The Book Of Spite

When I read Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism, I was a bit surprised that it was popular. I think the main reason for people liking it was the claim that the liberals were the real fascists. The book itself was a bit of a slog and as David Gordon noted, it was riddled with factual errors. I’m not an expert on historical fascism, so I did not take the fast and loose treatment of the facts personally, but the people who were knowledgeable on the subject treated the book as an insult. Paul Gottfried has never forgiven Goldberg.

When I saw that Jonah Goldberg’s next book was titled “Suicide of the West” I was reminded of that reaction by the old paleocons. The title is, of course, a deliberate reference to James Burnham’s classic text. Then there is Patrick Buchanan’s classic book, Suicide of a Superpower. Of course, it is also hints at Oswald Spengler’s classic The Decline of the West. For a neocon lightweight to pick such a title and topic, well, it suggests it is another deliberate swipe, by Goldberg, at an ideological enemy.

To make matters worse, the entire tribe of neocon grifters have tumbled out of their clown car to promote the book. David Brooks calls it “Epic and debate-shifting.” Yuval Levin says, “More than any book published so far in this century, it deserves to be called a conservative classic.” The Weekly Standard treats it like a newly discovered part of the Torah. I get how the commentary rackets work, but this degree of rumpswabbery is unseemly. This is why the old  paleocons were angry at Goldberg the last time.

That said, I decided to give the book a read and write a review, fully expecting to use it as a segue into some points about Burnham, Buchanan and the state of the Right. The rest of the book’s title sums up the entire neocon argument since Trump came down the escalator.The rather mild push-back against cosmopolitan globalism we have seen the last two years has been treated like the end of the world. My assumption going in was that it was going to be the long play version of every Weekly Standard editorial since 2016.

I was wrong. This book is terrible in ways that I did not expect. The terribleness starts in the introduction, which is written in the jocular style you would expect from a short blog post about a television show or a movie. In fact, he relies on quotes from movies to make his points. When you pick up a book with the pretentious title “Suicide of the West” it better read like a serious book. I was reminded of the German word fremdschämen, which loosely means the shame you feel when seeing someone humiliated or embarrassed.

Added to that is a superficiality that you see when someone is uncomfortable with the material. The introduction is a rambling and shallow discussion of religion and human nature, which somehow veers into a discussion of the movie The Godfather. When he gets into his discussion of human nature, it’s obvious that he is way out of his depth and he knows it. Frankly, it reads like something submitted by a freshman coed. If he had dotted his i’s with little hearts, it would have been more authentic.

The book is really three books. The first part is just rambling nonsense about human nature that would embarrass anyone on our side of the great divide. The second part is a grammar school social studies book. The third part feels like it was written by a committee of people not on speaking terms with one another. Big chunks of it undermine his claim that the revolt against cosmopolitan globalism is the end of the world. Even accounting for my own deep skepticism about his motives, it is a surprisingly weak argument.

Goldberg is a good example of the defects of the American commentariat. There is an army of mediocrities, hired to sing the praises of the managerial state, perched on media platforms in New York and Washington. They are close to being an inherited class. Many of them are handed titles like “senior fellow” or “scholar” by think tanks, so they start thinking they are academics. Instead of relying on people who know the material, they pick up a few things and start thinking they are the experts. That’s how this book reads.

The other odd thing about the book is he tries to frame current events as a war between populism and capitalism, nationalism and democracy. He makes no effort to explain how un-elected supranational organizations are democratic or how global oligopolies are capitalistic. What it reveals is the neocon ideology, whatever it was, is now just a defense of soulless transactionalism and materialistic score keeping. American society is just a deracinated collection of economic units, who exist to keep the machine running.

In all candor, I found myself skimming about midway through it. I kept wondering why he picked the title, given that his product falls far short of his ambitions. Then I remembered the old paleocons and how they responded to his first book. My hunch is he picked the title out of spite and then started writing the book. At some point, he either got lazy or realized he was in way over his head, so he reverted to goofy pop culture references and superficial banter. The result is a dull book by an equally dull writer.

Old Aliens

When I was a kid, smart adults still believed that humans would be visiting other planets sooner rather than later. That was mostly a carry over from the previous generations, who managed to get from zero to the moon in roughly a decade. If you were into this stuff in 1968, it was hard not to think that the next stop for man was Mars and then from there the rest of the solar system. By the time I was becoming aware of the world, this was fading, but there were plenty of optimists and romantics, with regards to space travel.

It really was a generational thing. By the time my generation was noticing things the space program had stalled and there didn’t seem to be a point to it. The competition with the Russians had decayed into a fight over the mundane and pointless. My guess is beating the Russians in hockey counted for more to most Americans than the space shuttle managing to take off, go to space and come back in one piece. Subsequent generations are simply too self-absorbed and self-indulgent to care much about space travel.

Of course, a big part of it is the self-inflicted wounds from previous generations that continue to tax us to this day. If Boomers and their parents had not decided to violate the rules of human nature in the 60’s and 70’s with a laundry list of social programs, things may have been different. The money spent on “fixing race relations” could have financed several trips to the stars. Our ruler’s endless fights with observable reality is like a leash keeping us from doing much more than squabbling over our own destruction.

Putting aside the Spenglerian interpretation of the recent past, there is another way to understand the technological stall. This post the other day by Steve Sailer had some interesting stuff in it, but the space travel stuff is what got my attention. Freeman Dyson is of that generation that thought we would be much further along in exploring the universe than we are today. He still assumes it will happen, despite the obvious decline in overall human capital due to changes in demographics and social mobility.

What occurred to me reading it is humanity probably needs to go through a different period of technological advance, before we can make the great leap to exploring the stars. If you look at the generation of geniuses who took us from propeller planes to rocket ships, peaking with the moon landing, it all happened in about one generation. It really was a remarkable run. In the 1930’s, the concepts of rocketry were being worked out and 30 years later a rocket was hurling men to the moon. That’s a great career.

