Public-Private Propaganda

Propaganda works on the assumption that most people yield to the authority of the state and most people yield to the opinions of their fellow subjects. Propaganda does not have to convince everyone or even a majority of everyone. It just has to work on that third that are ready and willing to believe. That group will be enthusiastic enough to convince the third that tends to follow the strong horse, even when in doubt. The third prone to skepticism is then outnumbered and less inclined to speak up.

In the modern age, liberal democracies are not going to have ministries of truth or official propagandists. That was the flaw of various forms of communism. They eliminated the private sphere entirely, so even the official religion of communism could not circulate freely among the people. The commies could not rely on the “right” position to spring forth on its own and circulate among the people, because the mechanisms for birthing it and spreading it were destroyed, along with the rest of the private property.

Joseph de Maistre observed that “false opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.” The best propaganda is therefore struck by the believers in the private realm and circulated by honest people, who have their desire for truth perverted into a vehicle for spreading falsehoods. This story from last fall in the Daily Mail is a great example of how propaganda spreads in a liberal democracy.

The claim, for those uninterested in reading the story, is that women are becoming less faithful in their relationships. The story is based on a book by someone calling herself Wednesday Martin. Her claim, based on her qualitative research into the subject, is that modern women are more adulterous than in the past. For those unfamiliar with Xirl science, that’s a nice way of saying she sat around local coffee shops, talking to hens about their sex lives. There is no data in the book or the story.

Given the demographic of the people featured in the story, this book is a bodice ripper of sorts for the middle-aged white women. The standard model for the romance novel is the dashing stranger with money, they always have money and status, ravishing the heroine, in some exotic location or time period. The new model is to have “real life” women talk about their fantasies. In this case, it is middle-aged hens talking about their steamy affair with Roger from accounting, while her husband was on a business trip.

Of course, a good chunk of females want to believe this stuff. Those romance novels don’t fly off the shelves by accident. The soft-core porn book Fifty Shades of Grey sold 125 million copies and spawned a series of movies. It has been known since the ancients that women fall for the steamy romance, because women like to be flattered. The romance novel allows the reader to think she too could be caught up in a great adventure, the object of the desire, fought over by exciting high status males.

In our age, where the people in charge want women to work in the fields and refuse to have children with white men, promoting the idea of female adultery is useful. It’s not that they want women to be adulterous. It’s that they like the idea to gain currency, because it confirms the themes of feminism. It also anathematizes the sensibilities of normal women who are happy to be wives and mothers. The fact that it sells books and movies is a bonus, as it encourages even more of it from other corners.

Now, the fact is there is no data suggesting women are more adulterous today than at any time in history. In fact, the data we have reveals that women were less adulterous in the past than previously believed. Science can now use DNA to figure out if famous person X was in fact the child of his famous father. It’s one of the unexpected byproducts of ancient DNA studies. Similarly, what’s being revealed by the proliferation of ancestry services is that the number of birth outside of the marriage is quite low.

The natural counter to this observation is that modern birth control is probably obscuring this alleged growth in female infidelity. That argument is from another bit of propaganda used to peddle birth control. In the West, the promotion of birth control was based on the argument that ignorance results in unwanted pregnancy, so the solution is to put this into the children’s school curriculum. The claim is absurd. People have always known how babies are made and how to avoid making them. Look up Silphium, if you’re curious.

Regardless, this story about the alleged rise in female infidelity shows how the privatization of propaganda is vastly more effective than what you see from authoritarian regimes. The people in charge merely have to favor certain information over others and the media bullhorns magnify these preferences. For example, on Amazon you can buy The Unabomber’s Manifesto, but you cannot buy Greg Johnson’s The White Nationalist Manifesto. The people in charge are indifferent to the former, but not the latter.

The volunteer army of box wine aunties that stalks social media looking for blasphemers is another example. You’ll note that the overwhelming majority of left-wing agitators on-line are unattached females looking for attention. The propaganda machine has weaponized unattached females, turning them into enforcers of the orthodoxy. Once again, the heavy lifting is not done at the agency or propaganda. It is done in corporate boardrooms. The Soviets never had such an effective and dedicated army of spies.

This system that rewards the counterfeiters of truth and punishes the skeptics is not something created by design. It is a natural byproduct of liberal democracy. When the only authority is the general will, the fifty percent plus one, controlling public opinion became the point of everything. Once one ideological camp gains an edge, they leverage that by supporting their fellow ideologues and punishing their opponents. It’s why institutions move from a normal status into a deranged one, like we see with the Boy Scouts.

It’s also why the ratio of lies to truth in the public sphere seems to be increasing geometrically. The quantity of truth in the world is always fixed. The math of existence is the denominator of life. The numerator, however, is the falsehoods. Systems like communism and liberal democracy require greater amounts of propaganda in order to survive, so before long the numerator dwarfs the denominator. It’s why we live in a sea of fake news and nonsense studies about human behavior, written by morons.

Smollett Thoughts

Because I am not insane, I assumed the Jusse Smollett caper was a hoax as soon as it made the news. It ticked all the boxes of a hoax. The alleged victim was a black Jewish homosexual, who makes a living as a drama queen. The alleged incident happened in Chicago, where the last racist redneck was last seen in the 19th century. The incident happened in a part of town that caters to deviants like Smollett, not MAGA hat wearing Trump supporters. Again, only a nut would accept the story at face value.

Similarly, once the hoax was made plain, I knew the believers on the Left, by which I mean everyone on the Left, would go through the usual phases that they always pass through when confronting disconfirmation. Initially they would lash out at doubters, calling them blasphemers. As the truth was slowly revealed, they would search for explanations to excuse Smollett. Finally, once it was confirmed to be a hoax, they would enter the phase where they admit it was a hoax, but claim these crimes are common.

This brilliant post on the topic goes into more detail, but the general explanation is that these people need to be reinforced in their beliefs and they need to reinforce one another in their beliefs. Progressivism is a social system, as well as a set of beliefs. The believer is not just defined by his beliefs, but by his association with others. Much of the signaling we see from them is not intended for us. Like fireflies blinking in the dusk, they are signaling to one another. These hoaxes provide the opportunity for it.

