A Heritage Lost

I spent most of last week with my old friend Psycho Dish, down at his parents’ house in the eastern suburbs of Philadelphia, just across the New Jersey state line. His dad passed away a couple of weeks before Christmas, at 86 years old. He’d had a heart attack in the middle of November, and everyone thought he’d never leave the hospital alive, but he fought his way back to the point that the doctors had agreed to let him leave. As they discharged him, they cautioned the family that he could pass at any time, and they were letting him go so he could have perhaps a few more weeks with them during the holidays and die at home, which at that point was all that he wanted. And a month later, after a chance to enjoy some last simple pleasures and say his proper goodbyes to everyone, that’s what he did.

His wife had already been gone a few years and all of his children had households of their own, so the plan on this first warm week of spring was that all of the children, along with a few spouses and older grandchildren, were to come together at the house to clear it out before it got professionally cleaned and then sold. Pads of Post-It notes of various colors were given to all the family members, who were to use them to tag whatever items they wanted. Anything left unclaimed after the week was over would be offered to the Salvation Army, and anything that they wouldn’t take would be left for the cleaners to dispose of. I was the only one there not related by blood or marriage, but it was a big task and any help was welcome. Family members showed up in clusters over the first couple of days of the week. We got there in the second wave, after a fair amount of stuff had already been claimed, though fortunately nothing that Psycho Dish really had his eye on. After all the requisite greetings (and in my case, introductions) were over, Psycho Dish took the pad of blue Post-Its that had been set aside for him and started a room-by-room sweep, tagging everything he intended to take with him. I was sent to the master bedroom and given the task of taking boxes down from the shelves from the closet – many of which had been up there for as long as anyone could remember – and making an inventory of what was in them.

It’s amazing how much someone accumulates over the course of a long life, and every little thing tells a piece of their story. I had only met Psycho Dish’s dad a couple of times before he passed, but, in a sense, I got to know him better during that week than I ever had while he was living.

The first thing that had to be done was clearing the closet of all of his clothes. I had only just started when I came across an important part of his story – his fire department uniforms. He had been an electrical engineer by trade, but when he moved to what was then a small but rapidly-growing suburban town in the mid-1950s, he discovered that it had no fire department, or really any emergency services at all beyond a handful of bored police officers. He could have done what so many who move to small towns nowadays do – agitate for taxes to be raised and for the government to solve the problem for him. Instead, he decided that he was going to be a part of the solution himself. He gathered a group of like-minded men from around the town, and together they founded a volunteer fire department. The first fire station was an old barn, and the first fire engine a used model bought from Philadelphia and paid for mostly with donations from the townspeople. All of the volunteers had full-time jobs, but they all dedicated tremendous amounts of their free time toward the benefit of their neighbors and their community. He had served in the department for 50 years, until advanced age meant he could no longer do so, and continued being involved with them, showing up in his Class A’s to all of their ceremonial events, to the day he died.

I called Psycho Dish’s sister Janet, who was executrix of the will, into the bedroom and asked her what to do with them. After a pause, she replied: “I’ll call the department and see if they want them back. Maybe they can do something with them.”

Leaving the uniforms in place, I continued taking clothes out of the closet, pulling them off of their hangers and bagging them in big white trash bags for their trip to the Salvation Army. It wasn’t long, however, before I found another item that deserved a better fate. It was a windbreaker, covered in patches with the names, designations, and images of perhaps a couple of dozen Navy ships. Here too was a part of his story. He had been born in the California of Steinbeck novels during the depths of the Great Depression, worked his way through high school while war raged across the sea, maintained impeccable grades, ended up with a full-ride scholarship to UC Berkeley’s engineering school, and graduated with the Class of ’55. It was the height of the Cold War, and smart engineers were greatly in demand by the defense industry. RCA hired him straight out of college and moved him to a research facility near the Philadelphia Navy Yards. He worked on radio transmitters and radars for a few years, but his crowning achievement was his work on the AEGIS system, a tightly integrated radar and weapons package that makes the modern warships that have it basically invulnerable to the kind of aerial attacks that devastated the WWII Navy. So critical was his work on the project that whenever a newly-built AEGIS ship went out for sea trials, he would be among the civilian engineers brought aboard to troubleshoot problems. Each patch was a gift from the captain of the ship he had sailed with, and there were a lot of them there. While radicalism and protest overtook his alma mater, he remained a moderate Kennedy Democrat, holding on to the mindset of an age in which patriotism was assumed to cut across party lines. There was never any question for him that helping to defend his country by working for the Military-Industrial Complex was morally right. As far as he was concerned, that’s just what any patriotic American would do.

I found Psycho Dish and handed the jacket to him. He gave it a sad look, then told me to put it aside and we’d figure out what to do with it later. With that done, I started hauling bags of clothes out to the car for their trip to the donation bin. I’d only gotten a couple of them loaded before Psycho Dish found me in the bedroom and told me he’d rounded up some help.

This came in the form of his son, who had just shown up. He lived full-time with his Aunt Janet, but hadn’t arrived with her. He’d held off a couple of days and ended up driving down with his cousin Brie, who had to wait until her week of Spring Break started before she could join us. He wasn’t in college himself, though, nor was he doing much of anything else with his life. One Christmas when he was 10 or 11, Psycho Dish had given him a Pokémon game and a pack of Magic: The Gathering cards, and that had pretty much sealed his fate. Now he was 23, had washed out of college permanently after multiple tries, and had recently quit the latest in a series of low-paying food service jobs flipping burgers or making cappuccino. It wasn’t that he didn’t have the intelligence to make more of himself; he just didn’t have the ambition for it. What he made was enough to pay the pittance rent his aunt asked of him, buy whatever cheap food he needed to supplement what he ate at work, and buy Pokémon DLC or Magic cards – which was all he really asked for in life. Hanging from a strap around his neck was a plastic case with a sticker of a female anime character on it. In the spirit of polite small talk, I asked him what it was.

“It’s my Switch!”

A young woman’s voice interjected loudly, “He never put the damn thing down once the whole trip!” It was Brie, who was looking through a bookshelf in the hallway just beyond the bedroom door. I hadn’t met her before, but with her short, bright green hair and large nose ring, she made quite a first impression. More ambitious than him, she was in the final semester of a Women’s Studies degree at a school in Massachusetts.

Shaking her head slightly as she stared at the bookshelf, she continued, “Not even when I stopped for a piss break.”

Wanting the conversation to go in a different direction, I pointed at the sticker on the case and asked, “Who’s that?”

“That’s Cynthia! She’s my waifu!”

“Your waifu?”

“Yeah, she’s the best Pokémon master! Nobody can beat her!”

Brie broke back into the conversation in a tone of annoyance mixed with exasperation. “Waifus aren’t real, and they’re a totally unrealistic vision of womanhood!”

“She’s real enough for me” he grumbled, with a manner that made me sure this wasn’t the first time they’d had that conversation.

And in fact, she was real enough for him. Neither Psycho Dish nor anyone else in the family could find any evidence that he’d ever been on a date or kissed a girl or even had a crush on a female of the 3D variety. It wasn’t that he was fat or ugly. Psycho Dish had married and divorced a Chinese girl, and his son was the sole lasting product of their union. Biracial children often look very much one race or very much the other, and he bore the unmistakable features of his mother’s East Asian side of the family. He grew up to be thin, a bit slight, and not very tall, but by no means would he be unattractive to the opposite sex. And he wasn’t gay, either – he’d made that clear enough through his objections a few years earlier when his mother got caught up in the zeitgeist of the age and made a clumsy attempt at trannying him up for attention – one that fortunately came late enough in his development that he was able to successfully resist it. No, it was simply that, as with school and work, he couldn’t find a way to get interested enough in women, or anything other than his games, to seriously pursue them.

For a fleeting second, I wondered how many plastic water bottles he had gone through in his life and what a blood test might reveal about his testosterone levels, but then turned my mind back to the task at hand. I had him take a couple of the smaller bags of clothes out to the car, then gave charge of him back to his father and drove off to make the donation on my own.

