Cotto-Gottfried Talk

In an effort to enjoy a little time off this week, the regularly scheduled post will be replaced with a prerecorded item. A re-run, of sorts. My conversation with Joe Cotto and professor Paul Gottfried is up on YouTube. It was probably my favorite one of these I have done. Paul is a brilliant guy, of course, but the topics were just about ideal for the both of us, so it made for a good show. Some technical glitches slowed things down a bit, but even with those, I think it came out pretty well. Enjoy.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


Thoughts On Modern Media

One of the things people have always believed about modern media is that video beats audio and audio beats the written word. Before the rise of “new media” on the internet, this meant television was better than radio and radio better than newspapers. In the internet age, the assumption now is that live streamers have greater reach than podcasters and podcasters have a greater reach than bloggers. Mixed in there are people who exist only as entities on social media platforms.

One reason for this assumption is youth culture. In liberal democracy, the young are treated like gods, in the same way novel social ideas are treated as gifts from the gods, so whatever young people like is heralded as pure and beautiful. Young people, especially children, are first drawn to images, then sounds and finally as they mature into adults, the written word. In modern liberal democracies, therefore, video platforms are treated like sacred altars where our most sacred members perform.

The youth culture phenomenon has co-evolved with the rise of mass media. In the days before mass media, young people were at the bottom of the cultural hierarchy. The first flicker of youth culture in America was the jazz age, but even there the people driving it were old by modern standards. The characters in The Great Gatsby, for example, are mostly early middle-aged. It was after the war with the explosion of Hollywood that youth culture blossomed into the centerpiece of modern life.

Another reason why video maintains a privileged place at the top of our social hierarchy is Baby Boomer culture. For Boomers, for whom mass media evolved, video was always the top. In the golden age of television, for example, the whole country would watch popular television programs. No newspaper or radio broadcaster had the reach of a popular television program. Hitting the big time in the field of news or entertainment meant getting on TV or in the movies.

As much as young people, and not so young people, complain about the Baby Boom generation, the Boomers still control the culture. That is plainly obvious with the panic over the Chinese virus. If the Boomers were twenty years younger, the virus would rate a few mentions in the New York Times science section. Since Boomers are now deeply involved in the health care system, anything medical is going to be of utmost importance to everyone. It is why nurses are now heroes.

Putting all that aside, there is a curious truth about these different platforms that has gone unnoticed. The actual reach of video these days is much lower than the past and probably at the bottom of the hierarchy. For example, Tucker Carlson is the most popular cable talker. He gets about three million viewers per night. The regular audience for cable chat shows is probably around ten million people. The New York Times has more readers than that. Same with other news sites.

On the internet, where it is much more difficult to gate-keep the content, the disparities are even more stark. Popular live streamers get a few thousand live views and their replays get 20-30 thousand views. A variation of the Pareto Principle is clear as day as a handful of top streamers dominate the view counts while 90% or more are small fish with small viewer counts. The gamer PewDiePie, for example, probably accounts for half of D-Live’s traffic, maybe even more of it.

In the political realm, the data is starker. Nick Fuentes gets about 30-thousand viewers to his show each night. The bulk of it is the same people, as his subscriber count mirrors his view counts, assuming either number is accurate. When he was on YouTube his numbers were briefly higher, but that was due to the phenomenon of the “groyper war” that got him national attention. Again, these numbers are suspect, but let’s just assume his unfettered reach is somewhere around 50-thousand.

Greg Johnson’s site, Counter-Currents, gets about 300-thousand unique visits every month, according to his reporting. The Unz Review probably gets two to three times that traffic, maybe even more. There are dozens of sites catering to outsider politics that get much bigger audiences than Fuentes and he’s the big dog now. When you drop into the typical streamer, the difference becomes amusing. A “popular” streamer, someone that thinks they are a big deal, gets about 10-thousand views.

Getting back to where we started, in new media, the old rule is in reverse. The written word beats the spoken word and the spoken word beats video. Again, the metrics used in these formats are suspect and the comparisons are not equal. Unz and Counter-Currents have a fleet of contributors, while streamers are solo acts or maybe a team operating a single show. Even so, a blogger like Heartiste probably had over 100-thousand readers at his peak, double that of Fuentes.

There’s something else to throw into the mix. There is a difference between viewership, reach and influence. Take a poll of random Americans and more of them will have some familiarity with Nick Fuentes. They may not know anything about Fuentes, other than he is the “Nazi kid on the internet”, but his name will be familiar to them, because they have heard it on their preferred media. Ron Unz, on the other hand, may as well be witness protection. He is an unknown to most everyone.

The fact is, video is still the format with the greatest reach. People are much more likely to share a video clip than copy text from a site and mail it to a friend. They may share a link on their social media platform, but people are much less likely to click the link than watch the video. That’s how Tucker Carlson is a household name, despite the fact that 90% of American adults do not watch his show – ever. With video, you can become wildly famous even though most people never see you.

