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Down And Out In Christania

Today, let us board the Ship of Imagination and take a journey to the Kingdom of Christania. A small nation in a far-off corner of the world, Christania is a perfectly Christian land: its inhabitants, including its leaders, are entirely believing, churchgoing Christians who, after an honest day’s labor (except on Sunday, of course), come home, sit by the fire, and read the Holy Bible with their families (with a little Tolkien, Chesterton, or Lewis thrown in there for fun every so often). The spirit of the Savior is strong in the hearts of the people of Christiania, and everything they do in every aspect of their lives, both public and private, from the King and Queen to the humblest plowman, flows from their faith.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any problems in Christania, however. As Jesus reminds us in Matthew 26:11, the poor will always be with us, and indeed the poor are there in Christania, as well. Being the sort of people they are, the Christanians have established in their country a response to poverty that they have striven to ensure is perfectly Christian and fulfills every obligation that their religion places upon them in dealing with the needs of the poor. Here we must be perfectly clear: the Christanians are a smart, sensible people who know the Bible better than they know their own names and who don’t suffer charlatans easily, and are quick to point out that when they say that their approach is based on their faith, they mean that it is based on Christian scripture, Christian custom, and Christian philosophy – what it is decidedly not based on is any desire to make those things conform to the postmodern theories of Marxists, socialists, welfare-staters, liberals, social justice warriors, equality fetishists, sociology majors, utopian dreamers, or non-Christians (though they bear no hatred for people with other religious views, Christanians are notorious for their bluntness in making clear that they are not interested in the opinions of non-Christians on the subject of how Christians ought to conduct themselves in the practice of their faith).

In word and deed, the Christanian approach to poverty is 100% based in actual Christian teaching, and thus is unique in the world and worth a bit of study.

The first thing we must look at if we are to understand the Christanians’ approach to poverty is their definition of what exactly poverty is. For this, we turn to the works of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (whose works every Christanian schoolchild has read, in the original German, by the second year of middle school). On the subject of poverty, Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote:

Whoever lives in real abundance has a Christian duty to assist those living in wretchedness. Before we proceed, however, let us affirm that the notion of misery is different from that of poverty. Péguy has already drawn the distinction between “pauvreté” and “misère”. To live in misery means to suffer genuine physical privation: to know cold and hunger, to have no proper dwelling, to be dressed in rags, to be unable to secure medical attention. The poor, by contrast, have the necessities of life, but scarcely any more. They can borrow books, no doubt, but cannot buy them; they can hear music on the radio, but cannot afford a ticket to a concert; they cannot indulge in little extras of food and drink, but should, by self-discipline, be able to save a little. The poor have, therefore, the normal material preconditions for happiness — unless plagued by acquisitiveness or even envy, which has become a political force in the same measure as people have lost their faith.

The Christanians (many of whom believe, as Chaucer did, that a state of humble pauvreté is what is most conducive to living a genuinely Christian life) take the view that they have every obligation to relieve the misère of their fellow man, but none to relieve their pauvreté. They never allow themselves to lose sight of the fact that the Corporal Acts of Mercy laid out by Christ’s teachings are: to feed the hungry, to give water to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to care for the sick, to visit the imprisoned, and to bury the dead. Nowhere in any of this is there the slightest mention of things like free cell phones or college tuition, nor of subsidies to be an artist or to live in expensive parts of big urban centers. They are an industrious people who have built a developed nation out of nothing; they understand that the Christian rules of charity were developed for – and in – a time and place that any modern person would consider dirt poor; a time when even kings sweltered when it was hot, shivered when it was cold, and agonized when they had a toothache, and when “clothe the naked” had to be included in the list because society had a nontrivial problem with people who literally walked around naked because they couldn’t afford a scrap of cloth to cover their private parts. The way the Christanians see it, while there may be pauvreté in developed nations in the present day, there is very little genuine misère, and particularly there is virtually none that is not to some degree self-inflicted.

This brings us to the other thing that must be understood, which is how seriously the Christanians take II Thessalonians 3:10. In this passage, St. Paul writes: “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him also not eat”. The Christanians draw a hard line between those who can not work – the aged widow, the young orphan, the sick and disabled, the mentally ill – and those who will not work. For the former, there is great sympathy and charity; for the latter, there is none. Those whose inability to work can be traced to their own poor decisions in life – drunkards, addicts, those who are morbidly obese or otherwise unhealthy by choice – are seen as something in between; it is understood that such people should be cared for, but that the care they are given must lead them toward repentance, reform, and renewal of their lives – physically, mentally, spiritually, and morally. Those who are not willing to take that journey will find themselves placed in the category of those who are not willing to work, and (as we shall see), their pleas for assistance will avail them little.

In short, the Christanians see themselves as having the obligation to provide basic survival necessities for those who, for some reason beyond their control, are incapable of working to earn them on their own, and no obligation to provide anything beyond that to anyone, most especially to idlers and layabouts.

That tells us all we need to know about their attitude toward poverty, but how does that manifest itself in practice? Let us turn to a detailed examination of the system that His Majesty the King of Christania and His Excellency the Bishop of Christania have put in place in order to deal with the problem of poverty in their land. While it may seem a bit spartan by the standards of a Western welfare state, it must be emphasized that great pains have been taken to ensure that it meets or exceeds every requirement and obligation placed upon it by scripture and by Christian tradition.

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The poor of Christania find their way to Charity Centers (hereafter referred to as CC’s) through a few different paths. Some seek them out themselves, which is easily enough done at any outpost of the government, from police stations to post offices, all of which can arrange a referral for the needy person. Others are sent there after defaulting on debts (which is rather rare, as Christania has strict anti-usury laws) or for non-payment of bills (they are free to refuse to go, but if they do, they remain liable for the money they owe). Many end up there after being picked up by the police for vagrancy or panhandling. No matter how they may have ended up into the system, after a day or two in a temporary shelter, they are put on a bus headed out into the countryside, where all CC’s are located.

It is worth remarking before we proceed any further that the name “Charity Center” was very carefully chosen. It is meant to emphasize to those who go there that what they are experiencing is, in fact, charity – provided to them by His Majesty and His Excellency, who jointly administer the CC system, and ultimately by the taxpayers and parishioners of the kingdom, whose taxes and contributions at the collection plate are what are paying for the CC’s to exist. It is not an entitlement which they may demand (the Christanians are notoriously impatient with those who are possessed of the delusion that the universe owes them anything at all); it is a gift which they are expected to receive with humility. The point of this is twofold: to keep those receiving this charity realistic about their situation (and therefore eager to get out of it), as well as to prevent them from coming to resent those who have come to their aid via the mistaken belief that the list of things they are entitled to can and should be expanded indefinitely and that those in positions of power who do not provide them with every last thing on that list are somehow doing them wrong. The Christanians strongly believe that to do otherwise would be to undermine social harmony and to give the poor illusions which, in their situation, they cannot really afford to indulge.

As for the CC’s themselves, they are scattered around rural areas, as far from any towns as they can be reasonably be situated. One can recognize them from a distance; the multiple clusters of whitewashed dormitories standing in the midst of farm fields are unmistakable (some of these dormitories were, in fact, once army barracks, but it hardly matters which, as even the ones that weren’t have been constructed to the same plan). Most CC’s are surrounded by fences, but these are almost invariably low post-and-wire affairs designed to keep animals on the right side of them; CC’s are neither prisons nor are they slave plantations, and it is emphasized to those entering them that nobody there is either a prisoner or slave. The dormitories (with some exceptions, such as those designed for the disabled or elderly, or those with children) are filled with basic, but perfectly comfortable double bunk beds, with a locker for each inhabitant located next to them. Toilets and showers are communal, though separated into stalls for the sake of Christian modesty, and located at the end of each dormitory building. Heat is provided by wood stoves, and cooling by ceiling fans (as Christania has a temperate climate similar to Ireland or the Pacific Northwest, these are felt to be perfectly sufficient). In addition to the dormitories, each cluster typically includes a mess hall, an administration building with staff quarters, a chapel, an infirmary, and an equipment shed. Clusters dedicated to female residents (male and female dormitories are, of course, kept strictly separate; male children under twelve may stay with their mothers, while older ones are assigned to a male dormitory) will also normally have a child care center in their midst.

