Sailor Starlight

I didn’t know Peter Brown all that well. I’m not saying that I did. But in the mid-90s, anime was still not mainstream yet, the fan base was smaller, and everybody knew everybody, at least a little, or by reputation. And Peter Brown certainly did have a reputation.

In those days, the staff of the computer lab at Laney College – on the border of Oakland’s seedy downtown and its distinctly non-touristy Chinatown – was effectively the same as the makeup of its college anime club, Beefbowl Anime. It was run by a crazy bald second-generation Korean who mostly created fansubs by coercing his elderly father, who had been forcibly taught Japanese as a schoolboy during the Japanese occupation of Korea – to translate the likes of Tenchi Muyo and Macross Plus into English. The lab itself was a motley collection of computers that were ancient even then – some Mac SE/30s, a couple of squat IIci and IIvx machines, and a few PCs that still had 5 1/4” floppy drives. I’d go up there sometimes, hang out, wheel and deal for tapes – in those days, fansubs came on VHS tapes put together with Video Toasters, and you had to have connections to lay your hands on them (thus one reason why everybody got to know everybody – so you’d have people to trade with). As with so many things, it’s easier now, but with less human connection or sense of community. But I digress.

Peter Brown was kind of a member of Beefbowl and kind of not – it isn’t like most anime clubs back then had much real formal organization unless they were big operations like Cal Animage up at UC Berkeley. Everyone just kind of showed up when they could. Peter Brown showed up a lot. The first time I saw him was in the Laney computer lab before a Beefbowl showing (of a couple episodes each of Maison Ikkoku and DNA^2, I think). My first thought was “What a weird-looking girl!”. There was certainly a distinct androgyny to him: a plump, round, rather feminine face that was unmistakably half-white and half-Asian, long hair hanging down in a ponytail, a fanny pack (these were, and perhaps still are, thought of as a feminine or at least effeminate article of clothing); and besides this (much to my disapproval), girls do commonly wear jeans these days, so the rest of his clothes were no help.

Later, during the showing (the cool kids watched anime at home and came to club showings to hang out in the hallway, talk, and make connections), I asked who the girl in the blue jacket was. There was a round of laughter at my expense. Some ribald teasing ensued, which I professed bafflement at. One of the members of the club, a Chinatown native named Raymond stopped to explain.

“That…” he said, crinkling his nose up as if he were smelling something bad, the way Chinese often do when they talk about something they dislike, “…is Peter Brown”.

I continued to be baffled. Who was he?

Peter Brown had a reputation, you see, as a cosplayer. But with one distinct quirk – he always dressed as female characters. They have a name for that now; they call it “crossplay” (a portmanteau of “crossdressing” and “cosplay”). But Tumblr didn’t exist back then, so our name for it was “fucking weird”.

“How could you think that looked like a woman?”, somebody asked me accusingly.

Thinking fast, and wanting not to spend the rest of the evening as the butt of jokes, I shot back “Well it sure as shit doesn’t look like a man!”

And everyone conceded that I had a point there. The ribald teasing subsided.

Fast forward a year…

* * *

The next time I remember seeing Peter Brown was at Anime Expo ’96, which was the Best. Con. Ever. It was the last anime con before anime started really going mainstream, and thus the last con before poseurs and casual fans started showing up. It was the last time that any anime con was really just a gathering of knowledgable, hardcore devotees. Being in my early 20s, I saw nothing wrong with going down there with no badge or hotel room ready. I’d figure something out about the badge, and besides, the best part of the con was the room parties anyway. As for a hotel room, I figured that it was just a three-day con; staying up 72 hours wouldn’t be that big a deal, and I could sleep when I got home (you think those kinds of things at that age). So I bummed a ride down to LA (with the crazy bald Korean driving – an odyssey in terror is ever there was one) and walked in the door of the hotel with a grand total of $40 in my pocket for the weekend.

The badge issue got solved. Somebody from (I think) the Cal Animage branch at Chabot College hadn’t been able to make it, but the guys from the club had picked up his badge anyway, and since they were connections, I talked my way into it.

The hotel room issue was not resolved so neatly. The first night, I stayed at the Cal Animage Berkeley room party until it shut down at 7AM or so. They showed all kinds of animated shorts on (what in those days passed for) a big TV set – I remember seeing some Seishun Shitemasu fundubs, Bring Me The Head of Charlie Brown, and an obscure little thing called Spirit of Christmas. I grabbed a couple of hours’ sleep under a table, and woke up to find that someone had drawn Madoka Ayukawa drawn on my forearm with a Sharpie.

That night was the masquerade, and it was magnificent. You couldn’t get a crowd to chant “Seig Zeion” with that enthusiasm today.

I don’t know whether this still occurs, but on Saturday night, Anime Expo used to feature an unofficial Pool Party at the hotel pool. Every anime in history has its inevitable fanservice beach episode, and girls would come to the Pool Party in costume as some character from a beach episode. There were fewer girls in fandom then, but they tended to be prettier and thicker-skinned when it came to getting rid of conslugs (as we called guys who came to cons to hit on girls back then – before somebody invented the concept of “stare rape”). I forget why I didn’t go, but I didn’t. Somewhere during the evening, however, I ran into a couple of the Beefbowl guys, who were laughing their asses off at something. I asked what happened.

“Peter Brown damn near started a riot at the Pool Party!”

Again, bafflement on my part.

It turned out that Peter Brown had shown up to the Pool Party dressed as female Ranma, in a red wig and one-piece swimsuit. It hadn’t gone well. A lot of people saw him and headed for the exits. Nothing quite ruins a Pool Party, the general consensus said, like a pudgy half-Asian male sporting a visible three-piece set under a tight red leotard.

I burst out laughing too. I said I was going to the pool to see it all for myself, but the guys told me that the party had broken up and he was gone.

“This isn’t fucking funny!”, Raymond insisted.

But it was.

Fast forward a year…

* * *

Anime Expo ’97 was different. Anime had started to go mainstream in earnest. The casual fans had started showing up. There were more people there, but fewer people you knew. There were more girls – a lot more. For the first time, you heard of lots of people who planned on meeting face-to-face with others who they’d become friends with on the internet – mostly on IRC or ICQ. That was part of my plan, too – I was going to meet Winnie for the first time. Not with any idea of romance – I had been able to even over the internet that she had some psychological issues that I didn’t want to deal with, and anyway she had a jealous harem of male admirers – but I was curious to meet her all the same. She and her harem were doing a group cosplay as the characters from Fushigi Yuugi, with Winnie herself as Miaka. There wasn’t a Yui – hives can only have one queen, after all.

I ran into Peter Brown in the registration line. He said he had something special planned for the masquerade this year. The general consensus was that this was not good news. The general consensus was that Peter Brown’s costumes were indeed beautifully-crafted and meticulously-made, and that they would be a wonder to behold if only he wasn’t wearing them personally. Perhaps he could create the costumes, and he could find a girl to wear them instead? A few people had suggested this to him, and a couple of girls had even volunteered, but Peter Brown was not interested.

That year, also for the first time, the number of attendees had grown such that not everybody who wanted to see the masquerade could fit into the ballroom where it was being held. Thus, big (again, for the time) TVs were placed in smaller ballrooms, and the masquerade was simulcast into them so that everybody could watch. Winnie and her harem had grabbed some front-row seats. I lay on the floor at their feet, right in front of the TV.

About halfway through the masquerade, Peter Brown took the stage, wearing a bright red business suit with a green shirt and a yellow tie. I was not a great Sailor Moon fan, but I had seen enough Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars to suddenly understand what the special thing that Peter Brown had in mind was. He started his skit, struck a pose… and waited. Something had gone wrong; someone had missed a cue for something. There was a long, awkward delay. Peter Brown, trying to keep things going, said in a diva-ish voice (barely audibly over the TV in the remote ballroom) “I cannot work like this!”. The wait, with him still holding his pose, seemed to go on forever, until finally the tape was played and the feed cut to Sailor Star Fighter’s transformation sequence from the anime.

“Oh God no!” someone shouted.

The feed cut back to Peter Brown. The suit was supposed to have been a velcro-secured, tearaway affair, covering the Sailor Starlight costume of black leather thigh-high boots, hot pants, and a bikini top, to be revealed when he tore it off. But it had malfunctioned, and as the feed cut back, he was still desperately trying to pull it off of his plump, rotund body. The crowd – both in the main ballroom and in the remote hall where I was, broke into jeers. I turned to one of Winnie’s hive, who was dressed as Chichiri, complete with the sort of round, conical hat associated with Chinese and Vietnamese peasants…

“Gimmee your hat!” I pleaded

“Why? What for?”

“Just gimmee your hat!”

He did. I speed-crawled up to the TV, and in one motion, clapped the hat onto the screen right over the image of Peter Brown’s mostly-uncovered body as it pranced around on stage – safely obscuring it, completely.

And the crowd cheered!

Fast forward a few hours…

* * *

Later that evening I was at a room party (I think it was run by someone who later was manga editor for Dark Horse – it’s a bit hard to remember). I arrived late, had a drink or two, and settled in. I wandered around, said hello to the host, and to Raymond, and to someone I knew from IRC and had already met once in person the year before.

I ended up half-drunk, and eventually ambled over to the room’s bed.

And there was Peter Brown. He was sitting on the bed in the room, half-drunk himself, normally dressed, and alone.

My head was spinning. I needed to sit down for a while. So I sat on the bed, and Peter Brown recognized me, and we started talking.

I forget the exact words of the conversation, and I wouldn’t try to repeat them here even if I did. But, as it got late, and the crowd thinned out, and we drank a bit more, the conversation turned personal, and I heard Peter Brown’s story in full.