Now, reach is a different thing than influence. Does Nick Fuentes influence people with his nightly show? In his case, he probably does. Kids are drawn to his act, then passively pick up his politics. Carlson, on the other hand, plays to an established audience that has always existed. He just makes their priors more fun. That said, the typical Counter-Currents reader was a white nationalist before they found that site, which is the main appeal. Greg caters to that existing audience.

The most likely answer with regards to reach and influence is that the written word is the main driver of opinion. Few people reading this will know the name F. Roger Devlin, but his book Sexual Utopia in Power is largely responsible for the entire “man-o-sphere” genre on-line. If we extend that out to the pick-up artists, anti-feminists and others, Devlin has had more influence on men than all of the live streamers combined. His influence will continue into the next generations.

Finally, one last thing about these media platforms. In the legacy media, the newspaper man dreamed of getting a spot-on radio, as the hours were shorter and the pay better than being a beat writer or columnist. The radio guys dreamed of getting a television gig, because the pay was orders of magnitude better. ESPN hoovered up anyone with the least bit of talent for video, because they paid better. Tucker Carlson abandoned writing for television in order to get rich as a personality.

A similar, but smaller scale phenomenon seems to be working in new media. The reason there are so many live streamers is they make money at it. Nick Fuentes makes over $200,000 from his D-live platform. J.F. Gariepy claims to be making six figures with his live stream. These monetization systems like Stream Labs, Entropy and Super Chats sprung up because they can skim a bit from the flow of cash from viewers to these live streamers. Even the little guys make decent money.

In contrast, blogs and websites remain the ghetto of the internet. Three times a year Steve Sailer has to beg for money just to avoid living in a homeless camp. Greg Johnson is constantly looking for money to keep the lights on. These guys have vastly larger audiences than the live streamers, but a fraction of the income. Readers just refuse to support the writers they like, while viewers will take out a mortgage to pay the cable bill, so they can watch their favorite programs.

The reason for this is the way people engage the creator on these platforms. The old saying about the difference between television and radio is that television is a warm medium, while radio is a hot one. A television personality is like a guest at a party, in that they are engaging, but avoid being loud or animated. Radio guys have to be loud and excited in order to grab the listener’s attention. Most people consume audio content while doing other things, so the host has to get their attention.

What this means is the person consuming video is not really there for the content, but rather the social interaction. Live streaming allows the viewer to feel like they are in a party where the streamer is the guest of honor. Television news is loaded with amiable airheads for the same reason. People will welcome a dunce into their home if he is fun at parties, but not invite the smart guy with the unpleasant demeanor. People are willing to pay a lot to be flattered by a good guest in their home.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


The Narcotic Of Outrage

The legacy right-wing media is working hard to breathe life into the story about Joe Biden sexually harassing a women decades ago. Tara Reade has been turning up on conservative chat shows to tell her story. Evidence to support her claims has been circulating around the internet. One can’t help but be impressed by the effort to locate old television show clips and old acquaintances familiar with the event. That, of course, raises suspicions about who is behind this effort.

As usual, the so-called conservatives are flabbergasted to learn that the media is working hard to ignore the story. The same people who were hyperventilating about the goofy old women accusing Bret Kavanaugh are now too busy fabricating stories about hero nurses to bother with politics. Here’s a piece by Reason Magazine wondering why the media is ignoring the story. Here’s a post by National Review about the media’s double standard. They are shocked by the hypocrisy.

Most people on this side of the great divide no longer pay attention to this stuff, as it is like watching an old movie that you liked at the time, but you now realize was not very good after all. The Legacy Right has not aged well. In fact, a lot of people struggle to admit that there was a time when they were really into this stuff. The truth is though, almost everyone on this side of the great divide used to be really into these tales of left-wing hypocrisy. It mattered for some reason.

That’s the thing though. Why is anyone still fascinated with this angle of attack at this point in time? If you are under the age of 90, the so-called double standard has been a feature of politics your entire life. The complaining about it has been a staple of your politics until you made the journey over the great divide. The complaints never change and they never have the desired impact. It turns out that the people in charge are not swayed by appeals to their virtue or appeals to their sense of fairness.

It is one thing to play the long game. It is quite another to keep performing the same rituals over and over expecting some miracle, only to see nothing change. Even the truest of true believers starts to doubt after a while. Yet, the Official Right never seems to waver on this stuff. When Brett Kavanaugh was being assaulted, they did the same things they did when Clarence Thomas was assaulted. In fact, they were giddy. It was like they were working from a script.

It’s not an age thing either. It would be understandable if the people performing these rituals were old guys who spent their life doing this dance. The Reason writer is in his 20’s according to his bio. The National Review writer looks like he may still be in high school, but is probably fresh out of Hillsdale or Yale. If you are over 50, you have seen three generations work from the same script with the same results. A cynical person would suspect that this is not entirely an accident.