When I returned to the house, I spotted a man and woman coming back down the driveway toward me, having apparently just talked to Janet, who was still standing by the front door.

“Who were they?”, I asked.

In an almost-disgusted tone, she answered “Flippers.”

“Huh?”

“House flippers, like you see on TV. They just bought a house down the street and they figured out what we were doing here somehow. I guess it’s their business to know things like that. Anyhow, they made me an offer on the house. It’s lowball, but they said they’ll take it as-is, which would save us a lot of trouble. They said they could make it into a lovely little starter home for a young couple.”

She took a long look back into the living room before continuing.

“A starter home? My dad lived in this house 60 years. He raised four kids here. He carried his bride through the front door and they stayed here till the day she died, right in that bedroom you’re cleaning, and then to the day he died here on the front porch. Whatever happened to moving into a place, making it your own, getting to know your neighbors, becoming a part of your community? If I sell it to them, they’ll flip it, then five years from now whoever buys it will flip it to someone else, and they’ll flip it to someone else a few years after that. Nobody puts down roots anymore. Nobody takes pride in where they are. They just wait for the day when they can flip what they’ve got and buy a bigger house with a bigger garage where they can park a bigger car.”

She took a breath, then in a resigned tone said, “Well, I told them I’d think about their offer, and I will.”

Saying nothing else, she went inside, and I followed close behind.

Back in the bedroom, I started taking boxes down from the top shelves in the now much-cleaner closet. The first box, a small one, contained his and his wife’s passports, and a couple of envelopes full of assorted foreign currency. He’d built a fine career with RCA’s defense division, but after the Cold War ended and contracts started drying up during the Clinton years, they’d offered him a pension buyout and he’d retired a few years early. It wasn’t quite as much as one might think, but through some careful investing, he’d managed to build it into a healthy retirement fund. For almost 20 years afterward, until his wife got her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, they’d lived the American Dream in its golden years – doting on grandchildren, gardening, dance classes (with an AARP discount, of course), and travel – all manner of “bucket list” places in summer, and ten-day all-expenses-paid cruises to warmer climes in winter. A quick look through the envelopes revealed Euros, pre-Euro currencies from maybe a half-dozen countries on the continent, Japanese yen, Hong Kong dollars, Turkish lira, Mexican pesos, Korean won, Thai baht, and Egyptian pounds, among others. They’d sure gotten around. Good for them. I put the box aside.

The next box revealed an Audubon Society guide to birds of the northeast and an older, but respectably prosumer-level, set of Nikon binoculars in a very nice nylon case. A fine choice for birdwatching… and also for assessing accuracy in the type of long-distance target shooting I’d lately been doing. When Psycho Dish came by the bedroom to see how the trip to the Salvation Army had gone, I handed him the case and in a quiet voice said, “Hey, do me a favor… tag this for me.” He gave me a sly smile, replied “Sure thing, dude”, and slapped a blue Post-It on it. Thus was I remunerated for my day’s labors.

The third box was indeed the charm, and this was where I began to strike paydirt. Here lay the first part of stamp and coin collections, both presumably quite valuable, and both claimed by Psycho Dish’s youngest sister Chrissy before her father’s body was cold. Box after box contained binders that held proof sets, foreign stamps, old half-dollars, canceled envelopes, and authentication papers. I decided to find Janet so I could report my success.

I discovered her in the kitchen, sitting at the table with Psycho Dish, his son, and Brie, in the midst of a conversation.

“…and I was able to talk them into taking the uniforms back, but they said they weren’t sure they’d ever be able to make use of them.” Janet said, as she stared down into a cup of coffee with a sad look, “In fact, they said that the mayor and the council have been thinking of replacing the volunteer department with a full-time professional one. The town has grown a lot over the years and, well… people don’t volunteer for things like that as much as they used to. I guess the pace of life is faster, and we all don’t have as much time for it anymore.”

“What about the awards?”, Psycho Dish asked.

The awards he had received over his lifetime covered an entire wall of the hallway – lacquered wood plaques with brass plates that had his name and one of his many accomplishments listed on them, mostly bearing the engraved shield of the fire department shield or the visage of a fireman, interspersed with a few from his church or the Navy or RCA. Each one was a monument to decades worth of patriotism, hard work, civic involvement, and community-mindedness.

“No, they’re too personalized”, Janet answered. “They can take his name tags off the uniforms pretty easy, but the awards are different. They couldn’t do anything with them.”

There was a short silence, which she broke without being asked.

“If there were only one or two, I’d take them myself. But there’s so many… I just don’t have the room.”

I knew – they all knew – that everyone there had been thinking the same thing. After an awkward moment, Brie offered them an honorable out.

“If nobody can think of anything else to do with them, I know someone who’d take them. One of my friends at school is a fine arts major. She mentioned once that people in her department look for old plaques like that in thrift stores all the time. They strip the brass off them and use the wood as display bases for art projects – y’know, like small sculptures and such. I mean, at least it’d be for education, and it’s better than…” she cast a dramatic glance at the kitchen garbage can “…the alternative.”

Janet suddenly looked a bit less burdened. “Well, your great-grandmother was an artist, and your grandfather was a great believer in education…”

If anyone was going to object, they would have then. None of them did. I said nothing, as I was not a member of the family and it was not my place to. But my own experiences in graduate school meant that I knew what had been coming from fine arts departments lately. I could not restrain myself from imagining an award presented in recognition of long and hazardous service as a first responder for the people of the community stripped to become the base of a two-foot-tall sculpture of a vagina.

“Yes, dear” Janet continued, “why don’t you go ahead and give your friend a call?”

“Sure thing”, Brie replied, and with this left the room to start dialing.

With that issue solved, Janet turned her attention to me. “And what have you been up to?”, she asked cheerfully.

“I found the coins and stamps. There’s a whole lot of them.”

Here Psycho Dish broke into the conversation: “So, remind me why we’re just letting Chrissy walk off with those? I mean, dad didn’t specifically leave them to her, and you’re executrix of the will. You don’t have to let her claim all the valuable stuff.”

A faint smile came to Janet’s lips. “I thought about saying something to her about it, but then I did a little research. The truth is, stamp collecting has absolutely collapsed as a hobby over the past couple of decades. Young people just aren’t into it at all.”

I glanced over at Psycho Dish’s son, whose nose was buried in his Switch, spending a few precious moments of his break from clearing out the garage with Cynthia. Maybe if they put Pikachu on a postage stamp he’d be interested, but not otherwise.

“Stamp collections that would have been worth thousands of dollars back in the 80s or 90s are now just about worth the paper they’re printed on. There’s simply no demand anymore. And coin collecting is only mildly better. Unless they’re really rare or made out of some kind of precious metal, they’re basically worth face value at this point. Even at that, silver dollars and the like generally won’t bring in much beyond their melt value. The bottom line is that the whole collection isn’t worth anywhere near as much as Chris thinks it is, so it just isn’t worth fighting her over.”

She continued, “Besides which, Chris didn’t read the will very carefully. It specifically says that if any of us decide to sell off something from the estate instead of keeping it, the proceeds are subject to the same conditions as his cash and investments – the profits get split equally between all four children, except for 10% that gets held back and donated to First United Presbyterian.”

A last tithing to his place of worship of 60 years – a respectable, middle-class, mainline protestant congregation in which he had risen to National Assembly Elder for his synod. And they certainly needed the money; declining attendance had hit them hard, made worse by splits over social issues that threatened to tear not just the congregation, but the entire Presbyterian Church in half. The Presbyterian church building just down the block from my own residence has a rainbow flag hung over the main entrance. First United didn’t have one yet, but now that the old generation was passing…

“I’m hungry” the son interjected. “When are we eating?”

