About antidem

Not a member of the Cult of Democracy

On Hiatus

I wanted to write a little something to let my dear readers know that this website will be on hiatus until early next year. After 23 years in California, I’ve decided to leave the state (for obvious reasons) by the end of December. The move will take up all of my free time until I’m settled in my new location, which should be sometime in January. Please accept my apologies for this interruption, and my assurance that I haven’t left you for good, I’m only going to be away for a little while. Until then, please feel free to read some old favorites from my back catalog.

Thank you all! I’ll see you next year!

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The Squirearchy: Prologue

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he lived happily ever after, y’all.

* * *

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

The Squirearchy: Introduction

The megacities are dead: nothing can, and nothing should, be done to save them. The entire incentive structure inherent to urban living pulls those living in them toward leftism and degeneracy, and there is fundamentally nothing that can be done about it. Yes, big cities are engines of culture, but the culture that does emanate from them is poison, has been for decades, and will continue to be in the future. Yes, big cities are engines of the economy, but have long ago caused our economy to have a vastly excessive emphasis on the finance sector, and this has thence degenerated into thinly-masked, “too big to fail” fraud on all sides, built on a foundation of usury that is both sinful and unsustainable. Further, it should go without saying that our cities, once gleaming, have descended into dystopian hellscapes of crime, poverty, pollution, dependency, degeneracy, atomization, alienation, and meaninglessness, which cannot be fixed and which all of the boutique bookstores and arthouse cinemas in the world simply can’t make up for. And, in fact, they don’t have to – the internet age has (perhaps ironically) created a new world in which almost all of the cultural and economic opportunities that once could be enjoyed only in the big city are available virtually anywhere. All of these truths should draw us toward the conclusion that the traditionalist right should abandon the cities entirely; meaning we should both reject the idea of mass urbanization as a good, and we should physically abandon them ourselves as well. In the short term, this means that each of us should move out of the cities for the countryside as soon as it is practical to do so. In the long term, it means accepting the idea that the Restoration must involve a recentering of society, from one centered around megacities to one centered around a “manor culture”, led in both a cultural and political sense by country squires who form a de facto or de jure aristocracy.

These are the core ideas around which I will base a series of essays that will be appearing here in the coming months. Like my Christania series, they may not be sequential – in other words, I may intersperse them among other pieces on other topics – and I am not at present sure precisely how many of them I may end up writing. I will, however, explore the topic as thoroughly as I can, including providing some theoretical models for the new society that I believe we should be moving toward creating in the long term. This will, in many ways, be personal for me, as my own plan in the next few years is to leave the cities and move to someplace rural, conservative, and non-diverse.

So then, please do keep checking back in this space, because the Squirearchy will, I promise, be coming soon, In the meantime, anyone who may wish to get a head start on this series should do so by reading this excellent recent essay by Ryan Landry, which touches on many of the ideas that I plan to present going forward.

Where We Are

At the time of this writing, Donald J. Trump has been President of the United States for half a year. Though I normally prefer to leave commenting on day to day political matters to others (of whom there are a great many, and who do what they do with great skill), it occurs to me that this is a worthwhile time to reflect on where we stand in the historical cycle, the role that Trump plays, and where we are likely going in the foreseeable future.

Much like the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s recent Batman films, I like to think of myself as being ahead of the curve. While I long ago gave up on representative democracy of any kind, I am left having to admit that most of the right has not yet gotten on my level. Most of them – even in that loose category of people who make up the “alt-right” – cling to what grownups told them when they were very small: a mythos about how only this one solitary form of government based on one solitary piece of paper could keep us out of literal chains and deliver us decent, sustainable laws. It’s no use saying that this is a fairy tale – of course it is, but fairy tales are designed to make people feel good by sweeping them out of reality and into a realm of fantasy where things are very much simpler and more to their liking than in the cruel, complex, boring real world.

Yet past a certain point, even the pull of a fairy tale won’t be sufficient to keep anyone but the most delusional from noticing just how bad and how unsustainable things have become. Our collective ability to whistle past democracy’s graveyard began to get very strained indeed during the Obama years. The omens of this were not embodied in anything as overt as throngs of citizens crowding the streets holding up signs calling for a restoration of monarchy, but they were still there for those able to see them. Consider: In 1994, a ban on “assault weapons” passed with minimal opposition or outcry, because at that time ownership of such weapons was uncommon – few people had them, wanted them, or were all that motivated to fight to keep them. Today, enactment of a new ban of this sort on a federal level (the original law expired in 2004) would be impossible. The spike in ownership of such weapons over the past thirteen years has been dramatic (and part of a larger, unprecedented increase in gun sales), with AR-15 pattern rifles practically flying off the shelves of gun shops. And while I am as great a supporter of civilian firearm ownership as can be found anywhere, pardon me if I can’t quite see panicked hoarding of military-style weaponry as the sign of a healthy republic that has the faith and trust of the people solidly behind it.

It is an undefined feeling of dread about the future that led millions of average Americans to make room in their bedroom closets for an AR-15 and a few hundred rounds of 5.56 ammo, and that is that same feeling which sent millions of them to the voting booths last November with the usually-unspoken, but undeniable feeling in their hearts that Donald Trump was the last, best hope of the republic. And they were right – that’s precisely what he was.

So six months into his time in office, what do we have? We have a presidency under siege from the actual centers of power (Call them what you like: the Establishment, the Globalists, the Cathedral, the Deep State – either way, they comprise the entrenched bureaucracy, the courts, the media, and big money interests) who thought that they had adequately made the point about elected leaders defying them back when they hounded Richard Nixon out of office. Whether they can actually remove Trump from office, or even defeat him in re-election, is a secondary concern; if they can merely bog him down in having to defend himself against their endless attacks such that he has no time or energy left to accomplish much of anything productive, they will have achieved their objectives. In this, they have the collusion of the Congress – both parties, in both houses. The members of this august body are, as a rule, easily spooked and easily bought off (either by one of the many forms of bribery that Congress has left technically legal for its members to enjoy, or in the form of positive media coverage and other intangibles). That this is not true of all of them is beside the point. It doesn’t need to be all of them, it just needs to be enough of them, which it reliably is.

