Sunday, August 16, 2015

When Government Colonizes Different Spontaneous Orders

There are a variety of spontaneous orders. We too often only think of the economy as a spontaneous order, but there are also the scientific order, the philanthropic order, the philosophic order, the religious order, the democratic order etc.

I believe that each of these orders provide things the other orders absolutely cannot. This is why I oppose the colonization of the economic order by the democratic order. That colonization is called socialism. Socialism only involves the takeover of the economic order, or catallaxy. It does not involve the colonization of any other order.

Of course, colonization can be complete or incomplete. If the economic order is completely colonized, we have socialism; if it is only partially colonized, we have various degrees of interventionism. This is true of all orders, though for the sake of clarity, I want to deal with only complete colonization.

The colonization of the philanthropic order by the democratic order is known as the welfare state. When an area of philanthropy is colonized by the democratic order, we call that "crowding out."

The colonization of the religious order by the democratic order is known as theocracy. The same is true in reverse.

The colonization of science by the democratic order would mean that all science is being done in government-run laboratories. The goals of science would be predetermined by the government. This would be known as "socialized science." Michael Polanyi famously argued against this taking place.

The colonization of our educational institutions by the democratic order is known as public education.

The colonization of the health/medical order by the democratic order is known as "socialized medicine." 

The colonization of the monetary order is known as central banking.

Too many people are a little fast and loose with the term "socialism." Properly understood, socialism only involves anything in the catallaxy. This can include sub-areas within the catallaxy, such as medical provisions, meaning that if we have socialized medicine, that would be socialism applied to a particular area of the economy/catallaxy. But not everything is involved in the catallaxy -- nor should it be. I don't know what we have terms for the catallaxy colonizing other orders, but I would suggest that it would be as problematic as having the democratic order colonizing everything.

Thus, the colonization of philanthropy by the democratic order is not socialism. The philanthropic order is not part of the catallaxy. These are two quite separate orders, and rightly so. The arguments for and against the government colonizing either the catallaxy or the philanthropic order are and ought to be completely different. I would suggest that confusing the two only harms the arguments being made by those who argue against socialism. Further, too many who really favor an extensive welfare state think they favor socialism. They don't. Or, they don't necessarily. The two can be separated. The two are separate issues. And I think it would benefit everyone -- libertarians especially -- if they understood these distinctions and didn't mistake everything for being in the catallaxy.

I mean, suppose the democratic order decided to colonize the artistic order. Now all poems would be produced by government poets on topics determined by the democratic order. Is that socialism? No. But it's probably a recipe for a whole lot of really bad jingoist poetry.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Welfare is NOT Socialism

I have come to realize that too many people -- on the left, on the right, and even far too many libertarians -- are deeply confused about the nature of socialism. I keep hearing people claiming to want socialism when what they really want is welfare. I keep hearing people complaining about socialism when what they are really complaining about is welfare.

The issues surrounding government involvement in the economy qua economy are completely separate from the issues surrounding welfare provisions and the ways to pay for those provisions. It is perfectly possible to have a completely unregulated, free economy combined with government-provided welfare. Equally, one could have an economy completely controlled by the government without that government providing a single dime for welfare-type programs. We perhaps confuse the two because of Marx's combining them in his famous phrase, "To each according to their need, from each according to their ability." But they are not at all necessary companions.

One consequence of this confusion is the mistaken identity of welfare as socialism. I keep hearing people arguing for socialism, but when you get the details, they really only want more welfare provisions. One can receive money (it is always money, in a variety of forms, though some of those monies cannot be spent but in certain ways, depending on the programs) from the government without that government owning or controlling the means of production. More, most people don't understand that socialism means central planning -- even market socialism involves central planning. The latter attempts to allow for prices, but in the end, everything is owned by the central government and the economy is thus completely folded into the government itself. Most people don't realize that this is what socialism means, or that this model has been refuted over and over, in a variety of ways. If you want the complete destruction of the economy and the elimination of all wealth in the economy, socialism is the way to go. Why? It eliminates the entrepreneur, which is the only source of wealth creation in the economy. No entrepreneurs, no wealth creation.

Of course, most people who talk about socialism don't actually mean this. No, what they really are talking about is increased welfare provisions. Those provisions can extend from food stamps and housing to a single payer for health care to a basic income guarantee. This is why you can find some avid opponents of socialism and government intervention into the economy, like Hayek and Milton Friedman, making arguments in favor of basic income guarantees, negative income taxes, and even single-payer, universal health insurance. They were smart enough to understand that welfare has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with socialism or interventionism.