That’s what it really is, one career. The sorts of people who work on these types of projects are not starting as teenagers. They go through years of education and apprenticeship, before they get on the big project. A career making project is going to be one that happens within the normal span of a human career, which is about 30 years for a cutting edge scientist.  A guy like David Reich, who is doing groundbreaking work in ancient genetics, is never going to do much of anything else. This is his peak.

Well, if you are an ambitious guy looking to do space work and be part of a great project, you’re not picking one that will take 50 years to finish. Some people may be fine toiling away at some small aspect of the 50 year project, but most people, especially the people funding it, are not going to find it appealing. If Elon Musk is going to bankroll a trip to Mars, he wants it to happen in the next decade, so he can take credit for it. The same is true of the scientist he would recruit. They want to get it done before they retire or die.

What this means is that space travel, beyond orbiting the earth or maybe revisiting the Moon, is going to first require extending the human life span. A mission to land people on Mars and return them to earth is probably 30 years away. Getting propulsion technology to traverse the solar system is a fifty or sixty year project. Figuring out how to survive longer periods in space is an even longer project. Before humans figure any of this out, it is going to mean living much longer lives so that a person can have a 50 or 60 year working life.

Think about it. If a person could reasonably assume a working career that started in the mid-20’s and goes strong to 100, with a slight decline at the end, that’s roughly a 60 year prime working life. With twice the time, you take more risks and you take on different career objectives. Suddenly a twenty year project to put men on Mars is not that big of a deal to the financiers or the scientists. Stretch the lifetime out further and the much more daunting projects can be chipped away at by a team expecting to finish in their lifetime.

Logically, it means the same would hold for some alien species that eventually comes to visit us on earth. Those aliens we have stored in Area 51 are probably very old, as their species had to unriddle problems that would take hundreds of years to solve, not to mention the fact that it was an extremely long trip from their home planet. The nearest habitable planet outside out solar system is roughly four light years from earth, which means it was a very long trip for our alien visitors. They must have been extremely old.

The other aspect of this is a longer life would mean more experience. Our IQ may be fixed, but we have an infinite capacity for screwing up. The longer the life, the more trial and error a person would endure. Someone living 500 earth years is not going to be any better at math, but they would be much more prudent. That would mean at the upper limits, the species would become less rash and less prone to error. Those dead aliens in New Mexico are an outlier, because their kind rarely misses its intended target.

Speculative Speculation

Pat Buchanan wrote a book contemplating alternatives to war with the Nazis. One implication of Buchanan’s alternative history is the Nazis never would have existed. A more sensible policy toward Germany after he Great War would have short circuited the process that created the Nazis. His other assertion is that even if Hitler came to power, his ambitions would not have been magnified by the humiliation resulting from the Treaty of Versailles. This means the Nazis would have followed much different trajectory.

In one of Dan Carlin’s podcasts, he speculated a bit about what would have happened if the Nazis had survived World War II and continued to rule Germany. Instead of war, the British had struck a deal with the Germans so they could have a country for all German people, but not dominating the continent militarily. The result being something similar to modern Germany, in terms of territory, but run by the Nazis. The point of his thought experiment was to imagine how Nazism would evolve as a peacetime ruling ideology.

Usually, these sorts of thought experiments just assume the Nazis would have remained the evil Hollywood version we have all been trained to imagine. The rest of the fantasy has them doing awful things to all of the usual suspects. In reality, the Nazis evolved into what they were partially in response to war. Germany was turned into a munitions factory in order to wage war and that altered the nature of the Nazi party. A party ruling a complete nation, at peace with its neighbors, would have been a different party.

One outcome of the Buchanan scenario of a Germany at peace, but ruled by the Nazis is there would not have been a Holocaust. That sounds counter-intuitive, but the choice of mass murder was not the first option for the Nazis, when dealing with unwanted minority populations. War made it the default option. In a peaceful world, the most likely scenario would have been the traditional one, where Jews, gypsies, slaves and anyone else deemed undesirable would have been exiled to lands at or beyond the border.

Another probable outcome is Hitler would have been deposed at some point after peace with the rest of Europe. His personal style was appealing in the economic and political crisis of pre-war Germany and tolerable in the crisis of war. Megalomaniacs tend not to do well in stable periods. Eventually, the various classes and interests of German society would have decided they could do better than Hitler. That and the leadership of the party was full of ambitious and aggressive men willing to hatch a coup against the Fuehrer.

That means the most likely outcome of peace would have been turmoil in the party and either a collapse of authority or a series of purges similar to what happened with the Soviets. Germans are not Russians, so a period of turmoil would most likely have resulted in a some sort of stable ruling committee at the top of the party. The unbalanced lunatics and sadists would have been purged in favor of the more practical. There were a lot of Albert Speer types in the junior ranks, who knew how to run a proper society.

There are a lot of assumptions there, but that’s the nature of alternative history. If things were different, they would not be the same. Assuming the Nazis could have negotiated peace to a willing Europe and managed to get through the decade or so of intra-party squabbles to emerge as a stable ruling elite, what would the “new” Germany have evolved into as a society? It’s not something anyone thinks much about as it does not further the narrative. The Nazis are the forever black hat in the mythology of the present orthodoxy.

In all probability, the Great War veterans that founded the party would have been pushed aside, in favor of the inter-war generation from upper-class families who joined the party in the 1930’s. A guy like Albert Speer was able to rise quickly because he was smart, well educated and cultured. That means the party would have become less militaristic and more corporate. That also means German society would have evolved away from a martial order to something like a corporate order. Something like modern Europe, in fact.

Economically, the Nazis were ad hoc socialists, in that they embraced command economics as a practical solution to present problems. Ideologically, they had no economic plan. Again, Albert Speer provides some insight into what the post-peace Nazi party would have done. Companies like Mercedes, Siemens, Krupp, BASF, Deutsche Bank and others that profited doing business with the Nazis during the war, would have emerged as the dominant companies under the imaginary peacetime Nazi Germany.