There’s no doubt that the people paid to stand around yelling at trains perform these rituals because they are told to do so. The people funding the Official Right are the same people funding the Official Left. This level of politics is intended to be theater to sustain the illusion of choice. You, the active citizen, are supposed to pick a team, put on their jersey and yell at your television every night. The political-entertainment complex has its formulas just like television and movies.

The puzzle though is why so many people fall for it. You can be sure that the people who read Breitbart will be fully enraged by the hypocrisy. The comment section there will be full of ritualized grunts and groans to signal unhappiness over how this poor woman was treated by old hairy legs Biden. They will be in ecstasy when Trump retweets a story about this or maybe likes a Tara Reade tweet. The campaign probably has that event on the calendar for this summer.

It may seem pointless to wonder about this, but any effort to alter the political dynamic must first start with breaking this conditioning. Simply pointing out to these true believers that their outrage is wasted does not work. If you went into the comment section of Breitbart and pointed this out, you would get shouted down as some sort of commie liberal. The same is true with social media. Confront these people on Twitter and they will just block you. They are programmed that way.

For a very large swath of right-wing people, even many on this side of the great divide, valiantly losing is a powerful narcotic. That’s at the core of the “let it burn” chorus regarding the coming economic depression. There’s some deep-seated belief that only through utter destruction can the sins of the modern age be washed for the collective soul of the people. It’s the other side of following the hypocrisy script. Instead of shared outrage, it is shared despondency.

That probably is the real narcotic of these quixotic battles we keep seeing. They provide a sense of security and community in a world where being “right-wing” means being an isolated individual in perpetual competition with his fellow citizens. The alternative to the Left has always been the lonely isolation of individualism, with the exception of these outrage rituals. Like solitary woodsmen coming into the village for a festival, it is a time to reestablish their humanity.

This is the trick of alternative politics. It’s not about grand plans or sophisticated meta-political discussions. It is about offering an alternative community. Libertarians, despite the ridiculousness of their cause, hang together because membership in the community provides a sense of belonging and bestows upon them a sense of dignity. That sideline they imagine to be the high ground is not a lonely place. Imagine a similar movement built around something based in observable reality.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


The Rewind

In his book The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukyama argued that humanity has reached the end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the triumph of Western liberal democracy. This does not mean stuff stopped happening, just that the evolution of political thought had reached an end-point, where liberal democracy was the best we could muster. All the alternatives had been explored and tried only to fall short of what liberal democracy could provide materially and morally.

There is a lot to be said for and against Fukyama’s claims and whether he is even the first person to make this argument. Alexandre Kojève made similar arguments from a Marxist perspective in the middle of the last century. Given the trajectory of liberal democracy since Fukyama’s book, Kojève has the better claim. Regardless, there is no doubting that the West has gone a down a cul-de-sac of sorts intellectually. Whatever comes after liberal democracy, we cannot imagine it.

This dead end is most obvious in fringe politics. This debate the other day between an anarchist, a Marxist, and some flavors of fascism is a good example. The debate itself is puerile and stupid, but it is illustrative of the state of the fringe. Rather than debating novel ideas as alternatives to the current orthodoxy, they shout at one another about archaic ideas that have no salience in the modern age. The far Left and far Right these days just engage in a form of live action role playing.

Fascism and Marxism are as relevant as the free silver movement, but for people unhappy with the status quo, and hoping to seem edgy and dangerous, they are the only options. Classical liberalism is what suburban dads embrace when they are unhappy with the status quo, while mom can throw in with the gynocracy. The middle-class radicals are left to embrace old ideas that never had much purchase in America and have not been popular in Europe for close to a century now.

One common item to both sides of this fringe debate is the unspoken agreement that the current order is unacceptable. Their critiques of liberal democracy fall into one of two categories. On the one side, the claim is the system does not adequately provide for the material comfort of the people and the wrong people benefit. The other side mostly focuses on the wrong people benefiting, but largely agree that the system does not adequately provide for the materially well-being of the people.

Strangely, the race angle is mostly a prop, a fig leaf to disguise the fact that both sides largely agree with one another. Both sides agree that socialism is the right economic model and both sides agree that the bankers and corporate executives are the bogeyman in this drama. The neo-Marxists, however, make a big deal of being anti-racist, despite all of them being white, while the neo-Fascist make a big deal of being racist and anti-Semitic. Race is mostly a costume for both sides.

There is another element to this neo-revanchism we see in fringe politics and that is the strong desire to start over. Having reached the end of the tournament and being relegated to the loser bracket, the various teams in fringe politics now seek to start the tournament over again. It’s why the Left side calls themselves anti-Fascists and the Right side embraces the Fascist aesthetic. It allows both sides to believe they can start the process over again and this time, get a better result.