This isn't to say that the taxes necessary for welfare or the welfare itself won't have an effect on the economy. But having coincidental effects is not the same as legislation directly regulating what a given business can or cannot do. One can oppose the minimum wage while favoring welfare. Equally, once can oppose welfare while favoring the minimum wage (as a way of getting people off of welfare, though that would ignore the fact that increasing the minimum wage necessarily increases the number of those unemployed, meaning it increases the number of people on welfare). Some early progressives favored having a minimum wage precisely because it would create unemployment among minorities, who would be starved out because there was no welfare available -- it was an attempt at eugenics through economic interventionism.

At the same time, not all taxes are created equally. If you want to discourage something, tax it. If you tax income, you discourage work. If you tax sales, you discourage buying. If you tax capital gains, you discourage business creation and expansion. If you tax property, you discourage property ownership. There are some things, like business creation and expansion, which you probably do not want to discourage. One could make the argument that since jobs are a cost, income taxes that encourage businesses to automate more and thus drive down prices are good for the economy over the long run. Licenses are also a tax -- on starting new businesses. If you want to discourage the creation of new businesses, licenses and capital gains taxes are the way to go.

Equally, subsidies encourage certain behaviors. Subsidies can come in a variety of forms, including artificially cheap loans, insurance, or government protections. If you want to encourage risk, make risk cheaper. Socialize risk by providing cheap government-provided insurance. Government flood insurance encourages people to build in flood plains, creating far more property destruction and loss of life when people's property is flooded.

Those who confuse government regulations on the economy or government control of the economy with welfare are confusing taxes for subsidies, and vice versa. Also, the data on things like negative income taxes and basic income guarantee suggest that they do not encourage people to not work per se, but rather give people the leeway to hold out for better jobs or to create new businesses. As such, these programs can in fact improve economic conditions. But only if the government doesn't at the same time erect barriers to entry and growth such as licenses, regulations, and taxes on capital gains.

Those who truly want people to have better lives need to understand the difference between socialism/interventionism and welfare. The arguments for and against each are completely different. They really have nothing at all to do with each other, and confusing them only harms the arguments in favor of free markets. The arguments for free markets and against interventionism/socialism are one thing; the arguments for and against various welfare programs are quite another. Each of these can be combined in a variety of ways. If we understand this, we can understand how Hayek and Milton Friedman were able to argue for some of the programs they did, even while completely supporting free markets.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Approaches to Economics: A few definitions

Classical Economics -- complex model building using a combination of empirics and logic to explain those empirical observations. 

Econometrics -- making simple mathematical models of the economy and then recommending policies to make the real world fit the models.

Keynesian Economics -- given the institutions we currently have, what will fix or maintain the current situation right now, with little to no consideration of the future.

Marxist Economics -- an anti-empirical, logic-based system beginning with the premise that value is created through labor; given that value is subjective, the entire system completely collapses (much like actual attempts to realize Marx's vision in the real world).

Central Planning Socialism -- given econometric models as ideal and given the belief that the economy can be completely predicted and controlled (through econometrics), the ideal system; given that prices cannot ever be calculated, the worst idea ever.

Democratic Socialism -- replacing the market with votes; the end-result is the creation of government monopolies and the inability to determine prices to help with the most efficient distribution of materials, goods, or services.

Complexity Economics -- algorithmic model-building with the goal of getting the models to match the real world. Both negative and positive feedback taken into consideration.

Austrian Economics -- an approach to economics beginning with human action and human motivations to satisfy their perceived needs and values. It also uses empirics and logic to explain those empirical observations. It also uses algorthmic model building to explain the emergence of spontaneous orders and how they affect human (inter)actions.

Behavioral Economics -- humans do not act rationally, so we need equally arational humans to design systems to make people act more rationally, to fit our econometric models. Potentially, an insightful approach to economics, once it completely abandons mainline economics / econometrics.

Neoliberal Economics -- whatever system progressives disapprove of. It means anything and nothing.

Progressive Economics -- changing whatever we have, regardless of any understanding of economics, regardless of whether or not what we have is now working ir if anything in the past worked.