It would have been the sort of corporatism we see emerging in America, where private firms get narrow monopolies and in exchange for enforcing the cultural norms desired by the ruling elite. Corporations are not supporters of civil liberties and they certainly don’t like market competition. Wherever big business prevails, freedom declines and markets collapse. Instead of being turned into a massive munitions facility, the peaceful Nazi Germans would have been turned into a national corporate conglomerate.

The point of this sort of speculation is not to better understand the past, but to better understand the present. The first half of the 20th century in Europe was the result of a great economic paradigm shift. Europe had moved from an agrarian, trading society to an industrial and urban one. The result was the great concentration of wealth and the rise of corporatism. It was not just in Germany. The Italians, Spanish, Portuguese and even the Americans saw a lot of merit in fascism. The New Dealers loved Mussolini, for a while.

When looked at from the current age, where global corporations are enthusiastically enforcing moral codes and partnering with the state to impose an order that benefits the managerial class, it suggests corporatism is inevitable or a default arrangement. The democratic state prefers dealing with a few dominant actors, so popular government encourages the concentration of capital. Eventually, those concentrations of wealth become rival power centers and then they join the state as partners in power.

Interestingly, what the Nazis imagined for Europe, where Germany sat atop a unified continent, is pretty much what the EU is today. What we have come to call globalism is taking the same concept and scaling it up to include all of the modern economies. A guy like Albert Speer, if he were alive today, would recognize what was evolving. It also means that the balance to this would be some sort of organized labor component, that includes everyone outside the managerial class. The third leg of the stool, so to speak.

March Miscellany

My twitter account was suspended for violation of their rules. The specific violations were that I was threatening to post personal information about someone and that I was contemplating suicide. Neither of those things are true, but that does not matter in these issues. What I think happened is some anti-Semites, who support the deranged loon Paul Nehlen, took issue with me saying Nehlen is a nut. Soon after, a lunatic started spamming me on Twitter and then my account was permanently suspended by the twitter police.

I’m not all that upset about it. I have been thinking about cutting out social media from my internet life. I was never into Facebook. I never saw the point of it. I’m not that interesting and neither are my friends. If I need to see cat videos, I have a cat at home. I never really liked twitter all that much, but I figured it was a good way to promote the site. It was mostly just a time waster. The increase in traffic from my activity was pretty much zero. My readers know where to find me, so twitter added nothing and just took away.

I’m still up on Gab, but I’m done posting there. Frankly, I’m tired of “white nationalist” types that have made Gab their home. I probably have muted two times the number of people I follow. It’s a free country and I think those people have a right to speak their mind on-line, but I just don’t want to hear it or see it. I’ve reached my limit on that stuff. It’s like being chained to a lunatic. No matter how hard you try to ignore it, you can’t help but notice the lunatic. The solution is to divorce myself from the whole scene. Goodbye lunatics…

Speaking of Nehlen, I take some pride in having spotted him as a nut early on. There are some men, who lack internal restraint, and need social prohibition to keep them from rocketing off into lunacy. Once Nehlen found he could say naughty things on-line and get applause, he quickly went from boring suburban guy to crazy rage head. The same thing happened to Chris Cantwell, who went from libertarian crazy to Nazi crazy. Taboos are the leash to keep the lunatics from running wild in the streets…

I went to opening day of the local sportsball team here in Lagos. I’m not a fan of the local team, but I like baseball. Camden Yards is one of the nicer ballparks in the country. If the weather is nice, it is one of the best things to do in the city. The funny thing about Oriole games is that the crowd is at least 90% white and maybe higher. The city is 70% black, but the ball teams rely on the suburban population to fill seats. It’s one of those things that everyone knows, but no one says. Baltimore is an urban reservation with a tourist area…

I’ve been thinking about the alt-right a bit over the last month. They have a real problem and they seem to know it. They have allowed themselves to be linked with too many crazies and losers. When they were mostly internet personalities, they had the image of being smart white boys who embraced biological reality and were in dissent from the orthodoxy. Now, after a year of bad decisions, they look more like the freak show that is the libertarian party. They are on the cusp of becoming a punchline now.

Spencer seems to get that at some level. The TRS guys, well, I’m not sure where they are going as a thing. Read their forums and it is pretty much just the young version of Stormfront. Maybe that’s the future, but I’m skeptical. Some of the others have splintered off into their own hives. Maybe this is just an adjustment period for them, but it could simply be that they shot their load and this is the end phase. This summer will be the proofing for them. Elections are when a movement can flex its muscles, if it has them…

I’m thinking about doing something different with the blog. Traffic has leveled off, which I expected, but I’m also feeling a bit stale. I started going through old posts, looking for the good ones to put on a greatest hits page, and I found a lot of topics I’d like to expand upon. That got me thinking about shifting gears from a daily short post, to maybe a couple long posts per week. That will free up some time for my other projects, but allow for some writing on more complicated topics. A change of pace is good for the soul…

Speaking of good for the soul, in addition to changing the frequency and length of posts, I’m going to start taking some time off. I’m super black pilled about everything and I’m finding my productivity is at all-time lows. I’m thinking about killing the podcast or perhaps just going once a month through the summer. The audience has slowly ticked up, but I’m not sure I’m cut out for being a media personality. I have not settled on anything, but if the podcast goes away, you’ll know why. I need some time off at the very minimum…

Because sites like this are getting blocked by corporate firewalls and shadow-banned by Google, it’s harder for people to read their favorite heretic. I’ve had many reports that this site is blocked at people’s work or at airports and public WiFi spots. One solution is to make posts here available by newsletter. There’s a plugin for it and it is just a matter of formatting to make it work. I’m looking into it now. That way, if you want to read the site at work, you can subscribe via e-mail and get around the thought police…

One of the things I accept is that the world does not change very much, but my perception of it does change. People often make the mistake of thinking that whatever they’re into is what the world is into. I was at the ballpark and it occurred to me that I’m no longer a sports fan. I have no passion for it. I watched the game, not caring who won or lost, mostly a bit baffled by the excitement of the fans. I still follow the Red Sox and I’ll watch other sports if they are on TV and I have nothing better to so. Otherwise, I have no interest.

