Our Interregnum

One of the most remarkable things to happen in the West since the end of the Cold War has been the rise of identity politics over the last half decade. It is remarkable for a couple of reasons. One is that it has emerged in what economists consider to be a time of unrivaled prosperity. People should be happy and content, rather than angry, with post-national liberal democracy. A central tenet of liberal democracy is that the end point of human activity is to create a world of material plenty.

The other remarkable aspect is these movements are flourishing in the face of strong moral prohibition, often backed by force. It’s literally dangerous to be an identitarian in most of the West now. America is now a land that bans books and subjects dissenters to internal banishment. The titans of industry are studying China for ways to suppress internal dissent. Despite these efforts to anathematize identity politics, white people throughout the West are embracing identity politics.

The aggressive assault on dissidents is a direct result of the unpreparedness of the ruling classes. They really were convinced they had ushered in the post-historical moment as imagined by Francis Fukuyama. The great battles of political economy in the 20th century were settled. All the “isms” had been vanquished by liberalism and there was nothing left to discuss. The sudden reappearance of old cultures and old ideas about how people should organize themselves was like seeing a ghost.

Now, this is a good time to note that the phrase “identity politics” has been kicking around American political circles for decades. In the mouths of conservatives, it was always part of the grift they have been running on white people. It looks like an attack on left-wing tactics, but in reality it is an endorsement of Progressive morality. For the Left, it was always a cover for anti-white agitation. They could not come out directly in favor of anti-white polices, but non-white camp followers were free to do it.

The success of this game of good cop – bad cop played by the American political class is another reason they remain baffled by what’s happening. This game has worked for so long, its sudden failure is like the sun rising in the west all of a sudden. Perhaps a better metaphor is it seems as if all swans are now black. Everywhere political elites turn, the world is no longer as they imagined it. All the axioms upon which they based their world view are suddenly being called into question.

It turns out that Fukuyama was sort of right after all. The West had reached an endpoint after the Cold War. It was not the end of a great ideological battle, but the end point of the great multicultural project launched by the Frankfurt School following World War II. The West, particularly America, had become fully actualized as multicultural societies. They no longer possessed a core identity, based in biology, which informed their politics or restrained their politicians. It was just one big open marketplace.

The trouble is, you cannot have a nation without a sovereign identity and there can be no sovereign identity without a nation. This is the core insight of multiculturalism, which was never intended to strengthen the West but to destroy it. To have a multicultural society is to have no culture at all. Once the people’s sense of who they are is destroyed, the nation must follow with it. That is exactly what we see in the West as political classes struggle to perform their basic duties.

The reason for this, is that the people’s sense of who they are is what animates the political institutions of the state. That shared reality of a people is the soul of every nation, just as the soul animates the body. To kill it and simply try to artificially animate the body, is to create a Frankenstein’s monster. The modern Western state is now a collection of cultural parts robbed from graves around the world. It is neither organic nor natural, so it is always at war with normal human sensibilities.

Multicultural liberal democracy, when lying on the table, is ugly in appearance, but when animated it is truly horrifying. Multiculturalism becomes a monster that attacks everything around it, because at some level, like the mythical monster, it knows it is an abomination, a sin against creation. We have quickly moved from eradicating the people’s sense of identity to systemically eradicating the people. Instead of creating a new society, superior to the old, multiculturalism has destroyed the very essence of western society.

In addition to the end of the post-war cycle, we may also be at the end of a much longer cycle that began with the Enlightenment. The thinkers and philosophers who gave us liberal democracy had a mechanistic view of nature. This led them to see society as nothing but a collection of parts, like a watch. In order to make a better watch, the watchmaker simply had to improve its parts. Make a better spring or a better crystal and snap it into place. Liberal democracy is the full expression of this belief.

It turns out that human society is nothing like a watch and the people in it are not simply automata that can be tinkered with as necessary. Human society is the expression of the shared reality of the people. That shared reality is the result of actions, experiences and mating decisions made by their ancestors. Who they are is what they are. The Frenchman is French, because his ancestors were French, not because the map maker said he was born in France. The nation is the manifestation of this reality.

The confluence of these two end cycles, plus others forces like demographics and technology has brought us to this interregnum. The reason the ruling elites helplessly lash out at the gnats whirling about them is they are built for an age that is fading into the past. Their weapons are crude and destructive, but ultimately ineffective at halting the march into the abyss. The weird nostalgia of American politics is just another aspect of that effort to halt the momentum. It’s an effort to stop the clock.

Similarly, the incoherence and confusion among dissidents is due to the inability to break free from the Enlightenment ideas of liberal democracy. Those looking for an alternative, rummage around in the past for prior rejections. First it was the neo-reaction trying to revive the age of kings. Then it was the alt-right trying to revive 20th century fascism. Like clothes from a prior era, they were a poor fit and made the wearer look odd. They are answers to questions no one remembers, not the questions of today.

