A Post About Feudalism

In the Middle Ages, feudalism was not thought of as a political system or even an economic system. The people using the term, and enforcing the rules, simply looked at it as a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the nobility. The lord or king, granted property, a fief, to a vassal, who then had military or economic obligations to the lord who granted it to him. The property could be land, titles or a right to collect taxes in a certain area of the realm. You’ll note that the peasants were not part of the discussion.

Just because the people ruling over the feudal system had no regard for the peasants, it did not mean the peasants were unimportant. The peasants worked the land, provided men for military service, operated the system of trade and food rents. Modern historians prefer to describe this period as manorialism. This a system that bound the peasants, the nobility and clergy together economically and politically through a hierarchy of economic obligations. Everyone kicked up to someone, in labor, kind or coin.

It’s easy to dismiss this organizational model, but it lasted for six centuries and provided the foundation for later developments like property rights and the rule of law. One big flaw in this system is it transfers the cost of society, and all the risks inherent in the human condition, to the lowest possible level of society. The peasants have to hand over food rents, even when there is a bad harvest or an invasion by barbarians. That’s because the lord of the manor owes his lord food rents or coin, regardless of the harvest.

Probably the biggest defect is it is a zero sum game at the top of society. The king can only have one heir. Similarly, his vassals can only have one heir. Usually, the goal was to have an heir and a spare. The spare served in the military just in case the first born son died or was an idiot. Extra kids and daughters would be sent off to the church. This is good for the church and military as they get high quality people, but the rest of society is locked into a swelling peasant population until nature culls the herd.

In his book A Farewell to Alms, Gregory Clark argues that Britain experienced an extended period where the peasants died off due to disease and violence. At the same time, members of the ruling class precipitated down to take up the positions in the lower classes. Downward mobility raised the mean IQ of British society until it reached an inflection point where it escaped feudalism and developed a market economy, and eventually the industrial revolution. Downward mobility birthed upward mobility.

Historians have argued that the black plague ended feudalism on the Continent because it knocked the foundation out from under the economic pyramid. When a third of the peasant population was killed by disease, the system ceased to be economically viable. Of course, the disease killed a lot of nobles too. Once the peasants were free to move about, they could go work for the highest bidder. The labor shortage caused by the plague gave the peasantry new economic power and that translated to political power.

The mobility of human capital, vertically as well as horizontally, coincides with the collapse of the feudal system. Whether it was the collapse of the system that unleashed this mobility or it was the mobility that undermined the system is debatable. Perhaps some combination of both. As the system became more fragile, mobility increased, which in turn made the system more fragile. The waves of plague that decimated the population finished off the process that started much earlier.

something similar happened in America in the 17th and 18th century. The second and third sons of land owners headed west looking for land. Of course, ambitious and talented men like Ben Franklin could literally go from rags to riches. Similarly, the post WW2 period was a time of high social mobility in America. Ambitious men could move up into the middle class or move west looking for a shot to make their fortune. It’s not an accident that the U-Haul Company started after the war. Americans are not moving much anymore.

Another interesting reality of the feudal system is that it was a rentier system. The people at the top did not make anything or improve anything. They were not particularly inventive or creative. The slow progress in agricultural technology is a good example of the technological stagnation. The nobles and the church lived off the rake. They skimmed from every layer of society. Feudalism was  a pyramid scheme, where each layer paid the layer above a portion of their take. It operated a lot like the modern financial system.

The real key to the system, the point of system, was the protection of asset values, which mostly meant land, but also mines, ports and fisheries. The chief concern of the nobles was the preservation of the asset base. Owning land meant owning rents, which meant a permanent place in the ruling class. Feudalism was, at its heart, a way to protect land from external threats, as well as internal ones. In the modern age, the monetary system works the same way. It’s primary purpose is to protect and promote asset values.

The challenge of the feudal system was not a lot different from the challenges of the current age, at least for those who sit atop the social system The key was maintaining the balance between the social layers of the pyramid. Too many people in the managerial class means too many idle hands doing the devil’s work. They could also start complaining about their economic status. Maybe they would try to rally the lower classes to support their demands for a bigger share of the skim.

The New Ways Of War

Early warfare, as best we can tell, was more like gang fights in the modern ghetto than the sort of stuff we associate with war in Antiquity. One settlement would round up some men, who would take on the men of the neighboring settlement. They went at one another in a melee, using axes, clubs and short swords, maybe, with the leaders right there in the middle of it, leading their war bands. A lot of it may have been ritualized, rather than actual combat, but that’s speculation. What’s clear is ti was small scale.

Prosperity changed that as better organization and better agriculture allowed for more men to be full time warriors. Greater prosperity also meant better weapons. Ranged weapons made the full speed charge, by men on foot, a losing proposition, unless you could put your men on horses or in chariots. Speed meant you could have formations and then flanking maneuvers, which required strategy and execution. Each innovation led to more innovations. The ways of war changed as military technology and tactics evolved.

Changes in military technology often have unforeseen consequences. The introduction of the machine gun in the Great War is the best example. Even with the new artillery, war was expected to be men advancing on one another over open fields. This was the way war was fought and the way the French were prepared to fight it. They even had their officers in colorful uniforms so they could be seen by their men. The machine gun made this style of war utter insanity, but no one thought about that until the bodies piled up.