I’m not sure why that happened. I used to enjoy college football and college basketball on weekends. I’d go to games and talk about the results with friends. Something happened in the last decade and my interest has collapsed. I mostly follow sports through the stat sheets and much of that is just for old times’ sake. The weird thing is that I don’t remember why I cared about sports in the first place. I was never a fanatic, but I got into the games when my team was playing. Now, I’m indifferent and I can’t remember why I cared…

According to Google, it is Aunt Jemima’s birthday…

A Critique of the Critique

I’ve been asked a number of times about my thoughts on the paper produced by someone calling himself Nathan Cofans, examining Kevin McDonald’s theories on Jewish exceptionalism. I had skimmed it prior to last week’s epistle to the anti-Semites and gave a good read the other day, with the idea of treating it as a serious set of arguments. Going back and re-reading it, I kept thinking that it was not produced with the goal of expanding the stock of human knowledge or with the goal of shedding light on McDonald’s claims.

Instead, I kept getting the image of the abbot, marshaling his monks to craft the latest defense of the faith and the realm. I was never a big Moldbug fan, but he picked a good word when describing the prevailing orthodoxy as a “cathedral.” It’s not so much that it is an accurate label, but that it conjures the right sort of image. The people in charge of us, have a set of beliefs that serve as a secular religion, justifying their actions and their position. They respond to challenges the same way the Church responded to heretics.

The two people behind this orchestrated campaign to denounce the heretic McDonald and his followers, are a member of the clerisy and a novice. Jonathan Anomaly is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona. His novice, Nathan Cofnas, is a graduate student at Oxford. They have collaborated on this article at Quillette, which is mostly a way to promote this long critique of Kevin McDonald’s book, The Culture of Critique, which has become the textbook of modern anti-Semites.

The reason for describing Anomaly and Cofnas this way is for accuracy. If you work in the academy, you must defend the orthodoxy. In the West, particularly America, universities are theological centers, more like madrassas than places for open debate. If an academic starts talking frankly about observable reality, especially when it comes to the human sciences, they are either committing career suicide, headed for retirement or having a breakdown. Honesty gets even the best scholars hurled into the void.

Cofnas is working his fingers bloody promoting his paper on social media, even getting into slap fights with defenders of McDonald. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is clearly an elaborate effort to counter-signal the alt-right. He has written for legacy-right outfits like The Weekly Standard and National Review, so it is safe to assume he is hostile to modern right-wing movements. Again, there is nothing wrong with it, but it means we should not treat his paper as anything other than polemic on behalf of his team.

Now, I’ve already said I am a skeptic of Kevin McDonald’s theory of group evolutionary strategy. It could be brilliant, but it could be nonsense too. In the human sciences, it is a good idea to be cautious of bespoke theories that define one very narrow set of observations. A million years ago, John Derbyshire hit the nail on the head when he wrote that “There is a whiff of teleology about this whole business.” It’s intelligent design, except the Jews themselves were the designers. That strikes me as implausible.

With all the caveats, qualifications and disclaimers done, what about the Cofnas paper?

The first thing worth noticing is under the second section, titled “Jewish High IQ and Geography” where he posits an alternative theory for Jewish achievement. He points out that the concentration of Jews in urban areas may be the missing piece of the puzzle, with regards to the over-representation in intellectual endeavors. This is not a new idea, but it is something McDonald ignored in his argument. The error Cofnas makes is in declaring it the “default hypothesis” as if it is manifestly obvious or accepted science.

This is the sort of intellectual base stealing that McDonald would point to as an example of Jewish cultural habits. It also strikes me as signalling. The point of doing it early in the paper is to let the people in charge know who is on the side of light in this thing. This is one of the central themes of neo-reaction. Debate is not an argument about facts and reason, for the purpose of discovering truths. Instead, it is about defending the dominant orthodoxy, which supports and legitimizes the people currently in power – The Cathedral.

The other thing that struck me is that Cofnas falls down the same hole we see all the time in modern political debate. He defines Right and Left as a debate over hustling commas around the tax code. That means a “right-wing” movement like libertarianism is the flip side of some left-wing movement like Marxism. It’s also how you end up with Adolph on the same side as Von Mises. The conventional political scale is not a reflection of intellectual reality, but a rejection of it in favor of defending the current liberal order.

A point that cannot be made enough is that America has been dominated by the Yankee ruling elite since Gettysburg. As a result, our politics have operated entirely within the sphere of Progressive orthodoxy. After World War II, this extended across the West as the American empire imposed its cultural norms onto the provincial ruling elites in the territories. In America, Progressives have had a long lovers quarrel with themselves, in the form of spats between conservatives and liberals, Democrats versus Republicans.

This is why the paper amounts to nothing more than a laundry list of picked nits and mindless hairsplitting. This scene kept coming to mind. Cofnas is a young person trying to please his masters, so he is going to great lengths to prove he has studied the material, by offering up an exhausting list of granular criticism. That’s probably a good career move, one that anyone familiar with the Imperial Examination System would appreciate. Fans of McDonald, however, will see this as confirmation of their beliefs about Jews.

Does Cofnas “debunk” McDonald, as he claims?

Not in the least, as far as I can see. That’s mostly because he never bothers to take on McDonald’s central thesis. Instead, he nibbles around at tertiary arguments in an elaborate effort to counter-signal. That’s most likely the point of the exercise, so he probably achieved what he set out to achieve. He is a young defender of the faith and will be given a post on the walls, lending his credentials to de rigueur arguments at legacy publications like National Review and The Weekly Standard. The Cathedral has another guard.

