Goodbye, Old Friend

I was sitting in the parking lot of my church on Ash Wednesday, just about to go inside to get my ashes, when the radio told me that Rush Limbaugh had died. With him passes both an era in politics, and an era in my own life.

If you’re a showman – and Rush was that above all else – they say that it’s best to go out on top. And he did, just at the moment when it became apparent that the approach to politics that he championed his whole life won’t be enough to save us; that superior arguments won’t win the day and that we’re not going to vote our way out of this. That he left the stage at precisely the right point so it could honestly be said that he never became irrelevant is perhaps the one small consolation that can be found within this. The future will always be able to look back on him and say: “He was a man of his time”. Yes, his time has passed, as it does for all men. But if we are to look back now and evaluate what he meant, it can only fairly be in the context of those times.

Those who think that the current censorship against the right is anything new don’t remember the days when a cartel of three television networks (CBS, NBC, ABC) and two newspapers (the New York Times and the Washington Post) had a monopoly on both news and entertainment, and controlled everything that anyone heard about about any issue at all. What we’re seeing now is merely a return to that status quo, with a new cartel (Twitter, Facebook, Google) in place of the old one. The censorship in those days was in many ways worse; it was just less obvious and more deniable because of higher barriers to entry. It doesn’t seem terribly oppressive to tell someone that their television script is rejected or that you’re not going to give them a weekly column in your newspaper – the opportunities there are few just by the nature of things, and if everyone who does get one of them turns out to be of (or at least acceptable to) the left, that can be easily enough written off as coincidence. To ban someone from Twitter when they had more followers than the old newspaper had subscribers looks different, but it really isn’t. The effect is the same: one message gets out, and the other doesn’t.

This was the situation in the 80s and early 90s, when Rush appeared on the scene. AM radio was a dying format, desperate enough to give literally anything a try if it had any chance of saving them from extinction. And putting him on the air was a very great risk; too many modern Dissident Rightists have no idea just how genuinely edgy and radical Rush and his ideas seemed back in those days, and how much the “respectable” Establishment recoiled against them. They are either too young or too lost in the current-day situation to remember that even the Boomercon civnattery that seems so dated now was once considered far, far beyond the pale, and that if Rush hadn’t been out there fighting for that, we wouldn’t be in any position to go beyond it. Pioneers still deserve respect, even if the trails they blazed are well-worn now.

A common sentiment heard from callers in the early days of Rush’s show was that before they found him, they had no idea that anyone out there thought the same way they did. This shows how powerful the left’s stranglehold on public discourse was back then, and the importance of his having singlehandedly broken it. Causing one’s enemy to feel isolated, alone, and out-of-step with the society around them is a powerful weapon of demoralization, and breaking through that to offer a sense of community, even if only through the airwaves, is massively empowering. Beyond this, Rush brought a sense of fun to being on the right, perhaps for the first time ever. He mocked liberals at a time when it was assumed by all that this was a tool to which liberals alone had exclusive rights. He laughed at them, and his audience laughed along with him. This is a deeply underestimated strategy – people like to laugh; they like to have fun. It is something that the left has forgotten in the age of the dour, hectoring SJW. It is something that, other than at the height of the Meme Era that surrounded Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, the modern right forgets all too often as well. But it should never be overlooked, and very much of Rush’s success and his political and cultural impact relied on the fact that he didn’t. Perhaps most importantly, he never backed down from his beliefs; he never seemed ashamed of them or felt the need to qualify them with endless disclaimers explaining how he was really a good person despite them. Simply being confident and proud in those beliefs inspired millions of others to do the same.

Of course, he couldn’t ever have gone with us as far as it now seems that we’ll need to go. But this was not a symptom of any lack of courage; it was only a reflection of the hold that the America in which he was born had on him, and of how far we have fallen from it in just one lifetime. To the end, Rush was a genuine “Shining City on a Hill” believer; the kind that not only thought that America was unreservedly good at its core, but that its empire was the only thing keeping the world from falling into tyranny and chaos. That’s a belief that most of us on this end of the right, if we ever held it at all, gave up on around 2006, but that seemed manifestly true for someone who grew up in a stable, prosperous America in the years directly following World War II, and whose only frame of reference was the comparison to Nazism or Communism. Even his support for the disastrous wars of the Bush era, which continued long after it was obvious that they had been a terrible mistake (this was the only point at which I found his show unlistenable, and had to take some time away from it) were based in an unshakable faith that the American way of life was the best in the world, and that everyone would want to live that way if they were only given a chance to. There is a temptation for a man of today’s Dissident Right to sneer at this, and in a 21st century context, it might be justified, but it also must be remembered that the America that Rush had in mind was eternally a vision of the 1954 of his youth; a better place that you and I have never had the privilege to see. Had we seen it for ourselves, we might find it just as hard to let go of as he did.

Rush could understand that his country wasn’t what it used to be, but couldn’t allow himself to believe that it would never again be what it had once been. That’s a dream that can only die hard; one that anyone would hold onto for as long as they could. It only really became undeniable that it was gone for good in the very closing moments of his life, and it is perhaps for the best that he essentially died with it. In a way, I wish he hadn’t been here to see the past few months, and in a way, I’m happy he won’t be here to see what comes next. It would break his heart. It breaks mine. I would love to have personally seen the Shining City that he saw, and would love to believe that it can be restored someday. But just as he was a man of a time that I never could live in, I must be a man of a time that he cannot live in, and I must face its realities.

Before I do face forward into it, however, I’d like to take a brief moment to indulge in a personal reflection back into the time that he and I shared.

The first time I ever heard Rush was sometime in 1992, when at the beginning of my adult life I was briefly living in Orlando. John the shuttle van driver, who I saw every morning and afternoon, had dodged missiles to drop bombs on North Vietnam back in the day, but driving the van was his quiet retirement job, and he didn’t want to talk about the war while he was doing it, so he kept Rush on the radio instead. Soon, all of us who rode with him were spending our time in the van listening to the show and talking over what Rush had said amongst ourselves. Some wanted Ross Perot to win the election, some were sticking with Poppy Bush, and everyone was certain that Slick Willie could only be a disaster. All of us wondered what the future would bring, in our own lives and for the country.

For all the years thereafter, from then until now, Rush was there with me wherever I went and whatever I did. Through the long, sweet days of the 90s in Silicon Valley, when the only place out of San Francisco that would carry him was the local sports talk outfit. Through my time in Japan, carrying my little Sony pocket radio and listening over Eagle 810, the Armed Forces Network’s 50,000 watt station out of Yokota Air Force Base, which carried the first hour of the show during the evening commute time. Through my professional traveling days, over countless stations in countless cities and small towns, on clock-radios in countless hotel rooms. Through many long road trips around the country, scanning on the car radio for a new station each time the last one faded into static. Through my last years in California, carrying the now-old Sony on walks around San Francisco and Berkeley and a vastly-changed Silicon Valley. Through all of my tribulations after I left, and into my new life in Southern Appalachia. Through my late teens and my twenties and my thirties and my forties and almost to fifty. I’ve lived a good and adventuresome life, but never a particularly stable one. People and places have come and gone. I’ve opened many doors, and closed many others. I’ve had many identities and played many roles. There have been few constants in my journey, but Rush was always one of them.

And now this constant companion will be with me no further. Whatever he may have meant to his country, and whatever he may mean to history, a measure of comfort and happiness that has meant something to me my whole adult life is gone.

I will miss you, old friend. Thank you. Farewell. Megadittoes.

The Parable Of Joy

I wouldn’t say that Joy and I are very close friends, but for a long while – from my later college years until I left California – we ran in the same social circles and saw each other fairly often. A friend of a friend, you could say; we’ve been happy enough to see each other whenever we have, but it has always been in some group activity or another rather than one-on-one. Still, we’re well enough acquainted that I was on the list to be notified when she sent out word that she’s in trouble. The circumstances are worth relating, as it occurred to me that it sheds some light on a lot that’s wrong with our Modern world.

Joy is a second-generation Chinese-American, a native of the S.F. Bay Area who grew up on the edge of Oakland’s Chinatown, and although I have enough sense to never ask a woman her age, by the length of time we’ve known each other, she must be squarely on the north side of 40. She is not married and never has been, and has no children. She is neither rich nor poor, with a job as the shipping manager of a furniture wholesaler’s warehouse, where long service has given her seniority and a salary that is respectable if not spectacular. She is careful with her money – not so much of a miser that she’ll never go for a dinner out with friends, but not luxurious in anything. She is sensible and level-headed, and at an age where that should begin to pay off in a certain degree of comfortable stability in one’s life.

But not so for Joy, it seems. That’s what I found out last week when I read her message. Joy is being kicked out of the house where she has rented a room for the past couple of years. The reason is personality conflict, or perhaps more accurately, cultural conflict. There are five or six roommates in a large house that long ago was designed for the kind of big families people used to have. Being the modern Bay Area, the roommates are all quite diverse – white, black, Latino, and Asian – in the way that we are assured is “our strength”. But Joy has found otherwise. She didn’t share the details of the particular disagreement that started things, but the situation progressively got worse and worse. And the most important reason for that was, according to Joy, that her non-Asian roommates just couldn’t understand the Asian style of conflict resolution. To her, all of them, but especially the Latina roommate who she was most directly clashing with, were extremely aggressive toward her – shockingly so, compared to the people she had grown up with. Joy said that she felt “bullied, teased, picked on, and tormented” to the point where it caused her to sink into a depression. It didn’t take long before it was obvious that the situation was unsustainable and somebody would have to leave. The homeowner made her choice, and gave Joy until the end of this month to get out of the house.

The first thing that Joy thought of was to move back in with her mother. But that was impossible; the high cost of housing, and even property taxes, in the Bay Area meant that as soon as her children had moved out, her mother had to take in boarders of her own in order to make ends meet, and they now filled every available room in the house, including the one that had once been Joy’s. It just wouldn’t be fair to evict one of them over a problem Joy was having that was no fault of their own, so that idea was rejected. Finally, with the deadline looming, Joy was considering the option of sleeping in her minivan until something better came available. There would be room enough to set up a semi-comfortable bed, the mild California weather meant there wouldn’t be any danger from freezing temperatures, and she could still shower, eat, and do laundry at her mother’s house. It would be a genteel form of homelessness, and (with any luck) only a temporary one. But it’s homelessness all the same – not a happy prospect for a woman in her 40s; a senseless humiliation for someone who has worked steadily and been frugal all her adult years. When I received the story, it was in the form of a last-minute plea for anyone in her orbit who might know of a more permanent place for her to stay to get in touch with her ASAP. And that is where the situation stands.

Of course, having left California for Southern Appalachia three years ago now, I don’t have any way to help in her search. The only thing I can do is to reflect a bit on all the ways that Modernity has failed Joy – and they are many indeed.

For one thing, while there has always been a small percentage of spinsters in our society, the phenomenon of women who are unmarried, well past prime marriage age, and in many cases are outright unmarriageable, has reached crisis levels in our society. I would by no means call Joy “unmarriageable” (that would involve factors like an extremely disagreeable and entitled personality, an excessive attachment to career over everything else, showy expressions of trendy leftist politics, a very high “notch count” springing from an extended Sex and the City phase, and perhaps single motherhood as a souvenir of it as well), but the fact that she remains unmarried at her age is proving to be a problem for herself and for those around her. Both the traditional Asian culture of her ancestors and traditional Christian Western culture understand this issue, and either of them, working through the circle of friends and family around her, would have intervened in her life 20 years ago in order to find a suitable husband for her and to pressure her into marrying him. This sounds abhorrent to the post-feminist Modern, and yet we must ask: feminism has loosed women, but from what, and into what? In her 40s, Joy deserves to have a husband and children of her own, which would give her a stable home and a large support structure around her. Instead, with the sole exception of an aging mother whose ability to help singlehandedly is limited, Joy is alone and without resources that the Modernist promise of the “independent woman who doesn’t need a man” apparently cannot actually provide her. She is left having to send out appeals to every minor acquaintance for help in avoiding homelessness.