The machine gun, along with fantastic improvements in artillery, resulted in trench warfare that was hopelessly expensive and bloody. That led to new tactics and new weapons. The tank, for example, was developed to counter the trenches and barbed wire. Eventually, planes became another answer to fixed defensive positions. All of these new weapons eventually led to new strategies.The Battle of Cambrai, in which the British used tanks, artillery, infantry and air power is one of the first examples of combined arms tactics.

The point to all of this is that war evolves and not always in ways that are predictable or even imaginable. Every new advance in weapons and tactics leads to responses and new weapons and tactics. The most recent example if the “little green men” that suddenly popped up in Crimea. Instead of an invading Russian army, a pro-Russian mercenary force appeared out of nowhere to lead a revolt against Ukrainian control of the region. It was, to a great degree, an example of Fourth Generation Warfare.

A question to ponder is what happens when energy weapons become a practical response to ballistic missiles and drones? The US military has been making steady progress developing mobile laser systems, able to knock out ballistic missiles. They are a decade away from anything usable, but it is not unrealistic to imagine a time in the near future when it is possible to knock out incoming missiles. This sort of technology has a funny way of advancing quickly after it gets deployed.

Of course, a weapon that can render another weapon obsolete is a very dangerous weapon. The reason ground-based, anti-missile systems are such a sensitive subject is because they throw off the balance of arms and require a response. A missile defense system in Europe, that could plausibly knock down Russian missiles, would require the Russians to make a lot more missiles, in addition to other plans to counter this new weapon. That’s a big unknown so everyone treads lightly.

Logically, the sudden advance in military technology 100 years ago, along with the lethality of the new technology, should have made war less likely. Cannonballs and bayonet charges are terrible things, but they pale in comparison to massed machine gun fire on advancing infantry. It would seem blazingly obvious that unless you have an answer for the machine gun, much less the new artillery, you don’t willingly go to war. That’s not what happened. Two great industrial wars latter and the West was just about dead.

That’s an important lesson to keep in mind while thinking about what’s happening with military technology, as well as military strategy. Laser weapons may be a ways off, but drone technology is here and changing how we fight wars. A sky full of flying death robots, capable of working in concert or independently, to bring death to an enemy is going to change how nations go to war. It means new weapons and new ways of fighting. Even the Arabs are adapting to drone warfare. Imagine what the Chinese are doing.

Of course, the new responses do not have to be strictly military. The Million Mohammedan March into Europe surely included jihadis willing to die for Allah. Maybe some of those jihadis were trained by Syria, at the behest of Russia. If you are Russia, you have to be looking at the truck attacks and thinking that could be an effective weapon. If you cannot win the technology fight, maybe the answer lies in some other area of the battlefield. New technology may result in a proliferation of asymmetric warfare waged by state actors.

It’s fun to speculate, but flying death robots alone change the way the world will be fighting wars in the future. Things like carriers can quickly become white elephants in a world where a swarm or drones can fall out of the sky or come up from the depths of the ocean. Everyone forgets about the coming proliferation of a independently controlled torpedoes that can literally roam the ocean looking for targets. The microprocessor goes from being a force multiplier to a force nullifier.

It would be nice if the proliferation of killing machines worked as a deterrent to war, but that is not the lesson of history. The one exception has been nuclear weapons, which probably kept the the Soviets from invading Europe and the US from systematically undermining the Russian government, as we see going on today. The new technology does not promise to destroy the world so it probably will not be much of a deterrent. If anything, as we have seen with the neocon warmongering, it will make everyone reckless.

The Iron Law of Conservatism

The British journalist, and sometime National Review editor, John O’Sullivan stated that any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time. This observation is conveniently named O’Sullivan’s Law and is based on the observation that non-liberals will hire liberals into their organization, while liberals apply ideological tests. The result is liberals eventually take over non-liberal organizations while ruthlessly defending their own turf.

What O’Sullivan was observing is the natural tendency toward entryism among members of mass movements. It is the corollary to proselytizing. The true believer seeks validation so they are always trying to recruit members to their cause. It’s why Mormons knock on doors offering to show you their magic underwear. This also manifests itself in the inclination toward undermining organizations seen as a challenge, often by infiltrating and co-opting them. When an institution flips to their ideological camp, it is seen as validation.

The irony here is that O’Sullivan and other Buckley Conservatives confused their temporary, ad hoc response to communism, with Anglo-Saxon conservatism. The former existed in the temporary space of the Cold War, while the latter is the baseline of Western Civilization. It’s why Buckley Conservatism is now just Progressivism with a blood lust for Arabs. Once the Cold War ended, their reason to exist ended with it. It turns out that Buckley Conservatism was not expressly right wing after all.

That raises the question of what it means to be expressly right wing and introduces this video from Alt-Lite provocateur, Gavin McInnes. The summary, for those uninterested in watching it, is McInnes putting up a board displaying the various figured on the Alt-Right and Alt-Lite. He has a line dividing the two camps. On one side are those who are Western chauvinist, rallying around a group of ideas. They are “inclusive” of anyone that embraces Western civilization and they are not hung up on race or heritage.

The other side mostly agrees with that, but adds in the fact that those ideas were invented by white people and that matters. The West is the result of white people so to preserve Western Civilization you have to preserve white people. There’s also the “JQ” issue, according to McInnes, where the Alt-Right places Jews outside the white camp and outside Western Civilization. He soft-sells it, but the point is that one side is pro-white and the other side is Pro-West, but both sides largely agree on the philosophical stuff.

