The End Of The Road

At the end of the Cold War, when Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History and the Last Man, the belief among the Western elites was that the great debates were over and liberal democracy was the winner. The days of nations competing for resources and ideologies competing for adherents were gone. Instead, liberal democracy would spread to the rest of the world and capitalism would be the universal economic model. If there was to be a debate at all, it would be over how best to distribute the great surplus.

Thirty years later, it seems a bit ridiculous, but in the context of the age, it was not an unreasonable prediction. The Cold War suppressed economic development in both the East and West, for close to seventy years. The West spending lavishly on armaments meant not spending on other things. The East having embraced communism meant three generations lost to pointless social experimentation. Stripped of the burden of war, the world could rapidly develop, unleashing an enormous supply of human capital.

It did not really turn out that way, of course. The West is noticeably less free today than it was thirty years ago. The ruling class is rushing to close off political debate and free expression. In the name of democracy elites are sending gangs of thugs to harass and assault people exercising their democratic rights. In the name of capitalism, a narrowing group of oligarchs are exercising control over large swaths of the economy. The surveillance state is reaching levels unimaginable thirty years ago.

In the shadow of this growing authoritarianism sits the political and cognitive elite, unable to come to terms with what is happening. What is remarkable about the current age is the public debate, the officially permitted one, at least, is irrelevant to what is actually happening in the world. Three years on and the American media is still talking about invisible gremlins supposedly hypnotizing voters in the 2016 elections. Meanwhile, millions of barbarians pour over the southern border and the public space collapses.

This summer, various types of patriotic groups will come to Washington to demonstrate and proselytize for their constitutional rights. It is a feature of life in the Imperial Capital that used to go unnoticed. People demanding free speech by speaking freely in front of the White House was always a bit amusing. Now, however, those speakers will be attacked by black clad militants, calling the speakers fascists. The media will hiss at the speakers, claiming their demands for free speech are a threat to democracy.

Meanwhile, the supposed conservative opposition will be having name tag parties where they will talk about the threat of socialism. Nowhere is the absurdity of the age more obvious than in the so-called conservative movement. They have coordinated, with the Republican Party, a campaign to fight socialism. The stunning inability to come to terms with present reality is breathtaking. Their campaign against socialism is every bit as ridiculous as seeing people walking around dressed in leisure suits.

It is not just right-wing Progressives trapped in the past. What passes for serious thinking on the Left side is just as vacuous. This is a journal published by a Harvard graduate student that’s popular with the “serious” Progressive. It is every bit as retrograde and irrelevant as the nonsense belched out by so-called conservatives. The midget wrestling of this age is two young intellectuals, like Nathan Robinson and Ben Shapiro, debating socialism, using language that fell out of fashion a generation ago.

In all candor, many on the dissident right suffer from the same problem. Look around the intellectual space – and it is quite vibrant – and you cannot help but notice that a lot of it is backward looking. A big part of it is “rediscovering” thinkers from the last century, who were on the losing side of the great debates of their age. There’s that haunting, familiar to every southerner, that the wrong side won. If only we could go back and re-fight those old fights, maybe things would be different. It’s a longing for an unrealized present.

This antiquarianism is most obvious in the street fights between the radical Left and radical Right. One side imagines themselves as the Rotfrontkämpferbund while the other side is the Sturmabteilung. The silliness of either side thinking they are part of some radical tradition is obvious. More important, it reveals the lack of original thinking. Old dead ideas like fascism, anarchism and radical socialism have little to tell us about politics in the post-industrial, technological age. It’s nothing more than play acting to no end.

Fukuyama was a bit grandiose in pronouncing the end of history, but he was not wrong about the Cold War marking the end of something. It turns out that it was the end of the Enlightenment. All of the debates important to the intellectuals who emerged from the middle ages have been addressed. There’s nothing left to be said on those topics. It turns out that much of it was just a dead end. Perhaps all of it. The resulting conclusions don’t seem to have much value in this post-Enlightenment age.

Meanwhile, noises coming from the cognitive elites fill the air, but they mean nothing to any man standing in the current age looking forward down the timeline. Instead, the noises from these people are like the wailing of animals trapped in the tar pits. They are sad, mournful and a bit terrifying, but the only reason to pay any attention to them is to listen for signs of their waning. Their time is done and once they are gone, the world can move forward with whatever comes next and stop thinking about a now dead past.

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The Bandit Economy

There is an old parable about business ethics, where a young ambitious man is hired to run a pickle factory. Being ambitious, he comes up with a brilliant idea to increase productivity. He reduces the number of pickles in each jar by one. The result is the cost per jar falls and the number of jars produced goes up. His bosses are suitably impressed and he is quickly promoted. The firm hires another young hotshot to take his place, he quickly figures out the scheme and repeats the process.