On the rare occasion that a foreigner (no Christanian would ever say any such thing themselves) remarks that these arrangements suffer from a lack of amenities, they may count on being told that not only do they meet Biblical standards, but are at least as comfortable – if not more so – than those in which recruits in Christania’s army live. And if the conditions on offer are good enough for the realm’s honored defenders, then they should be good enough for anyone.

An incoming resident can, on their first day, count on a thorough medical examination provided by the medical staff at the CC. Here, multiple findings are made regarding their health. One, of course, is overall condition. If serious problems are found, they may be sent to a hospital for treatment, and if it turns out that they require medication, a prescription will be issued and an order placed for it. The signs of drug or alcohol addiction are checked for, and if found, a treatment regimen is arranged for them. Though virtually everyone who arrives at a CC does so with some share of emotional issues, the seriously mentally ill are also identified, and sent on to facilities where the staff is trained to provide them with the care they need. Finally, disability status is checked for; the doctors at CC’s keep their own counsel about who is and is not genuinely disabled (and just how disabled they actually may be), and are very, very good at telling the difference between them and work-shy bellyachers who simply don’t want to get their hands dirty. Those who are afflicted with a self-induced medical condition that makes them unable to do any useful work (i.e. the morbidly obese or the weak and underweight “basement-dweller” type) are sent to fitness training, which is a much gentler iteration of that given in basic training to army recruits who need a bit more work to come up to standards.

New residents then attend an orientation, following which they are offered a sturdy, comfortable set of work clothes to replace whatever they showed up wearing (which is, understandably, often in terrible shape and reeks horribly). Though wearing these around the CC is not technically mandatory (residents may work in other clothes so long as they are practical for the task at hand), it is highly recommended and most people do end up in them (after, perhaps, a few days’ worth of resistance). They are then assigned to a work crew, given dinner, and shown to their bunks to rest up for the next day.

The understanding at a CC is that everyone must work to the best of their ability to do so. The able-bodied mostly work in the fields surrounding the clusters, in which the food that the residents eat is grown. (After harvest season is over, they keep busy chopping wood for heating, shoveling snow, rebuilding tools for the next planting season, and performing other such tasks as are common on any farm during the wintertime). Those in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues are mostly given office work in the administration building; the elderly are usually assigned to the child care centers; the blind do tasks that do not require sight, which can include anything from answering telephones to husking corn. Only those whose disability is permanent and total – quadriplegics or those with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, for example – are exempted from work entirely.

Though some people from Western welfare states may consider the practice of requiring the able poor to work as a condition of receiving help as barbaric, Christanians (after they’ve finished quoting II Thessalonians 3:10, which they are wont to do) will respond that it was not long ago that this was the norm even in those welfare states – they will cite the examples of the WPA, CCC, TVA, and other such New Deal agencies, which not only required real manual labor of those who participated in them, but used that labor to build valuable infrastructure projects such as the Hoover Dam or the electrification of the rural south and west. Which liberal, they ask, is willing to cast Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a cruel exploiter of the impoverished? And if they are not willing to do so, then how can they criticize anyone else for doing no more than what FDR did?

It should be pointed out here that work in a CC, while moderately demanding, is hardly backbreaking drudgery. The pace of life, like that on any farm, is slow and steady. While some labor-saving devices are intentionally absent from CC’s in order to ensure that everybody there has enough to do, there are machines there (operated by trustees, about whom we will hear more later) to do all the truly heavy or dangerous tasks. The Christanians also understand that most of the poor who find their way to a CC are urbanites with no experience of farm life; it is expected that they will have to be shown the ropes over the first few weeks or months (and that this will teach them the skills they would need to perhaps settle down on a few acres of their own someday). The point is not to punish them with Gulag-style hard labor (Christanians will eagerly remind you that Gulags were a project of atheistic communism), but to give them the pride and purpose that comes of labor, to teach them skills that will help them to fend for themselves, and of course to emphasize that freeloading is good for neither the person who allows themselves to sink to it nor for the larger society around them.

If it should happen that a resident in a CC who has not been found to be unfit for labor simply refuses to work, then trustees (or, if necessary, a constable on staff) will bar them from entry into the mess hall until hunger changes their mind. “He who will not work, let them also not eat”.

It cannot be restated enough that CC’s are not prisons, and that the people in them are not being punished for anything. The Christanians are an industrious people, and any claim that the mere necessity to work in order to earn one’s bread is any kind of punishment will be met with the indignant question “Which queen gave birth to you?” – a Christanian colloquialism which amounts to an inquiry as to what basis one might have for the idea that an honest day’s labor is beneath them. Furthermore, those who find themselves in a CC are frequently reminded that they are free to leave whenever they wish; the next bus bringing people in can just as easily take them away. However, they are also reminded that in Christania, public begging on the part of anyone who has either walked away from a CC or been expelled from one for violating its rules is a criminal offense. The reasoning here is that if someone was offered help and then either explicitly refused it, or implicitly refused it by refusing to follow its rules, then begging on their part is a species of fraud, in the same vein as running a fraudulent charity. As for anyone who has left a CC and finds themselves in need again, it is assumed that one trip through the system was enough to teach them how to avail themselves of its services should they require them. The doors to a CC are always open, while the doors that lead to crime or to becoming a public nuisance are slammed tightly shut.

While almost all residents end up leaving a CC after a stay of a few months, there are a relative handful who find that the structure and stability provided there suits them, and who choose to stay indefinitely. (Typically, these are people with a history of addiction or an unstable family life on the outside.) While mildly discouraged, this is not forbidden, and those who have been there (and displayed good behavior) for a few years and who have no plans to leave typically find themselves appointed as trustees. In addition to being given more demanding tasks such as operating (and training others in the operation of) the CC’s complex tools and machinery, they take a position as a sort of community leader. They are expected to act as foremen of work squads, conduct orientations, provide counseling, help resolve disputes, handle minor rule violations by residents, and otherwise help keep life in the CC running smoothly. Small as it may be in the great scope of the world, it is still a position of esteem and responsibility, and those who were the lowest of the low on the outside often find a place and a purpose in it.

Now that we have a solid picture of overview of the structure and operation of a CC, let us examine the typical day-to-day life of those who find themselves in one.

Wakeup time for most residents comes at a half-hour before sunrise, rounded to the nearest ten-minute interval. After showering and dressing, residents go to the mess hall for breakfast (work in the mess hall itself is one of those jobs generally reserved for the able elderly or mildly disabled, but also involves an earlier wakeup). Then there is a short morning prayer (like all religious activities at a CC – of which there are many – it is strongly encouraged, but not strictly mandatory), after which the residents head out for their work assignments. For most of them, this means the farm fields. The labors of the day begin, at their typical slow-but-steady pace (only during planting and harvest season can it be said to have any real intensity to it). For safety reasons, as well as to discourage residents from retreating inside themselves instead of acting as part of a team, headphones are forbidden while working, but the foremen leading the work squads often bring a “boom box” style radio with them, and tune it to some music, a sports broadcast, or religious programming so that all can hear while they work. At midday, a truck arrives from the mess hall with lunch, which the squad eats together, picnic-style. Work then resumes, and continues until dinner or dusk (whichever comes first at that time of year). After dinner in the mess hall, residents may attend Bible study, or whatever therapy or rehabilitation sessions they may need, or avail themselves of one of the many job training courses offered at CC’s. For those who would rather relax in their off time, there are a few options available as well. While there is no television, internet service, or cellular service at a CC, residents are encouraged to read, or to play cards or other games, or may listen to their own radios using headphones while in the dormitories until lights out, which is at 9PM every night.