The people in this photo, for example, don’t care about the details of the case or whether it is even true. They play make believe for a living, so facts grounded in observable reality are not important to them. This Smollett thing was like a stage that suddenly popped up in the public square, allowing them to climb aboard and perform. What they will remember and what their coreligionists will remember, is that they were on board early and stood strong for a victim of those terrible white people on the other side of the wall.

It’s why these people not only fall for these hoaxes, but amplify them. You can be sure that many of the people in that photo have fallen for many of these hoaxes. The little Jewish guy, front row, third from the right, is a barking at the moon anti-white. He really believes Hitler is about to pop out from the bushes and carry him off to a camp. The next time whites are libeled in some way, he will be right there showing his support for the anti-white, regardless of how silly the claim. He is consumed with a hatred of white people.

That’s the thing though. Not only do these people keep falling for these hoaxes, these hoaxes are becoming more common and more outlandish. This one is so absurd, it would not pass muster with Hollywood script writers. The University of Virginia rape hoax was also laughably absurd. In other words, instead of these hoaxes leading to greater skepticism, these hoaxes result in greater credulity on the Left. It’s as if each one is an appetizer, wetting the appetite of the believers, who are desperate for the real thing.

The other side of this dynamic is the civic nationalists are close to a frenzy, trying to prove the next hoax false, confident that this time will do the trick. The Left, confronted with the reality of these hoaxes, will throw down their weapons and finally admit, that yeah, these things are fake. The fear of the secret invisible Hitler people is all nonsense. During every one of these, the CivNats start blinking to one another, working the details of the puzzle, confident that their “eureka!” moment is at hand.

It is a good example of the central challenge of this age. Guys like Steve Sailer truly believe they can turn the tide with facts and reason. He probably has 25 posts on this Smollett thing. He has been working the hate-hoax angle for close to two decades now, yet here we are anyway. He is no closer to unriddling the hate hoax puzzle than he was twenty years ago. If anything, the hoaxes have become more outlandish. Even so, he will keep trying to use facts and reason to address a matter of belief.

No doubt, some civic nationalist types would argue that their project is not about convincing the Left. It is about demonstrating to normal people that these people are dishonest, crazy or even dangerous. In other words, using facts and reason is not about countering belief, but about convincing the rational. The trouble is the Left is undefeated against this strategy and it permits them to own the moral high ground. In this case, they were the ones defending the victim against those evil whites.

Culture wars are moral wars. It is about imposing your morality on the other side, no matter what it takes. It’s why radicals have had no qualms about using violence against their perceived enemies. It’s why Antifa exists. They’re not trying to prove their case or win arguments. They are about clubbing the doubters into submission. From the perspective of the Left, this Smollett affair was a big win. They reinforced an important point They control the morality and they will impose it on society.

A Plague Of Nonsense

In American mythology, enemies of the peopel come to the attention of the state because they are doing something that worries the state. The people who got in trouble with the Soviets, for example, were either freedom fighters, skeptics of communism or religious people just trying to practice their faith. In other words, the person getting the business from the state, were both heretics and a specific threat. The state rationally picked them out from among the population for special treatment by the goons of the system.

The truth is, there is a great deal of chance involved in these situations. The Chinese have always understood this. The Chinese curse, “May you be recognized by people in high places” captures the serendipity that is always part of government. There are minor nuisances, who get caught up in the government dragnet, while others, who are very serious subversives escape attention.  Sometimes it is simply a matter of pissing off the right person, or wrong person. Sometimes it’s just bad luck or bad timing.

Ideological government, either the hard type like the Soviets or the soft sort like we have in America, needs enemies. More specifically, it needs examples. In order to reinforce the rightness of the civic religion, they need to demonstrate the wrongness of heresy. That means the demand for heretics is constant. Finding heretics one at a time is expensive, so it soon becomes a bulk operation. They cast the net, pull in some trouble makers, throw away the small ones and keep the useful ones.

Social media has proven to be excellent fishing waters for this sort of operation. The need to preen and signal, means left-wing fanatics flood these sites. They become chum, attracting the sorts who enjoy criticizing Progressive piety. Every once in a while, a heretic gets caught up in the nets and is hauled aboard for defenestration. It’s no surprise that doxing, the tactic of leftists where they harass heretics at their work and school, almost always starts on social media. Swim near the trawlers, risk getting caught in the net.

There seems to be a corollary to this practice in the realm of official propaganda. The fire hose of fake news, conspiracy tales, and selective reporting is also an economical way of solving the propaganda issue. Instead of spending time and money coming up with credible narratives and high production values, the ideological state can simply reduce the verity of all social information to zero. If everyone comes to believe everything they hear is false, the critics of the regime have no way to convince the public.

Think of it this way. Imagine JFK was actually assassinated by a secret cabal within the government. In order to avoid detection they could find a sucker to setup for the crime, but there’s the risk someone could notice defects in the narrative. What if the sap they selected has an alibi or some physical evidence contradicts the story? The other choice is to try and erase all evidence pointing to the conspiracy, but this is hard to do. There’s always a few bread crumbs that point investigators in the right direction.

A third option is to create and promote a wide range of conspiracy theories that are plausible, but lack proof. This not only muddies the waters, it attracts the sorts of people who seek attention. Before long all of the Mike Cernovich types are promoting their favorite theory of the crime. Not only does this obscure the facts of the crime, it makes the real theory seem just as nutty as the fake conspiracies. The very act of trying to identify who killed Kennedy disqualifies the person doing it.

This is a pattern, by the way, we see with lots of unsolved mysteries. The official inquiry comes up dry or seems to lack official support, so there is a flood of conspiracy theories by professional conspiracy mongers. Obama’s birth certificate is a great example. Team Obama let that linger, because they wanted people talking about the birth certificate, rather than the gaping holes in Obama’s official biography. Before long, anyone puzzling over his backstory was cast as a “birther” and laughed off the stage.