Ask yourself a question: If this system, while under the complete control of the putative “right”, is unable even to repeal Obamacare – a deeply unpopular and plainly dysfunctional program that is quickly collapsing under its own weight and which the now-ruling party promised to repeal within its first week in power – in half a year of trying, what could possibly make you think it will ever be able to deal with the larger issues, both social and economic, that plague our society? What makes you think it will ever ban abortion, or repeal gay “marriage”, or arrest the slow banishment of the Christian faith from the public square, or effectively stop the immivasion that promises to soon make the founding stock of this nation a minority in its own lands, or bring any restraint whatsoever to the out-of-control welfare state, or get our nation out of the empire business, or end the Fed, or wrangle our astronomical national debt under control? And yes, maybe Congress will eventually get around to some weak-tea repeal of Obamacare and its replacement with a slightly less obnoxious and ramshackle state program. After all the compromises and backroom dealing that will have to go into getting the true centers of power to allow it to pass, can anyone believe that it will really do what we want it to – deliver us good healthcare at affordable prices?

All of this makes plain that democracy, if it ever worked at all (a highly questionable proposition), is obsolete in the modern age. The government set up in 1776 was intended to be a small-time farmers’ republic designed to deal with the problems of a sparse rural population that was almost universally made up of northern European Christians who needed (and wanted) only minimal governance and were deeply uninterested in world-saving. As the nation became more populous, more urban, more industrialized, more globalized, more diverse, less cohesive, and less religious, the republic attempted to deal with the problems of a society that had gradually come to look nothing like the society it was designed to govern by becoming an ever-bigger government. This didn’t actually make it any better at its fundamental task of solving society’s problems; on the contrary, it simply made the government ever more bloated, expensive, and intrusive in the lives of its citizens. That this government is now utterly incapable of effectively dealing with the problems we face is not merely my opinion – it is the reality in front of us.

As someone who has “been around the block a few times” in terms of watching democratic politics, I knew from the start that the hopes pinned on Trump were overblown. Even in the best of circumstances, presidents normally accomplish maybe a third of what they start out promising to do. This springs from two causes: first that there are many things they promise to do that they have no real intention of ever doing in the first place, and second from systemic resistance to their agendas. In Trump’s case, I suspect there is remarkably little of the first at play, but this will be made up for by an extraordinary amount of the second. In the end, he will be quite lucky indeed to get anything like the customary one-third of his stated goals accomplished, and it will probably be much less. This will not be enough to save the republic. If anybody could have done it, it would have been Donald Trump, but the reality that is making itself obvious right before our eyes is that nobody can do it. The people already cry “Drain the swamp!” and demand that someone with the power do something to get the Deep State under control, which can’t practically be done by the means available to Trump, especially within a mere eight years. And it won’t be long before people start also to compare what Trump has been able to accomplish when he hasn’t had to rely on Congress (a lot) with what he’s been able to accomplish when he has had to rely on Congress (not a lot), and begin to wonder whether Congress is more trouble than it’s worth. This bodes well for those of us who favor non-democratic forms of government*.

There are many who would fall prey to the temptation to look at a single dramatic event – say, Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon or the Battle of Actium – as the moment when the Roman republic died, but in fact its death was a long process that took something like a century to fully unfold. First there were the Gracchus brothers, who tried to reform the system peacefully (and who were murdered by it for their trouble). Then there was Sulla, who came to Rome with an army and who tried to reform it and restore it to its former glory at swordpoint (the Roman version of the Deep State undid all his reforms as soon as he died). Then there was Julius Caesar, who came with another army, instituted reforms, and tried to avoid having them meet the fate of Sulla’s reforms by draining the swamp even deeper (the swamp drained his blood onto the Senate floor instead). Finally there was Augustus, who sealed the inevitability of Plato’s cycle by killing anyone who stood in his way. And yet, once he had power, he rebuilt the city (he was fond of bragging he had found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble), patronized a remarkable flowering of the arts, filled the public coffers with money, and expanded an empire that would last another four centuries (or another fifteen, if you count Byzantium).

On the grand Spenglerian curve of civilizations, Trump is not our analogue for Augustus (all of the interenet’s talk of “the God-Emperor” aside). He is not our Julius Caesar. He is unlikely to be our Sulla. But (whether or not he ends up being physically assassinated), he just might be our Gracchae – the first of a series of populist reformers who take on a powerful and entrenched system, with both sides using increasing levels of force, until finally that system topples, keeping Plato’s perfect record of being right on these matters intact. This toppling of the system may come in the form of a single authoritarian figure taking power in Washington, or in the breakup of the republic into smaller entities that will have mixed fates (some will find good authoritarian leaders and survive; others will collapse), but either way, inevitability is catching up to the current system.

It is worth here noting that the Spenglerian curve that the West is on has always run more quickly than that which the Greco-Roman civilization traveled, meaning that what took a hundred years to happen for them may take a considerably shorter time for us. So if you haven’t bought one of those AR-15s already, now might be a good time. I don’t know when you might need it, but I now believe that day will come a lot sooner than I believed it would back in 1994.

 

(*It is not entirely unexpected that Dunning-Kruger cases like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would have completely misunderstood what Plato was trying to warn them about. They believed that Plato was warning them that democracies always give way to authoritarianism, and thus built strong defenses against authoritarianism into the design for their democracy. But what Plato was really trying to tell them was that democracy inevitably devolves into such horrendous moral, social, and economic chaos that decent, smart, educated people will, with full deliberate intent, beg an authoritarian leader to take power and restore order, even if it does impinge on their liberties to some degree. The fear that these pseudointellectuals really did design a system that will make it impossible for a Caesar to come and save us is what keeps me awake at night.)

Means And Ends

Whenever you are confronted by someone who wishes to explain their beliefs to you – their philosophical system, the type of government they favor, their preferred social arrangements, and so on – there are a few questions that are always of tremendous value to ask: “Is what you propose an end, or is it a means? If it is a means, then what end is it a means to? If it is an end, what are its inherent benefits in and of itself, apart from those of any other end?” This will almost certainly throw anyone you ask off their guard, because most people pay precious little attention to these big-picture questions. They become so focused on the details of their favored system that they lose sight of them; and yet they are critical and must be answered if we are to avoid grave, even civilization-threatening mistakes.

This is especially important when we consider that Whigism – which is the root of modern democracy – suffers from a persistent inability to distinguish between means and ends. One may see evidence of this in many of its failures. For example, its confusion over whether technology, hard work, and money represent a means or an end (it all too consistently operates as if they are the latter rather than the former), has resulted in much of the aesthetic, cultural, and spiritual ugliness of Modernity. It has meant that modernity never came up with a solid idea of the Good Life, as ancients such as Cicero did (the “American Dream” is far too vague, and doesn’t sufficiently clear up the means vs. ends confusion, to be truly useful as one). It has led to a society full of ambition with no goal – of people who, as a great modern novel put it, live lives of “working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”. We have wrecked our families, let our children be raised by strangers or by the television set (if we have any at all), destroyed femininity in all its comfort and glory, become atomized and deracinated to the point that we hardly know our neighbors, work soul-crushing jobs as cogs in gigantic corporate machines, and, worst of all, are miserable – is this an end that anyone could desire? Could this be any sane person’s definition of the Good Life? Certainly not. Why has it happened, then? Because we have gotten so lost in the pursuit of something that we have forgotten what we were pursuing in the first place.

