New Solutions

The generally accepted theory among archaeologists is that humans began to settle down and transition to agriculture about 15,000 years ago. It did not happen all of a sudden nor did it happen everywhere. The first large scale settlements arose in places that were the most hospitable to people just mastering agriculture. The region between the Yellow River and Yangtze River, Mesopotamia and the Indus River Valley are thought to be the first places humans developed large scale settlements.

The big challenge for the first settled people was how to pick leaders. Hunter-gatherers had an easy solution for this. The best warrior or most senior male would be in charge of the group. Since the groups were small and composed of related males, disputes could be worked out at the personal level. If Trog turned out to be a bad leader, Trog would fall off a cliff or have a hunting accident. Once the group got too big for this to work, cousin Grog would lead his kin off to form a new clan somewhere else.

Once groups of humans began to settle down in close proximity with one another, conflict was inevitable. That’s most likely why the first settled societies happened in the fertile river valleys. They were good for human habitation, so populations grew. Before long the population density made group conflict inevitable. In time, one group would come to dominate and absorb other groups. The old Grog clan from above would take over the Trog clan and maybe some others. The result was a tribe distantly related people.

Picking leaders to rule over unrelated people required different habits and different rules than picking a leader for the small group of related people. Once you get past second cousins, family relations are not all the close. Then you have the habit of marrying off women to other groups in order to broker peace and cement agreements. Governing can no longer be personal. You need a system to develop and select leaders, adjudicate disputes and delegate authority.

There are many ways to pick leaders, but the real challenge is how to deal with a bad selection. The Roman Republic solved this with what amounted to term limits. The Roman Empire relied on assassination to solve the problem. The Chinese never have figured out how to remove defective rulers, but they did come up with a very good way to filter them out before they gained power. Mao remains the best example of what happens when their filtering fails. The Great Leap Forward killed between 30 and 50 million people.

The European method that developed after the fall of Rome was feudalism. The king had to rely on the large land owners for money and soldiers. Those large landowners often relied on lesser nobles to collect food rents and conscript men for soldier work. This system put limits on the power of rulers, so a tyrant or lunatic could be controlled until he fell off his horse or got some bad wine. It was not perfect, but it protected the landowners from a predatory tyrant or a dangerously ambitious monarch.

The other unique thing about Europe that effected the evolution of governance is the fact that no one group was ever able to dominate the rest of the continent. The Qin unified China over 2000 years ago. Various Arab tribes dominated the Near and Middle East for very long periods. The Romans dominated Europe, of course, but that domination was their undoing. The cost of holding the Empire together exceeded the benefits of keeping it, leading to the collapse of the Western Empire. The fact that the Eastern Empire held on is not an accident. Europe is not built for unification.

Europe’s governing structure where rulers were limited and ethnic groups competed with one another, but were never able to fully conquer one another, was probably the recipe that eventually led the West to race ahead of the world economically, militarily and technologically. There’s more to that story, but things like the rule of law and property rights were essential ingredients for the Industrial Revolution. Without property rights and limits on the state’s ability seize property, there’s no reason to save and invest.

The sudden changes in governance that swept Europe coincided with the Industrial Revolution. One way of looking at the French Revolution is that the old governing model was built for an economic system that was being replaced by a new economic system, one that would require a new governing model. Liberal democracy has only flourished in nations with merchants and manufacturing. Industry does not automatically lead to democracy (China), but in order to have self-government you need a market economy.

The point of all this is that social structures like liberal democracy are not the product of inevitable historical forces. The Chinese form of government is the product of the evolutionary history of the Chinese people. Pluralism, openness, self-government, the rule of law, all the things we associate with liberal democracy, are the product of the unique history of the people of Europe. It is why they have proven to be impossible to transplant to other parts of the world. The rest of the world is not built for Western social structures.

That’s a lot of book length material summarized into a few paragraphs, but it is an important lesson of history. The people of the West have unique organizational structures because they have unique histories. As a result, they have different human capital, because the people evolved with those social structures. These small differences on the individual level, roll up to be rather large differences when expressed in customs and social institutions. Just as important is the fact that it is ongoing. People and their societies continue to evolve.

With that in mind, what we call liberal democracy is the product of the industrial age when making and selling things was the core of European economies. The challenge every ruler in Europe faced in the 17th century was how to get the most of the available human capital. That not only meant getting everyone working, it meant increasing each worker’s productivity. If you are going to have a big standing army, for example. your farmers have to produce lots of surplus food and supplies for that army.

The technological revolution is going to lead to a different economic model. Instead of one that gets the most from the available human capital, the new economy will be one that gets the most from technological capital. The robot revolution is oversold, but the future will require fewer people to produce the goods and services we demand. It is not just labor being replaced with machines. It is intellectual capital being replaced with technology. The future is about how best to organize society when technology is handling the bulk of work.

The so-called populist uprising in the West, seen through this prism, takes on a different color. For instance, the reason Hillary Clinton lost is that technology allowed for a different type of campaign and new way around the government controlled media. The establishment showed up in its 1960’s muscle car and the challengers arrived in Teslas. In 2016, the twitter account of thousands of alt-right types carried as much weight as the pages of the New York Times.

This post is going on too long, so let’s wrap this up. In 1789, no one in France could imagine what was coming. That’s in part because they had not noticed the demographic and economic changes that had been going on for generations, which led to the Industrial Revolution. The modern West has been in a post-industrial phase for at least a generation, maybe two. Yet, the organizational model we have is still an industrial one. Consider this. Who has more power? Congress or Google? Your PM or Tim Cook?

It may not be 1789 all over again, but these populist uprisings that are vexing Western leaders could simply be the tremors that precede the earthquake of social upheaval, as the old organization system falters in the face of new challenges. Ours is a less violent age so Madame Guillotine will not be making an appearance, but systematically altering the governance model is not out of the question. Our constitutions were not handed down by God. They were always temporary solutions to immediate challenges. We have new challenges and maybe social democracy has run its course.