(As for children who end up in a CC with their parents, they are placed in child care if very young, then in a school located on the grounds of the CC until they have reached an age at which they can join the adults in their labors. This is typically much younger than one would see in a Western nation, but it reflects the Christanians’ rather skeptical attitude toward the view of formal schooling as a guarantor of prosperity and panacea for social ills that has been so common in the West for the past century or so.)

This is the pattern six days a week (excepting, of course, a few national holidays such as Christmas or His Majesty’s birthday). On Sundays, the Sabbath is observed, and there is no unnecessary work (a few, such as mess and medical staff, must of course do their jobs on Sundays, but they are compensated with other time off). In addition, married couples who find themselves in the CC (of course, each husband and wife will have been separately sent to the appropriate male or female end of the CC upon arrival), on Sundays are allowed to spend the day together (though conjugal visits are not permitted, as anyone in a CC is not in any position to bring another child into the world). After breakfast, church services are held, and are attended by virtually everyone. These tend to be very long and very traditional, as befits the temperament of the Christanians. Once that is done, a long and leisurely lunch is served. Alcohol is generally prohibited in CC’s, however after Sunday lunch, residents (except those with a history of alcoholism or other relevant health problems) may have two pints of lager (this must be consumed in the mess hall, in order to prevent hoarding or having it end up in the hands of problem drinkers). Following this, a social event is held – for example, a movie (approved by His Excellency the Bishop, of course) may be screened, or a sporting match may be held between teams of residents, or a talent show put on.

Though great care is taken to keep all of these events wholesome, there is one variety of them that is seen as unfortunate, but unavoidable. It happens more often than one might hope that two residents find themselves in an irreconcilable conflict, to the point where preventing them from violent altercations with each other proves impossible. Where this happens, every attempt is made to resolve the conflict peaceably, using methods from counseling to mediation to moving residents from one dormitory to another. Should all of this fail, however, male residents are allowed to challenge each other to a boxing match in order to settle things between them. (Once again, this is in line with Christanian culture; specifically their long history of dueling, which by tradition has thankfully been limited to nonlethal practices.) When this is the case, the utmost care is taken to ensure that it is a fair fight. First, both men must be cleared to fight by the medical staff. Second, it must be mutually consented-to; both parties are interviewed separately by staff to make sure they want to go through with it, and if either says no, then some medical excuse will be concocted in order to cancel the fight without loss of face. But if both are able and willing, then they are permitted to face each other in the ring, with a referee (another trustee duty) and a doctor present, under Christanian Boxing Association rules of conduct. This too, will be scheduled for Sunday evening, and though (of course) His Majesty and His Excellency would prefer that such confrontations never come to pass, they are frequent enough that the large audiences of residents that are attracted by them rarely go very long between opportunities to see one.

With the sole exception of this outlet for male aggression, physical violence of any kind is strictly forbidden at a CC. Furthermore, any crime of any sort committed by a resident will be referred to a constable, who will arrest them and make sure they are remanded for trial by the proper authorities. Other than that, the rules at a CC are straightforward: no illicit intoxicants or sexual activity (The Christanians are upright people, but hardly naive about what can happen when people – especially men – are brought together in close quarters without access to the opposite sex. They are also of a decidedly non-modern mindset when it comes to the subject of sodomy.), no intimidation or hazing, no general troublemaking, and no loafing. Trustees may come up with methods to deal with minor violations of these rules, but severe or repeated cases will result in expulsion, which is the only real punishment on offer at a CC.

While the residents work in the fields, the staff (including residents restricted to office duty) will be busy finding work and housing for them so that they can leave and become independent again. Every effort is made to place residents with, or close to, friends and family, and often the staff manages to connect with those on the outside who are close to a resident in order to find a placement for them. For those without addiction or mental health problems, and who found themselves destitute only through unfortunate circumstance, stays are typically short in duration. Though the recidivism rate at CC’s is higher than anyone would like to see (the ideal rate, of course, being zero), it is low enough to convince the Christanians that their system is the most effective at actually lifting people out of poverty of any nation on Earth.

Thus does the pious, prosperous, peaceful, and orderly Kingdom of Christania face the problem of need within its borders. And while the Christanians would never presume to impose their system on any other people (nor ever will they suffer a foreign system being imposed on them), they are not shy about recommending its virtues to anyone who may inquire about it. Perhaps here in the welfare states of the West, we consider our system to be such a success that no other should be considered, and yet – and here I beg the pardon of the many generations of credentialed experts with degrees from the likes of Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton who designed our own antipoverty programs from atop their ivory towers, secure in the knowledge that their understanding of economics and human nature far exceeded that of not only the benighted ancients, but of the very living God Himself – I cannot help but wonder whether those backward, old-fashioned Christanians might be on to something after all.

Thoughts On Election 2016

As the right comes down off the psychological high of Donald Trump winning the election of 2016 – a year that, between the Brexit vote, the rise of Duterte in the Philippines, and the Trump victory, has proven to be full of good news for rightists – a bit of realistic perspective is in order. Here are a few things worth keeping in mind as we go forward:

Trump is not the God-Emperor. Trump is not our Caesar, our Constantine, or our Charlemagne. Trump is not the savior – not of conservatism as a philosophical movement, not of the white race, not of Christianity, and especially not of the Republic (which cannot be saved, as democracy is inherently unstable and inevitably flies apart after a couple hundred years). Trump is not alt-right, though the alt-right played an indispensable role in putting him where he is. Trump, by any reasonable standard, is simply a moderate who actually gets things done. Among the things he has promised to get done are to stem the immivasion of the United States, to halt or reverse the efforts of the federal government to disarm its citizens and to leave them incapable of meaningful resistance to its dictates, and to head off the pointless, stupid, and destructive pattern of American hostility toward Russia so that some idiot in Washington doesn’t stumble us into a nuclear war. It should go without saying that these are all positives, but none of them will by themselves bring about the Restoration.

What, then, does Trump represent for reactionaries, monarchists, traditionalists, and others of the genuine right?

For us, Trump represents breathing room; a reprieve from the slide into civilization-eating leftist madness which was worsening at an alarming pace, and which will now be stabilized for a time. On the other hand, he represents a reprieve for both the deserving and the undeserving: the Republic, which is the opposite of, and the enemy of, good and decent government, and which seemed to be on a fast track to joining its ideological cousin, the Soviet Union, on the ash-heap of history, will have a few more years of life breathed into it as well.

So what do we do now?

As much as I hesitate to take my strategic and philosophical lessons from 1980s cartoon shows, there was a scene in the old GI Joe series that has long stuck with me. While berating Cobra Commander over one of his innumerable failures of leadership, Destro angrily tells him: “Your stupid bungling has given our enemies the two commodities they must never be allowed: time and hope.” These are the commodities that Trump’s victory have given us, and we would be very foolish indeed to not take full advantage of them.

One lesson we should take away from this is that we must completely reject the idea of passivism. Passivism represents the inexplicable doctrine of taking options away from ourselves for no other reason than self-indulgent edgy fatalism. It is an idea born of the loss of hope; the very hope that we have now been allowed to recapture. Let this be a lesson to us; a reminder of why despair is a mortal sin. If there is anything that the past year’s worth of developments has taught us, it’s that the future is often unpredictable. We should always know what our options are, never take any of them off the table unless we are forced to by circumstance, and be ready to move on any of them at any moment when an opportunity presents itself. Moreover, our enemies have demonstrated by their reaction to their loss in this election something that I’ve been saying for years: That they have a glass jaw; they are all offense and no defense; they can dish it out just fine, but years of victories from a rigged system and “cuckservative”capitulation, as well as the experience of growing up in environments where everybody got a gold star on their report cards just for trying, have left them psychologically unable to handle losing, or even really to handle genuinely tough fights against a tenacious and determined adversary. So the strategy is: Hit them hard, hit them often – keep punching, never let up, be deaf to their pleas for conciliation and compromise, and don’t stop until their will to fight is broken utterly.

