Short Takes: Holiday Bonus Edition

Santa has come and left a bounty of Short Takes – ideas that are worth expressing, but that are pithily short enough to not require a full column to express. Let’s look under the tree and start unwrapping them, shall we?

1. I’ve long said that the Two-Minutes’ Hate sessions that the left directs at those who dare challenge its orthodoxy (see Paula Deen) would only lose some of their devastating effectiveness once a couple of people very publicly refused to back down and grovel in the face of them. First it was John Derbyshire, then Pax Dickinson, now Phil Robertson – the first few brave souls have shown that it can be done, and God bless them all for it. Derbyshire has said that when the left demands a groveling apology for some transgression against Political Correctness, the only possible reaction is to spit in their eye, and he’s quite right. The left are shameless bullies, and bullies start losing their power the second that people begin to stand up to them; when demonstrate that the bully is not as invincible or all-powerful as he makes himself out to be. Let’s hope that these are the first of a new dawn of eye-spittings, both in America and worldwide.

2. Sometimes there appears a movie or TV show that captures the imagination of the left; sometimes one that captures the imagination of the right; sometimes one that captures the imagination of libertarians. (Yes, I know that, Hollywood being what it is, one of those groups gets a lot more attention than the others, but bear with me). Sometimes, however, a movie or TV show comes along that captures the imagination of both the left and the right, who see different things in them that they identify with. The Matrix was a good example of that – praised by both Maoists and Neo-Reactionaries (no pun intended), who saw something in it they latched on to (Sometimes I even wonder if the Wachowskis would have made The Matrix at all, if they had known the galvanizing effect that its metaphors would have had on the then-nascent Neo-Reaction). In the present-day, the Hunger Games trilogy seems to be having a similar effect (though more on the mainstream of the left and right than on their alternative sides, who still tend to favor The Matrix). Liberals see in it the story of poor protagonists (led by a warrior-woman) struggling against a small class of rich, privileged, “one-percenter” economic elites. Conservatives see in it the story of largely white, rural, working-class protagonists struggling against a small class of effete, decadent cultural elites. Suzanne Collins may have written her books with precisely this effect in mind, in order to maximize appeal across the political and cultural spectrum – if she did, it was very clever of her. And it appears to be working. Expect to see mockingjay pins at both Obama rallies and Tea Party protests for some time to come.

3. It becomes more evident every day that true intellectuals – as opposed to pretentious, herd-mentality, pseudointellectual poseurs – are increasingly abandoning leftism for libertarianism or the Neo-Reaction.

4. Sometimes I really wonder what black people think that being white is like. I get the distinct impression that most of them believe that it is a ceaseless series of unearned freebies given, unsolicited dream jobs offered, unsought opportunities provided, unasked-for hands extended, and problems discreetly made to disappear. If that is what blacks think that being white is like, then no wonder they believe that they have not achieved parity or equality with whites – they see the everyday struggles that they have in their lives and believe that whites largely do not have them. But here, of course, they are wrong – especially when it comes to the experience of lower-middle and working-class whites, who struggle and suffer and frequently lose, and who feel (rightly) as if no one has handed very much “privilege” of any kind to them. No wonder there is so little meeting of the minds between these groups.

Of course, there also exists a professional race grievance industry – large and powerful – which actively tries to exacerbate these problems, and has had great success in doing so.  Yes, there’s that too.

5. It is obvious that throughout the West, big business and big government have merged into a near-seamless whole; though the question of which is the senior partner and which is the junior partner is still a bit unclear. But two things are clear. The first is that cut out of this power structure, Tom Hagen-style, are the church and the middle class. The second is that this power structure is one of the faces of the enemy.

6. You’ll notice that I tend not to use a lot of figures and statistics in this space. This is intentional. We live in the great age of fraud, and it is obvious that many of the statistics we are given by the power structure (both in its business and its government incarnations) are completely fraudulent (organizations like Shadowstats prove this as well). Do you believe that the government, and the rest of the power structure, is honest? If not, then why would you believe numbers and statistics given to you by known liars? Open your eyes and look at the world around you. What do your own observations tell you about what’s happening?