The Abuse of Sexual Assault

The other day, I ran across this story in the sports pages. The sporting news often resembles the police blotter, so this is not a unique news item. I usually skip these stories, but something about it peaked peeked piqued my curiosity. The accused in this case is a college football player charged with “sexual assault” along with some other crimes. Like most people, I hear the word sexual assault and I think rape, but then I remember the mountain of rape hoaxes on the college campus and I’m immediately skeptical.

In this case, the player is charged with two counts of fourth degree sexual assault, crimes resulting from the cops trying to arrest him and underage drinking. Sandbagging is the standard procedure these days so even the smallest crime ends up in a litany of charges. Because cops and prosecutors are mostly incompetent, they use the sheer mass of the system to bludgeon those caught up in the system.  The idea is to bully the accused into taking a deal, which makes life easier for the cops and prosecutors.

Of course, the charge that will ruin the kid’s life is the sexual assault charge. Looking at the news story from when it happened, you get to see the absurdity of the charges. In Michigan, fourth degree sexual assault is basically aggressive touching, at least when it is between adults. It is always leveled at males, who get into some sort of beef with a female. Two fully clothed people on a city street are not engaging in anything sexual, but that does not matter. It is the go-to charge against young males in an altercation with a female.

Common law defined rape as unlawful intercourse by a man against a woman who is not his wife by force or threat and against her will. These days, rape is legally defined as unlawful intercourse against the will of the victim. In other words, the sex of the parties and the use of force are no longer relevant. Attempted rape, of course, is a failed attempt to commit rape. These are concepts that everyone understands, with deep roots in western legal tradition. They don’t require further explanation as the definitions are clear.

Assault is a bit different. Most people think of assault as physical contact where one person causes bodily harm to another. That’s not the legal definition of assault. In the law, assault is an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact. Put another way, assault is when one person does something to cause another to think they are under threat of harm. What most people think of as assault, the law defines as battery, which is why you hear the phrase “assault and battery” in crime stories.

The point here is the law has had, for a very long time, a definition for forcible sex, assault and battery. A reasonable person, particularly someone on a jury, could review the facts and testimony and render a judgement. That should have been enough to cover what happened in this Michigan case and all others like it. Maybe the accused was threatening the woman and she had a reasonable concern for her safety. That’s assault. It is patently absurd to attach sex to it, raising the specter of rape in the minds of the public and a potential jury.

But that is where we find ourselves in the modern age. We have expanded the definition of a sex crime to include anything that may give a woman the blues. The lunatics in charge encourage young women on the college campus to scream “fourth degree sexual assault” whenever they feel bad about a random hookup, which they are encouraged to do by the same lunatics. Inevitably, these cases end up dismissed, but you still have the waste of money and the ruination of reputations.

The fact is, there is no such thing as a sexual assault. The law often conjures terms, from commonly understood words, that have meanings well outside of the component words. It is almost always a hangover from the past. In the case of “sexual assault” it is a modern attempt to alter the relationship between the sexes. When was the last time you heard a woman charged with sexual assault or a man charged when the victim is another man? The answer is most likely never as it almost rarely happens.

It is yet another example of how the Left carves out authoritarian safe spaces, so it can run wild against its enemies. The war on men would not get very far in a fair fight, because as Hitler said, there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy. The expansive use of the phrase “sexual assault” in the laws allows every deranged co-ed in America a free shot at a male that vexes them. It’s how the mentally unbalanced young woman at Columbia was indulged well past the point where it was clear she needed psychiatric help.

Rape is a very serious crime, which is why we send rapists away for long stretches in nasty prisons. Attempted rape should be similarly punished as we know that sex criminals can never be rehabilitated. This is where penal colonies make a lot of sense. Sexual assault, on the other hand, is a made up crime that is entirely political. It is a weapon used by deranged feminists and lazy cops to bludgeon young men for the crime of having a penis. It’s also why these cases have such a startling low conviction rate. It’s also why so many young women put themselves in dangerous situations.

That last bit is the worst result of the expansive use of sex crimes in the war between the sexes. Young women are led to believe the law is a force field around them, insulating them from their idiotic decisions. That leads young women to going out, getting knee-walking drunk with strange men and then waking up with regrets, if they are lucky. You can bet that some portion of the “rape” problem in Europe has something to do with unattached young woman staggering around wasted at all hours of the night.

For just about forever, humans understood that boys and girls were different, requiring different rules for both. Women need to take care to protect themselves from men and men need to take care of their women, so they are not assaulted by strange men. That is biological reality and the only way our species survives. The abuse of sexual assault is just one of many examples of what happens when the Assemblywomen becomes a law book, rather than a comedy.

The Company Men

Since the major news outlets are run by the Cult, all of the focus has been on how the Cult is dealing with the calamity of November 8, 2016. Even two months on, members of the Cult are throwing tantrums in order draw attention to their grief. For example, two degenerates had to be removed from a plane because they objected to Ivanka Trump riding on the same plane. Unfortunately, the plane was still on the tarmac when they were removed. Then there are the daily hoaxes, which are part of their grieving process.

Less noticed is the ongoing collapse of the Conventional Right into irrelevancy as it copes with the sudden realization that no one cares what they think. National Review, for example, has seen its traffic collapse since they went NeverTrump. The ridiculous person they have running the joint these days is out begging for money to redesign the site again. The implication is that bad technology is the reason no one reads National Review. The fact that they publish nonsense like this gets no mention at staff meetings, I bet.

While it is amusing to watch silly people like Charles Cooke struggle with the reality of his situation, there are some intelligent and thoughtful people in the Conventional Right trying to make sense of things. They correctly see the rise of Trump, and the emergence of a counter culture on the Right, as a dire threat to their thing. After all, why bother consulting the grovelers at National Review when they are always wrong and there are alternatives out there getting it right?

