Ethno-Fanaticism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thoughts On Southern Identity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Modern Political Escapism

One of the weird features of current age America is it is kind of like a community theater production of popular Broadway shows. The people on stage are enthusiastic to play the roles and the production people work hard to get everything just as the audience would remember it. The audience will tolerate some changes and revisions, in order to update the show, but otherwise they want to see the original. The culture of this age is like a long re-do of the past, in order to get it right this time.

The most obvious place for this is in movies. There are small independent films that try new things, but the big productions are all rehashes of old material. In many cases they are remakes that deviate in amusing ways from the original. This has become so obvious that there are a bunch of hackneyed jokes about it. As soon as a remake is announced, everyone lets fly with jokes about how it will feature a one-legged trans lesbian of color, rather than the white male star in the original production.

Where this lack of new ideas is most obvious is in the realm of politics. The vast Democratic field, which is up to 22 now, is interesting for the sole reason that it is the wildly boring cast of characters. The front-runners are two near-dead geezers who sound like museum exhibits on the 1970’s. The rest remind everyone of the people you meet at a corporate retreat. They are studies in blandness. The primary is going to be a beauty contest without a talent competition, because no one has any talent.

One of the interesting things to come out of the Ben Shapiro meltdown on the BBC, besides him behaving like a spoiled teenager, was the exchange over which side of the political class has new ideas. Shapiro was right to point out that the new ideas on the Left are just remakes of very old ideas, but he was unable to name a single thing the so-called conservative movement has to offer. The American Left is a post-modern art installation, but the American Right, the official one, is the storage closet.

If you go to National Review Online and search for the word “socialism” you get more than a hundred pieces ranting about socialism this year. The word “automation” generates no hits for this year, despite the fact automation of labor is the most important economic topic of this age. The word “immigration” gets some hits, but all from the two people who focus on it and nothing but political observations. Is there a “conservative case” for or against immigration? They have one for men pretending to be women.

In fairness, those “conservative case for” pieces that dissidents love to mock have dried up of late, in favor of a trip down memory lane. The conservative movement is now committed to fighting socialism. Every day they put out tired essays like this one from Kevin Williamson. National Review is committed to promoting the moronic strategy of the Republican Party, which is desperate to campaign on anything other than what their voters see as important. America has always been at war with abstract ideas!

Of course, they never actually argue against socialism. There’s no conservative case for ending social security. That’s a giant wealth transfer from the young to the old. The same is true of Medicare. They can’t even muster a case against programs like subsidized school lunches. Instead, like Ben Shapiro, they focus all of their energy on attacking the ideas of unstable females like Ocasio-Cortez. American political debate is a bum fight outside a debilitated old bar in a town that has seen better days.

In fairness, there are some people on the permitted Right that understand Buckley Conservatism is dead. This Rod Dreher post about J.D. Vance speaking at the American Conservative dinner touches on it. The thing is though, you see why these guys are hopelessly trapped in an ideological cage built for them by the Left. What Vance imagines is some weird new conservationism that proves once and for all that the Democrats are the real racists. It’s reactionary nostalgia for yesterday men.

The fact is, Buckley style conservatism was always just a wart on the face of American Progressivism, intended to make it less attractive. It was never a fully formed moral philosophy that could stand independently from Progressivism. It’s why it was so easily infiltrated by libertarianism after the Cold War. Both ideologies are dependent on the Left to exist. Libertarianism was a critique of central planning, while conservatism was a defense of Western order in the face of 19th century radicalism.

Whatever comes next is not going to be rooted in middle-aged white guys emoting about black single mothers. That Vance speech is just another version of the same old plea for mercy conservatives have been sending out since they lost the fight on freedom of association in the 1960’s. Cobbling together tribes of losers, hiding out in the jungle long after the war has ended, is not the future of the Right. What comes next is going to be a moral philosophy rooted in biological reality.

In the meantime, both sides of the political order will belt out show tunes from their salad days, while pretending they are having a serious debate. It is, in part, a way to avoid facing up to present reality. Why talk about the inherent instability of a majority-minority society when you can debate climate change? Why talk about the plight of white people in America when you can rant about Venezuelan economic policy? In addition to being a dearth of new ideas, modern political debate is a form of escapism.