We must also never let ourselves forget that Trump is a means to an end, and that his victory is not the conclusion of our struggle, but a waypoint along our path. This whole rotten system must be brought down – egalitarianism, democracy, socialism, feminism, secularism, mass consumerism, Modernity, liberalism (classical and otherwise) – it is all toxic and unsustainable, and we will never truly be safe until it is all swept into the rubbish bin of history. In addition, the curve of Spenglerian decline still draws the West toward the gaping maw of oblivion, and we must not delude ourselves into thinking that a the election of a moderately conservative and mildly sympathetic President has much altered that trajectory. Things are still headed for a crackup, it is just that we will get there a bit more slowly and it will perhaps be a bit less disastrous than feared. This is where having time and hope matters most: without time, we cannot act, and without hope, we will not act. Yet fortune has given us the wherewithal to prepare, to maneuver, to get into more advantageous and defensible positions. We had better not squander this opportunity.

I will be saying more – much more – about the specifics of what I have in mind soon, so please continue to check back in for updates in the coming months. But for the moment, with an appropriate amount of caution in mind, let us enjoy this triumph. Take a while to celebrate, and then be ready to continue the fight.

Podcast: Interview With Psycho Dish

During my travels this summer, I stopped to interview old friend of the blog Psycho Dish. I’ve divided the interview into two parts, both of which I’m posting here.

In Part One, he talks about his past and future, and about how the son of a long line of liberals, social crusaders, and even outright communists ended up moving to the right. He tells us about his family history, his experiences with poverty and homelessness, his time working for a communally-run taxi service in Berkeley, and his experiences traveling in Asia:

In Part Two, we talk about hippie protestors and what they get wrong, virtue signaling, the right way to do charity, and the underground economy of the ghetto, along with asking the question nobody seems to want to answer: To whom do black lives matter?

So listen in and meet Psycho Dish, a most singular gentleman.

Short Takes: July 2016

Time for another edition of Short Takes, my roundup of thoughts that are worth saying, but too limited to warrant a full blog post. It’s shaping up to be a long, hot summer, and it’s not easy to keep up with everything going on, so let’s get these thoughts out the door while, like a tray of buns just out of an oven, they’re still hot and fresh.

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• The founding fathers of the United States considered themselves too good – too intellectual, too advanced, too sophisticated – to say that what they were founding was explicitly a white nation that would operate on traditional Christian/Western principles. Therefore, their descendants live in a mongrel nation that operates on liberal Jewish/Puritan principles.

• The role of the reactionary is to remind people that our ancestors – long sneered at by “progressives” of every stripe – were neither fools nor monsters, but were wise and sensible people who did what needed to be done in the hard, tireless struggle to maintain civilization and keep the darkness at bay. One of the things they understood is that if riots are not stopped immediately, with massive force, things will only get worse. They will grow, and sympathy riots will start in other places – more cities will burn, and more people will be hurt than would be hurt by stopping the riots early and decisively.

We are – once again – paying the price for rejecting the wisdom of our ancestors. The price will continue to rise until we admit our error and do as our ancestors would tell us to.

• What must be understood about leftism is that it always delivers the exact opposite of what it claims it will deliver. By this I do not merely mean that it doesn’t deliver what it promises; I mean that it is remarkably effective at delivering the total inverse of what it has promised. Where it promises prosperity, it brings famine. Where it promises liberation, it brings oppression. Where it promises peace, it brings strife. Where it promises progress, it brings stagnation. Where it promises paradise, it brings misery. Where it promises enlightenment, it brings illusion and folly. In the United States, for half a century it has promised to eradicate poverty and bring the races together in brotherhood. Instead, our urban ghettoes are more impoverished, crime-ridden, and nightmarish than ever, and the races are at each others’ throats in a conflict that has steadily gotten worse and seems poised only to get worse still.

When will we all stop believing the pie-in-the-sky promises of these charlatans? When will we learn that any crank, con artist, or snake-oil salesman can say that he’ll give you the moon and the stars; but it doesn’t matter what they can promise, only what they can actually deliver?

• The biggest problem with white nationalism is with its tendency toward what might be called “Captain Ahab Syndrome”. It’s what happens when people are motivated by revenge and hatred for others rather than love for their own. They become willing to countenance any evil and accept any loss in order to get back at those who wronged them. In the end, this leads to the path of self-destruction, as people stop caring about preserving or defending what is theirs, and come to care only about destroying what is their enemy’s. If everything they care about comes to ruin, they will think it worth the cost in order to strike a blow against those they hate. And where that is the case, then everything they care about will come to ruin.

People often misunderstand and misuse the words about forbearance and forgiveness that Jesus Christ spoke in the Bible, but I’ve come to believe that their true meaning is a warning against exactly this.

• That said, I am an enemy of all civilization-wreckers, as all of them are my enemy. Where two groups of them are pitted against each other, I wish only for the destruction of both. I am friend to none, I will aid none, I will praise none, I will comfort none, I will cry over none.

• Anyone who advocates giving in to the left on social issues is a cuck, even if they advocate doing so in order to “move past them” and get on with the business of re-segregating blacks and deporting Mexicans and Muslims. You may be a racialist cuck, or a nationalist cuck, but you’re still a cuck and I still have no use for you.

I fight for what is good and against what is evil, so if you consider yourself “beyond good and evil” then you are of no use to me. And you are a damn fool if you think that’s a realistic position to take in this world or really is anything more than pretentious, edgy-wannabe “more sophisticated than thou” posturing.

Similarly, I have no patience for the distressingly common claim by some on the alt-right that, by amazing coincidence, only those exact parts of Western civilization that they care about saving are salvageable, while the parts that they don’t care about saving are clearly a lost cause and not worth the effort to try to save. Nice try, but I didn’t just fall off a turnip truck.

•Related: Anyone who thinks there can ever really be such a thing as “post-Christian rightism” is delusional, historically and philosophically illiterate, and doesn’t understand what the word “rightism” means.

• Keep in mind that Karl Marx claimed that what he had was not an economic or political theory, nor even a rational philosophy – he claimed that what he had was hard science, as objectively true as physics, and as inevitably correct in its predictions as an astronomer’s predictions of planetary orbits. Because of this belief, which is common to all of its various strains, leftism has always defined a person’s intelligence by how closely their beliefs conform to its narrative – obviously, the more one believes that which is objectively true, the more intelligent one is, and the less one believes what is objectively true, the less intelligent one is. The upshot of all of this is that if your beliefs do not conform to the leftist narrative, then they will never stop calling you stupid. (This is, for example, the basis for the curious claim that a man who graduated from the Wharton School of Business, ran a multibillion-dollar real estate empire, and defeated an entire party establishment to become a candidate for President of the United States, is an obvious blithering idiot.) Thus, there is no point in trying to convince a leftist that, while you may disagree with their narrative, you are not, in fact, stupid. It doesn’t matter how many advanced degrees you have, how high your measured IQ is, how much you have accomplished in your life, how masterful your command of the facts may be, or even how painstakingly and carefully collected the facts you have are. By the definition that they use, you will never not be stupid as long as you disagree with their narrative (while conversely – and how conveniently comforting for them! – they never will be stupid as long as they accept the narrative).

