Of Two Minds

Probably the only thing that everyone agrees upon in modern America is that the ideological divide has grown wider over the last few decades. This divide becomes even starker when one redefines the Right to be the center of dissident opinion, rather than conventional conservatism. While the Buckley crowd runs faster after the radicals as they plunge into the darkness, the dissidents are pretty much where the Buckley Right was at the start of the cultural revolution in the 1960’s.

In fairness, the dissident right has moved further into the biological realism camp in the last ten years or so. If we define Left and Right as one pole being the blank slate and the other being biological reality, the Right has now moved further toward the later pole, as the Left has raced toward the other. This is explains why the great compromisers, the Buckley Conservatives, have been pulled apart over the last two decades. It is no longer possible to ignore these poles and no longer possible to bridge them.

One thing that everyone outside the radical Left seems to accept is the Left has become far more emotional and emotionally unstable over the last few decades. The Left, of course, would dispute this, if they bothered to address it, but even the most cowardly of Buckley Conservatives agrees with this assessment. The Left is now defined by its emotional outbursts and demands to shut down anyone that dares question the tenets of their faith. The waves of censorship are a direct result of these demands.

A good example of this institutional hysteria is the recent book by Hindu nationalist Angela Saini, which purports to show that biology is a social construct. This is a woman, who for very personal reasons, has to claim that race and ethnicity are figments of our imagination, but writes books celebrating her people. Saini is a great example of the internally conflicted and perpetually panicked Left. Her latest book is an effort to use cherry picked science to anathematize the human sciences, in defense of ideology.

The fevered tone, however, is self-defeating, as it further isolates the blank slate crowd as a ghetto culture of radicals. When an algorithm can create your face just from your voice, the notion that we are not what of biology dictates is preposterous. When ancestry companies are relying upon cheek swabs to tell people their race, ethnicity and the origin of their people, Angela Saini sounds like a mad woman. This is what the Left appears to be today. A collection of emotionally overwrought primitives.

The question is why the Left appears to be going mad. David Aurini has a go at it looking at the Big Five Personality Traits. The radical Left is high in Agreeableness and Neuroticism, while being very low in Conscientiousness. As a result, they panic when they perceive any threat and demand everyone get along – or else. They are also more intensely on-line (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), which tends to amplify their sense of being surrounded by threats, thus elevating their level of panic.

Of course, another way to looking at this great divide is along sexual lines. The Left is clearly more feminine today than at any time. The people on the Left assailing biological reality are people like Angela Saini, Amy Harmon and Cordelia Fine. They write books claiming biology is a social construct. While there are some thirsty betas on the Left nodding along with these sorts of women, the point of the spear in the war against the human sciences is mainly populated with the daughters of Mars.

Another aspect to this is the browning of the Left in America. The Left is not only being feminized, it is being tribalized by people like Angela Saini. She can never be occidental and is therefore condemned to live outside the Western tradition. Because she can never be fully part of the West, but is detached from her people’s past, she has to work toward creating a new reality that can include the immigrant reality. While in the past, Left and Right existed within Western identity, the Left is slowly detaching from it.

This is probably the key reason the Left now feels so alien to even the milquetoast members of the Buckley Right. People like David French desperately try to keep pace with the Left as it rockets away from the core of Western identity, but he remains tethered to Western tradition. There’s simply no way to fit the shared reality of strangers, who immigrated to the West, into the shared reality of the natives. Their realities are too different and largely at odds. The Left is now defined by its degree of separation.

Just as important, this new identity evolving on the Left is a negative one. It is defined by its hostility to the core Western man. The attempts by those in the remnant of the Buckley Right to find common ground with the new Left is seen as an assault. Any effort to incorporate the identity of the new comers into the Western tradition is viewed as cultural appropriation, another way of saying an assault on their identity. As a result, it appears the West is at war with itself as the distance between the poles widen.

