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Amends

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The post Amends appeared first on The Perry Bible Fellowship.

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adamgurri
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New York, NY
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yoruneko
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because he killed them all individually
rouen
fxer
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I remember every one of their delicious faces.
Bend, Oregon

Imperialism and the Final Stage of “Capitalism”

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My fellow editor Paul Crider has critiqued and expanded upon a summary of the history of capitalism and what we mean when we use the term “capitalism” today, which appeared in the pages of Teen Vogue. While Paul’s piece is exemplary for its use of system-level analysis, I think it is far too kind to the source material he’s responding to. When a publication whose very name invokes marketing segmentation offers an explainer of “capitalism” full of traditional critical language on the matter, that language has clearly become commoditized to a point beyond parody. I would like to suggest it’s time we kill off the language of “capitalism” altogether; we would be better off looking elsewhere in order to explain phenomena such as 19th century European imperialism.

Systems and events

The language of “capitalism” is tied up in systems-level analysis. Even though it began its life as part of a historicist narrative, Marx, like a good Hegelian, used that narrative to describe how one abstract, holistic system – “feudalism” – gave way to another. Marxist narrative, therefore, is a tool for identifying the conditions under which an abstract, holistic system emerges, so that one may apply the same systemic analysis to Germany as to France, and even to Russia – if Russia meets the correct conditions.

The language of “capitalism” grew beyond Marx’s specific texts quite quickly; classical Marxism’s core texts included not only Engels’ works like The Dialectic of Nature, but also specific commentaries on those texts. Over time, and especially with the death of the Soviet Union, this language became far more flexible, but it also lost its direction. Unmoored from the regimentation of the classical Marxist framework, critical use of this language became more responsive to particular events but more banal in its insights.

Appropriation of this language by the critics of Marxism has not gone much better. When theoretical economists speak of “capitalism” they are referencing a static, axiomatic system that is quite difficult to situate in actual history or even in particular institutions. Economic historians and those doing the empirical work are better off, but even here it isn’t clear what is gained by employing the specific language of “capitalism”. “Growth” and “trade” and “commerce” and “markets” often do the trick just fine, alongside more detailed discussions of particular institutional arrangements.

In the study of human society, system-level analysis works best when you employ a plurality of models – even patently incorrect or (as they all are) incomplete ones – and apply them selectively to generate piecemeal insights of concrete historical phenomena. There is no place for a Theory of Everything in the sciences of man. So long as the language of “capitalism” draws us into stale old games, with predictable moves employing precisely some Theory of Everything or other, it is an impediment to understanding rather than an aid.

In what follows, I will employ the language from Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Era trilogy, in particular the language of what she refers to as the Great Enrichment. While systems have a place in this language, it centers primarily on an event which changed the character of many systems in the world, over time. The systems themselves cannot explain the event.

Imperialism and the Great Enrichment

As McCloskey put it in a summary of her argument:

Earlier prosperities had intermittently increased real income per head by double or even triple, 100 or 200 percent or so, only for it to fall back to the miserable $3 a day typical of humans since the caves. But the Great Enrichment increased real income per head, in the face of a rise in the number of heads, by a factor of seven — by anything from 2,500 to 5,000 percent. The average American now earns $130 each day; in the rest of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, citizens earn from $80 to $110. The magnitude of the improvement stuns.

What is more, as she argues persuasively in Bourgeois Dignity, this event cannot be explained by the formal aspects of any of the systems in the countries the Enrichment began in. The level of property rights protections, the volume of trade, the access to natural resources at home or from conquered territories, slaves and the slave trade; none of it was special to the time or place that the Enrichment burst out of. These things had all existed, often to a greater degree, in other times and places throughout history. If we place our faith in system-level analysis, the question is not why Holland and England ushered in the Great Enrichment; the question is why didn’t China do so a thousand years prior?

What of the supposed natural connection between “capitalism” and colonialism or imperialism? I will not deny that there is a connection between the Great Enrichment and European imperialism, but it is of an utterly different character than the connection described by Marxists. The idea that imperialism was a natural part of the internal “logic of capitalism” was made famous by J. A. Hobson and translated into the language of Marxism by Vladimir Lenin, and continues to be influential among leftist theorists and historians today. Against this, I will argue that the connection is entirely contingent. If the spread of the Great Enrichment had been wider or simply different, if the specific advances in technology and medicine had occurred with different timing, 19th century imperialism may have been far less dramatic than it in fact was. Unlike the old “logic of capitalism” arguments, in other words, I will argue that it was a matter of circumstances rather than logical necessity.