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Back To A Forgotten Past

When you read old books, something you will notice is that intellectuals a century ago had a better sense of history. They did not “remember” things that happened before their time, of course, but they knew a lot about the past. Therefore, their sense of history was broader than what you see today. For most people in this age, history started somewhere around when they began to notice things. This makes for a strange sense of history, particularly for young people, as they have not been around long.

This is something that Oswald Spengler addressed in The Decline of the West, with the ancient Greeks. An interesting point he makes is that because the Greeks did not create monuments for their dead, like elaborate tombs or cemeteries, they could not build a timeline from the lives of their heroes. The Egyptians, on the other hand, would always know they were an ancient people, because they lived and died in the shadows of great monuments built by their ancestors to venerate their ancestors.

The claim is debatable, but a people’s sense of time is not universal. If you are a people without a belief in an afterlife, it will shape how you live this life, compared to those who believe in judgement after death. The possibility of eternal damnation not only alters behavior, it is a daily reminder of the brevity of a man’s life. Similarly, if you know, or at least assume, you will die young, you’re going to live fast. That is the whole basis of the “live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse” ethos of the rock star.

In modern America, the past is a foreign country to most people, even for those with an interest in history. The reason is our present is not littered with reminders of those who came before us. America has always been a live fast, die young country, so we have never centered our culture on people and events of the past. In a few weeks we will have “Memorial Day” and few people can say what it is we memorialize. What it means to most Americans is the start of summer and the consumption of summer product.

There is something to say for the live fast, die young ethos, but it makes it easy to repeat the same mistakes over and over. We see this with the mass media, which is in low regard at the moment. The inability to remember before yesterday has people thinking this is a new thing, rather than the normal state of affairs. Matt Taibbi thinks the media wrecked itself in the 1990’s, with the Lewinsky scandal. Their covering up for the Clintons was the start of the collapse of journalism and the reputation of the media.

While it was certainly a shabby performance, it was not all that different from what went on the 1980’s and it was not worse than what happened in the 1970’s. If you want to put down a marker as the starting point of modern advocacy journalism, the Watergate scandal is where it all started. That’s when narrative journalism bloomed and it made some reporters rich and famous. Since then, every upper middle-class kid entering journalism school, has dreamed of being Bob Woodward and taking down a Republican president.

The reality though, is the media has always been advocacy. There was never a time when news reporters were objective or conformed to a set of ethics. In fact, the idea of journalistic ethics is an entirely new thing. The reporters in the 1920’s would have laughed themselves silly if someone scolded them about their ethics. The newspaper man was a carouser who lived rough and played rough. Until after World War II, being in the media was a working class job with the morality of carny folk.

It is this inability to think clearly about the past that has people like Taibbi confused about what’s happening in the media. Because what’s happening is new to him, he assumes it must be new. This cultural amnesia is also why the media started thinking of itself as a priesthood back in the 1960’s. The well-scrubbed college graduates from good families showing up in newsrooms just assumed it had always been a profession for beautiful people. After all, they had never experienced anything otherwise.

The fact is, the only thing different about the media today is the scale and the uniformity of opinion. In prior ages, both sides of the political class had their media, so there was competition. As the political class collapses into a monolith, the mass media is following in the same path. The difference between Fox News and CNN is quite small, once you get past the theatrics. Sean Hannity having an aneurysm over the latest attack on Trump is the flip side of Don Lemon squealing about Trump’s last tweet.

Probably the one real difference in the modern media compared to the past, is that we are saturated with it today. In the old days, communist countries would put up loudspeakers in the middle of small towns to broadcast propaganda. Today we have the internet, mobile phones and cable television. The agit-prop is everywhere and in the case of the internet, it is actively spying on us. Our rulers are now installing listening devises in our homes in order to make sure we are consuming the correct media products.

If you are over the age of 50, you recall a time when consuming mass media was something you did on the train to work or when you got home. There were morning papers and evening papers. The evening television news was an hour. First you had the local news then the national news. If you wanted to consume a discussion of public affairs, you did so on Sunday morning. Within living memory it was easy for a man to be completely free of politics and mass media. Today it is close to impossible.