Peter Brown’s father had met his mother while in Japan in the military. They married, moved to the U.S., had him, and divorced when he was very young. His mother had gone back to Japan and neither he nor his father had ever heard from her again, though they had heard thirdhand that she had remarried, and that Peter Brown had Japanese half-siblings who he had never met. His father had remarried as well, and he had ended up with new stepsiblings, and eventually half-siblings, from his new stepmother. She hadn’t liked him very much though, and neither had her children. His being the child of his father’s first wife was most of it, and the obvious racial difference between him and the rest of his new family hadn’t helped. There was a lot of emotional abuse, and sometimes the abuse from the other kids in the family crossed into the physical. Always the outcast, at 18 he was unsubtly requested to leave, and did. He worked where he could, and took classes at Laney where he could. That was his lot. And then there was the cosplay.

He didn’t directly say that his life was an unhappy one, and always had been. He didn’t have to. It was obvious from talking to him that the conventions and the cosplay were the only things that brought him any real joy or sense of accomplishment. The whole crowd had booed him that day, and I’d stuck Chichiri’s hat over him on the remote ballroom TV, and yet that moment on stage at the Anime Expo masquerade was still all that he had lived the previous year of his life for.

Of course he would never just make a costume and let somebody else wear it.

I felt for him, but said little. Perhaps just letting him talk was what was best, or perhaps I just didn’t have much to say about it all.

The party wound down in the wee hours. Eventually everyone left, including us. The next day was the last of the convention, and I didn’t see Peter Brown again before we all went home.

Fast forward five years…

* * *

If you’re ever in Oakland Chinatown and you’re in the mood for some Dim Sum, Restaurant Peony is a good choice. It’s on the top floor of the Pacific Plaza, a block off of Broadway, and a few blocks from Laney College. On a clear, cool early afternoon in the fall of 2002, I was there for lunch with Raymond, his brother, and another of his friends.

A lot had changed in the previous few years. I had gone to Japan to teach English for a year, and then come back to the States. I’d fallen in love, been engaged, and had gotten my heart broken. I was working at a job that involved a lot of time on the road. Raymond had started to have some health issues, and didn’t get out all that much. But my being back in town for a while merited a lunch out.

We were both getting close to thirty. We both still liked anime, but it wasn’t – couldn’t be – an obsession or a lifestyle anymore.

Dim Sum is a leisurely experience, especially on a weekend. You sit, and talk, and eat a bit, and sit some more, and drink some tea, and let a couple of hours pass. If you’re with Asians, you can expect gadgets at the table; nobody thinks of it as rude. Between the many courses, Raymond’s brother sat smashing buttons on a GameBoy Advance. The rest of us talked. Someone (probably me, though I can’t be sure) brought up Peter Brown and asked what he was up to.

Raymond crinkled his nose. “He’s out at sea.”

Surely this was a joke?

No. It wasn’t. Raymond explained that you can make a lot of money fast by signing up as crew on a cargo ship; so much so that if you lived cheap, you only had to work half the year. Peter Brown did this, and with the other half, worked on his costumes and went to wear them at conventions.

“Besides, the ships go back and forth to Japan a lot, and while he’s there he can go anime shopping.”

I suppose he could. Or perhaps he could spend the time looking for someone…

The conversation moved to other things. We talked, and sat, and ate, and drank some tea, and Raymond’s brother plinked away at his GameBoy.

Fast forward ten years…

* * *

Raymond’s house is a beautiful one, or would be were it not a total mess – cluttered to every last inch with toys, models, figures, DVDs, and an ever-more forlorn looking collection of VHS tapes – all artifacts of an increasingly distant youth. And not just in his room, but everywhere. His mom lets him. I’d complain if it was my house, but it isn’t. And besides, he and I are of the same generation, and the toys of his youth were of mine as well, so they all make me smile.

And I myself have little right to complain of anyone else not wanting to grow up.

Still, a lot had changed in those ten years, too. I had ended up back in grad school and was putting the finishing touches on my thesis. Raymond’s health problems had gotten worse, and he’d gotten very close indeed to death before a new set of kidneys became available. The transplant had been a success however, and he’d only had to stay in the hospital a week afterward. Raymond still didn’t have a driver’s license at just short of forty, so I occasionally drove him down to Pill Hill in Oakland for his periodic post-transplant checkups. They were all fine.

It was a Saturday afternoon. Raymond had gotten back into building and launching model rockets, which were a part of his youth, and mine as well. He’d gotten me back into it, too. And so we sat at his dining room table – gorgeous lacquered wood under the double tablecloths that sat under the gaming laptops and scattered piles of parts from rockets and Gundam models. I glued fins on an Estes Big Bertha. Raymond’s glue was drying, so he distractedly played some game on his computer, while an 80s mix played from the smartphone he’d laid on the table.

Somehow, the anime Queen’s Blade, noted for its unrealistically huge-busted female characters, came up.

“Let’s see Peter Brown cosplay that!” I joked.

Raymond looked away from his game for a second. “No chance of that. He’s dead.”

“Wait – that’s terrible! What happened?!”

“Killed himself. Got ahold of a pistol somewhere and shot himself in the head.”

“That’s awful…”

Awful… yes. Though I guess not all that unexpected.

“Yeah, well…” Raymond added, staring down at the table “…at least he checked out on his own terms.”

There was, not an intentional moment of silence, still silence for a moment nonetheless. Then something loud happened in the game on Raymond’s laptop, and he went back to it.

My rocket sat before me, needing fins. But I let it wait for just a bit, and I thought about Peter Brown.

No… not unexpected. Had the boos finally gotten to him? Was damn near twenty years worth of being a running joke in the only places he’d ever found any real happiness enough? Maybe it was the fact that we were all getting older. If people booed what he did when he was twenty-three, what would they say when he was forty years old? And what was there for him on the other side of forty, anyway? Certainly not a wife, children, family, accomplishment, respectability. He’d have none of the sweet things about growing older, and he couldn’t keep up what he had been doing much longer.

And so it seems he checked out.

Had there been a somberness in Raymond’s voice when he had told me? Respect for the dead, perhaps. Or maybe some reflection on the fact that he’d come close to “checking out” himself recently, and not on his own terms? He hadn’t crinkled his nose this time. But then again, if he really did dislike the guy so much, why did he always know what he was up to when I asked?

Or it could have been a realization that he and I had more to count as ours at forty than Peter Brown did, but not all that much.

Raymond’s mom came home. We made dinner. We ate. I glued my fins. He finished his game. The sun went down. I went home. Life went on.

* * *

So why am I telling this story? On a political blog, no less?

I suppose a liberal would say that Peter Brown hadn’t been tolerated enough. That he faced structural racism. That he was some manner of sexually baroque that should have been celebrated. That if we had all been more supportive, he wouldn’t have seen that gun as the only logical conclusion of his existence on this Earth.

Maybe.

I also suppose that traditionalists would say that Peter Brown had been robbed of something important by modernity. That he needed direction in his life; something more than the enjoyment of foreign cartoons as the thing that gave him meaning. Or that he had been tolerated too much – allowed to be a man-child too long in a society that is too permissive when it comes to such things.

Maybe.

Perhaps being on the wrong side of forty has made me reflective. Perhaps I’ve started to become an old man who tells pointless stories. Perhaps it’s just summer, and life is slow, and it’s the right time to spin a yarn about the old days.

Maybe it’s of that, too. Or something else entirely.

They say that nobody really ever dies so long as people remember them. For this reason, Peter Brown’s name is the only one that I haven’t changed or concealed in this story.

I didn’t know Peter Brown all that well. Maybe nobody did.

But I do remember him.

In Which I Determine Whether Friendship Really Is Magic

I recently took a fair amount of criticism online – from both left and right – over a series of retweets I posted from BronyCon, a gathering of fans of the television show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I’m usually pretty inured to criticism (I get a lot of it in this gig, as you might expect) but this time, there was a certain ring of truth to it. After all, it really is rather unfair of me to offer an opinion on something I’ve never actually seen. Beyond this, I do understand the fact that, especially with “genre” shows, a property cannot always be fairly said to be represented by its fandom. As someone who is well-known as a longtime anime fan, I have seen myself that some anime fans can be a bit, well… excessive. And so it was in this spirit that I sat down to give My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic a fait shake by (in old-school anime fan tradition) watching the first four episodes of the show, with the movie My Little Pony: Equestria Girls thrown in for good measure. Below are my scattered impressions of each episode, written down in my notebook as they occurred to me.

Episode 01 – Friendship is Magic, Part 1:

  • This show seems more monarchistic than I might have expected. Two sisters ruling a kingdom?
  • The “Elements of Harmony” – this speaks to the feminine value placed on group consensus. What does it say that this was used to shun a misbehaver?
  • “Spike”? There’s a male character on this show?
  • So the main character is a bookworm. Explains a lot.
  • So the male character is physically tiny, and a servant. Typical.
  • So there is a princess! This demonstrates the truth that women, deep down, do totally grok hierarchical monarchy.
  • Spike – the little male dragon servant has the most masculine name ever – definitely a metaphor for the subjugation of masculinity.
  • The ponies who drag the chariots are “sirs” – again, subjugated male servants.
  • Twilight Sparkle is a “geekgirl” – quite telling. The people who created this show know their audience.
  • So this show is basically a monarchistic, hierarchical matriarchy. It is weirdly simultaneously reactionary and progressive. This brings up a question: Do women not object to hierarchy, as long as it’s *they* who rule it?
  • “There are only two kinds of women: Feminists and masochists” say feminists. In that vein, male MLP:FIM fans are surely masochists.
  • Fluttershy – the Tomoko Kuroki of Equestria.
  • There’s a definite femdom aspect to this.
  • I’d smack Pinky Pie.
  • Soooooo much matriarchy.
  • Nightmare Moon is definitely a villain of the animesque “Ufufufufufufu…” variety.