Let me offer a simple model to explain the rise of many empires throughout history, right back into antiquity: one community makes a sudden breakthrough that puts them far ahead of their neighbors. This could be in military technology, such as the invention of the trebuchet or the longbow, or it could be in military organization, such as the phalanx or the Romans’ sophisticated logistical support for their armies. Whatever the case, with these advantages in hand, the military in question quickly conquers all of their neighbors.

That’s the model, in a nutshell: militarily advantageous breakthroughs lead to regional aggression more or less in proportion to how far ahead of everyone else those breakthroughs put them.

Applying the model to 19th century imperialism would go like this: the Great Enrichment fed imperialism the way that improvements in the phalanx formation fed Macedonian expansion. The European nations found themselves with more resources at their disposal than any nation in history; national income accounting, including GDP itself, were developed primarily to get a sense of the resources available for war-making. Moreover, the Great Enrichment itself was driven by tinkering and innovating on an unprecedentedly broad scale; some of this tinkering and innovation had direct military implications – as Hilaire Belloc captured with his chilling lines “Whatever happens, we have got/The maxim gun, and they have not.”

The specifics of European imperialism bring its contingency into. The “germs” in the title of Jared Diamond’s famous book refer to the way in which local epidemiological conditions favored the Europeans in their American colonialism, but limited their penetration into Africa for centuries. Put plainly, they brought diseases which killed locals but found none which killed themselves in America, but in Africa the situation was reversed. It wasn’t until advances in military technology gave Europeans so overwhelming an advantage on the battlefield that they were able to overcome this natural advantage the African people had in their own lands.

Neither the “breakthrough” model of conquest I am offering, nor Diamond’s epidemiological model have anything to do with the old talk of imperialism as an extension of “the logic of capitalism.” The British and the French were not driven by system-level demands for export markets any more than Alexander the Great was. Had advances in military technology proceeded at a slower pace than innovation in general, it’s possible the conquest of Africa and the resulting human toll would not have occurred at all – and yet the Great Enrichment would’ve continued on without it.

Historical injustices

What are we to take from this? If you take pride in your country in America, the UK, France, or Germany, it’s your duty to face the bloodstains that taint the flag without looking away. This is as true for imperialism as it is for slavery and the slave trade. This is the case even though, per McCloskey, these countries are not meaningfully more wealthy because of either imperialism or slavery. There can be little doubt, of course, that America only exists because of colonialism; as an American-born child of a Cuban immigrant, I wouldn’t even exist without European colonialism, never mind whether I would be as personally wealthy as I am now. But the Great Enrichment was fueled by widespread innovation, not by imperial resource extraction, nor by slave labor. There was no special, system-level logic that determined the relationship between this event and the historical injustices that were tragically enabled by it.

This doesn’t change either the fact or the legacy of these historical injustices. I am not downplaying the seriousness or magnitude of that fact or legacy. What I deny is the necessary link to the Great Enrichment, except in the specific contingent sense I described above.

A final word on the language of “capitalism” and its role in the Marxism of the 20th century is in order. Unlike the event I’ve been referring to as the Great Enrichment, there is a direct connection between Marxist language and Marxist mass atrocities. This language was used in its regimented, theoretically-grounded form by people like Lenin and Stalin and Mao who imposed the greatest despotisms in history and were rightly given the name “totalitarian.” The classical Marxists were swept aside, so that Marxism around the world for many decades meant alignment with the USSR Communist Party line. It is a cliché to trot out the list of western intellectuals who stood up for the show trials and the purges and other strongman tactics perpetrated by Stalin, and it is a cliché because it was common. The connection is direct: the participation by most Marxists in history in, at minimum, expanding the global influence of brutal totalitarian regimes, is quite clear. How much we can blame Marx himself for all of this is a more open question; I’m inclined to think conservatives and libertarians go too far in making him personally responsible, though Marx’s contemporary Bakunin was quite capable of seeing how Marx’s system could go down that path. But certainly we cannot say, with the recent passing of Marx’s 200th birthday, that his legacy has been anything worthy of admiration.