• Is culture downstream from politics, or is politics downstream from culture? The answer is that in a normal, healthy society, politics is downstream from culture. The entire strategy of Cultural Marxism, however, has been to reverse this – to take over political institutions (including schools and mass media, for these are the greatest political institutions of all) and to use them to artificially manufacture a leftist culture. The rules of a normal society do not apply to a dysfunctional Cultural Marxist dystopia – if there is anything that the 20th century has proven, it is that attempts to remake culture from the top down by methods that include the use of both mass indoctrination and coercive force can indeed be successful.

• Most people don’t know the story of how the Salem Witch Trials ended (and I mean in reality, not the Marxist/Arthur Miller version of the story). It’s a bit of history worth learning about.

Salem is now a suburb of greater Boston, but in those days, villages were isolated and news took weeks to travel between places that were only a few miles apart. When rumors started to spread that the people in Salem were killing their own wives for being witches, the reaction was slow because, first, nobody really knew how true the rumors were, and second, because Salem had a reputation as a town full of fundamentalist nutters anyway, and thus everyone outside of Salem figured that even if it was true, it was the fools out in Salem’s problem, not theirs.

The tipping point came when the witch hunters, having run out of people to accuse in their own town, decided to expand. They made an accusation against the wife of the minister of the town of Beverly, a short distance away. The minister of Beverly, however, was old friends with the Royal Governor down in Boston. The minister wrote a letter to the Governor, and the Governor wrote a letter to Salem, explaining that the trials would stop – NOW – or he would personally march up to Salem with a few hundred redcoats and put a stop to them with extreme prejudice. It was all fun and games while a town notoriously full of crazies were killing their own, but once they decided to ensnare normal, decent folk in their web of madness, enough was enough. Upon receipt of the letter, the trials promptly ceased.

That is how to put an end to an out-of-control holiness spiral.

• Remember Stevens’s Law: Equality = Communism. Yes, it really is that simple.

• These three brief Tweets sum up everything I’ve spent nearly four years and thousands of words trying to express:

Congratulations to Mr. Scientism for having distilled these critical ideas down to their essences. If you use Twitter, you’d be wise to follow him.

Psycho Dish and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Psycho Dish found a dead black youth in his backyard last Friday. It was the capstone of a remarkably shitty week.

His mom died the Sunday before. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone – she’d been suffering from Alzheimer’s for a long time, and it had been plain for the last year or so that it was only a matter of time before she went. When death comes slowly for someone, the people around them begin the process of mourning and letting go long before they die. When they finally do, it’s almost a relief. Not that anyone’s happy about it, but if there’s such a thing as an easy or pleasant way to leave this world, Alzheimer’s certainly isn’t it. Now that ordeal was over for her, and, in all honesty, for Psycho Dish’s dad as well; he’s getting up there in years, and taking care of her was constant, hard work that would have been tough even for someone half his age. But now she was at peace, everyone said; things could start going back to normal, and they could all remember her the way they wanted to – young and full of life and energy.

Psycho Dish is between jobs (again), and since he didn’t need to be anyplace in particular on Monday, he threw a gym bag with some clothes in it into his old rattletrap of a car and drove the 250 or so miles up to his parents’ place. He stayed for a couple of days, and everyone appreciated the effort, but all the arrangements had already been made well in advance and his dad and sister had been emotionally prepared for this for a while, so they didn’t need much by the way of a shoulder to cry on. And so on Thursday he said his goodbyes, with hugs exchanged all around, and drove home. He got in late, worn out from the drive and from the weight of sad and reflective thoughts, and had just enough presence of mind to take the trash out for collection the next morning before he flopped into bed and passed out.

The next morning, Psycho Dish woke up early, put on some coffee, and went outside to drag his trash cans back in. That’s when he spotted the dead black youth lying face-down in his grass, patches of which around the body had been stained red by pools of semi-congealed blood. He walked back inside, called 911, and occupied the time until the authorities arrived by washing out a couple of extra coffee mugs for the policemen who he figured he’d be spending the next few hours talking to.

As anyone who read the story I wrote about him last year already knows, Psycho Dish is the sort of guy who’s perpetually broke. There’s some bad judgment involved with that, along with some genuine hard luck. But no matter the reason, the result is that he’s a part of the large population of poor whites who can’t afford to pay the premium that more affluent whites pay to not live around black people. Or, put another way, the premium they pay so that their kids never end up discovering a bullet-ridden corpse on the lawn when they leave the house for school in the morning. Psycho Dish lives in a bad neighborhood in a city that’s seen far better days. It’s the sort of neighborhood in which, if a loud noise is heard, the question of whether it was a car backfiring, a firecracker, or a gunshot is not an idle one. It sucks, but it’s all he can afford, and he’s lived in worse places.

Psycho Dish hadn’t heard anything that night, but he had been exhausted and had his mind on other things when he went to sleep, so it’s not a surprise that nothing woke him up. Besides, the police said that the dead black youth had most likely been shot outside a place a few houses down, and stumbled down the sidewalk for a while before he collapsed on Psycho Dish’s back lawn and bled out. They told him the dead black youth was 22 years old, lived with his grandmother a block or two away, and had a few convictions for petty crimes on his record. They mentioned his name, which was one of those that you’d never hear and think it belonged to a white man. As for the neighbors – pretty much all black – nobody saw anything, nobody heard anything, nobody knew anything, which appeared not to surprise the policemen at all. In fact, everyone involved with the investigation seemed to approach it with a weary sense of routine, as if they had seen this kind of thing countless times before and knew exactly how it would go. By lunchtime, they were all done. They gave him a printed handout with some contact information on it and told him to call them if he found out anything new. Then they left, and things started going back to what in that neighborhood counts as normal.

This past Sunday, exactly a week since his mom died, Psycho Dish went to church and talked with the congregation about everything that had happened to him in the past week. (I’m terribly unfamiliar with how Protestant worship services work – at my own church, the Mass is sung in Latin – so whether this was a part of the service itself or was part of a meeting afterward was a part of the story that I wasn’t clear on, but didn’t bother asking more about.). He also asked for help; yet broke as he is, his request wasn’t for himself. The grandmother of the dead black youth, he had learned, is an elderly shut-in who needs assistance with daily tasks. With her grandson gone, she had nobody around to take care of these things for her, and he pled with the congregation for help on her behalf. As his church is solidly white and middle to upper-middle class, full of generous and good-hearted folk with some extra income to spare, I’m sure that such help will appear.

What Psycho Dish did was a decent thing to do – a true act of Christian charity, and I’m sure that God smiles on him for it. It isn’t only the matter of him trying to find material help for someone in need; it’s also that his thoughts were with someone else and their problems even in his own time of grief. Beneath his gruff exterior, Psycho Dish really is a good guy, and I have not a word of criticism to offer for what he did. And yet…

And yet a troubling thought or two linger that I cannot quite rid myself of, no matter how much I’d prefer to see things with only charity and forbearance in my heart. Though I would rather not harbor these thoughts myself, for the sake of honesty I will nonetheless share this rotten orange with my friends. And so, in the presence of all of you, I ask these questions:

Why is it that the lingering consequences of this this situation – and many more like it, for stories like this are not uncommon – end up falling to white people to deal with? Why are the efforts of blacks themselves not sufficient to shoulder these burdens? Why is it the job of white people, like the policemen who spent Friday morning drinking Psycho Dish’s coffee (and unlike an entire neighborhood full of black residents who all saw nothing, heard nothing, and knew nothing about the crime), to seek justice for their murdered youth? Why is it the job of white people, like the good-hearted Christians at his church (and unlike an entire neighborhood full of black residents who live a few steps away), to find ways to care for their needy elderly? Why, instead of relying on white people to help them, do they not take care of each other, as Psycho Dish’s family did through his mother’s long illness?