What we are seeing today, in terms of media status, is probably just a return to the historic norm. Media companies are slashing their payrolls, because there’s no money in advocacy, at least not enough to warrant lavish salaries. More and more news is being reported by low paid kids and crafty independents with a specialty. Opinion writing is becoming a hobby again. The future of mass media is the past, where the business is to sell a point of view and live like carny folk on the fringes of society.

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Post-Modern Awakening

Religious awakenings or re-awakenings are common in human civilizations, particularly in the West. They manifest themselves in different ways, but the root is always a sense that society has lost its way and strayed from the moral path. When enough people come to this conclusion, a cascade preference begins and a mass movement forms to start the return to that moral path. It may be a restoration of the old faith or it can be the rise of a reform movement. Of course, it can also be the start of a new religion entirely.

Social cycle theory holds that a return to the old faith, maybe tuned for the age, is part of the end phase of society. The beliefs that were part of the young culture, but faded away in the middle age of the people, makes a comeback of sorts in the winter of the culture. It’s not nostalgia driving the revival, but a sense that the thing that inspired the best years of the people has been lost. The religious revival we have seen in the Islamic world is a good example. They are trying to recapture a lost golden age.

In the English speaking world, particularly America, another religious phenomenon has been observed. The Great Awakening was a series of Christian revivals that swept Britain and the colonies in the 18th century. It was the emergence of Anglo-American evangelicalism within the Protestant churches. While considered a singular event, historians have noted that America has undergone subsequent revivals, where a blend of strong social activism and religious revival sweep the nation.

An argument made here, from time to time, is that the spasms of Progressive activism we have seen over the last century are an extension of this cycle. The New Deal was more than just about political reform or addressing the economic crisis. After the war, a period of relative social harmony led to the great cultural upheavals of the 60’s and 70’s, which were clearly spiritual, as well as political. These were no longer explicitly Christian, but “Judeo-Christian”, reflecting the new composition of the elite.

These periods of social activism are described as revolutions, as if they are led by plucky outsiders trying to ignite change in a resistant society. In reality, these efforts, including the current spasm we are experiencing today, are top-down and within the ruling elite itself. If you look at these movements, going back to the Great Awakening, you see they are not led by outsiders. Instead, they were led by people of high status, who first sought to reform the top of society, then society as a whole.

The political face of the New Deal, for example, was the result of an intellectual competition within the ruling elite of America. It was argued between the radicals, who embraced ideas from the old world, versus those who embraced the uniquely American sense of social reform. If you go back and read the early Progressives, many salted their language with Christian references that only a believer could grasp. The Left became anti-Christian, but it has its roots in the 19th century evangelicalism.

The other side to these spasms of social reform and spiritual awakening is a militarism that sees itself as missionary work. America’s involvement in the Great War was due, in part, to Progressives like Theodore Roosevelt casting it as a moral duty. “Making the world safe for democracy” is not a practical goal. It is a religious aim. Similarly, the fight against fascism was seen and is still seen, as a moral crusade. Of course, the neoconservative effort to democratize the Muslim world was a spiritual crusade.

These spasms of religiosity, spiritualism and social activism, within the context of Christian belief, had some built in limits. Within the Christian context, utopianism could be avoided, as that contradicts Christian dogma. By the 20th century, however, American elites were losing their Christianity. The arrival of Jewish intellectuals in the early 20th accelerated the secularization of the elite. As a result, the Progressive spasm of the 60’s and the current one, was and is anti-Christian and utopian.

This lack of a limiting principle in the “new religion” of the ruling class, and that’s what multiculturalism is when you think about it, inevitably leads to excess. The 60’s ended with excessive drug taking, social unrest and pointless terrorism. This current spasm appears to be burning itself out in mindless self-destruction, assaults on reason and self-mutilation. The race to stake out the most extreme position leads to an embrace of increasingly self-destructive behaviors by the people leading the revival.

Getting back to social cycle theory, where Spengler and others may have gone wrong is in their scope. Perhaps what we are seeing in America with these revivals is the end of a cultural phase, rather than the culture as a whole. The New Deal era closed the door on the post-Civil War period. The cultural revolution of the 60’s closed the door on the New Deal consensus. This current spasm is closing the door on the New Left consensus that defined the late Cold War and post-Cold War period. This the end, not the beginning.