The lesson of the story is that such an approach is not really about increasing efficiency or cutting costs. It is about fraud and the limits of fraud. If this process is carried out a few more times, customers will notice that the jars have a lot less product. Taken to its logic end, the company will eventually be sending empty jars to the market. Of course, once the public catches onto the fraud, the good name of the company is ruined and all of those savings they gained on the front end are lost on the back end, plus interest.

It is a useful parable when trying to understand what has happened to America over the last three decades. Free of the threat of nuclear annihilation, the ruling class has abandoned ethics and morality. One result is we live in a bandit economy, where things like shrinkflation are features rather than exceptions. This post over at Zero Hedge details how the gas you put in your car has been systematically watered down over the last quarter century, coincidentally starting at the end of the Cold War.

Of course, a trip through the supermarket will find plenty of examples of this phenomenon, some of which border on the absurd. The classic pint of ice cream is now fourteen ounces and shrinking. It won’t be long before they will quietly change the definition of quarter to be 2.5 pints. Only conspiracy theorists will notice the change. It used to be that a pint was a pound the world around, but you can’t even buy a pint of beer without a heroic capitalist pulling shenanigans on you. It’s becoming a game with them.

The libertarian line about the market simply being a place where buyers meets sellers sounds good in the hothouse, but in the real world, left unattended, it becomes a grifters alley, where the honest are preyed upon by the unscrupulous. Just as there is never a cop around when you need one, there is no longer anyone policing the practices of our capitalist overlords. If you want to know why people at the end of the Industrial Revolution were open to the call of communism, stand in the chip aisle of your market.

If you are the sort who likes a sandwich and some chips for his lunch, the one thing you can’t help but notice is the bags of chips have grown larger and more expensive. What used to be fifty cents is now a buck-fifty. The bag is also twice the old size, but inside are fewer chips than in the past. It’s already reached the point where the bag is 80% air and 20% product. If this continues on much longer, the lunch time snack will be a dirigible sent to your office containing one chip. That will be your drone delivery.

What the West is experiencing is something people figured out at the end of the industrial revolution. That is, market capitalism is great, except for the market capitalists. Left unsupervised, they quickly turn into bandits in business attire, coming up with clever ways to rob the public. Another feature of this age is the declining number of independent suppliers. It turns out that a feature of unrestrained market capitalism is the strangling of the market by a handful of powerful suppliers, who exercise hegemonic power.

Of course, what is happening here, in a million little daily transactions, is the monetization of public trust. The office workers grabbing lunch trusted that the participants at their local deli were playing fair. Meanwhile, those clever MBA-toting business men and their brilliant ideas about removing just one more pickle from the jar, are exploiting this trust and skimming a few more pennies from the unwitting customer. This sort of practice is modern coin-clipping, which used to be a capital offense.

At some point, when the rubes notice their sandwich can fit in the palm of their hand and the bag of chips is the size of a hot-air balloon, they lose their naiveté and privately realize they are being scammed. We live in a cynical age, because privately, people are coming to believe nothing is on the level and no grift is too small. That has the effect of codifying deceit as a feature of the market and of society. We are rapidly reaching a point where only a sucker trusts anyone other than his friends and family.

This is why unfettered market capitalism is a cancer on society. It turns morality on its head, justifying the unwillingness of the elite to enforce public morality. It’s why your kid’s phone is full of hardcore pornography. The market has spoken and you’re not against the market, are you? Eventually, there is the “A-HA!” moment, when people discover that their private loathing of the daily grift is shared by a large portion of the population. The preference cascade sets the world on fire and morality returns with a vengeance.

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Since the first human settlements, people inside a human society have needed something to bind them together. They may have had common interests, like protection of a hunting ground or agricultural land, but economic interests are transitory. In order for people to sacrifice for one another or defend the society, they needed a shared belief, a common sense of reality that defined them versus outsiders. In addition to blood and soil, the commonly held set of rules held by a people is what defines them as a people.

One of the things that set the Athenians against the Spartans was the realization by the Athenians that the Spartans were enslaving Greeks. The Athenians always knew this in the abstract sense, but once they saw it up close after the earthquake of 464 BC, the reality of this difference between themselves and the Spartans was made plain. No matter how much they had in common, no matter their past cooperation, Athens did not enslave their fellow Greeks. It’s not who they were, to use a term familiar today.

Now, there were many other causes, more important causes, to the Peloponnese War, but this sense of a great difference between the two powers, in terms of their identity as people, made war easy. The American Civil War is another obvious example, where families and communities were divided over a moral question. The sense of identity, built around a common morality, can transcend blood relations. The phrase, “That is not who were are” is probably responsible for more violence than any other expression.

This is something the civic nationalists get right. The shared reality, along with a shared morality, is what defines a people, more so than blood and soil alone. When they talk about the American creed, they are not wrong that it is what defines the high concepts of American identity. Europeans think of Americans as relentless moralizers, because that’s the identity projected to them by politicians and the media. That’s because America is mostly defined by its sense of morality, rather than its history.