On Writing

One of things I wish I was better at doing is answering questions sent by readers and now listeners. I have an e-mail address tied to this site, but I don’t look it often enough, so I tend to be late in getting back to people. Then there are the questions that come through the comment section of YouTube and through social media. In an effort to clean up my act I have been trying to catch up on all of it and I noticed I get a lot of questions about writing and the task of writing. It’s a popular topic, apparently, so I thought I’d make a post of it.

It’s good timing, as I have started to go through my posts here looking for ones to pin to a greatest hits link on the site. This is a very common suggestion, so I’m working on that now. That means re-reading five year old posts, which has been edifying. I started this blog with the idea of doing no editing, just a stream of consciousness sort of thing, but that did not come out well. Looking back, I appreciate the terribleness of the effort even more, as I have evolved a style that seems to work pretty well for me and my audience.

That brings me to the question I get a lot and that is, how to be a good writer. I don’t know the answer to that as I’m not sure you can be a good writer in the objective sense. I like certain styles more than others, but that does not mean the styles I don’t like are the result of bad form. I could have weird tastes. My hunch is “good writers” are those who have figured out a style that works for them. It allows them to efficiently get across to the reader, the points they are trying to make on the subjects they find interesting.

Most likely, the only way to do that is write a lot. Looking over this blog, I see that I have slowly, through trial and error, developed a style that I like reading. It took a while and some of my ideas turned out to be wacky, but for the last couple of years I have stuck to a form and method that I find easy. This has corresponded with a rapid growth in readership, suggesting that I have found a style that works for me. I find it easier to write now than at any time in my life, so I suspect getting “good” means finding what works for you.

On the other hand, I’m a different reader than I was five years ago. Until I started posting every day, I never thought too much about writing styles. When I did start thinking about it, I became a different reader. I also started reading much more and much more variety. I have read books and articles on a much broader range of topics that in the past, mostly because I’ve become curious about writing styles. Writing a movie review is a different task from writing a short story. Different jobs mean different skills.

If I were giving advice to a young person, who wanted to make a career writing, I’d probably tell them to read for a few hours each day, but never read the same type of material two days in row. The thing I’ve come to notice about the popular writers I don’t like is they are blinkered. I get the sense that they are not very curious about the world. Maybe that’s the key to being an enjoyable writer, a healthy curiosity. Or, maybe it is just something I enjoy. It’s hard to know, but reading is always its own reward.

A related question I get a lot, concerns the writers I mock from time to time. The reason I make sport of people like Kevin Williamson is not the content, so much as the lack of candor. I like opinion writers who write their own opinions. For me, the best writers are those who are smart, honest and clear. Over the last few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that Williamson is none of those things. I never liked George Will for much the same reason. Will is a ridiculous phony and I have no tolerance for phonies.

On the other hand, one of my favorite writers ever was the late Christopher Hitchens. I doubt I agreed with any of his opinions, but he always struck me as someone who said what he thought and did so in a way that made it easy to understand. He was also a well read and smart guy. He just happened to believe a lot of insane things about the world, but he was a extraordinarily good writer. I never read a Hitchens piece and thought he was trying to fool me or he was simply writing for a paycheck. That counts for a lot.

Clarity is probably the rarest thing in writing, so I really appreciate that in writers. I’m re-reading Greg Cochran’s The 10,000 Year Explosion and I marvel at the clarity. These are hard topics, yet Cochran has a way of getting to the point that makes the material easy to understand. Getting to the point is the key. I’ve never understood why anyone wants to be a windbag. My advice to any writer is make your point and move on to the next point. If you need to keep returning to the point, maybe you don’t know the material.

Finally, a question that comes up often is why I pick the topics I pick every day. Maybe there is some pattern here that I don’t see, but my selection criteria is quite elaborate and complex. I sit down and whatever comes to my head at the moment, is the topic for the day. I like writing in the morning, so whatever I woke up thinking about that day is the topic of the day. Basically, I write about what I feel like reading about at the moment. Usually, I don’t find much out there, so I write what I wish I could be reading.

Until just now, that’s not something I thought about much, but my bet is the really good writers stick to a style and focus on subjects they like reading. I’m a Faulkner fan, having read everything he wrote, and that’s what always struck me about him. He wrote with himself as the target audience. Hemingway wrote to impress people, but Faulkner wrote to entertain himself. In the fullness of time, Faulkner will be remembered as one of our greatest writers and Hemingway will be remembered as a boorish clown.

Diary: February 2018

Every time I write one of these, I say I will make it a regular feature. That never happens for some reason. The “collection of small items” has been a staple of magazine writing for generations because it is easy to produce and popular with readers. It works well for blogs like this, as it lets the blogger address all of the small items that don’t warrant a longer post. For some reason I have not developed the habit. My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening thru a cosmic vapor of invention…..

Looking at the server logs, I was surprised to see continued growth in traffic. January of 2018 saw a 9% increase in traffic versus January 2017. February, on the other hand, has been a little flat, relative to last year, but February has always been the slowest month for some reason. July is the second slowest month and that makes sense. July is the biggest vacation month in the US. Even adjusting for the lost days, February has been the slowest month for this site since I started. I have no answer for it.

I’ve always assumed there is an upper limit to one man blogs. I could be wrong about it, but that’s my hunch. The reason is there is only so much anyone has to say about the world. Eventually, even the most expansive writer starts to repeat certain themes. Read anyone long enough and you notice it. Of course, some writers limit themselves to one topic, so they hit that point quickly. I have not read Robert Stacy McCain in a long time, as he said everything about blue-haired cat ladies that needed to be said….

The podcast is steadily ticking up in traffic. The funny thing about it is the growth has followed the same pattern as the blog. Obviously, I do nothing to promote myself. I don’t have a rich uncle bankrolling this operation. That means people discover this site and the podcast mostly through bad fortune. Word of mouth growth seems to follow a pattern. At first there is slow growth, then it takes off, but plateaus for a while, and then another period of rapid growth. That’s what’s happening with the podcast.