Conservatives today are too quick to trot out the spectre of communism’s rotting corpse, and too slow to take ownership of the injustices at home. But the memory of those dead regimes’ victims is nevertheless worth preserving, and the legacy of those regimes is with us today no less than the legacy of imperialism and slavery.

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adamgurri
15 days ago
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A Capitalism for Teen Vogue

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Kim Kelly has presented a pretty good explainer of capitalism for the uninitiated at Teen Vogue. I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t have issues with the piece, but I want to begin by affirming Kelly’s skepticism of capitalism as it is often portrayed and defended. She writes of beginnings,

The origins of capitalism are complicated, and stretch back to the 16th century, when the British systems of power largely collapsed after the Black Death, which was a deadly plague that killed off up to 60% of Europe’s entire population. A newly formed class of merchants began trade with foreign countries, and this newfound demand for exports hurt local economies and began to dictate overall production and pricing of goods. It also led to the spread of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism.

The death of feudalism — a hierarchical system often seen as oppressive that kept poor people bonded to their masters’ land, which they farmed in exchange for a place to live and military protection — also left rural British peasants with no homes and no work, which eventually funneled them away from the countryside and into urban centers. These former farm workers then had to sell their labor in a newly competitive work environment in order to survive, while the state worked in concert with the new capitalists to establish a maximum wage and “clamp down on beggars.”

A people’s history of capitalism

It’s dubious to claim that capitalism spread slavery and imperialism — numerous examples of both can be found prior to capitalism. And foreign trade is as old as history. But it is true that capitalism developed in a racialized form, and likely coevolved with racism and concept of race itself, which likely didn’t exist before modernity. Theories about the inferiority of “savage” peoples developed to justify enslavement. This culminated in the racialization of Irish, Slavs (whence the word “slave” derives), indigenous peoples, and of course, Africans. [1]

Colonialism and imperialism, while not caused by capitalism, were certainly used by capitalist powers to secure cheap/free labor and natural resources. So historical capitalism was a racialized, colonialist, imperialist, slave capitalism from its very beginning. Since women were tasked with unremunerated domestic labor and child rearing, we can add “patriarchal” to the list of adjectives.

Every ideology has a nasty history: this is just so much genealogy unless this history points to more nefarious recent inheritances of past injustices. Indeed, the defenders of capitalism are often only dimly, if at all, aware of this actual history, preferring abstract theories of how independent, adult, able-bodied, and unburdened individuals might interact with each other in a hypothetical “state of nature,” how private property arises from the need of individuals to enjoy the spoils of their own work, and how free exchange benefits society by the logic of the division of labor.

This mythology obscures the actual history of violence, dispossession, and oppression; and it thus programs its adherents to see the present distribution of wealth and property to be legitimate by default. Free exchange between individuals is legitimate even when a gross power difference obtains between the parties. Unfree exchange is illegitimate absent extraordinary justification, so taxation, even to provide public goods and social welfare, faces an uphill climb. This mythology of the unburdened adult presents care and dependency as deviations from the norm, despite their ubiquity in real life.

Capitalist intellectuals usually find some space in the footnotes to trouble their theories. John Locke, for example, argued in his Second Treatise of Government that initial claims of private property required that “enough and as good” be left over for those who come after. The libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick, acknowledging this “Lockean proviso,” briefly and casually admits that the entire edifice of his theory of just transfers (free exchange) is invalid in case the original acquisition of property was ill-gotten. [2] But these bite-size admissions evaporate from the minds of readers who come looking for justifications of capitalism. If these admissions did find purchase, then they would form the bases of entire volumes rather than footnotes. Instead, the popular discourses among libertarians and conservatives focus on the ideal theory of just property and free exchange.

Because identifiable groups were systematically advantaged by early capitalism — especially property-owning white men — this mythology of just property and free trade tends to protect members of society who are already advantaged, fueling inequality. Welfare transfers are, in the best case, construed as necessary but evil infringements on property rights. In the actual case, identity takes over the narrative. The descendants of those original wealthy whites come to believe their socio-economic advantages owe to their merit and hard work, and social provisioning is crafted to disproportionately benefit them (see, e.g., how the New Deal was tailored to exclude black and migrant workers). Meanwhile political and economic rights are denied to other groups like women and minorities. And when explicit rights are acknowledged, implicit forms of exclusion are used. For blacks in America, for example, this took the form of the progression from slavery to Jim Crow, to formal segregation, to redlining, and finally to mass incarceration, and all of it accompanied by varying levels of racial terrorism and assumptions of black inferiority and criminality. The fig-leaf justifications of racial disparities just get subtler with time.