Season 01 Episode 02 – Friendship is Magic Part II:

  • UFUFUFUFUFUFU…
  • Predictably, the male is useless.
  • This show is rather Sailor Moonish. Expected from two shows based on feminine values.
  • So the females encounter a roaring lion, and engage in the fantasy of “fixing” a dangerous male.
  • Ever heard of a “testosterone-soaked” action movie? This is estrogen-soaked.
  • SOMEBODY FUCKING SMACK PINKY PIE!!!
  • Ah, the dragon who is the middle class white woman’s illusion of what gay males are like.
  • Shadowcolts! They’re, uhm… dressed like they came from a gay S&M club.
  • YMCA… Shadowcolts come from the… YMCA…
  • If you believe in yourself, anything can happen!… and other things that nobody over 30 believes anymore.
  • “Now, young Jedi, you will feel the pow-wah…”
  • Yes, yes… they each have a crystal that makes up the Ginzuishou… I’ve seen this before.
  • Yay! And everybody gets jewelry!
  • It’s like the end of the Sailor Moon R movie… but not as good, and twenty years later.
  • And they bow to their Princess. Very hierarchical. Very monarchstic.
  • The queen as healer (which is how all women see themselves). See? Females really do grok monarchy!
  • …as long as males have no effective power, that is.

Season 01 Ep. 03 – The Ticket Master:

  • Whatever this is, it could’t be worse than the actual TicketMaster!
  • And here we see that the male incessantly needs correction by the females.
  • Ah, an excuse to dress up. Females love that.
  • Applejack: My Capitalist Pony
  • Speaking of which, do any of these ponies besides Applejack have, you know, a job?
  • Females jockeying for social position. I am amused.
  • SOMEBODY GVE PINKY PIE RITALIN!!!
  • So Rarity dreams of meeting a man at a high society ball… in other words, to mate with a high status male.
  • Women in social competition sure do get vicious.
  • How does all this speak to the degree of manipulativeness among women?
  • This episode would be impossible among males. There is too much status-seeking and social jockeying in it.

Season 01 Ep. 04 – Applebuck Season:

  • So Applejack has a brother. Again, I’m actually surprised that this show has any male characters at all.
  • The female predictably lets a male suggesting that she can’t do something goad her into foolishly taking on what she can’t handle. Never forget that, ye who seek to use Game.
  • Yet more unrealistic grrl power fantasies.
  • And magic makes up for lack of opposable thumbs.
  • Ah, the fear of social embarrassment. To the female mindset, there is nothing worse.
  • Women really can be easily goaded into doing the stupidest shit.
  • Pridefulness is the heart of feminism. And that’s not a good thing.
  • Complimentarianism is simple, obvious sense. Which means that like all obvious sense these days, it is deeply controversial.
  • Surrender to womanly pride, and you get a bunny stampede. Truly a valuable lesson learned.
  • Sure, I know – but the actual consequences of giving into feminism are no less bizarre, and far more disastrous.
  • And the females discover the male ethic of helping with hard work… after getting dragged into it.

BONUS! My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic the Movie: Equestria Girls:

  • So Twilight Sparkle is a Princess now? How did that happen? Silly question – she’s an author avatar (and audience avatar), and all girls, no matter what egalitarian nonsense they may spout on Tumblr, dream of being princesses.
  • And again, in this show, males are servants, window dressing, or irrelevant.
  • And also, not particularly competent.
  • Who is this new pony? She is evil! In this show’s normal “Ufufufufufu” way, of course.
  • So monarchistic! I mean… in an utterly matriarchal way.
  • This show isn’t really leftist so much as oddly reactionary politically, yet sexist towards males.
  • And now she’s a real girl!
  • Just about all the girls here wear skirts? Oddly traditionalist!
  • Oh! Look! The show just turned into Mean Girls! Again, we see social hierarchy, and the fear of ostracization from the ingroup as the sum of all fears.
  • And the males retreat before the powerful female.
  • And Twilight Sparkle faces her most dangerous challenge yet! High school cafeteria food!
  • Yup – social stratification/separation into thedes rules here as well! See? Females really do understand the basics of reactionary thought.
  • Again, in this show, males are useless and stupid, fit only to be simple servants.
  • Ah, female signaling and status-jockeying.
  • Bookishness to the rescue! The awkward teenage girl’s fantasy.
  • The fantasy of female dominance over males is a serious theme here.
  • As is status and social shaming – to be honest, I’m not quite sure that females quite exactly understand not responding to social shaming.
  • And in this feminized society, a lot of males don’t either.
  • Boyfriends are commodities here… as are all males.
  • Another song. A time-waster?
  • There’s really no hint of “gay rights” in this show. Males – gay or straight – are too inconsequential here to bother spending time thinking about.
  • Wow! A male briefly did something mildly important. But only to support a female and become a fantasy boyfriend, of course.
  • Dare I hold the brief hope that they’re going to lez out?
  • More of the female virtues of consensus and cooperation.
  • The dress-up montage! The female equivalent of the 80s action movie training montage!
  • Uh oh! She’s got the HHH sledgehammer!
  • GIRLFIGHT!!!
  • Predictable climax! Yay!
  • Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown!
  • “A true princess in any world leads not by forcing others to bow before her, but by inspiring others to stand with her.” Wow… so the principal/queen declares that there’s no power without noblesse oblige! Very reactionary!
  • “You know what Spike? I am a little more comfortable wearing it!” I’ll just bet you are!

Wrapup/Overall thoughts:

This show is far less doinky, and also far less egalitarian than I thought it would be. That said, it is positively estrogen-soaked… deeply imbued with female thinking. As such, I can understand why females like it, but any male who willingly watches this (fathers of young girls excepted) can only be considered masochistic. In short, it isn’t terrible in itself; but Sailor Moon did largely the same things, 20 years ago, and with more sympathy for males. Which may be explained by the fact that Japanese males and females are far less at war with each other than in the West, and especially in America.

If anything, MLP suffers from insufficient respect for the proper balance of male and female essence.

Grade: Not as bad as I feared, but I don’t understand why it has male fans or why it seems to have sparked a movement, and I wouldn’t bother watching it again.

(P.S. The tradition of giving a show four episodes as a basis for determining whether you wanted to watch any more goes back to the days when anime fansubs came on VHS tapes and were very difficult and time-consuming to lay one’s hands on. Recorded at SP, which was the highest quality, a standard VHS tape gave you two hours of recording time, which worked out to four episodes of a show each. So you’d get your hands on the first tape, watch it, and then decide whether you wanted to go through the often-considerable bother of trying to lay your hands on any more of it. Kids these days with their crazy BitTorrent… they don’t know how good they’ve got it!)

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Let’s face it – being on the right is tough these days. The left has completed its long march through the institutions – media, academia, technology, government bureaucracy – and stands dominant in all of them. Through these, they have come to utterly dominate not only much of public policy and the mainstream news media, but also to act as arbiters of the mainstream culture as well. As Mencius Moldbug noted, in the Modern state, culture is downstream from politics, and public morals are set by whoever’s army is guarding the television station. Through their machinery of cultural control, the establishment left (which is by no means antiwar or against police statism on principle) has manufactured consent on all manner of issues. Not only that, they’ve created and sustained a culture of leftism – the propagation, whether explicitly presented as such or not, of leftist memes, not the least important of which is leftism as hip and intellectual.

This leftist culture has become the absolutely dominant mainstream culture in not just the United States, but all of the West. And there’s no hope of changing it anytime soon – not with the mainstream academic and media cartels enjoying the legal protections (not to mention the favor of much of the political system) that they do. And where does that leave the right? It leaves it in a position that’s…

…well, that’s a hell of a lot of fun, actually. Because we are the counterculture now. For the left, in all of its dominance of establishment culture, has now run into what I call Bakunin’s Corollary to Flair’s Law.

Flair’s Law states: To be The Man, you’ve got to beat The Man.

Bakunin’s Corollary states: Once you do beat The Man, then you become The Man, whether you said you were going to or not.

And as it stands now, the left most definitely is The Man. Not only that, but they act the part, down to the smallest detail. A more moralizing, censorious, hectoring, endlessly instructive bunch of tut-tutting know-it-all pearl-clutchers you could not find anywhere. The left, long ago, when they were out of power, once understood the sheer joy of sticking a thumb in the eye of people like that. They understood both the necessity and the power of creating a counterculture. Now it is time for the right, and especially the alternative right – all manner of traditionalists, reactionaries, right-libertarians, separatists, monarchists, and elitists – to drop out of the establishment mass popular culture and work on creating a counterculture of our own. Not just because it is necessary in order to maintain and pass on our values in the face of the ceaseless onslaught of that leftist popular culture (Note that there is increasingly nothing – nothing – in popular culture that is permitted to be happily apolitical; to not incessantly parrot the left’s memes. Not television, not comedy, not music, not video games, not football or basketball, not web browsers or search engines, not even chicken sandwiches or hamburgers), but because it’s just plain fun.

You are the counterculture now. You get to flip the bird to The Man, to be anti-establishment, to get off the grid of pop-culture garbage and live the way you see fit. Those of the alternative right are not just in the positions of being the Marxes and Nietzsches and Gramscis opposed to bourgeois mass-culture morality, but we also get to be Kerouac in San Francisco, to be Wyatt and Billy on the open highway, to be Ken Kesey on his Magic Bus, to be Lenny Bruce making people faint from the stage.

Nearly everything necessary for this is already in place. In many ways, the alternative right community reminds me of my father’s descriptions of Greenwich Village circa 1964. It is filled with all manner of eccentrics and thinkers and radicals and rebels and misfits. Some speak deep truths, some seem half-crazy; some are charismatic and charming, others seem scary and dangerous. Sometimes it is the scary, dangerous, and half-crazy among them who speak the most deep truth. All throughout, there is a feeling of throwing off what the establishment gives us, of finding a better way. There is also a feeling that something big is inevitable, and coming sooner rather than later.

How exciting!