But beyond this, even if Joy remained single her whole life, she deserves some greater measure of stability than this. She should at least be able to afford a small apartment of her own instead of having to perpetually live like a college kid, renting out a small bedroom in what amounts to a boarding house, never having real privacy or control over her fate in a place to truly call her own, well into what should be anyone’s most prosperous and secure years. There’s a lot behind why even this small measure of dignity has been denied to her, basically none of which is her own fault – she has never been a stoner or a slacker or a wastrel. One important factor is the economic squeeze on the middle class that’s been happening everywhere in the country, and most especially in California, over the past 20 years. California’s taxes, housing prices, and cost of living are legendary for all the wrong reasons, and are driving its middle class out of the state by the millions. (It is an exodus that I myself joined, in deep sadness, three years back. I could perhaps have tried holding on a bit longer – even in the face of increasingly intolerable laws and decreasing quality of life – if I’d been willing to keep living the way that Joy has been. It worked in my 20s and 30s well enough. But in my 40s, I found it harder and harder to live like that. Now, in Southern Appalachia, I have a small cottage of my own, with a workbench, a kitchen where I can cook anything I like at any hour of day, and a closet that I can stuff with a prep stash. I couldn’t go back to not having them.)

On paper, California is a fantastically rich state, but this hides the fact that it is increasingly a place with a Third World economic profile – one populated by the very rich and the very poor, with very little in between. Communists and socialists seem unable to understand that a certain amount of wealth inequality is actually the sign of a healthy economy; mainstream conservatives and libertarians seem unable to understand that too much of it is the sign of a deeply unhealthy one. In the real world, Silicon Valley money, which we are told is the envy of the globe, has been the second-worst thing (after mass immigration) to ever happen to the Bay Area. For those making six figures or more in a high-level tech job, the astronomical cost of living is an annoyance; for the established middle class that was there long before the tech boom, it has been ruinous. Beyond that, Big Tech long ago closed on its purchase of the state government, so no reforms of which they might disapprove, coming from either the left or the right, have any chance to pass. Things won’t get better for the middle class, because the ruling class – both inside and outside of the formal government – has little interest in that. No one in power wants to stand up for Joy, nor for anyone like her.

Then there is the issue of immigration and its attendant diversity. First, the former: it is of no small consequence that since Joy was born, the population of the United States has risen by 50%, and the population of California has doubled. The sheer presence of that many new people needing housing and using resources would make the cost of living skyrocket and turn the prospect of having an adequate place of one’s own on a middle class salary into a pipe dream, making life miserable, even if the curse of tech money wasn’t a factor, and even if diversity caused no problems. The fact that diversity does cause deep problems that are simultaneously ever more impossible to solve or to even talk about honestly in the open only makes things worse.

Unlike many others on the Dissident Right, I am not an absolute purist when it comes to diversity. I see nothing wrong with, say, San Francisco having a Chinatown or Miami having a Little Havana. But as with income inequality, a little diversity under the right circumstances may be healthy, but too much can only be disastrous. Even in the days before the post-1965 immigration flood, when we had diversity in more reasonable proportions, the social arrangement that made it work was based on the old ethnic neighborhood system, a form of voluntary soft segregation which created the kind of intangible-but-very-real good fences that make good neighbors (and that Chesterton warned us against dismantling). But then that system broke down; it was simultaneously overwhelmed with sheer numbers and deliberately dismantled by utopian busybodies who made it their mission to ensure that any remaining vestige of non-diversity be destroyed. What had existed before was a humane, respectful, and sustainable unspoken agreement by which ethnic neighborhoods were largely left to self-govern, so long as they caused no trouble to outsiders and passersby. Everything from anti-discrimination laws to overreach by the official organs of government put a forcible end to it. It is nothing to the busybodies and utopians that the old system created a sense of community; that it fostered informal support structures and an environment where like people could live by long-established rules that suited their unique characteristics. And it is nothing to them that its passing has led to the reality that Joy faced in a micro sense, and that we all are doomed to face in the macro sense: that diversity + proximity = conflict.

Here I should note that, despite the complaints that Joy has about her soon-to-be-former roommates, I doubt that any of them, even her Latina tormentor, is an evil person at heart. It’s more likely simply that there’s a Latin way to handle things and an East Asian way to handle things. It’s not that one is better than the other in any objective sense; that they’re different and incompatible is enough on its own to exacerbate any conflict to the point that it’s intolerable to all involved. This is an important reason why, whether it is through the mechanism of hard borders or soft fences, it is nearly always in the best interests of everyone for like to be with like. Though utopian egalitarians would be horrified by the idea, it would have been better for Joy if her search for a place to live had taken place within the soft limits of an Asian ethnic neighborhood, or even just a housing development or apartment building that was legally and socially permitted to restrict itself to accepting only like people in order to reduce conflicts such as the one that has Joy on the edge of homelessness. Perhaps that would have put some choices off-limits to her, but she would not now be facing living in a van.

Keep Joy in your prayers, as she will be in mine as well. She deserves better, and let’s hope she finds it soon. On multiple levels, she has been brought low not because she failed, but because she has been failed by Modernity and all of its unworkable promises. As have we all.

Bad MFs

Since the mid-18th century, we have been in what we are told is the “Age of Reason”, which was supposed to make the world better by banishing superstition and delusion from public life. As with basically all of the Enlightenment’s promises dealing with human nature and the proper way to order civil life, it has not delivered on that promise, and in many cases has actually made the problem it set out to solve worse. The persistence of dangerous delusions is what prompted me to write my last column, which focused on the need for dissidents to avoid them entirely. That said, dabbling in the dark arts of forbidden social science has been a specialty in this space since I founded it nearly a decade ago, and in that spirit, I’d like to go into further detail on a certain variety of delusion that the Enlightenment has empowered; one that is especially visible in the end-stage form of Enlightenment thinking that we see in the crumbling remains of Western Civilization. I call it the “Midwit Fooler”. That’s a term that needs a little explanation.

First, the concept of a “fooler” comes from the term “Grandma Fooler”, which refers to a counterfeit item designed to look like something genuine and desirable. The idea is that an unwary consumer might buy it, not really understanding the difference between it and the real thing. A good example is found in the innumerable cheap iPod knockoffs that could be found everywhere from convenience stores to magic claw machines in the ’00s and early ’10s. These were universally complete junk, and caused many a bad Christmas morning for a young member of Generation Z when he found that grandma had put one of them under the tree for him instead of a real iPod.

I’m sure you remember them.

As for the “midwit”, they are the consistently troublesome class of people who exist just to the right of the peak of the IQ bell curve – around 110 to 120 – those who are above average, but not truly brilliant. These are the bourgeois, the upper middle class, the successful businessman, manager, or white collar worker. There are two big problems with them. The first is that they are the group that has held all the real power since the Enlightenment – for all of the pretensions to helping the poor or working class of the many revolutions it birthed since 1776, all of them can best be understood as a rebellion by the bourgeois against the pre-1776 ruling class. The second is that the midwit IQ range is a notorious Dunning-Kruger trap. One effect of this is that people in this class are all too often drawn to ideas that range from harmlessly silly to insane and dangerous. And since they make up the group from which our ruling Managerial Class is drawn, when they believe nonsense, it hurts all of us.

However, it isn’t just any patently ridiculous idea that will attract them. Ones that become widespread tend to share certain elements that make them truly effective Midwit Foolers. A recent reading of Leon Festinger’s When Prophecy Fails set me onto the task of looking at few of the more prominent MFs in the world, including Classical Marxism, current-year postmodern Social Justice, New Age spirituality, and the Qanon movement, to see how many I could identify. I present these as being generally rather than universally true, however, most of these elements are shared by all of the MFs I could think to examine.

Many of these are interconnected, so please excuse a bit of repetitiveness:

•Perhaps the most important element – the one that makes it specifically a Midwit Fooler – is that it must have some kind of barrier to entry presented by being moderately intellectually challenging. However, it must strike the right balance; being just difficult enough to impart an air of intellectual exclusivity to it, while not being so difficult that it drives midwits away. I call this the “mystery novel effect”, because an optimal balance is about the same as a good murder mystery (this is why such things – from Agatha Christie to this week’s episode of NCIS – have always been popular among midwits). If the mystery is too simple, the midwit will be annoyed that there’s no challenge presented; no bragging rights to having their guess confirmed at the end (even though the story was subtly designed to gradually lead any midwit to the right conclusion). But if the mystery is too complex, then the midwit will be just as annoyed, this time because it was hard to follow and they didn’t even come close to the correct answer. Thus, an effective MF should require some real study, and be difficult enough that the midwit feels as though they’ve accomplished something by getting through it and coming to understand its conclusions (of course, as with the mystery novel, what they’ve really come to is the answer that the creator of the MF has been guiding them toward). The aspect of containing some manner of a code cracked and a riddle solved in ways not understandable to just anybody gives the midwit a warm feeling of belonging to an intellectual inner circle, quietly confirming their superiority to those outside of it.

At its core an MF always exists as a way to sell bourgeois midwits an easy, comforting answer to a complex, troubling question. But since midwits are just smart enough to know that easy, comforting answers to complex, troubling questions are invariably wrong, they must be made to seem more challenging than they really are. The midwit desperately wants to think of themselves (and be seen by others) as enlightened, but can’t understand why the Buddhist master Lin Chi once warned that “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”!

•Speaking of this, to work, MFs rely on the concept that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. The midwit is not a complete moron, and won’t fall for just any old bullshit – it takes a deeper, more complex kind of bullshit to fool him. John Derbyshire once described pseudosciences as “elaborate, plausible, and intellectually very challenging systems that do not, in fact, have any truth content”, a thought that applies just as much to pseudophilosophy, pseudoeconomics, or pseudospirituality. And it is invariably one or more of these on which an effective MF is based. The MF relies on the midwit to be someone with knowledge that is broad, but deep only in their professional field. For anything else, they are knowledgable only to the point of having perhaps read a book or a few online articles about it, which due to Dunning-Kruger, leaves them perennially stuck at the peak of “Mt. Stupid”.

And that is the exact location where cranks, con artists, and snake-oil salesmen with an MF to tout will be waiting for them. Of course, nobody who knows the subject on which any particular MF is based in any depth would ever believe it. Genuine Buddhist masters laugh at the “Buddhism lite” sold by New Age charlatans to credulous Boomers; real-deal intel agency spooks will apply their palms to their foreheads at the mention of Qanon; anyone who has ever run a business can tell you all the ways in which Karl Marx didn’t know what the hell he was talking about when it comes to economics. But the midwit who knows a subject only casually, but not well enough to tell the “pseudo” version from the real thing, is a prime candidate to fall for an MF.

•As part of the challenge of it, a really engrossing MF should have its own unique set of lingo or jargon. This may involve unique word coinages, or proprietary definitions of existing words. Being an insider means being privy to the secret signals of the inner circle, and being an intellectual means being one of the select that know the “true” definition of a word instead of merely the common one. If use of the jargon confuses an outsider, then all the better – if they declare it mumbo-jumbo, that proves their inferiority and inability to get on the adherent’s level, and if they seem genuinely interested in understanding it, then it becomes the first mystery for the potential new initiate to tackle. Why did Qanon acolytes take joy in hours spent deciphering his cryptic quatrains? Why did Herbert Marcuse write impenetrable walls of proprietary Marxist lingo? That’s why.