Will it ever not be the job of whites to deal with the seemingly-endless problems of, and to clean up the seemingly-endless messes left by, black people? If so, when? How? Under what circumstances? What will be the secret ingredient that finally makes it happen after decades of fruitless trying? More ethomasochistic self-flagellation on the part of whites? More kowtowing before window-smashing protestors? Another black President, who presumably will have that last extra bit of magic that the current one seems to have lacked, despite all the promises he made when we elected him?

Blacks have been in this country for four centuries, have been free for a century and a half, have been legally equal in every sense for half a century, and have had the full coercive force of the Total State kicking down every door and destroying every opponent that stood in their way for decades now. They have for a hundred years been sent to free public schools which by law they must attend. Moreover, free public libraries, cheap and universally-available internet service, and taxpayer-supported public television and radio give them access to a limitless store of cultural, historical, scientific, economic, and philosophical knowledge. So when are they going to start acting like white people, as the Blank Slatists long ago promised that they would once unfair laws stopped oppressing them and they were liberated from the shackles of ignorance by access to education? Or, if that question seems a bit too culturally imperialist for you, when will their actions, their attitudes, and their social structures stop resembling those of genetically-similar but geographically-distant Africans more than the whites who surround them in America? Why in black-run or majority-black places in America do we see “Big Man” cronyism, endemic corruption, warlordism and tribalism in the form of urban gangs, and loose sexual morals under weak matriarchy – all features of life seen commonly in sub-Saharan Africa or the black Caribbean, but not in white communities just a few miles away in a majority-white country?

Why is it that, if anything, the process of black acculturation and assimilation into our majority-white society seems to have backslid dramatically over the past half century? Why is it that, fifty years ago, blacks gave their children names like “David” and “Lisa”, but now give them names which, like that of the dead black youth, one would never find attached to someone of any other race? Why is it that, as Mencius Moldbug pointed out, in every big city in America there is a feral, burned-out ghetto that was once a thriving black business district? Why is it that the more coercive the laws establishing utopia at gunpoint become, the farther away anything that any rational person would call a decent and functional society seems to get?

We are told – those who style themselves our moral betters make sure we hear – that “Black Lives Matter”. To whom, I wonder? Judging by the rate of black-on-black murder, and by the rate of abortion among black women, not to blacks themselves. And if not to them, why to me? If they can’t be bothered to raise their children (Why was the dead black youth living with his grandmother? Where were his parents? Dare I ask?), protect their young people, and care for their old and infirm, by what right do they burden me and mine with those tasks? Do we not have enough to do in caring for our own?

Yes, there is Christian charity. But nothing about that stops me from asking questions about the assumptions of individual and group equality that serve as the foundations of the society in which all of this has happened. It doesn’t stop me from noticing that decades, or even centuries, of actions based upon these assumptions have made things worse instead of better. It doesn’t stop me from seeing that, in the name of bettering things for blacks, whites killed each other by the thousands at places like Shiloh and Chickamauga, allowed our own ancient and hard-won rights (such as those of free association and commerce) to be taken from us by laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and spent trillions of dollars that could have gone into space exploration, medical research, or high-tech public transportation – and yet in the end all of these seem to have been wasted efforts that have gained us little except insufferable moral bragging on the part of those who have championed them and who react to their manifest lack of results with neverending calls for “More! More! More!”

It doesn’t stop me from wondering: How much is enough? By what deadline will we either attain success or admit defeat? What precisely has to happen – how many more years of dismal, pointless failure have to go by – before we are allowed to call into question the doctrine of universal human equality? Before we are allowed to ask: “Where is the proof – scientific, historical, or otherwise – for this belief? Where, even, is the proof that belief in it has made things better in any way other than letting some people feel good about themselves for believing in a comforting dream?”

What happens if – when, really, for unreality can only hold reality at bay for just so long – we finally do? And what do we do until then? What about poor whites like Psycho Dish, who can’t afford to flee from the perpetual disaster that is black dysfunction in America? Do we just tell him to accept stepping over dead bodies on his way to take his trash cans in as normal?

The human capacity for holding on to pleasant delusion until reality comes crashing down on us seems to be limitless, so I expect that’s what will happen in this case as well. Events are in the driver’s seat, and things will play out as they will, which will almost certainly be extremely unpleasantly. I think it would have been better for everyone just to have kept our society based on observable reality all along, but nobody (or at least, nobody in a position of power) asked me.

Well, then, I will do the only thing I can do, which is to extend my condolences to Psycho Dish for his serie noire this week. I’ll buy beer the next time we get together – though, I hope you understand, I’d rather we meet somewhere other than your place.

How King Tommen Won Like A Boss

Many viewers of Game of Thrones have of late been rather upset by the recent actions of Tommen of House Baratheon, first of his name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm. As a result of deal that he has recently made wth the High Sparrow, chief priest of the Faith of the Seven, they think him weak and foolish; they believe that he has become a puppet of sinister forces, and that the Realm will suffer for it. But that, of course, is because they’re a bunch of plebeians who don’t understand how power works. If they did, they’d see that what Tommen did was a masterstroke on the part of the young king, and the best piece of statecraft that has issued forth from the Iron Throne since Aegon V occupied it. While I understand that my readership is comprised of only the finest thinkers and aristocrats of the soul, with not a single plebeian among them, it still seems worthwhile to elaborate on how exactly King Tommen worked his way out of a bad spot with a huge victory in his hands, and perhaps thereby to make a point or two about how power really operates.

What plebs get wrong about being king – or, indeed, being a leader of any kind – is that they think it’s all about barking orders at people; orders that they have to obey or else. But where exercised wisely and competently, leadership almost never relies upon this approach. Instead, good leadership rests primarily on teambuilding, inspiring others by example, negotiation, mediation, and dealmaking. The last of these deserves special emphasis. Dealmaking has gotten a bad name on the right in recent years, and not without some good reasons. First, because “conservative” leaders don’t know how to make deals. They know how to surrender in exchange for empty promises that they know will never be fulfilled, or just as likely, in exchange for nothing at all, but that’s not the same thing as shrewd and wise dealmaking. Second, and most importantly, because they are used to dealing with the left, which is a movement of fanatical utopians who believe that the inherent rightness of their cause writes them an unlimited license to lie, to cheat, to defraud (and to torture, to murder, or to commit genocide as well). This means that leftists do not negotiate in good faith; every deal that they agree to will be broken the moment that they believe they have the power to do so with impunity. Obviously, making deals with such people is a fool’s errand. But this should not blind us to the fact that in normal times and under normal circumstances, dealmaking is a critical part of leadership.

Plebs, because they lack any of the important qualities of leadership, don’t understand that a leader who gets what he wants – who has to get what he wants – by shouting orders has already demonstrated that he is unworthy; that he is unable to get things done in a way that is more harmonious, more stable, and more sustainable. To plebs, the difference between an enlightened leader and a tyrannical despot is merely a matter of how much they personally agree with the orders being shouted and how much they dislike those who are compelled to obey. But let us ask some important questions: Did Joffrey not shout enough orders? Did Aerys II? What happened to them in the end? And to their kingdom as a result of their rule?

Well, it’s no secret at all that the Seven Kingdoms have been ruinously mismanaged by the nobles who have run it ever since the Tragedy at Summerhall. There was the War of the Ninepenny Kings, Aerys II’s disastrous reign, Robert’s Rebellion and Robert’s subsequent semi-benign neglect of his kingdom’s increasingly shaky circumstances, the War of the Five Kings, the effective collapse of the Night’s Watch as a combat-capable fighting force in the face of an impending whitewalker invasion, Danerys Targaryen’s acquisition of a kingdom of her own in Essos (and of an army and three dragons to boot), the introduction of a troublingly fanatical strain of the religion of the Lord of Light into Westeros, the ruin or outright extinction of multiple ancient noble houses, treason, riots, famine, connivance, corruption, sedition, scandal, machination, mutiny, and murder. And through all of it, as the nobles fought their wars and played their power games, it was the smallfolk who suffered most of all.