I’ve long said that the path to being a reactionary starts with conceding some points to the left. So let us start now, by admitting that many of the criticisms of the establishment and its machinery of cultural control that the left made when they were out of power (and now seem to have forgotten) were true. Their criticisms of the educational system, of how news is reported, of corporatism and consumerism, of the 9 to 5 rat race, of suburbia and its cultural and spiritual sterility, of the entertainment industry in general, and most particularly of television, were all absolutely correct. These aren’t the arguments of leftists, per se, but the arguments of those who are anti-establishment. By no means should they be rejected simply because they were once, long ago, voiced by the left. Remember that the left is demonic, and thus, like any demon, it will tell you whatever it thinks it needs to tell you in order to get you to do what it wants you to do. If that means lying to you, then it will lie; if that means telling you the truth, then it will tell you the truth; if that means mixing truths and lies, then it will mix truths and lies. If anything, the fact that the left said these things once, but threw them aside once they gained power, should indicate to you that there was some real truth in them. Beyond this, once one casts aside the foolish notion that an argument cannot possibly contain any truth just because one’s enemies once used it, the faculties of reason of any traditionalist or reactionary should make the truth of these ideas easy to discern.

So, then, the task before us is twofold: First, to reject the establishment mass culture. Second, to build a full and unique traditionalist/reactionary counterculture.

Sound familiar? It is, essentially, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”. A great figure of the left-counterculture made this saying famous, and it is a sentiment well worth revisiting for those who wish to create a right-counterculture.

Naming what exactly should be dropped out of is the relatively easy part, but still it bears saying.

First, as the leftists used to say, “Kill Your Television”. I am not one who generally thinks that machines are inherently evil. Television is an exception. It is no more and no less than a hypnotic mind control device. Don’t believe me? Sit a hyperactive toddler in front of a television and watch what happens. They freeze, turn away from everything they were doing, and stare at the screen. Gavin McInnes once noted that the “on” switch of his television was an “off” switch for his kids, and so it is. Do you think this device does not place ideas in the minds of those who fall into a trance in its presence? And what ideas do you think the Hollywood/New York axis wishes to place there? I recall reading one account of a father who, tired of his two under-10 daughters’ bratty attitudes, limited their television viewing to a DVD box set of Little House on The Prairie. The change in his daughters’ behavior was dramatic – within a couple of weeks, they were referring to him and his wife as “Ma” and “Pa”, and offering to help with chores. The lesson is obvious: people (and especially children) learn their social norms from television, far more even than from the people around them.

Ideally, one would cut oneself off from it totally. Many find this rather difficult (I must admit, me included – as my reviews of Fargo, Game of Thrones, and Legend of Korra demonstrate). Some keep a television set, but make sure it is disconnected from broadcast channels and use it only as a monitor for a carefully-selected library of DVDs. Others (myself included) don’t own a set, but download a few select programs from torrent sites and watch on laptops or tablets. My total viewership of television programs tops out at perhaps 3-4 hours per week during particularly good seasons. Any traditionalist should strive to do the same. In fact, traditionalists should reject – should “drop out” of – all popular culture (especially that produced after, say, 1966) to the greatest degree possible, and make sure their children are exposed to it as little as possible. Music, video games, even the web – either drop out of it completely, or, at very least, carefully limit the time and scope of it in your life and the lives of your children.

While we’re on the subject of children: DO NOT send your children to a public school. “Drop out” here too; by which I do not mean that your children should go uneducated, but that you should – you must – homeschool. To do otherwise is pure child abuse. Perhaps fifty years ago, this was not the case, but these times are not those times. The failures of the public schools need not be repeated here, but they are undeniable, and any reasonably smart ten-year-old whose attention span hasn’t been destroyed by television can learn more by being left alone all day with a stack of books than they can in any public school classroom anyway. As for the universities, there are not quite any suitable replacements for them yet, but some lurk just over the horizon and will appear before long.

To say that one should “drop out” of – not bother listening to and not ever trusting – the mainstream news media goes without saying.

One more thing to drop out of is the hamster wheel of consumerism and “career”. By this I do not mean to suggest that one should go on the public dole. Rather, be mindful of the old saw “Work to live; don’t live to work”. Defining oneself by one’s job is a soulless Whig horror, and yet everywhere in this Modernist world, “career” is thought to be everything. This should be rejected. Do something you don’t hate, and work only as much as you need to in order to get by. How much is that? This will shock many, but I assure you that, if you are single and don’t live in the urban core of a megacity, you can get along fine on $1000 per month. How? By living with what you actually need. Here I don’t necessarily suggest going as far as the Minimalist movement, though I believe them to be largely on the right track. Rent a room in a house instead of having a whole apartment to yourself. Drive a good-condition used car. Buy and keep only the clothes you’ll actually wear. Buy quality and make it last. This is getting possible even in electronics, now that desktop/laptop computers have passed the “good enough” threshold, with tablets and smartphones not far behind. Speaking of which, the only electronics you really need are a laptop and a smartphone, and even the need for the former is becoming questionable for many. As for the latter, they are getting cheap, and a decent service plan can be had for $50 a month. You can work less, and make less, and live with less, and devote more time to the pursuits that mean something to you.

Drop out of fast food. Abandon all junk food to the extent that you can. Leave that poison to clog the arteries of the lumpenproles. Eat like a human being, even if it takes longer and requires more effort. For your physical health, yes. But it’ll work wonders for your sense of self, as well.

Perhaps most importantly, drop out of the need to conform to the prevailing establishment culture; which includes dropping out of the need for its approval. When a culture is decent and virtuous, conforming to its norms is a good thing. When it is not, conforming to its norms is moral and spiritual suicide. Such is the case now. The prevailing establishment culture is a horror. Rebelling against it is a necessity. But more, it is fun. Revel in it. Go on – raise your middle finger to The Man. It feels great!

Which brings us to our next point: If there is to be a right-counterculture, what shall it look like?

This is a difficult question, and I do not pretend to have anything approximating a full answer to it. But I can start by confidently stating a couple of things that it shouldn’t be.

The first thing it shouldn’t be is an imitation of the leftist counterculture of the beatniks, the hippies, and the hipsters. Every time something rightist/traditionalist/reactionary tries to copy an artifact of leftist culture, it turns into a risible failure. Anyone who doesn’t believe that can try listening to some “Christian rock” – for as long as you can stand it, that is. Or try watching some episodes of The Half-Hour News Hour – the short-lived attempt to create a right-wing version of The Daily Show. No, a culture (or counterculture) that suits one faith, philosophy, or worldview will seem bizarre or out of place when adopted by another. For a right-counterculture to look like Woodstock, differing only in that copies of Evola’s works are substituted for those of Alinsky, would be ridiculous. And more, it would be falling into the trap that so consistently ensnares mainstream conservatives: allowing the left to define us. Ironically, the challenge for “reactionaries” is to stop reacting to the left – including by trying to copy them or produce “our own” versions of what they have done – and to start building that which is truly and uniquely ours. Our own ideas, our own art, our own (counter)culture.

The other thing it should’t be is an attempt to restore the pre-hippie “conservative” culture of 1950s America. I once heard Glenn Beck say that the world he wanted was “the 50s, but with civil rights”, and I daresay this captures the sentiments of most of mainstream conservatism. But (beyond the simple fact that Glenn Beck wanting it is a bad sign), there are a couple of fundamental things wrong with this vision. The first is that that world was neither truly traditional, nor did it have any real strength to it. It has been said that the hippies were pushing on an open door, and that was quite correct – the ease with which it crumbled when a few teenagers blew marijuana smoke in its face shows its essential weakness. It was a point along a path, and it is not possible that we shall tread that way again. And what made it unsustainable is that it, too, was an artifact of the Whig worldview. This worldview/philosophy, like all of them, has a logical endpoint; a destination that it cannot be halted from moving ever-closer toward (This is the true meaning of William F. Buckley’s remark that conservatives stand athwart history yelling “Stop!”, and of Spengler’s remark that time does not suffer itself to be halted). We cannot say that we didn’t like how the story ended, so we shall rewind the tape to a certain point in the tale that we did like, hit Play, and hope that it ends differently this time. That just won’t work. The honest truth is that the much-mythologized pre-hippie America was pure Whig/commercialist, and had much that was ugly about it, including the very lack of soul and a strong moral center that led to its easy demise. There was little to stir the soul in it.

No, we need something different. Something old-yet-new; something that both reaches farther back, and forward past the collapse of the current system.

What shall it be? Well, I don’t know, really. Most likely, it has to develop organically, and will do so – if at all – in a way that cannot really be predicted. That said, I have a few humble suggestions for starting points.

My recent visit to Maker Faire has convinced me that adopting/co-opting the Maker/DIY movement as our own would be a good place to start. Even if it’s not directed towards anything critical for survival, the very process of learning craftsmanship, inventiveness, patience and persistence – no matter what it actually produces at the moment – is something that will serve one well, especially in lean times. Learn to make something useful, or to fix something broken. This is not just as a means to further self-sufficiency, but as a replacement for television and other bourgeois/proletarian forms of establishment mass entertainment as well. If you have children, build something with them – a go-cart or a treehouse or a Raspberry Pi-powered omelette-flipping robot. Teach them, or learn together – but don’t stare separately at electronic screens.

Again, something akin to the Minimalist movement (though not necessarily as stringent) would be a good thing, especially if one does it alongside cutting mainstream establishment pop culture out of one’s life. What, for example, do you need a TV set for if you don’t watch television? Have less stuff, and make more of what you do have with your own hands.

In music, some strains of punk and heavy metal have a traditionalist/reactionary element to them, and if that is to your taste, then by all means listen to, or perform, that. A renewed interest in classical music can’t be viewed as a bad thing either. But perhaps even more promising, to me at least, is traditionalist folk along the lines of the Quebecois group Mes Aieux. Get to know and appreciate the musical styles of your ancestors, and perhaps even learn to play them or to compose in those styles yourself.