Maybe that’s what has happened to our media over the last few decades. The ideological state no longer has to sell a credible narrative. They just have to allow the fake news to flood the zone so that the public assumes everything is fake, even the people criticizing the ideologues in charge. In a zero trust society, the value of subversion falls to zero, but the value of the institutions grows geometrically. Therefore, the people controlling the institutions increase their power, even as they become less credible.

That’s not to say the people in charge sorted this in advance. That would be a conspiracy theory of its own. No, these things may simply evolve. In the late stages of the Soviet Union, dark humor about the near total lack of trust in Russian society was common. It’s probably not an accident that some of those jokes are making a comeback in modern America, particularly in response to the Russia conspiracies. In a world where there is no truth and no one can trust anything, all you can do is laugh.

The Sophists

The word “sophist” has an entirely negative connotation today, owing mostly to Plato, who had Socrates debate the sophists in his dialogue Gorgias. In that dialogue, Socrates revealed the flaws of the sophistic oratory popular in Athens. The art of persuasion was popular with the Greeks of that age, as it was the key to success in politics and law. Socrates argued that rhetoric without philosophy, is just an effort to persuade for personal gain. Worse, it could justify falsehood over truth.

In ancient Greece, however, to be a sophist was something different than what we think today. They were teachers, often highly esteemed. They were hired by the wealthy to educate their children and prepare them for a public life. They also had a great deal of influence on the development of the law and political theory. Despite this, what has come down to us is a generally negative view of the sophists.  That’s because we have little of their writings, but we have a lot from their critics like Plato and Aristotle.

Despite this incomplete record, we can get some sense of what the sophists were about by looking around the current age for people we could describe as public philosophers for hire. We don’t have men walking the streets in togas, offering to persuade us of something for a fee, but we do have plenty of public intellectuals. The ones we see on television are not really philosophers for hire, as they work in universities, think tanks and media companies. They are not hiring themselves out on-demand.

We do have people on-line, however, who make a living selling books, videos and public appearances, in order to support themselves. Stefan Molyneux is probably the best example, as he actually calls himself a philosopher. He’s also written a book on persuasion. Scott Adams is another guy, who has carved out a career on-line, where he offers arguments you can use on friends and family. Coincidentally, he has written a book on persuasion too. Amusingly, he claims to be a hypnotist, not a philosopher.

Molyneux and Adams are a good starting place as both are explicit in their goals and they are both heavily invested in the personal presentation. Molyneux stands in front of a camera and talks to you as if you’re two guys at a party. It’s intended to relax the viewers and make them receptive. Similarly, Adams does his act from his kitchen table. The desired effect is that the viewer feels like he is sitting across from his old buddy Scott Adams, talking about the issues of the day. Relaxed people are more persuadable.

The other thing you see with both is they put that camera right up on their face, so the viewer is then up close and personal. This makes it possible to communicate with facial expressions, rather than just words. Adams puts the camera so close to his face at times it is a bit uncomfortable. His dentists does not get that close. Molyneux is more subtle and polished than Adams, owing to his theater training. He did a video touring his new studio and the sophisticated tools he uses to achieve the desired effect.

In fact, Molyneux’s performance cannot work without his exaggerated facial expressions to compliment the audio. This recent video he did, addressing criticism of his book, is incomprehensible without Molyneux’s exaggerated facial tics. If you just listen to it, it sounds like gibberish. Adams is a little less reliant on the facial cues, but as you see in this recent video, he needs them to make it work. Notice the ridiculously large coffee mug he uses in the welcoming phase of his performance.

The use of props and exaggerated facial expressions is not new. Jon Stewart got rich using exaggerated irony face on Comedy Central. Without the over-the-top clown face stuff, his jokes don’t work. His faces are cues to the audience.  You laugh, because you are smart and get the joke. The joke is always about how the people outside the hive are dumb and mean, unlike the people inside laughing at Jon Stewart doing exaggerated irony face, while watching clips of the bad people.

This is something Plato observed. Sophistry is a form of flattery. The sophist first establishes himself as a wise man. He then convinces you of something through his clever rhetoric. Once you agree, you become a wise man too. It’s why some people reading this will react negatively at what they view as criticism of their favorite guy. The teacher becomes a projection of the student’s sense of self, therefore, any focus on or criticism of the teacher is viewed as a personal affront to the student.

What this tells us is the sophist of ancient Athens were probably very charismatic people, who had very loyal followings. Socrates could easily be hated, because his criticism of the sophists was, in effect, a criticism of Athens. It also might explain why they left behind little in the way of writing. Their presentation was mostly visual. Writing it down not only would have made it easy to analyze, it would not have made much sense. The scribe taking notes could not capture the facial expressions, gestures and tone of voice.

Tone of voice is another aspect we can examine. The guy Molyneux addresses in that video is someone calling himself Rationality Rules. Again, a big part of his presentation is the visual. He stands in front of a camera doing the hipster douche bag act. You’ll also note the over-the-top sense of urgency in his voice. He’s almost pleading with the viewer to listen to him. Up-talking, emotive tones and so forth are highly effective on the millennials, so it is a persuasive tactic that compliments the rhetoric.

A fellow calling himself The Alternative Hypothesis combines the visual and the audio to create a sense of urgency. Instead of standing in front of the camera, like the other sophists on YouTube, he weaves in clips from movies and still shots from cool paintings, to complement his audio. It is extremely clever and quite effective. Seeing an excited Kevin Branagh, playing Henry V, as the narrator lowers the boom on JF Gariepy, is both flattering, exhilarating and convincing. It is a very clever presentation.

Again, what we can learn about the sophists of ancient Greece, by observing their modern analogs, is that the old guys were probably quite charming. A guy like Molyneux is impossible to hate, even if you hate what he says. It’s how he can be a race realist on Twitter and speak in public. The videos from The Alternative Hypothesis are a lot of fun and they are informative. Scott Adams makes people laugh with his observations and cartoons. Odds are, the ancient sophists were every bit as likable and charming.