7. “I see no certain term to the continual wars of Britain but in the downfall of her paper credit”. Thomas Jefferson said that two centuries ago, and it was perfectly true, though it would take nearly a century and a half to come to pass. Today, the same sentiment is true of the nation that Jefferson helped to found. But in the latter case, the “certain term” will come after not nearly as long a wait.

8. The United States becomes every day more the image of what someone once said about Mao’s China: A place in which everything that is not forbidden is mandatory.

9. Workers of the world – but especially of the United States – the left has abandoned you. Like a middle-aged husband leaving his wife for a younger woman once her beauty has started to fade, the left has abandoned the working class and their interests in favor of its new partners: the welfare class, sexual libertines and deviants, and aggrieved race hustlers.

To be clear: I do not mean to imply here that the Republican Party (or really any big mainstream Conservative party in the west) does stand for the interests of the working class – it most certainly does not. No, what I mean to say here is that the power structure has abandoned you entirely, leaving you with no effective representation nor much of anything at all besides lip service. The fact that the American working and middle classes are slowly, steadily shrinking down to nothing is not unrelated.

10. Do I feel any discomfort or irony in using the products of overtly left-leaning technology companies like Apple and Google? Not at all – they have sold me the rope with which I will hang them.

11. Speaking of Moldbug, his native San Francisco Bay Area seems to be in the process of becoming something of a hotbed of both libertarianism and the Neo-Reaction. I wonder if the truth of San Francisco is not that it is an inherently leftist place, but instead that it is an inherently countercultural place. When the prevailing culture was conservative, it was leftist. Now they the prevailing culture is radically leftist, San Francisco and its environs begin to shake with tremors of the ideas which will challenge that culture.

Or maybe the Bay Area rumbles with these ideas for the same reason that post-Soviet Russia has become increasingly rightist: Because seeing firsthand where leftist ideas inevitably, invariably lead will cause any decent and reasonable person to rebel against them as vehemently as possible.

12. People fight hard for the things they genuinely believe in. If an individual or group is visibly not fighting very hard for something they say they genuinely believe in (see: the Republican Party on social issues, the Democratic Party on the ever-more-encroaching police state), then something is wrong with that picture. The most likely explanation is that those people do not, in fact, believe in those things anywhere near as genuinely as they claim to.

Yes, this is obvious. But you know what Orwell said about the first duty of intelligent men…

13. Lastly, in our Politically Correct, increasingly-totalitarian age, in which up is down, black is white, and day is night, we have reached the point at which simply saying “Merry Christmas” is a downright rebellious and revolutionary act.

I like rebellious and revolutionary acts. So, Merry Christmas to you and yours!

As always, I can be found on Twitter at @antidemblog – the more people follow me there, the more I’ll post.

Trading Places

Normally I wouldn’t post a long piece from another writer on my own site, as their thoughts should result in site views for them, not me. But this passage from Eugene Volokh, which I found via Moldbug, illustrates perfectly a point I’ve been making for years:

“I remember very little about my childhood in the Soviet Union; I was only seven when I left. But one memory I have is being on a bus with one of my parents, and asking something about a conversation we had had at home, in which Stalin and possibly Lenin were mentioned as examples of dictators. My parent took me off the bus at the next stop, even though it wasn’t the place we were originally going.

Perhaps I have some of the details wrong (was it just Stalin, or also Lenin?); childhood memories remembered 35 years later are like that. I’m telling this to explain why I feel so strongly about it, based on my memories; my personal account does not affect the soundness (or unsoundness) of my arguments. But my sense from all I’ve heard is that this is exactly how life was like there, and that no-one who lived there in the 1970s would think the scenario at all improbable.

What’s more, this is so even though most people, including most Communists, knew that Stalin was of course a dictator. The government itself had acknowledged as much. Even Lenin was widely understood to have been a dictator in the sense of someone who didn’t govern through democratic means.

But it’s not the sort of thing that you’d want to say in public, or even to your friends in private. Sssh! — people might hear! Those who hear might draw deeper inferences about what else you might believe. This might get back to the place you work. You might be fired, or blacklisted. By the 1970s, you probably didn’t have to worry much about being shot, or being sent to Siberia; these were not the 1930s. But lost jobs, ruined careers — sure. And a forced public apology: well, of course, that might help a bit.”