This is not just an American thing. France used to make a fetish of what it meant to be French, because there is a lot of diversity within France. The people in Brittany are different than the people of Provence. Therefore, it was necessary to impose this unifying French identity in order to hold the nation together. On the other hand, Swedes never developed a strong civic religion, because until their recent madness, it was obvious to everyone what it meant to be Swedish. The Finns are another good example.

The thing that American civic nationalists and credalists get wrong though is who decides these definitions. People like Ben Shapiro can never bring themselves to say who came up with the American Creed. His counterparts on the Left intimate that America as an idea just sort of happened by magic. They love quoting the Declaration, but never mention the men who wrote it or why they wrote it. For the modern credalists, the America Creed is disconnected from the American people, like a cloud hovering over the land.

That’s why it cannot work. While every society has a shared reality with a common morality, it is always tied to the people. It is the people who shape that reality and define that morality. Most important, the people inside define who is and who is not inside that shared reality. For example, to call yourself a Jew, you have to meet certain criteria, but also be accepted in by the Tribe. Similarly, if you wish to call yourself a Native American, you have to prove it to the people of one of the tribes. They decide, not you.

It’s why banishment has always been one of harshest punishments in human society, reserved for those who commit crimes against the people. To expel someone from society literally strips the identity from the person. At the same time, unlike death, it offers the opportunity for redemption. If the banished can prove he belongs, the people can restore him to the group. Again, this is not based on objective criteria handed down from some mysterious place. The people decide when the banished can return.

The way civic nationalists imagine this working is the people have no say in who is and who is not inside the group. If a Somali believes in the carried interest deduction and a hawkish foreign policy, he can be an American, according to Ben Shapiro. If a Guatemalan is good with a leaf blower and promises to vote Democrat, he’s ready to be an American according to the modern Progressive. Since no one inside has a say in the matter, everyone on earth can become an American just by saying so.

This obviously drops the value of being an American to zero, as something anyone can have for the asking is by definition worthless. It also makes citizenship entirely unworkable, as citizenship relies on exclusivity. The citizen is someone inside a well-defined society. If everyone can just walk in and be a citizen, then there is no well-defined society, so no such thing as a citizen. The very basis of human organization collapses, leaving nothing but ad hoc collections of deracinated people.

The truth of these binding ideals like an American Creed or French civic nationalism or Britishness, is that these shared ideals are the mortar that binds the bricks of society. The bricks are things like biology, race, shared history, physical location and even shared interests. The shared reality and common morality bind these together to define the wall between the people inside and the people outside. From time to time the people will need to repoint the wall with new ideals, but it is always in service to that defining wall.

Ultimately, what defines identity, whether it is national identity or culturally identity, is who defines it. For a national identity to exist, you first need a nation willing to define it and enforce it. Similarly with a cultural or religious identity. It’s why every religion has a process for new adherents. They must prove to those inside that they are worthy of inclusion in the faith. The American Creed can only exist if Americans exists with a separate and unique identity, one they define and enforce.

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Complicit Rightness

One of the unmistakable features of the modern Left is the increasing hostility to Jews and Jewish issues, particularly Israel. The new darlings of the coalition of the vibrant have a habit of displaying hostility to Israel. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Somalia) sounds like a member of Hamas when it comes to our greatest ally. Despite the loud noises from other members of the Left, Omar has suffered no consequences. You can’t help but get the feeling that behind closed doors, the woke women of the Left are not enthusiastic for the Tribe.

Another unmistakable feature of the modern Left is they tend to preach against that which is a feature of Jews and Israel. A current example popular on the Right is the fact that the Left hates walls, but Israel seems to love walls. The Israelis have built border walls that are just only impressive. They work. In fact, the Israelis are really proud of having solved their problem with Arabs secretly crossing the border. Meanwhile, here in the United States, opposing a wall on the southern border is the top priority of the Left.

It’s not just political things either. Group solidarity has become the new fascism with the Left, even as their demands for conformity get shriller. The surest way to get fired from your job is to say out loud that white people have a right to exist. Those “It’s OK To Be White” signs are treated like acts of terrorism now. Yet, tribal solidity is very Jewish. It is the defining feature of Jews. In fact, it is the quality that has allowed them to survive and thrive in the West. You see it in this story about their efforts to fight Tay-Sachs disease.

Genetic diseases tend to be very nasty, as nature tends to use harsh measures to defend against harsh threats. Resistance to malaria, a terrible disease common in sub-Saharan Africa, is the great example. One copy of the gene is a powerful weapon against a powerful disease. Two copies means a monstrous death. Tay-Sachs disease is a rare inherited disorder that progressively destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord of new born children. Afflicted children die a terrible death in a few years after birth.