Fascism -- a form of political economy in which the government controls the economy through regulations and by allowing private citizens to pretend that they are the ones who run and own the means of production when it is in fact the government which does. Also known as corporatism, as it takes the corporation as the ideal model on which all of society should be designed. A combination of nationalism and socialism. Given its dominance in the world, the most successful threat to free market capitalism ever developed. Its success comes from the fact that it is structured in such a way that its failures can be blamed on a non-existent free market or "deregulations" that never took place, creating the conditions for more regulations to be imposed on the economy.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Macrosocial Evolution -- Cycles and Emergence

I am convinced that human social history demonstrates a variety of patterns. There is increasing evidence for this, ranging from Kondratieff waves (K-waves) to Peter Turchin's secular cycles. 
The Kondratieff wave cycle goes through four distinct phases of beneficial inflation (spring), stagflation (summer), beneficial deflation (autumn), and deflation (winter). Since, the last Kontratyev cycle ended around 1949, we have seen beneficial inflation 1949-1966, stagflation 1966-1982, beneficial deflation 1982-2000 and according to Kondratieff, we are now in the (winter) deflation cycle which should lead to depression. 
By this, the depression cycle should last from 2001-2020, more or less, since all the other "winter" periods lasted about 20 years. Is it any coincidence that 2008 is close to the dead center of that range? I think not. This also implies that there will be a beneficial inflation 2020-2035/40. Given the degree of quantitive easing in which the Fed engaged, I think there is little doubt that inflation will be on the horizon. One hopes it will in fact be beneficial.

Coincidentally, Turchin's secular cycles, when mapped onto the K-waves, give interesting patterns.

1970 was in the middle of a stagflation period.
1920 was at the end of a stagflation period.
1870 was during Reconstruction, near the end of a plateau leading to depression.
1820 was at the beginning of a plateau, during the "Era of Good Feelings" -- a time, coincidentally, when there was not a peak of violence.
1770 was in a depression cycle, and of course was the lead-in to the Revolutionary War.

2020 will come at the end of our depression cycle, at the opening of an expansionary period.

It is my suspicion that 2020 will also do a number of other things. It will be the swan song of the social conservatives and of the kinds of  nationalist sentiments being fostered by Trump and Sanders. It will also spell the end of our Egalitarianist society (in Gravesean terms), and the emergence of an Integrationist society. Given that this means a tier-leap, meaning an exponential leap, it would not be surprising to me if we will be facing the kind of revolutionary violence as we saw in the American and French Revolutions. The former moved the U.S. into a more liberal society (entrepreneurial level), while the latter attempted to move French society into an Egalitarian society (failing, because it attempted to skip a level).

We saw in 1920 and 1970 egalitarian upheavals, with the first one applying pretty much only to white males, with the latter expanding the franchise to minorities of all kinds.

2020, I suspect, will be an Integrationist upheaval, perhaps first only affecting the West, perhaps also including economies like China and India, with the rest of the world being included in 2070. Perhaps, though, 2070 will be a Holistic upheaval, since there is good evidence that increasing complexity evolves ever-more quickly over time.

But if 2020 is in fact an Integrationist upheaval, creating an Integrationist society to replace the Egalitarian society in which we currently reside, I suspect that 2020 will make the violence of 1970 and 1920 look like cake walks. The aftermath, however, will give us a radically different society than the one we have. We will see the final breakdown of hierarchical organization and the more widespread embrace of scale free network processes. We aren't talking about the false kinds embraced by the egalitarians, whose flattened hierarchies are still hierarchies, but real scale free networks with nobody really in charge, just algorithms aiding smooth coordination. Think Uber applied to the entire economy, to the degree that it is possible to do so.

Such a society is more accepting of differences, heterogeneity, complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and change. It is more cosmopolitan, favoring diversity and movement over artificially created political boundaries. Such a society will be more interested in information and the accumulation and use of information. It will be interested in both micro and macro views of life, mind, and society, recognizing the necessary interactions between those views and among those aspects. Such a society will recognize the negative feedback dominating at the micro social level and the positive feedback dominating at the macro social level, and the bipolar feedback driving complexity of society in their necessary interactions. In other words, such a society will finally come to terms with the fact that all elements of human society are spontaneous orders.