Of course, there is that old charge of speciousness and dishonestly, with regards to the sophists of ancient Athens. Any comparison between our moderns and the ancients has to address it. Our modern sophists are prone to logical fallacies and they can be quite prickly about criticisms. We know the ancients were prone to logical fallacies and they did help condemn Socrates, so that is a useful comparison. It suggests our moderns are just as prone to placing rhetoric ahead of truth as the sophists of ancient Greece.

It also suggests that the range of quality among the ancient sophists was quite broad and they had their good days and bad days. Scott Adams is unlikely to argue that Molyneux should drink hemlock. The Alternative Hypothesis is not going to argue that it is an advantage of his profession that a man can be considered above specialists without having to learn anything of substance. For many of our modern sophists, the truth is important, so it is fair to assume the same was true in ancient Greece.

Still, there is the nagging issue of persuasion versus truth. The one thing we know about the sophists is they thought all knowledge is opinion. Therefore, if everyone believes X to be true, then X is true. That means there can be no rational or irrational arguments, because human beliefs are situational. It is simply what people believe at any moment in time. This is why persuasion was so important to the sophists. To be correct was simply a process whereby you convinced your fellows you have the correct opinion.

This is probably a symptom of democracy and another insight we can draw by comparing our modern sophists with those of ancient Greece. In a democracy, there is no arbiter of truth other than fifty percent plus one. In a monarchy, the king is the truth, so there is no need for debate, outside of his advisers. In a theocracy, dogma is the truth and the clergy are those who apply it to policy. What little debate required is not about the truth, but about the application of truth. Again, there is no need to persuade.

In a democracy the truth is what the majority says it is. There is no central authority to arbitrate and there’s no written text that cannot be debated. The law itself becomes a source of dispute and contention in order to bring the dispute to the people for a vote between opposing opinions. Similarly, the market place is about winning market share by convincing customers you have the best product. There’s no right product or service, just arguments and competition between them to win the crowd.

This is a good time to mention something the Persian King Cyrus the Great observed about the Greeks. Herodotus describes Cyrus’s meeting with the Spartan envoy Lacrines, who warns the Persian king against destroying a Greek city. Cyrus’s replied that he feared no people who cheated one another on the Agora. In other words, at the heart of the market place is a lie. The seller tries to deceive the buyer and the buyer tries to deceive the seller. The same can be said for debate in a democracy.

This suggests sophistry is a naturally occurring product of democracy. Sophistry is to a democracy what marketing is to the free market. When there is a product to be sold, a pitch man arrives to sell it. As soon as there is the first vote, a debater arrives to plead the case, on behalf of the highest bidder. If cheating is the true currency of the market, sophistry and deception are the currency of every democracy. There is no truth in the market place and there is no truth in public debate. There is only equilibria.

Finally, one unmistakable feature of itinerant YouTube philosophers is they have very thin skins, taking all criticism as an offense to their honor. A big part of the YouTube philosopher world is these guys doing videos attacking one another and responding to these attacks. Part of it is attention seeking. Most likely, the ancients relied on the same tactic to get noticed. People like drama and the best sort of drama is when two people get into a heated dispute in public. Again, it is safe to assume this was true in Athens.

Another part of it though is the fact that status within the sophist community is determined by how one’s persuasion game is judged. If other sophists are picking you apart, you have to defend yourself, as they are literally trying to harm you. Criticizing the argument is the same as criticizing the man. When rhetoric is the coin of the realm, someone appearing to diminish your rhetoric game is stealing money from your pocket. It’s why a Molyneux feels the need to respond to a two year old video ripping his book.

Spengler observed that there is a cosmopolitan condition both at the beginning and at the end of every Culture. The one at the beginning is the flowering of that culture that comes from the work of those who built it. The one at the end is more like a funeral march for the death of those who made the culture possible. The sophist flourished in the golden age of Greece. It was the full becoming of Greek culture. Perhaps we are experiencing something similar. Our explosion of sophistry is our denouement as well.

Zero Marginal Culture

A long running gag in popular culture is one where the adults complain about the fads popular with the younger generation. Adults supposedly have been complaining about the kid’s music since the birth of pop culture in the 20th century. The same is true of clothing styles and haircuts. Of course, part of that is the marketing of popular culture. The people peddling this stuff try to feed on the normal youthful rebellion, so an ideal result, if you’re in the business, is for the adults to really hate it. Then the kids will love it.

The assumption underlying this gag is that there is no objective difference in quality between pop culture trends. The perceived quality is relative. From the perspective of a teenager, the new thing is useful because it translates to status within their peer group or allows them access to a desirable youth subculture. For adults, these new trends have no social value. There may be some small value in hating it, but since all adults are tuned to not like teenage fads, the value in not liking it is minimal.

The makers of pop culture made up for this lack of qualitative difference in fads by maintaining a monopoly on the supply. Hollywood was controlled by a small clique from the start and remained a family business of sorts until recent. Music was similarly controlled by a relatively small number of record companies. Read the book The Wrecking Crew and you see how this used to work. This bottleneck on the supply side allowed the makers to keep down costs and therefore maintain a profit margin.

Technology has made it much more difficult for the people controlling the supply side to maintain this bottleneck. That’s mostly because technology has lowered the barrier to entry into pop culture. A great example of this happening in front of our eyes. Talk radio became a thing in the 1980’s. Conservative Inc. controlled middlebrow conservative opinion by controlling the radio networks. If you wanted to talk politics on the Right, you had to play ball with the people controlling the talk radio industry.

Today, some of the most influential voices on the Right are podcasters and live streamers. If you’re under the age of fifty, you’re probably close to abandoning the old radio model entirely, maybe listening to some of the old guys on-line. The audience for Rush Limbaugh is half of its peak now. Most talkers have seen their audience shrink and they are now seeing competition from below. People like Stephan Molyneux can produce high quality, professional content, from their home and reach a broad audience on-line.

The thing is though, supply does not create demand. Just because you can now produce your own music from a home studio, it does not follow that you become a pop star. That old assumption about there being no qualitative difference in trends works in the macro sense, but talent still counts. The fact that young people may prefer pop music from their grandparent’s generation suggests there is a qualitative difference in this area. To these young ears, that music is better, so they prefer it over what the style makers produce.