That’s fine and maybe it is correct. To his credit, McInnes makes clear that it is more of a continuum, than two distinct sets, but he invests a lot of time talking about a vaguely defined line between the two camps. Richard Spencer is over on the side near the fringe Nazis and Paul Joseph Watson is over on the other side, closer to something McInness never bothers to address. The whole shtick is mostly about distinguishing himself from the bad guys on the Alt-Right so the Left is left unmentioned.

To be fair to McInness, he is still young enough to dream of having a big time job at a big time media operation. He got a taste of it at Fox News and he probably hopes that one day he gets a shot to host a show on some other mainstream cable platform. Frankly, they would be wise to dump one of the Jon Stewart Mini-Me shows they have and give a guy like a McInnes a shot to be the normie version of Stewart, but that’s a topic for another day. The point here is McInness is treading lightly.

The defect with the Alt-Lite is the same problem the Buckley Conservatives had a generation ago. They have no antibodies to resist entryism, because they lack a timeless definition of what it means to be Alt-Lite. Western Civilization, after all, includes Karl Marx and Hitler. Nazism is just as much a part of the West as John Locke. In fact, Hitler currently casts a longer shadow than any of the men of the Enlightenment. On what grounds can the Alt-Lite reject Hitler, but embrace the slave owning Jefferson?

The same is true of anti-racism and egalitarianism. How can these be rejected when they are inventions of the West? Of course, the Alt-Lite makes no attempt to reject these as that would get them in trouble with the Left. That’s what opens the door to, and requires them to accept, the defining feature of the dominant orthodoxy. That feature is the blank slate. As McInness goes to pains to point out, if a hotep brotha is on the Trump Train, he has a place at the table of the Alt-Lite, a cherished place.

That’s the fatal flaw that was the undoing of the Buckley Right. The Alt-Lite has no affirmative argument. Instead, it is a list of things it is not and most of those things are to their Right. That firewall they are building to their Right, just as Buckley did with Kirk and with the paleocons, comes at the expense of any defensible line of demarcation between themselves and the Left. That leaves them open to entryism, corruption and subversion, which is why the leading opponents of Trump are all Buckley Conservatives.

That brings us back to the beginning. O’Sullivan was mostly correct, but he left out the most important part of the rule. That’s the definition of Right Wing. What is it that forever separates the Right from the Left? What is the thing about which there can be no meeting in the middle, between Left and Right? The great divide that can never be crossed, is biology.The Left embraces the blank slate and rejects biological reality. The Right accepts biology, human diversity and all the truths about the human animal that arise from it.

The great chain of causality is Biology→Culture-→Politics-→Economics. It’s why Libertarianism, in its current form, not right wing. The Reason Magazine crowd are sure that all you have to do to fix Haiti, for example, is end the licensing of barbershops and other small businesses. And legalize weed, of course. In other words, they get things backward and end up rejecting the human condition. This is the crack in the foundation of all Left Wing movements. It’s what they share in common.

Therefore, any ideology or political movement that does not accept the great chain of causality will eventually be subverted and become left wing.

Poof-Berries

One of the many harms inflicted on us by the hive minded lunatics running our society is the binary world view. Everything is either all good or all bad. As such, everyone must either fully embrace something or completely reject something. Indifference, ambivalence and moderation are not permissible in a world run by zealous fanatics. The only things that matter, that can matter, are those things that require a moral position. Everything else falls outside the set of things that exist, at least to the hive minded.

The most obvious example is homosexuality. Like all normal men, I am mildly intolerant of homosexuals. I get that they cannot help themselves and I get that it is “natural” in the same way schizophrenia is natural. I’m fine with them doing what they must, just as long as they do it in private. Of course, that makes me a monster. In the hive, you must either fully embrace homosexuality and what comes with it, or you are a homophobe and not fit for decent company. There’s no room for indifference or mild intolerance.

Hive mindedness is much more of a female attribute, than a masculine one. That’s not to imply that all women are howling at the moon zealots. It’s just that the fairer sex is much more inclined to deal in absolutes. The reason is that men have ways to arbitrate disputes that do not require a transcendent set of rules. One chimp squares off with the other chimp and the winner is the one who was right about where to find the best bananas. Women don’t have that so they look for a set of rules to figure out winners and losers.

It’s why it was no accident, that as soon as the girls got the vote, and the boys were off fighting the Kaiser, the girls banned alcohol and prostitution. To quote Judge Roy Bean, “Drinking and gambling and whoring were declared unlawful. All those things which come natural to men became crimes.” Morality, at least in the modern age, is the set of rules the girls use to control the boys, which is why the prim-faced moralizers of today are running around trying to stamp out anything that smacks of masculinity.

That came to mind reading this teary-eyed tantrum on National Review the other day. It is supposed to be a take down of Mike Cernovich, but it reads like a fit of jealously by one girl toward another, after the latter stole the former’s guy. The only thing the writer did not do is call Cerno a “doo-doo head” and claim he had cooties. National Review calls itself the flagship publication of conservatism, yet it routinely publishes articles that would be rejected by Ladies Home Journal for being less than serious.