And so, finding himself in an unenviable situation involving the High Sparrow, King Tommen decided that instead of charging in with swords drawn, he would make a deal. The particulars of that deal are as follows:

• King Tommen got his queen back, with no Walk of Atonement required. This importance of this as a face-saving measure cannot be overstated. It was a major – and necessary – concession on the part of the High Sparrow, and the most important diplomatic victory scored by Tommen in this entire situation. Furthermore, by binding the Throne to the Faith, the degradation of one becomes the degradation of the other; it makes the High Sparrow unlikely to try to further degrade the power of the Throne, because he has now hitched his own fortunes to it. If nothing else, renewed hostilities between the Throne and the Faith would mean an admission of diplomatic failure – which would be a severe blow to the reputation of all involved. And, of course, would also be a disaster for the Realm; they really are the twin pillars on which the Seven Kingdoms stand, and having them act together is critically important.

• King Tommen gets to be a uniter instead of a divider; he has turned enemies into allies. This is important because his kingdom is in shambles and under severe threat from multiple directions, so he needs all the allies he can get. Winter is coming. Danerys Targaryen is coming. The whitewalkers are coming. Melisandre and the man-burning fanatics who follow R’hllor are coming. Jon Snow is coming, and nobody knows whether he will stop once he’s taken Winterfell. Speaking of which, The North, for the moment, is being run by a psychotic madman. The Vale of Arryn is being run by a mentally unstable child in the thrall of a scheming liar who has ambitions that run all the way to the Iron Throne. The Reach may end up with no legitimate heir to the Lord of Highgarden. The Iron Islands are in open rebellion (again). Dorne is in the hands of a cabal of assassins. And with Tywin Lannister dead, Tyrion in exile, Kevan and Cersei at court in Kings Landing, and Jaime on campaign at Riverrun, does anyone even know who’s running the Westerlands? The Seven Kingdoms need more dealmaking and alliance-building, because there’s enough war and chaos on its way, at the hands of enough enemies, as it is.

• King Tommen managed all of this without any bloodshed – he came off looking like a peacemaker, because he actually was one. Not only did he defuse a conflict that was about to make the streets of the city run red with blood (for the third time in recent memory), but he did it with serious theatrical flair in front of an enormous crowd of common folk. He and his queen walked away from the Great Sept of Baelor looking virtuous, humble, and reasonable. The crowd cheered with genuine love and admiration, and it isn’t difficult to see why. After years of suffering and hardship caused by the greed, pride, and power-lust of kings and nobles (including Tommen’s putative “father”, Robert Baratheon, who tore the Seven Kingdoms apart due to what was ultimately a dispute over a woman), the smallfolk finally see a king who is willing to swallow a little pride for the good of the Realm – for the good of the people – and they love him for it.

• King Tommen ended up having to throw some subordinates under the bus to achieve this, but in the end, subordinates should be willing to take one for the team, especially when it comes to the stability of an entire kingdom. Lady Olenna complained that the High Sparrow beat them, but really, it was Tommen who did that. Publicly upstaging them all makes him look mature and independent, which is especially important considering that the previous generation of leaders of the Seven Kingdoms are the ones who caused all this trouble in the first place. Besides which, tallying up the damage done to all involved shows that most of it is minimal, manageable, or richly deserved on the part of those receiving it. Jaime and Cersei end up looking terrible, but deserve to. Working out a deal to get Ser Loras sprung and back to The Reach is a priority, but Lord Mace is healthy and an heir isn’t needed right away, so that can wait a while. Speaking of Lord Mace, he comes out looking okay enough; a bit foolish, but only out of fatherly love, so his reputation will recover. Lady Olenna goes back to Highgarden, which is honestly for the best for everyone – overbearing mother figures are unlikely to be very helpful in the times to come. In the end, it’s all a more than acceptable price to pay, from Tommen’s perspective.

• King Tommen banned trial by combat, which put his mother in a bad spot, but was a sensible and humane step that should have been taken ages ago.

And so King Tommen has done well, and finds himself in an excellent position. Other than figuring out some way to get Ser Loras back to Highgarden, only a few small things remain in order to secure the victory he has won:

Speaking of the last two points above, Cersei must be shipped off back to Casterly Rock right away. She shares Joffrey’s worst tendencies (though not in quite as much excess), in that she is impulsive, ruthless, and stupid. As long as she remains in Kings Landing, she remains a danger to herself, to her son, to the city, and to the Realm, not to mention to the Faith, to the Throne, and to the precious but still precarious deal between them. The king can take a cue from his how his wife handled things with her grandmother. Sometimes it really is better to ask forgiveness than permission, so to King Tommen, I’d advise this: send Cersei back to the Rock under guard, then apologize to the High Sparrow for letting her “escape”. Tell him you’ll be happy to let a panel of septons back in Lannisport put her on trial (being locals, they’ll almost certainly let her go, but it will be hard for the High Sparrow to find reason to object, and besides, by this point it will be a fait accompli). If he pushes the issue, remind him what he said about the Mother’s mercy and throw yourself at his feet for forgiveness. But whatever it takes, just get rid of her, and fast, before she causes real trouble.

Next, the king must shore up his position. Don’t violate the truce, but find ways to be ready in case the High Sparrow either goes back on his word or, in the mold of Darth Vader in Cloud City, decides to unilaterally alter the deal. Whatever precautions you decide to take, do it quietly, slowly, and with layers of plausible deniability built up around it. Be patient, and remember that this is a strictly defensive measure – the deal that was made is a good one that benefits the Realm, and should be maintained

Lastly, write a letter to Danerys Targaryen inquiring about the possibility of settling the dispute over the Iron Throne by the other time-tested way of ending disputes over succession – by a marriage between royal children. Remind her that it was the marriage of the first Danerys (the daughter of Aegon IV) to Maron Martell that finally succeeded at uniting the Seven Kingdoms by bringing Dorne into the fold, after nearly two centuries years of war had failed to do so. A marriage of Tommen and Danerys’s children will return a Targaryen to the Iron Throne, with face saved all around. And it will provide King Tommen with another alliance – one that brings a Dothraki horde, an army of Unsullied, and three dragons to his side precisely at the point at which they would be extremely helpful.

Another deal, yes – because shrewd and wise dealmaking is at the heart of good kingship (or leadership of any kind). Perhaps diplomacy is not so exciting for audiences to watch (as their reaction to The Phantom Menace shows), but as the old saw teaches us, for the smallfolk of any kingdom, living in interesting times is a terrible curse. And for a king who is shrewd and wise – as King Tommen has lately shown himself to be – it is a fine way to come away from conflict looking like a boss.

UPDATE: Yes, I know what happened in the final episode of the season. Scroll back up and you’ll see that I made a point of saying that sealing victory required getting Cersei out of town as quickly as possible. Tommen didn’t follow this advice, and all of his hard-won gains came to grief because of it.

Also, I’ve made a YouTube video that includes my reactions to the season six finale of Game of Thrones, along with thoughts on the series in general and how it connects to the history and philosophy of our own world. I believe that any fan of the series will find it worth listening to.

Chernobyl Heart, Chernobyl Head

Thirty years ago today, reactor #4 at the V. I. Lenin Atomic Energy Station, located near the town of Chernobyl in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, exploded. The debris from the explosion and smoke from the subsequent fire, both highly radioactive, spread over an enormous swath of territory, and was so intense even when dispersed over long distances that the west’s first indication that a nuclear accident had taken place came when workers at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant, thousands of miles away in eastern Sweden, detected elevated levels of radiation that they determined wasn’t coming from their own plant. The disaster resulted in thirty-one direct deaths due to injuries and radiation exposure, while the number of extra deaths due to health issues related to it can probably never be fully accounted for. To this day, just over 1000 square miles of territory surrounding the plant, designated with the appropriately dismal title of the “Zone of Alienation”, remains an officially restricted area.