•An effective MF must provide its adherents with validation; it must help them to feel as though they truly are who they see themselves as being in their idealized internal self-image. Of course, an effective MF tells people what they want to hear, and not everyone wants to hear the same thing (nor has the same idealized self-image), so a targeted message is important. But they all share the same mechanisms of validation, which are attuned to the midwit mindset, and are then customized for the political, philosophical, and spiritual specifics of the target audience. For example, just about all midwits want to see themselves as intellectuals, thus, for as much outright naivete as it often takes to believe in an MF, they are always presented with a carefully-crafted image of sophistication, and often even of rationalist skepticism. Similarly, because midwits desperately want to believe in their own virtue, there is usually some element of world-saving involved with an MF. And there are always the twin boogeymen of scoffers who the adherents can feel intellectually superior to, and enemies who they can feel morally superior to. In short, the effective MF is based on the idea that selling people the chance to believe that they really are what they wish they were will always be a very compelling product.

•The long tail of the Boomer generation in our culture means that many (though not all) MFs involve some spoken or unspoken element of (completely riskless) resistance or rebellion. Even something as seemingly innocuous as New Age has a hint of this – the motivation of many a Boomer who got into kabbalah, crystals, or Buddhism lite has deeply involved rebellion against their Jewish mothers or the nuns at the Catholic school they were forced to attend. And of course, there is the modern Social Justice Warrior, who rebels against a power structure that surrendered to their Boomer grandparents 50 years ago, a set of social arrangements that stopped being current 60 years ago, and a boogeyman who died in a bunker 75 years ago. But the post-1965 bourgeois especially has a strong tendency toward the self-image of a temporarily embarrassed revolutionary (either of the “Lexington in 1776” variety or the “Woodstock in 1969” variety, depending on political outlook), always waiting on, and agitating for, the revolution to start (And what happens when it finally does? We may find out soon, and the midwits may find that it wasn’t as much fun as they expected). They hate the idea of being a “normie” and long for the Romanticism of the Byronic rebel-hero. And of course that self-image wouldn’t be complete without the key element of the Romantic sublime: fear. This is why so many MFs contain a strong infusion of that, too – normally in the form of either an implacable enemy or an impending disaster lurking just around the corner. Fear brings people together and infuses a sense of urgency into what they’re doing, and of course, they also have the added bonus of tending to shut off critical thinking. Again, these elements of rebellion and fear are not completely universal in MFs, but are enough so that one or both are usually present in some form or another.

•An effective MF should never be afraid to ask for some sacrifice from its adherents. There are two important reasons for this. One is that having sacrificed for an idea or movement will make people feel much more invested in it. It keeps people from drifting away, because most humans can’t rationally process the concept of sunk costs – investing some makes them want to invest more, because they can’t stand the idea that what they have already invested may have been a waste. But secondly, and even more importantly, there is nothing that world-savers love more than an opportunity to virtue-signal through sacrifice and self-denial. Often this includes self-abasement to the point of what seems to be masochism, but an effective MF ensures that this is never more than a show. Just as the academic material of the MF must be somewhat challenging, but not excessively so, the opportunities for self-abasement must generally present as being painful, but not actually be so to any real degree. For example, the white Social Justice Warrior may condemn their own “whiteness” on Twitter and spand an afternoon kissing the boots of some puzzled random black person in the midst of getting a selfie to post on Instagram, but few offer to move out of their comfortable suburban houses or trendy city neighborhoods and into the black ghetto (thus the saying about them that they “Talk like MLK, but live like the KKK”). Still, comfortable moderns take any sort of sacrifice, no matter how much of a “humblebrag” it may be, as a form of martyrdom, and nobody wants to feel as if they’ve been martyred for nothing. What a sunk cost that would be!

•Finally, an effective MF must have a strong aspect of the social to it. Some MFs may actively proselyte in order to gain more members, and some may not in order to seem more exclusive, but all will strive to build some kind of community around their beliefs. This serves a couple of important functions. Of course, the utility of fellowship in building any movement – whether an MF or not – has long been recognized. Establishing an active, even fun community, drawn together by a calling to a higher purpose, makes an adherent feel not just important and validated, but valued as an individual within a group of friends. And it also increases their investment in what they’re doing; to leave the community means the loss of those friends, and perhaps even ostracization by them. This is why proper skepticism (as opposed to the proprietary definition of that term used by the left, which is simply a synonym for Reddit-style snarky atheism) requires a slight antisocial streak – that is is always necessary in order to be able to say “Plato is a friend, but the truth is a better friend”. Most people don’t have that in them, and will allow their brain to self-delude in order to stay within a social circle in which they have been accepted and found a place, even when unmistakable disconfirmation of its beliefs has presented itself. This will keep them anchored right where they are.

Of course, I would expect that my readers, who are only the most genuinely intellectual sort of people, would never fall for an MF themselves. But, the false promises of the Enlightenment aside, we are headed into a future with more superstition and delusion, more passionately believed in, than ever in our history. You’ll need a keen eye for recognizing these in all of their forms, as they will infect many of those around you. So keep an eye out for these Bad MFs as, like weeds sprouting through cracks in abandoned sidewalks, they start to grow through the fissures in our rapidly-crumbling civilization.

Denial Is Doom

Thirty years ago, I sat inside a classroom in a hangar at a small airport, taking the ground school course required for my Private Pilot license. The air smelled of strong black coffee and jet exhaust; from beyond the walls of the classroom were the high whining sounds of the mechanics’ pneumatic wrenches and the rumble of the engines of Learjets and Gulfstreams. Our instructor was an old-timer, retired from flying the line, but with a thousand old hangar stories to tell, and much to the relief of all, he frequently interrupted the dry, FAA-approved curriculum with them. One of them in particular has stuck with me these many years, and seems worth retelling just now. In this age of the internet, I could look up the exact details of the story, but I’d prefer not to, and to repeat it to you exactly as I remember him telling it to us all those many years ago.

* * *

On a bitter cold night in a winter of the late 1950s, a DC-6 – one of the last generation of big four-engined, piston-powered airliners produced before the jet age began – lifted off from LaGuardia airport in New York City, bound for Miami. Seconds after takeoff, and at only a couple of hundred feet in the air, the plane began to fall back to earth, headed down toward the darkness of Flushing Bay. If it had crashed into the cold waters, all on board would almost certainly have drowned or died of hypothermia, but the quick instincts of the pilots guided it to a crash landing on Rikers Island, a small spot of land in the middle of the bay that for many years has been the location of the city’s main prison. As the plane impacted, the nose broke off and the wings ruptured, splashing aviation gasoline across the frozen ground. And yet, miraculously, few of the passengers had been killed in the crash. As soon as the stewardesses (whose primary job is to get passengers out of a wreck alive, not to serve drinks) came to their senses and realized what had happened, they began an emergency evacuation. Within a few short moments, the situation became even more urgent – flames appeared at the rear of the passenger cabin, and quickly spread forward. Yet the brave young women stood fast, guiding all of the surviving passengers out of the emergency exits and to safety.

Finally, only two living souls remained in the shattered hull of the airplane. One was the last of the stewardesses, and the other was a middle-aged gentleman, in a neat suit and tie, holding the newspaper he’d been reading when the plane took off, sitting quietly and not moving from where he was. Though she was right next to an emergency exit herself, and the flames were only seconds away, her courage and compassion got the best of her, and she went back to try to get him out in the precious little time remaining. She ran up to his seat, stood over him, and with all the firmness she could muster, said: “Sir, we’ve got to go! You have to get up and come with me through the exit.”

The man seemed eerily calm, yet his face wore a disquieting, blank expression. He looked at her and replied: “No, it’s fine. Everything is fine.”

By this point, the stewardess was practically screaming: “No, sir, it isn’t! The plane has crashed! You have to follow me out of here! Right now!”

“No”, he answered, “everything is fine. We’ll be in Miami soon. You’ll see. Everything will be fine.”, and then went back to reading his newspaper.

There was no more time left. She had done everything she could for him, and now she could only save herself. Climbing through the emergency exit, she took one last look back, just in time to see a ball of flame rushing toward her. She leapt out into the snow, running as fast as she could. Almost immediately, the whole wreck was engulfed. As she huddled with the other passengers and waited for the guards of the nearby prison to reach them with aid, all she could do was look back at it in horror.

* * *

Whoever the man in the suit was, he burned alive – needlessly, tragically – because his brain paralyzed itself with denial, and wouldn’t allow him to process the truth of what had happened to him. Denial is a natural part of our brain’s coping mechanisms, but of all the forms of self-deception, it is the most dangerous one, because it keeps us from clearly seeing dangers, rendering us unable to deal with them. And intelligence is a meager defense against it – in the 1950s, travel was an expensive luxury that few people could afford; the man in the suit was likely some sort of important executive off to a high-level business meeting. He was almost certainly a smart person, and spent a lifetime being nobody’s fool. Even the most rational of us most sometimes struggle to overcome the irrational impulses hardwired deep into the programming of our imperfect brains. Perhaps with a few more minutes, he could have done it – snapped the spell cast over his rational mind, processed the danger clearly, and done what needed to be done to save himself. But he didn’t have a few more minutes, and the reality of our world is that often life doesn’t give us that kind of time. Most dangers require some sort of immediate action. Time is of the essence, and self-deception means doom.

There is a reason why I am telling you this now. Something very bad has occurred, and many people are responding to it with denial and self-deception. These people are mostly neither stupid nor cowardly, and getting angry with them will accomplish nothing. But likewise it is doing them no favors to stand by silently and to not do everything one can to snap them back into reality so that they can rationally process the dangers we’re facing and develop an appropriate response to them. Like the brave stewardess trying to save her passenger from a horrible fate, there are some harsh truths that I must now tell, with all the compassionate firmness that I can muster.

* * *

This is all real. As hard as it is to believe that what we’ve seen in the past couple of months is actually happening to us, it is. The left has just stolen both the presidential election, and the election that decided control of the Senate. Having done so, they have flooded the nation’s capital with tens of thousands of occupying soldiers, who they have screened for political loyalty. On the 20th, Biden will assume power, and nobody is going to stop it. Trump is finished; he has effectively been out of power since January 6th, and on the 20th, he will be flown back to Mar-a-lago for a quiet retirement. Qanon was fake; there is not and never has been any plan to trust, and “The Storm” isn’t coming. The military isn’t going to overthrow Biden and reinstall Trump; their leadership are completely on-board with everything that has happened. The American Republic is dead; having gotten away with fixing two national elections, the Deep State will assume the permanent role of kingmaker. There will be no more free, fair elections at the federal level. For appearances’ sake, a nonthreatening Republican of the RINO variety – a Nikki Haley or Marco Rubio – may be allowed to hold the presidency again at some point, but they will never permit another real reformer like Trump anywhere near power. All the holes in the system that allowed his rise have been patched. He’s not getting elected again in 2024, and nobody like him is getting elected then, or ever again.

Speaking of January 6th, conservative pundits who say it was a disaster for the right are fooling themselves (and trying to fool you). It can’t do any harm to our political cause because there is no more harm to do. It’s obvious now that we’re not going to vote our way out of this. We’re not going to fundraise our way out of this. We’re not going to get out of this by dropping “truth bombs” on talk radio or going on National Review cruises with Victor Davis Hanson. “Vote harder” (at least in federal elections – there may yet be some value in at at a state and local level) is now a strategy that’s just as rational as sitting in a burning airplane waiting for it to reach Miami. Who cares if what happened on the 6th destroys the national Republican party, drives away big-money donors, gets all of Sean Hannity’s sponsors drop him, and makes the corporate media that already hated us hate us more? Any hope of victory that was ever invested in any of that has crashed and is on fire. It’s not going to get you to your destination. The only thing you can do is to get yourself to a safe place and plan your next move while you watch it burn.