He had a point. It was nearly 5:30 in the evening, and we had been working all day. There was nothing wrong with quitting now, having a good meal and a long sleep, and then coming back in the morning. The kitchen was a shambles, with pots and dishes and utensils taken out of cabinets, tagged, and put in boxes. After a short discussion, it was decided that everyone should fend for themselves when it came to finding their evening meal. Psycho Dish decided that we deserved a steak dinner, so he, his son, and I put on our jackets and headed out to the car for a trip to the local steakhouse.

As we pulled away, I took a long look backward. There was a man’s whole life; a life that exemplified the 20th century American Dream, and not only in its material aspects. Yes, there was the suburban house with the white picket fence. But there was also the patriotism that was reflexive without being showy, the civic pride and dedication to a high-trust community, the solid marriage and family life, the emphasis on education and hard work, even the middle-class hobbies like birdwatching and stamp collecting. All relics of a disappearing era along a path we will certainly only tread once; of a bygone America that now exists only in fading memory. It was nice while it lasted, but I suppose that nothing in this world lasts forever.

It was a good dinner. Steaks and beers and being free of our melancholy task for the night lightened our moods and loosened our tongues. Before long, Psycho Dish and I were deep in conversation about everything in the world.

But not his son, who somehow managed to eat his entire supper with one hand while playing Pokémon on his Switch with the other.

He never put the damn thing down once the whole time.

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Bitchpilling

Of late from the Imperial Capital comes news of a setback; our President seems to have made an embarrassing political misstep. The consequences remain unclear, but seem as likely as not to be temporary and not very hard to recover from. The exact details are, for my purposes, beside the point – when you read this in a few weeks, or months, or years, the incident will be old news and probably forgotten. My object is not to look at this event itself, but the reaction to it, and why it bodes ill for we who cannot afford to lose.

The reasonable reaction to hearing about all this might have involved public expressions of disappointment. It might have involved legitimate, measured criticism – the President has made some real mistakes, he’s done some things with which I seriously disagree, and by no means am I saying that he should be beyond reproach. But all too often, it has involved “blackpilling” – hysterical, screechy proclamations that Trump has “cucked” and we have all been betrayed, along with mopey, effeminate whining about how all hope is lost. This has even crossed into the bizarre suggestion that the pro-white right would be better off supporting a Samoan hard leftist because she has been mildly critical of expansionist foreign policy, and a Chinese socialist, apparently because the white race will be rendered far better prepared to face its future as a despised minority in what were once its homelands by becoming hopelessly dependent on government welfare.

As for me, I am perfectly satisfied with Donald Trump’s performance as President. Unlike those who breathlessly proclaimed him “God-Emperor” three years ago with the exact same fervor with which they now denounce him as a traitor, a “Boomer”, a “cuck”, and a villain, I approached Trump with low expectations, which he has consistently met or exceeded. I never expected that he would be the solution to all of our problems; merely that he would buy us some time while we prepared for what is coming. Since that seems to be approximately what is happening, I see little reason to be despondent. Here I think some important factors separating me from the blackpillers are at play.

One is that many of the blackpillers had never been seriously involved in politics until Trump piqued their interest in 2016, whereas I have been following politics since I was a teenager in the mid-1980s. The “God-Emperor” talk reflected their unrealistic expectations of what a single political figure – even in the highest elected office in the government – might actually be able to accomplish. The President isn’t Sulla marching through the Colline Gate with an army at his back – he has to deal with political opponents (including opposition within his own party), the courts, the bureaucracy, and endless institutional inertia, and can’t simply order a Centurion to cut the throat of anyone who doesn’t like it. My own observation of modern political history (here meaning, roughly, the post-FDR era) tells me that even presidencies that are considered successful generally get about a third of what the candidate promised before he took office done. This holds true of both parties – Barack Obama got very little passed in his eight years in office, especially considering that his one signature achievement, Obamacare, bore little resemblance to the much more ambitious government takeover of healthcare that he had in mind, and that his supporters expected, when he was on the campaign trail. The bottom line is that politicians – left, right, and center – always promise more than they can really deliver. Whether it’s intentional or merely reflects the candidates’ own honest underestimation of the difficulty of getting anything done in Washington is immaterial. It’s been that way for ages, and it will continue to be that way for as long as the current system stands.

Related to this is a deep naïveté on the part of the blackpillers about how the political game is played and what needs to be said and done in order to get even the third or so of his agenda that a President can get through enacted. This may seem odd when describing people who take such joy in the edgy nihilism that blackpilling offers. Yet one anonymous critic on the My Posting Career forums got things exactly right when he noted:

“The dissident right’s ‘plan’ all along was that someone like Trump would seize power and fix everything while they cheered along from Twitter and racist podcasts. As outsiders they never had the first clue what was necessary to wield real political power, or really how serious the situation truly was. No friends, no skin in the game, no experience with real life, way too much internet exposure… They would rather have a politician they dislike but feel emotionally disengaged from, because this leaves their comfortable pathologies undisturbed. If they were not losers they would have some focus in their lives other than the internet and Trump, and would be more sanguine even in this period of chaos. I have yet to see a man with a family blackpill like a morose child, but I have long ago lost count of the permanent singletons and divorced crybabies who have done so”.

In short, the alt-right spends too much time inside its online echo chambers, where it has come to believe in the Super Saiyan theory of politics – that any political fight can be won if only one gets really, really, REALLY angry about it. This political tone-deafness has led the alt-right to disaster after disaster, such as “Heilgate” and the infamous Charlottesville rally, from which they have consistently refused to learn a damn thing. Evidence of it was also seen in their hostile reaction to the President’s 2019 State of the Union address, in which nice things said about legal immigrants, Holocaust survivors, WWII veterans, and working women were among the many normie-friendly platitudes that are completely uncontroversial outside of alt-right echo chambers, and which helped lead to a 78% approval rating for the speech among the general public. Here our anonymous MPC writer continues:

“Trump has made references to legal immigration going back to the campaign; you can believe what you want about his actual thoughts on legal immigration, but in any case Trump is grossly outnumbered and needs some room to maneuver. What Trump could do if he had control of every party organ is an academic question. Perhaps he would still be in favor of it. But it doesn’t matter because he has to have something with which to perform feints and other maneuvers that get him closer to other goals. And legal immigration might be a patch of territory he has to cede in order to win a larger battle… One might also mordantly note that the screams about legal immigration followed Trump’s maneuvering on the wall construction, which we were ALWAYS told by the blackpillers was the real enchilada, the only thing that mattered.”

The upshot is that the blackpillers of the alt-right have been losers at the political game for decades because they don’t know how to play it, or even seem to see why they should have to. They consistently overestimate both their numbers and their intelligence, and even if they didn’t, they would still lack any understanding whatsoever of why anyone in that position should need to employ virtues like diplomacy, patience, or restraint. They don’t grasp the importance of slowly building and shrewdly spending political capital, and they effectively place their desire to be edgy over their desire to actually get anything done. A fine example of this is Ann Coulter, a shrill, impetuous moron whose inability to self-censor or employ any tact whatsoever led her to lose the ear of the President and any of the precious influence she might at one point have had on him and that might have helped her preferred policies to become reality. This is how habitual losers operate. To quote our MPC author again:

“The dissident right’s feelings about Trump reflect its own unacceptable feelings about itself: that it has largely been a failure, that it doesn’t understand what is going on, and that it has no access to real power… Naturally they resent the only politician who has done anything on their behalf. If you’ve ever come across this sort of failure in real life, you know the type: the minute you try to help him with anything, his resentment toward you builds until it reaches a meltdown. This is because the effort to help him exposes his personal flaws and threatens him with responsibility for his own failure… It pours from their bitter, derisive rhetoric about Trump, who has made the mistake of going to battle – literally risking his life and fortune, if you know anything about our establishment – on behalf of these losers.”