Thus, if someone wanted to convince me to support a system that they claimed was a means, they would then have to convince me that it would reliably produce the promised ends. And if they wanted to convince me to support a certain end, they would then have to convince me that this end had inherent benefits. (Within the concept of “benefit”, as used here, we must also include the lack of disastrous, and presumably unintended and unforecasted, ill effects.) Whoever wished to do either (or both) of these things would have to present evidence that squared with the reality that I observe in the world; any evidence that visibly does not match observable reality must be dismissed as false. That is because reality – not our hopes, plans, wishes, dreams, or pet theories – is final.

Let us start by considering a test case: the issue of ethnic diversity. Is it a means, or is it an end? If it is a means, what are the ends, and do our observations of the world around us indicate that it is actually producing those ends? If it is an end, then what are its inherent benefits, and do our observations of the world around us indicate that those benefits are actually accruing? Does what we observe in reality around us square with what we were promised by those who supported increased diversity, without any appreciable amount of unintended bad consequences?

My own observation of reality tells me this: I see no end to which increased diversity is acting as an effective means except for increasing the power of leftist political parties who want the guaranteed votes provided by the importation of millions of dirt-poor immigrants, and the profits of businessmen who want the cheap labor of illegal scabs. Since I do not support these ends, I must reject diversity as a means to anything beneficial. As for diversity as an end with inherent benefits, I say this: If diversity was working as advertised, with no serious bad side effects, then I would have no objection to it. But it visibly is not: the loss of social cohesion, the erosion of freedoms (such as freedom of association and even freedom of speech), the increased risk of crime and terrorism, the slide into socialism based on untenable debt brought about by the increased power of these leftist parties, the “slipping and sliding into Third Worldism” that the great Bob Grant so presciently warned us against – all of these and more present themselves to me in reality as disastrous effects of diversity that those who supported it did not describe as part of the bargain. Weighed against this are benefits – “enrichment” and “vibrancy” – the very unquantifiable vagueness of which testifies to their effective meaninglessness.

In short, as they say on eBay: “Item not as described”.

Now, let us apply this concept to another idea; one that is even more unquestioningly held to in the modern world: democracy. The first problem we face here is that questioning democracy* pretty much automatically makes one a heretic everywhere in the Modern world. Mencius Moldbug described the situation a few years ago:

[D]isbelieving in democracy in 2008 is a lot like disbelieving in God in 1758. For one thing, you disagree with basically everyone in your society. For another, your thoughts undermine the theory of legitimacy on which your government is founded. For a third, acknowledging your beliefs, let alone evangelizing them, is not exactly an effective way to make friends or influence people. And for a fourth, your original reason for believing in it was that when you were very small, grownups told you that it existed and was good.

Americans especially are fanatically – often hysterically – attached to democracy, entirely for sentimental reasons. We were all told by grownups when we were very small – and still are told today – that America is a “proposition nation”, and that the proposition involved is democracy. I have even heard it said that “our culture is the Constitution”, as if a 20-page guide for setting up a caretaker government is a substitute for a fully-developed native culture built and refined over centuries or millennia**. And Americans get very upset indeed if you question these beliefs. Here, for example, is a quote from usually-rational author John C. Wright, taken from a debate in which he participated:

[Y]ou say inferiority to a monarch is not the same as inferiority to me, John Wright. The answer already given there is that I am a member of the sovereign ruling in America, hence the same rank as a king.

This is simply delusional. Here is a question for Mr. Wright: How do you recognize the sovereign when you see him? The answer is that the sovereign is the guy who’s getting his way on issues of policy. When the sovereign (and here I mean the real sovereign; not some figurehead who may ceremonially hold that title) makes his will known, that is the law. I know that Mr. Wright styles himself a conservative. Has the history of the past couple of centuries been a tale of conservatives like Mr. Wright getting their way on matters of policy? Or, a few bumps in the road aside, has it been a story of them suffering loss after loss to the point that, as his friend Vox Day has pointed out, conservatives have failed even to keep men in dresses out of the ladies’ room? Mr. Wright seems to have a great deal of his self-image tied up in the idea that he is sovereign, or at least a significant member of the “sovereign ruling in America”. But if this is the case, then why has his rule been so ineffective in yielding him the results he wants (and that I, as a traditionalist, want as well)?

Mr. Wright, allow me to quote that most reactionary of recent films and ask: Do you feel in charge?

The difference between myself and Mr. Wright is that I have not one ounce of sentimentality in me towards government – not the one I live under, or any other. This allows me a bit of realism that eludes both Mr. Wright and (in fairness to him) most Americans. Allow me to explain the reality of the situation: There are approximately 220,000,000 eligible voters in the United States (the rest of the population being children, felons, or nonvoting aliens). Mr. Wright is one of them, and thinks of himself as a sovereign – equivalent to a king who has 1/1 of the decision-making power in a monarchical society – because his sentimentality has allowed him to believe in the obvious delusion that a 1/1 share and a 1/220,000,000 share in something are exactly the same.

Think of it this way – I’m not sure how many shares of Apple stock are currently in circulation, but for the sake of argument, let’s say there were 220,000,000. Let’s further say that I bought one of them. If I then attempted to use it as a justification to stop by a meeting of the Board of Directors and start instructing Tim Cook on how to build iPhones, how do you think that would go? The answer is that it would go about as well as if you went to Washington and started insisting that the government has to listen to you because you are “a member of the sovereign ruling in America”. Here’s the harsh truth: the government is just another corporation – in fact, it is the biggest corporation of all. It just happens to be one in which you are issued a single share of voting stock when you turn 18. And, unlike any other corporation, you will never have the chance to acquire any more voting shares than that. So face facts: You are not the sovereign; not even a little bit. Believing that you are will not help you get your way on policy issues; in fact, it is a fantasy that’s used to keep you quiescent while the government runs roughshod over you.

Here we return to critically important point: that if everything is X, then nothing is X. If everybody is a king, then nobody is the king. And who ends up in charge then? Those who always end up in charge when there’s a weak king – the schemers behind the throne, hidden in the shadows. Money men, slick talkers, flatterers, liars, clever sophists skilled in manipulating the crowd, and snake-oil salesmen with a heart-tugging story to tell and a tinhorn utopia to peddle.