The question then is what comes next. There’s not much in the way of intellectual development, in terms of moral philosophy or political philosophy, on either side of the Progressive order. The liberals are mostly shrieking primitives, defending their privileges from anything they see as a threat. The conservatives are just a nostalgia cult, telling each other stories about Reagan and Bill Buckley. Their beloved principles are just a map to a room off to the side where they can reminisce about the old days.

Baring some revolution at the top, whatever comes next for America after this awakening is going to be external to it. Perhaps that is what we’re seeing with the various dissident movements percolating in the West. With the fading of the American empire, new ideas are springing up at home and abroad. At some point, a new moral framework will coalesce to challenge the brittle dying orthodoxy. Alternatively, maybe what comes next is a new dark age. Perhaps this Progressive spasm the last one before the lights go out.

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The End Of The Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Religion Versus Capitalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond Archeofuturism

Social cycle theory argues that stages of civilization and history generally repeat themselves in cycles. The most famous explanation of this is Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West, where he compared human civilization to an organism. There is the birth phase where society comes into being. An adult phase where is fully formed and reaches its potential and then the decline of old age and eventually death. Another way of stating it is that human civilization has seasons, spring through winter.

This way of thinking about the West has been popular with various right-wing movements ever since, as it generally fits the more realistic worldview of the Right. The Left, in contrast, has always embraced the idea that human civilization evolves toward some idealized point of existence. Progressives chose their label, because they are not only in favor of progress, but they believe it is inevitable. They are on the right side of history, because unlike their enemies, they are not standing in the way of progress.

The argument for Spengler has a lot of support in our history books, as there are plenty of civilizations that were born, lived and then died. If human history naturally progressed to some ideal form of existence, it would seem that the middle ages were a detour, which means there could be other detours. Alternatively, Africa made no meaningful progress until Europeans arrived and handed them the tools of modernity. Even so, the magic of historical progress does not appear to be working its magic on the Africans.

Closer to home, it is obvious that the West has hit some sort of wall, when it comes to inventiveness in the social sphere. Regarding political organization, not much has happened since widespread democracy was embraced a century ago. It has become more absurd and corrupt, but that hardly qualifies as progress. Culturally, the West has not produced much of anything worth commenting upon, other than popular culture, which also seems to have stalled. Pop culture today is reboots and repeats of the past.

At a more granular level, this is obvious in the political sphere. Take a look at the Democrats running for president. Bernie Sanders is a sort of weird nostalgia tour for Baby Boomer lefties and their spiritual soulmates in the younger generations. Listen to him speak and he barely makes any sense. In fact, all of them rely on emotive gibberish and their mostly concocted back stories. The gay mayor a gay who speaks in riddles. The mixed senator is Obama with a vagina. Warren is an angry old hen.

Take a step back and the Democrat Party is no longer a political party in the traditional sense of the concept. It has no agenda, other than a hatred of white people, but even that hatred has no point, beyond keeping the non-whites angry. The GOP had been a pointless collection of castoffs for decades until Trump came along, but even there, the MAGA stuff is just a weird echo of the Reagan years. If Sanders is a nostalgia candidate for lefty boomers, Trump is a nostalgia tour for aging Reaganites.

The near total lack of political innovation is quite startling when you read something like this, which was posted at American Conservative. The general thrust of the article is the Right needs a new Frank Meyer, who helped turn the American Right into a fusion of social conservatism, libertarian economics and hawkish anti-communism. The post reads like the pitch for rebooting an old movie franchise. Instead of fighting the Soviets, the new Conservative Man will start a Cold War with China and promise to cut the debt.

It is not just the mainstream political ideologies that are staggering around in the darkness of the past, searching for a reason to exist. The alt-right embracing fascist iconography and larping as Nazis was as much about a lack of imagination as breaking taboos. They could not think of a way forward, so they were hoping for a do-over. This surge in what is called white identity politics is mostly just a rediscovery of old ideas that lived and died a century ago. There are a lot of antiquarians in identity politics.