This long piece by Matthew Continetti the other day is a good read for a number of reasons. Continetti is married to a daughter of Bill Kristol and he is a true believer in the neo-conservative faith. Take that however you like. This is the first bit of interest.

I have been thinking about Gavin lately because his life and thought so perfectly capture the conservatism of Donald Trump. When you read Gavin, you begin to understand that the idea of Trump as a conservative is not oxymoronic. Trump is a conservative—of a particular type that is rare in intellectual circles. His conservatism is ignored or dismissed or opposed because, while it often reaches the same conclusions as more prevalent versions of conservatism, its impulses, emphases, and forms are different from those of traditionalism, anti-Communism, classical liberalism, Leo Strauss conservatism in its East and West Coast varieties, the neoconservatism of Irving Kristol as well as the neoconservatism of William Kristol, religious conservatism, paleo-conservatism, compassionate conservatism, constitutional conservatism, and all the other shaggy inhabitants of the conservative zoo.

Like most of the box-tickers in the managerial class, Continetti is largely unaware of what constitutes conservatism in English speaking countries. For men of the Conventional Right, conservatism is a list of policies and poses that define their relationship with Progressives. The idea that conservatism is a temperament, rather than a laundry list of policy proposals is alien to these guys. They are men of the multiple choice exam. Their options are always bounded by the number of choices provided to them.

Moving along, this bit offers a glimpse into the mind of the neo-cons as they face the dustbin of history.

Trump has always been careful to distinguish himself from what he calls “normal conservative.” He has defined a conservative as a person who “doesn’t want to take risks,” who wants to balance budgets, who “feels strongly about the military.” It is for these reasons, he said during the campaign, that he opposed the Iraq war: The 2003 invasion was certainly risky, it was costly, and it put the troops in a dangerous position, defending a suspicious and resentful population amid IEDs and sniper attacks. The Iraq war, in this view, is an example of conservative writers and thinkers and politicians following trains of logic or desire to un-conservative conclusions.

One of the things that never gets discussed is just how spectacularly wrong the Conventional Right was about the response to 9/11, particularly Iraq. Everything the neo-cons said about the Muslim world in the Bush years turned out to be wrong – disastrously wrong. There was a prohibition on pointing this out for a while, but Trump said it, in South Carolina of all places, and paid no price for it. Pretty much the only refuge for the neo-cons is to pretend that everyone was wrong and that Trump was just lucky in his opposition to the “invade the world” portion of neo-conservatism.

This bit is comical because it highlights the foreignness of the neo-cons and the Conventional Right.

The conservatism of Donald Trump is not the conservatism of ideas but of things. His politics do not derive from the works of Burke or Disraeli or Newman, nor is he a follower of Mill or Berlin or Moynihan. There is no theory of natural rights or small government or international relations that claims his loyalty. When he says he wants to “conserve our country,” he does not mean conserve the idea of countries, or a league of countries, or the slogans of democracy or equality or freedom, but this country, right now, as it exists in the real world of space and time. Trump’s relation to the intellectual community of both parties is fraught because his visceral, dispositional conservatism leads him to judgments based on specific details, depending on changing circumstances, relative to who is gaining and who is losing in a given moment.

What he is alluding to here is the deeply held belief, among Conventional Conservatives, that the true leaders of society are the men who manipulate ideas, not the men who manipulate other men or manipulate things. The great revulsion for Trump among our betters is they see him as a man that makes his way managing people things. He is not a man who operates in the realm of ideas. Therefore, he is disqualified from leading society. Continetti sees himself as Trump’s intellectual and moral superior.

This bit is laugh out loud funny.

His is a blunt and instinctive and demotic approach arrived at after decades in the zero-sum world of real estate and entertainment contract negotiations. His are sentiments honed by immediate, knee jerk, and sometimes inelegant reactions to events and personalities observed on Twitter or on “the shows.” And the goal of his particular conservatism is not adherence to an ideological program so much as it is to prevent the loss of specific goods: money, soldiers, guns, jobs, borders, national cohesion.

Guys like Continetti would not last five minutes in the world of real estate or the world of fast food, for that matter. If he were to get a job with Trump’s organization, it would be as a doorman or desk clerk. Maybe in a decade or so he could be in a position to make a decision, like selecting a cleaning contractor or a building maintenance vendor. The reason the Conventional Right is in crisis is that normal, conservative people, have grown weary of the smug condescension from useless know-it-alls like Continetti.

In fairness to Continetti, he does seem to be figuring it out a bit.

It is this specificity of attachment rather than adherence to a program that explains the divide between street corner conservatives and their political brethren. Many of the conservatives in Washington, D.C., myself included, arrived at their politics through study or experience at university, by encountering a great text, the coherence of natural law, the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, or the economics of Smith, Ricardo, Friedman, and Tullock. That is not the case for the street corner conservatives.

Continetti cannot bring himself to contemplate how the people he labels “street corner conservatives” arrived at their positions. That would require a degree of self-awareness that he lacks. He is far too concerned with distancing himself from these people, because Conventional Conservatism is nothing more than a buffer between the dominant ideology of Progressivism and the rest of us. In their heads, they are standing athwart history yelling “stop”, but in reality they are standing in front of you yelling “stop.”

I’ve gone way too long so I’ll circle back to this another day, but the whole vibe from the Conventional Right is of a collection of middle managers after a takeover. They are still wrapping their heads around the fact that the guys coming in are now in charge. The old company men will have to demonstrate their worth or be tossed out like obsolete furniture. In the end, they will come around, because they have no choice, but there will be plenty of moaning and complaining along the way.