Those who can, do to the best of their ability – often stumbling along the way. Those who can’t, critique – offering endless bitter complaints and Monday morning quarterback suggestions about what could have been done better. But the problem with any culture of critique, and blackpillers certainly count as one, is that they do nothing to prove themselves worthy of power. People know this instinctively, which is why nobody is very enthusiastic about giving power to those who offer nothing but critique. And this, in turn, is why power plays by cultures of critique always end up either in them being crushed, or in them taking power by default during a period of chaos, followed by an era marked both by extreme tyranny and tragicomic incompetence. When I have pointed this out to blackpillers, I have often been told (particularly when it came to the Yang Gang/Clown World memes currently fashionable in their circles) that I “wasn’t getting the joke”. But I’m not here to joke, and we have no need of unseriousness from those who would style themselves leaders of our movement and our people. To survive what is to come, we must become strong and worthy. With that will come a renewal of dignity, self-respect, and ultimately, hope. But we will achieve none of it by begging our current elites for scraps from their table (something that, since they hate us and want us dead, would be suicidal anyway). Neither will we achieve it with despair, which is a sin for a reason. Nor either will we achieve it with snarky joking or ironic nihilism. None of these things help us, and I am tired of having my time wasted with them.

I have also often been told by blackpillers that I am not facing reality. Quite the contrary, I believe it is the blackpillers who have consistently failed to be realistic about the nature of the situation we find ourselves in and what will be necessary to get through it. They tell themselves that Trump has “cucked” because that is the easy, comforting thing to believe. It means that they can lay the blame for the fact that our problems aren’t getting solved on one man who they can imagine failed because he just didn’t try hard enough. That allows them to continue to deny the terrible truths before us: that our entire corrupt, sclerotic, rusty late-imperial system is beyond saving, that one man can’t make a difference no matter how much he wants to, and that we’re not voting our way out of this, so we’d all better start preparing for what comes next.

In this, I do have some small measure of sympathy for them. Someone once described conservatism as the desire to have the world always be as it was when you were ten years old. I was ten in 1983, growing up in a Great American Suburb right when the Reagan era was hitting its stride. People born too young to remember those times for themselves just can’t imagine how different – and how much better – things were then. I wish they really could be like that again – a couple of minor tweaks aside, if you offered me the chance to live in an eternal 1983, I’d take it in a heartbeat. But I know that can never happen. As great as it was while it lated, we can tread that path but once.

By directing their blame and anger at Trump – the one figure in the entire system who has ever genuinely tried to help them – the blackpillers allow themselves the hope of believing that if they just elect some mythical non-cuck someday, the system can be saved and the world can go back to being normal, like it was when they were ten years old. What this shows us is that, far from being the edgy radicals that they want to believe they are, the blackpillers are still just normies at heart, whose disillusionment still hasn’t shaken them enough to stop holding on to the normiest of goals. Even the so-called accelerationists believe that if they can only cause a big enough crisis, the facade of Modernity will crack and shatter, revealing – like a game show host opening Door #1 to display a fabulous prize – blessed normalcy hidden just behind it. Of course, beyond the fact that throughout history unimaginable ruin has been caused by people who took risks on horrendously stupid ideas because they just couldn’t imagine that things could possibly get worse than they already were, and that if we really do reach a point of collapse nobody will follow the leadership of anyone who they believe contributed to making things worse, there’s the fact that the prize they seek cannot be granted to them – not by Donald Trump, nor by anybody else.

To borrow a phrase from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Trump movement is indeed a bus that we should be prepared to get off of when we reach our destination. But we’re not even close to our destination, nobody seems to have a more realistic plan for getting there in the foreseeable future, and only a fool gets off a bus in the middle of nowhere, miles away from whatever it is they’re trying to reach.

In short, all of the hysterical fools who are blackpilled on Trump are victims of their own lack of perspective and realism. Trump is on balance a positive force, but he was never going to be able to bring back normalcy on his own. The blackpillers thought it would be as simple as voting for the right guy, and then they could then go back to being normies, worried only about their lawns and how the local Little League team was doing. So they elected Trump; now a couple of years into his presidency, they look around and see that we still have problems, and this fills them with anger and frustration. So they direct all of that at Trump, telling themselves and anyone within earshot that the reason things aren’t back to normal must be that he is a cuck or a fool. But the harsh truth is that he’s neither. He wouldn’t get anything more done if he got angrier, or made more strident speeches, or were any more dedicated to our ideals than he already is. The real problem is that this is as much as the current system will allow him – or anyone else in his position – to accomplish. Trump was the best the system could do and its last hope. But by now it has to be obvious to anyone who isn’t fooling themselves that the system cannot be saved, and entirely other options must be explored. I’m sorry, I sincerely wish I could tell you all different, but we’re never going back to normal, and things will never again be the way they were when you were a kid. So what’s the plan now?

The truth is, the blackpillers don’t have a plan. Nor do they seem very interested in devoting their energy to coming up with one or implementing it. Complaining is easy; planning is hard, and doing is even harder. Many deny that hard times are coming at all; not because deep down they really believe it, but because acknowledging that it’s coming and preparing for it would require effort and initiative, and they’d rather just sit on their asses indulging in fantasies that some politician will come along and save them – maybe by smiting their enemies, or maybe by handing them a welfare check. This is only partly explained by them being delusional. The other important element to this is that deep down they just don’t have the stomach for a long, hard fight. They are not happy warriors; they are normies in wolves’ clothing. When the going gets tough, they retreat to the internet to post clown memes and beg a Chinese socialist for a handout. Whether they honestly believe that a system that hates them and wants them dead will actually pay them $1000 a month to sit in their basements and post Nazi memes on social media is anyone’s guess. But if they do end up getting it, I suppose it will at least be enough to lay in bed reminiscing about the good old days, fantasizing that Nu-Hitler is coming to the rescue, and waiting to share in the fate of the Boers – which is all they seem to be willing or able to do.

So to the blackpillers I say: You have proven that you can’t lead and you can’t follow, so get the hell out of the way. Stop poisoning the well with your mopey, pointless doom and gloom; let men with chests and a measure of vision come to the fore. And to the rest of you – and to myself – I issue this challenge: Tell me your plan. Give me your answers. Keep in mind that a useful idea can be either big-picture or personal. It’s useful to tell me how to build a functional society for our people when the opportunity comes, but it’s also useful to tell me how an individual, a family, or a small community survives what lies between now and when we establish it. As for me, for now, it means that that not only do I speak up, but I armed up, left Silicon Valley after 25 years of living there, and am headed for a homogenous small town in a red state. My progress in becoming more prepared and my thoughts on what a better, more sustainable society would look like are things that I plan on sharing in this space. So continue to check in, dear reader, as I contribute what I can to the cause.

To See The Invisible Man

For anyone who’s never seen it, this episode of the 80s revival of the Twilight Zone (posted here in its entirety) is a perfect metaphor for the deplatforming/unpersoning of those found guilty of wrongthink in the current year. Notice, especially, how it ends, which is the right answer to how we should respond to respond to it.

If we are afraid or indifferent, they will isolate us and destroy us one at a time. We must stick together and take care of each other, which is what communities do.

Green Tea Among Snow-Covered Mountains

Twenty years ago, I lived in a small town in the mountains of central Japan, where, through a nationally-administered educational initiative called the JET Program, I was employed teaching English in the local middle school. I was in my mid-20s, and off on a great exotic adventure – a romantic one too, as through some luck and ingenuity I had managed to find a way to bring with me a certain young lady of whom I was quite fond. It was not only my first time living in a foreign land, but, as a child of the Great American Suburbs, also my first time living in the countryside anywhere. It was, as small towns tend to be, the sort of place where not only does everybody know everybody, but everybody is vaguely related to everybody as well – there were a handful of local surnames that I’d guess between them hung on about three-quarters of the people there. The local barber had, in his younger days, been a sailor on a cargo ship and had come home with a Filipina wife, but other than her, my young lady and I were the only non-Japanese there. As one can imagine, we made quite an impression on the place, as it did also on us.