This is all the long way of saying: Hey rube, stop being sentimental about government. Stop believing in the inherent goodness of a system that commits incessant wickedness just because when you were very small, grownups told you that it was good. Then take the big step by asking yourselves: What actually is good? Presuming you are the sort of impeccably moral sort who wants what is good (and how could any of my readers be otherwise?), we may them move on to this question: What would our society look like if you did get your way on issues of policy? Pretty much as they do now, or would there be a whole lot that was different? Finally – and most importantly – we reach this: Why should you not support whatever system is likely to deliver the ends you want? Why should you not prefer the good to the bad, and wish to see what is good done instead of what is bad? Is this not both more logical and more moral than a sentimental attachment to a system that consistently delivers foolishness, wickedness, and unsustainability?

Here I will doubtless hear the old saw that “the ends do not justify the means”, which is the sort of idea that spreads when slogans take the place of rationality in public discourse. If this were true, we would never do anything that was a means to an end, which means that we would do virtually nothing that we ever do our lives. My earlier condemnation of the rat race of consumerist capitalism aside, I must eat, and so I have a job. Do you? Unless you are working for the sheer joy of it, then your job is a means, the ends of which is paying your bills. Do you drive a car? Unless you are doing so for recreation, then it is a means, the ends of which involve getting where you want to go. A much truer statement would be that the ends don’t always justify the means: that there are some cases in which there are some means that are not justified by the ends they involve. Robbing banks will pay your bills just as a job will, and hijacking an airplane will get you where you want to go, but there are specific moral reasons why these ends justify some means but not others. So yes, in fact, except for a few edge cases, the ends we pursue generally do justify the means we use to achieve them.

And it is here that we circle back to the question we started with: Is our current form of government a means, or is it an end? What sense would it being an end make? How would it be rational to have a certain form of government just for the sake of having that sort of government? Other than for reasons of sentimentality, it makes none; we must dismiss this as an acceptable conclusion for rational and moral people to come to. So then, we must see it as a means. But then, what is so great about it as a means that it justifies the awful ends – i.e. the actual results – that we can observe ourselves?

I too had been told by grownups since I was very small that democracy was good; but it was when I could not figure out any answers that squared with what the grownups had told me to these questions that I began to turn against democracy. I became unsentimental about government, and came to the conclusion that I value ends above means and product above process. And unlike Moldbug, my conversion to Christianity only strengthened and confirmed these beliefs. The Gospel of Matthew teaches us that our Savior said: “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them”. So what are you going to believe: a set of political theories concocted by men two hundred years in the grave who never got to see the real-world results of what they were proposing, or your own lying eyes? In the end, people like Mr. Wright talk themselves into the idea that democracy produces good results for the same reason that someone who bought an Edsel would try to talk himself into the belief that he bought a top-of-the-line car: It hurts our pride to believe that we’ve been suckered into buying a lemon.

There are those who would say in the wake of the rightward shift seen in elections worldwide during 2016 that “the pendulum has swung back right”, and there is no reason to worry. This misses the point entirely. I don’t want “the pendulum”. I don’t want wild and unpredictable swings between having rulers who will give me tolerable laws and those who will give me intolerable laws. I want decent, sustainable laws, and I want them consistently and predictably. I will support whatever form of government provides that to me. Of course I do not expect absolute perfection from any system derived by man; that has nothing to do with the realities of this world. The operative question is: what system delivers the results that I consider best the greatest amount of the time? What led me to “throne and altar” monarchy is the fact that on balance I think it provides the best chance of actually getting the laws I want. But again, I am unsentimental even about this. If mass democracy or a classical liberal republic delivered consistently good results, then I would support it. And if any particular king turned out to be a new King Manasseh or Ivan the Terrible, then I would be first in line to drag His Majesty kicking and screaming from his palace, end his reign with an axe, and find someone who would do a better job.

Treason? Don’t be naive. Again, the government is just another corporation with a job to do; if it does it acceptably, then all is well; if it does not, then it is expendable. Why should it be otherwise? Get this through your heads, citizens: You are subjects, and not, as Mr. Wright believes, sovereign rulers. As such, your interest is in product, not process. Of what use is salt that has lost its flavor? It is good for nothing, except to be thrown out and trampled under the feet of men. And if that is true of salt and apostles, how much more so of kings and presidents and senators and caesars?

So what is the actual end that I want? I want good to win and evil to lose. It’s as simple as that. Everything else is a means to that end, and anything else is insanity.

I have often said that the road to reaction begins with conceding some points to the left. If what I have said seems extremist, please understand that I am merely conceding that the left’s view of political power is practical and realistic (which does much to explain their triumphs over the pst 250 or so years). When I say that the left has no principles, only ideology, that is only an observation, not a criticism. They are putting the product they want above any process, which not only do I not find contemptible, but is utterly rational. It is the way of non-cucks.

As John Glanton explains:

You have to admire the Left for its clarity of vision. It has identified its enemies, and it does what it can to drive them from the field. The recent fireworks in Indiana are a perfect illustration. Team blue knows that Christians are hateful homophobes, and so it goes to bat for the right of homosexuals to sue them over wedding cakes. The Right, with its characteristic acumen, mistakes this bushwhack for a principled stand. “Ah!” they say, “But if you support the right of a gay man to force a Christian to make a cake then you must support the right of the KKK to force a black baker to make a cake!” The average liberal couldn’t imagine a more irrelevant rejoinder. They aren’t making any such proposition at all. In their calculus, Christians (of the Not-fans-of-Pope-Francis type at least) are the bad guys and thus their interests are hateful and invalid and must be opposed. The KKK are bad guys and thus their actions are hateful and invalid and must be opposed. You attack bad guys. You don’t attack good guys. Whence the confusion?

I am proposing that we on the right should have the same clarity of vision, and stop allowing sentimentality or philosophical confusion to get in our way. Let us focus on ends, not means – whether those means are abstract universalist principles, particular forms of government, or old pieces of paper***. Let us say: Victory for good and defeat for evil – at any cost and by whatever means necessary – that is what we want. It is only once we do say this that the victory of good will become possible.

 

(*Let us here dispense with the rather silly notion that the difference between a republic and a democracy is vast enough to have any real effect on this discussion. If nothing else, limited republics don’t stay that way; inevitably, some demagogue comes along and offers to expand citizenship and/or the franchise to new groups of people in exchange for a tacit understanding that this group will support them or their party. This will continue until the limited republic has morphed into a mass democracy. In Rome, the process started with the Gracchus Brothers; in America, it started when the property qualification for voting was abolished. It never ends well.)