People have suggested I try some promotion, but I don’t know anything about promoting a podcast and I’m not all that interested in learning. Self-promotion is not something that comes naturally to me. A guy like Mike Cernovich is a natural self-promoter, despite the fact he has nothing to offer the world. Even though he is a nullity, he can attract a crowd, thus proving the power of marketing. That and the world has never been short of stupid people willing to give an mendacious clown like Cernovich an audience…

I got a few e-mails asking my thoughts on the Florida shooting. I’m in the John Derbyshire camp on this one. There is a reason these things happen, but it has nothing to do with any of the reasons we see the loonies shouting about on television. This time the Progressive nutters have enlisted a group of child actors, but the Left has been exploiting children this way since forever. This time it feels new, only because it has been a while since the last “what about the children” stunt, but otherwise it is the same show.

My hunch here is that “school shooter” has become a thing for the same reason “going postal” was a thing once. In a mass media society, certain things gain currency simply because they travel well on the mass medium. School shootings make for good TV and good scream show fodder. If you are a troubled kid seeking attention, the world is showing you the path. Eventually, some new nut will come along and do something else to be famous and that will be the thing everyone puzzles over for a while.

I will note that mass shootings adhere to Moynihan’s Law of the Canadian border. Someone plotted these events on a map and it is quite clear. The more diversity, the more likely you are to have these types of incidents. That’s not surprising. A mentally unstable person in a land of strangers is not going to get much help and they are going to feel even more alienated. It’s also why crime is higher in more diverse parts of the country, but it is a small prize for you to pay so Tyler Cowen can have kebabs on Wednesday…

Speaking of diversity, this story on the best states was amusing. Our Progressive rulers try very hard to make these things look empirical, but in the end, they prefer to live where there are not a lot of non-whites. Iowa is the fifth whitest state in the country and its non-white population is packed into well defined areas. Look at the whole list and that pattern is clear. The one exception is West Virginia, but Lefty hates hillbillies almost as much as he hates black people. Hill country will never be gentrified…

I got banned from Twitter last week for calling Piers Morgan a bad name. It is a seven day ban that expires on Friday. This is the second time this has happened and both times it was for directing unpleasant thoughts at a famous person. The first time I got zapped was for saying something mean about Dale Earnhardt Jr., believe it or not. From what I gather, the quickest way to get tossed from social media is to insult a famous person. You can promise to murder a member of the hoi polloi, but don’t dare insult a rich or famous person.

This is a trend we are seeing all over. The other day, some hockey fans were thrown out of the arena for being mean to one of the players. Heckling the players has been a tradition at hockey games since forever, but now feelings, especially the feelings of rich and famous people, count for everything. I suspect we are not too far from this becoming law. We will see rich people acquitted for killing a staffer, because they will contend the staffer insulted them in some way. Insulting a rich person will become a serious crime.

As un-American as this sounds, it is the norm in human societies. For most of human history, vexing someone in the ruling class was a good way to end up in the dungeon or on the scaffold. That is, to a great degree, the motivation behind the crack downs on speech in America. It’s not that the alt-right is spreading heresy or subversion. It’s that what they say makes the cat ladies sad. It’s why the people in charge are so viscous about this stuff. Hell hath no fury like a cat lady scorned…

The other day, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the administration on DACA. This is a standard thing the court does to try and force the lower courts to act properly. In other words, it is a process thing that sucks for the plaintiffs, but is good for the courts. The media trumpeted this a massive setback for Trump in his efforts to end the DACA program. Every news site, even Drudge, presented it as the beginning of the end for Trump, even though it is nothing of the sort.

It is, though, another reminder of the staggering dishonestly of our media. If the Washington Post printed my name on their front page, I’m getting my birth certificate out, assuming I have been wrong about my name for fifty years. I don’t even trust the date printed on news stories anymore. I suspect I’m not alone in now assuming all news is fake news. This can’t be a good thing. Maybe it will fix itself in time, but I suspect a big part of what troubles our society is just the endless lying of the people in charge…

Finally, it is easy to look around at the world and get depressed. Most days, the bad news outweighs the good news by a factor of ten. We are ruled by suicidal lunatics. Further, time is running out on doing something about it. One more click of the ratchet and future generations will be living in the rubble of our society. To use a sportsball analogy, it is the late innings and the olde towne team is behind. But, it is not all bad news. This post by Audacious Epigone is a good reminder that the good guys are making up ground.

Maybe it is too late. Maybe all of us are doing nothing more than leaving a record so the robot historians will know that not all of us were mad. Until that is clear though, it is important to keep fighting. Maybe this thing can be turned around in time to leave a better world for those who come after us. Slowly, white Americans are waking up to what faces them. In that regard, the momentum is on our side. We just have to keep chipping away at it and maybe one day the lunatics will be sent back to their asylums…

Travelogue – Boston

I spent many hears in Boston and I come back regularly. Even so, I’m always surprised to see some unexpected change. Even in a sclerotic culture like New England, life does not stand still. New buildings are built to replace old ones. Roads get redesigned. The general look and feel of the place changes over time. To paraphrase Heraclitus, you never visit the same city twice. Perhaps it is just a function of age, but when I travel now, I’m much more aware of what has changed, rather than what is familiar.

The biggest thing that has changed since my last trip here is me. There used to be a time when Boston was famous for the worst drivers in America. Tourists would bring back their rental cars and take cabs, because after a short dose of Boston drivers, they were too afraid to be on the road here. Now, Boston drivers are nothing special. Having spent the last decade driving the Imperial Capital, my standards have adjusted. Nowhere has traffic like Washington. Los Angeles is a motoring paradise by comparison….

At the airport in Lagos, I saw what I thought was the ugliest women I’d seen to this point in my life. I mean so hideous my instinct was to look away. Then as it approached where I was sitting, I realized it was a tranny. Everyone else had the same reaction. Of course, the tranny was on my plane, but luckily I boarded in the early group so it was sent to the back of the plane. But as luck would have it, the tranny was on the same shuttle to the rental car facility. The looks from the counter agents were priceless.