Japanese schools work differently from American schools in a few important ways. Among them is that in America, students shuttle around between classrooms all day, while in Japan, students stay at the same desk while, every class period, different teachers come in for each of their various classes. This is why there are no lockers in Japanese schools – students there simply keep everything at the desk at which they sit all day, every day. It is also why the common American phenomenon of a teacher taking over a certain classroom as their own personal fiefdom and storing all of their stuff in its desk never happens in Japan. Because of this, teachers in Japan spend a lot more time at their desks in the staff room, which is where they come between classes and during periods in which they have nothing scheduled, to grade papers, plan lessons, or relax a bit.

My own desk in the staff room was nose-to-nose with that of Yukari-san, the school’s office lady. Office lady (OL for short) is a job that doesn’t exist in America, or even in the West as a whole, but is a fixture of Asian business settings. It is, in truth, a job that the egalitarian feminist sentiments of the modern West would not permit to exist here. The function of OLs is simply to make the office comfortable and comforting. Yes, they often do some minor functional tasks like making copies or shuttling papers from one office to the next. But the main things that they do during their workdays are to make tea (oh, the endless cups of tea consumed in Japanese offices!), to ensure that the electric hot water kettles that office workers use for instant ramen consumed at their desks are full, to offer cookies and snacks to those too busy even for ramen, to greet guests, to be pleasant, to look nice. Most of them are attractive young women who are expected to, and do, quit after a few years when they get married. Most, in corporate settings, wear smart-looking uniforms – universally featuring skirts, not pants – and pretty but businesslike high heels. They make offices – in which Japanese workers spend far more time than their American counterparts – a more warm and welcoming place.

Yukari-san was not in her 20s, and though she had obviously been quite pretty in her younger days, age and care had faded her looks. She wore no uniform, but came to work in the nicest clothes that her modest circumstances would allow. Hers was not the “Pretty Young Thing” approach to making the office a brighter place, but a motherly one. Quite literally, in fact, as two of her three daughters were students at the middle school (the third and oldest had just moved on to high school, which, as is common in the countryside, was farther off and shared by two or three nearby towns). She had been a widow about ten years, her husband having been killed in a wintertime wreck on one of the twisty, narrow roads that led out to the highway. She had never graduated high school, had no marketable skills, and after the accident had been left with three young children and enough money from savings and life insurance to get by for perhaps a few months.

In a small place like that, word gets around fast. The town, as a whole, made up its mind to do something to help her. Meetings were held at town hall. The mayor got involved. It was decided that a job would be found for her, marketable skills or not. Budgets were adjusted, and a modest sum per year was come up with. The Board of Education was consulted; suddenly there was an opening for an OL at the middle school, and only one candidate was ever considered for it.

In the West, the answer would have been to send Yukari-san to the welfare office, and to hurl her into the void of those who become lifetime wards of the system. She would be left to shuffle through the dehumanizing bureaucracy of the welfare state, filling out forms in dreary government offices, and then to return home to sit on the couch in front of a television set, getting fat on EBT-provided, high fructose corn syrup-laden junk foods, until diabetes or hypertension took her to an early grave. Or perhaps, as has become so common in America, someone would clue her in on how to get an easy prescription for opioid painkillers, and they would slowly consume her until, inevitably – by choice or by accident – the inevitable happened. But that is not how small-town Japan works. They find a way to take care of their own, and not just by giving them free processed junk food and a shabby Section 8 apartment. They came up with a way for Yukari-san to continue to be a useful member of the community, to have a purpose in life, to have a reason to get off the couch, to have pride in every bit of money that she was paid.

For Yukari-san, the job was perfect. She wasn’t well-educated, but she could make tea and snacks and photocopies and she could keep electric kettles full. The position allowed her to keep an eye on her daughters – the elementary school and the middle school were separated only by their shared baseball field, which meant that she would be near them all the way from when they began kindergarten to when they were teenagers headed off to high school. The pay was not lavish, but for getting by in a small town it was adequate, and since the staff in Japanese schools eat the same meals that students do, a few meals a week for both herself and her daughters were had at no charge. And most important of all, she could hold her head high with self-respect and say that she earned her keep.

Was that really quite true? Was the service she provided worth what the town was paying her in cold economic terms? Most certainly not. But despite the protestations of Ayn Rand, not all societal good is measurable that way. Was it cruel to make her work for her money instead of simply handing it to her and asking for nothing in return? Bleeding hearts would insist that it was, but it never seemed that Yukari-san felt that way. She didn’t feel demeaned – either by feminist sensibilities telling her that the job was beneath her or by a sense of entitlement telling her that she was owed something for nothing. She was only grateful that her community had found a way to take care of her, and she was equally grateful that she could contribute something back to it.

And as for me, I was simply happy to have a hot cup of green tea waiting for me whenever I came back from teaching a class. To this day, I can’t drink any without thinking of Yukari-san. The memories – of looking out at snow-covered mountains beyond the school windows while warming my hands over a steaming cup – are faded, but surrounded by a glow of distant happiness. By helping to create them, Yukari-san added something of value to my life that I feel even all these years later, in ways that are beyond the capability of economists to quantify.

And, though she was never a teacher, she did manage to provide me with a lesson in how a community can best take care of its needy.

How To White Nationalism

Auntie Marie is a kind, gentle woman without an ounce of hate for anybody in her heart. That’s why it surprised me to hear her, of all people, praising the Black Panthers – the infamous, and occasionally violent, black nationalist movement that flourished on the streets of Oakland during the Civil Rights era. Marie grew up on the border between Oakland and Berkeley, and is of just the right age to remember them as a part of her childhood. It was not, however, their political activism – and certainly not the violence! – that won them an eternal place in her heart, but something far more personal.

Marie doesn’t like to say that she grew up poor, but her parents divorced when she was five years old and her father, a longshoreman who had migrated up from Louisiana near the end of World War II, was never quite able to provide as much as his nine children by Marie’s mother and his stepchildren with his new wife all might have wanted. They weren’t exactly starving, but money was tight and any little bit of help they could get, especially in those days before LBJ’s Great Society efforts had expanded the welfare state to its modern gargantuan proportions, went a long way. One such bit of help was found when Marie was attending what is now Rosa Parks Elementary School, when the Black Panthers established their own school breakfast program in the neighborhood.

Her memories of it are a bit faded with age, but still clear enough to bring a warm smile to her lips. It was located in a two-story house – was it on Allston, or Addison? – well anyhow, not too far from the old Jack in the Box on San Pablo Avenue. She never asked who the house belonged to; whether one of the Panthers owned it or if they had rented it. It hardly mattered to her back then and it’s too late to ask now. What she does remember is that the furniture had been cleared out of the living room and a large round table that nearly filled the room set up there instead. Normally she would arrive sometime between 7:30 and 8AM, which was just about prime time for the operation. There would usually be about twenty kids there, mostly her age, and universally black. Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, white toast, and oatmeal – always plenty to go around, and served piping hot. Occasionally an adult would spend a couple of minutes telling them about the Black Panther Party, but mostly they just sat and ate. Nobody from the Black Panthers ever asked for a dime from them, or from their parents.

The program lasted for three or four crucial years of Marie’s childhood before the Panthers closed it down, mostly because the then-new Food Stamp program had spooled up enough that many in the community no longer saw it as necessary and, with their refrigerators stocked with taxpayer-provided free food of their own, had stopped sending their children to eat with the Panthers. But that doesn’t mean that the Black Panther school breakfast program was without its lasting effects. Half a century later, a little girl who ate at their table every day before school still will not tolerate a bad word to be said about them in her presence.

* * *

I have frequently seen the complaint made among those in the community of white people who would rather not be genocided that, while online activism has done wonders for us, more must be done to bring the movement offline and into the real world. So far, the results of that have been roundly terrible, with the disastrous Charlottesville rally in the summer of 2017 being the most drastic example. This has made many back away from the idea of real-world activism completely, sending them retreating into anonymous meme-making. There is to this some measure of good sense – Charlottesville emphasized the point that the right can’t simply hope to replicate the left’s successes by doing the same things that the left has traditionally done. We are not them. Our strengths (and weaknesses) are not the same as theirs. Beyond this, the Establishment, including the press and the media, will not treat our efforts the same as they treat those of the left. For all these reasons, we should not make a cargo cult of leftist tactics no matter how impressed we are by their victories.