Alternatively, another way of looking at this phenomenon is that like the consumer electronics business, pop music is now fully commoditized. There’s little or no value added to the music from the producers and creators, so the only thing that matters in the music market is price. Since streaming is the platform of the future, producing new music makes less sense, when there is this vast library of existing music. The kids have not heard these old songs, so selling them the old stuff is possible.

Another aspect to this is the cultural one. Pop music had a peak in the 1970’s and has been in decline ever since. This tracks with the overall decline in the culture. This turns up in per capita music consumption. The aberration was the introduction of the CD, which had everyone re-buying their catalog of music. Otherwise, Americans have listening to less music than fifty years ago. Young people may simply prefer that which was created in peak America over that which is produced in post-America.

Putting aside the cultural angle, which is not unimportant, the economic issue raised by trends in popular culture is how does a market economy work when everything is a commodity? If technology makes it impossible to create bottlenecks and control artificial monopolies on supply, how can concepts like entrepreneurship and market competition still exist? After all, business is about creating scarcity and exploiting it. What happens when the Peter Theil model is no longer possible?

It sounds fanciful, and maybe it is, but it is worth thinking about, as the people who rule over us are thinking about it. The author of this book on the subject is an adviser to the European Union and is read by the western political elite. They are not worried about a world of zero marginal cost. They want to create it. The world of zero marginal cost is also a world of zero marginal culture. More precisely, it is post-culture world, in which things like pop music are simply things supplied by the system on-demand.

The Inhumanity Of Openness

A core assumption of cosmopolitan globalism is that the ideal society is the completely open society. That is, there are no barriers between people and all transactions are completely transparent. Organizations are based entirely on neutral rules, so that anyone meeting an objective set of criteria may join. Goods and services flow freely, without regards to national borders or local interests. The open society is therefore transactional, where the friction of custom, national interest and tradition is eliminated.

To see how central the concept of the open society is to the globalist project, you just have to look at the chief global advocate for globalism, George Soros. He is a citizen of nowhere, but he meddles everywhere. Through his organization, The Open Society Foundations, he funds subversive organizations all over the West. The goal is to destroy borders, customs and traditions, in order to turn the West into an open, transactional commerce area for the world. Openness is central to post-nationalism.

If a society is fully open, therefore, it means all people have access to all things, all places and so forth. It follows, according to the logic of the adherents, that any organization lacking the diversity of its surrounding environment, must not be fully open. A fire house without vibrancy, for example, is somehow discriminating against the vibrant. There does not have to be proof of this. The lack of vibrancy is proof enough. After all, if the hiring process of the firehouse was open and transparent, it would be fully vibrant.

At first blush, this sounds sort of reasonable, but it is when you examine it in detail that this zeal for openness is found to be every bit as extreme and inhuman as the radical ideologies of the past. This post from Robin Hanson offers a good illustration. His first thought experiment, regarding discrimination against the left-handed, comes to the conclusion that busting up exclusionary group preferences is good for the world. The reason is, such discrimination offends the gods of efficiency.

This sounds fine in the abstract, until you think about it in practice. Hanson assumes insiders create rules for arbitrary reasons. They just like one another and foolishly create rules that favor themselves. If only they could see the beauty of openness, they would drop those rules, so let’s just bust up those rules for them. Attacks on free association and private discrimination are not just about liberating the excluded. They are about liberating the included, so they can enjoy openness and vibrancy.

He then gets into “gender” differences, by which he means sex differences. This confusion we see on the Left between biological reality and their fantasy constructs is an essential element of their world view. It’s a form of fallacy where they compare reality to some model of reality, then critique the model, rather than use the model to gain a better understanding of reality. Therefore they talk about gender roles and ignore biology, because the model of gender is easier to critique.

This passage from his post is where we see the extreme radicalism.

Some may postulate gender as an innate atomic feature of the universe of human concerns, so that when we desire that an associate have a certain gender that has nothing to do with their many other associated features. But that seems crazy to me. Much more plausibly, what we like about a gender is strongly tied to the set of associated features that tend to go along with that gender. That is, we like the package of features that “are” a gender.

He is taking the theoretical model of gender that is not based in biologic reality then imposing it on reality. The whole post is a great example of sophistry, but it is also an insight into the thinking of the people who currently rule over us. They really have accepted the blank slate arguments about observable reality being a social construct. When you start talking about society “assigning roles” based on packages of features associated with genders, you have slipped the chains of reality.

The monstrous nature of the open society lies in the fact it assumes choice, based in anything but objective criteria, is invalid. The male who marries a female because of biology is acting from bias. The male who marries a man, because of economic benefit is acting rationally, because his decision is based on objective criteria. This view of people strips them of their humanity and turns them into economic units, cursed with a sense of moral duty and a belief in free will. They must be broken of those beliefs.

This is what lies behind the sudden promotion of race mixing on television. Every ad must feature a mixed race couple. It’s not so much a denial of biology, it is a denial of choice driven by anything other than objective criteria. Preferring your own race or ethnicity is invalid, because it places a barrier between you and others. Breaking up these antiquated notions of choice is not about racism. It’s about destroying any barriers between people, as those are by definition invalid in an open society.

This is why they are so berserk about what is coming from the human sciences with regards to the nature of man. If people are wired to favor their kin over strangers, for example, the open society cannot exist. More important, biology is a more authentic authority than whatever is bubbling up from the soft sciences. Destroying science will become a crusade, as it is the only way to preserve the open society. The un-personing of James Watson is not a sacrifice. It is atonement.

There’s also an anarcho-nihilism quality to the open society. If all human relations are reduced to self-interest based in objective criteria, there’s no reason for anyone to sacrifice. Trust is not objective and it cannot be measured. Without trust, human cooperation is impossible, as no one has an interest in sacrificing today for the good of a whole he may not be around to enjoy. The result of the open society is a Hobbesian world where everyone is a stranger and everyone is a predator.