To some degree, the West has been at war with itself for a long time. One side has always thought the importation of strangers was suicide. The other side came to believe it was vital. There’s no bridging the gap between these two opinions. It turns out that the former was always correct. The new political divide, therefore, will be between those alien infiltrators, and their native collaborators, hostile to the heritage identity, and the natives, who remain in the core Western tradition and identity.

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Apes Flying Planes

Imagine that archaeologists, digging around in the jungles somewhere, stumbled upon what they think are the remains of ancient buildings. Upon closer examination they learn that it is very old, but has technology that is advanced, more advanced than the most advanced technology of today. This is the sort of premise that makes for a good science fiction story or even a mediocre sci-fi series. The next step in the plot is a drama between the characters over what to do with the newly discovered alien technology.

In real life, there would be an endless rounds of committee meetings and memorandum as the bureaucracy tried hard to not do anything with the new technology. The original discoverers would die of old age long before a decision was made. Even without the byzantine processes, nothing would be done, as no one would know what to do with the alien technology. Anything that far advanced would be the product of a race with an entirely different evolutionary arc. No one would know why they created the technology.

That’s the part that gets left out of the science fiction version of the story. Technological advance often seems like leaps and bounds, but in the long run it is glacial. For example, plow design remained fairly crude into the 19th century, then all of sudden it advanced rapidly to what we know as the modern design. That great leap in technology was the result of the glacial advance in material science, economics and social organization that started in the Middle Ages. The plow was the result of that.

That alien discovered in the jungle would have been the result of a similarly long evolution of an unknown race of beings. Without that long arc, their technology would be like the final pages of a mystery novel, without the rest of the book or even the knowledge surrounding the book. At best, we would be able to guess at parts of the arc, but we would have no idea why the thing was created, so we would have no idea what to do with it. An example of this is the Antikythera mechanism.

Now, this is not advanced alien technology, but it is alien technology. The ancient Greeks are alien to us, not quite as alien as people from space, but we really can’t know that for sure. The Antikythera mechanism was discovered in the spring of 1901 and it took 70 years to begin to understand it. In 2008, researchers announced that it was an instrument for predicting astronomical positions, eclipses and for maintaining a calendar. They still don’t know all of it.

Now, if it took a century to puzzle through a piece of alien technology from 2500 years in our past, from a people about whom we know a lot, how long would it take to unravel advanced technology from a mysterious alien people? It is a pretty safe bet that the CIA has learned nothing from that crashed alien spaceship they keep at Area 51 in Nevada. Unless the aliens sent scientists trained in working with retarded people, we would have no way of figuring out where to start with the technology.

Now, what does this have to do with anything? Technological advance is a feedback loop within a society. It’s why technological advances can move from one people to a similar people, but they take a long time to work into alien cultures. Europe went through a rapid technological advance starting around 1500, racing ahead of the rest of the world. Much of what the West created did not make it into Asia and Africa until the 20th century. Advances in social organization remain alien to much of the world.

Now, imagine what happens when a people become too stupid to maintain the technology created by their ancestors. This is something that would be predicted by social cycle theory. As the ruling elites, the smart fraction, sees its fertility rate decline, the overall IQ of the people declines. There could reach a point where the society no longer has the social capital to maintain the social and material complexity created by their ancestors. At some point, their world becomes chimps flying airplanes.

Think of it this way. Imagine if tomorrow, everyone with a working knowledge of turbines died from some awful disease. We would still have smart people capable of learning about turbines, but they would have to learn it. They would also have to acquire the experience of working with turbines. It would take years before we had enough people able to work on and maintain existing turbines. By that point, the work needed to repair existing turbines would be massive. It may never get done at all.

Now, the evidence is strong that Europeans are getting dumber, and that is putting aside the issues related to immigration. In fact, the decline into stupidity may be accelerating. When you add in immigration by people with significantly lower intelligence than existing European people, the effect is an acceleration toward a much lower average IQ for Western nations. Again, this is predicted by social cycle theory to a degree, but also backed up by research into the subject by people like Ed Dutton.