Europe’s Bloody Future

One aspect of the continuing crisis in Europe that is never discussed is why the people allegedly responsible for the welfare of their people, continue to act so irresponsibly. Closely linked to this is why the people in these countries have been so passive toward their ruler’s flagrant disregard for their duties. In any previous era, the terrorist attack on the Berlin Christmas market would have led to a swift response from government, because doing anything else would have the people in the streets building a scaffold for their rulers.

Germany continues to have a reputation for effective and efficient government administration, despite the fact all the evidence suggests Germany is now run by a collection of thumbless boobs. As someone on Sailer’s site noted, this is not a new thing. Germany has been operating like a drunk on holiday for quite some time. Angela Merkel’s decision to import a million violent low-IQ barbarians is just the most egregious example of the reckless disregard for their duties by the German rulers and the indifference of the German people to it.

It’s not just the Germans, either. The French have been tolerating the importation of useless savages from North Africa for decades. Paris is now a small tourist area surrounded by Bronze Age cavemen. Every election, the French people come out and vote for the guy promising to murder more French citizens, because the alternative risks being called a racist and that’s worse than death. The fact that millions of otherwise sensible people can vote in favor of suicide like this speaks to the power of belief.

The Europeans, at least a great many of them, are infected by the same virus that has infected many Americans. They have embraced the most extreme forms of multiculturalism, where opposition to racism is the highest calling. In America, this results in finding the nearest black guy and parading him around the streets or putting him in the White House. Secondarily it has meant an embrace of open borders and the celebration of degeneracy, but the primary focus is always on race. In recent times, it’s been black history month twelve months a year.

In Europe it is a bit different as they don’t have the long shadow of  the English Civil War and slavery. Instead, the afflicted become convinced that there is no difference between people. Since difference is the sole reason for borders, any hint of a border is tantamount to bringing back Nazism. The result is open borders above all else. Even the small steps they have taken to control the flow of barbarians into Europe were done reluctantly and after many public proclamations about how awful everyone feels about defending themselves from the hordes.

How this has happened is not a topic discussed in polite company or by the chattering classes. Read through all of the news accounts and commentary about the Berlin attack and no where do you see any questions about whether it was wise to import a million barbarians. That’s just assumed. Instead, the speculation is over how the natives somehow drove this poor barbarian to fulfill his purpose as a barbarian. The European media reads like the patient newsletter at an insane asylum.

One cause of this is the Cold War. For close to fifty years, Western Europe was America’s daycare center. Americans did all the heavy lifting with regard to the defense of Western Civilization both militarily and economically. European elites were allowed to play dress up and pretend to be in charge, but everyone knew the Americans were in charge. If something broke, America fixed it. If someone got an ouchy, America would salve their boo-boo. The Pax Americana allowed the West to remain in a state of perpetual adolescence.

The result was at least one generation of leaders lacking any training in responsible government. They dress up like proper rulers, but they have no idea what it means to defend their people. In fact, they don’t even think about the hoi polloi as their people. They are just the great unwashed, an undifferentiated mass of greedy mouths and grasping hands. They were free to evolve this way because the Americans were always there to make sure nothing bad happened. As the protective bubble is removed, all of this being exposed.

At some point, people get tired of being murdered. The young German with a taste for politics is going to start to question why he is loyal to people, who show more concern for foreigners than they do for him. A lesson of the French Revolution is that once people begin to question the legitimacy of the system, everything is soon up for grabs. The reckless disregard for their duties, by people like Merkel, is planting the seeds for something much worse than the monthly Exploding Mohamed we see in the news.

Whether or not it is too late to save Europe is open for debate. It is also possible that more sober minded politicians will rise up, push aside the reckless and begin the task of rebuilding their countries. The future is not written and there is no such thing as the tide of history. Even so, it appears Europe is headed for a very ugly and perhaps bloody reckoning. No society can last when its rulers are perpetually at war with its people and that is what Europe is today. At some point, the people will join the war.

CalExit!

Whenever the the word “secession” is uttered, it is assumed that angry, racist honkies from the South are trying to stand athwart history, keeping America from reaching the great beige future imagined by the Founders. After all, the story of America is Yankee New England imposing civilization on the rest of the nation and, from time to time, those barbaric slack-jawed yokels from the South threatening to leave. Everyone knows this, because it is in our history books and movies.

In reality, the birthplace of secession in America is not Fort Sumter, but Salem Massachusetts. In the late 18th and early 19th century, Federalists based in Massachusetts agitated for the New England states to leave the Union. It really got going when Jefferson and the Republicans swept the 1800 elections, giving his party control of the Congress and the Presidency. The Federalists thought it was the sign of the apocalypse and ratcheted up their efforts to secede, culminating in the Hartford Convention.

It is a useful bit of history to keep in mind when thinking about the current grumbling from the Cult over the most recent election. Progressives are not a tolerant bunch. Even though they lack the self-awareness to see it, most of what drives them is a bone-deep hatred of their fellow Americans. You saw this with Bush the Minor, who embraced all the crackpot policies of the Left while in office. He was basically a post-modern LBJ, but the Left hated him because he was from Texas, a Christian and a Yankee apostate.

As the fever breaks and America begins the long march back to normalcy, the Left is looking around and imagining themselves surrounded by the people they hate. It is why they like making up stories about Trump supporters assaulting good thinkers on the streets. They really believe that the next step is to round up the people of [the blank space where God used to be] and sending them off to internment camps. Therefore, any nutty tale that confirms that fear is accepted and waved around in the news.

The point being is that the spiritual sons and daughters of John Winthrop have never really wanted to be Americans, if that meant embracing the rest of us as equals. Rather, they are fine with America as long as it runs something like Iran, where the Progressive leaders run the country and the secular institutions of government are mostly window dressing. If Iran ever gets popular government, the Mullahs will head into exile. Now that America is on the road to free government, the Progressives are talking about secession again.

