The Chaos Election

If any other president in recent history was facing both wide scale riots and an economic depression before his reelection, the smart money would be on the side of the challenger, regardless of his quality. For the longest time, conventional wisdom has said re-election campaigns are a referendum on the times as much as the performance of the sitting president and his party. Despite the gloom and doom, Trump’s re-election chances remain a coin toss at this point in time.

Part of it is the fact that Joe Biden is a relic from a bygone age, a relic suffering from severe cognitive decline. If not for the shenanigans of the party, Bernie Sanders would be the nominee of the party right now. At best, the party would be looking at a deadlocked convention, from which they could select an alternative to a fossilized communist and a dementia sufferer. Trump versus a tattered museum piece is about the best match-up Trump can get in November.

Even so, this election is probably the first in this new cycle that was ushered in by the 2016 election. Maybe the 2016 election could be called the first post-post-Cold War election, but no one knew it at the time. This time, everyone seems to know that the rules are different and the forces shaping the election are different. Trump the Mule, the guy who breaks things and disrupts the natural order has changed the normal re-election pattern as well. This will be a different election.

That’s why the skeptical on-looker should be cautious about judging Trump’s behavior by the conventional metrics. For example, he has been tweeting during the black riots about how great he has been to the black people. This tweet was relentlessly mocked, but Trump will no doubt stick with it. Critics scoff that he is just a delusional civic nationalist groveling to blacks. From now until the election, he will talk about how he has been the best thing for black people since emancipation.

The thing that people on this side of the great divide often miss is that sentiment carries a lot of weight among white voters. This side is often too spergy to appreciate the value of gesture, but in the age of gesture politics, the sentiment counts for a lot. Trump’s apparent concern for blacks counts for a lot with his base. Those older white voters really do care about race relations. These riots, at one level anger them, but at another level they sadden them. They hate seeing it.

Take a look at those scenes of whites kneeling and bowing. The crowd always skews older, with lots of gray ponytails in the scene. Granted, these are aging libs looking for some final redemption before they die. That said, it is just an exaggerated sentiment common with older white people. They spent their whole lives trying to make race relations better. Even the right-wingers think it is really important for blacks to feel included in American life. It’s a big part of who they are.

That’s why Trump plays to that sentiment. His ham-fisted appeal to blacks is not really aimed at blacks, but at older whites who decide our elections. He’s never going to win over the gray ponytail crowd, but he will appeal to the weekday golf crowd. They see his earnest appeal to blacks and think well of Trump, despite the black youth rioting in the streets in every city. Talk to the sort of older white who has been vexed by Trump’s tweeting in the past and they are eating this up.

It’s also the nature of his appeal. He is not blathering about dignity and respect or any of the crap you hear from activists. He’s talking economics, things like jobs and crime, the sorts of tangible things that resonate with older white people. The Zoomers can mock the materialism of the Baby Boomers, but politics is about reality. Trump is appealing to the most important part of the electorate where they are, not where the Zoomers would like them to be. It will most likely work.

Not too put too fine a point on it, but look at what just happened in Iowa, a state in the heart of the Cuck Belt. Steve King was defeated in the GOP primary by some loser who will happily flood the state with Africans. If King was the nominee, he would win the general election for sure, but GOP voters could not tolerate someone labeled a racist by the inner party. The sin of racism is so powerful to the old whites that make up the GOP primary electorate, no one can survive a hint of it.

There’s also the black vote. Trump is relentlessly mocked for courting the black vote, but he may not be as dumb as he seems on this issue. The closest comparison in history to Trump at the moment is Richard Nixon. After the riots in 1968, Nixon won 14% of the black vote. This was the guy who ran the Southern Strategy, which was allegedly a crypto-racist appeal to former Klansmen. Clearly, blacks were motivated by something other than the superficial appeal to race.

The truth is, black voters, a distinct subset of black people, are a very conservative voting bloc. The thing is, they are conservative in the traditional sense of the word, not the neoconservative sense. That is, they don’t give a crap about economics as much as they care about their people. They look around at the riots and see this as a threat to their people and their communities. Blacks as a whole may have outlandishly high crime rates, but black voters incline toward law and order.

Trump will never win a big share of the black vote. Critics who think he thinks he can win the black vote are more delusional than they accuse Trump of being. What Trump is up to is appealing to that core black vote. If the choice is between an old white guy siding with the rioters and old white guy promising jobs, they will be much less motivated to come out in big numbers. That’s why Trump is working so hard to frame the choice for blacks in exactly this fashion.

The thing about the 2020 election is it will be a purely in the moment election, in that it will turn on how people feel at the moment. Trump the chaos agent won in 2016 because he had the knack of keeping people on edge. Some who never voted, responded by voting for the first time. Some who always voted one party stayed home or switched to a third party in a moment of anger.  Trump is a guy who likes chaos and seeks to create it in all of his endeavors.

In the moment, people act on instinct. That’s what Trump is betting on for his re-election this fall. If things are in total flux, his opponents are unable to get footing. More important, the voters are unable to settle into comfortable patterns. Riots, plague and economic devastation is maximum chaos. Voters may instinctively go with what appears to be the safe choice, but is just the familiar choice. More important, they will not be thinking about it, but rather acting on instinct.

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!

President LARP

After close to a week of dithering, Jared Kushner allowed Trump to stage a publicity stunt, where he waddled out of the White House down to the church the looters had burned the other night. In front of the cameras, Trump held up a Bible and said some things. They said it symbolized national resilience to the mob violence that is engulfing the nation’s cities. In reality, it was the perfect image for a presidency that is nothing more than live action role playing.

Trump holding up a Bible is as ridiculous as Democrats talking about the Constitution and the rule of law. Trump is famously not religious. His life has been one of hedonism and self-regard. He does not attend services and breaks into hives whenever he has to speak about religion. There’s a good chance he was worried that he may be struck by lightning out there. It was the sort of highly choreographed political stunt that symbolizes everything that people hate about democracy.

That said, it will work with the plan-trusters. Scott Greer took to Twitter to announce that Trump saved his re-election campaign. Lots of his fellow plan-trusters seem to agree, at least for now. Way back in the election of 2016, Trump said “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” He took some grief for that at the time, but he was right. For his supporters, Trump is a vehicle through which they experience an alternative reality.