In fact, we have to understand these interacting elements if we are going to understand the interactions of these macro-level social patterns. With a macro-only view, we would expect to just see cycle-after-cycle going on into infinity without change. But I suspect that we have seen these saves -- K-waves and secular cycles -- shortening over time. Why? Because these waves are taking place in societies which have different features due to emergent complexity. Greater complexity shortens the temporal experience of that process. Interacting negative and positive feedback give rise to biotic processes with the property of being able to leap into a new level of complexity. Combine the micro patterns of human interactions giving rise to negative feedback with the macro patterns giving rise to positive feedback, and you get the bipolar feedback described by Hector Sabelli.

If you want a more accurate understanding of the evolution of our social world, I think we have to combine the work of J.T. Fraser, Kondratieff, Hector Sabelli, F.A. Hayek, Clare Graves, and Peter Turchin. If this gives rise to a model of society that is insanely complex, well, that just means we're finally on the right track.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Contradiction vs. Paradox

I affirm a metaphysics of paradox. Anyone who has read enough of my works -- academic, popular, and blogs -- knows I affirm paradox. But what is a paradox?

First, a paradox is absolutely not a contradiction. If anything, paradox and contradiction are complete opposites.

The word "paradox" comes from the ancient Greek para-, meaning "contrary to", and doxa, meaning "opinion." A paradoxon is thus a statement contrary to opinion. This, at least, is its etymological meaning. Doxa comes from dokein, meaning "to appear, seem, think." Thus, a paradox is contrary to appearance. For example, we think that something is either attractive or repulsive, when in fact there are processes which are simultaneously attractive and repulsive (like strange attractors).

The word "contradiction" comes from the Latin contra, meaning "against", and dicere, meaning "to speak." Thus, a contradiction is literally "to speak against." To contradict something is to speak against it. If two things are in contradiction, that means they are mutually opposed to each other. In a sense, each speaks against the other. For example, a shirt of a single color cannot be both red and blue at the same time -- it must be either red or blue.

A good example of a paradox is the relationship between competition and cooperation. Many think of these two things as being in opposition -- as even being contradictory. That is why so many who favor cooperation vilify competition. Yet, these two are not at all in opposition, except in extreme cases, such as, say, golf or tennis. And even then, both parties have to cooperate on when to play and where. With the vast majority of sports, you not only have this level of cooperation, but you have to have cooperation within the team itself in order for there to be competition between the teams. Cooperation between the teams (or the individuals) in regards to the game play itself would be considered corruption of the game itself. Cooperation cannot enter into what is the proper realm of competition without there being corruption, and competition cannot enter into what is the proper realm of cooperation without the possibility of game play itself being rendered impossible.

This may begin to point to why it is that corruption exists. If we have cooperation where there should not be cooperation, and should in fact probably be competition, you get corruption. Corruption exists where businesses and governments cooperate. Corruption exists where businesses that ought to be competing with each other are cooperating (typically because the playing field has been made more conducive to this kind of cooperation by the rule-makers, i.e., government).

The word "corrupt" comes from the Latin cor-, meaning "altogether", and rumpere, meaning "to break," meaning that to corrupt is to break altogether. This suggests the breaking or breaking down of a system, to break it altogether. Those who thus favor cooperation-only favor corruption. The presence of competition prevents or at least reduces corruption.

The elimination of paradox simplifies the system in question, making it far less interesting. A game in which the two teams are cooperating to create a given outcome will not be interesting to the viewers. They will rightly feel cheated when they find out that the game was rigged. They will realize that the outcome was not in fact unpredictable, and unpredictable outcomes are a feature of all complex systems. Predictable outcomes are a consequences of simple systems. But simple systems cannot create wealth or interest or freedom; only complex systems can create wealth or interest or freedom. Paradox creates complexity, and complexity results in creativity and wealth.

All of this is, of course, contrary to opinion. Yet, it is true.

One can also imagine a contradictory proposition. Can one simultaneously be an anarchist -- in opposition to someone ruling -- and also favor a more expansive government? The anarchist speaks against government, and government speaks against anarchy. You cannot be a big government anarchist. That is a contradiction.

So don't confuse contradiction and paradox. They are opposite things, even if they appear to be the same. Contradictions are truly incompatible, while paradoxes only appear to be so, unless you understand the true relations between the parts.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

2020: Civil War in the GOP?

Infamously, the 1968 Democratic Convention, held in Chicago, was wracked with protests -- from the far left. There had been a civil war within the Democratic party, for the soul of the party, throughout much of the 1960s. The conservative southern Democrats vs. the liberal northern Democrats; Jim Crow vs. Civil Rights; hawks vs. war protestors. The more extreme leftists weren't satisfied with mere protest. We had violent terrorist groups, ranging from the Black Panthers to the Weather Underground, rise up as well. The violence peaked in 1970, but it continued throughout the 1970s, with lagers like Ted Kaczynsky continuing their terrorism through the 1980s.