Francis Fukuyama famously declared the end of history, as if the West had finally reached the Promised Land. Liberal democracy triumphed over communism. He has since backed off on that a bit, but this is the end of a long super-cycle that started in the late middle ages and peaked in the Industrial Revolution. There really has not been an innovative political idea since the beginning of the last century. The expansion of liberal democracy has brought with it weird cults and heresies, but those are decoration, not innovation.

The view from the Right, properly understood, is to look at this and see the winter of Western civilization. The barbarian hordes are pouring over the border. It’s not that the West is incapable of defending itself. It’s that it lacks the youthful energy to do it. Like an old man sitting in his rocker, the Occident is simply too burdened by time to get up and defend, much less build, his civilization. In other words, we are in the same place as Rome entering the final century of the Western Roman Empire.

Another way of viewing this, however, is to be a bit less grandiose and see the West in a transition period. The period from the French Revolution through the Second World War was driven by the technological and economic changes that swept the West. The old political order, which was rooted in the feudal economics of the middle ages, slowly and often violently gave way to a new political order rooted in capital and industry. The feudal relationship does not make a lot of sense when capital is king.

Perhaps this period we are in is a transition from the industrial order to something that better fits the technological age. One reason national governments are in such shabby condition is they have lost one main reason to exist. People in Europe are no longer in competition for resources. Everyone in the West has extra of all the things that matter and extra of most of the luxury items. Organized competition for stuff is no longer a salient part of political life. Germany is not going to be invading Poland to get more farm land.

Put another way, the path forward may be exactly that, allowing the past to fade into the darkness of history, while looking for a new organizational model that fits the needs of technological, post-industrial and post-scarcity societies. A political philosophy that has the attributes of the block chain, rather than the corporation, is the future for a technological society. Instead of decorating old ideas with new trimmings, it will be the past decorating new a political philosophy, purpose built for the current age.

The Dissident Right

Labels are important in social discourse, as they are shorthand for a collection of ideas, arguments and images. It’s why the Left always makes its first assault on something by corrupting its labels. If they can anathematize the label, then they effectively discredit the people and ideas associated with it. It is a form of the aphorism often mistakenly credited to Stalin, “No man, no problem.” Similarly, social movements often first try to establish their name and symbols, before fully explaining what it is they are championing.

One reason the alt-right was easily smashed by the Progressive establishment is that they chose symbols that had already been anathematized by the Left and their team name had no intrinsic meaning. They would have been better off dressing as circus clowns, rather than prep school Nazis. They thought they could break the taboos against fascism by irreverently breaking the taboo, but instead they simply ended up playing a well-known role in the Left’s morality play. From there it became easy to demonize the name “alt-right.”

That said, if the term alt-right had a better definition, one that was both positive and intrinsically respectable, there efforts to break the fascist taboo by irreverently mocking it could have worked. The reason is the public would have identified them with a label having an established meaning that was separate from the cartoon version of fascism the Left has promoted for generations. Instead, alt-right had no obvious meaning, other than an association with Richard Spencer, who was quickly turned into the bogeyman.

It is why “dissident right” has a better chance as a label for an authentic alternative to the Progressive orthodoxy. The word “dissident” has both a literal meaning and an historic meaning. In fact, the idea of the dissident has emotional resonance in the West, as it is associated with resistance to authoritarianism. While “alt” is that key on your keyboard you use when things go wrong, a dissident is a heroic figure, stoically refusing to buckle to the authoritarian. It’s a word the Left cannot demonize without revealing themselves.

The trouble is, the label does not have a literal definition that is known to most people who use it for themselves or the larger movement. You see that in this post over at Counter-Currents by someone using the name Eordred. He runs through the various tribes that continue to operate outside of mainstream public discourse, but he struggles to arrive at a definition. It is only at the end that he makes a passing reference to the actual source of the term, coined by John Derbyshire a couple of decades ago.

The dissident right is, to some degree, a reaction to the shift on the Right, among the Buckleyites mostly, to embrace the blank slate and egalitarianism. This was mostly due to the infestation of neoconservatives and libertarians. The neocons brought with them that old Marxist belief that society can be willed into any shape you like, regardless of the people in it. Libertarians, like Marxist, simply refuse to accept the reality of the human condition. As a result, the mainstream Right implicitly embraced the blank slate.