Under Trump, a new form of fantasy game has emerged. This new game is where Trump voters, and those adjacent, rush to social media in a crisis and start posting about “what Trump should do…” It’s followed by what is often a sensible suggestion, but one that will never happen. Then a long back and forth of various strategies about what he should do ensues. Sometimes Trump will goose this along with some tweets that are designed to encourage this form of role playing.

Of course, Trump never does anything. He’ll tweet out some outrage porn to the Left and make some vague threats, but otherwise he is all talk and no action. Right now, for example, he and President Kushner are trying to figure out how to win back the six black votes they were counting on this November. Now that “lowest black unemployment in history” has proven to be something less than the inspirational message they assumed, it is back to the drawing board.

In lieu of action, these internet fantasies fill the void left in these voter’s minds. They get to pretend that Trump will actually do something other than laugh at them. They look at Trump awkwardly holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Church and imagine it is a great moment where the country rallies around their hero. They get the same rush from the make believe as they would from the real. Trump pretending to do whatever it is he is promising is the same as Trump actually doing something.

In fact, they often believe it is real. Talk to a true-blue MAGA type and they will tell you Trump has clamped down on immigration and is now “draining the swamp.” If you point out the facts, they will call you a “libtard” and refuse to discuss it further. For example, many of these people not only think he is building the wall, but that it is already built, which why he no longer discuss it. The fantasy version of the Trump presidency is so fulfilling it has supplanted the real Trump presidency.

This is a form of false consciousness. Instead of workers unable to understand class reality and their own exploitation, it is white conservatives unable to process their diminished status in America. In the real world, they are at the bottom of the social hierarchy, slowly being eliminated from society. In the fantasy realm, they are still the top dogs. In the fantasy version of Trump, he is one of them, acting on behalf of their interests, when in reality, he is a tool of the ruling class.

An interesting off-shoot of this is that when you can get a Trump supporter to acknowledge that he has done nothing for them, they switch tracks. He stops being the God-Emperor and becomes Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. He is the sincere reformer being thwarted by the corrupt machine. In an instant, the main character in the fantasy goes from omnipotent leader to impotent victim. Trump fighting Washington is just another version of the fantasy.

Both sides of this fantasy have one thing in common. There is an unspoken, instinctive contempt for democracy. In the God-Emperor mode, Trump is issuing edicts and imposing his will on the nation. In the tragic hero version, the will of the people is thwarted by a corrupt system. In both versions, voting and debating, the core of democracy, have no role. One version is the hero slaying democracy and the other version is the hero being slain by democracy.

This form of false consciousness is not exclusive to Trump fans. His enemies now engage in their own fantasies. They imagine him as Orange Hitler and they carry on as if he really is a dictator. Further, they will convince themselves that Joe Biden is reversing all of Orange Hitler’s polices, once he is in the White House. Within days of Biden taking office, they will pretend Biden has swept aside all of the things they spent four years pretending Trump was doing.

The difference is that with the Left, they expect the fantasy to be made real and they get angry when it fails to happen. We saw this in the Obama years. They really did think he was the prophesied messiah, who would usher in a new era. As the reality of his administration became too hard to ignore, the Left got mad. When Trump won in 2016, they got super-agitated and have remained so ever since. The current round of riots are just a carryover from the disappointment of the Obama years.

For the normie right, anger and rioting are off the table, so they will continue to indulge in the fantasy game that is the Trump presidency. He will continue to monitor the situation and consider doing things. Maybe a symbolic executive order will be tossed in for effect. Meanwhile, his base will invent scenarios in which he drains the swamp and owns the libs. The less he does, the deeper the fantasy. Trump is the first virtual President, playing a role for the amusement of his voters.

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!

Anger Management

Watching the events of the last few days, it is impossible for a sensible white person to not get angry. Blacks and now Antifa are running wild in the streets, looting and now killing people. Meanwhile, the cops stand around doing nothing, while the politicians stumble all over themselves trying to excuse what’s happening. Worse yet, they are now blaming white supremacists. It is, as the great man once said, enough to cause a normal man to hoist the black flag and start slitting throats.

The people responsible for this, of course, want you angry. Angry people lose focus and pin their anger on convenient targets. Angry people say and do things that make them easy to dismiss. No matter how much they think they are “owning the libs” right now, those angry BoomerCons on Facebook posting boogaloo rants are just playing a role laid out for them by the usual suspects. Their anger is confirmation to those leftists who define themselves in opposition to normal white people.

Instead, now is a good time to think about excluding from your life those anti-whites who you would like to punch in the face right now. Just as blacks need to be around whites, those anti-whites trying to explain why this nonsense is justified need to be around you and people like you. They need to see you unhappy in order to feel the closest thing to happy their dead souls can experience. If you really want to “own the libs” in your life right now, calmly and clearly disassociate yourself from them.

That’s hard for a lot of people to do. Generations of conditioning have designed the right-wing American to think their purpose in life is to squander their time trying to convince lefty of the errors in his ways. Just as every Mormon dreams of bringing a Jew or Muslim into the church as a convert, every conservative dreams of the day when that lefty in their life says, “You know what? You are right.” Even if that epiphany does not lead to conversion, to be right just once is the dream.

If that instinct is still with you, now is the time to put down the needle and begin the journey to political sobriety. The white people who instinctively side with the blacks against the whites, are not your people. They can never be your people, because they hate your people. Granted, what drives them is hatred of self, but it is not your job to heal them. These people are driven by the thought of your people living as hated minorities in their own lands. They cannot be saved.

That’s the thing the modern dissident must keep in the front of his mind. Every event, every crisis, every great disappointment, is a chance to bring one person on the journey this way. Wasting a second of your life trying to “own the libs” is time you could be using to help a fellow traveler on his journey over to this side of the great divide. They are just as angry as you, maybe more so, because they have not yet come to understand the reality of the great struggle that lies before us.

That may be the greatest challenge for the dissident in times like these. Those normal conservative types in your life are now feverishly trying to explain why this is not about race, despite the images and rhetoric in the media. Maybe they are focused on the how the cop should not have been so rough with the Gentle Giant. Maybe they are focusing on the white people the media so carefully shows in their coverage. Worse yet, they are now doing the “Democrats are the real racists” chant.

It’s frustrating, because they are like people who clearly see the problem, but somehow the cause of it is invisible to them, while it is brightly illuminated for you. The frustration is the same as when they tell you how Israel is our greatest ally, while at the same time condemning the neocons and the forever wars. The natural frustration you feel with these people is probably more enraging than what you feel with lefty. You know lefty is an idiot, but these people should know better.