The primary complaint in the piece is that Cernovich is a brute. There are a lot of ways to dismiss Cerno, I’ve done it a few times myself, but attacking his excessive masculinity is strikingly bizarre. Why would the writer latch onto that, rather than the fact that Cerno’s book is generally awful? Or, why not do the point and shriek about Cerno being associated with alt-right figures? The reason is the writer of that piece is a boy named Ian Tuttle, who appears to have spent his youth with his underwear over his head.

 

Calling him a boy is mean, but it is not inaccurate. He popped out of college two years ago and landed at National Review. He should be working at his local newspaper or maybe a TV station, covering girl’s softball games or perhaps the local crime beat. Maybe in a dozen years, after having lived in the world for a while as an adult, he could think about writing opinion pieces for adults about adult topics. At that point, he would not be bawling about how a guy like Cernovich is a brute.

That’s not the world of elite opinion journalism these days. Rich people send their not-so-bright off-spring to college to major in journalism. Then those boys and girls find their way to the big news sites or the elite journals of opinion. There they type out the approved messages and show up on approved TV shows to repeat those messages. It is cheap content from people, who are happy for the job and will not make any waves by asking the wrong questions or thinking the wrong thoughts.

What’s nuts about this is that there are still some adults working at National Review. The guy approving these posts is Charlie Cooke, but he’s a ridiculous poof-berry too so perhaps he is the one who commissioned it. Even so, you don’t have the dorks write the articles ranting about excessive masculinity. You leave those to the lesbians or the more masculine writers on the staff. Otherwise, you defeat your own purpose. A squealing tantrum from a ridiculous poof-berry convinces no one.

All joking aside, that’s one reason Buckley Conservatism is circling the bowl. It is chasing an audience that is locked up by their masters on the Left. Liberalism is the secular religion for the girls, mostly single white girls. They try to cobble together a coalition of hues for political reasons, but it is mostly a religion for cat ladies and the women who intend to be cat ladies. Buckley Conservatism is trying to fish in those waters, but that hole is all fished out and take that however you like.

Donald Herbert Walker Trump

Way back in the olden thymes, conservatives during the Reagan years had a real fear that the Rockefeller Republicans would not only undermine the conservative agenda, but find a way to corrupt the Reagan administration. It was an unwarranted fear. Those Progressive Republicans were a dying force in politics. Reagan was a man of his age so his conservatism does not always make sense to the modern ear, but he stuck to his guns for the most part. He was a politician, so he compromised when he had to.

Then George H. W. Bush was ready to take the reigns of the movement and the party, despite being a Rockefeller Republican. Bush was a Progressive by any measure, but he supposedly got religion in the 1980’s, and to be fair, a lot of people went through that transformation. There were even old Jewish guys, who used to support communists, that were suddenly changing teams to join the new emerging majority. Bush spent a lot of time convincing the voters he was just like Reagan and they had nothing to fear.

The ’88 election was a landslide for Bush and a lot of sensible people thought that he would be the finishing touches to the new conservative majority. He would smooth out the rough patches and put a shine on other aspects to it. His famous pledge to never raise taxes was the cornerstone of his pitch. Wiser heads, the paleocons, saw what was coming, but most did not. That’s why when Bush broke his promise, a year into his presidency, his voters were crushed. Bush was a liar.

History is written by the victors and that means the Left, so we’re always told that Bush lost in ’92 because Clinton was sent by the void where God once existed, to bring joy and bliss to the blessed and smite the wicked. The truth is, Bush lost because the core of his voters rightly saw him as a liar and a fink. Many people I know, including myself, voted third party as a protest. Yeah, it meant a degenerate would win the election, but at least we knew what we were getting. Liars like Bush always find new ways to screw you.

Unless you have been in a cave, you know where this is heading. Trump won the nomination and the presidency on one core issue. He would be the President of the United Sates, not the President of the world. That was his line. He repeated it often. It allegedly captured his one core belief. What is good for America is what is good for Americans and the government should always be working to further the interest of Americans, over the interests of foreigners.

The fact that something so obvious and sane has to be explained speaks to the the degeneracy of our age. But, we live in a time when we have to debate physical reality with people who insist things like biology and math are a plot by a mystery cult of white men to keep down women and non-whites. Still, Trump running on a platform of rationality, and winning on the platform, gave a lot of people, including me, a spark of hope. Maybe what comes next does not have to be what always comes next.

Yesterday, the alt-right and even many seasoned geezers like me took a body blow when Trump abandoned everything he said over the last two years and embraced the idiocy of yet another war in the Middle East. Not only is he embracing the lunacy of the traitorous neocons, he is risking war with Russia. His “reason” for condemning himself to ruin is that his daughter got the sads over seeing pictures of dead kids in Syria. She takes to twitter over this latest agit-prop and in a day daddy is launching missiles at Assad.

The United States has no interest in Syria. There are no good guys to back. There’s no “solution” to what ails that part of the world, short of another flood. Syria is a mess because it is full of Syrians. The only sane policy is to make sure it remains full of Syrians. Let them kill each other there, not in Paris or Portland. If the Russians want to build their pipeline there and pay the price for it, good for them. If the Saudis want to stop them, best of luck with it. This is not an American problem. It is their problem. Let them own it.

This brings us back to Bush. He spent the remainder of his presidency trying to rebuild his standing with conservatives. He even scored what was pitched as a stunning victory in the First Gulf War. But, you only get one shot to piss away your integrity and Bush did not miss that opportunity. He entered the general election as a weak incumbent and Clinton used his broken pledge in commercials to remind everyone that Bush was an untrustworthy liar. Imagine that. Clinton beat Bush on the integrity issue.