That’s why the on-going efforts to put Buckley Conservatism back together will fail. It was an answer to an old question. Similarly, libertarianism is in crisis, because it was a set of tools made for a tradesman who is no longer needed. Whether it is an effort to impose the old forms on the new opposition or re-brand the old stuff as a new form of nationalism, the effort must fail as it is an artifact of the past. The emerging opposition to the prevailing orthodoxy will be rooted in a rejection of its core principles, not an embrace of them.

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Understanding The Left

One of the strange contradictions of modern life is how the Right, generally defined as not-Left, is sure they understand the Left, while they are convinced the Left has no understanding of the Right. A standard job in Conservative Inc. is the position of explaining every event in terms of the Left’s motivation for or against it. Cable chat shows have a roster full of these guys they use to pad out their segments. Often, this is someone employed at some minor league operation in Conservative Inc.

The argument from the Right is that the Left controls everything, so it is impossible for normal people to escape left-wing proselytizing. At your work, it is angry single women and bitter minorities lecturing you on diversity. At school, it is the same, supplemented by emotionally unstable coeds. In pop culture, it is the usual suspects peddling the latest Progressive fads. There is no escaping the tidal wave of cultural and political sewage that gushes from the Left, so everyone understands it.

On the other hand, so the argument goes, the Left lives in their isolated bunkers, free of contrary opinion. This is why they are hell-bent on stifling opinion on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. They wish to be free of dissent and have the ability to isolate themselves from it, so they live in ignorance of opinion and culture outside their bubbles. There is a lot of truth to this, given how they describe people like Gavin McInnes and Stephen Crowder as no different from very bad people like Mike Enoch and Richard Spencer.

The truth is though, the not-Left really does not understand Left at all. People outside the Left continue to believe, for example, that the Left has good and logical reasons for the things they do, like woke capitalism. In that post, Sailer goes through the possible reason for the sudden rise in wokeness, using statistical data to illustrate the emergence in the late Obama years. He does not settle on an explanation, but the underlying assumption is there is a good, or at least logical, reason for it.

Now, by good reason, it is not to imply morally good in an absolute, transcendent sense of the idea. The Unabomber had good reasons for sending bombs through the mail, at least as far as he was concerned. From his perspective, there was no good reason for not mailing bombs. As nutty as that was, it is comprehensible. The same can be said for logical reasons. They may not be, strictly speaking, logical, but they are at least understandable. The desire for power, sex, money and so forth.

This way to trying to understand the Left, however, has one flaw. The Left is not reasonable or even thinking through this stuff. There was no meeting at the NY Times back in the late Obama years where it was decided that they would run Emmett Till stories every time black crime became a national story. There was no meeting among the heads of Big Media to agree upon a strategy of pushing the Russian collusion hoax after the election. The Left is not motivated by good or logical reasons.

Instead, it is better to think of them as a school of fish. When you watch a school of fish or a flock of birds, that is another useful analogy, it appears as if they are coordinated in their actions. It’s as if one of the fish is the brain, operating in secret communication with the rest of the school, to have them dart left or right through the water. It’s almost as if they were designed to be of one mind. We know, however, that there is no conspiracy of fishes secretly controlling the school using secret communications.

Instead, it is one fish responding to the fish around him. When the fish on the outside of the school twitches, those around him twitch. The cascade of movement happens so fast it is imperceptible to the observer on the dock. The same is true of birds. That murmuration of a flock of starlings looks like a highly coordinated ballet, but in reality it is the result of a million reactions within the flock. That’s how the Left operates like a highly coordinated religious cult. They are tuned to react to one another.

This is why facts and reason are useless weapons against the Left. People in the 2A community have all had the experience of carefully explaining the facts and arguments of gun control to their lefty friend or relative. They nod along, seeming to understand what has been explained. The next time you see them, it is the same old shibboleths, as if they have no memory of the last conversation. The reason for this is the very definition of who they are is their membership in a civic religion.

A part of every religion is ritual. Even the crudest, most simple of religions have some rituals that reinforce the belief system. Those ceremonies and rituals are physical manifestations of the shared belief. Step inside a synagogue and it is nothing but ritual and ceremony. The same is true of the Catholic Church. Old religions have had a long time to develop and fine tune their rituals and ceremonies. Without those rituals, the religion ceases to exist, just as the death of the body kills the consciousness.

That is the power of Progressivism. It is a self-contained, self-validating shared reality for the adherents. It’s why so few people break from it. More important, its immune system has evolved highly complex defenses against the way in which the Right prefers to debate. Those appeals to facts and reason are quickly turned into fuel to energize the believers into huddling closer in common defense. It’s how the Left maintains its power. It has turned the enemy’s best weapons into fuel.

