Inevitability

I see very few ways that race relations in the United States can improve.

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The issue, as I see it, may be an example of the Chinese Robber Paradox. The paradox essentially goes like this: How many Chinese people would I need to prove to you were robbers before I could convince you that Chinese people generally were inclined to be robbers? A thousand? Ten thousand? What if I could show you a million Chinese people who were legitimately and indisputably robbers? A million would probably be enough to convince most people that Chinese people are generally robbers.

The problem with that conclusion is that there are over a billion Chinese people in China alone. One million Chinese people is not even 1%. Ignoring the idea that if you can find a million examples, there are probably many more you don’t know about, a million Chinese people says absolutely nothing about the overall likelihood of robbery among Chinese people.

But what if the Chinese were robbing people like you?

What if, every day, you were told that another person like you was robbed by a Chinese person? Every day another example of Chinese people being robbers, specifically robbing people like you. Groups who you think of as evil and wrong keep trying to tell you that these robberies are anomalous, and just a product of there being so many Chinese people, so of course SOME of them will be robbers, and SOME of them will be robbing people like you, but people not like you are robbed just as much or more.

But you don’t see that. You only ever see news stories about the people like you being robbed by Chinese people. Maybe not all Chinese people are robbers, but there has to be a pattern here, doesn’t there? People you respect in your community are telling you that Chinese people are robbers. People you think are evil are saying that that’s not true. Who do you believe?

What if this is what’s happening right now with police shootings?

There are approximately 900,000 active duty police officers in the United States. There are approximately 11,000,000 arrests made in the United States per year. How many of those need to go wrong for random reasons before people see a pattern? I would argue around 365 per year would be a solid number to go on. One police incident leading to the killing of an unarmed black male per day, for a year. Shaun King and Deray would have a meltdown if that happened. I would probably think there was something wrong if the number was that high. It’s not.

But let’s assume it is, to make the math easy. A rate that high would make the “Problems during arrest that lead to the death of an unarmed black male, including things like racism” rate 0.003% of all arrests.

Let’s also assume, for the sake of argument, that racism plays a negligible role in those deaths. Is that high or low compared to whites? Is that high or low compared to the percentage of cases where unarmed black men credibly threaten the life of a police officer? The answer is…

Who cares?

Truth seekers? Yes.

Who cares about them?

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There is a class of people, in the media, in academia, and “community organizers,” whose job depends on there being conflict, and problems that “need solving.” Some of them may even want those problems to be solved. But the best way they’ve found to get what they want is to stir up “righteous anger.” So every time an unarmed black man is killed by the police, they point to the incident and yell that there is systemic racism in American police.

Conservatives point out, correctly, all the problems with this logic. They point to black-on-black murder. They point out that only a tiny percentage of black arrests end in death. They point out that black officers are more likely to shoot black suspects than white officers are. They point out that more whites are killed by the police than blacks. They point out that, eh, the officer may have been a little trigger happy, but that guy was running at him at the time, so it was probably a reasonable judgement in those circumstances.

Again, who cares?

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Black people are fed examples of people like them being killed by the police nearly every day. Logically, it’s fairly obvious that these are anomalous events, statistical noise. But how does logic help the people who keep seeing people like them being killed? It’s not logic that’s driving them to their anger, and it’s certainly not logic that’s going to get them out of it.

How many fewer than 365 would there need to be before people were no longer concerned about police shootings? Police shootings will never be eliminated. There are simply too many arrests per year for some of them to not end in violence, barring some awesome future tech solution. So zero is out of the question. The actual number is around 100 per year. Out of 11 million arrests. That’s two per week. If one per month can be spun into a story, that is more than enough to keep racial tensions high. I think you could continue to see racial tensions at this height with a rate of one or two per month. That would be between 12 and 24 per year. I don’t think it’s possible to get the rate below 24 per year. I certainly don’t think it’s possible to get the rate below 12 per year.

Given this scenario, where race is a negligible factor in these deaths, how could we possibly ease racial tensions? You would need a concentrated effort by the media, academia, and community organizers all admitting that they were wrong about the issue, and convincing people that there really isn’t a problem. That’s not going to happen for two reasons. First, it goes against all the interests of the people involved except their altruism, and I have learned not to trust in the altruism of community organizers. Second, if the people currently handing out this rhetoric were to change their stance, that would simply leave open their position as agitators to someone that is still willing to say there is a problem, and the original agitators would simply take the place of the conservatives that everyone ignored.

That’s why I fear that race relations have nowhere to go but down in the United States. I have no interest in anything resembling a “race war,” but I don’t see many scenarios where something like that doesn’t end up happening.

The only possibly way I can see out of this trap is if some kind of world-class persuader manages to persuade the people filled with “righteous anger” that something is being done about their issue, and that that something is working. I have no idea how he’d do it, but that’s why he’s the skilled persuader and I’m not.

 

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12 thoughts on “Inevitability

  1. This problem is simply a function of who is in a position to control the narrative. Stirring up righteous anger is done for a purpose; the people who are doing it have the power to do it, and use the power in pursuit of their goals. Thus, the solution is to remove the power of narrative control from those people, or to alter their goals/incentives such that they stop.