As for what to do now, I have already covered first steps in previous columns, which I invite you to read. But to all of you who have spoken proudly of 1776 and what our ancestors did, and assured yourself that in their place, you would do the same, let me ask you: If not now, when? If not because of this, then because of what? I do not advocate acting rashly or even necessarily quickly – the hour must be right, and the proper occasion must present itself. Certainly, I do not advise any ill-advised or premature moves. We must act wisely and deliberately. What I am telling you is that the time is near and you must make yourselves ready for it.

But to do that, the first thing you must do is to engage with reality. There can be no more hopeful-but-implausible dreams, no more comforting self-deception, and no more denial about the truth of what is happening. Survival is at stake, time is running short, and we cannot afford it.

Addendum: OPSEC For Your Disney Adventure

Now that I’ve laid out some of my political and philosophical thoughts regarding the recent fracas at Disneyland*, it’s time to add a short addendum covering the practical. Let me emphasize here that I believe any further action at Disneyland itself to be pointless and foolish, first because Disneyland is beyond saving, and also because it’s never a good idea to “try to make lightning strike twice”, as the saying goes. But I don’t mean to imply that assembling to petition for a redress of grievances is useless in its entirety. At the state and local level, I believe that it can remain very helpful in encouraging the management of local Disney Stores to nullify, become sanctuaries from, and/or outright ignore the asinine and oppressive dictates that are sure to flow from the Magic Kingdom in the coming years. Thus, whether you’re planning some local action, or even ignoring my advice and going back to Disneyland (seriously though, don’t do that), some advice on how to keep yourself safely out of the hands of Disney security seems well worth sharing.

•First, be very very careful when it comes to who you tell about going to an event. It should be on a “need to know” basis only – everyone else can be told that you’re going fishing, or to a business meeting, or some other plausible explanation for a short absence. After you get home, don’t say anything to anyone about having gone. Most especially, DO NOT post anything on the public internet about it, and certainly not on social media, even if only close friends and family follow you there. We no longer live in the age of civil disagreement on political matters; the left has turned into a creepy fanatical cult that takes joy in convincing its followers to betray those closest to them. And this is no distant tale from Stalin’s time – it’s right here in the present.

Don’t do Disney security’s job for them by posting potentially incriminating evidence where they – or anyone who may decide to talk with them – can easily find it. Don’t tell anyone what you’re up to, no matter how close to them you may be, unless there’s some practical reason why they need to know. As I’ve pointed out before, this isn’t the 60s, and you’re not a 19-year-old who just has to tell all his friends about having seen Hendrix at Woodstock. Keep your eyes and ears open, and your mouth closed.

•Leave your phone at home. There’s no reason at all to bring it with you, and every reason not to. That your phone tracks you everywhere you go, can be used to record your conversations even when you think it’s turned off, and was created by Big Tech oligarchs who will gladly turn you over to the authorities at the drop of a hat, is all well-established. Beyond this, you shouldn’t be taking pictures or recording video at an event anyway. When our friends in Antifa first started their big summer full of events this past year, they encouraged livestreams of what they were doing. By the time fall rolled around, however, enforcers in their ranks were threatening to beat the asses of anyone caught filming or taking pictures. They had figured out that security forces were watching the streams and using them both as field intelligence, and to identify people in Antifa’s ranks for later arrest. There’s a reason why activists of the past warned against the revolution being televised. The Happening is no time to be taking selfies. And it’s certainly not the right occasion to be risking the safety of people around you by putting their faces out there in public, either. If you think you’ll be bored on the way to an event, bring a book to read, or take your old iPod out of the drawer where it’s been sitting in for years, put a new battery in it, and rediscover your musical tastes from 2005. But it’s long past time for the Dissident Right as a whole to start cultivating Tony Soprano’s attitude towards cell phones.

I have no doubt of that.

•Speaking of keeping your face out of public view, mask up when you’re at an event. Yes, yes, I know – you hate face diapers. They’re a symbol of the COVID panic and the Karen fascism that’s come with it. I get it. But the one thing that we can genuinely be thankful for in the whole thing is the normalization of identity-obscuring masks. Take advantage of that. Find a nondescript, common, comfortable design (no flashy logos), and wear it without fail when you’re at, or even near, the event. While you’re at it, consider picking up a pair of reliable safety goggles, not only for additional concealment, but in case the air should start getting a bit spicy when you’re there.

•While we’re on the subject of staying unidentifiable, you should wear plain, nondescript clothing to events. Again, it should have no logos, no artwork (no matter how patriotic it might be), no flashy colors – nothing personally identifying about it at all. Notice how Antifa all dresses alike, and all very plainly? There’s a reason for that – it makes it hard to tell who’s who in a crowd. Of course, you don’t have to copy their style and wear all black. The point is to wear something common that could have come from anywhere and could be worn by anybody. In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to wear old clothes from the bottom of your closet, or that you picked up at a thrift store, and that wouldn’t mind getting ruined in a fracas, or having to throw away later if having them in your possession is no longer wise. And make sure they cover any tattoos you might have, as well. Your skin art may express your individualism, but standing out as an individual is the last thing you want when security is looking at photographs of an event, trying to figure out who was there.

•Gloves, either of the simple medical kind found at your local pharmacy, or more stout ones if it’s wintertime, wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. One wouldn’t want to make a mess at Disneyland by leaving one’s fingerprints all over it, after all.

•Bring only common flags that anyone could have – the US flag, your state flag, the Gadsden flag, or, if you live in the south, the Confederate stars and bars. Ditch any homemade banners or signs immediately after the event ends. You can make a new one next time.

•Don’t drive to an event – security cameras are ubiquitous in urban centers, and excel at tasks like reading license plates. If you must drive just to get to the city where the event is happening, park far away on a quiet side street where cameras are sparse, and then walk or take public transit to and from the event itself. Consider stopping somewhere to at least partially change clothes along the way. It may take longer, but it’s better to take time than do time.

•Always be in groups. Do not let anyone wander off alone, either during the event or in the immediate vicinity of it after it’s over. Those left alone are easy targets, ripe to be picked off by security or Antifa (which has already murdered more than one of ours that they’ve caught alone after an event has broken up). Leave no man behind, and leave no man alone until it’s all done and everyone is safe.

•Bring cash. Don’t pay for anything near an event with your credit/debit card. If you’ll need a hotel room, get one far away from the event itself.

•Know the name and phone number of a competent criminal defense lawyer in the jurisdiction where the event will be taking place. If you are arrested by security, the only thing that you should say to them is that you have nothing to say to them until you’ve spoken with legal counsel.

•Don’t bring any weapons unless we the people have decided that it’s time to use them. Yes, I know that events like the Richmond pro-2A rally, where thousands of peaceful protesters brought AR-15s with them and nothing bad came of it, have happened in the past. But even though that wasn’t so long ago, we live in a very different world now. The past year, up to and including the events of January 6th, have represented an enormous paradigm shift. The mindset of everyone, including of security forces, is nothing like it was only a year ago. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t keep and bear arms, nor do I believe there won’t come a right time to use them in the face of tyranny (quite the opposite – I think that time will come sooner than anyone expected a year ago), but until and unless things have gotten bad to the point where the time to use them finally has come, they should stay home. Don’t bring them to what everyone expects to be a peaceable assembly for the redress of grievances just for show. That will cause more trouble than it’s worth. That said, it wouldn’t be unwise to wear body armor, a helmet or hard hat, and other purely defense gear. It’s hard to tell when or how things could get out of hand.

Stay safe and ready, dear reader. There are hard times ahead, and there is no way out but through them.

(*The names of some locations may have been changed in this article in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention during this season of internet purges.)

Disorganized Thoughts On Disruption at Disneyland

Recently, some acquaintances of mine spent a day at Disneyland*. Sadly, they ended up not having too good a time of it there, as a rather infamous fracas took place during their visit – I’m sure you’ve heard about it on the news. Now that the dust has settled just a bit, I think it would be worth engaging in a bit of reflection about what happened, what it means, and how we should proceed in its aftermath.

•First, what we saw take place at Disneyland was absolutely glorious; anyone who disavows the events of that day in all but the weakest, most wink-and-a-nod manner (which some may have to in order to hold onto certain positions of power) should themselves be disavowed. This event has separated the pretenders from the serious. Anyone who thunders on about 1776 and claims they would have been standing tall among the patriots when the shot heard around the world was fired, but who disavows what happened at Disneyland this year, is (in the words of the great Bob Grant), a fake phony fraud. It’s easy to retroactively put yourself on the winning team centuries hence; there is no risk to it at all. But at the moment when the struggle for liberty is joined, only the brave – only those willing to risk everything, and in many cases, to lose it – will show up to fight, and will be able to claim their share of glory. As one of the great men of 1776 said:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

It may be true that none of us wanted the situation to come to this. I certainly didn’t. But here we are, and it is we who are called to rise to the challenge of our time. Do not be a coward, and do not countenance cowards when you find them. Mock them, shame them, let them know that they are phonies, and at the time of testing, despite their empty words, they were found wanting. Never let them forget it.

•That said, the trip to Disneyland should not be repeated under any circumstances. In a struggle like ours, doing the same thing, the same way, at the same place, twice is a very bad idea. Never show up where your enemy is expecting you. Disneyland has increased security greatly since the incident, and that high level of security will not be reduced anytime soon. The shock of the fracas has made the people who run Disneyland paranoid, and they’ll be ready, willing, and able to quickly shut down any attempt at another such event. That’s just as well, though – the message was sent, and there’s no need to put on a repeat performance. Going forward, most effort should be directed at state and local Disney Stores, to encourage them to nullify or declare themselves sanctuaries from the dictates emanating from Disneyland. Besides, at this point, it’s obvious that Disneyland itself is a lost cause. I recommend avoiding it completely – and I don’t just mean not going there to register your displeasure with the place. Don’t go there on business if you can avoid it. Don’t go there sightseeing. Don’t drive through it if an alternate route is available. Stay away from it entirely. It’s enemy territory.

•In fact, you should also stay away from any big cities to the greatest extent you can. This weekend, I was driving along a major highway in the rural south, and pulled into one of those big chain rest stops for a break on my journey. On a bathroom stall, instead of the usual profanities, I found this written.

Surprisingly, it’s a very good point, on two accounts. First, hopefully you have already taken my standing advice to leave the big cities and decamp to the countryside. The cities aren’t safe to live in anymore, and increasingly aren’t even safe to visit. As tempting as it may be to take the wife and kids to dinner and a show in the city (if those things ever return to being commonly available there), you shouldn’t. Again, don’t take the risk of any unnecessary excursions into enemy-held territory. Second, our struggle is likely to be one fought on multiple fronts, not all of which involve use of force. The political and economic dimensions of it shouldn’t be minimized, and something like a #NotOneRedCent campaign would be a definite step in the right direction on the economic side of things.

•Much attention has been focused on the hypocrisy of those who run Disneyland, and for good reason, especially after the Antifa riots that caused so much destruction for most of the past year.

Once again, Legend of Galactic Heroes shows why it is the best sci-fi series ever made.

This, however, is now a tired old point. Everyone who’s been paying attention to politics at all during the last 50 years knows that these people are shameless hypocrites. Little more is to be gained by pointing it out yet again. A far more important revelation that has come out of the recent fracas is the degree to which their reaction to it has shown them all to be a bunch of panicky, hysterical cowards who seem to have just realized that that their hold on power, and on the minds of the people, is far more tenuous than they previously believed. In response to the fracas, 20,000 soldiers have been ordered into Disneyland – a number only slightly higher than the total of US military personnel currently deployed to protect South Korea from a nuclear-armed communist invasion. If that seems a bit excessive to protect what we are told will be a “virtual inauguration”, carried out almost entirely behind closed doors on January 20th, then you have a good glimpse into the current mindset at Disneyland (of course, their equally panicky, hysterical response to an illness that has a 99.95% survival rate revealed that long before January 6th). These are literally people who are terrified of middle-aged women who run flower shops. It is they who live in constant fear, and you who should not.