It is why engaging with the Left is a tactical error. As much as dissidents like to accuse the Buckley conservatives of being controlled opposition, they never really got the value of the Buckley types to the Left. They were not their designated punching bags. They were the ritualized manifestation of the devil, the universal threat against which the Left is organized. It is a reminder of why they believe, why they must stick together and why they must fight by any means necessary.

An authentic alternative to the Left will therefore not confront the Left, but hide from it, refusing to engage in the traditional way. More important, it can never manifest in the traditional ways. Those white boys in fashy haircuts at Charlottesville were the best controlled opposition the Left has had since David Duke. They were what the Progressive prophesies foretold, thus confirming the shared beliefs of the coalition of the ascendant. It’s why Charlottesville looms so large for the Left.

The authentic alternative to the prevailing orthodoxy will have to evolve in the shadows and evolve its own immunity from the weapons of the Left. Instead of being attracted to confronting the Left, it will have to be repelled by it. The decisive weapon will be never manifesting in a way that allows the Left to anathematize it. Instead of playing the role carved out for them by the Left, the successful dissidents will seem formless and inexplicable. The people in charge will never see them coming.

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The IQ

The state of Israel holds a special place in the American political consciousness for a number of reasons. One is the fact Israel puts enormous effort into lobbying the political class in Washington. They are the most effective lobbying machine on earth. The other is the phenomenon of Christian Zionists, who have created a form of Christianity that seems to venerate the modern state of Israel. Then there is the anti-Muslim aspect to the whole thing. Most Americans back Israel, because they don’t like Muslims.

It was not always this way. In the 1950’s both political parties were skeptical about Israel, but for a number of reasons the political class was convinced to back the Israelis against the Arabs. Even so, the Left remained anti-Zionist into the 1970’s, siding with the Palestinians as members of the coalition of the oppressed. There remains a whiff of this on the Left with the old guys. A guy like Bernie Sanders is comfortable being anti-Zionist, without being a self-hating Jew. He just keeps it to himself these days.

Right-wing Progressives, on the other hand, have gone completely insane with their love of Israel. They are pushing through laws in states like Florida to ban criticism of Israel or support for critics of Israel. It’s tempting to say these are unconstitutional, but the courts are so corrupt now, that’s a phrase without meaning. Still, the right-wing Progressives make a fetish of the Constitution, so for them to embrace the barbaric practice of proscribing certain topics underscores their fanaticism for Israel.

The anti-Semites, of course, look at this as part of the greater plot by those crafty Jews to destroy the West. It is certainly true that Israel is happy to support Zionist movements in the United States, as it keeps the American government on their side. The truth is, being pro-Israel is one of the few areas where Christians can participate in public life, so they do so with rabid enthusiasm. Similarly, Republicans are allowed to give it to the Left on this issue, so they go overboard on their love for Israel.

That said, Israel is happy to see it. They have become dependent on the United States in ways that get lost on this side of the world. Billions flow from America into Israel every year. The amount of private charity from Christian groups in the US exceeds the foreign aid from the US. Then there are the wealthy Jews, who are not often all that observant, but they make up for it by writing checks and getting others to writes checks to Israeli causes. Remittances means as much to Israel as they do to Mexico.

The trouble with this dynamic is it is an aging one, where the most enthusiastic supporters of Israel in America are getting old. On the Left, the younger generation sees Jews as white and white people are all bad. Instead, they side with Arabs, who are not white, so they are good. Chuck Schumer may run the Democrat party, but Ilhan Omar is the future of the party. Even if she is an exception, the brown coalition simply sees Jews as part of Team White, which makes them and their interests the enemy.

On the Right, mentally unstable left-wing Jews create more anti-Semites on a daily basis than Hitler did in a century. As the younger left-wing Jews, especially the women, try to burrow into the brown coalition, by going over the top in their anti-white rhetoric, whites young whites are reacting to this rhetoric. To say that Michelle Goldberg is bad for Jews is to say that cancer is bad for people, but so far Jews have yet to figure out how to think about addressing that problem, much less curing it.

That’s another problem for Israel, maybe the most serious one. The Michelle Goldberg type is a dying breed. Reformed and Conservative Jews in America stopped having kids, just like occidentals. They also started marrying out of the Tribe. As a result, the ratio of Jews to non-Jews in the country is half what it was at the middle of the last century. The explosion of birth rates and immigration on the Orthodox side promises to change the complexion of Jewishness. Demographics is everyone’s destiny.