Succumbing to that anger and calling them a stupid Boomer is just as self-defeating as yelling at that idiot liberal in your life. There’s no point in it. Instead, now is the time to shift the focus, break form and knock them off-balance. If you have read this far, those BoomerCons in your life already know where you are coming from on this and they are expecting a certain response. They may even be looking for some fellowship by letting a few racist comments slip in their discussion with you.

The thing you can’t forget is these people have spent their entire lives being trained to be the respectable conservative. It is instinct with them. If you let loose with an unvarnished explanation for what’s happening, that programming will be triggered and they will close down. Their sense of righteousness will lie between those terrible liberals they hate so much and you, the right-wing extremist they have been trained their whole life to avoid. Don’t make the mistake of playing that role.

Instead, now is a good time to use the most powerful weapon in the dissident arsenal when dealing with normie whites. That is the fact that whites will soon be a minority in this country and that their children and grandchildren will be minorities. This fact unnerves the normal white person in the same way that seeing signs for Martin Luther King Boulevard frightens the white driver. It touches them at the deepest part of who they are, the part the Left can never take away from them.

For example, now is a good time to send them an old VDare column like this one that talks about Pat Buchanan. “If we had only listened to Buchanan” and a link to something like this is the sort of thing that nudges that person onto the path that eventually leads to here. Alternatively, “Pat Buchanan was right, but everyone was worried he was a racist” is another subtle way to undermine the conditioning, by creating a contradiction in the mind of the target.

The goal of the dissident in these times is not to find fellowship in anger or offer fellowship in anger. The goal is to use scenes of blacks pulling down statues and setting fire to historic America, in order to undermine the prevailing morality. Find a way to make that normie friend in your life struggle with his anti-racism and the images he is seeing on his television. Make him think about his children and grandchildren living at the mercy of those mobs. Do him that favor.

It is a long struggle and not everyone can be saved. That angry normie in your life who has maybe let fly with a few colorful metaphors may not be ready to hear the Good News about white people just yet. Until you are sure, keep calm and keep nudging him along the path. Being angry at avatars on the television and internet does nothing to change what’s happening. As the old saying goes, think racially, act sensibly. That means being the calm voice converting one soul at a time.

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 Race Drama

One of the features of modern liberal democracy is that everyone is trapped in a constant present, unaware of both the past and future. The current black riots, for example, are being described as unprecedented, when in fact they are a regular feature of American life. Birds fly, fish swim and blacks riot. Amusingly, the man allegedly responsible for these riots, President Trump, you know, because of the low black unemployment, is in office because of the last round of black riots.

In fact, black rioting is one of the regular features of the ongoing morality play that is modern liberal democracy. The usual suspects, looking for a reason to get white people to the theater, start scanning about for some case where a black was harmed by an unsympathetic white. They create a narrative around the incident, have the stories placed in the media and then encourage the black “activist groups” to start making an issue of it. From there, the story writes itself.

The regularization of this is clear when you look up from this incident and recall that just a few weeks ago we had Jogger. This was an off-Broadway effort to angry-up the blacks, but it failed to catch on. Blacks were sort of ready to play their role, but only the dumbest white people fell for it. Those would be the type who declare their pronouns on social media. Normal white people saw through the plot like a bad movie and failed to show up at the theater. Jogger never made it to Broadway.

As an aside, you’ll note something about the Jogger that goes unremarked. American blacks are not all that sympathetic to imported blacks. When some guy with a weird African name gets jammed up, regular blacks just shrug. The reason is their identity starts with them being near whites against their will. Despite their relentless demands for access to white people, black identity starts with the belief that they are around whites by force. African man violates that narrative.

The general framework of this particular morality tale follows the approved script of all morality tales in modern America. First, the usual suspects, or their puppets, announce there is a great danger to the community. Alternatively, there is some group being harmed and the community must rally to their defense. Sometimes the two are combined in a Godzilla attacks Tokyo scenario. The people are then supposed to flood the theater to be properly scared or angered.

You see this with these Cop-Black tales. The black is always cast as an innocent victim in the trailer for the show. They find pictures from his high school yearbook to hand out in the press kits when promoting the story. We saw that with Trayvon Martin. The media used pics of him as a child, rather than as a hulking teenager. Jogger was shown in his cap and gown seven years prior. The cop, in contrast, is never really filled out as a character, because he is a catspaw for the real villain.

The paradox of these cops versus blacks riot-dramas is that we live in a country that worships cops. There are dozens of TV shows and movies on all the time celebrating the cop as the guy guarding the wall between civilization and barbarity. Usually, the hero cop is required to break the rules to exact justice. On the one hand, white people are supposed to see cops as rule breaking moral agents, while blacks are required to see cops as immoral agents of a system of oppression.

The second act of the morality tale always brings the so-called conservatives onto the stage to play their part. Normally, they are required to dismiss the danger or the victim, in order to appear unfeeling or callous. In this case, the role is changed up. They are first required to worship a special character created just for these shows. This is the Magic Negro, who is black, but a conservative! He is brought on to confirm the wishy-washy civic nationalism stuff popular with old people.

After the required doses the negrophilia, the conservatives in the crowd are ready for the usual performance. The conservative character can either be shocked at the hypocrisy of the Left or outraged by the civil unrest. In both cases, the underlying assumptions are the same. Racism is the worst sin, but a sin, ironically, that can only be committed by white people. As such, the whole point of the citizen’s life must be to eradicate this sin from their heart and from their community.

Like the Dionysia in ancient Athens, these morality plays are intended to reinforce the larger moral framework of society. If you step back from the particulars and look at these race dramas, they are not all that different from a fire breathing minister telling his flock that they are all sinners and must redouble their efforts. Instead of pleasing God, it is the god of democracy. These dramas are a lecture to whites that they will only be saved when all people are welcomed into their community.

Of course, that is one of the many paradoxes of modernity. In order for the morality plays to work there has to be real victims and real villains. This is why everyone is a racist Nazi now. The supply of genuine racists and Nazis has evaporated. The only actual racists in America are not white, which will not do, so the play makers expand the definition for racist to fit their needs. It also means they deliberately create villains by manufacturing them when the supply is low.

In theory, the way out of this endless drama is to simply ignore it. Get enough white people to stop showing up or even acknowledging these dramas and the theater runs out of audience members. In reality, this can never happen, at least not to the extent it changes public morality. The people running the theater will just force people inside, as we see with the schools, corporate diversity training and the like. In a libel democracy, society itself becomes the theater and life is the morality play.