In clothing, men should reject the infantilizing manchild look that James Howard Kunstler has so bitingly condemned. Traditionalist women must rediscover feminine dress – skirts and dresses instead of trousers – as part of rediscovering the feminine in themselves. This is, in fact, far more important than anything connected to male modes of dress. How men dress is not a political statement – how women dress is. the left, as part of their motte and bailey doctrine, may deny that it is important, but one can easily watch them go into hysterics when one suggests that this “progress” should be undone. Rejecting masculine modes of dress rejects not just feminism, but the entire Whig paradigm of all people as “equal”, interchangeable cogs in the machinery of industrialized Modernity. It says that the uniquely feminine within you has an irreplaceable value; a value that you place above other concerns. To be truly feminine is to live life as art. Nothing could be more bold, or could challenge the Modernist world more stridently.

But the single most important task is to develop a unique traditionalist/reactionary aesthetic in everything. There is no aesthetic to mainstream conservatism beyond the aesthetics of a Wal-Mart. Traditionalists and reactionaries must break with this, and make it clear that they value the beautiful simply for its intrinsic goodness, apart from any “practical” concerns. We should – must – develop an aesthetic style that reflects our vision of truth and beauty. Like the intellectual ideas of the movement, it should be simultaneously old and new. It should evoke the best concepts of the past, without simply rehashing exhausted ideas. And it must be uniquely, recognizably ours.

Among other things, what all of this demonstrates is that the traditionalist/reactionary movement already has enough intellectuals; what it needs now are artists and poets. This should by no means be taken as an insult to the intellectuals we already have – just the opposite, they do such fine work that there is barely any need for more of them. But as for people who can produce the art, the music, the poems, the novels, the architecture, and the aesthetics that are needed by the movement in order to develop its unique (counter)culture, they are still sorely needed. The idea that the right cannot produce any such people is ridiculous leftist slander – the likes of Ezra Pound, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Samuel Johnson, H. L. Mencken, and Christopher Nolan are testament to that. Mainstream conservatism perhaps cannot produce them, but a soulful traditionalism can. And so I put forth a call to such people to make themselves known, and to lend their strengths to building something great.

For those who are not artists or poets, I say again: Recognize that you are the counterculture now. Live it, revel in it – throw off The Man and his constricting, bourgeois mass culture. Stick your finger in his eye, tell the truth, and live the way that you know is best. The left may have utterly conquered that mass culture and turned it into their most powerful weapon, but that means that they can no longer, no matter how they try to present themselves as such, be the one thing that we now can be: the authentic outsider, the dancer to a different drum, the rebel who rejects the whole damn thing and lives as he sees fit.

There could be nothing more enthralling; nothing more fun! And now – right now – is the time.

Review: Avatar, The Legend Of Korra, S03 E01-02

The third season of Avatar: Legend of Korra has just started, and seeing how it is, as I have already noted, the most traditionalist/reactionary thing on television, some thoughts about the new season seems to be order. Having seen the first two episodes of Season Three, this are the impressions I have so far:

The first season seemed to have a strong political message of an anti-communist, anti-egalitarian bent.

The second season seemed to be all about family – what it means, why it’s important, and what constitutes one.

So far, the third season seems to be about leadership, and the burdens it places on those who have it fall upon them.

Korra made some momentous decisions at the end of Season Two, and by the beginning of the third season, these have had some serious consequences – some positive, some negative, and almost all completely unforeseen. This is the great bane of wise leaders – they understand that no matter how wise they may be, there are always consequences to decisions that cannot be accurately predicted. This is what makes good leaders cautious, and caution is perhaps the most important lesson that Korra has yet to learn. She is passionate and has a strong sense of justice, but is impetuous, undiplomatic, impatient, quick to (admittedly usually justified) anger, and often acts without thoroughly thinking things through. Something tells me that this season will give her occasion to learn to temper those qualities.

She also made a decision to exercise mercy with the young airbender Kai, and to give him a chance to become something better than he is. Will this turn out to have been a good decision or a bad one? There is simply no way to tell right now. All that a leader can do is to do what they think is right and to be ready to accept and deal with the consequences. Wisdom comes with time, and makes the decisions easier (which is of course why Tenzin is with her), but even wisdom is never perfect. Even the wisest leaders will make mistakes, and then must do their best to fix them and move on, both having learned a lesson and without having succumbed to “impostor syndrome” or lost the confidence necessary to lead. There is a reason why Shakespeare’s Henry IV noted that “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”, and Korra is beginning to learn what it is.

In addition, Korra has much to learn about being a leader of people. The refusal of almost all of the new airbenders to leave for training at the airbending temple was a major failure for her. She most certainly learned that she could’t compel people to follow her by simply dragging them out the door behind her. She has yet to learn how to effectively persuade and inspire people, so that they will follow her willingly, and as good-hearted as she is, this will be a challenge for her.

It is worth noting too that the democratic politicians in Legend of Korra continue to fare badly in their portrayals. The President in Republic city is a buffoon; he shows no loyalty to the Avatar, nor seems to much care about what may be objectively right. He instead is endlessly concerned about appealing to a sensationalist press corps (who come off looking just as bad as he does) and to a capricious citizenry represented by ever-changing poll numbers. He even causes Korra to momentarily allow herself to care about her own poll numbers, despite the fact that poll numbers mean nothing to the divinely-chosen Avatar. He is an incompetent, short-sighted demagogue who makes awful decisions, and it is no coincidence that he is the face of democracy in this show.

I keep fearing and dreading that someone at Nickelodeon will figure out the subversive traditionalist nature of this show and start demanding changes to conform to the establishment egalitarian party line – perhaps force them to insert a supremely wise homosexual character or have Korra give a speech extolling democracy – and that still may happen, but so far this show hasn’t broken my traditionalist heart nor let me down a bit. The themes of all of its seasons – anti-egalitarianism, family, leadership – are ones that have deep resonance with the traditionalist heart. It continues to be the best, and most subversive, thing on television.

On Elitism

Surveying the reactionary scene as it is today, it seems as though something that it needs to work on developing is a proper sense of elitism. This may seem a bit unnecessary, even ironic – are not reactionaries (who are mostly, if not all, monarchists and/or feudalists) elitists by definition? To some degree, yes. But perhaps this is a point at which a fuller exploration of what elitism is, what its implications are, and how it would look in a well-run society, is worth some effort.

What, then, is elitism? Elitism begins with the acceptance of a deeply anti-egalitarian, yet deeply true fact: A very few people are smart, strong, sensitive, and innately wise enough to transcend the mentality of the group around them and to find their way independently to a belief set based on truth, virtue, order, and sustainability. Most people cannot reach this on their own; most people do not have a fixed point of either truth or morality, and set theirs more or less where they are set by the group they belong to. This is why there are “blue states” and “red states”; why there are “Christian countries” and “Muslim countries”; why gay “marriage” went from ridiculous to essential as soon as the gatekeepers of the prevailing mass culture decided it should – because most people accept as truth whatever is presented to them as “good” or “normal” by their group. What this amounts to is the fact that the vast majority of people need to be taught and led. This does not make them either particularly stupid or particularly amoral – it simply makes them normal. And if they are taught properly and led properly, then the society in which they live will be decent and functional. If, however, they are taught badly and led badly, then the society in which they live will be indecent and dysfunctional.

So then, a decent and functional society needs teachers and leaders. And who shall they be? This is where elitism becomes both the simplest thing in the world, and the most difficult. For elitism is the granting of responsibility to those who have proven themselves responsible, potentially dangerous knowledge to those who have proven that they can handle it, and power to those who have proven that they can wisely wield it. And it is the denial of those things to those who have not proven that they can do so.

How this grates upon the Modern soul! After all, equality demands that all people be given a chance at attaining positions of responsibility; knowledge is for everyone and denial of it to anyone is Dark Age repression; power is to be shared (is this not the very basis of democracy?). At very most, the Modernist will grudgingly agree that some kinds of responsibility and power should be apportioned based on the “brains and hard work” technocratic meritocracy of the Whig capitalist (a corporation cannot, after all, have a thousand CEOs), but only after we ensure free access to all knowledge, and unrestricted “equality of opportunity”. This is the dogma of egalitarianism; it has been drilled into every child of Modernity (and, no matter how much we may rebel against it, all reactionaries are native-born sons of the Modern world) practically from birth, and breaking free of it – of all of it – is a difficult task indeed. On some levels, it may be a bridge too far even for the most strident of reactionaries. Have we not, after all, found our way to where we are because we encountered some knowledge that persuaded us, and which was available freely? Have we not accepted the responsibility to teach, to pass along what we have learned, and to form communities (online or in person) based on our philosophy? Do we not strive for the power – either placed on us personally, or on someone we trust – to remake the world based on what we know to be true? And have we not done all of this without asking anyone’s permission?

Indeed we have. And yet there is a trap waiting at the end of this line of thought. It is the error that Anton LaVey referred to as the “Sin of Solipsism”, which, to paraphrase, means the assumption on the part of smart, strong, sensitive, and innately wise people they are themselves a proper baseline by which to judge the the rest of humanity. It means, in short, an assumption that everyone else is pretty much like you, that what they would do in a certain situation is pretty much what you would do in it, and that the set of rules that might wisely be applied to you could just as wisely be applied to everyone.

To indulge in this is egalitarian madness. It is what has simultaneously resulted in the crucial roles of teachers and leaders ending up (especially in institutions like academia and the mainstream media) in the hands of those who intentionally sow the seeds of immorality and instability in the name of the fanatical egalitarian utopian cult of leftism, and also in what Fred Reed referred to as the “you ain’t no gooder than me” lowest-common-denominator flattening of the common culture. It is essential that reactionaries must not retain a residual Enlightenment egalitarianism that would allow them to think that a worthwhile society can be established if we just have a king and some lords, but that everyone underneath them should have exactly equal privileges. No! Again, responsibility to the responsible; potentially dangerous knowledge to those who can handle it; power to those who can wisely wield it! And not to others!