As for these guardians of the Magic Kingdom, after years of letting everyone who’s fit and competent know that they’re not welcome in the new, diverse US military, our elites seem to be left with nobody but this lineup of doughy goofballs to protect them and enforce their dictates.

Let me reiterate what I have said many times before: use of force on the part of citizens must always and only be both local and defensive in nature. Defend your homes, your towns, your neighbors, your families, and your liberties against whoever may threaten them. Don’t go off to Disneyland or any other faraway place with the idea of liberating it from itself. But here I say again: do not live in fear of the cowards of Disneyland or their enforcers. If we are forced to fight them, there will be losses on both sides; I won’t pretend otherwise. And some might choose to accept oppression out of intimidation by, or misplaced respect for, some fat broad holding a Starbucks cup just because she has a government-issued uniform on. But I will not.

Protip: The optic is supposed to go on top of the rifle.

•Another thing that the reaction to the recent fracas proves is that the people inside Disneyland are deeply delusional and out of touch with everyone outside it. Trapped inside their government-media-Big Tech echo chamber, they came to believe that everybody in the country hated Donald Trump as much as they did, and that everybody would be as happy as they were to see him go. Fancying themselves to be loved by the masses, they had no understanding of the anger that the people already felt over their incompetence, corruption, arrogance, foolishness, cowardice, and embrace of destructive, divisive, unworkable Marxist ideas, and the degree to which a stolen election would be a match thrown toward the proverbial powder keg**. What is worse, they still don’t understand it, and think that they have enough remaining credibility that they can turn the situation to their advantage by having their media associates breathlessly exaggerate what anyone can see was a mildly rowdy protest (the only real act of violence coming at the hands of one of their own security enforcers who panicked and vastly overreacted to a complete non-threat), recasting it as a new Pearl Harbor.

You can’t reason with delusional people, as they do not have a sufficient connection to observable reality to be able to make sense out of it. So stop trying. Recent events are only accelerating the transformation of Disneyland into a paranoid armed camp; a gilded prison and insane asylum for people who have lost touch with the situation outside its gates every bit as much as the residents of Versailles or the Winter Palace ever did. Let it become that. Again I say: stay away from it. If the Magic Kingdom is determined to stay isolated from us and ignore what we have to say, then we should respond in kind by isolating them and ignoring what they have to say. Pressure (and support, where brave people do the right thing) should be applied at the state and local levels to encourage leaders there to do just that. This is the path forward for the immediate future (and sets the stage for longer-range goals, like permanent separation).

•As a final note, I’d like to let all of my readers know that I doubt that I will be writing much of anything further about Donald Trump, either in my longform pieces or anywhere else. I have nothing against the man personally. But he was never the answer to what ails our society; not long-term. He had good intentions, but he took the job not realizing what he was getting into; not understanding the forces he was dealing with. He thought this was still the country he grew up in, and that with gumption, hard work, and perseverance, he could turn it around. He had a dream, and now that dream is gone. I feel bad for him, and I wish him a peaceful retirement. But his moment upon history’s stage has now passed, and it’s time for us to move on from it and to concentrate on the future.

And quite an interesting future it will be.

(*The names of some locations may have been changed in this article in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention during this season of internet purges.)

(**One of the manifestations of this loss of touch with outside reality is the genuine shock with which Disneyland’s elites have reacted to things proceeding as they have over the past few months – including to all the recent talk of secession and/or civil war. But common folk have felt in their bones that something bad along those lines has been coming for a long time now. Call them “Modern Sporting Rifles” all you like, but Americans haven’t bought tens of millions of AR-15s over the past decade and a half because they thought they might someday need to hunt deer more efficiently. I am as great an advocate for the right of citizens to keep and bear arms as you will find anywhere, but even I will admit that people hoarding military-style assault rifles is not exactly the sign of a healthy society which believes it has a peaceful and prosperous future ahead of it. It’s a [perfectly reasonable] response to a national premonition – one that has been gnawing at us for years – that there are deeply troubled times ahead.)

It’s Not 1968

Imagine if you will a certain business. It is founded by prudent men, and because of this, it grows and prospers. One of the effects of this prudence is that, as soon as the business is profitable enough to allow them to do so, the founders make sure that a certain amount of capital is available in reserve should they ever need it. Having been around the block a few times, they understand that any business hits setbacks, recessions come and go, investments sometimes fail for unforeseen reasons, unexpected crises often come up at the worst times, and that having a reserve to dip into when hard times come will allow the business to limp by until things get better.

Years pass, and the business eventually ends up hiring many impressively-educated but less-prudent young men. As they slowly rise through the ranks, some of them begin to question whether capital reserves are necessary at all, or if that’s just old-fashioned thinking that innovators such as themselves have rendered obsolete. They don’t understand why they should leave a pool of perfectly good capital sitting around doing nothing when they could pump up the business’s quarterly earnings numbers by putting it somewhere else that generates short-term profits (and increases their quarterly bonuses along the way).

Just then, a massive crisis hits the business, as a major investment starts to very visibly and publicly go bad. A shareholder revolt begins; they accuse the CEO (not unjustifiably) of having made this investment without having done due diligence, and then having dithered for far too long about what to do when it started to fail. The CEO resigns; a new one seems to bring things under control, but then gets caught in a scandal and ends up having to resign as well. Two more CEOs come and go in quick succession before someone is finally found who brings stability to the business. He begins to rebuild, including doing his best to refill the capital reserves, which were dipped into very deeply during the crisis. Many were sure that the business wouldn’t survive the crisis and, in truth, it was only the fact that the capital reserves were as deep as they were that ended up keeping it out of bankruptcy. Still, the damage done has meant that despite the best efforts of this new CEO, the reserves never quite get refilled to the point they were before the crisis.

A few years later, one of the impressively-educated young men ends up rising to the position of CEO, at an unprecedentedly young age. Like all of his peers, he seems to have learned nothing from the crisis other than the fact that smart, impressively-educated young men like himself should be running things instead of the dumb old fuddy-duddies who were in charge before. He believes himself smart enough that keeping capital reserves around anymore is unnecessary. Slowly, almost unnoticed, he begins to drain it away for use on other, more immediately profitable projects. For a while, this seems like a workable plan. Nothing comes up that would require the business to dip very deeply into the gradually shrinking pool of remaining reserves, and everyone counts on the idea that there will always be plenty left for the rare occasions when they need it. Some more years pass, a few CEOs of the younger generation come and go, and everything seems fine.

And then, over the course of a single horrible year, a succession of disasters hit the business, one right after the next. The last of these involves some underhanded boardroom maneuvering to oust the then-current CEO on a pretext of having put up a weak response to the year’s events (ignoring the obvious fact that none of the Board members could really have done any better). The irony of this is that he rose as a reformer, calling back to the greatness of the prudent founders and even trying to refill the business’s capital reserves. To what extent he ever did, it ends up being too little, too late. The Board installs a figurehead from within their own ranks. This is when they get a very unsettling message, delivered by an angry group of shareholders: according to their reckoning, the business’s capital reserves have just hit zero. If they had been as deep as they were during the first crisis, then perhaps, as happened back then, the business could have ended up barely scraping by to see better times. But this time, those reserves, which were never fully refilled after the first crisis, are gone, and with no credible plan to come back from the current crisis on offer, the shareholders are getting ready for a fight. Some of them go public, and the business’s stock price tanks – no amount of shilling from friendly news outlets is enough to stop it. Creditors start to send curt letters demanding to be paid. A bankruptcy court beckons.

Thanks to Charles Hugh Smith for this simple but effective visual aid.

* * *

As I would expect of you, dear reader, you have of course figured out that this is a metaphor for the current situation in which the nation finds itself. The first crisis is, of course, the 1960s, and the bad investment is the Vietnam War. The CEO who tried to rebuild is Reagan, and the younger CEO who failed to refill the reserves is Clinton. And the single horrible year is without doubt 2020. So far, so good – but here we reach the key to the entire metaphor: the fact that in our world, the “capital reserves” to which I’m referring aren’t of monetary capital, but of social capital, and the profits taken are measured not primarily in money, but in political power.

Well, political power is plain enough to understand, but what is social capital? Put simply, it is the bond that exists between people within a certain society; it is their sense of mutual trust, loyalty, obligation, and responsibility; it is what makes us say “We are one; we are all in this together”. These are the ties that bind a nation; that bind a people together. Once these bonds are severed – once the reserve of social capital reaches zero – then there is nothing that can hold things together but brute force. And this is where conflict begins.

Here it is worth noting that revolutions, uprisings, and civil wars basically never happen because of a single event or provocation from the government. It’s always decades worth of a slow build-up of resentments and grievances, some well-meaning attempts at reconciliation, compromises that worked for a while and then fell apart, disastrous misjudgments that seemed like a good idea at the time, false starts, heat-ups, cool-offs, points at which it looked like it would all blow over and everything would be okay, and many, many voices who were convinced that it was all unthinkable and could never happen. At each point of failure along the way, reserves of social capital were depleted a little more.

Again, this is a gradual process, and it is easy to believe that because a nation has made it through one crisis – or two, or five – by the skin of its teeth, that means it can make it through an infinite number of crises. In fact, many take exactly the wrong lesson away from making it through a brush with bankruptcy – either of monetary capital or of social capital. My dad once told me, “It’s not people’s failures that kill them; it’s their successes”. For example: someone might drive drunk once, wreck their car but survive, and decide then and there that drunk driving is a terrible idea and never do it again. But another person may drive drunk once, make it home safely, and convince themselves that means they can handle it just fine. So they’ll do it over and over again, each time a little drunker, and each time increasing the odds that they’ll end up dead a little more. Eventually, inevitably, the odds will catch up with them.

This is an essential part of the spirit of permanent revolution that drives the left. They understand that they made it through the first crisis with essentially no pushback at all – in fact, the crisis of the 60s only ended with appeasement. From abortion to Affirmative Action to mass Third World immigration to the abandonment of our allies in Vietnam, the Boomers and their parents bought 50 years of peace by giving the left essentially everything they wanted. If we had been wise and farsighted, we would have drawn the line early. But as typical, especially of those two generations, the nation went for short-term benefit and thought nothing of leaving their grandchildren stuck with the consequences.

But fanatics can never be appeased, and this only served to convince the left that their inclination toward permanent revolution – ever-more outrageous and insane demands – was an infinitely winning strategy. And so they pushed harder and harder, eventually demanding such once-unthinkable things as the extinction of the White race, the abolishment of all borders*, the de facto criminalization of traditional Christian teaching, and the persecution of anyone who speaks out against them. They have done so convinced that the reserves of social capital which prevented the rise of any effective resistance to them and the civic institutions that they had captured would never run dry. For a long time, it looked like they were right.

And then came the Great Crisis of 2020 – the lockdowns, the riots, and the stolen presidential election. To say that it has drained our reserves of social capital dangerously low would be an understatement. Finally now it is the right that is saying once-unthinkable things, as words like “nullification”, “revolution”, and “secession” ring through the air for the first time in living memory. And of course, in the face of this, the left has only intensified its drive for permanent revolution. At this point, nothing foreseeable could replenish a supply of social capital this low, and the only thing remaining in our elites’ bag of tricks – a foreign war – would only make things worse. We are very, very close to hitting zero.