That’s why both sides were hoping the virus panic would destroy the economy and usher in a great depression. The Right-side imagines people taking wheelbarrows full of cash to buy food. The Left side imagines working men being entertained by folk singers after they hear a speech by the local communist cadre. There is the assumption that if the whole liberal democratic order fails, we just rewind the clock and begin the process over again, but this time with a different result.

Another angle to this neo-revanchism is a new romanticism among younger white males for a return to a what they imagine was a more honorable and possibly heroic way of living as political actors. They want to be poet-warriors, who read political philosophy and fight the enemies of their cause. The neo-Marxists kit themselves out as beatniks and repeat lines they picked up movies about prior left-wing movements. The neo-fascists embrace Nazi iconography and language.

Richard Spencer tapped into this romanticism with his Faustian man act. Prior to his ascension as the face of the alt-right, he busied himself writing banal paleocon essays about current events. Then he started doing videos and speeches about how it was the destiny of European man to conquer and rule. He threw in enough literary references to pass himself off as a philosopher. A lot of young white men fell for it, because they dreamed of going back to a more honorable and heroic age.

Of course, this type of fringe politics is almost exclusively male. In fact, the reason for so much interest and energy in fringe politics in general is that mainstream politics is almost completely feminine now. Both sides of the liberal democratic order are dominated by harpies and schoolmarms. There’s simply no place for a normal male in conventional politics, so normal males are filtering into antiquarian politics. For many, this is just a better version of the video game of life.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


The People’s Avenger

The trouble with most conspiracy theories, in addition to being wrong, is they tend to distract from the more important issue. The conspiratorially minded like to play connect the dots, linking various people together in support of their favorite theory. Each node of the conspiracy has the same interests as the other, which is why they are conspiring together on some caper. More often than not, the connections are incidental and explained by other, less nefarious, reasons.

Those incidental and casual connections, however, are the important bit to study, as it explains much about the current age. For example, the current impeachment hoax is the result of conspiracy theories cooked up a social network in Washington. The people involved are all friends and acquaintances, who live in the same place and circulate among the same group of people. What looks like a conspiracy is the result of an emergent set of beliefs within a social set.

Eric Ciaramella, the CIA plant, who concocted the predicate for the impeachment hoax is friends with John Brennan, the former CIA director. He is also in the same social set as members of Adam Schiff’s crew of witch hunters. Like a religious cult, these people reinforce the paranoia of one another with these bizarre theories to explain what they think is some great anomaly. Trump could not have won the election fair and square, so there must be some hidden reason behind it.

The problem with looking at this as a conspiracy theorist would is it shifts the focus from the social networks from which this conspiracy theory emerged. The reason for this and all of the other capers we have seen of late is that these people are now a separate and insulated community, rather than civil servants living on our communities. Their roles in the state are not jobs that provide them with a salary, but a way of life that is all encompassing.

Someone like Eric Ciaramella is not hanging out with his neighbor the accountant or the lawyer across the street. His kids are not playing with the plumber’s kids. His wife is not hanging out with other moms at the soccer field. His social life is entangled with his professional life. This was clear in the seditious plot run by the FBI. These people were all friends before they became subversives. Their jobs in the bureaucracy are not what they do for work. It is who they are as people.

The social aspect is most evident in the media. This puff piece in The Atlantic about disgraced neocons Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg is a good example. Both are long time conspiracy theorists, who have traveled in the same circles for years. Back in the Bush years, Hayes pushed the insane theory that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the 9/11 attack. Goldberg, of course, has made all sorts of bizarre claims about Donald Trump and his voters.

Now, the glue holding this absurd vanity project together is rage over the 2016 election, but it could not happen without the wide ranging social network. These people all live near one another and socialize with one another. They have posts of various importance at the same think tanks and foundations. They work the same donor class for money for these media projects. The world of conservative opinion in Washington is a closed community walled off from the rest of us.

The temptation is to focus on the absurdity of that puff piece in The Atlantic. After all, both of these people were promoters of the Russia hoax and both were cheerleaders for the pointless wars of choice in the Bush years. Two shameless liars now claiming to operate an antidote to fake news is easy to mock. The more important part though is the fact that such a thing even exists and is promoted by other media. Again, it is the result of that community of likeminded that exists around Washington.

That puff piece in The Atlantic is a favor to friends. The guy running The Atlantic is a fanatical Zionist and anti-Trump crusader. He’s happy to promote this project as a favor to his community. The writer, McKay Coppins, is a fellow traveler, happy to slobber over this project, as he could get a job there one day. Maybe it will get him a look at one of the think tanks that prop up many of these media operations. Although, he may have to change religions to land one of those gigs.

This is fundamentally the problem with Washington. It is an incestuous community cut off from the rest of us. That’s why no one ever gets punished for screwing up or breaking the law. Bill Barr is not going to prosecute the crooked FBI agents, because their friends are his friends. That would put him in bad odor with the rest of the community and we can’t have that. It’s not a conspiracy, but a community coming together to support their own.