That is what makes the zeal for openness immoral. It violates the natural order. It’s why a people under siege will sacrifice rather than open their gates. They know without that barrier between them and the besiegers, they don’t exist. It’s why the first demand of the conqueror is for the conquered to tear down their walls. The people preaching the open society are similarly acting from the position of the conqueror. If the West tears down its walls, removes its borders, becomes fully open, it ceases to exist.

The America Problem

Way back when the West was pressuring the apartheid government to commit suicide on behalf of its people, they did a remarkable thing. They sequestered their nuclear program, making sure the information and material would not fall into the hands of whatever came after apartheid. It was remarkable, because no other state has voluntarily abandoned its program for the good of the world. Governments just don’t do that, but the South Africans did and a huge potential problem down the line was averted.

The reason this is worth thinking about is there are other unstable states, with lots of military technology. Pakistan is an obvious example. There is a better than even chance they have sold nuclear technology to other Muslim governments. They have most certainly been working with North Korea. Israel has nuclear weapons and they have advanced delivery systems. These are two countries that could fall into chaos or have their government overthrown. It’s not likely at the moment, but it is possible.

A bigger concern is America. There’s no getting around the fact that America is in bad shape in many important ways. The wizards in the Federal Reserve have been able to use creative ways to maintain the debt bubble, but everything comes to an end eventually. The demographic changes going on in the country are creating very serious fissures regionally, ethnically and economically. Just look at how aggressive and radical the political talk is these days. America looks very brittle right now.

If you are doing long term planning for the EU or a European government, you have to be looking at America and thinking about the Crisis of the Third Century. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it is a pretty good one. Like the Roman Empire, the American Empire is militaristic, the dominant military power and politically fragile. Like the Romans, America appears to be critically short of intellectual firepower in its ruling elite. Who knows, maybe Washington has a lead pipe problem, but it does have an IQ problem.

You have to think China, Japan, Europe, even the Russians are looking at America and wondering how it keeps teetering on without some serious reform effort. Further, you have to think the failure of the Trump administration to get anything done is another data point suggesting the American political class is malfunctioning. A healthy political elite would have made sure to co-opt Trump, given him some easy victories and made sure he turns his talents and political support toward defending the system.

Instead, the result of the Trump years is likely to be further confirmation that the system is hopelessly broken. Maybe the Democrats have some great reformer in their ranks who will rise in the primaries this year. It seems unlikely, but the funny thing about greatness is no one ever sees it before it becomes obvious. Still, what the political class has favored, guys like Bush, Clinton and Obama, suggests they have managed to create a system that selects against, at an early stage, anyone with the any amount of talent.

Now, America is probably not going to fall into a period of military anarchy as happened to the Romans in the third century. America is a sea-based empire, while the Romans were a land-based empire. Chaos, if it comes, will first be in the possessions. Perhaps that’s why the Trump administration is so eager to get out of Afghanistan and Syria. It could be that the defense establishment has finally realized they are being bled dry by these commitments. In order to preserve the empire, they must shrink it.

On the other hand, in an age when controlling the financial system is worth more than controlling territory, the chaos will show up first in the economy. We’re two months away from “hard Brexit” with no signs of a soft resolution. The EU had to compromise with the populist Italian government on their budget. The Yellow Vest riots, which everyone is told to ignore, are becoming a serious issue in France. All of these problems in Europe are being driven by the impossible realities of their economics system.

Whatever your favorite collapse scenario, all of them assume that the American political class will not be able to keep the plates spinning. At some point, the divisions in American society, be they cultural, racial or economic, become so large that the core of the empire becomes ungovernable. If you are on the outside looking in right now, America certainly looks like a continent wide version of 1970’s New York City. The difference being, New York City was not armed with nuclear weapons and a massive military.

How the rest of the world could “manage” the entropy of empire is hard to know. China could simply work to reduce its exposure to the empire and wait for it to withdraw from the Pacific Rim. South American governments seem to be using the current chaos to export their troublesome populations. They are using the techniques of Progressive urban gentrification to clean up their underclass. A weakening and chaotic America could very well be a good thing for them, at least from a demographic perspective.

European elites are suffering from the same disease as their American counterparts, so it is unlikely they are thinking too far ahead. On the other hand, the demographic situation in Europe is salvageable, so they have more time. France is not condemned to becoming a majority-minority society. No European country is assured that fate. America is guaranteed, short of something completely unexpected, to become a multi-racial, multi-ethnic country, with a large white minority. That’s a mathematical guarantee.

If it turns out that the model of the American empire cannot function with a majority-minority core and the core becomes ungovernable, then the world is going to have a very serious problem. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Europe fell into the dark ages for roughly a millennium. On order to avoid that fate, the world, particularly Europe, will need to start planning and preparing for life after America. That means figuring out a way to manage the inevitable decline of the American empire.

Eat The Rich

Elizabeth Warren is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, so she is out making the rounds, boasting of what she would do as president. She’s planning to run as the weepy champion of the middle-class, so you can expect her to say the “middle class is getting hammered” six million times over the next year. She can’t be a culture warrior, now that her fake Indian cover is blown, so she is going for the bourgeois populism that used to be a thing on the Left, before they discovered anti-whiteness.

Warren’s first salvo is a wealth tax, which will be some sort of levy on those with assets over $50 million. This will be in addition to the regular income tax and she says it will raise $2.75 trillion over 10 years. That’s like saying the plan will allow Big Foot to finally get the unicorn he always wanted. Politicians love making ten year projections, despite the fact no one believes them. It’s just a way for the actors, our rich people hire to run for office, to sound like they are something other than actors. It’s part of the role.

Portly polemicist Kevin Williams was ready to lead the charge against this new communist assault on the rich people who pay him to sing their praises. That post is a madhouse of nonsense, but it is also like reading National Review from 1985. That old crowd is still lighting candles, hoping the Left will get back to talking like socialists, so they can get back to pretending to be conservatives. Comparing what Warren is proposing to the Soviet collectivization programs is dumb even by the standards of Kevin Williamson.