The 1960s-70s was a peak of violence centered around the development of the left and the divisions within the Democratic party. The violent fringe elements were assimilated into general society through the left-dominated institutions, like our universities, while the southern Democrats were, essentially, ejected from the Democratic Party. Left adrift, they were picked up by the Republicans, creating the contemporary Republican party with Nixon's southern strategy. Excepting the Reagan Revolution, which only really lasted Reagan's 8 years, the GOP is the party of Nixon -- a party of southern social conservatives and Keynesians.

Today we are seeing a return of the kind of violence as saw leading to the peak in 1970. Except this time, it seems the perpetrators are on the right. I have talked about Peter Turchin's cliodynamical prediction of a new peak in violence in 2020, and it seems to me that this time it will involve the right and the Republican Party. I suspect there will be a civil war within the GOP between the southern social conservatives and the libertarians. I predict it will be these two groups precisely because the "moderate" Keynesians don't care what social policies they need to support to get power. It is the social conservatives and the libertarians who have principles. That is, they care enough to fight.

We are seeing a surge in violence from the far right, with Dylan Roof's targeting African-Americans at their own church or the recent cinema shooting in Louisiana in which the shooter seemed to be a misogynist targeting women. The police seem to be increasingly emboldened, despite the omnipresence of cameras. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has been taken up by the libertarians and dismissed or worse by the social conservatives, who inevitably support the actions of the police no matter what they may do.

For those who don't think that the libertarians within the GOP are strong enough to wage a civil war within the party, you have to remember exactly how weak the far left within the Democratic party was early in the 1960s. Yet, by the 1970s, they were a vital force, and now they dominate the DNC.

What, then, can we expect to see? Will the Southern social conservatives be ejected yet again? Who will take them up? The Democrats? It's not impossible. Southern whites view themselves as a victim group, and in this sense they would feel at home in the DNC. Of course, if they moved into the DNC, that would be a major disruption to the coalition that now makes up the DNC. The libertarians would be in a position to pick many of those people up, though, to be honest, a more conservative Democratic party would probably be even more attractive to African-Americans and Hispanics who are really socially conservative. It depends on how divisive the Southern social conservatives insist on remaining.

It is also possible that the libertarians are ejected. That would mean two Keynesian parties who only differ on social issues. Liberalism would become a true minority view in this country, which would mean the final and complete destruction of our liberal institutions. In other words, we could see just the final blow to liberalism in the violence of 2020. Let us hope the opposite is true.

I talk about cliodynamics here and here and here and here and here and here and here

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Some Thoughts on Populism

Anyone trying to understand the popularity of Donald Trump among Republicans and Bernie Sanders among Democrats needs to understand the fact that both men are populists.

A populist is someone who appeals to the hopes and fears of the general population, generally against the ruling elite. That is the typical definition of populism, and it is certainly correct as far as it goes. But that does not explain why it is that populism only seems to arise at certain times and why it is that populists not only attack elites, but the weakest in society as well.

Populists are political opportunists. They seek to take over the elite, to become the alpha in society, and they seek to do so by creating a new coalition among a general population that for some reason feels itself under attack. I go into detail about social hierarchies here. Economic downturns are good times for populists because the general population feels itself slipping down the social hierarchy. Any movement toward becoming an omega is threatening, and it is natural for a social mammal such as humans to both lash out at those groups or individuals they consider to be omegas in society as well as at the elites they blame for creating the social conditions leading to their descent.

This is why both Trump and Sanders (and Ross Perot, in the 1990s) attack the elites as well as illegal immigrants and economic trade from developing countries. This remains the acceptable way to attack ethnic minorities, since outright in-nation racism is generally unacceptable.

My previous discussion of social hierarchies (linked above) also explains why it is that we have billionaires and elected elites emerging to attack the elites. This is a struggle for the alpha position (the Presidency) in American society, and because the presumed nominees seem to most people to be pre-selected (Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton), they are the "elite" alphas who the populists wish to overthrow. The populist manages to distinguish himself from the "true elites" by "telling it like it is," by saying things the way people say them in private. This is why they can say "outrageous" things. To the majority, such rhetoric is refreshing.