The dissidents were those who first dissented from the prevailing orthodoxy on human nature and human organization. Drawing on science, rather than tradition or religion, the dissidents made the correct point that human diversity is real. People, as we see them today, are not the result of historical forces, but the result of evolutionary forces. It turns out, and the evidence continues to pour in support of this, that human evolution is local, copious and recent. The observable differences are rooted in biology, not culture.

While the dissident right is, to some degree, a reaction to the drift into blank slate mysticism by the establishment Right, it is not reactionary. To be a reactionary is to be entirely controlled by the Left, which is why reaction has never been able to sustain itself as an authentic organizing philosophy. It is the cleanup crew after a spasm of radicalism has made a mess of things. The dissident right is not a reaction to radicalism. It is a promotion of biological reality. It offers an alternative foundation for political philosophy.

As far as being on the Right, it is because biological realism reaches the most of the same conclusions of the traditional Right, with regards to human nature and the human organization. The difference is that the traditional Right assumes those traditions, customs and institutions are the result of accumulated wisdom. The dissident right, in contrast, thinks of traditions, customs and institutions as evolved solutions to human organization that are peculiar to a people, because of their peculiar evolutionary arc.

In other words, go into any high school cafeteria and you will see the students self-segregating along academic class, social class, sex and race. This is not the result of accumulated wisdom in the form of custom or the result of tradition. It is not the result of mystical forces like white privilege or social constructs. It is the nature of humans to attract to those with whom they share fundamental connections, which are rooted in biology. Their hierarchical relationships are similarly rooted in their biology.

This difference in starting premise is what distinguishes the dissident right from the traditional Right and puts it at odds with some elements on the Right. Instead of defending tradition on philosophical grounds, it challenges the status quo on empirical grounds. It is why the Left is so frightened of what is coming from the human sciences. Their effort to anathematize these ideas by calling them “scientific racism” inevitably makes them look like vinegar drinking scolds, condemning Galileo in defense of superstition.

That said, this radical starting point could very well be why it cannot coexist with the traditional Right. There is a noticeable gap in perspective between those with an empirical world view versus those steeped in tradition and philosophy. When your starting point is an English biologist, rather than a German philosopher, the cultural differences are quite noticeable to both parties. The rationality of the dissident right may make it unsuited for political conflict, which is not about the right answer, but the right weapon.

The Strange Death of Neoconservatism

Political movements usually end in one of two ways. One is they achieve most of what they sought and then fade away, having lost their purpose. Alternatively, they fail to achieve their goals, perhaps having been discredited or out-competed by a rival movement, then fade into obscurity. In both cases, they will kick around for a while, going through a stage where they exist as a racket, rather than a legitimate movement. They feed on the nostalgia of people, who originally supported the cause in its better days.

An obvious example of the former is the crusade to legalize abortion. Once the Supreme Court invented a right to abortion, the point of the abortion movement should have been satisfied, but they transitioned from that to an effort to normalize it. That was largely successful by the 1990’s, but by then abortion was good business for the people in the abortion rackets. They make money on the political end, as well as on the selling of baby parts side of things. Planned Parenthood is a multi-billion dollar business now.

The other side of the coin is paleoconservatism, which flourished in the 70’s and 80’s, as a response to the infestation of the conservative movement by former Progressives, calling themselves neocons. In many respects, the paleos were not a political movement, but more like antibodies released by the Right in order to ward off a virus. That virus, in the form of guys promising to radicalize the Right, won the battle and the paleocons were slowly purged from Right and from the Republican Party.

That brings us to neoconservatism, which was spectacularly successful as a political movement. What started as dissatisfaction with their fellow leftists in the 1960’s had come to dominate the Right by the late 80’s. Domestically, they normalized unlimited immigration and the financialization of the economy. On foreign policy, they successfully pushed through their freedom agenda, which was aggressive war to impose democracy on the Middle East. It is fair to say the neocons revolutionized American politics.