The social instability of the West, things like the inability to control borders and the revival of primitive beliefs, promoted by female shamans, could very well be due to the decline of general intelligence. The people populating the machinery for running a modern Western society no longer possess the intelligence to properly operate the machinery. They are like those researchers who discovered alien technology, except our rulers, bureaucrats, and intellectuals are convinced they know how all of it works.

There is another angle to this. Take the financial system, which is probably the most automated system today. It has reached a level of complexity where no one person knows how all of it works. This is not just the narrow technological stuff. Transactions have reached a level of complexity where specialists focus on just one part. About 70 percent of overall trading volume is now generated through algorithmic trading. The markets are literally run by robots that no one fully understands.

As a result of this realty, like the science fiction movies, the world markets now have what amount to dead man switches. If the robots get out of control, the breakers put a halt to trading in order to give humans a chance to figure out what’s happening. This is a preview of what lies ahead for Western society as a best case scenario. The apparatus of the state will be kitted out with circuit breakers and dead man switches, not to control the algos, but the stupid people operating the machinery. It is apes flying planes.

A more likely scenario is something beyond anarcho-tyranny. Instead of the authoritarian institutions harassing citizens over petty matters and ignoring the serious issues they were designed to address, the machinery of society will slowly grind to a halt, as happened in post-colonial Africa. The organizational systems, not just the physical machinery, will become too complex for the people to master. As a result, we will enter a period of technological and social regression toward the new mean IQ.

Put another way, the society created by our ancestors of just a few generations ago is beyond the event horizon of our modern ruling and intellectual elites. The physical manifestations are all around us, but the cultural aptitude to create and maintain such a world is now beyond the reach of our elites. While they remain smarter and more sophisticated than the main body of citizens, they are relatively primitive compared to their ancestors and as a result we are ruled by people puzzled by their own inheritance.

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In Paris, during the interwar years, the avant-garde and artists developed a passion for what they saw as black culture. Part of it was due to the trade in exotic items from French colonies in Africa and part of it was due to exposure to black troops from America and Africa during the war. The word negrophilia is derived from the French négrophilie that means love of the negro. The modern and fashionable of the day would collect African art, listen to Jazz and hang out at clubs where the Charleston was popular.

A century later, a similar sort of frenzy has gripped people who fashion themselves as sophisticated and fashionable. Instead of Jazz, they listen to hip-hop and worship black sports figures. Instead of collecting African art, they collect African orphans. More important, instead of admiring the cultural products of blacks, they have developed an unconscious worship of blacks. They have elevated them to minor gods, who must be protected at all cost. The protection of these gods is a sign of righteousness.

This new form of negrophilia is entirely a conservative thing. That’s conservative as in right-wing Progressive, not historic conservatives. These are the people who see Candace Owens as something of a shaman. So much so allegedly sober minded people are willing to embrace nutty academic fads in order to prove their love for her. It’s not her specifically, but black exceptionalism in general. Any black who embraces the habits of white bourgeois society becomes something sacred to be defended at all costs.

You see that with the so-called principled conservative crowd, who are suddenly up in arms about the media harassing someone for their political opinions. Those principled conservatives took to their quill pens to denounce the Daily Beast for posting personal information about a black Facebook user, who mocked Nancy Pelosi. He either created or doctored a video of Pelosi, which showed her slurring her words. The Left was very upset by it, as it mocked their octogenarian leader.

Up until this point, the principled conservatives were silent on the campaign of harassment by the Daily Beast against other people holding taboo opinions. The reason is those victims were white and their opinions are pro-white. Conservatives were not just silent about the social media purges of pro-white users, they celebrated it. They wrote snickering posts about how private companies had the absolute right to censor speech and the victims were free to create their own platforms.