The big one is CalExit, a movement to have California break off from the rest of the country. This has been spurred by the election, where normal Americans broke mostly for Trump, but Californians voted in heavy numbers for the anti-American candidate. If you look at the bill of particulars on the CalExit site, the inability to dictate election results to the rest of the country is one reason they want to leave. Their history may be a little off, but the reasoning is well within the tradition of Yankee scolds going back to the founding.

That is not a terrible development. The lesson of the Hartford Convention is the rest of the country should have encouraged New England to leave. Fifty years after the convention, Puritan lunatics were invading the rest of the country, ushering in a century and a half of cultural lunacy that has just about obliterated America as a self-governing republic based in individual liberty. Letting the heirs of those original lunatics break off and create their own countries is an idea who time came 200 years ago.

There would be other benefits to California leaving. One is everyone would get serious about boundaries again. Californians would now be foreigners in America. The only way to regulate this is by tying citizenship to place of birth. People born in California, for example, would no longer be Americans. Those living in, say, Colorado, would have the right to return, like Jews to Israel, or remain as resident aliens. They would no longer have the right to vote, hold office or serve on juries. Colorado and Nevada would have a chance to avoid the same fate as Vermont and New Hampshire.

Another benefit is that it could encourage New England to break off and form a separate country too. At the minimum, the members of the Cult, who have moved to other places, like Virginia and North Carolina, may decide it is time to return home. Maybe New England does not secede, but perhaps it can go back to being a reservation for Progressive nutters that is granted a degree of autonomy. It would be a bit ironic if the end result was a demand from the Cult for a return of Federalism and state’s rights.

The major benefit of losing California is we would lose their trillion in bad debt that threatens to destroy the bond market. California has been able to kick its problems down the road because of its statehood. It is the stinky pile of sub-prime mortgages in the AAA rated MBS. Independence would force some responsibility on California. It could also force reform on the Cult of Modern Liberalism, which has thrived by shifting the costs of its polices onto others. If not, the rest of us would be free of them anyway, which is what matters.

Strangers

The purpose of the European project, at least the purpose sold to the public, was to provide long term stability to the continent, particularly economic stability. The lesson of the first fifty years of the 20th century was that nationalist competition among states led to economic instability and war. Therefore, cooperation among the nations of Europe on economic matters, as well as a common defense, would keep the peace and allow all nations to prosper together, as one continent.

Talk to sophisticated Europeans and they will give you some version of how a united Europe has kept the peace. Many will argue that open borders and a single currency have been the solution. The Euro has become a symbol for the end of individual people, replaced by the common people of Europe. One people, one currency. The economic and political arguments for Europe have become a religion of sorts for the sophisticated types. This was obvious in the Brexit vote, with all the shrieking and panic after it.

The trouble is the Euro is proving to be unworkable and possibly a disaster for Europe. Since the end of the Cold War, when the project was supposed to come into its own as the new organizational model for the continent, it has been one crisis after another. The answer each time has been a doubling down on political and bureaucratic unification, which results in a new crisis. Each time they muddle through one problem, the result in a new set of bigger problems to be addressed.

There’s a Holy Roman Empire vibe to Europe these days. At some point, one of these problems is going to prove unsolvable. At that point, the logic of the whole enterprise gets called into question. That was the reason the Germans were hell bent on bringing the Greeks to heel. The sensible solution was to let them leave, but that would have meant the EU was a voluntary association of nations. If the Greeks left then anyone could leave. It turns out that political unity only works when it is compulsory.

That’s what may be tested now that the Italians have voted to reject the structural reforms most thought necessary to avoid a banking crisis in the country. Like the Greeks, the Italian banking system is in shambles, but the bigger issue is their political and legal system. Italian society is not engineered to work in a German economic model. That leaves two possible solutions. One is for the Italians to adopt the German political system or for them to go back to the Italian economic model, that is, leave the EU.

It turns out that Italians like being Italian and will not abandon their culture without a fight. This is a replay of the Greek crisis, except that the Italian economy is twice the size of the Greek economy. There’s also the fact that the Italians are much more of a core European nation, in the broader political and cultural sense. No one in Europe felt bad about stomping on the Greeks. The French and the Spanish will not be enthusiastic about siding with Berlin against Rome in a fight, because what comes next for Rome is next for Madrid and Paris.

Once again, we are seeing what is a core failing of technocracy. Public policy is about trade-offs. In a liberal democracy, the people, through their representatives, wrangle over these trade-offs and arrive at a compromise that satisfies most people well enough to keep the peace. Logic is not what drives these deliberations. Tradition, culture and vested interests play the leading roles. Smart people know how to create a better health system, for example, but getting everyone to go along with it is impossible.

Technocracy has no mechanism for this. It is the sterile decision making of bureaucrats insulated from the consequences of their policy choices. The managerial state has the added defect of bestowing a form of tenure on its members. No matter how much they screw up, they never lose anything but some face. That has even gone by the wayside. Jamie Gorelick is a colossal screw-up, but she keeps getting better gigs after each debacle. Hillary Clinton came close to falling all the way up into the White House.

Inevitably, people begin to look at the managerial class the same way the commoners looked at the aristocracy in 18th century France. The average citizen of a Western country feels as if they are ruled by strangers. The result is the rising tide of populism we are seeing, which is nothing like the top-down variant a century ago. The Italian vote was not about nationalism, It was about rejecting rule by strangers. It is why Trump will be the next president and Britain will leave Europe.  People prefer the familiar to the foreign.

Warning Bells

What has been happening in the West for the last decade, or so, is a populist reaction to the rise of global technocracy. Globalism is the spiritual-economic model that rewards poor people in poor countries and rich people in rich countries. The rich people in poor countries get a boost, as well, but that is a happy accident. The rich people in rich countries, pushing free trade and open borders, get their spiritual boost from seeing poor strangers rise up to challenge the middle classes in Western countries.

