Narrated by talk show host, Brian Wilson, “Down With Power” a Libertarian
Manifesto, by L. Neil Smith now downloadable as an audiobook!
Number 1,061, March 8, 2020

It is my experience that when a politician
wants to render those around him defenseless,
especially females, it’s because he wishes
to harm them with impunity.

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Knowledge and Culture
by Sarah A. Hoyt

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Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

I had no idea what to call this post. Calling it “if you go to the past take wipes” seemed a little over the top. Also didn’t fit on that line.

Mind you, I’d advise the same if you go traveling, even not in a time of Kung-flu. But that’s because I grew up elsewhere, and I’ve traveled.

In a previous post, I mentioned that when the American left started screaming that the right was accusing Chinese of the “stereotype” of being dirty, I was flabbergasted. I often don’t get American stereotypes at all, often leading to really weird situations, where someone assumes I’m judging them by stereotype, while I have no clue what I’m talking about, not even a little bit.

I think certain stereotypes and taboos you have to be a toddler in the country to imbibe. Or at least live with someone who isn’t a mathematician and whom—sometimes—you have to inform of the assumptions built into his own culture, because he was too busy daydreaming about numbers to notice something as silly as people.

But the dirty thing? We actually asked all our friends, and they all looked back at us wide-eyed and said something like “WHAT?”

Turns out, apparently, that yep, Chinese culture isn’t up there on the personal cleanliness scale. Which shocked me, since Japanese and Koreans are. (One of my closest friends as an exchange student was Japanese, and we had friends from Korea at one time.) And the Chinese family we knew very well when we lived in Manitou was as clean as anyone else. Of course, they were from Hong Kong.

The insanity, on the part of the left, of course, is not that they “fight the stereotype” (see above, not all Chinese have issues with cleanliness and individuals should be judged as individuals) but that they demand we not speak about it, because it’s cultural. And if you say anything bad about a culture, you’re “racist.”

These later-day heirs of Hitler seem incapable of understanding that culture isn’t born with the person, it’s something acquired. Which means to change a culture you don’t need to kill everyone who carries the same genes, you just need to make enough impact on two or three generations.

I was going to say it was one of the mysteries of the left that they could believe this, while at the same insisting on social engineering to change us into the perfect, communist race. Then I realized, no. That belief has been bought into coherency.

You see, for four generations, they’ve controlled the education system, and more importantly the arts, entertainment and reporting system, and yet they haven’t managed to make us all into ardent communists, and their perfect subjects. Which is why they hate us, with a burning a passion. And why they’ve gone on their deranged, racist campaign to eradicate “whiteness” which they blame for their defeat.

Dear Lord, in the 21st century, with history and anthropology proving this insane, these arrant idiots believe that cultural characteristics are inborn in people. Of course, they also believe that “capitalism” is kind of an evil curse that descended on civilization along with its twin “patriarchy” instead of getting that TRADING is natural in humans (maybe some apes, too. We’ve had indications) and that patriarchy is just what happens in the wild, when one sex is much larger than the other. Because someone has to protect the pregnant women and the children from the wild animals, and barring moral precepts to curb it, force is addictive.

If one of you invents a time machine, go back in the past and strangle Rousseau with his swaddling clothes. But if you go, take wipes. Because the past is filthy. Not by their lights, but by ours.

Which brings us back to China, cleanliness, culture. None of which have nothing to do with race, because I don’t care where your ancestors came from, the past is filthy.

You see, you can influence a culture, but usually not the way you mean to—hence the left’s increasingly enraged frustration at their ability to “engineer” society—and it takes a long time. The other thing it takes is the “benefits” of the change you’re trying to make showing up, and making the new generation SURE that something is worth it.

This is where the left has failed, btw. The erroneous model of society as a mechanism that the industrial age brought us, made them think that it was best to have a “central manager” and also that they could change the machine, replacing “pieces” at will. And elementary schools when they went universal (where I came from that was the forties. I think it was earlier here) gave them the illusion it could work.

There are certain things you can teach kids: ways of talking, of presenting themselves, of counting change, of memorizing train schedules (well, we DID. It was required to pass fourth grade. I invite you to imagine what kind of hell that was for the dyslexic kid who inverts numbers) that work, in the very short term for that person. They also give the kid a sense of superiority over his/her parents, those backward fools. This is btw, how first-generation communist take overs get the very small kids to tattle-tale on their parents, those backwards enemies of the state.

But the thing is, those are small things, and mostly things you do in public, okay? And they pay off for the person immediately. It often, however, doesn’t pay in the long run, and when the kids grow up, if they see what they were taught was a lie, they will turn. Boy, will they turn. Which is how the left keeps losing generations.

Anyway, let’s suppose it’s something real you’re trying to teach the kids. In my mom’s childhood, Portugal had undertaken a massive campaign to curb rampant TB. So, people could get arrested for being barefoot in public. This is because everyone SPIT in public. Just on the street.

It didn’t work, because like most laws it didn’t take in account that what it was legislating might be impossible. You see, most people couldn’t afford shoes. Not as often as they’d wear out from being worn anywhere. So workers would carry their shoes and put them on when they saw the police or—the more sophisticated—wear a shoe at a time, carry the other one, and claim the other one hurt their foot.

By the time mom told me these stories, they were weird, because in my generation everyone wore shoes. You see, if you had money for shoes you wore them, because you’d seen the benefits, to wit: you got sick less. Mind you, I think all of us lived in rubber flip flops in summer. ( I spent a ton of time trying to fix ones that broke, too, and I wasn’t unusual.)

