recognition as productive citizens. The most common implementation is to segregate the self-identified tribe claiming that for whatever reason society is inimical to their pursuit of happiness. In so doing the group has marked itself as Other, claiming that the society from which they’ve self-ostracized is at fault. Now they are victims, garnering sympathy and held to low or no expectations, because, -ism.
This is a typical Progressive modus operandi: take some historical slight that likely isn’t widely relevant today, project the insult as a societal norm, claim intolerance and injustice, then sit around demanding that others support you out of guilt.
It’s tiresome and it’s bullshit.
If a given group really wanted economic and societal success and respect, they’d look to emulate the successful members of that society, not demonize them.
Japan was an advanced society in the mid-19th century, but closed to the West until Commodore Perry forcibly opened the country for trade in 1854. Trade was far from a one-way street as the Japanese learned all they could of Western technology, and prior to WW II some of their tech outstripped the West.
Japan had its ass handed to it in WWII and became in every sense a subjugated nation. Rather than bitch and moan about how they couldn’t compete with the West, the Japanese decided they wanted some of that sweet ass-kicking action. They sent generations to Western schools, and 20 years after taking two nuclear bombs, Japan was a force in consumer goods. Ten years later, they were eroding the Big Three’s dominance of the domestic car market, and ten years after that, Japan was an economic force to be reckoned with. From nuclear wasteland to economic superpower in two generations is pretty damned impressive.
Around the same time the Americans were having their way with Japan, the British marched into India and took over. After kicking the British out, India took a more indirect route to economic success, but the result is the same. After experimenting with collective government, India realized that feeding the second largest population on the planet was going to take real knowledge and ability rather than nebulous idealism. Indians have been a fixture in Western universities for decades, and they aren’t majoring in Women’s Studies. India has a robust space program, the largest movie industry in the world, a regional military to be reckoned with, and an increasingly educated population. Nowhere are the fingerprints of Marx or Mao evident.
China hasn’t been militarily defeated by the West, but they were having an increasingly hard time economically, especially after Japan’s ascension. The past several decades have seen China increasingly embrace Western economic values, if not political ones, with a commensurate rise in standard of living. China has admittedly benefited from the West’s decision that manufacturing is icky, and appalling safety standards and pay by Western standards certainly help, but China successfully competes in global trade. Ask the Soviets: collectivism can’t even provide for your own people, let alone the world.
Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there are people enamored of the belief that separating from those outside the tribe, even if the outsiders are enjoying the success the tribe desires, will somehow bring an end to misery. Only by limiting exposure and opportunity can we succeed. We’ll vilify those different from us, but we’ll demand that the outsiders support us.
Competition is hard, but it’s the way the Universe is structured. In rich societies one doesn’t even really have to compete: find some work that you’re sort of good at and you can stand to do 40 hours a week and accept your limitations, and you can make a modest living for as long as you care to. If a person doesn’t want to participate in the rat race, there are avenues for that in a free society. But if you don’t want to try, then don’t blame other people and demand they accommodate your irrationality.
It’s Called Fishing, Not Catching
My landlord and a friend of his have gone into the fishing guide business, and have been promising a trip for a while. I bought my fishing license in March, and it’s lain unused since. This past Friday stars and schedules aligned for a salmon fishing excursion on the Columbia River at Astoria.
Salmon fishing is a Big Deal in the Northwest, but until you see a boat ramp able to accommodate three launches simultaneously backed up at 5:30 AM on a weekday, it’s hard to imagine. There are six boat ramps around Astoria, not all them large, but still. We were motoring out to the river by 6:30, and if you’ve seen pictures of the Normandy invasion fleet, you’ll have an idea what it looked like.
We trolled and fished about a mile-and-a-half above and below the Astoria bridge for eight hours in an open boat. This was more comfortable than it may perhaps sound. Food, drinks, sunscreen and agreeable company make for a more pleasant experience.
There were darned few fish, though. On occasion we’d get into a group that would be catching, and we weren’t. So there were fish around, just not around us. We landed two keepers, had another spit the hook alongside, and I hooked one through the back, but not a keeper. That’s very little to show for 40 man-hours of fishing.
But it was OK. My experience on fishing trips makes for very low expectations, so this wasn’t particularly disappointing. It was very relaxing just being on the water on the Oregon Coast in summer. The guide attended to the boat and the gear, so not much to do besides watch the rod, watch the other boats, admire the scenery, and generally be thankful for an August day in one of my favorite places. It was so relaxing, in fact, that at one point the guide had to ask me three times how much line I had out.
Saw a whale on the run back to port, and that was about the biggest excitement of the day. So a bad day fishing, but still better than a good day at work.