Consider that, dear reader, and tell me how it is any functionally different at all from the situation in the “free” West in the modern day? From this, or this, or this, or this? Or from innumerable other examples, all in the same mold? Here we see that the left is all fundamentally the same, and that wherever they take power, we can expect, to a somewhat greater or lesser degree, the same basic outcomes. As soon as they feel that their position is secure, all pretense of regard for freedom of speech or expression or conscience is shed. And so we arrive where we are now – with everyone knowing whom they are not allowed to offend or criticize. No, in America in 2013, you don’t have to worry about being shot or being sent to prison; but neither did one have to worry about that in the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union – a nation which operated under a system that we once said we’d obliterate the planet and annihilate the human race in a nuclear apocalypse sooner than live under.

And so we now see the truth: that in every way important to an average citizen other than perhaps the ability to produce consumer products*, the United States and the Soviet Union of the Brezhnev era have switched places. While Russia gradually recovers, re-Christianizes, drives out Cultural Marxism, and adopts rational foreign and trade policies, the United States  becomes, with every day that passes, more the image of the USSR from Volokh’s childhood memories.

We have met the enemy, and we have become him**.

(*No, present-day Americans don’t even really have that much more economic freedom than Brezhnev-era Soviets. Not in an age where the government can and does tell business owners who they must or may not voluntarily do business with, who they must or may not hire, what they must and may not compensate their employees with, and now, finally, what those employees must or cannot purchase with their paychecks. And those are just a few of the most egregious edicts – there are many more. If the government does not technically own the means of production, one could be forgiven for finding it hard to tell the difference.)

(**Yes, I agree with Moldbug that America has always been a “small-c” communist country. More on that soon. But the point is that it wasn’t nearly this bad not long ago… not even close.)

Short Takes

This week just before the holiday seems like a fine time for another edition of Short Takes – ideas that I believe need to be expressed, but wouldn’t be quite long enough to have a column of their own. In the spirit of the season, let’s dig right in:

1. The more time goes by, the more I become convinced that American politics cannot be truly understood without a good working knowledge of professional wrestling. What’s that, you say? Professional wrestling is complete fakery? It’s a histrionic bit of badly-staged play-acting featuring terrible performers? That it’s full of one-dimensional “face” and “heel” characters that are completely phony and entirely predictable? That they mostly just pander to crowds to get cheap “pop” or “heat” and engage in pointless, playground-level smack talk devoid of any intellectually stimulating content?  That only the most unsophisticated of rubes could fail to look past the “kayfabe” illusion they’re being shown, and to see that the what is presented to them as “real” actually bears no resemblance whatsoever to the reality going on behind the scenes? That it’s all a fixed game – designed to distract fools from the fact that they’re being suckered by cheap theatrics?

Exactly.

2. Here is the essential difference between libertarianism and liberalism: Libertarians define freedom as being left alone to do as they please, and in return agreeing to take the consequences of their decisions upon themselves. Liberals define freedom as being left alone to do as they please, and being granted the ability to pass off the consequences of their decisions onto other people. Thus, while libertarianism may be unworkable in a real world that must deal with human nature as it actually exists, it is at least a philosophy of adults. Liberalism is no more than the philosophical and political arm of the desire for eternal adolescence.

3. Related: The older I get, the less I feel any desire to shield fools – and especially arrogant fools – from the entirely predictable consequences of their own obviously poor decisions.

4. Remember this, Christian, as you defend yourself against the sophistry of unbelievers and the wicked: Christian forgiveness is neither universal nor free from conditions. Specifically, there is no requirement to forgive the unrepentant. In fact, extending forgiveness to the unrepentant is, in itself, a form of sin and rebellion against God. Remember that Christian forgiveness is a two-step process. First comes repentance – then, only then, comes forgiveness. Don’t ever lose sight of this, and don’t ever allow yourself to get talked out of it.