The populist plays toward the people's ignorance and prejudices, making virtues of their vices, claiming truth and goodness for them. Specifically, the populist plays toward people's evolved tendencies, which may not fit well in modern societies. Listen to a populist, and you will hear folk psychology, folk sociology, folk anthropology, folk economics, and degrees of tribalism. They thus tap into people's emotions in a way those who know, say, actual economics cannot.

Populism is thus neither a specifically right or left movement. Both the Tea Party and the Occupy movements are populist in nature. And I have already noted that Trump (Republican), Sanders (Socialist), and Perot (Independent)  are all populists. If you listen carefully, you will not hear much difference at all in either their rhetoric or their ideas. Any preference for Trump over Sanders, or vice versa, expresses nothing more nor less than the political party tribalism of their supporters.

It is important to note that "populism" comes from the Latin "populos," which is more equivalent to the "folk" (volk) of Germany. The populist party that came to power using the rhetoric of the folk was, of course, the National Socialists. I point this out not to engage in the logical fallacy of reductio ad Hitlerium, but to make a serious point about the nature of all populist movements.

In the U.S. it has not been uncommon for populist movements to be concerned with money and banking -- the Greenback Party in the late 1800s and the Occupy movement of today -- in much the same way that the Nazis came to power in the aftermath of the devastation of the hyperinflation of the Wiemar Republic and ongoing concerns about debt. While we are not facing hyperinflation, or even much inflation (because businesses are still holding cash rather than investing it as capital -- but when that changes . . .), there is increasing concern about debt. This is something Trump has brought up in recent days. The Occupy movement has focused mostly on the "unregulated" banks (they are "unregulated" because the banks and financial institutions are in fact the most regulated sector in the economy, and all of the problems that came to a head in 2008 are a consequence of that fact) and the wealthy, making them prime pickings for a populist politician. Sanders fits the bill for them. But, honestly, so does Trump. Both preach fascist policies.

Sander's socialism is nationalist in flavor. He favors trade restrictions, is generally anti-immigrant, and is an economic nationalist. This has been observed from both the left and the right. Economic patriotism, whether left or right, is necessarily nationalist in nature. It doesn't necessarily have to be outright socialist in nature, like Sanders'; no, it can also be highly interventionist in nature, like Trump's. But favorable to freedom it is not, no matter the degree of "socialist" you prefer.

The use of the term "fascism" has mostly become a slander leftists use against anyone with whom they disagree, but I am using it in the precise economic meaning of the term. As has been observed by others, whether he knows it or not, Trump is essentially a fascist. The Salon article, perhaps not surprisingly, ignores Sanders' similar positions.

That populism is fascist should not surprise anyone. Fascism taps into our most primitive, primeval propensities and drives. It is populism. Those on the right are accused of anti-intellectualism; those on the left are anti-elitists (while supporting bringing to power their own elites) -- but in fact, each is a variation of anti-elitism. And both promise the masses that they will gain power, that their lives will improve, and that the minorities who have been oppressing them all this time (the 1%, bankers, Jews, illegal immigrants, foreign workers, etc.) will receive their punishment. If you hear people attacking the elites while attacking some kind of minorities, you have a populist on your hands.

And that's the bottom line of populism. It is deeply, fundamentally anti-minority -- whatever that minority may be. The opposite of the populos, the masses, the folk is the minority group or groups within society. The easiest to attack are those from other countries -- that's why fascism is always nationalist socialism -- but eventually, those minorities are within the country, marginalized as not being true members of the nation, of the folk. This story has already been told in other countries. We came close with FDR's Japanese concentration camps. We don't need the full-blown American version.


Cecil the Sacred

Walter James Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, is currently one of the most hated men in the world. His crime? Killing Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe.

Palmer has killed many animals in his life, including at least one other lion. Probably the only people who cared about those animals were animal rights activists. So why is everyone losing their minds over this particular lion? 

Cecil the Lion was a sacred animal.

Traditional societies often have sacred animals or even sacred species. Some Native American tribes considered white bison to be sacred. White elephants in India were sacred, as are cows for Hindus. Cecil, who was well known and tagged, became for many people a sacred animal. Killing Cecil was thus a dire sin for which Palmer will have to pay.

There is something deep in our evolved psychologies that want there to be sacred animals. Cecil fulfilled that deep need in many people. If you want to know why people are so angry about Cecil, you have to understand this aspect of our evolved psychologies.