Which brings us to perhaps the most important question in terms of your own individual readiness for what’s to come: Just how close are we? How long do we have until we reach the point of social capital bankruptcy, and the next step – be that war, balkanization, tyranny, or the rise of a Caesar – begins? The truth is that I don’t know exactly. Depending on your point of view, it may take more time than you’re expecting, or less. A year ago, I would have said it would take 20 or 30 years; now I fear it come much more immediately – anytime from literally tomorrow to perhaps, at most, ten years hence. But it will happen; what I can say for sure is that the events of this year have made what is coming inevitable, and sooner rather than later. We aren’t the country we were in 1968, and the 2020s just don’t have the social capital reserves necessary to leverage the kind of Great Cooling-Off that we had in the 1970s**. There won’t be any buying of two generations’ worth of peace this time – that trick worked once, but it won’t work again.

Prepare yourselves accordingly.

(*I do, of course, understand that mass immigration of immiscible people from alien cultures has had a terrible effect on our social capital as well. But is that a cause, or an effect of the depletion of social capital brought on by permanent revolution? Perhaps it is both. Either way, it is not the cause of our current situation, and only accelerates a process that has been underway for a long time now.)

(**Here I want to emphasize that I don’t expect a perfectly even, linear progression toward the inevitable. We will see flareups and cooldowns along the way, including some points at which things may even seem for a while be headed back to “normal” [whatever that might mean to you]. But these will be relatively brief – we’re not getting another half-century of calm, as our parents and grandparents managed to. The can will not be kicked very much farther down the road.)

What Next?

As I write this, it appears that the Democratic Party has successfully stolen the presidential election of 2020. There is no doubt that Donald Trump will mount an aggressive legal campaign against the massive, obvious ballot fraud that handed the election to his opponent. But that is unlikely to be enough to save his presidency. He simply doesn’t have enough friends in Washington at any branch or level of government. The entire town, including the establishments of both parties, just can’t wait to see Donald J. Trump disappear over the horizon so they can get things back to normal. Of course, some in his own party will make obligatory gestures of support, but in the end, nobody there will stick their neck out for him. He will be left wounded and alone, and the Deep State will finish him off. That will be the end of the Trump Era.

There will be many postmortems of this era written in the coming months, from people on all sides of the political spectrum, and you will be sick to death of reading them before very long. So I will keep mine brief. In the end, Donald Trump made the classic error of many brash reformers who arrived in a stagnant, corrupt capital promising to take on the system, and who ended up getting chewed up and spit out by it. He forgot that the proper sequence of events is: first you consolidate power, and then you implement your agenda. It seems rather obvious to say that before one takes on powerful, entrenched interests, one should take the time to fill every possible position in one’s administration with smart, loyal subordinates. They say, for example, that by the end of his time as Premier, Leonid Brezhnev had just as much power as Josef Stalin ever had, and that was precisely how he did it – everyone in any position of power in the USSR was a friend of Brezhnev, and thus whatever their friend asked them to do, they did. But Trump’s personnel choices were a chaotic rolling disaster from the beginning. He fired loyalists like Mike Flynn and indispensable men like Steve Bannon who had gotten him where he was, replaced them with mediocrities or traitors, and put up with them long after it became obvious that hiring them was a mistake. He would take to Twitter and publicly complain about people he had hired and had the power to fire for months instead of quietly explaining to them that they wanted to spend more time with their families and showing them the door. There were good reasons for the anti-nepotism laws passed after the presidency of JFK, who had made his younger brother Attorney General. Presidents must often say “no” to advisors, sometimes dress them down and remind them who the boss is, and occasionally even fire them – all of which is much harder to do if they have a close personal attachment to them. Trump kept his bubbleheaded daughter and her shifty, tone-deaf husband on as unofficial advisors with no government salary or on-the-books title, thus circumventing the letter of the law and ignoring the wisdom behind it. This led him into blunder after blunder that a man like Bannon would never have let him fall into.

In addition to this, Trump had the power to purge his enemies from every three-letter Deep State spook agency in Washington, but he didn’t do it, even after Chuck Schumer obligingly played Littlefinger to his Ned Stark by warning him not to trust them and telling him they had “six ways from Sunday” to get at him and remove him from office. Having survived one way from Sunday in the form of the failed impeachment attempt, he seems to have completely discounted the notion that there might be five more left. There is an old saying that “if you shoot an arrow at the king, you’d better not miss”. This is because if you do, the king has to behead you – if he lets traitors go without consequence, if he signals that there is no price to be paid for attempts to betray and overthrow him, then there will be no end of ambitious men who will take the gamble because it has no downside. In our modern age, of course, we do not behead traitors, but any president with a rational personnel policy would have conducted sweeping purges after the failed impeachment. His enemies even expected him to do this, and yet it really never came. Most of the people who challenged him never even lost their jobs, despite the fact that Trump had the absolute, unquestioned power to fire them. With an election he knew was rife for massive fraud on the horizon, he continued to ignore the danger before him. A cagier president would have made a point in early summer of strongarming Republican legislatures in swing states into not allowing mass mail-in voting at all, but beyond some angry Tweeting, Trump did nothing substantive about the issue, making the typical mistake among failed brash reformers of counting on his popularity among the masses to save him. This brings us back to Stalin, who famously once quipped that “It doesn’t matter who votes, but who counts the votes”. The fix was in, and now Trump is out – he still has the support of the masses, but short of the very unlikely (and very foolish) scenario of them deciding to march on Washington en masse to take the Establishment “À la lanterne”, there is nothing they can do to help him.

Trump’s failure to get Obamacare repealed during his first summer in office should have been a warning to him about the necessity to consolidate his power before attempting any more ambitious policy measures, but he seemed to have learned basically nothing from it. Thus he wasted irreplaceable time that he should have spent carefully building his power on achievable, non-critical “nice-to-haves” like renegotiating NAFTA and a brief spate of better relations with North Korea. There’s nothing in particular to complain about in these per se, but the price paid for them was too high. In the end, the Trump Era will prove to have been an exercise in “too little, too late”.

So where do we go from here?

It is worth pointing out that back at the beginning of his administration, I warned that Trump should be properly viewed as a temporary roadblock in the path of the Establishment, and that the primary value of his term in in Washington, whether four years or eight, was to buy precious time for us to prepare for what comes next. I hope you took the opportunity to do so; if you didn’t, there’s not much time left, and you had best get started immediately. To reiterate what I’ve said elsewhere, my recommendations are: Get out of the big cities, even if you have to take a massive pay cut to do it. Move to a 90% or higher white small town in a red state. Move toward working a blue-collar job or running your own business. Make friends in your community; do favors for people and become someone they’d want to stand up for. Buy guns and learn how to use them; get your concealed carry permit, and take reputable training courses when you can. Speaking of which, take a reputable first aid course, too. Stock up on food, water, and medical supplies. Learn how to hunt, fish, find (or make) clean water, and grow a garden. Start producing at least some of your own food. Learn how to do everyday house and car repairs on your own. Join a local church, make peace with God, and get yourself in a good place spiritually. It’s impossible to know right now exactly how or when what is to come will unfold, but these steps will put you in the best position to get through the highest number of the most probable scenarios.

As for political action going forward, it is now plain for all to see that voting was never going to save us, and that the current system will never be reformed from within. That said, I encourage all who can to continue to vote for as rightist a candidate as you can, for every position you can, in every election that you can. Just see it realistically, for what it actually is: a chance to throw sand in the gears of the Establishment; to slow it down as much as possible to buy us every possible moment to continue preparing. If there is one election that I advise you to pay particularly close attention to once you reach your new small-town home, it is the one for your local sheriff. It may be true that people you’ve never met and have no control over who live in a distant capital decide which laws will be passed, but it is the county sheriff who decides which of them will actually be enforced. This is no small thing, so make sure that the right man gets the job.

And as to those guns you’ve recently bought, some cool-headed counsel is in order. First, no matter how enraging the chaos you see on television may be, do not engage in any random or senseless acts of violence against any real or perceived enemy. Furthermore, do not go off to some big city with your AR-15 to confront Antifa or Black Lives Matter, or any other communist front group. I feel sorry for the people who live there, but they made their political and social choices, and now it is up to them to either live with the consequences of them or come up with their own remedy for them. Also, give up any idea that you’re going to be part of a “Patriot Army” that is going to storm Washington, DC one day to restore order and “make the bastards pay” for bringing us to this point. That’s a fantasy, and a dangerous one. Any use of force must be both local and purely defensive in nature. Be ready to band together with your neighbors to protect your own – your property, your family, your community, your liberty – from anyone who comes to threaten them. But don’t go off on a damn fool quest to rescue people who don’t want to be rescued, or to save an empire that’s in the early stages of finding out that there’s really no such thing as “too big to fail”.

As a corollary to this, remember that conquering America from without is essentially impossible, but making it functionally ungovernable from within is easier than anybody gives it credit for. The pattern of every dismal low-intensity conflict fought by a great power over the past century has been that the central government has controlled the big cities, but that its ability to consistently enforce its will has essentially ended at the city limits. There’s a reason why both the Soviets and the Americans derisively referred to their puppet Prime Ministers in Afghanistan as the “Mayor of Kabul”.

For this to be the case in the decreasingly-United States of America, the most important change will be a mental one. It will involve giving up the traditional American attitude toward government and replacing it with something more like the traditional Chinese attitude toward it. That American attitude has always been one of deep civic trust and duty; of participating in the system and abiding by the law even when you disagree with it. This is why the police and military in America have consistently been revered as heroic protectors of a legitimate order. But the Chinese attitude toward government has always been: “What the Emperor doesn’t know, won’t hurt him”. When word gets out that the Emperor’s Inspector General is coming to town, the streets are cleaned, the gambling dens are closed, the black markets where they sell all the things that the Emperor says you can’t have get cleared out, everyone puts on their finest silk robes, and when the Inspector General gets there, they bow deeply and proclaim their loyalty to the Emperor through teary eyes. The Inspector General is cheered and banqueted, everyone tells him how happy they are with the state of things, and his every order is obeyed immediately and to the letter. Then, a few days later, as the Inspector General’s carriage disappears out of sight down the road out of town, everything goes back to normal – the gambling dens and black markets reopen, the street sweeper goes back to drunkenly sleeping through his shift, those uncomfortable silk robes go back in the closet, and people remark to each other how happy they are that the jackass Inspector General sent by that bastard of an Emperor is gone.

This is a very alien attitude to Americans; civic virtue and belief in the legitimacy of our political system are more deeply ingrained in us than in any other people on Earth. It is a core part of our identity, and more than one observer has called it America’s true religion. Such things are not easily shaken. And yet, what we are going through now has undeniably begun to do just that. Make no mistake: no matter the outcome of the current legal wrangling over the election, and no matter the actions of the two men who want to be declared President, a Rubicon has indeed been crossed. And what does that mean? It is an act that can’t be undone, a point passed from which there is no coming back. No matter who ends up in the White House at the end of January, half the country will believe that they just saw an American presidential election stolen in plain sight right in front of them. The other half will believe that it came within a hair’s breadth of it – closer than they ever thought possible, and close enough to call any future election results deeply into question. Public trust in the system will end up shattered, and once that happens, it is near-impossible to restore.