(**Is it unpatriotic for me to say these things about the republic, the founding fathers, and the Constitution? I ask you then: What is patriotism? Is it attachment to a people, a history, a culture, and a set of traditions, or is it attachment to a government? If the former, then it is not contemptible; if the latter, then it is foolish and servile. It is faith, blood, and soil that defines a people; a particular form of government should never define them. Although we have forgotten this as a “proposition nation”, that view has been the near-universal norm throughout history – and certainly before American ideas went universal. Don’t forget that in Leipzig during the 20th century, the government went from monarchy to republic to fascism to communism and back to a republic – but the people there never stopped being German, nor, presumably, being patriotically so. It is only very recently, with the push to displace the German people from their lands and replace them with other peoples, that German identity has faced any real threat.)

(***You cannot – can you? – be so naive as to believe that the Constitution, i.e. the EULA that supposedly regulates our civic life, really protects you. Like all EULAs, it protects its creators (i.e., the government), not its end users. In terms of preserving your natural rights, the Constitution has been a dead letter since 1803, when the Supreme Court arrogated to itself the unlimited power to “interpret” this document, which of course is functionally identical to unlimited power to rewrite it. Thus, functionally speaking, we do not have a Constitution at all, but are ruled by the biases, opinions, and agendas of nine government lawyers in Hogwarts costumes. The left harbors no illusions about this, and we are perpetually a Supreme Court appointment or two away from the First and Second Amendments sharing the fate of the Ninth and Tenth.)

The Christmas Bullet

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with airplanes, or really, with any man-made flying machine. Planes, helos, zeppelins, gyrocopters, what have you – I would, in those pre-internet days, spend hours reading books full of facts and figures and pictures and stories about them (that is, when I wasn’t busy building plastic models of them or watching reruns of Airwolf, Baa Baa Black Sheep, or Tales of the Gold Monkey). A few of the more colorful and interesting accounts of the early days of aviation have stuck with me through the years, and it has occurred to me that there is one in particular that may be of some relevance to my readers.

Toward the end of World War I, a charming but eccentric man by the name of Dr. William Wallace Whitney Christmas founded an aircraft manufacturing company in Washington, DC. This was perhaps a bit of an odd thing to expect him to do, as there exists no evidence that Dr. Christmas, who was a physician by training, had any background or practical experience in aeronautical engineering, or in fact in any kind of engineering at all. He claimed to have built airplanes before that point, but no record has ever been found to support this other than his own word. Despite his complete apparent lack of qualifications in the field he was entering, he nevertheless managed to find a pair of wealthy brothers – Alfred and Henry McCorry – who he was able to talk into providing him with financial backing while he worked on his projects. Since he did not actually own a factory at which airplanes could be built, he traveled to Long Island to visit the Continental Aircraft Company, where, trading both on his remarkable powers of persuasion and on the still-palpable war fever in which the nation had been gripped, he was able to convince its corporate leadership that his newest design, which he had named the “Bullet”, would be the key to the success of a daring plan he had developed to bring an end to the war by secretly landing an airplane behind German lines, kidnapping Kaiser Wilhelm II, flying him to Britain, and forcing him to sign a surrender. Having secured Continental Aircraft’s agreement to build his airplane for him, Dr. Christmas next needed an aeronautical engine, which in those days (and especially with all available production going toward the war effort) were both expensive and not easy to come by. Undaunted by this, Dr. Christmas visited Army headquarters in Washington, on a mission to get them to loan him an example of the most powerful engine they had. Here once again a combination of his personal charm and wartime desperation worked to his advantage, and he was able to talk his way into possession of an experimental Liberty VI engine, which developed a then-incredible 215 horsepower. To the Army’s credit, they were sufficiently skeptical of the entire matter that the loan came with the proviso that their engine was to be used only for ground testing of the prototype Bullet; he was not to take it into the air until the Army had gotten a chance to inspect and do a full evaluation on the new aircraft. Eager to get his hands on a Liberty VI, Dr. Christmas agreed.

As for the actual design of the Bullet, what Dr. Christmas called “innovative”, others would call “ludicrous”. He claimed that its weird-looking, flattened-egg-shaped fuselage – made of veneered wood – was  going to provide unprecedented reductions in aerodynamic drag, and that its flimsy wings, which he said that he had deliberately designed to flex and bend, were more than strong enough to support its weight. In an article about the Bullet in the British Flight magazine (which still publishes today, as Flight Global), Dr. Christmas even went so far as to declare that the Bullet had “a safety factor of seven throughout”, despite the magazine’s observation that “it would seem that such construction would result in a low factor of safety”. The editors of Flight were not, however, the only people who knew a lot about airplanes and who began to voice serious misgivings about the Bullet. When Dr. Christmas finally submitted his blueprints to Continental Aircraft, the company’s in-house head of engineering (Vincent Burnelli – who would go on to make some genuine innovations in the area of “flying wing” type aircraft, of which the modern B-2 bomber is perhaps the most famous example) came up with a long list of changes that needed to be made before the Bullet would be airworthy. Not least among Burnelli’s concerns was Dr. Christmas’s insistence that the Bullet be made out of cheap scrap wood and metal, which the Doctor claimed would minimize both the cost of building it and the strain that its construction would place on supplies of critically-needed resources during wartime. Once again, Dr. Christmas was able to convince others that his plans were sound; Continental’s management sided with him over Burnelli’s objections, and the Bullet was constructed exactly the way that Dr. Christmas wanted.

And then, suddenly, the war ended.

While the rest of the world celebrated, Dr. Christmas found himself with serious reason to worry. The end of the Great War meant that generous wartime contracts for new weapons would quickly evaporate, along with the willingness of the Army, industry, and investors to try just about anything, no matter how strange it might seem, as long as there was the slightest chance that it might contribute to victory. At this point, the first prototype had been finished and a second, for which an engine had not yet been found, was under construction. Dr. Christmas knew that he had finally had to show what the Bullet could do, and show it fast, before both the interest and the money that his supporters had been giving to him began to dry up. Of course, Dr. Christmas had never actually flown an airplane himself, so personally test-flying his airplane was out of the question. Fortunately for him, thousands of freshly-demobilized Army aviators were coming home from the war. The airline industry was not yet even in its infancy, and jobs flying the mail were scarce, so many of them found themselves unemployed and without any prospects of flying for a living. Dr. Christmas put out an offer of generous pay for any who would become a test pilot for his new airplane. Man after man turned up, took one look at the Bullet, spun around on their heels, and left, declaring that no amount of money was worth their lives. Finally, Dr. Christmas found one pilot – one Cuthbert Mills – who was either brave or desperate enough to try.