I won’t argue that this isn’t ‘true’ capitalism. This is capitalism. But Kelly misses the dynamics within liberal capitalism that push social justice forward while other forces work against it.

The blessings of historical capitalism

Kelly scarcely mentions the most powerful argument in capitalism’s favor. Any candid discussion of historical capitalism must grapple with the sheer abundance it has brought forth and the consequent hockey-stick rise in living standards achieved everywhere capitalist institutions have taken root. [3] The increased output of capitalism — mere wealth — has been accompanied by increases in expected life spans, decreases in infant mortality, smaller families, and reduced child labor and increased schooling, among other indicators of progress. The liberal feminist philosopher Ann Cudd has pointed out that democratic capitalist countries tend to outperform both socialist and traditionalist countries on various progress indices, including the GDI and GEM, both emphasizing gender equality. [4]

From “Cornucopia: Increasing Wealth in the Twentieth Century,” by Brad DeLong

Women in particular have benefited from the innovations of capitalism. The domestic appliance revolution liberated women from hours per day of drudgery. As Ann Cudd points out, “capitalism has also increased women’s opportunity cost of working in the home, and thus [created] incentives for both men and women to reduce the time women spend on household chores.” [5] Patriarchy was not defeated, but it was undermined by this wave of innovation. Women also benefited from the decreases in infant mortality coincident with capitalism, as these decreases drove the fertility transition to smaller families, meaning fewer births per woman and fewer children to raise.

Even Marxists usually don’t dispute the ability of capitalism to produce the goods, though they believe that once industrial production is underway capitalism has outlived its usefulness. Critics will fairly point out that child labor required legal regulation to abolish. But part of what made this possible was the transition to lower fertility and the declining need for children to work due to rising real wages.

So although capitalism initially increases child labor, as countries develop they become wealthy enough to support their children without having them labor. Adult workers in capitalism have a monetary incentive (in addition to a moral one) to reduce child labor to reduce the competition for jobs and raise wages. In democratic countries, then, adult workers who are able to care for their children without having the children earn a wage can pressure their governments to pass laws against child labor. Furthermore, in more technologically advanced societies, children become important human capital investments in their own right. Thus, there is an inbuilt incentive to educate them and help them become autonomous individuals. In an entrepreneurial society, creativity and the ability to innovate becomes even more valuable. Thus, as countries develop into entrepreneurial capitalist economies, we have every reason to expect that child labor falls and child educational and health investments rise. [6]

And while, say, modern pharmaceuticals are cheap and easy to distribute, their development required the intensive capital accumulation and skill/knowledge formation made possible by the surpluses of capitalism. The idea that we have reached a final stage (late capitalism?) beyond which no further innovation would be worthwhile seems foolhardy. There is little reason to believe the difference in life possibilities between 2100 and 2000 will be any less stark than that between 2000 and 1900. Our grandchildren are unlikely to agree with any place we choose to draw the line.

The social justice logic of capitalism

This is the broad empirical case for capitalism as it has actually played out in the world. These results aren’t incidental. The non-zero-sum logic of capitalism has inherent egalitarian and inclusive elements.

The basic principle of free exchange, for all its caveats, holds for much of commercial life. Commerce is generally a positive sum interaction, wherein both parties stand to gain by voluntary exchanges. Successful positive-sum transactions encourage repetitions to reap continuing benefits. This conduces to forming relationships and genuine good will. The opportunity for profit by trade doesn’t stop at social barriers, whether these are ethnic divisions or national borders. This dynamic is not sufficient to overcome organized, systemic injustice like Jim Crow, yet it’s telling that preventing such free exchanges across the color line by violence and with the complicity of local governments was necessary to uphold Jim Crow.

Property rights and economic freedom (the freedoms to buy, sell, trade, work, hire, fire, and contract) are also important elements of a comprehensive notion of freedom. Private property provides a person with a domain within which to more fully control their own environment and to develop their sense of self. You don’t have to be a crass materialist to see that a person’s belongings — what they choose to obtain, to keep, what to do with them and how to arrange them, whether trinkets or homes — reflect who that person is. Marxists affirm personal property, but try to exclude productive property. This boundary — where it’s not hopelessly arbitrary — discourages saving and sustainability, since property that produces value loses its social protection.