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!

Morality Politics

The simplest definition of politics, regardless of the political system, is that it is formalized collective action. An individual or group of individuals gets a group of people to act as a group on some issue. It may be to lobby the king for some policy, undermine the dictator in some way or vote for a particular issue. Further, the kernel of all political action is dissatisfaction. The people doing the organizing are unhappy with something so they find the like-minded and appeal to their unhappiness.

As a practical matter, politics is about persuasion. The reformer, for example, first persuades people that something is broke. Like a good salesman who creates need in the mind of the prospective customer, the reformer creates a sense of unhappiness with the status quo in his target audience. The reformer is, in effect, a chronic complainer, always talking about his unhappiness with the status quo. His goal is always to first persuade people that something is broken and needs fixing.

No all persuasion is the same. if you listen to this interview with Ryan Faulk, he frames politics as narrative driven and data driven. The guys in whatever the now defunct alt-right are calling themselves these days are narrative driven. They create stories to explain the important facts of some issue. The other side stacks up the facts and lets them do the talking. If the other side is wrong about the facts, it is assumed they must be wrong about the general arguments built on those facts.

The politics of multiculturalism, if you examine the claims, is narrative driven, always around a story of group conflict. Blacks, for example, are in their present condition because of the long oppression by whites. Feminism is the story of female liberation from the patriarchy. It’s why the Left falls for rape hoaxes and noose hoaxes so easily, despite the history of these hoaxes. The hoax fits the narrative that for them, explains everything about the world and their role in it.

On the other hand, the politics of conventional conservatism is about facts and ideas, specifically the rejection of the narrative idea. The Right in America, the conventional Right, that is, remains under the spell of Richard M. Weaver. As Joe Sobran put it, they have always been convinced that “their own beliefs would creep up on the ideas of the Left, slit their throats in the dark, and stage an intellectual and cultural coup d’état, after which truth would reign.” Being right is all that matters.

You see some of this in the anti-Semite community. The Holocaust revisionists are sure that if they just reveal the facts about what happened to Jews under the Nazis, the narrative of the Holocaust will collapse. Once that narrative collapses, that which it supports will collapse with it. Their great enemy, the men with little hats, will then be routed and driven from the halls of power. This is why they obsess over it. They believe the facts will conquer their enemy’s narrative.

Ironically, this fact versus narrative dichotomy is most popular and most well-known because of Jewish conservatives like Ben Shapiro. He is famous for saying “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” He invests a lot of time discouraging whites from embracing their own narratives to counter those on the Left. Instead, they are supposed to embrace facts, as facts are the magic that will destroy the narrative. Well, not all narratives, of course, but that’s another issue.

The thing is though, this fact versus narrative construct is a left-wing creation, at least it serves left-wing ends. Narrative is the predicate for morality. The reason the Bible is full of stories is moral claims naturally rise from stories. A good narrative not only encompasses the known facts, it orders them. These are the important facts of the story, while these are not essential, there for color and context. It is this ordering that reinforces and existing morality or creates a new one.

Raw facts are not the basis of morality. As David Hume famously explained, you cannot get an ought from an is. Indiscriminate killing of human beings is not wrong because it violates the laws of the natural world. It is wrong because we say it is wrong or we claim our gods say it is wrong. Those stories about how the gods punished those who kill without reason are the basis of a moral code that changes homicide into murder and prescribes punishments for those who commit murder.

Of course, this is why the fact side of the dichotomy favors the Left. When Shapiro demands you focus on facts, it is so you do not focus on the moral framework. Similarly, the Holocaust revisionist obsesses over granular details of the story, because it is easier than mounting a moral argument against the prevailing orthodoxy. While it is most certainly intentional in the former case, in the latter case it is simply an outgrowth of how right-wing politics were created in the middle of the last century.

This is also why white identity politics frightens the people in charge. The right side of the game sees it as a mortal threat to their existence as a loyal opposition. The left side sees it as an alternative to the prevailing orthodoxy. White identity politics offers an alternative set of narratives and as a result, an alternative morality. The Left hammers away at “facts” about race in an effort to steer identitarians away from moral considerations and back into the old dichotomy.

These narratives do not rise from nothing. There must be some basis in reality, but mostly they need people willing to fit reality into the general narrative. In the case of white identity politics, it means fitting events into the general themes of peaceful separation, natural group affinity and so forth. It also means drawing moral conclusions from events. The current riots, for example, are an example of the immorality of forcing dissimilar people to live together. Morality transcends fact and narrative.

An excellent example of this, oddly enough, comes from the Left. The gun grabbers have been repeating the same demands for generations now. No matter how many times the facts are presented, they remain steadfast. The reason is they truly believe gun grabber is a moral imperative. Now amount of facts and reason will persuade them to abandon their moral code. Not even an alternative narrative to explain events is tolerated, as it slams into their morality.

This is why the fact versus narrative dichotomy is false. Both are codependent in support of the prevailing moral orthodoxy. The narrative side is constricted by the prevailing moral code to support certain narratives. It is why, for example, they can so easily abandon one narrative and adopt its opposite. Free speech, for example. It is also why the fact side is limited to a list of acceptable facts. Raise the wrong facts and you are banned to the outer darkness.

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 Paradox Of Democracy

The great paradox of democracy is that the system is supposed to break the chains that bind the citizen to the state, but instead it immerses the citizen in the state. If you go back 200 years in any country in the West, you would find that the people had very few dealings with the national government. They had dealings with local government, but even that was minimal. Politics, even in Britain and America where popular government was established, played a minor role in the lives of citizens.

Today, in supposedly free countries, no one can be free of politics. Everywhere you go, politics plays a part in your life. Political correctness governs the workplace and the academy. If you fall behind in the latest trends in pronouns, you could end up in a struggle session with the human resource people. Entertainment is saturated with multiculturalism and the lectures that come with it. It is nearly impossible to live in a modern western democracy without politics.

One reason for this is the natural logic of democracy. The proper way to run society, according to democracy, is for the people to express their will through a plebiscite or an elected body like a parliament. The good citizen takes an interest in his society and makes his opinion known though his vote or through participation in public and private debates about the issues. The system is intended to encourage the people to get involved and participate in the political process.

Therefore, someone who does not wish to participate in the democratic process is, in effect, opposed to democracy. If being a good citizen means keeping up with politics and participating in the process, not doing those things means you are something less than a good citizen, maybe even a bad citizen. This logic not only works on the laggards, but it encourages everyone to be a scold. The person trying to avoid politics will be a target by the champions of democracy.