For those of us who are of a more forward-thinking and revolutionary mindset, this is a good thing. We know that before the Great Divorce must come the Great Disillusionment. As in any divorce, the first step is admitting that the current arrangement is beyond fixing – that nobody is happy with it, and that there’s no reason to believe it will do anything but get worse. This involves a painful process of mourning for what was, and for what could have been, but won’t be. The MAGA crowd and the normiecons out there are just beginning this process. We who are farther along with it should be patient and sympathetic toward them. Right now, they’re in shock, still holding onto the hope that the system will right itself at the last second and that clever lawyers will undo this travesty in court. One is reminded of their faith that Jeff Sessions would put Hillary Clinton in prison, or that Bill Barr would prosecute the Russiagate coup plotters in the FBI, or that John Durham would do something-or-other that never ended up happening, either. After Joe Biden is sworn in, that shock will turn to anger. Donald’s Trump’s most lasting accomplishment – the one that he unwittingly sacrificed his second term for – will prove to be goading the Establishment into dropping the mask and showing the normies who they really are and how the system really works. This will be hugely redpilling; in time, it will change everything. It will give the normies the moral permission they need to stop following Washington’s edicts. As long as those were onerous but seemingly passed legitimately, the normies would grumble but obey them. But when the normie perceives that those decrees ended up in place due to outright fraud perpetrated by a crooked system, they won’t. That system only works now because the vast majority of people voluntarily obey the law even when they disagree with it. When an irrecoverable legitimacy crisis makes them rethink that, ungovernability begins.

As for you, friends, the most important thing you can do right now is to come to terms with the fact that life as you knew it a year ago is over. The country, the society, the whole world that you lived in a year ago is gone, and it’s never coming back. If you loved it, cherish its memory. But don’t try to hold onto it – that will be used as a weapon against you. Evil people will promise you that if you submit to them, they will bring that world back. But they can’t, and they wouldn’t really want to do it even if they could. I wish I could tell you that what lies ahead will be pleasant or easy, but it won’t be. You’ll need to be strong and sane in an insane world in order to get through it. But if you are, the distant future can be brighter. That much, in all sincerity, I promise you.

The Bumpening: A Tale of Modern Tyranny

As with millions of Americans, I take a few days of vacation every summer to calm the nerves and recharge the faculties. This year, I endeavored to brave the twin storms of pandemic and civil unrest to take advantage of the abnormally-low rates offered by hotels desperate to attract travelers in the midst of these troubles, and so I loaded up the car and hit the road bound for Cape Cod, where I passed a few peaceful days at Hyannisport, gazing out upon the ocean and contemplating eternity. (Thankfully I did not, to the best of my knowledge, run into any members of the disreputable Kennedy clan – a blessing for which my gratitude knows no bounds.) On the way back home to southern Appalachia, I took a detour to the rust belt town of Schenectady, NY, to pay a visit to my old friend Tony Martell, working class author and advocate for everything that’s good in the world.

Schenectady was once a thriving town known as the “Electric City” in honor of being the headquarters of General Electric, which ran an enormous manufacturing plant there. The prosperity that it brought to the place is obvious in the houses, once magnificent but now run-down and neglected, that line its pothole-cratered streets. GE closed down nearly everything at the height of the outsourcing craze in the 1990s, moving essentially all of its manufacturing to China. It’s easy to point the finger of blame at them for doing so, but the astronomical taxes and choking regulations imposed by New York’s leftist state government made it a near-inescapable decision. Schenectady has been slowly decaying ever since. In the 00s, the Democratic mayor decided to try to reverse the decline via a concerted effort to attract as many Third World immigrants as she could into the city, because PBS and the New York Times told her they were industrious and an asset to any economy. The results were, to say the least, not what the Times promised her they would be. Moving away is a favorite topic of conversation among most of the remaining blue-collar white population.

We arranged to meet for dinner at a bar and grill on State Street popular with that very same working class demographic. I arrived first, staked out a table, and was a quarter of the way through a Sam Adams when Tony walked in.

He seemed almost to charge at the table, a grim look on his face. Not pausing to offer a hello, he said: “Have you heard about Bumpy’s? They’re getting canceled. Black Lives Matter is protesting them right this minute!”

This was quite an odd thing to hear.

Bumpy’s Polar Freeze Ice Cream Stand and Snow Plowing Service is a mile or so down State Street from the bar. It is, in many ways, an exemplar of the hard work and ingenuity behind the American Dream. Every year, Bumpy opens his ice cream stand in May, serves up cones and sundaes until Halloween, then closes it down and takes a week’s vacation. When he comes back, he hooks up plows to his trucks, and he and a couple of year-round employees (the ice cream stand is mostly staffed by students doing summer jobs) plow snow in driveways and parking lots until April (in this part of upstate, snowstorms are not uncommon well into spring). Then he takes another week off, comes back at the start of May, and opens the ice cream stand again. This deft balancing of two seasonal businesses has provided him with a prosperous middle-class living. And it adds to the life of his community – many a dinner with Tony over the years has ended with the two of us reconvening at Bumpy’s after our meal, sitting at the picnic tables by the parking lot with a cold treat, talking about politics or philosophy or art until it got pitch dark.

How, I wondered, was it even possible for Bumpy’s, of all places, to have incurred the wrath of the outrage mob?

Tony sat and, after our orders were placed, told me the story.

The trouble began right at the start of the ice cream season. Coronavirus-inspired mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing orders had been issued by the Governor of New York, an arrogant lout with a room-temperature IQ who (like his brother the CNN anchor) only got his job through the name recognition he inherited from his father, a rhetorically-gifted but otherwise-incompetent Governor from the previous generation. These orders are supposed to be enforced by business owners, who the governor seems to believe he can involuntarily deputize in order to impose his unconstitutional, undemocratically-enacted diktats. They are expected to refuse service to, and expel if necessary, any person not abiding by them. But this didn’t sit well with Bumpy, who figured that his customers are grown adults who can decide for themselves whether or not they want to wear a mask and how far they’d like to stand from each other. No one was paying him to be a cop, he had no interest in refusing money from anyone willing to buy ice cream, and anyhow, this was a free country and he could run his business any way he liked.

He was about to get a lesson in the workings of the Current Year.

It began when a woman customer (it is always a woman, in such cases) dropped dime and ratted Bumpy out to the county Health Department. The Health Department, acting in the vindictive spirit so common to petty bureaucrats, showed up at Bumpy’s for a surprise inspection. Much to their disappointment, they found the place clean as a whistle except for one minor violation; a water hose draining where it shouldn’t have been. This is the kind of thing that would normally be handled with a warning and an instruction to fix the problem as soon as possible. But because Bumpy had openly refused to do the Governor’s dirty work for him and police the actions of the grown adults who came there to do business with him, they instead slapped him with a closure order and a $1000 per day fine until the issue was resolved and they could find time to come around and re-inspect it.

This was, of course, an utter outrage, and Bumpy treated it as such. What right did they have to close down his business like that? He was a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, and this was a bald-faced abuse of government power! And so, with his defiant spirit not yet broken, Bumpy ignored the closure order and opened up again the next day as normal. When the Health Department heard about this, they returned and announced they were enacting a second $1000 per day fine against his business until he obeyed them, closed down, fixed the hose, and then called them back for re-inspection.

Bumpy was now losing $2000 a day in fines, but even at that he stayed unbent and unbroken. He kept his business open, started making arrangements for the hose to be relocated, and continued to refuse to tell his customers what to do with themselves in reaction to the coronavirus.

The powers-that-be took notice of this refusenik. And this is where Bumpy would encounter the newest aspect of tyranny in the 21st century: the Public-Private Partnership between the government, the media, and the outrage mob in shutting down anyone who dares to get on their bad side. A few days after the Health Department visit, for no apparent reason at all, a posting was made on a local Antifa-affiliated Facebook group. It included a picture of Bumpy’s, centered on the “Thin Blue Line” flag that Bumpy proudly hangs from its roof, and the sentiment: “If you flying Blue Lives Matter, we’re coming!”. Here it is worth noting that Thin Blue Line flags are not at all uncommon in the parts of town that remain white and working class. Many local businesses fly them. So why, and how, was Bumpy’s the one targeted? One does not have to be of a deeply conspiratorial mindset to imagine the answer. Elements within the state government are themselves more than capable of dropping dime to non-governmental players and making sure that a certain enemy ends up in their sights.

When Bumpy got wind of this, he was understandably fearful. It was now the first week of June. Violent riots were sweeping the country. Businesses had been burned and looted by the dozens, by the very same people now targeting him. He tried to think of what he could do to de-escalate the situation. Perhaps a bit of placation might work – some show that might convince these radical leftists not to target him? It was worth a try. And so, this being the beginning of Pride Month, the rainbow flag and the pink-white-and-blue transgender flag went up next to the Thin Blue Line at the ice cream stand. Bumpy hoped this might be the end of it.

But of course, it wasn’t. Apologizing or trying to appease the leftist outrage mob never works. Just the opposite – it only makes them sense blood in the water, and they will escalate until their enemy is crushed and surrenders unconditionally. Since Bumpy had not yet done this, it was time for the next phase of action.

As with the Facebook post, a Tweet mysteriously appeared out of nowhere that included what was claimed to be a screenshot of a text message exchange between Bumpy and one of his managers. It centered around what seems to be a pay dispute involving a black employee. It also seems to show Bumpy calling the employee multiple racial slurs (including The Word That Must Never Be Said), followed up by stating unequivocally that he doesn’t hire black people. Despite it having been tweeted out by a random, unverified account with few followers, and despite these things being trivially easy to fake, several local news outlets immediately ran salacious stories of racism at Bumpy’s based on it. One might wonder how they could ever have found an obscure social media posting like this without being tipped off to it by someone. One also might wonder why the story was run without any verification of the claim made whatsoever, or without calling Bumpy for comment, or without a single one of our erudite journalist class wondering how exactly it could be that Bumpy was having a pay dispute with a black employee if he doesn’t hire black people. It didn’t matter – they ran the story anyway.

What came next was, in the current environment, predictable (and needless to say, absolutely intentional). The very afternoon I had arrived in Schenectady, a mob of Black Lives Matter protesters had made their way out of the city center and gathered around Bumpy’s. They stopped traffic on State Street, causing a large traffic jam. They chanted threatening slogans which intimidated away all of Bumpy’s customers, and even caused most of the employees he had working there that day to quit on the spot rather than face what was doubtless coming when the sun went down. Things got tenser as the twilight grew darker.

But here, Bumpy had his first stroke of good fortune. To what is surely the great surprise of anyone who has spent the last month watching the police cower on their knees in front of angry mobs to save their own skins while the cities around them were sacked and looted, the Schenectady Police Department turned out quickly and in force. Perhaps the Thin Blue Line flag had done Bumpy some good after all. The SPD set a perimeter around the gathering, with barricades placed on State Street to ensure both that passing drivers would not run over any of the mob, and also, as anyone who has watched the events of the past weeks understand, that the mob would not be permitted to give them any reason to. The mob stayed and menaced Bumpy and the remaining staff until just after dark, when, with any possibility of getting violent thwarted and a rainstorm beginning to pass through, they packed up and left. By the time Tony and I drove by after dinner, Bumpy’s was closed and all was quiet.

And so Bumpy’s did not burn that night, as surely some person or persons had intended, and as it surely would have had the police not acted as they did. Nevertheless, Bumpy’s troubles did not end there.

The next morning, as I gathered my belongings for the drive home, I turned on the local television news. As I feared but expected, every station was running breathless stories about how peaceful protestors fighting for civil rights had picketed a racist ice cream stand. They did this knowing that it would ruin Bumpy’s business. That’s precisely why they did it. The police might have been able to stop the place from being destroyed physically, but they couldn’t stop this.

Driving down State Street toward the New York State Thruway, I passed Bumpy’s. It was still closed, and remains so as of this writing. The problem now is not only the closure order, but a lack of employees. The ones he used to have are gone, and there’s not much hope of hiring any new ones. What parent in their right mind would allow their high schooler to take on the risk of accepting a summer job there now?

A day and a half later, I was back at my cottage in the mountains of Appalachia – and needless to say, I was greatly relieved to be there. My little country town remains beyond the power of the kind of tyranny that is wrecking the life of an innocent ice cream merchant up in Schenectady, and I will do whatever I must to ensure that it will remain so. I got in a good night’s sleep and, the next morning, picked up my phone to check in with Tony and ask about the latest news in the case. It was not encouraging.