Members of oppressed and marginalized groups especially have reason to value these freedoms, as they are both directly assaulted by oppressor classes and subtly undermined by systemic oppression. Under the feudalism Kelly describes, liberalism (and thus capitalism) was a social justice movement: guilds and landed aristocrats forcefully monopolized lucrative trades and the ownership of land, respectively. [7] African chattel (not “wage”) slavery was violent exploitation of labor. Women could work, but they could not control their own wages. Husbands maintained control over their wives’ property and labor.

Realizing capitalism’s radical potential

A more radical capitalism fit for Teen Vogue’s social justice oriented readers is one that is organized to unleash the creative potential of all persons, regardless of identity. But this is impossible with rigid socioeconomic hierarchies. Blacks, for example, are under-banked, segregated away from valuable economic networks and high quality public goods, and criminalized by mass incarceration and school-to-prison pipelines. Black people are thus prevented from living as fully realized individuals within present capitalism; they must instead live as black persons, subject to systemic obstacles. While everyone has a unique history and personal circumstances leading to particular challenges and advantages, blacks face patterned disadvantages and threats well-described by the history of antiblack racism in America. In other words, the disadvantages owe not to the random fluctuations of a well-ordered society — the kinds of inequalities a free society must abide — but to specific racial injustices that warrant address. Blacks are constrained by capitalism’s original sin of racialization.

Women are likewise constrained from living as fully realized individuals as they are discriminated out of many prominent economic roles and expected to perform unremunerated domestic labor. The expectation is often that women are first and foremost wives and mothers, rather than individuals with their own projects, including economic and career ambitions. Traditional capitalism offers a false individualism in which the caring for and rearing of children must be given up in order to fully participate in the market. Capitalism thus fails to bear the full fruit of what women as individuals can do and create.

Similar charges can be leveled against traditional capitalism with respect to other collectivized groups, such as immigrants and the working class, including the white poor. Capitalists imagine they see only individuals, but an authentic individualism is one in which the individual’s capabilities must be cultivated, and protected against social and legal threats. Where capitalism as we know it assumes relations of justice and equality, a capitalism for Teen Vogue corrects social injustice and relations of social inequality. This means robust social safety nets, so that individuals are less dependent on oppressive or exploitative relationships — though economic security also encourages entrepreneurial risk-taking. It means public support for child care and policies promoting the more equitable distribution of domestic labor. It means racial integration by affirmative action and by replacing the property tax-based public school funding model with general revenue. And it means directly correcting racial injustice by legalizing drugs and freeing those in prison for drug crimes, by ending retributive incarceration, by vigorously defending voting rights, and by reparations for slavery and the displacement of native peoples.

A capitalism wedded to rectificatory social justice and the welfare state will still be capitalism. It is consistent with free trade, free movement of both labor and capital, liberal labor markets (easy to hire, easy to fire), and a regulatory (sometimes deregulatory) regime oriented toward improving competition, innovation, and economic growth. While such a capitalism will necessarily involve strong property rights, commerce and its social benefits will be emphasized over ownership (returning to a more Smithian understanding of capitalism). The means of production (with rare exceptions) will be in private hands and there will still be wealth and income inequality, but there will also be wealth supports and income floors. Main street mom & pop shops will still close and global trade will still dislocate workers, but easing transitions for displaced workers will be an explicit concern of public policy.

Committed anticapitalists will deny that this combination is possible. Exploitative economic relations and entrenched social hierarchy are simply what capitalism is. But to say that a robust social safety net; health, safety, and environmental regulations; and policies to correct social injustice are aberrations of ‘true’ capitalism is like saying that constitutional checks on authority and protections for minority rights are deviations from ‘true’ democracy. In both cases, these are necessary adjustments made to advance the liberal and humanitarian purposes of those very systems. And in both cases there are lamentable but natural tendencies for certain groups within society to poison those same safeguards for their own advantage.

Of course the term “capitalism” is alienating to some. But it doesn’t matter what you call it. Market liberalism. Social capitalism. Welfare capitalism. Black radical capitalism. [8] But also: Social democracy, market socialism. Whatever the name, there is an unknown ideal that recognizes that economic freedom is intrinsically valuable to human beings, and that it is vital for the purpose of expanding human welfare and capabilities, which can benefit the disadvantaged most of all. A social justice capitalism nurtures individuals to their full potential, rather than assuming they spring into the world fully formed, and it extends the domain of positive sum interactions to include marginalized people. Capitalism and social justice require one another to realize their respective full potentials.