Of course, one goal of democracy is to get people to cooperate with one another in order to set public policy and shape society. Rather than one guy dictating the rules or a group of powerful people making law, the people come together and find some compromise that suits the most amount of people. A point of democracy is to allow the losers to accept defeat, as they get something in the compromise and they have a chance to win the next time. Democracy is about compromise.

Compromise has an important meaning in democracy. It is not a grudging compromise or simply a truce to the fight. The point of the compromise is to reach a consensus on the issue at hand. This general agreement comes about by the parties working together to find a solution to which they can all agree. Compromise in a democracy is not a hostile agreement, like that between warring parties, but a friendly agreement struck between partners. Compromise is cooperation in a democracy.

This naturally leads to the conclusion that those who are not participating in politics are possibly excluded in some way. Simply eliminating the explicit rules against participation like limits on the franchise are just a start. Until everyone participates fully, it is assumed something is excluding them. This is the source of things like “voter suppression efforts” and “exclusionary practices” in the workplace. If anyone is not fully engaged and represented, then something is preventing them.

This is the root of speech and behavior laws. Speech that mocks or minimizes some group makes them feel unwelcome. This could lead they to avoid participation or encourage others to block their way. Similarly, rules or customs that exclude people must only exist to exclude and are therefore anti-democratic. It’s why any humor based on observing human behavior is forbidden. It is why noticing difference in people is now the worse crime. To differentiate is to exclude.

Inevitably, it means the system does not just pick the low hanging fruit of exclusion like laws that discriminate or banning exclusionary speech. Unless and until everyone is participating and getting along with everyone else, the cause of discord and exclusion must be sought out by the system itself. What we see today is democracy has become an endless struggle session for society. We collectively hunt for anything that offends or discourages cooperation among citizens.

This leads to another strange paradox. Once the hunt for the cause of less than perfect social cohesion starts, it must invade every aspect of life. The speech laws lead to theories about the thoughts behind the forbidden speech. Private association must expose itself to endless examination in order to make sure it is not excluding anyone or creating tensions between groups. In short order, as we see in America since the Cold War, the citizen exists only as a thoroughly political animal.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the spirit of democracy is why social media companies hunt down dissenters. These people posting mean things on-line cannot be ignored, because there very existence, according to the logic of democracy, is to crate conflict and undermine cooperation. In a way, the platform becomes a metaphor for society as a whole. The army of volunteer speech monitors are fully actualizing their freedom in the democratic system by driving out the anti-democratic elements.

This immersion of citizens in a political environment eliminates the private institutions and associations that were supposed to be the bedrock of democracy. If private association is exclusionary, then private institutions are as well. Since anything that obstructs perfect cooperation is anti-democratic, democracy means the elimination of the very institutions that are supposed to make it possible. Democracy now looks a lot like Soviet communism, where the party was everything.

Another paradox is that democracy is supposed to rely on the independent citizen being able to assess his own interests. By eliminating private associations and institutions, the citizen naturally becomes dependent on the state. If you cannot belong to a club or an organic group, your only option for social support is family, but that too is under endless assault by democracy. Feminism, after all, is the elimination of womanhood as an independent role. As feminism grows, family formation falls.

With communism, the goal upfront is a society without social conflict. The communist seeks to flatten the natural hierarchy of society. By destroying class and the distinctions among citizens, all citizens are equal. Equality of existence means an equality of purpose, so everyone naturally cooperates. The ideology itself is shot through with the understanding that the communist is a purely political animal, as he is defined by the fact that he is a communist man in a communist society.

In democracy, the declaration is the opposite. Democracy is supposed to make men free to enjoy their lives as they see fit, exercise their liberty and pursue the ends that bring them happiness. In theory, citizens are free to participate in the system or they can choose to opt out of the system. In reality, it is impossible to exist in a democratic system without also being a citizen. To be a citizen, you have to fully participate in the process and that means fully cooperate will all fellow citizens.

That’s the great paradox of democracy. A system advertised to offer maximum liberty turns out to be a system that offers no freedom. The logic of democracy requires all members to cooperate with one another. That inevitably requires constraints on speech, behavior and association. Every word and deed must foster cooperation or it is anti-democratic and therefore forbidden. The full range of action by citizens is constrained to the point where the democratic man is a prisoner.

Note: I’m still working on the comment system issue. It should be resolved shortly.

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!

Born To Lose

On this side of the great divide, it is popular to bang on about how Buckley-style conservatism is dead. Alternatively, people like to go on about how conservatives have systematically betrayed their supporters. It is also common to explain both trends in purely personal terms. For example, conservatism died because it became a business, perhaps even a racket, rather than a political movement. The sellouts are doing what they do because it gets them media and think tank jobs.

Reducing politics to personal squabbles and motivations is a way to justify supporting or opposing something, without thinking too much about it. This is the preference of the simple minded, who struggle to understand events in the larger context of general trends or the ideas driving those trends. In reality, it is ideas, events and people that come together to shape our present reality. More often than not, the things we see today largely came about by accident or chance played a big role.

You see this with Buckley-style conservatism. It was never an ideology or even an independent agenda. It existed, as Buckley himself often said, to “stand athwart history yelling STOP!” The whole point of the Buckley project was to slow the roll of the Left in mid-century America. That became such an intense point of focus it made impossible any consideration of what to do if they succeeded. The whole point of the exercise was to slow down the Left without ever expecting to win.

Put another way, it was like a dog that chases cars. It was never expected to catch the car and if it did catch the car, it had no plan for what to do when that great achievement was attained. As a result, conservatives have never been able to plan for victory or take advantage of their successes. In fact, the very framework for thinking about winning has been eliminated from the thought process of the Right. Whenever they manage to trip up the Left, the hunt is on for some new car to chase.

This article in the American Conservative is a great example. The short version is that the author thinks Trump missed a golden opportunity to advance his agenda and fundamentally change politics during this virus crisis. He could have used the event itself and the fallout to become this century’s FDR. One notable aspect of the post is that it is posted months after the crisis began. Maybe if conservatives had thought about catching that car a little bit, this would not be an issue.

One of things that drives conspiracy theories about 9/11 is the neocons and the war machine were the primary beneficiaries of the event. The Left, which is always ready for a crisis, got very little from it initially. They have since taken over the surveillance state, but they initially opposed its creation. The simple minded assume that 9/11 must have been a neocon conspiracy, as how else could they have been ready to make such good use of it? The answer is, they planned to catch that car one day.