Tay-Sachs was never common, but it was not unknown either. Jewish hospitals had wards just for sufferers of the disease, so it was common enough. In the late 1960’s a test was devised to check if someone was a carrier of the disease. Parental screening had the effect of preventing the birth of children with the disease, but also encouraging carriers to have children. Screening allowed parent to choose a different path in order to make sure their children did not have the disease. As a result, Tay-Saks closed to wiped out.

That is a remarkable result and it is only possible when a group of people has both a strong sense of identity and a strong sense of a shared future. That tribalism that has kept Jews from being swallowed up by their host populations turns out to be pretty good for all sorts of things that are good for the Tribe. The campaign against breast cancer is another example. Jewish women have much higher rates of breast cancer. Jewish activism and philanthropy has made it the best funded cancer research on earth.

Jews should be very proud of having worked together to prevent a terrible disease and it should be an example to all people. It’s not about the shared past, so much as the desire for a shared future that makes tribalism work in the modern world. If you look at your people as a large extended family, you will want your people to survive and thrive into the future. That means you cannot just look at yourself as a lonely individual looking out only for you. You are part of a larger whole and must sacrifice for the greater good.

Despite this obvious upside to group identity and solidarity, the Left is violently opposed to even the hint of it. Even Jews are getting the treatment, as we see with the bright new faces of the ascendant. It’s a strange thing that many write off to some secret conspiracy, but it may simply be an example of implicit rightness. The people having this bizarre response to identity politics are the people most likely to experience it up close and personal, so it is informing their politics, like a reaction to an infectious disease.

In America, Progressivism is based exclusively on the college campus. The days of left-wingers organizing the working classes are no more. The defining feature of the Left is their fear of being anywhere near real work. Instead, they fester and boil on the college campus, where they come up with new ways to rage about the people on the other side of the walls. They also spend a lot of time around Jews. Other than maybe finance or perhaps the law, Jews are most over represented on the college campus.

As a result, American Progressives are the people most exposed to Jews. An ideology that is supposed to explicitly trump biology is therefore going to evolve in response to the most extreme version of ethnic-nationalism. In other words, this indomitable quality of the Jewish people is what Progressivism has evolved to oppose. Let loose on the general population of America, a people with a frontier mentality, the result is like small pox on the American Indians. Wokeness is the Tay-Saks of white America.

Reality is that thing that does not go away when you stop believing it. The reason Jews are the most successful tribe in human history is they have a shared identity and shared future. That sense of a collective self is what has seen them through the worst of times, despite being a tiny minority. Ethnic identity is what made it possible for the West to accelerate past the rest of the world. Identity politics is the antidote to the mind virus of Progressivism. It turns out, implicit whiteness is the germ of complicit rightness.

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Joining The Merchant Right

For a few years now, I have been getting requests from readers wondering how they can donate to my efforts. I’ve always told them to donate to VDare, Steve Sailer or a good YouTuber like RamZPaul, as I don’t have a mechanism for accepting money. It’s not that I don’t like money or I am selfless. It’s just that the costs were minimum and there are others out there who could use the money. There’s also a cost to setting up a finding apparatus, especially in an age of woke capitalism and systematic de-platforming.

I’ve also been asked by other content creators to join the merchant right, because it helps reinforce the notion that a culture war is not won on love. It takes money to run these sites and many of the people doing it have no other way to make a living. If you are a guy who has been anathematized due to your politics, you need to get support from people in this thing so you can live. Part of building that support structure is building a culture of giving where we support our guys with more than just snarky comments and clever banter.

While I like money and the culture argument is persuasive, I’ve been slow to come around to the idea. The recent issue with upgrading my server has caused me to rethink things, as there is now a real cost to running this side. The new server now comes with a hefty fee every month, compared to what I was doing. Now is probably a good time to test the waters and see if being a media whore is for me. I’ve created a SubscribeStar account for people to contribute to my work. If you feel generous, please sign up.

Now, I’m not entirely sure I am cut out to be a media whore, so I’m starting with a modest goal and one funding mechanism. I think I should begin creating some premium content as a reward to those who contribute. That seems to be the model popular with independent media, but I’m still noodling that one. RamZPaul does videos just for his subscribers. The TRS guys have a paywall that does the same thing. I’m still investigating how others handle that part of it, so feel free to offer suggestions and examples.

The other thing I’m looking at doing is crowdsourcing a book effort. I have been working on a book. I hope to have the first draft done this fall. Since I’m a terrible editor, I will need to hire a professional to edit the copy. I’m thinking the way to do that is with a crowd-sourcing effort, but I’m still looking at how that works. I might just setup something myself, but that would require a merchant account and some changes to the site. Alternatively, I could raise money for the project and then just give the book away on the site. We’ll see.

The bottom line is I am sticking my toes into the merchant waters. If anyone has suggestions on this front, feel free to offer them up. There are a lot of people making a living as a solo content producers, so I’m not breaking new ground, but maybe doing what everyone else is doing is not the right course for me. Like it or not, I’m a bit of an outlier in the dissident media, so I may have to be an outlier in the merchant game too. Therefore, I’m open to suggestions. Sometimes old puzzles need new solutions.