Two days of heavy rainstorms had caused the mob to stay home, but on the 1st of July, they were back in even greater numbers. This time they showed up before noon and, with the place closed and no employees around, there was nobody to summon the police. One of the neighbors must have called Bumpy to warn him about what as going on, because he quickly showed up to try to protect his business. As he drove his pickup truck down State Street toward the mob, they showed the early signs of swarming it. He got out of the truck with what turned out to be a BB gun (almost certainly the only thing resembling a weapon that this peaceful man owns), at which point the mob cried out that they were being assaulted and (one might think ironically for a “protest” touched off by the presence of a “Thin Blue Line” flag), immediately called the police themselves, demanding that Bumpy be arrested. And that is what happened, though here again his pro-police sentiment may have helped him, as they let him go with only an appearance ticket for misdemeanor menacing. They even assigned a couple of officers to stick around and make sure that the ice cream stand wouldn’t burn while he was being processed. Thankfully, at present, it remains intact.

Once again, wild, unfounded smears against him started flying on Twitter, the most colorful of which was that Bumpy is “a registered sex offender covered in swastika tattoos”. Once again, a round of stories in local media warned parents of the Nazi ice cream merchant in their neighborhood, lying in wait to dispense racism-tinged frozen treats to their children. And now the government has re-entered the fray – the county Civil Rights Commission has issued a formal request for the state Attorney General’s office to open a civil rights investigation against Bumpy’s; meanwhile, the Health Department has announced that it’s seeking a court order allowing it to padlock the place, leaving it closed indefinitely. If it ever opens again, it will be only after months of legal proceedings and tens of thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – of dollars in fines and legal costs laid at Bumpy’s feet.

At this point, Bumpy had best hope for a really snowy winter, because the ice cream part of his business isn’t going to be generating any revenue to help pay his bills for a long while. In fact, paying his bills at all now hinges on the off chance that the tyranny Partnership doesn’t decide to target his plow business, too (which they almost certainly will).

Or he might just close it all up, take whatever he has left, and leave town, as everyone else has been thinking of doing. If so, it will be two more productive businesses closed, and one more taxpaying entrepreneur run out of the state. But not to worry – I’m sure all of those dirt poor immigrants will pick up the slack any old time now.

That is where things stand for Bumpy’s right now, and as appalling as it is, I wish that were all there is to the story. But it’s not – with Bumpy’s safely crushed beneath their heel, the Partnership has turned its sights on another target that might, to sane people, seem even more innocuous – Grace Baptist Church, across the Hudson River in Troy, NY. Grace Baptist’s transgression was to encourage the right of self-defense amongst their parishioners by raffling off an AR-15 rifle (one of the variety that must be crippled in order to comply with New York’s assault weapons ban). Self-defense against the violent arm of the Partnership must, of course, never be allowed, so the mob was dispatched to the church’s doorstep, to express the opposition to violence that the gun control movement claims as the core of its beliefs by assaulting and beating churchgoers on their way into Sunday worship. That this actually made the case for AR-15 ownership rather than disproving it didn’t matter. No dialectic matters now – no reason, no logic, no facts, no persuasion, and no “truth bombs”. The Partnership is not here to debate anyone. Their message is one of force and power: Obey us, or one or more arms of the Partnership – official or unofficial – will be sent to destroy you. And don’t you even think about trying to defend yourself, because we’ll ensure that will only make it worse for you. Comply, or else.

If you don’t live in Schenectady, you have almost certainly never had ice cream at Bumpy’s, and you likely never will. But its story is not merely a local news item – Bumpy’s and Grace Baptist Church are canaries in the coal mine in this dark time in our history. Experiences like theirs – of innocents attacked by the mob, smeared by the media, put out of business by the government or woke capital, and prosecuted for defending themselves on their own property – have been repeated nationwide. And the Partnership shows no sign of slowing down. Someday they will come for me, and for you. We are all Bumpy.

I have not, however, told you this cautionary tale to make you lose hope. The Partnership can be turned back. There are ways to put yourself beyond its power, so that they can only rage impotently at you. There are even ways to destroy it – and make no mistake, it will be destroyed eventually. But in order to fight it, you must know what it is and how it operates. Allow yourself no illusions, and make yourself ready.

True Bullshit

English is a wonderfully expressive language; far more than, for example, French, which for all its pretensions of sophistication is actually quite limited in its depth and precision. Much of this has to do with the anarchic evolution of English – nobody has ever really been in charge of creating or curating it. By contrast, the Academie Francaise has existed for centuries now as official arbiters of what constitutes proper French, and, as many such august bodies of credentialed academics have done in their respective fields, have progressively made their language worse by the formulation of rules that are eminently logical and completely wrongheaded. Perhaps the most important of their ongoing quests has been to streamline the French language by ridding it of redundancies – taking words that they deem to be essentially identical in meaning, choosing one to keep, and then banishing the rest from the canon of acceptable vocabulary. While this has made French a very efficient language (official logic is good at creating efficiency), it has also robbed it of much of its richness. In contrast, English contains many, many words that, while very close in definition, impart a very slightly differing shade of meaning or context from each other. Thus, in English, very fine gradations of meaning can be achieved with proper word choice, while in French, these distinctions either have to be explained in depth or left ambiguous. This is what makes English an excellent language for both science and literature, while French, for all its attempts at centrally-planned logical efficiency, is clunky and unwieldy at both. It has even been suggested that this is why French has produced many good authors, but really no great ones – nobody on the level of Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Poe, or Tolkien. Whatever their natural talents may be, the limits of their language simply don’t grant them the tools necessary to achieve such greatness.

A good example of the rich vocabulary that gives English its remarkable descriptiveness is the word “bullshit”. I am hardly the first to write about the depth and versatility of this remarkable word, which, so far as I know, has no real equivalent in any other language. The Academie would have banished it for being too close in meaning to “false” or “incorrect”, but that’s not quite really what it means. In fact it is entirely possible for a statement to be 100% factually correct, and still be complete bullshit. This happens when that factually correct idea is exaggerated, taken out of context, or otherwise distorted in order to be used in bad faith as a pretext for some action that would otherwise be rightly seen as immoral, unwise, oppressive, or absolute lunacy.

There has never been a better moment to contemplate this truth, as this juncture in our civic life is positively swimming in factually-correct bullshit.

Examples abound, both minor and major. Take, for example, the “gluten-free” craze that has almost certainly overtaken your favorite grocery store in recent years. It is absolutely factually true that there is a small percentage of people whose health can benefit from eating gluten-free foods. But unless you’ve been diagnosed as having a very specific and rare food allergy by your doctor, you’re not one of them. And neither are 99% of the people who’ve been buying gluten-free foods during this fad, either. They’ve simply accepted on faith an implied (though carefully never stated outright) claim that it’s better for them somehow, and certainly better enough that it’s worth paying a dollar or two more for. None of the people producing or marketing gluten-free foods to the general public have ever made any false statements about what they are or what they do. There’s no lie involved. But it’s also indisputable that gluten-free foods are bullshit, and the whole fad around them is no more than a pretext to squeeze gullible soccer moms into paying extra money for something that (unless they really are one of the tiny percentage diagnosed with a gluten allergy) is of no benefit to them whatsoever.

But this is merely a minor league example. Big league bullshit invariably involves much more powerful players.

For many years, my go-to example of factually-correct bullshit has been the Big Tobacco settlements of the late 90s and early 00s. Is it true that smoking is insanely unhealthy, and leads to horrendous health problems? Certainly. I was my mother’s caretaker as she died of lung cancer brought on by 50 years of smoking. It is not an easy way to go, and was not a pleasant experience for either her or me. I personally have never smoked, nor do I recommend smoking to anybody. That the factual claim used as the core of the push for the settlement is true and valid is beyond any reasonable doubt. But the reality of the settlement has been this: The public was promised that all the money it generated would go into the health care system, pouring billions into it in order to pull it back from the brink of a looming insolvency caused in no small part by the enormous costs of having to treat diseases brought on by smoking. Instead, a huge cut went to the politically-connected lawyers who negotiated the settlement, and the rest was poured into the General Fund so that politicians could waste it on all of the usual bullshit that politicians waste money on (most especially the thinly-veiled vote-buying schemes that masquerade as public charity in our democracy). So little of it went to actual health care, that within a decade we were all being told that we needed to pass Obamacare to save the health care system from the same onrushing insolvency that the tobacco settlement money was supposed to fix. The whole thing was a scam – the science behind it was all solid, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t bullshit.

Of course, they then moved on to Global Warming, which was rebranded as Climate Change when exceptionally shaky data made the “warming” claims into a weak leg to stand on. Despite this, I will be the first to admit that I don’t personally know for sure whether any unusual climate change is, in fact, happening, or what might be causing it if it is. Maybe all of their claims are true, and maybe they aren’t. But even if it is all based in solid fact and science, I do have one question about the matter for which I will require an answer before I regard it as bullshit: Has the left ever encountered a crisis which had a solution that involved the public handing less money and power over to them and their allies in the Public/Private Woke Coalition? Surely, logic would dictate that there would have to be just one out there somewhere, wouldn’t it?

Yes, it is obvious that George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis Police involved some serious misconduct on their part (though, frankly, there was probably no lack of it on his part, either). Yes, this indicates that there are serious problems with policing in this country. Yes, police training – both initial and recurrent – is uniformly awful, which has led to one appalling incident after another. But the idea that our cities burned for two weeks straight because of any of that is bullshit. It was simply a pretext for a communist (and yes, I used that word, because that’s precisely who they are, whether they call themselves that or not) uprising for which the ground work was carefully planned long beforehand, the goal of which is to help evict Donald J. Trump from the White House by any means necessary.

And then there is the coronavirus pandemic. My position on the scientific facts surrounding the disease and the proper response to them hasn’t changed one bit. I am still a moderate on them. Yes, coronavirus is a serious matter. Yes, it was worth shutting down the economy for a few weeks until we had a better understanding of it as a health threat and could get a proper handle on the situation. Yes, therefore, I think that the Trump approach was a reasonable one. But it has also become obvious that the power-hungry and dishonest in the Establishment have been using it as a pretext to take actions that help them achieve their goals. It does so in multiple ways. One, of course, has been to turn the economy into a kamikaze plane aimed squarely at the deck of the USS Trump, hoping to sink any chance that he has to retain power after the upcoming election. But a more important goal is to get the people used to taking immoral, unconstitutional, and tyrannical orders from the government after it has declared some manner of “emergency” (and you can count on the fact that once they are in power, they will ensure that a perpetual state of emergency exists so that your obedience will always be required). Everyone who has been following recent events has undoubtedly seen stories like this: gatherings of ten at a church are prohibited, and the police will be sent to break them up by force; meanwhile gatherings of 10,000 at a George Floyd protest are encouraged, and the police will even be instructed to allow the “peaceful protesters” to sack and burn their own station houses if that’s what they feel like doing. The reasons for this are obvious, and so is the conclusion to be drawn from them. It’s not that coronavirus is a hoax, that it’s “just the flu, bro”, or that it wasn’t worth taking seriously – it wasn’t any of those things. It’s not that we were wrong to take carefully-considered, appropriate steps to keep it from becoming a disastrous health crisis – we weren’t. It’s that coronavirus is bullshit.

From all of this, we can take a look at the bigger picture: “The Experts”, with all of their credentials worn prominently on their sleeves, are incessantly paraded in front of you in order to deliver condescending lectures on “the facts”, and especially on how “the science is settled”. And maybe it is. Maybe everything that they are telling you is absolutely, unquestionably, beyond any shadow of doubt, factually correct. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t bullshit.

Make sure you know (and can articulate) the difference.