Another reason for the failure of Buckley-style conservatism is the mistaken belief that virtue is a useful weapon against the ideologue. In reality, ideologues think the adherence to principle is akin to falling for superstition. Ideologues on the Left are at their core anti-tradition. Therefore, they see the defenders of tradition as madmen, obstacles to be cleared from the path. Those lunatics from the Buckley cult standing on the train track need to be mowed down, not respected.

This post in National Review is a good example of the problem. The Buckley crowd is arfing like seals at Bill Barr’s assertion that there will be no criminal investigation of Obama and Biden over the FBI scandal. It is hard to know if Barr is unilaterally ruling it out as a possibility or he is simply stating that at the moment there is no reason to think such a thing will happen. Either way, Buckley-style conservatives are soiling themselves in ecstasy over this development. Here’s the money quote.

Having watched the hardball that investigators played against Trump associates, Trump partisans want comeuppance. It is natural, especially for the non-lawyers among them, to maintain that there is no satisfactory form of accountability other than criminal prosecution. Nevertheless, we must bear in mind, no matter how difficult doing so may be, that we react so negatively to the use of investigative processes as a political weapon because it is wrong.

On the one hand, it is tempting to explain this as the lunacy of someone unable to come to terms with the fact that they are defending rules that no longer exist. The writer still thinks he lives in a world bound by mutually agreed upon rules. He’s like a boxer thinking the crooked referee is on the level. The other fighter has a bat and a length of chain as weapons, but the clean fighter is convinced this cheating will be stopped by the referee at some point, so he sticks to the rules.

On the other hand, a core feature of Buckley-style conservatism is it was never designed to go on offense. It has no mechanism to advance forward, because it was designed as a fixed installation. it would be like the castle walls moving outward when the besieging army falls into disarray. Such an idea cannot exist even in fantasy, as it is beyond all possibility. Instead, to continue the analogy, the Buckley-style conservative dreams of repointing the mortar after the battle.

This reticence to go on offence has become such an integral part of conservatism that the use of it has become a weapon of the Left. This post is pretty typical of what happens whenever the Left wrecks themselves with scandal or overreach. They are quick to warn the Right that they better not think about taking advantage of this situation or there will be hell to pay. Put another way, the Left has evolved to use the fundamentals of Buckley-style conservatism to their advantage.

There’s no doubt that many of the people living well in Conservative Inc. understand their role is to be the eternal loser. Maybe they started out as a real culture warrior, but sold out for a good life in the Imperial Capital. Make no mistake, it is a great life that surpasses everywhere else on earth. Rich Lowry makes close to half a million a year running National Review. He knows he could not make that doing anything else, so he is not rustling any jimmies in his role.

The thing is though, such men dominate conservatism because conservatism was by design intended to be a foil for radicalism. It was never intended to defeat it or even stop it, but as Buckley said, merely slow it down a bit. Inevitably such a worldview must boil off fighters and replace them with the accommodating. Buckley-style conservatism did not lose every fight because conservatives are losers. It lost because it was born to lose and therefore it attracted losers.


The Flynn Puzzle

Imagine you are out and about and you come upon something that is so incongruous, you can’t help but take note of it. Maybe it is a car parked on the roof of an old barn or a cat chasing a horse around a field. The thing itself is not all that interesting, but its improbability or its incongruousness is what gets your attention. How is it possible that a horse is afraid of a cat? Why would someone put a car on a barn? The strangeness of the possible reasons is what draws your attention.

That’s what is happening with the General Flynn case. Originally, it looked like the same old political shenanigans we always see in Washington. The establishment wants a scalp to parade around so they find a patsy to frame for a minor crime. In the case of Flynn, the inner party needed some red meat for their crazies. Over time, it became clear that the FBI had framed him and the careerists in the system were working to prevent that reality from becoming explicit to the public.

At some point, it was too obvious to everyone to maintain the charade, so the information that was being hidden for three years was made public and the DOJ moved to dismiss the case. The people who conspired to frame Flynn were not being charged and the people who systematically concealed information from the courts for three years were not fired. Instead the whole thing would be made to go away. At some point, Flynn would be paid for his trouble and his silence.

Then, the judge went crazy and started doing things to keep the case open for no obvious reason. He invited outside parties to file briefs with the court and then assigned a retired judge to act as prosecutor, going so far as to give him leeway to bring new charges. At the same time, someone rounded up a bunch of former justice officials to lobby the court against dismissing the case. The defense has now filed an appeal asking the court to force the judge to follow the law.

The whole thing is so bizarre, some are wondering if the judge presiding over the case has possibly had some sort of mental break. He’s had a reputation for being a stickler for procedure and for being tough on prosecutors. He was the judge who handled the Ted Stevens case, where the FBI and DOJ conspired to frame then Senator Ted Stevens on corruption charges. Many expected him to react in a similar way once it was clear that General Flynn had been framed by the FBI and DOJ.

Instead, Sullivan has gone bonkers in what appears to be an effort to drag this out for months or maybe even years. Since the Supreme Court has been unanimously clear on this issue, the odds of this going on much longer are slim. Sullivan has to know that a few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 9-0 decision, authored by Justice Ginsburg, that took judges to task for similar actions. In fact, that case is eerily similar to what Sullivan in doing in the Flynn case.

We are in Sherlock Holmes territory now. That is, once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. In this case, what we are seeing cannot be explained by an ongoing conspiracy to frame Flynn. That horse left the barn a long time ago. Similarly, we can eliminate a cover-up. The DOJ has released the documents exposing what happened. Other disclosures make clear that Flynn was a target of the Obama administration for years.

One possible reason for the actions of the judge is that he has been blackmailed or extorted by people involved in this caper. If that were the case, they would have forced him to shut this thing down a long time ago. Flynn was forced to sign a confession years ago, so the judge could have sentenced him and called it a day. Appealing a confession, even a coerced one, takes years. Flynn would have done his time and been free by the time the case made it through the courts.

Another possibility is the judge knows something that he cannot reveal, but that maybe this new outside prosecutor could reveal. That would make for a great plot to a movie or TV drama, but the legal system does not work that way. If he had some secret intelligence, he could easily have it passed to Flynn’s defense team. He could order the people with the information to appear in his court and answer questions. There is no reason for the judge to play cloak and dagger this way.