Global technocracy is the administrative off-shoot, where the attendants of the ruling elites take up newly created positions in the growing international administrative bodies. This includes Western universities, which have been deliberately transformed into international indoctrination and propaganda centers. In 1970, for example, Boston University was a commuter school for middle class kids in Massachusetts. Today the student body is close to 50% foreign born. Nowhere is the New Religion more popular than the college campus.

Popular resistance to this new form of governance is striking fear in the hearts of the ruling class, mostly because the people in charge have come to believe their own rhetoric about the arc of history. The people in charge of the EU just assumed everyone wanted the amorphous, gray blob that is Europe, rather than the vibrant national heritage that is their patrimony. Resistance to turning large swaths of Europe into Muslim ghettos has come as a bit of shock to the people in charge. Why wouldn’t people want this?

That fear will eventually be replaced with a response and that response will not be a change of heart. As we see in Europe, the people in charge have no limits when it comes to inflicting harm on their own people, as long as it supports the European project. Angela Merkel invited in a million Muslims, that no one wanted, because she hoped it would weaken the strength of Germany’s native population. Obama opened the flood gates with a similar goal in mind, but he was just a bit too late to stop Trump.

Anyway, that’s my reaction to this column in the New York Times. It reads like a planning session, by managerial class types, about how to de-legitimize the resistance.

Political scientists have a theory called “democratic consolidation,” which holds that once countries develop democratic institutions, a robust civil society and a certain level of wealth, their democracy is secure.

For decades, global events seemed to support that idea. Data from Freedom House, a watchdog organization that measures democracy and freedom around the world, shows that the number of countries classified as “free” rose steadily from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s. Many Latin American countries transitioned from military rule to democracy; after the end of the Cold War, much of Eastern Europe followed suit. And longstanding liberal democracies in North America, Western Europe and Australia seemed more secure than ever.

But since 2005, Freedom House’s index has shown a decline in global freedom each year. Is that a statistical anomaly, a result of a few random events in a relatively short period of time? Or does it indicate a meaningful pattern?

Mr. Mounk and Mr. Foa developed a three-factor formula to answer that question. Mr. Mounk thinks of it as an early-warning system, and it works something like a medical test: a way to detect that a democracy is ill before it develops full-blown symptoms.

The first factor was public support: How important do citizens think it is for their country to remain democratic? The second was public openness to nondemocratic forms of government, such as military rule. And the third factor was whether “antisystem parties and movements” — political parties and other major players whose core message is that the current system is illegitimate — were gaining support.

You’ll note that there is nothing in there about the conduct of the ruling class. If whatever they are calling “democracy” at the moment produces degenerates like the Clinton Crime Family or easily manipulated airheads like Bush or Obama, people are going to get suspicious of whatever you’re calling democracy. Of course, the fact that democracy, strictly speaking, is just mob rule, is not addressed. According to our betters, the Founders were a bunch of Nazis, because they opposed democracy.

The big point is the last one. Any resistance to the status quo will now be classified as anti-democratic. This is, of course, a backdoor way of smearing anyone who questions the wisdom of allowing unaccountable bureaucrats free rein to rearrange the social order, based on theories popular only on the college campus. It is a lot easier to call critics immoral and beyond the pale, than it is to debate them, so there will now be a healthy market for intellectuals, who can demonize the resistance to the status quo.

The humorous part of the story is this bit.

According to the Mounk-Foa early-warning system, signs of democratic deconsolidation in the United States and many other liberal democracies are now similar to those in Venezuela before its crisis.

Across numerous countries, including Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, the percentage of people who say it is “essential” to live in a democracy has plummeted, and it is especially low among younger generations.

For the last decade or so, it was popular on the Official Right to use Venezuela as a club to beat their liberal buddies over the head. Now those liberal buddies, having lost an election, are using it to beat their “conservative” buddies over the head. What’s funny about it is that the people who voted for Trump did so as a rejection of the Official Right, as much as a rejection of the Left. The Punch and Judy Show among defenders of the managerial class has lost its audience.

The fact is, democracy is a disaster. It’s a free shot for despots and lunatics to gain power, at which point they put an end to democracy. Democracy is a bus that runs in one direction and only has one destination – authoritarianism. It’s why sensible men of the Right, notice the qualifier, have preferred ordered liberty in the form of representative self-government. It permits the state to be responsible to popular will, but it protects the citizens from themselves and their worst instincts.

I Have My Doubts

I’ve rewritten this post a few times now, mostly because I keep thinking about a rule that I think all of us should follow. That is, no enemies to the Right. The reason the Buckley thing is falling to pieces is they invested all of their time slicing pieces off of the right side of their movement. The Birchers were easy, but before long they were slicing off vital parts. The reason the so-called alt-right exists is that so much of the Right had been purged, the fringe has become a majority.

Still, there’s a lot of the alt-right that creates a fair bit of doubt in my mind.  Since the election, the media has been racing around looking for “leaders” of the alt-right to report on and interview. That’s catnip to the sort of people who like being famous more than they like being right. It also attracts people who think they can make a buck off selling people what they want to hear. That’s how the Tea Party went from grass roots movement to a bust-out. How long before someone launches a line of Pepe gear?

For instance, is Mike Cernovich a guy in it for the money or a higher purpose? I don’t spend a lot of time reading his site, or any time to be honest, but his name pops up a lot in stories about the alt-right. I see he is peddling a book called MAGA Mindset with a picture of Trump on it. Maybe it is all above board and perfectly legit, but it could be just another grift too. It’s hard to know. Would he be selling the Commie Mindset if Bernie Sanders had won the White House? I don’t know, but it is a good thing to keep in mind.