The obsequious David French tries to find some principles that makes it OK for the media to harass white people, but not black people. All he is able to do is insert himself into the story as an alleged victim of mean people on-line. His effort to defend the sacred black man is just autoethnicgraphic groveling. For those unaware, when the term “cuckservative:” was popularized, French was one of the first guys to see it turn up in his twitter feed. He has never recovered from it.

One thing to note is that none of these principled conservatives can be bothered to defend a principle here. Theirs is an emotional response. They see a sacred black in distress and they naturally rush to his aid. It’s what drove them to slobber over Diamond and Silk, the black YouTube performers. It’s what made Sheriff Clark a star. Sure, it is a way for them to shout “DR3” as they hiss at the Left, but the driver is not just the desire to zing the Left. These people worship an idealized black.

This fever has gripped them to the point where they are unable to defend their own ideas, what few of them exist, without finding a back to confirm them. Conservative Inc. has been vexed by the rise of white identity politics, but could never muster much of an argument against it. The reason is it would require attacking left-wing identity politics and they can’t risk that, so they now have a black to do the job for them. Blacks are always used as a cat’s paw by principled conservatives.

Of course, the cause of this is a phenomenon that started on the Left in the 1980’s, when liberals moved past the street theater of radicalism. Instead of going to the ghetto to link arms with people like Jess Jackson, the new radicals wanted to invite blacks into their world. Not just any blacks, of course. They preferred the talented ten percent, who would be happy to confirm the sensibilities of bourgeois radicalism, by aping the opinions and mannerisms of the bourgeois bohemians. Barak Obama says hello.

Forgotten to the mists of time were Obama prototypes like former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke. Back in the 1980’s, he was the first of a new breed of black politician. He was Ivy League educated and more comfortable in the boardroom than the ghetto. As the saying went at the time, he was black, but not, you know, black. His role was not to be the voice of black America in the ruling class, but instead to be the symbol of ruling class virtue. White politicians loved having their picture taken with him.

Because today’s principled conservatism is just yesterday’s Progressive fads, the modern conservative now embraces the negrophilia of the 1980’s. Just as the liberals of yesterday were interested only in an idealized black, today’s conservatives only care about blacks who play a similar role. They ignore the blacks who the Left employs to attack white culture, as they fear being called a racist. Instead they worship people like Candace Owens and Diamond and Silk, who are willing to confirm their virtue.

That’s not to say that Sheriff Clarke or Candace Owens are dishonest in their presentations or running a con on white people. They seem sincere in their beliefs. According to all accounts, they are genuinely nice people. The thing is, what they say is not remarkable. The reason they are stars is they are black people saying the same things Sean Hannity says every night. These principled conservatives love these people because they assure them they are not going to be called a racist.

The one big difference between the Left’s negrophilia and that of these principled conservatives is self-awareness. For the Left, these good blacks were just useful pawns in the culture war. They were a means to an end. For principled conservatives, these sorts of fads are an end in themselves. That’s because principled conservatism is a defensive crouch, not a set of ideas aimed at a goal. Despite all of their howling about their principles, principled conservatism is just a pose.

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The Unraveling Right

The defining feature of American Conservatism since the rise of Buckley and National Review is that it managed to conserve nothing. In fact, the movement was largely born out of the Civil Rights Movement, in which the New Right, as they were called then, conceded the right of free association to the Left. From that point forward, conservatism in America was mostly just a modification of Progressivism, often following it around like a shadow from one new radical idea to the next.

The truth is, whatever Buckley imagined for his movement in the beginning, it was soon turned into a partner of Progressivism. In exchange for a free hand in dealing with the Soviets, the Right would allow the Left to dominate domestic policy. It may not have been explicit decision, or even a conscious one, but that was the result. The Reagan years are a great example. The revolution cultivated the seedlings of global finance and presided over a massive military buildup. Domestically, it did nothing.

In fairness, the Buckley project did bring about the end of the Cold War, which few people imagined was possible in the 1960’s. Into the Reagan years, most people in the West thought the Bolsheviks were on the right side of history. The trouble was, this habit of acquiescing to the Left on domestic matters had become a part of the Right’s fabric. When it was time to turn back to domestic policy, they could not do it. Instead they allowed themselves to be tricked into a new foreign adventure by the neocons.