To understand this dynamic and what it means for Israel, think about how the Jewish vote broke in the 2016 election. Trump won the Orthodox voters, as he is pro-Israel, but he lost the rest of the Jewish vote. The old gag was that the Jews lived like Episcopalians and voted like Puerto Ricans. Today, the non-Orthodox vote like blacks and live like homosexuals. That vital coalition for Israel is now backing anti-Israel candidates and erasing themselves from the book of life. That’s bad for Israel.

Of course, these demographic changes are driven by the same forces that are undermining occidental communities. The reason there is such a thing as alt-Jew is the same reason there is an alt-right. What it means to be Jewish in modern America is under assault by modern America. The reason the Orthodox have so many kids is they see a bright future. The reason the rest of the Diaspora in North America is not having kids is they wish they had never been born. Self-loathing is their religion.

There’s something else with Jews that is unique to them. A big part of Jewish identity is seeing themselves as the plucky underdog put upon by a hostile world. As they rose to the top of American society, they were changed by their immersion into the Progressive cultural outlook. Just as Jews were Hellenized by the Greeks, Jews in America were changed by those ruling class Protestants they found themselves competing with and working with in the high ground of American society.

There’s good reason to mock the term Judeo-Christian, but there is such a thing as Judeo-Puritan. That’s the ethos of the America ruling elite now. The almost berserk obsession with collective judgement and the need to subvert their own system in order to perpetual a state of constant revolution, draws from both traditions. The moralizing prudishness has been inverted to attack traditional morality, while the outsider instinct has been weaponized to create a perpetual state of crisis.

This warping of Jewish identity is most obvious with the neocons. Their enthusiasm for crusading around the world to spread democracy is written off by anti-Semites, as part of their plot to help Israel. In reality, it is the result of internalizing the missionary zeal and universalism of their Protestant brothers in the Judeo-Puritan orthodoxy. The Protestants send missionaries to torment the bad whites inside America, while the Jews send those bad whites out to impose liberal democracy on the rest of the world.

Overall, the dynamic in America is not a good one for Israel. The disintegrating old white America is undermining general support for Israel. It is opening the doors to left-wing anti-Zionists among the coalition of the ascendant. The Jews most supportive of Israel financially, and best able to influence government policy, are fading into a demographic oblivion. The partnership of Trump’s over-the-top civic nationalism and Netanyahu’s over-the-top Zionism is like the last concert for an old band about to retire.

For Israel, it means figuring out how to work with nationalist movements in Europe and white identity movements in the United States. Jews in the Diaspora have the luxury of railing against these movements, but Israelis are far more sober minded. They have no choice but to be pragmatic, as their survival depends upon it. What seems like an unlikely partnership today, is most likely the path forward for Israel. The world’s only ethno-state will have to support the concept of ethno-nationalism for everyone.

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Dear Candidates: Here Is What White Men Want

During election season, I always cringe when I see candidates visiting a factory in the Midwest or taking staged photos with “regular white people” so they can look like they are one of us. These shallow symbolic gestures are not a substitute for meaningful engagement with white voters. And candidates should know that we see right through these campaign stunts.

Candidates and their campaigns are comfortable talking at white people, but few want to talk to us. This limits our ability to influence their decisions and policies. And it’s a bad strategy at a time when white people, white men in particular, form the base of the Republican Party, are its most loyal voters and mobilize other people to go to the polls.

That is a very slightly reworked version of this piece, which was posted in the opinion section of the New York Times. Obviously, no mainstream publication would ever publish a column that makes the explicit case on behalf of white men, as that would be racist and racism is very bad. So bad, in fact, that the major newspapers publish explicitly anti-white columns and articles every day. In fact, they regularly publish hate hoaxes, as the number of actual “hate crimes” in America falls well below demand.

The funny thing is though, the major news sites regularly post the demands of increasingly narrow identity groups, without putting much thought into whether they are harming their own cause. For example, that NY Times column starts with the claim, “We set out to prove that black people are not a monolith”, but then goes on to present evidence that black people are pretty much a monolith. In fact, the first chart confirms everything dissidents say about black identity and culture in America.

Let’s assume for a second that the Progressive narrative has some validity and that white men control society with their white privilege and refuse to share. Presumably, the point of this endless proselytizing in favor of ending white male privilege is to convince white men to let everyone else into power. If that is the intent, then it would make sense to know something about white men, other than the angry fantasies cooked up by bitter university feminists. Perhaps a poll of white men would be useful?

Even if that is a bridge too far, just assuming white men are not stupid would be a good starting people. For example, the NY Times piece has the claim, “For every dollar white men earn, black women, for example, earn 65 cents, whereas white women earn 82 cents.” Every white man knows why this statistic is nonsense and he knows the implication is a lie. The writer of that piece is probably too dumb to grasp multivariate analysis, but most white men do understand it.