There’s a difference between selling the word and spreading the word. It’s the Bible salesman versus the missionary. The former could just as easily be selling toasters or porn. The point of the exercise is to make the sale. Their product is just a means to an end. The missionary, on the other hand, is the product. He is selling more than just his wares. He is selling himself. His identity is measured in converts. VDare begs for money so they can proselytize, not so Peter Brimelow can drive a Ferrari.

It’s not just the fringy sorts that give me pause. Ann Coulter was an enthusiastic champion of Mitt Romney. She used to talk about Chris Christie as a lion of the Right. She was a late arrival to the immigration patriotism cause. Ann Coulter is in the business of selling books. It has worked to our favor that she picked up the cause of immigration and then championed Donald Trump, but what happens if she can sell more books promoting open borders? I’m not questioning her sincerity, just making a point about motives.

I don’t want to cast aspersion on these people. I don’t know enough about Cernovich to judge his motives. Honestly, my hunch is he is just a harmless weirdo.  Ann Coulter was a skeptic of the Bush Klan going way back. She was fond of ripping into the Bush people over “compassionate conservatism” before it was popular. Ann Coulter has taken a lot of abuse and lost a few friends over her Trump support. Still, it is wise to be skeptical about people making a living selling you what you want to hear. Talk radio falls into this too.

Money is one reason for skepticism. Hidden agendas are another. Fringe movements that gain traction inevitably attract members of other fringe movements. Every fringe weirdo in America is hoping on the alt-right bus, hoping to ride it to legitimacy. During the election, Jill Stein tried to ride the Bernie Bro wave. When that failed, she went on Twitter, aping Donald Trump, by calling Hillary crooked and corrupt. She even started making noises about immigration, thus earning her the nickname  “Based Yenta.”

Richard Spencer is another good example. Watching the NPI event the other day, I kept getting the sense that Peter Brimelow was there to legitimize Spencer, not because Spencer had a big stage to offer Brimelow. Spencer invests a lot of time declaring himself the Pope of the alt-right, but my guess is hardly anyone calling themselves alt-right knows anything about him. The next time someone quotes Richard Spencer to me, it will be the first time. His white identity thing is a tiny club without out much of a future.

The point here is not to disparage these people. I think Richard Spencer is mostly harmless. I’m just using him as an example to make a point. Populism is always going to be open to a lot of oddballs looking for a home, but it is important to remember that they are the ones seeking shelter, not the ones building the shelter. The people rallying to the Trump banner or the Brexit banner or any of the populist movements of Europe are not doing so because they want a white ethno-state. They just want normal countries again.

Skepticism is a good thing. There are a lot of people pulling down their freak flag now and hoisting the Pepe banner. Most of it is harmless and well intended, but not all of it. It’s never easy to know so it is wise to maintain a healthy degree of doubt about all of them. Old soldiers like Brimelow or Sailer have earned trust over long careers, but all the new guys have a long way to go before we can really know what they are up to and assess their  motivations. Until that’s clear, I have my doubts.

Beyond Left and Right

The late great Eric Hohher observed that a mass movement can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. This is often misread, but what Hoffer had in mind was that the movement needs an enemy. It can live without a great cause, but it has to have an enemy. The struggle against evil allows the movement to create its own origin myth and justify its failures as sacrifices. It is why the Progressives have been so good at inventing new monsters to slay. Without monsters, they have no reason to exist.

The modern American Right, in contrast, was never good at inventing bogeymen, because it was always a Progressive heresy. By that I mean the Buckleyites eventually came to accept all the assumptions of the Progressives with regards to the human condition. The difference was they had a different devil to confront. Theirs was the Red Menace and the its Soviet sponsors. What kept movement conservatism moving was the fight against the commies, even when they ceded all the important philosophical turf to the Progressive.

An example to see this is the recent column by National Review editor Rich Lowry. National Review is the flagship publication of the American conservative movement. In theory, at least, they describe the boundaries of what is and what is not conservative, by defining the principles of modern conservatism.

President Barack Obama won’t explicitly say that Donald Trump is on the wrong side of history, but surely it is what he believes.

The president basically thinks anyone who gets in his way is transgressing the larger forces of history with a capital H. During the 2008 campaign, he declared that John McCain “is on the wrong side of history right now” (the “right now” was a generous touch — allowing for the possibility that McCain might get right with History at some future, undetermined date).

Obama has returned to this phrase and argument obsessively throughout his time in office. It is deeply embedded in his, and the larger progressive, mind — and indirectly contributed to the left’s catastrophic defeat on Nov. 8.

The notion that History takes sides ultimately traces back to the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel and borrows heavily from the (genuine and very hard-won) moral capital of the abolitionists and the civil rights movement. Obama is given to quoting Martin Luther King for the proposition that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. Whoever is deemed to be on “the wrong side of history” by progressives is always loosely associated with the opprobrium directed toward the Southern Fire-Eaters and the defenders of Jim Crow.

Now, Lowry is no one’s idea of a deep thinker so he can be forgiven for not seeing the the ridiculousness of the highlighted section. If Progressives have all this moral capital from their past fights over race, then they are by definition on the right side of history. How could it be otherwise? That’s the logical end point of Lowry’s assertion that the Left was on the side of angels in the great moral crusades of the last two centuries. It would be bizarre for Progressives not to use such a thing as a weapon. They see it as an obligation.

There’s something else there. Lowry goes out of his way to kowtow to the Left on the issue of race. What he is doing, even if he does not know it, is signally his submissiveness to his moral superiors. These are the words of the loser letting his betters know he is not going to be any trouble. Lowry is letting his alleged adversaries know that he agrees with them on the big issues and that there is no need to question his belief in orthodoxy.