Of course, you knew all that already. But what may not have occurred to you is that Chernobyl is the most perfectly leftist thing ever to have happened. How so? Let us begin our analysis by looking at some engineering.

If you have ever driven past an atomic power plant in the United States, you have probably noticed one or more tall grey domes among the plant’s structures. These are called “containment buildings”, and as the name implies, they contain each of the nuclear reactors. They are made of steel-reinforced concrete several feet thick, can be sealed air-tight, and, by federal law, must be able to withstand a direct hit from a fully-loaded commercial airliner without the reactor itself taking any damage. Their presence at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, for example, is one reason why that accident was (despite the left’s hysterical reaction to it) an annoyance that resulted in no deaths instead of being a catastrophe on the level of Chernobyl.

The reactors at Chernobyl, in contrast, had no containment buildings standing over them. The Soviets didn’t build them because constructing containment buildings around their reactors was considered unnecessary to the point of being an affront to the very idea of Marxism itself. Let us not forget that Marx claimed that what he was presenting was not an economic theory or a philosophy: no, what he had was hard science – practically physics itself! – the triumph of which was absolutely inevitable. Thus, logically, all of the fruits of Marxism – economic, cultural, philosophical, and scientific – were so objectively perfect that they, like the ideology from which they sprang, could only be considered flawless. In other words, Soviet reactors didn’t need containment buildings because Marxist science was so perfect that no such measure would ever be needed. Why build a fail-safe mechanism for a system that cannot fail? Not only would that be a waste of time and resources, it practically borders on sedition.

Thus does the Chernobyl disaster stand as a perfect metaphor for Marxism itself. As with the V. I. Lenin Atomic Energy Station, so also with the communist system that V. I. Lenin himself built – with both, we see an unproven technology (in one case a scientific technology, in the other a social technology) put into practice by people who insisted that their theoretical model was so perfect that failure was impossible, and thus that both consideration of possible failure modes and the construction of redundant safety systems to mitigate the damage in case of a catastrophic failure were foolish and unnecessary. And now the weeds reclaim it all – it is post-civilization, and the only things left behind are ruins within the Zone of Alienation.

But how does this disaster, far away and, now, long ago, affect you, dear reader? You may consider yourself lucky for the fact that you aren’t living in the Zone of Alienation, but are you so sure that you really don’t? If modern, western, Cultural Marxist leftism is in any way different from its ideological cousin Soviet communism in this belief about the perfection and inevitability of its own theories, I have seen no evidence of it. Oliver Cromwell once wrote to an assembly of churchmen: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken”; and yet it is virtually impossible to lay one’s finger upon any time when his ideological descendants in the left have ever stopped to think of the possibility that they may be mistaken, or to construct any fail-safe mechanisms to deal with what will happen if it turns out that they are.

For example, they seem never to have asked themselves questions like: What if destroying Christianity really does cut the legs out from under Western civilization? What if we get into a war with a serious opponent and then find out that women really aren’t anywhere near as effective as men in combat? What if spending multiple decades pouring trillions of dollars into ghettos full of low-IQ, high-time-preference people really won’t eliminate poverty forever? What if easy divorce really does create multiple generations of dysfunctional, emotionally crippled children who are incapable of genuine intimacy and terrified of taking any real responsibility? What if feminism doesn’t make women’s lives better, but just turns them into miserable, lonely, reproductively unsuccessful corporate nuns? What if the establishment of a socialist welfare state actually does end up with the working class breaking their backs to pay astronomical taxes so that layabouts, drunkards, junkies, serial unmarried babymommas, and immigrant free-riders who showed up for the taxpayer-funded goodies can live the lives of leisured gentlemen? What if debt does matter? What if tens of millions of Sunni Muslims from violent, unstable countries really aren’t assimilable into European society?

What do we do then?

Velery Legasov, the member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences who was sent by the Politburo to investigate the Chernobyl disaster – a man who was a dedicated, longtime member of the Communist Party – hanged himself out of shame when he realized how wrong they’d all been. Who among the leaders of the West will hang themselves out of shame for the destruction of the black family, or for the fate of South Africa’s whites, or for the Bataclan, or for any of the innumerable disasters that mark the decline of our civilization? Who among them will even admit that these are serious problems that point to a basic defect in their worldview?

The answer to that is, I think, quite obvious. Social, technological, and humanitarian disasters caused by leftism happen over and over again, which any rational person would learn a lesson from, but because it is against the left’s principles to learn anything from history (They’re utopians – to them, the future is always better than the present, which is always better than the past. History is about the past, which is nothing but a cesspool of racistsexistbigotedhomophobia, and thus clearly there is nothing to be learned from any of that), they don’t. The history of the left is one Chernobyl after the next – some local in nature, and some global; some happening in an instant, others stretched over decades. They never learn anything from them and they never take responsibility for them. Always, their disasters are either denied or explained away as outliers or the fault of “wreckers” of various kinds. Always their plans would have worked – and may still! – if only conditions are tweaked just a tiny bit, or if only that last little measure of extra resources were poured into them. And never, never does it cause them to think it possible that they may be mistaken – at any time, or about anything.

In the areas surrounding the still-radioactive wreck of the V. I. Lenin Atomic Energy Station, a new medical condition has appeared. This condition, which affects the hearts of children born in the years since the disaster, is referred to as “Chernobyl Heart”, and among its wide range of symptoms is that it leaves multiple holes in the hearts of its victims. It was to atone for horrors like this that Valery Legasov committed suicide.

Which leads me to a proposal: that a heretofore-undiagnosed condition be recognized. Let us call it “Chernobyl Head”, a condition that leaves multiple holes in the cognitive abilities of its victims. It can be most succinctly defined as that condition that renders leftists unable to ever ask themselves if they may be mistaken, no matter how high the likelihood that they are; unable to develop or even admit the need for contingency plans in case their plans end up not working, no matter how dire the consequences if they don’t; unable to recognize their own failures, no matter how obvious they may be; and unable to take responsibility for the damage they have caused, no matter how awful it is. It is what causes them, without the tiniest hesitation, to declare: “Reality has a leftist bias! We’re on the right side of history! Marxist science is perfect! We don’t need any containment buildings around our reactors!”

Chernobyl Head is endemic to leftists, and incurable in them. Utopians cannot ever allow themselves to ask if there is any flaw in utopia, or in their chosen path to getting there. They certainly can never allow themselves to admit of the possibility that utopia will never arrive, or that it will be any less than perfect. Chernobyl Head is what much of makes leftists so persuasive – such absolute certainty cannot help but come across as strength, and seem inspiring to those who struggle with unsureness. But it is also what makes them so dangerous, so fanatical, so past the ability to be reasoned with. It is why they never see disaster coming, even when they’re warned about it over and over again, until it explodes like an atomic blast against a nighttime sky, spreading death and destruction; the fallout leaving only a ruined wasteland – a Zone of Alienation.

But as awful as Chernobyl Head may be, it can at least be said that unlike Chernobyl Heart, there is a way to effectively deal with it. Some people may be curable, in that they subscribed to leftism for emotional reasons, or because that seemed like the winning side, or because it was easy, and can be turned away from it. But as for those whose cases of Chernobyl Head prove resistant to all treatment, they must be physically removed – preferably from decent society altogether, but at very least from any positions of power or influence. This will not be easy, nor can it be done through playing by “civilized” rules. But those with Chernobyl Head are sick, contagious, and extremely dangerous, and the price of not stopping them is catastrophe.