Now, there may be some political benefit to dragging out the Flynn case. It is possible the Democrats think they need to maintain this charade in order to maintain the larger charade of impeachment. In an effort to gain access to secret grand jury testimony, they have told the court they are preparing another round of impeachment. The trouble with this scenario is they would be better served with the Flynn case being dismissed, so they could then wave it around as part of some conspiracy.

There is the possibility that the Flynn case is tied to something that has yet to be revealed to the public. Maybe as long as Flynn remains in legal jeopardy, he is prohibited from talking about certain issues. After all, the FBI did threaten his family at one point. There’s no escaping the fact that Obama himself had a personal interest in the Flynn case.  There were high level meetings in the Oval Office about what should be a trivial issue. Why does Team Obama hate Flynn so much?

That seems to be the turtle on the fence post here. Flynn is not some big shot political operator with a lot of enemies. He’s one of the thousands of careerists who will work with both parties. It was President Obama who made Flynn director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, thus beginning his civilian career. He probably would have joined the next administration, if asked, regardless of the party. General Flynn was on his way to becoming part of the semi-permanent ruling class.

Something happened in 2014 that turned the Obama people against him. His term as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency was ended. A systematic leaking campaign to the media about Flynn started around the same time. When he joined the Trump campaign, it appears the Obama administration began a surveillance operation against him, using not only the FBI, but the NSA, CIA and even Treasury. People at the very top of the Obama administration had some reason to hate General Flynn.

The puzzle is what could it be? It is entirely possible that this whole sordid affair is like the Watergate scandal. That is, people far down the food chain from the White House abused their power in some petty political shenanigans. Then they cooked up tales of Flynn working with the Russians as a cover story. By the time this was obvious, lots of administration people were implicated in a cover-up. Like Watergate, a minor scandal grew into a monster that consumed the administration.

Alternatively, maybe the full reading the Flynn case, once all the shouting and disclosures are done, will reveal a wide-scale, systematic use of government institution for political operations. People forget about Lois Lerner using the IRS to harass conservative groups in the 2012 election cycle. There’s now a whistle blower claiming Treasury was spying on Team Trump and others. Perhaps if any of these cases is fully revealed, it threatens to reveal a much bigger picture.

All of this is fun speculation and none of it could be true. The problem is none of the explanations offered up so far to explain the Flynn case make any sense. Throw in the bizarre behavior of the judge and it suggests there is something behind all of this that is much bigger than General Flynn. The extraordinary efforts being made to run out the clock on all of this suggest it is vitally important to permanent Washington. Solving this puzzle may be the only reason to vote for Trump this fall.

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!

Strategy, Tactics & Discipline

One of the longest running debates on this side of the great divide is about how best to work through the thicket of taboos created and maintained by the ruling class. Because so much of observable reality is now off limits, it is nearly impossible to contradict the prevailing orthodoxy and maintain a position in the public square. For example, there can be nothing interesting said about crime, because no one is allowed to discuss the demographic reality of crime. The facts themselves are taboo.

One side of the debate argues that the only way to break a taboo is to break a taboo, so the only way forward to is to talk frankly about these things. In the case of crime, for example, the dissident must always interject the demographic facts about crime into the debate, even if it makes the beautiful people shriek. Since most people know the facts, the shrieking by the beautiful people actually advances the cause. This line of reasoning is extended to all taboo subjects universally.

The other side of the debate points out that the taboo breakers always end up in exile or condemned to some ghetto. In fact, their deliberate breaking of taboos ends up reinforcing the taboo, as no one wants to end up like the heretics. Instead, this camp argues the dissident must come up with clever language that subtly mocks the taboos, but narrowly adheres to the rules. The recent use of the word “jogger’ is an example of complying with the taboo, while undermining it.

The taboo breakers counter that this just results in an endless search for approved language to hint at unapproved things. It is just a form of self-deception, where the clever think they are in revolt when in reality they are just asking permission. The optics guys counter this by pointing out the obvious. The taboo breakers are removed from the process, so in reality their tactic is just quitting the game. Rather than take on the system in a meaningful way, they mutter epithets in their ghetto.

The heart of this debate is the paradox of the marketplace. Contrary to popular mythology, markets eventually end up with a limited number of choices, unless some external agent, like the government, intervenes to maintain a balance of options on both the supply side and the demand side. In the case of the marketplace of ideas, it means the range of acceptable opinion eventually collapses into a narrow range. Inevitably, what the market decides is who will control the market.

Anyone alive in the early years of the personal computer will recall that a walk through the computer section of a department store meant a dizzying array of options. There were dozens of computer makers. It was not just different labels for the same hardware and hardware standards either. The technology was different from one maker to the other, with different operating systems and peripherals. Many companies were searching for the right solution for the home computer.

Eventually, the marketplace “decided” that Microsoft and Intel would control the market place for personal computers. They colluded with one another to drive most everyone out the business. The government did not step in to prevent their collusion, preferring to let the market work its magic. Today, all personal computers are the same. Sure, you can be a weirdo running Linux or Apple, but that is a tiny fraction of the marketplace that is tolerated because they are no threat to the dominant players.

Political opinion in western liberal democracies works the same way. Over time, a few parties have come to dominate, becoming the mainstream. They are not identical with one another and they do have real fights for power. They have simply agreed to a set of rules that will regulate their fights for power. Put another way, they have come to define the marketplace of politics in such a way that ensures they will be the dominant players in that marketplace. Democracy put them in charge – forever.

Now, this is usually when a certain type of critic jumps in and claims this group or that group secretly controls things behind the scenes. Personalizing a process is like anthropomorphizing your pets. It is satisfying because it takes something complex and makes it simple. In the case of pets, the owner gets the satisfaction of thinking his dog loves him for how he treats the dog. In the case of politics, personalizing the process avoids thinking about the systemic issues, which can be complex.

A good example of how the marketplace of ideas operates in a liberal democracy is in this story from Germany. The AfD has been forced to purge one of the leaders of the radical wing, because of his associations with a taboo group. Technically, he is being forced out over not being honest in his statements about those past associations, but in reality, it is about acceptability. The moderate wing wants to engage in respectable politics and that means following the rules.

This is exactly the problem conservatives in America faced in the 20th century when they sought to participate in politics. In order to participate in the marketplace of ideas, they had to follow the rules and remain respectable. In the case of the Buckley crowd, respectable meant agreeing to the prevailing moral orthodoxy. They had to embrace the open society, egalitarianism and the blank slate. Any of their members who refused had to be tossed out in order to maintain respectability.