And so one cold day in January of 1919, the first Christmas Bullet took to the sky from the Continental Aircraft factory’s airfield. It climbed a few hundred feet in the air, at which point Dr. Christmas’s innovative thin and flexible wings broke off. What was left of the Bullet plunged to the ground, killing Cuthbert Mills instantly.

Vincent Burnelli was livid. Continental Aircraft was deeply embarrassed. The Army, which Dr. Christmas neglected to tell about the crash and the destruction of their expensive loaner engine, was beginning to get impatient. Dr. Christmas, however, was undaunted. Next time, he promised, would be a complete success – all he needed to do was make a few minor adjustments to what was an essentially flawless design. He turned on the charm again. Somehow, he managed to convince Continental Aircraft to finish the second prototype. Somehow, he managed to scrounge up an engine for it (this time, a much less powerful Hall-Scott model L-6). Somehow, he managed to find someone – this time, an Army pilot named Lt. Allington Jolly – to fly it. Somehow, he managed to talk his way into having the second Bullet displayed at Madison Square Garden as a way to gain publicity and public support. The display claimed that the Bullet had been demonstrated to achieve speeds of nearly 200 miles per hour – the fact that it had done so going straight down after its wings had fallen off was a detail that Dr. Christmas felt it unnecessary to mention to the gathered crowds.

And so one warm day in April of 1919, the second Christmas Bullet took to the sky. It climbed a few hundred feet in the air, at which point its wings broke off, and it plunged to the ground, killing Allington Jolly instantly.

Continental Aircraft walked away. The McCorry brothers walked away. The Army, which had thousands of now-unneeded surplus airplanes on its hands and no war to fight, and which probably wouldn’t have put any more money into the Bullet even if it had turned out to be everything that Dr. Christmas had promised, walked away without even bothering to sue Dr. Christmas for the lost engine. The world moved on; only two minor pieces of the story remained.

One of them was the grieving families of Cuthbert Mills and Allington Jolly. The other was Dr. William Wallace Whitney Christmas.

Dr. Christmas never stopped telling anyone who would listen that the Bullet was just one minor alteration away from being a historic, world-changing success. When, in 1930, Flight published an article giving a full account of the affair, Dr. Christmas had his lawyer send an angry letter denouncing them, calling their report “false and scurrilous”, stating that the Bullet had been a tremendous achievement and that it had only crashed due to careless flying on the part of Cuthbert Mills (the letter made no mention at all of Allington Jolly or the second Bullet), claiming that mountains of evidence (none of which he actually bothered to provide) attested to all of this, and vaguely but unmistakably threatening legal action if any further “injurious and libellous” articles about the Bullet appeared in their pages. In fact, to his dying day, Dr. Christmas continued to insist that he had hundreds of patents to his name (of which no record exists or ever has existed), that he had designed dozens of successful airplanes (the Bullet is the only one that there is any real evidence for), and that he was on the brink of revolutionizing aviation. A New York Times article from 1950 records the 85-year-old Dr. Christmas still darkening the doorstep of the military, this time trying to sell the newly-created U.S. Air Force on his design for a massive “flying battleship” (the Pentagon, in an unusual bout of sanity, passed on the idea).

Dr. Christmas died in the spring of 1960, at the ripe old age of 94, forty-one years after he had killed Cuthbert Mills and Allington Jolly and well into a jet age that had materialized despite him rather than because of him.

And thus ended the story of the Christmas Bullet.

*  *  *

So why am I telling you this?

Machines are made by humans, and thus the machines that we create are, whether we intend them to be or not, an extension of our own heart and soul. They come from us; they are creations of our minds, and therefore their stories are our stories. And while many of their stories have no great meaning, some of them become parables that teach us about ourselves and how our minds work. The most famous of these is, of course, the Titanic, which serves as a warning against the dangers of hubris in the face of nature. Was it really unsinkable, as all the smart men of its day – all the engineers and shipbuilders and sea-captains – said it was? No, and none of us have to be engineers or shipbuilders or sea-captains to be able to say that with authority. All we need to know is that it actually sank; the wonderfully complex and informed reasons that the wise, educated, experienced, and smart offered as to why it could not sink came to nothing as soon as it did. History is reality, and reality is final – as the saying goes, “let reason remain silent when experience gainsays its conclusions”.

The Christmas Bullet, too, serves as one of these parables, and it has its own lessons to teach us about modernity in general and Marxism in particular. Certainly, the parallels to the latter are exceptionally strong. Like Dr. Christmas, Karl Marx was a crank who had no qualifications whatsoever in the field into which he inserted his ideas. Like Dr. Christmas, Karl Marx simply sidestepped this rather obvious criticism by claiming to be self-taught, even though the discipline involved takes years of study and practical experience (none of which either of them had a lick of) for men to to master (and, as the example of the Titanic proves, even then they are often wrong). Despite this, both men claimed to have hit on a scientifically incontrovertible answer to a difficult problem that the best and most qualified men of their time had all somehow overlooked. Like Dr. Christmas, Karl Marx told desperate people something they intensely wanted to believe – Marx that the terrible poverty of the early industrial age would inevitably give way to a workers’ paradise, and Dr. Christmas that the horrendous carnage of the Great War could be brought to a swift and easy end by a deus ex machina secret weapon. Like Dr. Christmas, Karl Marx’s invention crashed and burned every time it was tested in the real world, leaving an awful trail of death and destruction behind it. Like Dr. Christmas, Karl Marx’s defenders insist that if those ideas had not been interfered with by lesser men full of jealousy or malice, or if those who tried putting them into practice had not been incompetent, or if just a few more minor adjustments had been made, things would have gone exactly as they promised. But like Dr. Christmas, Karl Marx’s errors were not mere matters of detail; the whole concept behind their ideas was fundamentally flawed – their plans were ridiculous on their face, and any precocious schoolchild who wasn’t blinded by desperately wanting to believe in them could identify all of their glaringly obvious shortcomings.

There are two important differences, however. One is that the Christmas Bullet only killed two innocent people, while Marxism killed a hundred million of them (although there is no doubt in my mind* that Dr. Christmas would have, without a second thought, sacrificed that many, and more, to the cause of proving his ridiculous theories correct if only he had the chance to). The other is that precisely nobody in the field of aeronautical engineering still defends Dr. Christmas, whereas academia, media, and the arts are full of defenders of Marx’s ideas, and they never run out of reasons why history is not in fact reality and reality is not in fact final.