It’s also completely backwards. Historically, the radical position on taxes is all about restructuring society and making it more egalitarian. The Right took the position that the state was primarily in service to the rich, so the rich should pay for it. Sure, the rich tax the poor, that’s why they are rich, but they pay for the state, because it serves their ends. The Warren plan is hardly radical. Every state in America has property taxes. Some have inventory taxes on business and asset taxes on individuals. Asset taxes are common.

Of course, Warren’s game here is to pitch herself as the champion of middle-class white women. Kamala Harris will get the black vote. The question is whether she is black enough to get enough of it. Warren is betting she can scoop up the Sanders vote and the box wine auntie vote, in order to counter the black vote. That’s why she is pitching this idea, which she knows will never happen. It’s a form of virtue signaling in order to shape the narrative of the 2019 election season, heading into the primaries next January.

Still, it is an idea that should be discussed. America has many problems and is probably headed for a very bad end, but if reform is possible, it starts with reigning in the out of control plutocrats. Everyone talks about the racial and ethnic hostility, but one big problem is the degree of inequality. You can make all the libertarian arguments you like to explain why this is not a bad thing, but history says otherwise. Throw in the outright hostility of the rich toward their duties to the nation and it is a dangerous brew.

A debate about an asset tax also does something else that is needed. It raises the issue of why taxing income is acceptable, but taxing other things is taboo. Why do we treat investment earnings as sacred, while the working man’s paycheck is fair game? Take this further, why are we using an industrial age tax philosophy in the technological age? The world is a very different place economically, compared to a century ago when income taxes were invented. It’s time to think about modernizing taxes.

Another thing worth debating is how tax policy changes the behavior of office holders in a neoliberal democracy. Every shabby economics expert in Conservative Inc. can lecture on tax policy and market incentives, but no one thinks about how tax policy changes the behavior of public officials. Income taxes encourage government to attract earners, not builders. Countries become flop houses for stateless economic pirates. That’s what countries are in the global age. They are a pirate’s cove for global capital.

Asset taxes could motivate politicians to attract investment that creates wealth in the nation. After all, if the money available to the politicians is pegged to the asset value of the nation, nationalism makes a lot of sense. That’s why the flunkies and coat holders for the globalist class will be howling in agony at any attempt to debate this idea. Income taxes serve the interest of the post-nation future. Global capital is just a renter, always looking for the cheapest rate, with no stake in the port where they find shelter.

Make no mistake, Elizabeth Warren is as dumb as a goldfish. She’s proposing this because the script writers hired for her told her it will get applause from the demographic she is courting. On this side of the great divide, it offers a chance to talk about bigger issues in practical terms that disgruntled whites can follow. It also offers another chance to be the thoughtful, intellectually serious alternative to the sad clown show that in conservatism. The politics of the future, will need a tax policy to match it.

The Egalitarian Pill

There are many reasons to hate libertarians, all of them valid, but the most compelling reason is their totally misplaced self-assurance. Libertarians walk around sure they have gained access to the book of secret knowledge, while everyone else is staggering around in primitive darkness. In reality, modern libertarianism is mostly just window dressing for the oogily-boogily that comes from the Left. Libertarians start from the same misplaced beliefs about the human condition, but seek a different end.

A good example is this post from Reason Magazine (clown horn) celebrating the start of National School Choice Week. According to their website, it is “a week of celebration to raise public awareness of the different K-12 education options available to children and families while also spotlighting the benefits of school choice.” Reason Magazine is a big fan of school choice, so they are doing some celebrating of their own, promoting various studies about the glories of school choice.

Nowhere is the magical thinking of modern libertarianism more evident than in the area of education. While they don’t go so far as to embrace magic dirt theory, like their Progressive counterparts, they do believe in the magic of location. For example, the first bullet point of that post says, “Eighteen empirical studies have examined academic outcomes for school choice participants using random assignment, the gold standard of social science. Of those, 14 find choice improves student outcomes.”

Without reading a single study, anyone with the least bit of math and science knows that these studies are nonsense. There’s simply no way to net out certain immutable facts about the human condition, to isolate the effects of choice. For example, smart parents, who invest in their children, are much more likely to take advantage of school choice programs than dull or indifferent parents. Parents who like learning and value knowledge, will have kids who like learning and value knowledge.

The only way you could really test these various education theories, including school choice, is to do a twin study. One twin is ripped away from his parents and placed with some dullards, who are happy to send him to the local public school. The other twin is ripped from his parents and placed in a home with high parental investment and access to school choice. Then maybe you could get some useful data. That’s monstrous and no one would ever agree to anything close to it, so it will never happen.

Another point on the list states, “Ten empirical studies have examined school choice and racial segregation in schools. Of those, nine find school choice moves students from more segregated schools into less segregated schools.” Since we know the number of parents seeking to send their kids to majority black schools rounds to zero, this is actually a point against school choice for most people, but the modern libertarian has slugged down the multicultural ambrosia, so they can’t follow their own arguments here.

Look. Education is a function of biology. Smart kids tend to have smart parents and dumb kids tend to have dumb parents. Intelligence correlates with things like parental investment, peer selection, community involvement and so forth. The reason the kids at the school in the white suburb do better than the kids at the ghetto school is they came from better parents. Their parents built a stronger community, invest in their children and passed on their intelligence and social fitness to their kids.

The amusing part of the whole school choice debate is the Left fully understands what’s really going on here. Middle-class white parents want to avoid subjecting their kids to vibrancy. They will accept some of it, as long as the vibrancy has to pass through a filtering mechanism to weed out the really vibrant. The Left gets this, while libertarians and conservatives are drunk off their own fumes. If there is such a thing as “systemic racism” it is school choice. Everyone gets this except for the advocates.

This highlights the fundamental flaw of libertarianism. It’s the same flaw that has made Buckley-style conservatism utterly worthless. They accept the Progressive premise that there is no such thing as biology. People come into the world as amorphous blobs that can be shaped into proper citizens with the proper public policies and civic institutions. Once you take the egalitarian pill, the world stops making sense. From there it is an endless search for the right set of policies to make everyone equal.