The taboo breakers look at the optics guys and say, “See, when you agree to the rules you eventually come to defend them against the rest of us.” That AfD story is a pretty good example. In time, the system will eliminate one member after another from AfD until the party is indistinguishable from the main parties. At some point, the party will become respectable. The paradox of democracy will result in the “alternative” for Germany being indistinguishable from the status quo.

The optics side will note that the reason the radicals get purged is they almost always lack the necessary discipline to participate in much of anything. They say and do things impulsively and fight stupid pointless battles. In the case of the AfD guy, if he was as smart as he imagines himself to be, he would understand how this works and be prepared for it, but instead he refused to comport with reality. This is the story of taboo breakers everywhere. They always lose site of the goal.

In reality, there is no voting your way out of the inherent defects of liberal democracy, so the taboo breakers are right to reject conventional politics. On the other hand, politics is always about persuasion. You can only persuade people by addressing them where they are, not where you hope them to be. That means maintaining enough respectability to be able to address them in the public square, even if it is in the shadows. In fact, the edge of the public square can be an attraction, as people like intrigue.

The key to any alternative politics in liberal democracy is that it must be both a critique of the system and operate on the moral high ground. This requires the discipline to sublimate tactics to strategy. It also means policing the ranks to weed out those who simply refuse to place the strategy before their own personal desires. Strategically breaking taboos, in anticipation of the response, can be good outsider politics. Similarly, maintaining enough respectability to remain viable is essential.

In the end, alternative politics in a liberal democracy comes down to attracting high quality people, disaffected by the short comings of the system. If there is a genuine alternative, then there is a genuine choice. This has always been the defect of outsider politics in western liberal democracies. The alternatives are unreasonable and therefore attract the marginal and the unstable. A real alternative will maintain discipline and sublimate tactics to the strategy of being an authentic alternative.

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!

Petty Tyranny

One of the stranger things about the current age is that very few people talk about the Cold War or the events that drove it. For people living from the 1950’s through the 1980’s, it was the central topic of politics. When the Soviet Empire collapsed, it was if everyone decided to forget about the whole thing. If it is mentioned at all it is usually a conservative trying to remind people that socialism does not produce high quality consumer goods or not enough choices in the cereal aisle.

The great ideological battle between socialism and liberalism has been reduced to a battle between market economics versus command economics. The winner was the one that made better home electronics. Yet, right up to the end of the Cold War, the battle was not about economics. Sure, the lack of blue jeans and rock music was a popular way to mock the Soviet system, but even there it was not about the products, but the reason why they existed in the West and not the East.

The West opposed communism not because of GDP numbers or cheap consumer goods, but because communism was not just immoral, but evil. Controlling the granular details of people’s lives was monstrous. Communist countries did not allow their people to voice their opinions or choose how they lived. They could not even choose where they lived, as the government assigned apartments. The image of the “iron curtain” was to compare the Soviet system to a penal colony.

On the other side, the Soviets were fond of pointing out how blacks in America were treated poorly. There was also the urban squalor and poverty. Some Americans might enjoy blue jeans and rock music, but millions lived in squalor. Of course, the existence of super rich living in mansions was immoral on its face, given that so many people were living in poverty. The communist could privately concede that their system was not making equal consumer goods, but it was still morally superior.

It’s strange how the great ideological struggle of the last century is largely forgotten or reduced to a contest over breakfast cereal selections at the market, while the short fight between liberalism and fascism is cast entirely in moral terms. The West won the fight with fascism on material grounds. America could make more planes, guns and tanks than the fascists. There was the normal wartime propaganda about the evilness of the fascist, but it was never an ideological struggle.

The battle with communism, on the other hand, was always a about the basic moral difference between the two systems. There was never any doubt that the communist could match the west militarily. In fact, a frequent theme of American politics in the Cold War was how we had to rededicate ourselves to liberty in order to keep pace with the Soviets in missiles, the space race and technology. Again, the material aspect was just a part of the much larger moral argument against communism.

Higher morality has largely disappeared from modern political discourse. There is the superficial and often nonsensical moralizing about individual dignity and inclusiveness, but that is just crude factionalism. The relationship between the citizen and the state or the relations between different groups of citizens no longer a topic. In the Cold War, this was a central topic, as it highlighted the difference between the systems. Even hack politicians could wax poetic about liberty or freedom.

Notice how the debate about the virus has been reduced to economics. One camp is minimizing the health risk because they want the economy open. The other side is wildly exaggerating the health risk to keep the economy closed, not because they care about public health, but because they hate modern economics. Amusingly, they don’t even understand what it is they hate about global capitalism. It’s often just a crude jealousy of those who enjoy the fruits of modernity.

If anyone cared to notice, this pandemic has proven that there is no hint of republicanism left in modern America. There are no protests against the impositions on our liberty, just protests about restaurants being closed. No politician is giving speeches against the tyranny of these restrictions. Instead it is either about the most primitive sense of safety or about the right to consume product. To speak of personal liberty is as anachronistic as speaking in favor of free silver.

The great conservative polemicist Joe Sobran pointed out decades ago that the colonists revolted against a king, who was a very mild tyrant compared to the American government at the time. The founders would have been horrified to see what their creation became in the 20th century. Something similar can be said about the men who set out to oppose communism. If they could see what has become of the West, they would probably rethink their opposition to communism.

In the decades since the end of the Cold War, the West has lost any sense of a higher morality. There was a time when religion would fill that role. It provided a transcendent purpose to life. In other times, the secular rulers would provide the purpose. Maybe it was modernization or public works projects. In the case of the 20th century, the fight against communism was the higher purpose. Today that is all gone and we’re left to squabble over the crudest of desires like safety and food.

Perhaps the reason for all of this is that liberal democracy was never a rational and complete political philosophy. Rather, like libertarian, it was always an ad hoc reaction to and critique of socialism. It first replaced republicanism in the economic crisis of the early 20th century, then it blossomed in the fight against fascism. Finally, it evolved into a containment vessel in the Cold War. Once that purpose was lost, what was a left was a massive economic and cultural machine with no reason to exist.

As a result, liberal democracy is devolving into petty authoritarianism. The people, stripped of their republican virtue, no longer have the means to resist. The ruling class, armed with a monopoly of force and need to legitimize themselves, is taking on the habits of the deranged tyrant. They push people around not because they want to, but because they need to in order to feel their own existence. What defines them is pushing people around, so they seek out reasons to push people around.

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!