These reasons, of course, are ridiculous, as I can show by using the parable of the Christmas Bullet. Using the logic of these sophists, I can prove to you without a doubt that Dr. Christmas’s airplane never crashed. Let us start by offering a definition of an “airplane” that I believe we can all agree upon: An airplane is a device with wings that flies in the sky. Fair enough? Well then, as soon as the wings fell off of the Christmas Bullet and it ceased flying and started plummeting, it wasn’t an airplane anymore, because airplanes are things that have wings and fly in the sky. Thus, we cannot say that the crashes of the Christmas Bullet represent a failure of Dr. Christmas’s airplane, because at the moment it crashed, it wasn’t really an airplane anymore.

Ridiculous? Obviously so. But this same argument is used by the defenders of Marx. According to them, when Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot began to murder and oppress their people, then what they were doing became not-communism, because communism is defined as a thing that liberates instead of murdering and oppressing. Thus, we cannot say that what they did represents a failure of communism, because as soon as they did it, it wasn’t real communism anymore.

Dead-ender Marxists will also insist that, with just a few more adjustments, communism could be made to work. (A good example of this is the Venus Project, whose adherents serve up a warmed-over communism that they insist will work this time because computers). They will challenge you: prove that it could never work! And, to be fair, I cannot. But I also cannot prove that no way could ever have been found to make the Christmas Bullet work. I do know this much, however: There sure as hell isn’t any way that someone could ever talk me into getting into that thing and flying it. What about you?

Those who deny the validity of historical experience as a tool of epistemology and who insist that it does nothing to falsify their favorite theories ignore a truth that every adult should have a strong grasp of: Any crank, con man, or snake-oil salesman can make big promises – but it doesn’t matter what someone can promise, the only thing that matters is what they actually deliver.

(*Or perhaps I am being unfair to Dr. Christmas and he didn’t mean to kill anybody with his bizarre and unworkable theories (although I will note that unlike Howard Hughes, who flew, and sometimes crashed, his own designs, the good Doctor never did get in the Bullet and fly it himself). And perhaps neither did Marx. So what? What does it matter? Does it make any difference to Cuthbert Mills or Allington Jolly, or to the millions of victims of communism, most of whose names you will never know?)

Meet The Beadles

Looking back on my recent account of the response to poverty found in the Kingdom of Christania, it occurs to me that I may have left the impression that the Charity Centers which I described represent that land’s first line of response to certain social ills. This is, in fact, not the case, and in fairness to the people of that distant and obscure nation, I believe that it is necessary to introduce my readership to an institution in Christanian society which, while it is a part of our own distant heritage as well, has long been forgotten here by all but the most serious students of history and literature. This is the office of beadle; one which permeates Christanian civil society.

What exactly a beadle is and what role they fill is a bit difficult to explain to those not familiar with Christania, because not only have beadles played no role in western societies for at least a century, but the Christanian take on them is a unique one, a bit different from their old English counterparts. It might be best to describe them as something between a deacon, a mafia fixer, and a ward heeler in the days of Tammany Hall. Their office is sponsored, and given its authority, jointly by the church and the crown, but they are neither clergy nor police officers. The beadle may be a man or a woman, and is typically (though not always) a retired elder who, as the saying goes, has been “a pillar of their community” for many years. They will have deep roots in these communities, will understand how things work there, and will know everyone and everyone’s aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, parents, and friends. These connections, as much as their commission from church and state, are what grant them the resources to help those who have fallen into trouble. Their role is as advocate, as problem-solver, as advisor and counselor, as negotiator, as stern lecturer, as mother or father figure, as friend to those in need, and as shoulder to cry on for their communities. They are, in everyplace they serve, whether small towns or neighborhoods in large cities, someone who people can turn to when they need help with any of the innumerable problems of life. The church and the crown see beadles as good investments because their purpose is to deal with social problems before they reach a point at which more drastic steps may be necessary and other civil or religious institutions (such as Charity Centers or even the police) have to become involved, and to handle them as locally as possible, which is in keeping with the Christanian view that most problems are best handled by local institutions rather than by large bureaucracies in a distant capital city.

Indeed, dealing with problems in their communities – of every conceivable sort – are what beadles do incessantly. They are who you go to if you’ve lost a job and are running out of money; they will know every business owner in the community, and (so long as you are not a drunk, a layabout, or an embezzler, for they have responsibilities to those businessmen as well), will make sure it isn’t long at all before you get an offer of work. They are who you go to if your teenage son or daughter did something stupid and got themselves arrested; they will know every cop, every prosecutor, and every judge, and a word from them along the lines of “He’s a good kid, he just made a mistake” can turn what would have been a year in prison into a few months of probation and some community service (though it can also do the opposite; the beadles know who the real troublemakers in their communities are, and are not hesitant to see them dealt with). They are who you go to if you’ve gotten behind on your car payments and the bank is threatening repossession. They are who you go to if you suspect, but have no proof that the police could act on, that your neighbor is beating his wife. They are who two parties, whether individuals or businesses, turn to when they have a dispute so that it can be arbitrated and a compromise reached without having to resort to lawsuits. They are who a wife turns to in desperation about her husband’s drinking problem. They are who a single father (rare, but not unknown in Christania) turns to if he doesn’t know what to say to his adolescent daughter about getting her first period. They are who a bright 18-year-old talks to if they’ve just become an adult and have no idea what to do with their lives. They are there for these and a thousand other things, large and small, that may present themselves as problems in the lives of people in every community all across Christania.

This is not to say that the beadles always tell people what they want to hear. The first responsibility of a beadle is to their community as a whole, not to any particular individual in it. This, for example, is why those individuals who the beadle knows are, due to some personal failing, not capable of being a worthwhile employee will not be found a job, but will either be placed with some relatives to deal with or simply shipped off to a Charity Center. In addition, those whose antisocial actions, or those of their children, have (and here we are not speaking of the likes of reclusiveness or eccentricity, but of people who are making public nuisances of themselves) become a blight on their community can expect a knock on the door from their local beadle, and the “friendly advice” they offer is best taken by those who would not like the next knock on their door to come from a policeman. Here, it should be emphasized that although beadles are not police officers themselves, they have wide latitude and discretion when it comes to when they believe that the police should become involved in a problem in their community. Due to the nature of their work, beadles encounter violations of the law constantly, which range from minor to extremely serious. Of course, beadles are sworn to act in accordance with Christian morals and His Majesty’s laws, and of course, any major examples of lawbreaking are reported to law enforcement immediately. However, when it comes to minor infractions, beadles are expected to make judgments about what can have a blind eye turned to it, what can be handled with an apology and some restitution, and what calls for the law to get involved. A good example is found in the default attitude of beadles (and Christanians in general) to homosexuality; it is technically illegal in the Kingdom, but that is mostly a hedge against politicized homosexuals attempting to bring down the faith of the polis and upend the laws and traditions of the nation in order to suit their own purposes. Beadles are selected for the job because they know their communities and are no fools; thus they know full well whether someone in that community is a homosexual. However, it is unspoken, yet ironclad policy among beadles that as long as homosexuals use discretion and go quietly about their business, the beadles will use their own discretion to see to it that they are left alone. Should they be discovered through misfortune, any beadle will generally ensure that the matter is swept under the carpet or settled with some nominal punishment like a small fine. It is only if they become disruptive to their communities that a beadle would ever consider invoking the law in defense of their culture.