In fact, it is long past time for the people in charge to just assume white people in general, male and female, are wise to this whole game. The whole point of that NY Times piece is to demand more gibs for black activists. It’s right there in the last few paragraphs. The writer moans about the Democrats not spending more money on black voters than white voters. Most white people know the reality of race in America, even if no one is allowed to talk about it in public. We get it. We know.

While we’re on the topic of the gibs, here’s a suggestion for how the usual suspects can better engage with white people. Just put a number on it. We know you are working up to the reparations stuff. Whites know and are increasingly prepared to do it. The thing is, there has to be a number that puts an end to the blood libel. We’ll write the check, but you have to stop complaining about how good we made it for you. We also know you’ll never agree to that condition. It’s all about the blood libel. We know. We all know.

Another reason this will never happen is the people in charge need to believe the fantasy they have created to explain modern America. That’s something dissidents often fail to appreciate. They go down the rabbit hole of reductionism, assuming this stuff is part of a plot by the usual suspects. In reality, the people in charge have embraced anti-racism as a fundamental part of their identity. Opposing white people, but particularly white people like us, is what gets them out of bed in the morning.

You can be sure that after the team of NY Times interns, mostly Jewish and Asian women from Columbia and NYU, finished writing this essay for the alleged writer, the editorial staff hugged and cried, while it was read out loud. They really believe there are the new abolitionists fighting the evil white man. This ridiculous post and the hate hoaxes are not an evil plot to gaslight us. They are part of the endless revival meeting that is modern American Progressivism. These posts are sermons, not agit-prop.

Since the title of this post suggests white men have a list of suggestions for politicians, we may as well finish with some ideas. The most obvious suggestion is the office holders start talking about white people. President Trump, the alleged white nationalist, tweets endlessly about everyone except white people. He will go on at length about the employment numbers for one-legged ginger Mexicans or how he has let thousands of black criminals out of prison. He has yet to mention white people in a tweet.

That will never happen, of course, but while we’re working on the fantasy list, how about the rest of you accept the fact that without white men, you’re back in the Stone Age. It sounds harsh, but the hard truth is, without white people, the NY Times editorial board is either back in the Levant begging Mohamed for mercy or back in their home country wondering if the hunt was successful. Black people would revert to the Neolithic if white men suddenly went away. A little gratitude would be nice.

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Citationism

One of the irritating things about reading anything that strives to be academic is the thicket of citations throughout the text. It’s not just the end notes and footnotes, but the constant references to the work of others. Often, the text reads like a summary of the work in the field, rather than something original. Just as often, the text has the feel of a paper turned in by a teenager, trying to prove they did their homework. It is not just bad writing, it is a waste of time. It is disrespectful of the reader.

It’s not just a stylistic thing, but a reflection of something that has happened in the intellectual classes of American society. It used to be that an intellectual mastered a subject in order to build on it. The point of his labor was not to prove he had read everyone in the field. The point was to find the gaps in his field and use the source material as a foundation for filling some of those gaps. In other words, the academic added to his field, rather than maintained it like a curator of a museum.

This shift from speculation to memorization reflects the shift in the culture, not just the education system. As a managerial system came to dominate the upper reaches of society, the education system became an exam system. You pass through the system in order to accumulate credentials that open doors within the managerial elite. The system began to select against people who question the current order. Instead, the system selects for those most likely to support and defend the system.

Of course, as the mass media moved from being a vocation to a profession, it began to adopt the habits seen in other areas of the managerial class. Commentary on current events is less about explaining what happened and more about the writer showing they memorized all the things that will be on the test. The opinion sections of news sites are echo chambers, where each writer salts their text with the latest fads, as if they are writing an essay for their high school social studies class.

The banality is not confined to Progressives. The so-called intellectual dark web is just as dull and cautious, but decorated with some risqué phrases picked up from dissident politics. Here’s a story from Claire Lehmann about the Australian election. She is sort-of from Australia, but the post reads like it was written by someone, who knows everything about the place from a text book. There are no insights or speculations, just a long proof that the writer has read all of the approved source material and passed the test.

She seems particularly proud of herself for using the term “champagne socialist” as if that is a catchy insight. It’s just a different ways of saying “limousine liberal” which was popular with conservatives in the 1980’s. Again, we see that strange echo. The New Left in the West is a weird museum exhibit on the 1970’s, while the New Right is nostalgia for the 1980’s. We have a generation of public intellectuals, who memorized the political fights of their parent’s generation, but have no idea what they meant.

The fetish for the citation also has crept into elite commentary.  In books about current events, writers fill the pages with references to other people’s ideas. Even in op-ed style pieces, there’s every effort made to name-drop and preen about having read some famous person in the field. Instead of trying to enlighten the reader, or even just inform, the modern writer is like the kid in the front of class, furiously waving her hand saying, “I know! I know!” Everyone is trying to show they did the required assignment.