The Right-Wing Grifter

They say all cons start with flattery. The conman finds a way to flatter the mark, who then foolishly places his trust in the conman. Usually that means playing on the vanity of the target, as everyone likes to be told that their opinion of themselves is correct. Even the most cynical have some weakness in this regard. Deep down, even the most jaded, has a vision of their idealized self. When that vision of the self is confirmed, even by a stranger, the person confirming it goes up in the estimation of the person being flattered.

Of course, flattery has always been the most important tool in democratic politics, as the voters are the quintessential marks. If you think about it, anyone wanting to hold political office should be disqualified on that basis alone, as no normal decent person should want to hold political office in a democracy. Therefore, the first job of the politician is to convince you he is not morally unfit. To do that he tells you the thing you most want to hear about politics. You are right and your opponents are morally wrong.

This feature of democracy is why such systems are quickly overwhelmed by sociopaths and dangerously unbalanced lunatics. Nature is pretty clear on this. You get more of what you select for and less of what you select against. Any system that benefits the pathological liar over the honest will inevitably be dominated by the former at the expense of the latter. Strangely, this is why the Right in America is so easily fooled into supporting that which is against their interests. They are the honest in a game of liars.

For example, Oliver North was recently pushed out of the National Rifle Association, after he tried to extort the long serving leader Wayne LaPierre. Oliver North is, of course, a notorious right-wing grifter, who has been hustling gullible white people for going on four decades. His public career started when he put on his old uniform to perform in front of Congress during the Iran-Contra hearings. That was in the 1980’s. Since then, he has been waving around his service and the American flag as part of his act.

Peddling shabby patriotism to middle-class white people seems harmless, but it inevitably it leads the patriotic into supporting people, who have no intention of actually representing their interests. North was more than happy to subvert the venerable gun group so he could haul away some of its cash. The terrible decisions by the group of late in terms of cucking to the gun grabbers all seem to lead to North. His interest was to stuff his pockets with money, not advance the interests of gun owner and gun rights.

It is a good example of how the con works in politics. North has spent a lifetime flattering the sorts of people willing to give money to the NRA. He is very good at flattering these sorts of people, which is how he made a TV career telling other people’s war stories. He is very good at flattering middle-class white people. The National Rifle Association naturally assumed he would be a good face for them, as he appeals to the sorts of people they represent. They made the mistake of trusting someone who flattered them.

Another example of this is Ben Shapiro. At first blush, there’s no reason for him to be wildly popular among civic nationalists. Here you have this hyper-tribal Jewish dwarf, repeating catch phrases from decades before he was born. If he walked into a room full of his target audience, and they did not know him, they would assume the little guy was lost or maybe part of the entertainment. Everything about him is outside of the norm for the people who follow him, but he flatters them so well, they overlook it.

Like Oliver North, his grift is primarily a money grift, but Shapiro also works to subvert the interests of his target audience. A good example of this is his reaction to the on-going censorship by the big social media platforms. On the one hand, he will repeat all the usual civic nationalist platitudes about free speech in a democracy. On the other hand, he opposes any effort to actually accomplish these goals. If someone mentions the government regulating these firms, he starts maniacally blowing the libertarian shofar.

Like everyone else in Conservative Inc., Ben Shapiro is happy to talk about the issues that concern middle-class white Americans, but he is strongly opposed to actually doing anything to defend those interests. That’s because the interests of his audience may conflict with his own interests. Just as Oliver North was willing to compromise on your gun rights so he could collect on his fat contract, Ben Shapiro is willing to sacrifice your speech rights so that he can remain in good standing with Big Media.

It’s why for dissidents, the right-wing grifter is the most immediate problem in the effort to win over converts. The primary function of guys like Shapiro is to prevent middle-class white people from defending their own interests. He even goes so far as to declare that middle-class white people don’t have interests. That’s what he means when he says it is ideology that matters, not ethnic identity. His rhetoric is intended to flip your morality on its head, where your highest duty is to sacrifice your interests for his interests.

Fringe Politics

I like to mix things up to keep it fresh, so this week I’m doing a show on some of the more fringe aspects of the dissident right. Even though these political movements don’t get a lot of discussion, they have had a lot of influence on outsider politics in America and in Europe. Some of the things that you hear in alt-right circles, for example, come from National Bolshevism and Archeofuturism. Even if you are not interested in signing onto a fringe political movement, knowing something about them can be useful.

This is a topic I have been looking forward to doing for a while now. I’ve had some exposure to all of these at one time or another, but I had to take some time to get reacquainted with much of it. It’s fascinating to me how some ideologies don’t change all that much. The Third Position guys, for example, have been pretty much the same since I first encountered them as a kid. Even though the Cold War is a fading memory, there are people out there still viewing the world in terms of the old Left and old Right.