Driving out of Logan, I could not help but think about what Theodore Dalrymple said about communist societies. Perhaps these efforts to force the rest of us to accept cross-dressing loonies as normal is a push to turn us into emasculated liars. Maybe that’s part of it, but my sense watching the tranny parade around the airport is that this is just wanton decadence. You see this on campus with the vulgar displays of every conceivable sexual prediction. I think we are ruled by a class of Caligulas now, for now…

I had an interesting conversation with friends at dinner on Thursday night. One friend I would describe as between CivNat and Dissident Right. A year ago he was listening to Ben Shapiro, thinking he was radical. Today, he listens to me. It is a trip the ferryman has seen many times. His sister, the other person at dinner, is a life long feminist Progressive, but having doubts as she reaches her middle years. Over dinner, we talked about race, sex, ethnicity, quirks of evolutionary biology. All the stuff popular on the Dissident Right.

I’ve gotten better at talking about these things with normies and reality-curious Progressives. I have a library of pithy stories and examples to make it easy for them to accept biological reality on their terms. In the case of reality-curious Progressives, I frame things in moral terms. It does not always work, but it keeps them from shrieking “Witch! Witch!” and notifying the authorities. Her brother thinks I red-pilled her, but we’ll see. It is a long road from there to the water’s edge. Still, it is another green shoot…

Boston did not fare the previous Progressive Awakening very well. The cultural upheavals of the 60’s and 70’s broke the working class structure of most American cities and Boston was not an exception. As a result, the city was in decline into the 80’s, but then it righted itself in the late 80’s and 90’s. Like New York, rich people started demanding better policing and better schools. The city started knocking down slums and opening up the housing market to developers. By the late-90’s, Boston was in a renaissance.

When the ululating started again in the late Clinton years, the city was not destroyed by Progressive wreckers seeking to make a point, Instead, it was filled with neo-liberal globalists, investing in the city. The colleges exploded with money, as college kids poured in toting government loans and financial aid packages. Boston became a technology hub, with great tech firms ringing the city and biotech startups growing like warts on the college campuses. Eastern Mass as a whole is nothing like it was at its nadir

Locals here are gearing up for another Super Bowl. I moved here the year the Patriots made their first big game, where they were destroyed by the Bears. I was here when they won their first one back in 2002. That would have been the 2001 season. The difference in atmosphere between now and then is stark. The Patriots have been great for close to two decades now. Winning is not as fun for the fans. There’s also the melancholy of knowing that the great run is nearing an end. Both Belichick and Brady are close to done…

Something I forget about until I get here is just how crappy the service is in Boston. In Lagos, the retail shops are run by Koreans and South Asians, so they are super polite to honkies. The businesses staffed with blacks are a riot of inefficiency, but they are polite about it. Here, lots of white people work retail and they act like they are doing you a favor by waiting on you. At the Dunkin Donuts the other morning, the pram-face who served me coffee had a look on her face like she was thinking about sticking a shiv in my ribs…

Remembering Futures Past

A few times a year, I re-read some classic science fiction, just for some variety, but also to see if it still works. One of the funny things about our age is the past is increasingly more alien to us than any imagined future. Reading stories, written in the 1950’s, that depicted life in the far off future, you get some insights into the society that laid the groundwork for our age. Often times, though, it reveals the foolishness and, in retrospect, absurd optimism, about the future and technology.common in the last century.

The old science fiction guys got some things right about the future. Jules Verne, who is the father of science fiction, had amazing insights into the future of technology. You can read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea today and it still holds up pretty well. On the other hand, a lot of science fiction turned out to be wildly wrong about the future, even by the standards of fiction. I recently re-read The Martian Chronicles and it is laugh out loud terrible in parts. It’s corn-ball pulp fiction now.

Of course, people were much more optimistic about the future in the heyday of science fiction writing. If you would have told Ray Bradbury in the 1950’s that man would not be on Mars by 2018, he would have thought you were a ridiculous pessimist. Of course man would be exploring the solar system in the 21st century. We would have conquered human suffering, united as one and be riding around in nuclear powered flying cars. Instead, the future is trans-gendered otherkins stalking your daughters in public toilets.

We can’t blame the people of the last century for not seeing this stuff coming. We’re living it and it still seems impossibly insane. For Americans in the 1950’s, optimism about the future was natural. America had conquered the world, saving Western Civilization from itself. Technological progress was making life comfortable, even for the poorest. There was no reason to think we were heading for a bad turn. It’s a good lesson that no matter how bad things are now, they can get worse. The future is not written.

Reading The Martian Chronicles, I was reminded of something that turns up in old black and white movies. That is the acceptance of casual violence. In the 1950’s, fictional characters would say things like, “You better give it to me straight or I’ll bash your teeth in” to some other character playing a store clerk. In one of the Bradbury stories, a man from earth arrives on Mars and starts talking with the Martians. The conversations are peppered with threats of personal violence, but in a casual, haphazard manner.

Imagine going into the local retail store and seeing one of the customers telling the clerk that he was going to bash in his skull if he did not hop to it. I doubt fist fights were a regular feature down at the piggly-wiggly, but the threat of personal violence was a common occurrence in movies and fiction. It is not unreasonable to think that the people in the audiences for this stuff found it perfectly normal that men talked to one another in this way, which suggests it was how people talked in their normal lives.

Similarly, most of the characters in Bradbury’s future smoked. In one story, the first thing the earth men do when they land on Mars is have a smoke. Maybe Bradbury was a smoker, but his best writing is when describing the joys of smoking on Mars. I guess it makes sense to think that the future will have better versions of the stuff you really enjoy today. Imagine going back in time and telling sci-fi writers that in the future, men would not only not be on Mars, but smoking would be a crime. They’d think you were crazy.

The other thing about old sci-fi, and it jumps out in The Martian Chronicles, is the fascination people had back then with rockets and nuclear technology. It makes perfect sense. Both seemed impossibly amazing to the people of the time. The fascination with nuclear energy is amusing in hindsight. Science fiction writers 70 years ago thought it was perfectly logical that tiny nuclear reactors would replace all of our energy sources. Still, nuclear powered garments to keep you warm at night is laughably silly in hindsight.