It’s not too late for Trump. This may be one of those times where a President learns that his advisers are not politicians for a reason. They lack political sense. Trump does have a habit of learning quickly from his errors. That’s not the way to bet. He is now getting tongue-kissed by the Establishment. Like all men with out-sized egos, vanity is his greatest weakness. If Trump is enjoying the praise from his adoption of the “invade the world” position, imagine what happens when he accepts the “invite the world” half.

Maybe Trump recovers and avoids the fate Bush I, but I have my doubts.

Me and TV

I had been a DirecTV subscriber for years, mostly so I could watch sports, which is the only reason I have a television. I’ve gone long stretches of my life without a TV, but it is a nice convenience for when you’re stuck at home with nothing better to do. I do enjoy watching baseball and football. Some of the long form dramas produced by the big cable channels have been good too. Otherwise, I’ve never developed the habit of following sitcoms and serials. I doubt I could name one show popular in prime time.

Back in January I decided to cancel my subscription. The cost had reached the point where it no longer made sense. The game DirecTV plays is they slowly jack up the monthly fee until you decide you’ve had enough and call to cancel. They haggle with you and offer a discount if you stay with them. It is a crazy way to do business, but I suppose it works for them. Most Americans hate confrontations over money and most Americans hate haggling. My Arab friends love DirecTV.

The haggle to finally get free took exactly 25 minutes. I knew what was coming so I was prepared to enjoys it. I allowed the customer retention rep to think he had a real chance to get me to change my mind. We went back and forth for about ten minutes and then he threw me a curve by transferring me to his supervisor. He and I did the dance for another ten minutes and I finally prevailed. The remainder of the conversation was going through a surprisingly long list of details in order to cancel television.

The funny thing about cutting the cord, at least for me, is I’m probably watching more television now than when I had a subscription. I have an Amazon Fire and I have a Prime account. I no longer go to stores, other than for groceries, so I get good use of the Amazon account. I’m one of those people who gets more than his annual fee in free shipping. That also means I have access to all sorts of video content on the Fire. Amazon does offer a lot of video content on their system.

I also loaded the Kodi app on the thing so I have the underground streaming services for just about anything you can imagine. I’m fond of Pakistani cinema so it is nice to be able to get that whenever I want. The Kodi app is to television what Napster was to the music industry. It is a tool to allow the black market to undermine the oligopoly controlling the US television business. At some point, Big Cable will figure out how to shut them down, but the damage will have been done and the cost of winning will kill the cable model.

Anyway, the reason I’m probably watching more television now is that I have more to watch. It used to be that I’d fruitlessly scan the channels looking for anything that caught my interest. Unless a game was on, I’d end up leaving the TV on and wandering off to do something else. Other than sporting events, it was mostly just background noise as I got tired of the process of finding something worth watching. Throw in the excessive commercials and the whole process was more punishment than pleasure.

Now, I have a whole list of programs I’ve queued up so when I want to watch a show, I turn on the show or movie. The fact that it is commercial free makes the experience more enjoyable. I’m binge watching, as the kids say, the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. It’s nice to watch two episodes back-to-back. By the time I settle into watch TV, it is around 8:00 PM so I watch two episodes then go to bed. I usually read or write for a few hours before bed so it works out well, so it works for me to do both.

It sort of reminds me of what television was like when I was a kid. We watched TV in the same way people went to the movies. It was a planned event. After school, we only watched TV when the weather was bad. My dad would watch the evening news on occasion, but usually, the TV was off until after dinner and some popular prime-time show that we watched as a family. In other words, television was not the center of life. It was just one of many cheap entertainments.

It’s not hard to see where it is heading. The days of the cable subscription are nearing an end. Old people will continue to prefer that model, mostly because it is simple and familiar. In time, the on-demand model will figure out how to appeal to geezers who don’t like change. I’m not quite a geezer, but I appreciate that going cordless is a bit of hassle. I had to fiddle with the Fire and load the Kodi app onto it. Just as Facebook is now dominated by seniors, these cordless services will soon be common among the geezers.

The other change on the TV front is I had to get a new XBox. The old one died, mostly from lack of use, I suspect. I’m not much of a gamer, but on a rainy day or when I have people to the ghetto for drinks, it is a nice to have item. I bought a new one and it has a Blu-ray player, which is something I never experienced. Having watched my first Blu-ray disc, I’m not seeing the big difference. It’s a little better, but I suspect you have to have an Ultra-HD TV to really appreciate the higher quality.

The comical part of the XBox was that I had to download 1.5 GB of updates before I could use the thing. I’m old enough to remember when computer storage always had the letter ‘K” in it. Once that was done, I loaded my first Blu-ray only to learn that the  Blu-ray app need to download an update. Then the controller needed a firmware update. I bet it took three hours of prep just to use the stupid thing. A big part of modern life is waiting for your electronics to prepare themselves for your use.

Like a junkie just out of rehab, I’m off TV and I swear this is it for me.

The Wages of Proportionalism

Ethical theories like utilitarianism, say that an action is right or wrong, depending on the consequences it produces. A deed is judged as good if it has a good result. The intentions of the actor are of little or no consequence, because what matters is the final result. Similarly, the deed has no intrinsic morality because the morality is entirely dependent on the results. The most common expression for this is that the ends justify the means. Most of what we think of as the Left falls into this ethical category.