The orthodoxy is the New Religion with its three pillars of egalitarianism, multiculturalism and anti-racism. The only real quibble the Official Right has with the people in charge is how to go about turning the New Religion into public policy. It is probably why they are obsessed with restarting the Cold War and waging a Crusade against the Muslims. Official Conservatism™ needs a devil. Otherwise, it becomes just another school of thought among Progressives.

There’s always been a problem with the New Religion and that is it clams run head long into objective reality. The sort of spiritual egalitarianism preached by the intellectual forebears of Progressives was perfectly sustainable as it was impossible to disprove. The modern version of it is hilariously absurd. Boys are not the same as girls. Nature does not bestow her gifts equally and this scales up to group differences. People tend to notice that the NBA is all black and the best lawyers have a precious metal in their name.

This is the central issue of our age. Our betters insist that all men are equal, full stop. Filling up Cologne with Arabs changes nothing about Cologne because people are the same everywhere and culture is a myth. Everyone else recognizes this to be dangerous nonsense. Thousands of generations of evolution have resulted in a planet full of people with different skills, culture and attitudes. Sweden is the way it is because it is full of Swedes, instead of Arabs.

The determination of our rulers to stamp out large parts of observable reality is what is eroding their legitimacy. This is why Official Conservatism™ has failed. It has no response to the ongoing crisis that is the inevitable result of the New Religion. It has become a mass movement afraid of offending anyone, therefore it is left with gooey platitudes about principles and its role in public life. It’s why it is difficult to tell the Right from the Left these days. They believe all the same stuff now.

The great fight that is shaping up is between one side that insists, despite all the evidence, that all humans are equal in every way. it is only the differences in culture that result in differences in people. For our purposes, economics is in the culture bucket. The other side says man is naturally hierarchical and that groups of humans have unique attributes suited for where they evolved over thousands of generations. This means that different people will have different cultures, different gifts and different liabilities. This is why people naturally self-segregate.

Observable reality is on the side of the latter.

We Need New Words

I was in the Imperial Capital yesterday and that meant sitting in traffic for long periods. I tuned into talk radio and some guy was going on about how Trump is not a conservative. He was not being critical, he was simply making a point. The people who hold the rights to Official Conservatism™ have declared Trump outside their club. A caller claimed that Trump is a liberal because that’s the only other option, if you are not a conservative. I was not paying close attention, but there’s no denying that Trump does not fit into either bucket.

Of course, most people don’t fit neatly into either bucket and that’s mostly because the labels have meanings that no longer make sense. Hillary Clinton is a liberal, a Progressive! That’s supposed to mean she is a socialist that wants to take from the rich and give to the poor. Not only does she live like royalty, she had the backing of the nation’s billionaires, as well as the billionaires from other nations. It’s a very strange world where the socialist is the preferred candidate of the Billionaire’s Boys Club.

That’s one of the many things revealed about this recent election. The party of the working man is no such thing. They are the party of government hoping to rally the not working men to their banner. When Democrats talk about “working families” they really mean welfare queens with five kids from five strange men they met at a party. This has been true for a long time, but it is now so blazingly obvious that even the staunchest of union men have to accept it. Still, the Democrats retain the label “party of the working class.”

I’ve written a lot here about the ridiculousness of calling the modern Right “conservative” on the grounds that they have managed to conserve nothing. When looked at in the tradition of Western conservatism, it is even more ridiculous to keep calling these people “conservative.” Bill Kristol, for example, is just an old school liberal with a propensity for violence. The National Review crowd is a Buckley Mystery Cult at this point. It’s impossible to tease anything out of that dog’s breakfast of assertions that resembles a political philosophy.

Even the terms Right and Left have outlived their usefulness. Most people don’t know the origin of these terms and just assume they mean Socialist versus Capitalist or Liberal versus Conservative. Like so much else about Western politics, these terms come down to us from the French Revolution. The aristocrats sat on the right side of the Assembly and the commoners sat on the left side. Ever since, radicals and trouble makers have co-opted the term “Left” because they want to pretend they are on the winning side of history and champion of the people.

Calling modern Progressives “the Left” turns history on its head. Progressives are the champions of privilege and advocate what amounts to the return of active and passive citizenship. They and their attendants will be the active citizens while the rest of us, including whoever happens to wander in from who knows where, will be the passive citizens. The only difference is the 18th century aristocrats were honest about what they wanted. The modern aristocrat prefers to lie about his intentions.

Of course, the trouble makers on the alt-right are hardly the defenders of the status quo. They can’t even be called supporters of the status quo ante. The examples from history are simply used as a critique of the current year and the people fond of saying “current year.” The alt-right is thoroughly modern, drawing on information from genetics and cognitive science, while the Progressives are still stuck in the age of blank slatism, that is both anti-science and regressive. It is the Progressives who cannot get past 1955.

As the great Walter Williams was fond of saying, the radicals are the people arguing for the rollback of the welfare state. The radicals are the ones arguing for the ending of foreign adventurism. The radicals are the ones questioning the prevailing orthodoxy on race, sex and culture. The people being purged from social media would have been much more at home with the Jacobins than the defenders of the Ancien Régime. Given their skepticism regarding global capitalism, many of the alt-right would be better termed alt-left.

It may not seem important to fret over labels and terminology, but language is the primary tool of war. Progressives weaponized the word “racist” to the point where it became a Medusa head they could wave around, turning their opponents into stone. Even mentioning the word race causes so-called conservatives to cry. If this thing that is rumbling through the West is something bigger than a minor disruption in the force, we’re going to need new words and labels that work to the benefit of the new radicals.

More important, sabotaging the verbal weaponry of the other side. The new twitter feature that lets users block key words is a no- so subtle attempt to ban certain words and phrases. After all, if you ban the word, you ban the idea  behind the word. That’s just as good as banning the person behind the idea. The challenge for the trouble makers will be to evolve an esoteric way of saying the same things. Winning the war of words is just a proxy for winning the war of ideas. One is a reflection of the other.