Of course, this is most obvious in the media, which exists to promote and defend their friends in the political class. Stephen Hayes keeps his perch at Fox News, despite being wrong about everything for two decades. Goldberg plays the affable dufus to such great effect, not one can tell if he is acting. The whole point of having pundits on to comment about the news is they are supposed to bring expertise and insider knowledge. Instead it is high paying workfare for the community dimwits.

This is why reform is impossible. Trump winning the 2016 election just stiffened the resolve of the community. If Bernie Sanders wins the 2020 election, he will be invading Syria by 2022. His supporters in the socialist camp will learn the same lesson dissident have been faced with since 2016. The community that runs the empire is immune from the consequences of elections. It is always heads they win, tails we lose. The only reform that is possible is the people’s avenger.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


A Call Up To The Bigs

I had the honor of guest hosting FTN this week. McFeels was off attending to some personal issues, so I joined Ethnarch to discuss the news of the day. It is hard to know for sure, but FTN could be the most popular show in dissident media. Stefan Molyneux has a huge YouTube audience, but it is hard to compare video to audio. The two mediums attract different audiences. Just in terms of overall audience though, FTN is in the conversation for the most popular dissident show.

I don’t do many guest appearances and I’ve never been the co-host in this sort of format, so I was unsure how I would do. There is a skill to being a guest, a skill I do not have in abundance. Working with a partner not only requires guest skill, but it requires good chemistry with the partner. Ethnarch and I worked together quite well, at least from my perspective, so I think the show came out OK. Usually I’m tired after doing a guest spot, as I have to be on edge the whole time. This was rather relaxing.

One of the things Ethnarch and I discussed after recording is just how much time is involved in producing these shows. I was curious as to what was involved in putting together a three hour show about current events. A general rule is it takes 10 hours to produce one hour and that’s the case with FTN. Prep time has about ten hours of time to pull together the news items and the show outline. Recording is between four and five hours and then there is post-production to get the show up.

The prep time is what goes unnoticed by the consumer. For this week’s show, Ethnarch collected fifty or sixty stories. He collated them into categories and then organized them for easy transition from theme to theme. He told me he usually has over 100 stories in the stack of stuff for the show, but this was a light week. The listener just hears two guy talking about the news, but to reach that point means reading hundreds of stories and filtering them into a show outline. That’s a lot of work each week.

Of course, this means FTN is close to a full time commitment for McFeels and Ethnarch, as they do at least two shows a week. It’s why terrestrial radio shows can have half a dozen people in the production side. Three hours a day of airtime is 150 man hours a week in prep and production. Throw in the logistics of operating a studio and the business side of things and your drive time radio guy is a small business. A regular TV show qualifies as a mid-sized business, in terms of people and expense.

That said, for a show to have any import, it has to be a professional production. If it slapped together, the audience will just assume the makers are not serious. It’s like a house with a poorly kept lawn. People drive past and assume things about the owner based on the exterior of the home. Inside could be an immaculate palace and the shabby lawn is an exception, but people don’t think that way. The same is true of a podcast of video show. Poor production implies poor quality.

This is why livestream is never going to be serious. Two or three dudes standing in their respective bedrooms, staring into a cheap camera looks bad. The solo live streams often look like hostage videos. In contrast, guys like RamZPaul and James Allsup produce high quality video, because they know what they are doing. They understand how the viewer consumes video and how they appear in their videos. That requires a skill few live streamers possess. It’s a medium for amateurs right now.

There is a generational issues here, so I could be exhibiting a bias. A Gen-X person grew up with limited video. Cable came on strong in our teen years, but we did not grow up with our face pressed to a screen like today’s youth. Young people love using face time. Someone my age thinks it is weird. Why do I need to see the person I’m talking to on my phone? For young people, the live stream may simply be a natural way of consuming content, so I could be all wrong on the future of live streaming.

I think there is a debate to be had about what is the real impact of various media platforms, with regards to dissident politics. Social media is a closed space. The influence of Twitter and Facebook is entirely dependent on mass media picking up social media trends. That makes them worthless for dissidents. On the other hand, how much impact do YouTube creators or podcasters have? What is the impact of 50,000 views on YouTube versus the same number of readers?

If you look at some of the big YouTube guys, someone like Stefan Molyneux, for example, the ratio of views to subs is interesting. He has close to a million subs, but his videos rarely get 50,000 views. How reliable are those numbers? Who is actually viewing those videos? If his fan base is mostly libertarians, then his impact is negligible, as no one cares about libertarians. I don’t have any answers on this, but it is a topic worth exploring, so I’ll probably explore it at some point.

All that aside, the way forward in dissident media is to keep increasing the quality and the quantity of dissident media. That means not only bringing in new people, but also upgrading the skill base. Every time someone in dissident media gets in trouble, it’s because they relied on non-dissident talent. Laura Southern dropped out of the scene because she was compromised by two video guys she hired. Spencer’s media efforts have always blown up due, in part, to his relying on crazy people.