5. I am not myself an Objectivist or Randian, for reasons I’m sure I’ll go into greater detail about at some point, but here’s some free, heartfelt advice to them. Objectivism needs its own version of the Communist Manifesto. Allow me to explain: The production of the Communist Manifesto was a stroke of genius by Marx. Though Marx had produced thick, dense, complex tomes describing his ideas, he also produced the Manifesto as a companion to them, which was primarily meant for consumption by the masses that he hoped to reach. It was short, direct, concise, worded in a way that anyone with a basic education could understand, easily translatable into other languages, freely distributable, and both easy and cheap to mass produce copies of. The works of Ayn Rand are none of those things, to say the least. Yes, I understand that part of Objectivism is a certain elitism that revels in the fact that Rand’s works are difficult and inaccessible to many. That’s great if you want your ideas to stay limited to a relatively small group of people. If you ever want them to gain popularity with a wider selection of the population, you’re going to need an Objectivist Manifesto.

6. The tech writer John C. Dvorak is right: the “Wild West” glory days of the internet are over, probably forever. By this, I’m not just referring to the Snowden/NSA affair or other nefarious actions of government. The internet, once raucous, has settled down into what is effectively a set of monopolies or near-monopolies – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and eBay being the most prominent examples. The last two are particularly telling. I cannot speak for you, gentle reader, but as for myself I can say that basically all of my online purchases of physical goods in the last five years or so have been from Amazon or eBay. Part of that is for convenience, part to limit the number of places that my credit card information is on file… all good and practical reasons, but all leading towards a corporatized, cartelized, monopolistic internet that is all too cozy with big government.

7. Speaking of the internet – much has always been made of the internet’s supposed resistance to censorship, with the saying about it being that “the net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”. From a certain point of view, this is true: it is indeed very hard to stop information that has made it onto the internet from propagating. But that ignores the fact that censorship of the internet is rather simple if it’s done the “old-fashioned way”; i.e. by, once an undesired idea has appeared on the internet, tracking down who said it and punishing them personally. This can be done by outright arrest and imprisonment, by civil lawsuit, or by blacklisting and attacks on one’s ability to earn a livelihood (which is the preferred method in the United States). This not only shuts down the speaker, but the chilling effects of it ensure that few will take the risk of speaking out. In this way, the internet – a medium in which tracking and surveillance, and therefore finding out who said what, is relatively easy – is just as vulnerable to censorship than old forms of mass media were.

So if you’re going to speak out online, be wary, be careful, and be brave.

8. More interesting to me than the outcome of the recent “government shutdown” farce in Washington were the effects of the changed media landscape on how things proceeded. It is, in fact, a near-perfect microcosm of how the new media landscape had affected politics – a basically-identical situation happened in 1995, just as the internet was becoming mainstream but before it had seriously changed much of anything. The difference seems to have been this: That in 1995, with control of the media centralized in leftist hands, the “shutdown” was an utter victory for the leftist in power and a crushing defeat for the public perception and popular ratings of his opposition. This time, the effect of the “shutdown” was, not that it handed victory to the opposition, but that it seems to have badly damaged the perception and ratings of both sides. An interesting outcome – especially to those of us who see any erosion of the legitimacy and credibility of the current system as a good thing.

9. The American left has completely abandoned whatever genuine desire it may have had to protect American workers in favor of obsessions with race hustling, “freedoms” based in (often deviant) sexuality, and currying the favor of the ever-expanding welfare class. There is no major party in America that any longer truly represents the American worker, nor is there any realistic prospect of one arising anytime soon. That the middle class is being steadily eroded into nonexistence is not unrelated.

10. Another election apparently passed, and I did not vote in it. You should’t vote, either. Richard said withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy…

11. Do I hate homosexuals? My response is that I didn’t used to – not before they, as a group, declared open war on the traditions, morals, and religious teachings that I hold to and believe in passionately. My natural reaction to homosexuals is to pity them, but to think that they should be quietly left alone if they go quietly about their business. But what if they don’t do that? What if they try to upend society and destroy beliefs that I hold dear as a part of their obsessive quest for the validation of society at large, even if they must use coercive force to get it? Why should I not resent those who have chosen to make themselves my enemy?

12. Related: Leftists rely on sophistry, so understanding the language that they use is key. Now that they have gained power, it is obvious that what they actually meant when they used to say “You can’t legislate morality” was, essentially: “You – conservatives, traditionalists, Christians – YOU can’t legislate morality. WE, on the other hand…”

As always, I can be found on Twitter at @antidemblog – the more people follow me there, the more I’ll post.