Here too, it must be emphasized that just as beadles are not police officers, neither are they Inquisitors. While Christian morality should and must infuse everything they do, it is not their job to go on moral crusades aimed at the eradication of vice. Moreover, Christanians are people who don’t suffer gossips or busybodies easily, so a great deal of effort is put into ensuring that beadles become neither of these things. With the exception of reporting activity that is criminal, disruptive to society, or endangers public safety, beadles are expected to not ever go where they have not been invited, do what they have not been asked to do, or discuss what they have seen or heard with any outside party without the permission of those involved. This means that being a beadle requires a mix of discretion and judgment; a sense of Christian justice tempered by Christian mercy, along with a healthy dose of realism about the ways of the world and about human nature. All of this is necessary if beadles are to continue to fulfill their intended purpose in Christanian society. The Christanians are keenly aware that beadle is the sort of post that could, in the wrong hands, become a swamp of abuse and corruption, turning the beadles themselves from beloved advocates and helpers of the people into a group of informants and enforcers to be feared and avoided. This has led to a system of safeguards placed upon the position designed to uphold its reputation and keep those who practice it honest. These are designed so as to reflect the Christanian belief that essentially all problems are best handled first through the application of tradition, then by social pressure, and finally, as a last resort, via the law. Beadles work closely with both church and civil authorities, and, as with virtually every other profession in Christania, there is a Beadles’ Guild. All of these work with individual beadles to help and support them in what is a very difficult and trying job. These authorities understand that simply due to the nature of the job (it is impossible to please everybody, especially in difficult situations, and beadles are only human and do sometimes make wrong judgments) all beadles will have complaints made against them from time to time. However, real concerns about consistent bad judgment, or, worse, abuse of power are taken very seriously, and although the need to do so is rare, there is no hesitation at all to see that beadles who have overstepped their bounds and lost the trust of their communities do not stay long in their positions.

But again, the need for these measures is exceedingly rare, as the nature of the position of beadle, and the process by which they are chosen, tends to select for those who are both wise and who are in it for the right reasons. When an opening for beadle becomes available, the local civil and religious authorities will meet (typically it will be the mayor and priest of a small town, but can also be an alderman and parish priest in a city district) and, in cooperation with the Beadles’ Guild, nominate candidates from among the prominent citizenry. Wealth is not considered when making nominations; instead, good character and a long-established history of civic involvement are the most important factors in putting someone into consideration. Another safeguard against ending up with the wrong sort of person is that nobody will ever get rich by being a beadle. The job is not intended as a sinecure for careerists; a modest stipend is provided through the guild, funded by the crown and the church, but it is really meant as a supplement for a person who already draws a pension, and would not be enough by itself to support more than a life of true Christian poverty in a very small town. In addition, beadles generally leave the position after being in it somewhere between ten and twenty years (though there is no fixed term for them and they may, except in the very rare cases in which one may be removed for corruption or incompetence, stay in it as long as they like), as the stress it brings does become wearisome after a while. Because one of the most important functions of a beadle is as an intermediary between common people and the the institutions that hold authority over them, no active clergyman or government employee will be considered for the position, although those who once held such posts but have been retired a few years may be nominated. Elders are preferred, but a beadle may be any age, retired or still working, and of either gender (some localities maintain both a male and a female beadle on the belief that the problems that men and women face are so different that each needs their own dedicated beadle to help with them). With rare exceptions, male beadles must have satisfied their duty to the national militia (which is similar to the Swiss system), and with no exceptions, female beadles must have raised children of their own. It is emphasized to all, and remembered by all, that to be nominated to be a beadle is an honor, not a right. Those nominated will be asked to come for a series of interviews (many who are nominated decline because they do not want the responsibilities involved, and there is no shame in doing so), references will be gathered, backgrounds will be checked, and finally a selection made.

Once a beadle is selected, they will be made ready for the job through a few months of study with the guild (and, if possible, with the outgoing beadle whom they will be replacing). As they shoulder their new responsibilities, church authorities, civil authorities, and the guild will strive to provide them with whatever resources they may need – material, psychological, or otherwise. Of these, the guild is especially critical; just as the beadles are always there for their communities, the guild and the brotherhood and sisterhood of fellow beadles it represents will always in turn be there for them. While it will sometimes call beadles who have made mistakes in for a stern talking-to or other disciplinary measures, the guild’s primary purpose is to be there as a support system and source of advice in what is one of the most difficult, but also necessary, roles in Christanian society.

The Christanians strongly believe that the beadle system, with its close connection to the communities it serves, produces results that are far superior to those of the faceless bureaucrats found in the welfare states of the West. If nothing else, giving a formal imprimatur to these personal, local systems of support increases the affection and loyalty that the people feel toward their civil authorities by ensuring that it isn’t the case that the only official authority figures the people ever deal with are those who either want money from them or who might drag them away in handcuffs. In the West, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” is an ironic joke; due largely to the effort of the beadles, there is no such joke in Christania. Sending the beadles to help them – to be their advocates and advisors – is living proof to Christanians that their king and their bishop care about them and want to help them as they live their everyday lives. That the Christanians feel this way, despite the general lack of sociology degrees from Ivy League universities among Christanian beadles, may be seen as a sign of backwardness in many places that style themselves advanced and that take pride in their systems being run and staffed by “credentialed experts”. And yet, as with their approach to poverty, some of the less enlightened among us may find things to admire in the Christanian approach to the problems of life.

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From time to time, we may return in this space to the topic of the Kingdom of Christania, in order to explore the question of what the political and social policies of a perfectly Christian land might look like. Hopefully this will be of interest, so please keep reading!