Featured image is Iron and Coal , by William Bell Scott.

Notes

[1] For a good discussion of this history, see Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi.

[2] Robert Nozick. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. p. 175.

[3] For a progressive economist’s case for the abundance made possible by economic growth, see Brad Delong at the link.

[4] Ann Cudd and Nancy Holmstrom. Capitalism For and Against: A Feminist Debate. p.54, Table 1.2.

[5] ibid. p.51.

[6] ibid. p.52

[7] For an excellent discussion of the social justice case for capitalism in the 18th century, and one congenial to left-sympathetic readers, see Elizabeth Anderson’s Private Government, chapter 1. Also available as her first Tanner lecture. [pdf]

[8] The link is to a description by the philosopher Charles Mills on “black radical liberalism.” Though Mills is not a capitalist, the present essay is inspired by Mills’s discussion of black radical liberalism, especially as presented in his book, Black Rights/White Wrongs.

 

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adamgurri
17 days ago
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Reminder That Deep Trump Country Has Very Few Immigrants

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Andrew Sullivan has a post at the New York Magazine about how both the U.S. and England have basically let in too many immigrants. Here’s the part I want to respond to:

Home is indeed where one starts from. Change it too rapidly and it will disintegrate. We have been fools on mass immigration, we have been fools for preventing an honest debate about the benefits and drawbacks of diversity, and we have been contemptible in our contempt for so many of our fellow citizens. Both countries are now paying a terrible, terrible price.

But here is the question: have immigrants flooded Trump country? Have they changed it too fast? The truth is, there are very few immigrants in the U.S. counties that went strongest for Trump, as you can see in the chart below from this post of mine from Economy.com.

Immigration

To quote myself in that analysis:

This tells us that the average Trump voter—of all his voters nationwide—lives in a county where the foreign-born share of the population is only 9.8%, making it comparable to the U.S. in the mid-1990s….

The results are even more stark if we focus on the places that went most strongly for Trump, or the 10% of counties we might call Deep Trump Country, where 80% or more of the population voted for him. On average, someone living in Deep Trump Country lives in a county where 3.3% of the population is foreign born, which is a lower share of immigrants than the U.S. overall has ever had.

There is no doubt that many of the rural, rust belt, blue collar communities that went strongly for Trump have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Out of wedlock births, opioid deaths, loss of manufacturing jobs, and joblessness in general have increased in many of these places. But this big change in places that are being left behind is not because of immigrants, and in Deep Trump Country the number of immigrants is very very low by historical U.S. standards.

I think a better description of what we’ve seen is not that immigrants have drastically changed Trump country and they are rebelling, but that other types of decline have occurred -from economic to social- and the very few immigrants who live there are scapegoated.

This is important to understand, because it means that decreasing immigration is not really going to improve the declining social, economic, or cultural conditions that Trump voters are experiencing in their communities. Getting rid of immigrants won’t bring back manufacturing or reverse the declining social capital of the white working class. In fact, research from Jacob Vigdor has suggested that immigration can help preserve manufacturing jobs in these struggling communities.

On the other hand, getting rid of immigrants might mean Trump voters don’t hear as many scare stories on Fox News at night about immigrants ruining someone else’s community. Is that what they’re really reacting to? Of course that is a far less flattering portrait of the immigration fears driving people to Trump than describing people as heartland folks who gosh darnit just don’t want to see their communities change.

If you think I’m just telling a subjective and convenient story, consider this conclusion from a review of the literature on public attitudes towards immigration from Hainmueller and Hopkins:

Consistently, immigration attitudes show little evidence of being strongly correlated with personal economic circumstances. Instead, immigration attitudes are shaped by sociotropic concerns about national-level impacts, whether those impacts are cultural or economic.

So what we are seeing is not in general a concern about how immigrants are changing the communities that people they live in, but how they think immigrants are changing the country overall. And the concern is strongest among people with the fewest immigrants in their actual communities. In other words, those least well placed to actually understand the impacts that immigrants are having.