The segment on Archeofuturism is probably the most salient. I’m not someone who comes from that school of thought, but Guillaume Faye is probably the one “right-wing” thinker in the last couple of generations to seriously re-think what it means to be on the Right. He is certainly one of the few who moved his focus up the great chain of causality from institutions to biology and culture. Most of the conventional Right has gone the other way, falling into the gutter of libertarian economics. Faye is a guy worth reading again.

One administrative note. I did a long interview with the guys at Identity Dixie this week and the results will be posted on their site this upcoming week. I think I will be doing a post on the topic of Southern Nationalism at some point, but their site has a lot of interesting stuff on the topic. They did a podcast with the Ensign Hour guys, a Canadian nationalist podcast, that was quite interesting. There is a surprising amount of overlap between Southern nationalism and Canadian nationalism. If you have time it is worth a listen.

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below. I have been de-platformed by Spotify, because they feared I was poisoning the minds of their Millennial customers.

This Week’s Show


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Religion Versus Capitalism

A peculiar feature of the West over the last half century or so is the sudden decline in church attendance among Christians. In some parts of Europe, church attendance has declined into the single digits. France and Belgium have church attendance rates of around ten percent and it is mostly among the old. Estonia is at two percent, which makes it the least religious country in Europe, at least until they invite in enough Muslims. Even in the United States, religiosity is in steep decline, especially outside the South.

These declines have not been uniform. Quebec, for example, had high church attendance rates until fairly recent. They also had a relatively high fertility rate. Then all of a sudden, both went into steep decline. Similarly, Poland had very high church attendance rates, even under the yoke of communism, but then it started to fall. As in Quebec, this recent drop in church attendance is with the young and corresponds to a drop in fertility. As David Goldman observed, all over the world, religiosity and fertility follow the same path.

One assumed cause is social cycle theory, where a society goes through a process of birth, life and death, with falling fertility and religiosity in the late phases. Another explanation is that one causes the other. That is, when women get jobs instead of getting pregnant, church attendance falls. Alternatively, the drop in church attendance causes a drop in fertility, as other traditional modes of life also decline. Still others argue that multiculturalism crowds out both religion and normal family life, causing the decline of both.

A better, less popular explanation for both the decline of religion and the drop in fertility is the spread of what we call capitalism. In the two examples of Quebec and Poland, the drop in fertility and religiosity both coincided with their inclusion into the global economy starting in the 1990’s. Quebec was not communist, but somewhat disconnected from the emerging global economy, until the independence movement was defeated. One result of that process was the greater integration of Quebec into the global economy.

Poland, of course, was in the Soviet Bloc until the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was then quickly and suddenly integrated into the emerging global economy. Poland joined the West and then stopped going to church and stopped making babies. Polish church attendance dropped from 80% to 40% in a generation. The fertility rate in 1980 was 3.0 and by 2000 it had dropped to 1.37. The opening of Poland to capitalism and the global economy corresponded with the closing of Polish churches and the Polish womb.

If you think about the nature of capitalism, in theory at least, and the nature of religion, it is not hard to see the conflict. Capitalism not only assumes certain things about people, it imposes them. The marketplace is a competition to attain informational asymmetry between the buyer and seller. The seller wants the buyer to over value the good or service, while the buyer wants the seller to undervalue his product or service. It is only in this way that either can expect to make a profit from the transaction.

In a system where the highest good is a profit, then all other considerations must be secondary. Lying, for example, is no longer strictly prohibited. The seller will no longer feel obligated to disclose everything to the buyer. The seller will exaggerate his claims about his product or service. Buyers, of course, will seek to lock in sellers into one way contracts based on information unknown the other seller. The marketplace, at its most basic level, is a game of liar’s poker, where all sides hope to fool the other.

Religion, in contrast, also assumes certain things about people, but seeks to mitigate and ameliorate them. Generally speaking, religion assumes the imperfection of man and sees that imperfection as the root cause of human suffering. While those imperfections cannot be eliminated, the negative effects can be reduced through moral codes, contemplation and the full understanding of one’s nature. Religions, outside of some extreme cults, are not about altering the nature of man, but rather the acceptance of it.

Further, religion is a closed system, while the marketplace must be open. In order to be in the sect, one has to adopt a certain lifestyle and a certain set of beliefs. Most of all, the person has to be accepted by the other members. The marketplace, in theory, is open to everyone and the participants cannot exclude new entries. An ethos based on extreme openness cannot peacefully coexist with a system based on exclusivity. Not only has religion died in the West, but so have social organizations like fraternal orders.

Now, to be precise, what we call capitalism is closer to what prior age would have called corporatism or even fascism. The West is not living in an age of free markets and open competition. Instead, it is in a period of tightly controlled markets that are ruled by state protected oligopolists. Finance is controlled by a relatively small number of major banks and technology is run by a handful of global giants. Healthcare is a government controlled monopoly. The neo-liberal order is a global public-private partnership.