Instead, inspired by Auntie Marie’s story, let me suggest this: Let’s start by making our move into “meat space” a literal one. Let us direct our impulse for real-world action not into duking it out with Antifa goons in the streets of deep-blue cities, but into helping our own people in our own communities, as the Black Panthers did for their people in Oakland so many years ago.

It may here be argued that such efforts are useless, as government welfare programs already exist to do this. But by now only a fool could fail to see that, no matter what the promises with which they were founded may have been, these programs do not exist to benefit our people. They have torn our families to pieces as women have abandoned traditional families and effectively married the state. They have subsidized blight, criminality, and addiction, as the idle hands (both of our own people and of others around whom we must try to live) that it turns out really are the devil’s workshop have turned to acts destructive of the self, of others, and of society as a whole. They have attracted swarms of parasites both from within the ranks of the work-shy inside our borders and, even more disastrously, from every poverty-stricken Third World shithole (as our President so aptly termed them) from Machu Picchu to Phnom Penh. Half a century after these programs were instituted under the promise of helping our people, they have succeeded only in enabling calamities like the divorce epidemic, the opioid crisis, and the rising suicide rate among the men of our working class.

The bottom line is that the government welfare state hasn’t really helped us and isn’t going to start doing so. Among the consequences of this is that there is what one may call an opening in the market; a need for real help that is not being met by a government that doesn’t care about us (or about anything other than its own power), which neatly coincides with our desire to build something in the real world; something that increases the sense of mutual obligation and loyalty among our people.

While I, of course, know that my readership is composed of only the highest class of individuals, I also understand that you, dear reader, are almost certainly not fabulously wealthy and do not have vast resources at your disposal with which to found some grand philanthropic enterprise. If you are of average means and can speak only for yourself, your immediate family, and perhaps a few close friends, then it is easy to believe that taking action in this space is beyond your capacity. But the entire reason I brought up the example of the Black Panther school breakfast program is to show that the best template is decentralized, local, personal, flexible, and small-scale. How much, in terms of resources, did the Black Panthers’ efforts really take? They needed a kitchen and a dining space that was available for three or four hours, five days a week – they used someone’s living room, though a garage equipped with some space heaters would do just as well. They needed a big table, though a few small folding card tables would also work. They needed perhaps 20 hours a week in efforts from a handful of volunteers. And they needed what would now amount to a few hundred dollars a month in groceries if bought in bulk from someplace like Costco or Sam’s Club. None of this would be particularly hard for a small group of people in a local community to put together.

In short: You don’t have to help the whole world. You just have to help a few of our people in your community. And you don’t have to found a huge organization. Start small. Is there a need in your town or neighborhood? Then get a few like-minded people together and fill it. Be sure to know what those needs are and what kind of problems you are in the best position to solve. The Black Panthers’ school breakfast program filled a need found in an urban black community in the mid-1960s, but those may or may not reflect the needs of your community, and thus it may or may not be worthwhile to replicate there. There are, however, many other needs that may be present there.

For example: My father lived for a few years in a small town in which there were many retirees too old to safely drive. This didn’t present much of a problem, as everything in town was within reasonable walking distance, until one day the only grocery store in town closed under competitive pressure from a big box store located a few miles away. This wasn’t much of a problem for the younger people, or the elderly whose families still lived nearby, but was a calamity for those who had to get by on their own. They were left with only the option of choosing from the limited, expensive selection at the local convenience store, or eating at the town’s one fast food outlet. This is a perfect situation of a community need presenting an opportunity for community action. What if a volunteer effort could be organized to connect with elders in need of a ride and, once a week (perhaps on Sunday afternoon), put together a car caravan to drive them out to that big box store to buy groceries? The investment here would be minimal – perhaps four or five hours a week put in by a few volunteers, each of whom would expend a trivial amount on gas in order to do it. But the effects in terms of community-building – in terms of letting fellow whites know that their people were there for them in times of trouble – would be tremendous.

Here I must emphasize: you should assiduously avoid haranguing those you aid with political messages. Never require them to sign on to your pet ideology in order to get help. But always, there should be a knowledge sitting in the background that their fellow white man was there for them when nobody else gave a damn. Don’t require any promises of allegiance from them; as with auntie Marie and the Black Panthers, over time most will come to offer it on their own.

In addition, remember never to overtly turn away minorities (giving the media the chance to put a pitiable crying child who got no breakfast from you on television, and perhaps giving a group like the SPLC grounds to sue you), but target poor or working class white places for help and let geography do the work for you. And above all, DO NOT seek press attention, and do not apply for any official government status (such as a 503c). Just start doing it. If they should somehow find out about you and try to shut you down for operating a charity without government permission, let them – and let the anger of those who benefited from your efforts be directed at them. Let them be the bad guys. And yes, if those who hate us find out what you’re up to, of course they will still call you Nazis for giving food to elderly shut-ins and winter coats to needy children. Don’t expect otherwise and don’t do this for the approval of your enemies.

Never forget that in charitable work (as in all things), you must be smart. No, you can’t save everybody, and it’s useless to pour resources down black holes, which some people are. Some people are bound and determined to self-destruct, and will not abide you standing in their way. Others are selfish and greedy; they cynically use those who extend help and then discard them without a second thought when they think they have extracted all the value from them that they can. Do not be naive and assume that everyone you encounter is worth your efforts; or that they are worthy of saving just because they’re white. Save the good people who got lost and just need somebody to extend a hand to them. Perhaps you can’t save the hardcore junkie, but you can save the man who lost his job, whose wife left him, whose neighborhood went to shambles around him, and who started taking oxycontin just to make the depression and boredom go away. The establishment celebrates their pain and cheers on their extinction. Let them know that somebody values them. And to the degree that they are able, require something from them, (which welfare never does, other than the implied requirement of a vote for the right party to help perpetuate the system). Apply conditions, like staying away from drugs (even – perhaps especially – prescription painkillers), keeping families together instead of resorting to divorce, and helping others once they’re back on their feet. Don’t just give them money, food, or material items; as much as you can, find ways to give them purpose.

This is the way to begin to build networks and communities in the real world, both between ourselves and those we help, and between each other as we work to help them. Far more can be accomplished this way than by showy rallies or shadowy secret conferences. There is no glamor to it, but there is great reward – for our people, for our movement, and for our souls.

Big Bill’s Black Mama Vs. The SJW Cat Ladies

The first thing you have to understand about Big Bill is that he’s a good kid. I know this because his auntie Marie told me, and auntie Marie doesn’t lie when it comes to things like that – if there’s a bad apple in her family tree, she’ll tell you true about it. But she’s proud of Big Bill, and talks about him a lot. Last time I ran into her – down at the Emeryville Public Market, where we caught up with each other over some ramen and shared a box of macaroons – she got onto the subject of what he was up to these days, and the news was not all good.

Big Bill is one of only four black students at his high school in “upscale” (read: heavily white/east Asian and ranging from upper middle class to Silicon Valley rich) Marin County, just north of San Francisco. Marin County is the galactic center of limousine liberalism – electorally, they’re even further left than San Francisco itself (believe it or not), but that doesn’t stop them from consistently voting down public transit initiatives so that the riffraff don’t have any way to get into their neighborhoods. Big Bill’s family isn’t exactly rich – they get by okay – but they’ve lived in Marin since it was a lot less expensive than it is now, and the house has been paid off since Big Bill’s grandmother’s day. This leaves Big Bill as a token Non-Asian Minority in a school that is highly-rated and flush with cash, which is, all told, a pretty nice situation. Big Bill loves his school, and his school loves him in return. Like I said, he’s a good kid. He gets decent (not exceptional, but decent) grades. He’s popular with his classmates. True to stereotype (and Big Bill is the first to laugh about this himself), he tried out for the school football team and became a star running back in no time flat, which made him even more popular than he already was. Big Bill is happy with everything at school, and so is his mama – or at least, they were until recently.

