Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

2018 in Photos

Jerry Stratton, January 17, 2018

June 20, 2018: The eye of the insulter
Leadership in two photos

Cherry-picking photos requires that you understand what you’re looking at. Democrats seem to possess a pathological inability to see the value of getting down to work.

When I first saw this pair of photos pop up in my Facebook feed, I thought it had been posted by a conservative—and that it was an unfair comparison because the two photos were obviously taken at different points in the international meeting. I fully expect that there are photos of President Obama working, and photos of President Trump goofing off.

I turned out to be half right. I was very surprised to read further and discover that this was posted as anti-Trump and pro-Obama. My first impression was that the top photo looks like a kindergarten photo. The bottom photo looks like people working.

Denigrating a working photo and saying that everyone should always act like goofy happy kindergartners is, dare I say, how you got Trump in the first place.

The photo montage reminded me of a similar photo in California when Governor Schwarzenegger was running for re-election. That photo showed a sleezy used-car-salesman running against a strong, forceful Schwarzenegger. It turned out to be from the government unions, campaigning against Governor Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger won; I don’t know if the same will hold true of Trump in 2020, but if they keep with photos like this I wouldn’t be surprised. It shows a serious lack of introspection, a complete inability to recognize what other people see.

Democrats didn’t lose in 2016 because they lost the goofy class; they won that hands down. They lost because they lost the working class. Making fun of Trump because he looks like he not only is getting down to work but is convincing other world leaders to do the same seems like a losing strategy to me.1

But there’s a stranger feel to these photos. The top photo is, because I’ve recently read After America, extraordinarily Eloi-like. The playfulness is goofy when compared to a working photo. They appear, in comparison, cluelessly unserious. To paraphrase Orwell paraphrasing Kipling, they can be that unserious only because other world leaders are working behind the scenes to make the world safe. And what these photos tell us is that those world leaders only work to make the world safe when President Trump is leading them.

The photos tell us that unlike his predecessor Trump is able to convince those leaders to work together instead of dancing through the fields while, one by one, the other Eloi drown and are carried downstream never to be seen again.

January 17, 2018: Slavery does not create wealth
Frederick Douglass: Slavery is barbarism

Last night I saw the strangest meme, a backhanded compliment to slavery:

You have to first of all understand nothing about the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.

You have to not understand anything about the systematic theft of African bodies and lives. And you have to not understand how that theft built the wealth we have today in Europe and the US.

The emphasis is mine, and the problem with that part of this meme is that it makes the unwarranted assumption that, as evil as it is, slavery is useful for something. That slavery is more effective than freedom at creating wealth. But history says that it isn’t—and former slaves agree. In fact, slavery kills wealth, and what wealth it seems to create is a hollow shell that crumbles once it is no longer propped up by the state. This was true in Sparta—it is why we use the adjective “Spartan” to mean living in minimal wealth—and it was true in the American South. That’s why the Confederacy was at such a disadvantage during the war: because the North was so much better at wealth creation, and had been since the North abandoned slavery. Because the North abandoned slavery earlier, they were ahead of the South in wealth creation, which meant the ability to wage more effective war.

Throughout history, the slave trade has retarded wealth growth everywhere it has been used, from Sparta to the American South. That was one of the things that (somewhat paradoxically) most disappointed Frederick Douglass when he escaped to the North: he had assumed that even though slavery was evil, at least his suffering had enhanced the lives of slaveowners. Instead he found that even many former slaves in the North lived in greater luxury than slaveowners in the South.

  1. <- 2017 in Photos