The elitist must, in fact, realize that in many important ways, he is better than others. Not in all ways, of course – for we are all fallen sinners – but in many key areas which amount to both a blessing and a call to bear a burden of responsibility. It is this latter idea that represents what was once known as noblesse oblige – and it is this that is one of the most crucial points that separates the reactionary elitist from both the tyrant and the capitalist, who, each for their own reasons, do not practice it.

And here a very important point comes to the fore: Elitism is not a call to abuse the average man. Just the opposite – it is a call to do service for them by teaching and leading them. It is also not an excuse to abrogate their basic rights – these should of course be protected under any decent system of common law. It is, however, the justification for a decent society to maintain virtue and order by keeping certain things off limits to those who do not have the innate ability, nor have the education or training, to handle them wisely. Conversely, it is the justification for a decent society to allow for a greater freedom of inquiry and study to those who have proven that they can handle them wisely.

Thus do we say: Of course some knowledge is too dangerous to be widely shared with those who have neither the wisdom nor the rigorous spiritual and philosophical training to be able to fully understand all its subtleties, appreciate its dangers, and apply it (if at all) non-destructively. In a decent and functional society, therefore, of course there should be locked and guarded rooms in the archives of great libraries into which only trusted clergy and scholars should be allowed. Yes, some monsters really are too dangerous to be let out of the basement, and some ideas too dangerous to be left to spread. The one hundred million or so people who died in the previous century during various attempts to make Karl Marx’s batty ideas work in the real world would attest to this, if they could.

In the Medieval and Renaissance eras, this confinement of certain knowledge to the presumed elites was done mostly in an indirect way – much of what was then considered potentially dangerous knowledge consisted of texts written in Greek or Latin, and these remained untranslated into local languages. The sons of families above a certain social status were expected to learn these ancient languages, and thus to be able to read these texts in their original forms. Certainly, there were sometimes abuses of this system, especially when it came to religious matters. And equally certainly, this system could not now be replicated. But it did provide for a great deal of stability and social order for a very long time, and there are lessons to be drawn from that.

So now we are still left with these important questions: Who shall the elites be? How shall they act?

The first thing that must be understood is that the elites of a decent and functional society should not be the same sort of elites that a Whiggish capitalist society would select. These latter base their selection of leaders and teachers on the “brains and hard work” paradigm. This can provide a technocratic society with a capable, amoral managerial class. It cannot alone provide a decent, functional, and (also rather importantly) sustainable society with teachers and leaders. No, this sort of society needs something more from its leaders: it needs proven virtue. Instilling this in leaders and teachers was, it is easy to forget, the primary mission of the universities until very recently. Back before universities were “democratized” into becoming glorified trade schools, their missions were, in order of importance, first to produce a virtuous and enlightened Christian leadership class, second to produce refined and cultured gentlemen, and third (and last) to produce men trained in fields that required advanced education. It was a system that worked well, and to say that it has been completely lost today is a grave understatement. A decent, functional, and sustainable society would be well advised to rebuild this system.

But whether taught in universities or self-taught (as natural elites often will be), the requirement for proven virtue in teachers and leaders is essential. Would this mean that we might miss out on some leadership provided by the bright, ambitious, and amoral (i.e., precisely the sort of people who built and maintain this Whig capitalist society)? Perhaps. We’ll get by without them. We may not be quite as rich or have quite as many impressive machines around us, but that will be more than made up for by things being better in other ways.

This is crucial, because the placement of virtue above all other considerations is the single most important distinction that separates traditionalist and reactionary elitism from Whig and capitalist elitism. This must never, ever be forgotten.

As to how the natural elite shall act, it should be expected that their high IQ and their exposure to knowledge that is not widely shared (in a decent society some knowledge would be kept under lock and key; in the present society there is much knowledge that is technically available but left forgotten by the masses in amongst all the football, internet porn, cable television, and centrifugal bumble-puppy) will make many of them eccentric, and this is neither to be feared nor discouraged so long as it never crosses the line into either open immorality or disparagement of faith and morals. If it does, then they should be shunned and purged by whatever means are available. But, and this is crucial, they should not be shunned or purged until they do so – neither inquiry into troubling areas of knowledge nor personal eccentricity should be taken as justification to do so. Again, those who form a natural elite should be permitted, even expected, to live by a slightly different (but in its own way no less stringent) set of rules than the average man.

This applies even when the “man” in question is a woman. The contributions of great women should not be ignored, and elite women who make themselves known should not be discouraged. It does a decent society no good to have its Hroswithas, its Jane Austens, and its Marie Curies rendered unable to lend their talents to the world. They too should be allowed extra leeway in inquiry, and allowed a certain eccentricity. However, in addition to the above constraints, it should by no means be accepted that they shall openly undermine femininity or motherhood. Women and girls need to be taught and led properly as well, and this is especially crucial because good women are the backbone of any decent society. Femininity is the foundation of good womanhood, and being a mother is the highest and most necessary of callings. The disruption of these in the name of the Whig virtues of wealth and “progress” has been disastrous, and must not be encouraged by any who hope to establish or maintain a decent society.

So now comes the question that I’m sure is on the mind of all: How does one join the elite? A decent society would have methods and institutions in place for identifying natural elites and ensuring for their proper education and advancement (as well as for their purging, should they turn to immorality or heresy). But we live in a Modernist society, and Modernity only has systems in place that select for the traits needed in technocratic Whig elites. What if one’s talents do not tend towards buying and selling, or towards building machines, or towards flattering either the rich or the masses?

The bad news is that there’s presently no one to select or elevate you into a traditionalist or reactionary elite. The good news is that there also presently exists infinite opportunity for you to select and elevate yourself.

For the moment, traditionalist and reactionary elites are indeed largely self-selecting, or selected by essentially leaderless peer groups. If you want to be one such elite, the monetary cost of admission is nothing. Open up a Blogger or WordPress account for long form writing, and a Twitter account for engagement with the community. Then prove yourself with your own dedication and talent. Listen to what others say, but don’t parrot it or feel the need to always agree with it. Write things that contribute to the body of thought; that build on or play off of the work of others with the addition of your own original ideas. Or if your talents tend toward art, or fiction, or poetry, or song (and the reactionary movement sorely needs people with such talents), then self-publish, self-record, release on a blog, or on YouTube, or on iTunes, or on Amazon, or on The Pirate Bay. Those with practical talents, including teaching self-sufficiency and self-defense, are needed as well, and have the same methods (and more) for sharing knowledge and becoming known. Do so in a way that others will value, and you will get noticed. Do not, or display obvious instability or immorality, and you will go nowhere. It is entirely up to you. This may or may not be optimal, but it is the system for selection because it must be – again, there is no other method in place. There is no King to give you a title or noble patron to shower you with money. I’ve long said that the reactionary movement is an open audition for a certain kind of aristocracy, and so it is.

So if you want to become an elite – an aristocrat of the soul – and if you are able, then become one. The time is right, and there could be nothing more exciting.

Dump Capitalism

The time has come for traditionalists and reactionaries of every stripe to break up with capitalism.

I chose the term “break up with” carefully, because what it implies is an emotional separation. This is precisely what is needed, because, especially for those of us who came to traditionalism and reaction from conservatism or libertarianism, there is a strong residual emotional attachment to capitalism. Even the word itself is evocative. Those of us old enough to remember the Cold War remember when it was “Capitalism vs. Communism”; in which the word “capitalism” stood in for the concept of all manner of liberties: freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of commerce, and freedom to not be dragged away in the middle of the night by secret police, tried in secret courts, and left to rot forever in secret prisons. We remember when it stood for faith in God, for yeoman republican virtues, for tradition, for Mom and apple pie. It was crude and inaccurate to lump those concepts together under the umbrella of that one word (just as it is to do so with the word “democracy” now), but anyone who came of age between the late 1940s and the late 1980s has had the association forever implanted upon their consciousness.

Yet times have changed. The Cold War is long over, and alliances have shifted. As they have, it has become possible to recognize that the mythos of capitalism being an acceptable stand-in for these ideas was always at best a bad analogy, and at worst it was a lie that served the selfish purposes of those who never truly believed in any of the ideals with which they gladly claimed association.

This becomes more undeniable every day, and yet, when someone speaks critically of capitalism, we still instinctively cringe. There is past baggage that is difficult to ignore – mental images of Khruschev or Castro shouting from a balcony; of greasy-haired hippies or of balaclava-wearing Occupy protesters smashing windows. Certainly, there’s a lot to recoil from in those images. And yet, we must overcome instinctive emotionality if we are to analyze the present situation rationally (And this, of course, is critical, for if there is one thing that reactionaries cannot afford to indulge in now, it is self-deception).

I’ve long said that the road to reaction starts with conceding some points to the left (because without doing so, one cannot move past mainstream conservatism, which papers over deep contradictions in its ideology with massive amounts of self-deception). So let us now concede that there are some points regarding capitalism about which the left was correct all along.

The first is that capitalism is inherently amoral. Not immoral, mind you, but amoral. And why wouldn’t it be? The purpose of capitalism is, fundamentally, to generate profits, not to propagate moral teachings. It is in acceptance of this fact that we may distinguish the difference between the proper reaction to capitalism of traditionalists vs. that of the left. The left is angry at capitalism for not being moralistic. They expect it to be, they are bitterly disappointed when it is not, and they loudly insist that it either become so (only in support of their particular morality, of course) or be destroyed and replaced by an economic system that is. This is insensible. Why would a reasonable person be angry at something for it being what it was designed to be and doing what it was designed to do, instead of being and doing some other thing? Is it reasonable for me to be angry at my toaster because I can’t browse the internet on it, or at my cat because it doesn’t fly? Of course not – these do what they are supposed to do, and I should expect them to do those things instead of other things. Shall I react by insisting that someone create an internet-capable toaster, or by trying to strap wings to my cat? How unreasonable that would be; how stubborn in refusal to accept the nature of things!