As far as the show this week, I think it came out pretty well, but I’m not the best judge of these things. The main reason is I do a solo show every week, so I don’t know how to measure myself as part of a duo. We spent most of the first hour covering immigration related items. The second hour we got into trade with China and how that relates to the culture war. We also talked about Bloody Eye Biden and the democratic primary. The link to the show is here or you can listen to it in the player below.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


Regulating The Public Space

There are few things good about aging, but one of those benefits is you start seeing how history often repeats itself. There is nothing new under the sun, but when you are young most everything is new to you. When you get old, you have experienced enough to begin noticing the repeats of things you saw in your youth. For example, those old enough to remember the early the days of the internet, probably recognize what’s happening with the tech giants trying to regulate the public space.

By early days, I’m not talking about the iPhone 4 days. I’m talking about the Windows 3.1 days, when the internet was for weirdos, who knew how modems worked and liked tricking the phone company for free long distance. It was when hobbyists assembled their own computers It was when NewEgg was called Egghead and operated in shopping centers. That was before the phrase “social media” existed, but there was still plenty of social media and plenty of people on it, just smarter people.

Usenet and bulletin board systems served the same role as Twitter and Facebook, without the cute names and billionaires trying to control the platforms. Like the big social media platforms, they started with the same general idea. They would be open forums for people to debate and argue. The internet was going to be free from the censorship of the old media and free from government control. The same things people say about bitcoin today were said about the internet in the olden thymes.

What happened to those first public forums and those that succeeded them is a good lesson for understanding what is happening to the big social media platforms. Usenet, for example, started as an open platform for anyone with internet access. It did not take long for jerks and troublemakers to arrive. Soon, the squabbling and fighting fractured the community into separate channels. In short order, Usenet became a million little havens for like-minded people to talk about their thing in semi-private.

Bulletin boards followed a similar path. Their successor, the message board also followed a similar arc. The first boards for college sports, for example, soon turned into free-for-alls and shattered into hundreds of small, private boards. Unlike Usenet, the creators of these boards initially tried to regulate the content by having moderators ban trouble makers and people trolling for attention. That just encouraged the trouble makers to find clever ways around the rules, in order to disrupt the communities.

What was discovered in those early efforts of public forums is that the public is pretty awful and needs to be regulated. You just can’t let everyone into a public forum and have them say what they wish. On the other hand, the cost of regulating who enters and what is said is prohibitive. The more you regulate the forum, the cleverer the troublemakers get at disruption. This sets off an increasingly costly game of cat and mouse between the moderators and the people seeking to disrupt the forum.

The solution to the problem was the oldest of solutions. Peaceful separation allowed everyone to have a forum, but it reduced the incentives for the disruptive. Going into the forum of a rival group, for example, and posting a bunch of troll-bait, did not provide the same dopamine rush to the troll as it did on a public forum. There was no one around to see it and cheer it. It was like being a graffiti artist in a blind community. These trolling efforts were quietly removed and the community could easily ignore them.

That is what will happen with the big social media hubs. Twitter is the first that will splinter into a million separate channels, as it is the most public. Gab has weathered the assaults and now provides a home for dissidents. Telegram is now becoming the favorite tool for young people creating small communities. Others are working on alternatives for other tribes, looking for a place on-line both free of censorship and the sorts of people who just seek to disrupt. This is a repeat of the message board phenomenon.

YouTube and Facebook are a bit different. Facebook already has the ability to let users self-segregate within the forum. That solves the trolling a bit, but the company is run by the sorts of people who liked being moderators on chat boards in the old days. They can’t help but meddle in the discourse of others, even those in private groups on the platform. Given the demographics of the platform, it will probably collapse at some point as people realize its user base is old people, robots and gullible advertisers.

YouTube is the one to watch. As server capacity outstrips demand, the cost of hosting video will keep dropping. There are services popping up as alternatives to YouTube, with some starting as commercial enterprises. This service lets you create a branded channel that can be distributed on a variety of platforms. If you have talent and can hold an audience, the days of relying on YouTube are numbered. Since YouTube has never made money, it’s hard to see a future for the service as currently constructed.

None of this is to say that the tech oligopolies will come to their senses and stop trying to suppress speech on-line. In all probability, they will exhaust themselves trying to stamp out dissent, which means things will get much worse. Apple, for example, is now censoring speech within chat programs like Telegram. Microsoft is promising to moderate speech over Skype. The people behind these efforts are driven by hatred and self-loathing, so they lie awake at night thinking about this stuff.

The trouble is, it is expensive. The latest YouTube banning probably cost the company $10 million dollars to organize. It’s pretty clear they invested a lot of manpower in reviewing specific videos. The return on that investment was mostly bad press and greater awareness by regulators that there is a problem. That’s a lesson from the old days too. No matter how right they were to regulate users, the forum moderators were always looked upon unfavorably. They were the prison guards of the system.