That is a useful way to think of the last thirty years. Buckley and his minions did such a great job of defining conservatism as the sidecar of Progressivism, it was incapable of adapting to the post-war reality. Instead, it put all of its energy into finding a new foreign policy cause to fill the void of fighting communism. Meanwhile, the Left was fully prepared to spend the peace dividend on outlandish social experimentation like open borders and homosexual marriage. The Right just stood by and watched.

The fact that Conservative Inc., the material and monetary manifestation of Buckley’s project, still staggers on, despite losing most of its relevance and audience, is a testament to institutional power. People get used to worshiping at the same place, so even when the place no longer deserves their worship, they return out of habit. For the same reason the Episcopal Church still exists, National Review still functions as a flagship for a movement that is long past its expiration date.

A sign that this hollow institution sits atop an equally hollow movement is this recent exchange between someone calling himself Sohrab Ahmari and David French, of National Review. Ahmari makes a case familiar to most on the dissident right, that conservatism has conserved nothing. More important, its very design is to ensure that it can never win a fight with the Left in the culture war. It is the designated opponent that puts on a good show, but in the end concedes the game to the Left.

The response from David French is an amusing confirmation of the most biting criticism of Conservative Inc., in that it combines a total lack of self-awareness and a dog’s breakfast of empty slogans. The fact that the French essay is heavily decorated with advertisements and pleas for money just adds to the humor. His argument is that making a bunch of ritualized noises about the past, while being rolled in the Culture War, is the definition of conservatism. Everyone agrees with this.

What Ahmari builds his case on is the observation that people like French invest heavily in maintaining a set of rules on the Right that prevents victory. That is, a primary activity is endlessly reminding people that to be conservative is to live by a set of principles. These principles control how the Right engages the Left. On the other hand, the Left is happy to help the Right enforce these rules, as the Left never plays by any rules. It plays to win, so these principles become a road map for winning every battle.

This is a certain type of sandwich, where normal white people are faced with an impossible dilemma. They can lose their moral purpose by breaking their own rules, while beating the Left, or, they can hold onto their principles and lose. That’s the role of people like David French. He’s like the Army chaplain, who convinces the troops to embrace pacifism. Alternatively, he is the Tokyo Rose whispering subversion into the ears of white people, undermining their will to fight.

The response by the rest of Conservative Inc. to the Ahmari post is revealing, in that it is not much of a defense of French or Conservative Inc. Reason Magazine babbles about individual liberty while calling Ahmari names. The fact that the core of the Ahmari post is that the individualism fetish is why the Right keeps losing is lost on the writer. Winning the culture war requires collective action with a collective purpose. There can be no individual liberty without first defeating the Left and retaking the public space.

Probably the most illuminating defense of French comes from Michael Brendan Dougherty in National Review. His post reads like it was coerced. There is a long meandering summary of the recent history of conservatism. The actual defense of French boils down to “he is worthless and his approach is laughably stupid, but hey, he’s a nice guy and is popular with my boss.” Conservatism is mostly just logrolling now, so this “defense” is a good example of why National Review is nearing an end.

The lesson to be drawn from the failure of conservatives, for those who will take up the culture war, is that principles are about what you won’t do. They are prohibitions on your behavior. When you engage the enemy with a long list of things you will not do in the fight, you have provided him with a road map to victory. That’s been conservatism for the last thirty years. Whether conscious or unconscious, their cherished principles have amounted to nothing more than a primer for how they will throw the fight.

The fact is, principles are worthless unless you can enforce them. The whole point of having principles is to legitimize the maintenance of order after the victory. Logically, the first step in a principled agenda is to win. That requires collective action and a willingness to play rough, not individualism and a fetish for tone policing. An army of individualists is a hunting ground for the well-organized. In order to get anything like a conservative order means white people acting collectively and doing what is necessary to win.