Yet this all implies understanding of what capitalist enterprises are, not trust in them. I am not angry at a shark because it swims in the ocean and bites things. That’s just what sharks do. If I am swimming in the ocean and a shark bites me, there is no point in being angry at the shark; it’s not being evil, it’s just being a shark. But it is for precisely this reason that I do not trust sharks, nor wish to swim too near them. I do not demonize them, but neither do I lionize them. They may have their place in the world and in the natural order of things, but I am under an obligation to myself to reasonably assess where their proper place is, and isn’t.

What, then, is the moral center of the marketplace? It has none. Here we must acknowledge that there are some (a very few, really) business that do have a genuine moral or ideological center, for better or worse – mostly Hollywood, some (but by no means all) players in the tech industry, and the odd hobby shop or purveyor of chicken sandwiches here are there. But these are rare exceptions. The essentially-universal rule that they are the exception to is this: That the only real principles of capitalist enterprises are their own self-preservation and self-perpetuation. Other than that, they will voice support for, donate relatively small amounts of money to, and make some token gestures (such as accepting a moderate number of Affirmative Action hires into noncritical positions) in the name of whatever cause will ingratiate them with the Establishment. The only time they will take a heartfelt moral stand on anything is when there is an element of self-preservation or self-perpetuation to it – that is what they believe in.

Evidence of this abounds. Let us take the aforementioned capitalist relationship to Communism. Early in the history of the Soviet Union, American capitalists gladly supported the new Bolshevik government any way they could. This was a rational business decision. Russia had been an agricultural backwater before 1917, and the Soviets embarked upon a crash modernization and industrialization program which provided an enormous market for American-built machines to help make that happen. Thus, American businesses gladly conducted commerce with the new Soviet government. The murders of millions of innocent peasants whose only crime was being in the way of “progress”, the destruction of churches and monasteries, the brutal repressions of dissidents – none of this mattered a bit to the American capitalists. The Soviets represented a market, and that was all that was important. It was only in the wake of World War II, when the Soviets had 1) conquered huge swaths of territory, including half of Europe, and denied it to the capitalists as a market, 2) developed atomic weaponry, 3) become obviously expansionistic, and 4) industrialized on their own to the point where they no longer really needed to depend on foreign-built equipment, that capitalists finally began to publicly fret about the horrible, repressive nature of godless Communism. And yet even that was only temporary. The Soviet Union collapsed, of course, yet China remains a Communist country to this day, and one of the most repressive governments in the world. But starting with Nixon’s visit, and really intensifying around the end of the Cold War, China’s status as an existential threat to western capitalists receded, while simultaneously, its potential as as enormous and lucrative market came to the fore. As this happened, capitalist concern for religious freedom and other human rights in China simply seemed to evaporate. If pressed, they may admit that yes, it’s a darn shame, but not anything worth more than a second in which to shrug and say: “That’s life”.

If one good example is temporal, another is geographical. Internet companies, notoriously, give in to the demands of the governments of places in which they do business incessantly (so long as these do not conflict with the demands of the governments of the countries in which they are headquartered). If Pakistan demands censorship or surveillance in support of Islamist theocracy, they get it. If China demands censorship or surveillance in support of Communism, they get it. If Western nations demand censorship or surveillance in support of some or another Politically Correct egalitarian utopian cause, they get it. There is sustained pushback only when the risk is minimal and is outweighed by some public relations benefits.

There is an important lesson in this for both left and right. If the Establishment was, say, virulently anti-homosexual (not in the “look the other way” Victorian sense, but in the Saudi Arabian sense), we would see televised public burnings at the stake of homosexuals that were sponsored by Pepsi, Geico, and Southwest Airlines. Instead, the Establishment is virulently pro-homosexual, so we see “Gay Pride” parades sponsored by the same entities.

Again, they are sharks. They do what it is the nature of sharks to do. The amoral nature of capitalism, other than in the areas of self-preservation or self-perpetuation, is a feature of its system, not a bug.

It is here that a great inherent danger to traditionalists in the drive of capitalism towards self-preservation and self-perpetuation is revealed, because once we move beyond obsolete Cold War-era rhetoric, we can clearly see that the interests of capitalism do not really conform to those of traditionalism. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the area of the rise of consumerism. Consumerism is toxic to faith and tradition, yet it is the lifeblood of capitalism. Let us be clear here – consumerism is not simply the acquisition of the necessities of life, nor even of a few simple harmless luxuries, in the marketplace. Instead, it is the placement of the marketplace not only at the center of public life, but at the center of personal life as well. It is gross overemphasis on the pleasure and status brought by the acquisition of goods. This is a fall into the sin of abandoning chastity, in the sense that the Medievals understood that word. Their understanding of it, which is different from our own, could be best defined as “excessive attachment to worldly pleasures”, of which sex was just one (an important one to be sure, but only one nonetheless). Putting worldly pleasures at the center of life leaves little room for other things, things that are more important and, in the end, more fulfilling – things like faith, family, community, friendship, study, self-improvement, charity, and genuine love. This leads, inevitably, to the loss of these things, or their replacement by shoddy substitutes (e.g. paternalistic big government in place of family, work in place of community, Facebook in place of friends, casual sex in place of genuine love). Consumerism has been a prime contributor to all of this; it has even co-opted the tribal instinct – people now engage in vicious, extended personal attacks on each other based on their tribal loyalties to the corporations whose products they consume: Microsoft, Apple, Google, Playstation, Xbox, AT&T, Verizon, Toyota, and Ford are all tribes to which one may belong, and which one may gain a sense of self-worth by defending from heathens, infidels, and other outsiders.

And the danger exists not only in the form of a deeply unhealthy overemphasis on the desire to buy, but in an equally unhealthy overemphasis on paid work, which represents the means with which to buy. Yes, providing a living for oneself and one’s family is a necessary thing, and doing so instead of expecting others to pay one’s way has a definite honor to it. But sitting in a cubicle and moldering away from 8 to 5 to be able to afford to acquire meaningless possessions that you don’t really need is no healthy society’s idea of the apotheosis of what it means to be a man, and even less of what it means to be a woman. The emptiness of defining oneself, or even measuring personal “success” in life, by one’s “career” is simply horrifying, and every traditionalist or reactionary should be able to discern that at the most casual glance. Yes, a few paid jobs – bold entrepreneur, erudite professor, hard-hitting journalist – may indeed have some element of self-realization or fulfillment to them. But, as women have begun to discover now that reality has collided with the feminist dream, the truth is this: most work sucks. It may be necessary, it may need to be done, it may even give some direction to those who, left to themselves, would not be imaginative enough to have any. But it still sucks. And it is most certainly is not something that should be the measure of a person’s worth or the center of their lives. In more sensible societies, the centers of life are faith, family, and community, with work (and sorry, that’s really all that your “career” is) grudgingly accepted as something necessary to maintaining what is truly important. Capitalism places these priorities exactly backwards, and does so for its own narrow benefit.

If this phenomenon is bad in the West, it is even worse in places like Japan and South Korea. The unsung villain in the demographic collapse of these places is the stealth destruction of the family. I say “stealth destruction” because it is not expressed in high rates of divorce or bastardy, as it is in the West. Instead, men (it is still largely men) are expected to make their workplaces into their ersatz families, and to devote their lives to their employers. Between work itself and constant, effectively mandatory socialization with bosses and coworkers, it’s not unusual at all for men in these places to leave their houses at 7AM and come home at 10 or 11PM, five nights a week. This leaves their wives to effectively be single mothers, and their children to effectively be raised by single mothers. Many there are reaching the entirely rational conclusion that in such an environment, having a family (and especially a large family) is simply not a proposition that can stand up to an objective cost/benefit analysis. For men, the math is especially bad – why have a family who you’ll barely ever see? Children who will effectively view you as a stranger? So they don’t bother, and the family is destroyed, and the nation slowly dies, to meet the needs of a society with the marketplace at its center. Has it made these countries rich? Unquestionably. But at what cost, both for society and the individual?

Throughout the world: How many innocent children have been aborted – sacrificed, in a very real sense, at the altar of Moloch – by women who did it because having a child would “hurt their career”?

It is enough to make a traditional say: If less conspicuous material wealth, less consumerism, less “stuff” in our lives to define who we are both by its acquisition and its possession – if this is the price of a society in which faith, family, and community have regained their proper place at the center of both the personal and public lives of men and women, then so be it!

So, then, what are traditionalists and reactionaries to do? Turn towards Marx, Mao, and Occupy protesters? Nothing of the sort. The proper thing to do is to make a distinction that should have been made ages ago. Much of the problem has to do with the fact that “capitalism” is a word that encompasses so many things that it lacks a usably precise meaning, and this is almost certainly due in part to some intentional obfuscation. To lump the hardworking, blue-collar family man who is trying to make a small business work in with corrupt Wall Street crony capitalists and slick Hollywood marketers is nonsense, but is politically useful for the crony capitalists and their enablers. If they are all one, then an attack on one is an attack on all, and what sort of terrible commie looter would wish to attack our hardworking small businessman? The answer to this muddle is to disaggregate what should logically be disaggregated. Totalism, which is the belief that only the extreme positions are valid, and that a thing must either be celebrated or banned, is a fallacy of Puritanism, either in its religious or leftist/secular humanist guises. For traditionalists and other non-Puritans, a place in between untrammeled corporatist consumerist capitalism and Marx is indeed possible. We can admit of the possibility that one can support the right of free commerce, especially for the humble independent tradesman or small businessman, while still not supporting the right of megacorporations and corrupt bankers to run roughshod over the rest of society, including – especially – by eroding the proper values of a decent society and replacing them with new ones that are conducive to their own narrow interests.