The fact is, there is no fixing the schools. John Derbyshire brilliantly made this point in his global best seller We Are Doomed. Tens of billions have been poured into every conceivable education scheme. None have done anything to address the achievement gap and none have done anything to mitigate the inheritance gap. The best way to become a smart, educated person is to be born to parents who are smart and well educated. The schools can do nothing to make this happen.

That does not mean schools should be ignored. Public education, like public health, is a thing we expect government to manage. Instead of flushing billions down the drain fighting biological reality, vocational schools and the availability of jobs for people on the left side of the curve is the answer. No society can tolerate an excess of idle men, so fixing the schools in the ghetto means giving all those idle men something to do other than make babies, who will follow in their path. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

The Radical End

Usually, when you seek to take over something, you try not destroy it in the process of acquiring it. For example, if you’re trying to rise up the ranks of an organization, you don’t want to discredit the organization in the process. What’s the point of rising up the ranks, if the post you finally attain has been made worthless? This “conservative” instinct becomes stronger once you have gained control of whatever it was you were after. Now it is yours and you do what you must to protect and increase its value.

For example, when the Left took over the institutions of the American ruling elite, they were careful to not destroy them in the process. They destroyed the people in their way, for sure, but they were careful to avoid damaging the institutions too much. In fact, they worked to increase the power of the government, the schools and the colleges once they gained power over them. Today, logic says the Left should be extremely conservative, not wanting to alter anything, for fear of diminishing the power of what they have.

That’s the curious thing about what we are seeing from the Left. They have a firm grip on all of the institutions of the empire. They control the mass media. They control the administrative state and the education system. Global corporations are now run by people deeply invested in virtue signaling. The days of the Left having to pressure big business to do their bidding are long over. Big business is the vanguard of the Left now. Despite this, the Left is running around trying to scramble all of the rules.

When you’re in charge, the rules are your friend. After all, you get to write the rules, pick the people who enforce the rules and pick the people who interpret the rules. That is one of the best perks of being in control of the institutions. The people in charge of the empire should be the great defenders of law and order, as the rules work in their favor. Instead, everywhere you look, the Left is trying to destroy the authority and legitimacy of the things they control. It’s as if they are trying to burn down their own house to spite us.

A good example is the two big fake news stories this past week. The first one was an obvious put up job by some hack political operators. There was no way it could hold up under scrutiny. Left-wing media should have attacked it in order to maintain what little credibility they have on these issues. Similarly, they fell for the story about the teenagers and the Indian protester. Official media should have been all over debunking that story, as that would have made them look responsible and humane.

Instead, they helped egg on the feeding frenzy. Even if the facts were as originally presented, normal people will always take the side of a kid over an adult in a situation like this. It’s not as if the kids were a gang of blacks attacking an old man in the subway. They just stood their ground and peacefully protested on behalf of their issue. More people were red pilled by that story than by all the alt-right internet memes combined. The media frenzy was suicidal, self-destructive and avoidable.

Now, it could simply be the case where their fanatics on social media make it impossible to put the brakes on these feeding frenzies. A left-wing idiot posts fake news on Twitter and within hours it is retweeted a million times by other left-wing idiots. The speed of the process makes it impossible for the more sober minded media operations to react in a timely fashion. Before they can react, the fake news has rocketed around the internet and the debunking of it is well under way.

That’s not the case in other areas where you see the Left damaging their own cause. For example, they are undermining the law in an effort to swat at flies. Two years after Charlottesville, left-wing lesbian lawyer Roberta Kaplan is asking the court to manipulate Federal law so she can harass alt-right activists. Her scheme relies on reinterpreting old laws aimed at the KKK to terrorize people who attended the rally. Kaplan is a billionaire and she is suing people who don’t have two nickels to rub together.

This is not strictly an American issue. In Canada, two left-wing professors are suing a student, because the student shared a Jordan Peterson video. This video was so upsetting and triggering to the professors, they went on a crazy rant about Peterson on social media. They now fear he may sue them, so they are suing the student in an effort to shift the blame onto her. That sounds insane, but given the state of the courts in Canada, it is not out of the question that the student loses the case.

The only possible outcome of this sort of lawfare is to convince people that the law is a fraud. The only way a legal system can function is if the people think the law is both rational and predictable. Even if people don’t like the laws, they will obey them as long as the law is predictable. If left-wing lawyers manage to subvert the law by getting left-wing judges to sign off on what amounts to state terrorism, the law becomes the enemy of the people. The value of controlling the law and the courts declines.

Even if you want to put this sort of stuff aside as the actions of rogue individuals and mindless idiots on-line, think about some of the policies the Left is championing. One big item on their list is the normalization of open borders by debasing the value of things like driver’s licenses. States with left-wing government are in a rush to issue driver’s licenses to illegals. This will result in so much fraud that the picture ID will lose its value. All levels of government count on those ID’s being mostly accurate.

It’s not just for the benefit of foreigners. New York State is now offering a third option for biological sex. A big part of how the state keeps tabs on the citizenry is having their personal information, usually through the driver’s license process. How long before the body dysmorphics start demanding they can describe themselves as they feel they should be described, rather than their actual description? Cops will be looking for people claiming to be dinosaurs, having licenses with pictures of a T-Rex on them.

When you start to tabulate the radical agenda and the ad hoc activity of the Left, the most obvious conclusion is there is little coordination. The people at the top have lost control of the monster they created. They dream of creating a coalition of non-whiles, over which they will preside, so they can control the empire. The trouble is their coalition is always reminding the other side that such an arrangement will be a catastrophe. Again, the Left is mostly just radicalizing white people now.

The other conclusion is the radicalism of the Left has no limiting principle, so it has to spiral out of control. Like the Khmer Rouge, the logical end of this new radicalism is an orgy of self-destructive violence. That means it will not burn out on its own as happened in the 1970’s with student radicalism. This round of radicalism is for keeps and the Left will not stop until they are stopped. That’s going to put an end to civic nationalism and any thoughts of restoration. Whatever comes next comes after the final conflict.