When people stop looking for gaps in their own knowledge or in the prevailing orthodoxy, they no longer have much to say. The lack of curiosity used to be the end of an academic career. It was when the old guy was put out to pasture, gaining the “emeritus” label. Today, a promiscuous lack of curiosity is a requirement for anyone entering the media, the academy or the official public space. As a result, we have a class of academics and public intellectuals, who are a circus of banality.

Worse yet, and this gets back to the citation fetish, there is no effort to make existing ideas accessible. The other role of the intellectual is to explain complex things in a way that regular people can grasp. That’s both a public service and proof you have mastered the material. In an effort to prove to teacher that they have done their homework, modern writing is so junked up with citations, references and insider jargon, it is unreadable to anyone outside the field. Much of it is just unreadable.

Perhaps this is just another manifestation of the end phase of a society. Like an old man, who no longer has the energy or courage to question authority, a society gets old and loses its will to question. Instead of sitting around looking at scrap books and telling war stories, the intellectual class reboots old ideas from prior generations and repeats the same things over and over. It’s not that these people were trained wrong. It’s that they are the result of a culture with nothing left to say, so they just repeat their greatest hits.

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Privacy In The Technological State

Privacy is something that has become a front burner topic for everyone, because every day we are treated to stories about how corporations are spying on us. They harvest information from our daily routines, put it into databases and then use it to push ads on us wherever we turn. They are now inserting surveillance devices in our homes to listen in on us as we go about our daily routines. Of course, no one knows how much is done with government blessing and cooperation, but we know it is there.

Of course, the fact that everyone is worried about this issue means the politicians never speak of it. The old Joe Sobran line was that America is a country where the political parties are significantly to the Left of their voters. Today, when Left and Right are meaningless artifacts from a bygone era, both parties simply make sure to never address the concerns of the people. While Democrats are analyzing spectral evidence for signs of Russian gremlins, the GOP is thanking you for not smoking.

Even though it seems that the unwanted gaze is upon us everywhere, we are just at the start of a new problem. In the pre-industrial age, the privacy concern was the king’s men rummaging through your possessions or intercepting your courier. For most people this was never going to be a concern. In the industrial age, the state expanded to the point where everyone could be exposed to a government process. The concern then was your rights within the process. How much did you have to reveal to them?

In the technological age, where the lines between the state and the global technology companies are blurred, we have very different problems. These are the sorts of problems classical liberals, so beloved by libertarians and conservatives, never contemplated. It’s why civic nationalism sounds so ridiculous when debating what to do about these tech firms controlling our civil discourse. For example, this blog is blocked by corporate firewall makers, which are private companies doing the bidding of the political class.

Think about this. Police departments are now using services like Ancestory.com to help solve cold cases. They submit DNA evidence to the service and the service reports back members who have some connection. You committed the perfect crime in 1982, but left behind some DNA at the crime scene. Your cousin decides to trace her (it’s always a her in these cases) ancestry using a DNA service. All of a sudden you have cops at your door asking you about your whereabouts 40 years ago.

It’s easy to shrug this off as the person suddenly tangled in this new technological surveillance web is a criminal. We all want to see justice done. But, think about the implications of this new world. All of us now have a permanent record that is increasingly open to examination by unofficial agents of the state. How long before some tech company gets into the business of solving crimes? How long before the cops start purchasing their services on-line just like they are doing with ancestry?

There is another side to this. The tech companies can also spy on the state, by accessing the records of people working in the state. Every government has to keep secrets in order to function. It is why every modern society has developed processes for determining what can be revealed and what can be concealed by government. There are processes the public and government must follow and they are administered by the courts. What happens when the tech giants can bypass all of this?

Think of another problem. Before the media was completely owned by the government, private media operations would publish government secrets they thought the public had a right to see. It sounds crazy, but it used to happen. The courts carved out exceptions to permit this, basically putting the burden of keeping secrets on the state. Now, with help from technology, the state can fight back and go after the handful of independent media people snooping around government. This story will be interesting.

There are two problems we face in the technological age that are new. One is how to place hard limits on the synopticon. This unwanted stare called the surveillance state that is now on all of us will have to be blinded, unless there are hard limits on where anyone can peer into the lives of the people. In other words, it is no longer about the state and the citizens’ right to privacy. It is about society and the human right to a private space, free of the unwanted gaze. We will need absolute zones of privacy.

The other problem is how to fashion punishments that are so terrifying that they change behavior. What’s happened within these massive technology firms is the evolution of a culture where everyone sees themselves as a member of a clerisy, guarding the public from themselves. These decisions to ban books and censor speech are not made at the top, but in the middle, by functionaries doing what they assume is their duty. Either the firms are destroyed and the people chased off or we change the culture in them.