Putting that aside, it is amusing to look back at these conceptions of the future. Many were wildly wrong, because they wanted to be wildly wrong. It is fiction, after all. It’s easy to forget that writers in the first half of the last century were expecting their stuff to be read by men with high school level educations. Granted, a 1950’s high school education was much more than what we see today, but the audience was not a collection of literary sophisticates. The job of the writer was to entertain, not lecture, the reader.

Still, reading old science fiction has a utility to our age, that goes beyond mere amusement. The people of that era, producing this stuff, were very optimistic about the future. They were committed to building a better world. Granted, it all went to shit in the 60’s and we have yet to pull out of the death spiral, but they did not know what they could not know. Our generations don’t have that excuse. We have the hard lessons of failed social experimentation. We have no excuse for tolerating this stuff. We know better.

A Pointless Ramble About YouTube Stars

Every week, I get e-mails from the social media platforms suggesting ways to promote my podcast. Spreaker sends out something a few times a week. Mostly these e-mails are tips about metadata, topic descriptions and video features. They seem sensible, but I can’t help but wonder if it matters all that much. A professionally done, cleverly described and expertly distributed video on model train collecting is still going to be a video of interest to people into model trains. Ultimately, content is the determining factor in this stuff.

That said, it is useful to wonder why some YouTube people have huge audiences and why others have small audiences. Until recent, PewDiePie was unknown to me, despite his having 59 million subscribers. He is the #1 YouTube personality. Having watched some of his videos, I sort of get it. Young people are wired to imitate one another, which is why pop culture is a young person thing. PewDiePie plays video games and tells naughty jokes that very gently and subtly lampoon modern piety. Kids like seeing that stuff.

On the other hand, someone like June Nicole Lapine has close to a million YouTube subscribers. She pitches herself as a liberal anti-feminist and her videos are intended to be satires of social justice warriors. Not being an unmarried millennial woman, I’m probably hard wired to not get her appeal. I watched some of her videos and she is annoying and her act is trite. The earnestly stupid female who really, really cares about stuff has been done to death. At least I thought so, but apparently not.

While reviewing the above videos, this channel was suggested to me by the gods of YouTube. The assumption is they recommend channels based on prior viewing, which means some portion of June Nicole Lapine’s audience is into husky lesbians. The star of that show appears to be a carny, who bills herself as a lesbian comedian. She has half a million subscribers and 70 thousand Twitter followers. After watching some of her videos, I’m reminded of why the phrase “jolly lesbian” does not exist.

Now, half a million subscribers is not big by YouTube standards. To crack the top-100 you need 20 times that number, but most of the top channels are professionally produced music channels, backed by global corporations. Given that there are (maybe) 4 million adult lesbians in America, it suggests that Arielle Scarcella has figured out how to tap into this audience, so to speak, that is not easily understood by watching her videos. The people watching and enjoying her work, are very different people from anyone I know.

It is easy to be puzzled by the popularity of alien performers, but in researching this post, I did learn that Filipinos share the American distaste for the Speedo. That aside, I was made aware of a popular alt-right YouTuber named Andy Warski. His channel has over 250 thousand subscribers. He hosted a marathon debate between Richard Spencer, Sargon, Styx and some others, which is how I learned of him. His live show set some sort of record for viewers, but I don’t have numbers on it. He mentioned it in his show.

Now, I follow the alt-right and listen to some of their bigger personalities. I never heard of the Waski guy until last week. Watching some of his videos, I’m thinking he smokes a lot of weed and has a drawer full of hacky sacks. I’m not getting the popularity, but maybe I’m simply too old to appreciate bro talk anymore. There was a time in my life when my peers used the words “dude” and “whatup”, but that was a long time ago. As with PewDiePie, young bros probably like listening to other young bros talk bro stuff.

I watched some of the Spencer – Sargon battle on that Warsky show and I kept wondering how Sargon got popular. In fact, it was the genesis of this post. Every time he said something stupid, which was pretty much every time he spoke, I thought, “why would anyone like this guy?” He’s just a portly British version of Goth Fonzi. Yet, he has 750 thousand subscribers to his channel, most of whom are probably Americans. According to his Patreon page, he makes $8,000 per month as a YouTube star.

Like many of these popular YouTube stars, Sargon’s gimmick is assurance. He soothingly repeats the platitudes his listeners desperately want to be true. Americans always assume a British accent means intelligence, so Sargon’s fans are being told they are right about the world, by a smart British guy, who sounds confident and reasonable. It’s why his clash with Spencer was a disaster for him. He was revealed to be a petulant, argumentative airhead. His act only works when he is unchallenged and scripted.

It is a good reminder, though, that the audience for libertarian self-flattery is much larger than realism. People like easy answers and magical thinking. It’s why the number one right-wing Progressive is Ben Shapiro. His podcast is number one in terms of downloads, according to those claiming to know these things. I’m always suspicious when rankings are used in lieu of hard numbers, but a search of YouTube reveals his Daily Wire stuff gets about 250 thousand views. His channel has half a million subscribers.

All of that said, the people popular in their YouTube segment all have a couple things in common. One is their presentation is calm. Internet video is like television. It is a cool medium. Shouting and craziness on video, come off like shouting and craziness in person. You can be a crazy Mark Levin, screaming like a madman on radio, because radio is a hot medium. The better YouTube people could just as easily being doing their show from your bedroom. Most shoot their shows from their bedrooms and living-rooms.

The other thing they do well is they make no effort to imitate the legacy media. YouTube is not public access TV or a poor version of cable. The authenticity of the presentation seems to be what works. People like hearing people like them confirm what they think about the world. Watching a polished TV airhead repeat threadbare platitudes, even soothing ones, is not as effective as hearing a friendly voice, that sounds like you, saying the things you think in private. YouTube is a collection of mirrors that clap.