Since this arrangement lacks natural legitimacy, libertarians have been brought in to create a civic religion based around worship of the marketplace. It is why otherwise sensible people can support internet censorship by “private” entities. People have been condition to accept whatever private business does as morally legitimate. This new religion in support of the neo-liberal order, like all secular religions, is covetous and intolerant. It has to anathematize and marginalize any alternative religion.

The rise of this new fusion of capital and state authority, centered in Washington, does track with the decline of religion, fertility and local institutions. Whether you call it globalism, neo-liberalism or neo-conservatism, all of these terms describe the same system of rule by a corporate-government partnership. It is hostile to religion, both explicitly and implicitly, particularity Christianity. Faith in the marketplace is inimical to faith in God. When man loses that, he loses the will to go on and fertility rates plummet.

Open Air Absurdistan

One of the defining features of this age is that it is hard to keep pace with the absurdity we see promoted by the people who rule over us. The degree of nuttiness is certainly a big part of our growing revulsion, but it is also the speed. In the 1990’s, it was possible for Bill Clinton, the leader of the respectable Left, to dismiss homosexual marriage. Ten years later, no one on the Left dared do that. Ten years ago, men in dresses were freaks to be mocked. Today they are objects of worship by the finest people in the land.

There are a lot of people offering up explanations for why the people in charge have suddenly gone mad. Mass mental illness, caused by a pathogen would not only explain the problem, but make for an interesting movie plot. Perhaps this is just what the end of a historical epoch is like. Having lost a reason to exist, the ruling classes indulge in whatever craziness they can muster. Maybe our rulers are so alien to us that their sense of normal falls well outside what the rest of us consider decent and proper.

Another reason may be that democracy lacks an innate legitimacy and authority, so it relies on openness to sustain itself. The authority of a parent relies on the fact the father is the head of the household. He is in charge because he can impose his will. Democracy lacks this natural ability to impose its will on the public, so it must seek consensus, which requires a public expression of the general will. In order for everyone to go along with whatever has been decided, they need to see that the majority is in favor of it.

This openness can only work if everyone in the society is welcome to participate in the process of deciding things. It’s why all modern experiments with democracy quickly move from a limited franchise to a full franchise. Once the West started experimenting with democracy in the 19th century, the franchise expanded quickly, even though most nations still had some form of monarchy. In modern America we are handing ballots to the mentally ill, prisoners and to foreigners now. The door to the voting booth is wide open.

The thing is, culture and morality, the shared intellectual space of every society, can only exist with clear borders. What defines French culture from German culture is not just physical distance and biology. There is a shared reality of the French that excludes all others. It is the opposite of open. It is closed. The same is true of moral systems. To exist, they must draw lines between what is and what is not acceptable. That which defines a people is the rejection of openness in favor of a closed, exclusive mode of thought.

Saying “this is not who we are” seems to track with not knowing who we are or why we are even a “we” anymore. The reason for that is the great effort to fulfill the needs of democracy has left western countries as deconstructed components of what used to be a rational, bounded society. France is no longer a closed system, but simply a remnant of a society, the pieces of what used to make up France. No one talks about what it means to be French, because everyone can be French. It’s a thing with no form now.

If the theoretical end point of liberal democracy is a world without boundaries, physical or cultural, then it is a world without morality. After all, morality is a world of fences and gates that control human behavior within the closed social system. In order for there to be a moral order, there must be order and that must include boundaries. Once the boundaries lose their purpose, the fences and gates are simply gravestones in a cemetery of a long forgotten people. No one cares if the kids knock over the grave stones.

In fact, in a world without form, the hunt for something to level becomes increasingly urgent as there is less and less to knock over. Once the statues of the great men of the past are removed, their names must be removed. Once the basics of family life have been destroyed through divorce and feminism, the innocence of childhood is attacked via the degeneracy of transgenderism. Those hunting for grave stones to topple become increasing frantic as the supply of objects to desecrate dwindles after every spasm.

Maybe the people in late empire Rome, or just before the French Revolution, thought the world was going crazy too. Perhaps part of the social cycle is a period of frantic lunacy that is really just a form of panic at the prospect of cultural death. There was certainly a lot of weirdness with the Romans toward the end of the Republic. The French aristocracy was painting themselves up like clowns toward the end. Maybe to the normal people in those ages, these things were as revolting as seeing drag queen story time.

On the other hand, what we think of today as liberal democracy is a great novelty with which we have little experience. Full democracy in America has only existed since the middle of the last century. That’s roughly three generations. The same is true of Europe, where it was imposed after the last war. Eastern Europe has little of the degeneracy we see in the West, mostly because they just adopted liberal democracy. We could simply be seeing what John Adams observed. Democracies always murder themselves.