One way to change the culture is to attach liability to violating the safe zones. The reason every company in America spends money proving they are not racist is there are serious liabilities that come with doing otherwise. Something similar must happen with privacy. Companies need to be as berserk about not looking where they are prohibited from looking, as they are about conforming to current morality on race. Otherwise, the solution is to let a million flowers bloom in Silicon Valley.

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Ethno-Fanaticism

For a long time, the internationalist argument for a world governed by supra-national bodies, established through multilateral treaties, was that these systems would prevent a repeat of the first half of the 20th century. The lesson learned by Western elites was that nationalism leads to competition, which then leads to war. By forcing all countries into a web of cooperative agreements to arbitrate disputes, the opportunity for conflict is reduced and the benefits of war are eliminated, so we get less war.

That is the germ of Europeanism as manifested by the European Union. Instead of these countries competing for resources and status, they will cooperate economically in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Similarly, the U.S. giving the store away to a country like China for the last thirty years is seen as a trade-off to prevent war in the Pacific. Rather than the countries competing, the rich countries led by the US would help lift China and others into the modern age as a post-communist society.

It all sounds wonderful, but the aversion to nationalism evolved into this self-loathing we see today all across Western elites. Instead of creating a post-national super-society of European people, the elites are now at war with their own people and the people are breaking into their own tribes. The Western elites ramp up their efforts to eradicate a sense of identity among the people, which causes more people to abandon the old sense of national identity for a new tribal one that is hostile to the elites.

The old national identity used to function as the strong force that subordinated the local and tribal, in favor of the national. While France could have plenty of local flavor, so to speak, the strong force of French nationalism bound all those local tribes together like horses pulling a wagon. As that strong force is deliberately weakened, nothing has come to replace it, so the weak force is taking over. The response by elites is to attack group identity by writing the people out of their own history.

That’s what you see here with this claim that Shakespeare was not a white man from England, but a Jewish woman. The usual suspects have jumped onto it, because they think it makes them look clever, but there is something else. These claims are popular with left-wing Jews for the same reason white identity politics is increasing popular with white people. Without a strongly typed host society, tribalism becomes the default sense of identity. These secular Jewish women are becoming ethno-fanatics.

Now, to be fair and offer a counter to this argument, Jews rewriting history to put themselves in the center of it is not a new thing. What Christians call the Old Testament is pretty much the first work of revisionist history. A small literate tribe in the Middle East wrote the story and made themselves the stars, despite the fact they were minor players in the region for thousands of years. If the Persians had been better at passing down a written history, the story would have different stars and narratives.

In modern America, Jews have come to dominate much of the ruling class, so they are rewriting themselves into the national story. That is the whole point of Ben Shapiro’s new book. His argument for Judeo-Christianity is all about the Judeo and nothing about the Christian. The point of the project is to make himself the star of this think he greatly admires, even if it is imaginary. The fact that he is every bit the ethno-fanatic as people like Elizabeth Winkler underscores the tribal nature of these efforts.

Just as killing off Christianity was never going to kill off religion – people will believe in something – killing off national identity is not going to kill of identity. The decimation of mainstream Christianity has resulted in a fragmentation of the religious space, with all sorts of beliefs rushing in to fill the void. The decline of national identity and the subsequent war on white people is creating room for tribalism to flourish. In this regard, civic nationalism is a rearguard action. It’s why it is popular with old people.

Jews tend to be the canary in the coal mine for the West. Whenever the West is about to take a bad turn, Jews start to pop up in the story. Part of it is that rewriting of history to make them the stars, but their role in the West is real. The outbreak of ethno-fanaticism among secular Jews is probably a leading indicator and a trailing one. That is, what’s happening with Jews will happen with the other tribes in these territories, but it is also the sign of an end point. The Tribe is rallying the tribes in the face of disorder.

The outbreak of ethno-fanaticism does not necessarily mean we are headed to a great conflict between tribes. The story of the post-war years is really the story of overshooting the mark. In America, black civil rights should never have gone beyond the legal, but it turned into a war on whites. In Europe, the project should never have gone beyond economic and military cooperation. Perhaps ethno-nationalism is simply going to be a corrective that puts the limiting principles back on the elites.

On the other hand, maybe the road to a post-national West is going to be built on a strong, local sense of ethnic-identity. Everyone retreats to their local camps, sorting themselves into those natural boundaries. In the face of massive migration out of the south, it becomes a defense in depth. Imagine if locals in America were passively hostile to all strangers, even their neighbors. Immigration no longer makes sense for Hispanics. The same would hold for Europe with regards to Arabs and Africans.