Predictions: 100 Year Range

A new year; and what does the future hold? Hard to say. But, to paraphrase the economist Gerald Celente, current trends create future events. Thus, here is my own humble attempt at predictions for the next 100 years.

Before I start, I feel the need to make a disclaimer: Predicting that something will happen is not the same thing as calling for it to happen or hoping that it will happen. Many of the things I see coming are things I’m not happy about.

So, in no particular order:

History books downloaded in 100 years will say of the Cold War that the United States and the Soviet Union unleashed on each other the most destructive weapons known to mankind: weaponized mass culture. The Soviets attacked the United States with Cultural Marxism and radical egalitarianism, and the United States attacked the Soviets with mass consumerism and radical individualism. Though the Soviet Union fell first, the United States – and indeed the west as a whole – was mortally wounded, and only managed to limp along another 30 years or so before suffering a similar fate.

The high-water mark of world leftism will occur in the next 20-25 years or so. In this, I include democracy. I’d guess that we’re actually probably reaching Peak Democracy right about now.

Related: Osama bin Laden was definitely right about one thing – if people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they instinctively like the strong horse. Americans are convinced that the worldwide spread of the “American way” – liberal secular democratic capitalism, or, put another way, all that stuff that Francis Fukuyama assured us would be around for centuries in The End Of History – was because of the self-evident goodness and rightness of these ideas. In fact, mostly it was due to a combination of American coercion and people’s natural tendency to want to emulate successful people or institutions: to be like the strong horse. As American wealth and power declines, other nations will drift away from the “American way”. If the horse isn’t strong anymore, why continue to emulate it?

The emblematic forms of government in the 20th century were these: during the first half, democracy and fascism, during the second half, democracy and Communism. The emblematic form of government of the 21st century will be an authoritarianism that retains a few trappings of democracy. To give it a name that might help describe it, one might call it Putinism. Keep in mind, I’m describing a form of government, not an ideology – there can be right-Putinism, centro-Putinism, (e.g the trope namer), left-Putinism (e.g. Chavez), Islamo-Putinism (e.g. Erdogan), what have you.

America will have this form of government by mid-century, or perhaps just a bit later. The current American government – an ostensible democracy, but with a corporatist bureaucracy that actually runs things behind the scenes – will falter as the economy does, and eventually fail. Our Putin will be a military man, perhaps active-duty, or perhaps not long retired when he assumes power. A country that worships its military as much as Americans do will eventually, inevitably, be ruled by it.

A historical note, for some perspective. After the Roman Republic fell, what came next was far more like Putinism than it was a one-man show of a dictatorship. Yes, Augustus held the real power, but remember that even he dared not call himself a king – the term “emperor”, imperator in Latin, means “general” – and dared not formally dissolve the Senate. These things didn’t happen until centuries later – there are records of the Roman Senate meeting until Justinian’s time. The Romans were a proud people who didn’t like thinking of themselves as subjects of a king, but as citizens of a republic. Augustus was a practical man – there was a tacit, unspoken agreement by which he agreed to humor the Romans by keeping up a paper-thin fiction of a continuing republic, and they agreed to not notice that a paper-thin fiction was all that it was.

There’s a reason I’m reminding Americans of this.

In America, a slow, steady, but inexorable decline. No 1929-like crash; just slow and steady. Living standards will fall more. College enrollments will drop. People will live as extended families more. 30 and still living at home is already not unusual. It will become normal… expected. 40, married, and still living at home will not be unusual.

Have you ever gone through an economic bad patch and looked back on money you blew on extravagances in better times with a combination of disbelief that you wasted good money on that shit and pointless but painful reflection on what you could do with that same amount of money now? In 2050, that’s how Americans will look back on Iraq and Afghanistan: “We spent that money – on democracy in Iraq? What the hell were we thinking?”

Debt defaults. Lots of debt defaults.

Less travel, including driving. More communication online instead. Not entirely by choice.

By the second half of the century, the urbanization and suburbanization of the 20th will start reversing. Jim Kunstler has this right: the suburbs are an anthropological dead end. People will start moving back to small cities, and the country. Many among the white collar and technical classes will find that broadband internet will provide them with a way to work from a home office in a house in a small town in Indiana basically just as well as they could from a cubicle in Manhattan or Palo Alto.