The obvious alternative to this is what Jeremy Bentham called deontological ethics or deontology. This loosely means the knowledge of what is right and proper. A Catholic, for example, acts in accordance with the teachings of the Church. A lawyer conducts himself in accordance with the demands of Lucifer. The act is good or evil intrinsically, regardless of downstream outcomes. What matters is the fidelity to principle or a moral code. The means justifies the ends is the most common formulation of this.

Then there is Proportionalism, which was discussed in this post with regards to how our rulers manage race relations in the current age. That is the ethical theory that says it is never right to go against a principle, unless a proportionate reason would justify it. For example, discrimination is always wrong, unless doing so mitigates some greater wrong. Affirmative action is the policy of discriminating against living whites, based on their race, in order to address the racism of white people too dead to be punished.

The obvious danger of utilitarianism and pragmatist is that it gives license to all sorts of horrible things. A despot, for example, can kill wantonly, claiming it is necessary in order to achieve some greater purpose. Similarly, a pathological adherence to principle, or simply adherence to some bizarre moral philosophy like Nazism, can lead to monstrous ends. Even so, there’s at least a principled argument to be made in order to limit or block the despot and the zealot. There are rules against which they can be judged.

In the modern age, our rulers are quick to point out these things when criticizing whatever it is they are railing against at the moment. They favor Proportionalism because it allows them to make the rules up as they go along, in the moment, in order to take maximum advantage. Proportionalism lets them bet both sides of the wager. When it suits them, they can assiduously apply the rules. When the rules are inconvenient, they can claim that a rigid adherence to principle is not in the public interest.

This moral ambiguity has worked reasonably well, but it is proving to be their undoing as we see with the ongoing spying scandal in Washington. The political class is now faced with an impossible choice. They can pretend that none of this happened and hope Trump stops dumping details about it into the alternative media. That’s pretty much what happened with the Susan Rice story that was handed to Cernovich. That’s an unknowable unknown because Trump plays by a different set of rules and has unknown motives.

There’s also the problem of letting what Team Obama did go unpunished. It sanctions this sort of activity and exactly no one wants the executive having that sort of power. Imagine if a soulless sociopath like Clinton had won the election and had the power to unleash the intelligence agencies on her enemies. On a regular basis, assassins would be gunning down political figures on the streets of Washington. The organized and brazen abuse of power that went on in the last year cannot be left unaddressed.

That, of course, leads to the other unpleasant option. Investigating the former staff of the former president for the crime of domestic espionage and perhaps conspiring to undermine the election is no small thing. After all, that former president is the most precious trophy of the party that runs Washington. That party has been willing to excuse just about anything in order to win political fights. No one knows what sort of dirt Team Obama has at their disposal to use in a bloody political war over this.

That brings it all back to Trump. This latest twist was rather obviously a White House caper. They had the goods on Susan Rice and probably several others so they found a willing outlet. This is one of the oldest political tricks. You find an obscure reporter looking to make a name for himself and you give him the scoop of his lifetime. In this day, a blogger works even better because they don’t have to clear things with a boss. Picking Cernovich is the sort of flourish that a guy like Trump would find amusing.

It’s also a reminder to the political class that Trump is a fast learner and he is willing to play the hardest of hardball. Trump is a leverage guy. He always looks at what he has in order to leverage it to get something else. He’s just turned this Russian hacking nonsense into a weapon he can now use on the political class. The Republicans don’t want to go to war with the Democrats and the Democrats don’t want anymore of their soldiers getting dimed out to ambitious bloggers looking to make a name for themselves.

It is the inevitable end to Proportionalism. In the 90’s, the Left made all sorts of compromises in order to win elections with the Clintons. The Right decided to do the same the following decade with Bush and the neocons. As a result, the political class lost their moral authority. Team Obama had no reason to obey the rules, because no one was obeying the rules. There was always some proportionate reason to justify violating principle. After all, they let the IRS caper pass. Why not some domestic spying?

No Footprints

In the 1980’s, companies like Lotus Development Corp were “growth” companies, which meant they could not sell their products fast enough. The PC revolution was in full swing and Lotus 1-2-3 was the killer, must have, application. If you walked into their Cambridge headquarters, it looked like a bomb went off because no one had time to be tidy. It was all hands on deck to get product out the door. There were not a lot of rules either. The game was to grow and that’s what mattered. All the other corporate stuff was secondary.

That did not last. By the mid-90’s, the desktop computer market was established and the default platform was Microsoft Windows, which meant Microsoft Office. It was around this time that IBM was making a hostile takeover bid, not because they wanted a growth company, but because Lotus was becoming an asset company. That is, its value was no longer in sales of its products, but in the value of its patents and technology. IBM bought Lotus in order to squeeze every drop of juice from it and then, eventually, toss it away.

That’s the modern economy in a nutshell.

The Technological Revolution is often compared to the Industrial Revolution, because of the cultural impact. After the steam engine, people did not just have better stuff. People were different. They lived different and had different relationships to one another and their rulers. A similar process is underway in the Technological Revolution. Mass migration, the elimination of the middle-class and the end of popular government are three obvious examples of changes wrought by the technological age.