In one of life’s ironies, it could be that the West is going to start emulating what has worked for Jews. That strong sense of ethnic identity does not rule out cooperation with other tribes. In fact, it becomes the engine of cooperation. Jews probably would not exist at all, if not for Christendom. They adapted to being a guest population, by combining a strong ethnic identity with a willingness to adapt to the conditions of the host population. Now, the rest of the West is heading down the same path.

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Thoughts On Southern Identity

Southern identity is one of those things most people think they can define without too much trouble. After all, there are so many southern stereotypes popularized by Hollywood that you are spoiled for choice. If you think poorly of the South, then you can go with the snaggle-toothed redneck in overalls and no shirt. If you hold romantic notions about the South, then there is the smooth and courtly southern gentleman, who makes the ladies blush. Of course, there is everything in between.

In reality, those types we get from popular culture are caricatures of old realities, more than anything based in present reality. In the major population centers in the modern South, you will be hard pressed to find the snaggle-toothed redneck or the courtly southern gentleman. Instead, it is mostly middle-class suburban people living better than most of the country. The quality of life in the modern South is much higher than most of the country, which is why so many are moving there.

Of course, the South has never been monolithic. Georgia has a different culture than South Carolina, because it has a different origin story. Parts of North Carolina are more like Virginia, while other parts are more like Appalachia. Again, this is due to the people who settled these areas. While Southern identity has largely been bordered by slavery and the Civil War, even within that framework there was a great deal of diversity in the South, going back to the beginning. Southern culture is diversity.

Then there is the fact the South has always been home to a large black population with its own identity and origin story. Despite what northern historians claim, blacks have always been a part of Southern identity. In the rest of the country, blacks are a tolerated add-on population. A black person raised in Boston would never call himself a Bostonian, while a black raised in the South is going to identify as Southern. It is a different sense of identity than a white person from the South, but not alien.

Compounding the natural diversity of the South in the current age is the large number of foreigners that have moved to the South in the past few decades. From the perspective of the natives, it is hard to say which is worse, the migrant laborers from over the horizon or the economic migrants from the rest of the country. The former seems to have more respect for the locals than the latter and they generally have the decency not to vote in local elections. Still, both are now a part of the South.

Unlike white identity, Southern identity, as a cultural and political movement, has another problem. There have been prior efforts to forge a politics in the South, all of which have failed for various regions. As a result, Southern identity carries with it a stigma that is hard to shake. Efforts to organize today, inevitably have to deal with the old guys from the past showing up wanting to revitalize their thing, rather than embrace something new and based in present reality. The South still has ghosts.

All that said, the South is going to be on the cutting edge of identity politics, even if it struggles to forge a new identity. Georgia is 55% white, with a large black population spoiling for a chance to hold the whip hand over whites. Florida is 56% white with a swelling population of Caribbeans. Texas is already minority white and the flood of migrants is making it more so. It is in the South that white identity, regional identity and identity politics will be the defining issues in the very near future.

How this breaks out is hard to know. There are people with ideas about it, like the folks at Identity Dixie, with whom I did an interview recently. They are in many ways the New South, in that they are college educated, middle-class guys. As I like to put it, the new Southern man has a pickup truck, but it cost sixty grand, has leather seats and the bed has only ever seen his kid’s toys and his golf clubs. If it has a bumper sticker on it on, it is for parking at his office building or maybe his golf club.

When thinking about Southern identity, a good place to start would be the world of William Faulkner. A century ago, the changing nature of the South was the displacement of the old gentry with the decedents of white plantation workers and dirt farmers. The old aristocracy was giving way to a cruder, more cunning and less culturally ambitious breed of Southerner. The Snopes family was the new South, not invested in any romantic notions of the past, beyond what could profit them.

What seems to be happening today is a reverse of that. The people in the new Southern identity movements are like the guys at Identity Dixie. They are smart and educated, working in the modern economy. They have a connection to that old sense of Southern identity like the Compson family in the Faulkner novels, but they are not haunted by it. It is in the South where a native archeofuturism is forming up, where the past informs the present, as they develop an identity for the future.

It is hard to know where this goes. It is in the South where the homogenization and financialization of America is most obvious. Vast developments of identical houses, with Potemkin “town centers” populated by strangers from all over the earth, is just as much a part of the New South as anything else. If someone had moved away from the Charlotte area thirty years ago and returned for the first time today, they would be in a foreign country. Even NASCAR is different from the recent past.

How a Southern identity grows out of that is hard to know, especially one that is not reactionary. If the new sense of Southern identity is going to avoid the fate of prior efforts, it will have to be positive, rather than negative. When a group identity is based on opposition to some other group, it is not something to carry a people forward. It is their long retreat into the oblivion of history. Whatever comes next for Southern identity will have to avoid that mistake and be forward looking and independent.

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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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Credalism

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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