It is that success that has discredited the movement and its leaders. So much so, in fact, that one of the founders of the movement is now abandoning his creation. Norman Podhoretz, one of the godfathers of the movement, has announced that he is re-branding himself as a paleo-neoconservative. He not only confessed to supporting Trump, but now agrees with his old nemesis, Peter Brimelow, on the immigration issue. He still defends the Iraq war, mostly out of vanity, but he is now a war skeptic in the Trump mold.

Now, this does not mean the rest of the neocons are about to become Trump supporters or demand the rehabilitation of Pat Buchanan. Like a drug resistant virus, people like Bill Kristol, Max Boot and the other Trump-haters will still be with us. It’s just that their movement and its primary issues are on their way to the ash heap of history. Outside of the cheap labor lobbies, immigration has lost its appeal. A re-thinking of global capitalism is happening across the West and the freedom agenda is thoroughly discredited.

There are a lot of explanations for why the neoconservative agenda has crashed into ignominy. Some argue that the failure on the foreign policy front was due to an inability of neoconservatives to appreciate the cultural conditions required for democracy. Others, like Darren Beattie, take this beyond the foreign policy issue, and blame the neocons embrace of the blank slate. Like Marxists, they simply thought people were interchangeable, because they could be molded into whatever society needed.

A better answer lies in the words of Norman Podhoretz in that interview with the Claremont Review of Books. In it he says, “But in the army I got to know people from all over the country and I fell in love with Americans—they were just great! These guys were unlike anybody I had ever met in New York or in England or France.” That’s an odd thing for someone to say about his fellow citizens. It’s the sort of thing a foreigner says about his new neighbors. It also seems a bit forced, as if he feels like is required to say it.

Explaining his change of heart on Trump, Podhoretz says, “I said to my wife: “This guy [Trump] is Buchanan without the anti-Semitism, because he was a protectionist, a nativist, and an isolationist. How did I know he wasn’t an anti-Semite? I don’t know—I just knew.” Later he goes out of his way to make that point again, that his quarrel with Buchanan was mostly about his alleged antisemitism. Therefore, he can change his mind on the entire neocon agenda, just as long as no anti-Semites are involved.

It is a strange confession from someone whose life’s work has been a multi-generational lecture about first principles. It is this flexibility on their core beliefs that is the clue about why neoconservatism has fallen into disrepute. They were never really motivated by anything other than tribal animosity toward the people they sought to replace. Podhoretz back-stabbed people like Brimelow and John O’Sullivan, marginalizing them within conservative circles, for no other reason than tribal animosity.

Another example of this is later in the interview, where Podhoretz relates an anecdote about the writer Henry James, who was no fan of Jewish immigration. Upon visiting the Jewish ghetto in New York, James allegedly said “Well, if these people stay, whatever language they speak, we shall not know it for English.” Podhoretz then says, with noticeable glee, that “the only people who are reading Henry James and indeed writing doctoral dissertations on him are the grandchildren of those people.”

Taken together, it reveals that neoconservatism was never a political movement centered on a native patriotism. It was a purpose built weapon for people who saw themselves as strangers at war with people they saw as hostile to their tribe. This not only allowed them to sideline critics by calling them anti-Semitic, it was an energy source to motivate the adherents to stick together and fight. Even today, as people like Bill Kristol descend into madness, the neocons hang together in their fight against Trump. They stick together.

Ultimately, it was not the tribal hostility that was their undoing. It was their unfamiliarity with the people over whom they sought to rule. It’s easy to think one group of strangers are the same as the other group of strangers. That’s why open borders made sense to the neocons. Guys like Podhoretz could learn to love Americans, but he could probably learn to love Guatemalans too. Similarly, the auctioning off of the industrial base made perfect sense, as the neocons knew nothing about the people losing their jobs.

Finally, the collapse of the neocons seems to comport with the theory of Ed Dutton, regarding the decline in general intelligence. The generation of Norman Podhoretz had a lot of smart Jews, who were motivated to climb to the top of society. Their children and grandchildren, in contrast, are like the ne’er-do-well heirs to a fortune. John Podhoretz and Bill Kristol are quite stupid compared to their parents. This decline in Jewish talent not only pulled down neoconservatism, but may be signaling the end of the Jewish century.