Failure Analysis: Charlottesville

Failure analysis is probably the most important component of progress in any area of human endeavor. Figuring out what went wrong, why it went wrong and then scheming how to prevent it from happening again, is how we move forward in business, science, technology and even social organization. After every election, the losing party goes through a period of self-examination in order to figure out why they lost. The old line about learning more from failure than success is true, as long as you actually learn something.

With Joe Biden launching his campaign in Charlottesville, now is a good time to examine the catastrophe of the Unite the Right rally in 2017. Now, the first thing to note that from the point of view of the Left, this was a great success. Almost two years on, it remains an emotional rallying point for all of the tribes in the fight against whiteness. It is why very old white man Joe Biden picked it for his campaign announcement. He wanted to let those tribes know that he is their man, despite his noticeable lack of vibrancy.

That is an important lesson of this event. Activism is always about rallying your side and depressing the other side. Everything else is secondary. Most of the dissident right is happy to forget about this event, while the Left has made it one of the key events in their narrative. Put the phrase “Unite the Right” into a search engine and you first get the Wikipedia page describing it as a rally by the worst people. An image search returns pics of Nazis and noble non-whites. For the Left, Charlottesville was a triumph.

That is the first lesson of the event. It was a failure. Many involved have yet to come to terms with that reality. Instead, they keep working to correct the record about what happened and who was responsible. This recent live stream by Richard Spencer is a good example. The fact that they keep thinking the facts matter says they still don’t understand what happened. To the Left, the facts are unimportant. What matters is they have martyrs and they have a bloody shirt to wave around.

Therein lies another lesson. For too many in dissident politics, this obsession with applying the blue pencil to the Left’s myth-making remains a liability. Conservatives have always fallen into this trap. While the Left is performing yet another morality tale, the Right is busy editing the script for accuracy. In politics, factual accuracy is only important if it advances the narrative. What matters, what always matters, is convincing the public that your version of reality is the most pleasing. The facts are just part of the set.

Beyond accepting that it was a disaster for our side, however you wish to define it, the question is why did it happen? Part of it was the people involved got caught up in the moment, so they stopped thinking. They really thought they were in one of those great periods of transition. Eric Striker actually makes that point in this episode of his podcast at around the 55-minute mark. Before the event, Spencer had posted his version of the Port Huron Statement. They thought the revolution was happening.

Another reason the event turned into a great piece of propaganda for the Left and a disaster for the Right is the organizers made the classic error of thinking the Left would abide by its own stated rules. This never happens, as the Left sees rules, laws and principles as conveniences that further their efforts. The laws are like the New York subway system. You get on and off as necessary. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. For the Left, winning is always the end. They will never let the rules get in the way.

Conservatives have been making this mistake for as long as anyone reading this has been alive. American right-wingers always assume the Left has practical, tangible motivations and that they will abide by their own rules. After all, conservatives have practical goals and always play by the rules. You’ll notice that all of those Virginia democrats caught up in the black face scandal are still in their jobs. Even the serial attacker, Justin Fairfax, is still in his job. In the fight with the Left, there are no rules.

One lesson many on the alt-right have learned from the event is that all the people flying the “pro-white” banner are not the same. Those older groups, what is often called White Nationalism 1.0, are incompatible with the modern movements. Those guys remain stuck in the past, determined to remain in a sub-culture that operates on the fringes. Many of them are simply crazy or violent. There’s no need to disavow these people, but if you’re going to build something new, you have to break free from the past.

Charlottesville is a great example of why outsider movements need to first build small, in real life organizations. Holding a big public rally looks cool and gets a lot of attention, but it also draws a lot of lunatics and weirdos. In person organizing, especially in small groups, allows for careful vetting. If Jason Kessler had to apprentice in a local group for a couple of years, he never could have talked people into his venture. The goofballs with the Hitler flags could never get in front of the cameras at an alt-right event.

That’s the most important lesson of Charlottesville. Every war is a media war. This low-grade civil war in the West is about imagery and narrative. In Charlottesville, the Right allowed the Left to control the production, so they could control the narrative and the imagery. Future activism must always confound the preferred narrative, thus putting the Left on the defensive. The media organs of the Left are big and powerful, but they are not nimble or adaptive. That can be used against them with clever activism.

This AIM action over the weekend is a great example. Those aging commies in the audience were ready to celebrate their edginess until a bunch of young guys turned up to heckle and mock them. Instead of trading made up stories about their days fighting the man, they were being mocked as the man. The subsequent news stories sound like something to come from the Soviet press in the old days. The only thing missing from the reports are the words “hooliganism” and “running dog lackeys.”

In time, the tank will run dry on Charlottesville and it will cease to be a bloody shirt for the Progressive mobs. The lessons though can never be forgotten by dissidents trying to build an alternative to the current order. Mistakes have consequences. One of those consequences must be shrewder leaders and better strategies. Otherwise, the dissident right will follow the conservatives into the same dead end. The difference is there will be no cushy think tank jobs waiting for the losers of this political fight.