    There are around 500 black-on-white murders per year. Certainly enough for far more scaremongering, should someone decide they wish to do so. What would things look like if police shootings of blacks were downplayed and justified in public statements, and every horrendous black-on-white murder got the same kind of play Ferguson did? Certainly the racial dynamics would be very different.

    It’s true that bad trouble is, in the current situation, inevitable. But this isn’t fundamentally about race, it’s about the Cathedral, as usual. Trying to do anything about the actual rate of police shootings is a red herring; the Cathedral can and will generate moral panics ex nihilo if it fits their agenda. Our current problems in race relations are insoluble only until we solve the Cathedral; afterwards, they aren’t intractable or even particularly difficult.

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    1. That was the point I was dancing around, that the current incentives involved in the situation, due to The Cathedral, cannot lead to a peaceful solution, even if police shootings are brought down. The current deterioration is inevitable as long as The Cathedral is in control of the narrative. That’s why I said the only “easy” solution I can see is someone in power with the ability to shift the narrative on his own. The other solution is dismantling The Cathedral, which is not exactly easy.

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      1. Right. Solving the symptoms becomes easy once you’ve solved the original cause, but that’s easier said than done.

        Another corollary is that any effort spent on the race-war bullshit is effort wasted so long as the Cathedral remains in power. There’s probably a brute-force route to crashing the Cathedral after they take the blacks’ side in a race war the blacks lose, but that has far more collateral damage than is at all reasonable.

        (Incidentally, 2016 has convinced me that the Cathedral is far dumber than Moldbug predicted; it’s patently obvious that their continued agitation in specific areas would lead to the rise of alt-right and nationalist movements, but they still continue. This is probably not good news; if the Cathedral were rationally self-preserving, then they’d steer away from civil war, but as it stands that looks like a likely outcome.)

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  2. Did Moldbug “predict” any level of intelligence behind the Cathedral? I thought his key insight was showing that “Just because giant conspiracies are improbable doesn’t mean you can’t have something like a conspiracy that is nonetheless not a conspiracy.”

    The Cathedral isn’t dumb or smart. It’s mindless.

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    1. Moldbug wrote that the Cathedral would always “trim before the wind” of popular opinion, preventing any build-up to a critical mass in favor of destroying it altogether. As an example, he gave the Iraq war of 2003, where various Cathedralite organs were in favor of it before they were against it. Notionally, the Cathedral was aligned with Blue Empire, and so should have opposed any Red Empire power plays such as Iraq; thus, any support for it would be considered “against interest” and evidence of bending to popular opinion.

      I now think this was somewhat incorrect; the Red Empire/Blue Empire divide is somewhat overstated, and the Blue Empire (which wants to spread democracy) is more than willing to let Red Empire destroy its enemies before swooping in on its own to oversee the reconstruction along its own preferred lines. As we now know, this did not end well, but the Blue Empire is somewhat irrationally convinced of the omnipotence of the US armed forces and endlessly smug about their ability to issue orders to them. I therefore now interpret the scattered early support for the Iraq adventure among Cathedralites as being consonant with their own, Blue Empire interests, rather than playing to popular opinion in its support; it is clear now, at least, that the Cathedral is not giving the slightest bit in the face of rising nationalism a la Trump, but rather doubling down on its attacks, which has the effect of further polarizing the situation and thus throwing nationalists more support.

      This is not really effective self-preservative behavior on the part of the Cathedral; it sees no reason to be cautious, because convinced that the US armed forces are omnipotent and would easily win any civil conflict, without considering the problems of insurgency warfare or the likely loyalties of the troops themselves. Rather than trimming before the wind in order to preserve its own existence and its long-term demographic and memetic advantages, it is staking its existence on a complete victory immediately, even to the point of civil war. This makes it more likely that the Cathedral will be decisively destroyed, so in one sense a good thing for its enemies; on the other hand, it greatly reduces the prospects of a peaceful resolution. On balance, I consider this to be bad news; accelerationists may think differently.

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  3. This is one of the best written pieces I’ve rad in a while. The conflicted balance between the standard arguments for racial differences cut off by the visceral refrain, “who cares” is both very funny and poignant.

    Great style and content. Thanks.

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  4. Interesting article. I agree with your overall take on things but I think that there’s a little more to it. The center-left political bloc represented by the Democrats is based on mobilizing various “minority” communities as foot soldiers for a sector of the elite. They do this by providing perks (think all of the various forms of affirmative action, “diversity” sinecures, etc) to a small segment of these groups and then relying on mobilizing the rest of them by cultivating their resentment through constant appeals to their victimhood, but without really giving them much that’s tangible. There’s a tension here since Trump’s platform at every level was really more favorable to the mass of poor and working blacks, for example, than Hillary’s. In fact there are some rumblings on the left involving a critique of identity politics, but given the nature of the left as a whole (a longer story) I think that it is very unlikely that the left will really change and there are no signs of the growth of an independent and authentically populist black movement.

    I think, however, that there’s a 3rd option between racial reconciliation and race war. The system – whatever name you give it – is an extremely flexible one and the most likely scenario, is that we’ll see the institutionalization of an ever-increasingly-but-perhaps-never-quite-explicitly white interest group politics as part of it. How things will go from there is anybody’s guess and it’s possible that some crisis will bring the whole thing down, however, I expect that an unappealing long-term period of inter-communal competition is more likely than a catastrophic collapse into race war.

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