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Cynicism, Then Revolt

A popular line from libertarianism is that the state is violence. Another way of stating this is the state has a monopoly on violence. The implication is that the state imposes order, the order of those who control the state, with the threat of violence or through actual violence, in the case of law enforcement. It is a Hobbesian view of society, in which order is imposed, but an inaccurate one. Society, even authoritarian ones, rely on consent and a shared set of rituals and symbols to perpetuate consent.

Even the most authoritarian of societies, the prison, where the members have no control over their bodies, relies on consent and ritual to maintain order. The regularization of prison life, along with predictable symbols of authority, keep the prisoners from revolting against the guards. Without cooperation from the inmates, a prison would be ungovernable. The cost of housing and feeding humans in perpetual revolt against their captors would be prohibitive. A prison requires consent.

In a western liberal democracy, order tilts in the other direction, where the state relies more on ritual and symbol to encourage the consent of the governed. Elections are a big part of the ritual, where the people are made to believe their concerns are considered by the office holders. Every western nation has symbols and rituals to remind the voters that they live in a democracy. In America, patriotism is used to manipulate the people into supporting the system, despite their misgivings and distrust.

Order in America relies on the balance between the state’s monopoly of violence, the consent of the people and the maintenance of symbols and rituals that are the physical manifestation of the American creed. As long as the people trust and respect those symbols and rituals, they will support the current order. More precisely, as long as they believe those rituals, like elections and civic participation, support the American creed, they will respect the institutions of the state that maintain order.

Most likely, the process by which a liberal democracy moves from order to disorder, is like walking through a submarine. The people start in the compartment of high trust, but events lead them to leave that compartment and move to the next compartment called doubt or distrust. Once there, the door closes behind them. This is where the people begin losing faith in the office holders. The next compartment from there is cynicism, where the people have lost all trust in the system and the ruling class.

In this phase of social evolution in a liberal democracy, there is some remnant of consent and some tug of patriotism. The emotional connection between the citizens and the state is vestigial. It is a memory and a sadness at the onset of political cynicism, but then slowly builds to an anger at what has been lost. This is what Darren Beattie fears is right around the corner for America, if Trump’s agenda fails due the deliberate thwarting of the public will, by the people controlling the state.

It is safe to assume that the marginalized supporters who came out to vote for Trump will be forever divorced from the shared consent of the people. They will stop voting and stop thinking their future lies with democratic solutions. Just how many of Trump’s voters will fall into this state is hard to calculate. On the other hand, the coalition of the ascendant will be energized by this, so the general level of cynicism will be offset to some degree by enthusiasm from the coalition of the ascendant.

The truth never mentioned in the Beattie column, because it is forbidden, is populism is just code for white. What Trump represents is the white population, who think it is still possible to hold onto heritage America. If we just get immigration under control and fix some of the trade deals, things will slowly get back to normal. Oddly, this is the one thing the Left gets right about Trump. He does want to make America white again, if not demographically, certainly culturally and institutionally.

There is no question that many whites in America have moved from the compartment of distrust to the compartment of cynicism. Beattie is wrong to assume this process is not already underway. It started a long time ago as a trickle on the Right and now the pace is accelerating. This is evident in the growth and persistence of the dissident right, which has thrived despite the authoritarian tactics of the ruling class. Despite having more political prisoners than ever, we have more dissidents than ever too.

Still, Beattie is not wrong to assert that the failure of popular causes, like immigration controls, will push many more people into the cynicism compartment. The result will be an America where consent begins to fade and is replaced by coercion. White people will continue to follow the rules, not because they respect those rules, but because they fear reprisals from the state. The authority of the ruling class will no longer be based in their legitimacy to rule, but their control of the monopoly of violence.