The change, a minor one, “wear shoes in public” (the North of Portugal has a climate reminiscent of London) took hold as long as there was a reason and it was feasible. It only took two generations.

Other changes had clearly taken/have taken longer. Look, Portugal is not cut off from mainstream Western knowledge. We knew the germ theory of illness. It’s just that it’s not something you can SEE. By definition, bacteria aren’t visible.

So when I was a kid, my family which took a bath once a week (look, we had no running hot water. It was an endeavor) and washed hands, face, neck, arms and undercarriage every day were considered freakishly clean. The clothes we changed once a week (except for underthings that got changed every day) were considered “almost too clean to wash” by our washerwoman. TRUST ME, by our standards here and now, they were filthy.

People there, now, as far as I can tell, have American-style hygiene. And yes, I know what you’re going to say, we might be too clean, hence all the immune and auto-immune issues. And maybe. But that’s not the point.

The point is that Portugal had known how disease was transmitted since the late nineteenth century, but it took internalizing the change—repeated generations of seeing the benefit—and far more affluence than our ancestors ever had to penetrate.

Because culture is a hive-mind, composed of the docile, the stubborn, and the medium. And because a hive-mind, resistant to change UNLESS IT SEES THE BENEFITS. If you think of it as an autistic 2 year old, who wants to do things exactly the same way everyday, you won’t be far wrong.

And honestly, if it sees NO benefits? It won’t do it. No way, no how.

Now, my mom’s childhood friends died in droves from TB, from typhus, from other epidemic and endemic diseases that can be solved with scrupulous hygiene. But where and when she lived, they didn’t have the means to change the way they lived, even if they wanted to. You can legislate economic facts, just like you can legislate rain. What you can’t do is make the laws of nature obey you.

So, they lived as they always had and attributed illness to other things because…. what are you going to do?

I suspect to an extent that’s what is going on in China, btw. They are much wealthier than they were, but like all communist societies wealth is unequally distributed. Most peasants might be better off than when they were starving under the lash of Mao’s deranged rule, but they’re still desperately poor by Western standards.

Grandmother used to say “you don’t have to be rich to be clean.” It pains me to say it, but she was wrong. You either have to have a modicum of wealth, or spend your whole day battling grime. For instance, our house is decently clean and I work at it far less than she did. Usually a day a week will do it, because I don’t have to do it with brooms and brushes, I have a vacuum, which means I have electricity to support it (I don’t think grandma’s house electrical system could have taken it.) And I’ve long since learned the equation: trade money for time. As in, I can buy effective cleaners, and make the cleaning really quick, or I can use cheap stuff, or make my own, and take…. forever. Which eats my life.

But for many people in China the trade is simply not available. Period. They don’t have enough money to do that.

So they live in an environment that makes them more tolerant of every day dirt, which means they don’t notice it. That’s the part where dirt enters the culture. And they’re vast enough, they don’t see that other countries are cleaner or the benefits from it “they live longer and healthier lives.”

I’ve seen all these at close quarters as my generation (and possibly only my circles for all I know) was the first where the dime dropped in Portugal. Even though they’d known of bacteria since the late nineteenth century.

Heck, even here, the dime hasn’t fully dropped. Don’t believe me? Lurk in a public restroom for a few hours sometimes. Many people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. And, mind you, they’ve been told this since what…. birth?

Culture changes slowly. It doesn’t mean it’s genetic. It just means that new habits/ideas/ways of behaving take time to percolate through society, one collective neuron at a time. And that benefits must be obvious for it too work.

Also that culture—like a recalcitrant toddler—sometimes learns what you don’t want it to. Lie to it enough—by forcing it to say things that contradict its lying eyes, for instance—and you’re going to hit a point where they simply will not believe you. Nor, for a while, anyone else trying to command them. Which might be the point western culture has reached, honestly. It’s ten seconds from starting to run around screaming “I’ll never go to bed again.” And considering the bed the left has been trying to put it to bed with a shovel, that’s actually a good sign, I think.

But this means even “good” changes dictated from above will have a higher barrier to cultural penetration. Which sometimes isn’t good.

To what extent did Mao’s madness (and the not so sanity of his successors) make it so the Chinese people don’t really care if they hear that “hygiene is essential” or—knowing the style of the PCR—You must cause a thousand flowers of cleanliness to bloom?

As for our left: the very fact they assume cleanliness or lack thereof is RACIAL means they’re completely off whatever rocker they ever had. It also makes them repulsive and mad eugenicists. And it makes us less likely to listen to them—as a culture—or really to anyone, should we need to in the future.

Which is of course a problem, because cultures aren’t the most rational things around.

How do you counter it? I don’t know. Ignore the left. Wash your hands. And don’t panic. If you follow the prescriptions of the left and ignore the different cultures, you’ll panic, because, well “the kung flu will kill us all.”

It won’t. Our herd immunity is way higher. The kung flu might make us sick as dogs and cost us productivity as we drag around with a fever for six to eight weeks.

But this too shall pass. Including the crazy, anti-human and racist ideas of the left.

Because like a not completely insane toddler, the culture might run around eating dead bugs, but will stop if they make it sick. And if its nanny keeps instructing it to eat dead bugs, sooner or later its’ going to stop listening to the nanny.

And that too is a good thing.


Reprinted from According to Hoyt for March 5, 2020

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