The trouble started almost immediately after the new school year began. There was an announcement over the PA system calling Big Bill to the office. For a few moments he was genuinely worried – thoughts of a family member in the hospital – or worse – came to mind. In fact, he was being called into a private session with the new school counselor; a white lady in her 40s with short hair, a social work diploma, and impeccably progressive social views. For two solid hours, she interrogated Big Bill, looking for any evidence that he had been the victim of bigotry-driven mistreatment at the hands of anyone at the school. He repeatedly explained to her that he hadn’t. Racism? Nope. Classism? Nope. Homophobia? “No! Look, I’m not even…” Transphobia? “Wait… what?” Toxic masculinity? “I’m on the football team for heaven’s sake…” Bullying? “Did you hear the part about being a football player? I’m 15 years old, 6′ 3″, and 250 pounds, so…” Teasing or hazing? “There’s the normal teammate locker room banter, but I’d feel left out if they didn’t…” AHA! What do they say to you? “Look, it’s not even important. Can I go back to class now? We have a math quiz coming up at the end of the week, and if I don’t…” Are you SURE you haven’t experienced ANY racism? Think hard about this! “Yes! Really! I’m sure! Now can I please just go back to class?!” And on it went. Finally, a deeply dissatisfied counselor sent him back to class, with the pleading assurance that her door was always open if he experienced the slightest degree of bigotry and would like to inform her about it. He promised he would, and other than telling mama what happened that evening, gave the matter no more thought.

Until the event repeated itself three weeks later – this time with both the counselor and someone from the district office (another 40something white lady with short hair, Big Bill noted) there. This time, Big Bill ended up missing something important in class, and at the end of the week, missed questions on a test that he knew he would have gotten right if he hadn’t been in the counselor’s office having to tell her over and over again how fine everything was. Big Bill went home very annoyed by this, but not as annoyed as mama was when he told her about it. They had the good fortune of living in a nice neighborhood, but neither of them was so far removed from the streets that they didn’t recognize someone trying to play Captain Save-a-hoe when they saw it. But Big Bill isn’t a hoe, and didn’t need saving. They both hoped that now that he’d told them twice that everything was perfectly okay, maybe this would be the end of it.

It wasn’t. A month later, he got called in for a whole afternoon, which included missing football practice. On this occasion, a board of five short-haired white ladies grilled him about any possible signs of bigotry, including asking more than a few questions that Big Bill thought were intentionally worded to trip him up. They also gave him some kind of multi-page form with a bunch of questions on it that he had to write out answers to. After they finally let him go, he was both genuinely angry and no longer naive enough to think they would stop until he’d given them what they wanted (whether it was true or not), which he had no intention of doing.

That’s when Big Bill’s mama decided that she’d had enough. She arranged an afternoon off from work (which wasn’t as easy for her to do as it would be for most of Marin’s limousine liberal population), made an appointment with the counselor, put on her Sunday best, and marched up to school to put a stop to all this nonsense. In no uncertain terms, she informed the crestfallen counselor that Big Bill was fine, that the only two personages allowed to save him were 1) mama and 2) Jesus and that all other potential saviors had best mind their own business, and that if Big Bill was pulled out of class at any time and for any reason other than that he was in imminent danger of death and was being rushed to the hospital, mama was going to be back down to the school to make the lives of everyone there extremely unpleasant until they agreed to cut this bullshit out. And with that, she wished the counselor a good day and left.

So far, this seems to have worked. It’s been two whole months, and Big Bill has been left alone to get on with his high school days in peace. When I asked auntie Marie whether that meant the short-haired white lady brigade had simply moved on to one of the other three black students in the school to see if they’d have any better luck at getting them to crack, she shot a worried look down into her empty ramen bowl and said that she sure hoped not. She didn’t sound very optimistic about it, though.

* * *

Much like one of Rod Serling’s protagonists surviving an encounter with the Twilight Zone, Big Bill and his mama seem (for the moment) to have survived their encounter with the zeitgeist of the age. The decisive factor here was both mother and son’s unusually keen understanding of one critical fact: none of what went on was happening in order to actually help Big Bill. There is a difference – and one that perceptive people must always be attuned to – between cause and pretext. Here, the SJW cat ladies’ pretext for all this bother was to help Big Bill overcome the oppression that surrounded him (so thoroughly, in fact, that like a fish in water, he might not even realize it was there). But the true cause of it was that Big Bill’s nonexistent oppression is a force that gives them meaning. Too late in their lives, they discovered that a cubicle and a cat were not emotionally-fulfilling substitutes for a husband and a family, and it makes them quietly miserable. With their innate instincts toward motherly protection unable to be focused on children that they never had, they redirect them outward toward one world-saving cause after another. Where none exist, they will do anything they can to create one – out of thin air if need be. The fact that the external object may either not need help, or that reality shows us they have not really been helped by the actions taken, is irrelevant. Half a century after the “war on poverty” was declared, the nation’s ghettos do indeed like like a war has been fought there, but there is little evidence of any victory against poverty. The effort to save black people has ended up with W. E. B. DuBois’s “talented tenth” being brought high in white society (in the process, leaving blacks without the leadership of their own natural elites), while millions more of them are left to rot in hellish, crime-ridden squalor. As for the effort to save women, the very SJW cat ladies from which Big Bill managed to narrowly escape serve as testament to its failure. But none of that matters to those who began or sustain those moral crusades, which is why bringing their failures to their attention never works at getting them to reevaluate their strategies. If you try, you’re just engaging the pretext instead of the cause, which is all useless.

Nietzsche once counseled: “Beware those in whom the impulse to punish is strong”, and while this is certainly true, it is also true that the history of the world since his time has shown us that those in whom the impulse to save is strong can be even more dangerous. All too often, what is at their core is a misery born of the helpless feeling of needing their own form of salvation, and of being unable, either through bad fortune or (more often) their own limitations, to ever find it. The emptiness inside them makes them desperate to feel important, to feel needed, to feel as if they can save somebody, even if it can never be themselves. Their desperation turns to fanaticism, and that fanaticism inevitably produces more misery, sustaining the cycle infinitely. The only way out is to understand all of this, and to pick your saviors carefully. Know who’s playing that role, and why – and be doubly cautious about it if the one struck with the savior impulse is you, because the impulse to save run amok destroys both those the potential savior and those who they wish to save.

Big Bill is a good kid with a good mama who saved him from the savers. If only she could deliver our whole society from them!

The Squirearchy: Prologue

The next time you’re in lower Manhattan, be sure to take some time to visit the Tenement Museum. It’s located in the SoHo neighborhood of the city, so named because it’s South of Houston Street (in one of those wonderful quirks of the English language, the name of this street is pronounced “How-ston”, as opposed to the city in Texas, the name of which is pronounced “Hugh-ston”). The neighborhood has, for perhaps a quarter century now, been throughly gentrified, with the five-story brownstones that line its streets remodeled and turned into fashionable but oh-so-expensive apartments occupied mainly by the rising stars of the trading houses on nearby Wall Street. But in the late nineteenth through mid twentieth centuries, this place was among the most poverty-ridden slums in the nation; these same brownstones were occupied almost exclusively by penniless immigrants fresh off the boat, many of whom had come through Ellis Island with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Here they toiled in backbreaking and often terribly hazardous conditions. Some (including more than one of my own ancestors) dug the subway tunnels under the city with shovels or moved rock with their bare hands, others labored in sweatshops where fourteen to sixteen hour days, six or even seven days a week, were the norm. Many were crippled, maimed, or killed in accidents like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of 1911, in which 146 workers, mostly women, burned alive or were crushed in a panicked stampede after a fire broke out at a garment factory and those inside found that the owners had locked the exits in an effort to keep them from taking unauthorized breaks. After their long days of work, the immigrant laborers came home to these tenements, which in those days were kept in a horribly dilapidated condition. The very poorest among them were consigned to the basement apartments, where they lived and slept in an inch or two of water that perennially covered the hard stone floors.