And the right of free commerce really isn’t the same as consumerist, corporatist capitalism. Consider: we have the latter now, but no longer effectively have the former. If a bureaucratic state of infinite reach can tell every baker, florist, and hobby shop owner who they must and cannot do business with, who they must and cannot hire, what they must and cannot compensate their employees with, what they must and cannot accept as payment for services rendered, along with thousands of other regulations covering every minute detail of how their businesses must and cannot be run, then who is really running those businesses? Is it their owners, or are all the decisions of real consequence made by distant, impersonal government functionaries? And if that is the case, then surely, the right of free commerce exists in name only. Lest we forget, large corporations often support these kinds of regulations, for precisely the reasons that: 1) they can absorb the costs of these regulatory burdens far more easily than can small businesses, which gives them an even greater competitive advantage over small competitors than they already had, 2) they are far less likely to have any moral concerns about complying with these dictates, and 3) their wealth and influence means that they can often get exemptions from regulations they find excessively burdensome. Thus is the right of free commerce actually subverted by the crony capitalist.

If we can thus admit that there is a proper bifurcation between the right of free commerce and consumerist, corporatist capitalism; if we can say that the marketplace deserves, and indeed must have, a place in a society, but that the proper place for it is not at a society’s center; if we can agree that merchant values, when applied to and limited to their proper spheres, can bring prosperity, and yet should not and cannot be the controlling values of a decent society; when we transcend Cold War nostalgia and the self-serving deceptions of those who are no true allies of tradition, then it becomes clear that one of the defining characteristics of the traditionalist and reactionary right (and what may be one of the defining points that sets it apart from mainstream conservatism) must be a proper distrust for and skepticism of those forces of cronyism, corruption, consumerism, and corporatism that we may refer to simply as: capitalism.

And so I urge traditionalists: Stand up for the right of free commerce, but dump capitalism!

Professional Wrestling For Reactionaries

I have long said that American politics (and most democratic politics, really) cannot be properly understood without a working knowledge of professional wrestling. Such understanding, however, also requires knowing the terms used in the wrestling business’s famously unique and colorful jargon. I do realize that most of my readers are of the cultured and intellectual sort, may consider such things a bit blue collar for them, and thus may not have had the chance to learn any of it. Never fear – today, on the day of Wrestlemania 30, I am here to provide a helpful glossary of professional wrestling terms and their political contexts to help those who may be unfamiliar with them.

Kayfabe: This is the general illusion that what one is seeing in professional wrestling isn’t “fake” – that it is not all an act, and that what you see before you in the ring or on the screen is the way that things really are behind the scenes. It is considered very bad indeed for a wrestler to “break kayfabe” – in other words, to publicly acknowledge that it is scripted and that what one sees on television is all carefully staged in order to seem as if it is something it’s not. In some wrestling companies (especially in Japan) breaking kayfabe, even just a little bit, is not only a firing offense, but can render one completely unemployable in wrestling. It can also make one unelectable as President – just ask Ron Paul.

Mark: A “mark” is a fan who continues to believe in kayfabe. In other words, someone who believes that it’s all real, and that everything one sees on the screen (or reads in a newspaper, or finds in a high school civics textbook) about what’s going on and how things work is actually the way it is. This group would include the vast majority of the American people, who honestly believe with all their hearts that Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant really hated each other, that the Republican Party establishment gives a flying fig about social conservatism, and that the Democratic Party believes in peace and civil liberties. It can also be used to describe someone who is a devoted fan of a particular character, e.g. a Hogan mark, a Cena mark, or an Obama mark.

Smart or Smark: A “smart” or “smark” is a fan who understands that what they see is all an act, but continues to enjoy professional wrestling because they find it amusing. Or to not enjoy politics, because what they see happening around them is not at all amusing. This group would include many libertarians, reactionaries, and in their own unique (and ever less crazy-sounding) way, conspiracy theorists.

Marking out: Strongly, emotionally, maybe even hysterically expressing admiration for a certain character of whom one is a fan. This can happen even to smarks sometimes, but is often the province of total marks. See: The internet’s reaction to Barack Obama or Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Angle: In wrestling lingo, a continuing storyline is called an “angle”. This could be, for example, a feud between two characters, like the legendary angle that pitted Vince McMahon against Stone Cold Steve Austin. Or it can be something like the “Russian expansionist imperialism” angle, the “Islamofascism” angle, or the “continuing struggle for marriage equality in the face of patriarchal cisheteronormist hate” angle.

Promo: When a wrestler gets in the ring and gives a speech to the audience, it’s called “cutting a promo”. Wrestlers usually do this on television to explain why he’s the best wrestler in the whole world, or why the person he’s feuding with is a loser or a jerk. Presidents do it on television to explain how wonderful their clunky, expensive, unpopular health care scheme is.

Work: A “work” is something – a match, a promo, a public appearance – that happens in furtherance of kayfabe. In a “work”, wrestlers stay in character and do things that push the angle that they’re involved in forward. This can happen in the ring, in a taped backstage segment, or perhaps in a media event like an appearance on a Sunday morning political talk show.

Shoot: Occasionally a wrestler will do something that is not a work – they’ll publicly break character, or admit that wrestling is staged, or maybe even do something in a match that wasn’t in the script. Since this is obviously breaking kayfabe, it’s very rare for active wrestlers to do this (although retired wrestlers will often do shoot interviews that break kayfabe). It’s even rarer in politicians. And for good reason – just ask Mitt Romney, whose entirely accurate but politically poisonous remark about 47% of the people being tax consumers instead of tax contributors helped cost him the Presidency.

Worked shoot: This occurs when a wrestler cuts a promo that appears to be a shoot (perhaps by including some wrestling lingo or backstage details known to smarks in order to give the appearance of breaking kayfabe), but is in fact simply a work designed to give some extra credibility to an angle he’s involved in. A good example would be the infamous “Pipe Bomb” promo that was cut by CM Punk in the summer of 2011. When politicians do this (or talk about doing it), it’s frequently called “Going Bulworth”.

Face or Babyface: A “good guy” wrestler. Someone you’re supposed to cheer for.

Heel: A “bad guy” wrestler, who you’re supposed to boo. There’s a saying among wrestling heels: “It doesn’t matter if they’re cheers or boos, it only matters how loud they are”. Obviously, no politician would ever say that.

Face turn or Heel turn: Very few wrestlers remain a “face” or a “heel” for their entire careers. Most will occasionally switch from one to the other in order to keep their character fresh. When that happens, it is called a “face turn” (if going from bad to good) or a “heel turn” (if going from good to bad). In a political context, politicians and leaders themselves almost never voluntarily do this, but it is often done for them by the Establishment, and especially by its media arm. For example, Col. Quaddafi was a heel in the media throughout the 80s and 90s, but was given a face turn by them in the early ‘00s when he agreed to play ball in the “War on Terror”. Then a few years later, when his usefulness to the Establishment had been exhausted, he was given a final heel turn, ousted, and brutally executed. The Establishment does this kind of thing rather often.

Booker: The writers behind the scenes who actually set up the matches and write the promos that wrestlers cut are referred to in wrestling lingo as “bookers”. Examples of legendary bookers include Paul Heyman, whose work has been seen in ECW and WWE, and Peggy Noonan, whose work has been seen in the mouth of Ronald Reagan.

Job/Jobber: To “job” is to lose a wrestling match, and a “jobber” is someone whose primary purpose with the company is to lose matches to more popular wrestlers to make them look stronger and maintain the kayfabe illusion that their rise to the top was based on an impressive string of victories. In other words, it’s someone who’s simply there to lose. (See: Mitt Romney)

Jabroni: A term popularized by The Iron Sheik and The Rock, and almost certainly etymologically related to the word “jobber”. Calling someone a “jabroni” is a kind of insult in wrestling. It amounts to strongly calling someone a loser – someone whose destiny is to fail, and who could not do otherwise. (See: Mitt Romney)

Get over: To become popular with the fans. Example: “Chris Jericho really started to get over with the WWE fans during his feud with Chris Benoit”. Sometimes a talent will get over organically, without a big push from the higher-ups (See: Daniel Bryan, Ron Paul). Often, however, a push will just be a cynical attempt to try to get a bland “company man” who kisses the butt of the Establishment over with the fans. (See: John Cena, Mitt Romney)

Bury: A wrestler gets “buried” when, for some reason, the company he works for has decided that they don’t like him or want him to get popular, so they intentionally book him to lose matches and look like a jabroni in order to deny him popularity. The WWE did this to the unfortunate, talented John Morrison in 2011, and the Republican Party did it to Ron Paul the following year.

Rub: When a wrestling company likes a young star and wants him to get popular, they often book an angle in which he teams up with a popular established wrestler in hopes that the established wrestler’s popularity will rub off on the young star. This is referred to as the young star “getting a rub” from the more stablished wrestler. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t – WWE attempted this by teaming up the young star Zack Ryder and the established John Cena a couple of years ago, and it didn’t really go anywhere (although whether this is more of a reflection on Ryder’s popularity or on Cena’s is debatable). Presidents often make campaign appearances with candidates from their party to try to make this happen. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes the effect is the opposite of what was intended.

Card: The “card” refers to the relative positions of wrestlers in terms of how popular they are, and consequently how much exposure they get and which championship belts they’re booked to win. The “upper card” refers to the top guys in the company, followed by the “midcard” and finally the “undercard”. Political parties have much the same arrangement. It’s pretty easy to tell who’s in the upper card – they’re the guys doing work interviews on Meet the Press.

Battle Royal: A type of match involving a large number of wrestlers that features an “every man for himself” sort of competition in which the last man left in the ring wins. Think of a political primary as a kayfabe midcard battle royal in which one of the entrants is booked to win by the Establishment.

Sports Entertainment: When Vince McMahon finally quietly admitted that what he produces is fake and scripted, he stopped calling it “professional wrestling” and started calling it “Sports Entertainment”. I encourage you all to start calling the current system “Politics Entertainment”.

Except it’s really not very entertaining, is it?