One difference between the Industrial Revolution and the Technological Revolution is the trail of breadcrumbs each left behind, as it worked its way through society. Today, Americans still drive over roads and bridges built during the peak of the industrial age. Even though our consumer goods are made by foreigners, they still use the same practices the West developed for industry. Even in blighted cities, you can still find old factory buildings that remind us of the past.

The technological age is a different animal. It tends to erase its own footsteps. Lotus Development Corp is a good example. It was not just that it lost the competition for desktop productivity software. Everything about it was consumed and recycled. Walk around Cambridge today and you cannot tell that Lotus even existed. The tech economy is a soylent green economy. Once the utility of its creations are exhausted, everything about it is consumed, erased from existence, as if people are ashamed of it.

The billionaire, Mark Cuban made his first million selling software. He worked as a salesman for a software store and then started his own company, which he eventually sold. Then Cuban founded  Audionet, which he sold to Yahoo for $2.6 billion. None of the companies Cuban started exist. The companies that bought his companies are all gone now, with Yahoo about to be swallowed up in a fire sale. Even the technologies he championed are now long forgotten.

Unless he uses his billions to have his name carved onto a mountain, Cuban will leave this world with nothing to show for himself, nothing anyone can point to and say, “Mark Cuban built that.” It’s unlikely that Cuban or any of the tech billionaires care about this. It is the way they want it, or at least it appears that way. That explains their zeal to erase our culture and replace it with a throw away version based in nothing but a desire to squeeze a few more drops from the societies they intend to throw away.

 

Whether you call it the technological age or the global age, these are just polite terms for cosmopolitanism, scaled to the supranational. In the city, you don’t build, you hustle. You don’t own, you rent. Nothing is permanent because a stationary target is an easy target. Instead you make what you can and you move onto the next thing. If you can shift the burden onto someone else, all the better. That’s how the game is played because in the city, everyone is a stranger.

That’s the new economy we are experiencing. No one thinks about the long term, because that’s a sucker’s play. The money is in the short hustle, You make your money and move on. The game is to pick the fruit, squeeze out all the juice and then toss away the rest, leaving it for a sucker to clean up later. The housing bubble is a good example. Everyone involved knew it was a grift. They are too smart to not have known. The game was to make money and not be the sucker left holding the bag.

I used to know someone who worked at Lotus in its heyday, so I had an interest in the company from the early days. I recall the owners turning up in local news a lot  and they were brimming with confidence. I wonder if those folks from the glory days of Lotus don’t look back with sadness at what happened to their company. They are rich men and did very well for themselves after Lotus, but still. I bet they would trade a lot to be able to walk past their old building with their old sign still over the door.

I could be all wrong and maybe they have long forgotten about their old firm. Maybe all those people simply made their money and moved on to the next thing. Men have lived their lives in order to be remembered since the dawn of time. Maybe as the Industrial Revolution resulted in different people and different social arrangements, this age is doing the same and the new man of the new economy is just a stranger passing through, uninterested in leaving footprints for future generations to examine.

Rule By Poser

Way back when the Bush administration launched the invasion of Iraq, the prevailing assumption among those who were in charge was that it would be a cakewalk. The people would embrace us as liberators. People who had some clue about how the world works knew it would be an ugly mess, as is the case with all wars. War is, by definition, the ugliest of human activities. It’s purpose is to kill and destroy.

Inevitably, stories turned up about abuses. One essential way to prepare soldiers for war is to dehumanize the enemy. Men, even trained killers, are not going to kill people they see as sympathetic. There’s no way to finely calibrate the mind of a soldier so in every war there are abuses, even when care is taken to avoid them. That’s why things like the Abu Ghraib prison incident happened. War is and always will be an ugly business.

That knowledge should lead Western governments to use their technological and economic advantages to avoid getting into wars with the barbarians on the edge of civilization. Instead, they start wars they never intend to win, so they can preen and pose about their virtue and morality, when something terrible inevitably happens. It means some guy in uniform gets to be strung up in order to please the vanity of our rulers.

Sergeant Alexander Blackman shot dead an insurgent on September 15 2011 after he had been injured by Apache helicopter gunfire.

The 42-year-old was originally known as Marine A to protect his identity from terrorists.

He grew up in Brighton and has two sisters and a brother, according to the Justice for Marine A website.

The keen sportsman is a skilled canoeist who competed at national events.

He joined the marines aged 23 and married his wife Alex in 2010 after the pair met in the Somerset town of Taunton.

At the time of the 2011 killing Blackman was serving in Helmand province with Plymouth-based 42 Commando.

Blackman was ”dismissed with disgrace” from the Royal Marines after serving with distinction for 15 years, including tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

He was handed seven years for manslaughter, but having already served almost three-and-a-half years since his conviction for murder, he could be free within weeks of the sentencing on March 28.

Sgt Blackman shot an injured Taliban insurgent in the chest in 2011 before quoting Shakespeare at him.

He said: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil you c***.

“It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us”.

He then told soldiers: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”

The shooting was captured on film but has not been released out of fears it could be used as terrorist propaganda.

Dramatic footage that has been released shows troops cheering as an Apache warship fires some 139 rounds at militants trying to sneak up on British positions.

Another clip shows Sgt Blackman and Jack Hammond, known as Marine C, find an AK47, a hand grenade and spare ammunition next to the injured fighter.

Blackman ordered colleagues to move the enemy fighter out of sight from British Army surveillance cameras mounted on balloons.

Blackman was convicted of murder in November 2013 by a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, and sentenced to life with a minimum 10-year term.