Race problems will get worse. When the government can’t send checks to the ghetto anymore, expect riots. Big, bad, bloody riots. Quietly, many whites – nowadays, even those who aren’t toothless rednecks – start to express an end to their patience. Those in the ghetto may have an occasion or two to find out that urban neighborhoods can be fairly easily sealed off, and that food doesn’t just magically appear on Safeway shelves.

Black vs. white may be bad. Black vs. brown has the potential to be far worse. When government checks stop coming and there’s keen competition for even the shittiest of jobs, things will likely get ugly. Prosperity can paper over a lot of problems; poor, desperate men circle the wagons, and think of taking care of their own.

The only thing that may mitigate this is that as America gets poorer, the illegal immigration problem is likely to be increasingly self-correcting.

Eventually breakup: maybe into individual states, maybe into regions. But not for a while – probably not in the next century. Maybe at the very tail end.

When China can rely on selling to its own people instead of us, expect them to cut us loose. This should be right around the time that a new world reserve currency finally takes hold. That’s when things will get really bad. Both are in-process, and getting to a rather advanced stage.

Brain drain: As America declines, its cognitive elite will decamp to Asia. Think: the drain of highly educated Russians out to other countries in the 1990s. In 2060, the Americatowns in Shanghai, Singapore, and Bangkok will be a rocking place to spend a Saturday night.

Something called the Chinese Communist Party will rule China for the foreseeable future, though exactly how much, and in what ways, they’ll continue to resemble anything genuinely Communist is debatable. Yes, I know that in many ways they already don’t. But they’re likely to resemble it even less.

China will have a good century, but will falter towards the end of the 21st or the beginning of the 22nd. The 19th century was the British Century, the 20th the American Century, the 21st is the Chinese Century, I don’t know whose the 22nd century will be. Maybe nobody. Maybe we’ll just get a dark age.

The focus of history will start facing towards the global south.

Islam. Lots of Islam. All over the place. Not so much in the western hemisphere, but Africa, Europe, Asia… lots of Islam.

As Japan comes to understand that it can’t rely on America for its defense anymore, it will start to rearm in earnest. Soon, the atomic bombings of 1945 will fade out of living memory. Japan will acquire its own nuclear weapons by mid-century.

Israel will not be a going concern by century’s end.

North Korea will not be a going concern in 20 years. Whether it will implode, or explode, I can’t say.

The European Union will not be a going concern in ten years. Maybe sooner. Maybe much sooner.

Europe has spent 60 years as the world’s biggest open-air amusement park for American and British tourists. That’s just about over. Europe is going to become a not-very-fun place. By the latter half of the century, expect a lot of Putinism, and that’s the best-case scenario. Outright fascism is more than likely in spots.

The average religious makeup of a European nation by mid-century: A third each atheist, Muslim, and Christian. Plus or minus maybe ten percent or so in any direction. Remember, this is an average. Some countries will be disproportionate in one or another direction. The Christians will be far less numerous than in years past, but will gradually become more strident and vocal. A Christian religious revival by century’s end, but the growth will come out of atheism’s share – the percentage of Muslims won’t budge. Europe will have a large Islamic plurality for the foreseeable future.

The dizzying pace of technological change in the computer/internet/mobile field will taper off. I’m not asserting that it will stop completely, just that it will be lots of evolution and not that much more revolution. This particular explosion of innovation of the last 25 years or so has produced just about all the really big new inventions that it’s going to. From here on, it’s growth and refinement – better stuff, cheaper, and more ubiquitous, but few surprises.

Growth, however, is the important thing. William Gibson said that the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Evenly distributing it will be where most of the action will be in the tech scene of the latter 2/3 of the 21st century. By mid-century, you’ll have to be starvation-level poor, a desert hermit, a maximum-security prisoner, or a child under ten to not own a smartphone that gives you very comprehensive internet access. And I’m talking globally, not just in the First World.

Ain’t nobody going to Mars anytime soon.

No significant return of monarchism over the 100-200 year future timeframe. That will take 300-500 years. Over that timeframe, Putinism will very gradually shed its democratic trappings, until finally, as Justinian did, the Putins will simply drop the charade and call themselves kings.

That’s what comes to mind for now. We shall see how well these predictions hold up.