Those days are long past, but a bit of them is preserved at 97 Orchard Street, which the Tenement Museum Foundation acquired just as the neighborhood was beginning its turnaround in the 1980s. From 10AM to 6:30PM, seven days a week, it receives visitors who are given guided tours of apartments that have been carefully restored to look as they would have during the great wave of immigration that hit New York City in the 1880s through the 1920s. If you go there on a weekday during the off-season when the summer tourists are gone and things are slow, and if you show up early for your tour and find yourself sitting in the museum’s lobby with the chance to chat a bit with your guide before they start showing you through the exhibits, you may just end up being favored with hearing this story…

* * *

Sometime toward the tail end of the nineteenth century, a young immigrant by the name of Piotr found himself, after being processed through Ellis Island, lost and alone in the confusing bustle of Grand Central Station in New York City. Surrounding him was a madding crowd made up mostly of other immigrants from every conceivable end of Europe, few of whom spoke so much as a single word of English, and many of whom were illiterate even in their native languages. Interspersed among them, trying to bring some semblance of order to the perpetual chaos that the influx of immigrants had brought to Grand Central, were railway employees, whose job it was to make sure that the immigrants got on the right train – the one that would take them to whoever it was that had sponsored them on their journeys across the Atlantic. Sometimes the sponsors would be relatives, but most often they were employers whose desire for cheap labor was so insatiable that they contracted with agents in Europe who recruited directly from among the continent’s poor, providing them with sponsorships and passage to America in exchange for pledges to work a certain number of years for those who had sponsored them. Most of these agents were deeply dishonest and unscrupulous, telling their perspective recruits tales of streets paved with gold in the New World, and carefully avoiding any truths about sweatshops and tenements.

It was one of these agents who had recruited Piotr, a second son of a poor dairy farmer in some backwater of a Poland that, in those days, was still under the domination of the Russian Czar. At the port of Danzig, before his ship set sail for New York, the agency handed him a piece of wood with that had a bit of rope attached to it at both ends and a word he didn’t recognize written on it. This was the agency’s rather ingenious workaround for the problem of their recruits not having the basic English skills necessary to tell the railway men in New York where they were supposed to be going – it was a sign that they were supposed to wear around their necks when they arrived that had the name of their destination painted on it in large lettering. Now, ten days later and an ocean away, Piotr stood in the chaos of Grand Central Station with the sign dutifully hung around his neck.

Eventually, he managed to fight his way through the crush to one of the railway employees, an annoyed, busy man whose patience with the immigrants who had brought unceasing disorder to his station was running noticeably short. The railman, who simply didn’t have the time to spend more than a few seconds with each one of the newcomers swarming around him, took a quick glance at the sign around Piotr’s neck and pointed him toward a departing train. In the confusion, nobody even stopped to check whether he had a ticket before he boarded (sponsors usually paid fares upon the arrival of their new laborers, so there wasn’t much point in looking at their ticket before they got to their destinations anyway). Everyone seemed satisfied by the fact that he was going where his sign said he should, though Piotr himself had never before even heard of the place whose name was painted on it – a place called Houston.

For three long days, the train rumbled along; through the Mid-Atlantic states, through the Tidewater, through the deep south, and on into Texas. Finally, the exhausting ordeal came to an end when the conductor shook Piotr awake and guided him off the train. Having arrived at his new home, he walked inside the Houston & Texas Central Railway depot to wait for his sponsor to come for him.

He waited all day, and then all night, sleeping fitfully on one of the depot’s wooden benches. Then he waited all the next day, and all the next night as well. By the end of Piotr’s third day there (and with no one having come to pay for his train fare), the station master knew that something had gone wrong. Unable to communicate with the young man and unable to find anyone who knew anything about him or how he had gotten there, the station master eventually summoned the sheriff. The sheriff, who was equally unable to make any sense of the situation, took Piotr off to jail, ostensibly on a charge of vagrancy, but more than anything simply because the jail had a bed for him to sleep in and food for him to eat until someone could figure out where he had come from and what to do with him.

For several days, the sheriff made inquiries, but turned up nothing – nobody seemed to be missing an immigrant or to know who might be missing one. Though Houston is now a vast metropolis, it was in those days a small, sleepy country city – a cow town where everyone knew everyone, surrounded by vast cattle ranches. It didn’t take long before anyone who might know anything had been asked, and every possible route of inquiry had come up dry. The sheriff knew that he couldn’t keep Piotr in jail forever, nor did he wish to, as the young man seemed like a decent enough sort of lad. Unable to think of anything else to do with him, the sheriff started asking around to see if any of the local ranchers would take him on as a hired hand. After a bit of good-natured cajoling, one of them – an old friend of the sheriff – agreed to it. The next morning, a wagon arrived to take the still-confused Piotr away to his new life on the ranch.

As soon as he arrived, his eyes lit up with a combination of joy and relief. Finally, there was something in America that he was comfortable with! He might not have known much about his new country or even known a word of its language, but if there was one thing he did know from growing up on a dairy farm, it was cows. Even his lack of English proved not to be as great a problem as the rancher feared, as Piotr needed hardly any instruction in his duties at all. Beyond this, he was responsible and hardworking; unlike the other cowboys, he didn’t spend his nights getting drunk or his days off down at the local whorehouse or gambling den, and so he was neither perpetually hung over nor perpetually broke. As he slowly but surely became fluent in English, he became more and more useful, and the rancher steadily promoted him to higher (and better paid) positions. And if Piotr had successfully caught the boss’s eye, eventually the gentle and industrious young man began to catch the eye of the boss’s eldest daughter, as well; with the rancher’s blessing, a romance blossomed between them.

Years passed, and the newcomer’s fortunes continued to rise. He became a trusted employee, then a friend, and finally part of the family; courtship turned to marriage, and in time, the ranch passed to Piotr and his wife. Under their direction, the ranch became more prosperous than ever. From the humblest of beginnings, the immigrant who had arrived with nothing came to be wealthy, respected, and a pillar of his community – he had found the American Dream in his adoptive home.

Yet contented as he was, there was still one thing that had never stopped bothering him over the years – the mystery behind the chain of events that had brought him to the ranch in the first place. No one in Houston had ever been able to come up with any explanations – as far as the Texans were concerned, he had simply appeared out of nowhere one day. And so, decades after he had passed through it on his way to his new life, Piotr, now wealthy enough to afford the trip and fluent enough to understand whatever documents he might uncover, set out, with his wife and a couple of his older children in tow, for New York City, to see if he could find out what had happened all those many years ago. While his family enjoyed the delights of shopping and dining on Fifth Avenue, Piotr returned to Ellis Island, spending his days digging through file cabinets full of dusty, yellowed old papers. After a few frustrating, long days of searching, he finally found what he was looking for.

His sponsor had been one the the garment sweatshops that operated in lower Manhattan, and the sign that he carried was meant to send him to Houston Street, not to Houston, Texas. In the crush and chaos of Grand Central Station, the overworked railway employee who never bothered to look at his papers had hastily pointed Piotr toward the wrong train. He was never meant to go where he had gone at all, and, if not for a quirk of fate, would have ended up in a life of crushing poverty in the slums of New York, working fourteen-hour days for pennies in horrifying conditions in someplace very much like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, and living in misery in a tenement very much like what 97 Orchard Street looked like in those days, most probably even sleeping in an inch of water in a dark and moldy basement apartment.

Piotr returned to the big, comfortable house on his ranch in the wide-open plains of Texas very happy indeed for quirks of fate, and determined never to return to New York City, lest an elderly garment factory owner somewhere south of Houston Street find out who he was and attempt to sue him for the cost of a steerage class ticket from Danzig to New York.

And he lived happily ever after, y’all.

* * *

This seems as good a way as any to start a series of essays on the topic of the advantages of us all seeking our fortunes in the country rather than in the big cities. Expect more in this series to be coming soon.