It was the first such conviction of a serving British soldier since the Second World War.

Judge Jeff Blackett told Blackman at his sentencing: “If the British Armed Forces are not assiduous in complying with the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law they would become not better than the insurgents and terrorists they are fighting.”

There you have it. He handed down a sentence as a public act of piety, signalling to the other lunatics in the ruling class that he is some sort of special snowflake for throwing the book at this soldier. It’s also why the West has not won any wars in a long time. Instead of focusing all energy on killing the enemy and breaking their stuff, all energy is put into maintaining moral superiority, even if that means losing.

The point of war is to kill the enemy and break up their stuff. The hope is they quit before you kill all of them and break all of their stuff, but you plan otherwise. If the Afghans knew all along that helping Osama bin Laden was most likely going to mean their cities and large towns would be flattened, they would have chose differently. Let’s assume they played it the same and Bush had firebombed Kabul, what would have been the result?

Yeah, there would have been a lot of hand-wringing and pearl clutching in Washington, but every other nutjob in the Middle East would have been re-calibrating his plans. A lot less death and destruction would have come as a result. Instead we have decades of killing to no logical end. We have an endless war of attrition just so Western leaders can have chances to let us know that they paragons of virtue.

What’s truly insane about all of this is the people in charge seem to care more about the opinion of the enemy than they do their own people. Maybe Sgt Blackman should have been punished, but the only reason to punish him is to maintain good order in the ranks. It’s not that he killed a wounded man. It’s that he violated the rules of engagement and encouraged others to do the same. It should be ZFG about what the terrorist think.

But, that’s not the world today. Our rulers care more about foreigners than they do their own people. If it were otherwise, the rulers would be quick to paper over these sorts of incidents, defending their fellow citizens against these sorts of accusations. Given their policy preferences, and the way they conduct foreign policy, it is safe to say they truly hate the rest of us. We have to hate them back.

I Am Invisible

For as long as I have been alive, I’ve felt different. It was one of those things I only noticed when the other kids did not notice it. Their lack of noticing is what make it so clear to me. I could never come up with the right words so I kept my thoughts bottled up, knowing that no one would notice, hoping I could ignore it. The other kids did not notice it because I’m invisible. That’s right. I’m one of millions of Americans who are invisible.

The opaque community takes their opacity for granted. They just think the fact that they reflect light is normal, while not reflecting light is strange or weird. They just take it for granted that others can see them so they pretend to see us. This attempt to normalize the invisible by insisting we can be seen has gone on for too long. It is time for the invisible community to be seen, so to speak. We have be living without shadows for too long!

This is nonsense, of course, but is it any more ridiculous than men in sundresses demanding the rest of us pretend they are girls? Bruce Jenner is not a female. He is a male. He can dress up as a girl and have himself mutilated so he looks like a girl, but he is a man. Humans come in one of two sexes, male and female. This is a matter of genetics.

The veracity of my claims to invisibility are just easily tested. You could hold up a mirror and see if I have a visible reflection. If so, then I am not invisible. Alternatively, you could put a light on one side of me and check to see if the light passes through me. If I blocked the light, then I am opaque. This is basic physics and a debatable topic.

The question is why are we forced to indulge the lunacy of one denial of reality, but not other forms of reality denying? One reason is that burly men in sundresses appeals to the flat earth society types, who insist humans are born as amorphous blobs. Claims to invisibility don’t further the cause of the blank slate. That and forcing the rest of us to ignore the invisible would be counterproductive for attention seekers.

There’s also the fact that the lunatics promoting this stuff truly believe it horrifies the sane, normal people out in squaresville. A big part of radicalism from the French Revolution to the present, is the desire to be shocking and outrageous. Radicalism, political or cultural, is mostly a temper tantrum by people who can accept the world as it is. Just as a spoiled child throws tantrums in public, the radical seeks to offend those they see as normal.

Then there is the Theodore Dalrymple observation from years ago:

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

That’s the lesson from this story about a good, progressive mother of small children, having to stand silently as a burly man, claiming to be a women, uses the lady’s room at Disneyland.

So yes… there were women and small children using the restroom and this man was walking around knowing no one would say anything.  So here I am…writing this blog, because honestly I need answers. We can’t leave this situation ambiguous any more. The gender debate needs to be addressed… and quickly. There have to be guidelines. It can’t just be a feeling. I’m sorry. I wish it could, but it can’t.

A society in which no one knows the rules, except the rulers, is a society that cannot self-organize. It must fall into authoritarianism. In fact, it must embrace authoritarianism, because there must be order. Even the madness of North Korea beats anarchy, where it is a war of all against all. To no small degree, the people pushing the denial of biological reality are doing so in order to expand their authority over the rest of us.

There’s another angle here though, one that is not reductionist. Progressives have been in control of America since the Civil War. The great industrial wars of the early 20th century, then the long Cold War, worked to restrain some of the worst impulses that are let loose when a person or group has unchecked power. Those restraints are gone so all of the reckless tendencies of Progressives can be indulged, seemingly without consequence.

In other words, this reality denying madness we see going on with Progressives, has a late phase degeneracy vibe to it. Most of this nonsense is happening in well insulated compounds like the college campus. The Progs have total control so all of their worst instincts are free to run riot. It’s not some new phase in the long civil war, but the final burst of maniacal lunacy before there is the knock on the door and reality bursts in.