That last bit is probably key. A decade ago, Apple was a cool brand run by an equally cool genius who liked wearing black turtlenecks. Now it is seen as a Chinese electronics company run by an angry homosexual. Similarly, YouTube used to be a place where young people could express themselves. Now it’s where old Jewish women yell at young people for using naughty language.With every censorship effort, the reputation of the oligopolies declines. Silicon Valley is now the universal villain.

The point of all this is not that libertarians are right that the market will magically sort out the problem for us. All of this could have been avoided if the government had done its job and cracked down on these oligopolies a long time ago. The natural disaggregation of the public space will not happen without help from the state either. It’s that wide open public forums cannot last. It was tried decades ago by smarter people and a much smarter user base. Eventually, peaceful separation became the only alternative.

If you like living off the sweat of others, then ignore the following. On the other hand, if you care about your community and want to support those working hard on your behalf, consider supporting my work by donating the price of a beer or a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. Unlike those mega-corporations, I will not use your money to destroy your family and community. Or, you can send money to me at: P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432.

Joining The Merchant Right

For a few years now, I have been getting requests from readers wondering how they can donate to my efforts. I’ve always told them to donate to VDare, Steve Sailer or a good YouTuber like RamZPaul, as I don’t have a mechanism for accepting money. It’s not that I don’t like money or I am selfless. It’s just that the costs were minimum and there are others out there who could use the money. There’s also a cost to setting up a finding apparatus, especially in an age of woke capitalism and systematic de-platforming.

I’ve also been asked by other content creators to join the merchant right, because it helps reinforce the notion that a culture war is not won on love. It takes money to run these sites and many of the people doing it have no other way to make a living. If you are a guy who has been anathematized due to your politics, you need to get support from people in this thing so you can live. Part of building that support structure is building a culture of giving where we support our guys with more than just snarky comments and clever banter.

While I like money and the culture argument is persuasive, I’ve been slow to come around to the idea. The recent issue with upgrading my server has caused me to rethink things, as there is now a real cost to running this side. The new server now comes with a hefty fee every month, compared to what I was doing. Now is probably a good time to test the waters and see if being a media whore is for me. I’ve created a SubscribeStar account for people to contribute to my work. If you feel generous, please sign up.

Now, I’m not entirely sure I am cut out to be a media whore, so I’m starting with a modest goal and one funding mechanism. I think I should begin creating some premium content as a reward to those who contribute. That seems to be the model popular with independent media, but I’m still noodling that one. RamZPaul does videos just for his subscribers. The TRS guys have a paywall that does the same thing. I’m still investigating how others handle that part of it, so feel free to offer suggestions and examples.

The other thing I’m looking at doing is crowdsourcing a book effort. I have been working on a book. I hope to have the first draft done this fall. Since I’m a terrible editor, I will need to hire a professional to edit the copy. I’m thinking the way to do that is with a crowd-sourcing effort, but I’m still looking at how that works. I might just setup something myself, but that would require a merchant account and some changes to the site. Alternatively, I could raise money for the project and then just give the book away on the site. We’ll see.

The bottom line is I am sticking my toes into the merchant waters. If anyone has suggestions on this front, feel free to offer them up. There are a lot of people making a living as a solo content producers, so I’m not breaking new ground, but maybe doing what everyone else is doing is not the right course for me. Like it or not, I’m a bit of an outlier in the dissident media, so I may have to be an outlier in the merchant game too. Therefore, I’m open to suggestions. Sometimes old puzzles need new solutions.

Happy Homelands

I was on with Frodi Midjord, RamZPaul and Tiina Wiik to discuss dissident politics on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as organizing for our future efforts. We had some technical issues with Google, so we went off-line for a while and then started over. Paul broke up the video into three parts and re-published them. The live stream service from Google seems like it has trouble every time I do one of these things. Maybe I give up some form of bad mojo that causes havoc on their servers.

I thought it was a good discussion. Frodi is a great guy, who has done great work in the Scandinavian countries. We need more sensible people out front talking about these issues. I think he made some good points, especially about people’s risk tolerance. If you think your people are worth preserving you do what it takes to accomplish it. On the other hand, I don’t think they have the challenges we have here in America with people being fired from their jobs for holding unpopular opinions. I could be wrong.

Otherwise, I think I did better on this than I normally do on these sorts of things. There is a skill to being a live streamer or a guest on these shows. I just don’t do it enough to be comfortable with it. Paul and Tiina do these shows all the time, so they make it look easy, but there is a talent to make it look natural. It’s why I have avoided getting into the video stuff to this point. I’d end up spending countless hours trying to figure out how to look normal rather than like I was making a hostage video.

Anyway, here is the show in three parts.