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adamgurri
27 days ago
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1 public comment
acdha
27 days ago
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This is really the key part: “getting rid of immigrants might mean Trump voters don’t hear as many scare stories on Fox News at night about immigrants ruining someone else’s community”

Three decades of an intense nativist propaganda push have taken their toll.
Washington, DC

Meteorologist

5 Comments and 14 Shares
Hi, I'm your new meteorologist and a former software developer. Hey, when we say 12pm, does that mean the hour from 12pm to 1pm, or the hour centered on 12pm? Or is it a snapshot at 12:00 exactly? Because our 24-hour forecast has midnight at both ends, and I'm worried we have an off-by-one error.
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adamgurri
30 days ago
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5 public comments
Cognoscan
30 days ago
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Pedantic answers to the Mathematician's questions on what precipitation chance means: https://www.weather.gov/ffc/pop
If you know the meaning of the probability, you can answer the rest of his questions. The area one is basically a non-question: any forecast on weather.gov will show you the forecast area.

And for the question unasked: how do you end up with phrases like "scattered" or "this morning" in a forecast? NOAA again has you covered: https://www.weather.gov/bgm/forecast_terms
ericprasmussen
30 days ago
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hell yeah
francisga
30 days ago
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Panel 1 is a real legit question I have always had about what "percent change of precip" means in weather forecasts. Please help.
Lafayette, LA, USA
Cognoscan
30 days ago
NOAA actually has a succinct explanation for part of this: https://www.weather.gov/ffc/popThe short of it is this: there is a X percent chance that rain will occur at any given point in the area over the next hour, independent of the other hourly predictions. This extrapolates to the daily forecast as well, which does have hourly bounds (though I forget what they are).
fancycwabs
30 days ago
For a while the local meteorologist changed it from 30% chance of rain to 30% *coverage* of rain, meaning for the viewing area 30% of it was getting rain. I assume that's still what they use even though they switched back to "chance."
fancycwabs
30 days ago
Although this was in Mobile, Alabama, and a 30% coverage of rain meant that you were gonna get wet.
rraszews
29 days ago
Or, at least, 30% of you would. But yeah, the way the husband of a meteorologist I used to work with explained it, "30% chance of rain" means, roughly, "It's going to rain somewhere. It's a 30% chance it'll be on YOU" (Though that is just how he put it. Technically, "30% chance" could mean "It's definitely going to rain, and 30% of the area will get it" or equally "It's only 1-in-3 that it will rain, but if it does, it will rain EVERYWHERE" But these two possibilities come out to the same thing assuming you are a stationary object within the area which is small enough that you can not meaningfully be "half-rained on"
alt_text_at_your_service
30 days ago
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Hi, I'm your new meteorologist and a former software developer. Hey, when we say 12pm, does that mean the hour from 12pm to 1pm, or the hour centered on 12pm? Or is it a snapshot at 12:00 exactly? Because our 24-hour forecast has midnight at both ends, and I'm worried we have an off-by-one error.
davidar
29 days ago
12PM can't be 12:00 exactly, because then it wouldn't be PM, it'd just be M
alt_text_bot
30 days ago
reply
Hi, I'm your new meteorologist and a former software developer. Hey, when we say 12pm, does that mean the hour from 12pm to 1pm, or the hour centered on 12pm? Or is it a snapshot at 12:00 exactly? Because our 24-hour forecast has midnight at both ends, and I'm worried we have an off-by-one error.

Misinterpretation

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"But there are seven billion people in the world! I can't possibly stop to consider how ALL of them might interpret something!" "Ah, yes, there's no middle ground between 'taking personal responsibility for the thoughts and feelings of every single person on Earth' and 'covering your eyes and ears and yelling logically correct statements into the void.' That's a very insightful point and not at all inane."
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adamgurri
32 days ago
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New York, NY
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alt_text_at_your_service
32 days ago
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"But there are seven billion people in the world! I can't possibly stop to consider how ALL of them might interpret something!" "Ah, yes, there's no middle ground between 'taking personal responsibility for the thoughts and feelings of every single person on Earth' and 'covering your eyes and ears and yelling logically correct statements into the void.' That's a very insightful point and not at all inane."
alt_text_bot
32 days ago
reply
"But there are seven billion people in the world! I can't possibly stop to consider how ALL of them might interpret something!" "Ah, yes, there's no middle ground between 'taking personal responsibility for the thoughts and feelings of every single person on Earth' and 'covering your eyes and ears and yelling logically correct statements into the void.' That's a very insightful point and not at all inane."
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