In the trenches, soldiers will fight and die for their comrades, despite the rotten conditions their leaders create for them. In human society, the people will tolerate great deprivations in support of their neighbors. That social capital, upon which authority relies, will help maintain order, even when the rulers have failed in their duties. In a land where everyone’s neighbor is a stranger, there can be no foundation of social capital upon which to rest authority. The people must trust and respect their rulers.

That’s the next compartment after cynicism. When Trump’s agenda fails, as it sure will, white cynicism toward the system will grow. It will reach a point where the ruling class can only maintain order through coercion. They will live in fear of crisis, as the people will have no reason to sacrifice and no trust in the system to see them through the difficult times. The relationship between ruler and ruled will be like an old married couple hanging on until the kids are grown. The divorce is inevitable.

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Activity Versus Prosperity

An occasional topic on the dissident right is how the popular measures of the economy have no relevance to the daily lives of people. Andrew Yang has picked up on this and talks about the need for new measures. For example, the Gross Domestic Product has its uses, but it says very little about the life of the typical person. What most of these popular measures tell us is how much activity there is in the economy, but they tell us very little about the prosperity of the people, which is really what matters.

This story from the Daily Mail is a good starting point for thinking about the difference between activity and prosperity in the economy. The men hired to build these mansions certainly got employment from the task. They were paid wages to do stuff, at least until the project was finished. The building of these mansions certainly added to the GDP and improved the unemployment rate. Yet, no one would look at the result and say Britain is more prosperous as a result. In fact, the opposite seems true.

This is because prosperity is not a purely material measure. When Notre Dame Cathedral burned down, the wealth of the typical Frenchman was diminished, because a part of his cultural heritage was lost. Economic activity will increase when they decide to rebuild it, but the result will not make France more prosperous. In fact, the result will only add to the cultural loss, as the people in charge will make a mockery of the original structure. Notre Dame will be another Parisian eyesore.

In fairness to economist, we can measure economic activity, but we can only sense economic prosperity. The former is like measuring wind gusts in a storm. The latter is to assess the damage done by the storm. The mistake is in assuming the former is objective while the latter is subjective. While true, to some degree, the choice of measures is always subjective. There is a reason we hear about the unemployment rate every month, but no one ever discusses the workforce participation rate.

The zeal of modern economists for measuring activity is about avoiding the topic of culture and the prosperity of the people. For example, our rulers don’t want the people debating whether it is better to pay more for goods and services provided by a local seller, versus from a global operator. This is the sort of discussion that leads to debates about who benefits and why. The people in charge want as many people in the wheel, running as fast as they can, not thinking about who? whom?

Ultimately, while activity has its value, the fundamental focus of a people is on their collective prosperity. Not the prosperity of a few, but of the whole. Venezuela is in flux, in part, because it’s overall increase in prosperity, the last two decades, has not increased the general prosperity of the people. Granted, outside forces are playing a major role, but subversion is possible because the people don’t feel they are benefiting from the system. No one has ever revolted against prosperity.

In America, social unrest is increasing, despite the increase in economic activity, because the white population senses a loss in their prosperity. Would the typical white person pay a little more for groceries if the stores were staffed with white people and the emergency room did not look like a Tijuana bus stop? From the perspective of economics, we would be poorer, but the quality of life would be much higher. It turns out that the true cost of cheap labor is the prosperity of the people.

This was always the error made by socialist of various types. Communists took it the furthest, assuming that humans were nothing more than economic units. The body count eventually disabused the Soviets of this, but the damage had been done. It will take generations to undo the damage of Bolshevism. Similarly, the Chinese have gone down the same road, thinking activity is prosperity. Their plummeting birth rate ensures that China will get old long before she gets truly prosperous.

One very important aspect of the great culture war in the West right now is a debate about activity versus prosperity. Do you want to be a guy in the ethnostate with less stuff or the guy with the latest of everything in a deracinated cosmopolitan area? Would you rather have a little less activity in order to have more of what defines you? The social capital that is a natural product of homogeneous societies has a value. We gave it up for cheap product. The question now is how much will it cost to get it back?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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