 

Ruminations On The Audience

Whenever I watch or participate in a live stream, I’m always curious about who is watching or listening, specifically the numbers. I tuned in for some of Spencer’s new gig the other day and I saw that he had about thousand people listening. When I was on with Josh Neal we had about one hundred people. Spencer is obviously a bigger name and surely draws lots of of enemies to anything he does, in addition to supporters. Still, these are small numbers, compared to what we think happens with television and radio.

Now, in fairness, local radio often has just a few thousand people listening at any one time and some small TV channels have such small audiences they round to zero. There’s also the fact that live streams are a new and different medium. It’s like watching the rehearsal, rather than the finished product, but you can interact with the performers. That and you can watch it anytime, because live streams are recorded. If you look at the views of these things, 90% of the audience is for the recorded version, not the live feed.

The newness of live streams can be seen in the radio programs that have started putting their content on-line. Lots of talk radio people have set up cameras in their studio to simulcast their shows over Facebook or YouTube. They also provide a feed to services like iHeart and TuneIn. I listen to the legendary Howie Carr off YouTube, as he is in Boston and I’m in Lagos. I’ve never seen the viewer count on his YouTube feed exceed a hundred. Most of the time, it is below 50, yet he is the #14 talk radio guy in America.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the new audience for the new media. One thing I’ve learned after a year of doing a podcast is there is little overlap between my writing and my spoken word material. In fact, I have been approached by people at secret handshake meetings who only listen and have never bothered to read my blog. Lots of readers have told me they have no interest in the podcast, but they would read a transcript. John Derbyshire has been doing transcripts for years now, because most prefer it.

My guess is the audience for live streams is a completely different animal than the audience for writing and podcasting. There is a sense of urgency to the live stream, in that watching one from a year ago feels like reading an old newspaper. Most live streams are about current topics. Podcasts are often topical, but necessarily so. The people doing history and philosophy can expect an audience long after they have published their shows. That does not seem to be the case with the live stream.

A few weeks ago I was made aware of the fact a very famous person reads this blog on occasion. They don’t read regularly because they think I’m too wordy. That person wanted to know where I was on social media, because that person prefers Twitter over longer written material. This was a bit of a revelation, but it made perfect sense. While there is overlap between the audience for longer material and the audience for social media, there are many who do one but not the other. Live stream is the social media of video.

A few years ago I predicted Twitter’s problems. A large scale public platform is either open to everyone or it allows for self-segregation. Any attempt to moderate an open platform fails and this was known long before Twitter of Facebook. UseNet and message boards were the first social media and they learned that you either have segregation or you have the Wild West. Any effort to tone police or regulate blasphemy ends in disaster. The reason is the cost of regulation eventually outweighs the benefit.

What’s happening in social media is segregation, as people retreat to their own kind. The dissidents are the first to start building their own, but it will spread everywhere. Your social media platform will be your tribe. That or platforms like Facebook will simply acquiesce to reality. This has happened to some extent as there are private Facebook groups populated by alt-right people. Something similar will have to happen with Twitter or it will collapse under the weight of its own stupidity.

This brings me back to live streams and video is general. The live stream is a response to YouTube censorship. The hosts make sure to stay within the rules and they have the option to not post the recorded show if it could cause problems. The thing is though, even the most berserk member of the volunteer morality police is not sitting through three hours of Spencer talking about himself to find some blasphemy. The use of guarded language and the format allow for some self-segregation within the YouTube platform.

One final thought on all this. I mentioned that I’m not a very good live stream guest. Some people with small brow ridges will accuse me of false modesty, but I think there is a skill at being a host and a guest. This has always been true. A good host features the guest and keeps the guest from getting lost in the sound of his own voice. On the other hand, good guests have answers like a woman’s bathing suit. They are big enough to cover the material, but small enough to keep it interesting. They keep the show moving.

With these new formats, developing new skills to exploit the format is something we see all over now. The cut and paste bloggers, for example, have mostly faded away, as that has been displaced by social media. Those pithy comments are easily done on Facebook and Twitter. Content driven bloggers like J’Onquarious and Heartiste are the future of the format. The group blog is the new magazine and the solo blog is the new pamphleteer. Similar skills, but more interactive and responsive.

On the video side, that’s where things will be more interesting, as the format has no analog to the analog age. Live streams are not like TV. YouTube channels are not like a cable channel. PewDiePie is not Howard Stern. As Paul Ramsey talked about in his chat with Millennial Woes the other day, the internet video format continues to evolve as people try to figure out how to use it. Look at old videos of a guy like Molyneux and they are nothing like what he is doing today, because he evolved with the format.

That also means the audience will change too. Fifty years ago, movie stars never did television, other than chat shows to promote themselves. That may be how things unfold with video, at least initially. The live stream guys will be a special skill, while the recorded people, with high production values, will appeal to a different audience. Bloggers and writers that can be good guests will use appearances to promote their work. Otherwise, like the difference between book readers and TV watchers, there will be little overlap.